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2014 – The Year That Was

2014 could arguably be the best year of my life. This is the year I wrote most number of my blog posts compared to any other year. The year I travelled to various parts of Nepal, albeit didn’t manage to get to all districts as had planned but sure did spread my wings across the border to India, West Bengal and Sikkim to be specific. Come to think of it, I actually made it to China as well, at least the border town of Khasa. I still hope to travel, still want to make it to all the districts of Nepal. Continue working on 100s of other things that I have started but not yet completed.

This year-end review would be incomplete without Kathmandu. I need to be honest about the realities of living in the capital city. It is not so easy to live here, not that I imagined otherwise. Food prices are through the roof, the usual power cuts, the perpetual water crisis, what else am I missing? But I was able to live fairly comfortably in Kathmandu. However, not as comfortable as it is in the US. Internal heating system is still the first thing I miss during winter. I work from home and the constant/intermittent internet interruption, power cuts, significantly affected my work hours during an earlier part of 2014. Although looking at the brighter side, since my day one in Kathmandu – till today I only see things getting better and I am not fabricating. In the first few weeks, if the internet was out for 3 hrs every day, now it’s down to let’s say 3 hrs twice a week. Comparatively, it’s gotten much better. Since I was the one who chose to take this step, I guess I have to suffer the consequences as well. At the same time I know I am a very lucky few who can say that they were able to live comfortably in Kathmandu. For many who comes to this city in hopes of making it big, can’t imagine how they survive in this beautiful ancient place that can be cruel to them at times.  As an honest citizen of this nation, yes, I have had the lowest of lows but every day I see better things happening from the citizens’ standpoint. Government on the other hand continues to disappoint me. But that’s beside the point, we don’t stop living just cause government fails to do its job.

While traveling across few parts of the country, I did get a glimpse of politics here and there, mainly relating to the constitution writing process, printed on the walls of abandoned, dilapidated buildings, or gigantic rocks. But I don’t think general public gives a shit about constitution. They are worried about bigger problems like how to put food on the table.
I don’t believe Nepalis have faith in the government and I think they moved on long ago. Cause had they been waiting for proactive governance, they would be waiting forever. But I know how integral constitution is for a stronger foundation of this nation. But guess what, life hasn’t stopped because of incomplete constitution. Constitution, by default should be a work in progress. However, having said all that, it is not as bleak as I may have sounded. There are a few good things happening too, even if they are far and few between.

This year I met some old friends, made some new friends. We had a great conversation, out of which came great ideas. Those ideas are something I am still working on. 2014 gave me a head start, hope to give continuity to all the work that I’ve been doing in the years to come. My best days are surely ahead of me.

As Rumi once said, destroy your reputation, be notorious, I hope you’ll do your best to chase your dreams, and not be limited by class or caste or political ideologies or any other social norms, I hope you break some rules in 2015. Here’s wishing you and I an adventurous year ahead!

2014 Collage

2014 Collage

  1. 2014 kick started with attending a lot of weddings, of my own cousins. Hence, I had to post at least one of the photos of the wedding parties.
  2. As I travelled to a few parts of this country, I flew as well to certain areas. This is just one of the perks of being on board.
  3. I find Pokhara highly overrated. But when I was there this past May, this street took me back to my childhood days and I couldn’t stop myself from clicking a photo. I’ve spent significant amount of my growing up days in Pokhara, this is just one of the streets I associate my childhood days with.
  4. My upper Mustang trek was definitely a highlight of 2014. A great shot of a beautiful landscape that is upper Mustang.
  5. Illustrating my point above, political slogan relating to constitution. You’ll come across plenty of those while traveling across Nepal.
  6. Witnessing Tibetan kitchen was a cultural experience in itself.  The kitchen of those who in live in upper Mustang area is so rich and sophisticated, in fact the entire household speaks all things ancient Tibet.
  7. That’s me with my short hair. I’m just posting it here cause I wanted to make a big deal of the fact that I chopped off my long beautiful hair.
  8. The office of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). I had the opportunity to visit the KMC office this year. It was such a beautiful ancient palace, that’s slowly turning into a ruin. This palace should be turned into a hotel or a museum. It’s too precious to be left around in the hands of people who can’t take well care of it.
  9. I thought this was the best invention of the year. For the first time in my life (in Nepal) I didn’t have to ask for an opener! Tuborg beer bottle it is!
  10. Our house is full of dogs, two more are missing in the picture. They are all stray dogs. These two have really grown up since then. You gotta love stray dogs, if you love Kathmandu, adopt a few of them.
  11. I guess, the most important part of 2014 is the fact that I set up my own company. No, it’s not an auditing company. It’s just a picture of my company’s audit report. There’s much more I want to do before I reveal it all. But yes, I did set up my own company. That feels like an accomplishment on its own.

