27 February, 2009

SELLING OUT TO CHINA


Sushma Joshi
The Kathmandu Post, 02/27/2009
I laughed out loud when I read this news story: China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage lodged a protest when the auction house Christie sold two bronze sculptures—the head of a rat and a rabbit—at US$36 million.

According to an AP report: “"Christie's obstinately went on with the auction of the Summer Palace relics, going against the spirit of relevant international conventions and the international common understanding that cultural relics should be returned to their country of origin," the administration said in a statement.”

China, which has flouted every law in the international lawbooks, from human rights to environment, from labor standards to media freedom, from ethical standards of treatment of prisoners to copyright, is now evoking international law to shame Western pirates! Isn’t that ironic? But now we know. Even China, it appears, is willing to quote international law when expedient.

China gets furious when Yves St. Laurent makes a pile of cash selling stolen Chinese art—but China doesn’t get upset when it makes a pile of cash pirating Western art. All the Mona Lisa on tea-trays—shouldn’t China be paying a royalty to Bill Gates for that? I heard he owns the rights to that image.

Our own Maoists seem to have learnt this pick-and-choose method of following laws from our neighbour: one day they cite international human rights laws, the next day they apologize for beating up or killing people. Even a child knows the limitations of “sorry”—sorry is okay for scrawling on walls with crayons or breaking a glass. “Sorry” is not adequate for assault or murder. (And while we are on the topic of terminology, lets get clear on “martyr”—a martyr is someone who voluntarily sacrifices his/ her life or freedom to further a cause or belief. A person murdered by criminals, or one who loses his life in a road accident caused by inadequate traffic and road maintenance management, cannot be termed a martyr.)

Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hu Zhengyue flew in to Nepal, shook hands with Prachanda, offered a 400 MW electricity project in Jajarkot, told him to keep the Tibetans under control, then flew off again. How insulting! Does the minister think Nepalis are so easily bought? The least he could have done is offered us a couple of new highways, a solar power manufacturing factory, and at least a 1000 MW electricity plant. And if the Chinese are so filthy rich, why don’t they just throw in a solar powered car for each of Nepal’s 30 million citizens? And add a special pirated DVD containing the oeuvre of Chinese cinema for each? Now we’re talking.

There is a lot of buzz around the new relationship with China—a new version of the 1950 treaty, and special economic processing zones that China may invest in. But do we really want to follow that model of creating incredibly repressive work environments in which people are locked in and forced to work for hours to create more and more cheap clothing for the Western world? Is this really the way forward for Nepal? Does Nepal always have to follow China, or can David lead Goliath?

The Tibetans living in Nepal are Nepali citizens, whether the 1991 Constitution recognizes them as such or not. Those who came in 1959 have lived here for around fifty years, and know more about Nepal’s history than many living Nepali youth. Those who were born here, despite Nepal’s unwillingness to recognize them, are Nepali nationals, born and raised here, speaking the language and knowing no other country. Tibetans have enriched Nepal’s cultural and religious landscapes, strengthened our economy and trade, influenced our arts, revived our architecture, sung our songs and made our films. They are our citizens and have as much right to be in Nepal and to enjoy the rights of every Nepali citizen—including the right to free assembly and protest.

The Nepali state forces Tibetans to face humiliation in their lives—making it difficult for them to travel, buy property, or access basic services which require proof of citizenship. Despite all this, Tibetans have thrived in Nepal, and some have settled down roots. For many, though, Nepal remains a hostile country and unfortunately migration from Tibetan communities are on the rise, as with other communities in Nepal. If we are to make this a hospitable country, the new Nepali Constitution must give Tibetans legal recognition as naturalized citizens, as other democratic countries do. And it must give them equal rights to those of all other ethnic and religious groups. We can’t undo China’s stupidity in decimating and applying genocidal policies to one of its most potent cultural groups. What we can do is embrace our own, and perhaps, through that, show them the way.

There was a joke that circulated in Nepal during the Eighties. When it rained in Russia, the joke went, the Communists in Nepal would open up their umbrellas. Let it not be said that when repression starts in China, the Nepali Maoists follow suit. The Nepali politicians are accountable to their own constituency of 30 million Nepali citizens, which include Tibetans-- not to China. And this means that our government should be thinking about ways in which to include Tibetan communities into the Nepali nation—not about how to repress their freedom of speech.

