Logo

Stories of Nepal

February 13, 2015 , by Jyohomson Dawadi, 2 Comments
Stories of Nepal » My Dreams Mag
At a time when we are engulfed in chasing the materialistic luxuries, occupied by our own problems that die down sooner or later, Jay Paudyal is immortalising the stories of a world that we have lost the connection with. Jay has been a wire that is connecting us with that world. His stories have deconstructed the way of people's thinking unless the Stories of Nepal are heard.


Everyone has a story.
So says Jay Paudyal, the founder of Stories of Nepal. His blog reinforces this belief with a fair share of stories, ranging from Mo Gompa to Kathmandu, from pipe-wielding mysteries to GBS patients. The blog is reaching its first 100,000 followers. Without doubt, every one of them has a story to tell. Among the hundreds of people whose stories Jay has published, the blog itself narrates is own story.

Jay is a man with a purpose, and you can feel that when you are around him. Maybe it’s his laugh that makes people open up to him. He speaks softly and without hesitation. The ice gets broken before it could even freeze. Over the course of a two-hour conversation, this is what Jay had to say.

 
Jay is a man with a purpose, and you can feel that when you are around him.
Maybe it’s his laugh that makes people open up to him.
 
How did Stories of Nepal start?

As a child, I loved stories. I would run to my grandmother to listen to folklore, dantyakathas and I thought that if I could somehow immortalise the things I heard, the stories I was told, I would live an accomplished life. As I grew older, consequently, I also developed a passion for reading, travelling and photography. We used to have small cameras that ran on floppy disk memory and we had to process the photos ourselves inside a dark room.

After I got back to Nepal from Australia, I started following Humans of New York. What Brandon Stanton was doing was really amazing. He was connecting millions of people with each other on a humanistic level. He was not focused on the superficial storytelling with bombastic words and super human characters; he was just retelling anecdotes of people walking the streets of New York without even adding words of his own. Two short paragraphs were more effective than the whole novel. It was very inspiring.

It takes no time to crumble under pressure if we feel that we are carrying the burden of the entire world in our shoulders. We all try to get through this life – the loneliness can be crippling. But then you read a post in Humans of New York and you realise that its the same for everyone, no one is without problems. It allows us to connect as humans and gives us a feeling of belonging. I decided to do something similar. Nepali media have been all about entertainment and politics. It felt like we have lost the touch with each other in the process. We know too little and at the same time quick enough to make hasty judgments. We assume to discern entire stories based on the way people appear, which is not a good thing to do. Nepal is teeming with cultural diversity, doesn’t it mean that the stories are diverse too?

On October 9 2013, I went to a tea shop I visited daily and asked the waiter for his photograph and a little piece of his life story. His name was Santosh Magar and he was first of the many people I interviewed that day. I went to my barber and the local donut maker. I began with the people I saw every day, yet did not know the stories of. I wrote them down and made a facebook page compiling my day’s findings. A lot of my friends liked it and encouraged me to continue doing it. I did. What you see now is a result of that.

 
It takes no time to crumble under pressure if we feel that we are carrying the burden of the entire world in our shoulders.
 
How does this work? Do you walk up to people and say: ‘HEY I NEED YOUR STORY NOW GIVE IT TO ME?’
No, of course not! (laughs)

I’m sure everyone is curious about how I talk to people. When a stranger with a camera walks up to you and asks you about deep, personal things, it is quite an intimidating sight. I try not to do that. I walk up to people in the street, say hello and tell them about what I am doing, about Stories of Nepal. I show them the blog on my phone and I generally just talk to them. It’s more like a casual conversation than an interview. I have a small list of questions I ask them, what their fears are, what they recall of their childhood, what their aspirations are et cetera. I record the conversation and take a picture of the person. This is how a normal interview goes like.

A lot of people share their sad stories and the brief window of intimacy can be quite overwhelming at times. It is difficult not to feel sad when a person is telling you about how her household is threatened by alcohol and abuse. For a brief moment, their sadness becomes yours. Happy times and laughter sneak their way into a lot of conversations, but they are rarely what people focus on. This does not mean that everyone I interview is a ball of misery. One of the most intimate of human emotions is sadness and I am humbled by everyone’s willingness to let me into their lives. Not everyone is so keen on doing that. We don’t trust each other so easily these days.

