To say that I'm happy, would be pushing it, but relieved? Perhaps.
Nepal is everything you want it be and more, or as one my Nepali friends stated "You can be anything you want to be in Nepal." While Nepal is no place for the American Dreamer, there is a shred of truth lies in his statement. The things I experienced and the opportunities living and working in Nepal gave me, are beyond my own understanding. I struggled to believe that this was really my life, my job, and that other people's kindness was real sometimes, because that's what living in my own society had bred me to think and believe. One German medical student said to me upon reflecting on her three month internship at the hospital I was working at - "When you see the way people live and work out here; the way they believe nothing is impossible, it makes you... ashamed at how little we've accomplished back home." I couldn't have agreed more.
Nepal is mystical, beautiful, ethereal in some ways because the identity of the Nepali people is not as easy to describe or label as western culture have so easily labelled other South-East Asian communities. The people there who I met were kind, passionate, god-loving and redefined the meaning of 'hardworking' as I knew it. Those that I had the pleasure of coming into contact with were fiercely passionate about their desire to change their country, to make it a better place to live for themselves and for the future of their families. My friends who were mostly ordinary middle-class citizens were all political, inquisitive, and self-motivated to be the best they could be at whatever they had set their minds to.
Then I came home, to my country, this land of all hope and glory that so many Nepali people waxed lyrical about, and realised that I didn't recognise it anymore. Cameron's Britain. Rioting Britain. Unemployed Britain.
I hasten to admit that when I left the UK, it was only in slightly better condition; the coalition Tory/Lib Dem government had just come into power promising big things, bankers rather than being punished were being patted on their backs for hideous failings and humongous bonuses, and unemployment was steadily climbing in the wrong direction.
But riots? Kids as young as 11 damaging property and stealing on their own doorsteps? I can't claim to know much about society and politics other than living in the former and being surrounded by the latter, but this behaviour screams that the people are feeling various degrees of dissatisfaction.
Yes, to some level the damage was caused by people who felt as though the world owed them something, or that their actions were merely an offset of what the government was depriving them of. I do however, find it hard to believe that an 11 year old child from a disadvantaged background and no one to encourage his/her intellectual development can mastermind the break in and destruction of a jewellers on a high street.
To quote one Brit,
"These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing."
And that, I do believe, is what sets 'us' apart from 'them'.From the families I visited in the heart of Kathmandu to the rural mountainous regions of Solukumbu, I noticed one thing was inherent in every household - solidarity. Most Nepalis live in joint households, where as many as four generations live side by side, sharing meals and responsibilities without a word of complaint. It stunned me to see such love and care in a society I had been informed was part of a "developing country".
Perhaps then, we in Britain are the ones who are still 'developing'. Or perhaps our pride is somewhat misplaced. I find myself submerged in a culture of 'I want one those' and 'Mine should be bigger and better than yours'. I sometimes lose sight of how ridiculous it all is, and buy into it, literally, myself, of course. I am after all, a member of this culture but it does not excuse my behaviour. I realise only now that we are the best in the world at alienating ourselves from one another.
Of course, a well-bred, middle-class Etonion could never represent my views or opinions, or even the majority of the country's, but instead of standing divided and pointing fingers and blaming (politicians or police tactics? Bad education or just laziness?), we could try a different angle.
There will always be someone richer, better, and more good looking than you. Fact. The more you have, the more you want. Also a fact.
But Shakespeare wrote,
"Nature's bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And being frank, she lends to those are free."