Well, the whole ‘Culture Shock’ thing has been an interesting adventure in and of itself. I was side-swiped. I think I’ve turned a corner, though, finally. It’s the whole ‘expectations’ thing, you know? You’d think I’d have learned that lesson by now, but no, apparently not. I had this picture in my head of what it would be like here….and it is that way to some extent (exciting, interesting, beautiful, delicious food, wonderful people…..) …..but there’s a whole lot more to the picture than I was ready for. Actually I was ready for the difference in culture – that was obvious, expected and welcome. I think what I was experiencing wasn’t so much ‘culture shock’, as ‘city shock’. I hate to say it, but the thing I just wasn’t ready for is the air pollution. Hanoi is a booming city. Development everywhere. It’s what a lot of people here want….what a lot of people call progress and they’re pursuing it with vigor. Right now that’s their focus. I have faith that they’ll catch up to it all and start dealing with the pollution at some point. In the mean time….it’s here….and it’s intense…..and I found myself overwhelmed with it. So there’s that………….
The other part of my problem was isolation. Mike had found work…..quite a few jobs that had him away from the house. The situation here is such that you have to have a key to get in and out of the ‘apartment complex’ we’re living in. Mike would need the key for getting in and out to go to work. I could’ve asked someone else in the complex to let me in and out the front gate, but I hate bothering anyone for stuff like that and getting a key made here means finding a place to get it done….which isn’t easy….. so, instead of going out and exploring, I’d stay at home in the sweltering heat and listen to my brain. Is that stupid or what? I mean, my brain can be a really baaaaad neighborhood. Lots of times it’s a fine place – when I have something to do….I can get really creative and my brain is a happy, peaceful place. But put it in a sweatbox on the 6th floor of a concrete building with no plant life around it, no one to talk with and give it lots of polluted air to breath and it turns into a fire-breathing, all devouring, freakish beast.
Now, I could have been on the internet looking for a job myself, but there was a possibility we may have been moving to a completely different area – it was sort of up in the air as far as a potential job was concerned – so I didn’t want to apply for jobs here in Hanoi because we may not have been staying here much longer……I was waiting. Waiting to see what move I should make next…..and I’m not a good ‘waiter’. In fact I rather suck at it. Waiting means ‘limbo’ to me and I hate it. So, basically, with everything being taken into consideration, last night I more or less had an emotional melt down.
Poor Mike. Having to deal with this disturbed wreck….and the thing is, he doesn’t have to deal with it, but he does because he’s a good man…..and he’s used to it….. having known each other for so many years, we ‘roll’ with each others quirks. Normally I’m a very rational….well, at least a somewhat moderately rational person…..okay, let’s just say I’m not normally mindlessly unstable……. oh, forget it…….anyway, Mike’s used to it…..and he helps me out….a lot. You could even just call it patting me on the head and saying, “There, there, it’ll be all right.” Somehow, when he does it, I believe it. And it is all right. Thank you, hon.
So, anyway, this morning he says, “Let’s get you out of here” (he was kind enough not to add, “because if you don’t get out of here you’re going to lose your flipping mind and be completely unbearable”). So I went to work with him and volunteered my help with some of the students. Enjoyed the heck out of it…..and got a job! Heeeee! Not many hours yet, but it’s something to build on and I’m thrilled. Stability regained! Ha!…Right!
Carved steps outside a Buddhist Temple.
I like the dragon on his belly!
Hanoi moment: Looking out your 6th floor window at the monstrously enormous, noisy construction site 30 metres away while listening to the rooster crowing on the rooftop of your neighbor next door.