While in Nepal I encountered lots of different music. There was traditional folks songs, Buddhists chants, Bollywood music, music at bars/dance clubs and the music that my co-trekkers brought with them.
We had several dance parties when trekking, went to a village celebration and danced at a few night clubs/bars in Pokhara and Kathmandu. There are many other Nepali traditional music and dances that I didn’t get to experience; something on my list for when I go back.
We experienced Nepali folk songs on several occasions. Our porters sang and played drums for us and all of us danced. One of the most popular Nepali folk songs is Resham Firiri. To English speaking people, some of the lyrics sound like “I am donkey, you are a monkey” , We would belt this out as loud as we could, having no idea that this is not what it was saying. The actual lyrics are “Udayra Jauki Dadama Vanjyang Resham Firiri”. I found a site that has attempted to translate the song and this line says “Like a silk ribbon/scarf flying freely in air, I wish to fly over the hills.”
Even though this is blurry, this is the best photo that I had of the porters playing the drums and singing.
In Sikha, one of the small villages, there was a celebration going on for a new set of stairs that had been completed. To put this in context, it would be like a new major highway being completed near your city. There was a group of men playing instruments and other men and women danced. The women would sing looking at the men playing instruments, then the women and other men would start the dance and the men with the instruments would play and sing. We would dance in a circle, making twirly arm and hand moves like dancing at a Grateful Deal show. Then the music would speed up and we would dance a move that was basically squats and leg kicks. This move is very much like the Russian kazatskis. Thanks to Jamie for the photos as I didn’t have my camera with me.
In my final days in Kathmandu, there was a holiday and a parade. I am still not sure what it was for. At the beginning of the parade, there were people with traditional masks and costumes; unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera. I was able to catch a few of the performers. Each group seemed to have 1-2 people that would twirl a pole with flags on top and everyone else seemed to have some sort of musical instrument and sang. It was pretty amazing to watch the pole twirler as he had to manage to not get the pole tangled up in the street flags and electrical wires.
Om Mani Padme Hum was heard continually near any music shop. It will always remind me of walking the streets of Kathmandu.
We also heard monks chanting during prayer session at Upper Pisang. I love the horns that the monks play. To hear the horns unique sound, watch this video of the long horns used in Dhankar Gompa.
We encountered Bollywood music and other popular music from India when we ate in restaurants, watched dance shows on the tvs in the guest houses and while we rode on a bus from Jomsom to Ghasa. We had great fun on our bus ride as we danced in our seats and clapped our hands to the music. We were never able to find out what the cd playing was ;however, it seemed to be a mix of songs that are on these two cds: Putomayo India and Bollywood Favorites. Particularly 3. Jhumka Gira Re and 8. Roop Tera Mastana.
Music clubs for foreigners
I am not sure if it was just the clubs that we picked but Rock cover bands seemed to be the main music. It was great fun to hear some of my favorite rock songs and dance with my new friends. The first photo is from Pokhara. One my co-trekker Scott got them to sing a few of his favorite songs and of course I went a little crazy when they sang a Lynyrd Skynrd song. The other two photos are from a club in Thamel, Kathmandu.
Biking and Music
While on my bike ride, I found out that one of our guides sang in a band. During our lunch break while we waited for our food, I convinced Dave to sing some Guns and Roses songs to make the day a perfect day for me. While he didn’t want to sing Sweet Child o’mine (my favorite), he beautifully sang Patience and because I inadvertently didn’t save the video, I was able to convince him to sing a second song. He choose Don’t Cry. Not to be out done, Shyam then picked up the guitar and sang Jason Mraz’s song “I’m yours”. I love it when live music is just part of an everyday moment. So grateful to both of them for this.
I always like to buy music when I travel to support local music shops. I made a mistake on this trip when I went into a shop and quickly bought a cd, only to find out it had no music on it. I am not sure if it was on purpose or not but in a country that does not have very good copyright laws, I think is was. I found an amazing shop in Thamel, Kathmandu called Sur Sudha. My friend (sati), Asbin, was very helpful. He would play the cds for me to make sure that I liked the selection and to make sure that it had no scratches. If you visit Kathmandu, make sure to stop in and say hi. He loves NYC so share any New York stories that you have.