This Ball Clock gives you a fun and unique way to see what time it is. The balls on the top two ramps represent the minutes and the balls on the bottom ramp represent the hours.
This Ball Clock gives you a fun and unique way to see what time it is. The balls on the top two ramps represent the minutes and the balls on the bottom ramp represent the hours.
To see my review, copy this, paste it into your address bar and hit return:
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This is my first post in a while.
Apologies for being slack but I’ve taken a plunger to my writer’s block and intend to be more prolific in future.
I moved away from Kathmandu about a month ago to begin a new job as AFP’s west Africa correspondent in Dakar, Senegal. So this will be my last post for the blog in its current guise. (Suggestions for a name change accepted with gratitude). I shall be responsible for our output in English from Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde. Apologies to anyone I left out.
A large part of my new job will be covering the ongoing conflict in Mali, hence the slightly disingenuous headline and, while I’ll be in Senegal for the lion’s share of my time here, I hope to get out into some of those other countries in what has to be one of the world’s most interesting, newsworthy regions.
I had a life-changing experience in Nepal, albeit for just a short time. My 18 months on the roof of the world seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.
Here are some thoughts on Nepal and its people – published on AFP’s Correspondent blog – that I’d like to share. Please feel free to comment here or on the AFP blog post.
In December I posted about some of the weirder instances of brand theft that go on in Kathmandu – when outlets steal the names of well-known brands to sell their wares.
I continue to see fresh examples every day. Some exploit the zeitgeist in a flagrant, cynical manner, like this eaterie. It doesn’t even have an internet cafe and I’m pretty sure Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t branched out into the hospitality industry.
But at least they’ve done their research – they appear to know what Facebook looks like.
Can the same be said for the next outlet, a clothing store in the centre of town?
Someone should tell the owner that the legendary Belgian boy reporter is blonde, not black-haired.
And let’s hope there’s no Afterlife because Hergé will be choking on his celestial waffles if he has clapped his sharp eyes on this sinister rendering of Snowy:
The biggest sin of all, though, is not even using the correct spelling of the brand you are stealing. If lawyers from the pret-a-porter clothing giant Diesel ever get this far into south Asia, they’re more likely to wet their boot-cut jeans laughing than issue a lawsuit. So perhaps the store’s owners are being crafty rather than careless.
Have you spotted any counterfeit concessions, fake franchises, sham shops or bogus boutiques? Tell me about them in the comments section.
This post is based on an article I wrote for AFP, published on March 12, which can be found here.
Ahead of this year’s commemorations of the 1959 Tibet uprising I talked to Tsewang Dolma, president of the local chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress here in Kathmandu, to discuss her community’s fears for their future in Nepal.
We met at a cafe near a Tibetan refugee camp in Nepal and Tsewang stirred her iced tea nervously as she spoke.
Despite being arrested twice and followed by “spies” she says are working for the Chinese secret service, Dolma is one of the few Tibetans in Nepal prepared to speak openly what they see as an increasingly hard line approach by the government to their community.
“It’s not easy because we have no freedom. We are refugees here. Things have changed and people feel very suffocated,” she told me.
For decades, Nepal has been a safe haven for Tibetans fleeing China but activists say their people’s peaceful existence is at threat because of Beijing’s growing influence over its Himalayan neighbour.
Campaigners believe the wave of protests against Chinese rule that began in Tibet in March 2008 and the resulting crackdown has transformed the attitude of Nepal’s government.
Arrests of activists in Kathmandu have become frequent in recent years and the periods of detention are getting longer, activists say.
In February, Nepal police arrested 13 students protesting in front of the United Nations headquarters in Kathmandu, releasing them only after they had spent two weeks in jail.
“They were just taking part in a human rights protest and they were arrested. Before, when people got arrested they would be released on the same night,” said Dolma, who has been detained twice in recent months.
“We get information that they got orders from China to be kept in detention for so long.”
Nepal-born Dolma said pre-emptive arrests and large-scale police deployment in her community were contributing to fear and insecurity.
“They don’t allow any Tibetan to do anything freely,” she told me.
“I don’t know what really changed but it’s all Chinese influence. It was bad but now it’s worse.”
At Saturday’s 1959 commemorations, Kathmandu police arrested 22 Tibetans for “suspicious activities” at demonstrations that were more muted than in previous years as hundreds of officers looked on.
