When I first met my Nepali family I employed a tactical approach. My hope was that if I played my cards right, which god only knows what that means, they would be back to their habitual routine despite the sudden presence of a new, completely culturally ignorant son. The result was more or less a success. Here are some of the highlights.
Day uno: Introduction (The way I remember it)
“Deepak, your new son is Lucas! Can both of you raise your hands to identify yourself?” The room was tense. Almost too tense… But there was no hesitation on my part. I would let my new father first raise his hand before I showed mine, giving me the tactical opportunity to get to know him first. Out of the crowd of potential candidates, a single hand rose tentatively into the absurdly thick atmosphere, rising like the sun over an ocean of tension, sending rays of warmth to any observer. My eyes leaped to the man behind it. This time I saw passed his unsure smile to the golden depths within. “Father!” I pronounced to my own surprise. “Shit” I remember thinking. Got carried away. Alright whatever, improvise. “Namaste!” I continued happily, forming the gesture to accompany my words. Thankfully, my new father returned my Namaste with a brief, somewhat-embarrassed-but-not-totally-unapproachable smile. Step 1: Acquire new temporary Nepali father. Check. Step 2: Embarrass myself to let them know what they’re in for. Double check.
Night 1: Find out I have a brother named Dirish as well as a mother and a younger sister
Dirish plays guitar like a madman i.e. super impressive. Only plays John Legend and Ed Sheeran i.e. much less impressive. Net total: Dirish is a bro
Day 5orsomethinglikethat: Morning stroll
What am I doing. ohgodwhatamidoing. It’s so freakin early. I’m so tired. Why are we walking. Why are we going up stairs to the top of an unnecessarily large hill. This seems like it could have been avoided. What have I done…
Context: Its 3:30 in the morning. Dirish offered to take me to a sacred temple in the morning last night. Little did I know he meant 3:30 in the morning. I reiterate; I did not know and hence was not making a calculated decision. Nonetheless he woke me up and we left together although I’m pretty sure mentally I remained behind in my bed for at least two hours.
Numbly aware of the intermittent starlight that illuminates our path deep into the depths of the woods, my mind vaguely registers the glowing structures that grow before me with every step. Stuck in my thoughts, I replay the Harry Potter scene where they sail across a lake towards Hogwarts in the first movie. As the looming, ancient, and very much mystical temple draws towards me, I realize that I have replaced Harry Potter in the scene. I sail with Dirish in my own boat and behind me follows hundreds of eyes that see only the temple. The path is alive with early morning pilgrims that carry lanterns to shine their faith onto others. The destination is magical. In the midst of a clearing stands a cluster of buddhist altars, each overlooking the vast Kathmandu valley that breathes a poisonous layer of dust that is still discernible in the dark hours of the night. Although I remember most of my tour of the temples as a blur of lights and faces, I clearly remember taking a seat next to Dirish as the sun stepped onto its stage to deliver his opening monologue to our eager eyes. The moment had taken a lot of mental force to be realized but happen it did and looking back that particular bonding moment was more than worth the trek.
Day 7 maybe: Magic show
Day 6: Come watch the mountains
Come watch the sky because you’ll wish you’d have if you stay in bed
Come look at the clouds race to cover the Nepali secret
Come see why nature will always inspire wonder in us and notice the mountains not the peaks
My father brought out the binoculars but I refuse to detach my eyes for even an instant in fear that this unspeakably rare view ever slips from my mind.
and for a second I’m there, standing on the throne of the world, preparing to big mountain ski a rad line down the face of a majestic giant.
Day 8: I made them french toast, they taught me to make momos and tea
For all the moments not mentioned in this short compilation:
Everyday they teach me new Nepali words, give me the best chiya(tea) and offer me a place in not only their home but their family. I am incredibly grateful. So far so good.