Sunday, October 16, 2005

We're Off To See The Wizard

Somewhere over the Indian Ocean, Earth

According to the cute little LCD map in front of my seat here, we're currently flying a few hundred kilometers south of Malayasia, at 35,000 feet and 584 km/h, slowly turning eastward towards the northern coast of Australia. The OC's hemisphere-switching flight to Sydney is halfway over, and our triumphant return to the Western world is nigh. And it feels real good.

It was only in our last day or so in Mumbai that I really got excited about returning to the West. After being in SE asia so long, I had gotten used to certain travel compromises. Compromises that had kind of faded into the background noise until I started thinking about returning to the West again. Just small things, mostly. I got used to always feeling a little bit sweaty and grimy. I got used to the squat toilets. I became accustomed to never really having clean hands, not being able to drink the tap water, and having to be careful about the food I ate. And, most unfortunately, I got into the habit of not really trusting people.
That's probably the worst thing.
I've found that I'm pretty paranoid now. I get very nervous if somebody walks too close behind me. I obsessively glance to the side, trying to catch him in the corner of my eye in case he might be trying to grab something from my backpack. In large crowds, I always keep my hands near my pockets to make sure nobody nicks anything. And I've found myself doubting people constantly. I tend to go through a mental checklist of ways a person might be screwing me to make a profit before I'll believe them. It sucks. I hate assuming the worst in people.
I don't want to make it seem like the past few months have been horrible. SE asia has been a wonder. It was amazing to experience a region so different from my own. Just learning first-hand about cultures as ancient and varied as any in Europe was enough to keep me happy. But, there are parts of the culture that I didn't like, and, eventually, those parts became a bit overwhelming.

It will be good to be back to something a little more familiar, even if it is only for a month or so. Just a quick reboot to make sure everything is running OK.
Plus, I really want a hamburger.


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