Dilman Dila

storyteller. writer. filmmaker.

About Nepal

When to Kiss is to Sin: Dating in Nepal Pt 3

Normally, I don’t kiss and tell, but this happened so long ago that it doesn’t matter much. Sometime early in 2010, shortly after I arrived in Nepal, a time when I was still single and had not yet met the Filipino bombshell. A time when I was still befuddled with that timeless question: what is the meaning of love. This is probably the last post recounting my personal experiences of dating in Nepal. (Read here part 1 and part 2). The two years I spent there, I was more concerned with their love and marriage customs, for I was making ...
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The Fun of Dating in Nepal pt 2

She got married so I guess it’s okay for me to write about this, though I’ll still not say her real name. I saw a status update on facebook, and I know she is married. Nepali girls wouldn’t write such a status, or else it hurts their honor. A couple on a date in Thamel, Kathmandu. Lama’s Cafe. I first saw her early in 2010, must have been March, for the winter had just ended, and I had just moved from Kathmandu into Dhanghadi, the small town in the far west of Nepal where I was to stay for the ...
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Travel Videos on YouTube

Have you been to our YouTube Channel lately? Those of you who have will notice that we have started putting up travel videos. I was looking through my archives and I saw I had a lot of stuff that I filmed in Nepal, as well as in Uganda, and that I had filmed while making one documentary or the other, but ended up not using. Then I thought of making them into short docs, webdocs, whatever they are called, but these are stories that will give you insight on the different cultures I’ve encountered, as well as tips on how ...
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Love Made Me Run Mad

The other day, I was looking through my archived videos of Nepal, trying to decide what to delete to create space in my backup hard drive. I found this interview of Binod, a resident of Saptari district, a man who ran mad after his love affair with an upper caste girl came to an abrupt and violent end. I came upon him by sheer luck. While making Untouchable Love, I was visiting their home to interview his younger brother, Manoj, whose affair with Parbati, an upper caste girl, had led to a war in their village when I learned that ...
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Scenes of Labor Day

Retired. Relaxing. Is he enjoying the labor of his youth? A grandfather passes the time in Nakapinyi, Mukono district. It’s the day when we remember workers of the world. I do not know what made me look through my scrap folder, but I found this poem, which I wrote in October of 2009, shortly before I went to Nepal. I cannot remember why I wrote it, what the ‘inspiration’ was, but it is clearly about a vegetable seller struggling to make ends meet, and failing to impress his wife. I dedicate it to all working men out there who are ...
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Quick recipes for a love-hunting bachelor

Food will bring love to your heart. They say that the way into a man’s heart is through his stomach, and that the best way to get into a woman’s pants is through her mouth! Ah, so food has great romantic values. It is the essence of every relationship, and if you are looking at a girl whose heart you want to win, food can fast forward your dating past the boring stuff and straight into the bed stuff. Of course, what every man does is to take her out to the fancy restaurants and impress her with fine dining ...
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An African thief finds a wife

    This story is fictional, inspired by this photo of the love of my life. In spite of the thermal underwear, the cold dug into his bones and froze him in a bleak mood. The sun tried to smile from beyond the mountains, but her frigid rays could not cheer him up. He longed for Africa, where the sun shone all year with the sweet warmth of a lover.   He decided to go back home immediately after searching the last temple. The whole trip had turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. A friend ...
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Who Will Tell this Tale?

A few years back, I used to have a certain kind of anger against foreigners who came to Uganda (and by extension other ‘poor’ countries) to make films. “Who gives them the right to tell our stories?” me and other filmmakers/artists would ask ourselves in our silly workshops. “They are only going to misrepresent us.” “They only tell negative stories that stereotype us in pictures of poverty, sickness and war.” The search for love, motivated me to tell Ranjana’s story. She is in the photo below, with greenish sari. Then, I went to Nepal. It’s a story I’ve told over ...
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Of gambling and taboos

It’s that time of the year, when you get a little down because you have no money to spend on a proper holiday. So a few weeks back, I tried my luck in online bingo and I won myself a few dollars to buy gifts and stuff for friends and family.  — And it got me thinking about how much gambling is frowned upon in our societies. I remember, as a teenager, we used to go to a disused stadium in our little town, and play cards for money under the crumbling pavilion. The most popular game was matatu, which ...
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One thing I hate about travelling

