After relentlessly pursuing one of the proprietors, I finally got the permission to photograph a circus troupe. The traveling circus at that point in time was stationed in Trivandrum (Kerala, India). This was in July 2012. Circus, I think as probably do many, is not so popular form of mass entertainment these days. It is dying. The onslaught of television, movies, internet and other forms of entertainment has all but killed this performance art. As a child, I remember being mesmerized by the gravity defying acts. However, as a grown up, my attention shifted from the performances to the performers.
Most of the performers were Nepalis. The word soon spread about me being a Nepali also. They were extremely comfortable with me and my camera. The poses came naturally. Most of them said that they were from villages in Makwanpur district. I wanted to know their stories.
I did manage get some facts about a few Nepali performers. Some stories could easily be adapted into a romantic movie- of people meeting, performing, falling in love and promising to spend the rest of their lives together. One such is the story of Menuka Lama, 25, and Bhusan Lama, 27 (picture number 4). Menuka was 10 when she was brought to the circus, which she calls her home now. She says she has no regrets as she cozies up to her husband for a photograph. They met here. It almost looked like a happily-ever-after story. But is it so, I asked. ‘This is the kind of life written for me, it is my destiny,’ she justifies her past and present.
Meanwhile, the group of girls in their dormitory (picture number 6) welcomed me to their abode only to be kicked out by their matron shortly. They surrounded me and started asking all sorts of questions. And I happily answered them. It was time for their afternoon tea. I was treated to egg patties and a cup of tea. In between, a girl from Biratnagar affectionately asked, ‘didi tapai ko kapal korideu?’ (sister shall I do your hair?). After documenting for hours, my hair was disheveled as, I, too, was performing with my camera. Amidst the curiosity, smiles and emotions, we bonded- the bond of being a Nepali in a not-so-foreign-land. It was quite an emotional affair.