Sunday, August 24, 2008

This American Boy

it's about 10 pm on saturday night. i just checked in on josh, ezi and suraj after having dinner w/ metta, the nmh admissions officer who is a good friend of joshua's. she's the filipino-american third culture kid (TCK) who graduated from nmh fifteen years ago, then did a couple of masters degrees in nyc and is now working on bringing more international diversity to nmh. (there are already 33 countries represented in this year's 600+ enrollment.)

the boys are ok, but wickedly tired. suraj is hanging w/ the other kids outside on the front porch while ez is up in the room on his back resting his vulnerable ankle and josh is relaxing by playing his soccer computer game.

to say the least, the soccer coaches have been working the kids mercilessly at this four day varsity try-out. constant running, sit-ups and push-ups. they've had about six-seven hours of training a day in 1.5 or 3 hour sessions under the heat of the sun. there have been a few scrimmages with lots of drills and work-outs.

even suraj says, 'it's crazy, man. these americans love their fitness. we had nothing like this in nepal.'

the intensity of the try-out is so severe, watching them, i wonder if all three will make the varsity team this year. there are 25 boys here already and the squad will be a maximum of 22 (maybe less) with another 40 students coming next week who will want to try-out, as well.

you can see i'm still in nearly fulltime soccer dad status. although the boys, i think, feel it's getting time for me to move on to get back to my own life. (little do they know that i can sit with a book and watch them endlessly... wait til they are parents...) there's a mother here from atlanta, but she's the only other unambigously cloying parent who lingered to watch their kids on the pitch...

so, tomorrow, i'll get the boys some more bananas and vitamin water in the morning, make some phone calls, then i've booked a 1:30 pm kayak trip on the deerfield river. the weather's been beautiful the past couple of days and i want to get back on water, after our canoeing in maine two weeks ago. i love being on the water with a paddle!

then, i'll check w/ bruce, as he wanted to go out on his motor boat on monday. if so, i'll spend sunday to tuesday at bruce's, then come back here early on wednesday morning, then friday returning late at bruce's before getting up at 4 am to go to the airport early on saturday. it's all a bit of a juggle.

bottom line: it's strange living this biforcated life b/n kathmandu and america. i'm enjoying it, sans doubt, but, at times, it seems odd having these two completely separate worlds ten thousand miles apart. i suppose that is exactly what joshua felt so intensely and painfully last year when he was here for months at a time all by himself. nepal began to feel so far away and distant for him, even though that was the only world he had known his whole life. there's nothing really to quite prepare oneself for the unexpected yet undeniable attenuation of one's emotions.

kathmandu, of course, remains home w/ our own beloved house, garden and friends; while america contains friends from multiple past lives, my family and, not least, our sons.

so, riddle me this??!!?

anyway, anicca, impermanence and all that sctuff. it's mental imagery that smacks right into the emotional realities. 'two lives' was the title of vickram seth's family history about his indian uncle and german-jewish wife living in london. maybe vickram was talking of his own double cultural life, or ours, as well...

still, i must admit i find pleasure in wandering around the states. those famous smooth american roads, lush forests and aisles of olives in the neighborhood supermarkets. where are you garcia lorca and walt whitman?

today, i found a lovely town, shelbourne falls, off the deerfield river on route 2 west, what they call the mohawk trail. there was a sign that explained that the mohawk and penobscot indians signed an agreement in the early 18th century to keep the waterfalls and forests for one day's journey around shelbourne falls free from violence. what a lovely thought. this is pure and delicious small town americana in the summertime.

frankly, on these days, i don't miss the traffic jams, visual pollution, struggle for petrol or the stench of politics that stifle the normal joys of daily life in kathmandu... why?

but, with shakun and ms. leah there, along w/ our precious botanical garden, gita, gumbi, lapsi, the mountains in the backyard, the endless complex political situation and our circle of very dear friends, it's getting time to head home.

so, adieu, josh and ez, soon enough, at the end of next week, this american boy (the name of this week's hit song by kanye west) is back to the himalaya,

one more time.


Lucy said...

Hey! I just left American Boy a comment and it has disappeared! Awww. Keith, I can relate entirely to all you write - except of course from a mother perspective - but, perhaps in my case it is a bit of father too. Girls went off to Pacific last week and are loving it. Nat came home yesterday from great summer in Asia. Robert & I have been organizing new house before shipments arrive. I fly to Honolulu Monday. My number is:
646-318-7189. Yours? Would love to talk before you fly home.
Lots of love, Lucy

Keith D. Leslie said...

Lucy, dear,

I'm just about to leave Josh, Ez and Suraj at the NMH campus, where they are absolutely exhausted from these soccer practices. I've got a 2 hr drive back to Boston, where I'll be Monday/Tuesday, then back here on Wed/Thurs/Friday. Bruce's home number is: 617-965-1783. I'd give you Josh's number if I knew if for Wed-Fri, but he had it taken from him at gunpoint last week in Brooklyn! Where are you now? love back at you, Keith