A sabbatical rest, day 14
They say no news is good news, but in most cases no news is just no news.
I have a plane ticket for Nepal a week from Saturday, but I have no visa yet. A couple of days ago I did get this email, however: …working on the visa process through international relations at Tribhuvan University. They will send the documents to the Education Ministry and then Home Affairs and Immigration.
This feels like it should be news, but there is no news at all, not if we take news to mean new information. It’s reassuring. I appreciate the efforts of my Nepali colleagues. Things are moving. But it’s also not very helpful. How fast are things moving? Not enough information here to zip up our bags, but probably enough to reschedule my flight.
Some of this is cultural. Any cross-cultural engagement comes with surprises and delays, with little concern for Western ideals about information or control. Their pace, their clock, their country. I’ve traveled enough to know this. And to accept it. Or at least to expect it.
Admittedly, it would be nice to have had all this nailed down, say, 5 months ago. But there is this little thing called Covid-19, which is primarily responsible for the uncertainty I’m experiencing. I’m not sure they know for certain if they will even be having classes next semester, which, in Nepal, begins in mid-February. I’m sure they don’t know what their government policies will be next week when my flight Is scheduled. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what our government’s Covid-19 policies will be.
So, here I am, waiting, wondering what the Nepali word for waiting is. (The verb is parkhanus, but I’m still confused about the gerund. For now I’m going with parkhandaichu.) I have no idea about the word for uncertainty. We have one more lesson scheduled, so I’ll have to ask.
Waiting, unfortunately, is not the same thing as resting. I’m finding the process of disengaging with my work at the church and school is more challenging than I expected. More details, definitely. But more questions. And my lists get longer and longer every day.
So do my naps.
But here are three things I can do next.
1) If we don’t know something definite by Tuesday, reschedule our flight. Because of Covid-19, our airline allows me to reschedule 4 times at no cost.
2) Complete my list of things I need to do before we leave. This is not the nagging list of things I could or should do at work or church. This is the list of sabbatical in Nepal related things. Every day, I cross off a few things and add a few more things. (Crossing things off doesn’t make the list shorter— it just makes you think of other things you forgot when you made the list in the first place.) I’ll be glad to get on the plane someday just so there will be nothing more I can do before I leave. Frankly, one way to deal with uncertainty is to just be ready.
3) Review plan B. Fortunately, there is a plan B. Unfortunately, it requires a completely different list.
Wait, rest, learn, plan. Repeat. It’s not a bad life, really. Just an uncertain one.
This series on my sabbatical, volunteering to teach mass communication theory in Nepal, begins here.
Questions and comments are welcome.