For three decades Nepal welcomed Tibetans into the country after the uprising, issuing them with refugee identity certificates, known as the “RC”.
But the government has refused since 1998 to issue RCs to Tibetans, including children born in Nepal to refugee parents.
“I have a lot of friends who don’t have RCs and they face so many problems. They were born here but they don’t have citizenship,” said Dolma.
“If they want to go abroad for study, they can’t. And if you want to work in a bank they require Nepali citizenship documents.”
Analysts say while India has traditionally been the influential player in Nepal, China is making in-roads in a nation that is recovering after a decade-long civil war came to an end in 2006.
Impoverished Nepal, home to 20,000 exiles from Tibet, appears keen to seek further Chinese aid.
In January Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai discussed investment from Beijing for infrastructure projects that could amount to billions of dollars.
In return, Nepal expressed support for Beijing’s “one-China” policy which states that Tibet is an integral part of the Chinese territory.
In the last few months rights groups including the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have voiced concerns over Nepal’s hard line on its Tibetan community.
And Tibetan groups such as the US-based International Campaign for Tibet say the change in attitude is increasingly apparent.
“The characterisation of peaceful Tibetan community activities and demonstrations as anti-Chinese clearly reflects China’s agenda in Nepal,” an ICT spokeswoman told me.
Chinese authorities declined to comment but Nepal’s Home Ministry said its policy was to arrest Tibetans for “agitation against the Chinese government in sensitive locations inside Nepal”.
“We have a policy for not allowing any activities against our friendly neighbour China,” said spokesman Shankar Prasad Koirala.
Covering Nepal for an international news agency takes you into all kinds of weird situations.
I recently took part in a shamanic exorcism in Kathmandu. Here is the account I wrote for AFP.
The shaman’s body begins shaking as she mumbles an ancient mantra to the syncopated beat of a dhyangro drum, coaxing snake spirits from a young Nepali man who has “lost his soul”.
Iron bells hanging around her white shirt ring as she jumps around her patient in a shamanic trance, her head dress of peacock feathers waving wildly as she springs up and flings her arms around him.
In the background, awestruck white Westerners in headbands and beads watch the ancient, animistic ceremony, not in a remote mountain pass or a jungle clearing but in a comfortable, 21st century house in suburban Kathmandu.
“The boy has lost his soul and we are helping him find it,” says Mohan Rai, the 80-year-old founder of the Shamanistic Studies and Research Centre Nepal and a man on a mission to restore what he sees as an dying art in the Himalayan nation.
After decades of modernisation when witch doctors were almost wiped out, “urban shamans” are enjoying a renaissance among Nepal’s metropolitan middle class and Westerners looking to be healed, cleansed or awakened, says Rai.
He has been on the front line of this renaissance since setting up his centre in 1988 to revive a practice he says “has been left behind” by science, technology and the big world religions.
“Shamanism is 75,000 years old. But it is dying out in the villages and I want to keep these traditions alive,” said Rai, who is highly critical of the religions and governments he believes have actively plotted to kill off the practice.
“I have thousands of students a year and, more and more, they are Westerners looking for something else where Western medicine has failed. Many of my students are medical doctors looking to integrate shamanism into their own practices.”
Shamans, known in Nepal as dhami-jhankris, claim to find the lost souls of the sick by travelling between three worlds — lower, middle and upper — connected by an upside down tree called Kalpa Vriksha, the tree of immortality.
They say they commune with the deities and spirits — both benign and malignant — inhabiting each world.
Tobias Weber, 33, a farmer from Germany travelling in Nepal, said he was drawn to shamanism after becoming interested in healing but disillusioned with the limitations of Western medicine.
“Shamanism can complement what doctors and nurses in the West are able to do. Clearly, if you have broken your arm you are probably going to go to a hospital but there is also so much you can get from the spiritual side of healing which people never get to experience.”
Rai, who is in polygamous marriages to two sisters and speaks English, German, Spanish, French, Sherpa, Tibetan and Hindi, has enjoyed a colourful life.
Born into a Bhutanese farming community, he grew up helping his father, “a powerful and well-known shaman” with healing rituals for the sick in his village.
He joined Nepal’s legendary Gurkha brigade aged just 17 and has been a trekking guide in Kathmandu and a mountain rescuer in Alps.
