Yes, I missed a day of work to sickness, it would have been more, but conveniently, I already had the time off for Christmas. Unfortunately for me, it meant that I missed my friend's Christmas party. Something I had been looking forward to for about 2 months. There was a great deal of hype about this party, with Jess even promising to bring back a leg of ham from Australia for the occaision. At one time there was a rival Christmas party which left her thinking no one was going to show. As a result she invited the crew from her work. The other party fell through making Jess the star attraction with a party of more than 40 people. I sadly spent most of Christmas day in bed feeling sorry for myself or sleeping, in-between attempts to watch some Jackie Chan movie.
That was two days ago however and yesterday I felt up to attempting solid food. Lacking the strength to bother cooking for myself, I headed out to a trustworthy cafe nearby and picked up the Friday weekly paper - the Nepali Times, I have never read it before, but it was recommended to me.
Just a short aside: I read something the other day that suggested there are two types of bloggers. Reporters and Examiners. Obviously, one reports on events, what I did / ate / defaecated etc. The other actually discusses things, talking about their reactions to certain situations, they report, but they also analyse. I am starting to get the feeling that I am only really reporting on this blog, which makes me a little sad, because I have more to offer than that. I guess I have been a little careful, as I don't want to insult or defame the programme I am on, or the people of Nepal. But sometimes you can be too careful, and I don't want to do that at the sacrifice of sharing my opinion and experiences. OK, thanks for bearing with me on that, end aside..
Getting to the end of an article in Nepali paper tends to give me mixed emotions. Usually shock. You see, although they publish it in English as well as Devanagari, most of the dailies are so poorly translated (or perhaps written in the first place) that it can be a shock to even get to the end without having given up. When you do make it to the end, you often have to go back and read it all again because it either contradicted itself or made no sense in the first place.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself reading the Nepali Times cover to cover. The latest in the schoolyard of political turmoil that is Nepal has developed over the last week. Last Friday, the Nepali Times apparently reported rather negatively on the trade unions antics, or its associations with the Maoist party (effectively those in power - although its supposedly a coalition government). Seeing this as a slight on their party (which in all seriousness it probably was), certain members took it upon themselves to storm Himalmedia's office, physically "intimidate" the journalists there, and light fire to certain parts of their equipment and/or office - sorry, I'm a little confused about the actual details. Their office in one district is actually still under siege, and they haven't been able to print any of their dailies all week.
This week's edition was reporting on the obvious attack this is on the free press - well-perceived as a truly democratic thing. It also highlighted the disunity that exists amongst the Maoist party - with the leadership agreeing on the poor nature of the attacks, but not really promising to put a stop to them. We are seeing a split developing amongst the party that is supposedly trying to unify Nepal.
This is where the examination comes in. Although I actually enjoyed reading the Nepali Times, it was hard not to see it as just the "Opinion" section of any paper. I have not read it each week certainly, so this could be an exception, but as far as newspapers go it appeared at no point to be objective and report the facts. The Maoists/trade union seem to be claiming that they were actually reacting to physical abuse from Himalmedia's managers on several staff they had let go, but as they have only really reported one side of the story I am left a little confused.
Its all well and good to promote a free press, as it is to villify these attacks. However that free press must also report both sides of the news. I fear in this case, the journalists are too close and personally involved in the attacks that it is difficult for them to report objectively, further alienating the Maoists who want their side of it reported too.
Coming from a country with relatively no violent political action I really hate to see people that think violence is the only way of expressing their political opinon. I find it worse that they can get away with it because the police don't have the sophistication (or perhaps the fortitude) to do anything but stand on the corner holding a stick or occaisionally walk down the street with an assault rifle or shotgun. At any rate, the developments following these incidents and the future of this more violent arm of the Maoist party will definitely impact on the future political landscape of the country. I watch in avid fascination.