Monday, 2 November 2015

Reading Kailash Limbu's Gurkha Book

I finished reading the book Gurkha Better to die than live a coward: my life with the Gurkhas by Colour Sergeant Kailash Limbu yesterday. This book is a first from a serving Gurkha soldier and has also been created to mark the 200 years of service to the British crown. I read this book with an open-mind and fortunately, it turned out to be a nice read which highlights brotherhood or shall I say, Gurkhahood and tries best to give readers an account of what life was like during their time in Now Zad (Nawzad, Afghanistan). For a non-Nepalese, this book also answers a lot of questions from life in Nepal, the Gurkha selection process and the way the Gurkhas work. 

Throughout the book, there is one soldier who really stands out for his enthusiasm, energy and driven nature. Whilst reading the book I wondered where these soldiers were now. The final chapter revealed that the soldier who really stood out is no longer in the world. Quite a shocking end... Saddening.

Monday, 5 October 2015

My Fupu

I asked my fupu for a photo and before I could stop her, she quickly ran inside to make sure she looked good for the shot. At this age of digital camera and photos being stored on phones and folders; it was lovely to see my fupu still valuing the importance of a photo like the olden days. 

My occasional visits rarely go beyond a night stay. She always says it's too short. She asks when I can come back and stay for a month, possibly a week. I don't tell her but even spending a night at times can be a very uncomfortable experience. A hard wooden bed, mosquitoes and noisy friends of the night can keep any one awake. I feel guilty. 

I tease her, I tell her "kheti, alaichi, tamatar bechera ni ahile samman yo whole gharma euta matra batti? Kati saro dukha dekhaunu bhayeko fupu..." Not willing to change the ways, wisely she says "ahile samman adhyaro ma basera ni bachekai thiyaun, tyo jhilimili rakhera ke kaam... pachi chahiyo bhane rakhumla. Euta battile ni sabai dekchu hai ma". 

I am reminded of the differences. Her rare trips down to Kathmandu is probably as uncomfortable as my trips to Thharpu. Even at 2AM in the morning, fupu would make her way outside the main house to use the 'Asian squat toilet' located in the room outside. Whilst I enjoyed the long and uncomfortable rides along the Terai and up the hills as it gave me a window to see; it was the opposite for fupu and some of my cousins. It gave nothing but motion sickness in bags full.

Even with the aches and pain, she has no time to stop. Farming the variety of crops and tending to her mini-animal farm need attention all year round. At times I did wonder, din kasari bitaune hola gau ma. I guess they were my naive eyes for work is left right and centre. 

My fupu is a tough person I tell you. She's a pretty smart one too. Her hands are quick. If I make a joke too far, then comes the tight slap on the back. 

"Dhulayera ek patta malai patha hai" she said as I departed her house in Medibung, Thharpu.

(Fupu - dad's sister, 'my fupu' is my dad's eldest sister)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Slowing Down

Alright. This post might be lengthy and somewhat erratic but I hope you will have enough patience to sit down for few minutes and read through how life has been for Lex Limbu lately. Damn, that comes across so narcissistic. 

If you are a regular reader/follower of or the social media updates then you may have noticed that there haven't been as much blog updates and posts in general in the past few weeks. Some of you may not have noticed; completely understandable. Life can be too busy to notice these very minor details. 

I write this blog entry to inform my readers, followers and well-wishers that the blog will be somewhat slow for the time being. This also means that messages and e-mails may go unanswered for quite some while. I have tried my best to narrow down my channels of communication. 

Last week, I enrolled onto a postgraduate master's program at King's College London and I realise the year ahead entails a lot of reading, writing and critical thinking. For now, the last thing I want to do during my down-time is write some more. Unfortunately, we live in a world where education is becoming more expensive by day and I've very recently started a part-time customer sales role to help me fund this years education. I know... it's not glamorous but it pays. This is something a lot of people are doing and I am no exception. Blogging, attending events and being 'lexlimbu' will take a backseat for this year(s). I will continue writing and sharing here and there but may not be as regular as in the past. 

With only few days into the lecture sessions, I am excited and enthusiastic about the learning and the different opportunities that lie ahead. I definitely believe that my year in Nepal has made me understand the importance of education and how it can help us go further in the days ahead. Whilst I struggled to let go of during my undergraduate (bachelors) years, I am comfortable with the blog and the online persona coming in last on my list of priorities today.

