Jestyn Koh, Singapore
Dec.2011 to Jan 2012
Just when I thought I’ve seen it all, I landed in a world unlike any I have ever experienced. Vintage Japanese vans and countless motorbikes move in controlled chaos like schools of fish, with no noticeable traffic laws in effect. The poorest people dig through trash for food. Sacred cows stroll through crosswalks and stray dogs line the streets. Human bodies are cremated on pyres by Pashupatinath temple and their ashes and clothes are symbolically tossed down the same Bagmati river people use to bathe and wash their clothes. Monkeys fight for control of a rock face while stoned holy men wander through the temple stupas.
I see the snow-covered Himalayas that surround Kathmandu Valley but most of the time covered by the country’s merciless pollution. Either a “om mani padme hum” chant or rock music from the 80s fills the atmosphere in almost every restaurant and shop. But despite the noise, pollution and chaos lies a deep sense of joy and calmness. Although Nepal is famous for its mountains and various landscapes, I was enamored of its people.
Working on a story of the youths in Nepal, brought me to admire their resilience, courage and ambition. Most of the young people would jump at a chance to hop on a plane overseas for work, but even as they sweat and toil in a foreign land they contribute to the economy. When asked if they will return to Nepal, most young people cross their heart and say, “I am Nepali afterall”. This patriotism would be the driving force the country’s new democracy.
Thank you Internship Nepal for the wonderful experience and professional help for my project.