How to Get Nepali Machine Readable Passport (MRP)?

(Updated: Feb 21, 2016) When I had applied for passport, government website didn’t have any relevant information. Since then Department of Passport’s website has improved leaps and bounds. I recommend you to visit their site for the most accurate information:

However, information given below is still relevant to get an idea on how to apply for passport in general.

This page has information on all your general inquiries.
If above link doesn’t work, access the same document here [Latest version: Jan 19, 2016] .

(Information below was posted Nov 6, 2014)

* This blog post contains information relevant to those born in Kathmandu district. If you were born outside of this district, this information may not be valid for you.

Office: Baneshwor/Anamnagar (The same office where we get our Citizenship card)
Office operation hours:
Sunday to Thursday: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Pre-requisites (Required Documents/Items – applies to Kathmandu office) :

  • Rs 5000 – this is for a regular processing fee, this will get you the passport in about 2 months (or less).
    Rs 15 thousand to get it the same day.
    Rs 12 thousand to get it the next day after the submission of the application.
    Rs 10 thousand to get it in 3 days.
  • Special MRP photos: at least 3 [Please keep in mind this is not your traditional passport size photo. Make sure you get this taken from true professionals and save yourself some time and money]
  • Original Citizenship card and its copy: 2
  • Old passport copy (of the page that has your personal contact information): 2
  • Print out of Passport application with all the required fields filled.
    Citizenship verification document (Although I had this document printed out, it wasn’t used)

While I was researching about the process I realized, there are people who help you fill up the form as well outside the passport office in return for a couple 100 bucks. I didn’t do any of that. I filled out the form all by myself and printed it appropriately. They have this information for you on how to printIt didn’t apply to my OS. Regardless of whatever option you see, the point is to print 100% with no modification to the layout.

First of all make sure to fill up the form provided here and print it out.
They’ve also provided the link to a sample form if you need help.

Before you head to Baneshwor/Anamnagar office make sure you have a copy of all the documents mentioned in the Pre-requisites section above (keep multiple copies just in case). Please keep in mind the steps given below may not match precisely. I’m just giving you an idea of the process and what I went through:

Step 1: Get to Baneshwor/Anamnagar office of the DOP with all the required documents.

Step 2: Citizenship verification: room no. 105. Located on the extreme right-hand-side area of the compound.
The actual process begins by submitting your original citizenship card and its copy to room no. 105. Funny thing was on this site , it says we need to print out this document as well.
And submit it to the concerned person/department along with an original and a  copy of your citizenship card. But that document was never used. I don’t know why.
Depending on the volume of requests, you will have to queue up.

By god’s grace if your citizenship information is still available in their office and the person manages to find it. Your document will be verified. The concerned officer will sign a copy of the citizenship card. Then you go to room no. 107

Step 3: Take all your documents to room no. 107 and get those signed from the concerned officer.

Step 4: Take all your documents to room no. 106 and get those signed from the concerned officer.

Step 5: Take those documents to room no. 303. This is a different building within the same compound. Get your document(s) signed again.

Step 6: Go to the bank right next to the DOP office (on the left). You need to fill out the voucher with required information then pay Rs 5000 to the bank. If you’re lost, asks the guard for the voucher. Bank will give you one of three vouchers you fill out.

