‘He was puffing on a Khukuri Churot (Cigarettet), really coarse, rough and strong… A little like Jiwan Kale. That’s his name in the village. I wonder if anyone even knows his surname or ever bothered asking… Or if in his entire life he has been referred to as “Mr. Kale”. I doubt that’s his surname and like all others, I failed to ask him it myself.
It was a hot monsoon day in Juimurei, a gateway to many other hillside villages in Pokhara. I approached Jiwan Kale and asked if I could take a picture of him. He tugged sharply on his old purple shirt, shifted his hat slightly and made sure the knot on the small scarf was still done up and said “I better look good for your big camera” and gave the most genuine and loving smile one could ask for. I showed him the picture on my camera and he was very pleased with the result.
When I got home later and looked at the picture again and its details, I couldn’t help but notice his teeth that were rotting away and his gray facial hair. I bet Jiwan has a story he could tell to account for every one of his deep wrinkles. Over years of working on the foothills he has acquired a dark complexion hence the name Kale I suppose. People have even asked me where in Africa the picture was taken (as that is where I grew up) and are often surprised when I tell them this was in Nepal, very close to my village Rijain aka Ranjen. I look forward to going back to Nepal next year and taking pictures not of, but with Jiwan Kale and possibly help him out on the farm where he spends his days labouring away for the “Sau Ji”.’
Written by Dipesh Gurung