I sometimes write fairly long emails, especially when I know that people other side read them. Some of my lovable writings have emanated from the spirit of initiating or continuing a discourse in this medium. No doubt many of my long mails have just been my worldviews, my grumbles. But, I always take care of completeness and readability and try to maintain my sustained presence as a communicator. In some cases my correspondences take the form of critiques; it is here I experience some knack for rhetoric.
Before posting some excerpts of my own communications, I would present the following lines from one of the emails I received from Professor Khachig Tölölyan, Editor of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies.
“Permit me to offer you a bit of friendly advice: a young scholar, or a mature scholar starting to work in a new field, is always “in danger” of letting the few existing authorities set the research agenda. You mustn’t let my work, or especially Bill Safran’s, or of the others who have written in the journal, get in your way. Of course it is the essence of scholarly and intellectual responsibility to be INFORMED of what has already been thought and done by respectable colleagues, but, again, not to let their work set your research agenda.”
Now, extracts from a few of my emails. I avoid mentioning ‘whom’ and ‘when.’
“What attracts me about Nepal is there are a lot of unexplored issues to deal with. And the same issues distract me. We have lo——ng hours of power cuts, and worst of all, the most frequent strikes and protests in the world. Lucky that I stay in the university quarters, and am able to type these words now. I can see the entire neighborhood in appalling darkness outside my window at this moment. It is 11: 51 pm here.
Darker nights are ahead. We had 10 hours of no-electricity till this week. The authorities have decided to reward us 4 more hours from tomorrow! Inverters are making fortune, though. I am sure the university will also stop the generators once the end-semester exams are over, winter vacation begins and the majority (the needy students) go home. Any time our petrol pumps hide diesel or run short of it, we must take refuge to poor candles. And I laugh at my plan to pursue Ph D in candlelight.
Other universities share the uncertainties the country undergoes these days. My university, which has sustained unpredictable political changes and occasional interferences, at least, appears to be a nicer location.”
“It was interesting to read about universities working to Americanize themselves. So is the case here. But it is as much Americanization as Europeanization. Academicians are not tired of talking about ‘western’ standards, and ‘western’ exposure is as valued for promotional opportunities as for self-aggrandizement. I would call it a right form of neocolonialism in the case of Nepali academia.
[…] The competition is always between the Indian/European/American graduates! And promotion sometimes is more than Ph. D and talent — political proximity, activism, bribery and anything of the sort. I’m sorry I have to tell you this.
[…] I am happy about the two decades you say I have. God rescue me out of the aforesaid extra-academic attributes. I hate “taking ghee out with a crooked finger” [We have a proverb: “One cannot take ghee out with a straight finger.” It means you must sometimes use crooked means to achieve great things.] . You may be familiar with societies of developing countries. Well, life goes on like this.”
“If knowledge alone sufficed, universities would not invite people with limited degrees and give them all-rounder’s merit. If degree alone was a bottom-line, many disciplines would never take shape. This is more so in case of growing institutions like our new universities, and we must be thankful they did take the risk. You are one of the products of such venture: I have been one of those who plunged into similar venture. If KU did not take the risk, and if after taking risk prioritized degree to hard work and commitment, programs like Media Studies, Pharmacy, Environment Science, Environmental Engineering, Biotechnology among others could never never never, YES, never start, and you and I would have forgotten each other forever. If KU was specific about degrees, it would only be running after people with specific degrees, for all new ventures — people with a qualification strength throughout from Intermediate to Masters, and even above!”