 
Who was the most difficult person to interview?
It has to be Sudarshan dai, the guy with the pipe. I’d always seen him walking around Baluwatar with his pipe, his bow-tie and his jacket. One look and you were hooked — he oozed personality. Who is this guy? What’s his story? I finally walked up to him one day because I simply had to know what his story was and asked him for an interview. He told me he was busy and wanted some time. He even gave me his phone number to confirm the interview. I was excited, I was really looking forward to meeting him.

I called him a week later and asked him if he wanted to meet. He put it off. He was not ready. This routine went on for a couple of months. My patience was being tested. Every time I called, he had something holding him back from the meeting. It was frustrating. After a few weeks, I stopped calling. It was obvious that he would never give me that interview.

I met him some days later again, and asked him directly if he wanted an interview or not; and if he did, I’d take it right then and there. He agreed. The full impact of what I had done came into view when I posted the story on Facebook. Nearly everyone in the comments were saying that they had been dying to know more about Sudarshan dai, or The Guy With the Pipe as they had known him to be. A great mystery was solved. It was one of the hardest interviews to get, but it was well worth the difficulty.

 
It is difficult not to feel sad when a person is telling you about how her household is threatened by alcohol and abuse.
 
Which story of yours is your personal favourite?
My favourite story is actually a paradox; there is no story. It’s just a photograph which I really love. The storyteller didn’t say anything. It was a little girl in Lo Manthang. I saw her and I started taking pictures. She started walking and running around. The pictures were amazing. She didn’t even talk to me yet I feel really connected to the photos I took. It was one of the first photo stories I ever did. I want to revisit the place and hopefully meet her again, talk to her, show her her picture, and get her story. I’m just hoping it happens. Having said that, all stories are equally important to me. Everyone who sat with me and confided in me is special to me. Each story is equally brilliant.

 
So are there no disappointing stories?
No, there are no disappointing stories. You can learn something from every story. I think this is the best way of learning. Stories of Nepal has enriched my knowledge of the world in a way no other form of education ever could. We have so many stories yet to hear and tell, and yet we think life is boring.
 
You say you’ve changed a lot. What would your reaction be if you could interview yourself a couple of years back?
I really do not know. Stories of Nepal has influenced a lot of what I live on. I am not the person I was a few years back. I was going through a rough patch in my life and had a lot of issues I had to deal with. So if I could go back and interview myself, I simply do not know what I would say. Maybe I would say a few words and shrug the person off. Maybe I would pour out my darkest fears to him. The past has been my lesson and it would be best if I learn from it rather than dwell in it.
 
We are so intent on the shallow things we study that we forget the most fundamental aspect of being a human being, that is to actually be a human being, to show kindness and respect, to love and care.
 
What is in the future for Stories of Nepal? Do you plan on stopping?
I’m planning on doing a book, a photography journal of Stories of Nepal. I think it would reach more people and inspire them if they could read it anywhere they went and not rely on an internet connection. I also plan on visiting all the 75 districts of Nepal, 40 of which I have never stepped foot on. I want to leave behind a long trail of stories from all over the country and to make people realise how far apart we have grown, so that they can restrengthen the personal bonds we have all forgotten.

We need to unlearn so much stuff that has been forced into us. We learn geometry and mechanics in school, but have we every learned about love or compassion? Moral Science has become an academic joke. We are so intent on the shallow things we study that we forget the most fundamental aspect of being a human being, that is to actually be a human being, to show kindness and respect, to love and care. We demand change yet we are too stubborn to actually do so. I want to show people that we are all equal and should treat each other as such. Everyone has a story. This is what Stories of Nepal stands for, and will always stand for. It is more than just a blog, it is my own story.

 
You plan on leaving a legacy?
No, a legacy would be something people can continue and pass on. I will only quit when I feel like I have done enough. Stories of Nepal is a story too, and all stories need an end.

As the conversation came to an end, Jay climbed onto his scooter, ready to share thousands of stories yet to be told. At a time when we are engulfed in chasing the materialistic luxuries, occupied by our own problems that die down sooner or later, Jay is immortalising the stories of the world that we have lost the connection with. Jay has been a wire that is connecting us with that world. His stories have deconstructed the way of people’s thinking unless the Stories of Nepal are heard.

Jay’s blog can be found at storiesofnepal.com or facebook.com/StoriesNepal

 
 

Words by Jyohomson Dawadi.

Banner photo by Aneel Neupane.
Photos by Jay Paudel.
 
  • SoN0

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Arts, People

2 comments on “Stories of Nepal

  1. Biswash Adhikari says:

    Story of the storyteller himself

Leave a Reply

Connect with:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CAPTCHA Image

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Related Articles