The secret of knowing everything

Throughout the day, so many questions arise in our mind. But thanks to google. These days, whenever we have a question, we can ask google.

Google will certainly give you some answers. It will never say ‘I don’t know’.

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You have searched for thousands of questions and things in you life. But have your ever been satisfied?  Have you gotten an answer that satisfies you? In fact, you have even more questions now. You get an answer from google, but moments later you have several more questions.

So how to get out of this trap? Is it even possible?

Yes, it is possible, absolutely!

The only way is to turn inward. Before asking google ask yourself. Whenever you have a question in your mind, however big it be, close your eyes and ask it to yourself first. Don’t ever think that only Einstein can answer the question of your mind. Never think that only physicists can answer the questions about the universe. Don’t think that only a doctor can answer your health-related question. You are a physicist. You are also a doctor. You are everything. You don’t have to go to the university and get a degree “to know”. Knowledge is a universal right. It is accessible to everyone. But only those who turn inward can access it. That is the only way.

 

 

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Story behind a photo 

A day of spring. Green and colorful, everywhere.

We had a fight, just before. But agreed to go out, to take some pictures. Nepalese new year it was.

My wife was clear, like the sky after a pouring rain. My daughter was happy, as always when out. And I was abiding by my true self.

An angel came. Young and calm. All curves she had. But the curve of her smile was that mattered. My daughter recognized her purity. She followed. And I approached.

Would you mind taking a family picture for us?

“Sure” she said. But “I love” she meant.

Two clicks and shine of three hearts captured.

For free, she took our pictures. Yet completely professional. Only thing we paid was “smile”.

I am houseless, not homeless

I live on the streets and people call me “homeless”. But I don’t agree with this title. May be I am “houseless” but I am certainly not homeless. Because I consider the whole earth as my home. Are all the animals and birds homeless too?

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I am absolutely no different than other human beings. But people treat me differently. I have not yet understood why.

The only difference between me and other people is that people wear expensive, fashionable clothes and I wear torn clothes. But people often complain that I stink. How can I make them understand, that it is my clothes that stink, not me. Why don’t they understand that it is the perfume that smells good, not their “beings”. They wear clean/elegant clothes and they think they look good, but the fact is that clothes look good not them.

The way people treat me is simply disgusting. They don’t even talk to me. Many people pass by me everyday. Although they don’t know me, I care for them. I smile when I see them smiling and I cry when I see them crying. I personally know many of them; how can I just ignore another human being?

I like talking to people but I never get a chance. I try to talk to them, but they offer me some money. It really hurts. At times, I just like to talk and share my feelings with them.

Thanks god, at least I have good health. Otherwise, who would afford the treatment these days, that even without insurance? But if I ever become sick, I know what to do. I will die, with a smile in my face.

I collect plastics, metals and other recycling things from the garbage and sell them. That is enough for my living. I think I am helping to clean the city but the city doesn’t like me.

The students of the university near my garbage heap, they think that I can’t read and write. It is true that I don’t have money to buy books, but I know how to read and write. I find enough books in the garbage. Just this last week, I had found a book named “The old man and the sea” written by Hemingway. A few pages of it were missing though. But I completed the story. It was easy to put myself in those missing pages, so I completed the book myself, filling with my own story.

Once in the garbage, I found a diary of a woman who was depressed with life. She was rich and had a great family. But she mentioned that she feels lonely, all the time. I couldn’t understand it. I found her life more miserable than my life. I feel lucky in this regard; at least I don’t have a fear of the so called society. I read such stories everyday. The whole city seems to be in trouble, in different ways. People in the city don’t seem to be what they look. Outside they look shining, but inside, they are suffering. I feel lucky again because I am not much different, inside and outside.

My society is very small, few homeless friends and some stray dogs. That’s all! No rules. No deadlines. No past. No future. We just live. At the present moment.

Well, that is my story. I know it is short but life is short too. So go and have fun!

 

Do not react, respond!

Every human being has two space; conscious and unconscious. The conscious space is the space of “awareness” and the unconscious space is the space of “tendencies”. In other words, the conscious space is the space of the heart and the unconscious space is the space of the mind. Conscious space is where our “true being” resides and the unconscious space is where our “false being” resides. This false being is the mind or ego. Love and joy belong to the conscious space. Anger, hate, jealousy, and fear belong to the unconscious space.

