Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Young Nepali woman, Pushpa Basnet, named CNN Hero of the Year, 2012

Young Nepali woman, Pushpa Basnet, named CNN Hero of the Year, 2012.

CNN Hero of the Year 2012, Pushpa Basnet. 
I always take notice of news from Nepal, and I’m always amazed by certain people who manage to do so much to help others with only their wit and resolve. This particular young woman, Pushpa Basnet, visited a prison when she was 21 years old as part of her studies. She was shocked by the sight of so many children living there with their parents who were serving jail time. The children hadn’t done anything wrong, and life was passing them by. She was not able to go away and forget about them, particularly after a little baby in the prison clung to her shawl and smiled at her.

She went through great trouble to raise enough money to start a daycare and was granted permission to take children out of prison during the daytime in order to give them some education and experience with the real, free world outside. She is now 28 years old, wise beyond her years, and she has changed the lives of hundreds of children for the better. I am happy that she was named Hero of the Year by CNN. Nobody deserves it more than she does.


For more information on this story please go to link below:

If anyone is interested to help or make donation to Pushpa's organization, please follow the link below.

-Indra Tamang
 12/19/12

Early Childhood Development Center

I've just found out that’s me.

12/12/12
The First Nepali Photographer in the United States: I’ve just found out that’s me.

Photo by: Ang Kami Sherpa

 On December 2nd, 2012, I was one of ten people who received an award, for an achievement, by the US Nepal Media Center. The event took place at the Himalayan Yak Restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens. My award, which was presented to me by Pradeep Thapa Magar, Editor-in-Chief of USNepalOnline.com, was for being the first Nepali photographer in the United States. Until now, I had no idea that I was the first one. I felt humbled to be receiving such an honor.

Out of curiosity, I went looking on the Internet, where I didn’t find anyone else listed as the first Nepali photographer in America. But I did find the man with the distinction of being the first Nepali photographer in Nepal. His name was Dambar Shamsher, and he lived between 1858 and 1922. He apparently learned photography in the 1870s from photographers who had been sent from the firm Bourne and Shepherd in India to photograph Nepal. As for me, I learned photography 100 years later, in the 1970s, from the American artist and writer Charles Henri Ford. 

As some of you know, I was born in the village of Phakhel, Makawanpur District in Nepal, in 1953. While I was working at the Panorama Hotel in Kathmandu in 1972, I met Charles Henri Ford while serving him breakfast in the hotel dining room.  Charles ended up spending several years in Kathmandu and he offered me a job, which I accepted. He taught me a great many things, and through his influence I discovered that I had an appreciation for art and photography. When Charles decided to return to New York in 1974, he brought me along. 

Certificate of Honor I received as First Nepali Photographer in US by US Nepal Media Center
It was Charles who gave me my first camera and encouraged me to take photographs. I loved taking pictures, and my camera became my constant companion whenever I attended a cultural event or an interesting party. The 1970s was a very interesting and exciting period in New York, and I photographed many artists, writers, musicians and actors, people I was privileged to meet, thanks to Charles and the fact that he was someone who knew all of the most influential members of the art world in the United States.  

When I traveled to other countries while working with Charles, I took many photographs in those places as well. And it was my great joy to collaborate with him on book projects and collages, which we made together using his poetry and my photographs. I was always very happy when other people seemed to enjoy looking at the photographs I took.

During the years when I was most active with my camera, I never could have imagined in a thousand years that one day I would be receiving an honor such as this. I made photographs purely for the fun and enjoyment of doing it, and over the years my collection grew and grew. Charles’s death in 2002 was a big loss for me personally and for the art world at large, and I continue to act as the steward of all of his work, which galleries regularly want to exhibit. 

Speaking few words after receiving the honor as 1st Nepalese Photographer in US. Photo by: Ang Kami Sherpa
In 2011, there was an exhibit of some of the work that Charles and I made together at the Turtle Point Press gallery/office. I had sent Pradeep Thapa an invitation to the opening and he attended. That evening, he conducted an interview with me, about my work, for the Nepalese media. I certainly never expected him to consider me for an award, but this acknowledgement of my work by the Nepalese community is a great privilege for me. And it has also inspired me to start taking my camera along with me once again.

Many thanks!

