The big, bad, bamboo swing

Posted on November 1, 2010


Just a few weeks ago, all of Nepal celebrated Dasain, the biggest national holiday of the year. It’s a two-week-long event that involves family gatherings, animal sacrifices, offerings to the gods, blessings, and lots of food and drink. We lonely Westerners didn’t have family to visit, so we weren’t privy to all the festivities that took place within Nepali homes. However, we did catch glimpses of the holiday spirit on street corners, parks, and empty lots where the big, bad, bamboo swings were set up.



These swings, called “pings,” popped up all over the place around the beginning of Dasain and were taken down again as soon as the holidays were over. They’re made of a few very tall bamboo trunks lashed together with rope. A rope bench hangs in the center. They look, to say the least, really unsafe. But folks love them. And they’re strong enough to support Taylor’s weight. (More on that later.)


Taylor went out to shoot (photographically, not lethally) a crowd of neighborhood kids (and adults) who were swinging for fun. I went with. As a big white person with a big camera, Taylor got a lot of attention from the kids. They were curious about what he was photographing and crowded all around him.

crowding around tay

But he ended up making one particular little buddy who was very interested in the photographic process.

buddy 1

buddy 2

After a while of shooting, it was time for the photographer to shed the lens that acts as the journalistic barrier and join the locals. As the young man overseeing the swing activities helped Taylor get on the swing, I was a little afraid for him. But he did just fine and the swing did not come crashing down. I think I need to give more credit to the good engineering that makes such a precarious-looking thing so sturdy.

tay swing 1

tay swing 2

All’s well that ends well. After Taylor took his turn, some adults decided to swing too, and they were allowed to cut in front of the kids’ line to swing first. Seniority, ya know?

swing 4

Although I was repeatedly urged (and maybe heckled a little?) by the crowd to join in on the swinging, I declined the offer. Maybe it was a boring decision, but I like to celebrate holidays on the nice, firm ground, thanks.