Welcome

Second week here and I’m still trying to adjust. It’s mostly the little things like being insisted on to leave leftovers and garbage after eating for someone to clean up after- being always cleaned up after for that matter. There are people for everything, literally. Someone to drive you around, someone to get you tea in the morning, someone to clean your desk, someone to get you water, someone to carry your bags when you come from the mall, someone to do your laundry, and like I said, someone to always clean up after you. Yes, I find this really helpful most of the time, but some of it just makes you think—I’ve got two hands and two feet so maybe I can manage? It felt so awkward in the beginning, but it also gets me to think that by doing these little daily tasks that make our lives a little bit easier at a time, maybe it puts food on the table for them. But why does it still not feel right?

The young man who gets me tea every morning is a bright individual with problems like yours and mine, or perhaps worse— an old mother back home alone in Nepal, a 16-year old sister that ran away, and a fiancée who’s education he has to support. Mind you, this young man is barely 20 years old and has so much on his shoulders. He also told me he’s really good with computers and wants to learn more and he promised me that he was going to go back look after his family and study. Every time he gets me my cup of tea in the morning and I thank him and he always smiles back and says, “welcome”. Or the driver who has nine siblings—2 younger brothers and unemployed parents in India, all of whom he has to support. Or the workers who struggle in the excruciatingly hot weather wearing masks and working day and night shifts, living in camps—well, what is each of their stories? Above all, when they tell me about their lifestyles, I can’t think of anything else but gratitude. They ask and listen so keenly about how life is as an “American”. Two memorable comments I’ve had in my conversations with them has been, “Wow. You wear the headscarf in the US and no one says anything?” and “How much are you going to study? When are you getting married then?” :)

Like they say, everyone is fighting their own battle, so be nice and be thankful. I know that when I leave here, besides everything else here, I’ll miss the tea that is brought to me every morning, tasting better than any other cup of tea I’ve had before and always ending in a “welcome :)”.