What am I doing?

Dear readers, friends and family,

By now it must be clear that I will leave my home country for a while. Friends and family may wonder, and will probably do so, why. This text is an attempt to explain the why and the why Nepal questions. Hopefully this shines some light on what’s been happening over the past months in my mind. O, and it’s in English because it was written in English and I don’t feel like translating it. Not worth the effort as far as I’m concerned. I wrote the following text last Friday.


I am writing this while traveling on an intercity train from The Hague to Amsterdam to go to the Stadsschouwburg to see an Ibsen play. Around me the coupé is filled with loudmouthed men who seem to have been freed from the madhouse. Attracting attention from everyone, having a good time but totally inconsiderate of the other people around them. Typical western arrogance of people who think they own the whole goddamn world. I feel completely detached.

After the passing away of my mother a while ago I realized that I am no longer a child. At least, there is no one left to name me their child. No grand parents, no parents. I am not working anymore in a traditional sense, like having a job and such. I do not have economic wealth, I do not have a love in my life that I cannot live without or she without me for that matter. My children are growing into strong human beings and I am not directly involved in their upbringing anymore. I am, what you might say, a sideliner, a backbencher, someone is not participating but who is set aside from society. I do not have possessions that I cannot do without, except for my writing and communicating tools. I do not value money, neither do I value matter, the house I live in, the city where it stands. I do not have a home. And I don’t really care because the concept of a location bound home doesn’t work for me. I do however have children, friends and people that I love dearly. I do have people loving me dearly. But apart from all that, I have no reason to continue living the life I am having now and staying at the house I rent.

These thoughts made me decide to do what I should have done a long time ago but haven’t been able to do because of… well: obligations. I shall go abroad for quite a while to live a completely different life in a culture that’s completely alien to me. In conditions that are of a completely different comfort level. For my own good and for the good of a few people that I might be able to help with my western knowledge and skills. Not because I am such a good person who wants to help the poor, ah well maybe a little bit.

Choosing Nepal was a surprisingly simple process. I do not relate to the beautiful Spanish or Portuguese languages so South America is not a logical choice. Africa is also not preferable for me as a transgender and lesbian woman. I do want to live on after all this. Other parts of Europe are to western and to spoilt, so is Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the States. So it’s gonna be Asia. In Asia there are e number of countries that have always puzzled me. Especially the smaller ones.  I would love to go to Tibet or Bhutan, but both countries suffer the pressure from their Chinese neighbor to an extent that it doesn’t seem possible. I am not Michael Palin. So here comes Nepal. Nearly everyone speaks English to some extent so the chances of me to be able to get around on my own are a lot bigger and I still need that level of social comfort. Nepal is intriguing, a long time closed society that is slowly but gradually opening up, a country more or less ruled by the people with a strong Maoist influence. The only country in the world that is predominantly Hindu but with strong influences from Buddhism (the Buddha was born there). One of the very few old cultures that did survive and that’s under siege from western and Chinese influences but that’s also a buffer between China and India with an important local role. A very poor country with many needs. A country that leans on foreigners to help with education, improving society and social wellbeing.

I shall teach children, write a book and film a documentary about the experience and in the process change my life. Hopefully for the better. I shall live in poverty, leading a simple life focussed around the people that I am with. But I shall also be the observer, the writer, the photographer and the documentary maker. I shall be the woman on the hill, looking down at myself, at life, at society trying to put things into perspective, trying to find out what the importance is of it all. Not battling how things are but observing and capturing it all in my work.

So how does this fit into my life? Well, over the years I recognized five stepping stones in my adult life. Getting married, having children, starting a professional career, changing gender and in the end loosing most of it. The next stage, living and working in Nepal is just another stepping stone. Not easier than the others, not more complicated but different and only connected with my inner self. Out of necessity, out of the longing for peace of mind. Not an escape, just another transition. I have no idea what will come of it except another viewpoint on life, a book and a documentary. Maybe life will change for me forever, maybe it won’t. I hope to learn to see my own life thru the eyes of a buddha. And hey, don’t worry, it is like it is.


Alice Verheij © 2010


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