I just came back to kathmandu after traveling to a few other cities in Nepal which included Butwal, Bhairawaha, Narayanghat, Tandi etc. And Guess what? Kathmandu looked just like an overgrown version of these towns. As we entered Thankot I felt like I was entering a town that was chaotic, dirt filled, dusty, and what looked like a partially finished city with much to go before it became complete. It didn’t look like the city renowned for being one of the most beautiful in the world 500 years ago. Chaos is the ultimate and only organizing force here. I attribute this to one thing – us Kathmandu citizens and our attitude to our lives. We have stopped asking ourselves, what the purpose of our existence is. The collective view seems to have become that of mindless sheep.

As a Kathmandu citizen, it is very easy to blame others for the problems that we face. Whether it is the government, the city authority, the donors, the gulf between the rich and the poor, the remoteness, and the insecurity being one of many plagues. But the primary problem in my opinion is our lack of civic sense and lack of responsibility to our environment. As citizens we have failed Kathmandu. This is a country where citizens actually bribe officials so they can build unsafe houses for themselves and their families.
So how do we turn back the clock? I believe Kathmandu can still be turned around. All we need is to just take care of some of our immediate problems that we see around us. Here are a few ideas and suggestions.
Kathmandu, a heritage valley.

How have we failed as inhabitants of this beautiful valley? Maybe, partly it is because we have forgotten our heritage. Our heritage has been the accumulation of our past, our culture, which was based on simplicity, creativity and communal living and our obsession with ‘creating’. With time, we have simply become lazy copy-cats who have lost faith and insight in a far-sighted vision, building concrete boxes instead of beautiful homes and destroying what little of value we have left. Simple examples of how stupid we have become include building houses that are colder in the winter, and warmer in the summer by using marble or tiled floors and cemented walls. Also, in the past few years, the sky rocketing high-rises being built without proper construction consultations and the lack of homework being done on massive earthquake resistance are very worrisome thoughts. Despite this, every one of the millions living here knows ‘Kathmandu is the number one earthquake vulnerable city in the world.’ There is a very notable lack of developers talking prominently about earthquake proofing when they advertise for the sale of their high-rise apartments, but there is unceasing talk about the superficial beauty aspect and how beautiful the interior of the houses look. Such blatant displays of foolishness!
Don’t you wonder? How we have failed from being creative Nepalese to being lazy boring Nepalese? Just look at the Krishna Mandir and the Patan Durbar square. Built 500 years ago by our very own forefathers, they are by far more beautiful than the houses we have built in the years since. It is hard to swallow that our generation has nothing to show in terms of aesthetics of building. In the span of each generation, we have turned from creators, builders, innovators, and concerned citizens to copiers, followers, and apathetic citizens prone to a passive tendency to be dependant.

Kathmandu, a trash free city.

20 years ago, I don’t recall people dumping their trash out on their street. I would see many of them turn it into waste to put it in their small gardens where they would dispose of these wastes. 20 years ago, there was also enough space for us to plan around. Now people are content cramping around in houses that get smaller and smaller stretching thinly to the sky. What’s more, they throw trash right in front of doorsteps on the street, because they know someone will pick it up. They do this because they think they can get by. With no knowledgeable authority including the municipality or appropriate government body sitting silently actually helping to worsen the situation in many cases. It is time for us citizens to own up, be responsible and act upon our fellow citizen’s lack of civic sense and responsibility. Partner with local governmental bodies to make sure trash gets separated into bio-degradable.,non bio-degradable, plastics and non plastics. Work with your community and make it easier and thus profitable for trash companies to come in and actually profit from our waste.
Kathmandu, a breathable city.

Kathmandu could easily become a leader in alternative energy vehicles. Primarily solar is a good option or use hybrids wherever possible. The issue of dust can be easily handled by holding builders accountable to the effects they cause. You just have to tell them to their face. Kathmandu citizens need discipline. If someone growls back with a stick, they will stop being brats.
We can easily clean the now toxic Bagmati River, if we just organize ourselves better as neighbors and use the huge advances in waste technology to treat our own waste better. The key word here is for neighborhoods to unite with themselves and with local governments. Lets do our part towards being responsible. Lets stop just demanding our rights, for a change. Open up routes .

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Kathmandu, a green city.

