An experience like no other
Mar 7, 2014-Pallavi Dhakal is a former media person currently working for Save the Children. She is a communication graduate with over eight years of work experience in television and radio. Pallavi is also an ardent reader and an aspiring writer who also contributes to several newspapers and magazines. She recently talked to Prizma Ghimire about her journey with books and how it's shaped her. Excerpts:
What are you reading at the moment?
I am alternating between two books: So Big by Edna Ferber, which is a Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classic that I have been wanting to read for a long time, and a book in Nepali called The History of Khas by Prof Bal Krishna Pokhrel. I picked up the latter because I’m really interested in exploring my own identity, particularly when there are such riveting debates taking place on ethnicity, language and origins within Nepal.
What kind of books do you normally prefer?
I’m a big fan of vintage classics, probably because the first books I read were those handed down by my father—books by writers like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hesse, and Kafka. My very first read, in fact, was Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, followed by Kafka’s Castle. Dostoevsky’s book, although very challenging to get through initially, shook me to my very core towards the end. It’s a truly tragic novel that offers insight into a mind that is almost possessed, eaten away by dark desires and eventually leading to the destruction of many. While I’m not a big fan of motivational books, I have to admit to learning quite a
few things from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
The late Jagadish Ghimire’s Sakas was another impactful read, one that pushed me to try to better understand Nepal’s culture, people, geography and history.
Who would you say are your favourite writers?
The list would have to begin with Dostoevsky, without a doubt, because I think he is one of the most astute and insightful writers when it comes to exploring the human psyche, which is why he remains relevant to this day. I also like Hesse for the way he’s able to frame philosophy; I always feel like I’ve learned something new whenever I reread one of his books. I’m also a fan of Krishna Dharawasi, not just because we happen to be from the same village in Jhapa, but because he writes such beautiful, poignant things that you can’t help but be moved by. Then there is Nayan Raj Pandey, who’s managed to put out really great books like Ular and Loo.
Where do you think Nepali literature is currently headed?
It’s really been only two years since I’ve started to seriously delve into Nepali literature, and I feel quite positive about where it’s going from what I’ve seen so far. There are quite a few promising young writers who’re making a mark in terms of stylistic choices as well as subjects. As the literacy rate in Nepal rises, there will be more and more people looking to read Nepali books, and writers and litterateurs must make sure that they cater to that demand, bringing out more books that are of better quality. In any case, things look good.
Do you think the art of reading a physical book ever risks becoming obsolete given the various modern forms of entertainment and engagement that are propping up these days?
The experience of holding a book in your hands is something that is very special, very unique, and anyone who loves book will tell you this. I’m sure electronic versions or even audiobooks are much more practical, but it’s just not the same as sitting down and turning the pages of a real tangible book. I guess although they might certainly offer competition, I don’t think it likely that modern forms of entertainment will replace reading paperbacks anytime soon. Or ever.
What would you change about your present-day reading habit if you could?
I’m very possessive about my books, and hate it when people ask to borrow them—even though I tend to come off as rude when I express that. A big part of that is because of how I like to scribble on the pages as I read them, just things that I’m thinking as I’m going through the text, and I really don’t feel comfortable knowing someone else is reading these notes. Which is ironic because I myself enjoy buying secondhand books because they seem like they have a personality of their own, acquired by contact with the many people who’ve read them and touched them and loved them, and maybe even scribbled in them, before they came to me.
Why would you say it’s important to read?
I think there are more reasons to read than I can list here, but the most significant of these would be because reading is a means of self improvement—not only does it expand your vocabulary and your own writing skills, if you’re so inclined, but it also makes you more analytical, teaches you to think more deeply about what you’ve come across in the text, and by extension, the rest of the world.
Published: 07-03-2014 08:50