Category Archives: WSJ Photo Blog

Bajrabarahi and Chitlang Valleys [बज्रवाराही र चित्लाङ]

 

हालै मैले काठमान्डू उपत्यकाभन्दा पश्चिमको क्षेत्रका केही भागको यात्रा गरेँ । सहर छाडेर म ककनीबाट बाहिर निस्केको थिएँ, नुवाकोटको बट्टारमा रात विताउन । त्यसपछि म टिस्टुङ देउराली हुँदै मकवानपुर जिल्लाको नबिथोलिएको र विमल बज्रवाराही उपत्यका पुगेँ । चन्द्रागिरि र दामन डाँडाहरूको बीचमा फैलिएको यो बस्तीमा जान मलाई धेरै अघिदेखि मन थियो । बज्रवाराहीबाट एउटा सानो थुम्को चढेर चित्लाङ पुगेको म बडादसैँको विहान लालबहादुर श्रेष्ठको घरमा बिउँझिएँ । चन्द्रागिरिको पश्चिमी काखमा रहेको यो सानो र शान्त अावादीमा म यसपाली तेस्रोपटक पुगेको थिएँ । I recently travelled to the region west of Kathmandu Valley. I exited the city via Kakani to overnight in Battar of Nuwakot jilla. Next, I went to the pristine valley of Bajrabarahi via Tistung Deurali in Makwanpur district. I had always wanted to visit this area tucked between Chandragiri and Daman hills. From Bajrabarahi, I crossed over to Chitlang village to wake up in the morning of Dashain Day in the house of Lal Bahadur Shrestha. This was my third trip to the beautiful hamlet nestled at the western base of Chandagiri.

 

Surya Bahadur Gopali on his way back home in the Gahate neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley after making a leisurely trip to the bazaar.

Surya Bahadur Gopali was on his way back home in the Gahate neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley after making a leisurely trip to the bazaar.
बज्रबाराही उपत्यकाको गहते बस्तीका सूर्यबहादर गोपाली खुट्टा तन्काउन बजारसम्म पुगेर घर फर्किदै थिए ।

 

Gopali people live in the Kunchhal neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley. Fields and houses.

Gopali people live in the Kunchhal neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley. A recent Nepal magazine report by Sitaram Baral noted it’s the largest Gopali settlement in Nepal. I was struck by the varieties of colours seen in this image.

बज्रबाराहीको कुन्छाल टोलमा गोपालीहरू बस्छन् । नेपाल खबरपत्रिकामा सिताराम बरालको हालैको एउटा रूचिपूर्ण रिपोर्ट अनुसार यो नेपालमै सबैभन्दा धेरै गोपालीहरू बस्ने गाउँ हो । यो तस्बिरमा देखिएका रङहरूले मलाई मोहित तुल्याए ।

 

Harimaya Gopali of Bajrabarahi said her house suffered a minor damage in the April 2015 earthquakes.

Harimaya Gopali of Bajrabarahi said her house suffered a minor damage in the April 2015 earthquakes. Her relative’s house across the road partially collapsed. She said she makes a monthly trip to Kathmandu to sell things that are produced in the village. Those corns are kept that way because there’s not enough space inside the house to store them.

अप्रिल २०१५ का भैचालाहरूले अाफ्नो घरलाई सामान्य क्षति पुगेको बज्रबाराहीकी हरिमाया गोपालीले बताइन् । सामुन्ने सडकको अर्कोपट्टी रहेको उनका अाफन्तको घर अांशिक भत्कियो । गाउँमा उत्पादित सामानहरू बेच्न महिनामा एकचोटी जस्तो काठमान्डू जानेगरेको उनले बताइन् । घरभित्र भन्डार गरेर राख्ने पर्याप्त ठाउँ नभएकैले मकै त्यसरी झुन्ड्याएर राखिएको हो । अहँ, पानीले भिज्दैन ।

 

यो फोटो निबन्ध तल निरन्तर छ । तपाईँलाई इमेलमै पछिल्लो ब्लग, लेख र तस्बिर पठाउँदा म खुसी हुनेछु । बाकसमा आफ्नो इमेल ठेगाना हाल्नु होला । अनि अाफ्नो इमेल इन्बक्समा अाएको लिंक थिचेर कन्फर्म गर्नु होला । यो लेख इमेल इन्बक्समै पढिरहुन भएको छ भने केही गर्न पर्दैन । धन्यवाद :

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Man flies kite in Narayanhitti, Chitlang village

A man flew kite in the Narayanhitti neighbourhood of Chitlang village. Chandragiri hill separates Chitlang with Kathmandu.

