The summer of 1997, after spending nine years abroad, I returned to Nepal with the intention of spending a year before I went off to the US for my teaching qualification. I did some odd jobs in addition to teaching. For a while, I even held down a few jobs at the same time.
One of the things I did was to host a radio show on the only FM station in Kathmandu at the time.
Marlboro Music Network was the name of the show. I was on air 7-8 pm every evening five days a week! Being a music program, I played all kinds of music though mainly Western. The rest of the time, I was told I could comment on anything and anyone as long as I didn’t “name names of people in high places.”
So I did…make all kinds of social commentaries. I talked about all kinds of things, events, people etc.
In the February 8 episode, I commented on an article about — and an incident involving — beauty pageant contestants. (Nepal had just begun participating in the contest. This year it’s scheduled for July 8.) I don’t remember how it happened, but I even went and saw one of the contests then.
Reproduced below is the transcript of that hour about beauty pageant contestants and my experience with two of them.
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Awe right….Good evening.
This is Dorje and I’m back again with yet another hour of Marlboro Music Network here on the one and only Kantipur FM. And this time I do have a question for you.
You have heard of the height of this and the height of that. You know the jokes…. My question is: what is the height of rudeness?
While you ponder over that question, here’s….
The other day I was reading an old issue of the Kathmandu Today and I came across two measurements: 8484 square km and 8848 ft.
And if those questions I raised earlier weren’t enough, here’s yet another one: What are these the measurements of? And what do these numbers have to do with the height of rudeness? Stick around.
In the mean time,….
No neither of those measurements have anything to do with the height of rudeness. 8484 square km and 8848 ft., according to The Kathmandu Post today, were the heights (rather altitudes) of Mount Everest as told by the first and second runners-up in the Miss World Nepal beauty pageant contest!!
And the height of rudeness? It has something to do with beauty pageant participants. Details to follow.
In the mean time here’s….
I was returning home from the other beauty pageant, the second of the two, with two other friends and two of the beauty pageant contestants. The girls had run up to our taxi just as we were about to pull out, asked for a ride, and though their destination was a little out of the way, we had agreed to give them a lift just the same.
What happened or, more precisely, what didn’t happen during this ride is what the height of rudeness is all about. More about that later.
In the mean time, here’s….
So, there we were in a car with two girls one of whom had obviously won an award. And naturally, one of my friends and I tried to strike a conversation with them. We asked them questions such as what are your names, what awards did you win et cetera — not one, not two, a few questions!
But would you believe it? — they just did not respond!
You would have thought they had been struck dumb, and you know something, I might have accepted that!
And why? More about that later.
In the mean time, here’s….
I could have accepted that they been struck dumb when they saw who they were with…because the three of us could have passed for gundas [thugs] right out of a Nepali movie.
As they had run up to the taxi just as we were about to pull out, they hadn’t really seen us until they got into the car. And all three of us sport long hair, ear rings and studs, and two of us hadn’t shaved in quite a while.
But, they weren’t dumb struck — they talked to one another! With us however they wouldn’t exchange a single word throughout the ride!
If 8484 square km and 8848 ft are the altitudes of Mt. Everest, then that definitely is the height of rudeness. I don’t of course mean to suggest that the beauty pageant participants are all rude. No sir.
Maybe we were just unlucky; maybe we just happened to meet the rudest of the bunch.
That brings me to the end of this hour. This is Dorje signing off with….
[Music and closing jingle.]
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While at the time I did think they were rude, and anti-social, in spite of our being kind enough to give them a lift, taking a detour to drop them off where they were staying in Kathmandu, looking back now, I believe I was a little harsh in my judgement of the girls.
Added after the publication of the blog because of their relevance to the topic.
The Kathmandu Post (Sept. 12, 2018). Clamour for Glamor. Excellent piece describing some of the issues with beauty pageants in the country. [Added on Dec. 14, 2018.]