From when I first left Nepal in 1988 to go to Italy to when I returned in the Spring of 2013, I was educated in four countries, I lived and worked in ten, traveled in many others, and shared accommodations with people from twelve different countries.
Central to all those experiences was always people!
Studying, working and living in such close quarters with people from so many differently countries representing so many cultures, I discovered and came to believe that people from different countries and cultures had more in common with each other than differences.
Not surprisingly I have come to see myself as a human being first.
I don’t hold the idea of other people — the “them” out there — anymore than I hold the idea of my people — the “us” here in Nepal. My allegiance to any one or any group extends far beyond any physical human trait we are born with or context and circumstances we are accidentally born into.
Naturally, I still believe in humanity, I still believe that human beings are innately good and that humanity is our best hope. I am passionate about fighting against that which incites violence on human beings. I believe in fighting for causes bigger than myself, such as injustices, human rights, education, economic and gender equality, social justice etc., all of which promotes understanding and peace, that which I was first introduced to as a UWC student!
All that is consistent with, firstly, the role models I grew up with as a child, namely Mohan Das Karamchand Ghandi and Spiderman, and secondly, my belief in compassion, which the people I met in my life and travels around the world reinforced.
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In the twenty-five years I was abroad, I moved so often that I had thirty residential addresses in fourteen cities spread over five continents.
The longest time I spent in a residential address was just two and a half years, in only one city at that: Baku, Azerbaijan! In other words, I spent less than a year on average in a given residential address!
The longest time I continuously lived in a country was only three years, and even that in only two countries — Malawi and Azerbaijan.
Living arrangements varied from simple, small dorm rooms to a big bedroom in a four bedroom town house, sharing everything else — such as a living room, a kitchen, and two bathrooms — with three housemates to a huge four-bedroom house within a huge compound, protected by a home security system consisting of motion sensors inside and live barbed wires on top of the walls surrounding the compound and gates manned by armed guards outside to a completely furnished apartment with use of facilities befitting a holiday resort, called the “Club House”!
Living arrangements in Nepal itself had been very different from all of them. Some of them didn’t even have what would be considered basic amenities, such as indoor plumbing, refrigerator, phone, forget about electronics such as stereo, TV, VCR, computers.
When I did move, I lugged around mostly just books/teaching resources and clothes. I spent more money on travel by far than on anything else — more than on clothes or electronic gadgets or furniture or vehicles etc. (A number of years ago, I paid almost two thousand five hundred dollars for a plane ticket to a holiday destination I had had in my bucket list for a long time!)
Consequently, firstly, home is a feeling more than anything. Secondly, I have come to believe that experience (and our actions) defines and makes us who we are, not what we wear or drive or the size of house we live in or our net worth, for the simple reason that wo/man makes money, money does NOT make a wo/man.
Is it any wonder then that living to travel and see the world, I ended up creating a check list of things to do, places to visit and people to see, which I diligently ticked off? By the time I returned home two years ago, I had done more than half in the list.
Apart from all that there’s music, dance, food, language and a host of other aspects of culture and identity you come across when you travel about all of which I would have to cover in future posts.
So, I say again, go explore the world. It awaits you.
Or if you have explored some, share some of your experiences below. Why don’t you?