Tuesday, February 01, 2005

King Throws Out Democracy, All Communications Cut

What a disconcerting last post I made. It was around 11:00PM last night that I posted about the embassy wanting our apartment's GPS coordinates 'in case of earthquakes'. I noted that the request being about earthquakes probably had the same amount of truth as the statement 'terrorists attack us because they hate our freedom'. This morning, February 1st, the king fired the government and imprisoned the ministers. I overslept and missed it. Two nights ago there was a mouse keeping me awake in my room, running around the floor and headboard and once across my face. Then last night there was something eating at the cardboard we stuffed under the kitchen door to stop mice from getting in and I heard that all night. Anyway, I overslept.

I got up at 11:00, and decided I should call work because I hadn't shown up. There was no water and the phone was dead, but we had electricity. I thought that was odd. Sometimes we don't have electricity, or we need to turn the water pump on. But the phones haven't gone out before, and there was no water in the underground reservoir outside. I left the apartment to go to work, and the weather was strange - it was bright and the air was crisp, like it would rain. I went down the street to the internet/phone place, and their phone was dead too. When I got to work, I heard the government had been thrown out and the king has declared a state of emergency. Our manager filled us in and told us to go home. So we'll be home for a couple days. On the way home, there were the same number of soldiers as usual, but there were also two tanks on the main road between work and home. I should note that I'm writing this post offline - I'll put it up whenever the phones come back.

It's not just the land-line phones that have been cut, the cell phone system has also been shut down. All but one of the internet service providers have been shut down (cutting the phone lines already cut-off 95% of people's internet access, but there also exists high-speed cable/wireless access that only internet cafes can afford). We're expecting this last ISP to be shut down shortly too. This is a lot more concerning to me than anything else that's happened while I've been here. I'm told CNN and the BBC were cut-off for parts of the morning, but other than that, the television and radio stations are still working. I have a hand-held radio and tuned into the BBC, but it's all in Nepali today (it's usually half Nepali, half English). Our landlord's filled us in on what the radio's saying. Cutting all lines of interpersonal telecommunications is a real strong-arm move. It will squelch the organization of protestors, but it's also the first thing you do when you start a war to throw off opposition forces.


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