I believe that everyone has a story and their experience strongly influences who they are. I moved to India and grew up seeing my parents (who moved a lot with dad being in the army) for about a month every year for 6 years from the age of 4. This distance from my parents, the country I was born in, my culture and heritage impacted me in ways I couldn’t fathom for years ( …how dramatic am I). With age, I crave to learn more about my roots, the grandparents I never met, my parents’ life, but always with a slight resistance that I continue to work on.
My trip to Nepal in 2018 was much needed. It was the first time I visited Sungdel – the place of my ancestors – a village in the east of Nepal, which is tucked into an extraordinarily steep valley amongst forested peaks. I’ll never forget the horrendous but hilariously memorable 14-hour journey from Kathmandu (where I was born) to Sungdel. More than half the journey felt like a bumper car ride with a hydraulic system installed, bouncing up and down, and holding on to dear life as several cars overtook from left, right and center. This was mainly down to the road that was not really a road but was in the process of being a road-ish. Also, we had another 2-3hrs of a grueling walk from where the cars stopped to our final destination. It was pitch black by this point and let’s just say I chanted all sorts of prayers that I didn’t even know I knew.
But the journey was worth it. Although, sometimes a little bit overwhelming with moments where I just wanted to get back to the usual comfort of my own bubble. It’s kind of bizarre to think that my ancestors started from this place and I’m kind of far from …there.
I had the chance to visit the graves of my grandparents and the tombstone of my mother’s brother who died at a young age (all of whom I have no living memory of). Before this entry gets too deep I do want to share my favourite part of this trip, which was visiting the school my grandfather ( a WWII veteran) from my maternal side founded, which is now being funded by my parents and aunties.
So, grandad was a big advocate for education – giving equal importance to both girls and boys, which was and still is uncommon in rural parts of Nepal, where girls are often married off at a young age. So much respect for the old man and I was honestly relieved to see more girls present than boys in the school and despite their mismatched school outfits they bought with them this sense of wholesomeness that wanted to reach for even more.
Being super inspired by my grandfather and also my dad’s motivation and passion to continue his legacy I decided to sponsor a girl. I’ll always think of how easily any of these kids could’ve been me and yet our childhood/lives couldn’t be more different.
In many places, education is still a privilege and that’s a real shame. This experience kind of helped me make sense of the expectations (unfair as it may be) that my parents unloaded on to my brother and me. There’s so much more I learned from my time here but some precious stories are better kept to myself. An experience like this really tends to burst the bubble you live in.