Letters and Letters · Places · Stories · The Paths Travelled · Uncategorized · Volunteering Diaries

A Plan at Action

This year I volunteered for 6 months in ICS program for Raleigh International Nepal. I went on from being In-Country Volunteer (ICV) to In-Country Team Leader (ICTL). Both my experiences were vastly different from each other but in them I found people who profoundly influenced me and gave me so much warmth and love. I learned about rural Nepal that was hidden from me by rings of hills I was surrounded with. I learned so much about the people of my own country who toiled all day long and were still so happy and kind. I learned about people of the UK with different cultural values but similar souls.

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This is how it started!! Prats and I were put into different teams.

There are a lot of things to share: mountains of triumphs, valleys of despair, barriers and confusions, self-awareness, DMCs underneath the stars, art of eating porridge, saga of a broken kettle, 9 and 27, firefly in the millet fields and in the room, goals in a purse, mentorship and sisterhood, open kimonos, doctor with a camera, sound of goats and chickens,  5 AM demands, spider webs, long walk uphill, silence in the bridge, pink clouds, schizophrenia and parallel universe, the laws of attraction, cultural history and many many more. There are a lot of things to think about too: the future, universities to apply and get in, courses to take,  places to travel. I don’t know how to fit all these things in 24 hour-ed days where half of the time, I stare at the wall and miss all the treasures I’ve lost and rivers I’ve seen. I feel overwhelmed and restless. So I keep pacing in the corridor avoiding my cold room.

However, today I am following the doctor (with a camera)’s advice. In his own words he said, “go back to the reality of the experience. Sometimes, we need to see experience in its objective form to understand it. Write about the simple experiences, the simple moments of belonging and being which we all felt. Keep it simple! The pebbles under your feet, the sun in your eyes, the green fields and cable lines winding their way out of view like thoughts and ideas we can never possess.”

I am starting with the crazy poetry prompts Francis and I used to come up with during the placement. She is 18 years old with a beautiful heart. Emotional and dreamy, I found a little sister in her. Our prompts consisted of random words ( the first one was: Monkey Nose) and we tried to make sense out of them in the random world of Golping where haunted places and haunted stories ruled the minds of people who were haunted by obscure life. Francis’s words flowed and with her beautiful accent and voice, she could make the images dance in cold evenings. I miss her! She’ll have her own blog soon along with Hannah (the funniest and the coolest 18 year old I’ve met). And hopefully, they’ll share their own stories and poems with you.

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With Hannah and Francis

So from today, I’ll be posting  those prompts and poems and small stories behind them just to make a sense to myself about where I was and where I am. It will be my tiny project along with all the bigger projects I still have to plan and accomplish.

Stay tuned! 

-Vi

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Letters and Letters · Places · The Paths Travelled · Volunteering Diaries

Learn. Unlearn. Repeat.

Dear Lieblingsmenschen,

It has just been a week that I got back home. And as soon as I put down my bags and looked around the room, I understood that home held an entirely new meaning. Do not get me wrong. I still love my bed and my room. My study table and yellow daisies above it are still the places where my soul wanders. Nothing has changed but the feeling of home. I am home and I am home-sick.

I remember writing about this in my journal (which has been confiscated by a Pride and Prejudice loving freak) few weeks ago when I was still in the village. I wrote how “I” was home. I felt like I could be my own home and that way I could never ever be home-sick. It turns out that it is kind of hard to knock on my doors to let me in sometimes. I keep losing my key! And it is not a bad thing. At least, I know I have lost my key. Anyway, this letter is not about that. I will find home again. This time at a new place with new people. I will survive.

Survival is the key word here. In past two months, I’ve learned that you can learn anything if you have to learn it. I’ve learned to survive. I’ve learned to push myself so hard because there was nobody else to do that for me. I’ve learned to be brave enough to smile even when I wanted to cry. I’ve learned that love flies like soul and touches the clouds around you. And even when those clouds burst out storming water and thunder, it is okay to be outside smelling the earth. And rocks crumble like sugar but they also rip your trousers if you slide in them for too long. I’ve learned that under the river there’s something more than sand and rocks because why would I still feel them underneath my feet after all these days that I’ve been away from it? I’ve learned to stay in the ground even when my pride flees in the jungle of praises. I’ve learned life in ways that I never could learn before.

In contrast, I’ve unlearned things too. I think I forgot how to stay. And I’ve found new ways to escape. Remember how I used to run off into fantasies and have my mind in the clouds all the time? I still do that. However, the clouds are new and real. They are so approachable that I can taste them and hug them. I can be among them. I am on the edge of something and I can either fall or fly. I do not know which will be true. If I fall I get to be on a rock bottom where I can build a new foundation. But I am scared what life will mean when I am there. Will I still be this positive? Will I still have the strength to stand up? Or will I wither away like leaves in autumn?

