FULL-TIME TEAM: (Starting from left) Andrew, Pallav,
Para, Param, Sudeep, (Sitting from left) Whitey,
Prashant, Suraj, Rajan, Ranju, Kamala, and Brownie.
Whitey and Brownie, the two dogs are the PR personnel
for Spiny Babbler
Ranjan wrote poem from a young age. He often sends his pomes to
poetry journals in England and that was not easy. You needed English
or American stamps and he got tired of begging expatriates for stamps.
”Why not starts a poetry journal in Kathmandu?” he thought.
quit college and eventually got a job at ‘Nepal Traveller
Publications’. He talked to his friend Jitendra about the
idea and Jitendra liked it. Jitendra would be the financial manager
and Pallav, the editor. The journal? They decided to call it ‘Spiny
Babbler’, a bird species that was considered extinct for 106years
and was rediscovered in Nepal by S Dillon Ripley. ”Spiny Babbler
appealed to me because it is special to Nepal,” explains Pallav.
“It made sense. I was known as a critic of sorts so ‘Spiny’
seemed good and ‘Babbler’, one who babbles, talks, which
poetry does. I wanted the journal to be independent.” With
the help of friends, they put together finances and a manuscript.
They published first few editions but Jitendra left in between.
while in Nepal Traveller, Pallav met Para and fell in love. In 1994
they quit Nepal Traveller and hiked, trekked and biked together.
Para wrote poem sometimes. They decided to hold on. That was when
Param, Para’s twin sister who loved painting, returned from
the US. The three of them, with another friends where interested
in art, in doing something exciting. They had a team.
Babbler worked from the two rooms that Pallav lived in. They adapted
their logo-an image of a dwarf making music with conch shell-sited
at Gum Bihar, it dated back to the fourth century AD.” “We
called ourselves Editorial Services and did other assignment for
people,” recounts and did other Para. “We accepted assignment
but things were difficult. Then began Spiny Babbler’s expansion
into different fields of art.
began working with art, literature and conducted some research works
on Nepal history. In Kantipath, they set up a gallery. Then they
went bankrupt and were heavily in debt. They are older, wiser and
the better for it.
Spiny Babbler is a “meeting of young intellectual minds”
as Sanjeevani Yonzon. A volunteer puts it. She works with children
at risk in the high priority area.
different volunteer programmes at Spiny Babbler range from art,
literature, and theatre to research, documentation and other projects.
The volunteers are young, enthusiastic about supporting art-related
ventures. “Some stay on, many leave. Most are students and
they get to learn and share interests,” opines Param Limbu.
“They have a great time and the experience is also emotionally
joined the organization because a friend had volunteered,”
says Sudeep Prajapati who works on animation projects and traditional
Nepali art research. “This is a very good opportunity to learn
about our own culture. It has changed me; the research works have
made the cultures a part of me.”
Babbler has, till date, held numerous workshops, exhibition, festival,
focus is interacting with the nepali community and so far they have
work with different communities in Narayanghat, Sankhu, Thaiba,
Darjeeling and its outlying area. In 2001 they had a Swasthani Festival.
They are still on the process of making an video of ‘Muna
Madan ‘ and the Theatre group will be beginning work on converting
“Women of the Himalayan Kingdom” into a play.
have worked with the organization for a year and more now,”
states Aavash Piya, coordinator of the theatre group. “There
was no theater group then. We started with the Swasthani Festival
and have continued since. The experience has enhanced my people
skills, acting and directing. I like what I am doing. It involves
many people and offers a broader perspective of the world,”
it grew, Spiny Babbler encompassed a lot of field other wise redundant.
Their website is a museum and a veritable centre for information
related to Nepali literature, art and culture. This year it began
its multinational involvement with an international volunteer programme.
Their first international volunteer Andrew Garnett, a Canadian,
has been working with them for a month and more now.” This
is different,” says he. “All a tourist sees is the tourist
sites but this way. I discover what Nepal really is? I have been
helping with the coordination of the projects, teaching kids about
art. We work with whatever can find and make collages. This way
the children learn that art is not limited.” Spiny Babbler
has this remarkable way of letting each participant feel special.
They do not ask them to compete.
they were to go their separate ways, what would happen? “What
really matters, what our mutual dream is for Spiny Babbler to continue
even if we are not there,” adds Para. “We want to hand
it over to young enthusiastic people who share a love for art.”