He first came across Nepal’s shamans when he was an assistant to foreign anthropologists trying to locate witch doctors among the country’s indigenous tribes.
He realised that shamanism was of great interest to the developed world and set up his research centre to spread the message, employing shamans from the Tamang, Rai, Sherpa and Gurung Himalayan mountain tribes.
In his centre sits a photograph of a six-year-old German boy Rai claims to have healed after the youngster, riddled with cancer, was given just two years to live.
He also relates the story of a paralysed man he helped to walk within just a few healing sessions.
Australian Laura Martino is taking a course at Rai’s centre and wants to help people in her home town of Melbourne reconnect with their spiritual side.
“I came here with a totally open mind, which I had to because of some of the amazing experiences I’ve had here, like trips to the mountains and sleeping in graveyards.
“I think the Western world has lost something in its approach to healing and we really need to get in touch again with nature.”
Shamanism has had its critics, however, in a country where ancient superstitions can have a devastating effect.
In February a group of villagers accused a neighbour of witchcraft and burned her alive because their shaman had told them she was a witch.
The crime caused widespread revulsion, with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai appealing to Nepalis not to listen to the injunctions of shamans.
“In villages especially, faith healers are from the local community while western medicine practitioners are from cities and towns and are often regarded as outsiders,” said Ravi Shankar, assistant professor at Manipal College of Medical Sciences in Pokhara, Nepal’s second city.
Many academics in the West believe that shamans rely on a powerful “placebo effect” — the tendency of any treatment, even an ineffective one, to show improvements in health simply because the recipient believes it will work.
Even doctors who distrust Nepal’s shamans have in the past relied on their services, training them to use rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea and cotrimoxazole antibiotics in pneumonia cases.
“There is the negative aspect where diseases like epilepsy and mental illness are regarded as entirely due to supernatural causes and modern medical treatment is neglected,” said Shankar.
“But then this was the case in the West also about 150 years ago.”
Nepal’s Republica newspaper carried a piece in January about a 40-year-old woman called Jhuma Devi Shahi who died while spending the night confined to a shed in the freezing hills of western Nepal.
She had been cast out in the cold by her family because she was menstruating and was considered unclean.
The people of Jhuma’s village believe she was killed by evil spirits and will never be allowed to see proof contradicting their superstition because she was cremated without a postmortem examination.
I investigated this mediaeval practice – known as chhaupadi – on a trip to Jhuma’s district, Achham, in December. Below is the story I wrote for AFP.
UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 5, 2012: The Himalayan Times is reporting today that a 16-year-old girl has died in chhaupadi, again in Achham. She is thought to have suffocated while trying to warm herself by a fire in her shed.
Saraswati Biswokarma sits in the dark, rearranging the threadbare cotton sheet and straw bed she is forced to sleep on before bringing her knees up to her chest with a shiver.
It is already mid-morning but she has not been allowed out of the airless brick shed where she has spent every night for the past week.
The 13-year-old was effectively banished to the shed — barely big enough to stand or lie down in — where she must experience her first period alone in a traumatic ordeal.
“I’ve been here eight nights so I have one left,” she says with a nervous smile. “It’s not nice here, it’s scary and I felt very alone on the first night. I was so scared.”Saraswati’s isolation is part of a centuries-old Hindu ritual known as chhaupadi that has been blamed for prolonged depression and even deaths in remote, impoverished western Nepal.
Under the practice, women are prohibited from participating in normal family activities during menstruation and after childbirth, and can have no contact with men of the household.
“I’m not allowed to touch any cattle or go inside our house. I have to stay in the shed and when my mother calls I have to wait nearby the house with a plate so she can give me food,” Saraswati says.
She is also barred from consuming dairy products or meat or taking a bath. Even looking in the mirror is frowned upon.
The practice stems from the belief that when women have periods they are impure and will bring bad luck on a whole family if they stay in the house and will contaminate anything they touch.
In 2005, the government, in line with a Supreme Court order, enacted a law abolishing chhaupadi but enforcement has been minimal or non-existent.
Saraswati’s shelter, known as a chhaupadi goth, looks like a miniature cow shed, with a dirt floor and no windows or running water.
In January last year, two women were found dead in chhaupadi goths in the remote district of Achham after temperatures dropped to 30F (-1C). In another case, a 15-year-old died of diarrhoea contracted while sleeping in a shed.