Decisions taken while being in the conscious space are always right because they are “life-sensitive”.  The decisions taken while being in the unconscious space are mostly wrong because they are “habit-sensitive”. Habits are derived from our past impressions which are not only limited to the past of this life but also from the past of our many lives. When we are in the conscious space, we “respond” to a situation. In contrast, in the unconscious space, we “react” to the situation.

Unfortunately, we live in the unconscious space for most of the time. Meditation is all about living in that conscious space. So we can be meditative all the time not just when we sit in a cross-legged position and close our eyes.

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Lets take an example – that you like coke very much. Coke is just an example; it could be anything with which you are habitual. Suppose in an afternoon, you were passing through the hallway in your office. Then you saw some bottles of coke and water lying in in the table of the graduate lounge. Somehow, you reached there and grabbed the a bottle of coke. You drank it. It certainly gave you some satisfaction. Now the question – did “you” drink the coke? You think that you drank it but the truth is something else. You did not drink it. You were only reacting at that moment. In other words, it was your “tendency” that decided to grab and drink the coke. If you were “conscious” at that moment, you would continue to walk to your office. Even if you were thirsty, you would choose to drink water had you been conscious. Perhaps, you realized this, although after some time, that you had to drink water because you were still feeling thirsty.

Life is all about making “conscious” decisions. Our success and happiness in life are buried somewhere in this space of consciousness. We have the choice to do each of our activity consciously or unconsciously – weather it be about drinking a coke or making a decision to buy a house.

Perhaps I will never see him again

We meet, walk together for some time, and then we depart. It happens in trains and public transits noticeably. But even at larger time-scales, it happens in our life all the time. Everyday or every week, we meet new friends, share things with them for some time and again time comes to say good bye. Some of those friends we will see again, some we won’t. Some we want to see again, some we don’t.

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Today, another such friend left a message in my desk and went away.

We not only shared the office, but we shared the air we breathed. I shared his energy and he shared my energy.

We didn’t communicate much as such but communication “happened”. In fact, communication that happens energy-wise is much more powerful and long lasting. He was a person with high energy and positivity. He was a great hiker and more importantly a responsible vegetarian. He was in many ways like a Yogi. I never saw him worried.

I will perhaps never see him again. But I am sure life will remind me of him in different ways at different times in the future.

My best wishes to him too.

 

 

New-Parent Experiences

It was okay if you called me heartless, ruthless, indifferent, inhumane, and selfish until a few days ago. But now that I have become father of a beautiful girl named Nova, please don’t call me so. It really hurts.

testThree-hour old Nova.

My friends had told me that having a child is a different and unique experience. But I didn’t believe them. I thought they were saying so out of responsibility and were just pretending to be compassionate human beings. I thought having a child is merely a consequence of evolution and is a burden to the modern society.

It makes sense to a mother to love her child because having carried him/her for 9 months, she could think that the baby is her own body part. A recent research has also shown that fetal cells could migrate into the mother during pregnancy and it could be a reason for mother-child bonding. But for a father to love his child, what more reasons could be there other than a sense of responsibility? Well, there could be more things going on at the reproduction level, but lets not talk about it until research finds anything. I have also heard about the story of Penguin’s fathers who carry the eggs on their feet to save them from ice until the mother returns with some food after a few months. But why would the so-called intelligent human beings be so foolish?

test1Three-days old Nova.

But, after becoming father of a sweet girl, my perception has changed. I don’t know for how long it will last, but my heart  has become fuller and bigger with love. I don’t know whether I have become a complete man, but it is highly likely that I have become a little better person. Now, I realize that my friends were true. To have a child is truly an amazing and unique experience.

I used to smile when I saw some kids around me, but, in the inside, I was an indifferent, heartless person. But now, I see every other kids differently, as the beloved children of their parents.

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Nova with her mother.

My mother used to say that love always flows downward, from the parents to their children, not the other way around. At that time I didn’t take her remarks seriously and said “well, may be love also follows the laws of gravity.” But, now, I have more empathy for parents and women. With the birth of our daughter, I feel more connected to my wife. I love the way my wife talks to our daughter. I love the way they play with each other. When I see them playing, I imagine Rihanna singing besides me “Just gonna stand there and watch them play, that’s alright, because you love the way they love.”

One of my friend had told me that having a child is equivalent to taking one course (3 credit hours) in terms of work load. But now I find it even more demanding. Furthermore, for a person like me who needs 8-10 hours of continuous sleep, it is little difficult to adjust. Babies need to have their diaper changed every three/four hours so a continuous sleep is now a dream to me. Taking baby’s medical care and food is not less demanding. And we have to discover our own ways of understanding and soothing the baby because babies communicate only by crying.

