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Chitchat with Bartika Rai, Miss Nepal USA
11 March 2014-Tuesday

Interviewed by: Nabina Basnet

Like many beauty pageants, Miss Nepal USA started with sizzling gossips in social media. Despite the controversies of the past event, Miss Nepal USA 2013 took place successfully. It became one of the most talked about event among Nepalese in the US. Bartika Rai from New York was crowned Miss Nepal US 2013. In her current busy schedule, we got hold of her to talk a little about her dreams and to know more about who Bartika Rai really is.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a huge follower of writers Haruki Murakami and Kurt Vonnegut. I love writing experimental fiction, reading Camus and making ‘To Do Lists'. I think I'm a very animated storyteller and absolutely ‘have’ to talk in detail. My most played playlist currently includes Cat Power, Porcupine Tree, Shreeti Pradhan, Lana Del Rey and Desi Girl. As of now, I am looking into Coachella and Fujirock tickets and praying that I get to go there with my group one of these years or else Radiohead declares tour dates wherever I am located- either of these two would complete my life right now. I always dream of the life where I am that really cool bartender during the weekends, singer in the weekdays and writer during the days who is always surrounded by open minded artists. Weddings excite me and one of my top priorities in my bucket list is to choreograph the weddings of most (all) people I know.

What made you take part in Miss Nepal US 2013?
I grew up watching Miss Nepal fascinated by the pageant. It was my first summer with no immediate family in the US and being passive nearly made me depressed so I decided on participating to stay in touch with the Nepali community here. I participated despite the controversies because this was one of those things in life that I had to see for myself, to see how much of it was actually true and how much of my criticism it deserved. I have to admit here that I wanted to quit on the day they released our profiles but I was taken aback by the positivity of a few of my people. Another major reason was Malvika Subba. I had always wanted to work with her and for some strange, unknown reason, I strongly believe in her.

Did you think you would sweep off the title?

No. Going into the pageant, I was expecting plastic girls who would worry only about their hair and nails. Honestly, I did enter with confidence but when I met the women in the training session, I was surprised in a very pleasant way. I met women of substance, young social activists and sensible graduates. With our mentor Malvika Subba, we talked endlessly on issues concerning environment, politics, social entrepreneurship, LGBT and infrastructures of Nepal. It was exhilarating! It was a big reality check for me about how we make judgments so easily, especially about beauty pageants!

How has life changed after winning the title?
The good change is that I have a larger professional network now and therefore I get more gigs. I also have to make more responsible and mature decisions. I don’t know if I should call it a downside but it is scary that after lot of people people know you, you are constantly under the radar. 

What is success according to you?
For me, success is happiness. At this moment of time, it would be aama’s eternal happiness, a small house wherever she wants to live with a pretty library on the ground floor, bhai finding his niche in his world and my being able to live my life only writing, doing theater, assisting filmmaking, attending gigs and creating with musicians.

Bartika Rai is known to have her own blog where she pours out her feelings. What exactly aspires you to write?
Writing has always been a savior. It has rescued me at the worst of times. Writing in magazines in Kathmandu brought me closer to the artistic scene in the capital that is inspiring and evolving. During one of my first days working as a writer, Tsering Dolker, Yusha Pun and Sumati Maharjan introduced me to blogs. After that, at all times, my blog has been an outlet where I throw the things I notice, feel and wonder out to the world. Writing makes me happy in a very dizzy kind of a way.

Not many people are aware about your singing talent, tell us about it?

For me, music is therapy. It makes me very happy and deeply content. Aama says I used to sing ever since I was a few months old but it was not until ten that I actually realized I could sing. On one of the first few weeks in Budhanilkantha School, some seniors discovered I could sing. After that, there has been no stopping. One can listen to my original songs on Soundcloud. I also sing at Himalayan Yak Restaurant in New York with Phiroj Shyangden, Prazwal Bajracharya and Rajendra Karna.

What are your goals? Anything you want to achieve in life?
My ultimate goal in life is to find myself. I am grateful for this life and do not want to waste it being robotic,  to wake up in my seventies to realize what I missed. I want to find myself, know what will make me happy and live my life doing exactly that. I want to travel to different countries, learn new languages, see faces and notice differences to accept it as a whole. Life is short and the world is so big. If I don’t get to hear all sorts of languages, it will be such a waste. When I die, I don’t want any regrets or ‘Ifs’. That is the ultimate goal.

Any words of encouragement for youth like you?

You can know the reality of few things in life by only being part of it. Don’t be a part of the flux and gossip- that’s too boring. Challenge your comfort zone and see how much you are actually capable of. After all, what is the worst to lose when you are always way more than you think you are?

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