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My Own Roots


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bascially this was an assignment done for my university but i later decided to share it with more people and let them keep going despite of whatever is the situation.

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My Own Roots

  1. 1. 1 MY OWN ROOTS Sudip Joshi Assignment submitted to: Diaconia University of Applied Sciences Tähtitorninkatu, 18, Helsinki, FINLAND
  2. 2. 1 BACKGROUND The Mustang region is relatively low lying and an easily traveled corridor through the Himalaya of Nepal. North of the Annapurna region in the Nepal Himalaya, the ancient and mysterious Mustang is geographically and culturally a part of Nepal with Tibetan roots. It was Mustang, where my mother and father met each other in late 1980s. My mother, Mrs. Surya Devi Shrestha, who is my source of inspiration, was starting her career with Women Development Office as a civil servant. And so was with my father but he was working for Nepal Bank Limited then. They fell in love and got married. I have been always proud of my mother’s ability then and now. Being a woman in Nepal, working at a place far from home is still not widely accepted. My mother was second child in her typical Nepalese family rooted with old social norms and values. She experienced the gender-inequality in her family and society. My grandparents didn’t want her to study, they wanted her to help in their household chores and farms, but she struggled to study and completed her schooling with hard efforts. She was not liked in her family and her decision to work was widely criticized even in the society, but it never chained her. She left home, worked in remote Mustang and got married to a man, who left her within couple of years of marriage. Afterwards, my mother moved to Pyuthan in Mid-Western Nepal for her job.
  3. 3. 2 It was Jan 15th 1990 when I was born. The country was going through its first revolution against the monarchic dictatorship. 1990 People's Movement was a multiparty movement in Nepal that brought an end to absolute monarchy and the beginning of constitutional democracy. I was one of the identical twins born to my mother that year. As per the religious norms, after the name of lord Rama’s twin sons, I was named Luv and my brother as Kush, who died after 9 days of birth due to his poor health. Had there been good health facilities in Pyuthan, he could have survived then. With his death, I no more remained an identical twin, my name had to be changed and eventually I was named by my mother as Sudip that meant enlightenment and rays of hope in darkness. This should be the best name she could have ever named me; I was the only ray of hope for her. Afterwards, I was the only family to my mother and my family also meant my mother to me. My mother has always been my source of inspiration and the story she has walked always motivates me thorough constant struggle in my life. The ways we have walked together has always been with turns and achievements. Looking back at them today, it will always help us gather the spirit to keep going. I grew up with my mother and her office works. My childhoods were accompanied by the chairs and tables of her office. I was a loved kid in her office colleagues and probably should have been a toy for them to play with, and they should have been the toy for me. Despite of being grown up by a single mother with no family attachments, I have had all those requisites I needed as a child then. Since, she was a working mother; I went school very early at an age of 2 years. By now, I had gathered some consciousness on social matters, my constant search for the father I belonged to and the pinch I was having from the society as a child without his father’s shadow made me a tough child from inside. Whilst, my mother’s hard work, her love and affection made me a gentle boy since then. My mother’s culture to respect people and to live in harmony with the society was carving into me.
