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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Time in Chokati

Having never spent time in a rural community before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect last week as our course moved to the quiet mountain village of Chokati. I assumed it would be very different from the busy , dusty city, but I never would have imagined just how different it would be from anything I had ever experienced.Time doesn’t seem to exist here in the fundamental, all pervasive way it rules elsewhere. In my homestay family for instance I was the only person who wore a watch. My family didn’t have a wall clock why would they need one? The sun kept the time and seasons just fine. This past week has been probably the closest I will ever feel to the infinite eternity of childhood. At first it felt somewhat like a parallel universe but the more that I watch the villagers do their daily work, building houses, carrying crops in baskets from the fields, making dal bhat each morning and evening, raising their children the more I feel that this is how life has always been and our “modern” lifestyle has somehow forgotten. We in the west do not, for the most part, produce our own homes, food or material possessions. Somehow in the process of disconnecting from what fulfills our basic human needs,  I feel we forgot a part of what it means to be human.Everyday we carried rocks from the bottom of a fallen retaining wall to the top of the hill (and sang barbershop quartet style work-songs when the mood struck). We would have informal lessons in Nepali, sustainability, environmental issues, global economics. We would drink copious amounts of tea! And often, after class, we would go on local adventures, to the waterfall, or the terraced fields above. Without all the usual distractions of home or in the city, life took on a more expansive quality. We didn’t live in timetables like we do at home. Sometimes this felt daunting. In the city, a difficult thought or feeling could easily be overlooked there was so much to do and see. In the village I am forced to confront the inherent uncertainty of the future. But as I sit on the rocks of the stream by my homestay past the mooing buffalo and the mustard green field, it seems to matter less. And just as the river flows and the seasons change everything passes in its time without worry. And so pass the days, numberless and unbound by schedules and expectations and yet all things are done (and without to do lists). Nature breathes freely in this village in a way I am sure she longs to at home.