Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Puspa Gajmer 

Founder, Himalayan Music Academy

click to enlarge puspa_gajmer0201.jpg

Ken Blaze

When he was just a child, Puspa Gajmer and his family fled Bhutan amid ethnic cleansing to a refugee camp in Nepal. They spent the next 20 years there. During that time Gajmer learned English and studied music, got a degree from Tribhuvan University and dreamed of a better life. In 2011, he came to the United States and ended up in a small city in Illinois.

"There were very few Nepalese people there," he says. "It was very, very small."

Friends and family eventually suggested that Gajmer move to Akron, where they arrived in 2013. "There were lots of immigrants here," he says. "It's an international area and very welcoming."

Gajmer, now 32, continued his education at the University of Akron and, in his spare time, began to teach traditional Nepalese music to students at his home. When one student turned to two which turned to three which turned to four, a friend suggested he open a more traditional space in which he could not only serve more students ... but stop using his house. It was the kernel of an idea, and Gajmer's friends and family figured he'd rent a small space and grow gradually. Instead, Gajmer found a location on North Main Street and opened a proper school with additional instructors.

"It's going so good, so good," Gajmer says. "We have about 40 students and while some are Nepalese, a lot of others are not. They are just interested in learning about our songs and our cultural instruments." And they couldn't learn from a better teacher: Gajmer is a celebrated artist and has recorded albums of traditional Nepalese folks songs. "It's a different melody than other sounds," he says.

"The refugee camp was very stressful and very difficult," he says, reflecting on how far he's come. "Now I feel very proud to be here, working with the different community organizations."

Students have already performed around the city and more concerts are slated during the year. "I just love helping them and seeing them improve," he says, with paternal pride. "I'm blessed to be here and doing this." — Vince Grzegorek

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Latest in Cleveland People

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation