My friends have been teasing me about having returned from “Amrika” and being all Americanized. Trust me I’m the least Americanized Amrika-returnee possible. But well, what are friends for? They won’t miss out on any chance to pull your legs.
On the last few days of our stay in US as well, my SUSI – it’s the new media training course for which I was away from Nepal – friends were talking about the reverse culture shocks we would face once back home. Without 24/7 running water, electricity, dishwashers, washing machine, AC, metros, we joked how it would feel like time traveling some decades back.
But of course all of us knew we were only going back to things more familiar – from familiar people to language, food and the familiar chaos.
And so it’s been. Except, I can’t deny I did have one major reverse culture shock that still has me petrified – I’ve been mortally scared to cross roads.
Actually, I have always been scared of the roads here. There have been days when I’m overtly paranoid; when I’m convinced that every vehicle – from speeding bikes to turtle-paced rickshaws – is on a mission to run over me. Of course, I’m not that important that everyone out there would scheme to assassinate me. But on such days, in my head, I am.
These past few days have been something similar. I had a dental appointment the very next day I arrived here. On my way, I was trying to cross the road at the zebra crossing in Pulchowk, where I found myself reaching out for my sister’s hand.
Every time she tried to pull me to start crossing, I would pull her back because (again) every vehicle on the road seemed mercilessly ready to kill us. She somehow did get me to the other side. Safe.
Then yesterday, as my “bilayati-bred” but Nepal-accustomed colleague and I were heading home, we were trying to cross the road at the Thapathali junction. After crossing the road halfway, we stood there in the middle of the road as vehicles zoomed past us – ahead of us and behind. I had started blabbering in my nervousness.
I was arguing with her that this wasn’t how I ever crossed the road at the junction before, and she was just teasing me about how Amrikan roads had made me forget how we cross roads here in Nepal.
We got to the other side and were walking to the stop. My friend pacing some four feet ahead me to catch our tempo while I was carefully watching my steps when a tempo drove past me and sped towards my friend and I felt it was so close to her I went psychotic and screamed out loud “Ka gaaako?” (Where are you going?)
I saw her shocked expression as she turned to me. Some passersby who glanced back also gave me a “Is she crazy?” look. And the tempo that had just seconds ago looked to me like a death machine smoothly glided to a stop looking as harmless as a cute panda.
“I believe you now. You’re scared,” my friend commented as she reached out to me and we scurried to our tempo.
I now know why some tourists look scared out of their wits while they cross roads here. I’ve learnt my lesson. I’ll never laugh at them again.
As for the daily road-crossers of Kathmandu – right now, you’re no less than daredevils to me!
For the love of shopping
There isn’t any dull day which can’t be brightened by shopping. The thought of shopping itself brings a smile on my face, and is by far one of the best mood boosters. I admit that I’m a compulsive shopper and I don’t think it’s a bad thing, either.
My love for shopping goes back to the days when I was just a kid. When my mother planned the day to take us shopping, I soared with excitement as it meant getting new stuff all for myself. Even during the schooldays, I splurged all my pocket money on shopping. I saw some of my friends or relatives saving their money in their little piggy banks but I couldn’t see myself doing so.
I don’t know what it is with girls and shopping, but the joy you get after you buy something that you want is just incomparable. I guess only girls can understand why they want to try on every pair of shoes before deciding on one. No wonder I can spend the whole day shopping without knowing how time passes by. Besides, it’s a fun activity that you can do with your girls and is also a great way to kill time.
Things got even better after I started earning, as it meant that I could buy whatever or whenever I wanted to. Easy accessibility to shopping malls has also made shopping all the more easy.
But just as the numbers of malls have increased, the quality and variety has sadly dwindled. As soon as I step out of my house, on almost every road I pass, I see a number of clothing stores. It’s quite surprising to see so many of those stores mushrooming and it makes me ponder if it’s the only thriving business in the capital.
Although easy accessibility may be a plus point, random pricing and fake brands are but a major turnoff. Of all the progress that I want to see in our hometown, I would be ecstatic to see shops of original international brands making their way here.
