Ten Things I Hate About Nepal

They just cannot stop staring!
Today, I was returning home, really tired, from another day of doing nothing at the office. As usual, I was trying to wad off the unsettling stares from the streets. That's the worst thing about being a foreigner in Nepal, and in my case, the only black man in a rural town of Nepal. A town where some people are seeing an African man for the very first (and probably last) time in their lives. They stare at you until you feel like you've walked into Alfred Hitchcock's movie set, when he was making that horror film, the birds. They make you feel like they are the killer birds patched on telephone wires, watching you -- no, they remind me of the vultures I saw in a picture about famine in Sudan, the vultures that sat still on rocks waiting for the starving children to die.

Look at the awe on their faces!
And today, the stares took on a new dimension.

There is this woman with a baby, about two years old, or less. Not a talking being. She pointed me out to her baby - not unusual, they are always doing that. If two are walking down the street and one sees me, that one will poke the friend and say urgently "look! look!" or that's what I think they say. If it's girls, they will end up giggling. Well, this woman tells the baby, "look! look!" and the baby looks at me. Naturally, I give the baby a smile, and the baby smiles back, but the woman whispers something else, and all of a sudden, the baby starts to howl.

Now, I wonder what she told the baby about me. I suspected it had something to do with me eating people. Because I'm the blackest thing they both have ever seen. Or maybe she told the baby that I'm the boogeyman who creeps under her bed at night.

Whatever it is that she told the little child, she started to tease the baby, threatening to push the baby at me, and the baby cried in sheer terror, while the woman laughed her heart out.

Someone always wants to take my photo. I am like a star.
For a brief second, I thought about raping that woman and impregnating her with a very black child.

I set out to write ten things I hate about Nepal, but I can't go on.

Maybe tomorrow I'll write the other eight.

(It is 2014, and I'm ashamed of my thoughts. Please, see the apology below.)


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UPDATE: May 10th.
Five days after  posting this article, I was chatting with an Indian friend, a fellow volunteer but who lives in another town. Below is a transcript of our conversation.

Pragya: What can I say! To the incidence or to your reaction!.... No, (I rather keep quiet) because my comment would be adverse to your reaction rather than to the incident. Learn to ignore Dila

Me: Why my reaction?

Pragya: In my personal opinion, you grossly over- reacted

Me: An indian friend of mine says she was walking in new york last week and someone called her "slumdog!:

Pragya: Yeah because those bloddy Yuppies hsve only seen this one movie tht is called "Slum Dog Milionoire

Me: Haha! Now see your reaction!

Pragya: She should have replied by saying Thank you so much, U son of a Bush!
At least I'm not talking about gracing their filthy minds and bodies with my touch


UPDATE: 22nd September 2014

I want to delete this post, for I'm ashamed of my reaction. I wish I could meet this woman and apologize to her for having such evil thoughts. I'm terribly sorry to all Nepalis for what I wrote. I made many friends there, and you may be surprised to learn that this woman was my friend. I was actually going to her home when the incident above happened. I did not include the details of my relationship with her at that time for I did not want to offend her and her family. Now, I cannot say more on what I was going to do at her home for the same reason. After this incidence, I stopped going to her home.

Actually, that same day, I refused to enter her home. Even as the baby was screaming, she came to me smiling, laughing, and welcoming me into her home, but I couldn't enter. 'What's wrong?' she said. 'Why won't you come in? Are you angry with me?' I walked away without another word.

Now, when I look back, I see my reaction was uncalled for. I did right in walking away, but I should not have thought about rape. Maybe I should not have been rash to write it down for the whole world to see. But at that time, no one was reading my blog apart from a handful of friends like Pragya, and I did not think strangers would read it and send me hate mail.

It makes me want to take it down. But I won't, and not because I'm proud of what I said, but because I am only human. We all have a dark side, and we can easily slip off to the evil side at the slightest provocation. At the time I wrote this, I had not read Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, nor did I know of what influenced it, of the atrocities in Darfur where light-skinned men of Arab origin used rape as a weapon of war against dark-skinned women of Sub-Saharan origin. They raped the women with the purpose of impregnating them with light-skinned babies. You can read the horrors of that ethnic cleansing. We Want to Make a Light Baby

I only got to read Nnedi's book this year, and as I read it, it felt like looking into a dark mirror and seeing my evil self grinning at me. It scares me. I'm no different from those Arab militia-men. If I had power, if I had guns, would I have raped this Nepali woman with ethnic cleansing in my mind? This question has given me countless nightmares.