Indra Tamang


Please click the link below to view Photographs taken by me:

Group Picture, 5th Anniversary celebration of US Nepal Online. Photo by Ang Kami Sherpa

Monday, October 22, 2012

To Honor a Great Lady - Mrs. Dil Shova Shrestha

TO HONOR A GREAT LADY
On the Privilege of meeting Dil Shova Shreshtha
Mrs. Dil Shova Shrestha speaking at Himalayan Yak. Oct 14th 2012. Photo by Ashok Pant

On October 14th, I had the good fortune to meet Dil Shova Shreshtha when she spoke at the Himalayan Yak restaurant in Jackson Heights. An extraordinary woman whom I had read several articles about, Mrs. Shrestha was there to receive a commendation from the large Nepalese community in New York, arranged by Dr. Tara Niraula,  who is a prominent educationist and scholar. Although it was a short notice (I was notified just the day before), hundreds of people from all the many different Nepalese communities arrived to hear her speak and have a chance to meet her. 

Mrs. Dil Shova Shrestha greeted by Dr. Tara Niraula Photo by Ashok Pant
I had read about her selfless cause, her “Aama ko Ghar” (Mother’s House) in Nepal, and about how her daughter, who now lives in Chicago, has been sending $300 a month to help her care for so many abandoned women and children in Nepal. I expected Mrs. Shrestha to be a very impressive woman, but when I heard her speak in person, she surpassed my expectations with her warmth and kindness and humility.

I found it so heartwarming to hear her, and at her telling of her story everyone in the room was in tears, including she herself. She said that her father was an inspiration to her, and told us how in the village where she was born, if a house had no smoke rising from their chimney, her father would tell her and her siblings to go check the house and see if the people inside were alright. 

She told us how she came to find her calling, which started when her husband ran off to married someone else along with 500,000 rupees they had saved for their daughter’s marriage. He left Mrs. Shrestha and her daughter broke and devastated. They were both so heartbroken they decided to take their own lives. They prayed together and then they swallowed poison. But like something out of a storybook, the only thing the poison did was put them both into a deep sleep. When they awoke, her daughter said,  “Mama, maybe we didn’t take enough.” They made another pact and prepared a bigger dose of poison, and then sat down again to pray. While praying, the daughter sensed a supernatural voice, she believes god spoke to her and said, essentially, “You are not ready to come with me. Your work is yet to be done. There are many who are much more miserable than you two, and they need help. Go out and help them. “

Mrs. Shrestha’s daughter said, “Mama, I will help you. I will do the son’s duty,” by which she meant earning money and helping in every way she could. They started raising money by making and selling candles, packets of masala spices, and sewing.  Mrs. Shrestha had at least the house that had been given to her by her parents, and with the little money they had coming in, she and her daughter decided to take in five helpless elderly ladies who had been abandoned by their husbands or by society. One in particular, rescued from deplorable conditions, was left unable to care for herself in a room full of feces and lice, uncared for by her own sons and daughter-in-laws who lived in the same house. This lady’s fingernails had not been clipped in two years.  On bringing her into their own house, Mrs. Shrestha and her daughter bathed, clothed and fed the lady, who, along with the other old women, had her dignity restored. 

Group picture with Mrs. Dil Shova Shrestha at Himalayan Yak Restaurant, Jackson Heights
Photo By Ashok Pant
The original plan may have been to take in five women, but soon there were many dozens, and countless more followed. Mrs. Shrestha told us about one of the women, afflicted with cerebral palsy, who had lived on the streets. This woman had been raped by so many men that whenever she sees a man now, she is completely terrified. I had the impression while listening to her stories, that many of the women she’s rescued are probably experiencing the first happiness, or at least the first feelings of peace and security, of their lives.

Mrs. Shrestha has done it all on a shoestring budget and been compared to Mother Teresa with good reason. Whenever one of her charges dies, she and the others in her house forfeit vegetables for a month in order to pay for a proper funeral, called a dakbaadi, which involves washing the body and lighting a funeral pyre with a torch. Usually this is a rite performed by a son, or by a sort of hired son if there isn’t one, and it costs money. Sometimes, because of lack of funds, Mrs. Shrestha performs the funeral rituals personally, making herself a sort of honorary son for the deceased. Had these people not been rescued, but died on the street, they would never receive so dignified funeral as she gives them. Knowing that they will receive this when they die, along with the great care she provides them while they’re still alive and with her, allows these people a tremendous feeling of comfort and safety.