Anyone who travels a lot will come across a certain kind of people, who are both a curse and a blessing. They call themselves guides and fixers, and they claim to exist to help tourists and visitors find their ways around a place. Or know more about a site. True, some tourists cannot do without them. But if you are a backpacker, the last thing you want to do is share your little money with a hustler who will give you information that you can anyway get off the internet, or off some guide book.  — I know, they are ...
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Memories of Rain

“I love the sound of rain.” So goes the first line in the lyrics of a song Reiza is writing. “I forgot the sound of rain,” is my response to it. There’s something about rain and romance. Rain and poetry. Rain and love. And as I sit here with the darkness growing around the room – I’m too lazy to turn on the lights! – I hear the rain falling outside. I see the droplets sliding on the window pane like lazy dancers and it stirs memories of rain. Hmmm, that sounds like a cute title for a story. Memories ...
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Creatures from the Other World

It’s a sunny Sunday. I’ve just had a very productive weekend. Started and finished a short film. It’s a story that has been running in my head for nearly two years now. Maybe more. I’m glad I got it out. Maybe now I will have some sleep and peace, for the characters wanted their story told. They kept bothering me, yelling at me, screaming at me, distracting me whenever I was thinking about something else. A little girl and her paralyzed older brother. A question every writer confronts at some point or the other is “Where did you get that ...
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The Aphrodisiac Restaurant

It is hard to forget a date in an aphrodisiac restaurant. Mochitos. Photo courtesy of www.or2k.org I remember the day. 29th May 2011. A beautiful evening in Kathmandu. The threat of a strike lingered in the air, the Maoists promising bloodshed and chaos over the new constitution, their threats keeping people indoors and cars off the street. But Thamel was bustling with life, as usual, for the worst of the threat was over. I do not remember well, but the banda was supposed to (but largely didn’t) happen on the 28th — the day she came into Kathmandu. And so ...
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No Sex in this Honeymoon

I woke up this morning thinking about Ha Long Bay, for no particular reason. I’ve never been there, only seen it in photos, but it is what I dream about whenever I’m having fantasies of my honeymoon. Sometimes, it just pops into my head out of the blue, like this morning. The photos make me dream of a surreal world where I will float on a wooden boat in the calm seas, sail past giant rocks that stick out of the serene waters like ice cream — ha ha ha, you dropped a Freudian slip Dilman, only a man in ...
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Open Fly at the Airport

Last week, I got an email from the most important documentary film festival, www.idfa.nl. They accepted my first feature length piece of work, Untouchable Love, in their Docs for Sale section. How I wish I had finished it in time to meet the deadline for the main festival! (I’m reading this in October 2017, as I rework this blog, and I laugh at how naive I was. Docs for Sale, haha! I’ll write about that in another blog.) Well, when some people hear that I was in Nepal (overseas!) for two years making a film, their first thought is that I got a lot ...
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Happy-sad to be back home

Finally, I’m back home. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad. Maybe both. I returned at a period when the economy is in crisis. Inflation is soaring and the value of the shilling is on free fall. I can’t believe how expensive life is here, how much I pay for transport, for basic commodities, and it makes me wonder how people survive. It makes me scratch my head how I’m going to survive these tough times, seeing that I have to start from scratch. Before going to Nepal, I gave away everything I owned. I carried my valuables in ...
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My Friend is a Prostitute

This is a goodbye Nepal post. It’s been almost twenty hectic months. Now, three documentaries later, I’m finally going home. Today, I have a screening of one of the three docs, a feature length – my first feature length piece of work – Untouchable Love. Read about it here http://untouchablelovenepal.blogspot.com/ and follow the cause on facebook http://www.facebook.com/Untouchable.Love.Nepal This documentary is the reason I came to Nepal. Late in 2008, I had rashly quit a day job to try and make a living in film making. Within two months, I discovered I had committed suicide. And then the girl I was ...
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The Magic Song