I thought I was a nice guy. I thought I was a great guy, one of the good guys. I thought I was an ordinary African man whose only ambition was to tell stories. Then I went to Nepal, to tell the story of inter-caste marriages, and for the first time in my life I became the color of my skin. I stopped being Dilman, the boy from Tororo, and became Kalo Manche (black man). I became Habsi (Negro, or Nigger). I was called Raati (Night), Kukur (Dog), Bhoot (ghost). I was denied entry to a restaurant once, in the Eastern Nepali city of Biratnagar, and teenage girls screamed in terror on seeing me, as though they had seen a monster. Other girls laughed at my face. I once heard one sigh in horror, saying 'oh babababa kasto kalo!' which would translate to 'Oh my God. How black!' I hated myself for learning the language, for then I knew what they are saying, and I knew why they are laughing, and I knew why that girl screamed in terror as though she had seen a ghost.

Almost every day, I asked myself why I put up with it, why I didn't just pack up my bags and return to Africa, to a world where I was not treated like shit because of my skin color. I wanted to give up many times, but I stayed on, even as evil thoughts like rape whirled in my head. I can't excuse myself, for thinking like that, and I hope Nepali people who read this will not think evil of me. The thing is that I did not quit Nepal simply because some people were treating me as though I was a monster. I stayed on until July of 2011. I made some good friends that last until today, and I met really incredible people who made me see that a few people should not spoil my opinion of Nepal. I met a girl who I fell in love with and for the first time in my life I thought about settling down to a wife and having children. I even surprised myself by writing a romance Novella, Cranes Crest at Sunset, based on my two years in Nepal.

Being the writer that I am, I tried to make light of the terrible experiences I endured. I wrote blog posts that some people read and think I had a great time in Nepal. I even confronted some of the girls. 'Kina haseko (why do you laugh?) I remember asking one of them, at a shop near Raatophul in Dhangadi town, where I was staying. 'Have you seen a ghost?' The young woman fled. A man followed her, saying, 'Come back here! He is asking you a question. Why did you laugh?' But she only continued laughing. The man then came back to me and said, 'Don't mind her. She is just a little girl.' Though she was nearly twenty. I did take comfort in such words. I did try to wish it all away, to convince myself that they treated me like this not because they were racists, but simply because I was living in a rural area and they had not been exposed to black foreigners.

The trauma of those two years runs deep. I sometimes fail to speak in public. I sometimes find myself being very nervous when talking to people. There is an actor friend who I cannot to talk to without feeling jittery, and it's all because I lived in a fish bowl for two years. A terrible fish bowl where I was not treated like the favorite pet, but rather like a monster.

Yesterday, I launched my first collection of short stories, A Killing in the Sun, at the Storymoja Festival in Nairobi, Kenya. I had not realized how much my experiences in Nepal had influenced my writing until I noticed that two of the stories in the collection are based in a futuristic Africa where racism is at its worst. If you ever get a copy, read A Wife and a Slave, and Lights on Water. Both are in a world I don't want to think about, for its humanity at its worst, but I have to tell these stories, to remind myself, and those who happen to read this page, that we are all just a step away from evil.
My book contains stories that were influenced by my stay in Nepal

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41 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Be an ambassador... the youth will remember you for the rest of there lives.

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  3. "For a brief second, I thought about raping that woman and impregnating her with a very black child". Wow what a thought. Maybe this is the reason (your stupid weird thoughts) that the kid was scared.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. It's an obvious reaction that you get when you visit any country particularly not used seeing distinguished individual like you."Hate" is a strong word. For you may have several valid reason to hate my Nepal, i have millions reasons to love my Nepal. I don't permit anyone to falsely jeopardize my country's pride to put over one's personal ego.If i can get your message, it won't be long that somebody from press may take notice of this and queue it up to printing pipeline for tomorrow's daily. You may be have hard time when you arrive here next time. So be careful for what you wish...Nobody will sympathize you, instead this will agitate my people. Shorter this post exists, better it will be for your health.

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    1. Narendra ji, I wrote that article when I was still in Nepal, and I stayed there for another one year. I actually enjoyed my experience there, if you read my other posts on Nepal. I was angry when I wrote this, and I know my reaction was really unethical, I apologize for that. But it's what I felt at that time, not because I actually wanted to rape her, but because I was thinking that if she had been exposed to people from other races, she might not have done that to her child.

