Better late than never right?
Twenty-two year old Bartika Rai became the third Miss Nepal US on August 17 at Queens Theater in New York. The new beauty queen also bagged herself an assortment of prizes with the retail value of up to $5000. The pageant which had been dogged with various controversies managed to march ahead and pull off a grand show with several popular figures in attendance including Malvika Subba, CNN’s Kiran Chhetry and Miss New York! Joining Bartika were Anuja Thapa Magar and Sony Pathak who became Miss Nepal US 1st and 2nd Runner-Up.
I actually had a mini-interview with Bartika for the blog to make up for the delay… From talking about how she nearly quit the contest even before it started to her changing views towards beauty queens, Bartika’s answers are refreshingly honest. I have to say she’s right about the facial expression, I kept looking at the photos of the Miss Nepal US event and her winning expression is just amazing – she looks SO CALM! It’s as if she just discovered nirvana! Okay maybe that was too extreme. Anyways enjoy reading the interview and I also managed to have a brief conversation with the Secretarial Director of Miss Nepal US 2013 Neerakar Uprety about this years pageant and his thoughts about everything that happened before the pageant – this is the end now! No more stories and sides!
PS. Huge thank you to Bimal Nepal & Bikrant Shrestha for the photos!
When did you realize that you had a pretty good shot of winning the coveted title?
To be completely honest, I never did. By the time of the finale, I had started viewing the contest as a concert/performance, one in which I found myself constantly worried about the girls as a team. My major worry was that girls would get nervous and not answer intelligently. These were intelligent women, and I wanted the audience to know, even though in just 2 hours, the way I knew them. My approach to the finale was balanced and by the end of the finale, I honestly did not worry about winning, because I already had met amazing women of substance and thought the Top 5 had given good answers. And I am not saying this to be diplomatic, each girl who met me back stage before the crowning knows I did not worry about winning, and every journalist who was in the audience asked me why my face was blank after winning. I never realized it, and even after winning, the reality took a lot of time to sink in. In fact, it is still sinking in.
Every girl who had participated equally deserved to win. It was tough for me to even imagine of who would make it to the Top 5. These women who participated have bulky resumes. Some are graduates from renowned universities, one is going into a law school, one is going into the American army, few are studying to be dental specialists, the 18 year olds who participated already know what they want in their lives and are active contributors in the Nepali American society, and if I write about each one of them, I will have written a book that nobody cares about, because our Miss Nepal US 2013 journey will never be as special to you, as it has been to us.
You mentioned quite a few specific tasks and responsibilities that you wished to carry out if given Miss Nepal US title, what is the next step for you?
I am planning on some proposals that I should ideally get done by mid-September which will go around to some esteemed people and businesses and if I get a good deal of support, I will go to Nepal and conduct workshops, and trainings on a few areas that I still am trying to finalize. I have a lot going on in my mind, it is overflowing with ideas. Initially, I got nervous that I only have this year. But I am only now realizing that if I really want to do my projects, I can also do it in the years to come, and I can also do longitudinal projects. The next step therefore is raising my sponsors for my projects. I will also be supporting some grass-root foundations run by youngsters in Nepal which I cannot name right now as it has not been officially decided.
As someone who went from critically observing beauty pageants to competing and winning one, how has your ‘views’ changed of such events?
My respect for beauty queens and beauty pageants has dramatically increased. I now know that beauty pageants are not about only meeting superficial girls whose priorities in life are their closets and bad hair days but about meeting powerful women of the community who can inspire you. I actually had intellectual conversations with these women about politics, environment, business, tax laws, trafficking, sex issues, gender issues, and such for continuous four hours and every time we were free. It was striking how our mentor and Chief Choreographer Malvika Subba always made it clear that intelligence came before the walking and the hair. Beauty pageants are in fact intense. You have to look perfect all the time, stand with heels on for hours, smile all that time, adjust in a dress that might not be your perfect size, be open for criticism, and still be intelligent under all those lights and critical eyes. As for me who initially thought it was just shopping and worrying about nails, it was a huge surprise in a positive way on many different levels.
As a participant how was the Miss Nepal US 2013 experience for you, any ‘controversies’ that followed?
I am not a pageant type of a girl. I shocked all the people around me when I participated in this contest. To top it off, all the controversies surrounding the pageant only added more worried messages, advices to leave it, and such. As dramatic as it may sound, I actually was going to quit the contest on the day they released our profiles. I had a skype conversation with my friend, phone conversation with aama, thought the entire day and decided against it. If I open it, I close it. I had started it, and so I would end this. I will tell you that none of the controversies were true. Going into the pageant, when I read Astha’s interview with you, I did doubt on it since it came from a winner. But now, I am in her shoes and the truth is that none of the controversies were true. I am not interested to plead and convince people so if you can take my word, so you may. Otherwise, it is a free country. Ask any participant and she will tell you what I did. The organizers would be running around all the time and we honestly did not have any time to waste in any controversies because whenever we had some free time, all we did was discuss about women rights, probable projects, or go to sleep.
Message from Bartika Rai…
Push yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t be judgmental of the world around you, although most of the times, you cannot help it. Decide on never being extreme about anything in the world. Continue discovering yourself and stay in touch with the situation of Nepal, in any area that interests you: politics, the economy, the educational state, or the arts! I will have to thank my official business Sponsor Himalayan Yak Restaurant at New York for believing in me and my ideas. Also, thank you to my family and friends who were with me going into the contest. Coming out, there were many supporters. But going in, it was only a few. You know who you are.
