Tag Archives: nepal

Tansen Oh my Tansen!  

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Memory of home is hitting me hard. I miss my family,  friends and my hometown so very much! 

Sometimes I wish I could just fly away and get there. 

Tansen,  my hometown in Western part of Nepal is truly a heaven on earth.  

You don’t believe me, look at these pictures :

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Project Happiness 365: Day 119

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Once in a while, I come across reviews and articles I wrote for this art magazine back home. Today I was deleting stuffs from my computer and I stumbled upon this review I wrote a couple of years ago for the art magazine. It’s a book review about a novel called ‘Girl in Hyacinth Blue‘ by Susan Vreeland. Reading what I wrote made me quite happy. It urged me to express myself more through writing. Here’s what I wrote:

Book Review: “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” by Susan Vreeland

“Now it became clear to her what made her love the girl in the painting. It was her quietness. A painting, after all, can’t speak. Yet she felt this girl, sitting inside a room but looking out, was probably quiet by nature, like she was.”

“Girl in Hyacinth Blue” (1999), a novel by Susan Vreeland, is about art and human experiences explored through the journey of an allegedly lost masterpiece of Dutch Golden-Age artist Jan Vermeer.  The book was in my bag for a long time but I hadn’t had an opportunity to sit back, relax and leaf through its pages because of my work commitments.  Buying the book in a small, dingy second-hand book store in an old house in the dark alley of New Road, was a chance in itself. Actually I was going through a pile of old issues of National Geography magazine when the bluish book cover and the title caught my attention. I bought it instantly. Finally when I read it, it became a book which I would like to come back to again and again throughout my life.

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A collection of eight heart-warming tales moving backward in time from one century to another, from present to past in various places of the Netherlands, explores how the painting was handed over from one owner to another. The book starts off with a mystery novel kind of vibe, where this particular painting of a girl in blue smock by “the master of light” Vermeer, hides a deep dark secret of its owner, a Mathematics teacher Cornelius Engelbrecht. With each story, the mystery of the painting unravels itself and we slowly find out how that work of art travelled throughout different time period from one owner to another. In the painting, the girl is staring dreamily outside of her window instead of doing her mending. Each story describes the beauty of the simple girl in the painting through the eyes of its different owners. The painting seems to evoke deep emotion in hearts and minds of the central characters of the book. Each of them sees a deep tale or a resemblance or some exceptional attributes in the painting. The painting seems to fulfill their own shortcomings and provide them a sense of serenity despite the chaos around and inside them.  Each character communicates and relates with the girl in some way or other. For Cornelius, the girl in the painting is the keeper of his dark secret; for Hannah, the girl is the resemblance of her inner wishes and like her, she wants something deep and remote; for Laurens, the painting is a memory of his first love; and for Saskia, the painting is the only pure, tranquil thing amidst the devastation of flood and a source of joy comforting in her personal turmoil through disintegrating marriage. There is an intimate relationship between the painting and its owner.

Vreeland takes us in an intense journey of the painting in reverse chronology, exploring human relationships, emotions and experiences. The subtle indication of Holocaust, witch-hunting and French occupation in the Netherlands adds character and depth to the already gripping plot. Like a true Vermeer painting, where even everyday scene of ordinary lives is presented in a radiant way through the perfect balance of colours and light, this novel artistically presents a visual reality of everyday lives through simple narrative and an intriguing plot. In his paintings, Vermeer skilfully used light to provide vibrancy, intensity and a grand beauty to otherwise mundane activities his subjects were engaged in. Drawing inspiration from Vermeer’s painting, the writer uses the painting of a girl as the ultimate source of light and hope in the otherwise dismal lives of her characters. The stories interlink with each other giving this novel a sense of completeness.  The book ends with a very heart breaking tale about the subject of the painting, Vermeer’s daughter ‘Magdalena’. The concluding story is all about her – her point of view, her outlook about her life, her relationship with her father and her final, feeble and unsuccessful attempt to acquire the painting again. Although it might seem like a rightful thing to reveal her side of story at the end of the book, I personally felt that the novel would have been much more intense, deep and mystifying if the subject of the painting – the girl had remained a mystery. We, the reader, would have gotten an opportunity to build a story of ‘the girl’ in the painting through our own imagination. Apart from that, the journey of the painting would have ended to its rightful owner – the artist through the second last story in the book “Still Life” which is all about Vermeer, his life, his works and his struggle.

