Before sharing any of my experiences at the Miss Tourism pageant, let me clear some of the doubts that have been going around regarding my costumes at the pageant. NO, the Chinese organizer gave none of the dresses, which I wore there. I have been hearing a lot of assumptions claiming that they were probably handed out to me there, just because they looked good. Isn’t it awesome that all of them were actually created right here by Nepali designers? Yes, that is how genius Nepali minds are.
Also, at a time when I was funding everything at my own effort, from shoes, makeup, wardrobe, air tickets, visa fares- yah just about everything! These people volunteered to help me out in their own special ways and I cant think of thanking them in any better way (wish I could) than mentioning them in my blog. So here they are:
|Black gown with embellished borders by Oodni- Designer SWORNIM RAI|
|Oriental inspired orange gown by Oodni- Designer Swornim Rai|
|Dhaka Gown during the national costume parade conceptualized and designed by ABHAYA SUBBA :) yes the Rock Goddess has a designer in her, also worn by her in her music video.|
|Cocktail dress by HAA: Thankyou MALVIKA DIDI AND MANISH PANDIT :)|
|I wish I had a professional shot of me wearing the gown. Nevertheless , here it is evening gown by HAA again|
|Evening gown by Nilima Maden :) thankyou Nilima for the support!|
And oh my god! There are just about a million people out there who I have to thank, all those who came to my two fund raising concerts, my ever supporting entourage of family, friends, brothers from another mother and sisters from another mister ;) who have been with me in my journey, advising, supporting, loving me all along, those kind hearts who actually did donate money that was of so much help and a million good luck wishes that poured in via my Facebook and into my system; I was and still am honestly overwhelmed by it all.
And now more than ever, I am a firm believer of the saying that goes, “ If you want to accomplish something even though it may look unattainable, just hope and try; its only a matter of time that the doors of opportunities will open for you.”
NEPAL. It’s a beautiful word.
Not trying to sound all patriotic-y or anything but seriously, I believe that Nepal and Nepalis are all so close-knit. Hard to believe, especially with all the bandhs, hartals, fights among political parties at its all time high right? But somehow, when someone stands up to represent our country, we support them like crazy, don’t we?
Like Anuradha Koirala when she was contesting for CNN Hero or that time when Nepalis in India went to watch the SAF semi finals where Nepal played against Afghanistan with the entire stadium echoing of chants shouting “Nepal Nepal”… it still gives me the chills when I think about the power those chants exuded when I was hearing them all in my TV at home. Nepal. It indeed is a beautiful word to hear.
Bars, pubs, restaurants were jam-packed that day in support of Nepal, so what if they lost the game? Sure we were sad, but regardless, in the know that we will continue to support them in future with equal and perhaps more gusto.
And the tables turned when I went to battle in the Miss Tourism Queen pageant representing Nepal. It was an incredible experience for once, to be on the receiving end of the awesome “Nepali for Nepalis” spirit. More than ten thousands paid votes (paid in dollars, mind you!) came in for Nepal, for ME, in my contest website; notifying and perhaps alerting organizers of my pageant that indeed a lot of people were closely following me in my quest. I felt the love and with it grew a sense of responsibility in me, that I had to stand out in my contest and not just be a mere filler.
Why pageants are a good bet for Nepal
You know much like a football player, who needs the right kind of shoes, socks; the right gear and enough training sessions to give a good performance in games, the same is quite applicable in beauty contests too. It is much like a sport you know, yes, indeed a glamorous one at that.
However in beauty contests the right gears include the right make up accessories, super high heel shoes, beautiful dresses and gowns and many training sessions to walk and talk the right way. And yes, it can be expensive.
If even a little fund is supported to girls representing Nepal in international contests much like any other sportsperson is supported, I have a strong feeling we will be bringing home crowns and titles in days to come. Because in the end, isn’t anyone who is sent from home to compete in any global contests, representing Nepal?
When I was called out to receive the title crown for Miss Personality on the stage that day, in front of thousands of audience in attendance and thousands more watching it live all over China and the world, it wasn’t Samriddhi Rai receiving it, it was Nepal being given a prize. And oh it felt special, so special to receive an honor on behalf of my country.