But it is not just Nepali citizens who will be watching what happens on March 10th, the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising in Lhasa, but also the world. Let it not be said that our country, which has pledged to follow democratic norms, got swayed by a paltry bribe.

Nepal to China: no deal with Tibet till you give us a factory that makes cheap, pirated versions of Summer Palace rat and rabbit heads that we can sell to the international market. Then maybe we’ll help you to hang Yves St. Laurent.














SELLING OUT TO CHINA

Sushma Joshi




I laughed out loud when I read this news story: China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage lodged a protest when the auction house Christie sold two bronze sculptures—the head of a rat and a rabbit—at US$36 million.




According to an AP report: “"Christie's obstinately went on with the auction of the Summer Palace relics, going against the spirit of relevant international conventions and the international common understanding that cultural relics should be returned to their country of origin," the administration said in a statement.”




China, which has flouted every law in the international lawbooks, from human rights to environment, from labor standards to media freedom, from ethical standards of treatment of prisoners to copyright, is now evoking international law to shame Western pirates! Isn’t that ironic? But now we know. Even China, it appears, is willing to quote international law when expedient.




China gets furious when Yves St. Laurent makes a pile of cash selling stolen Chinese art—but China doesn’t get upset when it makes a pile of cash pirating Western art. All the Mona Lisa on tea-trays—shouldn’t China be paying a royalty to Bill Gates for that? I heard he owns the rights to that image.




Our own Maoists seem to have learnt this pick-and-choose method of following laws from our neighbour: one day they cite international human rights laws, the next day they apologize for beating up or killing people. Even a child knows the limitations of “sorry”—sorry is okay for scrawling on walls with crayons or breaking a glass. “Sorry” is not adequate for assault or murder. (And while we are on the topic of terminology, lets get clear on “martyr”—a martyr is someone who voluntarily sacrifices his/ her life or freedom to further a cause or belief. A person murdered by criminals, or one who loses his life in a road accident caused by inadequate traffic and road maintenance management, cannot be termed a martyr.)




Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hu Zhengyue flew in to Nepal, shook hands with Prachanda, offered a 400 MW electricity project in Jajarkot, told him to keep the Tibetans under control, then flew off again. How insulting! Does the minister think Nepalis are so easily bought? The least he could have done is offered us a couple of new highways, a solar power manufacturing factory, and at least a 1000 MW electricity plant. And if the Chinese are so filthy rich, why don’t they just throw in a solar powered car for each of Nepal’s 30 million citizens? And add a special pirated DVD containing the oeuvre of Chinese cinema for each? Now we’re talking.




There is a lot of buzz around the new relationship with China—a new version of the 1950 treaty, and special economic processing zones that China may invest in. But do we really want to follow that model of creating incredibly repressive work environments in which people are locked in and forced to work for hours to create more and more cheap clothing for the Western world? Is this really the way forward for Nepal? Does Nepal always have to follow China, or can David lead Goliath?




The Tibetans living in Nepal are Nepali citizens, whether the 1991 Constitution recognizes them as such or not. Those who came in 1959 have lived here for around fifty years, and know more about Nepal’s history than many living Nepali youth. Those who were born here, despite Nepal’s unwillingness to recognize them, are Nepali nationals, born and raised here, speaking the language and knowing no other country. Tibetans have enriched Nepal’s cultural and religious landscapes, strengthened our economy and trade, influenced our arts, revived our architecture, sung our songs and made our films. They are our citizens and have as much right to be in Nepal and to enjoy the rights of every Nepali citizen—including the right to free assembly and protest.




The Nepali state forces Tibetans to face humiliation in their lives—making it difficult for them to travel, buy property, or access basic services which require proof of citizenship. Despite all this, Tibetans have thrived in Nepal, and some have settled down roots. For many, though, Nepal remains a hostile country and unfortunately migration from Tibetan communities are on the rise, as with other communities in Nepal. If we are to make this a hospitable country, the new Nepali Constitution must give Tibetans legal recognition as naturalized citizens, as other democratic countries do. And it must give them equal rights to those of all other ethnic and religious groups. We can’t undo China’s stupidity in decimating and applying genocidal policies to one of its most potent cultural groups. What we can do is embrace our own, and perhaps, through that, show them the way.




