Thursday, November 10, 2005

More Expat Notes

The Linguo-Racial Complex

The Linguo-Racial complex is a phenomenon that I (and many other people, I guess) discovered while learning foreign languages. It refers to how average people associate a language with people's racial characteristics and have confusing reactions to the speaker of the language if he/she does not have the appearance that a "normal" speaker of such language has. Here are some examples:

A White American took years of Spanish and is now fluent in it. He talks Spanish to some Mexican or Cuban immigrants in the US. They make a wry face and answer in broken English. He again speaks Spanish to them. They again answer in English (which is much worse than the white American's Spanish).

A Brit learns Japanese and speaks it very well now. He stops people on the streets of Tokyo and talks to them. They look at him like they have seen E.T. -with eyes wide-open and jaws dropped. Some smile sheepishly and walk on. Some look irritated and say in Japanese- "the language, I do not speak the language". Some answer in bad English, some walk by saying "I do not speak English", some asking him: "Do you speak Japanese?"(And what is he speaking now, Bantu?).

A European gentleman sits in a restaurant in an Arab country. He calls a waiter and asks for "thom"- garlic. The waiter looks shy and makes gestures at the customer- "One moment please, one moment please" and walks away. Thinking that he went to get garlic, the customer patiently awaits his food. Guess what? He brought another waiter who addresses the customer with "May I help you, sir?" "I asked for bloody garlic in Arabic, why are you here asking me again?" "Sorry sir, we did not realize you could speak Arabic". "But I was speaking Arabic to the first waiter!"

The first waiter's mind did not register the fact that in spite of the speaker's European appearance he was, in fact, speaking Arabic.

An American man who spent 15 years in the Philippines is with his girlfriend. He stops a taxi and talks to the driver in Tagalog. The driver ignores him like he does not exist and starts talking to his girlfriend about the taxi fare and all. People with high noses and white skin speak English. People with flat noses and brown skin speak Tagalog. People with high noses and white skin speaking Tagalog are absurd and probably unreal. Let's talk to the girl- her nose is flat and her skin is brown. She is a Tagalog speaker.

Here is another example: an Australian has spent half of his life in Thailand and speaks Thai fluently. He stops at a street stall. The hawkers look at him incredulously as he begins speaking Thai. One of them lights up and starts yelling out to others: "He can talk! He can talk!"

The Lingo-Racial complex can take ugly extremes such as people ignored at restaurants and not served. People not being rented apartments because the landlord is afraid that he cannot communicate with English speakers (who speak his language very well) and friendships and dates being denied because, you see, I can't speak English. "

"But I can speak your language!" A dull and incredulous look and silence are the answer.

In a place that has many tourists and foreigners of a particular "stock" people form a stereotypical reflex about how a person who looks like that should talk and behave.

In places that are excessively provincial and or/nationalistic people cannot even conceive of a person who is clearly of another race being able to speak their language.

In some Latin countries particularly in the Caribbean and Mexico the speakers see Spanish as "their" language and become shocked and even insulted if a person of "another (non-Latin) race" speaks it.

Anglo-Saxon countries such as the US , UK, etc. do not have that complex but the opposite of it- in their cultural view the whole world speaks English and if they don't they should and soon will. So there is no surprise if a Japanese person speaks English- he should.

Argentina, being an immigrant Spanish speaking society will have a similar attitude and will lack the Complex. So, I guess, would Brazil.

Good news? Well, not everyone has the complex. There are many people who are happy to see that you speak the language and many people who will not even be surprised that you do. Many will treat you as an equal especially after they got to know you. However, when one studies languages of nations where the majority of people do not look like you, one has to get ready to face the awkwardness of it.

It's all in the expat's day's work. What's to do?

"Ey Jinsiya"

If you have a long layover at Dubai airport and are tired of shopping, reading and do not want to spend your money on expensive lounges, kickback and play a solitary game called "Ey Jinsiya". "Ey Jinsiya" in Arabic means: "What Nationality?" People from all over the world fly through or out of Dubai. Just sit down and try and guess what they are.
Can you tell Filipinos from Indonesians?

Filipinos have a certain European skin color because of the Spanish mixture which the Indonesians do not have- they look "purely native". Filipinos also try and "look American"- many wear jeans and T-shirts that say "USA", or "USA sports." They have big round eyes and are relaxed in the way they walk. They like to make eye contact with other people and observe what is happening around them. Indonesians walk in a tense manner and with more determination, so to speak. They are not interested too much in what the other people at the airport are doing.

