For Nepali politics, that is. While I was trekking, Nepal’s Maoist-led government dissolved. Tomorrow I leave for another week out of touch. (Taking a course on Buddhism here.) I’m nervous for what kind of country – and government – I’ll find when I return.
Here are my first impressions on the news:
Red hammer and sickles sprinkle the country, reminding Nepalis of the 10 years when the Maoists ran the jungles and bullied the Powers that Be.
Now the Maoists are the Powers that Be. 13 months ago The People, or three million of them (a plurality), queued and fingerprinted and cast their votes to deliver an outcome no analyst or expert or Kathmandu pants-suit wearer foresaw. The red jungle party, the party of Mao and Marx and Castro won the country’s first fully democratic election. In this country of monarchy and caste hierarchy, the Maoists won on a simple but powerful message: Power to the People.
I arrived in Nepal two months after the Maoist's victory. Now, ten months later, I’m in the woods, tucked close to a Himal, and a Nepali I meet on the trail says, by the way, Prachanda, the Maoist leader and Prime Minister resigned yesterday did you hear?
Walking in the woods that day, I wondered what it means for the Maoists and The Peace Process and Nepal. I wondered what those millions who voted for the Maoists think about their party now. What happened to the hope and jubilation that exploded in the streets in straight marching bands and flags and tears after The People’s Party won the majority of votes?
Democracy takes time. This would be a marketable bumper sticker here. But it’d be a tough sell. Like democracy, bumper stickers are new to Nepal.