Every year, thousands of students come to Kathmandu from all over Nepal to pursue their dream of getting an education. Many of them face problems as they try to survive in the new city. Every one of them has a story to tell.
Rajendra Gautam originally came from Dang. He says that the minute he arrived in Kathmandu, he missed all the things from back home. “I missed everything – the green pastures, wide open spaces, the twittering of the birds and the smell of home-cooked meals.”
Left: For someone who has just moved in the big city, life is hard. Rajendra feels the opportunities are locked up somewhere and the key is missing.
Text and photos by Shekhar KC
Rajendra gets himself ready for school. He believes that part of integrating into city life includes looking the part.
Rajendra rented a small room, where he pretty much had to do everything on his own. “I sometimes feel caved in my room,” he says, “I feel like a rat that has gathered all the necessary amenities to survive but somehow is trapped.”
Left: A tall and wavering closet contains all of Rajendra's possessions.
Still new to the city and without friends, Rajendra's only and most reliable companion is his computer.
Rajendra longs for wide, open spaces reminiscent of his home in rural Nepal, and it is easy to see why. His one-room temporary address is taken up by a bed that refuses to leave the kitchen sink alone. Caught in between their eternal hug is Rajendra, who has hardly any space to move around.
Like most students from outside of Kathmandu, Rajendra constantly struggles with a shoestring budget, and settles to live in a confined and constrained space.
Though he continues to grapple with life in the city, Rajendra admires the potential and progress that exists in cities, through observation of its infrastructure, such as the paved roads and public transport system.
Rajendra pounds cloves of garlic on the floor of his cramped apartment, as he prepares his dinner.
With no tap water in his apartment, Rajendra washes his dishes and utensils at a designated corner along the corridors.
Having to cope with all the responsibilities that come with living alone, it is easy to get caught up with short-term tasks and goals. Yet Rajendra manages to make time to study, the very purpose of him being in the valley.
In his small world, Rajendra is both the master and the slave. He cooks, cleans and sees himself through every day chores – alone. Sometimes he longs for company; sometimes he enjoys the solitude. “I don’t complain about it much,” he says, “It’s part and parcel of struggling alone in the valley.”