*Those* changes

There was a time when I was less abashed than I am now; something about moving to a country that most people do not know how to find on a map can do that to a person. I have been thinking a lot about this blog and my wish to write - taking my invisible whereabouts into consideration, and how that has effaced my wish to be a fully public persona, for I had such ambitions at an earlier time. Especially when it came to my writing.

But when I came to this country, and was offered the possibility of writing assignments of the paying kind, I felt that by writing about this country, I would be selling it. I felt that nothing short of coming here, and experiencing it every day, could do it justice, especially given what it had been through, and how even one of my dearest professors aid of my coming here: you're going there? For goodness' sake, why?! This is what sealed me up behind walls of misunderstanding and not wanting to say anything to stir people up, because there are some countries that seem to rile people up more than others. (I think Root explained this best in Cannibal Culture.) You may notice that the name of where I live never appears on this blog.

It has made me think yet again about the ability to have a voice as a privilege. Sure, anyone can say what they want, but they will not be listened to with the same attentiveness as those in privileged countries, who, by default of a certain overall lifestyle, will share certain cliquish things in common. Which is nothing new - until one realises that when taken to the national level (in terms of having a voice on the international stage), negotiating space, for some, is riddled with additional difficulties that many people never encounter, and cannot even imagine.

What gave me beginners' words - brought a speech bubble back to my mouth, was the market, which I have blogged about many times, and was the starting point for this blog in its current genesis.

As someone who had to leave behind (and discard) boxes and boxes of written material in order to move here, I can say that the past decade has been something I never imagined I would experience. Why would I lose my voice? But in losing it, I am all the more conscious of what brought it back: the changing seasons as reflected in the full or empty rickety market stalls, how the pigeons sometimes take off in unison from the stall eaves, and as one looks up, one faces the open sky and a pattern of birds, while down below are the little paths between the stalls, which I have now memorised - and I know which vendors are where; it is a small enough place that one begins to recognise everyone after a while, there are some vendors I just say hello to, some who are greedy for money and will make up any tale to convince you to open your wallet, some grannies will not hand you your produce until they have added a few extra vegetables, the butcher gives you a discount if you smile consistently, the old grandpa who sells the potatoes, hammered chili powder and garlic does not like his relative who sells from the same stall when he returns to the village, there is a stall with Swiss cooking chocolate, another with imported undergarments with slashed labels - and prices...

How could one keep silent after all those exchanges? Fast forward to today, I want to start speaking with less reservation. I am even thinking of making this blog public. But there are still the other problems. Village mentality can mean that those who do not wish one well will snoop their noses and find any prized information one prefers to keep quiet.

But I crave conversation.

So I need to make some changes. I need to start being witty again, and I would like to add images to this blog. I spent a good part of this evening exploring new blogs, and marveling at those people who just write what they have to say, and take their stand.

It is understandable that a person in an invisible country have their legs erased, which makes it hard to have a stand. Who will understand you? But stranger things have happened. And I can't make my experience online real until I am more actively communicating. Communication is very real - regardless of medium.

And for now, I leave you with an image of our boat foray a few weeks ago, as a gesture of good will:

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