It’s refreshing to talk to a certain kind of person who is well-traveled, one who understands that their assumptions about people on a group and individual level go right out the door whenever they meet someone new. So far, I’ve gone through Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta, and Bangkok in the past few months, and next week I will be in Colombo. There’s a lot I do have to say that only reinforces my last post on the lie that is multiculturalism now: it’s better to be an outsider and recognized as one by both others and by yourself than it is to be an outsider trying to fit into cities and societies that pride themselves on the falsehood that is diversity.
The depth of experiences and the diversity of stories that those who travel and undergo great changes in life are sure to make for great conversation starters at a cocktail party. Unfortunately, there is a point where that bragging and exceptional uniqueness becomes a distasteful hubris that alienates people from one another, leaving them to sulk in the corner and meet like-minded folks who were similarly rejected. It is upon this moment they realize they are both not just travelers, but fellow Third Culture Kids, and they decide to talk about how everyone else is closed-minded or doesn’t get them, and generally caught in a bog of stagnant muck unable to see what’s out there. The two of them enjoy a moment at the party, and everyone else lives their lives mingling: the two of them stand in their corner, martinis in hand, laughing at the bubble in front of them. That is openness and sense of adventure becomes lost in “civilian” settings and results in the so-called “worldly” people to merely replace one bubble for another instead of “venturing outside their comfort zone” and “exploring the world” or being “more open-minded” than “others”.
Recently, I was listening to Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” while reading John Gardner’s Grendel and it just came to me that I seem to resonate with another literary character, Grendel from Beowulf.
I almost died again today. I was riding on an ojek (a motorcycle common for transportation in Jakarta), and an old Indonesian woman callously sped ahead in the gridlock and hit my knee from the side. She didn’t have enough force to make impact, but had the driver not pulled ahead or had she pushed forward a bit more, my right knee would have been crushed between the ojek and her car. Continue reading
Jonathan Livingston, Seagull
When I first discovered the term “Third Culture Kid”, I didn’t immediately say “Oh! Now I know what I am! I’m not crazy!”, my first reaction was “Am I really a TCK?” After wondering and wandering through cultures and continents, the answer is a resounding yes at this point, but it’s not the whole of who I am. Last year, I came across one of the jargon terms used in the TCK literature, “hidden immigrant” which pretty much describes who I am when in America.
Sometimes I feel the best friends I ever had were imaginary. There are very few people to relate to, and the friends I had were in the stories I could escape to. The life of a vagabond, a Third Culture Kid, and a young man trapped lost between cultures in some metaphysical space run parallel to the most common telling of the Japanese tale of Urashima Taro. Continue reading
I just got my new passport in the mail last week because little did I realize before heading off to Indonesia this summer, I was already approaching the time to renew it which is December of this year. However, most places won’t even let me in if the passport expires in six months, so I went out to take care of it as early as possible. Continue reading