Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Youths Hands for Change

Text by : Smriti Lama.
It's 16th of December 2006, a special day for a group of young people. It was the day YOUTH Hands For Change was formed.

It was already eleven in the morning by the time the group had assembled and started from Boudha. The destination was Sundari Jal where we were supposed to camp for a day. The event, Leadership Training Camp, was organized by the Nodan Club and no one was sure how many people would actually be participating.

We were initially a team of thirteen - Raman Dai, Sunil Tamang, Sahadev, Manohar, Rajan, Jitu Dai, Krishna ji, Narayan Sir, Bhoj Raj ji, Rajan Dulal, Surendra, Yogendra and I, Smriti Lama. But Prabin had joined us by nightfall thus making us an even numbered team of fourteen. For most of us since it was the first time we were camping everything was interesting and a novel experience.

Immediately after introductions it was clear that the team assembled was a unique one for no sooner had we started on our journey than the members started cracking jokes, sharing anecdotes and engaging in discussions on grave topics like Child Psychology.The climb up to reach our campsite was a very difficult one and the pressing heat did not make it any easier. I do not take well to physical effort and the sun well and was very red and huffing and puffing the whole way up. Evidently, it pleased Sahadev so much to see me that way that he mentioned it later in the circle of trust as his most memorable incident.

We reached our destination at around one in the afternoon which was pretty good considering the very steep climb had taken us only about an hour. Raman Dai led us through a couple of games which were like ice-breakers to make us feel comfortable with each other as a team and help us memorize each other's names. It was then that we named our group YOUTH - Hands For Change. Since we were surrounded by picnic-goers we did not in the least feel unappreciated for people kept gawking at us and for a minute there we got to feel like celebrities.

After an hour or more, the crowd had dispersed and we prepared ourselves a light snack of bread, peanut butter, jam, etc. When I was younger, I would read about such snacks in Enid Blyton novels and grudge them that meal but I found that I like reading about them more than actually eating them. Not that there was anything wrong with it but once you have reached the campsite you get so excited that it doesn't matter what you eat.

The whole process of pitching our tents was so much fun and Krishna got awarded for having the best tent and all of us who helped him pitch it were so proud. We were especially glad about our camp site because we had a beautiful lake for our front yard and were surrounded by lovely green hills from everywhere. I swear I have not seen a night sky like the one I saw there in a very long time. Many of us even got lucky and saw shooting stars.
Most of the games we played that day aimed at building trust and teaching us to communicate among each other as a team. We did the one where the whole team catches a member who lets go from a height. My personal favourite was the one where everyone was the blindfolded and taken through an especially difficult trail. Puspa Dai helped us with the task by leading the group. By the end of the evening more than one of us had wet and muddy shoes but we had never had never felt better.
After our fun and games it was time for some sight-seeing. We went to a hotel and from the balcony we could see Kathmandu in all its glory at night. Kathmandu looked like an extension of the starry night sky and we kept looking at it. It is true that many things can be hidden under the cover of darkness and from where we were we could not see the pollution in the city. Surendra and Yogendra were the group favorites as they weren't very keen talkers and so everyone kept asking them to say something - anything. Yogendra sang a song by Narayan Gopal and everybody joined in. We took our meals there and returned to our camp site.We built a camp-fire and sang songs till late in the night. Manohar turned out to be quite the singer of the group and was the life of our little party there. We also had a game of antakshari and the other team put on their creativity cap and sang some instant songs and Sunil, who was in our team, couldn't sing very much because he would start coughing as soon as he started singing. In the middle of our games we were interrupted by cries of wild cats but we discovered the next day that the jungle was full of monkeys so they were probably the ones responsible for those noises. I am scared of wild cats but even more scared of monkeys so it was probably for the best that we didn't know the source of those cries.Narayan Sir who was comparatively quite that day shared some of his stories with us and made us laugh but it was Krishna Ji who stole the show. He regaled us with some very interesting tales of his childhood and while we felt very sorry for the little boy who was hurt and lame and who lost one of his slippers, none of us could help laughing at the boy who said, "I didn't do anything, I just waited for them". None of us will ever look at Katar the same way again.We finally said Goodnight at around one in the morning but not before we had all participated in Solo (meditation). All of us went to a solitary place and each stood at a distance from the other and we were asked to think about our lives since the time we were little kids. Since I had never done it before, I must admit that I spent most of the ten minutes star gazing and getting scared in the dark. To top it all, some of our friends including Surendra and Yogendra got lost on their way back and Krishna Ji could not control his laughter.

We started the next day off with some Yoga and meditation. Narayan Sir, Jitu Dai and Krishna Ji shared their experiences with the group. Like Narayan Sir said during the time we were practicing our breathing exercises we felt like the birds had all come near us and were singing near us. It was such a lovely start to an already exquisite day. After that we went to a hotel and had some breakfast. But even that time was mentally stimulating as we all discussed on topics like, "How much frank is frank enough?" Jitu Dai told us about his love for pigeons and everyone was surprised when he told us that some pigeons could stay in air for more than eight hours.We returned to our campsite and played games like the ones we had played the day before. Raman Dai with Sunil's help led us through all the games. Though one wouldn't think it, those games turned out to be very dangerous and if you don't believe me you should ask Sahadev who was blindfolded and whom I saw hanging on to a friend in a "Banmara Ko Jhyang". Since the campsite was littered with paper-plates and plastics we cleaned it up a little before leaving. So we not only learned how to have fun as a team but also to clean up as a team.But we weren't done yet. Raman Dai asked us to give our feedback on a sheet of paper. Then we formed a circle of trust and each person gave a pen (thanks to Raman Dai) to another person. Raman Dai thanked Sunil and Rajan D. for providing us with the tents and sleeping bags respectively for the whole team. Rajan surprised us all by his kindness and generosity when he gave his jacket to Sambhu, our help.

