Wandermates #6 – The forgotten musician.

” A journey is measured in friends rather than miles” – Tim Cahill

We often bump into  a lot of people everyday. Some interesting, some outright rude. Some cunning and some sweet as honey. Nevertheless, for a moment,  two lives intersect each other.

This is an attempt to share all the interesting stories of people I’ve come across while on the road .

One at a time.


The forgotten musician.

Me and my friends were walking up to Swyambhunath temple from Thamel. Right opposite (insert name of hotel) I saw an old two storey house with a garden in front and a balcony on top. On the first floor of this colonial looking structure with thatched roof and peeled of painted walls, sat a gentleman by himself surrounded by what seemed like some musical instruments. The scene immediately piqued my curiosity and we decided to climb down the narrow mud slope leading to is house and meet this being.

meet (insert name)

I generally believe old men are grumpy, especially when they see a camera around your neck. But here I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome we got.

We were greeted by a silver haired jolly old fellow. His neatly tied pony, ear to ear smile, bright eyes and loose homely clothes instantly made us realize we were stepping into a pensive full of memories and stories some of which will now be shared with us.

So, Mr. Birbal Shrestha was once a renowned musician playing flute and a local version of a guitar called Sarangi, not only in Nepal but all over the world. In his hay days he had performed in the royal palace of Taiwan on invitation and in various concerts across south east Asia. He also showed us a battered university degree from Switzerland ( As one of our friends was from Zurich) belonging to his sister.

Being a seasoned performer it took him no time to suit up in a padded overcoat, that like him, was now past its prime. But he was cautious enough to warn me about not including the tattered ends of his jacket in the pictures.

As he began to play, I discovered he was a also a Bollywood fan. It was intentional that he played a famous old Hindi song, by now, knowing that I was from India.

We chatted more, and I learnt that, slowly and steadily his art got outdated and his stage got taken away by the new entrants. He lost his wife and kids had left the nest. So here he was left alone in the company of his instruments and music. He becomes a tourist guide as and when opportunity arises and in the meanwhile he produces handmade musical instruments.

In a true blue grand-fatherly-artist’s fashion he told us how he doesn’t equate happiness with money. He finds satisfaction in enjoying his music, living with the memories of his wife and feeling glad that his kids are doing well in life. He was aware of the fact that he was poor but believed that instead of being cunning and running after money, he would rather live a simple peaceful life which he can afford.

Once the skylight began to dim I realized that it was time for us to leave. We still had quiet a distance to cover and were going to do it on foot. As we stepped out back in the real world I had a little smile of my own and spring in my step. I was glad to have met a gem of a person and had a story to share with you guys.

Thanks for dropping by..!

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