Gripping. Heartbreaking. Educational.
Reading this book from the safe bounds of my home in Kathmandu felt unjust at various levels. How fortunate are we to not toil every day, every waking hour in the sheep farms, construction sites, and farms located in the scorching hot desert of Qatar?
Sanaiya is named after one of Qatar’s labor camps that houses thousands of Nepali migrant workers. While the stories of the plight of the Nepali workers working particularly in the Middle East and Malaysia reaches our eyes and ears through music videos and journalistic pieces, this book provides a lengthy and in-depth anthropological insight into the lives and the plight of Nepalis living in the Middle East, particularly Qatar.
Karki does justice to the voices (and tears) of his informants as he is almost removed from the narrative. Reading Sanaiya feels like a documentary where Karki’s responsibility merely is to create context, hence, allowing his informants ample space to speak their own truths. At the same time, Karki also makes sure to go beyond the narrative of “foreign migration is all bad” and presents a few success stories of safe migration and upward economic mobility.
The author also supplements historical information on the Nepali migration to the Middle East as well as contemporary legal codes surrounding safe migration. In other words, this book can serve as a guide to someone thinking of working abroad while also functioning as a paralegal helpbook for the general layity curious about work and migration laws and policies.
I learnt so much from this book and I believe this should be a mandatory read in all our schools.
[Nepali review coming soon]