Nevertheless, when you finish reading the last page and you close the book, the emotions you felt while reading each story lingers in your heart for a long time. The detail of the painting “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” is so vivid that you won’t believe the fact that the whole book is based on a painting which is not genuine Vermeer, in fact, the painting is writer’s imagination. Vreeland beautifully crafts individual tales into a single thread of cohesive story which demonstrates the ‘power of art’ and compels us to find the true meaning of our existence and look within ourselves to recognize the true colour of our souls. The book is a work of art in itself.

 

Project Happiness 365: Day 31

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I learnt great lessons through my experience of being with him.

  1. Love is important. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad times. There will be times when you will feel like you are tripping without taking any drugs. And there will be times when you feel so shitty that your whole existence stinks. But one thing you should always keep in mind is you love this person. No matter how intense the argument is, you should always remember that the person is not your enemy. S/he is not in an opposition party. You two are on the same boat. The argument becomes pointless after sometimes anyways.
  2. Never dwell on past. Past is important of course, but never ever spend time discussing who you dated, how long, why, when and where. Spare the details. Yes, you must be true to each other but discussing and dwelling on past is pretty pointless. It sometimes leads to unwanted arguments and negative feelings. So, you had a past. Good for you! Who doesn’t? But that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to judge the other person based on the choices s/he made, say 5 years ago. (Unless s/he is a serial killer clown in the closet! :P) Things change, people change. You are his/her choice too. Remember! Never dwell on past. Period
  3. Anger is toxic. I have learnt this a very hard way. I had a severe anger issue. I was actually violent. I had to go through a lot of psychotherapy sessions to be able to deal with it. It came back again and again. I hurt him very much with my stupid aggressive behaviour. But after almost losing him, I realized my mistake. I have tried very hard not to let anger cloud my judgement. It’s very difficult. I still snap sometimes but I’m not physically violent. I also try to avoid arguments as much as possible. That doesn’t mean I am brooding on the inside. I am trying to let it out in different ways. I meditate, I have self healing sessions, I color Mandalas, I read, I listen to music and I think about all the positive things I share with him. It helps. It’s tough but it helps.
  4. Don’t talk about your relationship with other people. Your relationship is non of other people’s concern. It’s so funny how we share the details about our relationship online and with our friends. It’s stupid you know. I used to talk about my relationship with my bestie but I realized that I was just boring them. It’s pointless too. If I don’t understand my relationship myself, how can I expect someone else to understand it. If you have any problems with your better half, talk, communicate and solve it together. Talking about your relationship with others only encourages gossip and aggravates the problem. Spare yourself and others from that crap and stop your relationship problems from being turned into mountain out of molehill.
  5. Practice gratitude. Isn’t it amazing that you have found this other person you can share your story with? How lovely it is that there is another soul who is brave enough to be with you and go through all the ups and downs! Be thankful for the companionship, trust and love. Be grateful that you have someone you can come home to, smile with, make experiences with and travel together in this journey called Life.

Day 31: Jasmine Tea

Whoa! This post is becoming pretty long. All thanks to this amazing Jasmine tea I got from my favourite tea shop in Kathmandu. It’s been ages since I drank that tea.

