3 years ago
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From Nepal to Sydney, not an easy ride
Back in July 2016, as my cousin was getting married, I was anxiously waiting for my visa. And like they say, ‘things come to you when you least expect it’, I got my visa on the same day my cousin got married. I was thrilled about going abroad, but I didn’t want to leave Nepal.
I made friends from Denmark while I was on the plane on my way to Sydney. Most of the people on board had fallen asleep after dinner. The silence slowed the time down, or maybe I felt so. It felt like this was probably the longest night of my life. I was already missing Nepal, and ended up crying like a baby inside the plane’s bathroom.
But with the beautiful sunrise next morning, my plane landed in Sydney and I was welcomed by my cousins at the Sydney International Airport. It was a new beginning, and almost everything excited me – the airport, the houses, the clean surrounding and well-managed roads, the cabs and my first meal after that long 13-hour-long flight—a proper daal, bhaat, tarkari. I didn’t know people could get rice and lentils in Australia!
The next day, after visiting my campus, I traveled around the city and it was mesmerizing. The city was full of lights, tall buildings, and expensive fancy cars. I also drove all night to Snowy Mountains for skiing. It was my first time skiing.
But, the honeymoon phase soon came to an end and I started room-hunting. I rented two rooms and shared it with my cousin. I still had to find a job to pay my rent and bills. So, I landed a housekeeper’s job. But the job soon became physically tiresome for me and I had to quit.
After some digging, I got another job as office cleaner during the weekdays that used to stretch till late night. I would often come home late at night. I had days when I was too tired to cook, and slept on empty stomach. I remember eating noodles straight out of the packets as people adjacent to our room had warned us not to cook anything at night or find a new place. This led us to set out for room-hunting once again. It was difficult to find a room that fit our budget and requirements.
Moreover, I and my cousin were always in a rush and only got the time to talk to each other during weekends.
My job wasn’t that difficult, but I was under-paid. It was a four-hour job and I used to complete it in 2.5 hours. But my boss decreased my work hours and paid only for those 2.5 hours. There was nothing I could do about being under-paid because it is illegal for students to work on cash.
Gradually, the irregular sleep hours and unhealthy eating habits took a toll on my health. I had lost seven kg weight by then. College assignments, attendance, unit tests, work and on top of all that, I was constantly home sick.
I would recall how my parents used to cook for me and how my loved ones were always there for me. I missed that intimacy in this big city. Staying miles away from your family, loved ones or from your country is not easy. You cannot sleep the way you want, eat or be the way you want. I felt trapped everywhere I went.
After a while, we managed to get a new apartment and a new job. The contractor was a middle-aged Nepali man. I thought things would get easy as I was promised good hours and good pay. However, even after working for 20 days we were not paid and people started leaving. Consequently, the work got more intense and the manager was not considerate enough. He used to yell at us regardless of how hard we worked and didn’t pay as promised.
Despite the risk of having our visas cancelled, we decided to threaten and lodge a complaint against the Nepali contractor. He eventually got scared and paid us. Apparently, being robbed by a Nepali in such a big city like Sydney was a common sight.
I was slowly being crushed amid these confusing sights of my own countrymen robbing fellow Nepalis, and people running from one job to another for money. Luckily, I had an amazing family in Sydney who invited me during festivals and trips.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t adapt myself in Sydney especially because of the weather. I suffered from migraine since my childhood and Sydney’s heat further triggered it. I fainted at work a few times, and couldn’t get out of bed due to the migraine.
Currently, I am at Melbourne working as a receptionist at a hotel. Melbourne is a smaller city as compared to Sydney, but I feel blessed here. It is a bit less developed than Sydney. However, it is more beautiful. I love the people, the food, the lifestyle and the city itself. Sydney was way too crowded, expensive and detached for me.
So, Melbourne has given me new hope and it feels like home here. My stay in Sydney has made me realize that nothing is important in life but love, and nothing remains forever but love. What we had yesterday will be gone, so the key to survive in this city is to live in the present and stay happy.
The writer is currently pursuing his under-grad studies in Melbourne, Australia.