All these questions lead me to the fact that I am still unknown to far too many things. For instance, I do not know how strong I am. I do not know how to say no; how not to be too generous. I still cannot control my tears. I wonder if I will ever learn to do that. But then I know that I don’t know all these things. Yusra used to demonstrate how we don’t even know what we don’t know. She tells it in a better way. Someday I’ll ask her to make an inspirational video out of it.

And then there are things that haven’t changed. I am still a worrier gently trying to fold into worrying warrior. Trying without succeeding. I aim to change in this cycle by trying to let the air into my lungs until it displaces the worry which, leads me to the information that I will be leaving again. Very soon. In another village. And I do not know how it will be like. It will be much different and more challenging because this time I am going as a Team Leader. That would mean a lot of responsibility, patience and resilience. I am still to conquer all those things. However, I know that nobody is born a leader, they become one. So I am going to try to be a good one.  Wish me luck!

Until then!

P.S. I promise I will try to sneak in more blog posts. Please don’t give up on me!!

Letters and Letters

Mitochondrial Eve

Dear Mitochondrial Eve,

People are battling over your existence and non-existence. Some say that the idea of you is mesmerizing. An idea of a founding mother. Am I really carrying your mitochondrial DNA? Do I have a whole history of evolution plastered on every cells of my body like you once did? Am I that important?

I still cannot grasp the concept of you. But I cannot help but imagine what you felt like when population went through the bottle neck effect. Of course, it wasn’t just a population for you; it was your family.  Because I cannot grasp the concept of you, I don’t even know if you were real. I would like to believe you were. The belief somehow feels like a security blanket. It makes me feel less chaotic and more real. I wonder about your village and your people. I wonder about your daughters who crossed Oceans. I wonder about your sons who perished. I could make up a whole unscientific story about you. I wonder if you loved making up stories too.

I wonder if you had a name. Would I be able to pronounce it? I guess, we would not even understand each other’s languages. It’s weird how small this world is. And yet, the people are so distant and different from each other. It is difficult to comprehend how dauntingly similar we are in the same way it is difficult to understand our magnificent uniqueness. Had you ever imagined the world would come this far? Or did you always know? Do you still exist in the fragment of our souls? Or did you not exist at all?

I am sure you were dwelling on similar questions. Maybe not. You had your own hunger games to win, children to feed and roads to travel. I am sure you must have loved passionately. Because that’s what we crave the most today. I wish we could see how obvious it is. The love. It’s right there, engraved in our DNA. Love is our heirloom. If we could realize that, the world would be a happier place.

As the science continues to debate over you, I will continue to write to you for reasons I don’t understand…..

 

Artwork by : Ashley Bickerton

Letters and Letters · Letters to self · Weekend Coffee Share

Letters to Vi

Dear Vi,

You’ve wanted that name since forever. You always wanted an alias, a twin who would know just what you feel and who would just know what to do. You’ve been sick. Your voice is all dried up and your throat hurts. But every morning, you wake up to face the mighty sun and work for a project that you thought would work. It isn’t working that well. Maybe you aren’t working that well. Maybe you need a breather. Maybe you need…. you.

I do not understand the need of approval you have. Why do you need to be approved? You are not a visa application form. And the fact that you think too much. About your flaws, about your future, about failures and lost opportunities. You spent the whole evening being sick of all those stuffs on your head. You could have just slept because it’s the weekend but you didn’t even do that. You cleaned instead. What kind of person plays with a can of pest killer and Mr. Muscles when they are sick and hungry? How stupid are you? You didn’t even get to drink tea today. Or meet your cousins and grandparents. I think you should be awarded for the stupidest decision maker. Because that’s all you did today. You made stupid decisions.

I am very angry at you. For being sick and for being the complicated bitch you are. You push yourself a lot harder than you should sometimes. And there are days you don’t even care. Why do you have to be the queen of extremes? Why can’t you just celebrate your victories before you kick yourself a thousand times for your failures? Why can’t you just stop for a while? Why are you scared all the time?

And I am sorry for being harsh. I need you to know that as pathetic as it might seem, you should still write to yourself. You are all you’ve got. You don’t need anybody’s stamp of approval but yours. You need to be healthy first. You need to not go out on the dust for a day. You need to stay home and read. Leave all your worries for a day or two. Things will work out. I promise they will. I am sorry for everything I’ve put you through. I promise to take care of you. Let’s start with a cup of tea!

Truly yours,

Your future self.

Letters and Letters · Poems

How does it feel?

Dear Junk E-mail,

How does it feel to be a Junk?

