"Not all who wander are aimless. Especially not those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond the image."

Thursday, July 19

As a foreigner...

Things I have learned as a foreigner in my own country.
**These are strictly my personal--and yes, limited, experiences as I work to repatriate myself...

  • When asked if you can borrow their phone, 100% of strangers will say yes.
  • When you hold the door for someone, 100% of people will make eye contact and thank you. 
  • There is no substitute for family and a strong sense of community---and both of those things are everywhere if you just open your eyes. 
  • When greeted with a smile, 100% of people will return the gesture. 
  • 50% of strangers don't know where Bangkok is. 
  • The security lines at airports are ridiculously long and seemingly inefficient. 
  • There are a frightening number of obese children.
  • Despite being the fattest nation in the world, summer in the North brings out the activity in people--and it's contagious. 
  • People put more value in a dog-shit-free lawn then in a plastic-free Earth.
  • The staff at the LIRR are generally unhelpful. 
  • There is an under-usage of fans and an over-usage of air conditioning. 
  • Many people have a garden, compost, recycle, and/or use re-usable bags. 
  • There are a frightening number of parents who don't know the first thing about discipline.
  • There seem to be jobs. 
  • Water fountains are amazing. Tap water is amazing. People take both for granted regularly. 
  • 80% of strangers don't know what language is spoken in Thailand. 
  • Everything is big--people, houses, boats, cars, roads.
  • Just because you might look the same, doesn't mean you're immune to feeling like a foreigner. 
  • There are WAY too many TV channels. 

*This list is not yet exhausted as the road to adjusting back is far from over...

Monday, July 16

New Zealand, you've done it again!

Step 1: Drop a self-proclaimed "country girl" (shut up, Keri) into one of the biggest cities in the world.
Step 2: Watch as she flourishes in the newness of it all...and then, four years later, watch her squirm in the absence of nature, fresh air and space.
Step 3: Stand back as she takes a much anticipated trip to revisit New Zealand.
Step 4: Read as she dramatically squeals (and writes) in delight!

I sit with a childish grin plastered to my face. Snow-capped mountains to the right, green plains to the left--and, an overwhelming "ahhh" feeling of returning to a place I love. I haven't even stepped out of the plane and my heart is racing--almost as if it knows it has finally been reconnected with a few lost pieces that were left behind six years before.

Days later, as I drive along SH1 from Christchurch to Picton, my heart pounds with excitement. Although the pre-dawn darkness prevents me from seeing the beauty around me, something inside of me feels in. As the deep blue, morning sky slowly lightens, its as if layers of scenery are being slowly revealed as I drive--each turn seemingly more beautiful than the last. Even this must-have-music-blasting-while-driving girl reaches for the dial--this kind of nature demands silence and I have no problem obliging.

The green, sheep-covered hills suddenly roll into the rocks of the Kaikora coast. With the mountains on my left shoulder and the waves crashing on my right, I again laugh to myself. "Seriously?!?! Is this place real?!" As I drive, the rocks along the coast come to life with the movement of the seal colonies. I pull to the side just to take it all in for a while. I still haven't stopped grinning. Part of me feared returning here---afraid, perhaps, to discover that my memory had exaggerated the scenery. I didn't want the return trip to remove NZ from it's pedestal! But, there was no such exaggeration. This place really is THAT amazing! No picture or writing could do it justice. It must be seen and felt---and, it's freakin' good to be back!!!

Monday, February 6

Freedom with Height

Eyes to the sky, I sit transfixed. Up there, in the dusk-kissed sky, is a another world. A world with it's own rules, it's own freedoms, it's own Masters. Tonight, the Master of the Sky is that one. The one that is flying high above the rest, the one that has been moving, successfully in, for the kill-- all evening. The nose dips, a tiny dip, indicating to me, the virgin observer, that it's time again. The body follows suit and dives in a motion so fast and deliberate it causes my body to stiffen with anticipation, I watch, eyes adjusting against the glare of the setting sun. The world up there goes still for a moment, and I wonder how many pairs of eyes are watching in anticipation along with me. Then, the attacked goes limp, a falling leaf from meters above. The Master quickly moves away, gaining freedom with height, and somewhere in this maze of rooftops, I'm sure he smiles.

The kite fighting that ruled the skies of India never failed to captivate me. I was so fascinated by it all that Fern often had to remind me to bring my eyes back down to earth---back to the happenings on the street in front of me. Because, if I learned anything from India, it was that if you take your eyes off the road, you are bound to be run over by a car, a goat, a cow, a rickshaw, a person, a bike---and in the chance you were lucky to avoid those, surely the pile of excrement was bound to get you every time. India. Wow, India. There aren't many places that can make Bangkok seem quiet, organized, and clean--but India has done it. And India has done it well! Although our 2 week Indian adventure ultimately lacked the nature and fresh air that Fern and I were, have been, craving, it didn't stop me from falling in love with so many aspects of a country gone mad. As much as we would have liked there to be, there was, in reality, never a dull moment. My senses were in overdrive---the colors of the spices, the saris, the buildings; the delicious food smells and (of course) the less delicious smells of all those other things; the traffic sounds that never seemed to fade; the taste of some of the best food I have ever tasted (yes, of course it was street food and no, that's not an exaggeration). Many people have asked for my favourite city or favourite part of the trip--and, I hesitate every time. It's usually always a collective effort-- a build up of all the little, seemingly insignificant things that seem to latch on to my memories: the separate trains for the woman, the normalcy of declaring that "yes, we have husbands", the head wobble, the random animals on the road, the outdoor 'bathrooms', the yellow taxis that would belong on the set of a 1950's movie, the 5 cups of daily chai (served in clay pots), eating with my hands (and loving every second of it---sorry Ma), the traffic "laws", the trams, trains, and buses, the colonial buildings, the friendliness of the locals as soon as you leave the tourist trail behind, the school buses (modified rickshaws), the happenings on the street, and the markets. But, for those that insist, I'd have to say that seeing a rainbow besides the Taj Mahal on the first day of 2012 wasn't too shabby....! ;)

Fresh air will be coming in the form of a beach getaway this weekend followed by a long-awaited return trip to New Zealand this summer. (But, not before Big Bro and Cimock get a taste for this wonderful little place called Thailand. That's right folks---Big Bro has got tickets to Asia. Who would have thought?!)