Sunday, December 20, 2009

In some way, we're all captive.

Al Ain is a millenia-old oasis in the desert. The ethnography and archaeology here by my research dates back three, four thousand years. I imagine humans then found entertainment in watching other humans and animals carry about their business. Today, we're no exception; the day of our arrival we watched one of three annual downpours flood our street. We stood outside the villa walls just to see who could drive through the lake that formed on the street outside the driveway.

Another thing to do here is go to the Al Ain zoo. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of zoos. But I am a fan of meerkats and big cats, who are suited to zoos, really. Think of it. A cat that does not in fact have to patrol a perimeter and hunt their own food but instead sleeps all day in the sun and waits for someone to throw in nutritionally balanced meals? It doesn't matter what size the cat is, the mentality is the same. They don't really care about you unless you are failing to provide something to them.

I have no idea what runs through a meerkat's mind; they're just darn cute.

One of the most difficult adjustments I am making moving from the states where we are constantly bombarded with information and The Next New Thing is the complete lack of all of those. The ability to access those things exists here, but it is culturally absolutely unimportant and awkward to attempt to affix that life to this one. Al Ain is a crude downshift into a slower life that doesn't necessarily mean a lack of things, but more a mental housecleaning to reframe the addictive behavior of unconsciously checking our cell phones, twitterberry, facebook, the news crawl and email. I am the worst culprit of this. A number of times expats have told me to get rid of the BlackBerry mentality. It was one of the first pieces of advice I received, actually, and I get it now.

I am not a fan of zoos, but today, the lazy puma, the rhino finding the perfect spot on the log to rub an itch and the giraffe staring quizzically at me while I stared quizzically at it reminded me of the imperative of simplicity as a lifestyle. I have come halfway across the globe to absorb the idea, but the notion is going to make going anywhere else really, really pleasant.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay positive!