Meeting the Other (Sarah) Giri

(pic will be reposted.)
Sarah Giri, the wife of Dr. Tulsi Giri, is in a mission. Pic by D Wagle.

In the beginning, I though I was talking to a diplomat. That was the impression I gathered while talking in telephone. Sarah Giri has all traits that a diplomat needs to have. When you talk with her you feel like you are in front of a highly religious personality. Okay, that’s another aspect. I had heard quite a few ’stories’ about Mrs. Giri before actually meeting her a few days ago in her residence in Baluwataar. Yes, the same ‘famous’ residence of Dr. Tulsi Giri, Sarah’s husband and the Cabinet vice chair.

As a reporter you meet many people and some of them are people in the news. Yes, Sarah is not in the news but her husband is for all good and bad reasons and that makes a lot of difference. You tend to feel like “Oh..Tulsi Giri ki srimati” {Tulsi Giri’s wife!). Kasti holi Tulsi Giri ki srimati? (How would Tulsi Giri’s wife seem like?) How does she feel being the wife of one of the most ‘famous’/’infamous’ man in Nepal? I wanted to know the answers of all those questions though that was not part of my reporting. I was tempted to ask that question because of well various things. Most of the time I try not to deviate from the core topic of reporting but in this case I couldn’t stop myself from asking questions related to her personal life. But asking personal/family questions to women is not new to me because when I was working for Tarun Weekly, I ran a column (Adha Sansaar) interviewing wives of political leaders and other prominent personalities. That was a long time ago, almost 7 years ago.

Sarah is beautiful and appealing. But she wouldn’t reveal her age but here is my guess. This woman married three years before I was born (I am 27) to a man who is 50 years older than I am. When you see Sarah, your guesses turn wrong. She deceptively appears younger than she actually is. Dr. Giri had briefly talked about Sarah in our meeting in the same building a few months ago.

Sarah Giri is in a mission. For those who have sound and functioning ear, her mission might sound like a difficult one because that is related to making deaf communicate and, yes, dance! I was amazed how those beautiful deaf boys and girls danced in the tunes unheard to the rest of the world. They were all practicing for a ballet project and Sarah was directing them. I will post another blog in UWB about this in the next few days but let me write here more about our meeting.

I regret for not being able to eat those fish and cookies that were given to me on behalf of Sarah at the time of interview. I was too busy to note down her verbatim. In our journalism classroom they always teach us to put your eyes on the face of your subject while interviewing. When you do that, your interviewee feels that you are giving attention to his/her talks. I genuinely try to follow that idea because that also helps you better understand the facial expression and body language of the interviewee while not missing the exact wordings s/he utters. While keeping both eyes on the interviews face and part of your mind in the notepad, you find no time for coffee and fish. Still, after she repeatedly reminded me of the coffee, I finished that in less than 10 sips. I couldn’t eat fish that according to Sarah was “prepared in the house.” I miss that.

I think I did a mistake by presenting her with two tickets of a charity screening of two documentaries in Jay Nepal Theater on Friday (Nov. 25). Well, let me not use the word ‘present’. That was rather selling of the tickets that I know a reporter shouldn’t have done. The Kantipur branch of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) had organized a charity show screening two non-fiction films ‘Bheda ko oon jasto’ and ‘Team Nepal’. One of our colleagues needed money for his sister’s serious and expensive treatment and Kantipur journalists wanted to help him. They were selling tickets to people and one of my colleagues gave me two tickets worth Rs. 500 each hoping that I might be able to ’sell’ them to Sarah.

I know Sarah was in difficult situation. A reporter whom she welcomed so warmly half an hour ago was ‘offering’ her with the tickets that too sabotaging the moment when she started talking about a documentary on deaf people that she made sometime ago in India. Screening for a charity. Pay the money. She just couldn’t ignore that. I would have done the same. But I think what I did was wrong. Worst, Sarah couldn’t make it to the charity show meaning she only ‘donated’ the money. I am thinking of returning the money to Sarah. [In my latter meeting with Sarah, I told her what I felt about that ticket thing. “Let me return the money to you, Sarah ji,” I said. “I gather that you didn’t make it to the theater.” She refused to take money back. She told me that she donated the money for charity.]

The story of my interview with Sarah appeared in the Wednesday (Nov. 30) issue of Kantipur.