Teresa Hanoin Bot

East Timor

The Wonder of Contrast

November 10 -- In Transit, East Timor--Egypt

Somewhere in between new york city and east timor swings the pendulum of my mind, desperately trying to find some ground to rest on as i enter the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My mind, reeling from the extreme amount of stimulation from seemingly everything modern and civilized - plush couches, overstocked perfume stores, food courts with finicky children demanding more from placating parents, shiny floors, glass elevators headed for the sky, signs pointing the direction towards every imaginable amenity, and jay-z blaring from a speaker right behind my ear.

I stop and just look around and am in awe of all this stuff. People from everywhere going to all corners of the earth whizzing past me, and i'm still fixated on the porcelain faced Asian woman who just walked by with a miniscule cellphone attached to her ear. I watch her and she's oblivious to my awe at all that is sophisticated, and i hear her chic high heels clicking against the marble floor, rythmically making music almost. And i look down at myself, and giggle privately at my worn Nikes, hooded smudgey sweatshirt and my backpack that still has dust on it from East Timor.

The jet lag, the giddiness at being only about 10 hours from seeing my parents, and the pre-indulgent feeling at the thought of drinking a milkshake add to my strange euphoria at being back to "civilization". I turn around and see the airplane through the large window behind us, and think how amazing technology is....the ability to slip effortlessly in between both time zones and eras. It was less than 12 hours ago I was dodging goats w/ my bike, now i'm standing deciding between "tall" and "venti" ....strange indeed.

Flash forward to Cairo, where I'm indulging in un-hot weather, familiarity with people I've known before I left America, food that i've loved forever...etc. Walking through the overly crowded market I thought was "gross" as an immature kid, I'm reveling in the chaos. Tons of fruits and vegetables of every color, vendors sweetly begging you to buy their goods, kids chasing eachother between the passer-bys, cats diligently calculating when the owner will look away to have a chance at nabbing that dangling fish from the shanty table, deafening chicken screams from the pens 2 feet away, and the sound of the corner mosque beckoning all the Muslims to stop and pray, for it's the holy month of Ramadan. My father walks hurriedly ahead and is annoyed with me for taking so long to get through the market....what was his backyard as a child is now my elusive menagerie of a beautiful culture. We get through it and head home. And he doesn't notice the next thing I see, but wouldn't be phased even if he did. Two men on the street ahead of us. One in a business suit engrossed in a business call on his cell....parallel but unrelated to him, is a man walking in a galabeya, a long one-peice robe with a square cap on his head...something you'd see in the old testament of a picture bible or something. I notice this, look down and laugh, loving the new eyes of contrast I've seemed to acquire on this trip to a place I'd love to call home.....


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