Wagle Guff: Coffee, Café and Palpasa

By Dinesh Wagle on July 17th, 2005 in Wagle Street Journal

Narayan Wagle talks about his passion: Writing.

Narayan Wagle, 37, was born in the hilly district of Tanahun, Nepal. He did his schooling in the birthplace and attended college in Kathmandu until 1991. He started his professional/writing career in the following year. Bright, genial, and intensely energetic, as one website introduces the man, Narayan Wagle is one of Nepal’s most widely followed journalists with a number of groundbreaking stories to his credit.

The editor of Kantipur, who rose to fame with his popular semi-fictional weekly column Coffee Guff, found himself as a character in a story two years ago that was filmed with the title ‘Bhedako Oon Jastoâ?¦in search of a song’, (Like Sheep’s Wool). The film is named after the song the journalist first heard in a highland village in Langtang area, north of Kathmandu.

United We Blog! conducted an interview with Narayan Wagle who yesterday made public his first novel Palpasa Café.

Why do you write?
To express myself.

What do you have to say in your work?
I have tried to tell those events and mountains that I saw, experienced and heard about.

What do you hope to get out of your work?
I hope to see many people reading my book.

What aspects of your life appear, transformed or untransformed, in the novel?
My relationships and concerns have appeared in this novel. My progressive imaginations merge with them in many occasions.

In what ways do you appear in the novel?
As a friend of the main protagonist who by chance happens to be a journalist working in Kathmandu.

How would you like your reader to feel after reading your book?
I do not want to disturb readers but I want their time for my creation.

Where is your work set and why?
In Kathmandu and on the mountain because that is what I know about.

What story do you want to write but think you can’t?
There are many but I cant say exactly. It is the duty of a writer to try over issues if he/she feels writing something.

What story do you continue to write but wish you didn’t?
I don’t want to see anymore the way the country is currently going through.

What do you not know that you think you need to know in order to write?
There are many subjects about which I lack information or depth knowledge.

Why is writing important to you?
Because I can’t joyfully experience the time without writing.

When do you usually write?
When an idea attacks me.

What is the best story/book you ever read? Why?
There are many and I am reluctant to give an example.

Where were you and how old were you when you read the best story you ever read?
I found a few stories brilliant that I read in my childhood days. I think a book attracts according to the time, a reader’s awareness and taste.

Which writer do you consider as favorite?
I cannot name the only one but Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite writers. In Nepal, BP Koirala, Parijaat and Shankar Lamichhane are some names.

Which book has influenced you the most in life?
That too I cannot say with surety.

Tell us something about your association with Coffee/café. When were you first introduced with Café culture?
After I started journalism. After the restoration of democracy [in 1990] would be precise.

Why Coffee Guff was named so?
It came suddenly some 12 years ago when I was writing something drinking coffee.

Many people consider that you rose to your fame via the column Coffee
Guff and other news reports. Let me ask you something on Coffee Guff that
readers consider it as the mix of facts and fiction. To what extent Coffee
Guff is real?
Sometime it’s more factual and less fictional and sometimes other way around. But mostly the Coffee is prepared by mixing both elements. You can’t say Coffee is not real. And Coffee is just a taste.

How do you explain people about the column Coffee Guff?
Read for 15 minutes enjoying to the fullest. If that can create a wave of idea, that’s enough.

Lately, you haven’t written the column as you used to do. Why? And do you miss?
The Coffee Guff became the victim of time, exhaust and lethargic. Now I am giving the examination again.

What story are you going to write next?
Currently I am writing Coffee Guff especially on my recent trip to Korea and Japan.

How do you feel in this transformation from the realistic world to the
fictional world?
I have been experiencing that from Coffee Guff so it’s not very new to me. But I am very much excited about the first novel size Coffee Guff. Because I am anxious to know whether readers will get any tastes of a 250 page long Coffee Guff.

What do you enjoy most: fact or fiction?
I enjoy the moment when I sit to write a mixture of them.

The life and time of journalistic write-up is not long lasting, it is
said. But literature is. Have you decided to lengthen your career in
Even if the material life of the news short, a good news will have a long lasting impact. A book cannot attain long life just because it is literature. Career or literary age is insignificant in front of the writing passion.

