Colors of Kathmandu
At an elevation of 1400 meters lies Kathmandu the capital of Nepal. A city with little more than one million inhabitants, rich in history, culture and diversity, a city which fascinates me a lot.
I am born and raised in Scandinavia. Back home in Denmark everything is neat and clean, and very organized. The design of peoples’ homes are usually minimalistic and modern, and subdued in colors. Walking in Kathmandu is quite a different experience from that of walking the streets of my home city Copenhagen. In many ways it is actually the exact opposite experience. In Kathmandu everything seems loud, chaotic, colorful, crazy. And truth be told, I love it!
Having returned to the capital from climbing Imje Tse, a mountain in the Everest region, I knew I wanted to make a photo book about Kathmandu. Although to be perfectly honest I didn’t know what theme the book should have. I set out on a mission with my camera, looking for my story. It didn’t take very long before it became clear to me that I wanted to center the book around the colors of Kathmandu. Everywhere you look there is life and color. The clothes that the people wear, the shop signs, the walls of peoples’ houses – all sporting a rich and varied palette of colors. I actually have a suspicion, that spending a week in Kathmandu will turn a color blind person into a normal seeing person!
The Nepali people are tough, independent, strong, peaceful, patient and incredible warm people. Looking around Kathmandu, I think these qualities are reflected in the city itself. The city is an organism in its own right – it is dynamic and adapting at whatever nature throws at it. Being a rather tall person, walking in Kathmandu I constantly had to keep my eyes open, to avoid being strangled by some low hanging cables. They seem to have a life of their own – like the roots of a tree finding their way to water, the cables grow wherever they find a little piece of vacant space, in search of electricity.
And this brings me to an important point. One of the many things I love about travelling in a country like Nepal, is that it reminds me of where things come from. Walking the city, you will see freshly slaughtered animals, lying out in the open. You smell it, you see it – in all its glory. The animal still with skin on it. Not packed away in some refrigerator, wrapped in plastic in neatly organized portions. When you take a shower, it is not set at a perfect temperature – it is cold! When the electricity goes away during the daily load-shedding schedule, you are reminded that electricity is not some magic force always available. It is actually something that is produced at a power plant, and if there is not enough power available to sustain the entire population – then the electricity has to go away at times.
With this book I wanted to capture the everyday life on the streets through the colors, people going about their daily tasks and give a glimpse into how life is here. I wanted to capture the randomness of it all. The city is full of tiny little family run shops, with no apparent system of organisation (at least that I could identify). You will find an auto repair shop, right next to a fashion shop, right next to four small small groceries shops all selling the same things.
I know that photos surely cannot do justice compared to the experience of actually being here yourself, but I hope at least it will give a glimpse into life in colorful Kathmandu. I hope you will enjoy watching the photographs just as much as I enjoyed making them.