Category Archives: Travel

Stories of Love: Binod and Sagun

I’m excited to be sharing my second installment on my photo series of love and hope in Nepal.

From the time I set down in Kathmandu I was moved by the level of love the Nepali people have for each other.  I came to find that they are some of the most sacrificial, generous, people-oriented, caring individuals I have ever had the chance of living in community with.  Some days I would learn of friends walking 8 hours by foot just to visit another friend by day. Other days we saw individuals sacrificing their entire day or even entire day’s wage just to help another friend or family member who was in need.

A few weeks after arriving in Pokhara, Nepal for the first time, I came across an interesting relationship of love. It wasn’t the romantic kind of love…but the sacrificial kind that lies between two brothers, two friends, or…in this case two cousins.  The day I met Binod and Sagun together I probably cried a few times afterwards because of the way he loved his younger cousin in such a beautiful and complete way. Binod was Robbie’s long time friend whom he’d met 5 years ago in Nepal. And Sagun was Binod’s 11-year-old cousin who came with him to visit from time to time.  Sagun was born with a walking disability, most likely the cause of Polio. His legs are both deformed and do not have the strength for him to carry himself upright at all times. This means at 11 years old, he often crawls up and down stairs and other places quite often. Nonetheless, Sagun is an energetic boy full of hope with an optimistic outlook on life, and tons of friends at school. When I saw them interact for the first time, I noticed Sagun wasn’t a “project” to Binod and he wasn’t lugging Sagun around based out of compulsion, but out of a genuine, sacrificial love that wanted to empower his younger cousin. I found out later that Binod consistently and voluntarily makes time to pick Sagun up and hang out with him each week. The moment I watched Sagun get onto that motorcycle with Binod for the first time was a powerful realization for me. In a way, Sagun became a different person. One who was free, empowered, chosen and above all…loved by Binod. It seemed as if all the temporal setbacks he’d been facing his entire week and life were washed away by these weekly motorcycle rides with Binod. The truth is that love heals the heart. And it’s stories like this that inspire me every day.

To be honest, I believe the western world frames “love” as something that is primarily felt, rather than a choice and an ongoing action of sacrifice. This bothers me for several reasons…because I think many people in the modern world have begun to lose a very important component: the commitment and sacrificial part of love that glues a relationship together.  A second inspiration for this piece was me challenging myself to capture something different from the typical visually appealing wedding events and inspiration shoots that I do.  Everyone is capable of taking a photo of the beautiful and the wanted. That’s why I wanted to do something different this time and begin capturing stories of the imperfect, the overlooked, and discarded. This one is just the beginning. I hope you’ll enjoy.

 

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Stories of Hope: A Dahi Puri Stand // Kathmandu, Nepal



Today I’m excited to be sharing my very first photo essay in a series on life, love and hope in Nepal. The first installment of this series is titled, “Stories of Hope” where I explore what these elements looks like in a third world country like Nepal. Being a part of this culture for 9 months was never meant to be something I “achieved”, but rather something I journeyed through. Nepal has become a deeper part of me than ever before for many reasons and I feature these photos in hopes of sharing a glimpse of what I saw along this journey. Please stay tuned for upcoming essays!

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Some people cook for fun, some cook to eat, and some cook because they need to make a living. Keshab Rai does a little bit of all three. And he does it like no other Nepali. What initially started as a professional painting career drastically turned in the opposite direction…a career in the culinary arts, after traveling to Bombay while 18. Though Nepal is one of the poorest countries of the world with an unemployment rate of 48%, he stands in a sea of impoverished Nepalis as one who stands for hope.  Unlike many other Nepalis who are looking to leave the country for work, Keshab Rai has chosen to stay within the borders of Nepal in hopes of helping to build it into a more delightful place…through food. He has made a dangerous choice. What struck me about him was that he wasn’t here to just survive, but he is here to thrive. Today he runs a booming “chaat” pushcart business in the Nakhipot neck of town. He takes great pride in it…and so does the entire neighborhood. Daily his business feeds over 100 hungry people and monthly his net profit would easily put any other pushcart business to shame…all with one simple “thelaa” (which means “food cart” in Nepali).

While in Kathmandu on a hunger rant for something other than my usual daalbaat a few months ago, I was inspired by his street style cooking. One night at 7PM a friend took me to his “thelaa” for a quick treat of “Chaat Pat” (channa, sprouts, potatoes with tasty sauce), Dahi Puri (puri with yogurt sauce), and Aloo Nim Kim (potato with Nim Kim sauce), everyday savory and sour snacks combining puri, lemon zest, masala, potatoes, homemade yogurt, and other delicious morsels. Compared to other thelaas offering the same thing on the streets of Kathmandu, his was bustling with activity, even still at 7PM at night.

