Monthly Archives: February 2012

The magic of Prabal Gurung continues

By now everyone already knows Prabal Gurung as one of the most happening designers, whose design was seen on Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker just to name a few. Please click here for his detailed introduction.

This week was the Oscar and Kate Bosworth wore a Prabal Gurung during Vanity Fair Oscar Party. She wore a black tulle long sleeve dress with filigree cutwork, sparkling with jet beads and Sistine blue crystals and was accented with a heavy black belt. She looked absolutely stunning combined with her simple accessories and a slick bun.

Here are a few other celebrities who were spotted with a Prabal Gurung design.

Along with Hollywood celebrities, Bollywood celebrities like Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor have been spotted with Prabal Gurung designs as well.

You may also like :

*Prabal Gurung : A Fashion designer from Nepal *Love you, Prabal Gurung *Prabal Gurung: Designer in the Spotlight
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Title of world’s shortest man, back to Nepal.

In 2010, Nepal had the title of world’s shortest man as Khagendra Thapa Magar who was 67cm tall . But the title was short-lived when Filipino Junrey Balawing was confirmed to be 59.93 cm. Now in 2012, Nepal has that title back as Chandra Bahadur Dangi who stands just 54.6cm tall. Guinness World Records has officially awarded him the title of the shortest man in the world. 

Chandra Bahadur Dangi is 72 years old and weighs 12 kg. He is from Dang district which is 350km from Kathmandu where he survives weaving jute headbands. He has also been declared the shortest human adult ever recorded. 

Being shorter than average has so many disadvantage and I can’t imagine being so short. According to Dangi’s interview he was orphaned at age 12 and was looked after by his relatives. His relatives used to display him at freak shows to make money for themselves. He has never experienced romance or found his soul mate. He wants to visit foreign countries and meet people from around the world. 

I hope he will find some happiness with this record as Khagendra Thapa Magar did. Khagendra Thapa Magar has visited many countries including Australia and looked happy to be the centre of attention during events and dinners here. He was also the official face of Nepal’s tourism campaign, which featured him as the smallest man in a country that is home to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.

Can you live a day without a mobile phone?

It was our lunch time topic at work today. 

My answer is NO, unless I have to. Because, I carry my mobile everywhere I go, I check my emails on it, Facebook and twitter on it as well as put my calendar on it including my things to do. I would be lost without it. I don’t remember the phone numbers of my friends and family by heart so if I ever have to call anyone when I don’t have my mobile with me, it would be a nightmare. 

I know it is really bad to rely so heavily on the phone but it has made my life so easy that I can’t imagine living without it. I have sometimes forgotten the phone at home by mistake and I felt like a part of me was missing the whole day until I was reunited with my beloved phone. I am sorry if you find it crazy but I am just being honest about how I feel about my phone. 

I am sure I am not alone in this situation. Every time I go to any restaurant or public place, I see people on the street walking while talking on the phone or messaging on the phone. What about the drivers talking while driving? I am totally against that so I keep my phone in my bag while I drive so I am not tempted to answer the phone if it rings.

Also in restaurants if you see a group of friends dinning together, at least half of them will be playing with their phone. It might be considered anti social but it has become a habit for many people.

Nowadays our life has become so dependent on the internet and having internet in our mobile phone has made our mobile phone even more valuable.  We can book tickets, pay bills, chat with friends on Facebook or bank online using our phones. It can be used as a camera, an audio and video recorder, for multi-media messaging, email client, web client, gaming platform, document viewer and editor, music player, TV, wallet, calculator, bar code reader and the list goes on. 

I still remember the days when I was in Nepal, if I had to meet anyone we either pre planned when we would meet or talk on our landlines from our homes to fix the time. Life used to be simpler for sure as you just make a plan and follow it. With the introduction of mobile phones, things have changed a lot. Instead of making plans ahead, we just call on the go to see if people are around to catch up. 

