are you from….????

i was standing in front of the administration offices few weeks back, when a faculty member of the academy rushed up to me and asked, “are you the exchange student from japan?”

as usual, i smiled back and replied, “no, i’m not.”

he continued, “oh, i had heard that there were two students here on exchange from japan….”
okay, and so you assumed that it was me because i fit the ‘japanese’ look.

i had already met the exchange students and so i replied, “well, they are two guys…and it’s not me. i am a student here in the MA program…”

i guess it was awkward, so he said, “welcome to valand!” and shuttled off to wherever that he was going.

“thank you,” i shouted back, even though i’ve already been here for six months.


isn’t it funny how people think that it is okay to simply guess your nationality or ethnicity or background just by looking at your face. and unfortunately, since i have that supposed ‘asian’  look (small eyes, brown face, straight black hair), more often than not, people simply don’t bother to ask me where i’m from. they like to play the guessing game. like dumb charades…where my ‘face’ automatically becomes the ‘gesture’ and they feel the need to guess my nationality. as if i am inviting them to play it.

like only last week in my swedish language class, the teacher was taking attendance, going from student to student. he reached my desk and blurted out, “China???”


but i maintained my composure and played along, “NEJ.”


“NEEJJJ.” try again.



it had to stop. “Nepal.”

“aahhhhh…wooowww…i would have never guessed.”

NO, OF COURSE NOT. you would have never guessed. And that’s why it would be polite to simply ask me the right question, “Varifrån kommer du? Where are you from?” I could be from anywhere in the world, regardless of what i look like. I could have been born in Canada, raised in Korea and living in Nepal. whatever happened to the ‘we live in the globalized era of the 21st century.’

in another similar incident, the (swedish) guessing guy was actually apologetic after asking me if i was from china. “sorry for that…it’s also true that i could be from another country too…”

“yeah of course…like you could be from…” before i could end my sentence with ‘USA’, he interrupted…”like Norway!”

hahahhahahaha i found his choice of country quite hilarious. but anyway, he could have been from china too if he had settled there and felt like china was his home.


but even us nepali people aren’t without flaws in this guessing game. we are always ready to say, “she looked like bahun or he looked like rai.” we do it all the time, when it comes to our diverse ethnicities. while we talk to each other, we are already creating an equation in our heads – flat small nose, pointy nose, big nose, small eyes, big eyes, no eye lids, thick eyebrows, straight hair, wavy hair, etc. etc. etc. and then people get confused when it comes to me. they ask me, “how are you a ‘burathoki’ when you don’t look like one?”

let me run away with that question for now.

they said

to life

i am slightly embarrassed to say that i started this drawing last year, before i came to sweden (before september 2013) and only completed it last night! well, i guess the spring is finally making me get up on my toes. seriously, you don’t know how difficult it is to pass through the winter here and i can’t imagine how it is way up further north.

so here’s to the sunshine coming in through my window right now!

IMG_5275 IMG_5311


sometimes i eat bread because i want to eat butter. it’s like buying ice-cream because you want to eat the cone. or a cup of coffee because you want to sit by that corner window and watch people passing by. and sometimes, i put on my ear phones even though i’m not listening to anything, so that people don’t come and talk to me. this is especially effective when i’m studying at the library.

i have strange habits and i don’t like bread…as in the regular loaf of bread – be it white, or wheat or rye or whatever. i might like to eat toast sometimes but bread in general, i’ve eaten enough of it in my life…. it’s the boarding school food phobia! they make you dislike the vegetables you even once thought you liked or had the possibility of liking. for example, if you are given cauli ko tarkari for an entire winter how could you still keep liking it?

i guess rice is an exception here.

that reminds me of that funny daal bhat song that someone made and posted on youtube. what a crazy but lovely idea. hahaha. here’s the song. It’s called You Fill me Up – Dal Bhat. nice tribute to dal bhat. hahaha. hahahaha. on that note, here’s a funny picture of me. i definitely look like i’ve been eating a lot of dal bhat here in gothenburg too. which reminds me, i need to buy some daal.

god natt.


Footnote by Jimmie Durham

springi noticed some tiny little buds sprouting this morning, while i waited for the tram. i’ve been eagerly waiting for the spring but each time the sun comes up, it goes back into hiding. DAMN those clouds!

ahh. it’s so mundane and boring to write about the weather but that’s the only thing that seems to be on my mind. i’m inspired one day when the sun shines through my studio’s window for even an hour and the next day, i feel like falling flat on the bed all day. and my african violet plant is refusing to get better…it’s been dying on me. :-(

i have been reading about Jimmie Durham lately and his book ‘A certain lack of coherence’. i came across this particular sculpture by him today:

Footnote, 1989


The text reads:
“At first I was shocked and angry,” said Tomio Kaiya, who makes and sells Dinosaur cookies, “I learned the news about the dinosaur only this morning when I read the newspaper…”

After a long time, I have come across an art work that compels me so strongly as Durham’s Footnote.


i feel like sitting in a train and going on a long journey with no purpose of reaching somewhere. just so that i can sit still under a blanket – not shift an inch – stare out the window yet move miles every hour. the view outside the window would be of infinite plains, and the sun would travel steadily across the sky. when it switches sides, i would switch seats so that i could watch it set.

it ought to be like the little prince who moves his chair to watch the sunset over and over again. Here’s the part of the book where he talks of sunsets. i have always loved this book.

“I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now.”
“But we must wait,” I said.
“Wait? For what?”
“For the sunset. We must wait until it is time.”
At first you seemed to be very much surprised. And then you laughed to yourself. You said to me:
“I am always thinking that I am at home!”
Just so. Everybody knows that when it is noon in the United States the sun is setting over France.
If you could fly to France in one minute, you could go straight into the sunset, right from noon.
Unfortunately, France is too far away for that. But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you
need do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever
you like…
“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”
And a little later you added: “You know, one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…” “Were you so
sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?”
But the little prince made no reply.