Chandrakala Nepali, 17, is preparing for her fifth night in her goth.
Her parents went to Mumbai to find work two years ago, leaving her and four younger siblings to live with relatives in a house high up in the hills an hour’s walk from Mangalsen, the main town in Achham.
“During the day I’m allowed out but only to work in the jungle, collecting firewood,” she says, sweeping the dark, cold hut, which is barely big enough to lie down in.
“I’m not allowed to walk on the same road as the cattle and I’m not allowed to be with my family for seven days. To eat, I sit outside the house and they bring me food on a plate.
“When I’m alone in the shed I feel scared. There are insects and I’m afraid of snakes coming in.”
Chandrakala says that if she has daughters she would never force chhaupadi on them.
But few women are prepared to challenge the status quo, and many continue the ritual for fear of community disapproval or out of religious belief.
Pashupati Kuwar, 30, lives with her five children in Budhakot, a small hamlet high in the hills.
Her husband is away, working in the Indian city of Pune, while her in-laws died several years ago, but Kuwar still observes chhaupadi.
“I don’t touch any cattle for five days. I sleep on straw. Most of the day I go out but I go back to the shed to sleep,” she said.
Pashupati says she will make her six- and 13-year-old daughters take part in the ritual.
“Some people think it’s wrong but if I didn’t do this my god would be angry.”
Pashupati’s own mother, Kunta Rawal, 45, has turned her back on chhaupadi.
“Before I thought it was important because of what I was told by elders and society but I have been made to realise that it is wrong,” she says.
Nepal’s education ministry is hoping to establish a literacy drive in the region, including health education classes dedicated exclusively to reproductive health and menstrual hygiene.
Thanks to campaigns by humanitarian organisations like UNICEF, the sites of confinement are beginning to improve, with women often allowed in separate rooms in the main house rather than banished outside.
Janaki Bohara, 40, president of the Bahagyaswor Paralegal Committee, a women’s advocacy group supported by UNICEF, says she will refuse to allow her 14-year-old daughter to take part in the ritual.
“If I see families doing this to their daughters I will say to them ‘look at me — I have nothing to do with chhaupadi but nothing has happened to me’. I’m ready to go to villages and fight people about this issue.”
Think the schools are bog-standard where you live?
You should try getting an education in southwestern Nepal, one of the poorest places in the world, where a group of children have to sit through lessons in a toilet block.
Not a former toilet block, not a block which happens to house a toilet – a fully operational, non-converted, run-of-the-mill toilet block.
The children in Dang Deokhuri district, on the Indian border, have been learning reading, writing and arithmetic by a row of urinals next to two still functioning toilet cubicles after their school fell down.
Our correspondent Deepak Adhikari spoke to the headmaster, who said: “During the summer last year, the school building collapsed due to the monsoon rains.
“I ran from pillar to post requesting funds for a building. But neither the district education office nor the village development committee officials did anything.”
The school, founded in 1960, had asked for a new classroom but was told by the local education authority there only enough cash for the 150,000-rupee ($1,800) toilet block.
The lavatory is used mainly by a group of 18 five and six-year-olds sharing two desks and benches, while the other pupils — too embarrassed to use the cubicles — are forced to go out in the open.
“With a total of 150 students and no building, we decided to take classes inside the toilet. We use the urinal part of the toilet while the other two rooms remain unused,” said the headmaster.
Nepal depends on foreign governments and aid agencies for around a quarter of its 48-billion-rupee (650-million-dollar) education budget.
Only 80 percent of students complete primary education, with girls and children from low-caste communities most likely to drop out.
Worth bearing in mind next time you feel like complaining that you haven’t got a pot to pee in.
by Frankie Taggart
A portly consultant takes an inch-perfect pass from a balding banker, slots the ball home with clinical precision and punches the air with both arms, David Beckham style.
This is “champagne polo”, the commentator yells, but champagne polo with a difference, for the steed behind the winning goal weighs several tonnes and has just let go of a dung pile which looks the size of a small family car.
We are approaching the climax of the World Elephant Polo Championships, with players from across the globe gathering in a remote airfield in southern Nepal for a week of one of the most elite and glamorous sports around.
“Some players are looking very tired out there,” says Peter Prentice, a Hong Kong-based veteran of the tournament who chairs the World Elephant Polo Association and doubles up as a rather urbane commentator.
