I have been to Pokhara multiple times. I’ve had a very judgmental opinion about people who liked to party by the Lakeside. Pokhara for me was a place for hedonists. I chose to believe I was not one. My opinion has changed over the years. Pokhara has more to offer than its famous Lakeside. Of course you know that.You have heard that before. But let me tell you again.
I have been to Pokhara multiple times. Every time I am in the lake city I make it a point to go to Pokhara Pizza, the one on the way to Khahare. When someone mentions Pokhara, I picture myself in company of a cold glass of gold elixir, dripping Tabasco on a beautiful Hawaiian. My trip last month was not about pizzas. Not that I did not make it to Pokhara Pizza, I did. But it was more about Chipledhunga.
I have been to Pokhara multiple times. I have downed a couple glasses of ice cream Lassi at Panthi Dairy. I have eaten Dal Bhat at a Thakali place that does not serve mineral water. I have learned to bargain effectively with the taxi bros. I have figured out that taxis at taxi stands will charge you more than the ones you would randomly hail while walking up the road. And I hardly notice when someone says ‘tarkali’ instead of ‘tarkari’. Despite these glorious accomplishments, Pokhara still fascinates me like it would any other tourist. But since my last visit, I feel like I have had an intimate encounter with Pokhara. Before this, I hadn’t had the chance to experience the real Pokhara– the one that is not for the tourists but for the local Pokhreli .
I have been to Pokhara multiple times. I have been to the lake city as a student, as a performing poet, as a tourist and as a poetry instructor. Last month, the Word Warriors performed at Artlab’s Urban Art show (on 29th April, 2016 to be precise). The show featured all-funky acts. Apart from their main gallery exhibit that was going on in a shutter space the event featured beat-boxers, b-boys, a Nepali instrumental band, a DJ, live art and finally spoken word poetry followed by a soulful solo music performance. We were a little reluctant to go right after the wonderful super charged b-boys. Somewhere in my heart I was worried that the crowd’s expectation would be very high. The beat-boxers and b-boys will leave the air thicker than they found it. Would our poetry keep up? It was a road show after all.
I have been to Pokhara multiple times. Most of the times for work-trips. I have talked to Pokhara about spoken word poetry almost every time I have met her. I have talked to Pokhara in museums, at bars, at a dairy, in resorts, in schools and colleges and once even at a radio station. This time amidst hissing of spray cans and its characteristic aerosol smell, she spoke back to me. She reminded how mesmerizing spoken word poetry can be. All my worry about the audience’s reception of our performance proved baseless. Once the show started, it didn’t take long for the street to go quiet. Let me say that again: busy Chipledhunga was quietly listening to us. It was a treat for the eyes and the ears. People stood there, on the road, on their rooftops, they stared on from glass windows of their shops looking like mannequins. Five participants of our Write to Speak workshops performed their poems too, they were confident, composed, articulate, engaging and powerful. Across the stage I noticed a random stranger, well into his 40s, harbouring a wide smile as he keenly followed the poems. I absorbed the moment with wide eyes. Goosebumps arose.
I have been to Pokhara multiple times.But I have really only been there once. There is a Pokhara that can make you fly without paraglides, a Pokhara that intoxicates you without ethanol, and one where the aroma of cheese wafts out of a well-baked poem. I’d like to go there for a second time.
Maybe I am a hedonist.
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