Harish Khare, the Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune Group of Publications in India, was recently on a short trip to Nepal. The former Media Advisor of the Indian Prime Minister was “in Nepal for a spot of hiking and trekking and a lungful of fresh air”. The senior journalist who has also served as the chief of bureau with The Hindu seems to have different experiences here than the last time when he visited Nepal in 2013. In an article titled “Air of unfriendliness hangs in Nepal” that was published on The Tribune on Sunday, he has written about the experiences he had in his recent trip to Nepal.
“The mood in Nepal since  has discernibly changed. An audible ping of unfriendliness can be heard. The bad and bitter memories of the unofficial blockade we inflicted on Nepal two years ago have not faded away. The sour mood has travelled beyond Kathmandu”, he writes. “It is not what the Nepalese say; it is what they do not say. And what they no longer display is the old warmth, instant effusiveness, the pleasant welcome-ness that the Indians could smell.”
He even talks about the experiences he had with some people in Nepal. He writes, “The cabbie who drove us from Kathmandu to our northerly destination, Nagarkot, just refused to engage in dialogue about the Nepali politics. And when a question was asked about the madhesis, he simply turned up the volume on the car radio. End of conversation. A point made.”
“Compared to my recollections of the last visit, there was this time a marked reluctance to use Hindi by the ordinary Nepalese. An articulate young Nepali, who runs a health NGO in the interior area, politely told me that he would rather speak in English because he found conversing in Hindi somewhat tiring.”
“A motorcycle-taxi man insisted on not using Hindi because, as he put it, “I am trying to improve my English.” And in all this “no Hindi, English only” demeanour was a tinge of gentle defiance: “If you feel offended, so be it.”
He even writes how shocked he was to find out that people won’t even accept the Indian currency; as he writes, “The most glaring and disconcerting change is the non-acceptance of the Indian rupee. Earlier, the Indian rupee was the king, the most acceptable currency even in the remotest part and it was this that would give an Indian visitor a sense of easy acceptance and brotherly oneness in Nepal. Now, after demonetisation, the Indian currency is worthless.”
He finishes the article, writing, “Admittedly, not all links with India are snapped. Yes, matar paneer and dal makhani are still being served in the restaurants; and, lots of Indian goods are on display in the bazaars. And, there is no overt hostility; no marked unfriendliness; just surliness towards India and Indians.”
You can read the article published on The Tribune here.