My home stay dad is always singing, from Bob Marley, to Celine Dion, to his own melodic creations. It is his humming that I tilt my ear to after ringing the doorbell; it’ll tumble out through his workshop assuring me that someone is home. And in the afternoons, when he is downstairs working and I’m in my room writing and no one else is home, it is his joyful melodies that keep me company, that makes me smile into my journal as another instrumental rendition of “my heart will go on” vibrates through the speaker and we both (him loudly and me quietly) sing along. I think it is safe to say that singing people are happy people, and that is what I feel from my home stay family. Here there is happiness, there is kindness, and there is a home. Home stays where easily one of the things I was most nervous for when coming to Nepal. I was scared of the awkwardness and the silence, of having to live in that awkwardness, of not having a place I felt comfortable. And sure, there have been times of awkwardness and silence, but also hours spent with my 4 year old brother, building pillow forts and having laugh inducing pillow fights, moments of getting lost in the wandering streets of Patan with my sisters or trading phrases in Nepali and Spanish
“Como estas?” “Tapailai kasto chha?”
“Bien” “Malai sanchai chha,”
laughter at my failure to hand-wash my own clothes properly and my broken attempts at Nepali, and conversations at the dinner table, laughing when we can’t understand each other and smiling when we do. It is in these small moments that I feel that happiness, between the laughter and the confusion, the small exchanges and the wordless understanding. I think the day I knew it would really be okay was the day I spent sick in bed. My Ama came into my room with multiple cups of hot chai, brought me daal to drink and a concoction of turmeric and black pepper. That day I felt terrible, but I didn’t feel lonely. Instead I felt cared for, and comfortable, and right at home.