When sorting through the last of my things and streamlining my digital records I stumbled upon this old piece of writing. It will be four years old next week! Which means, it's almost 4years to the day that I went to Nepal. Strange to think the Kathmandu I 'know' is now virtually non-existent; a reminder how of fleeting our time is and for me, that life is what you make of it - back then, I never would have thought I'd be the one flying a plane three years later, or that I'd travel the way I have recently or write a book. As Wham! (and my good friend L's pajamas) said; CHOOSE LIFE :)
Where have the last few weeks gone? I am writing this from Kathmandu, Nepal after what feels like the journey of a lifetime. I say lifetime because I can’t believe it’s less than 24hrs since I said bye to my Mum at the airport and felt so nervous that I considered ducking out of my trip and just going home again. At passport control I thought I was actually going to be sick! However, I reminded myself that my parents and home will one day be no longer, so I should just get on with looking after myself and not miss out on my chances whilst I have them. Never be left wondering “what if…” It’s such a cliché!
In the build up to coming away I burned loads of paperwork as I don’t need it anymore. I also burned by diary as the life it held within it has long disappeared and the memories contained within it have served their purpose. I revisited times when I’d applied for the RTP…the GTP...university. Happy times I’d spent with my Mum, ex, friends, sad times I’d spent with certain people and very sad times when good friends died. All these little snapshots of life were contained in a little book. Snapshots taken at a time when I could not possibly have predicted where I’d be or what I’d be doing, despite all the planning and faith that went into engaging with those activities at the times of writing the diary. I saw so much of myself taking shape in that diary that it was both a proud and painful thing to read. But, whilst it was nice to read it and get perspective, I burned it because I think events which truly shape you as a person are those which don’t need prompts to jog the memory. There are certain trigger events in a person’s life which define them as a person, everything else is just minutiae detail in between to make links and fill gaps. For example, for me, the experience of getting on the plane and actually coming to Kathmandu is what’s shaping me. I honestly had not really thought this through…so it was a bit of a sudden shock on Friday to realise I was actually going and the reality of ‘the adventure’ set in. It’s still setting in now…the shops aren’t like England’s. The food is different. The weather and colours of the landscape are different. Everything’s different.
There’s some loud music playing (Clapton I think?!) within the hotel somewhere…it’s been going on for an hour or so now and feels like I’m out clubbing rather than about to sleep! Now there’s a rumbling that sounds like a train going by making my bed vibrate. There are no trains nearby. That is the clearest way I can share my experience so far with you all – there is no quiet time, even when alone. I even wandered out the shower earlier thinking someone was actually in my room because the noise sounds so close and ‘on top of you’! Whilst it certainly is a culture shock, this may not be a negative thing. When I arrived at the hotel, the electricity wasn’t on so I had no lights etc…I lit some candles and burned some incense (just for good measure?) as I unpacked and sussed out the shower. It was instantly relaxing after the long journey, despite my frustration that I can’t have a cup of tea because the power adaptor won’t stay in the powerpoint! I was really looking forward to my tea and powdered milk.
The culture shock isn’t just in the way the people are (driving here is a REAL experience….one I have no intention of sampling!) but in the fact that I am so used to being able to just have things sorted. To be able to just do things at the time I want to do them. I don’t feel very comfortable with not having things that just ‘work’ at the moment. This is a huge difference in society though. At the airport in Kathmandu, someone had actually taken my luggage off the belt as if it was theirs and was about to go with it when I opened the little tag to show it was mine. I did think to myself that I’d have told the police or something if it had happened in England, but here, it’s just a given that people will try their luck to rob you! And they just get away with it…nobody cares. It’s this attitude which spoils Nepal a bit. I feel that if people are so desperate that they stop fearing the law, there’s a problem.