Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Romantic Surprise

Recent trip to Pokhara was for an absolute 'Romantic Surprise' that one of my friend (Pabin) wanted to give his wife (Sangeeta). They got married on 22nd of January 2004 and are in full bloom of love. (See picture of these two lovebirds above). Last weekend Sangeeta was having a conference there at Fulbari Resort & Spa, Pokhara so we (Prabin and I) sneaked out on motorbike to Pokhara on a same day she left Kathmandu. I know this is no less romantic stunt than a Korean couple who, wanted to have their romantic portrait done at the top of Sarangkot hill at very moment of sunrise. (Read my previous blog regarding Korean couple).

Sangeeta had no slightest clue that her romantic hubby would ever emerge suddenly right there at the resort next to her. From the very beginning I was so curious to see how Sangeeta would react. I even planned to stay right behind Prabin to take pictures but I missed that moment due to unfavorable circumstance for pictures. She was trying to dial Prabin via her cell phone and got so surprise to find him sitting in chair next to her. Her instant reaction was, "Kasto Badmas Kam Nalaggne Manchhe" and she giggled merrily. Though I missed taking pictures, I do know how she had felt to see Prabin there and I am so happy for that.

Moment after that 'Romantic Surprise' many beautiful moments followed. Both Prabin and Sangeeta had a wonderful time together. I too enjoyed being there and taking pictures of these lovebirds. Long time ago somewhere I read, "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness". May Cupid enrich the souls and delight the hearts of all lovebirds on earth.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Thousand Words

Indeed "A picture speaks a thousand words" and sometime more than just a thousand words ever exist in human civilization. Only viewers can feel it. Being a Photo Journalist and photo fanatic my perspective always tries to go little further than normal viewers while composing picture. I think having a Photographer's eyes one can go beyond 'a thousand words'. 'Human parade' unfolds extraordinarily different way if you have a pair photographer's eye to see it. Simply, I can't express about it but I can feel it. Anyway don't bother changing your perspective on LIFE, if you don't have photographer's eyes.

Well I just want to share you a picture (above), which I've created with the help of Adobe Photo Shop 7. Digital technology has revolutionized photography world in great deal making many impossible things come true. This technology has opened many doors to creativity for creative people. Besides authenticity of a picture, it enables doing many amazing things. (Like picture above).

Let me quench your thirst to know, how I've created that picture. I planned a view of my room and fixed digital camera (Nikon Coolpix 5400) on tripod at one corner of my room. Exposure is set manually because I wanted to achieve exact warmth and sharpness in the picture I want it to be. By planting a camera on tripod at one place, now I can take any number of pictures having same view at the same angle. This way I took several pictures of myself in a different place of my room with different outfits. (By doing this I also have learnt to change dress in no time, he.. he..) After taking several shots, I uploaded all images in my PC and opened them all in a Photoshop7. Now making one base/main image I just copied each images and paste them in other new layers. I made ten layers for 10 Jiten. Selecting each layer I erased portion or image besides me, and doing this layer 1 is visible to layer 2. Using same process to all 9 layers, now I have all 9 Jiten in layer 10. To make a foolproof I have selected each layer and go in detail so that it can overlap exact place of base image. There are several tools in Photoshop you can use to manipulate images. After doing this I merged all 9 layers to the base layer and slightly change it tone and color using adjustment option. And final image is ready. Very simple.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Trip to Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wild Life Reserve

'Conflict and Conservation' is what I was assigned to photograph in my recent 9 days (26 Oct - 3 Nov, 2005) trip to Royal Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve. Focus of this research trip was in finding out impact on wildlife and conservation, (especially National Parks and Wildlife Reserve) because of ongoing conflict between Maoist and the Government. Needless to say, it's a vital issue and mere 9 days was not ample time to go in depth but we did our best to reach to the roots. We were two (Reporter/Journalist Gopal Tiwari and I) in the team and we had no forecasted plan. Even we have had all necessary official documents and Press identity, we never know how things rolls up. We had to reach local communities and visit places where general people have no access. Moreover traveling outsides Kathmandu valley is a different story now. It is not easy as it used to be few years back. All these circumstances made this trip adventurous one and I got so many new experiences to cash in.

During the trip I witnessed how conflict directly and indirectly affected on Wildlife Conservation of Nepal. Nepal is rich in biodiversity and natural beauty because of its unique geographical location and variation in altitude. It has contributed remarkable to the conservation of global biodiversity. More than 19 percent of the country's landmass has been set aside for perpetual conservation purposes but it's very sad to see these treasure being destroyed because of the conflict.

Conservation activities, being cared out with people's participation, have been interrupted following the lunch of a Maoist insurgency and ensuing conflict since March 13, 1996. Maoist's destruction of physical infrastructure and growing human casualties as a result of the armed conflict, the authorities is charge of the protected areas started merging the affected guard posts and the sector offices with the respective headquarters. This precautionary step has left the field posts unattended. Similarly, the Royal Nepalese Army began reorganizing its guard posts to avoid possible destruction. The conservation staff and security personnel have abandoned the territory. Consequently, illegal hunting, collection of plants having medicinal value and deforestation have increased in some regions. On the other hand a positive gesture, the presence of the security forces and Maoist rebels in the jungle has discouraged smugglers and poachers. In addition, the Maoists have been expressing their commitment to bio-diversity conservation. However, they seem to be doing this for their own benefit and in contravention of the government laws.

