Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leave Taking

We said farewell to some good friends on Tuesday. They're heading back to the UK for a job in London. Such is the nature of the NGO life/ex-pat life. People come and go. Everyone's first question is 'how long are you here for?' Everyone is weighing up whether it's worth getting to know you. I hate that. I have, unfortunately, found myself doing the same thing. If you meet someone and they're leaving in 6 mths time, you do wonder a bit if it's worth the investment of time and energy. I try really hard not to get into that mindset. I don't want to regard people in that way.

But with friends leaving, and thoughts of the UK, it has made me think about the things here which I have whinged about. Rats, geckos, cockroaches, ants, traffic, humidity, large spiders, mad drivers, things breaking, things not working, power cuts, pollution, nasty diseases, poor quality workmanship, endless bureaucracy etc. I realise that they're not that big a deal. Or maybe I have just learned to cope with things better. A lot of frustrations and stresses but I can laugh about them more now, and don't let things get to me quite so much. Maybe I have finally acculturised.........??

There are huge benefits to the children (particularly at this young age) of living in another culture, learning tolerance, an outward looking perspective, having friends from so many different countries, seeing new, different places, 'celebrating diversity' as our son's school puts it.
I also realise I am quite enjoying this as an experience now. I even agree with the Director of A's school who, a year ago, told me he quite liked the chaos and madness in this country. I looked at him in astonishment. But I do too, in many ways, now. Rules are flexible, you are left to your own devices, it's certainly not a nanny state, it feels much more free, bizarrely than the UK. Of course that's partly what causes the mayhem. Everyone does their own thing. I know, of course, that for the Tamils, and anyone getting on the wrong side of the State, life is not so good. And of course the country is rotten to the core, high up on the World Corruption Index, soaring inflation, high cost of living, a full blown civil war, 3 meglomaniacal brothers running the country, or rather ruining the country.

I don't even miss the seasons as much as I used to. I don't like the humidity, but summer clothes make life very easy and nice, and blue skies and sunshine do wonders for one's mental health.

I guess being here has taught me not to take anything for granted (health, clean environment, the Highway code, choice of food, friends, safety etc) And as a jaded old Westerner, I have learned to appreciate everything so much more, particularly simple pleasures. Treats, a nice cup of coffee, having good quality food in a restaurant, sleeping on a sprung mattress when staying in a hotel (ours is a foam slab), a week with no cockroaches (or big spiders).... I am much, much better at focussing on the positives I think. And that can't be a bad thing. I do, though, still blog and email madly, a sign of someone still needing solace and catharsis, not to mention companionship. It makes me feel a bit pathetic, whilst all my busy, fulfilled, sociable friends/harrassed parents in the West, have little time for such cyber activity.

Of course all this positivity may be because the end of the contract is in sight. We leave at the end of the year. Ironically M is more ready to leave than I am though. He's exhausted and in danger of burning out. Whilst I have just begun to get used to things.......


Self employed mum said...

That's so typical of life in general, you just get comfy with your life and bang everything changes. I suppose it keeps us on our toes. x

Iota said...

The blogosphere is very welcoming to people who have a huge need to write and seek companionship via their writing...