Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Here a Maoist, There a Maoist, Everywhere a Maoist

Note: If you're considering coming to Nepal, don't let the Maoist thing put you off. They are not remotely interested in hurting you. Nepalese of all political persuasions want to keep happy tourists' cash flowing in. Especially the Maoists who are now perched at key trekking routes requesting (cough, extorting) 100 rupees a day. (It's about US $1.50) They do give you a receipt though and are apparently very nice about not requiring you pay again in the same day if you produce it.

We hadn't to our knowledge seen any Maoists until a week and a half ago, we were trudging up a hill in the bustling business district of Pokhara (an area very few tourists go to) and the traffic seemed awfully jammed even for a Saturday. Got to the top and there it was: a Huge Maoist Parade. I'm talking thousands of people. All marching along 7-9 abreast, chanting slogans in unison, waving loads of red flags complete with hammer and sickle. It was extremely well organized (thus posing a striking difference to the chaos of regular Nepal street traffic.)

I was transfixed by the novelty. It felt like I was in a movie about 1950s Russia or something. After a while I asked my husband, "Honey, growing up in Yugoslavia, you must have seen parades like this before?" "Oh yeah," he said in a bored, this-is-incredibly-dull tone. Then his face lit up, "Look there's a hardware store!" With that he dove headlong into the parade, popped out the other side, and joyfully ran into a shop door.

A few days later when he was negotiating on rates with his to-be Trekking Guide, both men politely turned to me at the end to see if I had any input. "Well, $25 a day including meals and lodging sounds fine to me, but is it really all-inclusive?" I asked. "What do you mean?" replied the Guide. "Well, who pays the Maoist bribes?" His face fell, he had hoped we'd be dumb enough not to ask that question. My husband replied for him, "I think the answer is me."

1 comment:

Kate Baar said...

Just wanted to tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. I'm an American businesswomen in the U.S. wishing I were travelling with you. Keep them coming!