“3 Birthdays, 3 Continents”
September 6, 2015
Birthday Bash: IDK About You, but I’m Feeling 22
“We’re happy free confused and lonely at the same time.. It’s miserable and magical oh yeahh”
*Hits replay* Over and over again. That was me the day before my birthday, the day of my birthday and, you guessed it, the day after. And well, just every day. Even right now it’s on replay and I’m wondering if the guy in the room next to me thinks I have a T-Swift addiction.
So in the U.S we celebrate “pre-birthday”, (right??) Though Paul doesn’t understand this cultural aspect, he took me out for a pre-birthday dinner anyways. We checked out Trip Advisor for a great place to eat for cheap. Luckily we found a place not too far from where we were walking in downtown Thamel. Across dirt roads and mud puddles we go, and several stories up in a building we found a golden gem; a beautiful restaurant filled with fancy waiters and Nepali décor that was nearly empty with the exception of that one big multicultural party. We were guided to front row seats facing a stage; apparently we had arrived just in time for a ‘cultural program’. The menu had 2 options: a traditional Nepali set with meat or vegetarian style, and both were only $9. We were quickly served a complimentary basket of popcorn, and a sample of traditional Nepali rice wine that was served in small, round clay bowls.
The microphone came on over the speakers, introducing the two dancers that would soon perform traditional dances from the Newari and Nepali cultures. Several times they changed outfits, fitting each music style. Meanwhile our food was being brought out, little dish by little dish. A small dish of potatoes here, spinach there, then the big rice dish came out and the lentils (dhal), vegetables, curry, meat (boar), paneer, and the list goes on. Whatever you ate they came back around with to ask if you’d like 2nd or 3rd helpings. It was such a cool dining experience! Definitely more expensive than a regular Nepali set ($2-4), but the cultural program + whole atmosphere seemed perfect for a birthday dinner, and it was!
The Real Birthday Bash
Then the actual birthday started early. We decided it’d be interesting to volunteer at an organic farmers market from 8am-12pm, where we helped out the guy whose farm Paul was “wwoofing” at for a couple days. We got to meet several interesting people there!
A super sweet and friendly girl named Kathryn from Singapore who is a writer, a Californian man with bright blue eyes, whom out of nowhere began speaking Mandarin Chinese with two elder Taiwanese men who were also standing at our table (one had the cutest laugh!) The bits of English the man stuttered hinted at their conversation which seemed to be the Taiwanese man telling the blue-eyed white man to open his ‘third eye’, like Buddha, and let the light in. There was also something about walking his way to heaven, and then after that came a hefty laugh, some humble thank you’s and confused laughter. Later that day we just relaxed at the house and then everyone got ready to go out downtown to partyyyy.
To feel birthday appropriate I decided to wear the only pair of heels I brought with me. As soon as we left, it began pouring down with rain. Ten minutes of walking later we found a taxi but with 6 people we weren’t going to fit, so we split up into two taxis. The problem, that we couldn’t identify until it was too late, is that all the people who knew where we were going went in one taxi and two Americans and a Frenchman were stuck in the other taxi. “I guess we’ll see what happens”, we all said. Fifteen minutes later we were dropped off at the beginning of downtown, not at the Mexican restaurant where we were supposed to be. Tracy had an idea of where it could be, so we decided to make a run for it. Don’t forget I’m still wearing heels. We were running on the street, dodging cars, bikes and fellow pedestrians scurrying out of the rain. We took a little break under a shelter, where I immediately took off my heels and put on some sandals (thank goodness I brought them!) We headed back out into the rain and the busy, flooded streets. We ran back and forth past the restaurant, asked for directions, went into a pub with the same restaurant name, turned around and then finally we spotted the lit-up fiesta Mexican cuisine sign hanging over our heads. Bingo!
Now it’s time for happy hour buy one – get one free cocktails. Serve that up with some fresh guacamole and chips and it was perfect! After we exhausted happy-hour, we went to a place called ‘Purple Haze’, which to our surprise, was a gigantic bar/concert place. It was packed full of screaming people singing the American songs the band was playing. “Where did we just walk into??” I thought. You definitely didn’t feel like you were in a bar in Asia. We grabbed some local beers that are twice as big (600ml) than what we’re used to and headed up stairs. Long story short, which is already quite long (sorry), we met a fellow Frenchman! You bet Paul was glad to meet one of his ‘people’ from la France!
