This was the second time I was home since I started my college career at Lafayette. The first time was really exciting because I had not been home for the longest time till then, even though I had not planned anything and I spent most of my time being comfortable at home. After getting back to Lafayette, I felt like I could have done so much more in terms of travelling, meeting people, etc. However, I was not unhappy with the laid back ‘vacation’ either. This time around, my experience was a whole lot better. Even though Tatiana and I had talked about the various things we wanted to do, we did not have a detailed itinerary. So, it was up to us, mostly me, what we wanted to do while we were in Nepal.
I say this time was a whole lot better also because I got to reflect a lot more on what I was doing when I was home. I realized that I spent more time in the house because I wanted to be inside the house, around my family more than anything else. And, just realizing that I wanted to be with people I love rather than trying to find happiness outside the house was really satisfying. I felt content realizing that I was happy with what I have. Usually, I tend to overlook the things that are going right and focus on things that could be better, but this time, I was not doing that. Maybe it was Tatiana’s positive energy and enthusiasm or the escape from the hectic college life; I was as happy as I could be.
The first couple of days, I was more nervous than excited, although I did not let it show. I was nervous about travelling with a friend who looked different than the majority of the population and would thus stand out. I was not sure if people would look at us strangely, try to pass comments, heckle or what not. Not having an idea of what to expect was the worst. I knew that Tatiana would have to pay entrance fees and I could go in free when we visited cultural sites, but I was not sure if the cab drivers were going to ask for a ridiculous charge seeing that one of the travelers was white, usually associated with being wealthy. I did not want to be a victim of daylight robbery. Also, I did not want to make our travel experience all about bargaining. After debating the pros and cons in my head, one of the most important decisions I made before we started going places was that I would not focus on how much money I was spending. I did so in order to enjoy every moment as much as I could. And it seemed to work out well. We did not get robbed and still had a fabulous time.
As we traveled around and I got used to people looking at us, things felt so much better. Also, making the decision to travel on a motorcycle made things more fun as well. I grew up travelling independently on a bicycle when I was younger and then on a motorcycle once I got my license. So, the idea of travelling by public transportation was not very appealing to me.
Also, public transportation is not really the way to go when you are there for only a couple weeks. Once again Tatiana, being her smart self, made sure she had a helmet every time we got on a bike and our adventures started to kick off. It was a great feeling being able to go anywhere we wanted at our will. The rides to markets, stupas, and visiting friends and family were just amazing. Having a travel buddy who adapts to changes and lives in the moment was the best.
As days went by, I was happy that I got the chance to explore my life better. I got to see my family from a different perspective. I started loving the not-so-perfect English my mom used to communicate with Tat. I adored how my mom and Tat connected and shared stories and taught each other different things.
The times when my grandmother and Tat tried to communicate without understanding one another’s language were very heartwarming. Such fond memories were possible only because I got to go home with a ‘foreigner’.
In its entirety, this trip made me realize that there are more important things in life than the boundaries that we have enclosed ourselves in. Instead of focusing on our ability to communicate with one another using languages we know, it is also fun to let our instincts tell us what the other person is trying to say. Smiles are great tools to help us bond with one another. After having travelled home and back, I definitely am excited to go meet with Tat’s family and see her world. But also, I want to be in new environments whenever I can. I want to get lost to find myself.