On February 11, 2013, I received a job offer (see image above) paying several thousand dollars a month in salary.
At the time, I was on the home stretch of my second- and final-year contract at Qatar Academy (QA) in Doha, Qatar. After a horrendous teaching experience at the school (click here, here, here or here for more on that), my proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” was the end of June, less than five months down the road.
All the while I had been abroad (since 1988), I had always believed I would return to Nepal at some point; I just didn’t have a timeline. For some time leading up to that job offer, however, I had been seriously contemplating just that. What had given rise to the contemplation was the seed sowed — so to speak — about four years earlier in Mustang, Nepal.
It was the Summer of 2009 in Muktinath. My dear friends, the Prices, and I were sipping Mustang “Coffee” seated around a table at a lodge in the little village in my home district. Discussing life and future plans etc. we decided I should give myself five years to my international teaching career before returning home for good.
At the time, I had just completed two years at The International School of Azerbaijan in Baku, Azerbaijan. While the teaching and students at the school for the most part had been amazing, during the academic year that had just ended, I had had some really nasty experiences with the administrators and colleagues, both international and local. More such experiences followed in Qatar. Over the course of the three years following my conversation with my friends, job hunting, I would also discover a continually shrinking options for geographic locations I could potentially apply for and get a teaching job in.
Less than four years later, that job offer marked the arrival of the moment of truth.
I either accepted it and continued on with my international teaching career or turned it down and set myself up for the return. To be sure, I had a number of compelling reasons for the latter course of action. (Some of these reasons were the ones I shared with my psychiatrist friend when I went to speak to him not long after my arrival in Kathmandu from Qatar in May 2013.)
There was the childhood dream of returning to Nepal after tertiary education in the United States to serve my country (“Deshko sewa garney”) to begin with. Nepali education during the time of the autocratic Shah Kings made most Nepalis very very patriotic. After all those years of education abroad, an international teaching career in a number of different countries, and an extensive travel experience, I had come to believe that in developing countries like Nepal, sustainable development rested in the hands of the locals. That was another reason for wanting to return.
The timing was also right. A “universal conspiracy” also appeared to be afoot against continuation of my international teaching career! After having spent more time abroad than in Nepal, and pretty much all of my adult life abroad, while always considering Nepal as home, there was also the desire to find out if indeed it was so. As if all those reasons weren’t enough, I also had some additional personal reasons that was pushing me toward home.
In the next several series of blogs, I shall be addressing each one of the reasons separately. I’ll be sure to add a link to them below as and when they are completed and published.
So, the afternoon of February 12, after twenty-five years of mostly living, working and traveling abroad, after almost four years since I decided I would give myself five years, I wrote the principal (see below) saying I was turning down his job offer.
Less than a month later, I published the first page on my blog sharing the decision — to return home.
In doing so, I swapped my international teaching career, my globe-trotting lifestyle for a new career in a country I hadn’t lived in for over a decade and a half and a life that promised uncertainty and challenges.
(Little did know, I would be forced to return to Nepal in three months, more than a month and a half before schedule, following a twelve-day ordeal in a Qatari jail. However, had I accepted the job, would the incident with the students in the cafeteria leading to my getting fired from my job and incarceration for allegedly insulting Islam have taken place? Who knows!)
What do you think?
Here are the links to the other blog posts in the series:
- The Moment of Truth II: Working Towards a Dream. Details of everything I did all through my student life in Nepal to go abroad for further studies as well as when studying, working, and traveling abroad in preparation for that eventuality to really fulfill a dream.
- The Moment of Truth III: Development (of) Beliefs. Details of how my view of development aid industry change and came to ultimately decide that it is a failed industry. Sustainable development rests in the hand of the locals, not the big bilateral and multilateral development aid agencies. To be part of that I decided to turn down the job offer and to return to Nepal.
- The Moment of Truth IV: All About How And Why I Have Become Who And What I Am And Where Nepal Figured In That. This is all about how I went from thinking of myself as a Tibetan-Buddhist to a humanist, from a Tibeto-Nepalese to a human being first etc., and how and who I have become and where I have gotten to in life — through my international education, profession, and travels — was one of the reasons for turning down a job offer in February 2013 to return to Nepal.
- The Moment of Truth V: “The Time Has Come. The Time is Now.” All the time I was abroad, even while preparing for the eventuality of returning to Nepal, I had never had a timeline. The first time I contemplated a timeline was the Summer of 2009: I gave myself five years. In February 2013, almost four years later, I decided, the time was right to return. Timing was right for a number of reasons, namely, financial, career, weariness with moving, and a little one at home.
- The Moment of Truth VI: A Universal Conspiracy? Was the universe putting obstacles in my way to direct me homewards? While I enjoyed both teaching and traveling, issues at work and outside — especially ones based on my nationality and/or skin color — were making it harder and harder for me to continue to do so. With time, I also discovered my options for places I could seek work decreasing. I even lost a job!
- The Moment of Truth VII: “Go back where you came from!” Another way the universe appeared to have conspired to send me home was the racism it sent my way! I experienced a lot of harassment and abuse from locals in Baku as well as in Doha. I was also profiled by establishments in both the cities angering me greatly and compounding my depression, as well as adding to my weariness with moving and traveling. Nepal’s attractiveness had been increasing steadily.