Sometimes, Mrs. Shrestha said, she gets calls from hospitals and nursing homes who can’t take care of someone, and she always accepts whoever it is. There are no paperworks involved or referrals needed for anyone who comes to her. They come from all walks of life and they are all welcome. While she started with very meager funds, in recent years she has begin  to receive  donations from all over the world. Many local people started donating bags of tea and sugar, rice and other necessities, and recently the Nepalese government promised her some land on which she plans to build a much bigger home to house all of her extended adopted family. 
Me with Mrs. Dil Shova Shrestha and Mr. Aditya Maharjan.
Photo by Ashok Pant

I was lucky to be among the people giving Mrs. Shrestha a khata, or scarf and a Namaste, and it felt very good to be face to face with this courageous and gentle woman. If any of you, my friends, would like to make a donation to her cause, you can find ways to do that by following these links. Any amount, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated. 
Mrs. Dil Shova Shrestha with Mr. Subash Lama and Mr. Bansha Lal Tamang along with others.
Photo By Ashok Pant
For Information or Donation contact:
Old Age Management/ Social Welfare Trust
Soaltee Mode, Ravi BHawan, House no. 183
Udayabasti Marg, Kathmandu-13
Phone: 977-1-4274730/ 4670165
Cell: 9841-702176
Email: rajyagopali@hotmail.com / aamakoghar01@gmail.com


Brief look at "Aama ko Ghar"

Indra Tamang
Oct 22, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

10 years gone by


 10 years gone by

Cover photo for "The Young and Evil"
 Studio Piaz Paris, 1933

 On this day, September 27th, in 2002, Charles Henri Ford passed away in New York. By the time he died, he was ripe age of 94 years old, but even in the hospital and so near to the end of his life, Charles was still vital. He was still making collages, and life held interest for him up until his last moment. That a whole decade has passed since that day is hard to believe, but it has, making this the tenth anniversary of his passing. Charles used to say that ten was his lucky number. He was born on the tenth day of February in 1908, and the day that he died also happened to be the day on which his mother, Gertrude Cato, was born in 1886. 

Since his passing, interest in Charles and his work has only grown. The Young and Evil, the notorious novel he wrote with Parker Tyler (first published in Paris in 1933 and complimented by Gertrude Stein), reprinted a number of times in his lifetime, was re-published again by Metronome Press a few years after he died, giving the book a second life and a whole new audience. His poetry is written about and re-printed regularly, and people come from galleries and museums to look at photographs and collages made by Charles that I still have in his archives at the Dakota. Every so often I get a book or a dissertation in the mail, full of new perspectives about Charles. It’s a privilege to be the steward of his literary and artistic works, and as much as I miss his earthly being, the presence of Charles Henri Ford is always there.

In the ten years between his passing and now, quite a few people close to Charles have also passed, including his sister, Ruth, in 2009. Charles and Ruth were both tremendously influential during their lives, and their contributions are eternal. 

Keep resting, Charles. You’re remembered every day and the admirers just keep coming.

Charles Henri Ford.





 Pictures of young Charles with mother, Gertrude Cato, and sister, Ruth Ford        
"I am the sixth one from the left - Holding the penant" - Charles
photo by W B Jones (Jonnie



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A short Family Vacation to Canada


A Short Family Vacation to Canada
CN Tower.  Toronto, Canada.


August 11th, at night, we left our home at 9PM after having dinner with my cousin Shanta and his family,I drove to Maryland with my mother, my wife Rhadhika and daughter Zina to my friends, Sumitra and Keshab’s house. We arrived there at 1:00AM. 

We slept there, and in the morning, leaving my mother behind at Sumitra’s house with Sumitra’s mother, Sumitra, Keshab, Radhika, Zina and I set off for Canada, with no real plan, but with the idea of going to Toronto or Montreal. We took off North at about 11:00 AM in the morning, and headed for Niagara Falls. Having been there just two years ago, we didn’t visit the actual falls this time, but we spent the night on the New York side at Quality Inn (NY181) 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd. Niagara Falls,NY 14304.  The next morning, August 13th, we crossed the border into Canada, and the guards at the checkpoint questioned us how long we plan to stay. We said we would spend three or four days in Canada, for a little vacation, and we went to Toronto. We booked into a Motel Six in the afternoon, and went to look at the view of the city from the CN Tower. The brochure for it says, “Dare to look 342 m straight down from the world famous Glass Floor.” Radhika didn’t want to step onto the glass part, so she skipped it.  The elevator to the top was like a rocket. 

