Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Getting Lost

Tonight I went for a short hike in Kuala Lumpur. I was in a neighborhood not far from the city center.

My friends and I wandered around and found a trail.

Shortly we found ourselves in a makeshift plywood village. We smiled. "It's always and adventure!", Mike said.

"Yep", I replied.

They didn't speak Bahasa Malaysia. They didn't look Thai or Indonesian. So who were they?

"AH... I bet they're Bangladeshi", I said confidently.

I remarked about how when I worked in construction I wanted a cold beer and a nice air conditioned room to sleep in after work.

These guys were not drinking cold beer nor sleeping in a nice comfortable bed after work. Instead, they had a plywood floor, an outhouse for a toilet, and a bowl of rice until they woke up the next morning to go back and pound a hammer into some wood.

"I bet they make $5 a day, if that", I proclaimed.

It must be better than what they have back home or they'd leave.

So what's the point of all this?

Well, I realized how 'soft' I am compared to many folks in the world. My days of working construction were hard. I worked in the blazing Georgia sun laying shingles, digging ditches and painting houses.. but at least I had a nice bed and cold beer to go back to.

These people had a plywood shack and a bowl of rice. Yet somehow they are more welcoming and appreciative of what they have than many McMericans I have met with the 'somebody owes me something attitude' of so many folks back home.

I also realized how eager I was to go stumbling into a 'ghetto' or 'barrio' type 'hood full of strangers with dark skin! I think it's mainly because I never felt threatened by the dark skinned inhabitants. Maybe they aren't as bad as I was raised to believe in the South of 'Merica?!

Hey, did I mention that I had just been to the bank and had $1000 local dollars in my pocket?

'Land of the Free' they call my place of birth. So why can't I do what I just described back home? Why did I have to come to SE Asia to discover racial tolerance, religious acceptance and freedom to walk around in a strange place full of strangers and feel comfortable?

Maybe McMerica isn't what it's cracked up to be after all?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"'Land of the Free' they call my place of birth. So why can't I do what I just described back home?"

Um....you can, you just never tried.