Family, Internet, New York City

English: Saraswoti temple at Budhanilkantha School
English: Saraswoti temple at Budhanilkantha School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 74th Street portion in Jackson Heights is the most famous Indian strip in all of North America. But then Wall Street - the world famous Wall Street - is not all that impressive either. It is but a pavement. It is not even a proper street.

I am an Indian who grew up in Nepal. I identify with the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Hindu minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan. I identify with the blacks in America because I grew up Indian in Nepal. That sums it up nice.

The DaMaJaMa equation in Nepal’s context can be seen in the head count of Nepalis in New York City. The smallest population is that of the Dalits. Madhesis are the second smallest group. Janajatis are sizeable, but they are dwarfed by even the Bahun Chhetri women. Bahun Chhetry men swarm the city’s Nepali holdings. You can’t say you will hold your breath until there is proportionate representation. At a micro level you reach out to people based on basic decency, courtesy, good behavior, bonhomie. It is not political. But then during the course of things you also pick up hate speech against Madhesis which is not a call to arms locally - you are not going to pick political fights with Indians a shouting distance from 74th Street - but rather a suggestion the fight is not over yet in Nepal.

I have little time for politics anymore, if any. But if I had, I would purchase a few phone cards, and start dialing up the leading Madhesi politicians in Nepal, most of whom I know. But instead I send out blog posts here and now. They pick it up in their Facebook inboxes.

When Ratan Jha launched ANTA years ago, I was the only Madhesi he knew in NYC. He reached out to me offering to make me Vice President. I said I can not be part of an organization that is non political. It gets in the way of the hard core political work I am doing. But I will help launch it in the city, which I did. That is why I don’t see me seeking any officer position with the NRNA, not now, not five years from now, not 10 years from now. If I had time, I’d instead express interest in the US presidential politics, or the city’s mayoral politics. But then we all watch the sports of our choice. My sport of choice right now is Indian politics. I watch it closely. I need it.

Budhanilkantha School died for me towards the end of my Class 10 year through an administrative decision people who ran the place took. The Bahuns and the British who ran the place ganged up on me and destroyed the final three and a half years of my high school years. And I was a star student, not only academically, but also because I had given the best year to my house Kanchenjunga as House Captain that any house captain ever in that school’s history had given to any house to date. Precisely because I was a star student they came after me.

Berea College died for me early in my term as student body president there. I got myself elected to the office as a freshman, a school record, within six months of landing as an international student. An administrative decision by the Student Life Department killed that college for me that I tried so hard to get into.

Becoming Barack Obama’s first full time volunteer in NYC was me getting even. But that also asked for its own price, the steepest price I have paid in life to date.

The Nepali identify is being formed as we speak. I have never been a Nepali before. But I might become some day, if the country gets a constitution fair to the DaMaJaMa, if the state is restructured right. In that I don’t have a country right now. But I sure would like to contribute to the creation of that fair Nepali identity. If Charlie Rangel would not have messed up, and if I had been able to give total attention, Nepal would have had its constitution through the first Constituent Assembly itself.

I have my family that I love. I have the Internet. And I have New York City. The institution I most identify with right now is the company I am working to create. I worked full time for Nepal’s democracy in 2005-06. Then I worked full time for the Madhesi Movement. Now my total focus is on Nepal’s economic development. The only Nepali interactions I am truly interested in are business deals I can cut. I have a super network in Kathmandu. I can get all the hydro projects I want, no sweat. But I will get serious on that count later. Right now I am focused on software, especially on the augmented reality mobile game my team is working on. I am also about to do some fundraising for other people’s biotech startups.

The best way for a NYC Nepali to interact with me right now is to angel invest in some of my endeavors. Do it or miss the boat and regret in a few short years.

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