Kumar Ale is a hobbyist photographer, but his photographs have earned him a unique nickname – ‘Photo Poet’. And he was on the limelight for last eight days as his photographs of smiling litterateurs were exhibited at the Nepal Art Council. I am not a frequent visitor to the art exhibition, but for the sake of a hobby that engulfed me during my last five teen ages plus three early after-teen ages, I went there on the last day and I found it a worthy visit.
I went there with co-blogger Tilak, at around 4:00pm. We were not asked to buy tickets – I found out later that a conclusion program was going on – and reached the first floor where the ‘Smile Photo Exhibition’ was nearly concluding. There were more litterateurs than I had imaged – some of them completely unknown to me. We watched then smiling or laughing – all in black and white – and didn’t missed reading the handwritten, by the person on the frame above in most cases, names and messages.
Among the lines of poem, I was most influenced by those of Tulsi Diwas, whom I have never read.
One thinking, after man thinks about man,
Probably there remains nothing more to think,
After one circumbulation to a man by a man,
Probably there remains no temple to circumubalate.
In the last cubicle (it should have been the first on other days), the conclusion program was going on. We sat behind Raman Ghimire, the art columnist with Nepal weekly, whose photo was on the display, and Shekhar Kharel, the assistant editor of Nepal. Famous literature-radio-program anchor Dahal Yagyanidhi was anchoring – it was great relief to see him speaking as when I saw him earlier he could barely speak due to cancer on throat.
His one thought touched my heart. He retold a story about what’s different between man and animal. He had some events but the answer was ‘man can laugh and animal can’t’ so, he urged, we should not miss the chance to laugh. He also told the small gathering that around 4,500 visited the exhibition with 1,800 buying tickets – an encouraging number of ticket-buyers.
When it was turn of Kumar to speak, he was little shy and didn’t wanted to speak much. He thanked all the people, offered a flower bouquet to Devendra Bhattarai – a reporter with Kantipur daily who also wrote blogs for UWB! in its early stage. Man Bahadur Budhamagar, a retired British armyman running school in Mid-western district of Dang bought a dozen of pictures for ‘his library.’ It was welcomed because such generosity plus love of art is rare in our country.
I had a chance to chat with him after the program. I told him I am a sports reporter and just curiously visiting the exhibition. I asked him a few questions. According to him, he started clicking as a hobby some 13 years ago, but made it a campaign to take photos of litterateurs some 7 years ago.
I asked him why he preferred taking photos of litterateurs – the unglamorous people and he had a nice answer: “We should not forget their contribution. And furthermore I want the coming generation to see these people on different pose not as we are used to see our earliest poets – in imagined paintings.”
My last question: Who is the most photogenic litterateur? “Madhav Prasad Ghimire, because I never felt I have taken enough pictures of him,” Kumar answered.
Ghimire is the most popular living poet. I and Dinesh, while working for Tarun weekly have interviewed him (and the interview is unique in various aspects). We may get something about that in near future. But for now, I end with a salute to Kumar Ale, who showed us similes of those whom we read in books and also to Aarohan theatre group for organizng such a wonderful exhibition.
Visit Kumar Ale’s personal website here.
With Thanks to Tilak for the company and ideas.