Random reflection: feeling home in the developing world

Feel loopy trying to stay up for my flight back tomorrow and to get back on schedule, and started reflecting on my Istanbul trip, and ended up word vomiting this in what was going to be a short message in response to “how is your trip?”:

I never would have expected to say it but I’m gonna miss Istanbul. I feel “home” in the “developing world.” It’s not a home feeling that comes from agreeing with the values in your environment. I’m not sure what it is. It feels like the home feeling that comes from being closer to nature.

The hospitality (i.e. the hotel serves a lavish breakfast 8am-11am because they want the guests to enjoy their food, as opposed to a US hotel 6am-8am, minimal, because the hotel wants you to sleep through breakfast to save on costs). Gifting. Craftsmanship. All food is gourmet at all price points. Pride in craftsmanship. Roosters crowing next to EDM open air concerts. Stray cats everywhere. Eye contact with strangers.

“My cousin” stories. Somehow everybody knows what’s going on with each of their many hundreds of cousins. Fuck if I know what my cousins have been up to for the past 5 years.

Walking for 30 minutes twice a day because there are never any taxis. Systems that kinda don’t work but kinda do. Weird directions (“in the square make a right” — which right? There are 7 streets. And from which side? It’s a square.)

Meeting times being loose targets at best. Deer-in-headlights looks at the high-strung American aggrieved that my schedule has been tampered with.

The covert hostilities inequality produces. Getting the American price. Maid subtly stealing a little here a little there.

“Where is your husband and where are you from”

People’s love/hate relationship with the US: Them telling you proudly about the one time they studied for a semester in Alabama 20 years ago when you say you’re American. Them saying how Canadians are so much better and nicer than Americans when you say you’re Canadian.

I don’t like all these things. I’m not trying to make the world more like this or aspiring to live out some Eat Pray Love fantasy. I don’t really know what my takeaway from this sense of self I got will be. All I know is it surprised me so I reflected on it. Chaos feels real. Humanity feels real. It seems we’re trying our damndest to rid the world of both, me being on the front lines, and this feeling definitely gave me food for thought.


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