  4. 4. 3 MY CHILDHOOD I was born to a Hindu mother, but I never had the depth of my religion. The culture, the religion I belong, entertains a numerous number of festivals. They have their own charm in themselves and mean a lot in the families and for people. But I never experienced the charm in them, although I had wished to be a part of it as a kid. I was a part of the most possible basic form of a Nuclear family; my mother and me. We have been living our 18 years on tenement houses and a singleton life. And so this charm of festivals had almost no effect on me, but I know they still mean a lot to my mother and that should be the simplest reason I still be a part of them. My childhood developed with a constant hunger to practice a family life and to see my own father. I met my father when I was 6 years old as my mother wanted my wishes to get fulfilled. This was the first time I was at my home, but the coldness of the people there and the way they treated my mother drove away my hunger. I grew up tougher and tougher. I had been travelling and schooling on different places accompanying my mother with her job in the mid western regions of Nepal. Mid western regions are still the regions with high poverty and illiteracy rate. People were living in harmony with the nature and their culture. This culture included the cases of social exclusion, caste-wise discrimination, gender-inequality and superstitious norms and values. The people were deprived of basic facilities of education and health services. The quality of life was really poor and degrading. And when it came to women and children, the situation was really vulnerable. I grew up watching my mother working for women development and it was from that time, I was getting inclined towards social outdoors. I enjoyed watching my mother give vocational trainings and adult literacy classes to the illiterate poor women from these areas. Her works were leaving imprints on me and I had start to imagine myself in her foots working for poor and vulnerable people in Nepal. But
  5. 5. 4 things never went the same way, when I was 8 years I had to move to my maternal uncle’s home in western region of Nepal for better education as the Maoist conflicts were arising from mid western region in Nepal. The Maoist had started vandalizing schools and the situations were unsafe in those regions as they had started arm conflict with the government. Things went harder for me now. I was living far from my mother, who meant my world. I was going through my tough periods, trying to study harder and consoling myself. I lived my two years amongst the coldness of my own relatives, helping them in their household chores, working on the farms with them and looking after myself. This was the same house, it stood three storied tall, which was built by my mother for her family during her early employment. And this was the same house where, I was an alien for the same family I also belonged. My cousins were treated with love and care while, I always felt so cold from the same people. I was being treated as a second class member in the family and the society only because I was growing up without my father. The society and social norms still behaves the child with a single mother as I was treated then. But, these things were rare in big cities. After 9 years of continuous struggle, my mother finally was transferred by the government to the central part of Nepal for her remarkable work she had done working for women development. I joined her again in Chitwan after two years of painful separation. It’s Chitwan, where we lived afterwards; it’s the place where I belong, the place which means a home to me and the people who now mean family to me. We had our relatives in this place and they were happy to see us there. Life started to look easier and people were really helpful and nice. The people here were educated and had high level of awareness on social and political matters. The social exclusion, gender discrimination, caste-wise discrimination that I noticed in mid-western and western region of Nepal reduced dramatically in this place. Chitwan is one of the developed and beautiful cities in Nepal. The place is under direct influence of development and has better opportunities in it.
  6. 6. 5 MY TEENAGE Our relatives in Chitwan were my mother’s uncle and his family. They were really so nice and kind. My mother joined me to the best school in the town, Sun Rise English School, which is still one of the famous schools in the region for its academic excellence and homely environment. I was not a bright student when I joined the school. But, the environment there helped me grow better academically and in social outdoors. I was awarded with the “Student Excellence Award” for the first time in my school when I completed my school. I still remember the time when I was accidently included for the Junior Red cross Circle of my school in 2002. I was a grade seven scholar then; I was good at my studies and good at cricket. I went to the 7th Regional Junior Red Cross (JRC) seminar in Kathmandu, Nepal with the team. There I learned about Red Cross society and volunteerism with good tutors and people from different parts of the country. After returning back from there, I joined the JRC in my town and started being the part of volunteerism and seminars at my early age. In spring 2003, I played for my school team for the Inter-school cricket tournament and won the series. In early 2004, I was elected as the captain for my school team and at the same time I was elected vice-president for the Junior Red Cross Circle of my school. I led the cricket team for consecutive two years winning it District Level Cricket Running Shield. I represented my school and JRC, Chitwan for Regional Red Cross Seminar in 2004. Year 2004 was my year. Next to this, in 2005 I anchored the silver year annual programme of my school. Surprisingly, at the same function I was rewarded Student Excellence Award for the first time in my school’s history. This moment meant a lot to me, my mother took this award for me as I wanted her to have it. I have had seen tears on my mother’s eye for
