In Madrid, like in Kathmandu, the social safety net consists of the family. Tightly-knit and pervasive, the family is the institution that takes care of you when something goes wrong. Spaniards do not depend on their government in the same way other, mostly Western European, countries do. In Copenhagen, I was assigned a doctor who lived in my neighbourhood. In Vienna, the rents were capped. In Spain, you fend for yourself. Perhaps this is one reason I find Madrid to be most like Kathmandu. Its chaos, its irreverence and its lethargy all remind me of Kathmandu. Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?
June 2018, Kathmandu
Tolstoy is supposed to have said that all literature is one of two stories: a man goes on a journey and a stranger comes to town. The story of my past two years has been a combination of both. I was a man on a journey and I was that stranger come to town. Travelling has been a catalyst for the mind and there are countless spaces, places and experiences that I bring back with me. Now that I have bid au revoir, auf wiedersehen, farvel and hasta luego to Europe, I am back where mud and grime clogs the streets and wires hang like rats’ nests from the telephone poles. Homecoming is always bittersweet. On the one hand, there is an indescribably deep pleasure in being back home. On the other, there is the anxiety of having left. But then again, leaving is always easy when there’s someplace else you need to be, and I must be in Kathmandu.Published: 2018-06-02 08:33:21