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Picture The Word NAMASTE

Nepal could well be the most photographed place in the world, renowned for the apotheosis of its mountains.


A Western woman with short silver hair among a group of sari wearing women in a Nepalese village
photo credit: BIKE 'N SOUL

I am an amateur photographer and a born-again motorcyclist. A decade ago, I swapped my bike for banger (an old decrepit car) in part, to be able to stop more spontaneously to take landscape photos.


I live on the South Island of New Zealand, where the roads are a biker’s nirvana, and the picture-perfect scenery is a photographer’s paradise.


 

Last year, as I mounted an iconic Royal Enfield Bullet, I rekindled my ‘bike-lust’ on BIKE 'N SOUL’s ‚Nepal Hilltop Discovery’ tour.  Being on a Bullet is a quaint contrast to the sports bike I rode in New Zealand; it is an uncomplicated machine whose design blends in congruence with its surroundings.


As we looped our way through the hills, we stopped to meet and to talk- with villagers and farmers, children on their way to school, women harvesting rice or lugging loads on their backs, young fathers who grow potatoes in a patch next to the hovel they call home.



Every single time we dismounted from our bikes, we were witness to the mundane morphing into magic. At every encounter reticence dissolved into a smile on a face worth a thousand words.


I’m astonished at the photos I captured of the people I met; each one, a soul scape of grace, an unsullied and generous spirit.


Landscapes and architecture suddenly had secondary subjective appeal as we delved further into valleys and traversed our way up hillsides.


I’m still surprised at the newfound allure of taking portrait photos; however, they illustrate the vibrancy, spontaneity and expression of those meaningful experiences we had.


I suspect the Nepali people are amongst the few in our world who exude such humility and authenticity of character and who welcome a foreigner to capture it all unconditionally.

 

I wonder why it is in the nature of these people to transmit such a state of goodwill- is it a religious fundament, or is it in their cultural ‘DNA’, or is it an adaptive mechanism to poverty and hardship?


I think the answer lies, simply, in the Sanskrit phrase: ’NAMASTE’ so frequently exchanged in Nepal, which encapsulates that brief moment through a camera lens when the shutter clicks and an image is created which breathes the words:  


“Praise to you, honour to you, I bow to you.”


A woman with short silver hair sitting on a motorbike that is adorned with prayerflags Spur bwetween the mirror
photo credit: BIKE 'N SOUL

A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people — Annie Leibovitz


Namaste,

Laura / New Zealand

 


All photos by Laura Rust, unless indicated otherwise.


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1 Comment


Hi Laura,


This wonderful post speaks as much through its words as through your amazing images. Your love for Nepal and its people is obvious. I am so humbled we could explore a part of this beautiful country together on the back of our Royal Enfield bikes.


I can’t wait to read/see more of your work.


Much love

Kerstin 💋

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