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    2. Dila, you are a lucky man. Because you left my country before I got to read your article. May god bless you. But do not dare to come back again in Nepal. My many countrymen have saved your photograph in their handy phone. I don't want to see you are going Nepal by flashing teeth and returning back by flashing eyes (dead).

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    3. This is 2010 CE article (FOUR YEARS old). Why are people still so upset about this?
      Yeah the "rape" thing was offensive, I was angry too, but he has already said that he was unaware that Nepalis are not used to seeing Africans (the reason why took his photos), and he has already explained that he wrote it at THAT particular moment, when he was still not familiar with the Nepalis in general.

      This is 2014 CE now, we need to forget it and move past it, he is sorry for what he said, and that was supposed to end and/or stop more argument/s.

      Why are people still threatening him?

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  6. Hi Dila,

    I can understand your frustrations. I would probably be one of those people who would "stare" at you if you passed by me, if I was still in Nepal. However, I wouldn't do that now. The reason I say this, and also, the reason I can understand where you're coming from is because I was born and raised there and lived there until I finished my highschool and moved to US. What seemed like an ugly stare to you is honestly a very big surprise glance to the local Nepalese. Africans, African Americans, or any person of the Black race/community (in no offending way), are almost never seen by Nepalese in real life. They only see black people in TVs, movies in general. That yet doesn't justify everything. When people watch movies, a lot of the times Black people are portrayed in a negative light. While this might not raise an eyebrow in other countries, in Nepal, it kind of sets a tone in the mind of the innocents that black people are usually the "bad guys" even though both groups having nothing against each-other whatsoever. (So blame hollywood for that). And coincidentally, black is also a color associated with evil in our very conservative society, just like red is holy/auspicious. Totally coincidental/religious, nothing personal. This leads people to think that, "wow, this is an african (oh yeah, we tend to group all people as africans, or as black people). He has come from 'Africa'. He might or might not be an evil guy too." While I haven't gone through your blog to see how your overall experience and cultural exchange with other Nepalese was, I can say confidently that if you actually get to know us and have some cultural talks, you'll find us very welcoming. It's just that seeing a black person is SOOO rare, that everyone wants to get at least one glance (which might be their first and last one). I can understand your frustrations, but I can only hope you had a better experience. And I hope that hearing my words, a fellow Nepalese, your view towards Nepalese will change.

    That being said, Nepalese media can make a big hype about anything, and Nepalese people will literally rally against anything that's against Nepal. So the end of your blog could be very controversial if ever caught by media. You might want to edit or add an apologetic remark for that. And I also personally don't think it's appropriate anyway. Also, as a suggestion from another human being, please don't ever try to justify your bad experience by using words like, and hoping to punish through acts like, rape. Sexual assaults or any form of assaults is not healthy and traumatizes the victim. The use of these words in casual culture only devalues the intensity of its grotesque. It's a very degrading and dehumanizing act. And even though you probably don't mean that now, and that this incident was far too long ago, it still is a very strong, inappropriate and inhumane word to justify for your anger, and frustrations. I can only hope that your feelings change, and never hit that low again.

    My $0.02

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    1. Well, I have added the apology, because I am ashamed of what I wrote. I have considered deleting it, but I won't, because it would not be a good thing to delete it. I actually learnt a lot about Nepali people, I learnt the language and spoke if fluently, I learnt your cultures, and I was able to suppress these thoughts and live there for two years.

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    2. Dila.
      You have righrs to express yooyr thought.every day nepalese are raped by politicians.more over no one have rights to laugh on your face because of your color.that is lack of mannerisms which we need to learn.they called indian as dhoti and whole family enjoy bollywood movie.they hate if someone said are indian but if someone said you look like south American they share with friends.so dila chill.let them overreact .let them do what they are good about.by i am nepali and am overreacting as well. Lol

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  7. We are really sorry that yo have such a bad experience. You may now not believe that nepalese people are nice but i want to know more. PLease write the other eight also. Thank you!!

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    1. Hi Rishya, I really didn't get down to writing the other eight, because they do not exist. The more I thought about it, the more I realised there was only these two.

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  8. People stare any tourists they see. They even stare at me when I have different hairstyle or wear something different that is not usual in my country. That is just curiosity of seeing something different and rare. Please don't write you will rape a curious woman. And please don't hate us just because we stare or take your pictures.

