…and what have you done. Another year over. A new one just begun.
Sang John Lennon in 1971. Still a classic at Christmas, this song takes on a new meaning this year. So what have we done? In a word—nothing. I should have been telling you about all the great Christmas markets, Christmas carol concerts and events going on around town. But I’m not. Because there aren’t any. Not just none in Kathmandu but pretty much none around the world.
Yes, there has been a couple of small markets, announcing themselves as Christmas ones, but the overall spirit is missing for me. No Summit Hotel, or larger Christmas markets taking place for obvious reasons. No Kathmandu Chorale concert, no gluhwein courtesy of the Germans, no Christmas mince pies courtesy of the British, no Christmas lunch up near Shivapuri with the Culture Studies Group, and no Kathmandu International Film Festival (KIMFF) except virtually. Oddly, KIMFF, always held in December, has been part of my Christmas celebrations for near on 18 years now. No, nothing happening, except a few hotels and restaurants hosting lunches and dinners with a Christmas theme.
I hope you have fun. The near and the dear ones. The old and the young. Continues Lennon. Much of Europe has pretty much cancelled Christmas. The idea being keeping the old and young apart. Even within a family bubble, only so many people can gather in one household. In Scotland, my mother is in my sister’s family bubble because she lives alone. But even she couldn’t visit for the two weeks prior to Christmas as my nephew is quarantining at home after returning from university.
So what have we done? This year has been so hard on so many. We started it with optimism. Visit Nepal 2020 would bring many tourists, benefitting those within the industry and many more indirectly. I visited Europe for the first time in more than 20 years—and it might be another 20 since those of us holding British passports have given over, from 1 January 2021, our right to work and visit Europe without the visa red-tape nonsense. #brexitmadness
So that was January 2020. By February we were taking a closer look at China and Italy and keeping our global fingers crossed. Somewhere in March we entered a long, and very dark tunnel. With vaccines now being produced and distributed there may be a tiny light at the end of this tunnel. But we shouldn’t celebrate quite yet. This is going to take time.
The whole world is suffering from Covid-fatigue but here in Nepal it seems all caution has been thrown to the wind. The average person no longer fears this virus, nor appears to have any civic responsibility towards their neighbors, friends or even family. And, I said this a couple of months ago too, it’s not just the ones who earn their living on a daily basis who are taking risks. It’s those who, we would presume, have enough in the coffers to see them through these dark days. With plenty to spare. Greed at every level seems to win out every time. And here I am talking about the whole world, not just Nepal.
Going back to Lennon’s song, like him, I wish you: A very merry Christmas. And a Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Without any fear.