I’m ready for work but my driver hasn’t shown because some big wig minister is driving through town and the police have blocked some of the roads. This has made him late, and now its going to slow down our drive to work too, making me even later. We sit in traffic behind buses belching black smoke, and arrogant motorcycles honk their horns and menacingly weave around us, pushing to the front of the jam. An almost useless traffic cop does a half-hearted job of controlling the traffic (there are no traffic lights) and finally its our turn to move. Except we can’t go anywhere until over 100 motorcycles (blocking both lanes now) unjam themselves from the chaos at the front of the line. It takes way too long and we almost don’t make it through. But we move forward on his last wave and turn on to the dust and bumps of what should be the main road. It is still unpaved. For the last three months we’ve been tripping on the dug up road, and last night it rained and the street is a sea of mud and puddles. The street-widening project now just feels like street obliteration. There’s nowhere for pedestrians to walk or drivers to drive. It just straight mess.
As we pull up, I’m realize that I’m wearing the wrong shoes. Yes, I know heels are a bad idea, but flats look awful with this outfit, and I didn’t stop to think about the consequences of the rain. Jumping over massive holes where the curb should be, I skid on muddy gravel and twist my ankle, getting mud on my clothes and shoes. I arrive to work late and muddy. It is only 8.30am and I’m already pissed off. I’m also cold because, in my mad late frenzy, I forgot my jacket. No-one’s turned the heating on properly. A cup of coffee would warm and cheer me up, but the cappuccino machine is not working and they are only serving that Nescafe crap…..
First world problems, are trivial inconveniences that the developed world bemoans, but developing countries only wish they could have the luxury of experiencing. They’ve been the butt of many jokes recently, as complainers are ridiculed for an over-inflated sense of entitlement and blatant ignorance of the plight of others. Yet, its an easy mindset to fall into, especially living in the developing world when, on some days, my worst case scenarios are fueled by my first world expectations for how things should be, not how they are.
First world problems in a third world country truly takes the message to a new level. The mental challenges of handling frustrating experiences here means walking a line between trying to remember (at least most of the time) how privileged my life is compared to so many, and yet reserving the right to complain (at least a little) for the sake of my own sanity. Plus not complaining sometimes just feels like acquiescence to something that is just plain wrong. And hats off to those that do more than complain, who generate higher expectations and elicit positive contributions from others, so that — little by little – Kathmandu becomes a healthier, cleaner place to live. For their sakes, I’ll try and keep my first world problems down to a minimum.
This blog post is a participant in the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Worst Case Scenario