Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Good Life

Before my parents were ever granted American citizenship, they were Nepali. Though I was born in Virginia, I managed to spend a considerable time of my youth in Kathmandu, Nepal. While in my "motherland" I lived in a family compound of sorts. In traditional Nepali culture for any family who can afford to do so, this living arrangement is quite normal. My parents had a home adjacent to my dad's two brothers' respective homes; the three brothers, of course, had their homes directly in front of the home of their greatly-revered parents.
Immediately on the outskirts of the Adhikary family compound lived two other large families. The Dhungels and the Thapas. My dad's closest friends, till this day, are members of the Dhungel and Thapa families. Their children have carried on the tradition and today, my cousins are dear friends with the Dhungel and Thapa children.
Every time I go to Nepal this is one thing that strikes me about Nepali culture: though there is limited electricity, limited water, limited resources, blatantly shady politics and a host of other infuriating issues, the simple things in life like sharing genuine laughter with your loved ones is always available in abundance.
This morning, I'm writing from Michigan where the weather is cold and damp. I was drinking breakfast tea at my parent's place which is just down the road from my own and I happened to notice that our family dog, Sathi, has aged so much the skin around his neck is drooping. It reminded me of my childhood in Nepal. My Ba (grandpa) was so old his neck looked the same as Sathi's does now. Every afternoon, Ba would bask in the sun. Sitting firmly on a plastic lawn chair, he would stay planted on the porch with his wooden stick beside him. He always wore a hairstyle known to Nepali people as the, "Toop-pee."
(Shown in the picture)
My sister and I found great amusement playing with his Tooppee and we often placed our tiny hands on the flesh of his neck and flicked the saggy skin with our index fingers. This brought about a sense of joy that no game of Wii Fitness or Bejweled could ever replace. Ba never got angry, he would just laugh and laugh. We would join in and the most boisterous sessions of Laughter Yoga would take place at it's purest form. No jokes. Definitely no sense of humor--we were too young to have developed a serious sense of anything--just laughter!
As an adult I often hear friends and loved ones talking about success and happiness. I was once asked how much money I would have to earn before I felt, "happy." It seemed such an odd question, but not everyone has had the fortune of always having known the good life... a life that embraces the simple pleasures of family and friends.


  1. Rosh, reading your blog, as always beautifully written, has brought me, tons of lovely memories, about you playing with grandpa " ba" and his drooping chin! Well, I am thrilled to notice( not that I haven't), how you value life, and you get such joy from simple things in life. Despite, all the pressure's coming from the society, to buy you video games and to keep a TV in your bedroom, when you were younger!I am at peace for not following the others! Instead, I am so happy, that we were fortunate to send you to Nepal quite often, over your summer breaks.Why? For the person you have become! Sweet and caring human being. Also, now we can read your postings and enjoy the simple beauties of life " spending quality time with your grandpa & other family members". Which I wish I would see more often among kids/ youth, these days!
    Thanks for posting this Ro.

  2. I know exactly what you are talking about. It soviet time in Russia we use to live in very small apartments. Frequently 2-3 families lived in 2-bedroom apartment, grandparents, parents and grown children. People were more connected spiritually, neighbors were like close relatives.
    When the soul is scorched, it is more fair, merciful and righteous.

  3. Thank you both for your wonderful comments! Mom, yes, while I would pout as a child for not having a Nintendo or T.V set, I am SO grateful now =)
    Larisa, it's amazing to read that even in Russia you experienced very much the same kind of joy I did (and still do) in Nepal. Wow. Isn't it remarkable that no matter what our backgrounds may be, we all seem to have the same desire for affection and sincere connections?
    As for neighbors, YES, that's exactly how the Dhungel and Thapa families were and are still. Though we have no official "blood ties" all three families are deeply connected as families traditionally are. With the increase in migrations I wonder if our world will discontinue feeling the spiritual connection or if we will simply expand our circle of friends/family to cross over cultural barriers.
    Food for thought!