When will you be back? That’s the question that I’ve been asked over and over in the last week. I said, maybe after college, about four years? I got the feeling a lot of people took my answer very seriously. They talked about it like a fact. I’m coming back in four years. Maybe they’re right. I never considered coming back until recently. Once you’ve been one place, try a new one right? There are a lot of things I don’t like about Kathmandu. The smell of burning trash when you walk outside. The exaust from the overcrowded streets filled with taxis and motorbikes. Being nagged and hassled by salespeople. Being poked and followed by children with hungry eyes, saying things like, “Miss, you have money, I don’t. I’m hungry.” Walking passed naked children, not even a year old whose ankles are tied to trees so they don’t go anywhere. No mother in site. Just a bowl with a few ruppees in front of the baby. The feeling of not being able to do a thing about any of it was the worst. Sometimes it would make me sick to my stomache. But every place has it’s negatives and positives.
I’ll miss the sense that everyone is family, no matter what. The shopkeepers are your aunties and your upstairs neighbor is your uncle. The people you work and go to school with are your brothers and sisters. Instead of competing for a higher position in your job, you are content with what you have. I’m not saying everyone gets along and there aren’t conflicts and clashing personalities. There is just a greater sense of respect towards one another than most places. Dispite the poverty in Nepal, stats actually show that Nepal has a very low depression rate. Compared to America it’s a humungous difference. What does that say about what money does to us?
Sometimes I found myself walking down the streets of Thamel, annoyed at all the tourists with their either grungy look or trekker attire. I would criticize them in my mind. ‘I bet they are staying in the nicest hotels, ordering fimiliar foods, and thinking they are so enlightened by coming here.’ But then I remembered that although I’m being emmersed in the culture differently than most tourists; not staying in 5 star hotels or able to have all the American comforts I’m used to back home, I’m still just as guilty of being a tourist as them. I admit I enjoyed plenty of food that wasn’t dal baht, I sat in a few internet cafe’s, and would endulge in the sweet comfort of a latte and pancakes for breakfast. And my living situation was by no means rustic. Yes, there was often no hot water, sometimes no water at all, and there were the daily power cuts, but my home was comfortable and truly not what I expected before arriving.
What I’ll miss most are the amazing people I was lucky enough to meet. The children of OCCED, all 40 of them, have such great potential and glowing personalities. I could always count on a laugh with the staff of OCCED, Social Tours was the best support group I could ask for, my host family as well as Hanna’s host family was caring and always welcoming. I couldn’t ask for better people to become friends with than Arravind, Vatissa, Sophie, and Hanna. These people have all changed my life. For this I’m very grateful. Somehow I’ve turned this into a thank you letter so in that case the people I owe thanks to the most are my parents, who believed in me even when I seemed to have lost all hope.
Thank you everyone for your love and support through reading my blogs!