“I recommend a few repetitions of light weights to warm down and certainly a half a Carlsberg is about the right weight to relax those weary muscles.
“Seven to ten reps should do it, followed by a few lighter reps. A sauvignon blanc and then a chablis over ice or two should do the trick.”
Meanwhile a former Miss Nepal is told she is holding her stick the wrong way around.
Thus the tone is set for the exclusive business of elephant polo, a week of of fine wine, good food and socialising in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, home to Bengal tigers, rhinos and, for one week a year, playboys and aristocrats.
The annual event, hosted by the Tiger Tops jungle resort, has attracted models, celebrities and other glitterati over the years, including former Beatle Ringo Starr and comedians Billy Connolly and Max Boyce.
But at the business end of the tournament the participants take their sport very seriously indeed.
“Players do look to the umpire to make the right decisions and don’t take it lightly if a decision doesn’t go their way,” says Dubai-based former Gurkha and logistics consultant Nigel Lea, 33, who got his eye in by swinging his mallet from the roof of a Land Rover Discovery in the desert.
“But the joy of elephant polo is that because you are all together as a community that only sees each other once a year, 30 seconds after walking off the pitch we calm down, shake hands and have a beer together.”
It is easy to understand why the players do not like to go home empty-handed — the package per person is around the $3,500 mark for a week and the entry fee for each team works out at an eye-watering $10,000.
“I don’t think it’s a sport for posh people,” Lea says, however. “Some people here have a lot of money, some people can hardly rub two coppers together.”
Elephant polo was dreamt up 30 years ago over drinks at a Swiss ski resort and is based on the rules of horse polo, with a smaller pitch to cater for the less energetic steeds.
But thinking you’ll be any good on an elephant just because you can ride a horse is rather like assuming you’ll be able to master the controls of a Sherman tank after taking a cycling proficiency course.
Two teams of four players in pith helmets sit astride elephants controlled by mahouts, or trainers, who drive them on using oral commands and pressure from their feet.
Communication is the main problem as the mahouts speak only Nepali, as do their mounts, who are thought to be able to understand about 30 words.
Players carry sticks up to eight feet (2.5 metres) long to hit the ball towards the opposing goal, with each game comprising two 10-minute chukkas.
The list of enthusiasts is illustrious. Cheering from the sidelines this year is Colonel Raj Kalaan, who played with the Indian Polo team for 20 years, owns the Haryana Polo Club near Delhi and commanded India’s 61st Cavalry.
Local people also turn up in their thousands every year to cheer on a team put together by the park warden and his staff, who work with elephants every day and are often among the top performers.
This year’s title was successfully defended by a team led by 72-year-old Scotsman James Manclark, a horse polo player and former Olympic tobogganist who invented the elephant version over a drink with Jim Edwards, a pioneer of eco-tourism in Nepal.
Elephant polo is not without its detractors, chief among them animal welfare groups who have campaigned against the sport in India.
It is immediately obvious, however, that elephant welfare is the top priority at Tiger Tops and the animals’ treatment is reminiscent of the pampering that thoroughbred racehorses enjoy.
The ever-attentive mahouts lovingly clean and care for their mounts, treating them at the end of each match to molasses sandwiches to keep their strength up.
Conservation is also a key issue for Tiger Tops and the WEPA, which has contributed thousands of pounds towards animal welfare and other schemes benefiting Nepal over the years.
“If you see how they are here, you can see they are happy and in their natural habitat,” said Stine Edwards, captain of the all-women Tiger Tops Tigresses team, which ended the tournament with an impressive third place.
Stine’s husband Kristjan Edwards was born and raised in Nepal, speaks Nepali as a first language and has the advantage of having spent most of his life on the back on an elephant.
“An elephant will never do anything it doesn’t want to do,” says Stine. “They (the senior players) all have their own elephants and they would never do anything which would not be good for their elephants.”
The intellect of the elephants is often underestimated, according to the players, who say it obvious their mounts know what they are doing on the field.
“They are so bright. One year we had an elephant who would complain when you missed the ball,” says Stine, mimmicking the animal’s trumpeting raised trunk with an arm.
“He’d be saying: ‘You — can’t you just hit the ball? I’m on a run here!’”
Unless they’ve omitted HindoDisney from my city guide book, I’m pretty sure Kathmandu has hardly any global brands doing business in its hospitality and services industries.