Step 7: Keep that voucher with you, you will need that to collect your machine readable passport. Now go to room no. 107. They’ll ask you for one more photo, make sure you give copies of all the required documents incase they forget. They’ll then tell you to come after 50 days (or 2 months).

Passport collection:

Office: The same office in Baneshwor/Anamnagar
Sunday to Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

— Post 50 days —

Must carry: Your old passport if you have one, citizenship card (or driver’s license would work too)

  1. Head back to Baneshwor/Anamnagar office.
  2. Before you queue up, you need to first find your serial no. It will be on a sheet of paper littered on the table. You find the no. based on the date you submitted your application. Refer to your voucher for information.
  3. Get the no. Queue-up.
  4. Give your voucher, also your old passport if you have one, so they can cancel the crap out of it. Get your brand new passport.
  5. Go to room no. 106 to get your passport signed and you are officially done!

Now you can go wherever you want in this world provided you have valid visas.

Happy Travels! 🙂

2013: A Recap

I remember writing my 2012 year-end post, was talking about how eventful that year was. 2013 turned out to be even extra eventful, this year marked a beginning of a lot of important aspects of my life personally and spiritually. Traveling was my top priority and I managed to do that. Hope to continue traveling in 2014 as well. My mission this year is to travel across Nepal.

I moved out of the US – it was completely my decision based on my priorities. Somewhere I hope I have sowed the seeds of entrepreneurial bug in me as well. The consequences of all the steps I have taken will only be known in future. I have no clue where life will take me, the best I can do is listen to my intuition and follow my heart. Even if I make gazillion mistakes, I hope to learn from them. I hope to fail, fail fast and move on to my next mistake. I hope to keep moving and never stop.

I am equal parts excited and nervous about 2014. Whatever comes my way – be it the adversities, the failures, or the success – I want to embrace it all with open arms. I am what I choose and I choose to write my own story, I choose to follow my dreams, and I choose to just be – be me. Hopefully, I’ve grown a tad bit wiser than 2012, perhaps a little more humble, always open minded and always curious.

Here’s wishing you and me a great year ahead!

Happy New year 2014.


Where is Justice for Women?

As a woman nothing affects me more than the news I come across everyday about the rape cases. I feel like my own body being violated. It physically and mentally disturbs me. I still have not fully read Sita’s story. In fact I don’t ever read the details. It feels too close. I know I could never feel Sita’s ordeal in the truest sense. I will probably never meet her and will get to tell her that I am with her. But I know one thing I can do, is raise my voice against this injustice. Equally depressing is our Nepali government very conveniently ignoring this case and many more similar cases. Think about it, what if Sita was your own daughter, sister, mother or your very close friend? How would you feel? How would you feel about being forcefully touched, grabbed, and humiliated? How would you feel?

We are living in the 21st century but things really have not changed. Those who say west have it much better- aren’t any better off either. I realize, this is an ongoing fight. For the right to live the way we want to live. For the right to be where we want to be; for just any basic rights that any other humans are bestowed with. Why can’t women do the same?

Why is it anybody’s headache – if a woman wants to dress a certain way, wants to hang out till late night? If a man could do it, why can’t a woman do it as well without the fear of being raped and abused?  When we are talking about punishing the criminals of this horrendous act- why is the discussion hijacked by the ‘kind’ of woman a woman is. Why does it have to matter? Why is it diverted from the crux of the matter and the matter is; a man raped a woman and that man needs to be penalized. Today the Indian woman succumbed to death from the gang rape.  And what did the Indian government do? This incident only exposed Indian politicians’ sexist prejudices against women. Such a shame. How many women will have to be victimized, how many of us will have to die before men respect the boundaries. Just how many?

Whether it was the most recent gang rape case in India. The 7-year-old little girl’s case in China; the woman kidnapped at gunpoint- raped and killed in the US. Millions of women, who get abducted, abused and sold in prostitution or even the case of Sita who got robbed and raped by a policeman. When is it going to stop? And what government is going to do about it? We want answers, we want actions being taken. We want criminals punished. We want justice for women.