Can you tell Americans from Brits? Brits are usually skinnier and have sharper features. They all dress in solid colors usually denim and black and do not look around much or try to have an eye contact with anybody. Americans also dress in subdued colors but are generally fatter. They turn their heads more and make eye contact with others more than the Brits. Can you tell Canadians from Americans without listening to their accents? Can you tell the Irish from the Brits? If you can't, keep trying, soon you will pick up on that certain something that will make you say- "Oh, a Canadian!", "Oh, an Irishman!"

Can you tell a Pakistani from an Indian or a Bangladeshi? Pakistanis are mixed with Iranians- their skin is whiter and they are taller than Indians. If you cross an Indian with a Persian, you get a Pakistani. They also wear these long shirts that go down below their knees. Indians are darker for the most part and they all walk like Gandhi. The look on their faces is strong. Many wear glasses. Most look like traveling businessmen. They are officious in their demeanor whereas Pakistanis look much more humble and less formal. Bangladeshis are very short and have round faces.

Can you pick out Sri Lankans? They are very dark for the most part and short with a certain "Sri Lankan face". I can't even begin to describe it. Sort of Indian but not quite.

Can you tell different Arabs from each other? Actually it is not that hard. Gulf Arabs may be harder to distinguish if by facial features- to an unpracticed eye, at least- but you can tell them by their dress and mannerism. Emiratis wear white headdress and they look very polite in the way they move. Kuwaitis dress the same way but have different expressions on their faces- either they look crazed from a night of wild partying and have that devil- may-care mien of an unruly teenager, or they look arrogant, like they own the Gulf (and the world for that manner). Saudis and Qataris are very hard to tell apart as they both wear red headdresses but Saudis seem to look like they are poorer- they walk like peasants lumbering along in a somewhat insecure manner. Qataris appear to have more class and move with a certain spring in their step that is uniquely Qatari.

Egyptians stand out by their aggressive walk and their oily skin, a special way their hair curls and the Arab/Nubian/ Pharaonic racial characteristics.

Can you tell an Ethiopian from a Sudanese? The Sudanese look like dark Semites but Ethiopians look like Africans but they have thin European features. Many have big teeth.

Anyway, "Ey Jinsiya" is a great game that you can play solo or with a friend. The problem is checking your guesses for correctness. Short of running after these people and asking to see their passport, there is really no way to do it. You may follow them to the departure gates and hope you will get a peek of the passport. But then you can get a punch in the eye.
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Double and Triple Expats
Saturday, October 15, 2005 (03:09:33)
There is new and growing group of people whom I will call Double Expats. These are people who are from country A, who immigrated and became naturalized in country B and now are living and working in country C. There are also triple expats, those who after working in country C have decided to retire and live in country D.

An example- a Lebanese engineering student who emigrates to Canada, receives Canadian citizenship and dgrees and goes to work in Kuwait as a Canadian engineer. After he makes oodles of money in Kuwait, instead of retiring in Canada or Lebanon, he goes to Indonesia, marries a local beauty, buys a house and stays in Indonesia forever.

There is also a growing group of people who when faced with the simple question of "Where are you from?" or "What is your nationality?" in casual conversation feel confused, put on the spot and don't know what to answer.

Take one friend of mine- He is half French and half Italian but he grew up in Hong Kong. Basically he is almost Chinese in thinking and in manners. He then left for the Philippines and settled there. What will he say to people when he travels to another country?

Such people were not so common in the past when international travel was lengthy and expensive and working overseas involved only one country at the most. Nowadays, however, they are growing in numbers and we will be seeing them more and more often in the future.

Richer or Poorer country

If you move to a country that is richer than yours, you may run the risk of being looked down upon as someone less civilized.

If you go to a country poorer than yours you will get lots of admiration but also jealousy and will run the risk of being ripped off and cheated.

It is usually desirable if you can move to a country that is on the same level with yours economically to feel socially comfortable with the people there.

Distance Decay and Ethno-Cultural Differentiation

The farther away a group of people is from you geographically or culturally, the more they fuse into a blurred whole sometimes even becoming a completely new category.

To illustrate: A Brit can tell different accents of English in his homeland. However, he often cannot tell different American accents. To him they all sound just "American". Same with Americans- they oftentimes cannot distinguish different accents of the UK but they can easily tell a New Yorker from a Bostonian.

To a non-traveling Westerner, all East Asians will look the same while he could probably distinguish a Scandinavian fron a Souther Italian or a Greek. In East Asia, people will easily distinguish a Korean from a Chinese or a Japanese but to them a Greek and a Scandinavian will look roughly the same. They will all be just Westerners.

The same with the average Westerner's view of Africans, Arabs or South Asians- people from E. Africa and W. Africa, Jordan and Egypt and Indian, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will look roughly the same.

However, they themselves immediately know who is who but they cannot tell Westerners apart.

Interesting, isn't it?