I hope organizations, related affiliations; especially the tourism board and even our government recognize international beauty contests (the grandslam ones), as a good platform to put Nepal in the map. If a girl shines in the international platform, it’s Nepal who shines along with her. And Nepali girls are every bit capable of shining; I have no doubts about that. From what I saw, and no sugarcoated sentiment here, that Nepali girls are waaaaayyyyyy smarter than most girls that come for the contest.
For starters, we speak English more fluently than 95% of girls who participate and that in self is a huge bonus because that instantly increases our chances to interact with the judges better. We’re confident and carry with us the love and huge support from Nepalis back home And we have a huge circle of really really talented designers who can help our girls stand out.
As I see it, with a little bit of grooming and a little bit of help, Nepal can really nail international beauty pageants. I brought back home only a title and yet was welcomed with so much love. In fact, hurts me a little sometimes to think that I couldn’t achieve more. So in my next part of this blog, which will be published in a few days, will be an account of my experience and how Nepali girls can stand out in international pageants and bring home big titles.
The Money Struggle, The Mean People!
For some reasons though, I happen to love my struggles. I believe it has made me tough and although it breaks me down from time to time, it has unfailingly pushed me to bring out the best in me.
So let me give you a quick idea of struggles I had to face during my run as the Miss Tourism queen of Nepal and although I did enjoy hurdling over it all, I strongly feel that its unfair for any future participants to go through what I had to.
The reason I took up the challenge to be the Miss Tourism was because I always wanted to represent Nepal somehow. It was a long cherished dream as a kid. Well, I always assumed I’d get an opportunity to do that through sports, particularly as a part of the national basketball squad, but fate had me pulling into beauty contests and I wasn’t complaining.
Group of Event Entertainers, the franchise holders in Nepal for Miss Tourism pageant, were clear from the beginning that if I chose to go for the contest, I would have to take care of all my funds, from tickets to clothes- EVERYTHING.And freshly out of my Miss Nepal 2010 ordeal, where I had to end my journey only as the top 5, I geared up for the challenge.
I thought, “this is for Nepal, anybody would help me out here”. And with the disillusioned hope I set out to meet some “corporate” houses only to be slammed with shut doors in my face. And then, it hit me, maybe I should put up a concert where I sing and collect funds from the audience. It was a very vague idea. In fact when I told this to a very close friend of mine for the first time, I made it sound like a random silly joke.
But well, she took it very seriously and told me that in fact was a bright idea and that is when I decided to go ahead with it. All my friends were there in attendance in Attic lounge that day and it was a pretty okay gathering for a Thursday night. Let me take this opportunity to thank my very lovely former colleague and a sister, Shweta didi and Prajeet dai for donating Rs.10,000 in efforts to help me.
And more funds came rolling in as I went ahead with my second fund raising concert, with all the lovely girls in Kathmandu, I knew who could sing, fiercely helping me out. There was hardly any place to even stand for people who had come to see the show, telling me that people really wanted to see what I was upto if not support it all at first.
Then came a sweet girl who goes by the name Anita, whom I barely knew, with a popping mail in my facebook that she could help me find a sponsor. And with only a few exchanges of mails, she made it possible. This generous man from India, sent me a good 2000 dollars as part of a support.
The money along with all that I raised here with my concerts, made it possible for my friend, a brother and a trainer, Sakil, to make a trip to Bangkok to get all the basics of what I would need for my pageant. You know that white gown I wore for my finals which is, call me arrogant but it’s a fact, one of the best gowns any Nepali contestant has ever worn in an international pageant.
It was Sakil’s concept and he had it tailored it in Thailand and brought back several super high heels (over six inches) a fundamental necessity for Nepali girls. Along with it, the accessories I would need, a few other gowns and dresses, make up brushes and oh so many things, yes Beauty Contests are really expensive.
And I was at least glad that I had the funds to give a good stand out performance at the pageant, and it was all made possible with my own efforts. Let me also take this opportunity to thank my late uncle who gave me his blessings with a Rs.10000 support.
Oh! There was no backing out now. I had the love, the attention of hundreds people now and a good fund to represent Nepal in a good light. And then, the downfall sort of came in slowing my pace and at one point killing all the fire I had in me, when my pageant kept postponing. Slated to happen in November of 2010, it postponed four times before it finally happened in December of 2011. So you can probably imagine, how it sapped my energy to bits.
