In the title story; Bikram achieves his most urgent middle-class dream; to emigrate to London. Young phoren-returned Nepalis hang out in the bars of Thamel in ‘Night Out in Kathmandu’; sharing tables with those who did not—could not—go. They ...
talk about pretty much the same things: visas; music; booze; the impossibility of getting laid in the city. There are foreigners too; trekking on the usual routes; smoking cheap grass and looking for their inner selves. The Maobadis loom large in ‘Home for Dashain’; wreaking vengeance on behalf of the people. Though rarely mentioned in the city; they are ever present; invoked by the sad pole dancers in the more risqué bars and the transvestites pounding the streets looking for customers. And in 'Aryaghat'; a Kathmandu family lays to rest the ashes of a Nepali boy who has committed suicide in Alabama.
The sixteen stories in Nothing to Declare are passionate; pensive and at times disenchanted. They mirror the experiences of the middle-class youth of Kathmandu as they build lives; trying to make sense—and pushing the limits—of a rapidly changing but ever-conservative society. Vividly imagined and deeply felt; this is a brilliant debut.
Number of pages: 184
Date of publication: 01/01/2011
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