Needless to say, Jitu Dai entertained us with his jokes the whole time we were together and there is no denying that his jokes are great and that he takes fabulous pictures but his mathematics is the thing that is truly outstanding. So the next time you meet him, ask him how much is 5 + 5.
Overall, those two days were the best two days spent of our lives and we learnt many things from each other and Raman Dai. Everyday in our lives we come across little kindnesses, respect, team spirit and wonderful people but there, far from our routine lives, I think, we appreciated it and appreciated each other and the camaraderie between us. Though it sounds very cliché I think I changed a little bit from inside in Sundari Jal and I will never be the same again. Being among such kind and positive people helped me look at life differently and in a good way. I hope others felt that too. And I feel hopeful that it is just the beginning for Hands for Change.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Picnic at Lkharui Bhanjayang

Word 'Picnic' always cheers me and in my school days friends used to label me as an expert in organizing picnics. I can't tell exactly why I was so fond of organizing such events in those days but I believe I do have a knack for making merry time. Needless to tell, I have treasured so many beautiful memories of those countless picnics I have organized in the past. Still I do remember vividly how I have bugged my litle head supervising everything and walked extra miles to make those events success. Though it's funny that, how friends used to be anxious about what dress to wear for picnic tomorrow and put lot effort to groom themselves but to contrary I used to worry not to forget stove pin or ghee for pulau and so on. Recalling those days, now I feel, I really was different character on the landscape. Anyway, good days are gone for good.

Last Saturday it was another picnic to Lkharui Bhanjyang. And this time it's not me but my hometown buddies who have arranged this picnic as a reunion party of old buddies. I assume it's been more than ten years gap in between the last time we went for picnic, so this picnic itself was quite an opportunity for all of us to meet old times buddies.

Lkharui Bhanjayang is a perfect spot for picnicking. It lies perched atop the pristine hill of Pokhari Thumko (18km from Kathmandu). Located at an altitude of 2000 m, approximately, this is another vantage point commanding panoramic views of the snowy mountain peaks. View of wide spectrum of the Himalayan range and the broad expanse of the Kathmandu valley from Lakhuri Bhanjayang is breathtaking. The northern horizon is an ideal location to watch spectacular views of sunset and sunrise. And we all enjoyed to full picnicking at this beautiful place.

Let me share some pictures.
Group picture for ever lasting FRIENDSHIP.
Making fun time with local children, who were so curious to see their instant pictures in my digital camera. I had wonderful time being with them and taking lots of their pictures. You can surf my photo blog to see more pictures of them. Click here
Lkharui Dance: Music and dance I think are very part of Nepali way of picnicking and how could we miss enjoying such joyful activities. And do I need to equip more words to explain euphoric we have had.

Subash, Shyam and their beer laugh.
Cooking time: Guys peeling onions and cleaning tomatoes. Don’t ignore beer bottle near them.Nice shot Jitu cha: Guess what these three ladies in the picture were not supposed to be in the frame, but they just walked in while I was composing and I didn’t want to miss clicking such a decisive moment.With Sujan, Ajay and Mahesh. Bidding farewell to Lkharui Bhanjayang.

Monday, November 13, 2006

That Fleeting Moment and I

Roar of an airplane woke me up and I found myself in a strange room but it didn't take long time for me to realize I was in Kathmandu Medical College’s cabin number 467, near Tribhuvan International Airport. I was there for one night as a company for my friend Prabin, who became a proud papa of a cute baby girl just a day before.

It was neither cold nor humid morning but I longed for the warmth of sunshine to greet me through that blue curtained window. I waited long cuddling blanket and fixing my lonesome gaze at the window. My mind was stirred with all sort of curious thoughts of, how one would feel being a papa. It must be euphoric and I have seen Prabin's face shined with delight holding his daughter for the first time. There was a wonderful expression in his face.
I jogged back to those beautiful moments of a day before and I was happy but the reality I survive seemed so surreal. All of a sudden I felt strangely empty. Few moments later I was distracted by the radio frequencies blaring morning news at the top of their megawatt as if they could eradicate country's fever of peace talk. Though the whole nation is engulfed in political turmoil but for me it looks pretty ungainly maze of contrast realm.

Some amiable voices erupted outside the cabin and my stray mind shifted its gear toward that eruption. It was girl gossip that some health assistants and sisters of the medical college were enjoying. I secretly tuned my ear to hear their hot agendas. One of them was telling a story about her neighbors, a newly wedded couple and how they are planning to go abroad. She sounded so chatty and the titbit which she was enclosing about her neighbors astonished me. And I thought wow! what a remarkable piece of intelligence she got. Another sister interrupted her and said that one of her patient was so erratic and she was having difficulty to attend. She added, patient like those can make her nerve go boil. A pang of rage triggered in me and I murmured, how come a person holding such a care taking profession could say so? And before I did find a satisfying answer another girl snapped to new topic and started to tease this sister about her long phone calls and asked were those call from her someone special. In low voice she revealed about her secret admirer and told them how crazy he is for her. And swiftly they all went wild giggling. Ripple of those giggle caressed me and I grinned knowing their little secret.

