21-27 November 2014 #733


Someone stop me right now before I get carried away and write another snide column about South Asian regional cooperation.

Go on, restrain me. I do not want to unleash on you unsuspecting folks another glowing tribute to our shared history, geography and biology. What? You mean you actually want me to go ahead and expound ad nauseum and ipso facto on the SAARC Spirit of Partnership? You don’t have regionalism coming out of your ears? No kidding. All right, then, you asked for it.

Lest our illustrious readers are labouring under the illusion that we are complaining about the suspension of civil liberties during the Saarc-ass-tick Summit, let me dispel that notion right here and now. There is no gainsaying that as patriotic Nepalis, we feel no sacrifice is too great in order to impress foreign visitors even though 2 billion roops to install solar street lights and poking saplings into road dividers is a bit steep.

As Nepalis we will willingly give up some of our civic freedoms by desisting from dumping trash on our own doorsteps for three days (we will dump it on someone else’s doorstep). We also pledge to give up all public nose grooming till further notice, but only if you can get parliament to ratify the stricture with a two-thirds majority. ??The Ass, being an ass, is flummoxed about all the cynicism and criticism about the extraordinary efforts being made by the gobblement to organise this historic summit. If the country has to go into lockdown mode for the whole of next week because of the arrival of the Heads of Government (HOGs) with their Southasian Official Wives (SOWs) so be it. Who cares that the Ministry of Metaphysical Planning and Superstructure has blown away a quarter of our annual budget on widening roads in the capital, at least it lifted a handful of Nepalis out of middle income status.

All this negativity stems from our national propensity to see a dark cloud behind every silver lining, and to always mistake the light at the end of the tunnel for an approaching locomotive. Stop complaining, people, and enjoy the Snark Summit. Enjoy the well-lit dogless streets populated only by HOGs.

In order to put you all in a more positive frame of mind for next week, I have taken the trouble to list here 10 advantages of the SAARC Summit:

1. Not since Prithvi Narayan Shah’s siege of Kathmandu in 1767 have the inhabitants of the Valley experienced such excitement and anticipation.

2. The government has asked all non-essential staff to leave the city, only senior government leaders and Summit sherpas will be allowed to stay in the capital, making this the second largest movement of people since the Smallpox Epidemic of 1847. Those who refuse to leave with be darted with tranquilizer guns and radio collared before being translocated to Chitwan. A decision on whether people will be allowed to return to Kathmandu will be taken at a later date.

3. This is the most earth-shaking event in Kathmandu since the Great Earthquake of 1934, and we should be honoured to be alive to witness it.

4. For us in the media, the Sharks’ Summit is a welcome respite from the endless deadlock in the Constipational Political Dialogue and Consensual Committee (CPDCC). We can take our minds off the political grandstanding for a few days before we get back to constitutional foreplay again.

5. It looks like the Summit will coincide with splits in the Dash and Cash, as the Maobadi convert to Modibadi.

6. The country got to import 35 Benzes for the Summit, which means there will be enough cars for ministers when the cabinet is expanded after SAARC.

7. We couldn’t organise bomb-proof limousines for the HOGs because politicians couldn’t agree on sharing kickbacks. By asking the Indians to loan us the limos and gift two choppers, we prevented corruption big-time.

8. The real reason Nawaz Sharif is bringing his own car is because he thinks the Indian BMWs will be bugged. He is also bringing his own breakfast cereal because he doesn’t want to eat Made in India foodstuff.

9. A dawn-to-dusk curfew has been declared for 25-28 November, and may be extended after the Summit if the constitution deadlock continues.

10. The problem with lack of legroom at the summit plenary venue at the Shitty Hall has been solved by requiring invitees to sit in the yoga position called ‘Foetus’ with knees pulled up to their chins. Kathmandu-based diplomats will have to sit on the steps in the aisles for the duration of the opening ceremony because of the lack of seats.

Read also:

SAARC’S raison d’être, Editorial

Pride and prejudice at SAARC, Kanak Mani Dixit

Modi plays it safe, Damakant Jayshi

Reimagining South Asia, Anurag Acharya

SAARC Timeline, Ayesha Shakya

SAARC traffic tips, Ass

The second coming, Editorial

Land-locked to land-linked, David Seddon

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