Monday, April 02, 2007

Practical Romanticism and "Cross-Placing"

Practical Romanticism.

Just like there is a ying and yang, right-wingers and left-wingers, plus and minuses, there are also two types of characters or approaches to life: the practical and the romantic. In countries where the practical approach predominates, the streets are clean, the houses are well kept and everything runs smoothly but families are broken and dating and parties are boring. Music and art are empty and lifeless. In countries where the romantic approach is dominant, the family is strong, parties are passionate and joyful, art is full of meaning and substance, but the government and business are notoriously inefficient.

Practical peoples are well organized, forward looking and empiricist in their approach to life but they seem to be robotic and machine like to the romantic peoples. A good example would be Canada where the Quebecois complain about their romantic people’s conflict with the “tete carees” the “square-head” English Canadians.

I guess that in order to have harmony in life we need to have both the practical and the romantic elements balanced. In other words we need to become practical romanticists. Make money, save and I invest, but also a lot a certain share for aesthetic enjoyment. How about taking care of one’s financial affairs in the most responsible fashion and then enjoying unbelievable sunsets over Manila Bay? Just sitting down for one full hour and watching the sun sink into the mirror-like flat waves of that gorgeous body of water. After all, if we don’t take time for such things we are no better than ants or squirrels that are just concerned with how much food they will have to stash away for hard times.

I can name so many people who have spent their lives in the most cool-headed and organized way only to one day end up on their death bed and realize that they have wasted a lot of time without ever enjoying life in any big way. Their sad demise is almost as meaningless as that of a person who never made any provisions for the future and only enjoyed the present again to end up penniless and unhappy in his old age.

Neither the ant’s nor the grasshopper’s approach is correct. One lives a happy life only if one can balance both.

Go to Taste One culture, End up Tasting Another.

There are strange places in the world where you end you tasting a whole different culture than the one you had intended to experience in the first place. Take Auckland, New Zealand for example. I went there hoping to taste some famous New Zealand mutton and see what it would be like to well, live in...New Zealand. I did not plan on ending up in…Korea. With huge numbers of Koreans in the downtown, it was basically like visiting Seoul. I ended up eating Korean food every day, meeting and talking to Korean people and buying things from Korean shops. Nothing wrong with that, but you see, I had paid all this money to visit NZ.

For a very long time I looked for a New Zealand restaurant. There was only one in Auckland which I found after an intensive search that lasted many days. And it was only after about another week, when in Queenstown, I was able to try my first uniquely New Zealand dish- Lamb Wellington.

Hey, what gives! Why should I go to New Zealand and not really experience it? Maybe I should have just gone on to Korea, instead?

When in the United Arab Emirates, as well as many other countries of the Arabian Gulf, you do not really get introduced to the Arab culture because in many big cities there, there are not that many Arabs. Most people are from India and Pakistan. So, basically, you get introduced to the culture of the Indian Subcontinent. Nothing wrong with that except that I kind of thought that in the United Arab Emirates there should be more things Arab, more Arabic language spoken, more Arab foods and songs sang. No luck. Sometimes you see an Arab whisk by in a Land Cruiser at a neck-breaking speed and you have very little opportunity to talk to him. You are, for all intents and purposes living in Karachi or Mumbai.

Students who for years were watching Hollywood movies and dreaming of going to the USA to study to experience America, go to Los Angeles and basically experience…Mexico. They go to the downtown areas where virtually no one speaks English, and they do not see any “ Americans”, at least not the Americans they used to see on TV.

In some South East Asian nations, one becomes exposed to the 1950ies US culture through songs, clothing and most of all, their way of thinking. Hoping to see what it would be like living in an exotic Asian nation, one now witnesses the people’s addiction to money and things, western behavior, western materialism and provincialism, to the point that they themselves are now more money-grubbing and more Western than the Westerners themselves.

Hey, I was hoping to listen to some Eastern thought, but instead I end up seeing people who are chasing the dollar , dreaming of Mercedes Benzes, dancing Hip Hop and basically looking down on their own culture which they now find old-fashioned and backward, and whose lost virtues only the foreigners are now interested in. Why travel half way around the world to find a pre-1960ies America? The ironic thing is that while the West has now been so cloyed with materialism that the spiritual revival is on the way in so many places, the formerly very spiritual nations are now engaged in the feeding frenzy, devouring the fruits of their newly found materialistic civilization.

Yup, you go to one place and you end up experiencing another, you go to places expecting things to be different but they are even more “the same” as they would be back home. Strange indeed.

1 comment:

AtilladHun said...

Iam a single person and I do a lot of travelling overseas.I travelled around New Zealand in a rented car (I flew in alone, but found some company for the drive later ;-). Flew to the Southern island, skied in Queenstown, the Alps of the Southern Hemisphere. Saw the Harry Potter movie shoot locations, just amazing landscape. Quite ordinary there too to have a gorgeous blonde lady attendant fill up your car at the gas stations. I share your philosophy about overseas travel, but I cannot write as well as you do. But, should we really write about it and let other people know?:-)I think we should keep it a secret.;-)