For those wondering, the course I am studying is Tourism, Environment and Development.

Hope you have a great day!

PS. I will soon write a brief blog-post about my recent trip to LA, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. Don't wait though. Haha!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Who Am I Really?

Few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who has recently given into the Snapchat hype, a social media app which is popularly used by young people all over the world, about how fun using the app is. He was recommending me to join Snapchat and telling me how fun it is. Something he said struck a chord “you can be yourself on Snapchat”. That line quickly made me question and assess how I present myself and if I am really myself on my various social networking profiles.

I like to believe that I am a veteran and somewhat a geek when it comes to social networking platforms. Hi5, Xanga, AsianAvenue, MySpace, Bebo, Zorpia, WAYN, TravBuddy, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viddy and even YouTube – I have used all of them and continue to use a selected few from the list.

Observing social networking sites and users in the present day leads me to believe that platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook give an individual an opportunity to be the star of their own reality TV show. The boundary between what is acceptable to share in public and private has been blurred and the more you share, the more following you might get.

When I first started logging on and connecting to the world and its people, my biggest draw was the fact that I could create the person I wanted to be. My profile, my interests, the playlist I had on my profile that would automatically play and my photos, were all in my control and I shaped this ‘person’. I think I’m a pro’ at this. In reality, I was somewhat an awkward kid who connected well with some and felt disconnected with many, fortunately on the webosphere I was confident, outspoken, pompous and my online network extended to several thousand profiles. I like to believe I have matured since then. Lex Limbu sounded like a catchy, cool idea and I acted on it to make Lex Limbu a person.

Skip to 2015 – when I sometimes view my profile under my real name, it really makes me wonder how I would have been had Lex Limbu not happened. There’s hardly any online presence of myself under my real name. In this day and age of MTV Catfish stories where people pretend to be someone who they are not online, my real profile looks like a poor mans attempt to be ‘Lex Limbu’. I have even had some people message me (Lex Limbu) saying there’s a fake profile floating across the web. It amuses me but very rarely confuses me.

Having consciously given away so much of myself on social media, the last thing I’d like to join is another social media and begin exhibiting a real self to the eyes of the known and the unknown. I have realized that the way I view social media is very different to the way some do. Even though I try not to shape me as a person (profile) according to the following I have, it is something that I think about before I share a link, post or photo. Twitter means more article links, good reads, critical things, Instagram is lighter with more focus on the images of the world and myself, Facebook Page needs to be a mixture of a lot of pointless things and meaningful shares and by the time I finish being all these profiles, I hardly have any energy to update via the other profile.

In a bid to stay on top of social media and not let it rule my life, I do not have notifications turned on for any of the social media sites that I use. Knowing what it feels like to not receive a reply from a favourite celebrity or person you look up to, I also made the decision to turn off the messages on my Facebook public page. This does shut me off from many people but it’s better than messages left ignored. I constantly view how I am coming across as a person and question whether I am a person online or a profile. Viewing ‘Lex Limbu’ as ‘lexlimbu’ definitely helps as in the future, I would like to make ‘lexlimbu’ a brand and for it to represent a group of people rather than only myself ‘Lex Limbu’. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Few Words About My Kaka

Nar Bahadur Pandhak - Sablakhu. May, 2014

Kaka (fathers' brother) was so pleased when he found out I would be visiting gau in May (2014). The last time I had seen him was back in 2006, just before he went to Malaysia for work. Gau (village) happens to be in Sablakhu, Ward 6 in Taplejung. The last time I visited Sablakhu, my father's birthplace and village was in the year 2009 with my father and eldest sister. Only kaki and my cousins Basan and Susan were home. 

Six years later, I made it to Sablakhu on my own and was greeted by Kaka, kaki and Susan. Basan was in Taplejung bazaar pursuing higher studies. Kaka looked healthier; it looked like leaving the foreign shores and coming back to Nepal was doing his health some good. Kaki seemed very happy to have the man of the house back. With so much farm work and various village politics to go through on a daily basis, I can't imagine how kaki had managed without kaka in those years while he was away.