म बज्रबाराहीबाट चित्लाङ् छिर्दा नारायणहिटी टोलमा यी व्यक्तिलाई चंगा उडाइरहेको अवस्थामा भेट्टाएँ । चित्लाङलाई चन्द्रागिरीले काठमान्डूबाट छुट्याउँछ ।

 

Fying kite in Chitlang

Flying kite in Chitlang

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Buddha’s truck with trilateral aspirations

A truck with flags of Nepal China and India

A truckload of aspirations: I was traveling along the curvy Tribhuvan rajpath, heading towards Tistung Deurali, last week when I saw this truck parked precariously on the edge of the road above a house. I stopped for a few minutes to take stock of the situation including the geopolitical one. Would I live in the house under the existing circumstance? No way.

From left: Narendra Modi, Sita Dahal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Xi Jinping yesterday in Goa. Pic by Prakash Dahal

From left: Narendra Modi, Sita Dahal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Xi Jinping yesterday in Goa. Pic by Prakash Dahal

The sight of the truck that had tasked itself with the vital responsibility of promoting and maintaining the trilateral relations struck me. The vehicle also aspired to connect the two most populous countries on earth with Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha and the zone of peace, as a transit hub. I admit I didn’t know at the time of taking this photo the leaders of three countries would actually listen to the Truck and meet in Goa as they did yesterday.

एउटा गहन जिम्मेदारी: अघिल्लो हप्ता टिस्टुङ देउरालीलाई लक्ष बनाएर त्रिभुवन राजपथमा हुँइकिरहेको बेला मैले यो ट्रक देखेको थिएँ । एउटा घरभन्दा एक कान्लोमाथिको सडक किनारमा अप्ठेरोगरी पार्क गरिएको अवस्थामा यो बाहन देख्दा अवस्थाको अाँकलन गर्न र सम्भवत: भूराजनीतिबारे पनि केही गम्न म रोकिएको थिएँ । यही हालतमा के म त्यो घरमा बसुँला ? अहँ ।

ट्रकले त्रिपक्षीय सम्बन्धको प्रबर्द्धन गर्ने र त्यसलाई कायम राख्ने गहन जिम्मेवारी अाफ्नो काँधमा लिएको देख्दा म गम्भीर बनेको थिएँ । त्यतिमात्रै हैन ट्रकले भगवान बुद्धको जन्मस्थल, शान्तिक्षेत्र नेपाललाई पारवहन केन्द्र बनाएर पृ्थ्वीका दुई सबैभन्दा बढी जनसंख्या भएका मुलुकहरूलाई जोड्ने अाकांक्षा पनि लिएको थियो । फोटो खिच्दाको यो क्षण तीन देशका नेताहरूले यो ट्रकलाई सुन्ने छन् र हिजो गोवामा भेटेझैं भेट्नेछन् भन्ने मलाई के थाहा ।

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Ghangaru berries are a familiar sight in the Nepali hills. The ugly, unfriendly and thorny bush transforms itself into something incredibly attractive and appealing as its berries ripe. I love eating them. Popular Ghangaruko lauros (the Ghangaru sticks) are made out of its sturdy twigs. I could be wrong but it looks to me that, like Lapsi, Ghangaru is one of those plants that is found primarily in the Himalayan region (and the Nepali hills). Of the many species of firethorn, the one found in Nepal is called the Nepali Firethorn.

नेपाली विकिपिडियाबाट: घँगारु पहाडमा पाईने एक जंगली फल हो। नेपालका अधिकांश प्रहरीहरूले यसैको लौरो प्रयोग गरेको देखिन्छ। पश्चिम नेपालतिर “आरु र घँगारु कालको भाई, साउनको पाप्रो रैबार लगाई” भन्ने उखान नै रहेको छ।

Ghangaru berries, the Nepali Firethorn

Ghangaru berries

Men play Sahanai

Panche baaja पञ्चे बाजा

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Two men blowing Narsinghas

Men blow Narsinghas in Dhampus village, Nepal. According to this page (http://bit.ly/2ak5iWj), the name Narsingha means “buffalo horn,” but the instrument is much larger than the horn of a buffalo. The same page states: The Narsingha is a long curved natural horn with a conical bore, which varies widely in size, shape and usage in ensembles throughout Nepal.