Nepali Flag Nail Art

Nepali Flag Nail Art

When I tweeted this picture, I thought it was one of those images that had the capacity to go viral in Nepali domain. To my utter dismay, it didn’t even receive any kind of acknowledgement much less the prospect of going viral. Nonetheless, I must thank a couple of people who at least ‘liked’ it on instagram.

It was inspired by female olympians flaunting their patriotic nail art at the recent 2012 Olympics. It took me quite a while to replicate the flag. Considering the amount of effort I put in, this image at least deserved a post on my blog. Hence the reason I am writing this.

Happy drawing/painting! 🙂

Citizen and Women Power

I genuinely believe this is a great time to be alive especially if you are a woman and also a Nepali citizen. I take immense pride in saying this because the world is finally beginning to recognize the power of women and their penetrating influence across the board. Women have always emerged as leaders in times of crisis. During this recession, for the first time women became the majority of the American workforce. According to Hanna Rosin’s article published in the Atlantic; in America, young, childless, single women now earn more than men do. Women today hold the purchasing power and significantly influence market dynamics. It has really taken this long for the world to acknowledge that women are in fact an untapped resource and ignoring women-power means ignoring development.

This statement may sound a little arrogant or absurd at a time when Nepali government recently banned women under 30 from working in the Middle East. First of all, Nepali government is a whole another topic that I shall discuss in a separate post including the socio-political consequences of Nepali women working abroad as a laborer. Secondly, yes, the majority of the Nepalese society is still a victim of conventional dogma that limits the role of women. Despite this narrow-mindedness I am utterly optimistic. In today’s technologically driven world there is no other way to go but to move forward. The exponential growth of technology is rapidly changing the way we interact with one another. With the free flow of information, the power now lies in the hands of ordinary people like us. Due to the influence of emerging technologies, open communications the speed of development is accelerating. Thus, in order to survive in today’s world – we must adapt to these changes. As Darwin once famously described as ‘survival of the fittest’. Those who choose to persist changing with time despite the challenges; will continue to exist. Where as those who choose not to; will be deemed irrelevant and ousted.

It is equally an awesome time to be a Nepali citizen because young Nepalese are truly walking the walk as opposed to their predecessors. The young generation is in tuned with the nuances of local needs at the same time very well-acquainted with the effects of globalization. Every day you get to read about the young Nepalese making a difference in their society. Whether it is about Kathmandu Cycle City 2020, where they have come together to work with the government to make Kathmandu a cycle friendly city or even something as poignant as initiating the graffiti art work on the political-slogan-filled walls of Kathmandu. This is a proof that the young Nepalese are ready to write their own stories. Willing to sing their own songs and march to the beat of their own drum. These young people are dreamers, risk takers. They are the true movers and shakers of this nation.

We belong to a generation who has come to terms with the reality that key to development lies in women empowerment and gender equality. Not every generation gets to be a part of the movement that defines the future. I believe we are that awakened generation of women and men and together we are shaping the future of our country heralding a new era of development.

Tihar 2011

This Tihar would probably be the last one in this city. And the very first one where I bothered to put an effort. Notice the DIY acrylic-paint-mandap. I don’t even know if this place sells any colored sands. Nonetheless, to keep the mess to a minimum and also show off my non-abstract art skills – used the paint. The rest is the magic of light [photography] and genetically manipulated flowers.

Eve Ensler on security

Eve Ensler is best known for her  play ‘The vagina monologues’ . Ever since I have discovered her work. I think I have found a different way of thinking. I’ve become more open to ideas and thoughts I probably would have never openly discussed. I have an immense respect for her and the kind of work she’s been doing. Below I share with you one of the TED Talks where she gave her take on security.

…I am very worried today about this notion, this word this prevailing kind of force of security. I see this word, hear this word, feel this word everywhere. Real security, security watch, security checks, security clearance. Why has all this security made me feel so much more insecure.

What does anyone mean when they are talking about real security. And why have we as Americans become particularly a nation that strive through security above all else. In fact I think that the security is elusive, it’s impossible. We all die, we all get old, we all get sick, people leave us, people change us. Nothing is secure and that’s actually the good news. This is unless of course your whole life is about being secure.