The only two I can think of in fact are KFC and Pizza Hut which boast just four restaurants between them and are owned by the same parent company in any case (see AFP‘s 2009 story “Nepal tucks into first international fast-food chain“).
I’m not sure whether there’s a gap in the market for McDonald’s or Marks and Spencer. During a ten-year civil war that claimed more than 16,000 lives Maoist rebels targeted foreign ventures including Coke, Pepsi and Unilever.
But that ended five years ago. Recently Kathmandu has seen rapid growth in restaurants, shopping malls and supermarkets. KFC, for one, seems to be doing pretty well, having opened a second franchise a few weeks ago. While Kathmandu remains a poor city it has its middle-class like any other and one cannot help but conclude that the big brands are being slow on the uptake rather than shrewd. (Aside: KFC is not dismissed universally as low-culture in Asia the way it is in western Europe. In China, for example, eating in one of its restaurants is an aspirational activity – something that makes you look more middle class).
One interesting corollary of the squeamishness over Nepal is that the multinationals just do not care about protecting their brands here. So familiar high street names which aren’t exactly what they imply have sprung up like Walmart mushrooms all over Kathmandu.
Try ordering a Caramel Frappuccino® Light in here, for example. Go on – I dare you. You’ll get blank looks.
And this place doesn’t sell Apple’s iLife software suite. It doesn’t sell any Apple software. Which is probably just as well, since it only stocks PCs.
In the first case, the shop has stolen the name but not the look. In the second case, the misappropriation involves the entire brand and you would be forgiven for thinking it was some new kind of Apple Store.
Then there are the cases where the branding just looks incongruous, even if it has been sanctioned by the big multinational. In some parts of Kathmandu, literally every fourth or fifth outlet is a shop or cafe decked head-to-toe in the livery of either Coca-Cola or Pepsi. In this example the cafe is displaying its own name too but in many cases all you see is Coca-Cola branding.
In many examples the lettering looks hurried and in some cases is a mix of Roman script and the Devanagari alphabet. We should presume that this is all above board and that these businesses are getting cash from soft drink giants for advertising.
But are the money men checking that the outlets on which they are advertising are fully on board with the brand message?
There’s nothing ‘unique’ about this cafe, except perhaps that its menu offers no soft, fizzy drinks at all, let alone Pepsi.
The fridges of this establishment, on the other hand, are stocked with all the cola you could drink. But it’s Coke, not Pepsi.
Starbucks is more vigilant in China, where it protects its brand with a diligence that verges on… well, good brand management, I guess.
In 2006 the company won a legal action forcing Shanghai Xingbake Coffee Co Ltd to pay damages and to change its name (Starbucks translates as “Xingbake” in Mandarin) – even though Xingbake registered its name before Starbucks had entered the Shanghai market.
Similarly, Apple has been the plaintiff in trademark and copyright infringement legal action all over the world (although the most notable cases have been against big rivals rather than small-time firms). These lawsuits include claims against Woolworth Ltd in Australia, the Victoria School of Business and Technology in British Columbia, Canada, and even New York City (that’s right – the Big APPLE).
The first question companies usually ask before launching legal action is: “Will this be worth it?” There is a long list of potential pitfalls to weigh against the advantages of protecting your brand.
One, obviously, is the cost. Trademark infringement lawsuits often end up setting the plaintiff back to the tune of between $250,000 and $750,000 if they have to prosecute all the way through to trial.
Another is that the legal position can be complicated and nebulous. How easy is it going to be to sue for trademark infringement in a market where you have no presence? How likely is it that the judiciary in a tinpot banana republic will uphold international copyright law? [Before I get complaints, Nepal is not a tinpot banana republic, by the way - although they do grow excellent bananas here. Banana Republic, however, does strike me as great name for a chain of milkshake bars.]
Thirdly, is there potential for doing more harm to your brand than good? A big firm might look like it is fighting the good fight if it stops a rival taking advantage of 50 years’ worth of hard-earned goodwill. But closing down a cafe with a similar name in a third world city risks making you look petty.
So how come Kathmandu gets away with it? Could it be one or all of the above reasons?
Or should we simply conclude that we’re just not on the radar here? If this is the thinking then it offers a rather depressing picture of Nepal’s business outlook: that – in the eyes of the big global brands – it’s not a viable marketplace now and probably never will be.