Okay, in the end, I have something to say to my unmarried and single  friends. Having a child is a must if you want to experience somethings called unconditional love, affection, and compassion. And, every child around you deserves your attention, love, and care. So next time you see a child, please try to smile with a feel, with a heart. May be you can.

test2Nova with her father. 🙂

To the more matured parents I still have something to say. I don’t know how it feels to have a boy yet, but I can say that if you haven’t had a girl, you might be missing some truly amazing experience. So please consider having a girl before considering family planning. 🙂

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12249902_10205165356560888_1038136377881380121_nMy happy family.

Thank you for reading.

Thanks to Yongfei Zhang for inspiring me to write this post this morning.

Connecting with nature

Who does not want to spend some time of the day in a garden? Who would not want to pick and eat some fresh vegetables and fruits from their own garden?

Yesterday, while working in my garden, I was wondering why do we love plants and flowers so much? Why do we love nature so much?

Soon after I found so many reasons. In the past, when the modern trade and market didn’t exist, home gardening was essential for growing food irrespective of whether people liked it or not. But that is just what anthropology says about our love for nature. We are connected to the nature in thousand more ways if not millions. Plants are foods we eat, clothes we wear, and oxygen we breathe. Period.

The ironic fact is that with the advancement in technology, we are being less and less connected to the nature. But our desire for connecting with nature is growing stronger as we get away from it. No doubt technology provides comfort. But we were not evolved to live in so much comfort, and we need physical activities to grow healthily.

But for me, there are more reasons for why I love nature and gardening. In fact gardening is in my blood. That is true for my wife as well. And that is probably true for everyone who grew up in the farms.
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When I was a child, everything was grown at home back in Nepal. The only things that really needed to be purchased were salt and sugar. People in my village prepared their paddy field as soon as the monsoon arrived all the way from Bay of Bengal. For the next one month, people planted rice in their field. After harvesting rice, wheat was grown. Following wheat harvest, corn was grown. In the front yard and backyard, seasonal vegetables and fruits were grown. Oranges, Pears, Pineapple, Guava, Papaya, Litchi, Plum, and wild fruits took their turn and yielded fruits generously in different seasons.

That was only a few decades ago. Many things have changed now. But my desire to work in the farm and connect with nature has not. As soon as I moved to the University Apartments of UT in 2014, I started gardening by renting a plot from the University.

When we started gardening, we didn’t use gloves and shoes. Back in Nepal, nobody wore special gloves and shoes while working in the field. But that didn’t work here. There were a lot of ants in our plot. Initially we thought those are just ants, but they were not. They were fire ants capable of killing human beings. One day, when I accidentally touched the fire ants mound, I got attacked by the fire ants. I had to seek medical help and had to take some antihistamine wit the advice of a Nurse from University Health Services. After the incidence, we treated our garden for fire ants, and we now also (sometimes) use gloves and shoes.
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When we started gardening last year, we were novice and didn’t understand the harsh climate of Texas. Now we know the favorable seasons for many of the vegetables that we like. But we learn new thing every season. Last summer, we learned that certain beans can withstand the heat. Last winter we knew that lettuce and cilantro do well in winter. We also knew that Cauliflower and Broccoli like cold. Cucumber and Tomato seem to like both spring and summer.
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Gardening is difficult and it requires a lot of physical activities in collecting plants and seeds, digging and preparing the soil, removing weeds, installing trellis, and watering. But it is good. It is equivalent to working out and is healthy. In fact, you forget all the pain when it is time to harvest the fruits. Your satisfaction gets multiplied when you share the vegetables and fruits with your friends.

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We went to the garden everyday and watched how small seeds that we sowed turned into green cilantro. We watched how a cucumber seed emerged out of the soil, followed the trellis, blossomed, and finally became an adult cucumber. We felt so good every time we went to the garden for watering in the evening.
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Staying organic is great but it also has a cost. Weeds are the greatest problem. We have to remove them almost every week. And insects love plants as we do. Last winter, we welcomed beetles. Initially we thought that beetles are beautiful and we were happy that they liked our garden. But later, they spread allover the Colorado garden and destroyed the leaves of many plants.
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Okay, back to my original point. I want to reiterate that it is very important to connect with nature because nature is essentially where we come from, where we live and where we ultimately go back. Connecting with nature brings positive vibes in life. There are many more ways to connect with nature apart from gardening. It could just be taking a walk along a trail, hiking, going to some public parks or it could just be looking out of the window, appreciating the greenness of the trees, and thanking them for being there for us. These days we are so much busy that we often forget where we are living. So it is important to take a pause and appreciate what is around us.

