Lionhearted athletes

In praise of the performance of the Nepali players in the South Asian Games (SAG) 2010

Nepal was placed fifth with eight gold medals, nine silver medals and 19 bronze medals. This was not a brilliant performance by Nepal, but nevertheless, it was a more than brilliant performance from the athletes – everybody of them, the winners of the medals and others.

I am saying this because throughout my career as sports journalist I have always felt that the athletes are into the game for just one thing: the passion. Whatever they perform is more of their individual commitment and dedication as the country, I understand why, has not done many things to help groom their talents.

And, we know well the officials. This SAG, the officials did not perform well to ensure that the Bangladeshi organizers got the right national anthem to play [they played wrong anthem repeatedly]; some of the officials played war-of-words in the arena [in kabbadi] and many of them probably learnt how the game, they were official for, is played!

Nepal’s sport is as usual – sadly not much improvement in the past decade!

But most of the athletes are different! They play for their passion and pride of the nation despite knowing that they are offered peanuts. The country is not able to provide them more facilities or life-living options; but we have also failed to provide them what we could have easily done – the morale boosting moral support.

This SAG, there were a few beyond average performances that showed the talent and passion of the players.

Debu Thapa, the judo player, had the heart to compete and win a bronze despite being in a hospital after a lift accident at hotel.

Rajendra Bhandari, the Nepal Army runner who was banned for two years after testing positive for performance boosting medicine use in 2007, returned with a bang – in different category: the marathon [earlier he was running 3000m and 5000m] and won the gold.

Deepak Bista, the taekwondo icon who is already in the history book qualifying for the Olympics and winning three SAG gold medals, had passion and zeal enough to win fourth gold with a weakened knee.

Aren’t they lionhearted athletes? Of course, they are. [And, when they were winning I was remembering how disappointed Deepak was when the government terminated his temporary appointment at National Sports Council a couple of years ago / and how harshly the officials and how emotionally Rajendra reacted to his drug test results!]

Salute to them and all other athletes of the country!

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I love Bhaktapur

One of my favorite activities while on holidays is roaming in and around the Bhaktapur Durbar Square – a UNESCO heritage site in my home district.

Being rich in art and artifacts, the mediaeval palace and its surroundings offer me something new every time I spent time there. Sometime, I discover an art I have never noticed, other times, I walk through a new alley and most of the time the square offers me a different kind of tranquility despite never being deserted.

I love sitting on a corner watching people’s activities: tourists taking photographs, children playing around, elders sitting together chatting and smiling and people moving. I feel almost like watching a favorite program on a muted television.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is different than Kathmandu or Patan Durbar Square, for it seems lazily peaceful; for it offers glimpses into lives of people still to be touched much by modernity. It looks more a community backyard than a touristic attraction.

Last Saturday I was there for a peaceful evening just strolling around with my beloved wife and taking a few photographs and the most interesting piece I discovered, that I had never noticed before, was a statue just beside the famous 55-windowed-palace.

It’s a woman walking with a dog and dragging a child [distinctly a boy]. Here it is:

More about Bhaktapur: Nepal Tourism Board, Wikipedia & Virtual Tour to Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

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Troublesome gunture

Gunture n. 1. gun culture. 2. use of guns in society.

Today, Jamim Shah, a media entrepreneur, was shot dead in his car at Lazimpat, Kathmandu. Shah, the owner of Channel Nepal – the first satellite television channel of the country and also of a cable television network, once was publisher of two national dailies.

Every murder is cold blooded; but after hearing the news of Shah’s murder, I felt worse than a murder. Not only because he was a media entrepreneur but because it was an addition to a series where guns are used in a way unprecedented in our history.

A few days ago, fellow blogger KP Dhungana wrote an entry (Nepali link): Tomorrow’s headlines could be like these. He listed five hypothetical headlines:

  • Husband shot at wife for [tasteless] curry
  • Neighbors shot at each others on issue of waste, seven injured, three serious
  • Pistol found in tiffin box of 12-year-old
  • Guns used after motorcycles collide
  • Bus assistance shot at demanding passenger

It was more of a satire. But also was an indication to the future. The gunture is not new in developed countries – more so in USA. But we were not much used to such news. We called ourselves peaceful and the gunture was rare.

Thanks to the Maoists’ People’s War and the rise of armed groups in Terai along with the lack of impunity, the gunture is on the rise in Nepali society.

The murder of Shah may not be a perfect example of gunture but the murder of eight-year-old schoolboy Santosh Karki in Gothatar was. Innocent Karki became victim of gunture when gun was used in a minor conflict.

Nobody can deny the fact that the armed conflicts and impunity are chief motivating factors behind gunture that one day in future could endanger more innocent lives. Events like blind firing in crowded places could happen in future because not much concerns are shown in the psychological management of those who have fought or/and killed or/and seen killings of people during the Maoists’ armed revolt.

Impunity also should end; political parties should be concerned if their stand for political benefits is paving way for crimes in future.

Gunture is not going to be good for any of us!

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