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'UNESCO and the Government of Nepal are together in heritage protection'

I have seen a lot of potential in Nepal's cinema sector due to the diversity of art, culture and heritage. I think Nepal can do a lot in the film. Last year we have also listed Kathmandu Metropolitan City as a 'UNESCO Creative Film City'.

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An important organization of the United Nations is UNESCO. It has been working here in the fields of education, science, culture, communication and information. In particular, it is working here with the goal of peace building, poverty alleviation and sustainable development and enriching intercultural dialogue. UNESCO was established in Nepal in 1998.

'UNESCO and the Government of Nepal are together in heritage protection'

Michael Croft has been working in Nepal for the past three years as a representative of UNESCO. Edited part of a conversation with Canadian citizen Croft by Jagdishwar Pandey of Kantipur:

When did you come to Nepal for the first time? What is your opinion about the geography here?

I came to Nepal for the first time in August 2021. The lockdown imposed due to Covid-19 was somewhat relaxed here. I came to Nepal after living in Vietnam for four years with my family. Almost three years have passed since I came to Nepal from Vietnam. I must say, I got a chance to understand Nepal on various topics very quickly. Because, I didn't know much about Nepal. Like many other foreigners, when Nepal was mentioned to me, I meant the Himalayan region. I knew there were mountains. Below the Himalayas is the Kathmandu Valley. But I didn't know there was a plain here. It was not known that in a short time in the geography of this place one can reach from a hot place to a cold area. Nepal is a country with diversity in geography and culture.

How do you like Nepal's weather?

When we were in Vietnam, we lived in the city of Hanoi. Hanoi was a beautiful city. But the weather was much hotter than that apparently. During the summer, from mid-April to mid-November, the air-conditioning had to be turned on 24 hours a day. The weather in Nepal is very pleasant, especially in the Kathmandu Valley.

You might have tasted Nepali food during your stay in Nepal. Your favorite Nepali food?

Nepali food is not spicy but very tasty. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available in Nepal. This makes the food very tasty. I have tasted a lot of Nepalese food. I have tasted food from many ethnicities. I have eaten Swadeshi and Newari food. I really like ordinary food. Loves the ghungi found in the Terai. Like the population in Nepal, food is also diverse. The exciting part is that Nepali food seems to be made to be eaten in groups. People don't eat alone here. All my colleagues are Nepali and I got the opportunity to understand and taste a lot about Nepali food from them.

How did you like Nepal's costumes?

When I came to Nepal, at that time I only knew about the Himalayas. After staying in Nepal for a short time, I said to my friend, why didn't I know about this place earlier, this place is great. This place is as beautiful as the mountains. Also, the people here have been equally nice. Nepal is culturally diverse. In the beginning, someone told me, Hindu-Buddhist. I thought what was that? How was this possible? Such things are possible in Nepal. In other places it is impossible and even prohibited. But in Nepal it is fine. This is the good side of Nepal.

You are meeting with Nepali people. What did you get?

Nepali people enjoy a diverse lifestyle. Nepal is a very democratic and open society. Nepalis are equally spiritual. Also, there are those who have endurance. They are at odds with nature and environment. The community here is also very good. According to UNESCO, Nepal is a very rich country. In terms of social development, Nepal is not a less developed country. Nepal is an advanced country. It is difficult to find a country as diverse as Nepal. This country is also peaceful.

You have seen many festivals here. Your favorite Nepali festival?

I have two children. Going out in the evening is difficult for me. If the children had grown up, we would have participated more in the night program. But since the children are young, it is difficult to find time to go out in the evening with the responsibility towards them. We went to Shivpuri with the kids on Holi. Holi is a very joyful festival as it marks the beginning of the spring season. Many pilgrimages take place here. So it is difficult to say which festival you like. I especially enjoy Holi.

How much information do you have about the Nepali language?

I can't speak Nepali language. I can even say 'Hello' and 'Thank you' in Nepali.

Due to busy work and family responsibilities, I have not been able to learn Nepali language. Some people learn multiple languages. They have amazing abilities but I am not a person with such abilities. I didn't even have more time for wanting to learn the language.

How often do you listen to music? I listen to

Radio Kantipur. In the morning, when I drop my daughter off at Kindergarten, I listen to Radio Kantipur. My favorite is 'Geet Resham Firiri...'. My daughter sings the same song. Besides singing Nepali songs, my daughter also speaks Nepali very well. Her favorite song is 'Resham Firiri...'. She sings along with the driver. And I follow that too.

Here's opinion about Nepali literature and history?

I read something about the history of Nepal in English language. There is not much time to read with pleasure. But I have read the books of some young Nepali writers. Some Nepali youth's articles are very good. I don't know much about literature but I have read political history. For example I have read 'The Bullet and the Ballot Box' by Aditya Adhikari. Sometimes people give me books to read, which I really like.

How often do you watch Nepali movies?

I haven't seen a Nepali film. However, I have watched videos about Nepal. Due to the variety of art, culture and heritage here, I have seen a lot of potential in Nepal's cinema sector. I think Nepal can do a lot in the film. Last year we have also listed Kathmandu Metropolitan City as 'UNESCO Creative Film City'.

Where have you traveled in Nepal?

I have not traveled far west and east region. Not even the Mustang. But I have been to Lumbini many times. I have also visited Chitwan National Park many times. Both these areas are listed in the World Heritage List. A year and a half ago, representing UNESCO, I had the opportunity to go to the base camp of Mount Everest. The visit was very good and fruitful. I have also traveled around Kathmandu Valley. I have also been to Pokhara a few times. However, there are still many places to visit.

Here's opinion about Nepali art and culture?

When I came here, it felt very strange. Didn't know much about Nepal. Nepal is a culturally rich and prosperous country. It is small compared to China and India but Nepal is not a small country. Nepal is much smaller than India and China in terms of population and economy. However, culturally, Nepal is not smaller than India and China. It is very powerful in the culture of Nepal. There is no need to train Nepalis in culture. Nepal is very good at this. It is a culturally diverse country. People have embraced the culture here in a very beautiful way. The entire cultural heritage of Nepal shows that Nepal is a historically creative country. We want to preserve the cultural heritage of Nepal. UNESCO and the Government of Nepal are together in protecting the heritage here. Kathmandu Valley is a World Heritage Listed Valley. The mountains in Nepal are very beautiful, but there are many other great things in Nepal besides the mountains.

How is UNESCO working in Nepal?

Of course we work closely with the Government of Nepal. This is not a strange thing. We are the only agency of the United Nations, whose office is in the Ministry of Education. We have a very close relationship with the government. I have already met the new education minister. Because, she is the head of the UNESCO National Commission. This is not how it works for UNESCO. For example, rather than working on education, science, art, culture and media information, I will mainly play a role in providing access to those areas. UNESCO has a different way of working. UNESCO plays the role of catalyst. We are moving forward by including the government of Nepal, the private sector here and the civil society. If we act as catalysts in these three areas and make an impact, that will be our most important work. We will tell the concerned local head about the cultural aspect there. However, the local level engages in building construction, waste management and other works. As a result, works of art and culture have been overshadowed. We have to play a role in highlighting the arts and culture that have been overlooked.

प्रकाशित : चैत्र २४, २०८० ०८:००
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