  7. 7. 6 number of occasions as I grew up, but this time her tears were revealing happiness and satisfaction, they were rolling on her face at the stage and my head teacher who was giving my award to her was also on tears. I made to the first dream, that my mother dreamt for me and people were appreciating the way we; me and my mother, had walked till that day. I completed my schooling the same year with good marks. My six years walk with my second home, my school, completed. This period had developed me skills on leadership and volunteerism. I had desires to work for people on social outdoors, which were on my blood as inheritance from my mother while, the opportunities I got through my school developed them better. I wanted to study sociology in higher education but my mother wanted me to join Science stream. I followed her words and moved to the capital of the country, Kathmandu for further studies. I lived with my childhood friends in an apartment 200 kms far from my hometown. We were totally new to live a life by ourselves, and the immaturity showed when we stayed together. Things didn’t go well with our living, we fought with each other for simpler reasons of self esteem and we separated by two months we came from our home. I started living alone far from any people I knew and hardly any old friends of mine could meet me. I had a routine life, college to room and room to college. Kathmandu is a busy town, newer charms, developed and westernizing societies. But, objects there had nothing to do with my life. A new hunger for love, a hunger of possession, a hunger for family life and a hunger for the feeling of belongingness started in me again. My mother loved me more than anything in this world but this was not enough, I still wanted something more. I wanted more love and affection but didn’t know what I was looking for; maybe I wanted to experience the love from a father or may be more or something else. Days passed, months passed and a year passed, I was not studying enough and I even
  8. 8. 7 dropped my mathematics paper on the board exams. In the meantime, I was being unsociable but still didn’t know what I wanted in life. In early 2006, Nepal was going through next phase of its history, people were revolting against the monarchy led by the new king Gyanendra, who was ruling after the massacre of king Birendra and his family. All political parties united and developed a seven party alliance with the active support from Maoist party. People died in this movement, people were injured and the tolls were increasing. This scenario united people together, even youngsters like me, who were not into any politics went to streets, every citizen was protesting against the cruel king now. This people’s movement finally seized the power from the king. The Maoist left the arm revolution and joined the multiparty alliance. New rays of hope were rising for the country. And when I was concerned, after being a part of street protest for ten consecutive days, I was getting sociable again. I was politically aware about my country’s situations and was enjoying with people’s accompany. The situation started to get normal. I passed the mathematics exam in March 2006 and joined the next year of higher secondary education. That was my first day in new class with few old friends from previous class, I saw a beautiful girl, and her name is Roopa. She was sitting at the first bench and I really liked her. I was good at studies and at sports; cricket, I was good with people and a good speaker in the stage but I hardly had any friends who were a girl. I was a chicken talking to them. The way I was brought up had imprints on me; we are not used of talking to girls or approaching them in my place and in my school. I was a shy and silent boy. But, I always respected them as it was a part of my culture. Things were changing in me now, my concepts were changing, I started talking to the female colleagues of my class whilst the respect I had for girls and women was always increasing. I remember, I have
  9. 9. 8 had come across a lot of girls, they were beautiful, they were classmates, but Roopa was captivating me, I felt some magnetic attraction towards her. I was getting infatuated towards her, her voice, her softness and her smile that straightly went to my heart as light; I knew I was falling for her. I understood what I was missing in my life, I understood I wanted to be loved and to feel the sense of belongingness, I wanted to share my feelings and my happiness that I never had shared, not even with my mother. I went closer to her, observed her closely as her backbencher but didn’t speak much with her. I enjoyed seeing her, I just enjoyed her presence, but I never let her know how I felt about her. My life was overturning again; I was getting active in social outdoors and at my classroom. With years of volunteering experiences at school and some friends with similar experience, we started an environment conservation eco club in the college. I was elected as the secretary. Eventually, I got involved into bigger organizations through this same platform on June. Afterwards using the same network, I got involved into Social Aspect Volunteer Service (SAVS). I worked as a team-member for the same organization in Street Child Rehabilitation Programme on June and in HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign on August. My life drastically changed in these few months and Roopa was