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Monday, March 4, 2013

Laato Mamma ( The Deaf and Dumb Uncle)

He is known as Laato Mama throughout my village. He has been with our relatives for ever since I know. Obviously, he can't talk. But he has the most expressive eyes that I have ever seen. He has the most genuine smile. His weather beaten face is the silent testimony to the experiences that he has gone through.
 He has been to places and seen things,yet he cannot tell us the stories about it. I have spent many hours with this silent friend of mine. Sometimes fanatically trying to fix a broken lighter and at times trying to look for the pin that got away from his wrist watch.( He is a great lover of wrist watches even though he doesn't know what time it is) More than anything else he is my favorite subject for a portrait shot. He is ever so natural,as he is far beyond the concept of faking it. He is,for me, the synonym of patience. The best thing about him is that I know he loves his life.

A few drags for cigarette and a studious look into his wrist watch is enough to lighten up his face with sense of satisfaction that I could never derive from any ordinary thing. He has helped me understand some lessons more clearly and strongly.The most important being..actions speaks louder than words and a genuine smile is much more powerful than well rehearsed speeches. Life is to live not to complain....

You can still give when you have nothing..

It was around 10:30 this morning(23rd Feb 2013). Kids were gathered outside the back gate of Hotel d'el Annarpurna.They were waiting for someone to tell them to enter the gate guarded by a female security guard. They were patiently waiting and some were making the best of their time in wait by taking a walk down the pavement and having a last go at their sniff bag before a stomach filling meal of the day.Yes they were there to receive their free lunch of the day provided by Smile Nepal with the help of Hotel d'el Annapurna's. It may sound like -oh just one meal a day..yes just one meal a day..every day, which makes 365 meals a year for an average of 30 kids living in the streets.

Its not just a stomach filling experience but also a heart filling one. I was there to witness the feeding session. which I joking like to refer to as the feeding frenzy ( blame it on Nat Geo and Discovery channel). The orderly manner in which it was carried out was impressive. The food was good. Not in anyway food cooked to give away that too for the street kids.
Street kids from around Thamel were streaming into the premises for about half an hour. They washed their hands and formed an orderly queue to wait for their turn. They looked hungry but not impatient. Some did look dazed and on some kind of psychotic trip ( areldite, the glue is to be blamed).

What impressed me the most was that when food supply ran low (before the fresh one arrived) the kids were sharing what they had. The spirit of sharing and caring was alive and kicking within those kids who are constantly being beaten down by the harsh reality that they face everyday on the streets that seldom forgive them.
That took me back to a line I read a few years ago... People who have nothing and still give..

The kids were satisfied to quench their hunger and I was satisfied to see them content least for a while...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jigri and Fikri

This smile has a long story behind it. Curtained by beautiful smile is a painful reality. This young boy calls himself Jigri and indeed he is one…a good friend. I don’t even remember his given name but I know his surname and it is Giri. His father and mother left him few years ago. He is ever so hopeful that his mother will someday come and take him away from his maternal home where he lives with his widowed grandmother, his elder brother and a young uncle. He says his mother is in India. Working. He doesn’t know where his father is.

 Jigri is one heck of a Kid. Full of life and stories too. It was one afternoon that we were working in our shed. Hammering away nails on dried up bamboo. And Jigri pops in. Thinking about the oranges in the garden I ask him to go and bring us few. Fresh. Right from the tree. There you go. Out he goes. About ten minutes later he is back. No oranges. Oh no. I ask him if he was not able to pick the oranges. He answers back-"No it’s not that I could not pick the oranges it’s just that I could not climb the tree and  reach them…If only I could..picking is easy". He gave us a good laugh and something to ponder upon.

Unlike Jigri,we have given his elder brother a name. We call him Fikri. Fikri has reputation of his own. Fikri is different.He is into some kind of destructive fantasy. Already a wanna be gangsta. He makes us worry about him a little every now and then. No big deal. It’s just that we don’t want to see yet another kid being wasted away,especially when it’s not his fault. 

Jigri and Fikri are the only two kids in our village who don’t go to the school. But not for too long. New session and you’ll see these guys in their school uniform. We have made a deal. They are always welcome in our place, any time and they will also continue to receive those free marbles every week. Provided that they go to the school. They are in it and so  are we.

They may be abandoned by their parents but not by us.