CBC Literary Prizes

"Floating on the Fluffy Clouds of Childhood" by Nazima Kowall

Nazima Kowall has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "Floating on the Fluffy Clouds of Childhood".

2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Nazima Kowallis a writer and photojournalist who has travelled to 120 countries and has contributed to 150 publications around the world. (Earl Kowall)

Nazima Kowall has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "Floating on the Fluffy Clouds of Childhood".

About Nazima

Nazima Kowall was born in former kingdom of Sikkim. She earned a BA in history and political science and an MA in ancient history before becoming a teacher, tourist officer and stringer. After she married Canadian photojournalist Earl Kowall, she became a photographer herself. and adopted his profession. She has travelled to 120 countries and has contributed to 150 publications around the world.

Entry in five-ish words

Street performers entertain Himalayan market.

The story's source of inspiration

"Since I came from a remote, little known part of the world — the tiny kingdom of Sikkim — I wanted to share, and hopefully delight, Canadian and other readers with my special childhood in a Himalayan Shangri-La lost to distant memory. Every week, the exciting hustle and bustle of Gangtok's Sunday market assaulted my five senses. On the particular week described in my story 'Floating on the Fluffy Clouds of Childhood,' I was entertained by a troop of street performers from Delhi — forgotten itinerant artists, guardians of India's folk tradition, who will take their secrets to their graves — that thrilled, mystified, shocked and made me question and laugh.

"My second inspiration was the loving relationship I had with my grandfather, a great philosopher and teacher of morals. The Sunday market gave him the opportunity to teach my eight siblings and I the valuable lessons that he learned during decades of dangerous travels as a caravan leader and trader on the Silk Road of Central Asia. His knowledge and courage inspired my early life and formed the basis of my adulthood, helping me grow into a passionate, caring person respectful of all our planet's creatures, no matter how tiny."

First lines

"I was born in the kingdom of Sikkim, a Shangri-La conceived out of the glacial loins of Himalayan peaks shared between the mythical lands of Bhutan, Nepal, India and Tibet. Suckling on Mother Nature's bountiful breasts, Sikkim had ripened into a peaceful, harmonious horn of plenty. I spent my blissful childhood in Gangtok, Sikkim's fairytale capital, perched precariously on steep hillsides where the rising mist joined heaven and earth.

"My grandfather Sabila, a famous Central Asia caravan leader who had traversed the length and breadth of the Silk Road, the world's most historical trade route, was proud regal man, tall and lean. He wore his moustache pencil-thin, his goatee pointed and his jet-black hair pomaded back. A prized pair of eyeglasses, out of ground quartz crystal, sat firmly on the bridge of his aquiline nose. Behind them, his eyes, almond-shaped and chestnut-brown, brimmed with decades of hard fought battles and memorable victories. Having accomplished most of his life's goals without compromising his principles, my grandfather's wrinkle-free face radiated an enviable internal peace (he looked 20 years younger than his true age of 78)."

About the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have an opportunity to attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their story published on CBC Books and in Air Canada enRoute magazine. Four finalists will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books


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