I sometimes believe that the mobile phone has become a necessity instead of a convenience because I am sure having a mobile phone has saved many lives. Imagine if you have an accident in the middle of nowhere and you can’t contact anyone. When accidents happen, the  mobile phone has made it possible to contact the necessary people ASAP rather than trying to find a public pay phone. 

So, yes I might be able to live without a mobile phone for a day but I can’t live without it for life. I would never voluntarily choose to live a day without a mobile phone. 

What about you?

No Light

Load shedding is a familiar term in Nepal and it means shutting down of power (electricity) in particular areas of the city to reduce electricity usage. In Nepal, load shedding of electricity has a schedule and affects everyone living there. 

I came across this short Nepali animation which tells the story of Nepali people living with load shedding schedule in Nepal. I really can’t imagine my life without electricity up to 20 hours a day. But most Nepali people have no choice but go on with their normal life with a candle light or an oil lamp. 

It is normal in Nepal to have power outage for a few hours a day but in the summer months it goes up to 20 hours a day so you really have to do everything that requires electricity in 4 hours. If you are lucky, those 4 hours can be morning or evenings but if you are not, it may be in the middle of the night when you are sleeping or the middle of the day when you are at work. It is really a sad situation for a country which has so much hydro power generation capacity and at this stage, it only produce half the amount of electricity that the country needs. 

According to a report, Nepal can produce 40,000 MW of electricity from all its rivers but right now is only producing 600 MW (really sad situation). And only 40% of the country has electricity. And these 40% still have to live with load shedding. 

Political instability and power struggle has led the country backwards into darkness for a more than a decade now. Instead of using the money to invest in the country’s infrastructure, everyone who comes into power to run the government are busy buying new mansions for themselves, travelling overseas in luxury, with first class flights and hotels and making sure their children are sent to top universities in the world. 

Imagine your life without any electrical equipment like vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, microwave, kettle, toaster etc. Yes that is right, you might be scared thinking how you would mange a day without all this but in Nepal they have to go through this everyday. 

When I was in Nepal, the situation was not that bad but every time I go for a visit, I find that so many things are going backward instead of forward. There are more people in Kathmandu valley than the infrastructure can handle and it has made the valley chaotic and polluted.  I have no idea why the government is not doing anything when they know things are not working. It feels like if you have power and/or money, you can get away with anything there. 

In an attempt to make the government aware of the problems people are suffering, at one point they even had one of the television station broadcastings news using lanterns. 

 

Hydropower projects are the future of the country and I really hope there will be at least a few projects built to ease the situation of the people. And I hope politicians will make it easy for these project to be built because I know there were a few projects closed down because of the political situations. 

Customer Service, What Customer service?

Since I came to Australian more than a decade ago, I have seen a decline in customer service here. Maybe it is because there are more people now than a decade ago or maybe it is just because people have started to care less. 

Normally people are nice to customer service (CS) staff because they know that customer service staffs are just trying to do their jobs so there is no point getting upset with them. But most of the time, these CS staff ignore you and are not helpful. But when you turn into a nasty customer (the one they hate), they make sure you are looked after well and your things are done properly and on time. What has this world come to?   

Here are some examples that have happened in my day-to-day life that makes me realise this world has no place for nice people. 

My home internet and phone were playing up a lot. Internet used to drop unexpectedly and the phone line gave a crackling sound. So we lodged a complaint with our provider on their website as required. The website informed us to wait 48 hours so someone can contact us with the solutions. As a good customer I waited, but when after 4 days no one called I called their customer service department. I had to wait 15 minutes before I could talk to a real person. Then I told him the problem and he assured me that within 24 hours one of their technicians would call back. So I thanked him and waited for the call. 

As there was no call back from anyone, I called them again after 2 days. Again the same story, I had to wait almost 20 minutes on the line before I could speak to a real person. This time too I explained the problem and asked to speak to the right person but got the same answer. The CS told me to wait 24 hours for someone to call me and I did. Even after a week when no one had called back and my patience was running low, I called and I asked the customer service person to put me through to their manager. I wasn’t happy about the situation as well as the poor customer service they had. She put me on hold for two minutes and told me that the technician would come and visit me the next day. I realised then that if you are nice, people ignore you but if you become nasty and angry, you get what you want. 