I think when that is the focus of your life. These are the things that happen. You can’t travel very far. Or venture too far outside a certain circle. You can’t allow too many conflicting ideas into your mind at a time. as they might confuse you or challenge you. You can’t open yourself to new experiences, new people, new ways of doing things as they might take you off course.  You can’t know who you are so you cling to hard matter identity. You become a Christian, Muslim, Jew, you’re an Indian, Egyptian, Italian, American, heterosexual or homosexual or you never have sex.  Or that’s what you say when you identify yourself.

You become a  part of us in order to be secure and against them. You cling to your land because it is your secure place you must fight anyone who encroaches upon it. You become your nation, you become your religion. You become whatever it is that will freeze you, numb you and protect you from doubt or change. But all this, does actually shut down your mind.

In reality it does not really make you safer. I was in Sri Lanka just three days after the Tsunami.I was standing on the beach and it was absolutely clear that in a matter of 5 minutes the 30-foot wave could rise up and desecrate a people population and lives. All this striving for security has in fact made you much more insecure. Because now you have to watch out all the time. There are people not like you. People who you call enemies. There are places you cannot go, thoughts you cannot think. World you can no longer inhabit. So you spend your days, fighting things off, defending your territory and becoming more entrenched in your fundamental thinking.

Your days become devoted to protecting yourself this becomes your mission and that is all you do. Ideas get shorter, they become sound bytes. There are evil doers and saints criminals and victim there are those that are not with us are against us. It gets easier to hurt people because you do not feel what’s inside them. It’s easier to lock them up. Force them to be naked. Humiliate them, occupy them, invade them kill them because they are only obstacles now to your security.

I have met women and men all over this planet, who through various circumstances: war, poverty, racism, multiple forms of violence have never known security. Or have had their illusion of security forever devastated….one of the most amazing things that I have discovered in my travel is that there is this emerging species..I’ve discovered these people in the V-day world that we call vagina warriors. These particular people rather than getting AK-47s or weapons of mass destruction or …the spirit of the warrior have gone into the center, the heart of pain of loss, they have grieved it, they have dived into it. And have allowed the poison to turn into medicine. They have used the fuel of that pain to begin to redirect that energy towards another mission and another trajectory. These warriors now devote themselves and their lives making sure what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else. There are thousands if not millions of them on the planet I venture there are many in this room.

They have fierceness and a freedom that I believe is the bedrock of a new paradigm. They have broken out the existing frame of the victim and the perpetrator. Their personal security is not their end goal. and because of that , rather than worry about security  because the transformation of the suffering is their end goal. I actually believe they are creating real safety and a whole new idea of security.

…..If your end goal is security and if that’s all you are focusing on what ends up happening is that you create not only more insecurity in other people. But you make youreself far more insecure. Real security is contemplating death not pretending it doesn’t exists. Not running from loss but entering grief, surrendering to sorrow. Real security is not knowing something when you don’t know it.

Real security is hungering for connection rather than power. It can not be bought or arranged or made with bombs it is deeper it is a process it is an acute awareness that we are all utterly interdependent; and by one action by one being in one tiny  town has consequences everywhere. Real security is not only being able to tolerate mystery,complexity, ambiguity, but hungering for them and only trusting a situation when they are present.

Something happened when we began traveling in the v-day years ago, I got lost. I remember being on a plane from Kenya to South Africa. And I had no idea where I was. Didn’t know where I was going where I had come from. And I panicked I had a total anxiety attack. Then I suddenly realized that it absolutely didn’t matter where I was going, where I had come from. Because we are all essentially permanently displaced people. All of us are refugees we come from somewhere and we are hopefully travelling all the time moving towards a new place.

Freedom means I may not be identified as only one group that I can visit and find myself in every group. It does not mean I don’t have values or beliefs but it does mean I am not hardened around them. I do not use them as weapons. In the shared future. It will be just that shared. End goal will become vulnerable realizing the place of our connection to one another. Rather than becoming secure in control and alone.