Still Foreign After All These Years

The last few weeks have however been totally out of this world, and I have been enjoying myself immensely both dealing and avoiding daily life’s challenges. I am an adventurer, and my life tends to turn to the worse the minute that I forget that I am an adventurer and go into other directions mimicking adaptation to a world where I remain above all, foreign. The foreign storyteller is an adventurer; I am foreign to this world.

I was born in the dark ages in a country run by a dictator. This is one way to start the story if I am to tell it as distorted as I have experienced it. When I went to school they forgot to tell us that there were other people called Uzbeks, Turkmen, Tatars, Kazakhs, Azeris, Blochis, Kyrgiz, Taliks. Uyghurs… but we all knew about Germans, Russians, Americans and the damned French. Meanwhile the people of Bangladesh were fodder to the news, and India was a far away place that I could not really imagine in spite of all the history that bound my family name to that subcontinent. I remember listening to the radio, hearing about Bangladesh and not understanding a word of what the news announcer was reading. Last week one of the students introduced a few of us to her honey (1) who gave me his business card. On this business card the place read Bishkek and we spoke about something that to me that seemed surreal: the development of a nation and economy that has gained sovereignty not so long ago. (need to put Achiles and Tortoise back online)

On Friday evening I spent an odd hour at the bedside of somebody whom all claim is dying. For me this is unfathomable, we are all dying, not just this person. For the most part we held hands; the moribund slept the tiredness that morphine brings. At one point the moribund shortly opened its eyes and said “I am still here” while I could only respond “we are still here.” For the most part the three of us were there in silence: just presence.

On Wednesday and Thursday I returned to the home base around midnight. On Friday afternoon the wind went out of my sails, and I crashed for an hour on the tatami before class. I have been sleeping and napping ever since; it is the exhaustion of battle that has me. I have been remembering my dreams again. There are recollections of adventure.

On Wednesday two of the most adored men in my life had lunch together and met for the first time, of all places in Paris. It is a small, small world, full of diversity. I have never liked traveling much; it is quite a bother if one is to pack clothes and whatever one considers indispensable and either have to be subjugated to some transportation’ schedule or having to make a decision when to start and turn on the ignition key. The adventurer likes to travel light, this one does, and that means that it is far easier to close my eyes and imagine it all. Alas, the minute that I close my eyes I find the imagination too limited and then wake up wanting to pack my bags and breaking out towards new horizons.

Yesterday I was at a cocktail party and to my own surprise changed my mind about my plans for the rest of the evening. I had hit my saturation point of being with people, engaging with people, listening to people, and responding to questions. I picked myself up and went to see “Coco avant Chanel” and somehow the very subtle social criticism buried deep in that narrative could not escape me. I am still in love with narrative, and above all I remain in love with my own stories and foreign in this world.

(1) Just to set the record straight, the student was introducing me to her husband who has for the past year been managing both his business and the family’s household including two daughters while she – the wife and mother – pursued graduate work in Switzerland.

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