I hope this post will inspire you to connect with the nature more often. If you do not trust me, this Guardian article gives ten more scientific reasons for why we need more contact with nature. Another National Geographic article explains how connecting with nature boosts creativity and health.

My Favorite Quotes

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

“Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You need power, only when you want to do something harmful, otherwise love is enough to get everything done.” Charlie Chaplin

“Oh Lord, give me sobriety and chastity but not yet.” Saint Augustine

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

“I am thankful to all those who said “No”. Because of them, I did it myself.” Albert Einstein

“If a theory can’t be explained to a child, the theory is probably worthless.” Albert Einstein

“If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.” Andy Rooney

“Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” Mark Twain

“The handsome and the beautiful may earn the admiration of society, but all the wondrous inventions of the future are a by-product of the unsung, anonymous scientists.” Dr. Michio Kaku

“Neither in this world nor elsewhere is there any happiness in store for him/her who always doubts.” Bhagvat Gita

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”- Bill Cosby

“As I move ahead, I am making things virtually more complex, but, in reality, things are simple, simpler than my child life.” (Source unknown)

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.” Orison Swett Marden

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Quotes by late APJ Abdul Kalam, former president of India:

“It is very easy to defeat someone but it is very hard to win someone.”

“If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.”

“All of us do not have equal talent but all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”

“Difficulties in your life do not come to destroy you, but to help you realize your hidden potential and power, let difficulties know that you too are difficult.”

“Be more dedicated to making Solid Achievements than in running after swift and synthetic happiness.”

“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”

“Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.”

“Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.”

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“The only good system is a sound system.” (Source: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/01/the-10000-bedroom-nazi-hotel-that-was.html)

“We never lose, either win or learn.” Unknown

“I am a square peg in a world of round holes.” Humans of Newyork

A Day on the Bus

It had been going on for the last one month. Everyday, I would walk to the bus station to go to the office, located at the base of ‘Flatirons’, one of the most prominent features of Boulder. On that 10 minute walk, I prepared myself for the day. I listened to the music on the air. I greeted the squirrels and the rabbits on the way.

It was raining that day and I was under a ‘pink umbrella’, which my landlady had generously offered to me. The bottom half of my body was all wet. A generous old lady asked me if I need a ride on the way, but I thanked her and continued walking. As the rain drops powered by wind hit my body, I felt connected to the majestic cloud in the sky. I captured a moment with my camera as the rocky mountains and the cloud played hide and seek.

Usually, it is only me who is walking to the bus station. Several faces greet me from inside the cars while passing me. I smile back and wish them all good.

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It was already 8:20. I was fearing that I might have missed, and I saw the bus coming. I got on the bus after crossing the road and thanked the driver for waiting. “If there are no people, the bus is of no use”, the driver replied. I showed my ticket to the driver which was worth $2.25. It was little too expensive to me because I was riding the public bus free in Austin, as a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Fortunately, RTD-Boulder was revising their fare structure and I had given my comments, hopefully will be taken care of. Boulder certainly can learn from Austin in this case.

As usual, few faces greeted me with ‘good morning’s and ‘hi’s. It has been just one month since I started using this bus and many of the people on the bus looked familiar.

While other people were busy themselves either reading or listening to the music, I enjoyed reading their faces. I just sat on the bus and enjoyed being among the people, smiling to and back to the people getting on and off the bus.

Usually, there is silence in the morning in the bus. I could read on many faces that they were unhappy with their work. I had seen those faces smiling in the weekends though. Probably, they were waiting for the happiness to be found in the bars, beer gardens, or parties. Gone are the days when the happiness could be found at home and work.

In the crowd, there was a guy who always had his headphone on his head. His face showed that he has many trouble, which, he wants to forgot with the music. There was another lady who carried a book in her hands titled ‘delivering happiness’. She had that book for at least a week. Another girl read on her kindle which titled something like ‘Achieve Anything in Just One ……….’.

In front of me is a young lady whose bag, shoes, and nail police all are blue for some reason. I had asked her the other day “so you don’t like riding a car? It is so much fun and economical than riding a car, isn’t it?” She had laughed and said, “well! I will, when I can’.

