On Sunday the senior editors of Himal Media – Nepal’s most respected media outlet and publisher of Nepali Times – were bruatally attacked. One of my contacts told me that Charlie Haviland, Nepal’s BBC corres was among them, but luckily this turned out not to be the case. Yesterday journalists marched in protest and the government is denying involvement. It is perhaps a worrying return to more stringent state control over the media – 3 years ago the government blocked BBC World Service in the country.
Since we’ve been in Nepal we’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the loveliest people who show incredible dedication and passion towards improving the lot for their fellow countryfolk – ranking among the world’s poorest. While international NGOs and governments travel to Geneva or wherever to discuss the media-salivatory issues of children and women being trafficked from Nepal to India, they ignore the internal trafficking and child labour that is going on right here under their noses. Our hotel, in the touristy district of Thamel in Kathmandu, is surrounded by massage parlours holding trafficked women from the villages. And child slaves are so common and considered such a necessity that when the UN tried to pass an internal motion to prevent “employment” of child labourers among its staff here, it was rejected as unfeasible.
Across the alleyway from our room a dog barks incessantly because it is tied on a short rope outside on a concrete terrace in the sun with no water. It was either the barking or the man who decided in his wisdom that 5am was a fine time to begin a spot of extremely loud hammering that woke us this morning. Anyway, we got up and in a while wandered out for breakfast.
We found the most wonderful bookshop, Pilgrims, which is deservedly quite an institution here. Wandered around the shop upstairs, downstairs, and then had a lovely breakfast in the courtyard at the back. There was an Australian guy there dressed like a Sufi with long robes and beard (twat) and ridiculous way of talking to us and the waiters. Still it was nice and quiet there, almost like not being in Kathmandu.