A Nepali Wedding of Our Own

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The front of our Nepali marriage certificate

Tri and I have been married for nearly 5 years! Which is pretty darn unbelievable to me. So much has happened in the last five years. I graduated from college, we lived in Nepal for 9 months, we moved to Boston, I got my masters degree, Tri worked at two different companies, I started my first job as a speech therapist, and we bought a place of our own here in Boston.

When Tri and I first we got married in 2011, we had a super small ceremony in my parent’s living room. All of that was in the wake of Mamu’s death, so although were delighted to be getting married, we were overwhelmed with grief. Then, when we moved to Kathmandu, we had to register our marriage there. I sort of consider that an extension of our marriage process because we got a Nepali marriage certificate at that time. Since our wedding in 2011, both of our families have been bugging us to have another wedding and/or a wedding reception. For a while, I thought that we wouldn’t do it. We’re both pretty shy people and neither of us enjoy being in the limelight. However, over the years, as we’ve had time to live together as a married couple, we’ve warmed to the idea of a big wedding celebration.

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Tri and I went down to my parents’ house this past week to help get ready for our July wedding. One this we started working on was the mandap, the structure under which the Hindu ceremony will take place.

This summer, we will be tying the knot once more. We’re planning on having a Nepali Hindu ceremony – first thing we did last summer (when we decided that we wanted to have a Hindu ceremony) was get in touch with a great Nepali priest who will conduct the ceremony in both Nepali and English. Although the ceremony will be long (around 1 and a 1/2 hours. eek!) and many a Sanskrit prayer will be said, we’re hoping that everyone, both Nepali and American alike, can feel involved.

After the ceremony is over, we’ll have a big ol’ wedding reception. All of this will take place in my parents’ backyard in order to save on costs and capitalize on the (hopefully) beautiful East Coast summer weather. Tri’s family is coming over from Nepal, and we have family and friends coming from all over the US to celebrate with us. Although Tri and I were initially very hesitant to go through with a big wedding, now that our plans are coming together, we’re both really excited to be celebrating our marriage once again 🙂

A Few Thoughts on the New Nepali Constitution

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Nepalis celebrating the adoption of the new constitution. Photo credit: http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2015/sep/21/nepal-formally-adopts-constitution-2015/

Nepal just signed into law a new constitution. I’m sure many of you already know the history leading up to the ratification of this historical document, but here is a brief and simplified recap:

2001: The royal massacre occurred; the king and crown prince died, and the king’s brother, Gyanendra, took over.

2008: The monarchy was overturned, and Nepal was declared a Republic

2008-2015: Politicians met many times over in an attempt to draft a new constitution.

Mid September, 2015: Nepal’s new constitution was ratified.

I’ll start by saying this: Nepali politics are very complicated, and there is so much that I don’t know. If I misstate something or write down something incorrectly, or if you just disagree with me, please tell me!

So anyway, the new constitution was just passed into law. Although this should be a time for rejoicing, many people in Nepal are upset because there are several HUGE issues that the constitution does not address. From what I understand, here are two of the major ones:

  • The southern plains of Nepal (the Terai) are underrepresented in the government. As far as I understand, the Nepali constitution split up the country into provinces that elect officials to represent them. Rather than allow the Terai to be one province, it was split up and added onto other provinces. Some believe that this was done in order to prevent the people living in the Terai from gaining too much political power.
  • The Nepali constitution does not recognize a woman’s right to confer citizenship to her child if the father of her child is not a citizen.

Here’s a nice video that outlines both of these issues more thoroughly.

Although I cannot personally speak to the first issue, the second issue, about women, hits a bit closer to home for me. The idea that a woman cannot give her own child citizenship is ridiculous. Tri is married to me (a foreign woman). Why should he be allowed to confer Nepali citizenship to any child that we have when a woman in the same situation cannot?

From what I understand, the reactions to these issues have been varied. Some accept the constitution and feel overjoyed that it has been ratified. But there have been many protests, some that have ended in violence. In the Terai, at least 40 people have died while protesting. I am demoralized and disgusted by reports of police brutality. One Nepali author who lives in Canada wrote a piece about why she burnt the new Nepali constitution. 

I recognize that I am not Nepali and never will be. I don’t understand the Nepali experience or the experience of women in Nepal. But I am more than a tourist or a visitor. I am part of a Nepali family that has been deeply affected by the struggles in Nepal, so I share my thoughts on the subject openly but with care.

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A man protesting. Photo credit: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34280015

Nepal has gone through years of violence, bandhas, and politicians that have struggled to provide for the Nepali people. Despite the issues with the new constitution, maybe this is a turning point for Nepal. Yes, let’s keep yearning for a better Nepal, one that provides for all of its citizens equally, but let’s accept this new constitution. Rather than fight violently against it or burn it, let’s challenge it peacefully. Write articles, protest peacefully, continue to champion the rights of women, all ethnicities, and all religions. Let’s work to amend the constitution and speak out against problems with it.

I think that the article about burning the constitution affected me quite deeply. I understand the author’s frustration at the new constitution. However, not only is burning something often an act of violence, burning the entire constitution ignores some of the great, new things that it has set into law. For instance, the new Nepali constitution protects the rights of members of the LGBT community.

Some of my opinions might be controversial, and I certainly don’t understand all of the facets of this incredibly complex issue. What do you think?