This is not limited to telephone companies.  A few months ago I changed my credit card type into different type. I asked the person on the phone multiple times that I won’t be charged if I go through with it. Because, if I was going to be charged, I was ready to wait a few more months so I wouldn’t be. He assured me that I wouldn’t be charge so I changed it. 

The first statement of the new credit card came after a month and there it was, I was charged $144 for the change. I was really pissed off because I kind of knew I might be charged so I had asked the bank employee multiple times and he had assured me I wouldn’t be charged. Now I had this statement asking me to pay the charge which I wasn’t willing to do. I called the customer service number and spoke to one of the girls. She was not listening to me when I tried to tell her that someone before told me I wouldn’t be charged and I even asked them multiple times. She kept telling me that it is impossible for someone to say that. Whatever I told her, she kept defending her co-worker so I asked to be put through to the manager. 

She put me on hold and a minute later a man picked up the phone. He was the supervisor. He tried to tell me the same story as the customer service representative but then I reminded him that as their every call is recorded, he should listen to the conversation I had before and then get back to me. In the mean time I wasn’t going to pay my bills. I was really angry as he was making more excuses and not listening to me. Anyway he said, he would follow through and get back to me. 

After 2 days a lady from the bank called and apologised for the inconvenience. Also she informed me that I didn’t need to pay the bill as they knew it was agreed in the beginning that I wouldn’t be charged. I thanked her and was glad that I didn’t back down when both the customer service rep and supervisor tried to make me pay the bill that I didn’t have to. 

Just last week I had another experience. The beauty salon I am using sent a sms cancelling my appointment. When I tried to call them, no one answered so I went there anyway because once before they had cancelled my appointment and I couldn’t reschedule as no one picked the phone to rebook it. The worst part is I had pre paid  so I need to go until the sessions are finished. Anyway I was really upset with the guy there and explained to him that they are not good enough at what they were doing. Customers aren’t able to get in touch with them unless they call the customers themselves. And how is it ok to cancel an appointment just 2 hours prior to the scheduled time? And it was not even the first time they had done it. He said he was sorry and he will make sure it doesn’t happen again. He said he had too many people trying to reach them so they have forwarded all calls to voice mail (I was surprised by his explanation. I am sure they must have cancelled lots of appointments and have not rebooked them). As he saw me unhappy, he gave me a direct phone number to call. I was thinking that they only look after unhappy customers so if someone doesn’t complain then they don’t deserve the service even if they have paid for it. 

Anyway with all my experiences I think I am so sure that if you are nice, you get nowhere but if you are a BITCH, the whole world will make sure you get what you want. Seriously, I am sure I was taught the opposite when I was growing up but I guess the word has changed since then. 

Do share your horrible customer service experience if you have one.  

Losar

Nepal is describe as ‘Char jat ra chhatis barna ko yo sundar desh’ which translate into Nepali is a beautiful, multilingual and multi-cultural country. If you have met many people from Nepal, you might have noticed how different they look from each other. Please click here for my post ‘Different Look of Nepali people’ for details. Also in Nepal, there are lots of celebrations for different cultural group and ethnic group.

Today is Losar, a festival in Nepal which is celebrated by Mongolian Nepali, mainly by Gurung community as well as Rai, Tamang, Sherpas to welcome their New Year. Losar is celebrated on the first full moon of the first month according to a lunar calendar. On the solar calendar it falls between January and March. Lho means year or age and Sar means new or fresh. The word Lhosar means New Year or beginning of new era.

It is a National Holiday in Nepal so people can celebrate the festival.

Losar is the time when family member gathers and celebrate with cultural processions and feasting. Also on this day, older people give money and blessing to younger ones. I remember when I was young; I used to go to my friend’s place to celebrate Losar as my family doesn’t celebrate Losar (I am from Newar culture so we have our New Year during Tihar. Click here for more info). In her house, I used to get some money as well as lots of delicacies among which I liked sel roti (special Nepali bread) and achar the most.

