I believe that life is chaotic, a jumble of accidents, ambitions, misconceptions, bold intentions, lazy happenstances, and unintended consequences, yet I also believe that there are connections that illuminate our world, revealing its endless mystery and wonder.
Ailsa’s travel theme this week was perfect. Connections connotates so many different things to so many people and it was fun to look through other samples of what “connections” means to others.
Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se. – Charles Eames
Sometimes when living in a different country it becomes very difficult to connect with the words, the culture and some of the people. It’s not due to either party’s intent or lack of trying. It’s more that we all come from a place that we understand because we grew up in that place.
Take directions for example. For the most part in the U.S. you can expect to be given directions in a very specific format. Street names, building landmarks, or even natural landmarks. Take this out of context and move it to a country where you barely speak the language and wow do some of these connecting factors change their meaning. A tree will always mean a tree, but as I found out today a tea shop does not always mean a tea shop.
I have been trying to find this business so I can start taking Nepali language and cooking classes. Today was a holiday and so I decided to venture out and find this place which is only about 5 minutes (Nepali time) from my workplace. Here is how the conversation went.
Me: So if I am walking from my home how do I get there?
She: From the U.S. embassy on the first main road take a right.
Me: Yeah but if I am coming from my home which road would that be?
She: Oh yeah.. well, take the first main road right after the teaching hospital.
Me: But my house is the opposite side of the embassy. I can’t take a right from both directions can I?
She: Oh yeah.. well, from your house take the first main road right after the teaching hospital .. take a right. Walk a little ways and then take a right again.. You will pass a guard who is usually sleeping and then after about 200 meters or so you will meet with a tea shop. Stop there and they will tell you to take a small left and there is our building. If you can’t find it stop at the tea shop and then call me.
Me: Ok. so take a right on the first main road after the teaching hospital and then take a right on the next main road.. walk a short distance and when I see a tea shop then shortly after that take a left and there you are.
She: Oh yeah!!
So I walk to the only main road between my house and my work. I start down this road and there is no other main road to take a right on. So I backtrack to the next main road.. which I didn’t actually know was a main road.
Main main road
First main road to turn on
So I finally get to this first main road to turn on. I walk for a bit and the 2nd main road right isn’t really a right but merely a bend in the same road. Sure enough there is a guard sleeping right before this 2nd “main” right.
Guard sleeping as directed
Not a real right but simply a bend in the road.. at this point I can only assume I am on the right road.
Is this really a main road? Am I on the right road?
At this point I begin to look for the tea shop or the correct left turn. I pass the first left not sure if this is the one.. I can see no tea shop. i walk a ways (being from America I really have no concept of anything other than miles or feet.. this meter and kilometer thing always throws me). However, I feel I must have gone to far so I back track to take that first left.
First left.. I think
No tea shop in site so I will walk a ways as she never gave me a distance perspective.
So I keep walking.. and walking.. and walking.. and stop at a friendly store and ask if they know where this school is and they point me in the direction I have been walking and tell me to continue on .. I think it’s odd there is no tea shop in site and walk for about 12 more minutes and finally stop at another store and have the men speak to the woman. They indicate I should walk back the way I came and wait at a tree. So I walk back and stop at every tree I pass. Myself and the instructor call each other several times both of us becoming increasingly confused as to where I am. Finally I tell her I am at a nursery and she very excitedly tells me she knows where I am and to wait.
So with chickens flocking around my feet and with a very flea ridden dog jumping on me trying to make me his friend I wait. She finally finds me and walks me back the way I came and points at the “tree” and the “tea shop” and says.. “You did not see that?” I tell her there were many trees on this path and she states, “Yes, but that is the only “real tree” everyone knows that. I didn’t bother asking her about the tea shop.
This was the teashop and tree I should have spotted it right off. The last picture shows that this is in fact the biggest tree on the road.
This side road was the one I was to turn left on.. after the first major road left.
Small connections with culture and language. Large connections with people and places. It’s all good, I made it and now I will know where to go the next time.