Such is the fascination for English names among the college-goers and educators that "Many sound more like American or British colleges (or English football clubs) than Nepali: Chelsea International, Caribbean College, Caspian Valley, Bridgewater Int'l, Guinness Int'l, Welhams College, Columbus, Gillette College, Golden Gate College, Thames International College, Bernhard Campus, Northfield Campus, Xavier Academy, New Millennium, Liverpool International College, to name a few".
Journalist Anand Gurung sheds his frustration towards Nepalis' fascination with the West in the article Kathmandu Capers in his debut book Journalism & Journeys. The book honestly expresses the author's impressions detailing the nuances of daily lives in Nepal in form of travel essays and articles. All 19 articles are engrossing and will take you through the streets of Kathmandu, jungles of the Terai, and even to Raxaul and Darjeeling of India.
In the article A house in the City, he laments at the concrete jungle the Kathmandu Valley is turning into. In Tragic Traffic Tales he highlights the plights of the public vehicle users, the tampering of meters by the taxi drivers and the reckless motorbike riders.
While talking about mundane affairs, Anand raises some serious policy issues in his article Mongolian Momo. He states: "The state's policy of systematic discrimination meant that the Janjatis, Dalits, Madhesis and of course, women, were completely sidelined. They were left out in the cold and had no voice in the running of the state. The state never fostered national integrity by advocating social and economic justice for them. Instead, the Kathmandu rulers forcefully tried to thrust one religion, language and culture on them to promote the sense of "Nepaliness" and partly succeeded in this attempt."
In Wildlife Diaries, he highlights the community conservation efforts in Bardia to save the wild animals. He interviews the community based anti-poaching unit members and the Chief Warden of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve to find out about poaching and poachers. In The Hissing Trishuli Rapids, he describes the thrills of rafting in the famous Trishuli River. Having had a similar experience in the rapids of Bheri River, I liked this piece the most.
Anand's writing sometimes turns poetic which makes the read more pleasurable. His attention to details takes you right to the action point. You never get bored and find newness in each of the writing. The articles are a mix of all sorts of jottings and cater to all types of readers. However, had the book been a collection of either travel essays or personal impressions, it would have garnered niche readers.
The above mentioned articles are only a glimpse of several other interesting articles that are compiled along with them. All the articles are beautifully written and deal with completely different topics. One link that binds them together is the mention of Nepal, Nepalis and Nepaliness. If you like Nepal and Nepalis, like reading from mundane affairs to serious issues, this book is meant just for you.
Anand Gurung is a Kathmandu based journalist and editor of the online portal Nepalnews. Journalism & Journeys is his debut book published by Vajra Publications, Kathmandu, Nepal and Dragon Publications, New Delhi, India. The book is priced at NRs 400 in Nepal and IRs 250 in India. The book is available at major bookstores in Kathmandu.