Places · Poems · Stories · The Paths Travelled · Volunteering Diaries

Hills and Rivers

In Golping, I often stared at nearby hills in the evening and tried to listen to their silent stories.

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Poems · Stories

Serendipity

Serendipity

I suppose that is how it happened.

The process of regrets and gratefulness followed.

So many things followed.

Nothing mattered because,

serendipity never chose to leave.

We found our way,

through

gullies of loneliness,

streets of emptiness and

bridges of hopelessness.

Looked into each other’s eyes

only to look away.

Glances mystified and conversations halted in the tips of our tongues,

like early onset of Alzheimer’s taking over for a moment.

The bus stop was a huge stadium surrounded by people,

hearts blazing as loud as beat box,

we evaded the bond that was right there.

In front of the café in the bend of the road, we loved walking on

we needed a catalyst to swing by

and it came when clouds decided to shower the bamboo trees.

The drizzling Blues and bright streetlights

reminded us of

The Smiths.

 

There we were on opposite lanes,

same song playing in our ears

never realizing that half our souls we were searching

for every second of every day

was just a second away.

Serendipity.

That’s how it happened.

We smiled and we knew love.

You were strong enough to pick up my pieces

I was strong enough not to break you apart

 

The carousel could not stop turning in the park

where roses were shades of faded pink

Not trying to sit still, the sands took the shape of a hurricane,

passing by us like a genie in the bottle,

granting the wishes we wished last night

Without realizing that

we were no longer going to be You and I today.

And then,

we became the candles of conscience drifting in the air.

mixtures of blood mist and shattered organs.

Serendipity.

That’s how it happened.

We died knowing that there’s a light that never goes out.

 

 

 

 

Poems · Volunteering Diaries

Doors and Windows

I am always close to doors and windows

In buses, I seek out the window seats

Or seats close to creaky damaged doors

I am always close to doors and windows

Like I am close to broken walls,

Skeletons of past,

Stories of old rusty people

White haired freckled bike riding scientists.

 

I am always close to doors and windows

Places where it is easier to slip off

Unnoticed and invisible

That is why my hands search for keys in the darkness

My legs seem to stand beside gates of bye byes in parties

I am always the first one

To leave the claustrophobic elevators

Where my heart drums down my rib-cage that holds it prisoner.

 

I am always close to doors and windows

Because it is easier to escape

It is easier to find a tunnel, a worm-hole, a book

Than to stay real, unmasked, vulnerable

Because it is easier to find ways to

Unhurt, un-love,

This ever scared prisoner heart.

 

I am always close to doors and windows.

Poems · Stories

home

Two thousand seventeen was the year I struggled with the definition of home, felt homeless, searched for home, got home and still kept searching for it.

Home was round spiral wooden staircase,

Smell of wet mud and cold breeze

Home was around small stupa

And gold plated, bowl bottomed, oil filled thread lights,

It was stony broken roads

You could play see saw with your legs on either side of stones

Home was where grandma made hot rotis

And I dipped them in milky white tea

 

Home was when my brother saved me each time from being a seeker

And I hit him with lego pieces just because

Home was papa coming home

After his leather jacket smell reached home first

Mommy’s lipstick stains on both side of cheeks when she went off to work

Home was simple things

When happiness had wings, we saw it in the sky full of kites

 

Home was holding baby brother

And counting tiny star like dots on his nose

Home was a cacophony of laughter and noise in a busy streets of Ason

Home was home when home needed no definition.

But still was.

Home.

 

Now,

Home is the top of the hill

It is breathing hard while walking up

The sound of heart beats as they sing how much your legs have strained

How much your head is free of thoughts

Home is an ocean of colorful eyes, uncooked friendships, hopeful souls

 

Home now is a universe

Trying to find a coherent chaos

Trying to make bridges

Home is not what home was.

Now.

But Home still is.

Somewhere.

Poems

The Perpetual Circle of Miseries

  1. The first ray of sunshine

makes you miss the warmth of his hands.

2. Never spent a winter outside home

And now you don’t know where home is anymore.

