Colors of Nepal: Kathmandu, Boudha, Bakthapur, Patan, Pharpin
Peter Takeuchi, 2013
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 27, 2013)
From the introduction:
In the late 1960s, Nepal was a popular destination for some of my affluent Hippie friends. It was an exotic place, ruled by a King, with friendly people, spectacular scenery, cheap beer, and good “ganja.” They returned with wild stories of dancing and drinking parties and trekking through remote mountain villages, but I never went. After working in the movie business for 25 years, and raising two kids, I retired in 2004 and travelled throughout Asia. Then in 2007, I met a wonderful woman in Tibet, and convinced her to marry me. Helena designs jewelry, buys precious stones in India and crafts her pieces in Nepal and Thailand. So, I made it to Nepal, but it was a very different place, embroiled in a civil war between Maoists in the countryside and the Monarchy in Kathmandu. Students demonstrated against the government and police fired tear gas at them. Starving children were begging in the streets. We stayed in the Thamel district of the city where hotels, bars, restaurants and handicraft shops lined every narrow street. Taxis, motorcycles and tourists competed for space. Nepal was nothing like the stories I heard. Nepal is a poor country, in fact, I consider it a failed state. Officials cannot agree on any issue and refuse to write a new constitution. Corruption runs rampant and if foreign aid and NGOs stop pouring cash into the economy, the country would probably collapse. Here is a land with an abundance of fresh water flowing from the Annapurna and Himalaya mountain ranges, yet they suffer from power outages most of the day and their drinking water is polluted. Dirt streets turn into muddy streams during monsoon season. Healthcare and education are only available to those who can afford it. So, we moved from Kathmandu to the suburb of Boudha and explored the ancient towns of Patan and Bhaktapur, all UNESCO World heritage sites. We enjoy walking and my wife loves to shop, so we see and meet many of the local people. I carry a black Micro 4/3 camera, with a 40mm prime lens and take many photos. A person or group catches my eye, then the background and I search for natural light and the best angle. This happens quickly, so I simply set the aperture and let the camera do the rest. I've learned that the camera does it better and much faster than me. Smiling, looking people in the eye and asking politely before taking their photo almost always works, particularly in Nepal. Most, despite their poverty, their clothes, or hair, pause and look into the lens; not with a “Kodak smile,” but an honest look that shows in their eyes. Afterwards, I show the digital image to them and offer to email it, but most don't have email, a computer, smartphone or internet access. Beauty is subjective and comes in many colors; some bright, some dark. What interests me are real people in real life situations. Beautiful people and places do not inspire me, but I see beautiful beggars, workers and street dogs. Capturing this reality in a fleeting moment, with my camera and limited technical skills is my intent. I want you to see the subject or situation and feel the emotion that charged that moment in time. That emotion can be joyous or sad and I hope it is felt in your heart. Colors of Nepal is my first book. The photos were shot over two five-month periods in 2012-13, mostly in Kathmandu, Boudha, Bakthapur, Patan, and Pharpin. Friends looked at my photos and read the stories and encouraged me to do a book, then some of them actually did it for me. I’m very grateful.