When my girlfriend mentioned that Nepal is a heaven for men, she had no idea that it actually is a paradise, mostly because of this Nepali song that if you sing to a girl, she automatically falls in love with you 🙂 Or, whoever hears you singing it will offer you a bride. The lyrics go like this, “Maya ke hola/socheko/timi nai/ho mero/behuli” (What is the meaning of love/I am thinking/that you will be/my/bride) Here is the song on YouTube. My Nepali language teacher, a twenty-four-year-old Newari beauty, taught me to sing it. She giggled in a flirty mischief throughout ...
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My Favourite Inter-racial Movies

“Mississippi Masala” (1991) I like this one very much. It’s a beautiful story, makes you believe in love, and many say it’s the first time that Denzel Washington undressed and kissed in a movie! I put it at the top of my favorite inter-racial movies partly because it deals with a Ugandan family (and I’m Ugandan) – but mostly because it’s a relationship between a black man (me) and an Asian woman (my girlfriend) 😮 The other thing is that the director, Mira Nair, founded a film training school in Uganda, www.maishafilmlab.org and through this school I learnt a lot ...
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Bathing at the Roadside

Every morning, as I walk to work, I pass by the bathrooms of my neighbors. Well, not really bathrooms, for there are no walls, no tiles, no sink, no taps, no mirrors and showers, just a water pump in the front yard. And it’s not that they cannot afford to construct a proper shelter. I think it has something to do with the construction of the society, where nothing is private. Not even your body. Nor your marriage or sex life, that’s why they take their baths out in the open where anybody can see them. During our cultural training, ...
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Living in Public

You certainly have heard of all this noise people are making about the internet ripping away all our privacy and making us live in some Big Brother’s House? Well, if you come to Nepal, you’ll get a feeling of what it is to live in public. For this is a country where they don’t have bathrooms. Rather, you take your bath right by the roadside (but this subject deserves more attention. I’ll write about it shortly) — It’s the height of the dry season (I still can’t get to calling it summer, for in Africa, we call it the dry season. But ...
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Water! Water! I’m Burning Up!

Yesterday was the worst day of the year – well, apart from that day in January when I had two heaters running and yet I still felt frozen. One of the worst things about Nepal is the weather. Especially if you live in the plains, the terrai, where the winter is so cold you can’t stay naked, and the summers are so hot you can’t keep your clothes on! But yesterday, I faced it rough. The temperatures hit 40 degrees, and then my taps ran dry. I live in Dhangadi, a rural town of Nepal with severe water problems. Most ...
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Inter-racial Blues

I recently remembered a saga that happened about four years ago, in 2007. A friend of mine from the US came to Uganda on a filmmaking workshop – or something like that – and in the short period he was in Kampala, he fell in love with a girl, let’s call her Vicky (and we call him Peepy 🙂 Anyway, one day, Peepy and I went to see this Bahai temple in the outskirts of Kampala. It’s an amazing structure, that has stood since 1959, but I wasn’t aware of it. Since I grew up in the rural areas, and ...
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Snake in the Backyard.

a kiss in the sunset is proof of true love! After two weeks of beautiful weather and incredible time with an incredible girl in incredible circumstances, I’m back in my small and very boring town. Very hot here. 35 degrees, but feels like 50! Because of the humidity. And I’m wondering what I’m really doing here. The last two weeks have passed like a dream, more like a very sweet dream, and I wonder if time will turn it into a nightmare. But for the moment, I’m relishing the sweetness of it all, the honey that dripped out of the ...
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Anything for You

When I used to hear those love songs, from way back in time, songs that had lyrics you could listen to over and over again – not like contemporary love songs where you have no idea what the musician is singing about. Anyway, those old songs – I remember one, I think it was 3T, Anything, though they might have remixed someone else’s, and I can’t remember who that was. And the song went, “I could do anything for you. I could cross the mountains, the oceans, for you.” And it all seemed so silly at that time. Just something ...
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House Mates

I’ve never lived in a house like this. It’s big, a bungalow, has three bedrooms, one living room, one kitchen, two bathrooms, and space in the roof where you can host a party, or sun bathe during the winter, or sleep at night during the summer. Well, rooftops are very much a part of Nepali socializing culture. It amuses me, during the winter, to see how many people spend entire days just sitting on the rooftops, looking at the passersby – and during summer, like now, when it’s so, so, so hot, with temperatures hitting 40 in some places, and ...
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Pumpkin Season

