Cultural Mela to mark 70th anniv of Nepal-US ties

KATHMANDU: A book bus was at the entrance to the Staff College at Jawalakhel a book bus on April 8 where curious readers — young boys and girls — were reading books. A little further, 30 stalls had been set up of art, printed tee-shirts, information about music and the upcoming local elections. This was the scenario at the Cultural Mela organised by the US Embassy to mark the seventieth anniversary of US-Nepal bilateral relations.

The Mela, part of a year-long series of events to commemorate the anniversary, featured live graffiti art, paintings, musical performances, skate boarding, stunts among other activities.

While the audience were busy dancing to the band performances on stage, US graffiti artist Gabriel Specter was busy painting a wall. He was painting the wall like a curtain. Specter, a professional graffiti artist for 15 years, has come to Nepal for the first time said “on the invitation of the US embassy to do mural/graffiti with local artists and explain to the people what I do”.

Talking about his work Specter said, “The art is produced through a group effort of Nepali artists and me to show the cooperation between the two countries.”

To the left of the main stage, skaters and bicycle riders were performing stunts jumping over/on benches. One wondered if they were jumping just for fun, or was it something else altogether? “We see many youth wasting their life abusing drugs and alcohol. We are here to promote skating as a sport to motivate the youth to do something in their life, or maybe even take up skating,” said skater Alex Tamang.

Those who had turned up for the Mela were busy visiting stalls and painting exhibition. One of the visitors Bishrant Tandurkar, 22, from Kalopul came to Mela via Facebook shared, “I like the Art Lab and Don Quixote stall’s books and poems. The Mela is nice.”

Seventeen-year-old Kushal Wagle was busy giving visitors rides on his rickshaw-like vehicle. “It runs on solar power funded. I have brought it here to test drive,” he informed.

His vehicle was surrounded mostly by mothers waiting patiently for their turn. One of the mothers (visitor) Seema Khadka, 25, from Kapan who had come with her husband and child shared her experience after riding, “I got a chance to have fun with my boy on this vehicle. I am glad.  The vehicle is good, and so is the Mela and garden to take photos.”

On the stalls side, the International Foundation for Electoral System, Lazimpart was busy giving voter education to visitors targeting the upcoming local elections. “We are giving voter education — how to vote, how many political parties are there, and how many members will be elected,” said Guna Raj Khadka.

On the stage, the band Mental Radio performed Aasha with the audience dancing to their beats. But when rapper Nirnaya  Da’NSK came on the stage, he set it on fire. He sang Ma Nepali, Hamro Gaule Jiwan and Hami Sangai leaving the audience enthralled and spellbound.