There was a joke that circulated in Nepal during the Eighties. When it rained in Russia, the joke went, the Communists in Nepal would open up their umbrellas. Let it not be said that when repression starts in China, the Nepali Maoists follow suit. The Nepali politicians are accountable to their own constituency of 30 million Nepali citizens, which include Tibetans-- not to China. And this means that our government should be thinking about ways in which to include Tibetan communities into the Nepali nation—not about how to repress their freedom of speech.




But it is not just Nepali citizens who will be watching what happens on March 10th, the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising in Lhasa, but also the world. Let it not be said that our country, which has pledged to follow democratic norms, got swayed by a paltry bribe.




Nepal to China: no deal with Tibet till you give us a factory that makes cheap, pirated versions of Summer Palace rat and rabbit heads that we can sell to the international market. Then maybe we’ll help you to hang Yves St. Laurent.




21 February, 2009

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER

SUSHMA JOSHI
Kathmandu Post, 21/02/09

When I first met Devi Sunwar, in October 2004, she was her eyes were red from crying. The event was a launch of a report by Human Rights Watch titled “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. When Devi told the story of how her fifteen year old daughter, Maina, had been killed by soldiers, there was not a dry eye in the crowded conference hall. When I saw her again recently, five years later, I was struck to see how the expression in her face remained the same. It appeared to me that although her tears had dried, the sense of a woman who’d faced deep trauma remained.


I wondered aloud to Geeta, her niece, how there had been so much funding poured to compensation for victims of conflict, but somehow the lessening of grief and trauma that should have taken place by now hadn’t happened. Where, I wondered, had all those millions gone? Shouldn’t some of it had gone into rehabilitating those who were directly impacted by the conflict? Shouldn’t some of it have been spent on psychological and grief counseling? People assure me that there are large-scale projects ongoing at various districts for this purpose. And yet, in the search for legal justice, the psychological dimension seems to have gotten lost.


Unlike Devi, who has managed to garner high profile media attention, thousands of other family members and relatives have not come out in the limelight. What about their psychological and economic state? Have they been redressed? Does the one lakh promised by the state do more than provide a token sense of justice, when meantime they need more substantive support?


In discussing the case with Devi, I learnt that the men responsible for her daughter’s death, who have been identified and known, remain free. One of them, interestingly, may have migrated to the United States. This reminded me how it is not just the Nepali state but also other states who have been lax about monitoring the movement of human rights violators. It would take only a few simple steps to figure out the names of the major figures involved in the most egregious violations and tag them in a database. Prosecution of one human rights case, people fear, may open up a can of worms that would put everybody from elected government reps to army officers at all levels on trail. But until a few cases are publicly prosecuted and given high profile media coverage, acts of impunity will continue to occur in Nepal.


The breakdown of law and order is something every citizen of Nepal has noticed. And impunity, of both the past and the present, heighten the sense that its easy to get away with murder. At a recent gathering, I was surprised to hear how the Uma Singh case was being discussed—the public discourse had now moved from a simple narrative of a female journalist murdered by a gang of men, to that of an evil sister-in-law (what a convenient scapegoat! And female to boot. The perfect afternoon soap opera motif) to the fact that Uma’s family members were probably killed by the Maoists because they did something evil, and perhaps she was involved in trafficking and that’s why she was killed. Indeed, people seem to have lost track of the fact that she was a human being who was brutally murdered by a gang of men. The public discourse, fueled by yellow journalism, gets murkier and murkier, and it appears that in this darkness the killers hope nobody will remember who did it, making the need for justice redundant.


In the bestselling book Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, the author has an interesting example about law and order. In the eighties, New York city was a hotbed of crime. The new mayor who came in, instead of trying to tackle the big criminals, decided to take a different approach. Instead of arming the police and stationing them to catch the major mobsters, the city decided to hit upon low-level crime—basically, the men and women who jumped over turnstiles without paying their fare when entering the subway station. This one instance of crime-control had a dramatic effect. Not only did the police find that many of the small criminals led them to big criminals, but also the psychological effect of law and order in one small space affected all aspects of life, leading to a drastic reduction of crime. The other thing they did was paint over graffiti—each time somebody painted a train with graffiti, they would paint over it overnight. And these two small instances were enough to change the whole profile of the city and made it safer over a few years.


