‘The Storm’ (2) or ‘Back Home?’

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Namaste my dear readers and friends. I wish you all a great New Year.

I Know, I know, I’m a bit late in doing that but as you know I’ve been away for a month to a region where modern technology is something that is not available constantly. And (I only dare to whisper that) I actually haven’t written much in that month. except for some love letters and the occasional FaceBook status update. But I’m back home. That is to say, my Dutch home for I have during my travel found a new home to live. A Nepalese heart where I feel loved and safe. I won’t reveal nor bother you with the details so let’s just say I’m hooked up with a wonderful nice woman who I love dearly. So I now have another ‘home away from home’ in the south of Nepal, the eastern Terai region to be exact.

The storm I wrote about last month has eased. The questions I had while leaving the Netherlands have been answered and many decision has been taken. The most important one being that I desire to lead a splint life. Half of it (or more) in Nepal, half (or less) of in in the Netherlands. The rest is just the execution of that desire. On the flight back the most vivid sign that such it a good decision is that we faced heave storms over de middle east making the flight slow and the flight time long. We faced ‘headwind’ while returning from the last shooting trip for my film ‘Headwind’. Actually, OUR film ‘Headwind’ as the positions in the production team have changed. Making ‘Headwind’ is no longer my personal task and responsibility, it has become a group thing now with a co0directing producer and a co-pruducing director.

Our trip to Sikkim to shoot mountain footage and travel through the earthquake struck area of the south central Himalayan state of Sikkim has been successful. We’ve also seen the teagardens of Darjeeling and the mists over Pokhara. We visited the now familiar places in Kathmandu, Patan, Pashupatinath and Boudha and travelled by bus, mini taxi, tourist taxi, airplanes, four wheel drives, local busses and riksha’s. We revisited the refugee camps near Damak, the now abaondoned and somewhat spooky Goldhap camp and we talked to and interviewed many. We visited the ex hunger strikers in Beldangi who have risked their lives for the unregistered people in the camps. We stayed at the farm of my love just outside Damak village in between the now still empty rice fields in between fields of amber colored mustard.

And we never had any disagreement or quarrel. Everything happened just like it should. We delivered financial aid to vulnerable non registered, brought media equipment to motivated and eager journalists in the exiled community and brought the photo’s from our exhibition (the one in the Netherlands) back to where they originated. And it all went well.

So here I am in my European home. Feeling happy with what we did living in anticipation of the next few months in which the film will finally become reality. Feeling sad about the love that I had to leave behind (but will see again soon). Making plans for the next journey, the publication of a number of books within three months and feeling dislocated as my heart is still out there.

In the coming months the following results will finally come from the project I started almost one and a half year ago:

  1. the English language novel ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’
  2. a photobook about elderly people in the Himalaya‘s
  3. a photobook about the Bhutanese exiles living in diaspora
  4. the documentary ‘Headwind’
  5. a photo exhibition about resettling in the Dutch community
  6. a cd with music from the film
    and many, other things…

It’s going to be a busy time. After that time I will travel back to Nepal and God willing stay there for five months to live with my love and to promote and sell the results of our work. To show the film to the people who have become my inspiration and are part of it.

For now I’ll just focus on the work. Writing here will be less intense as it has been last month simply because of all the things I have to do for the project that not only produces these wonderful things and art but that has also changed my life and the life of some others working on it.

For the record: we’ve produced almost twelve thousand photos this journey, seven hours of footage and millions bits of memories. So much happens when filming and so memory memories build upon each other. In the end it feels like an epic journey and maybe that’s what it was.

So, namaste my dear western friends, I’m back. For a while. And for my eastern friends I can only say ‘pheri bethaula’.

Alice © 2012

Eerste foto expositie in the making…

Zo, en toen was mijn eerste foto expositie onderweg.
Dat wil zeggen, later deze maand en begin volgende maand heb ik de beschikking over de expositieruimte in Creatief Warenhuis Hoop in Den Haag. Zo ongeveer de coolste plek in deze stad. In het centrum en gemakkelijk bereikbaar.

De expositie zal een selectie van foto’s laten zien over Bhutaanse vluchtelingen in de kampen in Nepal en maakt deel uit van het cross media project ‘Headwind’. Na de website, de inmiddels bijna drukklare roman en de feature lengte documentaire waar hard aan gewerkt wordt is dit het vierde onderdeel van het Headwind project.

Meer info volgt hier binnenkort dus maak alvast ruimte in de agenda voor een bezoek aan Creatief Warenhuis Hoop eind augustus of begin september (ook open tijdens de museumnacht). Ik zal er zijn en uitleg geven over de foto’s en zorgen voor een aanvullend programma van korte lezingen en muziek rond het thema van de vergeten vluchtelingen uit Bhutan. Er zal ook een trailer van de documentaire te zien zijn.

Natuurlijk zullen de foto’s te koop zijn voor een mooie prijs. De opbrengst gaat naar de productie van de documentaire Headwind. (www.headwindfilm.com)

Alice © 2011

Essay on the history of the Bhutanese Diaspora.

This essay has been written first as a part of my new novel (in which it is integrated as an extra chapter for reference on the history of the Bhutanese diaspora). But as it is in all aspects a work on its own I’ve decided to publish this essay under the Creative Commons License in such a way that with proper attribution and without changing any of it’s contents it is allowed to use it for non commercial purposes.

The essay ‘A view on the history of the Bhutanese Diaspora’ not only contains my analysis of the history of the exiles from Bhutan but it also states an opinion on what should happen to resolve this still existing humanitarian crisis. In the essay I explain history, politics and roles to partly resolve the unbearable situation that is existing. It’s a personal view that I’ve developed after thorough research, extensive interviews with exiles living in the Netherlands and the camps, journalists, politicians and scholars and many visits to the refugee-camps in the southeast of Nepal.

Currently political pressure on the Bhutan government (and king) to soften their policies and allow repatriation of exiles is building. In the last weeks only both the new prime minister of Nepal, the US ambassador in Nepal and the UNHCR issued statements that Bhutan should allow it’s own citizens to return to Bhutan in dignity. To understand the need for this pressure building to resolve the situation it is important to understand history. The essay I wrote might help with that. But it also tells that a complete solution is not any longer possible as a result of the ongoing third country re-settlement that in effect has re-settled tens of thousands of exiles to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. After three years of ongoing re-settlements there finally seems to be a response to the situation in the international political arena.

To read the essay, please download it from the relevant publications page on this website, or right-click this link: A view on the history of the Bhutanese Diaspora.