It's My 20th Anniversary! / By NHManandhar, June 2023

June is an important month for me – it’s my Dad’s birthday for one (88 this year!) but it is also the month I left Australia permanently to live and work in Nepal, way back in 2003.

I lived in Nepal from June 2003 until December 2011 and, during that time, I married a gorgeous Nepali man; worked with street kids; worked with orphaned, abandoned and conflict-affected children; and vulnerable families. Together with a Nepali colleague I started a child-welfare NGO and a concurrent NGO in Australia for fundraising (Jul 2006 – Sep 2018). Plus, I began researching and writing a novel and, just for laughs, I helped build a bar.

After I left Nepal I remained on the Australian Board of Directors, and I visited Nepal almost every year. After the NGO ceased operations, I kept in contact with as many of the kids we’d supported as I could, and we’ve had four wonderful, joy filled reunions so far. The most recent one was only a few days ago – you may have seen the photos.

This year, June 2023, marks the 20th anniversary of that momentous, life-changing decision to leave everything behind and move to Nepal. And life-changing is exactly the right word. Even after I returned to Australia to focus on writing, Nepal, her people, and the work I did there has been “in my blood”.

I’ve always felt Nepal was my spiritual home, a place where I truly belonged. I missed Nepal more than I could possibly have imagined when I returned to Australia. And now I am extremely grateful to be back here again. My husband and I moved back permanently in February 2023, and Nepal has once again become my true home.

The novel that I started writing so long ago is now very close to publication, and I am incredibly excited. It is not about me, nor is it about anyone I know. But it is about Nepal.

Nepal – the birthplace of my passion and the soon-to-be launching place of my novel. I will shout the date and the venue from the rooftops when we are ready, and I hope to see you there!

Life is Sun & Shadow is a fictionalised account of the poverty, discrimination and civil war-related suffering experienced by Nepalese men, women, and children from the rural and central areas of Nepal. Having witnessed first-hand the conditions and listened to the personal experiences of so many, I felt driven to share their stories and provide an insight into the little-known reality of life in Nepal during that period. Accordingly, their stories form the backbone of this book, and are supported by my research, news reports and human rights investigations. But again, and I stress, it is purely a work of fiction. And though it has taken me many years, the writing of this fiction novel based in Nepal has been a labour of love.

Life is sun and shadow is a common saying in Nepali – “jeevan ho, gham chaya”.

Jeevan ho, gham chaya is the second (and Nepali) name for my novel, and you may even see that in the bookstores over here instead. More than any other name that I have contemplated for this novel as I was writing, “Life is Sun & Shadow” truly represents the spirit, and the essence, of my book.

It is the first in a series that follows the lives of the key characters as they navigate the increasing brutality of the civil war plus the problems they face due to discrimination and poverty. It is a coming-of-age novel; a tale of love, loss, rebellion, and the fight for change.

How better to celebrate a 20th anniversary?!

Life is Sun & Shadow

Jeevan ho gham chaya


June 2023