Nepali lawmakers need to think about a similar strategy. Start with better policing of traffic violations, for instance, may make people think they are living inside a law-abiding society. Spending money on traffic lights, zebra crossings, traffic police and highway police will be an easy way to start restoring law and order. The right to shoot should be restricted—not expanded. In a country where the rank and file are not well-trained and where impunity has had a happy history, it is insanity to open up more chances for soldiers and police to shoot at citizens. The army could start out with prosecution of small crime within its ranks, letting its people know its not easy to get away after an act of impunity.


The Nepali army is notoriously reluctant to put its soldiers on trial—even when there is clear proof of wrongdoing. The most classic case may have been the soldier who shot and killed 11 bystanders after an instance of drunken rage in Nagarkot in December 2005. The soldier had been harassing some women and some men told him to lay off. Instead of being put on trail and prosecuted through the proper channels, he was conveniently shot dead. Mad prince Dipendra, after his shooting spree, was also reportedly killed from a bullet wound on one side of his head, the opposite of the hand he favored—meaning he was executed, and that he didn’t just bring his hand around to the wrong side of his head in some strange yogic suicidal move. Clearly if the Army can’t even put its rank and file on trail, it would have the greatest reluctance to put a comatose king on public trail.


This tradition of meting out traditional justice in favor of the modern legal system has to end. The Nepali law and order system can start with prosecuting small crimes, which in turn will have a psychological impact on big crime. Perhaps these small steps, in their own way, may be the first few steps to bring about an end to impunity in Nepal.


As for those who committed war crimes during the civil war, they have surely by now learnt that the arm of justice is long, and stalks relentlessly. Wherever they migrate to, violators of human rights must feel the heat of that truth—its not that easy to get away with murder.

15 February, 2009

Art solutions


Sushma Joshi Sunday February 15, 2009
Source : THE KATHMANDU POST
A group of young schoolchildren sat on the floor and listened to their teacher, who stood in front of a painting by Gaugain, explaining the difference between the West and other cultures. I was in the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. I watched with amazement as the group of five year olds listened to their teacher with complete attention. The teacher, looking about, chose a child to ask a question, and the forest of eager hands said there was more than one child who wanted to answer. A day ago, I'd watched a similar group of children listen to their teacher tell them about a gigantic painting of a long-dead royal family at the Prado Museum. The reverence with which the children sat in front of the paintings was palpable.

For a Nepali visitor in Spain, the question inevitably rises -- how can the citizens of these countries imagine a world in which the traffic always flows smoothly, electricity and water is available to all, and education is plentiful, while ours struggles with dysfunctional systems which can't provide these basic necessities? To me, the answer is not just that we suffer from poverty (we don't, we have some of the most plentiful natural and human resources in the world) but because we suffer from a lack of creativity. And creativity, and the philosophical basis of humanism which sees basic necessities as rights of all citizens, of course, is a learnt concept. Unless we teach our children these concepts, they don't manifest in our daily lives.

Art of course is not just the frivolous creations to be bought by rich people. Art also reflects and shapes the nation. There is a famous series by Goya which depicts industry, commerce, agriculture and poetry -- the building blocks of a nation. In the three major museums of Madrid, the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bornemisza, I saw lines of people lining up to see the works that lie there. And the Spanish leave nobody out --from major to minor artists, they are all there, waiting for people to see again and recapitulate hundreds of years of history.

I often hear the boast that Nepal has many “living museums.” Unfortunately, this doesn't mean we take our children there and explain to them the history and significance of these places, or teach them how to continue the crafts and arts which made these living museums possible in the first place. “We shouldn't be proud of ourselves because of what our ancestors did four hundred years ago,” an eminent artist said to me recently. Why not, I inquired. “Because we haven't anything to show for ourselves at the present,” he responded. And in truth, I have to say that the work that came out of this country a few hundred years ago far excels the work being produced in Nepal at the current time.

And for a country of twenty-six million people, we have yet to build ourselves a museum of contemporary art. Of course we have plenty of private citizens who own not just paintings, but also sculpture, pottery, negatives of photographs, old film and other works which would fill more than one museum. Even if the Chitrakars did a spring clean of their attics, no doubt Kathmandu would have a world class museum, I joked to a Chitrakar friend. And I have no doubt our most well-known artists, as well as emerging ones, would not hesitate to donate their works were such an institution to coalesce into existence.

