Nepal is festered with feudal caste system, it has umpteen ethnicities or races of people and it is one of the many reasons why the nation is still lingering on the bottom of the poorest nations in the world. Due to globalization, migration has become a modern phenomenon and Nepalese were not the ones to be missing the gravy train and left behind. As a result, many Nepalese have gone abroad for work, study and family reunion, which have created quite a substantial numbers of Nepalese communities in various countries, and here in Hong Kong, seems no exception.
It is widely known fact that most of the original British Gurkhas and their families have already migrated to Great Britain after residency rights were granted there a few years back and whatever number of Nepalese people still living in Hong Kong nowadays shouldn’t be that big one for sure. I heard somewhere it was around thirty thousands, a bit more or a bit less, and that is certainly not a very big or substantial number of people to make any impacts in a multi-faceted and cosmopolitan mega city like Hong Kong. As per the official static, 95% of local populations are Chinese, there are many international communities that easily numbered in hundred of thousands, and Nepalese community is definitely in the minority amongst them. Furthermore, the other communities from various countries are mostly business oriented, international hub like Hong Kong values businesses, and Nepalese community certainly lacks immensely on this field – hence less clout or influence on the society. But one thing has certainly surprised me in great deal, although Nepalese people are well known for hardship, tenacity and ingenuity, this fact still made me wonder and forced me to ask – why there are so many organizations in Nepalese Diasporas society here in Hong Kong and around the globe?
My readers must have known by now that my life was totally different than the other Nepalese in Hong Kong, due to my international business, I was mostly associated with mainland Chinese and international businessmen, and I had hardly any time to mingle with other Nepalese in Hong Kong. After I decided to end my tenure as businessman and started my literary career, I got more opportunities to connect with my fellow countrymen, and learned a lot about them recently. It seems that they have organizations for almost everything, you think of a name and presto it is there, and I wonder how many memberships a person might have had and where did he/she get all the time to attend them. I am not going to list them all here; they are mostly based on caste, sub-caste, locality, profession, interest/hobby, hometown/village, political proximity, new fad, personal agenda, and so on and on, and thanks to the social networking, it is plastered allover the virtual world for everyone to see. I happened to be one of them and I learned it all from there as well. And it still perplexed me why they must have so many organizations in such a small community and I have been trying to find the reasons for such behaviors and why. It is that curiosity that prompted this article.
No matter how romanticize it by people, living in a foreign country without many of your friends and families is still very hard, and especially for the new immigrants with lowly paid jobs, it is extremely difficult. It is not only the culture, traditions and language, but also the way of doing things is completely different, and it needs a lot of patience, compromise and willpower to survive such harsh condition. I have experienced it myself first hand, I know very well how cruel life can be on such period and a small help from here and there can make a big difference in such life. We all need to be loved and cared by our own, a nice and safe place of our own where we can feel safe and warm, and a soul or two with whom we can talk, trust and share our feeling. It might be the urges of that humans’ basic instinct, nobody wants to be cold, lonely and weak, and the need of such human’s compassion might have brought them all together.
It is perfectly fine for us to behave that way, humans are made of that way by nature anyway, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, when we start overdoing it, the very reason why we do it at the first place will have no meaning and it will ended up nothing more than a charade by itself. The another reason why they need so many organizations is because of a typical Nepalese mentality, everyone wants a platform of our own for talking, and nobody waits for solving the differences amongst groups through mutual discussions before opening a new one. Playing politics is another reason, after all playing politics is our national hobby and although we have already left Nepal for so many years, that mentality is forever in our head and it doesn’t matter where we live.
I personally think it is a sad episode and needs for a change. Instead of doing in circles, we should try to learn from the developed society like Hong Kong or UK; try to assimilate into the new society by learning their culture, traditions and language, and make necessary changes to fit into the new environment. Learn necessary skills or trades so we can put ourselves in par with the locals, learn how things are done here and apply it in our life, so, we can get similarly paid jobs as the locals. Raising the standard of our living, understanding the local mentality, broadening our mind, and harnessing necessary skills are more important than playing dirty politics back in Nepal. If we can not do it by ourselves, at least think about your future generations and give them the environment and opportunity to flourish so they don’t have to go through the same harsh route as we have gone through. I am not saying we to forget completely about our tradition, culture and way of life, but raising our living standard in a foreign land and gaining some respect in front of the locals are more important, and we must never forget about the wellbeing of our future generations too. Being poor are like a curse, we will understand it only when we have lived an undignified life in a foreign land and we must always remember it. And we can do it without forgetting our root and I can attest it through my own personal experiences. Please think it for a while!
TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com
Note: The same article also appeared on http://www.sopannews.com on 25 aug 2015