Film is considered as the ultimate form of fiction. What is your view
regarding movies? Do you have any aspirations in that field?
Film is also like news, article, novel or Coffee Guff. I take film as the visual expansion of writing. That is why I am always interested in a beautiful film. I aspire to write the script of a movie and, if I can, direct a cinema in future.

Could you please tell us your experience with the documentary film Bheda Ko Oon Jasto in which you lead a team of musicians in the remote Langtang village in search of a folk tune?
We got out of Kathmandu in a whim and headed toward Langtang. I wanted to meet herdsmen. But when I reached there after a gap of 8 years, those herdsmen whom I have heard about in my previous visit have gone to Malaysia. That odyssey was a visual coffee guff. We had never thought that the film would be this much popular.

In Bheda Ko Oon Jasto too, you basically told the story about the odyssey. What’s different between telling stories via a newspaper article or the novel or the documentary film?
Only the medium is different. You have to be careful about camera in the documentary. But in newspaper, you have to be attentive about facts and background and in novel about the art of writing.

How do you see the ‘language division’ in literature (English and Nepali)?
Personally, I prefer Nepali because I have command over this language. You can get international audience if you write in English. Language is not the barrier but this definitely sets the limitations of audience number.

What do you think are the shortcomings within you as a writer?
I can’t write differently.

You are considered as one of the most traveled journalists in the country. What is travelling for you? How have traveling helped you in your writing if any?
I couldn’t have written Coffee Guff or this novel had I not traveled. A journey is the biggest teacher that makes you understand geography, society, culture and politics.

Which one- travelling or daily work- has influenced the most to Palpasa Café?
Both. While travelling has helped me recognize character and atmosphere, daily routine has familiarized me with busyness. Both have equal contribution over my creations.

You are also the editor of Kantipur, Nepal’s largest newspaper. What does it mean to be the editor of Kantipur?
More responsibility

What is the difference between a reporter and an editor?
A reporter enjoys the freedom and the editor is bounded.

Which job do you like much and why?
For now, to try to keep journalism independent. Because this is very much challenging.

What are the positive and negative sides of your job, especially of the editorship?
My positive side is my positive thinking. There are many negative sides that I do not want my readers to know now.

How do you think journalism and writing have complimented to each other?
Both are mediums of expression. You can get joy in journalism if you have good writing skill. And if you enjoy journalism, writing skill will improve.

When were you satisfied most by your reporting?
I am not interested entertaining myself in satisfaction. Instead, I have been unsatisfied with each reporting. Every time I feel like something is missing.

When do you consider is the high time in your career?
Whenever I am on the mountains for reporting.

Which is the most fascinating place that you have visited in Nepal and outside Nepal.
Yari valley of Humla, Nepal and the mountains that you reach travelling the rounded roads of Kyoto, Japan.

Found in Translation? If you agree with us that something is lost in translation, find that in Narayan Wagle’s original interview in UWB Nepali.

Related Blogs:
1. Narayan Wagle: A Novelist Is Born With Palpasa Cafe

Note: Guff in Nepali means chat/talk/gossip.

3 Responses to “Wagle Guff: Coffee, Café and Palpasa”

jose luis Says:
July 17th, 2005 at 11:39 pm

hey, your blog is great! congratulations! i have linked it. hope you don’t mind. you got a portuguese reader. all the best.

Save Nepal (savenepal@gmail.com) Says:
July 18th, 2005 at 8:09 am

Rather than Coffee Guff, I am enthrolled by the way Wagles (D. Wagle included) are fighting for democracy. Keep it up….

Umesh Says:
July 18th, 2005 at 7:11 pm

It’s a great hit by this blog site.I think this is a great news breaking about the most famous editor, who always dissatisfies with his writing. This is a key factor , which always promotes him , whenever , whereever. Thanks for such great blog site..

Published by UWB

Pioneering blog from Nepal...since 2004.

2 thoughts on “Wagle Guff: Coffee, Café and Palpasa

  1. mindblowing book .congrats as it has become the best seller since five years..

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