There are few times in life where society deems it perfectly acceptable to freak out. Sudden death is one such event, serious diseases another. Although the third I’m about to mention calls for more of a celebration, it’s probably the most common reason to why people drastically change something in their life: ageing.
With this in mind I decided to get the most out of my 20s hitting 30. As a single female this is when you start facing questions like “how do you feel about your biological clock ticking?”, “have you tried botox?” and my favourite negging of all time “I like older women”. Leaving a perfectly wild city life in London, I travelled to Nepal in search of new inspirations. With a month to explore, my hipster radar was on full throttle to find the most creative and passionate people in Kathmandu.
Following a five-day mountain trekk, I was invited to attend a photo shoot, which happened to take place at RS Moto. RS stands for Raajib Sayami, a high school drop out turned creative entrepreneur who launched RS in collaboration with his wife, Sara Sayami, in 2011 as a place to channel his creativity. What caught my eye about RS is the way Sayami explores creativity without boundaries and is completely fearless in the way he takes on new projects. Although he’s been riding motorbikes for decades he allows his inspiration to flow and also designs furniture and leather goods with plans to launch a denim range in the near future.
RS: “I’ve always been fascinated by machinery, so I learnt how to work any machinery that came into my life. That’s why I decided to build custom bikes. I have so many ideas but I don’t trust others with them so I have to do it. I was told I have communication problems.”
Sayami crafts the world around him, buying and importing parts he lacks and creating innovative solutions where needed to fulfil his vision. This goes beyond any set area of expertise. Whatever needs doing, he will make it happen. What Sara helped doing for Sayami, was to evolve his passions into a lifestyle and eventually a brand.
During my visits to RS I also got acquainted with Bikrant Shrestha, guitarist in notorious metal band, Underside, and founder of Silence festival, the biggest metal and rock festival in Nepal. The interest in custom builds and vintage vehicles he shares with Sayami and as I suggest what rides to feature in a photo shoot, I’m also given the juicy background stories on the vehicles. The 1967 Volkswagen Beetle once belonged to the Royal Family of Nepal until it was given away and later picked up by RS Moto. Restoring this beaut is an on-going project to get it ready for everyday use. The 1957 Triumph Thunderbird 6T was in fact given by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958 as a gift to the (then) King Mahendra of Nepal. How it ended up at RS Moto remains a mystery. Sayami has kept the bike in stock condition with all original parts still in place. “It’s a 60 year-old bike so I ride, I fix and I ride again” he says over text.
RS Moto also gets involved in supporting important causes, such as men’s health and AIDS. In recent years they have taken part in the international Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, even creating a promotional video to fuel interest further amongst their following.
Born and raised in Kathmandu, this is where Sayami finds his calm. “I get inspired (by Kathmandu) when I walk through the alleys. The way people dress, the way people walk, the way traffic works. It’s a systematic chaos and the flow within that chaos inspires me in so many ways.” With Hinduism and Buddhism being the most practised religions in Nepal, there is a sense of spirituality that’s present in every part of society. “During Dashain we worship our machines”, Sayami mentions as I find burnt incense on a bike. Dashain is an annual 15-day national festival celebrated by Nepalese people throughout the globe.
Currently sourcing furniture for his latest project, a brand new store concept that will launch in boutique hotel Tangalwood, Sayami has partnered with musician and hotel owner Bikrant Shrestha to turn his vision into reality. “The store will have leather bags, brass products, denim and motorcycle accessories. Rough and raw is my style”, says Sayami. Shrestha also mentions one of his upcoming events at Tangalwood, hosting a music festival with female lead singers only in celebration of women’s day. This is, naturally, music to my female ears.
During the month of exploring I was fortunate enough to be around for both Silence festival and a gig at RS Moto where the store was turned into a stage, sushi was on offer and an abundance of drinks were being served. It was glorious, all of it, and made me realise that these two individuals hold the key to some of Kathmandu’s most flourishing underground scenes. They both bring people together, growing niche communities and as a result inspiring many to reach out beyond their closest circles to find likeminded people.
Bottom line, if there isn’t a festival where your band can play, create one. If you have nowhere to channel your creativity, create a place where your skills and passion have context.
RS: “My theory is: practise what you preach, create something with your hands, do whatever calls you from deep inside, fuck what others tell you to do.”
Raajib Sayami and RS Moto