I have been in Kathmandu for just over three weeks. Today I found myself shaking my head at the strange blend of similarities and differences between life here and in the USA, and also comparing it to my life in India....
I am not exactly feeling "homesick", although there are a variety of things I wish were part of life here. One source said I am experiencing one of the phases of "culture shock", where you realize that, even if you become accustomed to a place and learn a little (or a lot) of the local language, you will never really understand the local way of thinking.
As I write this, it is nearly noon, and I am under an awning in Nir's Toast Restaurant and Bakery's garden. A thunderstorm is getting into full swing. It's very refreshing, but, frankly, I'm not feeling very well. I rarely ever feel well these days. I'm plagued by headaches, achy joints and muscles, fatigue.
I find myself pondering, yet again, what I am doing here. By “here”, I mean on the other side of the world from where I was born and raised. Am I simply killing time? What do I want from this experience? I honestly do not know the answers.
What I know is that I am no longer satisfied with my work as a human rights activist and Tibet supporter, at least in the form that I have been doing it over the past half year. I feel used, drained. I am not sure I want to continue studying the language or even dharma. Both pursuits have brough more stress, less pleasure.
I feel like I need a long break.
The western woman with her back to me at the next table lights a cigarette after finishing her beer, and sun reappears. She's left her order of french fries virtually untouched. I leave my last bite of buff thenthuk as an offering to the hungry ghosts.
Blue and yellow prayer flag banners at the Kagyu monastery next door snap in the wind. No ceremonial music emerging, today. Only the “buzz” (more accurately a loud incessant grinding) of the generator during one of the daily scheduled power outages famous in Kathmandu.
Maybe there aren't even supposed to be any answers, though that thought makes me very uncomfortable.