13 Months in Nepal
01.05.2014 – 31.05.2015
It has been a month since I returned from Nepal. The past few weeks back here, back ‘home’ have been just the way I like it… a lot of free time and spending time with my family. I have attended few events and reconnected with a small number of family and friends.
When someone asks me “How was Nepal? Do you miss it?” I have nothing to say apart from “Nepal was good, erm… I don’t know what I’ll miss… too many things happened”. There were few who said “aba ta Nepal bata aghayau hola ni?” Wrong. I am happy to be back in the UK because I now want to learn and experience more here in the UK before I go back to Nepal for an extended period of time again. I also see a lot of opportunities and hope in Nepal but it all boils down to how hard I want to work to “make it” in Nepal. Leave this blogger side out because this is not my profession and landing up on TV is not the aim… This is only a medium, a way to connect, share, build a relation... it’s something sometimes I feel ‘stuck’ in but something I know which has definitely given me a lot and I cannot let go; for there is too much left to be done.
LIVING IN NEPAL
A lot of people asked me how I adjusted to life in Kathmandu, the dust, loadshedding, water-shortage, public transportation and all sorts. Long before I arrived in Nepal, I had been mentally preparing myself for the change and that definitely helped. The biggest challenge for me was my commute from my chowk – outside ring-road to Kalanki during my first job and then came the second intern work where I had to get a tuk-tuk from my chowk to Ratna Park and then a micro to Jhamsikhel. Annoyingly sweaty and squashed. Sometimes I made an effort to dress up casual smart – only to have a little toddler stepping on my shoes or trousers – day ruined. Kahile kahi, I did wonder… what the hell was I doing but a quick reminder of my aims for the year would snap me back in form.
I try my best not to complain about the system or why there’s no water or electricity. I’ve just used that to think of ways to be better and getting straight to the point, to be rich one day so I have everything. Money is the answer to most problems.
WORKING IN NEPAL
In totality I’ve only lived in Nepal for four years and half of that was from the time I was born till the age of two. I’ve only worked in the UK and talking to colleagues on a first-name basis is normal here. Unfortunately, in many of the offices it’s not normal in Nepal. In the beginning I stuck to addressing somebody by saying ‘ji’ example, Keshav’Ji etc but it just got really weird especially when my fellow colleagues would be saying ‘Sir’ and I’d be there like ‘Keshav’Ji’. Done. Be “Roman when you’re in Rome” bhaneko jhai, I just adapted. I enjoyed saying ‘Sir’, ‘Ji’, ‘Maam’ later on.
To a lot of people who wonder, what is there to do in Nepal or have ideas of shifting to Nepal to start 9AM-5PM office job; I would advise you to go for it, try it out – sometimes you easily land a job, sometimes it takes a long time but Nepal is a place where, if you can, you should go and create your own job and create employment for people. I can only see myself working for a multinational corporation, INGO or alongside young Nepalese.
As I like to say, Kathmandu is a place where you don’t have to work or earn to have a good social life. I don’t know where the money comes from but there doesn’t seem to be a shortage. During the last few months, I felt like I was a fresher in university once again. I used to go out with my friends atleast 2-3 times a week, mainly Thamel and we’d constantly be eating lunch and dinner outside in the city. I met a lot of people, established a lot of social acquaintances but unfortunately, I only made a few friends during my time there… the friends that I did make, we would meet a lot. They became my family.
TRAVELLING IN NEPAL
Having the opportunity to travel with work on multiple occasions was amazing for me! I got to visit far-western districts and even during my internship, they gave me the flexibility to take off when and as I wanted. The trip to Rara Lake, Everest Base Camp Trek, Red Panda Network EcoTrip in Ilam and Bandipur will stand out for me. Shit! I forgot Jomsom – yep that too! There are so many places to visit in Nepal and even if they’re not the tourist spots, they will have their own importance and that will be definitely worth your time. The trip to Upper Dolpa with Binod Shahi Newa and team was supposed to take place on April 27 (cancelled due to the earthquake). I hope to visit one day…
During my travels, I use a lot of different mode of transport including local bus, night bus, day bus, flights, private hire and all. I tend to get annoyed when someone shares their experience and says “oh hami ta night bus ma hidchum, tapailai thaha nai chaina hola kasto huncha bhanera”. We’re not so different.
FAMILY IN NEPAL
I lived with my grandma’, aunty, two cousins and our dog Jacky. They used to sleep really early, sometimes by 8.30PM. Since I have a habit of staying up late, I hated staying at home in the evening; there was nothing to do and our internet was crap (I tried getting the WorldLink fast internet but that doesn’t cover our area). Living in the upper floor by myself was not fun either. Nonetheless, I am happy to have spent time with my relatives and especially boju. I find it extremely sad that she doesn’t have a lot to do and for her, din bitaunu is a huge struggle. Unfortunately, her sons and daughters are all over the globe, working and resettled. That makes me think a lot about families living across different parts of the world.
THE NOT SO FUN PART
I regret not purchasing a bike in the beginning. I would’ve saved so much money; all drained in taxi fares. I missed my family, friends and the food from the UK A LOT! You may be thinking, “you’re in the land of momos, chatpatey and chowmein” but trust me, I think the difference for me is that I grew up in the land of burger, chips, nuggets, greasy chicken, fish and chips, slush ice drinks and all that. I am not saying Kathmandu didn’t have restaurants that provided them – but I missed particular ones from McDonalds, Nando’s, KFC, TGIFridays, Chinese Takeaway’s and more.
I would have some amazing, exciting, inspiring days that would occupy my time very well but when it came to the night; it would be very slow, silent and still. I hated those long hours. It felt very lonely and a lot of the times I’d bother the few friends that I had made and just countdown till I could wake up again and escape into another day. Of course to avoid all that – I did go out a lot, eating out, drinking out, partying and I don’t regret it at all. Blocking the silence of the evening out by the noise of Club OMG – that’s why I’ve dubbed it ‘oh my ghar’. Bittersweet.
The earthquake changed everything; plans, people, lives and our thinking. I thought I was going to die in that mall or get badly injured. Having been part of relief efforts in and outside of Kathmandu, we – in a team – tried our best; I felt it would be better to leave it to actual trained professionals in the field as I saw that there were problems of relief materials being sent to some areas multiple times and a lack of coordination midst communities and different people involved.
Seeing people come together at such a time to support one another was encouraging and it gave me hope for a brighter tomorrow.
I have no regrets. I want to thank myself for following my own decision to go and spend a year in Nepal, especially when there were voices around wondering what on earth I would do for a year in Nepal. I was the busiest and the most productive that I have ever been. I invested time to build myself and though I don’t know what I will gain exactly, I am hopeful for good things in the days to come.
The thirteen months I spent in Nepal is probably one of the best years of my life so far. I want to thank my family first and everyone that I met in Nepal; from people on the streets, through work and social events; you’ve played a part in making my time extraordinary.
When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I never wanted to study again but experiencing life a bit more through travels, volunteering, internship and the year in Nepal, I realise that I missed learning and I may have taken ‘education’ for granted in the past. I believe I will enjoy the process of learning more now and hopefully it will all click when I start my Masters course at the end of September this year.
I am enjoying the present and looking forward to the future.
A recent Q&A video that I did #AskLex