Saturday, November 17, 2012

It took music to find Native love in London

(This article was published on the Living Magazine. You can also find this article on

Photo Credit: Karuna Gurung

It was definitely a much colder night than usual in London, I thought and regretted having said yes to Chanda. My fingers were feeling numb for I was holding the phone trying to Google direction to the Japanese restaurant called Akasiro. This was where the secret Nepali gig was happening and since it was my very first native gathering in London, I was looking forward to it. However, I also had another dinner plan later in the night with college friends; so I was a bit frantic. It had been more than an hour already and we were still going round in circles in Piccadilly Circus. I felt hopeless, knowing that I would have to make my friends wait for dinner and also disappoint Chanda for having to leave early. After a good amount of walking and disagreeing, we did eventually find the place.

The entrance had a note with a rough handwriting indicating that it was a private party. The place was rather small so we directly headed to the basement. At a corner, a few musical instruments and speakers were being set up while at the other end, young Nepali were murmuring bashfully in Nepali and British English. I thought to myself that I would leave soon but the night had something else in store.

Slowly the artists began to arrive and the crowd grew in number. People began to sit on the floor to accommodate newer arrivals without any word being whispered to them. Thirty minutes in and we were all behaving like a big family, bonded by the very fact that we were Nepali, gathered for a good laugh and a good traditional music.

The gig commenced with Nattu aka Nottie star telling her story through jokes and songs. A talented young girl with a smoothing vocal whom I believe is also better suited for a stand up comedian. You can find her in YouTube, she is hilarious. There were many other talented performers from London that night like JPT rockerz, Sonam Lama, Karuna feat Yellow Ink, and Bhunatic & Mastamind. They all sang various songs. And while Nabin Gurung was crooning Narayan Gopal’s Kehi Mitho baat gara we all seemed to have drifted to a small village in Nepal.

Although earlier I sensed a haughtiness of some kind in the crowd, I understand now that it possibly came from the very fact that most of these Nepali are descendents of the brave Gurkhas who have long been serving the British Army. Recognised for their bravery, ferocity and strength of character, I felt a sense of pride being in their presence. We all felt some kind of affinity for one another based on our common ancestry. The sense of connection among us was very intense and the best part of it was that it all came so easily. The fact that we were Nepali in a foreign land sharing similar culture and language is what connected us. After all, how much of what we really are is based on roots and that can take quite a struggle to change.

Being in Nepal we have a propensity to overlook many good and important things our heritage carries. We tend to take for granted our culture, tradition and customs and are easily attracted by western lifestyle and philosophy. Perhaps, Nepal is not the best country in the world and yes it might have its share of problems. However, it should not take us away from our land to remind us about its significance or an outsider’s fascination towards our country to acknowledge its uniqueness.

My greatest lesson out of this small gathering was, no matter how dysfunctional or messy we might think our country is, it is where our identity is attached to and that can never change. This feeling was reflected among the faces of the non-resident Nepali that night. We talked nostalgically and romantically about our proud legacy which we hardly did when back in Nepal.

I recall that night and remember the unique faces, faces that I had never seen before and yet retain the pleasant feeling of solidarity. I know for a fact that at that moment in space we all felt special being Nepali and the love and pride for our root was as high as the peak of Mount Everest, and it took a small Nepali gig in London to remind us that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pre-Wedding frets and fun

This article was published in the first issue of the magazine 'Wedding Bells'

Marriages are said to be made in heaven and so we ceremoniously vow to spend lives together asking for God’s blessing with elaborated wedding rituals. We want our family and friends to come together to support and to celebrate. Many times it can also be a way for a family to display social and financial status.  However, this celebration of love and partnership can sometimes be just about signing marriage license or a document, but usually we, especially women, like to aggrandize.

There’s something about women and marriages. Everywhere in every part of the world women go crazy before marriage. Imagine - a woman is so wrapped up about this particular day that even as a kid, she role plays as a beautiful young bride. It is a special day for women for which she dreams and plans since childhood. So though in principle it is an important day for both the couples, it indisputably has to be extraordinarily imperative for the bride. 

Personally I am not a big fan of wedding but I do amuse myself as a silent spectator over all the wedding actions and emotions. From preparation, stresses to the attention to minute details, then there are also the let downs and the eventual recovery. The entire gamut matches the very relationship that the couples promise to get into.

Here are few wedding kicks and slack that always absorb me.

Few Thrills and Sweats

“If I am the bride, I will go to any length to squeeze that extra budget to look particularly special that day” says Sangita, 27.

No matter the wedding traditions or customs or what country it is taking place, each ceremony the bride will kill to look her best. To manage this, the bride has a lot of things to decide upon, right from wedding dress and shoes to accessories, handbag and cosmetics, which can consume a good deal of time and energy. Further, to get the princess look and feel, it is quite natural for the bride to pamper herself from skin care treatments to appointments with hair stylists. Even to go for an extensive spa treatment is not unusual especially when she has so many things to jitter her nerves.

There are also some brides to be who hit the gym extra hard to shed the unwanted few kilos. “I have my heart set on this beautiful Lehenga for which I am willing to run every morning”, Kalyani, 28. Some crazy shedding before the wedding seems to be the routine not only for the brides but also for the grooms. “I have to admit I am a lazy guy but my fiancĂ©e has warned me to conquer this belly fat before the wedding and so I hit the gym” says Rahul, 29. Whether for your loved ones or for yourself, you willingly walk that extra mile to look attractive on the wedding day. And why should grooms be any less, they have also started to pay a lot of attention to their looks and clothes.

Cold feet syndrome

It is likely that before the big day arrives, both men and women alike tend to wonder whether they have made the right decision. Especially for women, they can be so preoccupied with all the details of the wedding that sometimes the tensions that surround them make them nervous. However, most of the time the fear is of losing their identity as a single girl and embracing a new life as a wife and the responsibility that comes with it. “I could get no sleep before my wedding because I knew once I tied the knot I would no longer be the sexy young girl that I always recognised with. I really wanted to run away.” says Gayatri.

It is mostly the same with many men but mainly it is the idea of living and being intimate with only one single woman for the rest of their lives and losing their independence, is what make them apprehensive. Sometimes it is also the fear of taking responsibility financially for supporting the wife and possible children that make them go cold feet. However if the fear is significant then perhaps the couple need to closely inspect their relationship.

The Last night of Freedom

Because wedding signifies the end of the single-hood era and beginning of the new committed married life people want to celebrate this transition. This occasion becomes a night where people try to relive the life of an independent single person with their close friends.

Saroj, 32, says “My friends took me out binge drinking and we got wasted reminiscing the old days”. Usually bachelor and bachelorette parties signify notoriety with drinking and sexuality as a chief activity but these days it’s more of a casual affair. Men might end up playing sports or camping whilst women go to spa or a gourmet dinner.

As time has evolved wedding ceremonies have also changed. No matter how a wedding is conducted or what work has gone into it, couples should not get wrapped in the planning process. They need to remember that no matter what ultimately they will get married and planning this lifetime together is what they need to focus more on.