Meanwhile in Kathmandu, the Nepali Times was changing the landscape of informed media. Kunda’s patrician profile and startling white head of hair is a familiar sight at newsworthy events and press gatherings around town.
His fearless approach and relentless satire sometimes got him into trouble, but the paper could always be relied on for an articulate opinion and a balanced view, highlighting issues where others feared to tread.
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Kunda’s gravitas was also in demand at book launches and current affairs debates. He was an unforgiving facilitator of a panel discussion that launched General Rookmangud Katawal’s autobiography, probing the finer political points amidst Kathmandu’s literati.
Five days prior to the 2015 earthquake, Kunda was with us on a sunny afternoon in the Dwarika’s Hotel courtyard to launch the bulky two volumes of Elizabeth Hawley’s chronicles that portrayed the evolving political and social scene in Nepal through some turbulent times from 1988 to 2007.
With Kunda’s assistance on finer linguistic niceties, Mikel Dunham and I had edited her monthly journal, which faithfully recorded the recent history of Nepal in a fresh light with her relentless accuracy, and without the benefit of hindsight. It had been a laborious task sorting through her extensive dusty ring binders and ancient computer files, with many diary entries having to be transcribed by hand or digitised from obsolete soft wear. Dr Bhekh Bahadur Thapa wrote the foreword, and the Nepali Times gave the book extensive coverage.
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It was several years later that Kunda collared me on a chilly winter evening at an ambassadorial reception. Both being dog lovers, we chatted innocuously about our labradors and my boxer before he sprang it on me. Would I like to contribute a fortnightly column about tourism and conservation? I had been asked before, but Kunda must have caught me at a weak moment, because this time I took a deep breath and agreed.
So, in this issue #999, I thank the Nepali Times’ team for the opportunity, and for every Friday interpreting the news for us non-Nepali-literate residents. And to say that we look forward to the next 1,000 editions.