20 February 2018 – Untitled

Frozen flowers,
Yes, flurries falling fearless
From faint coloured skies.
They flutter, flap, and fly—
Free and unburdened by time.
Their life is found in free fall,
And their death in Spring.
Fractured flakes and faceless mysteries,
They give us faith
In our fictionless fantasies.

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Erranty: A new outlook, a new start

Journal Entry from 21 December 2017

I don’t exactly know how to feel or what to think, now I’m back in the US. Back, yet, in some ways it feels I’ve never been here. I almost wish I’d never been here before–maybe I’d have a more open mind. But I have lived here, and now, I find myself swept back into things, as though I never left. I’ve been here not one week, and already I am caught up like a wide eyed fish out of water in the flow of America.

I came from Nepal, where we would sit long, taking in the world around with smooth cups of tea.

But here in America, if you drive too slow on the highway, you could get a ticket for being an obstruction to traffic. And so the hustle trickles into everyday life, almost unnoticed.

I tell myself to stay open-minded, but I guess I am hopelessly critical of the culture of my birth. I am critical, because I have to ask the question–what is it all for?

The sad thing is, I want to say my goals in life don’t align wth the “American dream”, but truthfully, they do…at least in theory.

You see, I don’t like the rush and stress over little things, but today I got upset that the fast track driver’s ed class wasn’t quite fast enough. I could have had my license by January 6, but because of rescheduling, I would have to wait until February. Why do I want a license? To be able to get myself a job. Why? So I can make money. So I can use the money to do a, b, or c.

I may be wrong, but I believe money is at the heart of what most stressed out Americans are after (and I realise that not every American is stressed out or after these things). Money for a nice house. Money for a cool car. Money for security. And in my case, money for my adventures and travels.

And so I find myself, within a week of being back in America, slipping under the spell once more. I am already forgetting the feeling, or shall I say meaning, of warm chai sinking slowly down my throat with friends round the fire under a fairy lit sky.

Already I’m compromising my  values my values, saying it’s only temporary, only a means to an end. But when does temporary end? When does enough become enough?


It’s nearing two months since I wrote that rather hopeless entry into my journal. I haven’t written much on my blog of late, because in many ways, I feel like there isn’t much to share. I haven’t been writing much poetry, I haven’t had many moments worth sharing, I haven’t had many adventures since returning. In some ways, I’ve lost a part of myself here. To be honest, I don’t know how to cope with this new stage in life.

I think, in many ways, I haven’t really coped with the fact that my time of traveling is over for now. The beauty and pain of transience has come to an end, almost. The truth is, I’m going to be in America for a long time. I’m spending the rest of this gap year here, and then I will go to college in America for four years, and after that I have no idea what will happen.

I think I’ve lost a part of myself, because so much of my identity was, and still is, wrapped up in traveling and transience. All this time, I’ve been seeing my return to America as though I am not moving forward in life, but rather, moving back, in a literal and figurative sense. And maybe that is why I have been losing myself here. The adventurous part of me, the part that can find an adventure in every moment, no matter how mundane, has slipped out of reach. Even my love of music and poetry, both of which I developed after moving away from America, have sort of been thrown to the wayside. The parts of me that grew the most over the past four years living internationally are sort of fading away, and I think its because I have been regressing into old ways. I have not been intentional to continue moving forward when moving back to the country of my birth.

I realise now, more than ever, that my perspective needs to change. I need to stop compromising my values. I need to change my outlook on America, and see it as the new place that it is—after all, I have never lived in America as an 18-year-old before. I need to be intentional to look for the many new opportunities and experiences that surround me day to day. I must stop allowing myself to slip into monotony.

I feel out of place here. I don’t know how to act in this culture. I don’t know how to connect with people here. But what I haven’t been allowing myself to come to terms with is that though it should be known to me, this place is just as foreign as Nepal or the Netherlands or Kenya. And that should not be a set back. After all, that is what I love about traveling so much. There is much opportunity to learn and integrate into this “new” culture, and I don’t have to compromise my values and who I am to do so. I just need to find a way. And I will. I must.

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Errantry: Leaving Again

“It’s a white Christmas,” I smile, breathing in the cold winter air. It’s something I have not experienced in some years; something so different from the moderate temperatures of Kenya, and different from the cool, but hardly cold Kathmandu of the Himalayas. It feels strange to be back in this country, America. It feels as though my months spent in Nepal are only a distant memory, though it’s only been a few weeks since I left.

I packed my bags in Nepal with the feeling of sorrow, but the soft reassurance that I would be back someday. “I must come back,” my every breath seemed to scream, as I filled my suitcase with tea and trinkets found in markets for my family.

