Kathmandu\'s Mayor Keshav Sthapit comes across as someone with a thick hide. A politico who calls a spade a spade and someone who doesn\'t suffer fools. But few know his softer side, that he composes poetry and if he is in the mood breaks spontaneously into verse in the middle of speeches, and likes to listen to Kitaro.
His favourite Nepali song, which he hums on the way to work at the back of his chauffeur-driven metallic green Mercedes, is Gopal Yonzon\'s patriotic ballad "Nepali Nepalko maya chhn ki chhaina?"
At home, Mayor Sthapit is an avid cook and is often busy in the kitchen rustling up a meal for his guests. In the mornings, the mayor goes out to the terrace or his lawn to try out a few Tai-Chi movements. He says it keeps his
mind focused on getting things done.
The mayor has had his political ups and downs, and his present down is that he belongs to a party (the Communist Party of Nepal Marxist-Leninist) which doesn\'t have a single seat in parliament. Many make the mistake of asking the Mayor about the city\'s garbage problem. If you do, be prepared for a long lecture on how the government has messed things up by not keeping its promises, and how his political enemies are out to embarrass him by letting the rubbish build up. Sthapit is also criticised for listening only to sycophants around him, for flashes of temper and unsavoury language.
Sthapit\'s vision for Kathmandu is to regain its past glory as a vibrant centre for
cultural and economic renaissance. "I want this to be a city where the citizens are happy, relaxed and proud to say they live in Kathmandu."
That perhaps explains why the Mayor has started a new campaign "Plant a Tree for Kathmandu" to make the Valley truly green again. He got Kathmandu-based diplomats down to work last week planting jacarandas around Tundikhel. Next will be offices, companies and schools.The Mayor has two more years to go, but that might change if the government announces early elections.