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    1. Sanjok ji, please accept my apologies. I don't hate Nepalis, and I have updated a reason why I wrote it, not an excuse really, but that's just the way human nature is. We have to keep writing these things to remind ourselves that the dark side is just around the corner.

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  9. i dont have enough to time read but grt blog keep ...

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  10. I got to admit all of you. I am Nepali, i have seen all those events. All those stuff were really fun and true. In my view, we Nepali are really stubborn, We say we are rich in culture. rich in water,rich in .blah..blah.. Government has always praise people... (whow thats great). As rich culture, ethnic country.we don't know how to get along as a country.There is raciest inside a country.Aryan taking all government places as abroad for mongolian people. many other tribes like Kami (I really couldn't figure out why they hate so much). ..We have so much freedom, like a wild animals(epic freedom). We are so wild that no one have tamed us and can. Majority of people age above 35, are those people. As for teenager,school student, punk, grunge,party lover, FB, They are not so much important until they are mature.. I think to build a modern/informative era mind, specially Indian guy,. Those above 35 should be vanished, that means next 40 years or what ever. That sound really cruel, but Hey.., i just typed it. I am not trying to present you as a writer, i m being straight, Stubborn Straight.

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    1. We have to adopt few foreign policy to catch.

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  11. You think Utah is bad... You haven't seen nothing yet. From what I gather, not only is polyandry legal, but embraced in Nepal. THIS MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY. Think of the future of our species for &%$@'s sake.

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  12. You think Utah is bad... You haven't seen nothing yet. From what I gather, not only is polyandry legal, but embraced in Nepal. THIS MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY. Think of the future of our species for &%$@'s sake.

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  13. The photo with the awe faces are uneducated and they fancy seeing foreigners. They might have never seen foreigners. The ones who are taking photo of you are fancying the foreigner regardless of colour, be it white or black or even brown. It's like if I go to remote area of Africa and calling me a "china man" and taking my photograph

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  14. No man should ever think of woman in this way. You obviously have an issue with women, or within yourself! Rape is about violence. To say you wanted to create some "ethnic cleanings" to darken Nepal so it will help your insecurities is absurd!If I were in Napal, and they wanted to take pics with me, I would have been honored. Because I know I am the closest to God any one of them has ever seen! If you know who you are and not ashamed of it, you can walk head high with out the shame. It is a known fact that Asians closely share African blood.They may have wanted a pic with their distant cousin. The way I see it, those women with the child, spoke to each other saying, "can you imagine how beautiful the shade if i were to have his baby?" They began to giggle...The child smiled and laughed at first because that is what the adults were doing. Then your rape feelins came into your thoughts, the child felt your violent rage, and responded appropriatly. A child's reactions to things like this, are never false. I am a US born Black Man (very dark I may add) I'm from a very big city and I love Nepali women. I'm just learning about the culture (this is how I found this blog) and I find it crazy; You should know of the increased rapings in that country, and for you to mention this, I really hope you are just trolling to get people to comment. If not, an apology is not enough. Get to the root of YOUR problem! You need therapy!

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  15. No man should ever think of woman in this way. You obviously have an issue with women, or within yourself! Rape is about violence. To say you wanted to create some "ethnic cleanings" to darken Nepal so it will help your insecurities is absurd!If I were in Napal, and they wanted to take pics with me, I would have been honored. Because I know I am the closest to God any one of them has ever seen! If you know who you are and not ashamed of it, you can walk head high with out the shame. It is a known fact that Asians closely share African blood.They may have wanted a pic with their distant cousin. The way I see it, those women with the child, spoke to each other saying, "can you imagine how beautiful the shade if i were to have his baby?" They began to giggle...The child smiled and laughed at first because that is what the adults were doing. Then your rape feelins came into your thoughts, the child felt your violent rage, and responded appropriatly. A child's reactions to things like this, are never false. I am a US born Black Man (very dark I may add) I'm from a very big city and I love Nepali women. I'm just learning about the culture (this is how I found this blog) and I find it crazy; You should know of the increased rapings in that country, and for you to mention this, I really hope you are just trolling to get people to comment. If not, an apology is not enough. Get to the root of YOUR problem! You need therapy!

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  16. I am black.. I want to visit Nepal .