3.  You walk up until your lungs cry

but the smell of pig sty and familiar noise,

the fact that you’ve reached the destination

doesn’t make you happy.

4. You search for a familiarity in phone calls

and somehow everything is different.

5. Your friends have moved on

and their stories do not involve you

6. There’s hurt in your heart.

but pens refuse to jot it down.

7. Your skin is rusty, knees dry

mirrors are brutally honest

you tell yourself empty lies.

8. In evenings, you forget to see the sun set,

in mornings, you forget to hope,

afternoons are a blur.

9. Always scared of unfinished task

always on the run

always thinking

you forget your reasons

and rely on emotions instead.

10. At night you stare at the stars

they are the only things

you believe in now

because they fall and still shine in the dark.

11. You lose faith

you miss everything

that never really belonged to you.

12. The calendar

makes your heart beat faster.

13. Escaping is not an option

Perpetuality is your new master

You are a slave to life. Now.

A slave to life.

 

Poems · Volunteering Diaries

Run.

On 12th November 2017, I was in Hetauda for the mid-phase review. There was excitement in the air. Everyone was going to meet everyone and share stories. We had access to cafes and wi-fi for 3 whole days. We had a soft bed to sleep in and warm showers. I should have been happy but I was not. The second day hit me like a wild-fire and the anxiety and un-certainty about the future creeped in. It is still there. I don’t know if it will ever go away. The fear of the un-known and a million questions that start with, “What if?” What if I always feel like this? What if it never stops?

 

And your body just goes limp

when you look into the future

because there is nothing that you can see

that fits that clicks that smiles and winks

And all you see is pitfalls

darkness engulfing,

fires rising, dividing your heart,

And you ask her ‘Why?’

Why can’t you choose or compromise?

Why can’t you stay and be content?

Why do you have to wander and search?

What are you searching for?

Until she crumbles into pieces,

cries,

shouts,

and answers back in raging sadness

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

And your body goes limp again.

Your throat is dry now

there’s a little lump in it you cannot swallow

there’s bitterness to it

And your brain knows they are the fears and inhibitions seeking shelter

They are refugees fleeing away from the battleground

Hiding from barrels of guns

They are prisoners of war,

PTSD injected into them,

They need help or they’ll burst into anxiety bombs

destroying your Hiroshima body

And you will go numb again

You will go limp again

And while you are un-crumbling your dying heart

While you are picking pieces of yourself scattered in the ground

Jolts of sadness keep engulfing your soul

Pathetic but you feel apathy to everything around you

And it is a lie,

You do not want to be this person

You do not want to run away

But you always find a reason

Run until you are far away from home

Or the idea of home

Run.

Until you stop breathing

Stop thinking

STOP THINKING.

 

(The picture is sketched by my friend Christina. She’s amazing!)

Odes to people I know and don't know · Poems · Volunteering Diaries

Monkey Nose

This was our first prompt. On 17th November, right after the phase review we decided to have daily poetry prompts. There was going to be a training session on Natural Resource Management and Climate Change. The villagers were gathering and we were waiting for the trainer to arrive. I had an amazing time at the phase review but the fact that there was internet made me anxious. I felt like every one of my friends were moving on and I was stuck somewhere I wasn’t even needed. They had new dreams now. They had new stories to tell and I was not part of it. It was selfish of me to think like that but I still did. Human minds!

This prompt came about when we made two of the volunteers say a word. One said “Monkey!” and the other said, “Nose!” I had no intention of making up the poem the way it is. The major difference I found while writing it was that I was not scared of any judgment because it was merely in the paper. And I had so much freedom in the paper, in the middle of nowhere that I was. I felt like I could write anything I wanted to write. I have never felt that kind of independence before.

Words have magic in them. The way they stir your memories like ashes in fire. And I remembered her getting in the micro-bus everyday in front of my school.

