• Valentina Poletti

Comfort

Comfort is something we take so easily for granted in our developed cultures. Being used to it, it is easy to forget that before us there came people who walked miles to reach their work or school destinations, who manually did labor that now we get done with machines, who invented the idea that made our life easy today. Today I woke up on a the flight from Muscat to Munich, after having rested enough. Resting enough: what a foreign concept it had become to me. During my layover in Muscat I had eight hours of sleep in a modern hotel, and on the high-class flight I slept two more hours. I woke up feeling rested. I don't remember the last time I felt this way. Nepal was a great reminder of everything we give for granted. One of the most inconvenient things was walking on streets. Far from the paved roads with marked lanes and organized traffic we have in modern countries, most of the roads in Nepal are mud, sand and rocks, full of holes, and with no separation or rules regarding wether pedestrians, cars, motorcycles or bicycles should go and where. Another thing was electricity and internet. Finding a working electric plug was a task equivalent to a scavenger hunt: there often is no lighting, particularly on the streets, so you need a torch to get around after sun set, and often electrical equipment is shut down. I don't remember a single time I was able to charge my computer and cell-phone fully: I was always trying to conserve battery time like a precious treasure. Getting working wi-fi signal is another luxury: even when you do the speed is so limited I needed to chose the most essential communication to limit myself to. Privacy is another thing: there is no such thing there. Living and work spaces are barely delimited, and noise and chaos and interaction are constant and unavoidable. Cleanliness, especially when it comes to eating, is rare. You can find it in some touristy or high class places, but for the most part eating is very 'down to earth'. It's yet another thing to live on the mountains there. When I travel in most cultures I preserve my own routine, that is, my healthy eating habits, exercise routine, meditation, etcetera, and don't move from it to adapt to the place where I am. With Nepal was different. Part of it is because I had previously lived in a culture so similar - India - while completely immersing myself in it. Part of it is because when I arrived in Nepal I needed so much to immerse myself in the frequency of stillness - a main frequency of this culture - as I had been running for so long - I had been immersed for too long in the opposite frequency of dynamicity. In any case I let myself melt with the culture: adopting my habits to that of locals, eating like them, sleeping like them, etcetera. An interesting result is that I started to sleep due to exhaustion rather than tiredness. Usually before going to sleep I would do some yoga routine, without which I couldn't even sleep so used to it I got. But in Nepal, by the time I got home around 10-11, as much as I tried to keep myself awake to do it, I always failed and ended up falling asleep against my will in the process so exhausted I was, only to wake up early in the morning still in the same position. Another interesting thing is that I developed not only the capacity, but more the tendency to sleep very well with noise, no matter how loud - something that used to bother my sleep before. My digestion had also changed, I think due to the spices and bacteria. I also had stopped running, as it is simply not possible there. Everything there takes so much more time and is so much more difficult to do. A case in point was my trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu: the bus was supposed to take 6 hours to travel the 200 circa km. On the way we encountered a land-slide, as well as two accidents, and were completely stuck and still in traffic for 6-8 hours without moving. We were part of a column several kilometers long of trucks, buses, cars, all completely stuck on the road. Just imagine being stuck in the middle of no-where under a cooking sun, with a jam of vehicles everywhere around you, with absolutely nothing you can do. After this experience I was offered the complete opposite contrast of Muscat, a symbol of modernity, progress and advancement. I took a flight which is the possibly the highest class I have ever taken. The plane is sleek and new, the airport offered all sorts of gadgets, including the possibility to charge my equipment fully at last. They even offered me a vegan meal on the flight. After two weeks in Nepal, and previously 6 months in Taiwan - not exactly a comfortable country either - this seemed another planet. Yet in spite of appearances, this experience was not about convenience and modernity. This whole period was a test, a growing experience. I have used these difficulties to overcome some of my deepest fears and shadows. And now I am in a place of perfect balance, perfect serenity. The circumstances of my reality are simply a reflection of my inner state.

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