inspiring me all this way unknowingly. I had started loving her like crazy but I kept it with myself. However, life had something else for me; I heard about her love relations through her best friend. My dreams were shattered into pieces like glasses, I wanted to suppress my feelings within myself, I dropped my classes time and again, I was bunking my lectures for no reasons. I wished to prove myself bad in front of her eyes so that she wouldn’t talk to me again and I wouldn’t hurt myself more. This routine followed for three months but I loved her more than any days I did. I couldn’t stop loving her, I couldn’t avoid running away. Love is immortal, more than social boundaries and physical salvations, this really meant for me. I was cheating everyone around me, I was presenting myself artificially but I could never cheat myself. I had pound my heart in her and she meant everything to me but my
  10. 10. 9 friendship with her was dying a horrible death for incredibly stupid reasons I had tried. Life is merely collection of such events and these memories with her are precious. Finally, after five more months I wrote her a letter expressing what I felt about her. I had a negative answer but that didn’t stop me loving her indeed it dramatically inspired me for better things. Probably, my love was my strength and it had nothing to do with achieving her, I had no conditions when I loved her and although she wouldn’t love me in return, I could never stop loving her. I coordinated with Nawa Kiran Plus, Nepal to introduce Positive Speaker’s Bureau on HIV/AIDS through the eco club we had in our college. Following this, we started Manohara River Cleanliness Campaign in early 2007. This was one of the community oriented programme around one square km of our college premise. We focused on the awareness of people. Rivers in Kathmandu are polluted making the situation of the city more vulnerable and we were working from the grass root level of the community. I graduated my high school in March 2007. Today the club has been working widely on river cleanliness campaign collaborate with UN HABITAT. MY ADULTHOOD After high schooling, I had to pursue further education. My mother strongly wanted me to join the medical field and kept on insisting me. Nevertheless, this time I stood for my own choice and convinced her with my strong desires to work in social field. I grew up watching my mother work for women development and empowerment which had already inherited into me with well-built motivations to work in social outdoors. In the same way, my involvements with clubs and INGOs, working in the same scenario was behind me. But,
  11. 11. 10 before doing so I preferred to gain some more professional experience in this field and likely joined Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) as a volunteer. KIMFF focuses on upbringing national and international documentaries and short films either about social and global issues or issues of environment conservation. After a week’s work with KIMFF, they recommended me to the workshop on Documentary Film Making which was organized by Candid Society, Nepal. Next to this, I worked with Project Gracchus. We made a short film, “Home Is A Place Called Nowhere”, on the issues of social exclusion faced by deaf kids in Nepal. By this time, Roopa was doing her entrance preparation for MBBS. I hadn’t seen her after last day at high school but we were in touch with each other at least through emails. I never knew when she would be online so was used to surfing internet for whole day-time during the weekends to chat some hours with her. I knew she had no feelings for me but I loved her unconditionally and more deeply. Fortunately, a friend of mine gave me her telephone number. I called her daily for five months from then till she left Kathmandu for her studies. She was studying MBBS in Janakpur, a city seven hundred kms to the south- east of Kathmandu. I wanted to go there but my mother would never permit me to do so and as I lived on the money she gave me I had no options. Other than this, I applied in United Nations job portal for Emergency Communication Assistant (ECA) with duty station based on Janakpur. I got short-listed for the interview from 893 applicants where I was the only high school graduate amongst the 75 university graduate. I proved myself and was further placed for the UN Radio Operator Training with other 33 selected candidates for a week. I scored the highest there and was recruited for an international level job. This was the greatest day in my life and for my mother. I was offered to work either in Kathmandu or Chitwan as they wanted to keep their best people in good cities, they never wanted me to be at Janakpur as it was not a safe place and the situation was worsening with
  12. 12. 11 numerous arm groups who were revolting for a new state in terai region of Nepal. However, this place meant everything to me as Roopa was there and eventually I moved to the place in 2nd March 2008. The inner terai regions of Nepal are the poorest part of Nepal with high illiteracy rate and rooted with superstitious social norms and values. Madhesis are the local inhabitant of the lower terai regions including Janakpur as a central city. These people were being discriminated in rest part of Nepal as they spoke their own language, didn’t speak fluent Nepali and had an Indian outlook. After the end of direct Monarchy these people were revolting for a new state and against the constitution assembly election on 10 April 2008. They never liked the presence of people from other regions of Nepal. Despite of conflicts and hurdles, the constitution assembly election was conducted safely in Nepal. But, Janakpur was still heating like hell, the arm revolutions, abductions and crime rate was rising. Meanwhile, the