I’m Archana Shreshta. I was born and raised in Nepal and I’ve lived in New Zealand for the last 18 years. I remember most of the things about my childhood.

When we first came here in 1998 I missed everything about Nepal. My father moved to New Zealand because he got a job here and we joined him.

My early memories of New Zealand are not very good. It was a very small community. It’s growing now, but back then, there were not many Nepali family. I still miss my friends after all those years with them. After all these years, I’ve realized you just can’t have the same kind of friendships here.

I started University when I first arrived, and making friends at University was not hard. There were a lot of students from overseas and I had friends from Malaysia and Thailand. Being Asian, I connected with the Asian students easily. The sad thing is, those friends were all international students and now they’ve all gone back. I am not in touch with them anymore Back then we didn’t have Facebook and phones weren’t that great so it was hard to keep in touch.

My object is a silver ornament that Nepalese brides get from their parents when they get married and leave their parents’ home. It’s known as the sinha mhu jwala nhaka. It’s a tradition followed by the many ethnic groups in Nepal.

It is a special moment during the wedding ceremony when this is given to brides. It signifies the last gift from your parents when you leave your childhood home. Until you’re given this, you’re still a part of your parents’ family, but once it is given it signifies the bride leaving to start on her own. Many brides are unemotional until the very moment when they’re handed this.

I had an arranged marriage. Once their children get to a certain age, Asian parents start to worry about their marriage. While I was at University, my mother began talking to me about it. How I met my husband is actually a funny story.

My parents owned a dairy and there was a room at the back of the shop where you could sit and relax. That’s where I first met my future husband. One of my husband’s aunts lives in New Zealand and he was visiting her from Nepal.

So anyway, I used to work part-time at Newmarket while still at University. One day my dad came to pick me up and took me straight to the shop rather than dropping me home I said to him, “why have you brought me to the shop? I have assignments to do.” But he said something like it was some kind of life and death matter,.

I waited for a while and thought might as well begin with my assignments. So I pulled out my books and things, about an hour later he walks in with his uncle. I just said “hello”, because I didn’t really know what was going on. We didn’t say much to each other, and he left.

In the next few days, my parents suggested I take him out to look at the Santa Parade. So I said, “ok, whatever.” Another time, his uncle suggested that we go for a drive together, and I show him my workplace.

I had never had a boyfriend before ; wasn’t allowed one and he asked me funny questions. My parents asked me eventually, what I thought of him. I think when something is meant to happen, it just does. Our horoscopes weren’t matched either. Marriage is hard, it’s a very big commitment. We’ve been married for 15 years.

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I visited Nepal 11 years ago. The country has over 72 ethnic groups and many languages. The official language is Nepali, but I speak Newari, English and we spoke Nepali at home when we were growing up.

Sir Edmund Hilary popularized Mount Everest and the Himalayas, that’s why people here at least know that a country like Nepal exists. Otherwise they wouldn’t as it’s a very small country sandwiched between two powerful countries like India and China.

People here think that because I’m from Nepal, I am from the Himalayas. Especially when I complain about it being too cold for me here and they say, “What are you complaining about, you’re from Nepal. But I’ve never seen snow in my life! I’m from the valley.

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