Expatriate Observations

The friendliness of people ( and women )of a certain country towards you depends on several factors:
1) The difference in GDP between your country and theirs. The formula is this: Your country's yearly GDP /Her Country GDP= friendliness factor. I.e. $24000/$2400= 10. That means they will be ten times friendlier to you than women in your own country. Before you choose the place to go to, check out the GDP there and you will be able to calculate the friendliness factor with relative accuracy.
2) Similar religion- the more similar the better.
3) Race: the more similar, the better and/or the lighter the better.
4) With very few exceptions, the money factor will override all the other differences. If the factor 2 and 3 is any problem, more cash thrown at the situation will normally sway it in your favor.

The degree of scorn piled upon you, by the same token, will also be in proportion to how many times the GDP of the host nation is greater than that of the nation you come from.

Many things that your parents taught you about " That is the way the world is" are actually about the way things are in the country you are living in. While many social laws are universal- such as "nobody likes poor people"- (and even that is not true in all places- Communist countries, in fact, deify poor people), many other social laws vary from country to country and culture to culture. Conversely, many things that we think are proper of our country and only happen here, actually happen in other places, as well, and are just inherently human. So, when they tell you that "people are like that" or " society does not accept that" they are often talking about people and society in your country. A few hours' flight and things are as different as they can be- people are no longer "like that" and "society now accepts" whatever it did not accept back home. The same goes for ways to attract the opposite sex. What is considered to be a sure-fire- ( or imperative) way to get women in your country is no longer required. I for one, do not need to be spending three hours a day in the gym, have a Mercedes and buy elevator shoes to get a date in the Philippines.

International travelers often confuse hospitality towards a guest with acceptance, and politeness towards visitors, with friendliness. They also confuse good customer service given to a ( perceived) rich foreigner with sincere admiration. If you really want to see how accepting a certain culture is, try settling down in that country and doing business with the local people. Often, the countries that are the most hospitable and polite to guests are the ones that are extremely hostile to those who want to stay in them for good. By the same token, countries in which people seem to be mean and inhospitable to visitors turn out to be fairly accepting to those who want to settle down and assimilate. It is as if hospitality and politeness were exact opposites of acceptance and friendliness.
Fanatical patriots, cultural snobs, "my country is the best" arrogant nationalists, isolationists, ethnic and religious fundamentalists, racists and other such types miss out on huge opportunities to avail themselves of all the great wonders that an international lifestyle can provide. With 200 countries in the world, they think that only one country is the best and " has it all" and they do not take advantage of what the other 199 can confer upon them. They miss out on job opportunities, great natural sceneries, unique products, low prices, delicious foods and great friendships, romance and exquisite sexual delights that they can taste/obtain/partake in. However, because they do not know what abundant treasures are out there, they will still be happy in their country with what little they have for they do not know just *how* little they have. Ignorance truly is bliss. All that suits us just fine since we do not want them to compete with us for all these great jobs, women and other such foreign treasures, anyway.
No country has it all, and most countries are heavily weighed in one direction and are severely poor in another area. Countries that are materially rich are poor spiritually and socially. Countries with best jobs opportunities cannot usually provide too many gorgeous dates. Countries with most beautiful women have bad economies and rotten politics. It, therefore, stands to reason that in order to have it all, living in more than one country is often a necessity.
Jobs and women are some of the most untouchable treasures of a nation. Nobody likes a poor and/or not very ed.ucated foreigner looking for jobs and/or women in a richer country. He will get bad or no jobs and most probably, no women at all. Everybody, though, likes a rich tourist/ investor coming to the country with money. In the case of the investors, women will be available for marriage and other things depending on how much money he has. Rich tourists will have to avail themselves of less permanent love arrangements.
The richer the country, the colder, more arrogant, and unfriendly are its people. It also seems that, the richer the country, the lonelier, less sociable, more self-absorbed and less happy most people are. Beautiful, clean and prosperous, highly advanced countries have huge numbers of zombie-like inhabitants who are extremely unhelpful and selfish. It seems that money, good cars, good clothes and technological progress make masses of people less happy. It does not mean, however, that poverty is what makes people happy. It seems that countries that have* just enough* rather than * too much* or *too little* have the healthiest, happiest populations.
Media propaganda and stereotypes of how people in certain countries are, are almost always untrue. Not only they are untrue, the people in those countries often turn out to be the exact opposites of what you were taught they were. For better or for worse. Nationalities that were supposed to be unfriendly turn out to be very friendly and the ones that we were taught were friendly, turn out to be very hostile, indeed. That goes for other supposedly national characteristics as well.
Not only that, but once you start traveling, you will see that many things that you thought were true about your own country turn out to be untrue. They always taught you that your country was the best, the freests with the friendliest, most generous people. Maybe even the best girls. As you discover freeer countries with better people and more beautiful girls, a shock sets in.

