The Pains of Documentary Making

Yesterday, one of the young men I interviewed for the documentary, Untouchable Love, called me. I was happy, and wanted to learn a little bit of news from him, since I had not heard from them since October, when I did the interviews. I had tried to call him a few days back, but he was not available near the phone and his younger brother must have passed on the news to him.

Shooting part of the documentary, Untouchable Love, in Surkhet district, Nepal, one cold morning.

Well, it turned out to be a not so interesting conversation, because he asked me to fix him up with a job, and I did not know what to say to him. I thought we could have just had a chat, like friends, and say happy new year to each other, and ask about each other’s families. But no, he wants a job, and what can I tell him?
It made me feel bad, for here is a man who offered his story, whose story is probably going to help me start a career, and who is not getting any kind of direct reward from it.

And I feel ashamed. Though there is all this crap about advocacy and awareness raising to improve protection for the rights of youth who want to choose their own marriage partners in Nepal, I don’t see how this documentary will do that unless someone puts in money to promote it, and the issue it is dealing with. Most likely, it will end up doing its rounds of film festivals, get a few claps, and in a few years no one will be talking about it, and the situation of lovers in Nepal might not be better off.

Two other couples had asked me for money before, and for a brief second I almost reached into my pocket. But how much could I give them if not a few rupees? Whatever amount I gave, they might start to think that I had more to give them – or that I was given money to pass on to them and I instead gave them half of it. So I didn’t give them anything.

But it makes me wonder whether I should have, or if I had links to a job, if I should give it to this young man. But wouldn’t that be like paying them to tell a story, and that makes them actors, and not characters in a documentary?

Of course, if the film sells – big IF – I’ll take pains to pass on as much of the money to them as I can. But right now, I feel like I’m simply using them as stepping stones, turning their misery into entertainment for people who will not even care to know their names, or who will forget their stories a week after they’ve seen the film. I do feel very bad.


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Finally I Take a Shower

 The winter has ended. The freeze is gone. Finally, a few days ago, I took a shower after a really long time. Felt so fresh. I also had my clothes washed and wore something clean and decent. Now I know what they mean when they say winters are depressing. You get holed up in your room all the time, and you have to wear only one or two pairs of underwear for a whole month.

Thermal underwear. I was very curious when I first heard that term, while in Uganda, and they told me that I had to buy thermal underwear in order to survive the winters in Nepal. I thought they were underwear that had some kind of tube in which you pour hot water to keep you warm. Just as a car tyre has a tube to put air in. But well, it apparently isn’t that kind. I don’t know why they call them thermal.

But they are very expensive and you can’t afford to buy a lot of them. I only have two pairs, which I bought from The Northface. But I cannot risk washing any of them, and I’m not sure about it, but after this long winter they probably have a smell. A really sweet smell. I wish I had a girl nearby who I could share them with 🙂

This place is a hell to live in. During summers, it gets so hot that you take six showers a day – I think that you have to take enough showers then to last you through out the winter. The saying goes, make hay while the sun shines, but I’d change that to Take showers while the sun shines! So you enter the winter squeaky clean and able to live for a whole month without a shower.

I had even forgotten about taking photos, because my hands were always in gloves, and the world was so gray anyway, with mists just hanging all over the place like the dresses of some kind of ghosts, and no photo would look good.

Now, it’s like I’ve come out of some kind of cocoon. I’ve ended the hibernation. And I think that I’m in love!
But that should be saved for the secret diary (or is it dairy?) Living in Nepal has made me forget English! 🙂
I had this conversation with a friend.
Friend: tell me you hadn’t taken a shower in a month…ouch­!
Me: 🙂:) but during summer, i used to shower 6times a day, so I took enough showers to last me through the winter
Friend: uhmm. hope u scrubbed ure body six times to make it clean. didnt you have flakes of dirt on you?­
Me: no, you can’t sweat in this cold. and your body is clothed all the time, so how can you get dirty? 🙂:)
Friend: uhmmm ure body keeps shedding all dead cells though the skin..they accumulate in dirt flakes­.
Me: not in nepal 🙂:)

Friend: well….thank God you survived the winter­!

You can’t know how you can survive a month without bathing unless you live here. The temperatures drop to 3degrees, there’s no heating, and the moment you take off your clothes, even if to take a very hot bath, you shiver like you have malaria.

There is a question that has been bothering me for a long time. This place gets too cold to take off your clothes. You actually have to wear three or four layers of clothing in order to survive the winter. And yet, you find women giving birth nine months after the winter has ended, which puzzles me greatly. How do they do it with their clothes on? I’m sure they keep their stockings on, but how do the men even get the thing standing up when the coldness only shrivels it up?
If you think the winter isn’t a nice time to make love, wait until the summer. It gets so hot that you do not have energy to do anything! I mean, that activity, is no fun when it is so hot that you cannot feel your own skin. You feel like you are sitting in a steam sauna all the time. Of course you cannot keep your clothes on when you are indoors (and some men can’t keep them on while outdoors either!). And the heat drains up all your energy. So I’m very sure they do not do it during the summer either.

Which makes me think that most Nepalis make love during two periods, March/April, just after the winter and before the heat of the summer becomes wrathful, and October/November, immediately after the monsoons. When the world is cool and the sky blue. The biggest Hindu festival, deshai, also happens round about this time, and my friend, it’s two weeks of idleness. So I guess Nepalis make a lot of love during this time, enough to kill their appetite until the next weather-friendly window. Hmmm.
I could give a million rupees to carry out a survey and prove my theories correct!

Operation go Back Home!

Yesterday, we celebrated the end of the winter season, and the start of spring. It is supposed to get warmer, and I thought today there would be some sunshine so I can wash my clothes, but I opened my windows and f!, all gray, with mists hanging above the ground, sneaking between the branches of the trees and swirling around the clothes hanging on the neighbors wire, more like a scene in some ghost film. At least it isn’t as cold as it was just last week, it’s only 11 degrees. 🙂

Well, now I’m in the mood of going back home. I got the contract from Goteburg today, and I have to do this film before January next year, which means I have to leave Nepal by August, no options, no matter what my current contract or employers say, I have to go back home and start making Felistas into a living creature.

Yet when I look through my pockets, well, it’s not so encouraging. I still have to buy the dSLR camera I’ve longed for – maybe I should sell off my old laptop and the lousy canon sx200 – but I don’t like selling off stuff for I’ll never get the price I think they are worth.

Whatever, I’m now in the moods of going back home, because now there is something waiting for me there. Something as sexy as Felistas!

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Close Encounters of What Kind?

Just watched that Spielberg movie, and while the first bit was a thriller, the ending was so stupid. Well, I was left wondering why he made the film in the first place, just to show an encounter? Just for this bum to get to go to space?

I didn’t like the ending because we got no explanation of what happened to the people who went to space, or why the aliens came in the first place, or what was the meaning of that stupid song that was supposed to be the means of communicating with the aliens?

I wish I could make a spoof of that film, I’d really love that music scene. I’d have all the scientists dancing – for a minute, I did imagine they would start dancing 🙂