Miss International Nepal 2017
by Stephen I. Diaz
It was another busy day in the heritage city of Kathmandu. Niti Shah, an extremely popular model in Nepal, took time to meet up with me during my private trip to the Himalayan nation last month. She was not even made up. Simple yet radiantly beautiful, the 21-year-old aspiring broadcast journalism major was not even aware how stunning she was.
Such is the reality among Nepalese beauty queen whom I have met these past five years. Prior to meeting with Niti, I had a chance to reunite with three of her predecessors during separate occasions in Kathmandu: Barsha Lekhi (2017), Shritima Shah (2013) and Medha Koirala (2015) who were all gracious enough to invite me for dinner. Despite their innate talents, good looks and intelligence, they failed to enter into the first cut of Miss International. However, they are now successfully pursuing their respective career and education. Barsha is now taking up her masters degree at a university in Delhi, majoring in environmental science. Shritima pursued an MBA degree in Bangkok after her stint at Miss International. Medha is now finishing her business degree while doing modeling and acting jobs at the same time. If there is one thing that Miss International had failed to notice from these women who proudly wore the Nepal sash, it was the fact that they were truly the kind of women who lived up to the true essence of being a beauty queen.
“Hello Stephen. Welcome to Nepal! I’m so happy you visited my country,” said Niti when she arrived at the posh CALM Restaurant and Cafe in a quiet district in Kathmandu. “I cannot believe that Missosology is here!”
Niti was so candid and cute as she introduced herself to me. Thanks to Stellar Inc., the meeting with her was made into reality. Due to time constraint and the fact that it was my last day in Nepal we had to go down into business right away.
Namaste and thank you Niti for accommodating my request. How has it been since you were crowned Miss International Nepal?
“It has been pretty amazing! I was so happy that I won one of the crowns and I am very excited to visit Tokyo! I met Medha a few days ago and she told me great things about Miss International and what to expect while in Japan.”
That’s great! I was with Medha last week. She invited me for dinner with her family.
“Yes, she actually mentioned you to me that is why I am even more excited to meet up with you.”
She is very sweet and she represented your country well in 2015! But anyway, you know that Miss International competition is a very unpredictable pageant. I have long given up on how to predict the outcome of this pageant.
“That’s true. Nepal has never placed in Miss International and I hope to be the first. Of course, I want to win or place in the Top 5, so I am preparing really hard for this. I am even studying Japanese now and can say some basic words. I just hope that the judges in Miss International will notice me because Nepal is not really a big country.”
Sadly, when it comes to that, Nepal still remains to be a minor country especially to the eyes of the elite Japanese who are part of the board of judges.
“I hope you can help me with that aspect because I really don’t know what they are looking for. As of now, I just want to focus on my preparation and what I can do with my title. I am now involved with a charity that helped a victim of an acid attack. There are incidents in Nepal where a boyfriend would throw acid to the face of his girlfriend because they had an argument. There was one victim whom we were able to help, and we managed to raise money for her operation. I actually prepared sushis and we sold all of them!”
Isn’t that great? That sort of work usually do not get noticed once you are in Japan, so you must find time to share it with your chaperone or probably to the staff members. I just hope that there will be a preliminary interview this year, just like in 2015.
“I hope to do so, too. So how do they select the winners and the semifinalists? I really want to know because I do not want to go there with no knowledge about Miss International. I think that is also the reason why Nepal has not placed even though we have had amazing delegates.”
Speaking of which, I am going to interview later on Miss International Nepal 2005, Nisha Adhikari, who was only 18 years old when she joined Miss International pageant. Your country has actually produced amazing delegates, but Miss International failed to recognize them.
“Yes. But, some people in the media here thought that last year, the president of the Philippines went to watch the pageant. Because of that, the Philippines had won the title, but I do not want to believe that. I am now taking up mass communications, so I am quite aware of the politics behind the news. We should not trust 100% what is being thrown to us by the media. “
Oh! The president of the Philippines did not watch the pageant. He just happened to be there for a state visit, and the pageant was held two days later. That’s all it was.
“So, basically it was just pure timing, right? I really like last year’s winner, Ms. Kylie Verzosa, because she was also from the same group as our delegate last year. She is sweet and I have been following her on Instagram and Facebook. She is so beautiful! I also saw her photo with the president of the Philippines. How do you pronounce his name? Durter..tre?”
It’s DU-TER-TE… President Duterte.
“Yes! Right! President Duterte. You know what, we have so many problems here in Nepal. I think we need someone like the president of the Philippines to fix our problems.”
Hahaha! Do you really think so? I am not in the position to criticize your country, but yes, I can see a lot of issues and problems here that need to be addressed before it’s too late. Take in the case, the electric wires and posts!
“Yes! But that is just one of the many issues. We have problems with the environment, education and infrastructure. We need a leader who has the will and power like the president of the Philippines. You know what? I really like the Philippines. I already have a visa because I was planning to go there, but I had to stay in Nepal for the audition and activities of Miss Nepal 2017. My visa has already expired.”
Oh I did not know that. Why would you want to visit the Philippines?
“I am graduating this year. After this, I want to take up MBA at the Asian Institute of Management, which is in Manila. For that purpose I was planning to go to Manila for a week. Do you have any other recommendation? I also want to know if I can work and study at the same time.”
Well, you might as well check Ateneo de Manila University. That’s where Kylie Verzosa graduated!
“Thank you for that information! I will also check on that one. You see, here in Nepal we only know about Asian Institute of Management. There is also another private school in Manila called De La Salle which is known here. So, yes, I will definitely check on these schools.”
And as for working, I know that there are some legal restrictions, but there are many Korean students who actually work as models or TV hosts while studying in the Philippines.
“Oh! That sounds good. But if I cannot work, that’s okay. I just want to be able to finish my MBA because that is more important to me.”
Going back to your question about how Miss International is being chosen, well, it is basically a voting system. The judges will vote for their favorites, and the Top 15 with highest votes will move on to the speech round. After the speech, there will be a closed-door deliberation to determine the Top 5.
“So that means I really need to make an impact to the judges. I don’t know if they will remember me because I am “Miss Nepal”. Actually I have already consulted with a designer who will create my evening gown. Here is the draft (showed the photo to mefrom her phone).. It is not yet final. I will show the gown to you once again if it is already finished, and tell me your opinion about it.”
I will wait for it! Thank you very much for your time Niti, and I wish you all the best. You are representing a country of beautiful people, and I really mean that. Stand tall and be proud that you are Miss Nepal!
“I am so honored and happy to hear that, Stephen. I will enjoy every moment and always stay positive. I know that it is a competition, but I don’t want the competition to destroy the fun and learnings that I will get while being in Japan. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I will make the best out of it!!
After the chit chat, we had a short photo shoot at the restaurant’s garden and Niti was very natural with her poses. The photo gallery shared here is not photoshopped. No alteration was done to make it look better.
Before we separated ways, I asked Niti if it’s true that she was related to the Shahs who ruled Nepal from 1768 to 2008 with the Shah Dynasty. She just candidly smiled.