It’s been about 20 years now. Why do I continue to return to Nepal? To answer my own rhetorical question, what pulls me back could be the emerging voice of a young and restless generation – a hopeful energy despite their smiling resignation – a dilemma I have witnessed over time. But perhaps this response too is somewhat less credible and less convincing to the conscientious reader. Revisiting the country is perhaps more about my deep association with disorder – particularly an alignment of my own disorder, and that fleetingness which characterizes Nepal’s towns and villages. I feel as though I am approaching a void – those cities where auspicious stones have been erected, now lie desolate, but remain untouched by the hustle – these are the territories which I feel most endeared to, and that speak to my sensibilities. After years of engaging with the country, emerging from the airport every time I come back – surrounded by heady traffic, a non-stop racket, I am now soothed in the depths of its chaos as it is an aura which I now recognise and a place that I feel rooted in. The frames of life I see show a mesmeric state, a traffic of sites: a glance, a dog, a line of ragged walls, a butcher’s shop, the jostling in an overcrowded bus, the light burn of tea on the lips… these offer me a sense of kinship to the space that exists somewhere between order and disorder. These are the facts of life and the truths that lie, below, behind and underneath reality, and the inherent response to my elusive question, ‘Why Nepal?’
All images from the series Everyday Epiphanies
Images are shot on film. Those from 2013 are digital
Prasiit Sthapit, Kathmandu, December 2013
Bandana Sharma, a social worker student, Kalanki, Kathmandu, September 2001
Restaurant helper, Jhochhen, Kathmandu, September 2001
New Nanglo West Restaurant, Butwal, Rupandehi district, April 2012
Santosh and Rakesh, Ilam, Ilam District, March 2011
Window Thamel, Kathmandu, April 2008
Sink, Arun Hotel, Tumlingtar, Sankuwasabha district, December 2007
Gatlang Monastery, Gatlang, Rasuwa district, February 2013
Indira Lacchimasyu’s dhymia, a ritual drum that she was the first woman to be allowed to play, at her parents’ home, Bhaktapur, April 2008
Sundhara, Kathmandu, December 2000
Nepal Railway wagon, on the country’s only line between Janakpur and Jaynagar (India), Janakpur, Dhanusa District, March 2011
Makeshift hut, near the airport, Tinkune, Kathmandu, September 2001
Collapsed chimney, Thamel, Kathmandu, December 2002 or January 2003
A painted temple on a wall, Mahakal Road, Kathmandu, September 2001
Artificial flowers, Surkhet, Surkhet District, July 2006
Sarita, student, Naya Bazar, Kathmandu, 2001
Calm in the Chaos
Poem by Yukta Bajracharya
In case of chaos,
there won’t always be an exit door,
I won’t be looking for one.
This chaos will be left
This disorder will have ordered itself around me.
I won’t feel out of place.
I will find myself feeling free
even inside walls that cage me.
My life might never touch the soil outside the
of this murky, green lake
but I am at peace with floating
and this knowing that unfolds like petals:
freedom isn’t about fleeing but about this feeling
where ever I am.