The Week’s Cilla had an exclusive view of the 6th episode of Nepali: A TV Blog, a television series about the broader scopes of Nepali identity, and how our diverse identities connect us as Nepalis. A preview:
Who hasn’t heard “Macchi kadaile, maya laudaima chhekyo dandaile,” a popular folk song that won the National Dohori Competition in 2041 Bikram Sambat (in 1984/85)? But how many of us knew that the songwriter now lives with his son and daughter-in-law at Naya Basti in Dang?
Sita Ram Gandharva* started writing and singing songs when he was 25. Now he’s become old but his passion is very much alive and he continues to compose songs. It’s sad, however, that there’s no one to listen to them now.
“I write for only myself now. I sing for myself. There’s no one to listen to my songs,” says Gandharva, joking that while he might be old, his love for music is so strong that he can sing the moment a girl comes in front of him.
When asked why he doesn’t move to Kathmandu, he professes his undying love for the place he calls home – Dang. He’s happy that he has his family around but at the same time he’s saddened by the fact that the government did nothing to acknowledge his talents.
“I don’t have the bus fare to go to Kathmandu and come back. Lack of money has made it difficult to fulfill my dreams,” he states but without a trace of regret in his voice.
Gandharva is a construction worker now. He has no other option as he had to quit studying after two days of going to school since his father passed away. But Gandharva is proud of the fact that he’s taught himself to read and smugly announces that he can challenge an SLC graduate.
As sad as it may seem, Sita Ram is quite satisfied with his life despite having a few regrets and complaints.
Along similar lines is Lal Bahadur Chaudhary’s story. He’s a carpenter by profession who makes masks during his free hours.
Chaudhary is a self-taught mask maker who carves images and sculptures depicting his native Tharu culture, costumes, ornaments and vocations.
“I make five to six sculptures in a month. I do this to preserve my culture,” says Chaudhary, adding that though his crafts have a market in Kathmandu as well, the government does nothing to help him give continuity to his talents.
These unsung heroes of Dang are pursuing their passions despite not getting their dues. Watching these people and listening to them, you come to the realization that sometimes you have to take life as it comes and not be hardened by the adversities it throws your way.
Sita Ram and Lal Bahadur are doing just that – coolly!
Nepali – A TV Blog airs on Avenues TV every Saturday at 8:30 am and on Sundays at 9:30 pm. The series, hosted by Yubakar and directed by Tsering Choden, will also be available on YouTube <youtube.com/user/nepalitvblog>
*Formerly known as Gaineys (mobile minstrels, traveling troubadours), many of the lower-caste Hindu Gandharvas also prefer to call themselves Gayaks (singers) these days.