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  17. Every body notice bad things only
    You didn't try to say what good we have

    Nepal is heaven of earth 😘😘😘

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    1. If you read my other posts on Nepal, you will realise I wrote many good things about your country, but for some reason this is the one that gets shared the most. I don't understand why, must be our thirst for bad news.

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  18. People from Nepal are basically black, so I don't understand how they can be shocked to see another black person

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    1. Its called getting tanned in the sun by working hard in their fields. And not everyone in Nepal have the same skin color. We are all well diversed sir.

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  19. apologies for racially abusive behaviour of my country men.

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  20. We nepalese always over react and this is fact.we are 19th poorest country in the world but we all really dont care of that. We put comments on article where tourist express his thoughts though he mention word rape.you guys hangaround near corner store and tea stall do pass comments on girls every freaking day.thats cool rights.if you can stop screening girls.anyway nothing will changed.

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  21. sorry it happened to you man. Its natural that humans are curious about something they have never seen/ experienced. But i understand your point how that would bother you. I can imagine what it must have been to be an African in a rural part of Nepal. Hope you will come back and experience the true Nepal.

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    1. I sure will return someday, I enjoyed myself some of the time.

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  22. I totally understand the staring thing. I'm a white 59 yr old woman who lives in an Ohio neighborhood which has recently been infiltrated by many Nepal families. I have noticed that the old Nepal people walk around the hood all day long. If I drive pass one or walk pass one they will not only stare but they will also stop in their tracks and stare. They NEVER break their stare. I have said nothing because I'm concerned that they may be aggressive since they do not smile. It makes me very sad. Their stares make me feel as if I'm not appreciated and that they want me to leave THEIR neighborhood. I've never lived anywhere else in my life. After 59 years I get the feeling I'm not welcome in my neighborhood anymore. I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS RUDE BEHAVIOR. I wish the younger people who live with them would explain how upsetting their behavior is in America. I can't imagine moving to Nepal and acting this way. It's horrible

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  23. As a Blackman living in south india to be precise chittoor. I'm stared at as though I'm causing some harm, but even that i can bare .but the laughing and some even running away from me , hurts!
    Only if they had known the peace and love i have towards them, they would would have treated me as one of them.
    May god strengthen all my brothers going through such conditions throughout Asia.
    It's ridiculous!

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  24. I am a nepali women and I am in a relationship with an African man. He is very kind to me and takes care of me. I know in asian countries its hard to live without people staring at you out of curiosity but its because they have never seen anyone like that in their home country. They stare at all the foreigners specially in rural areas where foreigners are barely even seen there. I am sorry that you felt that way but you are welcome in Nepal. And all those people hating on him and blaming him for having evil thoughts should put them in his place and think what they would have done where they are living in a foreign land where everyone just gives you unfriendly looks.

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  25. Hi dila..
    Just read ur post today.But m really soory for your bad experiences.Yeah..m nepali but i even dont like some ways nepali reacts..especially gazing at unusal things with curiousity n finally making laugh on it..i understand how u felt that time..but we r loveable too..We love tousrist and always welcome with great heart..hope you will like Nepal more next time..gudluck

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  26. Hi dila..
    Just read ur post today.But m really soory for your bad experiences.Yeah..m nepali but i even dont like some ways nepali reacts..especially gazing at unusal things with curiousity n finally making laugh on it..i understand how u felt that time..but we r loveable too..We love tousrist and always welcome with great heart..hope you will like Nepal more next time..gudluck

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  27. Hi dila..
    Just read ur post today.But m really soory for your bad experiences.Yeah..m nepali but i even dont like some ways nepali reacts..especially gazing at unusal things with curiousity n finally making laugh on it..i understand how u felt that time..but we r loveable too..We love tousrist and always welcome with great heart..hope you will like Nepal more next time..gudluck

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  28. Well, I can understand.
    I am nepali and must nepali are stupid illiterate selfish cunts whose thoughts revolve around their home and pretty penny.
    As far as your negative experiences are concerned, all of us are ignorant and seeing a black man ever will make us comment things that are racist. Some of the things, you should have taken light heartedly. But hey, who am I to say, I wasn't there.
    Anyway, you shouldn't apol'ogize for the things you wrote. You are a nice guy and as much as I have seen, nepali are cunts. And I am not selling out. Just think, even as an "insider" living with greedy self centered self obsessed fools for your whole life. That's my life. Now think what passes through such a brain. Think friend... Think

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