Omnipresent Facebook, even without power

On 30 August 2012, the Kathmandu Post reported that the Nepalese Government would this coming winter aim to limit load shedding (scheduled power outages) in the nation’s capital to 10-12 hours a day!!

After a month travelling in Nepal, as much as I tried (because surrendering to the inevitable really is the only sensible course of action), I still had trouble getting used to the idea that the power would be switched off for hours at a time, at any time of the day and night. On top of the scheduled outages (at least someone could advise approximately what time it would be switched back on), there were also unexpected outages pretty much every day – often several times a day.

Yet despite this, the Nepali people (well, at least the 20-45 year olds) are active Facebook users. Many internet cafes, hotels and restaurants have battery back-ups systems (that run only lower voltage light bulbs and modems). Connectively reigns supreme over comfort – the fans are less likely to work on these systems than the internet. I could resign myself to being disconnected from cyberspace but I found it almost impossible to sleep without a fan during Lumbini’s overnight “low” that hovered, I am sure, above 30 degrees centigrade (at least in our room).

I also spied many young Nepali people using Facebook on their phones. Nary an iPhone in sight, but there plenty of other smartphones. And use of the mobile internet in Nepal, like most developing countries, has leapfrogged other technologies. It’s just like seeing a satellite dish on top of a primitive shed in the middle of a rice paddy. To me it feels like an oxymoron. However, most Nepali people (including many, many women who still dress in the traditional kurta or sari) own a mobile phone.

Just as it is in Australia, Facebook is now part of the cultural lexicon in Nepal. While we were there, a new big budget movie called Facebook (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhTFNQTKYDQ) was being promoted on billboards around Kathmandu.

Interestingly, there are comments on YouTube speculating whether Facebook will take action against the movie producers for copyright infringement. The producers might well be an easy target, but I don't think Zuckerberg has much hope of halting the tide of copyright infringement in Nepal. For example, we found this café, pictured below, which was also “leveraging” the appeal of Facebook.

 Facebook_restaurant
Who needs an online social network when you can “reconnect in one roof”?

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