One thing that I find so frustrating about Nepal is the seasons. They claim it to be the only country in the world with six seasons, but it actually has the worst weather. When it’s hot, it stays hot for months and months without dropping even a degree, and I’m talking about 40degrees and above for days on end. When it’s cold, its 2degrees constant for a whole week. When it’s misty, planes don’t fly for many days.   In the two photos above, taken in Malekhu, a small town on the highway from Kathmandu to Chitwan, fish are on ...
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Waiting for Days to Go By

The heat is back. For a while, I had almost forgotten how hot Nepal is. Unlike last year, where we had fans running all day and all night by March, this time round it’s been very nice, Uganda-like weather until mid last week. What amazes me is that the seasons change with the calendar months. When they said it will be nice weather until May, it waited until May to get hot. And now waiting for the last days in Nepal is getting harder. The stifling heat only makes me miss home even more. The days are so long, though ...
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A Clash of Color to Change Lives

Before I came to Nepal, I was not aware that I’m a black man. I thought I was an African. Now, I don’t know how I will behave when I go back to Uganda, what my attitude towards the Asians and White people will be. Well, a few days ago, I walked out of my house to do some shopping in the bazaar – I grew up in a street called Bazaar Street, which I only found out recently that bazaar is a Hindi word, and this is the only town in Uganda that has elected an Asian MP three ...
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My Expensive Hair Cut

Last Friday, I picked up a scissor and shaved my head. After two months of letting the hair grow wild, until it looked like a terraced hillside, for it curled and formed rows on my head like tracks of a strange rodent. I feared to go to the barbers, or rather, I was fed up with visiting those barber shops. I did try to go and get a proper shave on Tuesday, but that’s the day the barbers go on holiday. Or is it their superstition that they are not allowed to cut hair on a Tuesday? I know in ...
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Signs

It reminded me of the movie, Signs, by my fallen hero Mel Gibson. The racist, nazi bastard. But this one was not made by an alien. And it’s not a sign that’s so hard to decipher. It’s a universal symbol. And the other day I found it on my doorsteps! So now I know there is someone in the neighborhood who has her eyes on me, and I just can’t figure out which one of the beauties it is. I suspect it is a Tharu, a Chaudhary, for they are all over the street. This used to be their area… ...
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The Fun of Dating in Nepal

Living in Nepal these last fifteen or so months has been an eye opening experience for me. It has changed my concepts of love, of dating, and of marriage. Maybe for the better. I used to think it was all fairy tale stuff, but somehow, I now believe in the myth of true and pure love – the kind they sing about on the radio and play out in the movies. Lovers make the most of load shedding and turn their dinner into a candlelit affair, in Lama’s Cafe, Lazimpart. Of course, working on a project like Untouchable Love gave ...
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Do You Believe in the Love of the Silver Screen?

Well, I watched this brilliant movie, ‘Definately, Maybe’, the other day, and it’s these kinds of movies that make me wonder if love of that kind is found in everyday life. The same people who made it were behind ‘Love Actually’, which is one of my favourite movies, and which inspired me to attempt writing a TV series called ‘The Total Agony of Being in Love’. One of the characters, a 12year old boy, does say he is in the total agony of being in love because a girl he wants doesn’t even look at him, or something like that ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Goodbye 2010

I’ll always remember this as the year in which I finally broke ground – I started shooting my first ever feature length documentary, I got my first ever fan mail, and my projects attracted money from funding agencies as well. 🙂 Well, I can say it’s been a good year (and I’m not talking about that joke, where they ask, ‘what do you call it when you have 365 used condoms at the end of the year?’ 😮 ) Quite a good year. I guess I should congratulate myself, slap myself hard on the back, especially with regard to how ...
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Cold Christmas Coming

And all I’ll get this Christmas is e-cards and long distance cold messages wishing me well. What I always want to ask those who send e-cards is simple, ‘Can you hang an e-card on a Christmas tree?’ Gone are the days when Christmas was actually Christmas — what days were those? Well, it’s going to be cold this Christmas. last Christmas, I’d just arrived in Nepal, and there was a whole bunch of us, and we made merry at the Pacific Guest House. Was nice then. Don’t seem to see what holds this time, I guess I have the editing ...
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Becoming a Native?