If you have been to New York, they have a beautiful park right in the middle of the city. They call it Central Park. This is true in the most developed and beautiful cities of the world. They have a lot of open green breathable space. In Kathmandu, many of us complain about the lack of it, yet if you look closely you will find there is a lot of space here being misused or un-used. We have our central park right here in the city. Imagine the public space if you joined Tudikhel, Ratnapark, Rani Pokhari and link it to the former Royal Palace. You could have a huge Park that serves as a beautiful open space where Kathmandites can relax, enjoy, meet, run, and take their children. This is possible to do today, and the parks existing but barred from entry are already there. If Garden of Dreams was possible, this is definitely possible. There are also plenty of religious spaces like Pashupatinath, Syambhunath, and many others, which could easily be used as clean space used to rejuvenate our inner self. Just like how we turned the northern Shivapuri hills into a national park, let us turn all the hills around into places to hike and wander in nature’s beauty. We can conserve the water supply to this ever-increasing city. If we take action and we harvest rain water we may not need donor injected projects like Melamchi, which divides us Nepalis, and makes our elites greedier, narrower, and lazier.

Lets open more public land for citizens. If we already pay for this, we deserve to use it, don’t we? As a Nepali, I want to be able to freely access Singha-durbar and walk around. This access reinforces my trust as the government being servant of the citizens, and not the other way around. It’s something I feel as I pass by its huge restrictive outer walls these days.

Kathmandu, a 24 hour city.

Kathmandu is even more beautiful during the night. It is small, and you can reach corners of the city within a half an hour in most places. Did you know that our weather is perfect most days of the year? Why don’t we open, ‘Saajha Bus’ and other public transportation systems to operate in the evenings so that we diffuse traffic, which would be great for tourists and thereby businesses. As we interact more with each other, more ideas, more innovation starts creeping into our culture and we might just have a place people love to come and hang around 24 hours a day. It also becomes a statement of how we slowly can become a friendly, trust-worthy, safe city. These attributes are what most world citizens are attracted to, on any given day, when they feel like visiting a place.
Kathmandu, an energy filled city.

Don’t laugh. If you think we are energy starved, then yes you are right, but we are because of our own choice. We choose to be energy starved. We never realize that we have clear sunshine most days of the year, But instead of harnessing the solar energy, we are on a spree to buy gas-heaters. We complain of load-shedding, yet the alternative, the sun, shines upon us almost 12 hours a day every day. Instead of using efficient light savers, we use energy wasting ones, we steal electricity, we abuse it. So, rightfully we get what we deserve. It is time to change our ways and harness the power of the sun. If the government works with citizens on this one, we can get to the holy grail of becoming energy independent in this generation, not in the next.

Kathmandu, a wanderlust city.

A few weeks ago I walked from Patan to Maharajgunj. It took me less than 2 hours. So I realized Kathmandu valley is not all that big. In-fact with its exciting alleys, and back streets we have a perfect place to walk or bike around. We can sort out the honking horns and traffic violations by just being stricter on violators and educating them harder. We can brand our city as a walking city. A lot of tourists would love to wander amidst our peculiar, rich wonderful culture. Wandering around Kathmandu maybe the best way to explore, if we can just manage to cut out the honking horns and irresponsible driving.
In summary, Kathmandu valley can be changed, and changed back fast. I believe we can bring it to the glory of 500 years ago, when it was one of the most beautiful cities of the world. It is our moral duty to restore Kathmandu’s glory. And this will only happen, if we, Kathmandu’s citizens unite and work hand in hand. Let this be the gift of our generation back to our generous benefactor the environment. Up until now, we haven’t given much back yet, have we? Lets take up this challenge, demand for local governance, and start off!
Let us bring Kathmandu to its rightful place as one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Yes we can! It’s upto you!

‘Don’t take pictures facing the Chinese side,’ a Nepali policeman stationed at the border village of Rasuwagadhi insists. ‘They don’t allow that. We’ll get into trouble.’

Amid such displays of nervous tension, the Chinese are in the process of restoring the ancient trade route to Kerung, Tibet, once a southern extension of the old Silk Road. Traditionally used by yak caravans bartering salt for rice, the route will now be upgraded to an 18-kilometre stretch of highway connecting Syabrubesi to Rasuwagadhi. On completion, it will connect Kathmandu to Kerung, further facilitating border trade between Nepal and China.

