Sitting on a stupa.

After months of preparation I’m finally there. A research visit was needed in February. And a plan. Money, lots of it. But most of all I needed to go through a development myself. About myself, about the film I am making. It started with a simple idea that would have been difficult to realize in a manner that viewers would be attracted to watch. It evolved by the contribution of the thinking of others who got involved in the project into a very much simpler idea that is easier to follow. In many aspects filming is storytelling. Storyline, characters, locations and situations are needed for both. Actually this summer I will be making both, a film and a novel.

But before it all really could start I needed to grow into someone else than the one I was a year ago. Live changing events help with that. The passing away of my mother, the rise and fall of a great love, the growing feeling of not longer being part of the society I lived in, the continuous pressure of western society, it all contributed.

So there I am, sitting in a café near the Boudha stupa. If you ever plan to go there, go to Flavors for some relaxation and good food. In April it’s not cold inside anymore and the wifi keeps working even during load shedding hours. If you’re there on time you might find me there, clicking some keys. Only two days ago I arrived at Thribuvan airport finding a country that became a little more complicated in recent months. Political instability and lack of fuel and electricity keeping the country in a tight and paralizing grip. Daily life slowing down at times when it should be buzzing out there. Running a country that should grow and evolve is hard when the basics are missing. But at least the smiles were there again and the beggars and the dirt. But somehow I don’t see that as the colors that paint the streets, building and most of all the people have an exhilarating effect on me. In this particular spot there a lot of westerners hanging around. Young girls, probably working for some sort of project, older hippies who got stuck on the hippy trail, western Buddhists looking totally out of place and even the occasional tourist, some of them looking for cheap hashiesh. They’re all there and they probably always will be.

I on the other hand am bracing myself. Preparing for next week. If all goes well and permits are on time I will leave the touristic safety of Kathmandu for the difficult southeast of the Jhapa and Mechi districts. Vidhyapati, my trusted production assistant, will be joining me so next Thursday we’ll do some basic camera training. Our meeting on the Sunday evening was really good. The planning seems to be feasible and there are some goodies come into the plan, like me giving a writing and storytelling workshop for youth in the camps. With a camera running in the corner I expect. The planned stay in Damak of one week will probably evolve into nearly two weeks freeing up some time for other activities than working solely on Headwind the film. We’ll be visiting Goldhap, the camp burned down last March, knowing that shooting extra footage there has importance for news gathering but is only slightly connected to the documentary storyline. Still it’s one of the things I feel strongly about doing. I know that on many counts it will be difficult. Difficult because of the heat approaching 40 degrees centigrade in a humid environment making me an easy target for mosquitos and other tiny little buggers. Difficult because of the reason for being there: filming and thereby interfering in the lives of people who do not have much hope in life. Usually people don’t get more responsive or inviting in such situations. But I have good company so I don’t need to worry all that much.

For the coming months we’ll be filming in the camps, in Kathmandu for some interviewing and in the countryside of the south to get enough footage in areas that at least resemble Bhutan. Besides the filming bit I will travel to Pokhara for a week, spend nearly a month at a monastery in isolation from the world I know not knowing if I can manage to live through the experience and go on a mountain trek. The camera won’t always be with me because of transportation challenges. The intention is to at least bring the equipment along on the mountain trek. Anyway, the first few days are kind of slow and I don’t mind that at all. It’s nice to walk around and fade into the not so massive masses. The essentials for working seem to be available and moneywise the only setback is the raising transportation cost due to skyrocketing fuel prizes. But for the rest of it? It feels pretty good in this strange place. Today is a good day after the rainy yesterday. I moved house to another guesthouse where I’ll stay till Sunday. Then on Monday we hope to travel to Damak for filming. It’s going to be the most important two weeks of the project so far. So I just sit on the stupa and take a deep breath before jumping…

Alice © 2011