The Rising Nepal   •   NATIONAL DAILY
Kathmandu • May 15, 2003 • Thursday


I am charmed by the people: Aidt

By A Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, May 14: The last time Asia made headlines in the papers in Denmark was during the economic meltdown of the Tigers in 1997-98. Six years later is is SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

“There is hardly anything positive about Asia, or for that matter of any country in the other [Southern] continents, in the media in Denmark,” says Mik Aidt, editor-in-chief of Djembe, a quarterly magazine published from Copenhagen, Denmark, that is dedicated to understanding different cultures and inspiring each other.

So in August this year, the Danish Center for Culture and Development (DCCD), in whose board sits Aidt, is organising a major festival “Images of Asia” in Denmark. The festival is the second of a series of similar events this decade to be held every three years. The next festival is on the Middle East in 2006 and on Latin America three years later.

The six-week-long festival in August this year will take some 400 participants from different countries of Asia through 14 cities to give a glimpse of what takes place outside Denmark and also to help the Danish people to understand and appreciate Asian values.

The mega event will include everything – performing arts, photography, theatre, conferences and meetings. Nepalese theatre groups are expected to participate.

The event can also be an excellent opportunity to promote Nepal in Denmark, says Aidt, 40, who is in Nepal right now, preparing for the August festival so that when the Nepalese troupes start performing in Denmark, he is able to understand and cherish the values of Nepalese culture.

Coming as he does from one of the flattest lands in the world, his trip to this Himalayan kingdom has been quite an experience. He’s just returned from a trek to Mustang where he went as high as 4,700 metres. The highest hill in Denmark is just 170 metres.

“Everything has been fascinating, especially the people here,” he told The Rising Nepal. “I am charmed by the sincere way the people meet you…the way children don’t stare or bother you. The Nepalese seem to have self-confidence, a kind of pride in them.”

Everyway you go, you see signs of spiritualism, says he. “Unlike in Denmark, there is life in the old buildings here.”

Apart from his journalistic career, Aidt is also very much into music and will be cutting his first album shortly. So in the last 10 or 12 days he has been here, he has been trying to learn as much about Nepali music as possible. Charmed as he is with the distinctly two patterns of music seen here – folk and sugary pop music – he, however, sees little in the way of experimentation to bridge the two. “African musicians have skillfully fused traditional music with Western influences to create a new sensation that is widely acceptable to the rest of the world,” he said. “There is a lot of scope for such experimentation here as well.”

Aidt is confident the festival will arouse greater appreciation of others’ cultures than has his magazine Djembe, started in 1992, which is named after an African drum that makes more noise than any other drum. Even as he goes about learning as much about Nepal as he can during his brief stay here, he’s already contemplated what the next issue of Djembe will feature on Nepal: how salsa has come to Kathmandu.