Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
In this issue
- This week: Nepal
- Virtual Snacks
- Bizarre Searches
- Quotation and joke
No, don’t worry. Unlike some other email newsletters for expats we’re not going to try to tell you how you can buy a mansion in Nepal (or Timbuktu) for £50. It’s just that I try to find an interesting subject for discussion every week, and it seemed to me that Nepal fitted the bill.
It’s long had a mysterious, remote quality – not to mention having the rooftop of the world within its borders – and for years it’s seemed like a very exotic place to go. Back in the 1970s, you couldn’t move in Kathmandu for hippies in search of enlightenment (or perhaps it was the legal cannabis). So much so, in fact, that one of the roads in the city centre is still known as Freak Street, although these days the ganja’s illegal and the backpackers have moved up to the Thamel district.
I first went in 1990 and subsequently went back in 2003, the second time only because Dave wanted to go and see the place. I guess everyone wants to go if they have the chance. The trip was interesting enough but not something we’d go out of our way to recommend.
So, why am I writing about Nepal this week? Mainly because I recently read an amazing book, “Blood Against The Snows”, the tragic story of Nepal’s royal dynasty, by Jonathan Gregson. The book charts the story of Nepal’s royal family from the mid-eighteenth century up to the immediate aftermath of the June 2001 palace massacre. And it reads like a thriller. Not because it’s written in sensational terms – it’s absolutely not – but because even when put in a matter-of-fact way this is a helluva story.
The intrigue starts right at the outset of the Shah dynasty’s rule in the Kathmandu Valley. The first Shah king, Prithvi Narayan Shah, welded a series of mountain domains into a single kingdom by seizing the key towns of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. But he brought down upon himself the curse of a holy man, who prophesied that his dynasty would rule for only ten generations. The dynasty’s history since then has been a turbulent one, full of palace intrigues, plots and murders that make the Borgias look like the Waltons – including nearly a century when the real power was wielded by another family, the Ranas, who held a hereditary Prime Ministership, the Shahs being kept in Palace captivity. It all culminated tragically in the massacre of King Birendra and most of his immediate family by his own son, Crown Prince Dipendra, who then shot himself – as far as anyone has been able to make out; a veil of secrecy was quickly drawn over the bloody events. Dipendra was fatally wounded, but didn’t die for nearly two days, during which time he was technically King of Nepal.
As a result, Prince Gyanendra, Birendra’s brother, was crowned King in a hurried, low-key ceremony shortly afterwards. Bizarrely, this wasn’t his first coronation – in 1950, aged three, he was chosen by the Ranas to succeed King Tribhuvan, who had fled his “palace prison” for India in an attempt (which proved successful) to overthrow the Ranas’ hold on power in favour of a more democratic regime. That time Gyanendra stayed on the throne for only three months, during which time his rule was not recognised internationally. This time he has remained in power for longer, but his assumption of full executive powers in February 2005 in what he claimed was an attempt to restore order to a Nepal plagued by corrupt government and Maoist insurgency lost him the support of his people and may ultimately have brought about the end of the monarchy, depending on the outcome of the new constituent assembly’s deliberations. In any event, the role of the monarchy has been drastically cut back.
And here’s the weird thing – Dipendra was of the tenth generation of the Shah family…
You may or may not feel inclined to visit Nepal. There’s certainly plenty to see if you do. But if you’re interested in history, or how people live in other countries, or even if you just enjoy an enthralling story – don’t miss out on “Blood Against The Snows” if you get a chance to read it. I’m surprised that no one’s made it into a film yet.
Anyway, I hope you found the editorial on Nepal more to your taste than any St Valentine’s hype.
Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?
Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:
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And you can see some great photos of various tourist destinations around the country here:
Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:
- partition dancing cheek
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- mythbusters canadian flag
Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“Opportunity comes but does not linger.”
– Nepalese proverb
A Nepali guy, an Indian guy, a beautiful girl and an old woman are sitting in a train. The train suddenly goes through a tunnel and it gets completely dark. Suddenly there’s a kissing sound and then a slap! The train comes out of the tunnel. The old woman, beautiful girl and the Indian guy are sitting there looking perplexed. The Indian guy is bent over holding his face, which is red from an apparent slap.
The old woman thinks: “That Indian guy must have tried to kiss that girl and got slapped.”
The Indian guy thinks: “Damn it, that Nepali guy must have tried to kiss the beautiful girl, she thought it was me and slapped me instead.”
The beautiful girl thinks: “That Indian guy must have moved to kiss me, but kissed the old lady instead and got slapped.”
The Nepali guy thinks: “If this train goes through another tunnel, I could make another kissing sound and slap that Indian guy again.”