Below are some of the pictures and video I took at the conference, last weekend. I had an amazing experience meeting so many passionate writers and agents, and loved taking pictures and videos throughout.
By: Tenzin Palkyi
I’ve always felt uncomfortable with introductions. How do you deem the amount of information that is appropriate to share in any given context? A simple ‘hello’ seems too short, yet a full blown deep dive into my personal life and history might be a bit too eager. My ramblings so far are already evidence of how unfamiliar I still find myself with introductions, despite going through them countless times. So, since I have no idea what else to talk about, I’ve decided that for my first blog post, I will be sharing a bit about my childhood in Nepal.
The image that comes to mind when I think of my time in Nepal is that of Boudhanath. As I close my eyes now, thinking about what to write, I can see it clearly. There is a big stupa in the center. The sharp eyes painted on the structure watch over the masses of the city. As you walk through, you’ll see numerous people doing full body prostrations. They clasp their hands together, first touching it to the top of their head, then their nose, then their chest. As their hands drop to the ground, they slide it across the ground, their entire body lowering. They stand back up and repeat the process, taking three steps each time, as they make a clockwise circumambulation around the Stupa. Others walk briskly around the structure, turning the prayer wheels around as they say their own mantras. I can almost see my grandmother doing the same, her chunky prayer beads in hand as she circles around and around.
As you walk further into Boudha, you’ll see lots of little shops and stalls. One of them is a darkened room that seemingly holds nothing of importance, but believe me when I say they sell the best chili potatoes you’ll ever have. The woman who runs the stall only ever makes a limited amount each morning. My grandmother, always an early riser, would often come back home with a bag of the delicious treat, knowing how much I enjoyed it.
The pigeons will block your way at each step you take. There are countless people, my grandmother included, who stand along the cobbled street, a black plastic bag in hand, throwing little grains out. On the days I accompany my grandmother, she’ll open up the bag for me. I greedily try to grab a big handful, but my small hands don’t allow for it. I take what I can and throw them into the air. They scatter across the ground and the pigeons that fly over head, competing to reach us first, create a dark cloud in the sky. After a few seconds, the birds have all landed and you find yourself completely surrounded, unable to move any further as they begin their feast.
Further down, there is a small, makeshift house. It only has one large room made up of plastic windows. Inside, you’ll always see burning butter lamps with a monk chanting prayers seated somewhere in the room. It is an oasis on the cold, winter days we visit the area. On auspicious days, my father will take us in to light a butter lamp each and say our prayers, for whatever or whomever they may be. If you go to Boudha at night, you can see the flames of the lamps burning bright, a guide to making your rounds around the Stupa.
Although it’s been years since I’ve been back to Nepal, I can still see the cobbled streets of Boudhanath as if I had just made morning rounds with my grandmother yesterday. As cheesy as it may sound, I really think that part of who you are comes from the places you’ve been and the places you’ve called home. I hope you, reader, have been able to get a glimpse into me from my home.
BY NATALIE BEVILACQUA
I have always always been bad at introducing myself—but hey, I’m Natalie. It’s nice to meet you, all three of you reading this blog, one of whom is most definitely my mother. To tell you all a little bit about myself, I am a senior in college which means life is coming soon and it may very well smack me in the face, so stay tuned. My fun facts aren’t super fun, but my go-to is that I have two dachshunds named Hallie (after Hallie from The Parent Trap) and Sammy (after Hallie’s dog from The Parent Trap.) They are small and yappy and shaped like bratwursts, just as I am small, yappy and shaped like a bratwurst. And, yes, I fully subscribe to the notion that people look like or grow to look like their dogs.
Another fact is that I am originally from California. Where in California you ask, as they always do? Usually, I gauge the vibe of the asker to determine my answer, but since you lucky few are anonymous, you get to hear all of my answers: Southern California, Los Angeles area or Calabasas. Since I moved to the city, I’ve noticed people talk about California as if it were a world away. Whenever I talk about politics or healthcare problems, my New York/New England friends literally wave me off, saying things like “oh, please, you’re from California” and “that’s practically a womb.” Ultimately, if you want to know the nitty gritty about SoCal culture, I advise you to watch SNL’s The Californians; the sketch’s characterization of Californians is totally on par with the majority of people I interact with when I’m home.
Lastly, I am interning at Gotham because—surprise, surprise—I like to write. When I was younger, I wrote a lot of awful poetry to cope with the overwhelming experiences of puberty, braces and high school. Now I write slightly less awful poetry and short stories and am working toward more long-form stuff. However, as much as I enjoy writing, my first love was reading. My mom used to play the Harry Potter audiobook on the ride to preschool and, for a time, I truly believed myself to be Hermione Granger’s long lost sister. I am currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead which is just heart-wrenchingly beautiful, but my all-time favorites include Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, “The Death of Ivan Illych” by Leo Tolstoy and Atonement by Ian McEwan.
Needless to say, somewhere between the Harry Potter car rides and the cringe-worthy poetry, I got hooked on words and have been ever since.
BY MASON ROWLEE
“Everyone around the room and say your name, major, and one fun fact about yourself” is probably the most dreaded line for any college freshman. I remember at my own freshman orientation hating the idea of having a fun fact because I felt that I had none. Although I now know this to not be true, I often struggle with how I want to introduce myself.
What do I want others to know about me first?
In order to answer this question, I used to think that I had to look deep inside to find an answer. However, I think that one of the most interesting parts of writing is finding things outside of yourself that reflect what you feel inside.
When I look around me at Gotham, I find so many reflections of myself in the people around the office; I see myself in our students and teachers who are committed to writing in its many forms. Only being a few days into this internship, I am already excited for the journey ahead.
Already, Gotham has helped me understand that I know I want to be a writer. Although I may not have a “fun fact” about my writings yet, I know that I find writing fun and I know that to be a fact.
In that sense, the next time someone asks me for a fun fact, I may just say, “I’m a writer.”