Of course, donations of private collections must be done on a voluntary manner, but until Nepal starts to work on trust in institutions, we may not yet get our MOMA. A museum of modern art, which would teach students from all across Nepal about the country's many artistic heritages, would have to created by a team of impeccable character and trustworthy credentials, and in the current environment of insecurity and distrust, this appears to be a few years away.

But a museum of modern art wouldn't just be profitable to artists, art curators, and art management people alike. It would also, I firmly believe, create a generation of children who'd learn about how to think their way out of problems in innovative ways. Art education, which is mandatory in many countries, doesn't unfortunately exist in but a very few private schools in Nepal. And even that is piecemeal, and attached to the understanding that the arts are dispensable and secondary.

But all this may be changing. Last Tuesday, a friend of mine handed me a ticket to a school play staged by Alok Vidhyashram, a private school. The play was in the Nepal Academy Hall, and cost Rs.200 -- a rather excessive price for a school play, and wasn't the venue rather large, I thought. Imagine my surprise when I went there to find the hall fully packed. Not only was the crowd attentive, but the play was staged with professional costumes, sets and children who acted with cool self confidence and absolute command of their lines. I quickly revised my opinion of school plays -- indeed, the theatre director (who I heard later had been imported from India) had used his assets to the maximum, using the entire school as his cast, and filling up the stage with every theatre director's dream -- a stage full of adorable, natural actors. The play, a reenactment of the Ramayana, was in English, and the Nepali speaking parents had trouble following the script -- the only irony. But indeed, when the subcontinent stages the Ramayana in a babble of tongues, it didn't appear to be out of place to hear the children speak a thousand year old myth in a modern tongue. The school, with a maximum investment of Rs.800 per child, which the parents happily paid up, had managed to instill the best ethics of art -- creativity, discipline, teamwork, and self-confidence -- with a single play.

Theatres, art, film, literature -- all of these are integrally tied, and all of these should be taught in our schools not as something separate from the curriculum but as part of it. And this in-school education should be supplemented with visits to institutions like museums which give children not just a sense of their nation's history, but also pride in their own achievements and heritages, as well as a sense of possibility about their own abilities to create such works. Only then can a country like Nepal, whose most precious resource is its people, will be able to think its way out of its current mess.

07 February, 2009

The house of Garcia Lorca




Sushma Joshi
Our inability and our reluctance to preserve and share the spaces of the great writers, poets and artists of Nepal gives the impression that we have less than we do

I'll be honest with you. The only reason I heard about Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca is because a favorite song of mine is inspired by him. ¨Take this waltz, ¨ by Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, I learnt, was based on Garcia Lorca´s poetry. Singer-songwriter Cohen spent twelve or thirteen tours writing out the lyrics after reading a Lorca poem. Not only did Cohen write songs inspired by Lorca, he even named his daughter after him.

Who was this Lorca who had inspired a man whose songs draw reverent crowds in college campuses all over North America? Cohen is an iconoclast -- an intellectual who does several things at once, and all with perfect grace. He writes novels and poetry, he composes songs, he plays music, and he sings. After touring the house of Garcia Lorca, I understood why Cohen had been inspired. For like Cohen, his spiritual guru Lorca was also a Renaissance man, an artist who drew, wrote poetry and plays, and who directed theatre. Unlike many contemporary artists, who are often boxed into one genre or another, these folks were free to move from one media to another, understanding that there are no boundaries for expression, and for an artist all forms of creation is fair game. Lorca was also lucky -- unlike many artists who do many things and are condemned for it in times and places that don't understand them, he was born in a place and time in which a poet could also paint, and a painter could also write poetry. Granada in the twenties was a hotbed of creative activity, and it was clear Lorca was at the center of it.

I am determined to see Lorca´s summer home in Granada. But each time I go, it is closed. A group of feral cats congregate outside, being fed by a kind young man who explains to me that the house is only open at specific times, and I should return at the right time. The next morning, I get up early and walk there. And this time, it's open. ¨You're lucky,¨ the museum assistant told me, as I showed up early morning to see the house. ¨This house is meant to be seen in the sunlight.¨ And sure enough the sun poured in through the windows, highlighting the simple living room which still contains the original furniture when the Garcia Lorca family had used it as a summer home. Paintings done by obscure artists hung on the walls. Who is the artist, I ask. Oh, a friend of the family, the assistant dismisses. Not important. And yet, despite his obscure status, the painter had inspired the young Lorca.

