Monday, 5 January 2009
Tom Weir was well acquantied with the Himalayas, scaling peaks throughout India, Pakistan and Nepal. Some details of these expeditions can be read in the hugely enjoyable "Weir's World", in which Tom also touches on his impressions of the region. Understandably for an autobiographical book by a travel writer, mountaineer and mainstream broadcaster, there's little chat about the politics of the places Tom visits (he was a barry gadgie but never a revolutionary).
The situation in and between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan continues to be a right bloody mess 60 years after the British Empire finaly cut and run (not that it wasn't a mess before then). Things in Nepal, however, look a lot more promising. Nepal is still one of the poorest countries in Southern Asia and its biggest export is still its people. Tens of thousands of guys (and yep, they're all guys) like Bishan, Bashant and Akash above head south for 6 months every year to cook tasty scran and serve drinks to loafers like me in the tourist spots of India.
I've met cheery and frighteningly hard working Nepali cats wherever i've been in India. There's no minimum wage and certainly no European Working Time Directive to protect these guys but every year they happily uproot from their families and friends to earn a comparitively good wage, the bulk of which goes back to sustain the communites from whence they came. Nepal really is a crazily poor country but things might be changing for the better. After decades of persistent and sometimes violent opposition to the corrupt, effete and downright nasty regime which tyrranised the country for centuries, Nepal's monarchy was finally toppled from power in 2007.
A new constitution and system of governement are still being thrashed out and for most people, little has changed so far. But the violence has abated and the Nepali people i've spoken to are genuinely optimistic about their country's future for the first time in their lives. I'm right up for binning our own shitey monarchy - whilst not in the same league as Nepal's, they are of course a shower of parasytical, tax avoiding in-breds and i'd love to see the day when they have to work for a living like awkunt else. Or mibbies they could sign on the brew. No sure i'd go as far as Bishan and Bashant in calling for a Leith Free State though.
By the way, how spawny were hibs yesterday?