The locals, however, have a different take on the development.

Although the majority of the villagers here are of Tamang and Ghale ethnicity, they are heavily influenced by Tibetan culture and speak the language. Whatever promises the highway offers in terms of easing travel and trade, the proximity of Tibet means that doubts persist regarding Chinese intentions, among other things.

‘It has made things easier,’ says Nima Ghale of Timure. ‘The journey to Syabrubesi used to take five to six hours, but doesn’t take more than two now, even by foot.’ Transporting goods is also more convenient. But there are concerns about long-term consequences. ‘All the land is being bought up by people from Trishuli and further south. Soon, the whole village will be owned by them, and we’ll have to resort to collecting firewood and fodder for money,’ she says. ‘The poor will just get poorer.’

Caught between elation and apprehension, the residents of the area look to an uncertain future.

This landscape series attempts to highlight all aspects of ‘development’ as both a blessing and–as is often the case–a destructive force.

This story was produced during a Masterclass with Mads Nissen organized by photo.circle. It has been published in a book ‘The Constant Change – 12 photo stories from Nepal’.

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Fashion Horoscope

2001 was the year that I first learnt how all our lives are ruled by the universe and the planets beyond. Growing up with two elder sisters who were obsessive about astrology, I was obviously nowhere near the idea of refraining from it. Thus, began my quest as an influenced little sister. Eventually, I started doing my own research and tried to find ways of connecting the zodiac with my greatest passion, i.e FASHION. As a fashion blogger, I have personally made an illustration wardrobe chart especially for all my readers. So, here is what the stars, constellations, planets and the universe say about you and your style.


‘THE THREE AIR SIGNS’

AQUARIUS (Jan 21 ‘“Feb 18)

Symbol-  The Water Bearer

Ruling planet- The Uranus

Catch phrase- ‘I know’

Colour- Violet, Turquoise, Blue

Positive traits-Independent, Open minded, Eccentric, Friendly

Fahionistas-Lauren Conrad, Mischa Barton, Emma Roberts

Aquarians have a unique sense of style. They are the ones to rock the new trends in the market. If they like it, they will wear it and as long as they stay true to themselves, they don’t mind breaking the rules of fashion. They love bright colours. As their sign symbolizes water, they like flowy dresses and quirky accessories. They have an independent and forward way of dressing up.

GEMINI (May 21-Jun 20)

Symbol-  The Twins

Colour- Rainbow

Ruling planet- The mercury

Catch phrase- ‘I think’

Positive traits- Witty, Charming, and Adventurous

Fahionistas- Sonam Kapoor, Marykate amp; Ashley Olsen, Zoë Saldana

Gemini symbolizes two pieces of wood bound together. Like wise, they have dual personalities when it comes to clothing too. Anything goes for them. They like youthful, eclectic and funky styles. They like playing with different kinds of odd colours and designs. Their style is unpredictable and never boring. They are either trendsetters or fashion victims as they aren’t afraid to take fashion to the extreme.

LIBRA (Sep 23 ‘“Oct 23)

Symbol-  The Scale

Ruling planet- The Venus

Catch phrase- ‘I balance’

Colour- Pink, Light Blue, Ivory

Positive traits-Lovable, Generous, Friendly

Fahionistas- Hilary Duff, Camilla Belle, Kim kardarshian.

Librans see all things positive in this world. They are the ones who’ve got it all sorted out and are living a balanced life. They are fashion conscious and think twice before heading out in public. Their style is feminine, romantic and soft. They don’t like flashy or gaudy style. Libra’s style is a balance between glamourous and casual wear. They shop with a fair attitude, without breaking their bank account.

‘THE THREE FIRE SIGNS’

ARIES (Mar 21- Apr 20)

Symbol- The Ram

Ruling planet- Mars

Catch phrase-‘ I Am’

Colour- Red and Black

Positive Traits- Quick, Confident, Energetic

Fahionistas- Leighton Meester, Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson, Suri Cruise

Aries is a strong sign with a mind of its own. Like their nature, their fashion sense is fierce and one that oozes confidence. They definitely don’t mind being the centre of attraction. Their symbol, Ram rules the head so they like wearing hats, headbands and other accessories that draw attention to the head. They like super bold colours and aren’t much into neutrals. They also like to dress masculine and like the sporty look.

