Tag Archives: Nepal

With a huge bag of weed in Nepali customs

In Nepal I met a Swedish backpacker that had bought a huge bag of weed. He was taking a domestic flight and it never occurred to him that they might check his luggage there also, so he had casually packed the weed at the very top of his carry-on luggage. He landed in Kathmandu and was singled out for inspection.

The inspector opened his carry-on and took out the huge bag of weed. He then continued to empty out the guy’s pullover, t-shirt, sunglasses, guide book and water bottle. At the very bottom of the bag he found a neatly tied plastic bag with a couple of used batteries. The inspector took the bag, turned to the guy, demonstratively waved the batteries at him and scolded him:
– Certainly you know that you are not allowed to have batteries on the plane? You can’t just have them lying around like that!
– They were worn out and I couldn’t find a recycling station, the Swede excused himself.
– That makes absolutely no difference! You never, ever fly with batteries. I never want to see you do something that stupid again! Got it?
The irritated inspector confiscated the batteries and then packed the guys bag again. The water bottle, guide book, sunglasses, t-shirt, pullover and last the huge bag of weed. He zipped up the carry-on and with a frown pushed it over to the Swede.
– Go. Just go.

Photo: Favourite Flight by Sam Hawley on Flickr

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Jumping to conclusions

My guide in the Chitwan national park in Nepal was from the indigenous population in the area. They used to live inside the national park, in the jungle, but then the government forced them to move out.
– That’s terrible! I spontaneously burst out when he told me.
– Oh? Why?
– Well, governments forcefully removing indigenous people… It’s just awful!
– Why is it awful? he asked.
– You can’t just displace populations like that.
He looked at me and shook his head a little. Then came the explanation.
– It was really stupid of us to live there. I have no idea why we did. We lived in grass huts in a jungle full of wild animals. One night a crazy elephant would bulldoze right through the village bringing half of it down. The next night rhinoceroses would do the same to the rest, so we had to rebuild the entire village over and over. When we did our laundry in the river crocodiles would attack us. I really don’t understand why we lived there. It was the worst place imaginable to live in. I’m happy that I got out alive.

It is easy to think that you have all the answers before you have all the facts.

We need to remember that our kneejerk answers often have a strong bias. They are programmed into us from an early age by the culture we are part of. Although we have treated (and still treat) indigenous populations in the most despicable of ways in the West, there is a way of talking about them as noble savages that live in harmony with nature and should be left alone. We don’t think of them as really bad village planners that are on the verge of going extinct by their poor living choices. My answer had absolutely nothing to do with the real situation. It was my society’s programming expressing itself through me.

Most of the time it is much better to ask questions than to try to give answers.

Photo: In Chitwan by Daniel Wilby

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