“Oh..ho, Kaile ho? Kasto bhayo ta yatra? (Oh..ho, When [did you return]? So how was the trip?] Many of my friends who knew that I visited the United States in April wanted to know the answers of the questions. The problem with me was that there was no particular answer with me that could effectively satisfy their questions, especially the second one. Therefore my answers varied from person to person but that didn’t expand from more than a sentence.
Answer to the first question was relatively easy: yesterday, two days ago, last week, 10 days ago etc. And the most common answer to the second question was a single word: colorful. The other was: black and white. Another: that was great. Yet another: quite okay. I wasn’t too excited to tell them about the journey as, I have seen, many people do after returning from the United States or any other country for that matter. It wasn’t fashionable for me, I guess. Blogging, however, is still fashionable and I am doing this right here. The advantage of blog is that I don’t have to repeat the same description to each person.
Dinesh Wagle in Detroit International Airport en route to Washington D.C on April 1, 2006. Pic by Kiran Nepal
Back to the original topic. There was a person, an exception, one of my colleagues in Kantipur Publications, who didn’t ask about my journey but thanked me for coming back to Nepal! “It’s great to see you in Kathmandu again,” he said, firmly shaking my hand and looking at my eyes. “Desh ko ijjat bachaidinu bhayo. [You saved the country’s reputation.]” My God, I thought, did I really save my country’s reputation? Is my country’s reputation so vulnerable that just returning from an invited trip will save it? Actually yes considering the fact that many people even reputed in Nepali society tend to overstay illegally in the US after entering legally.
When I told my friends that I will be returning Nepal not staying more than two extra days after the official program is finished, many of them were raising eyebrows and asking why I was doing so. I could have stayed there a month legally and my friends and contacts were ready to give me food and shelter for the next six months. Many of my friends thought that I was marrying in the first week of May (so that I wanted to return at the end of April). That wasn’t correct though. I was supposed to go for yet another international trip which unfortunately didn’t materialize. (As the pro-democracy movement got intensified in the mid of April, I thought of cancelling the trip and coming back. But there were some technical and personal problems as well that discouraged me from doing so. But I really missed those historical developments.)
To be honest, I was pretty much excited about the American Journey. After hearing so many things about America, it was an opportunity to experience the American society. Moreover, it was a completely sponsored, high-profile and guided trip taking me to different cities of the United States from East Coast to West Coast. Even by an American standard, it was an attractive itinerary. Not all Americans get to travel from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles to Milwaukee to Madison to D.C. to New York in three weeks time staying in hotels that cost up to 220 bucks per night (yes, your guess is correct, just to sleep alone in a room with two good beds!).