May 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm 1 comment


Ok, I’ve been here for over a week. About two weeks to not be exact, but it feels like I’ve been here for months. And it feels like I just got here. I often feel dizzy.

I don’t know how much I buy into culture shock theories. They seem sort of arbitrary. Like cultural theories in general.

When I go somewhere, I am immediately uncomfortable. Then I like it. Then there is nowhere I’d rather be. Then I start to dislike it. Then I like it, then I don’t like it, then it’s the worst place in the world, then it’s the best, then it is just a place and shit, as long as I’m here…

And then?

And then was last Wednesday night. I had finished my first week of teaching, and I wanted to go to a bar, have a couple of drinks, and relax.

But there really isn’t a bar here. There are clubs, and some place where you can supposedly buy beer out of a drive-thru window. Oh, and there is The Seamen’s Club (which will be blogged about shortly insha’allah).

No bar. It’s not the end of the world, of course, and the scarcity of alcohol here is hardly a bad thing.

But when you really want something that you can’t have, you want it a lot more. And the more you really want that unattainable thing, the more ludicrous the reasons for its unavailability become.

Of course, I found the booze. That wasn’t the problem. The problem is where I had to go. And the problem with where I had to go is that I felt dirty even stepping foot into the place. This place…whew, this place will be blogged about soon.

And I started to think…and question, and criticize…I started to wonder why, in this place where soooooooo many men chew qat, getting high, why, why is there not a bar? And why are the places that serve alcohol either epically seedy or hidden behind the kindly-bomb-us-we-are-all-decadent white walls of ostentatious foreign hotels? If the widespread use of an amphetamine is ok, and encouraged as a cultural practice, then why, oh why, do I feel like this guy everytime I want to grab a fucking cold one?

Confusion adds to fatigue, which, combined with the heat and humidity, feeds intolerance. People become individual examples of a collective, cultural error. These people, I started to think…

Then I caught myself. I felt bad.

I was annoyed, because I couldn’t casually buy a beer, and because of my distorted sense of entitlement. I was annoyed with the multitude of idle young men, with bulging cheeks and green spit, staring at me as I passed them, and I was annoyed with the base cultural assumptions that ran through my mind as I passed them.

There was no shock, and I told myself it wasn’t cultural. But the heat started to get to me and I desperately wanted another beer.


Entry filed under: fatigue, Yemen. Tags: , , .


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. ellen  |  May 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    that feeling of entitlement is the American in you. “what do you mean I can’t have that?” the only time in my life I feel that way is when I’m in a foreign country. Also I find myself thinking “what the hell is taking so long?” and “how does anyone get anything done hear?” And then you feel guilty, and like a fat american imperialist.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Recent Posts

Flickr Photos

%d bloggers like this: