Stories By 'Prawash Gautam'
A psychedelic drone pierces through ancient Kasthamandap and out into Basantapur Durbar Square. From amidst long-haired, droopy-eyed hippies swaying wildly in the haze of hashish smoke, teenaged Zeenat Aman twirls her body to the hypnotic ‘Dum Maro Dum’—an image and tune etched in the memories of generations to come.
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From out of the marijuana-induced haze of Kathmandu in the 70s, a lone landmark appears, as evanescent as ganja smoke, as effervescent as a hash high.
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Devi Dutta Sharma knew his customers inside out. Seated at his desk in Jhochhen, he’d spend a large part of his day peering out the window, observing the steady stream of customers arriving at his shop. They came from all corners of the world but were looking for the same thing: an exotic, mystical Kathmandu, preferably with a side of cheap, quality hashish. And Sharma knew how to sell both and how to sell them well.
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When playwright Balkrishna Sama first met Achyutananda in 1919, he was still an impressionable teenager. Yet the interaction with Achyutananda in his one-room workshop in Teku was so arresting that Sama would go on to dedicate a section of an autobiography penned in the twilight of his life to the chance meeting.
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Kartik. With Dashain and Tihar behind them, Kathmandu’s residents are bidding adieu to the festive season. Colourful kites have disappeared from the autumn sky; and the large linge pings are being taken down. But as one thing departs, another promise arrives. The sky is clearer and has taken on a deeper shade of blue and the air is cooler, indicating that Minpachas, the coldest fifty days of the year, is right around the corner.
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Kathmandu. Circa 1870 CE. Surrounded by shoras of his mehfil—a small, intimate gathering of poets—as the Nawab begins to recite his gazal—Khawaja Naeemuddin Badakhshi, a shayar—quickly jots it down on a sheet of paper. Later, in his home, Badakhshi sits down to copy the gazal in beautiful calligraphy in his diary, which he has kept in order to record Urdu and Persian poetry that he finds particularly compelling.
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