Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Return Home: Entry #4

Random Thoughts:

We have collected a giant ball of plastic shopping bags... if we took them apart at the seams and sewed them together, the resulting mess would rival a circus tent

I'm still shocked by the impatience of people. The pace at which they move... and talk. People seem aggressive. I never noticed it before I left for Asia becuase it was normal to me. Learning about Asian cultures, you hear that Westerners often make the people feel intimidated with their fast-talking, loud, and direct ways. Now I understand that notion.

I still feel foreign, like an outsider looking in... alien. I'm wondering when I'll fit in again, if I'll fit in again. I'm not sure people will understand me anymore... just like in Asia I felt like the locals didn't and couldn't truly understand me b/c of cultural differences, I'm back home and feeling similar disconnects.

I have a hard time constructing full sentences with sales people. I'm used to saying, "I don't pay high price." Now I have to say, "Really? That candle is $20.00 -- way too expensive for me. Do you have anything cheaper?"

And the bargaining... I miss that. It's fun and you are really shopping when you can haggle the price. I have the urge to say, "How about if I give you $12 for the candle Or give me 2 for $20"

And then if they say, "no," I can walk away knowing they will chase after me yelling, "OK, OK" because they're still making a profit even though I've nearly cut the price in half.

Transactions here take forever. Buying a computer monitor, it took the guy longer to type up the invoice/receipt than it took Benjamin to research the product, find parking downtown, find the product in the store and find a sales person (all lengthy activities in SF and at Comp USA)... the computerized system is a big waste of time. Technology is supposed to make life easier, but even an old-fashioned punch resgister from the early 1900s would be faster. Why are we wasting so much time (hey, you see, now I'm becoming impatient...).

Shopping: we find ourselves walking through stores, looking, almost waiting for STUFF to make itself known to our needs that we didn't know we had. We're trying not to have extra stuff, lots of stuff... we are anti-stuff. So here we find ourselves caught up in the aisle-surfing activity. Ah, the retail store: designed to suck consumers into making unnecessary purchases. Yes, added convenience (maybe), but not needed. Forget the trick of putting last-minute stuff at the register, the entire store is designed that way.

I'm surprised at how lazy I've become. I can spend a day sitting on my butt in front of my computer or the couch whereas in Asia, I was constantly on-the-go. A shitty hotel room is the last place you want to spend your time! On the other hand, the thought of jumping out of bed each morning (and every morning) and striking out into SF to explore all the city has to offer seems really tiring. How did we do it for a whole year? Who knows, but it was easy.

I miss my camera. In fact I almost forgot about it until I dug it out of the cabinet the other day. It's been there since we got home and being that it's only been several weeks, that may not seem like a long time. But to me, it's eternal. I'm used to taking it with me everywhere for 13 months. I'm used to charging batteries and cleaning the lens and downloading, organizing, and editing pictures on a daily basis. Honestly, the camera was an albatross around my neck on the journey. I hated toting it everywhere in the heat (it's very large and heavy). On the other hand, I couldn't step out the door without it in hand just in case I saw something interesting. The lack of its daily presence in my life, somehow, speaks the loudest about how different life is for me now that I'm home...


Blogger colin said...

Just had a read of your latest post. I don't think you should be so downhearted about being home with all of its implications. The very fact that your blog exists and is read by so many people may change their attitudes. I wish you Americans would refer to us as British rather than English. We are not all English and would never ever want to be - the English are ignorant of so many issues and cant understand why their Celtic neighbours dont like them but that is another story. As for Bush being the leader of the world - I think you will find that Tony Balir will be ousted at our next election and that his friendship with Bush will play no small part in this. Your obvious sadness at coming home is understandable but would you have been able to make the journey that you did if you didnt come from the land of consumerism and dare i say opportunity. All the lovely people you met do not have the means to enjoy what you just have. If anything you should use your experience to motivate your next trip whilst trying to convert those around you to a form of consumer opt-out if you get my meaning. I am quite envious of you both but am not in the position to travel at present as i have my boy to raise which in itself is a fantastic journey. I am sorry that Benjamin woke you up but it was so good to hear from him. He tells me that S.America is next - I am not sure that the fiery latins will be as affable as the Asian peoples. You should read BANCO first, cant remember the author, but the same guy who wrote Papillon. Anyway - enough ranting - I need to do some work. Take care and blog some more reflections a few more weeks in to "home".

6:30 PM  

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