Monday, December 24, 2007

What's New?

The postings on this site ares my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

If I Didn't Come Home a Horse...

...then what was new? I think my eyes were new and my own sense of my outsider status was expanded, so that in addition to all of the other facets of my somewhat rare identity, now, I was a repatriate.

Prior to my time in India, my eyes were less alert to the ample opportunities for gluttony in Shoprite. In India, there were numerous times, where we couldn't find basic provisions in the market, e.g., reasonable fruit, or any yogurt, or skim-milk....

Passing the local grocery's bakery, I said to myself, "Don't forget the starving children in India;" when I was very young, in the late '60s, it was a common phrase of adults, who wanted us to finish the food on our plates.

And then I felt a layer of distance from everyone around me. Standing in the pre-Christmas, giant line to check out, I thought, (and I meant no disrespect or trivialization of the mission of many soldiers today) This must have been the experience of soldiers, who came home from more remote, less western locations: No one standing in the check-out line -- other than soldiers on leave -- felt as much like an apparition as I did, I was convinced.

It was tough to act natural. I had to tell the cashier how I had just returned from six months in India and how good it was to be able to shop for the variety of fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, she rose to my occasion and looked at me for a moment, smiling kindly, and then returned her focus to scanning and bagging the items.

Re-reading my comparison of myself to a soldier just now was embarrassing. Compared to a soldier, my work was not death-defying, nor my accommodations spartan. It was simply the closest analogy I could think of. Probably, it would have been much better to compare myself to a fellow expatriate. Michele was there for nine, not six, months, and so reading the latest of her posts on repatriation was helpful.

Also, I was so fortunate that Pat was retired and able to accompany me, so that I didn't have the experience Michele had, of getting re-acquainted with her spouse. Pat was a witness along with me. Part of us will always be extra-outsiders from now on, I think, as no one really can understand the experience without having it. The beautiful part is that it made us even closer as a couple and as best friends.

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