August 6, 2008
Namaskar. Hi. Hello. What do we say here? Good morning, perhaps. It is still morning. I write from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where I’m staying temporarily with my parents as they prepare to head out to Seattle, Washington where they have managed to land a job in a little congregation. From there I go to San Francisco. So much has happened since I last wrote to you. I’m a different person in a different world. Or maybe the world is different and it just brings out different sides of this multi-faceted person that I am. Smile.
Leaving was so hard! I don’t believe that I wrote about my trip to Simi Gaun (a village where a lot of my colleagues are from – it’s two days from Kathmandu: one in a bus and one long day walking) at all. How is it that I can go somewhere for a second time in my whole life and arrive and feel like I’m arriving home? This was over a month ago now that I was there – unbelievable! My time in Simi Gaun was magic – much of it was spent planting millet alongside other people in the village. This was an all-day, 10 am to 6:30 pm endeavor and whosever fields we were planting provided everyone with a meal, a midday snack, tea and local homebrew called chiaang. The family I stayed with was involved in hosting a puja (big religious ceremony) at the monastery, and after that was over and plenty of chiaang had been consumed by anyone who wanted any, there was singing and dancing into the night. Then my dear friend Lakuma got married on my last day in Simi Gaun and what a gift it was to be there and see that happen.
My goodbyes in Kathmandu were interspersed with “Thandiwe down-time” which was good. I think that I needed the time and the space to be and to begin my transition back to the United States with withdrawing somewhat from Kathmandu and my life in Nepal. I was able to say goodbye to everyone I needed to, to see everyone I had to see. What a gift. The only thing that made the goodbyes bearable was my promise to return, the hope of our next meeting.
The flight was long and tiring, but I made it back safely to be met in the bright dry heat of a summer Los Angeles day by my younger brother in his new car complete with a metal eyes-light-up-red cobra on the hood and an elephant sticker on the passenger door. It felt a little as if a western Ganesh had come to bless my return and remove the obstacles before me. Friends, family and just getting back into things – going to the bank, the post office, buying western style clothing from the local thrift store, hours by the ocean. Towards the end of that week in Los Angeles pangs of missing began to strike as well as the antsiness of being in a place where I wasn’t actually living and wanting to begin to get settled to have more purpose than sunning on the beach.
And now I’m in Wisconsin until I drive west to Seattle and then south to San Francisco. It is beautiful here – Queen Anne’s lace grows in bunches on the sides of the high way and the canal leading to Lake Michigan glints silver in the morning light, golden in the evening. The house we’re staying in looks out on the canal and reeds line the shores. This morning they were a riot of sound as birds twittered and played among them.
Yesterday evening, I ventured to a US movie theater for the first time in two years to watch “The Dark Knight” with my cousin Hunter. Talk about a movie that keeps me hanging on the whole way through. Hardly a moment where I’m not totally absorbed in the story and the characters. And now. Time to work on graduate school applications and think about the GRE which I hope to take in October. Exciting times, these are. Smile.
This is much more of the catch-ups that I struggle to read than my usual stories, but I’m finding settling hard. And exciting. And really, I’d much rather be outside rolling in the grass or cycling into the city than sitting at a computer. But I wanted to be in touch and update each of you.
Much love and peace to all of you,