Friday, September 2, 2011
The single question that just about everyone close to me asked the last time we got together before I flew back to Nepal is "So why are you going back?" It's a question that I've had to increasingly ask myself as Kim will be staying in the US another three months in order to expand what Harilo can do from the US, and she has made it clear that we need to come up with some kind of plan to transition out of full time living in Kathmandu in the future. People look at me dumb founded when I tell them I live in a place that goes without electricity for up to 18 hours a day, water is only available if someone remembered to pump it up to the roof from the cistern- and that's if there is water in the cistern. You mention the pollution and the dust, the shit and trash in the road, the incredible amount of corruption and the hair pulling insanity that is the Nepali bureaucracy and people think that possibly you're a little insane to want to go back into this.
There is no doubt that Nepal has its challenges, but so does anyplace that you have to live. America isn't without its challenges, it's just that because we live them everyday sometimes we can't imagine life any other way. Working 7-5 every day for someone else under florescent lighting in a cubicle isn't exactly a great way to spend your life either. Living in a place where you have to drive to get anywhere or own a car if you want to get around can be an expensive pain in the ass. While the organization that makes America a very efficient place to live makes certain aspects of it incredibly easy to live in, it is these same rules and regulations that also can make it soul crushingly dull. While people here often believe the US to be some capitalist heaven, trying to do business here is prohibitively expensive and the regulation is just miserable. To do a restaurant on the same scale in a city roughly the same size here would cost at least half a million bucks, and that's just initial start up, I'm not even getting into the cost for staff and other overhead which would exceed profits most likely over the first year of operation. While some may disagree with me, America is no longer the land of opportunity- it's increasingly a land of very entrenched interests.
This is all not to say that I don't like America or that Nepal is some Utopia, it's simply a matter of looking at what you want to do, and where you think you can make that happen. Yes I miss friends and family. I had a great time getting together with a bunch of my oldest and closest friends and playing cards. It had a great time at my parent's houses having cook outs and seeing my cousins, aunts, uncles and grand parents. While this stuff can be enjoyable, the day to day grind that is American life just isn't my cup of tea. Now Nepal may not be the perfect answer to that, in fact I'm sure it isn't but I do love what I've made there. I enjoy making salsa and cooking for people. I like the creative process of putting together a restaurant; an intertwining of business numbers, and culinary skill. I like that I'll be attempting to do something that no one has ever done before, and I''ll be bringing an entirely new concept of food and dining to another part of the world. I like that on any given day I can go a few miles north and be among the highest mountains in the world. I love the temperate climate, the mountain views as the monsoon clouds clear, and look of the valley when the rains have left it lush and green.
I'm writing this as I sit waiting for my flight to depart from Logan airport in Boston. I have a lot of challenges ahead of me in the next few weeks as I pull together my business visa, funding for the restaurant, and get situated into life in Nepal without Kim at my side. It's a little daunting and it wouldn't be true to say that I'm looking forward to all of it, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like I was going home.