Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Shirley Temple in her childhood as an child star.

Recently, I received an email from my dear friend Daniel Haber, who lives in Nepal, telling me how sad he was to learn that Shirley Temple had died. He wrote that she was his favorite child actor, and that she made many people happy with her cute dancing and dimples during the depths of the Great Depression. “I lit a butter lamp for her at the Great Boudhnath Stupa here,” he wrote, “and prayed that in her next life that she’ll make others happy in the Dharma and to become free from repeated births in Samsara.” He went on to tell me that on the Valentine’s Day in the English class he teaches, he taught his students to sing a line from “Everyday’s a Holiday When I’m with You,” one of his favorite Shirley Temple songs.

Until I came to the United States in 1974, I had never heard of Shirley Temple. But I remember seeing her on TV in my early years here, and I liked her. She was such a cute little girl, and I saw quite a lot of her old movies. The only thing I knew about her in later years was that she became the ambassador to the Czech Republic, which is of course very impressive. I would imagine that it must have helped her in her diplomatic affairs to be able to remind people of who she was. Because I think everyone, all over the world, likes Shirley Temple if they know her.

When I made a blog post on February 10th this year for Charles’s 106th birthday, I didn’t know that Shirley Temple had died on that day. There was a little coincidence that she passed away on the date that Charles was born, and she died in Woodside, California, while I live in Woodside, Queens.  

I’ve been lucky to have gotten to meet many interesting people; actors and writers and all kinds of characters, but I never got to meet Shirley Temple Black, and I think I would have liked to, very much. It seems that she never did anything in her life that wasn’t somehow good. Her earthly presence will surely be missed. 

Shirley Temple Black
April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014

Indra Tamang

Copyright Indra Tamang, 2013, all rights reserved. 



Dinner hosted to honor present PM of Nepal Mr. Sushil Koirala at my resident Woodside, NY. 

As everyone has heard by now, this month the Nepalese parliament finally elected a new Prime Minister, ending the political standoff that had dragged on for years. The new Prime Minister is Sushil Koirala, a man I’ve written about before (Blogpost July 2010), and whom I have the privilege to be acquainted with. 

In the article that NEW YORK TIMES published on February 10th, he was described as an unsmiling man who gives dour speeches, but the Times also reported: “In his youth, he took acting lessons in hopes of becoming an overseas movie star. King Mahendra’s coup in 1960 dashed Mr. Koirala’s acting dreams, and he spent the next 16 years in political exile in India.”

Having been in the position to have known a number of actors and some very well (Ruth Ford, for example), I think it is interesting the way that actors often turn to politics. When I think about it, some acting skills probably come in handy to be a politician. It’s no coincidence that with the global issues we face, leaders of nations are often referred to as Actors on the World Stage. In the New York Times article, political commentator Kanak Mani Dixit remarked, “Koirala is going to have to gather all of his skills to persuade his partners to stick with him in governance and constitution writing.” 

I’m well known for not following politics closely, nor for giving many opinions about politics, but it’s impossible for me to ignore this big event, in part for personal reasons. In June 28th 2010, I was unexpectedly honored by Janasamparka Tayari Samiti USA, and Mr. Koirala, the acting President of the Nepal Congress Party at the time, was the chief guest of the program. (Approximately two years later he became the official president of that party). I had met him several times before in New York, having been involved in all the programs hosted to honor him, and I’ve written about how very polite, sincere and understanding I found him to be. He was always so friendly and accessible to everyone, and now he probably won’t be able to be so accessible for security reasons, and that is very understandable. 
Program held by Janasamparka Tayari Samiti, USA. June 28th 2010.  From left: Ms. Mridula Koirala, Radhika Tamang, Indra Tamang, His Excellency Gyan Chandra Acharya (Ambassador to UN at the time), Present Nepalese PM Mr. Sushil Koirala, Mr. Khagendra GC. 

On the day that I was being given the honor, I felt slightly uncomfortable at the notion of being in the spotlight, with a “why me?” ringing in my head. But in giving me the honor, Mr. Koirala managed to make me feel both humble and important, and all of the misgivings I’d had about being publicly honored suddenly vanished. He has a gift for making others feel confident and self-assured, the way he effortlessly made me feel that day. He was anything but unsmiling and dour as the New York Times article described him. He was rather warm and charming and his good will was contagious.

So, while it is true that I don’t like to give political opinions one way or another in general, I do think that the gift Mr. Koirala has for empowering others with his humility and sincerity will go a long way, along with his true desire for democracy and equality, to achieving what Kanak Mani Dixit said in the Times that he will need in order to succeed. If anyone can persuade others to stick with him in governance, and govern in a way that is just and balanced, it is Sushil Koirala. And as the Prime Minister of Nepal, he is now officially an actor on the World Stage.

I wish him the best of luck in all of his endeavors, good health and heartfelt congratulations. May God give him strength to lead and govern  in the best interest of the whole country.

Indra Tamang

Copyright Indra Tamang, 2013, all rights reserved. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

101, Like a Fever

101, Like a Fever

Charles Henri Ford. Crete, Greece. Summer 1980. Photo by: Indra Tamang

It has been a century plus six years since Charles Henri Ford was born in Mississippi on February 10th, 1908. If he were still alive, he would probably call himself “101,” like a fever, because he always claimed that his birth year was 1913, erasing five years off his age.  Both Charles and Ruth liked to give themselves a little discount on age, in order (they thought) to appear younger. But as much as he might not like to admit it, Charles’s true age today would be 106, not 101. 

His windows in the Dakota still look down over the park and everything is the same, while at the same time, all is different. His rooms are full of boxes filled with letters, papers and art. Reading some of his letters, many of them sent to his sister Ruth, reminds me just how full and exceptional a life Charles led. And reading the letters makes me feel he is still here, and that everyone he mentioned in those letters is still here too, because in the letters they are forever still here and living life as he described it. Charles was always doing so much that the way he lived could have been called “feverish,” with all that he was creating and observing. But it was the kind of fever that feels very good, like flying. 

From one letter that Charles wrote to Ruth from Paris in 1931, these quotes:

“Jean Cocteau I haven’t met because he’s ill most of the time from smoking opium. And he’s recovering from a typhoid attack he got in Toulon this summer.”

 “Djuna’s ‘A Little Girl Tells a Story to A Lady’ is in her book of shortstories, A NIGHT AMONG THE HORSES, and is the favorite one of mine. I told her what you said about it being about a lady with a little idiot daughter and she said you were very clever.”

“Day before yesterday Jacques Bossard (you will like him) had me to lunch and begged me to go on a small house party at his father’s chateau in Brittany. But I refused because it’s just too far (10 hours on the train) and I have had enough traveling for some time to come.”

“The last word from Miss Stein was that she would return to Paris late in October.”

His letters are full of such thoughts and bits of news. He wrote to Ruth many, many letters over his long life, all of which Ruth kept.

In honor of his birthday, I want to announce a little series of chapbooks I plan to make containing writings and artwork by Charles. You’ll hear more about that in time. For now, I want to wish him a very good rest after his long fever of a life, lived to the fullest. As Charles said in that letter, “My dear, I could write more but I want to get this off on the next boat and the maid is waiting to take it out before it’s too late.”

Charles Henri Ford 
10 February 1908 - September 27, 2002

-Indra Tamang

Copyright Indra Tamang, 2013, all rights reserved.