And some really mean rumors, that went around saying Samriddhi should ask money to her parents and quit making a beggar out of herself and that Samriddhi collected the entire fund to actually buy herself a car.
Wow! People can be real nasty. The kind of people who are in the forefront to tell you everything you did wrong and make you believe how incapable you are. Because obviously they have have nothing better to do with their lives and their only purpose in life is to stop anybody who is trying to accomplish something. So really, I have only but pity for people who were mean behind my back, it’s sad to know that hurting people’s image is all the thrill they get in their lives.
As long as maligning me made them happy, I guess I am happy for them too!
I would also like to take this opportunity here to thank Yogita Pun and Arun Thapa, two complete strangers, who helped me get the free two-way tickets to China and back at the last moment. I would be paying a good Rs. 80000 if it weren’t for them. So Thank you so much.
How I changed my luck
Finally, I would like to share that if it weren’t for my defeat from the top 5 of Miss Nepal that day, I wouldn’t have written the note that I wrote catapulting me into the world of media as a writer (Published below). The note became one of my most popular pieces with the highest feedback I have ever gotten for any of my articles, giving me a breakthrough as a columnist and later an Editor of a youth magazine.
If it weren’t for my “fundless” journey to my contest, I wouldn’t have made the effort to arrange the concert and would have never discovered the singer in me. I wouldn’t have multiplied my social circle and I would know nothing about event management or learn ways to develop my PR skills.
You see, I know I am not the perfect writer, have a long way to go to become a polished singer too. But I know I will get there someday. That day in Miss Nepal was an end of a journey, sure, but as I see it now, it was really the beginning of an amazing adventure for me.
And I cant help but believe that if failures mean opportunities to discover the best in you, then hell! I want more failures in my life. Because failures only mean that I am out there, doing something with my life, right? The concept, that is true for everybody.
Life will find ways to beat you. Just don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself a chance. Because I know I did and I am at least happy that I never really gave up on myself. And never ever will.
Part II of the My Tourism Tell All Tale will carry my experience at the Miss Tourism and how its time that Miss Nepal pageant step up their game.
Published below is the note I wrote after my Miss Nepal experience, which was also published in Republica and till date remains one of my most reviewed pieces. Now that I read it again, I feel happy that I stood up to all the expectations of the 2010 version of me :)
Miss Nepal 2010 – The Odyssey
Greetings, my lovely people :)
And first off, thanks for the generous support you have been providing before and after the pageant, truly feel blessed and very loved. And that’s a priceless feeling to have thanks a lot.
That said, Yes, I am heartbroken. Like a very good Facebook friend I met last night told me, "You'd be a superhuman if you were not feeling bad." and I totally agree. But yes I may be heartbroken but am not disheartened…not at all.
It would be a lie, really, if I told you guys that I hadn’t been dreading to come back to FB. But it’s also true that I only just got home. My cell phone went dead and my friend mistakenly took my charger for both my laptop and my cell away. Phew… had to give that explanation after so much of where are you? And how’re you doing? messages kept pouring in hehe
But I felt your love, I really did and that’s an achievement on its own. I believe there is nothing sweeter or more fulfilling as a human being than to feel loved and supported. Ahem.. And after that very beauty pageantish statement let me move forward with the things I want to say :)
Well, to begin with I had no plans to participate in Miss Nepal this year if I did I wouldn't have cut off my hair, please! :) Fate in the name of WORLD CUP 2010 brought Miss Nepal into my life. My constant visit to Moksh for the world cup games made me cross paths with the Diva, the mother of all Miss Nepals herself, Ms. Rachana Gurung Sharma. Every time I greeted her during the games, she never failed to enquire if I had filled up the form for the contest. And with the immense support from my peers (*and BTW and FYI when I say my peers please don't assume them to be girls my age lol they're rather all successful media personalities and professionals from many fields, yes they're my peers… who lovingly call me "fuchhie" because obviously I am always the youngest in their gang".
And there were you, my overwhelmingly supporting FB pals that gave me that much needed boost of enthusiasm to not just participate in Miss Nepal but to win it all.
