MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
Pipalbot is a unique blend of many things: a bright and airy caf? with a communal table, an event space, and a store for contemporary furniture, comfort clothing, rugs and art objects. The open room exudes optimism, and has an uplifting, quiet ambience.
"Kathmandu is a small place with very diverse people who move in their own circles, we wanted to mix them up," says Diki Ongmo, who opened a store in Sydney 15 years ago called Tibet Sydney. She moved back to launch Pipalbot with her partner, Australian architect Tim Linkins, who works as a design consultant in Kathmandu.
Ongmo explains: "We wanted to provide a venue where people with different interests could overlap, talk, eat, be entertained. It's really open-ended how the space can be utilised and this keeps the space fresh and ever-evolving."
Indeed, at different times this week at Pipalbot, we spotted Eric Valli, Gotz Hagemuller, Sapana Malla and Dubby Bhagat. People who have been in Kathmandu many years mingled with those who have just arrived, and the common table brought everyone together in like-minded intimacy.
Within this oasis-like sanctuary, it is hard to imagine that the south gate of Singha Darbar is just 200m away and there is a noisy political sit-in going on there.
Pipalbot is also a venue for art exhibitions, weekly film nights and practical meditation classes, and on Friday 4 September there is a raga evening with Gurudev Kamath.
We really feel that the built environment has a subtle but profound impact on a person's way of thinking, so we wanted to provide an exemplar of contemporary design in the Nepali context," says Linkins, who has designed furniture merging Kathmandu Valley's traditional craft with contemporary lines for dining tables, sofas, lamp shades, partitions and ceramics.
The overall effect is of good taste, minimalist functionality and traditional elegance in a restored space within a former Rana residence. Linkins has a definite vision: "Whether you are designing a building, piece of clothing, cutlery or a business card, design is integrative and holistic: it is all about approaching design challenges and, by extension, life in general, with an attitude of clarity and simplicity."
But why the name Pipalbot, we ask Ongmo. She is happy to explain. "The pipal tree gives shade, it's where travelers take a rest and stop to chat, and it has a spiritual dimension."
Upstairs at Baber Mahal Revisited
Open Tuesday ? Sunday
Lunch (bookings required),
all-day tea and dessert, dinner by prior arrangement.