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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Friday evening with Sarosh

Thamel, Kathmandu's tourist quarter, has two climbing gyms. Both are worth a visit, whether you climb or not. Not many other spaces in general intertwine athletic energy, youthful strength and peaceful, relaxed air so well. Simply by sitting in their communal area you'll feel few years younger (or older if you haven't crossed the divide yet), a little stronger and inspired for the whole day. And I can promise you that you'll make good friends. I went to meet Sarosh in the gym I used to frequent six years ago.

"People want to get out of Kathmandu valley or thing. But there are so many beautiful places [here]. You have to explore the place to see what all is there."

Sarosh has a decade or so on me. He studied architecture in India and lived around the world for a while. But eventually he returned to Kathmandu, as Nepal is where he feels he can be the most impactful. In architecture more than anywhere else, he says, it's necessary to know the locality and its inhabitants well. And that takes a lifetime of being part of the environment.

"We had the only member of the 1953 Hillary expedition survivor [still living member], Kancha Sherpa, so he inaugurated the museum. And the Hillary family, and Peter Hillary, and Tenzing's family, they were all there."
"It took almost two years, but it was an existing building. We added and changed most of it."

[About reconstructed muzeum of mountaineering in Namche.]

Nepal, as a developing country, offers a lot space for self-realization. Unlike in Europe or the US, it's easy to leave a mark with one or two well thought out projects. Like in Pakistan, where skiing reached 5 years ago: a beginner in the west is an instant super star there. And if you mix excellence with a touch of humanity you'll open many doors for yourself.

"It got me exposed to [the mountaineering community] ... one project leads to another, that's how it works."
"Nepal ... it's a small place. You do one good work ... and then it's easy to connect with people."

Since it was Friday evening, Sarosh invited his studio's trainees to join for a lesson in diversity to work approach. They all showed up and had fun! Can you imagine asking the same at your workplace? But Sarosh, through presentation of his ideas, has developed quite the following and earned the respect of people around him. And so I had the pleasure of revisiting an old hobby of mine, while running an interview, and getting a lesson of kalokagathia.

"Because of my [yoga] practice... all these things have added a very different dimension to my work. (...) I'm trying to do something simple and that simplicity draws a lot of interesting people."
"After practicing yoga, you want to blend in with things."
"If you [in architecture] stick out and show that you're better (...), you're creating inequality. But if you blend in (...), where everyone feels part of it, and you don't know who the architect is... I think that's beautiful."

Sarosh built up his world in steps. Architecture came to him at the university in India, yoga and meditation while working in the mountains and finally climbing and physical strength after his children took him to the climbing gym. From hopeless (in climbing) he went to wow in several years of focused practice. In climbing this is especially inspiring as many consider it to be akin to playing a piano; unless you start early, you'll have missed your chance. Not true.

"When you work on a remote site... you tend to simplify it [projects] with local resources, local skills... to keep the cost down."
"Up in the mountains ... people make their little fortune and they want to ... imitate what they see on the internet. Then you try to simplify that to something that matches the place, context, culture."
"It requires not over-building, or under-using resources... slowly filter it down to what is really necessary."

And through his architecture trainees he is able to pass his message onto the next generation. Perfection.

"Your whole body is architecture which needs to be explored."
"How can you do strong design if you don't have strong hands?"
"You need healthy body to produce healthy, good work."

After the evening exercise, we went for a dinner to a nearby Japanese restaurant and talked a lot more. You can find details of this more philosophical conversation in a separate article.

"Thank you, everyone. Very special [evening]."

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