It had just gone past 5.30PM when the first ever Miss UK Nepal Nabina Gurung walked into the Tamudhee Hall where this interview was held. Smiling and already chatting from the distant it was evident enough that this 23 year old was still flying high from her title win. Why shouldn’t she, after all she’s the walking encyclopaedia for beauty pageants having participated in four which includes Miss UK Nepal. Nabina who passed her SLC from Trungram International Academy is probably the most talked about Nepali figure currently in the UK. Having only been in the UK for 9 months she’s managed to achieve so much already. She’s a living example of hard work paying off. Never the one to be pushed back by failure, Nabina was driven to win. Each setback only determined her to do more and that’s exactly what she has plans as she tells me that Miss Nepal 2011 is on the cards. There is a very thin boundary between confidence and ego and our Miss UK Nepal handles her confidence perfectly. She’s not the type to shy away as she boldly boasts of her achievements stating how she’s proud of it and wishes everyone to acknowledge it too. In the next hour I got told of her various commitments, accomplishments and plans. A sport junky from childhood Nabina was far from the stereotypical beauty queen that we’ve seen so far. As a child Nabina was a strong tennis player which led her to become the Junior Champion in late 1999. Her spontaneous personality is likely to win over anyone who comes by her. Not afraid to speak her mind Nabina states how the first ever Miss UK Nepal pageant lacked professionalism from the organisers. Staff nurse by profession Nabina feels that she’s in the right position to utilise her occupation to give back to the Nepalese community yet she still carries the dream to become an English newsreader in the future. With the Miss UK Nepal status her dream may become a reality and when it does we will proudly be watching at home knowing we picked the right contestant. Here we have for you, Nabina Gurung in her own words.
INTERVIEW TAKEN: November 2010
As we’ve heard from your introduction you’ve only been here for less than 9 months so how does it actually feel to be the title holder of Miss UK Nepal? Yes, actually fighting in the competition with twelve other beautiful ladies who have been here for quite some time was bound to be an interesting ride. Everyone’s been here for at least five years, despite that it never kind of put me down. At the start of the contest they had told us that it’ll be based upon the number of votes you would get. In that sense I thought it would be difficult because I’ve no one here since I’m new. Nonetheless, after that I was pretty confident.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve taken part in 3 beauty pageants before; do you think that was fair to the other 12 contestants who haven’t had the experience and knowledge? Of course I do, I’ve participated in Miss Teen Gurung, Miss Teen Nepal and Miss University Nepal where I became the First Rupper-Up in 2006 and before applying to this pageant I made it very clear because I am very proud of my achievements. Also Miss UK Nepal title says it all, it says you have to be a capable Nepali citizen living in the UK and having my experiences was just a plus-point. There was nothing stopping me.
When Miss Nepal gets crowned, she normally talks about how her life changed overnight. Is that something that you feel has happened in your life? Okay, Nepal is a small place and Nepali community is not that vast in other countries so until and unless you’re a Hollywood star that’s not how it works. I still am the same Nabina I was 3 weeks back. However, yes this pageant has given me the fame and recognition which I’ve fought for. Whenever I walk in public places where there are a lot of Nepalis, they quite recognise me now. They’d be like ‘oo isn’t that the first Miss UK Nepal’, so it has changed but I wouldn’t say drastically. I still laze around at home doing nothing sometimes.
So what will you do in the coming months to make this reign stronger so your fame lasts longer? Well I’ve done a lot of planning actually. Planning such as, I don’t want to be like ‘o that was just another beauty queen’. I’ve organised a fundraising program on the 4th of December – Beauty With Purpose and I just got signed up as the ambassador for Childreach International which is a huge accomplishment and let me tell you a small experience I had. A week back, I had a lovely meeting with his excellency Dr. Chalise in the embassy itself. Entering that embassy as the first Miss UK Nepal and sitting on the couch discussing ways to uplift our nation in the British society has been my greatest achievement after winning the pageant. I felt like I’ve accomplished so much having that table talk with the ambassador and have my full belief in him for making the best decisions for our nation. He is a very lovely down to earth man who almost reminded me to be like him.
There are many Nepali events and countless other gathering taking place throughout the year which basically focuses on Nepali-pan and the Nepali community. Do you not think that these kinds of event are restricting our community from integrating with the British society? That’s an interesting question; I’ve never thought anything about it. I think in a way the main bottom-line is you should not forget your roots. So long that happens you can interact with the Nepali community, I have overviewed the problem that youth are not interacting as much as they should within the British society. We should take advantage of the fact that we are here and we should learn things that we should from them. So long that happens and you don’t forget where your roots are, I think it’s okay but yeah that’s about it.