Giraffes at African Lion Safari.  Toronto, Canada
Later on, we met up with my nephew Ram Kaji Moktan, who lives in Brampton, and he welcomed and treated us to dinner in a newly opened Nepalese-Chinese eatery there, near his house. After dinner he went home and we went back to our motel. He had suggested an African Lion Safari for the next day where you can drive through and look at all kinds of big wild animals roaming free. Unfortunately it was raining, so I didn’t get many pictures, but we saw lions and giraffes, and there were ostriches who came to peck on the windows. When we bought the ticket to get in we were warned that we were going in at our own risk and that monkeys would sometimes come and break the windshield wipers. They advised us  not to open our windows. Thankfully the rain kept the monkeys subdued, they sat on top of poles looking down, and they didn’t bother us.  We saw a little group of about half a dozen giraffes watching us, but the rain made it a disappointment for pictures.

Then we went to Ram Kaji’s house and they feted us with a barbecue, choila, wine and beer, all prepared by him and his wife, Gita.  The barbecue was on the deck behind their house, which was a nice house in a little neighborhood full of maple trees. Then they took us on a nature walk up the stream near where they live, to empty our stomachs for more dinner.
At Ram Kaji Moktan's House. Toronto, Canada.

While we were walking, he took a photo of me holding my big camera and posted it to his Facebook page from his cellphone, so suddenly the world knew I was in Canada. We had more food, and spent that night in their house with them.  The next morning Ram Kaji left early for work, before we awoke. We had said our goodbyes before going to bed. He works for the post office, and his job starts very early in the morning. His wife prepared a nice breakfast for us when we got up. We had wonderful visit with them. We left close to noon and drove to Montreal, which took a few hours driving through a flat landscape. I have thought Canada would have more hills, but the route we took, at least, didn’t have them. 

A lot of the hotels we called in Montreal were booked up, but we finally found one Quality Inn & Suites P.E. Trudeau, Airport ( CN967) 1010ch.Herron Road,Montreal, QC H9S 1B3. It was about 15 miles outside the city. By the time we got there it was night, and we booked that same suite for the next day as well.  The double bed suite cost us $259.66 for two nights which included continental breakfast. The hotel staff told us that it would be better to take a bus into Montreal to sightsee because parking is almost impossible, and they suggested visiting Old Montreal. But we drove anyway, and found a lucky spot in front of a science museum in Old Montreal. We walked all over the old city, to the clock tower by the sea where we walked inside and up the spiral 192 steps to the top of the Big Ben of Montreal.  After that we wandered around the old loading docks at the harbor. There were lots of little narrow alleyways, and it reminded me of Paris and Kathmandu. There were lots of homeless people all over the park benches. I didn’t see any of the so-called New Montreal, but the old city seemed to have lots of homeless, sleeping on the grass as well as on the park benches. 

Street performers at Old Montreal
We saw a performance on a big plaza by a man beating drums and women doing a modern dance with a lot of empty coffee cups, with what looked like a well-rehearsed plan for where to place the coffee cups. It reminded me of the buskers who perform of the Pompidou museum in Paris.  We saw a giant chess game in progress. The chess pieces were probably two or three feet tall, and would be picked up and carried by the players.  I like watching chess, and this was probably the largest chess game I had ever seen. We stayed and watched it till the end.


One thing I liked the most was visiting the botanical gardens.There were all kinds of different gardens, such as the 250-year-old bonsai trees in the Japanese gardens.  The Chinese section has their own style landscaping with exotic plants and flowers. The greenhouses in the botanical gardens had thousands of different types of cacti and plants, even banana trees.  

"Menu Girl" at a Restaurant casting bait at costumers. 
We spent two days in Montreal exploring the old city. The alleyways were full of all kinds of shops, mostly tourist fare, tee shirts and hats. With group of five, it was hard not to get separated. There were lots of eateries in there too. Cars are not allowed in the alleyways, and every restaurant seemed to have a nice attractive girl in a short skirt holding a menu trying to lure in customers.  I wanted to take a photograph of one of the menu girls, but I wasn’t sure if it would be okay. I was at the opposite side of the street from where she was standing, so I gestured her with my camera, and she said, “Just me, or  you and me together ?”  I told her just her would be fine. I took a couple of photographs of her with her permission and it seemed to make her happy.  After couple of hours of walking, we saw the same girl in another area. I suppose she was finished working and on her way home. She smiled at us and my friend Keshab said, “That’s the same girl from before.”  We had to adjust a little from miles to kilometers and from English to French. I used just ‘Merci’ and ‘Bonjour’, left over from my long-ago French lessons in Paris.  

