What am I?

Sometimes I find myself tangled in my own thoughts trying to decipher what group of people in Nepal I belong to. I am not Nepali, clearly. My ghost-like skin always gives me away, though I do like to think of it as aristocratic. But I’m digressing. I am not a 100% expat either. I live in a Nepali household, with a Nepali family. Does that make me half-Nepali? No clue, but in the past year and a half I did move towards Nepali customs more than I expected I ever would.

Let’s examine the evidence:

Exhibit A
My horoscope sign is a Virgo. For all of you who are not familiar with horoscope, let’s just say Virgos are obsessive-compulsive. I also hold a strong opinion that characteristics of a Virgo were tailored according to me. It’s that precise. I cannot be late, or have anything be out of place, untidy, dirty… everything needs to be perfect. But I move to Nepal and what happens!? I start adjusting to Nepali time. In other words, no matter how hard I try, I seem to be late for everything! And the worst part? I’m not even phased by it. What is happening to me? Am I turning Nepali?

Exhibit B
I don’t want to make it sound like I’m bragging, but I’ve always been very polite. I would let people with less items jump in front of me at the cash register, I would let pedestrians cross the road even if I’m in a hurry and others behind me are honking, I would exercise perfect driving culture politely letting others merge into traffic in front of me and wave thankfully to the ones who do the same for me. But I move to Nepal and what happens!? I start driving like I am the only person on the road, pushing and shoving my way through heavy traffic, honking at others angrily and closing every little bit of space between me and the car in front of me so no one can cut in. I also only sometimes let pedestrian cross in front of me. Preposterous! What is happening to me? Am I turning Nepali?

Exhibit C
I am a huge dessert person. Sweets make me enter a state of consciousness unknown to modern science. When I look at, make or eat wonderful varieties of cakes and cookies, I am in bliss. Nepal disappoints in that area. Most of the cakes here are OK, but not very different from one another. There seems to be no creativity in that department. Maybe that’s the reason the most favorable dessert amongst Nepalis is vanilla ice cream. Yes, vanilla ice cream. The same one I at every summer when I was a child and swore I will never taste it again. Ice cream is even served at weddings! Say, what??? But I move to Nepal and what happens!? After being shocked by this discovery for almost a year, I now find myself ordering vanilla ice cream in all shapes and forms – with a brownie, with an apple pie, and I even eat it at weddings. Even in winter! Gasp. What is happening to me? Am I turning Nepali?

Exhibit D
This last exhibit is most probably the most shocking one, at least for me. When I feel under the weather, as if I’m catching a cold, I usually crave chamomile tea with honey and lemon and some soup. Maybe also porridge or something warm, liquidy and easy to digest. I stuck to that even here in Nepal for the past year and a half. And it usually made me feel better. But you know what happened the other day? I was feeling a bit down, sick-ish at work and all I could think of is how I’m going to rush home, warm up a plate-full of rice and daal and devour it. And so I did. And it felt good. Scary good. What is happening to me? Am I turning Nepali?

It can’t always be rainbows and butterflies

The inevitable has happened. I started neglecting my blog and writing less and less. And it’s not because I don’t like blogging or writing. And it’s definitely not because I got nothing to say. Believe me, I got plenty of things that I want to share. It’s because most of the things I want to say or write about are negative. You see, I entered somewhat of a “frustration” phase in my life in Nepal. I am annoyed and frustrated by almost everything surrounding me. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because Nepal is not a good place, or because Nepalis are not nice people. There are plenty awesome things in Nepal and my life in Nepal, like:

1. The super tasty Japanese food I get to have often

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2. Or this amazing view

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3. And the Samosas I raved about on my social media

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4. And especially this spectacular pool I got to enjoy recently.

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But living abroad is a tricky thing. You experience a range of emotions you never even knew existed. And my emotions right now happen to be more negative than positive. I believe it wouldn’t be fair of me to write only negative stuff about Nepal just because of my state of mind. So until my attitude and my feelings change, my blog might be seeing a dry spell. But don’t worry Nepal, it’s me, it’s not you.

What to do when culture shock strikes

You would mistakenly think that culture shock is something that hits you in the first week of your stay at a new place. In fact, culture shock is a sneaky little devil that creeps up on you just as you start to relax. I have been in the first, and the best stage, Honeymoon stage, for quite a while. I liked everything; happily enjoyed all that Nepal had to offer. Then I slowly started easing into the Withdrawal stage. You see, in that particular stage you start finding things around you different, strange and frustrating. I went through a whole bunch of bad days (not to be negative and say weeks and months), and I thought I was finally over it. I thought I was surely making my way to the Adjustment stage which would offer me some relief from the frustration I was feeling.  Then my two trips to Croatia happened. They were lovely. No wait, that’s wrong. They were amazing! And also, they made me focus on the bad sides of Nepal again upon my return. And then back I am in the Withdrawal stage. Boy, it sucks.

I got good days; don’t get me wrong. I also got excellent days. I got days when I am in love with Nepal, Kathmandu, my family, my job,  my life. Then there are the bad days. There are days I don’t sleep because of heat, or dogs, or mosquitos, or all three combined. There are days I don’t understand why people drive like maniacs; why plumbers/carpenters/painters don’t actually know how to do their jobs; why sun is so strong that it’s killing my freshly planted tomatoes; why ground is uneven and I keep tripping. The last two are totally logical, right? Yup, such is the culture shock. And there’s nothing I can do to fight it. Only time promotes you to the next stage. I feel like I am half way there. Just the last small push and I will be Adjusted. After that, only the straight road ahead: onto the Enthusiasm stage where, apparently, only milk and honey flow.

This is, in fact, an outside wall of the bathroom, that needed no remodeling. Now it does. Joy.

This is, in fact, an outside wall of the bathroom, that needed no remodeling. Now it does. Joy.