The Maastricht Diplomat

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  • Sharada Kerkar

Of Mundane, Ordinary Lives

I asked six friends from around the world to describe their last week in one word. I chose the six people living in six different countries – United States of America, Nepal, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, and of course The Netherlands – and asked them why they described it the way they did.

I received words from ‘improved’, ‘disappointed’, and ‘anxious’ to ‘fast’, ‘fabulous’, and ‘relieved’. Most people took time to respond and said it was hard to describe their week in one word but also found the exercise reflective and introspective. For me, these stories served as a way to connect with these individuals, understand their perspectives on life events and make sense of the world one day at a time.

And so, this Sunday Summary will sum up the ‘events’ happening in the lives of these six ordinary people, all whose names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

Simran Saxena, a working woman and a research associate at a leading pharmaceutical institute was ‘Anxious’ in Washington State, USA. As a rather introverted person, she was finding it difficult to collaborate with new people, meet in large groups and juggle her way through multiple projects at work. And as much as this was challenging and fearful, she felt that she was at an important juncture in her professional life, where she was being pushed to get out of her comfort zone. Simran was anxious but also determined to conquer her fears.

Annapurna Gurung with a backpack and his little notebook, was travelling to Kathmandu, Nepal and felt his life was ‘Fast’ in the last one week. He can only think of himself as running from one train station to another, booking a train, losing a ticket, booking a ticket again, and running again to board another train, before finally reaching the destination, tired but happy. Amidst the beautiful city of Kathmandu, Mr Gurung is now enjoying the Kathmandu Triennale – an art festival that promotes Nepal’s art and culture.

Rose Meyer, a doctor in her late 50s was ‘Disappointed’ in Munich, Germany. She said she was losing faith in humanity and feeling hopeless for not being able to do anything to stop the war in Ukraine. Watching and reading news of adults and children suffering while having to deal with people who support the war, was making her rethink her belief in people. To calm herself, she bought tulips and cuddled herself up on her couch with her little dog, Jumbo.

Amelie Fabian, a humanitarian worker in Vienna, Austria described her week as ‘Improved’. Amelie recovered from COVID-19 last week, did three more push-ups than the previous week at the gym, reduced her time spent on Instagram to 40 minutes a day, started planting a little vegetable garden in her apartment and called to check on her mother at least twice a week. As someone who loves to quantify and measure her progress on all kinds of day-to-day activities, Amelie was happy to see herself make these small improvements in her everyday life.

Pooja Sharma was bubbling with happiness and said that she felt ‘Fabulous’ as she toured around London, UK. She felt like her life was falling into place and she had nothing to worry about in the last week. She had been meeting her friends, going to museums and most importantly got the news of being selected for a scholarship programme of Erasmus Mundus. She felt like she was waiting for this day and was finally starting to feel independent.

Lastly, in our little town of Maastricht, Netherlands, Omar Mohamed was feeling ‘relieved’. He faced constant discrimination from his landlord through her Islamophobic jokes and biased remarks to his religion and race. Knowing the hardships to find a new place, Omar would always tolerate her comments and never say a word back to her. But last week, he confronted her and told her that he would feel pained with her comments and that it was not okay to make those jokes. Omar says she looked apologetic and whispered a half ‘sorry’ at the end of their conversation.

Through the experiences of these six distinct people, last week was about conquering your fears, making quick decisions, questioning your faith in humanity, measuring your progress, celebrating your achievements, and fighting for your rights!

It is your turn now. ‘If you were to describe your last week in one word, what would it be? What was your Sunday Summary?’

Email Address: journal@myunsa.org

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