Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rain or Is Anarchy Better than the Ancien Regime?

It's been raining all day today, a week before Shivaratri, soon the darkest night of the year here in the Hindoo universe, as Kathmandu peers cautiously into the abyss ahead.

Personally, although I'm nursing a head cold (acquired during my walk up the hill behind our home last w/end w/ Nick & Christopher...), I enjoy the patter of the rain outside. This morning, we wandered in the back garden w/ Lapsi & Gumbi (our two favorite dogs...) under the overcast skies. Gita was out picking the luscious green & burgundy salad, while Ms. Leah frolicked amid the baby flowers of early spring. Shaks, wrapped in her Chinese blanket, like a hill Tamang-ni, admired her newly budding orchids while I sat by the stream watching the water trickle over the translucent pebbles that I'd collected from our land.

By early afternoon the drizzle started, followed by the patter of rain in earnest. From our new reading room (behind the fireplace), I stood peering out at the garden . Rain's seductive on a Sunday. There's a gentle rhthym to the patter of rain, particularly watching it dance on the pond outside the sliding glass doors. The water gently poured over the lip of the pond down the stone weir, that we'd built a year ago, into the deep rivulet that trundles down the eastern perimeter of our land. As my breath fogged up the glass, I moved to a new window to watch the water flow through the bamboo tubes that we'd placed on the roof to keep the rain from collecting above us.

Shakun had gone down into town by microbus, since we still don't have petrol for our Vitara. She was off to Franny's Losar (Buddhist New Year) party with a gathering of the faithful. I'd hung home, feeling a bit fluish, but wanting to finish Josh' applications to schools outside Nepal for next year.

I also simply wanted to stay home. Nearly seven years in this house, I feel a remarkable inner appeal to be at home. While the skies drizzled, I stood at the window longer than I would have imagined. Just standing. Looking. Dreaming. Seeing. Imaging what Hokusai saw when he looked at nature. Watching the water drip off the bamboo leaves. Observing the water swoosh down the weir between two chiseled stones. Enjoying the splash of water on the pond. Counting a dozen types of bamboo we've planted along the perimeter of the land.

There's a security, as well, in being home that isn't common to our larger Nepal. Nepal is in a chaotic mood this year, with shortages of most essential needs, water (ironically...), electricity, petrol, cooking gas and employment. Reading my recent posts, Dave and M&D ask if Nepal's current anarchy is better than the ancien regime. I wonder...

Alas, unlike Proust, we can't go back to the past. Our childhoods are over and retreating further into the distance. We may try to look over our shoulders (or in the mirrors...), but the memories of yesterday are forever fading, pushed back by the stream of our consciousness and the waves of time.

Such is the truth of Nepal, as well. Her lengthy period of adolescence is over and there's a long queue of issues that all require attention at the same time. The anarchy of the present is the price to be paid for her casual metamorphosis into a 'modern' country. As innocent or bucolic as was the past, the present is simply too complicated for easy solutions.

There is no either/or with regard to our historical choice. We are here, here is a mess and here is where we need to move ahead from. The mistakes of the past cannot be undone. (Like the US in Iraq, I suppose...) Any hopes that the peace accord with the Maoists of November 2006 w/ a wave of the magic wand from the UN was the panacea to solve all of Nepal's problems has proven more than elusive...

So, in brief some predictions: On the downside: more troubles, more violence, more disintegration in the near term, more economic pain and less likelihood that we will have the promised constituent assembly elections in June 2007. On the positive side: more voices from outside the power elite will demand to be heard, greater participation in the political process from previously under-represented ethnic and caste communities, and, hopefully, the realization that the suffering finally hurts everyone...

The path forward... with wisdom: peace, investment and new creativity, with insincerity and greed: more insurrection, disorientation and intimidation.

I know which I'd prefer... otherwise I may have much more time to stand in the rain and watch my garden grow...

Goodnight Rain!!

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