Friday, February 01, 2008

What is Beautiful?

I love this picture; it's the kids in the neighborhood in Banda Aceh, where we lived. Our boys had a hot and cold relationship with the gang; one minute they are all riding bikes up and down the roads, finding fish in the gutters and then my blondies were getting kicked off the football field for being horrible players (they were) and the kids would shout the f word for no apparent reason, exept that the f word, like love, is an international language all in its own right.

Living over there where we were, on an average street in a country where very few foreigners have entered because of thirty years of civil war, and then couple that with strict Sharia laws and teachings, made me feel like I was performing in that episode of the Twilight Zone where the cute blond girl (not that I am any of these three things) lived on another planet and they all thought she was ugly. Beauty is definitely in the eye fo the beholder and people do tend to gravitate to others they percieve to be the same as themselves. So, we were definitely the outcasts. From trash being thrown in our backyard and kids perching on the concrete wall heckling my boys, to me in a grocery store having a small girl point and scream "Boule, boule, boule!" at me, we certainly felt like that girl in the Twilight Zone at times.

One of my favorite books as a teenager was "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. Way before Tyra donned a fat suit, this journalist spent some days as a black man, all for the experience. Now I, and I hope, my kids, know what it's like to be the outsider, the one not like the other, to paraphrase the Electric Company. I experienced this in Liberia, West Africa as a teenager, as well, when my dad, also a civil engineer (do we marry our fathers, or what?) would hike out in the 'bush' to survey for roads and bridges on his off days from training the Liberian army (of which Charles Taylor was a member of at the time, but that's another already published blog). But there we were treated with a little reverence. Especially me, the blond girl, carried against my will across streams and granted special adoption into one village because of my hair, and then given a chicken as a gift. Seriously.

All in the eye of the beholder,...

Okay, gotta get 5 kids ready and get my butt to work for a couple of hours. Caio.

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