In the year 2000 I was a young college student studying abroad in Kathmandu, Nepal. It was my first time overseas and I was highly sensitive to the culture and traditions of my host country. Prior to embarking on this journey, I learned of Nepal's garbage crisis - with plastic bags and bottles littering the cities and the high Himalayas - so I packed my suitcase with OB tampons to avoid the extra waste from plastic applicators (Note: this was before I discovered the joy of the Diva Cup). Once in Nepal, I quickly learned that menstruation is a taboo topic for people who live within the traditional caste system. Women, who truly are the workers in all countries all over the world (holla), must stay out of the kitchen during their cycle. I imagined that it was a nice break from the endless labor of preparing meals and making tea, despite the insinuation that women are "dirty" and would contaminate the family's food during their periods. Because we were Americans, we were not expected to adhere to this custom. Nevertheless, menstruation in an underdeveloped nation comes with challenges. For one, tampons and toilet paper could not be disposed of in the traditional squat toilets. So how were we to dispose of these taboo items? My roommate and I struggled through a conversation with our Nepalese host mom in our stilted Nepali. She indicated that we should keep them in a plastic bag and when our cycles were finished, we should toss the bag. Toss the bag? But, where? Where else but at the local "dump," a.k.a. an empty lot that we passed by on our way to school each day. When I was blessed (insert sarcasm here) with my first period while living in Kathmandu, I collected my used tampons in a black plastic bag all week. At week's end, I tied the bag and carried it with me as I walked to school, mortified that everyone knew the contents of my parcel and were horribly offended by my natural proclivity to bleed. When I came upon the vacant lot littered high with garbage, I tossed my bag and scurried off. On the way home from school, my roommate and I discovered the local cows grazing amongst the garbage. Cows, animals revered in the Hindu religion, were eating garbage. These sacred beasts were possibly munching on my crimson cotton rockets. It was a horrifying clash of culture, religion, and hygiene, which repeated every month for the semester I lived there.
Why must you torture women and appall men all across the globe?
Dear World Traveler,
Just like the cow is sacred in many cultures, so am I. I'm offended that you feel I torture women (not worried about the men). Yes, I occasionally make you moo-dy and eat like you have four chambers in your stomach, trying to satisy each. But torture? No, if you want to put the boxing gloves on my dear, we can spar, but I'll always win.
Why oh why do you always come on new years eve ?!?!
Well hello darling, hope you're ready for me next month. You see, I too like to ring in the new year with all of your loved ones within an earshot. Speaking of rings, how does this sound...take me somewhere unforgettable, and I may take a year off next go 'round?
Be sure to pack extra next month as New Year's Eve gatheries can get heavy at times. Wink wink.
While I am on you and at school, I am not enjoying your presence in my life. Trips to matron, cramps in class, making me snap at people. When you came, I just came back from a holiday, and now holidays are like your anniversary, where you always end up coming with me. It's not a good feeling, lying on the beach feeling like a dead thing while your friends wade in the ocean. But, I guess that is your anniversary, your birthday, and I guess I just gotta accept that that's the way it is. I feel like as we get older we will get to know each other more, predict your visits, maybe learn to love you... But for now, I need a hot water bottle and a paracetamol, maybe a lie in...
Yes, I too enjoy holiday and travel and beaches and oh the waves bring me remarkable joy. Thank you for taking me with you love. Very true, as we age together, we will become even closer. Let's face it...every relationship has struggles, and the strong survive. I'm strong-willed and tend to beat to my own maraca. You will love me, trust me.
Oh, and do try to fit in a little backpacking on our adventures....