Monday, March 26, 2012

Revising home

One can know that reverse culture shock will happen, but then there's actually experiencing it. Right now it is an illusive whirlwind of thoughts and emotions and physical reactions...refusing to be captured, held still, nor properly seen and understood.

There is no rushing this process, this space of in between. So I am doing my best to just breathe, and allow this new environment and I to come to some terms of understanding that will work for both of us. I'm not quite sure yet how that's going to work out.

Who knew that warmed toilet seats in a public restroom in Japan with 4 different types of automated flush type options depending on your cultural and personal preference could bring such a sense of overwhelm?

In my mind, I keep seeing this experience at the public toilet juxtaposed with my experience of going to the post office in Nepal the day before I flew to send a few things home to myself.

At the main post office in Nepal, when you go in to send something, a man goes through your things to make sure everything is good to send (customs).

Then you hand your package to someone who takes white cotton material and hand sews your package closed.

At this point a woman hands you a thick, black, permanent marker so that you can write your address on the now beautifully stitched cotton material. This is her job, and the only thing that she will do all day. And likely every day.

To the right of the woman with the black pen (everyone is organized in a row so that you are helped by one person and then the next) sits a man in the corner carefully tending to a flame.

After receiving my package, he takes his wax stick, places it in the flame, and allows it to melt. The melted, red wax is used to seal the seams. He is careful, focused, present. I am transported back to times when people wrote handwritten letters with quill pens and sealed the letter with their wax emblem.

At the end, I have been helped, very personally, by a total of 8 people. It has taken an hour and a half, and I have a beautifully wrapped gift to send to myself. This is as official as it gets in Nepal.

And....aren't my brother and his girlfriend, Chiaki, cute? (yes, my thoughts jump these days at random between the U.S., Japan, Nepal, Canada, and back to Nepal, Japan, the U.S...)

There was a lot of rain in Japan when I was there. A deluge of water, in general. A welcome experience after the dryness of the sun and dust of the last few months in Nepal.

Now to spend my last Canadian coins before flying back to the U.S...where I re-create home and figure out how to tie all the threads of my experience together.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No title

In between the craziness of my last weeks before leaving Nepal, traveling to Japan, coming home (jet lag and culture shock)  I leave these pictures and thoughts for you.   Thank you for being a part of the journey.  And stay tuned for the next one.

1. Nepal
2. Japan
3. Seattle
4. Japan

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

After the whirlwind

Japan is clean. And orderly. REALLY clean and orderly. Woah...that is all I have to say about that right now.

It is also beautiful here. Presentation is important. The food is amazing. There are temples and shrines - of a very different sort than Nepal - scattered everywhere. And the rain is welcome after months of sun (yes), but also dust.

I am missing Nepal. I am missing my friends, my work, the chaos, the dirt, internet cafes on every corner, large smiles, easy conversations with strangers, a simple lifestyle.

I am equally ready to start a new adventure. To take with me what gifts I`ve received from my time and experience in Nepal and to see where these take me. I also know that I`ll return to Nepal again. And that made it a (tiny) bit easier to say goodbye for now.

At the end here, I can`t help but think about what it is that I most have been given and will take with me as new learning, new understanding. About myself, about people, about Nepal, about the "third world", about development work...

In reality, I think the list is too long to attempt to put into anything succinct. And a list would only minimize.

I can pick the top of the list, however, and say that the biggest gift I received from those I know in Nepal was the experience of being around people who are truly present in their lives. To surroundings, to family and friends and community, to cooking and eating... to enjoying.

In reality, the biggest gift I can give to those who hosted me in their homes, communities, organizations, and lives for two years is to take my experience and learning forward with my own life and work and creation...

I am awful at saying goodbye, especially because I didn`t really want to be saying goodbyes. So my last weeks were rushed and chaotic as I pretended that I didn`t have to do the inevitable.

My resistance was met with so much understanding, love, gifts (and more gifts), home cooked food, parties, dancing, cards, and kind words. This says little about me, and much about those who were giving. I felt humbled and honored...thank you to all.

(Above: goodbye dinner with a few of my friends...)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

From the Hong Kong airport

I am writing this from the airport in Hong Kong, on my way to Japan to visit my brother (where he lives) on my way home. Going through a few pictures from my last weeks in Nepal (pictures above from a trek to Helambu last week with Eva and Gyalgyn), it already feels a bit like a world away. Though only in image. In experience and in my body, I know Nepal will remain close and continue to take shape within me for a long time.

Leaving Nepal was harder for me than I had imagined it would be. Partially, because when I arrived, 2 years seemed like such a *temporary* time. And this had always been in my mind in Nepal...I am here temporarily.

27 months later, therefore, it has crept up on me somewhat secretly that Nepal feels like a real home. With all the familiarity, comfort, routine, love, and connection that home brings. And I found I wasn't quite prepared for what it would feel like to leave this home.

For all of you who I have been out of touch with the last while...apologies...

I will be posting something again, if only some of my leaving thoughts about my time in Nepal and first thoughts about heading West (first striking things: advertising, chain restaurants, and people following rules).

But for now, wanted to let all of my friends in Nepal (wherever you come from) know that I am thinking of you and miss you already. You have enriched my life in uncountable know who you are.

And I am incredibly excited to be on my way to Japan to see Cameron, the Pacific Northwest (!!!!), and then Pittsburgh(Kevin xx).