Forget Kathmandu, Majushree Thapa, 2013 (2005)

southasiabookblog

Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy, by Manjushree Thapa. New Delhi: Aleph, 2013 (originally publihsed in 2005). Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy, by Manjushree Thapa. New Delhi: Aleph, 2013 (originally published in 2005).

The best, and first book that anyone should read, on Nepal. I wish I had read this as soon as I had arrived in Kathmandu, it would’ve helped me understand the politics and history much quicker. Manjushree Thapa is a brilliant writer, no less so in her non-fictional works than in her fiction. Forget Kathmandu begins with the infamous 2001 massacre of almost the entire Nepali royal family (including the king), and ends in the midst of the Maoist insurgency in Western Nepal in 2003. The essays in between are all attempts at explaining contemporary Nepal–both to explain it to others, and for Thapa herself to come to terms with the chaos and instability of her country. Much of this book is akin to her novel The Tutor of Historyin its…

View original post 352 more words

Launch of new Himal Southasian website

southasiabookblog

Himal screenshot

Last Friday, Himal Southasian‘s new website went live, and on Monday we launched it. The slick new appearance looks professional, it’s easier to search and navigate than the old site, and contains specially-commissioned art by illustrator Paul Aitchison. And, the first article to appear on the site, Patrick McCartney’s ‘The Sanitising Power of Spoken Sanskrit‘ is a cracker.

Here are a few pictures from last night’s launch at the Himal office, Patan Dhoka, Kathmandu.

Me talking the audience through Paul Aitchison’s awesome illustrations

Hanging out on the terrace… it’s what we do.

Himal’s new mascot

Our hostess Githa didi

Nepali journalist Kunda Dixit, our new mascot, and one of the editorial team

We were still eating the leftovers for morning tea the next day

Boss man Kanak Mani Dixit himself

View original post

Shopping for Buddhas, Jeff Greenwald (1990)

southasiabookblog

shoppingforbuddhas Shopping for Buddhas, by Jeff Greenwald. Originally published by Harper and Row in 1990. Ebook edition published 2011, purchased for Kindle.

I first read this travel narrative about ten years ago. I was studying at the University of Otago, and aside from the books I had to read for my English major, I would select my reading material by browsing the library bookshelves and picking whatever appealed. I haven’t read like that for a long time, my habits dictated by firmer intentions now. But this system set me on the path of South Asian literature, as it was usually the Indian books that caught my eye on the shelf. One can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can be attracted by it.

Shopping for Buddhas was selected this way, I remember it clearly as it made a strong impression on me. I knew very little about India then, let…

View original post 420 more words

The Living Goddess, Isabella Tree (2014)

southasiabookblog

The Living Goddess by Isabella Tree. New Delhi: Penguin, 2014. Purchased in India. The Living Goddess by Isabella Tree. New Delhi: Penguin, 2014. Purchased in India.

Isabella Tree’s The Living Goddess narrates a fascinating and unique part of Nepali–or, more accurately, Kathmandu Valley–culture: the tradition of the Kumari, the worship of a prepubescent girl as the physical home of the female mother goddess. Despite living in Kathmandu (Patan, to be precise) I have seen or heard little of this tradition since I’ve been here. Isabella Tree’s personal history, then, of not just the Kumari of Kathmandu, but of surrounding areas (such as Patan, Bhaktapur, and other places that were perhaps once separate kingdoms or entities, but are now suburbs of Kathmandu) was an enlightening read. Tree first came to Kathmandu in the 1980s as an eighteen year old, living in a house on Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, opposite the Kumari Chen, or house. She became fascinated by the tradition then, and made it her mission…

View original post 603 more words

Murals behind the zoo

My last couple of mural posts have featured some murals that adorn the wall that runs along the back of the zoo in Patan, accessed by following the smal road with Vienna Bakery on the corner, near Moksh and Pranamaya yoga studio.

Here are more random murals from that wall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mural safari

 

 

 

The following two appear on the wall behind the zoo in Patan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist Dustin Spagnola clearly has a thing for tigers. His Kolor Kathmandu mural, listed in the book but which I haven’t yet found, is also a tiger. The mural below can be found on the side of a building on the upper end of Pulchowk, leading up to Jawalakhel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I presume the mural below is very new, as it is still clean and isn’t even partially obscured by graffiti or paper fliers. It is on the side of a building at the bottom end of Pulchowk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mural hunting

This blog was becoming such an outlet for my mural hunting that I felt it was a shame not to share my findings a bit more widely, to better-read publications. A couple of weeks ago I had my article and photo feature published in the online travel magazine, Departful, which you can find here.

I’m back in Kathmandu after an overseas trip, and have immediately got back into the mural hunting. Here are my latest finds. They can all be found on the back wall of the zoo, in Patan. Although not officially part of the Kolor Kathmandu project (at least, they don’t feature in the book), these murals are clearly done by the same artist as some of those in that series, and are located just opposite Sattya’s office, the organisation that  coordinated Kolor Kathmandu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

This area behind the zoo is a whole gallery of murals of different types, more of which I will share in the coming days.