I reached for my bag and pulled out a book but my mind escorted my eyes around the cabin to scrutinize its features. Windows were draped with blue curtain symbolizing color of hospital otherwise blue color cools me. Two typical metal hospital beds and one with wheels on its legs for more portability. At left corner there was one wooden drawer with mirror, which I think was something unusual, otherwise medical cabin won’t get equipped with mirror. There were lots of electric light sockets, but only one fluorescent light was functioning properly and I think that was enough clues to speculate efficiency of management of the Medical College. A door at the left side leads a small balcony to the north and got a nice view of mountain. Another window has a glimpse of Tribhuvan International Airport and some nearby houses. On the roof of one particular house, a pair pigeon grooming each other and it was beautiful and gave sense of a canvas hung in the cabin.

It was about 7am, Prabin woke up and threw me a weary glance indicating he still need more sleep. Obviously being a papa of a 'one day old' daughter definitely has drained him both mentally and physically. I stared at his face and fantasized what if I could catch some of his euphoria of holding this pride of a 'Papa'. I guess no matter how hard I tried I would never be able to give shapes to those joys into words to portray his exact feelings. Being one of his long-time friend and a keen photojournalist, for me it's been a heck of opportunities for me to get involved various parades of his life.

I got up from the small flat bench where I slept that night and went for bathroom. Within 10 minutes I came back to wrap myself into blanket. Warmth was still there proving its trust and care for me. Slowly morning began to get mature and I waved that fleeting moment happily.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Birthday Note to Myself

My Love may die before morning.
But I have been with her for eight years.
There is no way I could be cheated if I didn't
have her for another day.
I didn't deserve her for one minute, God Knows.

And I may die before morning.

What I must do is die TODAY.
I must accept the justice of death and
the injustice of more "life."
I have had a good life -
joyous and longer than many, better than most.
Junthip* died when she was twenty six.
I have had thirty years.
I couldn't justify another day.
I did not create myself, it is a gift.
I am me, that is the miracle.
I had no right to remain a single hour.
Some remain a single minute.
And yet I have had thirty years.

Few consciously choose when they will die.
I choose to accept death now.
As of this moment I give up my "right" to live.
And I give up my "right" to her life.

But it's morning.
Within my hands is another day to listen and to love
and walk and glory.
I am here for another day.

I think of those who aren't.

What does it mean to be here?
What does it mean to have FRIENDS?
What does it mean to get dressed, to have a meal, to work?
What does it mean to come home?
What is difference between the living and the dead?

I sometimes wonder if the "dead" are not more present,
more comfort, more here than most of the living.

Today I want to do things to be doing them,
not to be doing something else.
I don't want to paddle to get there,
be there to make themjoy,
or study to "keep abreast".

I don't want to do things to sell myself on myself.
I don’t want to do nice things for people
so that I will be "nice".
I don't want to work to make money,
I want to work to work.

Today I don’t' want to live for,
I want to live.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Jitu cha.

Note excerpted from Book,"Note to Myself" by Hugh Prather and rearranged

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Great Escape with 'Kutumba'

It was so good to get catapulted from the vicinity where people care not to spare me single SMS in reply which cost them rupee 1 or may be less and to the place where I can pluck oranges as many as I can in just rupees 10. Moreover those genuine smile they wear on their faces to greet a stranger like me is simply beyond mere money could buy. This paradox of people's intimacy I felt was more than my words can express and I just can't help wondering why are we so restless to join the rat race to dampen our compassion. There are so many things we take for granted in our daily life and it's so easy to say I'll do that later but the chance may never come. And this is why I jump to grab any chance I get to go outside from all hustle and bustle of Kathmandu metropolitan, and enjoy such beauty of love, care and compassion that rural people possess.

And I am glad that I got this chance to explore and enjoy time with "Kutumba" (A Classical musical Band) recently. Our main destinations were Bandipur and Riverside Spring Resort where Kutumba preformed traditional folk tunes from their new album "Naulo Bihani" (New Dawn). Trip was for promotion of their third album and also to promote eco-cultural tourism in Bandipur. Bandipur is very picturesque which is situated in Tanahu district 143 km to the west of Kathmandu. It is a Newar town that still retains much of its centuries-old appeal. It was a wonderful experience being there with such a mix of passionate people and "Kutumba" whose music captivated all of us and enthralled dweller of Bandipur.

The trip was no doubt came as a great excuse for me to cheer myself up, since my life has been so topsy-turvy. For the first time in my life I felt such awful hallowness of missing someone so close to my heart and soul. It is very painful experience. And even time seems slipping by at a snail's pace as if it is mocking me with its slowness and gaining a vicarious thrill out of my prolong anguish.

During the trip: my lonesome moment sitting along the bank river Trishuli listening to its roar and watching the twilight skies.. not just watching but indeed loosing myself in its incredible vastness was one of pleasure I could afford myself in this difficult time of my life when I need to take mind off things.

Somewhere I read, 'it takes both rain and sunshine to create a rainbow'. Let me hope "this RAINBOW" which took away all my hopes and dreams would one day sure bring happiness and things will return to normal. For now I am pretty sure to keep exploring my memories good and bad, even though they hurt me, turn me tears. I'll always put effort to relive them as much as I can.

