The format of Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for 'chit-chat', is 20x20. This means that each presenter – and there are about a dozen per session – gets 20 seconds each for 20 slides, making for precisely 6 minutes 40 seconds. No politely gesturing hosts are needed to discourage over-running, as the presenter has no control over the slides he or she is presenting. The fear of being caught mid-presentation as your 'Thank You' slide beams out to the audience appears to be deterrent enough.
Pecha Kucha began in 2003 in Japan and has now spread to over 260 cities. Kathmandu's second edition took on an 'Inspire Japan' theme and included an incredible range of suitably inspirational stories from artists, journalists, photographers, writers and filmmakers. It was further enlivened by an auction of organiser Sujan Chitrakar and Chirag Bangdel's artworks, the proceeds from which joined with door takes to help fund the building of a school in Japan.
Of course, there are always good presentations and bad presentations. There is the risk of Death by Powerpoint, and inattentive audiences. And the format has unique challenges. It took some doing to squeeze the seven slides I was allotted on the book 'Hamra Hajurama' into photo.circle's presentation – in so many words, to distill my grandmother's three billion seconds of personal history into 140. And then you had American photographer Brian Sokol, who chose to sit in near-total silence as his brooding images of urban Japan cast light and shade on us. "Who'd have thought 20 seconds would be so long," he quipped.
But the inspiration was as much for the Nepalis present as for Japan. While those meant to be doing the most for Nepal stoop ever lower in their bungling, self-absorbed cretinism, to hear someone passionately describing a project that she has poured her creativity and intellect into is to hear the sound of hope. It goes without saying that there are many more Nepalis across the country equally deserving of such a platform to present their ideas to their peers. Pecha Kucha Pokhara's a shoo-in.