Back for Good Loving living Nepal
It was the second hardest decision I had ever made in my entire life. I was ready to let go of all that I had been comfortable with for the past twenty-one years to find out who I really was. With no plans laid out, I was ready to go to Nepal. My friends thought I was plain foolish to go to a country where there were no McDonalds or washing machines, to them I was a nincompoop, pure and simple.
Not that I had never been around Nepalis, I had never been in the same flight of Nepalis returning home. Rows of them. I was giddy from hearing 'sudha' (pure) Nepali spoken and at the same time, embarrassed at how they were behaving and treated by the cabin crew. The men drank cans after cans of beer and were loud. My in-flight neighbor asked me to order a second round of meal for him. I thought he was joking until he told me he really was hungry as he did not have money to eat during his transit. The flight was a disaster but when the wheels of the airplane hit Nepal's soil, those rowdy and drunken men clapped! Maybe this is what it feels to be a Nepali, I thought. On second thought, I really wanted to go back to London. And the airport? No computers at the customs, forms to be filled out in Nepali (oh my days), airport officials walking around with hands behind their backs and spitting, and coolies fighting over my luggage. Where had I just landed?
The next couple of days in Kathmandu were not easy. Where I used to live before, I had a clock to wake me up, not a rooster. I actually had to wait for the vehicles to pass before I used the Zebra Crossing. Did Nepalis never learn that staring was rude? My mother must have known that people would laugh if I spoke Nepali so she poked me to speak in English whenever I had to open my mouth. They were kind enough not to but they just did not understand what a bun (B-aaaaaaaahhh-n) was. I was born and brought up in a land of options where toilet paper wasn't just toilet paper. There were choices between 2 ply, 3 ply, quilted, perfumed, medicated and the list goes on. Right down from the buses to official work, everything in Singapore and UK is strategically carried out. However, in Nepal, NO, that is definitely not the case. A thirty minutes job will take double its time and it makes you want to pull hair out.
As days became months, maybe deciding to live in Nepal forever was not bad. After all, I had my family and friends around me. I was getting used to seeing cows resting in the middle of busy roads, men innocently holding hands with each other, street children throwing themselves at my legs and me trying hard not to hand them any money and the frigging famous traffic 'jaaaahhhms' that simply would not move. In spite of all that irked me, I was coming to terms with loving a country that was mine but I never felt I was from. While working, I met great people who were unlike me; born and bred in Nepal with views, poles apart from mine but were generous to teach me things I just never knew about our country.
Five years later and being away from Nepal for another two years, I appreciated what it truly meant to be a Nepali. In a way, it was fortunate AND unfortunate to be born and brought up in a foreign country. I often think, "If it was not Singapore, I would have been the sixth daughter of a farmer in a village, taking goats to the fields to graze and would not have gone to school." For that, I feel fortunate and grateful I grew up in a modest household in Singapore. As much as my parents may have tried to instill our roots and culture to my brother and me, I never cared to learn. That was ignorance on my part and I regret it now. People ask me whether I would go abroad if given the chance. I do not want to. With a shocked face, they would begin to preach to me why it would be good for my children one day. I am 25 years old and married, with no children...yet but that does not mean I have not thought about where and how I would want to raise them. Nepal's future is predicted to be worse than it is today but I am not taking my kids anywhere. I do not want them to be like me; a young girl who seemed lost in her own country.
I want them to know the national anthem, read and write Nepali and be confident and proud wearing traditional costumes, unlike me. I want them to recognize their ancestors and embrace their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, unlike me. I want them to be able to stand tall for being a Nepali, like me.