Kaka and Kaki, Sablakhu - May 2014
Pooja preparation - May 2014

I had planned only to stay for two nights before I moved to my mothers village Sinam but since kaka was very persistent, I extended my stay by another night. During my stay in Sablakhu, kaka felt responsible to show me all the land that my father owns in the village. We walked through many rice fields, uphill, downhill and even to a nearby jungle to see the plot of lands that my father owns. Whilst we walked through village, he would share stories about how strict my father was when he was young. "Sarhai chuchha ni hamro daju, tara sanai dekhi dherai aghadi ko soch liney manche hai"... referring to how my father had made up his mind early on to leave the village as that would be his way out of 'dukha'. 

Some of the land is owned solely by him and some, with kaka and other relatives. I was overwhelmed by the number of places kaka had me visiting on that day. He was very pleased to see me interested in knowing my father's early years. He was also very happy to know that I would be returning in August and bringing a team of Nepali youths to spend few days in Sablakhu (for Tracing Nepal 2014). When I told kaka, I would probably forget all the lands and the boundaries he had shown me, he shared "Aba dui teen choti mero dekhaune kaam ho, ani tespachi yo timiharule afai samhalnu parcha ni". That was the first and the only time he got to show me all the land that my father owns.

My father probably doesn't even know where few of his lands are... kaka did mention that father would send him money from Hong Kong and kaka would buy a plot of land for him. Since the two brothers are rarely in the same place, I filled in for my father and sat through a traditional Limbu pooja. The pooja only finished around 3AM. It was intense and at times, very amusing.

The first Tracing Nepal experience in August would not have been possible without my kaka and cousins, Basan and Susan. They helped carry the school equipment from Tharpu to Sablakhu, provided accommodation and helped in communicating and coordinating with the village. Kaka was very pleased to have so many new people visiting Sablakhu for the first time. This normally happens only during a wedding. Kaki enjoyed interacting with the team members immensely. Just sitting, conversing, singing and having tongba... as much as it was a break for us, I'd like to believe it was also a refreshing break for my kaka and kaki.

In front of kaka's house in Sablakhu with Tracing Nepal 2014.

The distribution of school materials funded by IndieGogo contributors left a huge impression on the school heads and kaka. Kaka was so happy. He kept murmuring "kasaile pani nagareko kaam garyo timi le". Kaki had worn a nice clean kurtha and she clapped along as our team members spoke a few words about the Sablakhu experience. When I mentioned that Tracing Nepal will continue to focus on Sablakhu for the years ahead, he was more ecstatic. He had said in the future, the old village home would be in a better condition too. We all felt something good; we contributed to it.

Unfortunately, Tracing Nepal 2015 did not travel to Sablakhu due to the conflict of dates with the schools academic session and my last visit to Sablakhu was in August 2014.

Kaka passed away at the age of 48 on Sunday, 9th of August. 

This day, a year ago was the day we were in Sablakhu with the Tracing Nepal team members. How uncertain life can be, one can never predict nor guarantee. 

You were a wonderful and kind man. I really wish our families were able to spend more time together and to have you and my father together and share the same stories of your childhood once again and laugh heartily. 

It will never be.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Highlights From Muna Madan (English Translation)

A little annoyed at the fact that I only got around to reading this classic today... 

Reading Laxmi Prasad Devkota's MUNA MADAN was definitely a highlight of today. The English version I read has been translated by Ananda P. Shrestha. I bought the book from Jamal's Educational Book House (that's the name I think) for Nrs 195. They have a nice collection of short Nepali tales, folk stories and more; that is not a promotional plug, just sharing for potential book-readers out there and for those who are looking to purchase Nepali books during their next visit to Nepal.

I underlined a few lines from Muna Madan that I found beautiful and will share them below. If you plan to read the book in the future then you should stop yourself right now as what is written below will give away the story.



