It’s a chilly morning when Anupama Aura Gurung welcomes us with her warm smile.
“Tell me the latest news, have I missed any important happenings while I was away from the country” she asks. A few minutes into the conversation she shares how she is not very happy with the Nepali Media. “Did you see the pictures they published?” is her question, “They didn’t even inform me.”
Recently a few tabloids published Anupama’s bikini pictures. She is not ashamed of those pictures she confirms, as they were an integral part of the beauty pageant, “I can do a bikini photo shoot if asked for,” she says but in this case would have been happy if “they had at least informed her.”
“Out of four pictures three are bikini shots,” she exclaims adding “they blew it out of proportion.” Ready to forget the uncomfortable welcome into the country Anupama wants to dedicate whatever time she can to bringing forth environmental, youth and women suppression issues.
“If the world were to be ruled by women, it would have more heart. It would be filled with love and compassion; women ruling would be a gift to the world,” was her prompt retort to the chief judge’s question while at the Miss Nepal 2011 finale.
She was crowned first runner-up that evening and therefore represented Nepal in Miss Earth 2011 at Manila, Philippines.
Born in Chitwan and raised in Singapore Anupama returned to Kathmandu on Wednesday after her performance last Saturday at Manila, the venue for this year’s Miss Earth.
Her greatest accomplishment at the international pageant according to her is “talking about the country in an International arena.” Anupama was also selected as the finalists at the Talent round where she performed the traditional Charya dance.
Currently caught up between interviews, photo shoots and catching up with friends and family, she had a casual conversation with Republica. Excerpts:
What are your current feelings?
Apart from the bikini hullabaloo, it’s wonderful to be back. I have so many things to do now. Share all the knowledge I gained and make the youth more aware on environmental issues. Miss Earth is all about environment and therefore we discussed a lot over the degradation of the environment, I hope to encourage eco friendly changes in the lives of youth. I really have a lot to say.
What is the difference between Miss Nepal and international pageants?
Everything! It’s bigger, louder things are exploding there. Here we are 19 girls and there the number is close to a hundred. You know with so much variety in language culture and lifestyle it’s easy to get lost.
Girls from richer backgrounds have designer clothes, shoes and the best quality make up- they are groomed, unlike us, by the best professionals in the world but that never brought me down. I was not only Anupama there, I was Nepal, and right from the very first day I chose to
How was it like on the final day?
It’s amazing how I was the coolest on the finale. The big stage, the huge lights and the dramatic presentation had little, or you can say no, affect on me. I was only eager for the dance presentation. Actually, I fought my way into the first row and being able to showcase traditional Nepali dance on center stage had an overwhelming feel to it. Although I couldn’t see a single Nepali flag in the audience from the stage, I did not feel lonely. The sash which was on my chest had Nepal imprinted on it and that was more than enough for me to feel at home. I had my country close to my heart, hugging me.
Why hasn’t Nepal seen any significant wins at international pageants?
I can’t tell you about everyone else but I can share my experience. See these pageants are a small part of the beauty industry. Now, like any other industry, the beauty industry too has a lot to do with money, as a matter of fact, it is generates immense amount of revenue. And it is more than obvious that where there is money involved there is politics. I need not say the rest. It’s not in the girl’s hands to win – it’s tricky!
What would you like to say to aspiring Miss Nepals?
It all starts with the mindset. I may tell them a thousand things to do and another thousand things to stay away from, but believe me, my advice can never be as important as their own attitude. From my personal experience, I can say that you need to be strong and not let things affect you in a negative manner.
During and after the pageant you will come across many such incidents which can shatter you if you are not strong enough. I personally live by the motto ‘everything happens for the best’ and it works for me. I try and calculate positive aspects even if I am at a loss.
What are your future plans?
Before it was about me - I could do anything I felt like, but with the crown, I hold a responsibility. I would like to make myself useful. We have visionaries and they are doing their part, instead of starting something new, I would like to work as their messenger.
There are so many issues that need immediate attention but youth here hardly pay attention, I’d like to talk to them about it because I would be able to comprehend it in the language youth understand. Also, I have always advocated entrepreneurship.
Instead of complaining about the lack of job opportunities, we the educated lot should be able to create jobs for ourselves and for those who can’t do it. I firmly believe this will put a halt to the brain drain and once the youth stay back in the country, it will further aid the development of the country as a whole.