Lately I’ve really been thinking about whether or not I could live in Nepal.
Rabindra and I have discussed this recently and it’s something that scares me a fair bit. He has mentioned that we could move to Nepal if we got sick of life here or after our prime years of working, we could consider moving back to Nepal essentially to “retire”.
We have absolutely no plans to move there permanently but I can’t say that Rabindra will feel like this forever. There may be a time he longs for his homeland, the life he had as a child with his loving family, and we may have to make that decision. So…what would I do?
Life in Australia is all I’ve ever known. Whilst Australian culture cannot be as easily identified as Nepal with its strong traditions and culture, life in Australia is about comfort, freedom, family, fun and an easygoing lifestyle.
Before I visited Nepal I felt that no matter what I could live there. I think my love for Rabindra was so strong that it lulled me into thinking I could live in Nepal no matter the situation. Part of me thinks that’s because I was so desperate to fit into the culture that I would do anything to be accepted.
Since visiting Nepal, I have mixed feelings about whether or not I could live there, like permanently.
There were a number of challenges, firstly the physical conditions. It was freezing and I spent most of my time feeling cold. The lack of hot water (no hot water in his home at all). Bouts of electricity blackouts. Washing all clothes by hand. Cleaning dishes in the dark outside under freezing water. Having to go outside in the middle of the night to use the toilet. Not having a normal toilet and eating the same food of dhal bhaat everyday.
These are by no means criticisms of Rabindra’s family. This is real life in Nepal. And for many this is an absolute privileged life to have dhal bhat every day, to have running water, to have a toilet.
I do not want to complain about these conditions but I wanted to be honest and share my experiences. I cannot help that my Australian upbringing has given me these luxuries my whole life and I never questioned these privileges. It has certainly made me appreciate these little things since arriving back in Australia.
The biggest challenge of all was being unable to communicate with people. Some days I felt so lonely because I couldn’t understand a thing and I had nobody to talk to.
This triggered something in me. I realised that even if I had Rabindra in Nepal, I still needed people to talk to. People who could understand me. I wanted good friends or my family there.
And the other really big thing that scares me about moving to Nepal?
Well, it’s something I have not really shared with many people but it’s this. The expectation of women and their role in society.
Only some Nepali women have careers and when they get married and have children, they very much become housewives and are expected to give up work to be the housewife, live in the husband’s home with his parents and take care of their children.
The whole notion in Nepal of women moving to her husband’s house and leaving her parents after marriage is something I am not 100% comfortable with.
The other thing is I am really focused on my career at the moment and I have really strong ambitions for the future. I don’t think living in Nepal would develop this side of me. Then again, maybe it would.
People who know me know that I am very set on having a family and I adore babies. Motherhood is something I would not be complete without. I’m also very passionate about many things from human rights, to journalism, multiculturalism and education.
But I can’t imagine being just a mother a wife. This is so important to me but it’s not my everything. I need to be satisfied that I am doing even more with my life.
I also enjoy being young and feeling young. Having freedom, going out my friends and not worrying what people think of me. I am not being mean but in Nepal, it’s true that society doesn’t like women to be too independent. Married women have responsibilities to act a certain way. (In saying this I got this impression more from young Nepali women living in Australia than I did at Rabindra’s home).
So what scares me more than anything is being expected to give it all up to fit in like a true Nepali women (who are seriously amazing to do what they do) but it’s not for every woman.
Maybe I am over thinking things, maybe Rabindra’s family wouldn’t expect me to give it up and be that ‘Nepali woman’. Maybe they will understand. Maybe they won’t accept it. I don’t know.
I feel I am being selfish when I think of this situation but I wanted to be honest and say with certainty that the thought of moving to Nepal and living there scares me. Be honest, am I being unfair? Am I misrepresenting the expectations of women?
On the other hand, I had a very strong connection to Nepal when I visited there. I loved the place, it’s amazingly beautiful and the people were so lovely and friendly. When we have children I would love them to spend some of their upbringing in their father’s home country with his family.
So there it is. I have laid my feelings out bare for all to see. I hope i don’t cop too much criticism.
For the other goris out there- can you relate to me? What were your impressions of your husband’s home country and could you fit into society as a local ‘Nepali’ wife/mother and not just a visitor? What would you do if your partner/husband expected you to live in his country? Does it scare you like it scares me?
Please share your thoughts.