Botanical Garden.  Montreal, Canada.
We left Montreal on the August 17th, and drove towards Thousand Islands. Some of the islands are on the Canadian side and some on the American side. There are actually 1,855 islands to be exact. Some of them are very tiny. We took a boat ride among them, a two and one half hour ride, which seemed very long to me.  The boat had a pre-recorded tour of the islands, who owned which ones and so forth. The captain was a big man at the helm, and I asked him for a photograph. He accepted, and told me that more of the islands are American, but Larger ones are Canadian. 

Our Captain who sailed us around Thousand Islands.
We had no destination set after the boat ride, therefore we agreed on returning. We set the GPS towards Maryland and kept driving, it took us to the waterside highway and in short time we reached the border. It was still daylight, and the immigration officer was a slim Chinese man. I handed him all our passports and green cards, and he asked what we were doing in Canada. I said we were visiting friends and having a family vacation. He pointed at Keshab and Sumitra and asked how we were related and I said, “She’s my cousin and he’s my longtime friend.” He said, “Just before you said it was a family vacation.” He told that he was questioning our relations because he saw that they had different addresses. He wanted to know which part of Queens we were from, I answered Woodside, and he waved us through. 

We drove as long as we could. Many motels were booked solid as we passed Lake George, August being the pinnacle of tourist season. Finally we found one Ramada Hotel about 15 miles away from Lake George, in Queensbury, New York. By then it was after 9 PM. We spent our night there. The next morning we were supposed to be back in Maryland, but Radhika wanted to see Lake George. So we changed our plan of waking up early and heading back. Keshab, Zina, and I went to enjoy the indoor pool at the hotel before heading to Lake George. About 30 of our friends had spent July 4th weekend there and told us about its beauty, so Radhika was very curious. When we got there, we saw the steamboat and the sunbathers and a lot of parasailing.  Zina wanted to go parasailing, but we didn’t get out of the car. We just drove around the lake. It was a very beautiful and satisfying drive. 
We made it to Sumitra’s home via the Jersey Turnpike on August 18th. We spent the next day there. We visited Great Falls, which is in Virginia, on the Potomac River. Radhika had lived in Virginia for many years but she had never visited Great Falls, so it was a first visit for everyone. There were lots of kayakers and lots of warnings posted for them along that stretch of the river about how dangerous it is, especially when the water is low and the rocks are sticking out. 

On Monday the 20th of August, we said goodbye to our friends in Maryland, fetched my mother and drove back to Queens, to our home sweet home.

(from left to right) Zina, Radhika, Sumitra and Keshab
-Indra Tamang
 09/11/2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ruth's day with Cleopatra

RUTH’S DAY WITH CLEOPATRA
Ruth Ford. 
Photo by George Platt Lynes

Today marks the third anniversary of Ruth Ford’s passing. Ruth died at home at the Dakota on August 12th, 2009, and in some ways it feels as if a lot of time has passed since her last day. But sometimes her passing feels like yesterday.  I had been prepared for it I thought, but when it happened it was still a surprise. She was such an important person to me, every day and for so many years, that there was really no adequate preparing for her suddenly not being there.

Ruth was a very important person to many people, especially in New York, and for a very long time. She was famous for her beauty and for her theatrical work, but she was also famous for her salons where people met and important collaborations happened as a result. I think it’s for her salons as much as anything else that Ruth was legendary. She affected the lives and creativity of people who in turn made art that affected the whole culture. And so it seems fitting that Ruth died on the very same day in August—the twelfth—as did Cleopatra. Ruth and Cleopatra both lived lives full of drama and consequence, even if Ruth’s drama was a different kind, and unlike Cleopatra, Ruth lived a very long life and left the date of her passing to fate.

In reality, the closest Ruth ever got to Cleopatra was in 1963, when she co-starred with Tallulah Bankhead in Tennessee Williams’s play, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. Ruth’s friend Ned Rorem, who still lives in the neighborhood not far from the Dakota, composed the music for that production, which also starred Marian Seldes, a wonderful actress and another old friend of Ruth’s. Marian Seldes is still working, as far as I know, and she’s been working consistently for many years. It was Tallulah Bankhead who had the starring role in William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra a long time ago. The show closed after just a few performances and Tallulah got a terrible review in the New York Post: "Tallulah Bankhead barged down the Nile last night as Cleopatra, and sank." That happened in 1937, which for Ruth was a year full of glamorous photo shoots. 