An earthquake, a Graduation, and Starting to Blog Again

Tri and I hate getting calls at odd hours because they usually mean that something bad has happened in Nepal. On April 25th, we got a call in the early morning from Tri’s dad, telling us that there had been a terrible earthquake. Tri’s dad, step-mom, and brother all sounded terrified but reported that they were okay. We immediately checked facebook and looked at the news – the devastation we saw broke our hearts.

We are still trying to make sense of it all. Tri’s family’s apartment was pretty much destroyed. However, they are very fortunate to have another home in which they can stay, and I am beyond happy that everyone we know is safe. From what I’ve read, it was the poorest families and those in rural areas who were hit hardest. I know about a great organization called the dZi Foundation that does work in rural areas. If you are thinking about donating to the relief effort, consider them. I met the founder of the dZi Foundation back in 2009 through my study abroad program; he’s a really good guy and has done some amazing work in Nepal.

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Me and Tri on graduation day trying to figure out my gown and hood.

The other big thing that has happened in the last few months: I graduated from my master’s program. Finally! In September, I start working as a speech language pathologist/clinical fellow in a middle school. I’ve been working so hard for so long, and I feel really darn lucky that I made it through my program, got a job, and get to work in a field that I love. It was just about 4 years ago that I found this awesome career, and I can’t wait to finally start working! I still dream about working as a speech therapist in Nepal some day, maybe during the summers. I’d absolutely love to get in touch with some schools over there especially ones that
serve children with autism and/or multiple disabilities. We’ll see where that dream takes us…

The last couple of years, I have been so focused on trying to get through school that the rest of my life kind of fell by the wayside. I’m slowly trying to rekindle my old interests, so I thought I’d do a bit of blogging and continue to reach out to others who love Nepal as much as we do!

And We’re Back

After almost 40 hours traveling, we made it Nepal! Trilok’s dad has actually been in the US for the last few weeks for work. We weren’t able to make it down to New York or DC to see him, but we knew we’d be meeting soon in Nepal. He flew into Kathmandu the same morning as we did (on a different flight), and Trilok’s brother, uncle, aunt, and cousin were all there to pick us all up.

I still can’t believe that we’re back. It seems so strange but entirely normal at the same time. In some ways, I feel like we never left Nepal in the first place, but, of course, things have changed. The city feels just a bit more crowded, and Trilok’s brother has been telling us that the government has been busy building new roads around the valley. Bua’s home is also different now. Things have been moved around and there’s a new room that’s been added on the roof. We also have a new member in the family since Trilok’s dad remarried last year. She is a wonderful women who is doing so much to make us feel at home.

I expected changes in Nepal and in our home life here, but what I didn’t expect was the flood of emotion I would feel after arriving in Kathmandu. For the last year or so, I’ve tried so hard to put Nepal out of my mind. I think that part of that has been a desire to mitigate the pain I felt about leaving, but it got to a point where I wasn’t even sure I wanted to come back this summer. However, since Tri was traveling here and I wanted to be with him, I knew I would go. I expected to feel sort of indifferent when I arrived, but instead I have felt incredibly relieved. I had forgotten how much Nepal feels like home to me. Of course I also have a home in Philadelphia, where I’m from, and now a home in Boston, where I live, but I can happily say that Nepal is on that list.

I had also forgotten how much meaning Nepal brings into my life. I can’t say for sure whether it’s the family that we have here, the people in general, Nepali culture, or the physical beauty (maybe a combination of these things), but there’s something about this place that makes me feel content and at peace and loved. I am very happy to live in the US, but after being in Nepal for just a day, I feel like I have a renewed vigor to work towards a life that allows us to live in Nepal for a month or two out of the year. I don’t want to get my hopes up! But at the very least, it’s nice to know that I will always have a second country to come home to.

For the next few weeks, Tri and I will be meeting up with friends, visiting our old haunts, and spending lots of time with family. We’ll be jetting off to Thailand for five days in the middle of our trip, and my parents are coming to visit us here in late July, so it should be an interesting month 🙂

Breaking the Ice

I keep starting blog post after blog post, trying to figure out exactly what I want to write, but I seriously don’t know where to start. So instead I’m just going to say that it’s been way to long since I posted last! I’m going to try and post a bit more for at least the next few months.

Partly because…we’re going back to Nepal for a month in July! I’m super excited to see friends and family and eat a TON of Nepali food while I’m there. Thinking about going back to Nepal is bitter sweet because I know that we’ll only be there for a few weeks, but alas such is life. Tri thinks that after our short visit, I’ll be ready to come home to Boston, and I kind of hope he’s right so that it’s not too painful to leave.

I can tell you a little bit about what I’ve been up to for the past however many months. Since last summer, I’ve been working at a learning center, mostly helping kids who have dyslexia. I’ve also been applying to and getting into grad school and taking classes that I needed to get out of the way before I start school in the fall. For the next two years, I’m going to be studying communication sciences and disorders so that I can become a speech language pathologist. As I’ve written about before, my interest in language and communication all started back in Nepal when I was first learning Nepali. In college, I became more interested in communication disorders when I got the chance to shadow a few speech language pathologists. While I was teaching in Kathmandu, I kept asking around to figure out if anyone knew of any speech language pathologists there. Although I did hear of people in Kathmandu hospitals who work with stroke patients on language skills, I don’t think that any of the schools in KTM have speech therapists. Anyway, I’m kind of hoping to do some more sleuthing while we’re there to see if I can meet a Nepali SLP.

For the month of June, I’ll be finishing up my last prerequisite classes and getting ready for our trip. I’m so excited to be posting again. I had forgotten how much fun it is to blog!