You mentioned before that in Miss Teen Nepal, you weren’t that appreciated, we’ve heard about various fixes happening in beauty pageants before. Once again, it has come to our attention that there may have been a fix-up regarding the top 5 final contestants during the show. Is there any truth to this? I’ve heard about that as well. After the pageant finished I spoke to the chief judge (Dambar Ghale) personally and I arose the same question with him to which he said if anybody wants to see the whole judgement sheet and how it went then he’s got the evidence and he’ll make sure that if anybody wants to argue with him formally, he will show the whole thing and it’s not only about the final night. It’s about your training sessions, how you work, if you were punctual, disciplined and all that. To me personally I think the top 5 was fair enough but as for the other question you asked you still have to talk to the judges for that.
In the future, if you were to organise a beauty pageant such as this what changes would you bring? I think professionalism is one thing. I would not like to mention who, but professionalism is one thing some of the organisers were lacking. What we got in return was the fact that we (contestants) have an attitude problem.
Previous Miss Nepal title holders have vowed to work for their country, bring a change – countless other things yet they end up in the media industry doing few dozen videos and appearing in movies, Do you see yourself going down this path? With due respect, that’s not something I would want to do, it’s not my cup of tea. Regarding media, like I said earlier one thing that I would like to do is become an English newsreader. That is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m really not interested in doing movies or video. I have had a couple of offers which I turned down.
How about movies? No, only if it’s opposite to Edward Cullen. That is my aim.
Nepali film tetti man pardaina? Man pardaina haina, maybe if I’m opposite to Rajesh Hamal. I love his work.
Provided a good director, good production, would you still think about it or do you think acting is something which you haven’t quite grasped? I don’t know, I think acting is something that you carve. I love acting. I’ve done a lot of school plays and drama where I’ve been highly appreciated, so I don’t have doubts on my acting skill. Like you’ve said if there’s a very good team behind it maybe I would consider it. Maybe if the amount is right too (laughs)
Do you think Nepal has the platform to provide us youth a place where we can project our skills and knowledge? There are already lots of skilled workers in Nepal but the platform and opportunities is lacking. In that sense don’t you feel intimidated? Yes I do, but if I look at that side of the spectrum then I would not want to return back to Nepal. You know there are pros and cons to everything, when you go digging for one ounce of gold, you have to remove thousands tonnes of dirt and Nepal is in that exact frame of case. I’ve also said this in my pageant answer during the top 13 round, it’s not like people are lacking opportunity, they’re lacking accessibility.
You’re someone who has grown up in Nepal for a long period of time, what’s one thing that bothers you the most about what’s happening in your country in terms of the political situation? I’m a very politically active person; I’m very informed regarding what’s happening around the world, especially my country. As of that matter address to racism, I don’t support any group in particular but whatever is happening is not good. People who have always been suppressed have now the opportunity to voice their opinions. I am actually happy that everyone’s getting an opportunity to speak out. Maybe it’s not in the correct form of state right now, but because we’re being able to voice our opinions, people are hearing us out now.
Do you feel that there is an urgent need for the constitution to be written? There is, we don’t have a prime minister at the moment. If they would want me then I could easily go and sit which is not possible at all. However, 10 years down the line I can see myself in the political structure of Nepal. That’s something which I’ve always been interested in; I probably have to thank my dad for that.
What characteristic do you have that you identify as being the most British? I think I’ve learnt to be very polite, the British characteristic in me would be me saying ‘thank you’
During the final show, who did you think was your biggest competitor while you were up on that stage? The kind of people when they first came to the pageant wouldn’t speak much, were very shy but through the process they became a strong competitor. I could feel it as the weeks progressed. My main competition was Sheila, because she’s got that intellectual calibre. She’s a graduate and she was improving rapidly so she was always on the back of my mind.
What’s the best memory out of all the training sessions? There was never a dull moment but the best time was going to the Nachnai Parcha party where all of us were invited. We partied till 7AM in the morning followed by brunch at De Namaste at 9AM then had to attend our training session at 3. We were continuously going for more than 48 hours from one training session to the other. We were all there together yawning and laughing at the training.
Post the event you also received the winning amount, how have you utilised that amount, if you have? Yes I have, although I was living with my parents I decided to move out since I thought it was high time that I tried living independently. The first thing I did was to pay my rent, bills which were very productive. I still have the remaining cash left which I will spend during my trip to Nepal.
What’s waiting for Nabina Gurung in Nepal? A lot of things, since Nepal is such a small place, everyone knows everyone. I was part of a small group, they called us socialite’s consisting of Ayusha Karki (Miss Teen Nepal 07), Zenisha, Kunchang and many others. They’re my friends from the pageant level who I will meet but I have many other friends too. I am going there for an official purpose which will only take few weeks then I’ll be back here in England continuing my duties before New Years… so yes we can party together Lex!
Images: Rabi Chamling Rai, HAV, FridayWeekly