Know more about KUTUMBA.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Butterfly In My Bedroom

My sleepless eyes,
this odd hour of midnight.
Beautiful black butterfly in my bedroom
Came to me as if an Angel,
that descended from heaven above
Fluttering its vibgyor wings
to vanish solitude of my broken heart.
It felt strangely beautiful.
My heart tried to regain its lost beats
My eyes started get watery
for this touch of care it has
I thought how helpless it could be.
Not finding true flower brimming with nectar
and for the love it has for nature
Instead stayed tremendously peaceful,
on an empty page lies before me,
waiting patiently for an eruption
Of my lonesome words
It gently fluttered its beautiful wings
Evoking poem in me
I followed and heard its flutter
as if it's telling me
time to bed and not to worry.
With teary eyes I kept watching,
it went resting on my pillow
Weird realization made me wonder,
how this so called God sneak up on you sometime
With a heavy heart,
I watched it resting on my pillow for long.
Not wanting it to leave me
but I couldn't deny its love
So I got on to my feet from study table,
And again it fluttered away
Clung on the empty white wall.
Voice jingled to me from deep inside,
as if it is an empty canvas of my life
and I nodded with sob.
And accept this harsh reality which maimed my heart
Silent scream inside me jolted
I must paint my life all again
Yeah I must
Sense of ease loosen the lump,
troubling me breathe.
Suddenly an urge to stay awake animated
and I wish to see my other dreams
Yet to make vivid reality.
Triumphing over my negative thoughts
I sprang back to blog this empty pages,
giving form to this beautiful thought,
which I feel at this melancholy midnight.
Broken, lost, grief-stricken
I try to wade through this dark alley
and foster ahead in life for much more beautiful tasks,
that await me to unveil,
and spread the joy I just discovered.
Thank You Dear Black Butterfly in my Bedroom.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Feeling So Lonely

When joy takes leave, friend misinterpret
Sunshine frowns and springs depart
Even picture which greets every morning
Suddenly start to haunt you
And you are let to your dismay
You allow it face with shattered heart
that rely on an artificial respiratory
It feels heavy and pain you never imagine
The tempest on the shore comes to rip you off
You feel lost, so lost as never before
When things are no more the same
Smile fade but memories linger
Life has to go on ....
Try once more and play the game
Wipe the tear and stop the cry
Sky is the limit if you try".

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Debate on Marriage

As Heineken (beer) slowly chilled down the throats; debate on marriage began to get hot. There were three participants: one and half years old married guy and soon going to be a young papa, next was single committed to relationship having liberal thoughts on marriage, and third one is a morally decent guy who has a different outlook on marriage. Marriage itself is not a provocative issue but scrutiny; these participants have made it debatable. Since all of them are in their early 30s, marriage frequently becomes their "HOT" agenda.

Human are social creature and they have obvious inclination toward rituals that exist in the society they dwell. Every society has its own traditional belief about marriage. And not opposing its norms and values here I have one carefully picked view that surfaced during that that informal debate which I think would be interesting to share with you all. Before you go graze my words, let me make it clear that you have every right to disagree these views.

How truly we believe this fact that, 'Getting ready mentally to tie nuptial knot is more important then age and social attributes. Individual's choice should be the most significant factor in making decision'. But guess what the custom we practice is pretty opposite and you can't rebel. Even if you do, it still is a long way to bring change. Marriage simply is beyond how you plan and what you do. Not to forget, lots of other circumstances have to meet at certain wavelength before a wedding bell chime.

"Eligible bachelor" is a tough tag to maintain, especially when your mum wishes to have some toddler around. And yes don't bother yourself to convince her. Still the intensity of family pressure is very high when it comes to make decision about marriage. And because of this many not succeed to fulfill their fondest wish. Most people enter marriage with achieving happiness in mind. Even families think the marriage will make them happy and make them prosperous. And many couple ties the nuptial knot every year with rosy dreams of living happily ever after. But I wonder how many actually manage to catch the rainbow? I guess it's very important to answer and regard marriage in new way.

About participants: (name withheld)
Mr. X: Before getting his nuptial knot this married guy used to carry a different philosophy on marriage and he had no slightest clue that some fine day, he would meet his Princess charming in a Birthday party. Those sequences were so dramatic for us to see getting unfolded in his life. Now he proudly flaunts his married status and leaves no room to tell all the legendary status of married life. It sure is a happy ending story.

Mr. Y: You won't regret labeling him exceptionally different in the horde. You can sense it the minute you start to be with him. His ways of thinking is highly contradict in present scenario and he seem so daunting not to get staggered in his vows he practices in his day-to-day life. Of course, he has many ways of being romantic but problem with him is that he never thinks this romantic. If I would make a list of 50 things to do before I die, number one in the list would be, to witness his marriage. I secretly believe that there is always someone for somebody.

