“He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted…”
“Get me a visa for your country.” “Take my daughter with you.” “Find my son a job in your town.” I can no longer count the number of times I have been asked to magically procure a visa for the USA or Canada for Indians and Nepalis who believe that life in the west must be better. I could never understand it. Sure, we may have more money and toys, but they still have family, community, and time, priceless gifts our money can’t buy. Why would anyone leave behind a peaceful life surrounded by friends for endless hours of stressful work, a life lived purely for money.
It clicked for me one day as I was talking to a girl my age with whom I had been staying with in a small Nepali village. The village had never had a western stop by, and they all excitedly visited me and invited me to their homes. At one point after making the rounds (drinking tea with the neighbors) the girl I was staying with told me (with her brother’s translation): “When I come visit you in the USA the people in your village will be just as curious about me!” How could I explain to her that no one would care, that absolutely no one would take notice of her no matter how new she was. That she would be isolated and alone, because the intricate and vital sense of community she has grown up with does not exist where I come from. She told me she would sell fruit at the side of the road like she does here in Nepal. I gently explained that, unfortunately, we don’t normally buy our food that way, because we visit big super markets. She told me happily that she would work in one of those instead. What she didn’t know is that working in a super market is nothing like the laid-back life of selling a bit of fruit at the side of the road.
It clicked for me, that the reason so many Indians and Nepalis have asked me to take them to my country is because they believe that the west is exactly like Nepal… just with more money. They don’t realize that the west is far from perfect, that having more material goods has made a money-centric society that no longer holds the charm of countries such as India and Nepal. There is no way to explain this, especially with the language barrier, so I tend to settle with a “your country is beautiful, you would not be happy where I live.”