Rap star turned mayor wants to rebuild Kathmandu

Balendra ÒBalenÓ Shah, mayor of Kathmandu, at his office in the capital city of Nepal, Nov. 16, 2022. (Saumya Khandelwal/The New York Times)

BEFORE he aspired to Kathmandu’s highest office, Balendra Shah appeared on the city’s rooftops, a singer facing off in rap battles or filming music videos.

His songs, which focused on poverty, underdevelopment and the rot he saw at the root of Nepal’s entrenched political culture, drew an avid following among the country’s youths.

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