Saturday, December 1, 2007

Maoists in Nepal :The Academic Bit

At the time of my visit to Nepal in October 2005, we were advised by Community Action Treks that there was a chance that we would be stopped by Maoists and asked for a “donation”.They advised that if this should happen we should not make a fuss, but hand over the money. (Usually £5-15.) Then, most probably, a receipt would be given and a note of “safe passage” for the rest of the trek. We should not worry, ”whilst you may feel a little anxious bear in mind that none of the trekkers has ever been harmed or threatened”. SCOTT.D.FREW. J. Information pack, Community Action Treks page14.
This was our experience, on our trek, (though we did end up paying £25 per person,) and we were able to produce our receipt to other Maoists and there were no further inroads on our finances.
Another Trekking Company gives a more recent confirmation that while tourists will be asked for “donations”, there is no evidence that foreign tourists have been hurt or harmed by Maoist activities. Maoist leaders have stated that they do not wish to disturb the tourist industry. Their main aim is the overthrow of “the corrupt and selfish politicians and the corrupt officials.” NEPAL ADVENTURE POINT. Frequently Asked Questions. Page2
However there have been reports from individual trekkers, who were trekking and camping alone, of being threatened and having articles, such as socks, stolen from them. There is no clear evidence of what took place in these instances. It may have been Maoists, or it may not. Nepalis have traditionally always been welcoming and honest hosts to tourists, but during this time of political unrest, it is probably unwise to travel alone.
While no tourists have been killed, there have been many skirmishes between the rebel Maoists and the Nepali army and police. Reports vary, but well over 1500 people have died as a result during the last few years. Nepal is a very mountainous country with very few roads. It is almost impossible to police and there are many country areas where the Maoists are in control. (Our trek took us through just such an area.)
The Maoist area we travelled through looked a little more prosperous and well organised than some other areas and local people seemed to be benefiting, but we were made aware of their precarious political situation by their appeals for spare binoculars to help them look out approaching soldiers or police.
At the time of my visit, Gyanendra, the Nepali king had disbanded his government on the pretext that they were not taking a firm enough stand against the Maoists. Since our return from Nepal at the beginning of November 2005 there have been further developments. Several general strikes took place and in April 2006 there were riots in Kathmandu, which lend to the Indian government intervening and international pressure being put on the king of Nepal to re-elect a government and allow the Maoists a place in the political scene. A new prime minister and government were set up, but several leading Maoists were arrested.


CHAUBE.K. (April 22, 2006) India tries to save the Nepal King while Nepal Maoists talk to Indian Communists for their next move. India Daily

MAYHEW .B. BROWN.L.VIVEQUIN.W. (2003) Nepal 6th edition. Lonely Planet Publications. Pp14,15,67,285,318.

NEPAL ADVENTURE POINT. (2007) Google Search :Maoists in Nepal. (accessed 30th November2007)

SCOTT. D. FREW. J. (2005) Information Pack Community Action Treks .p14

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My trip around Manaslu; an Excerpt.

On the outskirts of Arket we came to our campsite, a school yard. A few drops of rain fell. A light shower, I thought would be very welcome in this heat. A moment later the sky fell in on us: thunder, rain and wind seemed to come out of nowhere and we fled to the shelter of a narrow veranda around the tin-roofed school and watched our campsite turn into a lake. Amazingly most of us had arrived. “Table man” as we called him, staggered in last, dripping under the dining table. A.P. our chief guide or Sirdir took charge. The school doors were prized open. One room was turned into our bedroom, another into a kitchen and dining area. Some of the porters climbed up onto the roof to mend the leaks in the tin, while Sheri, the cook, marshalled his minions and cooked us momos in the semi darkness. These are delicious little dumplings stuffed with spicy vegetables or fish. Soon we were safe in our sleeping bags on the tarpaulin covered earth floor. Almost asleep I heard Tony come in and say, “A.P. says there are Maoists here and they want to see us.” We thought he was joking at first. Poor Liz began to shake with fear and said, “I knew this would happen, I knew this would happen.” Penny and I calmed her down, and together we walked back to our makeshift dining room. The Maoists turned out to be two young fanatics, a spokesman and his side kick, who gave us a very long political lecture to explain their work of robbing the rich tourists to help the poor. He talked about the corruption in their country. “For example,” he said, “money which should go to help the poor areas, usually ends up lining the pockets of corrupt administrators.” He talked about their hopes that we would go back to our country and petition our government to put pressure on the king of Nepal to allow a democratic government to be elected. “They are very smartly dressed for poor Nepalis,” I thought, wondering where some of the money might go. However Tak, who became our spokesperson, treated them with great tact, and eventually we were allowed back to beds, our purses a little lighter. In the morning, after a further call from another Maoist and a further lightening of our purses, we were given a certificate as proof of payment, which we were instructed to show to other Maoists further up the track. This was insurance against further inroads on our finances. They know that the equivalent of £25 per head, is not too much put tourists off coming here, and is taken with usual Nepali politeness.
As we travelled further up the valley we became aware that many of the villages were either run by or were being helped by the Maoists. Where ever we saw the hammer and sickle fluttering like a prayer flag, we tended to find a more prosperous and well kept village. I found myself thinking that if Britain had such poverty and such a corrupt government, then I might be a Maoist.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Meditations on Meditation

I have just written a whole page and then some how managed to loose it ! Such are my wonderful computer skills. I have read lots of peoples blogs and it has been good. This blog was supposed to be about meditation, but having lost it somewhere in ciber space I decided to go of and meditate instead. I'm very tired having walked the Nantlle ridge yesterday. I slipped and sprained my shoulder. I was talking to my friend and wasn't watching what I was doing. Still a wrenched shoulder is better than tumbling half way down the mountainside, which I would have done if I'd let go.
I cannot make my mind up whether to do trekking in Nepal as my subject or Meditation, or maybe something else. I surpose the truth is I am struggling with everything in my life at the moment and can't always see the funny side and I just feel I want to get this part of the course out of the way and get back to writing from my imagination. Yet I know that usually, when something feels hard then that is just the thing I need to work at. So has anyone got any suggestions?
I am going to Tynewydd on the 19th for a week "Journeys and Journals" so maybe that will be a good break from living with a partner with dementia. I sometimes feel as though I am the demented one. Anyway enough! It actually hurts my shoulder to type.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

you broke my cup

In this broken cup I hold
all shattered things,
hearts that will not mend
and bodies crushed
by one false fling.
Why moan about the glue
that binds your cup?
When fear is rending
we need a greater glue.

Forgive my anger
that you broke my cup.