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)
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.