To be honest, prior to that experience I hadn’t had much appetite for “chaat”…but that night changed my life forever.  That night I was delighted to see Nepal’s version of the food truck on the scene…the Thelaa: Food served on a pushcart with four wheels. Pushcarts are commonly used by Nepali people to sell snacks, fruits, and vegetables around town and within each village.  But they are also traditionally considered to be run by uneducated, low-skilled, and low-income people. Put plainly, thelaa’s are viewed as one of the lowest jobs in Nepal. It’s not exactly what you would call a “high paying job”. But then there is Keshab Rai who has been finetuning his recipes to perfection for several years whose shop has easily has become the neighborhood favorite afternoon hangout.  Impressed with the success and passion with which he works, I decided to learn more about his story.

When asked why he does what he does…he responded, “In the future I want to help those who are hopeless…those that have an education but don’t have a job. I want to be an example to others especially here in Nepal where people don’t like to run this type of “thelaa”.  I want to show others and be an example that Nepali people can also do it.  Everyone says that this job is so small. I want to say that this job is not a small job and that this job is a big job.” And, when I asked him why his food is so good, he responded with, “I make this food from my heart.” 

Thanks for following along! More to come. I’m currently booking mini-sessions along the California Coast + Vegas. If interested…send me an e-mail here to get in touch!

 

 

Mini Sessions in June

It’s been a long 9 months since we’ve left the states for the far away land of Nepal for a few personal projects of ours. It’s been wild, it’s been great, but mostly good and absolutely worth it. In fact, I would never trade the experience for a thing. I went to Nepal to get into new branches of work I haven’t gone into before without any promise of what would happen when I returned. Well, I’m returning in 4 days on June 1st to continue wedding and portrait photography in the states with a new perspective to continue my journey in art.

To celebrate, we’ll be going up and down the California Coast (yes…driving!) to see old friends and clients we’ve missed for the past year, revisit sights and sounds we’ve missed the past 9 months, and I’ll be taking pictures along the way. Plus, it’s a really good excuse for us to see everyone again :-)

Here’s our June 2014 itinerary where I’m currently booking 30 minute mini-photo sessions:

June 5: Berkeley, CA
June 7-8: Bernal Heights, San Francisco
June 10: Lema Ranch, Redding, CA
June 13: Las Vegas, NV
June 14: Malibu Hills, Los Angeles
June 21: Quail Hill, Irvine

What is a mini session? A 30 minute photo session designed for couples, singles or families where I photograph you and you get to be you. Photos are delivered 2-3 weeks later on a disc at which time print orders can also be made.

DETAILS: Each 30 minute mini session is $150.00. If booking for >5 people, each additional person is $20. A non-refundable payment in full is due to retain your space. Should it rain, boo! We’ll be sure to schedule a make-up date.

Space is limited so e-mail me at marithasears@gmail.com to grab your spot today! Hope to see you there.

Diaries of Nepal 18 // Matatirtha, Nepal

I’m sad that this post marks one of my very last posts of the like. Yet rejuvenated it means the beginning of a new kind. The past 8 months of my journey have been mostly about absorbing the culture as it has come to me – capturing  scenery, different perspectives and everyday life here. Coming up in a few weeks I will begin sharing a different angle to my time here…more focused angles to life in Nepal including stories and themes that have been meaningful to me.

Over the course of my stay in Nepal I have really begun to explore the meaning of what the “joy of the journey” looks like. In life, many times we feel like giving up, but it’s when we choose to carry on that we find our greatest strengths and our greatest victories. Due to the length of my stay here, I’ve been able to visit more than one village twice to get a deeper glimpse into what authentic life really looks like for some of these people. This time, it was Matatirtha village (“mother sacred place” in Nepali). See first post here. About an hour’s bus-ride away from Kathmandu city, Matatirtha is situated at the foot of a jungle covered mountain where tigers and deer have been spotted. The village sees several inches of rain each year and fresh water from the mountain serves a basic need of the inhabitants. Water, though plenty here, is one of the many natural resources that have yet to be better managed in Nepal. That day it rained so I was honored to be able to capture some of my first photos of my subjects “in the rain”. I hope you will enjoy.

I’ll be back at the start of June to resume wedding and portrait sessions. To book your session, e-mail me here.

Diaries of Nepal 17 // Kathmandu

 I’m a really strong believer in the fact that the journey is what makes us. Our journey to Nepal hasn’t always been the easiest, but it’s been an amazing one, one that we’ll never regret having.

This month marks 7 months since my original and first post featuring photos on Nepal…Kathmandu more specifically. I am excited to share Kathmandu from a different lens 7 months…or 30 weeks…or 212 days later.

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