Thursday, March 19, 2009

Do as the Nomad Does

Most of the time, it's a blessing. But sometimes, it feels like a curse.

A deadly one.

This whole thing about being "cosmopolitan" or a "global villager" or "a transnational nomad."

B/c unless you are meeting another cosmopolitan, another global villager, another transnational nomad, most of the time you find yourself trapped in one of the 2 following situations:

1) You are stepping on other people's toes in a foreign land, because your brain-full and heart-full of wonderful experiences with border-crossing or global roaming start giving you the illusion that you could make alternative suggestions to others b/c you've seen things done in a different way. But after opening up your big mouth trying to make such suggestions with enthusiasm and excitement, you find others tossing you a cold stare, shrugging indifferently, or simply avoiding eye contact with an evident frown on top. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," others say.

So you shut up.

You have to. 'Cuz you are just a beginner in face of a brand new culture that has been in place for hundreds if not thousands of years.

2) You are stepping on your own toes in your own home country, because, again, your brain-full and heart-full of wonderful experiences with border-crossing or global roaming start giving you the illusion that you could make alternative suggestions to others b/c you've seen things done in a different way. But after opening up your big mouth trying to make such suggestions with enthusiasm and excitement, you too find others giving you a weird look, carrying on their own activities, or simply looking straight into your eyes and say - in a tongue that is familiar to you and considered your mother tongue - "Where are your roots, kid? To whom do you pay your loyalty?" they question.

So again, you shut up.

As if all the years of being away and missing a certain aspects of the common educational or upbringing experience with the rest of your fellow countrymen have rendered you incapable of speaking or judging or uttering a personal opinion.

In either situation, you find yourself always playing the role of a guest, the language student, the quiet listener, the humble learner. You ask too many questions but nobody ever asks you a question. You are always playing catch-up while others sit around comfortably with their circle of friends, families, established communities and well-acquired cultural customs and habits.

But you are more than a language student, a quiet listener, a humble learner. You are who you are and you could be just as vocal and opinionated and well adapted with all sorts of habits/customs like anyone else.

Except that, because there is no physical country or one particular linguistic tradition that defines who you are - people don't need to apply for a passport and get a visa sticker and purchase a long-distance flight ticket to get to WHERE YOU ARE, they forget that, sometimes, the same rule - "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" - applies.

That is - when talking to a transnational nomad, do expect him/her to make alternative suggestions and ask a lot of "why" questions or speak in a mixed accent. Because where the nomad is coming from - though that place isn't called Rome or whatever city/country you name it on this planet - that too is nomad's everyday life, just as valid as the everyday life that you are most familiar with.

The nomad comes to meet others at their country or territory. But since one can't technical go to where the nomad physically belongs - b/c a nomad has no physical home or that physical space can no longer be defined by a particular colored surface area on a map - one could treat such an encounter as traveling to where the nomad is from (wherever that may be).

So that the same rule - "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" - should apply.

"When meeting a nomad, do as the nomad does".

You see now how hard that could be?

梅ちゃん at 12:53:00 AM

1comments

1 Comments

at 3/25/09, 10:11 AM Anonymous Yi-Chieh said...

how are you girl?

 

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