Yesterday was my last day at work. Surreal. What’s next? No answers yet. But here’s a journal entry I wrote last month, when I was starting to reflect on that question.
I was biking down my alley towards my house when I passed a man selling Tupperware on his head. The plastics were all colors and sizes – large maroon bowls for washing babies, rounded turquoise ladles for serving dal (lentils) and every plastic kitchen utensil in between – all balanced improbably on his head.
I wanted to stop and talk to him. I wanted to ask him how many bowls he’s sold today, how he became a bowl seller, and how many children he has. What is it like to carry bowls around on your head all day? and Does your neck ever hurt? I might have asked.
I might have followed my impulse but I had a report due in two hours. A report on how IRC is teaching business skills to Nepalis. If the man were a number in my report, I wouldn’t know.
I wanted to work abroad because I love to steep myself in a foreign place and to discover that it’s not so foreign after all. But traveling and working abroad are two very different things, I’m learning. I can’t talk to the plastic utensil-seller and meet work deadlines. I might choose to work abroad again. But over the long run, I think I'll choose the plastic seller.