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When In Patan

When first tasked with the responsibility of writing a Yak for the third time–this time, not in the mountains, not in the farmlands, but in the bustling city of Patan–I found myself at a loss for words. This, I realize, can be attributed to the reality that, as our lifestyle here most resembles that of home, it naturally leads to the habit of doing more and reflecting less. For the first time in months, we’re surrounded by a population greater than 200 people within a 400 metre radius, and we’ve been granted the freedom to independently wander, shop, and explore. With plenty of ways to utilize our time, the once-unfamiliar feeling of choice paralysis has now returned.

Whereas the hurried motorcyclists speed in multi-directions, threatening to topple me over as I attempt to cross the road, I find myself in a similar state of mind: Shopping? Done. ISP? Done. Spending time with my homestay family? Done. But what about playing badminton with my sister, paying a visit to the living goddess Kumari, reading The Book of Joy, writing postcards to friends, drinking a cup of chiyaa at every tea shop in Patan, and a dozen other items on my to-do list that I have yet to check off?

As I observe myself slipping into past routines, I realize that Transference–in essence, the transferring of skills from our time here to our everyday lives–begins not at home, but right now. We may be in Nepal, using ‘burner phones’, living with homestay families, and almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the world. But being conveniently placed towards the end of the program, Patan serves as an almost ‘practice round’ for returning home. The enticing hand-crafted shops test our self-constraint and ability to think critically about living lightly, the abundance of people invites us to rethink community, and the hurried vehicles challenge us to remain calm, move slowly, and live with intention.