I’ve been on an unintentional social media hiatus… I suppose it’s not unexpected after landing in a new country just over two months ago. Today, I finally had a moment to gather some thoughts and put them into words…
Did you ever wonder what it’s like to move abroad? Let me just paint a little picture for you friends… Now, don’t get me wrong, our transition to Nepal has been mostly smooth and overall much much easier than our move to India, or even back to the US last year. However, unpacking life in a new country it is not unlike diving down head first, into the deep end of a cold swimming pool. It seemes like a fun idea, but the pool turns out to be much deeper than you realized, and it takes a moment to regroup and identify which way is up, and you didn’t quite take as big of an inhale as you needed and you push against the water to propel yourself upward longing for a fresh breath, but the surface remains out of reach, so you exhale the last bit of oxygen in your lungs and close your eyes until you feel the brush of the warm air across your cheek and gasp with relief. And that’s a best case scenario. And I love this little analogy of mine because it reminds me of one of our son’s reactions to crossing the road when we first arrived in South Asia… It was an overwhelming task for him; the noises and the animals and the scooty’s and all of it seemed like one big jumbled ball of chaos. There’s often no definable flow to the traffic and unless you want to stand on the side of the road for an hour, you just have to take take a leap. He used to literally close his eyes and walk… and somewhere on the other side, not even sure how he made it, he’d sigh his relief… and keep moving forward.
And that’s what we’re doing; moving forward.
I’m working hard to learn Nepali. It’s frustrating not being able to communicate. It’s frustrating when I know I’m being taken advantage of because I’m a bidayshi who can’t negotiate a reasonable price for myself. Ugh! It’s frustrating when I’m sitting with women and can’t understand their hearts. It’s annoying when English speakers still choose Nepali and I can’t participate.
I’m still figuring out modesty verses preference, verses what’s acceptable, and I have no idea if my sense of fashion translates here or not. I’m still figuring out what and where is socially and culturally appropriate.
I’m still figuring out what relationships and activities and associations are valuable, and which are distractions.
I’m still trying to hone in on a menu that fits our tastebuds and our budgets.
Shopping is a chore that requires visiting many locations. And being unfamiliar with prominent landmarks is detrimental because addresses hold no weight or real meaning when navigating the dense cityscapes.
Culture rubs against comfort and tendencies ingrained in my being.
My independence and bent for adventure feels squelched by my dependence on taxi drivers to get me from one place to the next.
My identity is mistakenly defined by the movies and media produced by my home country, and by the bidayshi’s who have been here longer and set precedences; that I don’t always appreciate or agree with… and I have to work to unassociate myself from these falsities.
And then there are all the things… finding a house, navigating bills and SIM cards, electricity outages, gas tanks and clean drinking water, cold showers, not being able to find shoes for our ginormous western feet, our favorite shows are “not available in your current region,” size A4 paper, the pollution, the way chicken is cut, and… multiply it all times the ten of us!
It definitely takes a little time to establish your bearings… But you do, and eventually you cross the road with your eyes open and all the inconveniences become normal practices; rinsing bugs out of rice before closing the pressure cooker no longer bothers me. I’ve begun to discover my go-to shops and develop routines. We’re making friends and going deeper in relationships. I can understand little bits of language and am able discuss all the necessities with a cab driver in Nepali. Driving up the hill and rounding the choke is familiar now, and the tall cream colored building that landmarks our gate feels more and more like home.