“Who sent me here?” That was one of the many questions I asked myself just a few hours after I landed in Kathmandu. I flew from India, and even through it’s about 1 hour from Delhi, I had to spend 11 hours of layover at the Delhi airport – was connecting from Pune.
Anyways, I’m used to making unconventional decisions. I don’t know what I hoped to get in/from Nepal, but I went anyway.
So, here I was freezing, tired, and questioning my capability to make sound decisions. It was end-January so it was still winter. I am not used to temperatures anywhere near what was there. I was going to be in Kathmandu for a day or so before I proceeded to a village in Tanahun district.
It helped that my contacts had arranged for my airport pickup, and that they had already booked a place for me. As I sat in that hotel room I knew that I had to make it work. Till now, I don’t know what made me so scared, but I was very scared.
If there’s anything worth taking home from this post is the super-friendly nature of the Nepali people. As is the case in most other countries, I received too many curious gazes. It’s not every day that they see a black woman with strange hair on their streets! At first it’s weird but believe me, you get used to it – you have to.
1 month in Nepal
Well, I made it past the first day and I stayed in Nepal for the next month. The experiences from this strange country changed me forever. I became friends with amazing people from across the world, I took a shower outside (wink), I realized that I was very unfit and I had to sign up for gym sessions or at least be more physically active, I learned that I was very ignorant about many things that affected me both directly and indirectly.
And btw we used lungis to cover our bodies as we took the shower!
I had deep conversations with myself, with nature, and with lovely people from all over. It is here that I learned what it means to be empathetic. I know I come from a land that is considered poor. But don’t we all? Poor people have made their way into government offices, into our schools, everywhere. It is as a result of poor decisions that we have children dying from malaria and starvation, as their leaders purchase private jets and houses from taxpayers’ money – such is the irony of life. Yes, we have many poor people in my country.
Familiarity breeds contempt
I had the choice of staying back home and stick within familiar lanes. However, I chose to do it differently. Once in a while, people asked me what motivated me why I decided to volunteer in Nepal and not in my poor country. Before I left Kenya, I did not understand what poverty meant. Not to mean that I have never had to struggle for stuff in my life, just not what I now know. The country changed the way I approach things, and how I look at people. This is a nation that works very hard to move forward. They build schools, they construct houses, they put in as much effort as any other country does. But they have to deal with much more than the rest of us; earthquakes. This is something they have no control over but it affects their lives more than anyone can ever imagine.
I talked to people who had lost their families from earthquakes. I saw their desire for something different. Whether or not that ever happens, is something we can only wait and see. It helps to walk in other people’s shoes, eat their food, listen to them, then maybe we can understand our lives better. Now I know it is more than having a couple of bucks in your bank account; it is more than having a power passport – yea that’s a thing. I reasoned with people who had quit their jobs, sold all they had, and booked a one-way flight to Nepal. We were not consulted before we were born, but our current and future lives are shaped by the decisions we consciously make.
The Comfort Zone
Nepal SHOOK me off my comfort zone. What initially appeared to be the worst mistake of my life helped me learn so much about myself, and the need to go beyond the ordinary.
After a month of being in Nepal, I knew I had the option of renewing my visa but I did not. I was eager to experiment with what I had become. I was sad to leave what I had known as home, the people I had loved as my brothers and sisters. In the near future, I will go back to Nepal. Hopefully, it will help me become an even better person.
One of the things that I figured out is that life is this priceless gift that is often filled with backlashes. It is more meaningful not to provoke stuff since at the end they always backfire; our insufficient and imperfect selves will always prevail when everything is said and done. So, instead of bashing yourself for what you consider a bad decision, why don’t you leave your comfort zone and turn it around to make your dreams more real.
Cheers to making bad decisions and taking risks!