Most views of other countries through the media are either completely false or are wild exaggerations. If you think that in Africa people live in trees with snakes around their necks and eat grass, you will probably not go there and will not take advantage of getting to know great, prosperous people, see their modern cities full of cars and skyscrapers, will not make new friends and learn about a beautiful culture, music and diversity that exists there. If you think of the Philippines or Brazil as a dangerous and violent countries, you will not travel to them to meet their high quality women. If you think of the Middle East as a camel- riding, terrorist-infested society, you will not go there to work and make your tax- free fortune. Which is fine with me as I will have less competition.
What people call you and how they see you, and even your race and nationality/identity changes as you go from country to country. A person who was known as "Black" in the US all his life discovers that he is now "American" or even "white" as he moves to Africa. Very few Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Poles from the US are seen as such when they go back to 'their countries". They are just referred to as "Americans". People who were "Chinese" in Malaysia all their lives become "Malaysians" when they go to China. People who thought of themselves as short become tall as they go to a society where average height is lower. Men of average looks become handsome in the Philippines and handsome men from the US become average in Italy. Average girls from E. Europe and Asia become "gorgeous" in the US. Popular American women become unsighly nobodys and unneeded white elephants in Asia and E. Europe.

By knowing how the perception of you will change, you can find places where people like yourself fit in better or are afforded more admiration and higher status. You can even use many things that were disadvantageous socially in your country to your advantage in another. A Spanish-speaking person in the US, for one, will not get as much admiration there as he would in Quebec, Canada, where Spanish language is seen as extremely romantic and a sign of status. A man who is 5'7" in the US and who is pumping iron to make up for his short stature in America, will not be called a "shorty" in Japan or Vietnam and will not feel insecure as he often would back in the US. Actually, it will be to his advantage not to stick out like a sore thumb. He will have all the dates he wants once he goes to the right country. If Collin Powell wanted it, he could move to Sudan and become a white man there. He is one to the Sudanese according to the African culture. One drop of Black blood in the US makes you black but 25% white blood in most African Americans make them "white" in Africa.
What is good or bad varies from culture to culture. What is normal, accepted and legal behavior in one country will land you in jail in another or even get you killed. While the "Fahreneit 9/11" movie is legal in the US, such a movie made about a president of some other country will not be released and its author ( and all his crew) will be imprisoned or killed. A Dutchman who is used to being able to buy marijuana at any time, will feel that the US is very repressive when it comes to such things. A Kenyan may not criticise his president openly but he can have twelve wives and build a village for his one husband- twelve wife family. In the US, he will be jailed for poligamy-a separate sentence for each wife above one.
As an international traveler, one should be aware of such legal and cultural freedoms and restrictions and be very careful and discreet. Coming back home and bragging about things that you did abroad where they were legal or trying to do things that were legal at home but not legal abroad may prove to be your undoing. Extreme discretion is therefore highly advised. Most people (and judges) are not travelers and will not understand your international view on such things.
Contrary to the Hollywood image of how things are, most of the world does not treat Americans as heroes. Most people in the "non-white" world cannot even tell an American from a German or a Russian. You may think of yourself as such ( an American) but they have their own name for you ( such as White Ghost) and will dump you together with the above groups just like you would often dump all people that you perceive to be of one race into one group. It is called "distance decay". A Korean would not put himself into the same category with Mongolians, Japanese and Aleuts, but he would put all white Americans, Canadians, Brits, Iranians and Czechs into one blurred " nationality". A Black African would go even further: he can distinguish different people and tribes in Africa with amazing clarity and sees it as a very diverse place, but a Japanese and a British tourist look exactly the same to him and he cannot tell them apart- they are not Black, the skin is light- they are, therefore, of one nationality. Westerners, of course, cannot tell different Africans apart at all but can probably tell each other apart quite easily.

According to Hollywood, all people in the world speak English with perfect grammar but with slight foreign accents. If the country is "bad", then the accent is sharper and more unpleasant. If the country is good, then the accent is barely audible. But the grammar is usually perfect. All the tenses are in place, the irregular verbs are used perfectly, the conditionals are immaculate, the vocabulary is copious.

Actually only some 8% of the world speaks English as the first language and some 20% speak it as a second language- which means imperfectly- past tense is not used, conditionals are of the variety : "If you come yesterday, I have the food, but you come today, I no have food".

About 70+% of the world does not speak English at all. And they have no plans to. If you are a brief tourist in a country whose language is not English, it is OK to get around using an interpreter or an English-speaking guide. If, however, you are planning on going to another, non-English-speaking country to live and work for an extended time period, and you are not making an effort to learn their language you are committing a serious act of disrespect.

