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Home away from home

KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA in NEW YORK


Last summer, the Odari and the Neopaney clans were just two of the several hundred Bhutan refugees resettled across the United States. Since arriving in New York in June 2008 with a suitcase full of old clothes, a few fraying photos and barely any money, the two families have settled into their new home country. The families were neighbours in the refugee camps in Jhapa back in Nepal. Here, they are in-laws.

Ganga Neopaney, the oldest of the five Neopaney children, and Deepak Odari, one of the two Odari boys, were dating secretly in the refugee camp in Dhaka. Ganga insisted that if Deepak wanted to marry her his family would have to officially ask for her hand in marriage. They did. Soon enough the young immigrant couple applied for a wedding permit and discovered life and independence, plus a renewed sense of belonging for the first time in their lives.

Eighteen years after being thrown out of their homeland, most of the 120,000 Bhutani refugees are being resettled in third countries. The United States is taking 80,000, while Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada are taking others. Eight thousand have now arrivedd in the US where they are helped with everything from finding apartments and jobs to applying for social welfare.

Kashish Das Shrestha will be presenting these and other photographer at an interactive exhibition at photo.circle on 14 March, 10AM at The Bakery Caf?, Sundhara.

ALL PICS: KASHISH DAS SHRESTHA
FAR AWAY: Deepak and Ganga had to get adjusted to New York's streets.

After arriving in America, Ganga's father Jiva Neopaney tries to come to terms with his family's new homeland.

Ganga shows her family how to swipe the subway card.

Deepak and Ganga are married in Queens in a 'big, fat Bhutani wedding'.

Ganga has got a job as a cashier in a gourmet food shop and Deepak works as a food packer for a Japanese restaurant, waking up at 4AM to get to work.

Just married, Deepak and Ganga take a day off to apply for their State ID. By next year, Deepak hopes to be working as a cab driver while Ganga still dreams of continuing her higher education.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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