This has led to an increase in the poaching of wild animals, deforestation and illegal trading in medicinal plants. The conflict has also indirectly influenced tourism and agriculture, pushing the country's economy on the brink.

Besides these findings, I have so many other memorable stories to cherish. One night during the trip we had to face one of the deadliest mosquitoes attack ever in life. Gosh! It felt like I had lost huge amount of my blood and it was so itchy. Inside Royal Chitwan National Park, while going to shoot pictures of Dhoba Post that was blown away by Maoist, we encountered with Rhino and we ran like hell. Rhino chased us more then 100 meters and thanks to an experienced local Tharu Men, who saved us. That was a 'close call' indeed. After taking rest across Reu River we approached other non-bushy route to reach the post.

On our jungle walk, we saw many wild animals, Rhesus monkey, Common langur, Sambhar, Hog deer, Chital, Wild boar, etc roaming freely and it was exciting. I even had this opportunity to stare an elusive Royal Bengal tiger by just half foot away, which was kept in an enclosure at the Kasara Headquarter. A short walk (1km.) from Kasara there is Gharial Breeding Center, Which is also home to the Mugger crocodile and a number of turtles. Visit to the Gharial breeding center with Cheese Kumar dai (a Game-scout) was very informative. We even made fun and laughed regarding his name 'Cheese'. Finding fresh tiger footmarks deep in the forest was scary but I didn't admit about it. Ha..ha.

Strolling through countless Tharu villages was a beautiful experience. Their living style and religious/cultural sure has so many ethical values to preserve. Tharu are the main indigenous ethnic group in Chitwan. They are well known for their resistance to malaria. Traditionally they are farmers and practice their own unique tribal religion. One thing I didn't like about Tharu Men is that they drink locally made wine (Rakshi) often and a lot.

We had hard time finding meals and once we had to sustain a whole day on 2 boiled eggs. All these experience taught me to be better prepared and what stuffs should I be equipped with while going on such trips. Needless to tell that traveling is the best way to learn many things. Still there are so many knowledge that I have gained about my Nepal, my Culture, my Village and lot more. I will be more than just happy to share whatever knowledge I gained wherever I go via this blogging. And yes of course will be uploading many pictures from this memorable trip there in my online photo album.

In the end let me say, small though it may be in size, Nepal nevertheless possesses a natural affluence that is truly spectacular. From the flatlands of the Terai in the south to the magnificent snow capped Himalayas in the north, the Kingdom harbors an amazing variety of flora and fauna, forming ecosystems that are remarkable, and some that are unique to this land. Lets not loose our hope to preserve it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Paddling to Nagarkot Early

Quiet road uphill was foggy and just lit by the fog-light. It was a cold morning and fog seems trying to test my endurance. This gave funny tickles inside me and it has no idea how tough I am to brave such cold. More importantly what I had in my mind was, to reach to the top before dawn breaks so that I can watch and enjoy the Sunrise to full. It's been months I haven't watch Sunrise so I was little desperate. I have this resolution to watch Sunrise at least twice a year. This time it took me more time to reach to the top hill than previous record of 1 hrs 25 mins. May be it's because I haven't been to long route cycling lately.

After two short rests, I reached to the top at 6:05 a.m. and the timing was perfect for the dawn. I sat there beside my cycle munching 'Snicker chocolate' with water and fixing my eyes on the horizon above beautiful villages draped by the blanket of fog. It was beautiful and a romantic moment indeed. Of course, I thought of Neema (my Sunshine) and wished she were there with me. Some local and foreign tourists were already there before I reached.

Enjoying half an hour of beautiful Sunrise I started to go downhill to Bhaktapur. Riding cycle downhill is pretty exciting and it almost makes you forget all the burns that it takes to paddle to the top. I don't have a speed meter but I assume I can reach up 35 to 40 Km/hr in speed. It took me 25 minutes reach down to Kharipati (base camp for cadet training center). Though I've been cycling for many years now, to go anywhere, recently I've started to take Mountain Biking seriously. Who knows I may maneuver this passion of mine to great height and win some 'Mountain Bike Race' here in Nepal. Not a bad idea. Ha.. ha Besides, cycling is fun and it helps me to keep my physical health fit. Like other adventurous sports, downhill cycling is also very adrenaline. Cycle sometime if you can.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Know Thyself First

Yesterday evening while I was flipping TV channels and I got switched to Image Channel (Nepali TV Channel) which was broadcasting Pooja Gurung's program 'Katha Kathmandu' (Story of Kathmandu). She was saying that, "We Kathmanduties know which bar in Thamel (Famous tourist hub in Kathmandu) serve the best cocktails, and at which nook we can delicious Italian Pizzas, and what Maya Pub famous for but are shamelessly clueless about many landmark of Thamel that have very historic significances of Nepal." I agree that we know so much about other country and people around the globe but not NEPAL. TV program's theme 'Know yourself and your place before you visit others and their places' struck me immensely.

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