After returning from a week of freedom and Western luxuries in Pokhara, coming back to the early bedtimes and chaos of Kathmandu wasn’t the easiest transition. I have been easing the transition by watching a plethora of Hollywood films and TV shows. You would think that in Nepal I would have a dearth of media to keep me entertained, when in fact it has been far the opposite. I was unaware of the amount of pirated media that would be floating around – anything from DVD’s to full hard drives full of movies and TV shows (It’s like being in college again!). Combine that with an early curfew at my host family, and I have been attached to my computer in the evenings. In the place where I am fully immersed in a world that is completely Nepali, I still hold onto my American media culture. However, that culture is celebrated here by Nepalis alike, so it is not so far out of the realm of what is natural. This access to endless media is basically what has kept me from dying of boredom at my host family. What was once a newness of experiencing Nepal that I embraced, has now become a sometime routine and mundane existence.
That is not to say I’m complaining, more so just adapting to another stage of cultural experience in Nepal. I really do love this experience, but there are times where it still feels very oppressive and unnatural to me. I miss having the freedom to construct my life at my own will, but relish the opportunity to experience customs that push me to the limits of my tolerance. My job is not really meeting my expectations of what I hoped it could be, but it is not so awful to deter me from staying longer at this point. I hesitate to say anymore due to the publicity of this blog….
I still have to remind myself that I am in a very privileged place in Nepal. I have frequent hot showers, somewhat clean air, my own personal transportation, three meals a day, and the financial security to actually enjoy myself when I want to. I’m not married living with my parents. I can travel. I can drink and eat all I want and not worry about bankrupting myself. These are not commonalities to your average Nepali. Most importantly… I’m still American. I can go home anytime I want to a country where I have a loving family and plenty of opportunities.
Life is mundane in Nepal, but people make the best of it they can. They do it with huge smiles on their face and welcoming arms. Expectations are half the battle in the quest for personal happiness. Still thousands of miles away from home in a place where the Buddha was born, I struggle to stay in the present. My mindfulness is no stronger than when I left. It’s proof that no matter where you are, the same internal battles still rage within. I have grown in so many ways by traveling here, but there is still so much room for positive change. I look forward to it.