Seated on the front corner are two ladies who wore ‘Burka’ on their head. Both of them carried ‘English Grammar’ book on their hands. Inside the Burkas, they carried calm, beautiful, and shy faces. They always smiled at me, but never made eye-contact. Sometimes they talked with each other in Arabic, at other times they just stared at their large-screen smart phones.

Another color in the spectrum is an old man, who lived in Boulder for more than 50 years. He always told his story to whoever was seated next to him. The other day, he told me as much as he could about himself but didn’t ask anything about me. He came from Germany in this teenage, and remained here afterwards. He met his wife while riding on the bus.

It was Arapahoe Road and Foothills Parkway. A familiar face entered the bus. His hands reached his pocket only to know that he didn’t have the exact change to pay the fare. After a quick look inside the bus, he decided to leave the bus. Suddenly there were voices on air. ‘What do you need?’ ‘How much do you need?’ I also added ‘You can borrow from me’. A person stood up and approached him offering a quarter that he was looking for. The bus was certainly more than a bus. It was a community.

At the following station, a gentleman waited for the bus with a white cane in his one hand. Though he was unable to sense the physical world in the visible spectrum, he seemed to be aware of everything around him. A young man who was seated inside stepped out and guided him into the bus.

Next to me sat an old woman. She was little curious about me. I told her that I am a PhD student and am here for a research visit to National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). She appreciated and said, “we need more scientists like you in the US.” After a pause, she asked again, “Is the Earth really warming?”. I said, “I don’t know, it depends on the timescale and region of interest.” She gave a wide-eyed look to me, which read ‘Tell me Yes or No.’

A girl on my left had tattoo on her right arm. It looked like she had her tattoo done recently because she looked at her arm frequently. Another person with a tattoo took the opportunity to talk to her and showed his tattoo on his back by flipping over his t-shirt. Later, they got off at the same station. In my opinion, it was a tattoo-crush.

Two teenagers seated behind me. I couldn’t understand much of what they were talking but they utterly abused the word ‘like’.

Thirty minute elapsed and it was time to leave the bus until the next day.

As soon as I got off the bus, I saw a woman sitting near the bus stand who apparently had her one hand fractured. She approached me and asked, “Do you mind helping me?” I asked her about where she lives while I tightened her forearm support. She replied, “Under the sky.” While going away, she asked again, “Do you have money?” I handed her a 10 dollar bill and asked not to drink alcohol with that money.

As I stepped forward, I realized that it was my last day in Boulder. I stepped back and offered my unused bus tickets to a person who was waiting for the bus.

While I have already returned to Austin, those familiar faces on the bus are still in my mind. I didn’t talk to many of them, but their presence (and their vibe) certainly affected me in many ways. I can only wish them all the very best.

Englishophobia

Writing for me primarily means expressing myself in an acceptable and formal way. My idea, experience or emotion, if left untold, I feel suffocated. So I write whenever I can. Until now, I have written my blog posts in my native language ‘Nepali’, which can be found here. I haven’t written blog posts in English because I have this disease called ‘Englishophobia’. But I am writing now as some of my friends who don’t understand Nepali have asked me to do so. This one is dedicated to them.

Learning English has been a painful experience to me. During my school days, it looked ‘too cool’ to me when some of my friends, who went to English school, talked in mixed Nepali-English language. They read English magazines as I looked out of the window while going to the school on the same bus. In our school (public), until grade 10, each grade had one course in English and the rest were in native language Nepali. In the high school, things got reversed, there was one course in Nepali and the rest in English, including physics, chemistry, and maths.

I vividly remember my first physics class in the high school. The physics teacher was not teaching something new but everything looked ‘foreign’ to me in that foreign language. All I could say, from the parallel lines drawn on the blackboard, was that he was teaching something on the reflection of light.

At that time, my mind would think, act, and react in Nepali way. I found it difficult to describe something in English and it was even more difficult when it was about emotions. When I had to write something in English, I would think first in my native language and then I would convert the idea into English. Most of the time the conversion didn’t make any sense.

There was a time when I understood nothing while watching CNN or BBC. When I was in my early stage of undergraduate study, I once went to watch an English movie ‘Collateral’ with my friend. There was absolutely nothing that I could understand, though I visually enjoyed a few action scenes by Tom Cruise.

Then I started forcing myself to learn English. The main drive for learning English was common to all Nepali youths – I also wanted to go abroad for my higher studies.

