Kathmandu April 2008 with Sugata’s ashes


Dear Sugata


I am returning to Kathmandu, awaiting Gunilla, your daughter.

I have with me the last of your ashes (saved from the mice who I thought had eaten them in my caravan!), and hope to find a resting place for them and this story, in this land you brought me to, nearly 8 years ago.


Your ghost is strong here, and it is refreshing to recall some of our times here that are just as real as your death and aftermath. It was exactly two years ago that we were last here. April 2006: you were dying of pneumonia, and I hastened from India, with foreflashes on the plane of cremating you at Pathupathinath. But you rallied. Do you remember driving in the ambulance through streets deserted except for army check points? I think you were already exiting this world, and did not dally in the worldly politics of those days. It was the beginning of the revolution of street protests ending the 239 year old royal dynasty and the absolute rule of King Gyanendra, that has now culminated 3 days ago in Nepals first democratic elections in goodness knows how many years. The results, arriving on the day I land, have suprised all: The Maoists have a clear majority. Even Prachanda, the Maoist leader, thought they’d win 40 seats – they have over 120.


“The Maoists promised the Earth to poor, marginalised people and also ran a country-wide campaign of fear and intimidation to win the elections,” said Kanak Mani Dixit, editor of Himal magazine. “I thought they would only get 12 seats but I am eating humble pie today. Everybody underestimated them.”


Politics, surprise, and uncertainty is on everyones lips.


It is no longer the Himalayan Kingdom: Welcome to the Mountain MaoDom of Nepal!


In fitting redefinitions, the electricity cuts, which are unusually common these days, are given a more communally name of ‘load-sharing’. Mobile phones litter restaurant floors dangling from plugs snatching charge time.



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