I, in my worst nightmares wouldn’t want to step into any government office in Kathmandu but my job is such that I can’t help but face them with a smiling face and addressing them with respect-less “Sir”, every time I have to request them to sign my papers in order to get my job done. Now, you will know what I mean if you have had a chance to tour into any( and I mean ANY) department of any government office. The bureaucracy of the Rana era and the ghosts of the Shah dynasty still haunts our present civil servants. Thanks to our netas and their favoritism.
Recently, I was in the immigration office to renew visa for my clients. According to the rule, the applicant must be available for the visa renew process and no way they were going to make any exceptions about it. Since my clients were out of valley and were arriving after 3 days, no way they could be there. And I was amazed and happy at the same time because for once, they weren’t making any exception and sticking to the rule. But both my amazement and happiness was put to halt when a guy came to me and told me he could get the visa for my clients if I paid him Rs. 700 per person extra and they needn’t be there either. I was shocked and felt humiliated at the same time but I had no choice but to go ahead with it. So, I paid some Rs. 170000 extra just get the visa.
Below the immigration office and next to the parking lot is a complaint box at one corner. I promptly decided to write a complain letter about the whole incident and put it in the box. But as I approached the box, I saw few distress letter already almost covered with sand like a can in a beach and one was even a year old. And I thought, everyone knows what goes around in this office so whats the need to pretend like they care? Why put on some stupid box up on the wall to fool the people who come seeking for help.
I have always been against the whole concept of Tourism Year 2011. Not because its not good for the country…oh, its good but what matter is the intention. I don’t see any good intention for the country when I hear about the whole Tourism year thing. I have my reasons for it which, maybe I will pour my thought on it later in the year, but this is exactly one of the reason I think the whole concept will fall flat on the ground. The statistics might paint a different picture on how the tourist arrival have gone up but frankly, I don’t know where these goverment people come up with the numbers. I, along with almost every friends I have in this line feel that the number of tourist specially at this season this year is a all time low. I, during this time, in my previous years have had to work almost 18 hrs a day but this year, I have just been dancing my way through.
And why would the tourist come bhanya ni?? We invite them to see the most beautiful country and what we give them, load shedding nights, complicate bureaucratic procedures, harassment and so forth. Right from the time they step into immigration line at the TIA to the time they leave Kathmandu for the trekking, they are in constant tormenting, harassing and what not. The airport is full of loaders and I don’t know where the hell they manage to enter the check posts when we have to present our pass and answer at least 10 questions from the security personnel. The taxi wallah awaits at the parking lot to grab the tourists and bargain the 10th time of what costs to reach their hotel. At Thamel and before even reaching Thamel (near Keshar Mahal), there are kids at the stop signs, begging for food and money, a little further is a hump of garbage that somehow only increases. While in Thamel there are all kinds of sellers( from hashish to sex) pulling the tourists. I wonder what they think about us when they rest in the hotel. And ohh..not to mention the vagabonding cows, calf and dogs on the streets.
There is not even a miniature doubt that we have the most beautiful mountains, landscapes and villages that cannot be found anywhere around the world, and we are proud of it. But almost all the problems lies here at Kathmandu that we need to sort out first. If not, no tourism year, visit year or whatever year the Shakya family comes up with is going to eat dust.