I started reading English newspapers and watching TV channels in English, both of which have lasted until now. One of my elder brother’s friend who studied ‘English’ in his Master’s degree gave me a few tips on how to improve English. He said that we have to ‘think in English’ apart from talking, reading, and writing in English. The idea of thinking in English looked ridiculous to me at that time. But somehow, I do that now. I also started talking to my roommates in English, which, unfortunately, didn’t last longer. I also started writing my diary in English. When I look at that diary now, it looks so dull and boring. Nevertheless, it is a testament of truth and is invaluable to me. The first sentence of the diary everyday would read – Today I opened my eyes at 6:30 and drank tea. The last sentence would always be – It is time to sleep now.

It was generally not possible to go abroad for higher studies without passing the TOEFL and the GRE tests. So, I started to practice the tests and build some vocabulary. Like everyone, I also learned thousands of words by heart. Fortunately, I still remember a few of them.

First, it was ‘TOEFL’ only. Then it was ‘TOEFL iBT’. I would have easily avoided this TOEFL iBT which contained additional speaking test if I were born one year before. Clearly, my parents’ fault here.

There was one more thing called ‘GRE’. Thanks god GRE had some maths, not only English.

My first exposure to the English speaking community was when I went to Abu Dhabi for my Master’s degree. There was no one around me to whom I could talk in Nepali. I felt relieved when I talked to my family members in Skype every evening.

At that time, I would pronounce both ‘a**’ and ‘ash’ the same. My Pakistani friend in Abu Dhabi taught me how these two words differ phonetically. My another American friend taught me how I should pronounce ‘Potato’ correctly, which I would pronounce as ‘Potyato’. My Indian friend taught me how to pronounce ‘Yellow’ correctly, which I would pronounce as ‘Ello’. Only then did I realize that I need to practice ‘active listening’. If you want to listen to how my English would sound before, please watch this epic song in Nepalinglish.

The pressure of English became overwhelming when I had to start writing journal papers in English. I feel uncomfortable to mention my first journal paper now, because of my ‘not so poor English’. I hope everyone agrees when I say that the first journal paper is a piece of ‘ultimate shame’ to everyone, whether it be for ‘English’ reason or else. Please insert smiley 1 here. When I came to the University of Texas at Austin for my PhD, I sincerely hoped that I would not be kicked out for the English reason. Now, I feel sorry for my advisers for confusing them enough by using the article ‘the’ when it was not necessary. I will probably never figure out when to use/not to use a comma. And I don’t want to talk about the difference between British and American English for now.

Now, I still find it difficult to pronounce some alphabets/words. I wish my first name contained no ‘g’ because I have never pronounced it correctly while making appointments. According to some native American friends, I pronounce ‘g’ like ‘z’ with a strong stress. I had learned to pronounce ‘z’ as ‘zed’ which suddenly stopped making sense after I came to the US. When I try to pronounce ‘g’ correctly, I feel restrained myself and my body tends to move backward.

Few weeks ago, I went to Italy together with my Chinese colleague for a conference. In the conference, there were more participants from Europe than from elsewhere, whose primary language was not English. Broken English was everywhere there. I remember, in one session, a presenter answered a question differently because he didn’t understand the question from a British scientist correctly. There was another instance of awkwardness when a Korean presenter didn’t understand a question even after multiple rephrasing of the question. But, language was not strictly a barrier there for communication. Participants seemed to follow the ‘science aspect’ of the talk anyway, which mattered in the end.

In our back trip from Rome to Bari, we met some Italian friends on the train who taught us some common Italian words. My Chinese friend had hard time pronouncing ‘Grazie’ (means ‘thank you’) which should be pronounced correctly as ‘grahtsi’. He always pronounced ‘grahtsi’ as ‘grahsi’, which, probably, makes more sense. Italian people around us on the train laughed (not in contempt) as we learned to pronounce some Italian words.

In our return flight from Bari to Philadelphia, another incidence took place because of the accent. We were seated near the emergency exit so we were asked if we are willing to follow the instructions in case of emergency. I replied ‘No’ in humor. Either the air hostess didn’t get the humor, or she thought the security issue is not a matter of humor. But my Chinese friend didn’t quite understand what she meant and he looked at me. Then I replied on his behalf. In the end, we had to swap our seats with a couple who volunteered to sit there.

I hope this ‘Englishophobia’ will be over soon as I continue to do everything in English including eating, laughing, and crying. In the meantime, I humbly request my fellow American friends to speak slowly and clearly when talking to non-native English speakers like me.

Okay. Enough of English for today. Please allow me now to skype with my family in Nepali for a while.

Peace and love.