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Manoa 13.2 (2001) 124-127
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The Weather Will Be Clear Today and Tomorrow
Nepal Radio: ears!
Nepal Television: eyes!
Sri Nepal Video Player: brains!
In a developing country, having a video player in each house is not a luxury but a matter of civil rights. I've finally discovered this: once you have ears and eyes, you must next have brains in order to think, reflect, and develop.
Yesterday, to jiggle some brains, my friend Bimal demanded, "Come! Bring a partner! We'll watch a new kind of film in a completely new way. Be there at one--and that's A.M., not P.M., you lout."
Since my wife wasn't in town, I arrived alone. The video had already started. Bimal came out when I knocked. "You're alone?"
"Who could I bring?"
He beckoned me in reluctantly. "Never mind, come."
A blue movie was playing. As with "yellow journalism," there's no term in the Nepali language for "blue movie." How can there be a name for something without a history? But there will be one shortly; and our priests won't be long in performing naming rituals for it.
My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness of the room. There were four couples there. The science of sex was being demonstrated in the video. Around me, the four couples were kneading each other.
With each man was someone else's sister, wife, or mother.
I regretted my mistake at once. I could have arranged for a middleman to bring Harimaya. An inexpensive whore, she would have been available for twenty-five rupees. But the problem is, she isn't progressive enough for this. She needs seclusion, and she needs the lights switched off.
I went outside, my expression souring and my mind clouding.
Bimal followed me out the door. "Leaving, bastard traditionalist? Listen, one of the girls is calling you."
I didn't stay. I left with the girl on my mind.
It's truly a matter of civil rights to have a video player. [End Page 124]
If a Gorkhali can keep a knife, why can't a Nepali keep a VCR?
But to whom am I addressing this question?
Catching a Japanese bus, I reached the real Nepal, meaning Ratna Park, and when I emerged from a stop near the public toilets, the usual blind Gorkhali was singing his usual hymns, asking for money. I thought of giving him some change, but didn't. Bimal had called me a bastard and a traditionalist. Ah, I must become progressive; I mustn't be a humanist any longer. I mustn't engage in the arrogance of the rich by exhibiting pity. So I gave the blind man nothing. Let him keep shouting, that ass of a blind Gorkhali. Nepalis are now progressive; they're watching videos in a new way, while this one is singing the same old hymns, begging for alms.
Pity is a despicable thing. So I threw a seductive glance at a girl standing with a basket full of cucumbers and holding a knife upright. I gave her a bill and received a cucumber slathered with salt and pepper. I didn't ask for change; she didn't give it. We were in a rush.
On the corner was a policeman dai. We don't call them policemen bhai because only older brothers, not younger brothers, have the right to mete out punishment. Such is our custom.
I had wanted to sit in the park, but I bought a newspaper and stood scanning it. There was some news about support, lots about opposition. I thought of the editor. He didn't really oppose anything. But only when you oppose something does the world regard you as a journalist. It's the same with leaders. You come to be regarded like Gandhi and Lenin. Gandhi said, "You must accept rods and bullets without uttering a word." Lenin said, "You must give rods and bullets without uttering a word." I have said . . . what have I said? Ah: "The bamboo used...