place was no safer especially for people like me who have their origin from hilly regions of Nepal. I including my colleagues at work had to abide by the UN safety rules there, we weren’t allowed to move after dark and had to inform the UN radio room with our daily activities. I had informed Roopa about my presence in the same town as soon as I was there. I was calling her daily and that I did since last five months. We became more nearer and developed good friends out of ourselves. In Nepal, while in places like Janakpur people don’t widely accept the friendship and relationship between girls and boys. This basic thing prohibited us to meet there although we were good friends. I met her for couple of times during my three months working periods in Janakpur. For my good performance and recommendation from UNDP where I was working, I was offered to work for International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Damak, 600 kms east
  13. 13. 12 to Janakpur. Damak is a safe and beautiful place with warm and good people. I moved to Damak in 1st June 2008 and had been working there as a radio operator when Roopa expressed her feelings towards me. We come from different caste groups, she is a Brahmin and I am a Newar. Inter- caste marriage and relations are not widely accepted and tolerated in Nepal, this was the reason she was suppressing her emotions by herself since a year. But, love has no colors, it has no caste and it has no divisions, my years of patience and the love I had for her finally paid me. The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do. I am a big dreamer. I had always planned to continue my further studies in Scandinavian Europe since my high schooling. The countries despite being colder, people there are quite warm and this is the basic thing that I adore. Whilst, studying a social service degree in welfare countries like Finland was always a dream-plan for me. And so, I had applied to DIAK for the social service degree about which I knew through Google search. The course met my interest and aspirations and it lured me, I was accepted, I resigned my job with words to return back later. I had a visa and I planned to bid farewell to my friends and my country. Roopa had board exams when I departed from my country to Finland, she couldn’t be there to see me but we always felt each other. I was going for a good reason, for my mother, for her and for my dreams. With a promise to work hard in this separation period I flew to Finland on 31st September, 2008. WESTERN WORLD
  14. 14. 13 Finland has been completely a next edge of world for me. The language here has been barrier for me time and again, but they will adapt me and I will adapt them with time. The way of life, the culture and the society, they completely varied from where I came. The development and infrastructure has been tremendous. People have their own independent life and weekend pub or weekend parties means a lot here. I remember I had never been to any of night places when I was back home and hardly few people have night life there. Talking on sexual life and the sexual freedom has always been harder in Nepal , although cities are westernizing and similar scenarios of Europe can be seen but hardly. I went to bar for the first time at Jarvenpaa. The freedom people here share either it be their sex life or personal matters was really adorable but was also astounding. I never have any sexual relations before and seeing people here with different freedom and concept they share about sex were different for me more amongst young people here. And especially seeing women with this immense freedom was uncommon to me. But, I understand its west and I am a man from the east, things differ and I respect it. Finland has worked well on women empowerment and that’s exactly vice versa in Nepal and the achievement Finland has with it today proved the importance of women empowerment for development. It has utilized its resources understanding they are non- renewable and equally conserving them. People here have understood the importance of toil and their dignity for work is respectable. It’s fourth week I am in Jarvenpaa, this place, DIAK, where I am studying my social service degree has been treating me well. And people despite they are introvert but seem good. I have my own dream to get this knowledge to Nepal for developing it that has brought me to DIAK, I have to work hard and learn from the wonderful and nice tutors I have here. I have miles to walk here and will be learning better and better each new day of my life.
  15. 15. 14 MY ROOTS My roots come from a rich country which still is regarded as poor countries in terms of materialistic wealth. I belong to the eastern culture and a different way of life. I belong to the same mother who worked for women development then and now as civil servant. Family, friends and love has high values and importance for me and for people like me. I am a Hindu, but I am spiritual than religious, I believe in deeds rather the pages my religion owns however, I respect it and every religion. I have high respect for women, whom we regard as a symbol of goddesses in my culture, and I adore it. For me, I live my life once, I have loved and will love only Roopa, I will only marry her or no one else; you live once, you love and marry once, you die once. I have a family to make when I get back home with my mother and the girl who means my world. I have to work hard here, learn more, learn better and return back to my country to help it; it needs youngsters like me to work there not a youngster who will end up as a brain drain overseas. And this comprises my own roots, the culture that I belong, the way I lived my life and the way I will live ahead.
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