Had a “Expat Bad Day”

One of those days, you know. Probably the kind everyone who’s lived abroad can remember having felt, when everything one dislikes about the place one is staying decides to up and slap one in the face.

Everything.

We’ll just say that the bus driver didn’t break my foot, that the name of the building I live in is finally going to be changed — finally, after I asked twice, so that ordering groceries online won’t involve a dozen phone calls explaining that, yes, some morons decided to give no formal Korean name to the new building and it ended up being the same as another already-existent building, and that the delivery guy is in the wrong building and the fact that my careful note explaining this was simply left off my package (probably a website error or something, but goddamn it!), and though I had to watch the office people laugh gleefully when they heard that if it wasn’t fixed, food and package deliveries would go to the wrong place consistently, as they have been for months on end since I last pointed out the problem —  and at least I got a seat on the subway, so I was only crammed into a crowd so tightly I couldn’t breathe for a minute or two today.

Wow. It really was akin to a whole amusement park ride of the the things here that specifically drive me batty.

There were a few annoyances I couldn’t avert, but that’s life anywhere, and it doesn’t erase the annoyances themselves. It’s nice that the building’s name is being changed, it’s nice that my foot didn’t happen to be broken, and it’s nice that I managed to get a seat. That doesn’t erase the problem that it took six months to get a ame-changed started, that my foot could easily have been broken, and that other people had to stand in such a cramped space for an hour tonight. Just because things came out well doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem, though that’s the most common institutional interpretation I encounter here.

Which reminds me of what Miss Jiwaku said to me on the phone when I vented about this: “Yeah, it reminds me of how Koreans abroad seem to replicate Korean society in microcosm… except, more extremely, more oppressively.” Makes one wonder why they would do that, but from what I saw in Indonesia, it does seem like a fair description of the state of affairs there. What baffles me is why, free of all the burdens, anyone would do that.

Perhaps, though, I’m fooling myself. People still use monarchic language when they refer to their religions after all, calling their gods things like “Lord” or”King” or “Prince”… having broken free of that bondage of monarchic rule, you’d think people would repudiate it. Yet not only in fantasy tales, but even in religion (insofar as the two can be separated) this is the kind of language that dominates.

Which makes me wonder what the religion (and “religious language”) look like within a group of people who had actually internalized freedom of thought, freedom of action, democratic power, and social and sexual equality. One wonders if it would be recognizably (to us) religious at all… or if religion would exist in such a society.

Ooops, tangent. But I feel better now.

4 thoughts on “Had a “Expat Bad Day”

  1. Which makes me wonder what the religion (and “religious language”) look like within a group of people who had actually internalized freedom of thought, freedom of action, democratic power, and social and sexual equality. One wonders if it would be recognizably (to us) religious at all… or if religion would exist in such a society.

    I immediately think of LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” and the Pravic language of Anarchist Annares.

  2. V,

    Oh, yeah, I should probably read that. Um… it’s in my pile for the year, at least.

    Kevin,

    Hmm. I’ll look into it. I did write a story once about a planet colonized by post-theistic Quakers, though really, I don’t know now why I chose them instead of Unitarians. Maybe because of the whole opposition to war thing. (The story illustrates how engineering human flaws away can make for a wonderful society in which to live, but also a species that is problematically susceptible to specific dangers of its universe.)

    Rhesus,

    Well, I am talking about those occasional days when everything that sucks about the place where you’re sojourning slaps you in the face all at once. One would hope that someone experiencing even a half a year of it without respite would realize it was time to move on, but perhaps it wasn’t a choice for you at the time. Hmmm. Anyway, it’s not always like this for me… but only because of (stopgap) adjustments I’ve made that render things manageable, and that is increasingly unsatisfying as a lifestyle. But it’s nothing like a “Bad Expat 8 Years” or anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *