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LOVE IN KATHMANDU

Text by: Pabita Dahal
Photos: Ram Tandukar/Gokul Shrees/Sabina Mainali

Love sees no reason, no boundaries, no distance. Here is a story of three couples who have found their soulmate in a foreign land and culture. e sees no reason, no boundaries, no distance. Here is a story of three couples who have found their soulmate in a foreign land and culture.

Alize Biannic and Dipesh Gurung

Love comes unexpectedly. French ballet dancer Alize Biannic never imagined that she’d meet her prince charming in the great Himalayas. In August 2013, Alize arrived in Kathmandu to aid orphans and street children overcome their mental disabilities through art therapy and dance.

At an impromptu outing with her friends at Zibro restaurant in October the same year, she was introduced to musician Dipesh Gurung. “Dipesh was very timid and barely looked into my eyes. I felt that he was not comfortable talking to me. But I was instantly attracted by his smile and beautiful eyes. It was love at first sight,” she recalls.

Dipesh was extremely shy. He says, “I was attracted to her from the beginning but I assumed that she was in Nepal for a short visit. I was smitten by her energy and smile. She was my dream woman.”

After the first rendezvous, they started meeting regularly among mutual friends. “We never had a private conversation as we were surrounded by people most of the time, but I could always feel the attraction,” Alize reveals.
Two months later, Alize and Dipesh finally shared a moment alone, and they talked for seven hours straight. “We sipped on wine, we forgot everyone and spoke for hours. We shared our dreams and plans. This helped us bond, connect and understand each other,” Alize recalls.

In December 2013, the couple went out on their first official date. They had a magical time, yet Alize felt that Dipesh was distant. As she was getting confused by the mixed signals, she decided to confront Dipesh about his intentions – did he just want to remain friends or was looking for commitment. “His eyes said everything, and in that moment I knew that we were meant to be. When you meet the right person nothing matters, be it geographical, cultural or familial differences,” Alize shares.

On Christmas Eve, Dipesh proposed to Alize in Goa. “It was a very romantic proposal atop a hill, we were watching the sunrise with masala tea in our hands. It was extremely special,” she explains
The young couple in love enjoy bike riding, trekking, rafting and going to musical gigs together. “We want to tie the knot and have children soon. Dipesh is busy touring with Kathmandu Killers so probably within the next two years,” concludes Alize.


When love crosses continents what are the biggest challenges?

Dipesh: The culture makes it difficult. Sometimes people here only see Alizé as a foreigner. However, her family is really sweet and makes me feel comfortable.
Alizé: Understanding, respect and compromise can solve any type of problems. Don›t expect your partner to settle seamlessly into your way of life. Always cooperate with each other.

Five things to deal with cultural conflicts in a relationship?

Dipesh and Alize:
• Get to know each other’s cultures to have a better understanding of each other.
• In cross cultural relationships both partners have to give up some of their own culture and adjust to another’s beliefs, habits and parenting tactics.
• Ensure clear communication.
• Be open to learning.
• Work towards accommodating cultural differences and share your knowledge.

How do you keep the spark alive?

Dipesh and Alize: We communicate properly with each other in our hard times and do not judge each other. Besides that, occasional trips outside of the valley provides us quality time together which fuels our relationship.

What have you learned from this relationship?

Dipesh and Alize: Stay in the present, be willing to forgive, and apologise.


Caroline Colberg and Pramod shilpkar

In 2013, Caroline Colberg came to Nepal to volunteer at an orphanage. She met Pramod shilpkar at the ABC Bar in Thamel through a mutual acquaintance. It was not love at first sight. Caroline thought Pramod was rude and boring whereas Pramod found her too loud and talkative. They had several mutual friends and frequently partied together. After awhile Caroline ran out of money and still had to live in Nepal for two months. She knew Pramod had an extra room in his house and it could save her the extra rent. She asked him if she could move in and he welcomed her.

Over time, their friendship grew stronger and soon they became best friends. After Caroline’s visa expired, she made the effort to travel back and forth to spend time with him.

In October 2015, the couple realised that they were in love with each other. “The sun, the moon and the stars were aligned. We fell in love. It was a funny ride. We were best friends for such a long time and had our share of crazy times but in the end we both realised that it was more than friendship,” Caroline shares.

In January 2016, Caroline moved permanently to Kathmandu. “Pramod is my best friend, boyfriend, my partner in crime and the love of my life. I couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds for us, I am excited for a new adventure,” she gushes.

To keep the spark in their relationship, they spend time at home, wake up at 5am, drive to Patan for Newari food, enjoy the sunrise and sunset and hang out at Durbar Square with their friends. The couple prefers to lead a simple happy life.


When love crosses continents what are the biggest challenges?

Caroline: The only big challenge was when we lived in two different countries, but then I moved to Nepal. Another biggest challenge is that one of us will always be foreign. In Nepal people often treat me as a tourist even though I had been here for six years. It is super frustrating to be asked if I want to go trekking every single day.

Five ways to deal with cultural conflicts in a relationship…

Caroline and Pramod: We both believe that we each have our own cultural qualities. When people say differences or challenges, it sounds like a negative thing and you will bring that negativity into your relationship. When you stop doing that and just respect that we do some things differently then there are no challenges or difficulties.

How do you keep the spark alive?

Pramod: We don’t need to keep no spark alive, our relationship has a big flame and it’s not going to be put out anytime soon.
Caroline: For me, the most important thing to keep the relationship alive is to accept that no one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. People fight, cry, love, get frustrated, laugh and everything in between. If you accept all those features as a normal part of life, it’s easier to fight and quickly make up. It makes me feel liberated and safe in my relationship that I can get angry at Pramod and I know he won’t just run out the door.

What have you learned from this relationship?

Caroline and Pramod: Persistence. We have learned that you need to take chances, fight for what you believe is right, keep moving forward as things will not just happen if you sit and wait for it. You need to take control of life and steer it in the direction you wish to. But the most important thing we learned is that we can do anything together.


Rishi Jha and Marta Del Grandi

In 2014, Rishi and Marta saw each other for the first time at Base Camp, Jhamsikhel. Although they had been exchanging glances for some time, they hadn’t gotten a chance to introduce themselves. Marta cut the first turf by asking “Who are you?”. They exchanged numbers and made plans to meet up.

After two months of their first outing, Marta returned to her home in Milan and they did not see each other for a year and half. But after hearing the news of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, Marta immediately contacted Rishi to ask about his whereabouts and they started talking again.

In the summer of 2016, Rishi went to Europe on holiday and met Marta. After spending some time together, they finally expressed their feelings for each another. “It was never friendship; it was pure attraction. However, the fear of distance prevented us from being exclusive”, explains Rishi.

Marta moved to Nepal permanently and the couple married in April 2019 in court. “We believe in being together more than rituals and traditions. So, we just threw a small get together for our close friends and family,” shares Rishi.

Although from two different worlds the couple shares common interests and ideas. They both love music and art. Rishi fully supports Marta in her musical career. He even manages some of her projects.
“We are happily living together with our pet Mowgli. Life is just wonderful,” concludes Martha.


When love crosses continents what are the biggest challenges?

Long distance can be very tough but if you manage to see each other 3-4 times a year, its fine. That’s how we managed for a year.

How do you keep the spark alive in a relationship?

Ridiculous jokes that only a few among our friends understand.