SAGGITARIUS (Nov 23-  dec 21)

Symbol-  The Archer

Ruling planet- The Jupiter

Catch phrase- ‘I See’

Colour- Purple, Royal Blue, Indigo

Positive traits- Optimistic, Honest, Easy-Going

Fashionista- Taylor Swift, Miley cyrus, Vanessa Hudgen, Chanel Iman, Scarlet Johansson.

  • Sagittarians are optimistic, full of energy and versatility. This sign loves to go wherever the wind or the arch takes them, so they like wearing comfortable and versatile clothing. They are very adventurous even when it comes to fashion. They have a bohemian way of dressing up. So they experiment with different kinds of style. They just dress sponteneously and don’t put too much thought into it.

LEO (Jul 23 ‘“Aug 23)

Symbol-  The Lion

Ruling planet- The Sun

Catch phrase- ‘I will’

Colour- Gold

Positive traits-Courageous, Powerful,Spontaneous

Fashionista- Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Taylor Momsen

Leo uses fashion to express themselves and communicate their frame of mind. They like luxurious, rare,exclusive designer pieces. They are often rebels. However, it’s rather hard to pin down their particular style, (I mean look at Madonna or J.Lo) but they do have a flare for gold and animal prints. Their personality is always powerful and dominating. So no matter what they wear their strong attitude and style always comes across as their USP.

‘THE THREE EARTH SIGNS’

TAURUS (Apr 21 ‘“May 20)

Symbol- The Bull

Ruling planet Venus

Catch phrase- ‘I have’

Colour- Pink, Pastel Blue, Light green

Positive traits- Reliable, Resourceful, Hard working

Fahionistas- Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, Christina Hendricks, Diane Agron

  • Taureans are very warm, gentle and charming by nature. So they like to wear classic and well tailored clothes. They love high quality and expensive clothes. The Bull rules over the throat and neck, so they love highlighting this area with scarves and necklaces. They are not a fan of ostentatious or knock off clothing.

VIRGO (Aug 24- Sep 22)

Symbol- The Virgin

Colour- Cream, Dark brown, Navy Blue

Ruling planet-Mercury

Catch phrase- ‘I Analyze’

Positive traits- observant, Perfectionist, Thoughtful

Fahionistas- Rachel Billson, Blake Lively, Nicole Richie

Virgos have a wonderful eye for detail. So, they like neat and polished looks even when they are wearing the most casual outfits. They don’t like gaudy or over the top looks. They have the ability to look stylish just by sticking to the basics. They mostly invest in timeless pieces. Usually one piece in their wardrobe is always one of a kind whether it’s shoes, bags or purses.

CAPRICORN (Dec 22- Jan 20)

Symbol- The Goat

Ruling planet- The Saturn

Catch phrase- ‘I use’

Colour- Black, Dark Gray, Brown

Positive traits- Mature, Practical, Ambitious

Fashionistas-Nina Dobrev, Kate Middleton, Sienna Miller, Kate Bosworth

Capricorns are independent, strong willed handworkers. They generally stick with a solid and basic colour pallette. They like classic designs and aren’t much into trying outrageous trends. They don’t normally buy frilly, printed outfits. They prefer sleek, simple, clean silhouettes and adore understated glamour. They manage to look great even in the most simple designs.

‘THE THREE WATER SIGNS’

CANCER (Jun 21- Jul 22)

Symbol- The crab.

Ruling planet- The Moon

Catch phrase- ‘I feel’

Colour- Silver, Pearl White, Pastels

Positive traits- Compassionate, Sentimental, Patient.

Fashionistas- Selena Gomez, Cheryl Cole, Diane Kruger
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  • Cancerians run the entire gamut of human emotion. They are very mood driven and this is reflected in their sense of style, which is constantly changing. Crabs are very sentimental, so they look for clothes that have a story to tell ‘ie. vintage wear. This sign loves to wear clothes that are a juxtaposition of both traditional and feminine detail.

