A Renewed Understanding
My apologizes for not blogging for so long. My work has taken up quite a bit of my time lately and Lisa and I just made the rigid, bumpy, and downright annoying 8 hour bus ride from Pokhara back to Kathmandu. We know a travel agent friend here that would have been able to hook us up with a $60 35-minuite flight back, easily avoiding all the hassle and time ….but what fun would that be! Haha. Anyhow, Lisa and I are in the same hotel we stayed at for our first 3 weeks here in Nepal, shooting the shit about random topics or trying to recall all the weird and crazy sights we have seen over the last month and a half. I check CNN every day, trying to loosely keep up with the world around us, as it feels like we are in our own world, here in this tiny country surrounded by the highest peaks in the world.
Out the window behind my bed, I see makeshift brick layered houses, some sections being held up by wooden stilts. People are almost literally living on top of each other, with no personal space, let alone a comfortable back yard. Random chunks of cement and small piles of garbage are scattered about aimlessly. Mangled street dogs roam freely, looking for an old rotten scrap to eat, while dozens of shop owners line the street outside our hotel, trying to make a sale to get by. Smog pours into the sky with the bustle of chaotic traffic. Teenagers hard at work peddling people on rigshaws at a snail’s pace share the same road with industrial size trucks, speeding taxis , and motorcyclist weaving in and out of traffic. No painted lines or street sign govern traffic patterns, as it is more or less a free-for-all.
Lisa and I wake up in the morning to the sound of people gagging and vomiting, likely due to the pollution that fills the mouths and lungs of everyone that calls Kathmandu home. Lisa made a good point last night while we shared a drink on our rooftop, that depressing would be the best word to describe the state of affairs here, and other similar places. Kathmandu is an enchanting city filled with marvelous history, but although it is a promise land for those who come here from an even harder life, I see despair on the faces of many. So many people here want more for their life, and even more so the future life of their children, but are unable to properly provide due to cultural disdain toward them in the form of a caste system that pushes people down and keeps them there for their entire life.
Although not quite as prevalent in more modernized cities here or many areas of India, there is a distinct caste system throughout Nepal. People are born into different sects or levels of society (castes) People born into “higher” or “more prominent” castes are generally afforded more opportunities, enjoy an overall higher quality of life, and are looked at as a more dignified person. As the system filters down, people of “lower” caste are given a much lesser chance for good employment, are generally far less educated and, overall, and are recognized as lower class citizens. Still further down the list are those who are on the bottom floor of the system, those who have no caste within society are looked upon by some to be the scum of the earth. This sounds horrible right!?!
Now let’s transition. A system in which people are born much richer than others and afforded more opportunities because of it. A system in which people who are born poor are looked down upon by some as being second class citizens or worse. A system in which money along with family name and distinction play a greater role in some cases than a person’s general outlook on life and their willingness to help others…hmmm… That’s sounds a lot like the country I grew up in, or just about every other nation across the world. The point of this blog is not to demean the life of those who live in a less developed country; that approach would be me doing the same exact thing as I just stated above, generalizing people for the way they go about their live. My purpose is rather to show that the differences in cultural thought here as oppose to my home nation are razor thin…basically identical in many regards. I’ve been and worked in the Hamptons, or New York City and seen and met Wall Street executives and Fortune 500 CEO’s that stick their nose up to the less fortunate. I myself have walked by homeless people on the side of the street in various places without even noticing their presence. The way people may go about expressing these thoughts in society may differ, but the general principle, the overlying thought process is so similar. This should make us really take a step back to re-evaluate the way we all live our lives, assuming the things that other people do are so wrong, when in fact, they are quite similar to the way we (or at least many other groups of people) live their lives.
You may need to read it twice, or even a handful of times. You may have to remove yourself from my blog and think about it in your own unique way. But I feel that most of you will come to the same overall conclusion that we are not so different from others. As I previously stated in a separate blog, we are all the same human beings with the same emotions and instinctive thoughts about others. But again, these are my thoughts on my personal blog, and you have every right to disagree completely with what I say. In any case, it is an interesting topic of discussion that really makes you possibly re-evaluate things if you are willing to contemplate with an open mind.