But for now, I’m just happy to be adding more of those apparels to my closet. Seeing my closet stacked up with clothes, my mother asks me now and then, “When on earth will you be wearing all of those?”
But by now, she has even started to approve of my love for shopping.
When reason falters, play blackmail!
Okay, so I admit I have a gazillion flaws and can be quite a mean and stubborn girl when I want to, and I don’t even have to try that hard, either. But the one thing I don’t do and can’t stand is emotional blackmail.
Correct me if I’m wrong. But coercing someone to do something she doesn’t really want to by blackmailing her is a crime. And it should be made punishable by law.
Recently, I’ve been thinking and rethinking about this particular aspect of human nature. I’ve come to realize that people who are always used to getting their way more often than not resort to blackmail to make sure their designs are fulfilled.
According to my overanalyzing brain, such people don’t care, nor will they ever understand somebody else’s point of view. For them, the end justifies the means. If the end result is in their favor, then the process of accomplishing that is justifiable.
I don’t think very highly of these kinds of characters, and the respect I’ve had for them plummets to the point of no return.
Why then does it still bother me so much? Why can’t I just pity them and feel good that at least I’m not built that way?
After hours of venting and then staring in the pitch-black sky, I finally had an answer, at around midnight. The reason blackmailing never goes down well with me is because I end up bearing the brunt of it.
When someone becomes that petty, I can’t handle it. I give in. Almost instantly. Just to put an end to the impending drama that will follow if I continue to hold my stance, I’ll end up doing whatever it takes to make the “blackmailer” happy. The result: A very upset and troubled me.
I’m sure this is the case with everybody. Even people who blackmail others to have their way don’t like it much themselves, either, especially when they are at the receiving end.
My parents always say that I should take others’ feelings into consideration and should at times do what they want of me, not because they are nice people but because I am.
I think of all the values my parents have tried to instill in me, that’s perhaps the only canon which has made sense and which I abide by. I give in because when things get petty, I try to rise above the pettiness. That’s what I’ve been taught.
It doesn’t make the person who blackmails me right, and if I’ve given in doesn’t mean I agree with him. It just means I’m essentially better than him.
Earlier this week, my friend dragged me on his search for a shop that we were supposed to locate at the end of a narrow lane. Finally, when we found the small shop, my friend nearly jumped out of joy. It was a shop that caters to making of duplicate keys. My friend had just lost the key to the main entrance of his house and he wanted a duplicate before his parents knew about it!
And there I was, helping on his mission, inside a shop with keys of all kinds, shapes and sizes hanging all over its walls.
And among those metal pieces, there sat a guy, already busy in crafting a set of keys for his customer who was standing by his worktable. And before he was done, there were already three keys lined up for duplication. The guy was quietly and very sincerely doing his job. He knew that he had to be careful; the keys should perfectly fit in the locks. He was the key maker, after all.
After the elation subdued, my friend was concentrating very intensely on the key maker’s work and suddenly posed me with his question, “Why do you think were keys invented?” “Because locks were invented,” I replied casually.
“And why were the locks invented in the first place?” That was his next question.
“Security?” I asked him instead.
He creased his eyebrows a little and said in a very slow voice, “Maybe it was invented after people started to lose trust in their fellow beings.”
I couldn’t disagree with him. We collect keys and put them in a ring and make sure what we lock is secure. As long as the keys are secure, safe are the things we possess. And since my friend and I assumed that locks preceded the keys, we went on a length to suppose that we are, after all, surrounded by locks.
“Life is all about searching for the right key,” I quoted the famous saying.
But the irony is that every time we think we’ve found the right one, the hole in the lock becomes slightly bigger. The lock, which is made to our expectations, greed, hopes and what not, demands for a specific key.
By then, the real key maker was finished with my friend’s duplicate. When he held the key in his hand, he was happier than ever. And, as we left the shop and took the narrow lane, I asked my friend, “So, would you want to know, how it feels to be a key maker?”