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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Personal Column: Between two worlds

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Kathmandu, Nepal

“Are you excited?” my mom asked. She held my hand tightly as we made our way through the airport, ready to get into the heart of Kathmandu, Nepal, our 3-month-long vacation spot, and my hometown. Seven long years had passed since my last visit to Nepal, a place that still carried the familiarity of family and the memories of my early years. I had been there for my uncle’s wedding in 2011, and I had vivid memories of that trip. I smiled to myself, remembering the dancing and the music and staying up all night talking to my cousins. “Beyond excited,” I replied.

Stepping out of the airport, the scent of spices and the cacophony of unfamiliar sounds immediately enveloped me. My heart raced as I scanned the crowd for familiar faces. And then, there she was – my aunt, standing amidst the bustling chaos, her warm smile welcoming me back to a place I once called home.

“Maiju!” I cried out and threw myself into her arms. We hugged each other like family and exchanged nonverbal greetings that made the years melt away. With a gleam in her eyes, she declared, “It’s been too long,” laying the groundwork for the adventure that lay ahead.

It was a sensory overload traveling through Kathmandu’s winding streets in a taxi. The sound of the unfamiliar honking and dodging through traffic was like a chaotic symphony. I remember glancing at the taxi driver and my family, all of whom did not pay mind. “Is it normally this crowded?” I asked. My mom laughed, “This is nothing.” I nodded and laughed along with a strange feeling in my gut. I should’ve known that. I stared out the window trying to comprehend the language of the roads that only the locals truly understood.

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But I had to quickly close the window. Smog-filled air burned into my lungs, causing me to experience an unanticipated wave of nausea. The difference in air quality between this place and in the States had slipped my mind. It served as a reminder of the difficulties this lovely nation faces in the environmental arena.

Reaching my grandparents’ house felt like a warm hug full of treasured memories. I felt comforted as I walked into my pink childhood room and remembered the happy times and laughter that had once occupied it. Suddenly, all my worries about feeling like a stranger disappeared as I sat on the fluffy rug sorting through all the old photos and toys. Then my aunt came in and told me we were all going for dinner. Excited to roam the streets of Kathmandu again, I jumped with glee holding my aunt’s hand as we went downstairs together.

However, my glee was much diminished as we went to the markets, to realize my favorite place was closed and had been for 5 years. I flinched a little bit knowing that a major piece of my childhood was just gone, and no one told me. I looked at my family and they did not seem the least surprised when there was a huge gap between the two stores. I wondered if they had forgotten all the memories we had made in the small cafe. It didn’t get much better as we sat down at the fancy restaurant (a much less cozy environment than the cafe!)

To make matters worse, I ran into an unforeseen obstacle when I tried to speak in Nepali. The language, which was once second nature, seemed outdated and strange. I was stumbling over words trying to order, and to my dismay, some locals were shooting each other funny looks. “Someone’s from America,” they snickered. It served as a sobering reminder that language proficiency requires practice just like any other skill, something I thought I did not need anymore.

Amidst these difficulties, I discovered that I was experiencing an unforeseen identity crisis. I felt as though I was stuck between two different worlds: neither American enough to avoid being called a foreigner, nor Nepali enough to fit in. I started to wonder where I belonged because of the complicated way my emotions interacted.

As the months passed by, the trip ended, and I came back to Texas. The memories are not something so easily washed away, and I hold them close, even now. I don’t think my moving to the States changed my identity. I think it made it even more diverse and made me grow as a person.

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About the Contributor
Anushka Ghimire, Staff Writer
Anushka is a junior at Carnegie Vanguard High school. She loves daisies and orange tabby cats. On her ideal day, she would be curled up in her bed with a new fantasy book and a caramel iced coffee. Her favorite part of news writing is getting to know new people and learning about how their perspectives are relevant to their community.
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