postheadericon KUIRE KO KURA: Slow News Day

It’s a slow news day here, so I am having a bit of difficulty thinking of a topic that might be of interest to loyal readers of this column. The debt-ceiling crisis in America has been resolved (for the time being), the Nepali stock market is stable (for the time being), and the political parties continue to disagree (for the rest of time, no doubt).

The monsoon clouds rest above the rim of the valley as if painted there, the milkman is clanging his pot of fresh product at the gate on schedule, and the rice pudding from yesterday’s festival lingers in the fridge. There is plenty of power to run my gadgets, and the inverter is silent on all subjects of electrical supply and demand.

In short, all is well on this lazy summer day in Nepal.

I have no new SMS’es on my phone - except for one from Mero saying it’s again charged me for some service I know nothing about – SMS2Email at a deduction of 33.90 rupees. That in conjunction with another unknown charge of 2.49 rupee for the “rental of the “Missed Call Notification service” is all that excites there.

My Facebook notifications show the usual: invites to dozens of events that I would or never will attend, and posts to groups that I know nothing about. There are notes about games I’ve never played, and an endless stream of updates to the walls of friends that I have never met.

My inbox is cluttered with more emails that I will only delete without reading, and while looking at my inbox count of well over 4,000 saved mails, I have to wonder if there is a single one there that really needs saving – even as that number grows exponentially day by day.

In fact, the only thing that seems to be active for me today, are all the social networking mechanisms for websites that I rarely visit. In short, my social life is churning on without the least bit effort from my side. I guess this is what is known as progress in the digital age...

However, my dog shows me a different side to life...

Here is a beast unencumbered by any of the modern trappings outside of his high-tech stainless steel food bowl. His main connection to technology is to react immediately and with loud barks to the electric buzzer at the gate. Which come to think of it, is a lot like my own reaction to the “you’ve got email” bonk on my computer.

Political wrangling’s, upward-downward spirals of the markets, and the craziness of humans goes unnoticed by my dog, who instead responds simply and decisively to three words “Chicken” “Walk” and “Mommy.” And while walking, unlike I, he totally ignores the human condition of my neighborhood: the drunks at the local momo shop, the intentness of the didi with the washing (looking as gloomy as the weather), the subdued frustration of the shopkeeper over the lack of daily customers.

Instead, my dog is intent on examining every flower or bush along the path.

What he finds so interesting there I cannot fathom. Perhaps it’s his buddy’s scent, or the whiff of a girlfriend in heat. Or perhaps his behavior is just a primal instinct that tells him to snort over every inch of ground that is under his limited domain.

Since moving to a new neighborhood I have noticed a marked change in his sniffing as time has worn on. Now that he has staked out a territory with his uric markings, he becomes uneasy when venturing into another doggie domain. During our nightly walks, and once a limit to his boundary has been reached, he looks up to me as if to say, “that’s far enough, it’s time to turn around and go back.”

Well on this slow news day, I find my dog’s insight profound. The territorial markings of the human species seem to have been lost on the makers of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We no longer have a kingdom of our own, an area of exclusion, nor a place where we can lie comfortably in the shade of a monsoon summer day and be left completely undisturbed by everything in the world with the exception of a buzzing fly or two.

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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