Today I am all alone. I lit some candles, played some good music, made some Jasmine tea and here I am posting this hopefully insightful post. 🙂

day 31

Jasmine tea

There’s an amazing tea shop near Patan Durbar Square in Nepal called ‘Swotha Kisosk‘. I loved that place. It is a small cozy tea shop with varieties of teas. My favourite one was Jasmine tea. They served you tea with real jasmine flowers in it. Jasmine tea is a great antioxidant and its best benefit is that it reduces stress. Every time I needed to let myself lose, I went there, ordered a cup of great jasmine infusion, sat outside in the porch drinking and watching the humdrum of life in ancient surrounding of Patan. The picture above is from one of my amazing ‘me’ time there few years ago.

Project Happiness 365: Day 4

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I woke up this morning with the thought of Kathmandu.

The city where I spent almost 8 years of my life. The city where I realized my own strength, my weakness, my power and my limitations. The city that taught me to be independent, fierce, uncompromising and dreamer. The city that taught me that it’s okay to sit in the corner of one of the temples and cry all alone,  on one of those evenings, overwhelmed by despair and frustration. The city where I met the warmhearted angels and also faced the vicious demons. The city where I learnt that reality and illusion are two sides of the same coin. What you see is in fact the matter of your own perspective!

Kathmandu is not my birthplace. But it’s my Karma place (as Nepalis would say), the place where you work, where you fulfill your duties, where you realize your dreams and where you attempt to build a home.

It’s funny when I say homesick, it’s actually my longing for Kathmandu. Despite its ugliness and pollution, both external and internal, that makes me sick to my stomach, I miss that place so much.

I miss walking through the early morning crowd of Ason. I miss Pemba and Sabina running towards me screaming ‘Didi’ and hugging me every time they saw me in Basantapur. I miss the aroma of my favourite tea in that tiny cozy Organic cafe. Sayan knew exactly what I wanted each day I went there: Milk tea with ginger and an organic goat cheese sandwich or a chocolate croissant.  I miss those beautiful latte art Ranjit dai or Bijay made to cheer me up every time I was tired or down while working with them in Magic Beans. I miss pretending we were pro barista, joking around making mock videos of latte art on our phones. I miss going to Osho Bajey’s second hand book store. Moreover, I miss his warm smile and a humble Namaste every time walked past his store in Thamel. I miss roaming aimlessly around Durbar Square all alone or with my dear ones. I miss drinking evening black tea at Pasang Didi’s place with friends, watching artists draw the city square, listening to boys play guitar and sing their hearts out,  and watching life slowly slip away in the noise of hundreds of people walking by.

Day 4: Kathmandu: Clouds catching fire

I was learning photography with my ex. We had a DSLR camera and we roamed around taking pictures. At the same time, I also liked taking pictures with my crappy old mobile. Somehow it still managed to capture beautiful moments. I used to joke with him saying that I can take a better composed picture with my crappy mobile than him with that DSLR. 😀

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Today I stumbled upon this picture early morning on Facebook. This picture is one of such moments captured by my mobile cam. I took it some 3 years ago. You can see the silhouette of the temples and buildings in Basantapur Durbar Square. The pagoda temple seen in this picture is no longer there. The devastating earthquake that hit Nepal recently took that temple away. So, this picture is sort of a memory now. The evening sky of Kathmandu is truly beautiful. Like this one, when the sun is about to set in the horizon  the whole sky is lighted up in its radiant orangeness. I call it ‘clouds catching fire’. And this picture, my friends, is the reason for my happiness on this day because its a reminder of the bittersweet stories of my life in Kathmandu.

Call it whatever!

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I wanna write a story

A story of that heavenly abode, the colors and the light

Where time ceases to exist

and spaces fill up eternity.

 

I also wanna write a poem

Verses about oceanic me.

Struggling to float in the sea

Inside and outside.

 

I’m the trees, the wind, the raindrops and the mountains,

I’m the cloud, the sky, the stars and the moss.

I’m still here and now,

but somehow, I also exist there.

 

Hiatus, hiatus, hiatus,

On a mission to unravel the mystery.

P.S. This is not what  I intended to write…