Our three year adventure in Nepal will come to an end within days. It is bittersweet as we will dearly miss our colorful and nourishing life and friends, but we also are truly enthusiastic about the next step in our lives… Our family of five will take a GAP YEAR aiming to relax, de-stress, contemplate and just BE for some time :-). So… how did this peculiar idea take shape?!?
Prakash and I deliberated for months about our next life chapter – whether to extend his contract at ICIMOD for another year or two; if not, where to move next and which jobs to pursue; and more generally speaking – what aspects of life should we focus on next?
Life in Nepal has been absolutely phenomenal: amazing school with countless growth opportunities for the children and me too as an active parent and board member; slow-paced, high quality of life (cycling as primary mode of transportation; fresh, healthy and nutritious food; small town atmosphere; pleasant year-around climate) and excellent professional opportunities for both Prakash and me. Nepal isn’t a utopia, just like any other corner on this planet… there are trade-offs including the poor air quality, painfully cold indoor temperatures during winter, isolated location and the other usual difficulties with life in an undeveloped nation (limited resources, poor infrastructure and weak governance). In addition, Prakash struggled at his workplace to make meaningful contributions to the local and regional air quality.
Although Prakash and the kids felt they could live longer in Nepal, I prodded the clan to move onwards… My initial preference was to return to the USA, however, after Trump’s victory in the November election we hesitated. Also, Asia is just such an amazing place and once we repatriate to the USA, we most likely will not move back to Asia until all the kids are finished with high school. So, we sought out atypical options… Taking a bit of “time off” from life was a welcome idea for Prakash and for me. We could stay in Asia and wait out the initial months of the Trump administration. India seemed like an ideal option – our ancestral roots, close to many relatives and a very affordable place to live while not earning.
Our plan is certainly unorthodox, but one we feel will be enriching and enjoyable for the children and us. We will leave Nepal in May after Prakash’s contract finishes and move to Belgaum, a small city in northern Karnataka where Prakash’s parents and several of our relatives live. Neither of us will work and the kids will attend a local English-medium school. We’ll take some classes (finally learn to properly speak our mother tongue, Marathi!). Prakash plans to give more attention to his health and fitness. We’ll also travel around India, visiting places off the typical tourist path. Mainly, we will spend time reflecting and relaxing – low priorities in our hyperactive, accomplishment-focused society. We aim to take three to twelve months off and have faith that the next amazing opportunity will soon reveal itself.
We told our parents about our unusual plan and, thankfully, they were all very happy and supportive. The kids too, are eagerly anticipating our family gap year – being close to family, traveling to mango farms, cashew groves, sea sides and hilltops in rural India and experiencing a completely different school with children whom they otherwise wouldn’t have interacted with.
Recently, Prakash and I recognized that this “gap year” coincides with both our 40th birthdays. We cannot think of a better way to celebrate this milestone year than by spending it with each other, our kids and relatives, reflecting and relaxing…
If you visit India soon, please pop over to Belgaum – we’d be happy to share a bit of our continued adventure with you :-).