A wedding ceremony? An auspicious occasion? Someone very important, a thulo manchhe, coming in the village? Play the panche baja (the five -musical- instruments). That’s still the case in many Nepali villages. These photos are from Dhampus village, north of Pokhara that offers beautiful views of the Annapurna range. When I was there last year around this time, the mountains were hidden in the clouds. Mesmerizing dhoon of panche baja played to welcome some thulo manchhes I was traveling with compensated the lack of great mountain views. I again saw panche baja played in a village in Lamjung earlier this year when to welcome a thulo manchhe.

Men play damaha drums

Men play Damaha drums

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A mare breast feeding a foala

A mare breastfeeding a foal in Chandanbari, Nepal.

तपाईँलाई इमेलमै पछिल्लो ब्लग, लेख र तस्बिर पठाउन पाउनु मेरोलागि खुशीको कुरा हुनेछ । बाकसमा आफ्नो इमेल ठेगाना हाल्नु होला । धन्यवाद 🙂

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बारीको पाटामा

A Nepal Army MI17 parked on a corn field.

बारीको पाटामा एउटा एमअाई १७ ।

A helicopter ride is not an everyday event. Rarer is when you fly several times in a matter of days in different whirlybirds. Add hill-hopping to that. And these details: walk in a national park looking for tigers in the afternoon and wake up in the morning atop a hill to find the mighty Manaslu staring at you. Hike in the Himalayan foothills, sort of, with an international celebrity who is being followed by the TV cameras. What could be more exotic, right? But this view behind me, of an MI 17 parked in the middle of a corn field surrounded by massive hills and not far from mud and stone houses partially damaged by the quakes, is what I find to be the most stunning of all drishyas that I have seen in the past few months. It will remain with me for some time to come.

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कानको सफाई

[This post details my recent encounter with an ear cleaner in Koteshor, Kathmandu which reminded me of an incident that involved an ear cleaner in Old Delhi a few years ago.]

ear cleaner 20151127_141222झन्डै पाँच वर्षअघि पुरानो दिल्लीको जामा मस्जिदका सिंढीमा बसेर भव्य लाल किला हेरिरहँदा मैले एउटा अनपेक्षित दृश्य देखेको थिएँ । एउटा अपरिचित ठिटोले मसँगै त्यहाँ पुगेका मेरा एकजना साथीको दाईने कान तान्न खोजिरहेको थियो । केटोको हातमा सियो जस्तो लाग्ने बस्तु थियो । तर्सिएकै त नभनौं तर अचम्मित मेरा मित्र अाफ्नो कान र अाफैलाई पनि जोगाउन प्रयासरत थिए । मलाई एक मन त लाग्यो हन के हुदैछ यहाँ । त्यही अन्योलको क्षण केटोले मेरा साथिलाई भन्यो- “अापके कान बहुत गन्धा है भैया । मै साफ करूँगा ।”

कान सफा गर्ने उसको पेसा रैछ । (त्यो दिनको घट्नानाबारे मैले यहाँ लेखेको छु ।)

केही साताअघि कोटेश्वरबाट दक्षिणपूर्व लम्किदैगर्दा मैले अर्को अनपेक्षित तर चाखलाग्लो दृश्य देखें जसले मलाई जामा मस्जिदको त्यो घट्नाना झलझली सम्झायो । ट्राफिक कार्यलय अगाडी अरनिको राजमार्गको पैदलपथमा टुसुक्क बसेका एकजना व्यक्ति मुन्टो बंग्याएर दाह्रा किटिरहेका थिए । अर्का व्यक्ति निहुरिएर उनको कान खोतलीरहेका थिए । त्यहाँ के भइरहेको थियो भनि खुट्याउन मलाई कत्तिपनि सोच्न परेन । केहीबेर त्यहीँ उभिएर घट्नाना नियाँलें ।

ear cleaner 20151127_141130

दाहिने कान खोतलिदै गर्दा ती दाजुको हातमा रहेको फोन बज्यो । शायद महत्वपूर्ण कल थियो त्यो त्यसैले उनले कुरा गर्न चाहे फोनलाई देव्रेकानमा टासेर । उनले त्यसो गरिरहदाको त्यो क्षण कान सफा गर्ने दाजु फुर्सदिला बने । त्यही मौका छोपेर मैले उनीसँग केही बात मारे । शुरूमा त मलाई उनको बोलीको लवज सुन्दा जुम्ला या मुगुतिरका हुन् कि जस्तो लाग्यो तर हैन रहेछ । Continue reading

In Chandanpur village, a grandma looks for lice in her granddaughter’s hair.

