Banged Up Abroad – Prison In Nepal
It was a cold and seemingly uneventful night in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. The cold had left us with little want of the city streets and in need of a place to warm ourselves. We were a bit of a rag tag group. Earlier that day Dave had made his way from Pokhara, a small city in the West of the country about ten hours drive away through the low land Himalaya of the city sprawl that we were in. He had come to meet up with Cat and I for some trekking and some friendly faces. Cat and I had just returned from a twenty-three day trek from the small town of Jiri to the base camp of Everest, following the trail that took Sir Edmund Hillary and his faithful friend and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to the peak so many years ago. Spirits were high as the blanket of stars appeared through the smog-filled streets beckoning us towards our dinner location for the evening. Having recently acquired 2000 Nepalese rupees ($40 Australian) worth of charras, a local derivative of hashish, the night was going to be a relaxed affair. So with dinner out of the way and a party killing curfew of 10:30pm fast approaching we decide that a movie back at the guesthouse was on the cards.
After a small detour to my shared room with Cat to roll a joint, Dave and I headed to the common room with the new James Bond movie in hand. Cat had opted to sit this one out due to stomach issues, so Dave and I headed on to the comforts of the lounge area with high expectations of the coming attraction. We sit to watch the movie in a room about 2 metres wide and about 5 metres long, but to our dismay the very cheap copy of James Bonds latest adventure skips dramatically. Not the last disaster of the evening I’m afraid to say. So with the movie well and truly unwatchable Dave and I decided to have a joint and call it a night. Being a somewhat bohemian cafe/guesthouse that we were staying in and the ever present lingering of other patron’s hashish smoke filling the hallways and eating area, we thought this to be nothing out of the ordinary. So as you can imagine, we were somewhat surprised when twenty policemen, two sniffer dogs and two camera crews barge down the stairs to our previously comfortable sanctuary. Through the shouting and the manhandling we could see that we were not going to be able to talk ourselves out of this one. This realization was confirmed with a very tight pair of handcuffs.
Later, in my prison cell surrounded by killers, kidnappers, drug addicts and a Tibetan monk, I was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. This being how thirty or so police with media in tow managed to get past all the hotel staff without even the whisper of a warning to come our way – information that was passed on to the other more Nepalese looking patrons in the upper levels of the guesthouse. Seemingly earlier in that evening a fellow inmate of my current quarters had a prostitute in his room not too far away from the guesthouse in which I was staying with my companions. The police had knocked on his door after a tip off (prostitution is illegal in Nepal). The lady of the night had then tried to flee out the window and had proceeded to fall 4 floors to her early demise. This had sparked an outrage in the local media on how the police weren’t doing enough to stop all of the illegal activity in the Thamel area of Kathmandu. So out comes the raid squad with cameras in tow! Sending out scouts into surrounding guesthouses to find tourists smoking hash.
Apparently media blankets are up and running in Nepal, keeping the public out of the loop when it comes to real issues. Like the looming genocide of the Maoist government, who have reportedly (not by Nepali media) been using heavy-handed tactics to enforce that no other government parties can become large enough to oppose them. This information I learned from not only my fellow cellmates, but also due to the fact that the three of our faces lit up the local television sets within the hour of our meeting with the police.
Once the police had taken Dave and myself outside to the police jeep to be hurried to the station, I was beginning to think to myself how lucky it was that Cat had missed out on this whole ugly scene. But then to my dismay I see a disheveled and tired woman dressed in my clothes be escorted to the truck. I find out from her that they barged into our shared room and had found the remaining hash on the bedside table. So with news cameras headlights blazing unpleasant light on her sleeping eyes she is dragged from the comforts of our bed to join Dave and I. They didn’t even give her time to get into her own clothes and instead made her put on the first things she could find – a pair of my cargo pants and my favorite jumper.
A police holding cell in Nepal is generally made out of concrete. Wooden pallets covered in urine-soaked blankets lay on the floor next to a bucket that is supposed to be a bathroom. Fortunately though (for Cat) the rooms are segregated. The women’s side is better, but not much. Before knowing this I tried to insist that we all be in the one cell. A guard who didn’t speak English and who preferred to point a bolt-action rifle between my eyes than get a translator made short work of my plea. Both cells could have used a slather of kerosene and a match to better the living conditions. A fire would have been welcome for warmth since being the start of winter the temperatures dropped dramatically fast that night, and with shoes being left at the door so we couldn’t hang ourselves with the laces made it even colder. Needless to say, it was here that we would spend the night.
