Last week David and I had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to spend two hours with Kunda Dixit (Publisher of Nepali Times and author of three books describing the ten years of Nepalese civil war). The initial book was titled A People War and was a collection of photographs that chronicled the indelible imprint left by armed conflict on the people of Nepal. The book highlights 72 haunting photographs taken by amateurs and professional photographers and painstakingly selected by Dixit and two colleagues (Shahidul Alam and Shyam Tekwani), from the over 3000 submissions. Following the publication of the first book Dixit took the framed prints from the book on a tour across Nepal and gathered written comments from Nepalese people who came to see the “in situ” exhibits in their villages. These written reflections and reactions formed the basis of the second book “Never Again”. During the cross- Nepal photo exhibit stories of the people captured in the original images began to emerge, particularly what they had done since their images were captured during the time of conflict. Their stories were complied for the third book “People After War”.
A museum of the framed prints from the original exhibit has been established in Patan and we had the extraordinary opportunity to have Kunda Dixit describe each print and to tell the story of the people in the image. There are also books on a central table in the museum that continue to capture the written responses of people who have the good fortune to visit this museum. Plans are in the works to fully open the museum to the public including the follow up stories of the people in the original photos.
What struck me about this exhibit was that it took me on a journey starting with despair, through anger, to the emergence of optimism for lasting peace in this country. I ran the gamut of emotions but was left mostly with hope.
While a visit to this museum is not noted in any of the popular “travel guides” of Kathmandu, for the people traveling here who want to engage with Nepal at a level beyond being a tourist, here is your chance.
To see the exhibit contact Kunda Dixit at the Nepali Times: firstname.lastname@example.org