Monday, 2 October 2006

An apology, maybe

Many of the posts in Other Men's Flowers might well give offence to someone; indeed, a few are actually intended to do just that. Nevertheless I was surprised that what I had thought was a harmless bit of levity about the King of Nepal’s crown should have elicited this anonymous comment which I moderated out but reproduce, exactly, here:
“its ok that you feel this way abt the king. but who the hell are you to mock the crown? it has been a sign of sovereignity and unity for nepal. keep your stupid humor and low sense of respect for others nation to yourself you low life person”

Oh dear. Many Nepalis have a low opinion of their royal family (with good reason, though the present king seems a harmless sort of chap, unlikely to run murderously amok as did another member of his family), and it never occurred to me that there might be some who venerate their trappings. Anyway it looks as if in recent years the crown has failed dismally as a symbol of unity for that unhappy country, and I doubt if Anonymous knows anything about the place: he just doesn't sound like any Nepalese person I have ever met, somehow. If I took his rancour seriously I might point out that my lack of respect for royal headgear is not confined to those of “others nation”: in the same post I noted that our own dear Queen looks pretty silly in hers.
But if Anonymous really is a patriotic royalist Nepali to whom I have given offence then I am very sorry, for I have the warmest feelings towards his countrymen and would not want to upset any of them.
A few years ago my wife and I went to Kathmandu (on business, sort of) and on to Pokhara (for a holiday), and we have very happy memories of the gentle charm of our Nepali colleagues and the friendliness of almost everyone we met.

And, of course, of the scenery, which I cannot resist illustrating with this picture of Anne and a young friend in one of the less spectacular valleys (click on it to see it full size).

But I also want to show this rather poor photo which recalls an encounter amounting to nothing much but which I shall never forget.

When we were doing the tourist bit in the centre of Kathmandu a young boy attached himself to us. There was something a bit odd about him; he looked rather sad, he didn’t seem to be able to say much and had some strange mannerisms, but was clearly harmless.
He followed us around all the time we were there, occasionally patting our arms very gently and not insistently. When it was time to go we gave him some money but he clearly hadn’t expected it: he had just been enjoying our company. Then as we shook his hand he gave us a smile of such beauty that the memory of it is with me to this day.

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