चन्दनपुर गाउँ [Chandanpur Village]

In Chandanpur village, a grandma looks for lice in her granddaughter’s hair.

In Chandanpur village, a grandma looks for lice in her granddaughter’s hair.

मैले अाफू घुम्न अाएको भन्दा सुन्नेले पत्याउन सजिलो थिएन । त्यो अनकन्टार गाउँमा काम नपरी वा कतैबाट सरूवामा नपरी किन पुग्ने । कुरा ठिकै हो । धेरै ठाउँमा त्यसरी नपत्याइएको स्थिति मैले सामना गरेको छु । तै पनि म “हो, घुम्नै अाएको हुँ” भन्न छाड्दिन । एकछिनपछि मान्छेहरू पत्याएजस्तो गर्न थाल्छन् । अनि मलाई वेवास्ता गर्दै उनीहरू अाफ्नै तालमा गफिन थाल्छन् ।

होअोअो… त्यो क्षण । उनीहरूको बीचमै रहेर पनि उनीहरूले मलाई ध्यान नदिएको त्यो क्षण म उनीहरूका अनुहार हेर्दै ध्यानपुर्वक उनीहरूका गफ सुन्न र मनमनै कुराकानीको लवज अठ्याउन रूचाउछु ।

तर अाजको यो साँझ साहुनी अामै (माथि तस्वीरमा नातीनीका जुम्रा हेर्दै) ले मलाई वेवास्ता गर्न छाडेकी रहिन छिन् । म त्यो हुटेलका बेन्चीमा जम्मा भएर बात मारिरहेका पुरूषहरूको गफ सुनिरहेको बेला उनले मेरो अनुहारमा हेर्दै अनि मलाई छक्क पार्दै भनिनन्- “मैले चिने तपैलाईं ! तपै पत्रकार बनेर अाउनुभएको थियो हैन ?” त्यसो भन्दा उनी अाखिभौं उचाल्दै मुस्काईरहेकी थिइन् । सौर्य बत्तीको मधुरो प्रकाशमा उनले मलाई घोरिएर हेरीरहेकी थिइन् ।

म लगभग पक्राउ परेको अवस्थामा पुगेको थिएँ । त्यो किन भने मैले उनीसँगको अलि अघिको कुराकानीमा अाफ्नो परिचय दिएको थिइन ।
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lalitpur bhatte danda around 1

Bhatte Danda

The idea was to revisit the areas of Lalitpur where I had gone in 2011 in a fun trip (which, in those days, would almost always come out as “work” trip too. My favorite quote from this story: “खोलामा खुट्टा टेकेर निस्किँदा त्यो कसको हो थाहा हुँदैन ।”). Recently I went up to Bhatta Danda and may be four kilometers below the Danda. It was all fun up to the Danda– wide  and graveled road with little traffic. The dirt track– officially called the Kanti Rajpath or highway– began at the Danda. Just below the Danda, I came under a downpour and the road became slippery. Those enormous hills that looked inviting only a while ago suddenly felt scary— I could count more mudslides in the stretch of a kilometer than fish in Ranipokhari pond. I didn’t want to stuck between two landslides. So I did the sensible thing. I returned. But I will go back to see how Asrang and Pyutar villages where I had gone in 2011 are doing in 2014. I am waiting for October to come.

2011 links:

A trip to rural Lalitpur (outside Kathmandu Valley)

यस्तै छ साथी हाम्रो हाल

Tea Lady of Basantapur, Kathmandu

15 December 2015: Marking the ‪#‎InternationalTeaDay‬ by highlighting the entries on cuppa on the home page: https://t.co/gtYtR7OKUA

[A day after the earthquake… this spot was under rubble.]

Past entries on tea:

Cuppa

A Cup of Tea and Nizamuddin

Our Cups of Tea (by Deepak)

And one on coffee:

A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee