LETTERS: Kava culture in Fiji

I read with great interest Suzzanne Nazal’s article 'Kava Culture' (Himalayan Times e-Paper, Nov.17, Page 6). Born in Fiji with ancestral links to Nepal, I am sure that Nepalese travelling to Fiji would find the country’s multi-culture exciting and heart-warming. The two distinct cultures (Indians and Fijians) continue to co-exist despite political shortcomings. Kava, as noted by Suzzanne, does bring different people and groups together, both in cultural and social environments. However, its abuse, which at one point had reached epidemic levels, has certainly impacted many family lives. Kava is a mild drug, which if overused, has virtually the same effect as alcohol. To make this worse, a kava-drugged person would come out clean on breathalysers as such instruments do not detect kava.

The users usually consume this in groups, thus keeping fathers or husbands away from homes for long nights. It also costs substantial sums to buy these on regular basis. Consequently sale of kava has now been banned in some European countries such as Australia.

In Fiji, the government has banned the use of Kava in its offices. To visitors, accepting a few bowls for fun or to show respect to your hosts should be fine; however, that is where it probably should stop. The writer has rightly mentioned how the kava drinking opens up opportunities for dialogue and cooperation in a country with a rich history of volunteerism. The kava culture has also played an important role in the development of civil society. The traditional family values have helped nurture the early development of civil society. This is a culture that brings people together.

Satendra, Auckland, NZ

Bus park

Apropos of news story “Banepa to get modern bus park soon” (THT, Nov. 16, Page 5), all existing as well as future bus parks in the country should have in-house well-stocked petrol pumps, strong infallible security, well-lit waiting rooms; clean, hygienic rest rooms; public phones, Wi-Fi, affordable eateries, free potable drinking water; ticket and civilized queue system, responsive public information booth, updated illuminated fare charts etc. These facilities are indispensable in all bus parks in modern civilized societies. Of course, CCTV and street lights would be welcome too for intelligence and public convenience, but these might not deter Nepali criminals who enjoy political patronage. To control crime in bus parks and other places, we need a provision in our versatile constitution making it a culpable offence for politicians to hobnob publicly or privately with criminal elements including pickpockets and rapists. Such an act will discourage local leaders or thugs from putting pressure on victims and police to release rapists and murderers “Eleven-year-old raped after playing bhaili” (THT, Nov. 16, Page 3). It is common knowledge that Nepali bus parks are most fertile dens for pickpockets, potential rapists and flesh traders.

J. Talchabhadell, Bhaktapur