People from the "Anglo" countries have a particularly big psychological block when it comes to learning foreign languages- for one, many natives want to practice English with them. Second, culturally, they have been taught that the world "kind of" speaks English and if it does not, it soon will. Plus, in the US, UK, Canada, etc. people have been taught to be practical- if it is not absolutely necessary, then one should not waste his time doing it. English is enough.

I, therefore, while traveling and speaking local languages to the natives hear one thing every time I open my mouth and talk to them in their tongue : " Oh, you can speak ( put the language in here). My neighbor is an American. He has been living here 20 years. He cannot speak a word of (put the language here). "

I was once in Puerto Rico and I would always hear about some Gringo who had been living in Puerto Rico for 30, 40 years and who cannot speak a word of Spanish. There is a word for people like that...


While the natives will not tell you this openly, in their hearts and among themselves they will say:

"Oh, what an a---ole! He has been living in our country for so long and he does not think that our culture warrants that he at least make the minimal effort to speak the local language. He is just another #$%&^%$^arrogant foreign a---ole, just like the rest of them who have no respect for the host nation". I am sure you do not want people to think this about you in their hearts.

If you plan to live in a foreign country whose language is not English,the importance language learning is not to be underestimated. Two hours a day for one year will do wonders and most people will be happy to see you try.

However, do not make the mistake of thinking that just because you speak the language, your acceptance will be guaranteed or that you will become " one of them". But you will win many hearts- "he respects us, he is not an a----ole, like the other ones". Still, most people will want to hear the most melodious language of all - the rustling of fresh dollar bills. Most girls' parents would still prefer someone with money who does not speak the language to someone without it who speaks it. The best would be someone with the langauge skills and a pocket full of money.

A multilingual, multi-cultured, well-traveled American ( with money) is probably the world's most perfect human being.

Discrimination, bigotry and prejudice based on race, sex, class, caste, profession, economic status, religion, national origin,political view, nationality, citizenship, skin color, family status, etc. etc. are universal things and exist in every society. There is no getting away from prejudice. It is part and parcel of human thought, or even animal thought- most cats do not like dogs and will not distinguish a good one from a bad one. Dogs are not to be trusted.

The difference between prejudices as you go from country to country is the degree and extent of each one. For example, Germanic, Protestant societies as well as Confucian societies have a high incidence of racial prejudice but less class prejudice. Spanish colonies have much less racial prejudice and much more economic prejudice. Some countries have mixtures of various prejudices in various degrees. One thing always holds true in most societies- if you have enough cash, and your social status is high, you will be able to overcome most prejudice and live a semi-normal life. If you do not have huge amounts of cash, one should choose a country where there is not much prejudice against people of 'your kind'. I think that white people should not go and live in Thailand or Korea. Black people from the US would be very welcome in Ethiopia and treated fairly well in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. Asian Americans can go and live in Thailand and expect a fairly smooth integration into the society there. A Western woman should not expect to enjoy full rights in Saudi Arabia or Japan. An E. European man has no business going to the US and hoping to find a great girlfriend.
By knowing which countries have which prejudices against which people, one will avoid traumatic experiences in the future.


Countries in the Americas are immigrant countries- basically children of various immigrants mixed together. A birth in one of such countries makes you an automatic citizen and a national . Countries in Asia and Europe are indigenous. A birth there does not make you a national. A child of two Chinese parents born in the US is a Chinese-American. A child of two Chinese parents born in Russia is not a Chinese-Russian. Just a Chinese. Germany does not care if your family spent 200 years in Poland. You are still a German and always will be.


In the Third World, the richer, the more arrogant, and the poorer, the friendlier. In the first world, the truly rich are relaxed and quite friendly, but the poor look mean and nasty.


The so-called Third World is probably what we call "the real world". It runs a full gamut and represents the full spectrum. It has a high top and a deep bottom. First world countries do not have a deep bottom. Middle class people are struggling to make ends meet in the First World. In the Third World they are much happier lording over the 60% of the population that belongs to the working class.

What does it all mean in practical terms? It means that in the third world you can start a business with very little capital and have a family with very little money. It means that middle class people enjoy great respect, high status and can have servants and a great choice of wives from the poorer classes. It means that you can live in a house on the beach for next to nothing. It means that you can eat out every day. Third World is cheap and affordable world with lots of great wonders to be enjoyed. Most important, as long as you are in the third world, you will never be lonely.


The best place to live in most countries is the second or third largest city. It is hard to get to know the country and its people if you live in the capital- its people do not really represent it.

Whether a country is rich or poor is not determined necessarily by the people's monthly income in US dollars. One has to keep in mind the income/price ratio in local currency when calculating if people are rich or poor.

