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“I am here to earn a livelihood.” Elisa Khadka (26) Corn seller Dolakha, Nepal

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“I have been working in Ratna Park for a very long time.” Mangal Maya (35) Cleaner Kathmandu, Nepal

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“All the charms of Ratna Park have disappeared. Ratna Park exists only in name.” Deepak Shrestha (17) Public toilet attendant Kathmandu, Nepal

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“I don’t know much about the park, I have only been here for a week.” Geeta Roka (25) Food vender Dhading, Nepal

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The park has been miss cared and it’s become more difficult to clean.” Saun Pariyar (46) Park cleaner Teku, Kathmandu, Nepal

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“One is either forced into prostitution or do it through compulsion. I am here to take care of them. I am the Don” Sunita Shrestha(30) Don (Pimp) Sindhupalchok, Nepal

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“I have been visiting Ratna Park since I was kid. People come to sit and take rest. Also a lot of people come to get away from their daily troubles.” Ju Ju Bhai Shah (61) Businessman Kamalachi, Kathmandu, Nepal

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“The only thing left now is a declaration of the state of emergency. There is neither peace nor security.” Ram Bhakta Manandhar (64) Artist Bhaktapur, Nepal

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“I have been in Kathmandu for the past 2 years, and have been doing business in Ratna Park for the past year. Business is good.” Pratigya Thapa (18) Clothes seller Sindhupalchok, Nepal

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“Ramro cha.” (It’s nice) Chote Lal (19) Watermelon vender India

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“I have been in Ratna Park for the last 10 years. A lot has changed since then” Padam Kumari Shrestha(68) Vender Sitam Chautara, Nepal

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“Ratna Park is a public space, its everyone’s property. It’s a important national asset.” Tej Narayan Gupta(26) Ice cream vender Saptari, Nepal

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“This is my livelihood. I have been in Ratna Park for the past 3 years.” Shrimati Timilsinha(57) Water vender Sindhupalchok, Nepal

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“No comments.” Rup Narayan Rathod (30) Candyman Undisclosed, Nepal

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“It’s a nice park” Chote Lal Shah (25) Food vender Mahottari, Nepal

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“I come to Ratna Park to get my medications.” Woh Ichoui (52) Visitor Kathmandu, Nepal

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Ratna Park remains one of the few public places left in the heart of Kathmandu. For many it is the only centrally located space where people do not need to consume. As the city grows exponentially, less priority is given to public places.

In the course of visiting Ratna Park its importance to the people became obvious. They go there to seek the shade, escape the bustling city and socialize. The stories shared with us are as varied as the people themselves. We met people from all over Nepal, from different walks of life, occupations and social classes.

The influx of people into the city since the Maoist conflict, has led to the scarcity of space. In contemporary Kathmandu new meeting places are made for consumption, such as the malls. As one man clearly put it “here I do not have to consume, to stay in the park”.

Those who do not use it often overlook the park; it is many times seen as a degrading place for the lower class, a place for crime and prostitution. What we found through our experience was something, which contradicted the popular belief. We found the park fascinating. The individual stories shared to us, made it clear that the park is not just a resting place, but a place where many make their livelihood.

By making portraits of the people we met, we wanted to individualize some of the people who make up the park. They are the ones who create its atmosphere, its chaotic nature and its charm. It is through their stories that we understood the importance of the park.

By overlooking the importance that the park holds for its users, its future is in question by those who seek to clean Kathmandu of its “unwanted” elements.

We see it differently. We are fascinated by a place that holds so much of Kathmandu’s contemporary history. It is a place where we have made friends, listened to their stories and marveled at its chaotic nature.

In collaboration with Rohan Thapa

rohanthapa.com