Tuesday, July 02, 1996

What turns tourism terrible?

Razen Manandhar

We quote Vedas and say guests are gods. Now, however, the reality we see today is so different that it could just make us ridiculous. Our society has become so mundane that all our divine principles of hospitality have turned into dust. All we care for today is money. The word 'guest' has taken a different meaning altogether in the tourism industry.

Everyday we read that our government spends a huge amount of money to promote tourism. Seminars aren workshops are arranged and training programmes are conducted. But what of them? Dinners and lunches aside, what we get is only papers. Paper for paper's sake? I'm not such a fool as to expect pollution to stop. But I wish we could reform our polluted mentality.

A tourist comes to Nepal to enjoy the exotic beautiy, to gather some memoriies of this Sangri-la. But he is eventually subjected to tolerate and be indifferent to the chaos he sees all around him. You have no other choice than give excuses for all the mismanagement seen everywhere -- from airport to airport.

Some weeks ago, one of my foreign friends came here for holidays. At the airport, I had hardly greeted her when a boy suddently pushed the trolley near a parked taxi and threw her gaggage inside. We too were pushed in the cab as he hurridly told the driver the name of a small hotel where the boy belonged to. I could't even get the time to call the police.

I took her to historical places. I admired her diplomacy for she didn't complain of beggars, vendors, dust, water, noice and taxi fare. Well, when we were at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, a middleaged man poked his crooked nose on us.

"Who's that kuire with you?" he asked.

"Ah, a friend of mine. She's very happy to be here," I retorted.

"Llisten gentleman, we have an association of city guides and you are not allowed to operate as a tourist guide without license. It's beter you send her to me or…", he exploded.

I was dumbstruck to know that I had no right to stroll around my birthplace with friends. Eventually, the matter was settled with the help of two bottles of ber. We trand together and waved eath other good bye. But I forgot to ask whethere he had the licence or not.

Whenever I went to meet her in the hotel, the receptionist always did his best to drive me out. For him, all Nepalis were money changers or drugs sellers.

On the mornign she was to depart, I went to the escort her to the airport. The receptionist frowed as said, "Sorry, she is gone." I was in a fix. I knew there was plenty of time and I drote to the airport.

I waited for half an hour and she arrived. She was shocked and came to me with hears in her heyes. She explained," Thanks, you're here. But the guy told me that you rang him hearly in the morning, telling that you wouldn't come as your ma had an accident. How's she?"