Mr. Z: Marriage is a big box full of surprises yet to unwrap. Sometime he feels it's a sweet price to pay and maintain a happy marriage but these choices will unquestionably enhance relationship. Actually getting married is just formally recognizing something that have happened which will induce to take new responsibilities into his live, old activities will gets different meaning, self-concepts and priorities will be recast. Real consequences of becoming a husband and father.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Walking an Extra Mile

I wonder how many of you believe in 'Walking an Extra Mile'. I do all the time. My personal experiences in 'walking an extra mile' have convinced me that it could be a best tool one can use to build distinctive stroke in the society like a Dutch Artist Vincent Van Gogh has in his work of art. (See the painting above). An extra mile he walked in each painting he creates enabled him to build this distinctive brush stroke. Like Vincent Van Gogh, there are many people who have achieved great heights walking an extra mile.

What exactly I mean by 'Walking an Extra Mile"?
It's all about putting little extra effort in things you do for better. Just take a look at the picture left, which I think is one good example of 'walking an extra mile'. The sole purpose of food on the plate is to fill our appetite, then why the chef took all those pains in the neck decorating it? Simply because we love it and it makes us feels good when people put little extra effort to make things special for us. Even above food on plate is just a digital picture in screen, yet you can't help but praise the effort the chef has done to make it appealingly delicious.

Walking an extra mile always counts. Most of the time it takes your 'will' then 'wealth' to walk an extra mile. Just give little more attention and put little more effort to make things special. It could be anything. Whether it's in wrapping a gift, doing your job, arranging flower bouquet or just anything. Give it your personal touch and make it speical. And response you get gonna be overwhelming. I still remember how my hand made cards and painting find ways to my friend's heart in those school days. The joys still ripple inside me. I have many recollections of such joy of walking an extra mile in doing things. It's good to walk an extra mile and be different. Not always those efforts you do to walk an extra mile pays you right away but in the long run it helps you establish a unique impression of yourself, which I assume is the real ornament you can wear to beautify your personality.

We walk for life, we have to walk for life and we can walk for life then why not go "Walking an Extra Mile" to create a distinctive stroke in the society and make people happy, genuinely HAPPY.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Third Thuraya Mountain Bike Championship

Cascade of claps and cheers from the crowd crowned me not less than Lance Armstrong in winning Tour de France when I wheeled the finish line there in Kashi Bhanjyang of Kavrepalanchowk district. That was very exciting moment for me in the 3rd Thuraya Mountain Bike Championship organized by Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN) in association with other Tourism related organizations (THURAYA, Mountain Bike Club and other). Fresh smell of nature, scenic beauty of green paddy fields, off-road terrain, steep hill, sprinkled mud allover my bike and jersey were other ingredients that made the championship even more exciting experience. Daunting up hill climbs in the course raced my heartbeat up to 140 pulses per minute and it was a real test of my paddling endurance. It was my first participation ever in such mountain bike championship and I am more than just happy to see my name on 29th position out of 107 participants including bikers from abroad.

Championship was organized on the occasion of World Environment Day '5th June 2006', that was enough reason for me to take part since I am working in an office that works for Environment besides my mountain bike craze. My will to participate was purely to support the event and I had no aim to compete amid those tough mountain bikers. Nevertheless I was confident that I have ample stamina to endure this course of 22-kilometers distance elevation of 1781 meters between Thimi of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality in Bhaktapur district and Kashibhanjyang in Kavrepalanchowk district.

When the race got commenced I thought that other participants would overtake me like a bullet and unbelievingly that was not the case. Yet I didn't expect to grab any position, instead I focused more on enjoying scenic area while I paddled uphill. Moreover I made fun greeting schoolchildren who were standing at the roadside cheering us. "Malai tali khoi ta" (Where is clap for me) and they went burst laughing and clapping. Because of our colorful eye catchy outfits schoolchildren consider us as foreigners and whenever we passed them they shout, Hello.. Hello.. and I responded Namaste .. Namaste. It was so good to make those local people part of the race and my memory.

Entire race route was beautifully planned. Those jeep track after crossing Nala was heavily rutted and it may as well be single-track consisting uphill and downhill for truly adventurous mountain biking. There was one technically advanced uphill 6-kilometers ahead of the finish line and most mountain bikers failed to flex their calf at that point. But participants were so daring that day to conquer it. I think that's the joys of two-wheeled action. If huffing and puffing you've stumbled here by chance, paddle on, a new experience awaits ahead to thrill you more. Mountain biking is independence realm and a free ticket to cruse wherever you want day or night. A total of 145 participants took part in the championship. Of them, 22 were foreigners.

I have learnt a lot from this championship. Importantly I should not underestimate myself among those tough mountain bikers in the billboard. Now I know what tricks I need to follow in winning the race and do better preparation technically to tackle the most rugged conditions. Overall this championship was wonderful experience and I had a great time. And suggest anyone to try Mountain Biking if you want to bring some adventure in your life. I assume what better way and what better machine is there to explore the diverse beauty of Nepal other than by MOUNTAIN BIKE. Mountain biking can be your chances to partake in one of the simplest joys of life and there are a zillion trails awaiting, for all levels of experience. Whatever your level is.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Capturing Beautiful Pictures

You have probably looked at beautiful photographs in magazines, books, in websites ... or elsewhere so many times and if you were like most people, you thought: "I wish I could take a picture like that!" Well that's not just photographer's instinct, I know. But looking at these pictures didn't really help you to take better pictures.

Why not? Because you didn't know what to look for. You saw a beautiful picture. You felt that it was beautiful picture. But, you couldn't tell why it was beautiful. You couldn't tell what the photographer had done to produce a beautiful image. Perhaps, the magazine, book.. told you the name of the camera, its type and the lens the photographer used, perhaps the aperture and the film that photographer used. Well these are the technical details - but they didn't help you produce better pictures. And it's like knowing the names of the paints and brushes used by Leonardo da Vinchi but it won't help you to produce a painting as beautiful as the Mona Lisa.

