11 June 2010
Nepal meets America
I arrived in the United States about two weeks ago. Sometimes it take me a while to make the adjustment back to this way of life. My surroundings seem familar, but with an odd sensation that I do not really belong here. This time I brought one of my Nepali partners back with me to spend the summer. He seems to be handling the lifestyle differences well. He can drink water from the tap and ice for drinks is always available. We keep the indoor temperature at a constant level of our choice. We wash clothes and dishes by machine. He has his own bedroom and bathroom for perhaps the first time in his life. But-he is struggling with the fact of so much meat at every meal, even though he does like chicken and fish. He has no intention of becoming a "cow eater" while in America-- which for him is a cultural and personal preference, not a religious reason. This man is not on his "first time out of the mountains." He has traveled before-to India, to Singapore, to Holland. But still, there is no place on earth like America. We go through a "drive through" and get a chicken sandwich (handed to us through the window) for lunch and then on the same day, I give him some chicken dish for dinner as well. Too much. But it is what we do here in America. I bought a rice cooker and a big bag of rice because I know that a huge plate of it for dinner every night is common in Nepal-- with a few cooked vegetables on the side. But we do not do that in America and I just cannot think about rice every day. We've only used it once. He does not ask many questions, but he seemed confused when I entered the driveway only partially, then backed up and aligned the car with the mailbox. "I am getting the mail without getting out from my comfortable seat and air-conditioned car," I told him and he smiled. I showed him what we call, "mountains," and he smiled again. I think he enjoys having his own computer and work station. He has helped us a lot with the office work on that computer and also freely communicates with his family and co-workers back in Nepal. He understands that he can take something from the refrigerator whenever he wants it and just a plug into the wall will have some boiling water within a few minutes. There are many things to enjoy here in America. But I miss the life in Nepal and before long, I think he will as well. We do not have the closeness of families or the interdependency of the Asian group dynamics. We love our independence and probably have more choices, but our relationships are completely different-- both with one another and probably with our God as well. This past Sunday, he was asked to give the closing prayer in the church. With hands raised, he addresses the Lord on behalf of the congregation in his own language. I understood a few words. The rhythm and tone of the words were beautiful and familar. I miss Nepal. And while my friend and partner is seeing a whole new world and I am enjoying it from his eyes, I long to return to his world-- a place where life is not so easy as here, but it is rich in many ways that are just too difficult to explain.