This time tomorrow night we will be on our way to New York City via another Abu Dhabi all-nighter. Fifteen years ago I was convinced that I would have lived in the big city by now (of course, at that time in my life I was a splash obsessed with Felicity and all her Noel/Ben drama). My lack of residence, however, does not take away from my love for the city. I haven’t seen the sleepless streets since 2004, and with this being Andrew’s very first visit we are very excited about our five-day layover.
But NYC is worlds away from our Harka home in Bharatpur, and I can’t say that I was craving such an American reality when it came time to departing our kiddos. Our last week was filled with food, candy, movies, water balloon fights, and photos. We took the older four-Sima, Soniya, Sirjana, and Bishal-to eat some dinner and have some good conversation. Topics ranged from asking Andrew how many girlfriends he had before me (Sirjana: “He is very handsome so he had many girlfriend”), how many boyfriends Sirjana currently had (a group of three guys walked with her half of the way home), and what would come of our children. According to Soniya and Sirjana’s logic, it would only make sense to bring our future baby to Harka so that they could take care of it. I asked how long the baby would stay with them, and their response was 4-5 years so that he/she could learn Nepali. We ate pizza and ice cream while laughing at Soniya’s imitations and Sima’s facial expressions.
Our little kid date included those water balloons, 20 rupee beblets (a fancy looking top), a viewing of Ratatouielle, and bubble gum. Hours later the gum was still being chewed (and bubbles impressively made by Tulie) and I grabbed the iPad for some photos. My good friend, Austin Church, recently created the Stache Bash App (http://www.mustachebashapp.com/). His wit and ingenuity became an international sensation with the kids (even Sima who was a bit reluctant as seen held hostage by Groucho Andrew); all you need is a collection of mustaches and a photo booth to keep any kid’s smile growing.
Shishir ignored me most of the day and I cried as our next door grandma wiped away tears with her large, well-worn hands. I tell them that we’ll call and reassure them that some of their favorite volunteers are coming back soon, but leaving these kids is like the end of summer camp as an 8-year-old all over again: somehow life just won’t ever be the same. But for now, I just look at them in mustaches because humor is such a sweet catharsis.
Manessa (we affectionately call her Monisha)
The reluctant Sima and Andrew
Tulie being her monkey self