The missing ingredient in the process is KNOWING, what to look for. And, perhaps that's the most important thing in capturing beautiful pictures. There are three simple guidelines of what to look for. The skill of seeing the beautiful pictures in the world around you, is what I say "the photographer's eye."

Let's me tell you these three simple guidelines:
  1. A good photograph has a clear subject. (We sometime call this a theme.) It's about someone or something. It may even tell a story about that subject. But the subject is clear and unambiguous. Whoever looks at the picture immediately sees the subject.
  2. A good photograph focuses attention on the subject. In other words, the viewer's eye is immediately drawn to the subject.
  3. A good photograph simplifies. It includes only those elements that draw the eye to the subject, and it excludes or diminishes those elements that might draw the eye away from the subject.
By starting right now to think in terms of these three simple guidelines, you will find yourself looking at published photographs in a new way. More important, you will find yourself seeing the world around you in a new way. Most important, you will find yourself taking pictures in a new way. You will start to see the world through viewfinder with the eye of a photographer!

Now here is one very beautiful picture for you to check above three simple guidelines. ;)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

That Beautiful Day

Fancifully, I woke up in a strange bedroom and it didn't take long for me to realize that I was in a luxurious accommodation of Himalayan Chalet at Nagarkot. I grabbed my rested wristwatch at the bedside table and it showed exact 5 o' clock early dawn. Memorable images of a day before start to flashback inside my mind and I wonder how life sometime makes living so interesting. It was that beautiful day, why I stayed there for a night. Wearing a childish smile on my face I sprung up leaving warm bed and peeked outside. It was still dark and foggy. Prior dusk I've planned to be on time at some good height to take pictures of Sunrise but it was too early to venture out. So, with sluggish heart I took shower. Water was soothingly warm enough to animate my taut muscles. For a moment I felt pity on my muscles because I never let them have enough rest and get fatty.

At 6 a.m. it was still foggy outside and there was no sign of Sun on the horizon any sooner. Anyway, I stuffed my camera and went out hoping to capture some beautiful shots of nature. Place was eccentrically deserted despite its good fame as a tourist destination and this is all because of one freakish shoot-out incident that took place at the Chundevi Temple of Chihan Danda, Nagarkot where an off-duty army men massacred 11 local lives in a wildest drunken spree, 6 months ago. It was a hideous story and its impact was disastrous to all tourism enterprises of Nagarkot. I hope time will heal that terror and things will get back to normal. Several roadside snack stalls are getting sprouted which I think is positive indicating that in coming days tourists will flock again.

As I walked further up hill wide varieties of melodious chirping of forest birds greeted me. I felt so fresh and instantly I became a part of nature. Grabbing that rare opportunity I sat at nearby dune and got involved in sighting those birds of beauty. Needless to tell, birds form an important part of Nepal's natural beauty and bird watching can be a very rewarding experience. Well I am not a keen bird watcher but that morning I've spent quite a lot of time watching birds and it fascinated me to become one. Being myself a vivid pigeon fancier, I can identify many species of bird like humming bird, black drongo, magpie, robin, spotted dove, scops owl, common myna, sparrow, parrot, barn swallow, rose-ringed parakeet, crow, Himalayan cuckoo etc including almost all sort of birds of prey yet that morning I've sighted many species which were very new to me. Some were exotically blue with a short tail and very frolic in character; some were brownish yellow with a white patch below their beak and long tail; some were in bright yellow and very secretive; some small birds have puffy headed and quite shy, some birds were even in a pair grooming each other, making me miss my Sunshine ;) Wow! I was delighted by this beauty that nature offers for those who takes times to enjoy Mother nature's incarnation. Mother nature has all the joys and miracles for us to watch and learn. I guess this is one big reason why National Geographic Channel and Animal Planet became my favorite channels. I also have heard lots of amusing stories from my wildlife photographer friends who often venture out to shoot wild birds. I wish I could tiptoe to this world of pure nature once in a while but sometime it becomes a far cry.

Now forget about Sunrise, which was nowhere to be seen so I gave up my wish to mark one more tick at my year's resolution list of watching sunrise once a month. Then I started to walk back to the Chalet. By then local villagers were already getting busy doing their usual morning chore. Women were digging fields preparing bed for maize crop and others were going out carrying dokos (big bamboo basket) in search of fodder for their cows and cattle. In each house's yard a colourful prayer flags tied to a tall bamboo boldly represent community of Tamang tribe and it makes the landscape very distinct. Far away cuckoo birds still singing in pleasure taking advantages of such a calm landscape.