And that’s how we met Clement and his Nepali host, Sanjay, who we just went to Bhaktapur with for the Gaijatra festival (which you can find in the next blog post, coming soon) 🙂
After Birthday Bash!
The details of how the birthday night ended are much too tedious to tell here, so I will go on to the after birthday celebration. No, it’s not a tradition to continue to celebrate your birthday here after it’s over. It’s just that Paul didn’t get me a present in advance so he treated me (and himself subsequently) to a massage. This would be my first experience! I never would’ve thought my first massage would be in Kathmandu in a dark, closed room with the sound of construction workers banging their hammers just out the window.
Haha, if I am making it sound unpleasant than let me rephrase. It was so cool, and strange. I didn’t even know ‘disposable underwear’ really existed, until I was told to undress and put some on. There was one light, the windows were shut, and Paul and I were just sitting there waiting for our masseuses’ to come in.
– Us: “Come in!”
– Masseuse: “Hello, please take off towel, lie down.”
– Me: “Uhhh, *awkwardly laughs* okay.”
– Me: “Paul?? Ca va? *Gasps from hitting sore muscles*
– Masseuse: “Something wrong??”
– Me: “Oh no, thik chha, it’s okay I’m just calling for… PAUL?!”
– Paul: “Y..yeah?”
– Me: “Hey.” *Giggles*
*Snap, crackle and pop*
*Repeats* for an hour. Birthday bash is finally complete. Overall, a memorable 22nd birthday in Nepal. It is kind of crazy though to think that my past 3 birthdays have been on 3 separate continents. My 20th was spent in France, my 21st was of course spent in the U.S (what better place to spend your 21st) and then now my 22nd, and most likely 23rd will be here in Nepal. ^^
Now, let me reiterate something.
“We’re happy free confused and lonely at the same time.. It’s miserable and magical oh yeahh”
And to conclude, T-Swift couldn’t be more right with these lyrics. I’m feeling 22 and I’m happy free confused and lonely at the same time. That’s what I’ve decided Living with Wanderlust is actually like. It’s everything at the same time! It’s miserable, but it’s also magical! “Hmm…” OH YEAH!
You travel, you discover people, the world, yourself, others, and all of that and it IS amazing. BUT then there’s a side of traveling that people don’t talk about. You miss family, and aren’t we taught that family is everything? “Family comes first,” “There’s nothing more important than family,” the list goes on. I mean you know it too, right? And I don’t mean like “Awe, I miss you”, it’s like “You are literally missing from me.” I can’t hug you when it’s your birthday or at any holiday, when one of us is sad or happy, sick or healthy. What I’m trying to say is IT’S HARD. People often relate travel to go have fun. Okay, that’s true, but we can’t constantly have fun! Why? Well, that’s just exhausting. Living abroad is a double edged sword. You love it, yet you look ahead to getting back with everyone safe and sound. But that’s the thing, you will get back and then you will also think back, “Man, I wish I was still there.” Do we not do that? You feel like you’re missing out on everything, right? But then you think about it and what if you were missing out on what you are doing right now?
The view from our rooftop 🙂 Sometimes you can see the Himalayas
The Grass is Greener
At times, the grass really does seem greener on the other side; until you’re there and then you realize something much more important: It’s not the grass you miss the most because the grass remained the same all along. The grass will always be there no matter which side of the fence you are on. It’s how you perceive the grass that makes all the difference. The grass, is it here or there? If you perceive the grass as being on the other side, then of course you will miss that grass. But once you realize that the grass is here, there, and also with you, then you stop missing the grass for being on the other side because now you see that it is, in fact, not. 🙂
Something that my Grandpa Sneller and Deepak Chopra have in common is that they both taught me what it means to be mindful (except Grandpa you taught me first) ^^ It was something I thought I knew about but actually had no idea about. It’s about learning to live in the present and being mindful of your relationship to the present and everything you use that’s around you. Once you adopt this perspective, you’ll never look at rice, toothpaste, water, or even grass, the same.