Journey from Skyscrapers to Starlit Skies: Discovering Dreams in Karnali’s Reality


October 11, 2023

Shreeya Tamang

Born and raised in the hustling and bustling city of Kathmandu, all I had ever seen was a life that wove big dreams comfortably inside these towering sleek concrete buildings. My journey as a Research Assistant took me amidst the emerald green hills, and teal blue rivers covered in blanket of stars that glowed in the night. Despite being a land filled with breathtaking landscapes, living in Karnali has numerous hardships the residents face daily.

Of course, the geographical disparities, scarcity of healthcare facilities and electricity, and reliance on solar power are present. Nonetheless, there are several examples where they have thrived and flourished under the hardest of hardships. It led me to question how much control the circumstances have over us to turn out to be the version we are right now. The privilege of Karnali people is the normal in Kathmandu. The dreams born in Karnali are the bare minimum in city life.

The project that I was involved in connected me to the grounds of Karnali. I got to immerse myself with the community people getting to know about their lifestyle. Child marriage is still a leading child protection concern in the region. A 10-year-old girl studying in grade 5 dreams of studying up to grade 12. While kids of her age dream of reaching outer space and exploring, for the kids of Karnali, the school they have known all their lives is the limit.

But that is not to belittle the persistent play the people put to change their fate. A 74-year-old grandmother who has been illiterate for 68 years is now in charge of educating her three granddaughters who are studying at the primary level. She enrolled herself  in adult literacy classes and currently, she proudly carves her signatures in documents. She even reads documents in Nepali before signing them off. Once a woman who was deprived of education- now is fighting all the odds to ensure her granddaughters do not suffer the same fate of being robbed of education.

Even in the 21st century, you live in a place where the trend of technology hasn’t touched you and with the arrival of each monsoon, the terrains are terrorized and you lose your hope of seeing wildflowers bloom in September. I saw Karnali beyond its romanticized version of peaky hills and pine trees and also beyond its socio-economic hardships, I reflected on how I dreamt of Karnali in contrast to how I saw it beyond those idealized standards. It also left me questioning if someone’s dream is someone’s normal, if is it not a dream, and if is it to be ridiculed or if there are no parameters and dreams are just that.