Dejected in some sidebar,

Looking up at the inbox full of “important” e-mails

Do you feel out of place too?

Maybe you were not meant to be there,

Maybe it was a mistake,

You have no way to correct it, do you?

So you accept your fall,

You sit there in the sidebar,

Stare at them typing away the replies,

Letters of love and hate, pass by you

And smile

With pity hanging

Into the end of their J’s, g’s, S’s and O’s

They are good letters,

Full of feelings and emotions,

Words full of rage, devotion,

You like them

You want to be them

You will never be them and you know it.

 

How does it feel to end up in a trash can full of other junks?

They are scared as you are.

They fear that little bin button,

A click and they will be gone

Nobody will miss them

Nobody will try to recover them.

How does it feel to know that there is nobody by your side?

To tell you that it is okay to be a Junk,

That you are important.

You will never notice them even if you tried

Because you know that, you are not important,

You will never be.

Knowledge kills you everyday

Hope still keeps you alive

And sometimes,

You find your way through servers

Ending up in the Inbox,

Shouting out loud your abilities, your worth, your words

Just to be frowned at and spammed.

 

How does it feel, dear Junk Email?

To be not worth a dime to the person you are sent to,

To be anonymous in the world full of names

Visibly invisible in the crowded shroud of letters.

How does it feel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters and Letters · Stories

I miss my person

Dear You,

It’s been a while since we talked. And I miss you because we used to talk every single day about every single thing in the world. I used to call you when I needed to vent about thunder or sun or creepy people or anything minute that happened in the day and you used to do the same. We used to laugh so much. About everything and nothing. Do you remember all the places we wanted to go to try out the food? We haven’t gone to any of them. The chips place and the matka kulfi place in Patan. We haven’t even gone swimming this summer. And believe me, I can live without eating banana chips and kulfi or swimming but it breaks my heart a little when I don’t get to talk about stuffs with you like I used to. I know you are busy. Life is probably throwing lemons at you and you are busy making lemonade out of it. I am so very proud of you for the works you are doing and for everything you are achieving. I know you will do great in life. You will make all your dreams come true. And I know that things change. They will always change. I just cannot believe that they changed so suddenly.

In a few days, I will be heading out to god knows where with so many different people. It will be a whole new world for me. When I got the news today, I was very excited. Do you know I read the letter ten times? I don’t know if I should be this happy. But I wanted to do this forever. In the interview, they asked me about my weaknesses. I told them that I was too emotional. And as I am writing this letter, I know that this weakness is going to be the death of me. I mean, you call a person if you miss them, not write a letter! It doesn’t even make sense. Nothing really makes sense.

I try to write a lot these days. There are words and words and words that get crowded in my head. I feel so grateful for being able to write and read. I am also grateful for being able to hope. The part of my brain where “existential crisis” keeps blinking with a red light, hopes mercilessly about everything there is to hope for. It hopes that you and I will talk like we used to again. I understand that you probably need a lot of space right now. And you probably don’t need a whining presence in your life to talk about all the superficial details. It’s just that I miss you a lot. And it’s okay to not miss me as much. I know there are probably a thousand things to worry about right now. I want to say that I’ll be there for you but I don’t know how to be there. I don’t even know where you are. You’ll probably say that you are right here. And then proceed to tell me that I am over thinking and there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll probably say that you are just tired and you’ll talk to me when things get normal. Maybe I am. I always over think and over react.

And maybe, I will over miss just this once. You are my person. And I get to miss my person.

Alles Liebe,

 

 

 

Letters and Letters · Poems

Papa

I wish I could remember the day I was born,

To see you smile when you first looked at me.

I wish I could remember the first step I took,

To see you proud and laughing with glee.

But I am happy with all the memories I have,

Of slides and boats and swings and sweets,

Of holding your index finger every Saturday afternoon

To ride on trains that felt like dreams.

I never really understood what sadness was,

Because you shielded me from every pain

Like Aegis you scared all my monsters away,

While teaching me how to fight even in the rain.

Today, I am strong enough to defend myself,

Stand on everything I have ever believed in,

Because I am half you,

Stubborn and never ready to give in.

It is not easy to be you really,

But I try hard to be unbreakable.

In all my glorious failures and fall-downs,

I am also learning the power of vulnerable

Vulnerability is misjudged as a weakness.

But it’s not.

With each passing day, I learn

That vulnerability is being

Courageous enough to accept imperfectness of things

Vulnerability is the ability to say, “I love you” first,

To people who matter the most.

So today,

Your paradoxically strong and weak,

Gentle and tough,

Passionate and platonic

Sociable and loner

Daughter,

With all her heart and soul,

Wants you to know

That you mean the world to her

And you matter the most

Because you are the best Papa in the world

And I love you.