It’s amusing to reflect on the beginning of something when you’re at the end because the hindsight we gain with time changes how we remember the emotions we felt at the beginning. In my first few days in Nepal, I was dealing with jet lag, homesickness, and food poisoning. Those things were not fun, but I do miss having a much keener eye to my surroundings the way I did when I first arrived. I think anytime you go somewhere new, there’s a process that happens where unfamiliar things around you are more noticeable and they feel noteworthy, or worthy of that extra attention, to you. After that, the same things might be noticeable, but no longer noteworthy. And eventually they are neither noticeable or noteworthy to you anymore. Knowing how this works, I’ve been drafting this blog post since day one. I wanted to mark the little moments that don’t always end up in pictures, but that leave a mental impression.
- – A girl practicing riding her bike with the training wheels on the roof of her building in downtown Tulsipur.
- – The local peddler walking his bicycle along the street overflowing with household wares as he periodically shouts out his advertising pitch.
- – Watching a cat use the dense bundle of electrical wires as an aerial bridge between two buildings.
- – A dad leaving his shop in Thamel to meet his daughter at the school bus stop.
- – Families of four all commuteing together on one motorbike.
- – Going outside to use the sink on the balcony in Bardiya only to see the neighbors already up and plowing the paddies with a team of oxen while I brush my teeth.
- – Being asked if I wouldn’t mind getting my palm read in Dang.
- – Our Tuk Tuk driver in the Bardiya national park pulling over in the middle of the forest to ask a group of men for some of the wild lychee-like fruit they were collecting.
I’ll miss measuring time, not in days, but in dal bhat and masala teas consumed.
My student’s mind was also amazed at how often these big trends I had read about and that are written about Nepal cropped up in interpersonal interactions.
I can’t count the number of times there was a mention of someone from Nepal leaving the country to work abroad from chats with families and women from the training to politicians speaking on economic policies. You can read about how remittances impact the economy, but it is less common for this phenomenon to be reported in terms of its impacts within a community and a family.
By complete chance, I also got to briefly meet someone who works as a community health volunteer. These volunteers form a community-owned initiative that has been praised for its successes in reducing infant and maternal mortality. So interesting in the broader context of community-led development like forest management groups and other management projects overseen at the local level.
Women’s representation in the political sphere in Nepal was also a topic I had previously read about before hearing from a woman who was a member of the constituent assembly speaking at the commemoration event in Kathmandu I attended. I also briefly met a young woman who ran for deputy mayor and another young woman who works for her municipality who spoke about local-level issues of corruption.
None of these experiences would have been possible without everyone at AP, NEFAD, and BASE. Thank you for the support and guidance!
And, of course, the biggest thank you to Prabal, my counterpart for the summer. I’ll miss chatting about culture, politics, history, and what got us both to where we are today.
I also couldn’t ask for a better travel buddy. I was impressed by your absolute lack of any hesitation to go to the front of the bus to figure out what’s going on on the road. I was also endlessly entertained by the way your personality must bring out something in people like the bus conductors and auto rickshaw drivers that makes them comfortable sharing their whole life story with a total stranger without any prompting.
But most importantly, thank you for welcoming me into your home. I can’t express how touching it was for me to spend time with your family.
Thanks for everything and until next time, Nepal!
Posted By Therese McCarry
Posted Aug 3rd, 2022