Ever since I booked my flight to Nepal for September, I haven’t been able to sleep properly at nights due to excitement. It is still more than 6 months away, but I am excited than ever because I am going with my boyfriend. What will he think of the overwhelmingly different culture? Will he be able to notice the double standards between the genders? What will he think of the very poor standards of infrastructures? The hygiene? Practically non-existent public restrooms? The poverty that you cannot escape? The scheduled black-outs? The traffic? There are so many things that would overwhelm me if I were him. But although I have made him aware about all these things, he is very excited to travel to Asia.
Being a Nepali person, I cannot just sweep so many unfair, illogical cultural practices, divisions, society’s obsession with status and wealth and the negligence of the weaker part of the population (elderly, women and children) under the carpet. This has deeply irked me ever since I was capable of understanding things, and I feel more and more strongly about my opinions now. It has been relatively easier for me to talk about poverty with my boyfriend, given being a Polish person, he understands the poverty and poor politics (war and communism caused a lot of damage to Poland and it is still one of the lower-income countries in Europe, but growing rapidly). But culture? The culture that I so cannot see myself belonging to, it has been hard to make him understand, why.
I, however, also like and miss a lot of things about Nepal, naturally. Besides my family, I miss the food, scenery and the environment that reminds me of my childhood the most. I am already sad at the thought of leaving Nepal after a very short 16-days visit. I was in Nepal in 2013 over the summer vacation. I stayed for more than 2 months, but because it was monsoon, I spent most of my days at home. Two months stay after 1.5 years abroad was exactly perfect, but 16 days after 2 years? One of the downsides of no longer being a student. The last time I was in Nepal, some of my older, close-minded relatives had found it perfectly right to declare to my face that I hated Nepal. That I would just settle abroad (oh, so mortifying *sigh*) and continue hating the motherland. This cannot be further from the truth. I do not hate Nepal, hell I don’t hate anything, I just dislike and refuse to be a part of the illogical traditional/religious practices and gender stereotypes. And I have every right to live the way I want, where I want, with whom I want and do not need approval from every Tom, Dick and Harry just because we share the nationality.
One way of pacifying my anxiety about the trip would be to make a travel itinerary. I am thinking of spending 10 days in Kathmandu and the remainder 6 days outside. Possibly two days in Chitwan, two days in Pokhara and two days somewhere nearby Kathmandu (Manakamana or Dhulikhel or Nagarkot). I so hope that it won’t rain, like it did the last time I was home. I am also considering rafting (a bit skeptic because of monsoon) or bungee jumping as possibilities. When making a rough budget plan, my boyfriend was startled to know about the price differences for Nepalese and foreigners. It is very embarrassing and unfair. Sure, in Paris and Rome, entrance to some monuments were either cheaper or free for EU citizens, and I felt slightly outraged. But the prices difference wasn’t huge and not all monuments had this provision. In Nepal, however, most businessmen and government agencies take no shame in charging two, three, four or sometimes five times the fees from foreigners. I really doubt the entrance money that they collect from the places (mostly temples, palaces) go into good use.
Besides that, I have officially started my Bachelor’s thesis. I so hope to graduate in summer. Also, we have booked a one-week holiday to Cyprus for June and in September, Nepal of course. Lots of things to keep me enthusiastic over the next few months. I am also really appreciating the almost-daily sunshine since last week, and the chirps of birds, which tells me of the spring around the corner. Spring and summer are undoubtedly the happiest times of the year for the folks living here in Northern/Central/Western Europe.