One of the parts of my job that I don't always enjoy so much is the paperwork. Loads and loads and loads of paperwork... Bills, vouchers, bank statements, records for the children, social welfare forms, ministry of children forms, taxes, receipts, and files galore. I've had to learn how to organize and create a system for myself so that I don't lose my sanity and am pretty proud of the book keeper I've become over the past few years. This week we had our annual audit in Surkhet. Yesterday I had to bring that audit report to Nepal Gunj, a bigger city a few hours from here to the Nepali IRS office to pay our taxes and get our annual renewal. It was a long 4 hour bumpy bus ride, followed by a bicycle rickshaw ride to the office. Nepal Gunj is down in the plains area and is hot and polluted and crowded and really not my scene. I was with Prithi, the treasurer on my board and we were riding on this bicycle; me with all the papers in my hands sweating and squinting in the sun and not looking forward to the 3-4 hours of work ahead because office work in Nepal is not exactly a breeze and is definitely not my cup of tea.
I look at Prithi and say, "you know what would be really nice??? a room with air conditioning. I hope this office has air conditioning." He looked at me and laughed.
"Maggie this is Nepal. The office we are going to won't even have a fan."
I laughed too.
We finally got to the office mid-day, sun beaming, thirsty, sweating and overheated. I walk into a very very crowded office (think DMV ten fold) and stand in the back of a very long line stretching out the front door. Suddenly a young boy comes out and taps me on the shoulder. He tells me to come inside and pulls us off into a side room. I think, "hey, what's this all about?" but I proceed and we walk into this supreme luxury office with sofas embedded in gold cloth coverings and house plants and carpet and absolutely nothing about this room matches the rest of the decaying building and GET THIS... there is an A.C. BLASTING in the corner– I mean blasting full-force blasting Antarctica style. And suddenly just like in the movies, this big officer with a mustache spins around in a big rolly chair and says "hello" and SPEAKS to me IN ENGLISH and asks what the heck I'm doing at the IRS in Nepal Gunj. I tell him everything and he must have seen the look in my eye because in one second he says, "here, give me all your paperwork," and he passes it off to one of his assistant officers.
We talk, in simple English. He gives me a glass of water and asks me questions about how I came to Nepal. By now I have goosebumps from the AC blasting and the sweat is dry on my neck. It turns out that this officer just happens to be in this week from Kathmandu checking on things. In NO LESS than TEN minutes the assistant walks in with all of my paperwork and hands it to the head honcho officer. He looks through the numbers...Fruit and vegetables, ration, electricity, telephone bill, water bill, staff salaries, medical needs, house maintenance, school fees, clothing. And you know what he does??? He stamps it and hands it to me and says, "You're doing a good job. Go back to Surkhet and spend time with your kids."
Prithi and I walk out of the building back into the heat and our chins are on the ground and I'm smiling like "I told you SO," (about the air conditioning) and skipping through the parking lot and Prithi's like "Maggie, do you understand?!?! That would have taken us hours. You have no idea how lucky we just got. That would have taken us hours. I didn't think we were going to finish today!!!"
We got back on our little bicycle, headed back to the bus station, and went home.
I got home at dusk and found the little ones up on the roof kite flying. All of the neighborhood children were on their rooftops flying their kites as well. The sky was beautiful. I sat in a chair feeling the natural air conditioning-like breeze and watched the kites in the sky, blue and yellow and white and red. The children were all shouting directions at the kite flyer, "left right, higher, lower!! Get Himal, cut Himal!"
Himal is the neighborhood bully, who we've had quite a few issues with in the past. Think typical 9-year-old bully. He curses and spits and kicks dogs, and throws stones at little children and will do anything to get under your skin. We've had a LOT of conversations and meetings here in the Kopila household concerning this little punk. Mostly about patience and understanding and IGNORING his taunts and not throwing stones or cursing back but rather speaking nicely with him, which is difficult even for ME.
So this is like the most intense kite flying competition ever and the kites are up hundreds of feet in the sky and Ansuraj grabs the spindle because it's his turn to fly and you can just see all the children and their smiles and their eyes wide and their hearts beating out of their chests and across the street Himal is smiling his impish smile and laughing an evil laugh and flying his big colorful kite and the ENTIRE neighborhood is out on the roof watching and SUDDENLY Ansuraj does some kind of trick and cuts Himal's kite and the CROWD goes WILD. I mean WILD!!! The children were jumping up in the air and screaming and the neighbors were all smiling. And seconds later we look down and little 4-year old Santosh is running after Himal's kite, his little legs moving faster than I've ever seen them and no one has any idea how he got downstairs so fast. He's running and running and he catches the kite just as it lands in a rice paddy in the back of our property and he runs it back home holding it over his little head like a champion. You would have thought we won the super bowl.
We ate a late dinner and as the children were getting ready for bed, my phone rang. It was the big officer with the mustache from the IRS calling to see if I got home okay. I thanked him for checking in and told him all about the kite competition. I realized just after I hung up that I would have missed it all; all that joy, all those smiles, the kites flying high in the sky, if it hadn't been for him.
Thank you IRS guy.