“When will you return?” Susmita asks me.

I look at her, and say the same words I said when I left in 2015, ” I do not know when, only time can tell. But I know that I will return some day. I have too.”

On my last day, I woke up early, watching the sun rise over the whole mountain range displayed. I reflected on the many memories made and lessons learned.

I learned of the simplicity and care-free nature of these beautiful people. I learned to mix the rich spices of a people not bound by time or even money, like we are in the West. I learned to dance to Bollywood hits and Nepali classics, shamelessly, in the streets or markets. I learned to care for a three month old baby; Amaris I called her, meaning given by God in Hebrew, and daughter of the moon in Ireland. My tongue slowly discovered how to form sounds unknown to me, that make up the Nepali language. I grew accustomed to not being able to read the signs on the roadside or in the stores, written in a different script, but quickly learned that I could always ask the friendly people around for help. I grew comfortable with the crowded public transportation system, able to navigate it independently, and my mouth became accustomed to more and more spice, even full chilis. I found ways to worship with everyone, even though it was all in Nepali, and I got to see how God is working, even in Nepal, a country barely touched by Christianity. I learned to value and appreciate the ways of Hinduism as well, never letting an opportunity to learn and ask questions about the ancient religion pass me by. I picked up Nepali jokes and mannerisms that I still can’t shake, like nodding my head side to side when I mean yes, and saying “la” when I really mean “oh no!”

I walked with Prem and Kobita to their bus stop on my last day, soaking in the surroundings: dusty roads, small shops and houses, fields of yellow mustard flowers. And upon my return, I stopped for one last cup of chiya. It was warm and milky, the portions perfect. I drank that steaming tea, full of content and melancholy and hope. Then I paid 15 rupees (15 cents) and walked home, the taste of tea still in my mouth.

It was night when I left. I took one last breath of Nepali air, then boarded my plane, America bound, unsure of when I would return, but certain I must.

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“Errantry” is a series of blog posts related to my gap year. If you want to know more about this year and my reasons for it, check out my first post about Errantry.

Brakes and Hearts and Lungs

I joked earlier today,
as we were driving down the side of a mountain,
that it would be a bad time to lose the brakes,
then watched in horror
as an SUV like ours
whipped by, just missing us,
flipping off the cliff we were rounding.
The laughter and the singing that once filled our car
screeched to a stop.
We piled out, in shock,
and ran to the site of touchdown:

One Land Rover on its back, dozens of people round.
The sounds of screaming and yelling.
Dusty, bloody people being pulled from the tangled car.
The smell of fuel and fear in the air.
My heart pounding faster each second,
wondering if I could remember the CPR I once learned,
wondering if I would have the strength.
“Are they all out? Are they all out?” I ask,
breath quickening.
Then I see them,
children too,
standing, walking even,
only bloodied faces and bruised bodies
to testify of the death defy.
I grab the hand of one mother,
screaming for me to take her daughter to safety.
We climb the hill together,
she’s shaking, crying,
tears running muddied tracks down her dusty face,
and I breathe for relief, or is it a prayer?
A prayer of gratefulness, I suppose,
that life was preserved on this mountainside.

We hear the wailing of a slow approaching ambulance,
and we climb back in our car,
still shaking,
driving a bit slower now
through mountains snaking,
thanking God for working
brakes and hearts and lungs.

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Errantry: Living without Language

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They say it’s hard to appreciate something until you don’t have it, and I have to agree. Here at Asha Nepal, a home for women who have been sexually exploited or abused and children who have been orphaned or abandoned, not much English is spoken.

Asha Nepal, meaning hope, is my current location in Kathmandu, having moved here from the children’s home I was at about a week ago. I have found it to be a lot more of a cultural emersion, as, unlike the last place I was living, almost no one speaks English.

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A few of the kids speak English, but during the day, they are at school. The women, who I spend most of my day with, speak only a few words of English, or none at all. It is a humbling experience not being able to communicate with language.

They speak to me in Nepali, and I pretend to understand. I speak to them in English, and they nod their heads and laugh. Yet, somehow we understand each other. I understand a smile. I understand their gestures. I understand their laughter, and I laugh too, though I miss the jokes entirely.

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We play this game with rocks called ‘ghoti’, which is similar to jacks. We cook together. We sing together. We laugh together. And it is enough.

Once, I was cooking with one of the women, and started singing this old Nepali hymn I knew from back in 2015. She joined in, our voices ringing in the small kitchen. It was a simple, beautiful moment.