You may want to pity a Burmese worker whose salary is $30 a month but a meal there costs a few cents and the Burmese worker probably has his own land and a house out in the country- free and clear and usually he pays no tax, either. Not many 1st worlders are this lucky.

"Poor countries" are "cheap countries". So, before you feel the temptation to become smug about your income, think about the PPP- purchasing power parity- i.e. how much your money can actually buy in products and services in your country and how much it can buy in their country.

Mexican and Central American illegals who risk their lives to cross the Rio Grande are not necessarily doing that because they have "The American Dream"- they are often coming to capitalize on-

1) the huge purchasing power that the dollar has in their country.
2) the very high interest rates that their banks pay- $20,000 can already be used as a deposit to generate a significan peso income at a Mexican bank and even enable one to retire.
3) Very cheap real estate there. One can buy a farm for peanuts in many areas where tourists do not go.

So, before you smugly curl up your lip when you see a Guatemalan waiter in your city working his buns off for $30-50 a day and feel so very proud of the opportunities that America can provide, remember- he can (and will) buy a house and a lot back home for $5000 but you can't (and probably won't).

*** Most countries have an overinflated view of themselves and their role in the world. In Thailand they think that the whole world knows their king and that he is some great world leader next to Kofi Annan ( sp). In the US, they think that events in the US, especially the 9/11 "changed the world forever". Also, that every human being on the face of the earth would rather be living in the US than back in his country.

In Arab countries, they think that the entire world is looking to them to be taken out of darkness and to be converted to Islam.

The Russians think that the most important event of the 20th century was the October Revolution of 1917.

Again, the countries, their media and educational systems confuse "our country" with " the world". Most people do not know Thai king's name and have never seen him. Most people like to live in their countries and 9/11 changed *the US* forever, but people in Bhutan, Lithuania and Mali were not changed by the 9/11 events which took place in a country very far away from theirs.

Most people do not want to be converted to Islam and the Russian revolution of 1917 was an important event for *them*. Not for the world.

In the US a 16 year old is considered a child and 22 year old is referred to as a "kid". In other countries, a 16 year old man is not a child but a working adult and a 22 year old is a fully married member of society taking care of a wife and kids. When an immigrant from such a country arrives in the US, he has to travel back in time as he is treated by society as a "kid" and gets little respect. He is even told that he is too young to get married. 19 year old US girls treat him as a kid and themselves, behave like what a 10 year old girl would behave in his country. He feels completely disoriented and unable to fit in in the new society.

Immigrants are shocked when 26 year olds among them are told- "Oh, you are just a baby!" 20-24 year old, fully-formed , mature and intellectual men coming from the Third World cannot fit in with swaggering, spitting and "cool" stateside 20-24 year old "kids" .

Conversely, a 56-year old man in the US is a middle-aged man while in most 3d world countries he is an old man at the end of his rope.

***Whether you are rich or poor is determined by only one thing- what your money can buy within the society you are in. That's all. By finding cheaper societies, you can multiply your worth manyfold.
You may not be poor. It is just that products and services around you may just be too expensive.

***You can become rich and famous practically overnight- that is after an overnight flight to Indonesia or another such place.
A Westerner appearing in a small village in the so-called Third World may become an overnight celebrity and lauded as a great hero and treated as a president of a country. If Indonesia, your money can just dextuple- a $100 will become $1000 and your $20,000 is savings will become $200,000 within their economy. You can buy a house for your fiancee for $8000 free and clear and virtually become her "king".

I once did one thing just for kicks. I took a bus across the island of Mindanao in Southern Philippines. Mindanao is the size of Florida. The bus from the top to the bottom of the island cost me some $4.

But the uncanny thing was this: no Westerners ever travel by that bus and the people in that remote part of the world had never met a white man, and as it went through the jungles, we would pass by small villages along the road. I would stick my head out to look at villages and the inhabitants, upon seeing me, would cheer, clap and shout with joy. Some people would start jumping and virtually dancing.

It reminded me of President Kennedy riding through Dallas. All that was missing was little flags in their hands.
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Poems on Expatriation
Saturday, September 24, 2005 (20:54:31)
National Pride

My great country, they said, was the best in the world
Every time in the school yard its flag was unfurled.
I was told to be proud of belonging to it
And that other lands, nations and countries were sh*t.

So, I 'd count my blessings each time I'd wake up,
And look out the window at the mountain top
Over which morning rays would their light softly shed,
And exclaim: " What a country!" while still lying in bed.

"We have mountains, valleys and rivers and lakes,
Our forests have wolves, moose and deer and snakes.
In the skies, there are stars, so pristine and divine.
How beautiful is this great country of mine!

How lucky I am to be living in it;
I would die for my land if it ever were hit
By the enemy bombs or missiles or bullets.
May forever its leaders continue to rule it!"

