STRIKE

Chapter 16

My original plan was to go to the school the next day if it weren't for the strike planned for that day.  We were given a few instructions for that day: stay in, don't take any taxis, and appear to support the strike.  This meant, do not travel, especially the long distance to the school.  The principal told me "anything can happen."  There could be rioting, protests, violence, or nothing at all.  It could last between one day to an indefinite length.  I read a website post about what to expect when flying out of Kathmandu that said there could be uncertainty about the trip into the airport, especially if there is a strike.  

 

From our understanding of Nepali recent history Nepal was recently a monarchy until the early 2000's.  There was some issue with succession a few decades ago where the boy was named king that was a just a small child or baby and reigned for only a short time before another family member was named king.  Later, this small child moved abroad and had not lived in Nepal for quite some time.  The king in the early 2000's and his family lived in a large palace in Kathmandu with his then grown up children. 

 

One of the grown up children, a prince, was known for partying and firing off guns on the estate.  One night there were gunshots heard around the palace grounds that went mostly ignored because he was known as a firearms enthusiast that had his own firing range on the palace grounds.  These gunshots, unfortunately, were the sounds of him killing the whole royal family and himself in an intoxicated/ mentally ill state.  The former child king happened to be in the country on vacation and claimed the monarchy again.  The people of Nepal did not like him as a person or a symbol of their country, didn't like that he had been living outside of the country, and thought the killing was a choreographed plot by the former child king.  The people of Nepal went on strike and protested until the king stepped down and the monarchy was disolved.

 

For the last ten years the people of Nepal have been trying to agree to a constitution in order to have a perminant government but there have been many disagreements and resulting strikes.  As they have been getting closer to a constitution the earthquakes struck and the maoist party had grievances that the constitution did not have enough protections for equal rights.  There was a two day holiday during our visit that seemed to be time for citizens (and apparently non-citizens) to give suggestions and grievances to the government.  It seemed many of the people did not feel that the suggestions from those days were taken seriously so the strike was planned for our last friday in Nepal.

 

We were fairly lucky when it came to this strike.  We went out for a walk near our apartment in the middle of the day, there were far fewer vehicles on the streets, and it was eerily quiet in the city.  At times we could hear commotion in the distance and we saw four or five police officers in riot gear looking bored.  Reports showed that instead of the multiple deaths from the riots they had after the earthquake, there were only three vandalized vehicles although around 200 protesters were arrested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day after the strike was our last full day in Nepal.  We thought we had an extra day before checking our plane tickets.  We took advantage of this last day by going to our favorite places to eat during the trip: to Bakery Cafe for Indian breakfast, to Patan Durbar Square for momos for lunch, and the Tandori restaurant near the hospital for noodles and indian food.  We spent this time looking through shops for Nepali clothes and other gifts for folks back home.

 

We had found that Nepali fashions may have changed in the last few years, transitioning from traditional to hip.  We had expected to see more conservative apparel when we left the US but found everyone was wearing graphic tee shirts and skinny jeans.  Our theory is that because everyone rides motorcycles around, it was just not possible to wear long flowing dress and gowns.  The one time we saw a woman in traditional clothing on the back of a motorcycle, she had both legs on one side of the bike and was leaning to stay on, holding the rider in front with one hand.  She looked as though she was just waiting for the inevitable horrible event of falling off the bike into traffic as the driver took a hard turn.  Luckily we did not see that happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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