One of the women often calls me up to the roof to play ghoti and drink tea. Another lady is always dancing. And they all try to teach me bits of Nepali here and there.

Many of the women have developed mental disorders from their hard pasts, and some women have skin diseases or even cancer. But beneath it all, each woman wears a beautiful smile and has such kind eyes, evidence of the transforming love of God.

There is an older woman who sits in the garden all day, just staring off into some other world. She just sits there, never talking, never smiling, and I wonder what could have happened to make her this way. Life has been hard on her. But here at Asha, there is hope, and there is space for her to just sit if that is what she needs. She need not worry about her food. She need not worry about her basic needs. She need only sit and rest. And someday, when she is ready, she will speak. She will smile.

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Just the other day, some of us walked out to nearby waterfalls. I had no intention of getting in and swimming, but ended up standing under the waterfall in my dress with some of the more adventurous kids. Everyone cheered for me as I gave up trying to keep my dress dry and dunked in the water. It was already dark on the way back, and we sang English and Nepali hymns all the way home through our chattering teeth.

God’s love does not always need words to be communicated. God’s love is so much more transcendent than language. It is enough.


“Errantry” is a series of blog posts related to my gap year. If you want to know more about this year and my reasons for it, check out my first post about Errantry.

Errantry: Hands

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Do you see these hands of mine? These paint stained, nail bitten hands? These cracked and dry hands?

Well, dear reader, let me tell you a story…

I sucked my thumb until age five, when my loving mother implemented house rules to get me to stop. “You will have a crooked thumb,” she would tell me, “if you don’t stop.” But sucking that worn thumb of mine was always a comfort.

So at age five I quit and moved on to the next best thing–biting my nails. That was just as bad as thumb sucking, and soon drastic measures were taken to stop the habit. But when I stopped biting my nails, I started picking the skin on my fingers. And when I stopped picking the skin on my fingers, then I started biting my nails again.

When I was 14, I remember being bored out of my mind in a conference. That’s when I discovered a new habit (one I always feared to admit)–plucking the small hairs on my fingers. It made the time pass, but is a habit that proves hard to shake.

In High School, under the pressure of exams and dozens of papers to write, I began biting my cuticles, even to the point of bleeding. This was a habit I shared with many of my school friends, so I didn’t feel the social pressure to stop, and still haven’t been able to stop.

My hands are tough. They are dry and rough. They are unlotioned, unpolished, unrefined, but they are mine.

And yet, I can’t say I love them, or ever really have.

I remember when I was young and maleable, the kids would play a game. “Look at your nails,” they would say. And if you looked at your nails with your palm side up, they would call you a tom-boy. If you looked at your nails with the back of your hand up, you were a girly girl. Well, I never liked either of these labels, but being called a tom-boy stung. “I’m just a girl,” I would think. “I don’t want to be labeled. Why should the way I look at my nails make any difference?”

I remember the first time someone told my self-conscious High School self that I had man hands. I brushed it off with a laugh, but the words stuck with me.

Or the time a boy told me my hands felt rough, like I used a lot of tools.

I always wished I could have soft, dainty hands, a product of our society I suppose. I always wanted to have elegant hands that a boy would want to hold. But I could never remember to put enough lotion. I could never stop the habits.

And even if I did succeed in these things, I would still fail, for my hands were made for hard work. They are capable hands. They are strong. They are built for digging in the dirt, for exploring, for adventure. They are scarred from cooking over open fires. They are dry and chapped from the wind. They are callused from playing the ukulele on the road. The nails are chipped and the cuticles are ragged, but they are mine. Yes, they are mine. And it’s time I started loving them.


“Errantry” is a series of blog posts related to my gap year. If you want to know more about this year and my reasons for it, check out my first post about Errantry.

Stone Tap

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The sky is darkening as we head out
down the uneven trail
shrouded by bushes and trees.
We carry buckets of laundry and bars of soap.

“Stone tap,” the kids tell me,
and I follow.
It’s a small, underground water source
we dip our buckets into,
bringing up the cool, clean water,
like you imagine they did in the olden days,
only these are no olden days.

We crowd together on the stone surface,
squatting and scrubbing our laundry.
Mosquitos look for any opportunity to bite.
Some of the kids go round the bend to shower,
the cold water washing away the dirt of a day’s work.
I scrub my pineapple socks and jeans that grown thin from use,
soaking in this moment of bliss,
as the children jabber in Nepali and the crickets come out
under the setting sun.


**Note: The above photo is not mine. It was the closest image I could find of a stone tap similar to where I went.