Butterflies fill my stomach as our airplane starts landing in Kathmandu, Nepal — not because of the rather choppy landing, but more so because it was finally time to see most of my relatives again. Memories with family and old friends from our first two visits fill my mind. Running around with my cousins, seeing the Himalayas and living in a completely different culture was such a fun experience for my sister and I. This time, my little brother, who is only six years old, is with us, and I cannot wait for him to experience the things my sister and I were able to.
My parents were both born in Nepal. They came to the United States when my father decided to further his college education. My siblings and I grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where Nepalis and Hindus are close to none. Keeping old traditions and values has always been very important to my parents, but sometimes it is hard for my siblings and I to understand them. Coming to Nepal is always a huge eye opener for us.
Like most third world countries, Nepal is going through some rough times. As soon as we stepped off the airplane, we learned there was a strike against all public transportation. You can only imagine the thoughts going through our mind! Our destination is normally a 30-minute drive, who knows how long by walking. We had nine large suitcases and 10 carry-ons. Not to mention, we were a bit sleep deprived due to jet lag and long flights. Fortunately one of my uncles had just bought a private car, and he also had another friend come with his car to help us out.
I already started noticing differences on the ride home. It’s possible that, since I am more mature and older than I was during the last two visits, I might notice more details. But the reactions from my parents told me that I wasn’t the only one seeing changes. Kathmandu’s population is growing really fast, yet the streets were quiet with no signs of taxis or buses. Some traffic police were standing around in groups, as if they were bored and waiting for something to happen. Trash was everywhere on the streets. Don’t get me wrong; Kathmandu has always been a very polluted city. However, this time I saw piles of trash over a foot high. Later, I learned that when the city dumps get full, the public waste services leave waste on the streets until the dumps clear up.
As soon as we got to my uncle’s house, we were greeted by a house full of relatives from both my mom’s and dad’s sides. Even neighbors we hadn’t met before stopped by because many find it so exciting to have visitors from overseas. My whole family did as much as they could to make us feel at home and welcomed while trying to catch up after all these years.
My sister and I wandered over to the roof. If you look up in any direction, you can almost always see beautiful mountains that never fail to take your breath away. I’m sure this summer will be great, and I cannot wait to see what kind of memories will be made!