For my family back in the west, in their minds “living in Nepal and studying Buddhism” is defined as “studying this crazy ancient philosophy, under the guidance of elderly monks (who would never in their life eat meat) and practice kungfu – in Tibet”. A girl at work gently reminded me how Buddhists- especially the monks- do not eat meat. As great as it sounds, in reality as all of us who study at RYI know, this is really just not the case. Somehow for them ‘Nepaul’ is a country very much off their mental radar.
I am frequently asked by distant family members who have heard rumours of ‘someone in their family’ who lives in Nepal. “What’s it like living in Tibet?” they say. And once I finally convince them I actually live in Nepal, they ask where it is. It’s like when we hear names of countries such as Mali or Angola, we know they are in Africa, however many of us do not know exactly where. Once I explain it’s a tiny country, smaller than the UK, tucked nicely between India and China/Tibet, they then begin to be able to construct an image of Nepal – a country much like Tibet.
Once I was visiting family in the UK in the summer and I was asked if it is rather cold there at the moment, and how do I live without electricity in the winter, after which I had to explain that it is in fact much warmer than England throughout the year, and that there is electricity much like in the west.
I have also been told I’m lucky to live in a place with such fresh air all the time. If only they knew.
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