"I'd love to see your hands adorned, in ornaments of gold,
And build our crumbling house anew, for debt has made it old,"


"The country was so new to him, for days he lingered on,
Loved the place, forgot his home, for many days stayed on,"


"We've had no news from Lhasa, it has been so long,
On letters we're dependent, our hopes pinned all along,"


"My throat is dry, my chest burns, wipe these tears away,
I still have breath, still have hope, listen to me, I pray"


"Save me today brother, God will be with you,
For one who helps another, Heaven will be his due,"


"Though by caste a Kshatriya, with love your feet I touch,
 For in the heart lies greatness, not in caste as such,"


"Was it wealth made you forget, or was it someone else?
Did others steal your heart my love, and take you somewhere else"


The Tibetan says, "It was by chance, the kindness I could show,
Charity seeks no return, remember us and go,"


"Life hangs, death awaits, the son so far away,
To see him is her only wish, ere she goes away"


"Live a life of tolerance, avoid its tearful bend,
Lead a pure and pious life, rewarding in the end,"


"All my deed goes with me, what else can I take?
Wealth we beget in dreams, is nothing when we wake,"


"There is no need to worry, you will soon be well,
Your wish it will be granted, this much I can tell,"


"Oh what peace lies on your face, Oh Mother please do speak!
Open your heart to me once more, your priceless words I seek!,"


"Muna's words strike the mind, and they pierce my heart,
'What's the use of wealth?', she'd said, so sweetly at the start,"


"Don't look down from above Muna, I am coming too,
Even with tears as token, I'll be meeting you,"


"I live and that is my disease, remove it with a cure,
Regarding illness of the soul, tell me of a cure,"


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

13 Months in Nepal

13 Months in Nepal
01.05.2014 – 31.05.2015

It has been a month since I returned from Nepal. The past few weeks back here, back ‘home’ have been just the way I like it… a lot of free time and spending time with my family. I have attended few events and reconnected with a small number of family and friends.

When someone asks me “How was Nepal? Do you miss it?” I have nothing to say apart from “Nepal was good, erm… I don’t know what I’ll miss… too many things happened”. There were few who said “aba ta Nepal bata aghayau hola ni?” Wrong. I am happy to be back in the UK because I now want to learn and experience more here in the UK before I go back to Nepal for an extended period of time again. I also see a lot of opportunities and hope in Nepal but it all boils down to how hard I want to work to “make it” in Nepal. Leave this blogger side out because this is not my profession and landing up on TV is not the aim… This is only a medium, a way to connect, share, build a relation... it’s something sometimes I feel ‘stuck’ in but something I know which has definitely given me a lot and I cannot let go; for there is too much left to be done.


A lot of people asked me how I adjusted to life in Kathmandu, the dust, loadshedding, water-shortage, public transportation and all sorts. Long before I arrived in Nepal, I had been mentally preparing myself for the change and that definitely helped. The biggest challenge for me was my commute from my chowk – outside ring-road to Kalanki during my first job and then came the second intern work where I had to get a tuk-tuk from my chowk to Ratna Park and then a micro to Jhamsikhel. Annoyingly sweaty and squashed. Sometimes I made an effort to dress up casual smart – only to have a little toddler stepping on my shoes or trousers – day ruined. Kahile kahi, I did wonder… what the hell was I doing but a quick reminder of my aims for the year would snap me back in form.

I try my best not to complain about the system or why there’s no water or electricity. I’ve just used that to think of ways to be better and getting straight to the point, to be rich one day so I have everything. Money is the answer to most problems.


In totality I’ve only lived in Nepal for four years and half of that was from the time I was born till the age of two. I’ve only worked in the UK and talking to colleagues on a first-name basis is normal here. Unfortunately, in many of the offices it’s not normal in Nepal. In the beginning I stuck to addressing somebody by saying ‘ji’ example, Keshav’Ji etc but it just got really weird especially when my fellow colleagues would be saying ‘Sir’ and I’d be there like ‘Keshav’Ji’. Done. Be “Roman when you’re in Rome” bhaneko jhai, I just adapted. I enjoyed saying ‘Sir’, ‘Ji’, ‘Maam’ later on.

To a lot of people who wonder, what is there to do in Nepal or have ideas of shifting to Nepal to start 9AM-5PM office job; I would advise you to go for it, try it out – sometimes you easily land a job, sometimes it takes a long time but Nepal is a place where, if you can, you should go and create your own job and create employment for people. I can only see myself working for a multinational corporation, INGO or alongside young Nepalese.  