Miss Nepal US – Bartika Rai
First Runnerup – Anuja Thapa Magar
Second Runnerup – Sony Pathak
Best Walk – Alish Karki Mitchell
Miss Personality – Bibhisika Bhandari
Best Hair – Bartika Rai
Miss Talent – Sunaina Palikhe
Miss Smile – Samjhana Lama
Miss Culture – Bibhisika Bhandari
Miss Friendly – Anuja Thapa Magar
Miss Discipline – Anuja KC
Miss Photogenic – Sunaina Palikhe
Best Skin – Ruth Rana
Miss Popularity – Selina Shakya
What was your role in Miss Nepal US 2013?
I was the Secretarial Director (Board of Directors) of Miss Nepal US 2013. I was responsible for logistics management and acted as a liaison between the board of directors and the other team members. I was also responsible for carrying out the planning of Miss Nepal US 2013, organizational management and designing the corporate structure within the Miss Nepal US entity.
What led you to be a part of Miss Nepal US 2013?
I always saw Miss Nepal US as an international platform for Nepali girls to portray their talents and bring forth their ideas and views about how to better our community and to work as one to improve certain aspects of it. The pageant itself provides humongous amount of exposure to a global audience which in return help these girls to get recognized so that any endeavors they decide to undertake in future would be feasible. That being said, when I first joined Miss Nepal US, it lacked a little composure and direction in terms of where the pageant was heading. There were some uncertainties whether or not the pageant would even survive. That is where I stepped in. I saw a lot of promise in this pageant and its contestants. I saw how the former winners and contestants had carried themselves in public and had become recognizable figures. I saw them becoming a vital part of the community in their respective ways. Even a small light of hope was big enough to motivate me to slowly build on the mishaps and mismanagement and in turn use the negativity and turn it into something beneficial for the organization. All the contestants have amazing views and plans in terms of what they want to do for the community and I simply wanted to be a part of that platform to help them achieve their respected dreams. That is why I decided to join Miss Nepal US 2013.
How does it feel to have former team members speak publicly against the ill working practice taking place at Miss Nepal US beauty pageants and is there any truth to it?
Personally, this is my first year being a part of Miss Nepal US so I cannot comment of what happened last year and the year before since I wasn’t a part of it. However, I know the team members who were in question by others so let me tell you this, all of them have been one of the most professional and hardworking people I have ever met in my life. From the very beginning I joined Miss Nepal US 2013, they have been immensely supportive. I worked closely with them for three months and I didn’t even see a single sign of ill practice or even one reason for me to raise any doubts or questions. I was there as an audience last year to see the show. Sure it started late, had some management issues, however, what we also need to understand is the pageant is now three years old. Every new thing that starts isn’t necessarily perfect from the beginning. People have the tendency to talk as if they have never made a single mistake in their lives. The most important thing for anyone is to realize those mistakes and use that experience to better themselves in the years to come. So personally, I was really disappointed to see such personal remarks being made in public. It was immature, unprofessional and utterly idiotic. If anyone had any problems with the pageant they should have come and talk to the organizing entity itself legally rather than singling out couple of hard working individuals to rectify their personal vendetta. Furthermore, if they had any problems with organization and its members why wait one year and then start creating havoc. There also have been countless encounters of these people personally harassing all the current participants by sending them countless messages on social media and telling them not to participate. I mean how senseless is that? Someone even made personal remarks about a brother and a sister’s relationship going public saying they are friends and spreading rumors about them. This is one of the most preposterously unprofessional and unethical deed I have seen in my entire professional life. To think that someone will go behind someone’s back and furthermore, that someone is the person who gave them an opportunity to become a part of Miss Nepal US in the beginning; I find it comical and absolutely degrading. So for all those who raised their voices against the pageant mishaps and mismanagement , aside from those who made personal remarks, I say thank you because your constant nagging and ill-mannered remarks is what made us stronger in the end to ensure that we don’t give anyone any change to say anything bad about Miss Nepal US 2013. Don’t get me wrong! We didn’t entirely do it for the naysayers; we did it for our talented and diligent contestants who had faith in us despite what was going around.
As a core member, how did the third Miss Nepal US beauty pageant do?
Miss Nepal US 2013 was THE successful event of Miss Nepal US history. I wouldn’t be even wrong if I say that it has taken any Nepalese American Pageant / Fashion Show to a whole different level. See, I always try to give my 110% and learn from mistakes and improve, so I can still see some improvements needed in years to come but for the hard work and dedication we all put in it, we did a fantastic show. Our venue seated 500 people out of which approximately 400 + guests came to show their support. We also had lot of respected Medias covering our event. The show started on time with amazing performance by our talented contestants and some outside talents. We had famous international personalities gracing us with their presence. So overall I say the pageant was a huge success this year.
Will you be part of next years event?
If I have the time next year to fully devote myself in further improving the pageant by being a part of it, I will definitely be there. As I mentioned before, we all learn from small mistakes we make so we will try to make Miss Nepal US 2014 even bigger and better. You can expect well managed event with lot of attractions and most importantly the talented contestants who in near future will be the building blocks of our society.
In the end I would like to thank each and every one who was part of Miss Nepal US 2013 and supported us in the darkest of hours. We all live in one small society and we all are professionals, so please I urge all of us to keep the personal remarks to ourselves and maybe work together to benefit the society and its people. We need to support each other rather than being jealous of other people’s accomplishments. We need to move together as one entity rather than figuring ways of criticizing and diminishing others. If we can accomplish this then I am very sure that the future will be a better and less conflicted dimension to live and work in. After all, no matter where we are and what we do, we shouldn’t forget that in our hearts and soul we are all Nepali.Read More: Miss Nepal US In Controversy AGAIN! Former Miss Nepal US Team Member Breaks Her Silence! Sarah Gurung Shares Her Miss Nepal US Experience! Miss Nepal US Astha Shrestha Defends The Pageant