For as they often said, full of vim, pride and zest:
"Our country is great!-in this world, it's the best!"

Then one day, a misfortune my homeland befell-
Its economy suddenly plunged into hell;
Our rulers were toppled and new ones emerged.
On the blood of the people, the new rulers gorged.

Many people, including myself, were exiled
And in faraway lands, wretched, poor and reviled,
We began to rebuild our sad, trampled lives
With no glory, no pride and no snappy high-fives.

And in those new lands I began to behold
How in them their leaders the same stories told
To the countries' small kids, women, men and the rest
How *their* great nations were simply "the best".

Only they had green woods filled with sumptuous game,
Only they had big weapons that kill, wound and maim.
Only they had deep skies with bright starlets all lit.
All the other lands, nations and countries were sh*t...

No Perfect Place.

Around the world I 've traveled far and near
And this advice I have for you, my dear-
Since our world is populated by Mankind,
A perfect place or country
You will never find.

We, unenlightened humans, everywhere are the same,
In language we may differ and in name,
But pretty much the same old habits we display,
No matter whether man or woman, straight or gay.

And what is thick in one place, in another will be
A pretty country will be rotten from within.
'Though people may be friendly, the economy is bad
Corrupt officials there will just drive you mad.

And other countries cleaner, more efficient will
Advanced and, technologically, in gear,
But rude, unhappy people in such places dwell,
Which make them as hospitable as Hell.

And in the countries where pretty girls reside,
There are also goons aplenty who by law do not abide.
The girls may like you, but the hoods have other
They'll make your face one big and bloody bruise.

And then you have some countries that are so nice,
About going home you' ll be thinking twice.
But Communist or Fascist governments they host-
Just one wrong move and you are toast.

And if abroad you are, you'd better not be broke-
Nobody likes a needy foreign bloke.
The smiles that were, will quickly disappear,
And in the gutter you'll end up, my dear.

And when back home you again return,
For those screwed-up places you'll begin to yearn...
The world may be unbalanced and askew
But there will never be a better world for you.

Without injustice and stupidity in it,
It won't be interesting, not one small bit.
There will be fewer contrasts to explore;
Living and traveling in it will be a bore.

No heros such a perfect world will need,
No prophets to combat its dwellers' greed,
No poets to inspire them to act.
No harbingers of change it will attract.

Rejoice ye all that in a screwed-up world
You've made your nest.
For in this Universe it's probably the best.
If ever to a better one you will pass on,
Back to its fold again you will be drawn.

God Bless Arabia

God Bless Arabia
Kingdom Sublime.
One big oodle
Of tax-free boodle
I will stash in my bank every time.
From the Gulf waves,
To the Red Sea,
To the dunes where camels roam,
God Bless Arabia
My tax-free home!

The Language of Money

When I was young
I had a dream-
To fall in love
On distant shores.

My teachers said to me
"You need
To learn the language
-It opens doors".

If local cultures
You respect,
The people will
Appreciate it-

You will have friends
And go on dates,
And you will never
Be frustrated.

And then I bought
A Spanish book
To help me learn
That graceful tongue.

I then that project
I studied hard,
I studied long.

And then in Spanish
I became
A fluent speaker
In a year.

I spoke it well
And felt no shame
To make myself
To others clear.

And to a sultry land
I went.
To fall in love
I hoped immensely,

With swarthy maidens,
Hand in hand,
Walk on the beach
And kiss intensely.

But even though
In Espanol
I could converse,
I did not score.

If fact, I kissed
No one at all
And moped alone
Upon the shore.

"What was the problem?"
You will ask;
You see, it wasn't
My appearance

Or language. That
Was one such task
That needs no tongue
Or perseverance.

I saw some other
Tourists there
That spoke
No Spanish, not a word.

And they were fat
And had no hair,
Each one just looking
Like a nurd.

But boy, each one
Would have a girl
That made me boil
With jealous fury.

In Spanish dances
They would whirl,
Their noses
In their breasts
They'd bury.

Why, why not me?
I'm handsome,
And I speak Spanish
Like a native,

I 'm kind
And gentle, not high-strung,
And friendly, humble
And creative.

But that was not
What those girls
Would look for in
A Gringo tourist-

I had no job
No cash, no pearls-
In fact, I was among
The poorest.

And since no money
They could smell,
Down their noises
At me they sneered,

Although I spoke
The Spanish well
Like one big loser
I appeared

To most of them.
So I went back
And learned my lesson
Pretty well:

In poorer countries
It's your jack
And not the language
That gets the belle.

One Earth

Six years ago to this very date
To work in Saudi Arabia became my fate.
I left my California town for the Middle East
Excited and disturbed I was, to say the least.

