Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Good Night, Moon!

too much spaghetti for dinner... or, was it the near-baguette-like quality of the bread that shakun brought home today from the german bakery...

either way, it's still quite cold here in the tundra of budhanilkantha while ms. leah sleeps gently in front of an electric heater. she's been down since shaks and i came home rather late, near-8ish. the boys have returned to the shelter of their rooms downstairs, where josh has a heater by his desk while ez usually does his homework lying horizontalysis on his bed.

since coming back from the generous warmth of a cambodian new year at scott and sochua's four seasons estate on the kampot river, i've been going to bed before 8 pm in kathmandu reading leah bedtime stories, then closing my eyes -- good night, moon! -- and snoozing off to a deeper, more distant peace.

maybe it's just the january darkness sky in the early evening, or the ice running through our wintry veins, but something in the air these days has shakun and i both feeling apprehensive about the near-term future of nepal. maybe it's just the daily newspapers with too much talk of politics, ambition, threats, intimidation, deceit and endless guile. rows of cheshire cats w/ the fish's boney tail jutting out of the side of their salivating mouths...

as i often say, everyone starts their high-minded speeches intoning symathetically on behalf of the 'women, dalits and janjatis' but forget them by the time the speech is over... our half-baked 'revolution' seems too often only so much 'sturm and drang' signifying little...

of course, i am open to being proven wrong and wait eagerly each morning for the sunrise hoping that the hosannahs will start to sing and that the meek will inherit nepal, but then the morning paper arrives and my wings fail me as the morning fog obscures the new nepal that has been so eagerly promised by politicians and revolutionaries, alike, but remains invisible on the rhetorical horizon.

maybe the ten years of war or apparent futility is finally taking its toll on even the most consciously determined optimist. or, as abraham joshua heschel said decades ago, and i've quoted innumerable times since, 'i'm an optimist against my better judgement.'

i think my better judgement is getting the better of me... ;-)

although, possibly it will all work out and nepal will finally (finally...) get a government that actually truly cares about its people, their profound rural poverty and the near total accumulation of power and privilege here in kathmandu. yes, and pigs may fly. or, as grandma rose used to say, 'if wishes were horses, even beggars would ride them...'

so, we've turned the new year leaf and as winter turns to spring, much will unfold on the intentions of the power elites who rule this country. will they truly move to decentralize power and empower the disadvantaged communities (who seem to be pushed further away from real power no matter what political color comes to kathmandu)? will new investment finally come to the country to restart so much of what has been damaged or destroyed during these ten years of self-mutilation? will the public education system, at last, be depoliticized so that rural children, who do not attend private schools can receive a quality education near their homes? will ethnic leaders, women and even dalits be appointed to key positions of responsibility so that they may help these long-neglected communities? will the donor community realize that they need to invest more in local community institutions and leaders to ensure that their valuable and scarce funds get out of kathmandu to the deprived districts? will the tide of corruption wane so that every step forward doesn't grease the pole so that the country as a whole doesn't continue to slide down instead of slowly groping forward? will some of the children of advantage and privilege return to nepal to steadily and self-confidently rebuild the country that has been stuck under a frightened feudal mind-set for more decades than necessary?

i fear i see too much, too little and too deeply. these are not easy times for power is a charmless game. we can only hope that the players who hog the stage will remember the values they may have once cherished as young men; otherwise, they dance macbre for all to see, once again...

good night, moon!

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