Suddenly a loud noise from behind pulls my attention and as I turned back I saw large troops of army men jogging holding a rifle in their hands and a heavy pack on their backs. Anyone could easily guess how tough these drills might be by seeing drench cloths and sweaty faces of those lads. They were about a hundred in number and most of them seem fatigue. One among them carrying a red flag screamed, "Ek minate baki" (one minutes left). And I guess they were on routine drill that has to be done in a certain time frame. As for a photojournalist it was a good opportunity to take pictures but they already saw me holding camera. Generally people especially media are not allowed to take pictures of any security personal their activities due to security reason. Moreover they have this strict policy to stay out of media so even I approached them for consent they wouldn't allow me to do so. And once of my fellow photojournalist Prakash Mathema was manhandled by these security personal when he has published a picture of army men crossing Budi Rapti River at Chitwan carrying their wounded comrade. There have been many such cases where security personal treated media notoriously. That's why it's always thoughtful to study mood of the moment before taking pictures, than just follow the ethics of Photo Journalism. So, I just let the opportunity go by. Even after the troops passed me they kept continue making that commanding howl. Definitely the echo from those howl were pretty paradox to such a calm environment of Nagarkot.

As I got near the Himalayan Chalet, I met three school children waiting at the roadside and one of them was holding a beautiful 'Passion flower' (Ghadi phul in Nepali). Out of a curiosity I asked him why was he carrying a flower? And showing me saplings in a small blue plastic bucket which he brought from home, he answered he is going to plant these flower sapling at his school garden (Nyatapol English Boarding School) so he brought this flower to show his friends and teachers, as a flower someday those sapling bears. My O' my what a beautiful plan, I exclaimed silently in my excitement and his wisdom touched me and my heart smiled. We talked for long and I came to know a lot about him and his family. He was from near-by Tamang village and his name is Hira Bahadur Tamang studying in sixth grade. It takes an hour ride down to Bhaktapur to get his school and it became his routine every Sunday. To avoid this long route he stays in a rented room near his school with other local boys and visit home each weekend. This way he can have more time for his study rather than spending couple of hours each day. After few minutes later a local minibus rolled in and he hurriedly hopped in flashing a big smile on his face and bade me goodbye.

As the bus rolled down the hill, my mind filled with good vibes of Hira Bahadur's beautiful plan and deep down inside my heart I wished him good luck. I kept my eyes fixed on the bus until it became distant. As I turned back to walk, that small blue bucket was still there at the roadside. Oh Lord! Hira Bahadur's forgot to take that bucket with him. A cold cramp gripped me from inside and I didn't know what should I do. No vehicle was available so that I could follow the bus. I felt so bad and tried to imagine the sadness Hira Bahadur would feel by loosing those saplings. But thank God coincidently I have asked for his phone number, while talking to him. I planned to deliver those saplings myself to his school and make a call. I bet he would be so happy to have them back. Feeling of relief came as I have this way out to make Hira Bahadur's wish come true.

And it's like when you wish to achieve something genuinely good for all, the whole universe conspire you to achieve it. Few minutes later a school bus moved in with big banner "Nyatapol English Boarding School, Bhaktapur" on it. Cheerfully ran toward the bus and waved my hand to stop it. I explained the driver that one of his students forgot this bucket and told him that he planned to plant these flower saplings at his school garden. One of the teacher in the bus took it and I let him note down the boy's name and his grade. Then the bus cruised down the hill to Bhaktapur. I felt good.

After sipping a cup of warm tea back at the Hamalayan Chalet, I went out gain for a short hike with my FRIENDS who just took a bold step in their life and became the prominent figures of THAT BEAUTIFUL DAY. We took a short break at Sherpa Alpine Lodge enjoying a scenic landscape wrapped by the soft fog. It was almost 11:30 a.m. when I had lunch back at the Chalet. After taking thirty minutes rest we zoomed back to usual hustle bustle of Kathmandu.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ironic ... not always.

A traffic jam when you're already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn't it ironic...dontcha think
A little too ironic...and yeah I really do think...

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought...it figures

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out

Sabrina Lama beautifully sang this popular song by Alanis Morissette to entertain us at Romi's wedding. I bet everyone around including myself instantly fell in love with her captivating voice. She truly has gifted soul to sing and is so lively in singing Aruna Lama's melancholy songs. Many rounds of applause to Sabrina's lovely voice and the joy she sprinkled on us that night. And unlike Morissette's song, life can be more then just 'ironic'. You'll never know, what surprises life has in store for you.

Every wedding season I go this battlefield where I shoot bride and groom like a pro. Past couple of days holding weighty Nikon F50 and FM2 with telephoto lens and continuously focusing, composing, clicking more than 1000 frames at good timing eroded all my calories. Heaven knows I had a tough time. And suddenly life winked at me and surprised me so pleasingly. It was like being out in pitch-dark night, when suddenly comes a flash of lighting and you see the entire landscape clearly revealed. One moment I was completely alienated by weddings gala and next sheer moment I was hitched to my love's embrace making it hard to believe how beautiful life could be in no time. I felt like God is a director and he changed the set of my life in a perfect twist. Even Steven Spielberg would comes no match in ways God change sequences of our life so dramatically.

Just like that I was submersed by cacophony of weddings and suddenly she plucked me gently. And in an unforeseen instant this familiar shutterbug got transformed into a doting boyfriend. Far from those hustle bustle in a quiet cafe sipping fresh pineapple juice enjoying evening drizzle with her was much needed break for me. It was not less romantic than vacationing in Puket beach. She didn't know how happy I was to sit besides her warmth and let the time ticks away. Due to nature of her job, she needs to be on move all the time outside valley so we meet occasionally but whenever we can we value it as a special moment and celebrate our LOVE. I think there is much more to celebrate in life then to condemn. That's why I am happy for her and happy for love. You know, if I were to ask the Almighty for something, what would it be? Good health, Happy life for my Sunshine. I don't want anything for myself - Coz I have her.
Sabrina singing various numbers.
Romi posing with her family.
Romi with her FRIENDS.