 

She was an epitome of beauty,

Her eyes stared into your very soul

The soft curves of her body

Walked fearlessly in days that needed her to be fearless

Walked home in the rain

In days that she needed to wash away her pain

 

She was an epitome of beauty

Except in the mirrors that she looked into

They told her a different story

To her,  they were less kind

More rude, cruel, angry

They sang the songs of crooked eyes,

Exhausted tired face

They sang the songs of imperfection

How her nose looked inhumane,

Acidic.

 

They called her “monkey nose”

Her mirrors were not mirrors

They were the world staring at her

While she walked fearlessly

Fighting for her rights,

For her freedom

When people who were scared of her blissful soul

Sprinkled showers of sulphuric acid

Raining down

Her skin screamed and melted into the ground.

“Monkey nosed” they still called her

Her mirrors.

But she never believed them.

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

Places · The Paths Travelled · Volunteering Diaries

The Struggles of ICS Journey

 

We often choose to forget the struggles we face during our journeys once we have reached our destination because those struggles remind us how feeble we were at that point and how we were close to breaking down or broken down already in pieces we would never imagine we had. We often only remember the triumphs we had after we overcame them. The rush of endorphin, dopamine and serotonin climb up making us feel like we are invincible superheroes. However, imagine a world where superheroes were just superheroes who won their battles and had no stories of loss or failure. Imagine a world where they were only triumphant and successful. Imagine a world without the downfalls and dilemma. What kind of world would be built if struggles were entrapped, encaged and thrown in the attic as useless piece of machinery? Would we still be left behind with same joy of success? Most probably not. And ICS experience comes along with the struggles that put you into strangest situations: situations that you never thought you would come across in life.

First, the commitment of three months for volunteering is extreme. In a place like Nepal, where people are not even sure about this concept, ICVs and ICTLs like us find it very difficult to get it across the family. ‘Of course, it is a great learning experience’, they say happily going about in their daily lives but then they also ask, ‘but so is the job you can get from 9 to 5 in so and so bank or lab or school, that is a great experience too, is it not?’ The generation gap between working full time continuously for years to raise a family and the era of finding a purpose in unconventional passion or experience has given rise to tectonic plates in the family life that often shakes and vibrates during discussions, gatherings and parties.

Second, the experience of being an ICS volunteer is rewarding but it is not necessarily easy. We go through the hills of happiness and valleys of despair and sometimes we are stuck in the middle. There are many things to deal with that have nothing to do with changing the world. Sometimes you must wait for hours for people to show up in meetings. There are times when they never show up and you go back full of frustrations because you had worked hard to plan the event.

Third, the views are breathtaking from the villages but sadly some days go by without appreciating them because you are dead tired and ready to crash in the bed. However, the work is never over here even at the end of the day because there’ll be people knocking on your doors in the stark dark evenings and mornings asking about something or the other. You will sometimes pray for privacy to the gods that you believe in; pray for the silence in the mornings and sleep without the radio blasting at about 4 am. And the greatest thing that you will experience is no matter how hard you try to make a river out of people, some are strictly constricted to be just a bowl of water and they do not try to expand themselves and you have no power to change it. ‘Challenge yourself to change your world’ begins to have an existential crisis at some point because your world now is a top of the hill where the demands are high, and supply is low. That’s when you have to rescue yourself and take a breather. Run uphill until your lungs burst and contemplate what your definition of change is.

Change takes time. In a country where development has always progressed at a slow rate and tired, retired hopes, dreams and failures of ancestors have accumulated over years, change will not easily crack the back and relieve the people who live here. We live in the age of frustrated shoulder pains and back aches. And we will continue to live like that for years to come. But it does not mean that we are not trying to massage the pain away. Painlessness comes from accepting the pain first. Before we sow the seeds of change and development, we must accept that it will take a lag phase first and then we can expect it to take a log phase just like how bacteria grow. We need to change the way we look at development. Constructing a polytunnel or a trench or a reservoir will not necessarily mean that we have developed a village. Yes, it will be a start. But what if we cannot build anything? We build relationships. We make people capable of developing their own village themselves. That’s where sustainability comes from. And that is difficult to achieve too. However, it is not impossible. Nothing is.

 

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!!