Just how would it be for me in such a distant land
Of camels, minarets and desert sand?
Would I feel lonely and forsaken there?
Would homesickness drive me to despair?

And when I landed at the air-port
And later to my place of work I would report,
I took a note of my surround-ings
And noticed all the same familiar things:

The desert looked just like the California desert looked
Upon whose beauty I was always hooked,
Around me, lush oleanders bloomed.
Why then I thought to homesickness I was doomed?

And there were lizards running all around
Just like back home in my California town.
And all the insects, birds and plants and all
Would help me Californian desert nature to recall.

And then, at night, I looked up at the sky
And saw the same old constellations looming high
Above my head just like back where I came from.
Hey, then I thought, this *is* just like back home.

Origa, Lepus, Aries and Ursa Minor
And Ursa Major, Pegasus and then Orion
And then I thought that I was just a whiner
And that I shouldn't leave my home crying

When to some distant lands my life calls me
Because while here on Earth I am, homesick I shall not be.

We like to think of our homes as countries only
And think that outside of them we would be lonely,
But on that night one great dicovery I made:
"The whole Earth is our home!" and now I am not afraid
To live wherever life requires me to live-
As long as it's on Earth, I shall not grieve.

Longing for my Tropical Girl.

As a soft summer breeze blows North from the sea,
And the palms stand caressed by a soft August shower
My heart longs for the East and my eyes want to see
The young maiden who looks like a tropical flower.

Lips uncurled, eyes amiss, our past she recalls,
With her hope almost gone as through void she keeps staring.
Gone the bliss of the kiss as another night falls,
And she stumbles on home, her sarong grandly wearing.

It was years ago when, in tropical lands,
As a soldier and sailor I happened to dally.
My adventurous spirit that pleasure demands
Never wanted to see any gala's finale.

Months went by, drunken sprees, fleshly nights and such things
Just created a feeling of drab satiation.
It was then when Good Lord so suddenly brings
To the cloyed groggy sailors his lustrous creation.

Yes, to me, she just was like a creature of Eden
Lost among earthly things, like a jewel in dirt.
To a sailor such feelings are almost forbidden,
But I felt them not caring whose heart would be hurt.

After notable times and great promises given.
I was ordered to sail my boat on to France
By superiors who, by officiousness driven,
Never cared too much for a sailor's romance.

And I left her alone, in a grimy old haven,
'Twixt old baskets and hawkers and scales of fish;
And she wore her sarong, eyes aflame, hair-raven
Pouted lips like a child who cannot get her wish.

It has been countless months, nights and days, moons and suns,
With her image all filled, her sweet presence reflecting.
Ocean waves that would dance in their endless reruns
Would forever be her dulcet name recollecting.

Wars have passed, decades-gone. Many changes took place
In my life as my hair got tainted with silver,
But I still can't forget her ethereal face
And my feelings for her in my heart gently linger.

And somehow I feel, in this life or the next,
We are destined to cross our footpaths "de novo".
I don't care if eternity gives me a test,
I will love her forever and many times over.

In the meantime, I yearn, overlooking the sea,
As the palms stand caressed by a soft August shower.
My heart longs for the East and my eyes want to see
The young maiden who looks like a tropical flower.

Long Distance Love Today

Long distance love affairs
Used to suck-
It would be rare
For them not to run amok.

Sometimes, they'd last a while
At the start,
But then
Few would
Withstand the trial
While far apart.

But now we're living in the golden Cyber Age,
And you don't need to be
A sage
To figure out
That you have a chance
To do a lot of things
Keeping your romance
No matter how long
You have to be apart
Your love can still grow strong
And thrive
And keep on burning in your heart-
With daily messaging on your cell phone
You'll manage not to feel alone
And then you'll chat
In real time,
And that
Will also keep your love sublime
And even though
You're very far away,
In cyber space your love will not decay,
And with a WebCam
You will see each other
And distance then
Will never smother
Your feelings like it would before
In those pre-cyber days of yore.

So use email, text and chat online
If fate divided you, do not resign
To losing precious love that came your way,
And let technology its strength display
To make the time when you are separated
A time in which great value is created,

A time in which your love becomes so strong
That it don't matter that you have to wait so long
To meet your love again because you are in touch
By email, texting, WebCam and the such.

And when the walls of separation fall,
You'll feel that you have not been so far apart at all;
That with these modern means to stay in touch,
Ten thousand miles nowadays don't mean that much.

We praise the Internet for many things,
But, in my view, its greatest acquisition
Has been the fact that it can now bring
Two distant lovers in a good position

To keep their love alive
Across blue oceans,
Mountain creeks
Deep valleys, peaks,
And time and space,
Just like a magic potion
To keep two hearts in place
And help their love survive.

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