I see a small framed painting in a corner which has many signatures. The drawing, explains the museum assistant, has been done by Lorca for a fellow artist, and everybody else has signed it. This sign of a vibrant artistic community which drew upon and thrived upon each others creative work reminded me again that art is a communal activity, and there is no person who is not inspired by his context.

Upstairs, where the parents' bedroom used to be, I see small notebook pages with his magical, playful and spare drawings. Lorca´s special signature, in which he plays with the letters of his own name, interweaving it with weeping suns, vines and faces in profile, is now found everywhere, from fridge magnets to t-shirts. The figures have something about the naive folk art about them, but also the sense of play with profiles which would inspire another Spanish born genius, Picasso.

Lorca´s bedroom is small and simple -- there is a small iron frame bed with a picture of a Mary above it. There is a big desk and above it is the poster of his theatre troupe. On the walls are paintings done by local artists. ¨This is it?¨ I say. The museum assistant smiles at my astonishment. ¨This is it.¨ The window looks out into the green trees which provided the restful atmosphere so important to an artist's creativity. Most of Lorca´s plays were written on this same desk.

After reading Lorca´s poems in the hills of Southern Spain, I saw a spectacular dream in which thousands of birds took flight into the sunset. Either there is something in the olive oil, or else there is some magic element in Southern Spain that heightens the emotions to extremes, making joy and sorrow feel so much more intense than at other places. Perhaps it is the background of Arabic history which spins poetry from stone and water in the background -- the Alhambra, an old palace left by Moorish kings, is an ever present reminder that Spain is a mixed place, where the sounds of Arabic music still resounds in the voices of children humming songs.

Lorca was one of the first people to popularize the then dying art of flamenco by holding a public competition in Granada. A photograph of his sister, dressed up in the flamenco outfit, hangs in one corner. Now, flamenco enjoys a popular revival on international stages and in theatre halls. Lorca also believed that classical theatre should be enjoyed by all people, and to this end he took touring troupes which performed radically modern interpretations of classical plays to rural areas of Spain. This work was funded by the Second Republic's Ministry of Education.

On 19th August, 1936, Garcia Lorca was shot by the Nationalists, who had started a mass campaign to eliminate all supporters of the Republic. Some believe his sexuality -- Lorca was homosexual -- may have played a part in his killing. In a remarkable instance of clairvoyance, Lorca wrote: "Then I realised I had been murdered They looked for me in cafes, cemeteries and churches .... but they did not find me. They never found me? No. They never found me."

Walking through the house of Lorca reminded me again how important it is to preserve the physical spaces where artists lived and worked. In Vermont, I had walked through the home of another poet, Robert Frost. Frost´s ¨Stopping by woods on a snowy evening¨ was a poem I had to memorize as a child. Walking through his small cabin in the woods, seeing the old books on his bookshelves, seeing the kitchen with the sugar cans with the Sixties label still on it, and the markings on the bulky fridge, all of that was a truly incomparable experience. It was clear to all of us impressionable writer types walking through the cabin that the ghost of Robert Frost watched us as we walked through his bedroom. In the kitchen, I lifted up the telephone and said: "hello?" And was that a raspy breath I heard down the telephone? Later that evening, we sat in a circle and one woman produced a recording of Frost's voice. The sixty second recording brought home again how art lives on, even when the artist dies.

It is not that Nepal doesn't have great writers or artists in its history. No, it seems more that our inability, and our reluctance, to preserve and share the spares of the great writers and poets and artists of Nepal is what gives the impression that we have less than we do. Witness, for instance, the solid sculpture of Bhanubhakta Acharya which graces the Chaurastha plaza in Darjeeling. As a Nepali, I felt proud to see the image --unfortunately, I have to cross the border to India to see it.

A while back, I met a woman who shared with me a plan to restore and renovate Balkrishna Sama´s home, and make it financially viable as a cultural institution. It appears to me that we need more of these ventures and initiatives, not just from individuals but also the government which should put aside politics in a major campaign to preserve and revive cultural and artistic endeavours. The French and the Spanish keep all their artwork and their entire heritage, whichever end of the political spectrum the works were inspired by. It's about time we started to do the same.
Posted on: 2009-01-30 19:16:06 (Server Time)