One of the highlights of this day is that the people who celebrate Losar dress in their traditional outfit and go around Buddist temples. Men wear Bhangra, a white cloth shirt-like apparel tied across the chest and open like a bag at the back (for carrying things), and a Kachhad, like a short sarong or kilt while women wear maroon velvet Ghalek (blouses), enhanced by large gold earrings and semi-precious stone necklaces. Even kids are dressed up in traditional outfits.

To mark the day, all the Buddhist monasteries in the country are decorated with colourful prayer flags and the monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity, If you are in Nepal, the places to visit will be Bouddha and Swayambhu stupas where there will be crowds of people gathered to welcome the New Year.

In Sydney, there is a gathering this weekend to celebrate Losar. There will be many people dressed in traditional dress and there will be entertainment like cultural dance and singing. The best of all, there will be lots of Nepali food including Sel roti and momos

Happy Losar everyone!!!

Maha Shivaratri

If you know Nepal, you might already know that there are lots of festivals every month. Today, we have one of those festivals and it is called Maha Shivaratri. It is believed that Shivaratri is the night when Lord Shiva was created by his own divine grace so this day is celebrated by Hindus with enthusiasm. Shivaratri literally means ‘ the night consecrated to Shiva’.

Maha Shivaratri is a national holiday in Nepal.

According to a legend, Parvati performed tapas, prayed and meditated on this day to ward off any evil that might befall her husband on the moonless night. Since then, Maha Shivaratri is believed to be an auspicious occasion for women to pray for the well-being of their husbands and sons. An unmarried woman prays for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband. Another legend is that Shiva and Shakti married each other on this day.

There is one more legend of Shivaratri associated with Samudra Manthan, a battle between devas and asuras during which a pot of poison came out of the ocean and on the request of gods, Lord Shiva drank the poison. The poison was so potent that it changed the colour of His neck to blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Neelkanth (one whose throat is blue).

So basically this festival is in honour of the Hindu God Shiva. Today all the Shiva temples will be very busy. One of the best places to see the celebration will be Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu located on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. There will be thousands of people from all over the world (it is regarded as one of the most sacred temples for Hindus) coming to worship Shiva during the festival.

There will be a mela the days before and after Shivaratri where people fill the roads around the temples of Lord Shiva especially Pashupatinath temple . There will be  holy men, beggars, pilgrims, children and tourists.

The night before Shivaratri, all the devotees from all over the country spend the night lightning sacred fires, singing praises of the deity, and keeping a constant vigil to greet his descent to earth, on the grassy hills around the temple to enjoy the warmth of good companionship and chatting around.

At midnight, the celebration begins officially with priests inside the temple making special offerings. Then devotees will take a dip in holy Bagamati river and start their fasting. They offer Bael leaves to Lord Shiva. They will spend the whole day singing sacred songs around the temple. As all the Sadhus are treated as guest , they will be offered free food and accommodation during Shivaratri.

Shivaratri is the only day in the year where marijuana and bhang is legal in Nepal so on this day devotees indulge in smoking them. It is believed that Lord Shiva is fond of these substances and marijuana is taken as a Prasad.

There are lost of tourists around the Pashupatinath temple on this day as there are lots of Sadhus with ash all over the body and devotees with colourful draping chanting hymns of Lord Shiva.

It is believed that if you worship Lord Shiva this day and fast by eating only vegetarian food, all your sins are forgiven. So there will be queues kilometres long in the Pashupathnath temple whole day.

Also this day, kids and youth block the road for vehicles to collect money which they use to buy bhoj in the evening. Mostly vehicles owners are happy to give a rupee or two. When I was a kid I do remember the block in our area made some of the vehicle owners angry with the kids blocking the roads.

Today I worshipped Shiva’s idol at home in the morning and took his blessings. Hope all my sins will be forgiven and we will be blessed with an awesome 2012.

Happy Shivaratri everyone!!!