Deepa weds Sital

Please click here to see more pictures.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


My degree of optimism is exceptionally high so I prefer to see brighter side of the Sun despite eclipse. This positive attitude helps me a lot to keep negative forces out at the bay but sometime things get too pushy and I need to be more critical on being an optimist. Being an optimist in real world is not an easy job. Every now and then times test my optimism and toughest thing I encounter is to convince myself, why am I so optimist regarding FRIENDSHIP? Lately this dispute within me outrageously mocking at my optimism and compel me to redefine this word "FRIEND".

Standing this far of my life, I came to realize that FRIENDSHIP doesn't just happen in one fine day. We choose our FRIENDS. And either consciously or unconsciously, we choose them on the basis of need and hunger. Let me stress in "of need and hunger". And how we cultivate FRIEND is a question of noble need and hunger. This cultivation we standardize affects how good we are at this art of FRIENDSHIP. Well I can boast that I have no lack of friends and this is not as if I buy them; they simply come my way because I am full of nectar for life and am so rich in giving. This is why FRIENDS swarm around me all the time. But not all who get attracted to my nectar comes naturally but selfishness too. Philosophically I feel good to possess this nectar but I know many out there in the swarm don't define FRIEND unconditionally like I do. Some are like horrible hornets in bee's skin and it hurts me when they sting my sentiments. I respect true FRIENDS and can go voluminous in defining them with decency but this time let me give you pessimistic definition of cheap FRIEND.

Parasite: definition of this word in Oxford dictionary is perfectly fit to define some FRIEND. A person always relies on or makes use of others and gives nothing in return. There are many FRIENDS around me to whom I can categorized as parasites and all they care is how to absorb me for their benefit. They selfishly enjoy my time, my energy, my skills and my resources without any courtesy. I always have a big heart in giving but they are like you give them an inch and they'll take you a mile. Some are even so callously self-centered. Moreover what annoy me most is that they ask for things as if it's my obligatory. I wonder how could people having this tag 'FRIENDS' get so mean that way.

Opportunist: FRIENDS like these can exploit any circumstances to gain immediate personal advantage rather than being guided by mutual consistent plans or principles. Sometime it is hard to predict FRIENDS like these who play disguising game so well. They can toss FRIEND and FRIENDSHIP in a trash can to win their personal goals. I know lots of FRIENDS around me assume that I don't have this clue of their true colors.

Money Minded: Lots of FRIENDS around me are so good at making 'FRIENDSHIP' a glorified word but when it comes to merry making time they become so materialistic and don't spare a single rupee. In contradiction I never falls short to spend my hard earned money to buy them happiness. And this is not because I have big buck but I believe those happy time I had with FRIENDS has more value than my money. And it hurts me when FRIENDS don't give a shit for my loyal definition of happiness. Behaviors like such dampened my feelings many times and I concentrate on being positive but it's not easy.

Sorry to spill my pessimism about FRIENDS but it is essential to vent my bitter thoughts at times otherwise I can't help being poisoned and get rotten. Despite my unstaggering optimism and good grace for FREINDSHIP I must take measures before my generosity becomes the culprit of my extinction. Certainly there are those FRIENDS that I must ditch and follow my survival instinct. True FRIENDS are like rarest gem and they are so rare in today's world of highly glamorized FRIENDSHIP.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Impression of Expression

Hey Jiten Mama what are you doing?
That's the camera . Oooooo I know what you up to.
Do I look Cute?
Cheeeeeeeeese.. Jiten Mama! Can I have a picture with you ?
Of course Dear ! Say cheeese.....

I guess I don't have to jot words how those sweet expression of babies can make anybody's day. Hope these pictures of my 5 months old cute cuddy niece Arya make your day.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Deepa Got Engaged With Shital

It was a rare excitement to make a beeline for Deepa's Engagement ceremony right after my 6 days trip to Dang, Butwal, Nepalgunj and Kailali. For a moment I had to wrestle hard between Photo Journalist Jiten and a Friend Jiten, to be there and I tell you, switching 'a whole me' to the engagement ceremony from those terror experiences of Maoist affected areas made me feel so strange. Ah! It was not less adrenaline than a riding a roller coaster. Due to this trip, I was worried for not being able to be there on such a special day of Deepa but now I am happy to attend even the ceremony was at tail end. I guess my unexpected presence must have put little extra smiles on her face that day.

I don't know how it feels to be 'ENGAGED' but it was so nice to see Deepa brimming with delight. I am happy for that and thank the Almighty, though I missed clicking tons of pictures. Anyway, Prabhat (one of my trainee) was there to replace me and here I would like to share some pictures he clicked. Let me CONGRATULATE whole heartedly to "Deepa and Shital" for the couple-hood and LOVE they just vowed.
"MERO PANI ENGAGEMENT HAI" (I still don't believe that I got engaged) Well that's how Deepa blabbed looking at her engagement pictures.
HAPPY TO ENGAGED AND HAPPY TO LOVE: Deepa with the whole bunch of friends.
BARSHA's RIGHT: Barsha always seem so fond of being photographed with Deepa.
CORDIAL WELCOME: Welcome Shital! not just into Deepa's life, also in our FRIENDSHIP.

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