Unfortunately for me, fate, god and the judges seem to have different plans for me. I thought, I had given it all I got, gave the performance of my life thought I couldn't have possibly done any better … but now I realize, even when I think that I was at my best I was still not good enough. I strongly believe in the saying, "when you give it your 100% even god cant stop you from succeeding" and well, the results of last night has only made me believe that what I label as my 100% was probably a tad too less. That it was an understatement for the capability god has gifted me that go beyond measures.
|Miss Nepal top 5 2010|
If any one were to ask me, "what is it that I like about myself the most?" Not pausing for a moment, I would mention and my FB pal Alok would agree here when I say that it’s my "sunny disposition". The funny girl the cheerful girl the happy girl are terminologies I got for being all of that. And spreading joys is one of the reasons why god put me down here on earth :)
That said, again, I would like to go back to the moments after the pageant. I was disappointed, was very sad… drowned my self into despair for not having fulfilled an achievement I wanted so badly. And most of all, I felt the worst when I came to a realization that the bigger loss was not mine but of those who were rooting for me. I let them all down, I thought. But as soon as I got back to being me, yes the sunny sunny girl … I helped myself to get back up. Because after all, to have tried and fail is not a failure. My biggest failure would have been to not try at all. And I’m glad that I didn't shed a tear. And had I shed, for what? For the whale of a time I had on stage looking pretty and standing tall and confident? I don't think so.
Yes it wasn't the most awesomest of experience to get there to win it all and not having won even a title … lol … but it was an experience, an enriching and an empowering one at that. People many a times assume that it's the contestants that are competing against each other, when the competition was really against ourselves. Fighting off our nervousness, to work under the pressure of having a million eyes judge you from head to toe, to be level headed when answering questions at a time when your heart is beating the fastest you've ever known… and most of all, to look beautiful, smile always, be elegant, poised and pretty- the innate essence of a beauty pageant.
As for me, during the whole of the pageant starting from my intro till the end all I tried to be was not to try to be somebody else. When I can be the first rate version of myself why try and be the second rate version of someone else right? :) So yes, now that I recollect my moments on the stage, perhaps maybe I was just too real.
Right now however, as I write this little note, I feel at peace. I have no regrets and I am not sad. For experiences both failures and successes indicate that I am reaching out to the world to live a full fledged life and that I have more successes and failures out there waiting for me to be embraced.
Through this note, I would also like to thank all those who constantly advised, helped and supported me through out this competition. You know who you are :)
When I reached the After-party, people were quite surprised to see me there. They had assumed that I wouldn't show up since half of the contestants who didn't make it to top 10 had chosen not to come. But I love to surprise people. Yes, I was but obviously not as enthusiastic about the party as the winners or the titleholders were duh! But nevertheless I am a fighter have always been will always be. In my 23 years of existence I have a carved out this spirit in me that is hard for anyone to defeat. And if I were the winner I would've gracefully accepted my victory and last night I learnt to accept my loss with equal grace too.
But am glad I attended the after party because it was there I felt that even though there wasn't a crown on my head to determine me as the winner, there were people there who'd witnessed the show of whose hearts that I had won. People from embassies to the organizers complimenting me on giving an outstanding performance made me feel like a winner.
And finally wrapping up my now, not-so-little-note, I was most complimented on the way I looked and carried myself last night. For which, I take no credit for and give it all to a special 18 year old boy who goes by the name Sakil Kunwar. He is one of the most talented young people I have ever come across, is an emerging make up artist and envisions to bring a revolution in Nepali beauty pageants. The fact that he trained me for the past several days and invented my looks for the finale, I believe was a true blessing for me.
That said, my life has come back to normal now. No trainings, no giggling with the girls, no scolding from sakil for walking wrong, no looking forward for to an international pageant *sigh* I really don't know where my life is headed for now but all I know that it is headed towards somewhere exciting, somewhere fulfilling, somewhere adventurous like it has always been. People often tell me that I seem to have an eventful life always… but let me tell you that my life is an eventful one, not because I got it by default but because I make sure to make it one. With the super zealous soul that I have grown myself with me, I can assure you that what ever that I may do, where ever I may go, wherever I will be I will forever and always be a content and a happy happy person.
|At one of the training sessions for Miss Nepal with Sakil|
|Miss Nepal contestants 2010 batch|
After all, a loser becomes a loser only if he/she accepts to be one. And I have lost nothing but have emerged out of the contest winning memories to last a lifetime. So stop worrying about me, my dearly beloveds. I am indeed in good hands of my never-defeating soul :)