Inter-viewsStray Dog Productions
Khenpo Tensing Sangpo
Abbot of Kag Choede Buddhist Monastery in Kagbeni, Mustang
Talks about: The importance of Buddhist teaching during the 49 days before reincarnation.
Appointed to the 14th century temple and monastery at Kagbeni at 26, Tensing Sangpo was the youngest Nepali monk to become an Abbot. At that time there were only 3 young students and the aged monks were no longer teaching villagers the meaning behind Buddhist rituals.
Ten years further on, the Abbot is building an extension to house and educate up to 150 young monks. He has changed ancient rules that dictate that only a second son may become a monk, and must be drawn from one of the three local parishes. Under the Abbot, any son may join, and pupils now come from all over the Himalayas.
In this interview the Abbot explains why educated monks are crucial to village life. He describes the first 49 days after a human death and before rebirth, a time called ‘bardo’ when the soul survives for a period while the good and bad karma of the former life is being weighed and judged. It is at this time, says the Abbot, when a monk can do much to ensure a wholesome reincarnation.
Gurung tribe, Kagbeni, Mustang
Talks about: Traditional songs & dance & the role of women
In this interview we meet Yeshi’s Great Aunt – one of the 8 Hajuramas or female elders who head up the principal family groups in Kagbeni. Whilst the village prepares for an upcoming wedding between two branches of the Gurung family, Yeshi persuades her great aunt to sing a series of traditional songs, which she then translates. Finally, in preparation perhaps for the Hajuramas’ performance at the wedding feast at the weekend, the Great Aunt dances.
Kollywood actor, playwright
Talks about: Ghurkhas & the Civil War
Kagendra is a movie star, director, radio producer and playwright. He has worked for the BBC world service producing innovative ‘soap opera’ style dramas dealing with issues such as sexual violence and family health. While plays for the theatre earn him little money, a great sense of responsibility to pass on the stories of his times keeps him writing.Here he talks about two of his plays: The Grandfather’s Tale, a story of a family of Ghurkha soldiers & Song of Sorrow, a drama of displaced people during the civil war.
Human rights activist, asst.professor, poet
Talks about: Ecology, growing up in a political family & why the tea shop inspired his poetry
“Everything is political” says Keshab who has spent his life working to improve human rights, education & environmental awareness in Nepal. As a poet, teacher, librarian & activist he uses whatever means he can outside the established political system to bring about change. Here he talks of the remarkable, but short-lived, success of a forestry conservation programme & explains why he is optimistic about the future. Keshab recalls his childhood in a politically active family leading up to, and during, the Nepalese civil war, and how these early experiences inform his poetry.
Manish Lal Strestha
Artist & director of the MCube Gallery, Kathmandu
Talks about: Life without light
Kathmandu, indeed Nepal as a whole, experiences extensive power cuts on a daily basis. Here Manish explains the devastating impact this has on the social & economic development of his country.Having studied & exhibited all over the world, Manish is a key and very active member of the Kathmandu artistic circle. He recently founded the MCube gallery, an exhibiting space and studio complex which facilitates and promotes artists, collaboration and debate. He hosts a monthly chat show ‘Chakati Guff’ (pillow gossip) in which artists of all mediums are invited to present their work and discuss the issues raised with a live audience.
Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati
Photographer & co-founded of photography collective Photo.Circle
Talks about: Gender based violence & nomadic tribes in Nepal
Nayantara and her team at Photo.Circle have worked relentlessly to carve out a place for photography in a society which until now had barely recognised it. By supporting and providing a platform for photographers in Nepal, Photo.Circle has opened the doors, and with it, abundant possibilities for dialogue, collaboration, exploration & excellence. Here she talks about gender based violence & a recent project which documents the last nomadic tribe left in Nepal
Former Sherpa now guesthouse proprietor
Talks about: A Sherpa’s Life
Like many men in the area, Raj started working life as a Sherpa & trekking guide at an early age. He walked and carried throughout the Annapurna region for many years but now, with a wife & children, he runs the Pushpa guesthouse in Pokhara, organising treks for his guests.Here he remembers how his career in the mountains began..
Talks about: Philosophy, 7th Century Nepali princess Bhrikuti, the ‘Star of Nepal’
Award winning author Sarubhakta writes about spiritual, cultural and social issues. He tells us about the arranged marriage c600 of the young Nepali princess Bhrikuti to the King of Tibet. She introduced Bhuddhism to Tibet and holds a revered place in Nepali history and folklore. Bhrikuti’s anguish over the loss of her language and homeland informs one of Sarubhakta’s major works, ‘Pagaal Basti’ (Mad Village). In the second section he explains how emptiness, the void, or ‘sunidar’ lies at the centre of all things.
Tibetan refugee and shop keeper in Tatopani
Talks about: Fickle love, the responsibility of mothers & the return of Tibet
Sonam is one of thousands of Tibetan refugees whose family fled from the Southern plains down the Kali Gandaki valley to Mustang. Here they are ‘received’ but have few rights. They cannot own land & consequently live a semi- nomadic existence being separated as a family for most of the year. The men often work as farm labourers in the high hills, the women sell souvenirs in locations dictated by the tourist season & the children attend school in refugee camps in the city.
Here she laughs at the universality of fickle love & goes on to explain why mothers bear great responsibility. Finally she speaks of the undying hope of her people to return to their motherland.
Yeshi Choeden Gurung
Talks about: Village life & superstitions
Unlike many teenagers Yeshi returned from her studies in the city to embrace village life, finding meaning in its ancient customs, wisdom in the ways of the Grandmothers & tranquillity in the mountains. She studies business management in the local town & works a 14 hour day in their family guesthouse, Yak Donald’s in Kagbeni. Here she shows how ancient superstitions continue but the language is threatened.