Birthdays. Better in the U.S. or Nepal?

Major dates always cause me to become reflective.  I’m turning 21 this Saturday so I’ve started thinking about where I was at this point last year.

I was living with a wonderful Nepali host family in Kathmandu, Nepal.  I spent the entire month of October with them, learning about the Nepali language and culture while teaching in a local school.  Teaching would be overstating it; singing songs and helping kids to practice their English would be more accurate. 

This week, the week before my birthday, was a perfect storm of sorts.  I contracted a skin disease on the bus which caused my face to break out in dime and quarter sized lesions.  Yes, lesions.  Open wounds.  The health fairy also threw in a UTI for good measure.  Then, my host mom offered to henna my hair and since I thought it would be a good bonding exercise, I figured what the hell.  I’m no stranger to dyeing my hair and I figured that it couldn’t get any worse.  Wrong again.  My hair turned a lovely shade of crayon orange.  Carrot top with a skin disorder.

My actual birthday was lovely.  I traded in happy hour for meditation hour and while I certainly missed the cocktails and dinners that usually usually garnish the big day, it was refreshing to be so far out of my comfort zone with new people, doing new things.  My host family even surprised my by “baking” (they don’t have an oven so don’t ask me how it baked) an American cake.  I was deeply touched by their efforts to make me feel at home.

This year, I’m in Delaware where I grew up (please don’t ask about Christine O’Donnell) and I won’t lie, it’s wonderful to be surrounded by my friends and family.  And, of course, to have endless glasses of wine, strawberry birthday cake, and all the special treats that come with a celebration.  But I will also think back very fondly of my birthday in Nepal. 

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