and it takes a lot of weirdos to make the expat world.the expat world is a surreal one. everything is transitory... more so than in the real world. and the state of temporariness can unnerve you a great deal.
it’s just not about thinking a million times about buying ‘good’ furniture (and then settling for made in malaysia rubber wood rip offs);
it’s not about going back home every year, year after year, because the company pays annual passage (this is changing, and quite a few opt to travel and see the world);
it's not about the job insecurity -- do we really buy this SUV? what if i lose my job and am stuck with the monster?;
it's not about buying as much property in as many different cities/towns in india, to keep up with the joneses;
it's not about your passbook being your favourite read;
it's not even about choosing to share your apartment here, so that you build a home enviably big enough, to spend you retired and tired life.
the temporaryness is worst when you are trying to build your social circle, when you are trying to make friends.
people are so wary -- what's the point really? you take all that effort and build relationships, and come end of contract, voila! the person moves on.
this is something i can't get used to.
that a lot of friendships here are for convenience, and like much of life otherwise, disposable. use and throw.
in the decade (nearly) i've been here, it never ceases to surprise me, how selfish and ruthless people can be in getting the best out of every encounter.
when you are still naive and new to the expatworld, it's easy to be taken in, and respond rather foolishly to friendly overtures. and then you get taken down hard, when you realise that it's about how useful you are to the person. people are so caught up in the temporariness that surrounds them, they think it's fine to apply the same in relationships.
it may well sound like i'm whining. and maybe i am.
but when you are used to a cushioning of good/great friends, and land in a place that's as dry as a desert (pun unintended) in this context, then you've earned the liberty to crib.
the other thing about this world is the extent of disgruntlement.
everybody seems to be disgruntled -- not merely by their lot in life, but by those who are or seem to be doing better than them.
this again is rather incomprehensible -- how do you ever get peace of mind, if your happiness is dependent on other people's woes?
the expatworld not only turns regular folks into weirdos, it also seems to attract a whole bunch of congenital weirdos.
i find myself displaying certain weirdo symptoms, like being suspicious of a lot of people. fortunately, what i talk about below is not one of the weirdness i have adopted.
there is this one trait i've come across so often here in people, i almost believe it's a gulf syndrome.
people carry tales. so if x (whom you barely know) has unpleasant things to say about you to your 'friend' y, then y will not only give ear and participate, but will report the useless bit of information back to you.
now, how bored or jobless should you be to do something SO pointless?
i am not exaggerating... but this happens so often, and to so many people around me, i am quite convinced the affliction is caused by something in the water.
i've made a couple of great friends here (more about them another day), and it would be a grave injustice to them if i don't mention that there are exceptions to this weirdness.
UMM O+N is now at http://ummon.wordpress.com/
Umm has moved to Wordpress.
And those of you kind enough to list me on your blog, please update the link: http://ummon.wordpress.com/