19 February 2010

I'll never live like common people...

There is a town with over 350,000 people in it. Only two of them are Caucasian.

And I am one of them.

It is a strange experience. People stare at me on the street wherever I go. I feel raw and exposed. And rich. Filthy, filthy rich. I can make more money in a day back home that they do in a month.

And apparently I am beautiful... my white skin and big nose makes me the most desirable woman in town.

Oh, the prospect of money and a free trip outta here helps too.

In the house where I stay, I don't feel so strange. I play with the children, I talk and joke with the adults. But then someone else washes my clothes, cleans up after me and cooks for me. I have never boarded with anyone before, and can't help feeling like a colonial with servants. It is an awful feeling. I try and help and they let me a bit, but the combination of 'honoured guest' and 'paying guest' makes them feel worse if I do. They are not doing following their cultural norms and not earning their money if I help.

But when I go out, men stare at me. All. The Time. All the way through town. I hate it.

The crushing poverty of the people around me makes me feel ashamed of my good fortune. But then I remember the hardship, poverty and hunger my family endured as refugees, and I feel grateful. Immensely grateful for the sacrifices they made and the hard work they did to give me such a good easy life. I hope I don't ever take it for granted again.

Despite all that, I am happy and content here. Being here is a blessing for me. And I can understand why some people look upon me with resentment or desire. I am grateful to have made good friends, grateful to be given the opportunity to be here. But I can't get the song Common People outta my brain..

"you will never understand how it feels to live your life
with no meaning or control
and with nowhere else to go...."