Tuesday, 2 May 2017

#21 Picking your battles and other life lessons

Maud and Sanju's wedding meant everyone I had met in the last five weeks were all in one place. The Poon Hill group, the Quest family and Sanju's friends I had met along the way. Despite being thousands of kilometres from home I had found my Nepali clan and it felt luxurious after being alone for the first few weeks.

Ganga didi dressed me and the remaining Dutch volunteer in our sarees and we bumped and jumped our way to the wedding venue in the tiny little taxi trying desperately not to let our sarees come untucked. I still don't know how women wear them everyday.

We ate and laughed and danced til late at the wedding. Sanju and Maud were almost floating with happiness and both of them looked amazing.

Many old volunteers had come back to Nepal especially for the wedding. This didn't surprise me because Sanju and Maud are such a lovely couple and work so hard in everything they do.

The rest of the week passed happily and I found myself becoming part of a group of volunteer girls. We ate brownies (we all had the same constant craving for sweet things as I mentioned before), drank coffee everyday at the local cafe with the owner, (a very talkative Phillipino woman), gossiped, talked about boys, relationships, travel and life.

This was not what I was expecting Nepal to be like! I was very much back in my comfort zone. So much for intrepid journeys! Does it still count as an adventure if you do the same things you do at home but in a different country with different people? What does it take to get away from it all? I travelled halfway across the world and it turns out we all pretty much enjoy the same things. Eating sweet things and gossiping!

On the weekend I said goodbye to some of the aforementioned girls as they were due to leave Nepal. It was both sad and happy. I was glad to have people I felt close enough to feel like saying goodbye to!

Then it was just me and one other Dutch girl at Ganga didis. I will call her Strong Personality Dutch Girl (SPDG).

She had very firm opinions about everything and at first I wasn't sure we would get along but I decided we would have to. As one of my favourite Buddhist teachings says, whenever I see ill natured beings or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds of suffering I will treat them as something rare, as though I'd found a priceless treasure. Slightly patronising but it worked.

I am a strong believer that out of every experience comes a lesson  and I did learn something from SPDG. She knew very early on she didn't like the womens school or the Nepali way of teaching so she chose to leave as soon as she could. She taught me that being assertive and listening to your gut is important and her parting words to me were DON'T SETTLE.

Until yesterday I was convinced I she was completely right but I pondered some more and realised that perseverance is also a good thing to practise.

The longer I've stayed at the school in Kirtipur the better it has been. It takes a while to build trust and relationships with the students. If I'd quit in the first few days when I was new and nervous I wouldn't be here now, knowing everyone's names, and feeling like I was actually having some kind of impact on the students.

So, I've learnt that although it's good to know what you like and have views about how things should and shouldn't be, I personally find that being flexible and sticking things out ultimately leads to more positive experiences and to pick your battles! SPDG seems to go through life picking battles everywhere and it must be exhausting even if the battles she picks are valid.

Of course when done properly assertiveness is a very positive thing but I also figure when you are a volunteer you are there to simply assist rather than tell people who have lived in the country all their lives what to do. There have been plenty of white people coming in and telling people they are doing things wrong in the past and I'm not about to be another one.
Past and present volunteers at the wedding with our host mama's 

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