During her time as a fashion model, all the great photographers of the day photographed Ruth, including George Platt Lynes, Cecil Beaton and Man Ray. Both Ruth and Tallulah Bankhead were photographed by Carl Van Vechten, whose novels were on the shelf in Ruth’s bedroom when she passed away. I still have them, and quite a few other books from Ruth’s shelves, many of them by famous friends who inscribed them to her. Ned Rorem’s numerous published diaries were always among Ruth’s favorite books.

On the first anniversary of Ruth’s death I was in Montana visiting my daughter on the big ranch where she and her husband are caretakers. It had been a long time since I’d been free to travel too far away from Ruth, and after being so long in New York, the sky really did seem big in Montana. Last year on August 12th, I was way down South, having driven with Ruth and Charles, both in their urns, to let them be buried in the cemetery near their parents. It was my first trip there, down to Mississippi where Ruth and Charles were born, and it was their last trip home.

This year on August 12th I will be on my way to Canada for a family trip, and on the road I will think of Ruth and Cleopatra. I used to think that Ruth would never leave, that she’d just stay forever in her apartment at the Dakota. For me, the day of her passing will always be a solemn one, and wherever she is, I hope that her spirit is happy and at peace. 

Ruth Ford. Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolf

-Indra Tamang
 12th August, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On the passing of Gore Vidal

ON THE PASSING OF GORE VIDAL
Gore Vidal
October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012
photo: 
polarimagazine.com
 Wherever they were, both Charles Henri Ford and his sister Ruth always surrounded themselves with the most interesting people.  All the best writers and artists and composers and playwrights and filmmakers and actors and thinkers, those were the people they knew. And each time one of them passed, newspapers from around the world would report an immeasurable loss. Charles and Ruth are themselves among those immeasurable losses now, and like each individual in that world they inhabited, they are part of truly irreplaceable group.  The most recent of their old friends to leave is Gore Vidal. 


In the book Conversations with Gore Vidal, edited by Richard Peabody and Lucinda Ebersole (University Press of Mississippi 2005) Mr. Vidal recalls his first meeting with Charles. It happened one night when he was taken by Anais Nin to a party at Peggy Guggenheim’s, where along with Charles he met Parker Tyler, Andre Breton and James Agee. “Ford and Tyler used to put out View Magazine,” he says, “and I was charmed and intrigued. After all, I was a war novelist in the tradition of Stephen Crane, and it was miles different from what I thought Literature to be. Later, I was to absorb some of the paradoxes of surrealism—which you can find in Myra/Myron.”


There is a famous Gotham Book Mart photograph taken in 1948, a group photograph of famous poets sitting together in Gotham Book Mart. Charles himself was the person who arranged to have that photograph taken on the occasion of a visit to New York from The Sitwells. Charles suggested the idea to invite The Sitwells to the owner of the book shop, Frances Steloff, who at first was reluctant to believe that such famous poets would come to visit her small book shop. But Charles convinced her to invite them along with other poets, and they all came. Among those famous poets there was young Gore Vidal. Charles asked Life Magazine photographer, “What is Gore Vidal doing here? He’s not a poet.”  And the photographer answering something like, “Well, he said he was.” Charles always like to tell this story to others when they asked or talked about Gore Vidal.


I’m not sure how well Charles knew Gore Vidal before the day in 1948 when the photo was taken at the Gotham Book Mart, but certainly from that day on, Charles counted him as a good friend.  Very often I heard Charles speak about him. I’m sure I was introduced to Mr. Vidal by Charles at some point in late 70s at a screening or a literary event. A poet or not, Gore Vidal is one of the most elegant and sharp-witted writers we’ve had, and he will be very missed.


Rest in peace, Mr. Vidal. 

Gotham Book Mart Photograph, 1948.
(Pictured in the photo are: Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ON THE PASSING OF CELESTE HOLM

ON THE PASSING OF CELESTE HOLM


For a long time, starting in the 1970s,  I took a camera with me almost everywhere I went, thanks to the encouragement to do so from Charles Henri Ford. We’d go to Studio 54, to parties at various apartments around the city, and to countless art openings, film screenings and book signings. Because of that habit, I have a big collection of snapshots taken at those events, many of them of people I did not know personally, but who were somehow familiar anyway.
 In 1979, one of those snapshots I took was of the actress Celeste Holm, who died on July 15th, 2012 at her home on Central Park West, at the age 95. She was an elegant lady, and she played on stage and in movies and television so much that her face would be familiar to almost anybody. The Turtle Point Press has an online gallery that is showing some of my photos from that period, including the one of Celeste Holm. Please take a moment to have a look: 
A photo of Celeste Holm I took in 1979.
I don’t remember where I took that particular photograph, although I’m guessing it was a film screening. But I like the way she looks in it, vital and youthful at the relatively young age of 62, holding a drink and smiling. Celeste Holm lived a long life full of achievement and honors. May she rest in peace.
Celeste Holm . Photo by AP

