Nepal, the big "but"

They are students, supermarket employees, baristas, teachers, accountants, tour guides, beauticians, painters or computer animators. They love their country and their family, and they would like to plan their future here without having to think too much about it. The “big but" are the hours spent in the noise and dust of the traffic jams, the compulsory string pulling and bribes, the politicians’ lack of interest for the people. Many are financially dependent on brothers, sisters or uncles who left to work in the Gulf States or elsewhere. As for the others, they get by, they help each other out while hoping for change. That’s what it’s like to be twenty today in Kathmandu.

2015 — with Dhiraj Ghale

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Dhiraj, 24, employee in a supermarket in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He is in Nepal for a three-week holiday and is visiting all his friends.
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Maya, 18, barista in a café in Bhaisepati. She is working hard and will soon have to leave the youth hostel where she's been raised. She's saving money, and she has paid for an internship in a big café chain in order to stack the odds in her favour. She likes her job and she’s hoping to open her own café in the future.
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Nita, 25, just before her wedding. She is an accountant in a school in Bhaisepati.
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Saul, 20, employee in a café in Katmandou.
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Chirag, 23, is an accounting teacher in several colleges in Patan. He lives with three adoptive brother and sisters in a shared flat.
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Anu, 23, works as a school administrator and also gives tuitions. Shanti, 24, shares the same flat, gives zumba lessons and does the odd job here and there. Chirag, Anu, Shanti and Anand (their fourth flatmate) are planning to take over a fashion accessory shop in their area.
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Resu, 24, is doing a Master in business studies and wants to work in a bank. Unable to find even a single internship, she is considering joining her older sister in Dubai, who’s just sent her a parcel.
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The younger sister of Dhiraj's friend, 15, is telling us about her UK dreams. She wants to go there and study nursing, "because I love Hollywood". In the meantime she's living with her mum and other brothers, sisters and cousins in a temporary home. (They are having another house built.)
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Skyping with the elder sister who lives in Dubai.
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Ramesh, 29, is a painter. He is a dwarf. With other artist friends, he opened a gallery in his father's house where he's showing and selling his works. "Nepali people don't like painting; even when I give them a big discount, they're not buying. Only foreigners are buying my paintings."
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Narendra, 24, teaches dance to children. He wants to dedicate his life to dancing and singing, which is not very well considered in the neighbourhood. His sisters are supporting him and doing the housework.
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Rokesh, 24, is an engineering student. We see him leaving for the American embassy, to apply for a student visa for the United States. Process is very long and often unsuccessful.
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Nishant, 25 and Suman 19 are students and mountain bike addicts. They train thanks to their family support and they earn money from casual jobs, sometimes guiding tourists on bike treks. Their group is dynamic, they coach the younger ones and they look after each other; if anyone gets hurt they go to the hospital together. They have a training park construction project: they’re building the ramps themselves.
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Suman is showing me a video of Canadian rider Brendon Semenuk, whom he worships.
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Santosh, 19, kitchen staff in a Jawalakhel café.
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Arun, 16, dishwasher in a Jawalakhel café.
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Anish, 28, co-manager and founder of a Jawalakhel café. He used to play football in a 1st division team and thanks to the scholarships he won, he was able to save money in order to open his business. He got married to please his grandmother, but now it's ok, "I rock". He has a 7-month-old baby boy.
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Susan is entertaining his friend and colleague Anish's son. Susan is a Hindu priest; his girlfriend is a Christian pastor's daughter and is studying in Korea. Their families don't want them to marry. Anish family jokes a lot about that. Even Susan laughs a lot at himself.
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Jyoti, 23, is a hotel management student. In her free time she helps her mother who runs a momo (Tibetan ravioli) restaurant, and her father who runs a pool club. She is a Buddhist and observes the rituals. By feeding Baudanath pigeons, she makes sure that her ancestors won't lack anything.
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Fixing Suman's bike. Bike parts are easy to found in Nepal but they are expensive. This one costs 20$, one or two weeks' minimum salary…
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Arati, 24, is a student and a beautician. Her parents are Newar craftsmen and businessmen, which is an ethnic group well represented in Kathmandu valley. They make and sell hammered metal frames. She is the sister of Ramesh, the painter. In her free time she helps at home and takes us to Hindu festivals in the area.
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Dhiraj and Arati are singing karaoke in the gallery. They’ve just been shouted at by the neighbour for stealing guavas.
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Chirag is eating breakfast made by his adoptive sister Shanti.
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Anna, 19, wants to become a fashion designer. She wants to study in Paris or in Australia. In the meantime she is studying hotel management in prep school. She doesn't have a job; her parents want her to focus on her studies.
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September 27th: a young woman leaves an offering during the Hindu festival of Jai Machindranath in Patan city centre.
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Narendra's student shows off her dancing skills in a fitness studio in Talchhikel.
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Ranjan, 24, is a computer animator in an animation studio in Kathmandu. As there is no 3D animation school in Nepal, he taught himself and also learned from his sensei, who invited us to dinner.
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Suman biking down Chhobar's hill near Patan. It’s a well-known place for driving lessons, shooting music videos, family picnics – and suicides.
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Suman in Chhobar, September 29th.
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Dhiraj is entertaining the neighbours’ kids. His neighbours own a supermarket and employ one of his friends. When there is a power cut, all the flatmates move to the neighbour's home; "it is entertaining management", says Dhiraj.
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Rajendra, 17, student and barista in a café in Bhaisepati. He's one of the oldest in the youth hostel where he has been raised, along with other orphan children, or kids whose parents got financial difficulties. He will have to leave soon, but for the moment he's working hard. He bought a brand new smartphone and uses it to take pictures of flowers, and show off on motorbike selfies.