I can’t believe I asked a girl who I’ve never met to marry me! I mean the only reason I have a crush on her is because she is my first ever fan, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, what a great biography it would make!’ When some reporter asks me years later, after I’m rich and famous, ‘how did you meet your wife?’ And I will say, ‘Well, I wrote this story that knocked her stockings off without taking off her shoes…’ 🙂 Am I seriously asking her to marry me? I think I’ve stayed in Nepal too long! I speak ...
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Laughter Sells More Than Horror

Oh no! Felistas is back in my life! I was kind of hoping I would never run into her again, because I don’t like her story, but she crept back – or rather she jumped straight out of the blue and grabbed my neck and is now strangling me with a promise of success. Well, what she has done is kick out this guy who I was growing to love, this guy who is stuck on a wheel chair and runs an illegal FM radio station from his bedroom. Finally, I shot the film! here is a pic of the ...
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Another Rejection

I woke up this morning with a sense of exhaustion and that feeling you get while watching a soccer match, when the beginning is so intense and so exciting and one team goes three up, and then the last fifteen minutes they start to defend and what started out as a really exciting game finishes in a bore… well, that’s what I’m feeling like right now. I’ve basically done the filming. And the good news I got the other day is that I actually have a lot of time, and a lot of money as well, to edit it! Yessssssss! ...
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After the Storm?

Is it quiet? I think before and after the storms, there is always a strange calmness, a moment when silence grips the world like the gentle touch of a lover (what kind of imagery is that? – so crappy) Anyway, you know what I’m talking about? Well, I feel like that now. But I think I feel like the storm, who came with the wrath of the skies, and huffed and terrified the world, but after all the chaos, the storm feels like it should have done more. Destroyed a few more houses. Torn down that ugly tree. But now ...
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Kusum!

Who knows what kusum is? I stumbled upon it accidentally today. A sour-ish fruit, but God, isn’t it nice to keep popping the little thing into your mouth?  I visited a VDC called Chaumala. It’s been a really hot day. I couldn’t stop sweating, and not just a little droplets of sweat, but torrents, my shirt was drenched, my cap was drenched, I guess I stank (and in the bus I sat next to this cute girl – sadly she turned out to be a teenager, maybe only 17, who told me point blank that I’m handsome and sweet – ...
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What a Thief

I have found another thing I hate about Nepal. I’m still not sure whether the several proposals I get for marriage is something I should include in the list, but this one is. Well, even while in Africa, every time you see a foreigner you think he is rich. It’s the same here, only that I’m at the wrong end of this stereotype. First, the parents want you to marry their daughters. Then, the shopkeepers try to cheat you. Or they might not cheat you, but if you are asking for something, they’ll only show you the expensive brands thinking ...
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Will You Marry Me?

A Nepali young woman ponders her future in the film Untouchable Love Oops, I set out writing the ten things I hate about Nepal, and stopped at two. Really, there is nothing to hate here – or very little – because the rest of it seems like they are goodies disguised as baddies. For example, look at this number eight, or is it seven? Well, the next bad thing about Nepal is that it’s so easy to get married. So easy. This is a land where arranged marriages account for over eighty percent of the marriages. What they call ‘love ...
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Ten Things I Hate About Nepal

They just cannot stop staring! Today, I was returning home, really tired, from another day of doing nothing at the office. As usual, I was trying to wad off the unsettling stares from the streets. That’s the worst thing about being a foreigner in Nepal, and in my case, the only black man in a rural town of Nepal. A town where some people are seeing an African man for the very first (and probably last) time in their lives. They stare at you until you feel like you’ve walked into Alfred Hitchcock’s movie set, when he was making that ...
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Why Do They Laugh?

This is the best part of writing, staring at the blank page and no words coming out, especially if I want to be funny. I think being funny is my niche, whatever niche means. I never try, but an hour can’t pass without someone laughing at something I said, and I always ask myself “What’s the matter with that crazy head? Did I say something funny?”  — Only that I’m beginning to distrust my comic powers. I think they have grown so much that complete strangers giggle when they see me. Maybe I should clarify that it is complete, strange ...
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