Here is a link to her obituary in The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jul/15/celeste-holm

-Indra Tamang
  July 24, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Remembering Ruth Ford

Remembering Ruth Ford



   On July 7th 1911 Ruth Ford was born in Mississippi. Had she kept on living, she would be 101 today. But after a very long and charmed life filled with glamour and achievement, she finally did get tired. She died at home at the Dakota in New York City in 2009, in the very apartment where many of the brightest stars of the 20th Century gathered to enjoy her legendary salons. It was in Ruth’s living room, filled with books and artwork, where I met her in 1974 when I first came to New York. At that time I had no sense of what it meant to be a famous artist or a movie star. Ruth and her brother Charles Henri Ford gave me an education that I would not trade for anything.

As an actress Ruth’s best roles were definitely played on stage. But even though many of the movies she made were considered B-grade, she still shined in them. She was a movie star. Some of those old movies can now be found in their entirety on YouTube, such as “Lady Gangster" made in 1942, where Ruth plays an unscrupulous prison inmate. 




Another one is a slightly campy thriller from 1943 called “Adventure in Iraq” that can’t be watched today without inviting all kinds of comparisons between the world then and now. 


A while ago my friend Allen Frame sent me a YouTube video of a screen test made of Marlon Brando, in which Ruth acted with him. The screen test was intended for an earlier version of “Rebel Without a Cause,” and the little scene between Ruth and Marlon Brando is a treasure I was glad to find. I’m posting it here so that on the occasion of Ruth’s birthday, her many admirers can see her getting a big kiss from Marlon Brando. 











                                                        
Happy Birthday, dear Ruth.  You are missed but not at all forgotten.
                 
 ** July 7th 2012**

Adventure in Iraq (1943)



Ruth's screen-test with Marlon Brando







Friday, June 22, 2012

Bibi and Polidi calling quit after 115 years union

TROUBLE IN PARADISE FOR MR. & MRS. TORTOISE

Nothing last forever. Bibi and Polidi divorced after 115 years of marriage. (photo: coolclipz.com)
    
      Last week,  news went around the world about a pair of giant tortoises who are divorcing after living together in an Austrian zoo since 1897. The Austrian Times reported that after some nasty bickering, things degenerated between the two big turtles to the point that the lady turtle, Bibi, had bitten off a big piece of her husband Poldi’s shell. Was Poldi not able to satisfy her anymore? Apparently efforts by marriage counselors and even aphrodisiacs slipped into their food didn’t help.
     Tortoises like Bibi and Poldi usually live to be at least 200, which means that at the age of 115 Bibi is very likely in a hormone-induced midlife crisis. And that means that nothing Poldi can do or say will be the right thing, whatever he does will be wrong, and even the way he chews his food will be enough to make her want to bite his head off. So it’s probably a good thing that Poldi has moved out.  The zookeepers told the newspapers that Bibi and Poldi just couldn't stand each other anymore. I am just curious how many offsprings they might have produced if any, since the reports have not mentioned about this information.They both weighs about 220 pounds (100 kilos). Let’s hope for the best  for both of them.  


-Indra Tamang
 06/22/2012


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hermitage: Damphu Saanjh, 2010

