Today I am having one of those in between moods. I want to eat but I am not really hungry. I feel tired but I am too wound up to sleep. I want to go out somewhere but I can't think of anywhere I really want to go. I want to study language but as soon as I start something distracts me. So here I am at the blog.
Actually something semi-interesting happened earlier today. I went out to meet a friend of my wife's at one of the local coffee shops. I had my son Eric with me in the Snugli as I had volunteered to baby-sit for a while.
My wife's friend was a Canadian who had spent 6 years in Cambodia. I didn't ask what she had been doing there but I assume it was teaching English. She met and married a Cambodian man and they both returned to Canada to live.
They have been living in Vancouver for about 2 years, and she was describing some of the challenges that not only her husband, but also she had in returning to Canada. What struck me the most about her description was the characterisation of Vancouver as a sort of place filled with grim, anti-social, workaholics from the Cambodian point of view.
This is funny because I would never think of the typical Vancouverite as a workaholic. Far from it. My wife, as a Japanese, also thinks that Canadians in general have their work life pretty easy. It also surprised me because the image I have of Cambodia is one of war and atrocity, probably largely due to the movie "The Killing Fields".
But to this woman and her husband, Vancouver was dead.
Apparently Cambodia is currently a very laid back and friendly place, with many publicly mandated holidays, great weather, and a great standard of living for the visiting foreigner. A place where you can spend all day hanging out and chatting with people, who all have time on their hands.
This obviously raises the question: What are they doing here, then? I didn't ask because I felt like I would be prying too much into their personal life. But the woman did mention that there is no good health care to be had by most people in Cambodia. This was one of the reasons why they tried to bring the husband's ageing mother over to live in Canada. Our health-care system, however, was no match for her daily fight against the Vancouver doldrums. So she went back to Cambodia several months after her arrival.
I think part of me sympathises with the ennuie they are feeling about Vancouver life. People are, or feel like they are supposed to be, busy. All of the time. It is sort of seen as a sin to just say that you are satisfied with whatever you are doing... not to be driven by this or that goal rooted in material gain. Or in some more politically correct circles, somebody's idea of social change. This sense colours people's interactions because you sometimes get the sense that you are wasting time if you are just hanging out trying to be social.
I think, that's the head-space I am in right now. I wish I were in a more relaxed social environment, where people are free to do nothing if they so choose. Without guilt.