PIECES (Feb 19- Mar 20)

Symbol- The Fish

Ruling planet- The Neptune

Catch phrase- ‘I believe’

Colour- Sea Green, Violet, Indigo

Positive traits- Romantic, Artistic, Helpful

Fahionistas-Olivia Palermo, Rihanna, Ashley Greene, Whiney port, Carrie Underwood

  • Piseceans are real romantics which make them drawn to flowy, feminine and delicate styles.They are like Mermaids, who love to swim in the sea of fashion. They are naturally creative which makes them yearn for artsy pieces for their wardrobe. Pisces rules over the feet, so they love wearing fabulous shoes.

9. SCORPIO (Oct 24-Nov 22)

Symbol- The scorpion

Ruling planet- The Pluto

Catch phrase- ‘I Desire’

Colour- Black, Dark Red, Sea Green

Positive traits-Loyal, Passionate, Intuitive

Fashionistas-Anne Hathaway, Katy Perry, Aishwarya Rai, Demi Moore, Rachel McAdams.

  • Scorpio’s have strong imagination and intuition. So their fashion sense is very innovative. Scorpios are drawn to intense, rich colors, but usually have a closet full of dark-colored clothes. They love fashion forward clothes but choose not to wear OTT revealing ones as they like leaving something for the imagination. Their style is more sophisticated than sporty. However, they don’t like boring looks.

There are numerous reasons why a State becomes the State it is. Important basic infrastructural fundamentals are key contingents for the standards of a functioning system. When the very principles of this procedure are neglected, it is then that one begins to see chinks in the armor. Case and point, Kathmandu, Nepal, a city with an ever-changing government, slack implementation strategies, growing negligence and lack of civic sense amongst citizens.

It is understandably difficult to take responsibility for situations that seem endless and continually ballooning. Yet, if we bring our attention to these very problems individual citizens and communities face alike , we may find the very ground from where to lay the foundations for change. It is high time people start to show awareness and concern toward their surrounding environment and situation. For this reason, we want to bring some of Kathmandu’s worst setbacks into the spotlight.

We are choking up the very life source from which we were given somuch. We pass our rivers everyday without as much as a second glance toward the plummeting amount of waste that is taking their lives. We close our eyes and our nostrils to the overpowering sights and stench , yet have we ever really tried to remove the disheartening smell of indifference? Why is there such a monumental capacity for disregard? We need to clean the holy rivers and revive their spirit.

When there is a limited amount of space, people tend to fail to recall the possibility of there being alternatives. We do not have to overload every vehicle till there is no room to breathe. We have the right to travel at ease. Why do passengers and operators not realize this? The chaos that surrounds public transportation is not doing commuters a favor.  Why not establish a system that allows a 15-minute ride to feel like 15 minutes instead of an eternity in hell.

Nepal has a huge hydropower potential. The perennial nature of Nepali rivers and the steep gradient of the country’s topography,  provide ideal conditions for the development of some of the world’s largest hydroelectric projects.  Current estimates are that Nepal has approximately 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower potential, however the present situation is that Nepal has developed only approximately 600 MW of hydropower. Load-shedding is on a daily basis, most of the country is left in the dark for hours at a time, yet the government has plans on building an electric railway system What are the priorities?

Street Children because they have not reached the age of majority, have no representation in the governing process. They have no vote themselves nor by proxy through their parents, from whom they are likely alienated, nor do street children have any economic leverage. Governments, consequently, pay little attention to them. Help speak up for the innocent.  The solution isn’t giving them money and encouraging them to beg.

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Some of the major roads in Kathmandu city, very closely resemble dry riverbeds. Yes, the government has allocated a budget towards repairs. Yes, everyone uses the roads everyday.  Yes, as soon as the road is paved (by miraculous chance) someone digs it up to fix that leaking pipe or sewage tank and then isn’t bothered in the least to FIX IT!!! There is no excuse.

Did I already mention that Nepal has a huge hydropower potential? That means Nepal has the water in other words. It is just unable to get from the mountains to the city on it’s own. It would require paperwork and management and actual effort on the government’s part. Clean water is a necessity of life.

Traffic lights? Speed limits?  Traffic management? A ‘V.I.P’ official on his way to tea? Need we say more?

Kathmandu is at the top of the list in terms of being earthquake prone. Yet, there are no building regulations and there is no space. Think twice about where and how you are situated in terms of safety, and make an effort to do something about it for you, your family and your neighbors. When it does hit, the fault will be our own.