Nepali stew

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Annie Sampson, Ireland 
Photojournalism Internship
July-August 2011


Nepal has all the ingredients of a good stew. Bits you don’t like much, bits you hate, really nice pieces that you want to keep eating, they’re so good, and bits that are a wonderful surprise. All in watery gravy which can be incredibly tasty or like dish water!

Walking the narrow streets in Thamel and its surroundings, is the surprise in the stew, where you can round a corner and come across the most magnificent Temples, Stupas and Shrines.  Looking through small, low doorways or arches, views of gold, white, red, yellow, orange coloured Temples, Stupas with large prayer wheels, monks Tanka painting, women in saris tending to the Temples. Colour, mystic, spiritual and beauty. Plenty of hustle and bustle, shops and sellers. 

The noise, chaos and pollution which come with the city of Kathmandu are not Nepal. Chitwan National Park and the surrounding towns are a soothing, nourishing mouth full of stew. The greenery in the monsoon season, the rain and then the hot puddles which form.

Elephants wandering down the streets and sightings of wild rhino and crocs often near the river bank where you can sit with a glass of wine. Walking through the jungle and glimpsing monkeys, deer, rhinos, dazzling butterflies. Outside the Kathmandu ring road, great hiking, small traditional villages, fresh running streams, the vibrant green of rice fields and the incredibly uplifting views.

My volunteer experience has been very positive. Internship Nepal staff have helped me and taken care and interest in myself and the project. I have learnt and improved my photography skills with the help of a skilled Nepali photo journalist and achieved a better understanding of Nepali women from my research. My host family has been wonderful, excellent food and a welcome into the family. I am considerably older than most volunteers but this has made no difference. Other volunteers and interns have welcomed me. I have made friends, learnt and enjoyed. 

I have been here 4 weeks, in the monsoon period and have felt safe, my senses stimulated by food, culture, art and people. I will be sad to leave.  I hope I may return and that Nepal will overcome the difficult bits of the stew and retain the most delightful pieces.