Sunday, July 22, 2007

Changes in Latitudes Changes in Attitudes

Well, the world's flipped again...

After a day and a half long day's journey through the night (and a day...), we finally reached Kathmandu and hastened to our hillside retreat in Budhanilkantha -- above the congestion and bustle of the burgeoning city.

Yet, the global travel has become second-hand, even for six year old Ms. Leah Rose. We know, intuitively, before we start that the next two days are dedicated to simply moving our physical existence (usually including a few seriously overweight bags...) from one GPS coordinates to another one some 8-10,000 miles away. Usually this occurs, without any sense of astonishment or wonder, at 30+ thousand feet in the atmosphere, then in between take-offs & landings sitting patiently in a wide-range of airport/shopping complexes.

That, actually, is the easy part.

What is more complex and less discernable are the changes in attitudes that accompany these changes in latitudes (to quote the sage/song writer Jimmy Buffet).

These are the nuances of kulture, identity and values that underpin the differences among us around the world. The differences in dress, language, architecture et al are, of course, more easily visible when the plane touches down in NYC, Amsterdam (which Leah refers to as 'Hamster-dam'), Abu Dhabi or Kathmandu. But, the underlying cultural reference points are more subtle (sometimes) and elusive.

These are the categories by which we perceive each other, what we chose to observe (when we are thoughtfully observing...), the distinct intonations or inflections of shared language, and the social, cultural or religious values we intrinsicly prefer or elevate when we communicate (by signs, words, impressions or objects).

In these categories of human empathy or misunderstanding, lie some of the most challenging and curious aspects of this bi-continental, global life some of us have chosen to lead.

Exactly where it leads is, of course, another form of question... ;-)

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