Nepali Times
Himalayan Teacher


TERRIFIC TEACHER: An ailing Dhakal teaches English to his students at Janabal Secondary School

The man wears a well ironed suit and shiny shoes. He puts on a baseball cap, grabs his briefcase and heads out to the mountains to go to work. He walks miles on a rocky road, crossing muddy paths, jumping over streams and traversing sagging bridges to make it to the meetings he occasionally has in a school in a neighbouring village.
Durga Dhakal, 48, is the principal and an English teacher at the Janabal Secondary School in Marpha of Mustang district. Surrounded by the Annapurnas on one side and Dhaulagiri on the other, he often walks along the Kali Gandaki to avoid waiting for a bus that may never show up.

Dhakal in a meeting with his colleagues
He's been based in this region for years and lives in the school hostel along with his colleagues. Besides sharing a room to live in, a stove to cook on, and the same jobs, they share another commonality: their wives and children live away, far enough that visits are rather rare. Dhakal's family lives in Pokhara. He occasionally flies there to visit them. Not too often, he adds sadly.

The teachers share a light moment in the school hostel
Having a job he loves and colleagues he enjoys makes the lack of other options more bearable. He talks on the phone with his wife regularly, however those conversations are rather brief. They don't discuss much, intimacy is gone after years of being apart. It's not a long distance romance, it's mostly logistics.

Dhakal sits in a restaurant, his face candlelit, as the power is out. He sips some raxi, to ward off the cold nights here at 3,000m above sea level. "Our life is brutal in a way," he says, remembering his distant family.

Loneliness is a tough void to fill, even with incredible landscapes from the top of the world. Heart and soul have different priorities, let alone the brain.

My last glimpse of him was as he taught English to a handful of students even though he was unwell. He kept walking around the class however, joking with his students, teasing them and encouraging them at the same time.

"It was kept as an extraordinary life of loving," he wrote on the blackboard.


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1. SL
He seems like a fictional character of a movie. I don't know why but think either  it's the way he has been presented in the article & the last photo surely speaks alot or maybe this kind of news rarely appear in our mainstream newspaper. But I truly appreciate & respect Durga sir's dedication to his work of enlightening children of himalayas despite those hardships.

2. anonymous
Hats off for the man who enjoys much sharing the things he knows with his students,who are the hopes and dreams of the lonely man. We often portray mustang as the only desert of Nepal where are no basic aminities to pave some way of ones life.

3. Ambika Kambang
The pictures pretty much speaks for the whole article. We need more teachers like Mr. Dhakal in NEPAL who are passionate.
Thank you Jana for this article, Cheers.

4. Anil Thapa Magar
Kudos to the man. He deserves praise and appreciation.

5. Binod Gurung

I have nothing but great admiration for people like him. This is the way Nepal and Nepalese should be. Thanks for the article.

Binod Gurung, UK

6. Sweta K
Thank you Jana for introducing us to an incredible teacher and wonderful human being like Durga Dhakal. The†sincerity†and devotion with which he teaches make him a great role model. I wonder how many other Dhakals there are in the country whose stories we haven't heard. Imagine the immense impact such teachers could make if only they had strong state support and necessary†resources.†

7. Roshan S
I wonder not just Dhakals but how many Newars, Gurungs, Magars etc there are whose stories we have not heard yet.

8. Anonymous
Teacher Durga Dhakal needs great applaud by the citizens of this country. He is a true 'hero and builder' of modern Nepal working at the grass root level and trying to bring some light and hope in the darkness. I wish the likes of Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Baburam Bhattarai learned some lessons from Mr. Durga Dhakal. If architect Baburam had used his technical 'know-how' in town-panning and building community colleges  in small towns, or if agro-technician Dahal had used his skills to help farmers in paddy fields of Tarai or chicken farms in the small towns, our country and people would have benefited a lot. Instead, both are basking in the luxuries of the capital and preaching politics from the high pulpit. What a waste of time, energy and resources!!

9. Manozzz
Such type of news should get publicity as a model for others who are hatred being a himalayan teacher, thanks for introducing him...........

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)