It is very hard to broach the term ‘culture’ as it comprises of several aspects within the society and its external boundaries. To understand this complex term and give it a pedestrian meaning, it is important to dig deep into the rudiments. The term culture can be broken into various small chunks and those chunks can be studied individually. One such small chunk that pops into Nepal’s culture is that of showing-off.
There are some things that are both confusing and enigmatic in our society. We experience over seven hours of load shedding, shortage of petrol and shortage of water. The only thing, however, that we don’t have any shortage of is loquacious people.
The showing-off culture is a product of human evolution. People always desire to be recognised in different ways. To achieve recognition, people are generally ready to sacrifice many things in their life. You’ll see people buying a washing machine only because their neighbour or one of their relatives owns it. The washing machine is never used as there is always scarcity of water. The very next day, those people talk about other peoples’ possessions and promptly mention their new acquisition.
Let us talk about motorbikes—a common means of transportation in Nepal. 1000cc superbikes are seen in the valley usually being ridden by youngsters. We know that our roads are not built for those kinds of bikes but the culture is such that guys believe if they have nice bikes, girls will get attracted to them!
Look at the houses in the Kathmandu valley. Building houses has always been a matter of joy for this ‘status’ obsessed society. Someone builds a sprawling house and then talks about it. As a result, his friends or relatives then feel the need to build similar ones for themselves. The phenomenon repeats itself and hence, here we are today with the valley full of houses as if it is sandwiched between them.
This culture, meanwhile, has a great impact on the development of the nation. Corruption is one major ill to have manifested from this culture. A normal government employee who earns just over Rs 12,000 a month is unable to establish himself in this society with his modest earnings and is, therefore, forced into corruption. Social and peer pressure is a huge influence in a social setup like ours. In the western world, a society exists but in a different form. I remember a saying, ‘Do as the Romans do while in Rome’. In our social context, it can be reiterated that ‘do as the society wants you to do’.
Over a decade of experience in the Western World has taught me to think about myself without caring about the rest of the world. The last few weeks in Nepal have, however, highlighted the competitive and bragging culture of Nepal. Here people are always talking about others—their way of living, the clothes they wear, their means of transportation, their assets and other similar trivialities—always wanting to emulate the ‘better’ lifestyle.
The people always talk about what they own—fancy houses, swanky cars, stylish clothes—always ´showing off’.
There are many things that a developing nation like us needs to take into consideration. I agree that modern technology has definitely made life easier. However, the problem is we do not have enough infrastructure to support modern technology, else I wouldn’t be opposing it at all. People sometimes end up spending almost four-month worth salaries to buy one single mobile phone. Isn’t that ridiculous? Also, everybody wants swanky LEDs.
With the speed of our internet connections and our dismal power situation, the use of modern equipments like smart TVs, fancy phones and other similar electronics is actually limited. The GPS function doesn’t even work in Nepal. When half of the features don’t work, what is the point in buying products which host them? Everyone wants to own and drive a big and swanky car in Kathmandu, knowing fully well that our narrow and pot-holed roads, combined with traffic snarls, can hardly support such big vehicles.
As mentioned above, the showing-off culture shows our insularity. Instead of believing in such trivialities, if we utilised our knowledge on developing the nation by spending money on building roads, planting trees or other similar developmental activities, we can also undergo a metamorphosis similar to other eastern nations. However, if we continue with the same old mind set, it is only a matter of time before we start to repent