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Ana Bhandari in her brief sojourn to Nepal and India narrates her experiences and also divulges on some glaring societal ills that these countries are facing. While outlining the maladies of these Nepalese and the Indian societies she beautifully depicts inherent and deep seated hitches inflicting the American societies as well…

Nepal is a country where lifestyle and individuality is dictated by its culture and values. The culture everyone is bending over backwards to preserve is holding them back. While traveling Nepal I was blessed with a variety of experiences. I was given the opportunity to go paragliding, to see its beautiful green mountains, and even use outdoor bathrooms.  As I explored this rich country I spoke with several of its people. I felt the majority of the conversations consisted of adults telling me what a fantastic country it is over and over again almost as if they were trying to convince themselves. I was told Nepal is amazing, a dream land but then I saw countless people starving and begging for food on the streets. Nepal has a great sense of community and support system so much so it nearly lacked a sense of personal individuality. In many ways they use their values, culture and religion  illogically.  Choosing to ignore the sexism that has impacted the lives of so many women. Ignoring  how so many people in the country they loved so much were deprived of an education, food ,and proper shelter. I was disgusted by how those very adults failed to mention how much hate was directed towards anything different, how those very adults failed to mention how life was harder for a women due to the underlying mentality that women are supposed to be subjugated. I was disgusted that so many of the adults I had spoken with expected me to blindly believe that Nepal was perfect, and that I ought to preserve and embrace the culture that has done more harm than good.

      Just as I came to believe the people in Nepal were toxic and were incapable of doing anything but dictate others with hate and judgment. I met people who were kind and did not rush to judge, who accepted as times change as should they, I met people who embraced its culture without letting it hold them back. It was simply upsetting that these good people did not hold the majority. Disempowering

Exploring Nepal came to an end opening the door to India, much of the people and lifestyle did not differ much from Nepal however as I was able to see more of India I saw it had its differences. Some places were more developed, more progressive. There were people who used their culture and values as a tool to grow and become a better individual and some as something that they allowed to hold them back. Yet there remained a fear to speak of social issues such as substance abuse, sex education, abortion, and the everyday examples of sexism in the name of preserving its culture. It was difficult to see so many people take such a beautiful culture and turn it into a restriction. It seemed just as Nepal.  It was this same attitude which in some way or the other pushed the womenfolk backwards thereby disempowering them.

I have lived in the United States for most of my life and just in the last month I have been in a variety of different places in Nepal and India. Quite frankly I cannot say one place is better than the other. In the United States we clutch our freedoms and individuality to the point we almost lose our sense of community.  The U.S continues to have pressing social issues as well but I always found comfort in how as a nation we are progressive. America is filled with racists, sexism is still a prevalent problem, fortunately it is also filled with kind people that have built great communities.

 Where ever I went there was one thing that never changed. It was the people. Just as there are good people there are bad people. People can use a religion to help or hurt, family can be something that supports you or something that suffocates you. People no matter where I went only held the purest intentions.

The writer is a 10th Grade student from Sandia High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S


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