Monday, June 18, 2007

The Same, Old, New Thing.

Ever noticed how some things remain the same no matter where you go?

Sure, when you first move to a new country, everything about the country seems strange and new and foreign - the culture, the customs, the language (and sometimes it's not even about the fact that you don't understand a word of what is being said...sometimes it's just about how it's being said to you), the bizarre gestures (what is it with nodding their heads in response to everything you say, even if it's in disagreement?). Heck, even your electronic appliances let you know that they don't feel at home. But then, after months of fumbling around strange elevators (or are they called lifts here?), spitting out disconnected phrases from your beaten down speak-strange-foreign-language-in-30-days handbook, and purchasing countless voltage converters and travel adapters for your countless electronic appliances, you settle down into a calm sense of belonging. And the longer you stay within that country, everything about it starts to feel old and familiar, and you get the eerie feeling that this is the same country you've lived in before, maybe even for years, and that perhaps it is the same old thing no matter where you go.

External appearances aside, no matter where you go, at heart, people remain the same. When you get down to the basics, beneath our different dress codes, different languages, different body gestures, we're all still the same people, with the same concerns, living the same life in different guises. The same questions plague us, be it in form of a casual "Still single, eh?" from a fellow American or the disappointed Asian shake of the head and a "You're getting old, you know" or the African matter of fact "Pretty soon, no one will want to bring their cows and marry you". We crave for our version of success - be it in the form of fulfilling our great American dream, or just plain owning a house of our own someday, or perhaps adding to our great wealth of the many cows/goats/pigs we already own. No matter where we live, we always believe in greener pastures that lie elsewhere - those that live in developing countries migrating in search for a land filled with promises of a "better" future, those that live in developed countries migrating in search for a land with less materialism, more "soul".

Heck, the more you travel and the longer you stay in a place, even the food from all across the globe starts to merge into one. Case in point the samosa aka the samoosa aka the sambhosa aka the bourek. Same filling, different wrappers...different fillings, same wrapper.

Sure, when you first land in them, all countries start off as brand new, but then somewhere along the way, during your stay, you reach a familiar level of comfort when the new doesn't feel that new anymore. Perhaps you just have to live in a country long enough, and give it a chance, to realize that maybe things aren't so different after all, that this new country is at heart the same old country you've lived in before...perhaps pulsating to a different heartbeat, but at soul, the same country nonetheless. And when you do get to that level of comfort, you realize that no matter where you go, it's just the same old 'new' thing all over again.

~vagabond~ © 2007

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