[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Click here to read part two of Clive’s story of his time spent in a prison in Nepal.[/box]
12 thoughts on “My Time Spent In A Prison In Nepal – Part 1”
I’m going to be honest dude, I was dissapointed in you when I read this. We are a country with a history and real political issues to deal with, not a tourist attraction. We have a government who are Marxist-Leninist, not Maoist. There is no ‘looming genocide’. The tribes and ethnicities of Nepal enjoy one of the best levels of co-operation between ethnic groups on the globe. Unless you count the fact that India has been bankrolling groups that are literally calling for the extermination of a fair amount of Nepalese, there is literally no genocide to worry about. The worst thing I can think of is maybe the cultural chauvinism displayed by christian missionaries.
The fact remains, you came to our country, and you agreed to abide by the laws and strictures of it. You did not do so. Nepal is not a place where there is much ease of access to translators, let alone public education, and the Communist government is currently doing it’s best to try and fix things after we were forced to live under the depredation of the King for years, and a curbing on legalized prostitution (which is mostly rape-based) is part of that. I’m sorry if his ouster made it more difficult for foreign bourgeoisie to enjoy themselves in our country, but right now the main concerns are undoing centuries of monarchy, and caste-based discrimination, and making sure that the working classes are educated and provided for. I’d encourage you to keep in mind that when you are a white travelling in another country, that the modern world is waking up to the harm that western imperialism has been doing, and to please take measures to follow local laws. The educated Nepalese bourgeoisie you may meet abroad who cry for the glory days of the Rana kingdom and the fascist oligarchy that followed are a slim minority. We are a people of peasants and workers, and are currently engaged in trying to bring about socialism to end poverty and injustice. I hope that your next time in Nepal, you maintain a healthy respect for the fact that the white westerner is no longer afforded protection from reprisals just because of the color of his skin. Thank you.
Well Done! 1st time in Nepal ? I was 4 times I have been stone so many times . The thing what happen to you , is that you did it in wrong place man . To make that kind of fun you should take advice to make yourself safe. I was in the whore house , the gate to narrow hall was chained on huge padlock and I was inside the place provided by local gangsters . Interiors condition of entire building similar to your cell in the prison. I know places were is safe to smoke . When I arrived 2 years ago in KTM ,my Nepalese friend gave to me a bag of weed , around 1 kg . All I shared with others or swapped like in previous visits . Himalayan village or the in city , I got the stuff from the locals for free but I did not expose and not used to smoke in places before I was sure is safe. I smoked also on Sri Lanka , where for smuggling drugs penalty is Death . Be careful man , don`t be to naive. Anyway good example for my post about using drugs aboard. Credits will be attached to the website Nomandasaurs and you . Let you know when will be published . take care
Oh mate! I’m really sorry to hear what happened with you. I am from Nepal and I feel deeply ashamed of how the police treated you guys. I have been in a similar case of misunderstanding myself. I had my things stolen and I had caught the culprits myself. And still, they made me feel like I was in for something when the whole incarceration thing started.
Deeply sorry for what happened to you.
Mr. Siddhartha has said all that I wanted to say. I too am deeply ashamed at what happened to you guys. Nepal used to be a paradise for travelers in the 80s. Untouched and unsullied. Now, after the war, it is not the same. Hope nothing like that ever happens to you guys or to anyone.
Do not be ashamed Sagun. It is not the local people who did this, but the officials unfortunately. I am sure when we visit Nepal ourselves our experiences will be nothing but positive.
Oh I don’t think now any tourists will be handled like that in Nepal. Fortunately, the police has created a new division called “Tourist Police” and they handle all the tourist related stuff thanks to the government launched ‘Tourism Vision 2020’. I have heard that they treat tourists a LOT better than the normal police and the respective embassies are notified immediately about any such incidents. Welcome to Nepal Lesh!
Oh yes! The Tourist Police. I had completely forgotten! Just remember, they are the green ones with green vans (The normals cops are in blue) and are present in almost all of Kathmandu Valley’s tourist destinations and in major destinations outside the capital. 🙂
Great to hear. 🙂
Interesting to hear that the tourist police are now looking after the situation. Thanks for letting us know Sagun!
Holy shit dudes! That must have been quite a scary situation! I wanna know the end of the story!! or did they just release you in the morning?
You’ll have to tune in next week to read the next part of the story buddy 😉
Haha! i sure will do 😛 Give us a shout on google+ incase i dont see it! 🙂