As I like to say, Kathmandu is a place where you don’t have to work or earn to have a good social life. I don’t know where the money comes from but there doesn’t seem to be a shortage. During the last few months, I felt like I was a fresher in university once again. I used to go out with my friends atleast 2-3 times a week, mainly Thamel and we’d constantly be eating lunch and dinner outside in the city. I met a lot of people, established a lot of social acquaintances but unfortunately, I only made a few friends during my time there… the friends that I did make, we would meet a lot. They became my family.


Having the opportunity to travel with work on multiple occasions was amazing for me! I got to visit far-western districts and even during my internship, they gave me the flexibility to take off when and as I wanted. The trip to Rara Lake, Everest Base Camp Trek, Red Panda Network EcoTrip in Ilam and Bandipur will stand out for me. Shit! I forgot Jomsom – yep that too! There are so many places to visit in Nepal and even if they’re not the tourist spots, they will have their own importance and that will be definitely worth your time. The trip to Upper Dolpa with Binod Shahi Newa and team was supposed to take place on April 27 (cancelled due to the earthquake). I hope to visit one day…

During my travels, I use a lot of different mode of transport including local bus, night bus, day bus, flights, private hire and all. I tend to get annoyed when someone shares their experience and says “oh hami ta night bus ma hidchum, tapailai thaha nai chaina hola kasto huncha bhanera”. We’re not so different.


I lived with my grandma’, aunty, two cousins and our dog Jacky. They used to sleep really early, sometimes by 8.30PM. Since I have a habit of staying up late, I hated staying at home in the evening; there was nothing to do and our internet was crap (I tried getting the WorldLink fast internet but that doesn’t cover our area). Living in the upper floor by myself was not fun either. Nonetheless, I am happy to have spent time with my relatives and especially boju. I find it extremely sad that she doesn’t have a lot to do and for her, din bitaunu is a huge struggle. Unfortunately, her sons and daughters are all over the globe, working and resettled. That makes me think a lot about families living across different parts of the world.


I regret not purchasing a bike in the beginning. I would’ve saved so much money; all drained in taxi fares. I missed my family, friends and the food from the UK A LOT! You may be thinking, “you’re in the land of momos, chatpatey and chowmein” but trust me, I think the difference for me is that I grew up in the land of burger, chips, nuggets, greasy chicken, fish and chips, slush ice drinks and all that. I am not saying Kathmandu didn’t have restaurants that provided them – but I missed particular ones from McDonalds, Nando’s, KFC, TGIFridays, Chinese Takeaway’s and more.

I would have some amazing, exciting, inspiring days that would occupy my time very well but when it came to the night; it would be very slow, silent and still. I hated those long hours. It felt very lonely and a lot of the times I’d bother the few friends that I had made and just countdown till I could wake up again and escape into another day. Of course to avoid all that – I did go out a lot, eating out, drinking out, partying and I don’t regret it at all. Blocking the silence of the evening out by the noise of Club OMG – that’s why I’ve dubbed it ‘oh my ghar’. Bittersweet.


The earthquake changed everything; plans, people, lives and our thinking. I thought I was going to die in that mall or get badly injured. Having been part of relief efforts in and outside of Kathmandu, we – in a team – tried our best; I felt it would be better to leave it to actual trained professionals in the field as I saw that there were problems of relief materials being sent to some areas multiple times and a lack of coordination midst communities and different people involved.

Seeing people come together at such a time to support one another was encouraging and it gave me hope for a brighter tomorrow.

I have no regrets. I want to thank myself for following my own decision to go and spend a year in Nepal, especially when there were voices around wondering what on earth I would do for a year in Nepal. I was the busiest and the most productive that I have ever been. I invested time to build myself and though I don’t know what I will gain exactly, I am hopeful for good things in the days to come.

The thirteen months I spent in Nepal is probably one of the best years of my life so far. I want to thank my family first and everyone that I met in Nepal; from people on the streets, through work and social events; you’ve played a part in making my time extraordinary.

When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I never wanted to study again but experiencing life a bit more through travels, volunteering, internship and the year in Nepal, I realise that I missed learning and I may have taken ‘education’ for granted in the past. I believe I will enjoy the process of learning more now and hopefully it will all click when I start my Masters course at the end of September this year. 

I am enjoying the present and looking forward to the future.

A recent Q&A video that I did #AskLex