Everything about living in Nepal these days is smart, and getting smarter. When he got elected, Kathmandu’s Mayor declared that he could make the capital a ‘smart city’. It may not seem like it to a casual observer, but he is making progress:
The reason lockdowns are so easy to enforce in Kathmandu is because we have been trained well to be locked up. First we had 30 years of Panchayat, then the dawn of democracy ushered in the glorious era of political shutdowns, when there were so many bands that we needed a website to just keep track of them. The way it worked was that if a disgruntled political party wanted to show a gruntled party who was boss, it incinerated a couple of taxis on the Ring Road early in the morning. After that, the public willingly stayed home in support of this ingenious non-violent form of civil disobedience. Unfortunately, after the new constitution, most political parties had been too lazy to organise lockdowns. But there is hope, the 5-party Alliance announced this week that Kathmandu will be a smart city again with daily street protests.
By closing down the Sisdole Landfill site from time to time, our over-smart city encourages a circular economy and lets trash pile up on roadsides, allowing street fauna to forage on it. What remains decays organically, producing compost that recycles valuable nutrients back into the soil, and protects our urban biodiversity.
Smart Alec PM
Aside from a smart mayor, we also have a Smarty Pants PM. People call him Prime Minister Wily, or the Old Fox, but he should call himself the Old Mule. From one mule to another, I must say this guy has outdone donkeyhood in general and asses in particular. Every time it looks like this is the end, he pulls another bunny out of his hat. How many hares does he have up his hair, anyway? The government is now down to a Gang of Five, so the only way for the opposition Gang of Four to keep up the pressure while the ball is in the Supreme Commander’s Court is to declare a nationwide smart shutdown during this smart lockdown.
One way to protect the city’s smartness is to make sure the streets are permanently dug up. This is deliberate. There is no better way to make people street smart, keep them on their toes, alert, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, than to lay booby traps along public thoroughfares. This also prepares for next year’s tourism by preserving the Valley’s rustic charm. Tourists don’t come to Kathmandu to see smooth asphalt roads and functioning traffic lights, they can do that in Singapore.
Aside from roads, what gives this smart city its distinctive ambience and unique aroma is the Bagmuddy River. Nepal’s capital may have been declared open-defecation free, but it still has a Sewage Canal running past our religious sites. When Nepalis exclaim “Holy shit!” they mean it literally.