Anticipating Restoration
by thE suMMEr of 2009, Nepal’s new state apparatus was taking
shape. The monarchy was officially abolished in December 2007, a
condition of a peace settlement between the Maoists and a newly
convened Parliament. Four months later, elections to a new constitu-
ent assembly delivered the largest bloc of seats to the Maoists, and
soon after, in May 2008, Nepal was declared a republic. Prachanda,
a central figure in the Maoist leadership since the early days of the
People’s War, became the prime minister, and for a period the “inte-
gration” of a revolutionary movement into democratic party politics
appeared more straightforward, and even more peaceful, than my
Kathmandu- based informants had initially feared. Prachanda’s tenure
as prime minister was short- lived, however; in May 2009 he resigned
for reasons formally attributed to his opposition to President Ram
Baran Yadav’s firing of the Nepal Army chief. The Valley witnessed
fresh demonstrations and strikes, but the postmonarchy parliamen-
tary government, and formal peace between that government and the
Maoists, remains in place.
I returned to Kathmandu in June 2009 to attend a celebration with
my host family: One of Jyoti’s and Krishna’s sons would be married
during a week of rituals and festivities. It was my first visit since 2007,
and I was eager to reconnect with those in my domestic and research
spheres. I was curious about the latest condition of the riverscape that
I had traced for over a decade.
A brother from my host family met me on my arrival at Tribhuvan
Airport, proud to drive me to Satdobato in a car loaned by his em-
ployer. As we inched our way through heavy traffic on the city’s Ring
Road, he told me of grand municipal plans to widen the thoroughfare
and to construct another, larger, outer highway. These changes were
welcome and needed, he explained; new infrastructure was the only
way to accommodate what had become an unmanageable load of pri-
vate vehicles in the Valley.
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