The fact that I am leaving a week from tomorrow is starting to set in. And man, am I am excited! I’ve started packing, making to do lists for the long plane ride and the first few days I am home, and making appointments to see people from my other life.
But saying goodbye to the friends I made here in Nepal is making it bittersweet. Two nights ago I had dinner with Renuka, Dinesh, and Sangeeta, who treated me to a pizza dinner at Fire and Ice in Thamel. Last night we had a good bye dinner for a fellow Fulbright, one that I actually took the time to know and meet for lunch on occasion. Tonight Mari and I went to Chez Caroline to celebrate, since she leaves the Valley tomorrow and won’t be back until I’m already gone.
I think I’m going to miss her the most. Although we only met in January, we became friends fast. We’ve spent the past couple of months exploring all the restaurants in Kathmandu, complaining about what makes Kathmandu crazy, and laughing at the cute things Nepalis do. We also exchanged information on how Japanese and Americans tend to do things (she being raised in Japan). But most importantly, we kept each other company. Another thing I love about traveling is meeting interesting people like her, but then saying goodbye is difficult.
The past week or so has been especially hard. We got more information about my grandfather, who may only live a few more months. I found a good, inexpensive way to call him last night, and he sounded good. “How are you doing, Grandpa?” I asked.
“Hanging in there,” he said. “I’ve got my sweetheart next to me, so I’m okay.”
I burst into tears. My grandparents have been married for who knows how long—60-some years. And even though they yell at each other a lot, you still catch them holding hands, or cuddling on the couch watching TV. I hope I have that when I am that age. And I hope my grandmother continues to find strength to deal with all of this. I know she’s going to be relieved when I come home. She’s very proud of me, but my travels make her nervous. I can’t wait to give her a hug.
I then called my mom at work, which I have not done since I have been here. The other thing that happened this week is that I managed to pick up antibiotic resistant bacteria again. I spent about 3 hours at the clinic on Tuesday and was feeling run down and overwhelmed. Also, my mother had a test done the other day to check on her own cancer 1 year post-operation, so I really wanted to talk to her. I didn’t mean to make her cry at work, but hearing my mother’s voice just brought me to tears again.
There I was in the middle of a cyber shop in Thamel with my headphones on, talking on Skype, crying my eyes out.
I don’t regret coming to Nepal, despite all of the challenges and piles of shit and inhalation of exhaust fumes and bitching I’ve done. The British doctor I saw the other day told me he read an article once that said it’s the 4th most difficult country in the world to live in for foreigners (behind places like Somalia and Chad!). So I feel proud of myself for surviving, so to speak. And if anything, this experience will make me a stronger person when I return home—anything will be easy compared to boiling water, working around load-shedding, and eating rice everyday!
But this experience has really made me realize how much I need my family and close friends. I pride myself on being independent, but having people around you that love you is so damn important. Especially when you’re sick or going through a rough time. One can be happy being on her own, but happiness is nothing if there is no one to share it with. And misery is suffocating when there’s no one to pull you out of it.
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