Three decades old portraits brought smiles in Manang

Published on: 21 April 2011

Manang"I am so happy and lucky that I could present surprise gift of photograph to Manangi People" smiled Michal Thoma while we were sitting in the corridor of a hotel in Thamel at Kathmandu.

Expedition Manang 2011 team reached Manang with group of porters, Zdenek Thoma , Michal Thoma ,Milos Zabransky film director, Libor Bures - CEO of travel agency in Prague and they inaugurated the photo exhibition in the second week of March 2011, which runs for five days. Unexpected crowd of local people and tourists visited the photo exhibition that held in Manang Culture Museum.

I was fortunate to meet and spend little time with veteran Czech duo and enthralled listening their fascinating travel stories, photos and experiences in Nepal.

Michal Thoma took several photos on the same spot and people comparing with the photograph that was captured 30 years back by his father Zdenek Thoma. His father has shot many photos while he visited Manang in 1979.

Interestingly he visited these villages, spots and people and analyses with the old photograph taken by his father. The places were changed, the kids were turned to young, young to adult and many old people were no more. The places are completely transformed, people grown up. He spent so many days to find the places and peoples, at last he did it and so happy with his works now.

Lama Kunchang The people of Manang were so much happy to see their black and white picture taken (with pentax k2) by Zdenek 30 years back and excited to see and compare their old pictures with colourful photographs taken with an advance digital camera (Pentax ISTD) by Michael Thoma his son.

Michal Thoma who is writer, guide and photographer is so happy to keep alive the life of Manangi people after so many years.

"Photographs are the perfect way of memory, many took the pictures and keep for themselves, but we are happy that we are able to return back to them" he said. They hope the photos will be preserved in Manang museum so local and tourists will visit it and envision about past Manang.

Zdenek Thuma remembered back 1970 as a young guy, while he was a college student, took voyage with some Singaporean Monks, traveled through Turkey, Iran, Afganistan , India and Kathmandu. Later he came back to Nepal in 1979 and visited Manang the beautiful place that was nestled in the lap of remote Himalaya. He crosses Thorang-la, Muktinath and finally reaches to Manang. “There were no lodges and Manang was still an inaccessible, while Annapurna circuit was just opened for foreigners” senior Thoma stressed. During his visit he took several masterpiece photographs of Manang people and their places. After 30 years later his son Michael Thoma visited the same community and revives and keeps alive his father works. “The photograph are as old as me “smiled Michael. He has great emotional attachment with those photographs.

It was April 1979, Zdenek still remembered, his wife upset while he decided to left Praque, Michal was just a half an year then, he stared at Michael and both smiles gently.

They have exhibited their photograph in Prague and Europe and have future plan to continue their project in different places in the coming days.

Maya GurungWhile we were having conversation, the father and son were smiling cheerfully and very happy to share their unbounded affection towards Manang and its people .They are never tired of sharing their travel experience about this wonderful Himalayas and hope to travel Nepal again and again in the future too.

"However time has come for change to explore different tourism destinations in Nepal besides Annapurna circuit and Everest Base camp, as they are too crowded and people need some other places to enjoy and explore. Definitely, Nepal is and will always remain as one the best tourist destination on earth to travel", expressed junior Thoma an enthusiasts traveler, writer and photographer.

Manang

“We are very happy to bring photo back to Manangi people, it is big satisfaction for us and for Managi people too, photograph is an art about memory, and we have shared the amazing memory with the place where it originated” they said.

Writer with Thoma father and sonPeople of Manang will always remember the splendid work and precious gift of Thoma family which will remain hanging in the wall of Manang Museum.

Nepal is always proud and salutes Thoma father and son who are the great traveler, the photographer and the writer. Their contribution will be a landmark for Manang community and will always have special recognition in the tourism history of Nepal.

Feature article: surendra rana , surand.rana@gmail.com
Photos : Zdenek Thoma, Michal Thoma
Exhibition website: manang.thoma.cz/en