Hermitage: Damphu Saanjh, 2010


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010 Damphu Saanjh, 2010 Posted by Indra's Corner Damphu Saanjh 2010 New York,USA After it’s establishment in 2001 by a handful of enthusiastic Tamangs living in New York, Tamang Society of America has grown into a full-fledged not-for-profit organization over the years. With the sole intention of preserving Tamang culture, heritage, and religion Tamang Society of America (TSA) have been organizing various cultural, social and sportive functions/events to bring together Tamangs inhabiting mainly in New York and vicinity. One of the indigenous inhabitants of Nepal who are mainly distributed across Himalayan regions, Tamangs are deemed as brave, honest and diligent group of Nepali people who has a long and tortured history of oppression and discrimination in the hands of the then ruling body consisting mainly of Brahmin and Chhetri castes, the disheartening aftermath of class system. They were refrained from actively participating in the mainstream social life only because they were given the lower strata of social class system by the then ruling system. They were deprived of the opportunity for formal education as well, owing to which they were forced to leave their homeland and wander away in search of work mainly to the neighboring cities of India. Despite their not very glorious background, Tamangs have come a long way in the present day to become a very self-sufficient and independent group of people who has fared very well, especially in the foreign-lands, where their honesty, bravery and diligent temperament have carve them a consistent niche. Tamang Society of America (TSA) is one of the many such examples of their integrity. Over the years TSA have touched the lives of Tamangs living in New York in one way or another. It’s effort have culminated into a very large membership in the Society and it has encouraged other Tamangs residing in the other parts of USA like Boston, Washington DC, Virginia, Texas, Connecticut, Montana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, California and even in some parts of Canada. Their original cultural program ‘Damphu Saanjh’ organized every two years during the time of Tamang New Year has become a well-expected event for all the Tamangs living in the USA. Damphu is traditional Tamang drum. In tune with Tungna, accompanying string musical instrument, Tamangs perform their beloved Tamang Sello, their most original dance. Dampu Saanjh is maily nomenclature to denote that the Evening (Saanjh) with Damphu (the Tamangs traditional drum), or in other words the evening of merriment and joy. This years Damphu Saanjh was organized by Tamang Society of America on the inevitably freezing night of 6th of February – sorry, we can’t guarantee weather kind of dilemma. However, the venue, Dhaka Club in Woodside, Queens was brimming to the fullest. No one announced but it was like ‘early bird gets the best worms (in this case seats)’ kind of situation. People were standing even to the far end of the hall. And the best part of it was; everybody seemed to be enjoying. After the customary introduction and individual speech of Board Members and presiding special guest and present other guests, Damphu Saanjh kicked off with songs from our heartthrob singers duo Prem Lopchan and Roj Moktan. Tamang Society of America specially invited them from Nepal for this program. Audiences were dancing in the tunes of their jolly songs and some sad songs, especially sang by Prem Lopchan some audiences were even shedding tears, reminiscent of their beloved ones back home in Nepal. In the same manner, as his approach towards audience would tell, Roj Mokatan, more audience singer, was making everybody come near the stage and dance. In all it was an unforgettable night. Local Tamang kids did very well in their presentation of Tamang dances. Asmita Lama, Sabita Lama, Aayushma Lama, Zina Tamang, Alishesh Rai, Rhea Tamang performed a delightful dance in tunes of ubho, ubho lagyo. Ashish Lama, Siddhartha Tamang, Roshna Moktan, Dolma Lama presented another dance in tunes of amoil – a Tamang song. Alfa Lama, Sweta Lama (winner of teen beauty contest in Boston), Jenny Tamang and Nisha Gurung from Boston presented wonderful dance in tune of Nepali-mix number. Also Ashish Moktan, Anish Moktan along with Zina Tamang and Sabita Lama came up with another jolly dance number pani ma khane supari dana. However, most memorable is Jeny Yonjon from Connecticut. This plump little girl won the hearts of the audience by her solo dance in tunes of tikuli hai. She was so lovely and pert in her dance movements that looking at her was kind of melody in itself. At the later end of the program the melee changed dramatically. Phiroj Syangden took over the stage with his hard rock outfit, strumming his electric guitar accompanying thrumming of virtuoso drumming. Youngsters and even not so young audience enjoyed his Nepali rock songs very much. As Phiroj Syangden was already very popular through his rock band 1974 A.D. he pulled a real crowd at the end of the program and everybody seemed to enjoy his songs very much. This year’s Damphu Saanjh has some other unprecedented highlights as well. Never before in the history (even if short) Tamang Society of America, had any high ranking US official was invited or never before any Nepali singers invited from Nepal for specific Tamang Society of America programs had ever been granted visa to enter USA for their performances. President of Tamang Society of America, Mr. Indra Tamang seems very proud and contented and must have felt very useful to have accomplished all this during his tenure. During his tenure, Mr. John Liu, New York City Comptroller and Mr. Daniel Dromm, Council Member, Jackson Heights were present in the Damphu Saanjh program. They addressed the audience with words of encouragements and thankfulness to have been invited thus. Hopefully, this trend will be carried on during the presidency of upcoming presidents of Tamang Society of America as well because it is a very wise and brave step from Mr. Indra Tamang in introducing Tamang Society of America to America itself. Presumably, it might open new doors for the future of Tamang Society of America in USA. Many members and sympathetic individuals who helped selflessly to bring about Damphu Saanjh were duly award that night through the hands of His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya. In all Damphu Saanjh 2010 was a great success! by Kiran Singh at 10:11 AM Email This BlogThis! 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