Showing posts with label society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label society. Show all posts

Saturday, March 12, 2016

歴史はいつまで記憶に残るのか

昨日であの当時日本在住だったの皆さんの人生を変えた事件から五年になる。マスコミの報道を見ると、福島の復活や被害者の「第二人生」を描く楽観的なストーリーがあれば、被害地の人口が6%減るとか、現地の経済が完全に国の支援だけでまわされているなど、悲観的な指摘も少なくはない。だが、これらの報道に一つ残念なことがあるとしたら、たぶん「量」である。前年度に比べると、この記念すべき一日は人々の注目を浴びなくなっている。各報道局はこの傾向を認知しているのに違いない。

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Would a Rural African Try Foreign Foods if They Are Cheap and Filling?

So the author was thinking as he was having his usual lunch combination of rice, boiled beans, boil vegetables, and beef chunks with tomato sauce.  In this little local street-side eatery in the rural village where he goes to work most of the days, this combo plate is the only thing on the menu.  The young owner of the shop makes the exact same thing for lunch and dinner everyday, day in and day out.  Interestingly enough, her eatery is sustained by the same customers who work in the area, who come to eat the exact same thing, day in and day out.  The author has now become one of them.

Friday, January 1, 2016

"There is the High, the Low, but Not Much in the Middle"

That was the key phrase of the night as the author found himself at a posh poolside bar on the rooftop of an otherwise ordinary-looking hotel inside a walled compound of an obscure side street.  It was the last few minutes of 2015, and this neighborhood, like any other in Nairobi after nightfall, remained dark, quiet, and devoid of pedestrians.  But as soon as the heavy metal gates of the high-security walled compounds are flung open, a whole new world opens up.  Smartly dressed young locals and expats (but vast majority being locals) headed up to where the DJ was keeping the music thumping.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

the (Un)expected Quietness of an African Pre-Christmas

Before December arrived, the author heard from multiple sources of the supposed madness of a lengthy Christmas season in this piece of African outback.  There will be non-stop Christmas music blasting from every home from December to February, they said.  All the bus tickets will be much more expensive because everyone will be traveling home, they said.  And the whole country will all the sudden become a much more festive place, they said.  Exaggeration, without a doubt, but even taken with a grain of salt, such words can be credited for heightened excitements in some boredom.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Can a City Go from Nothing to Virtual, without the Physical Infrastructure?

In multiple occasions on this blog, the author mentioned how he misses the convenience store culture that is prevalent in many parts of urban East and Southeast Asia.  The ability to walk out to the streets from one's residence or office for five minutes, and find food, drinks, basic medicine, and other daily needs just seem so fitting to a city of the future where dependency on automobiles for personal transport is drastically reduced.  Naturally he thinks that dense cities with pedestrian-friendly blocks of dense street-level shops surrounded by high-rise residential buildings is fitting with that future.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Foreign Secondhand Clothing And African De-industrialization

In Tanzania, there is one thing that is often noticeable in any market area.  Next to the usual arrays of vegetable stalls are sections devoted to colorful clothes, some hanging, some in big piles on spread-out sheets on the ground.  The clothes are almost exclusively foreign in nature, easily identified with their Hangul lettering, Chinese characters, European logos, and even American flags.  Yet most show little sign of wear-and-tear, no doubt due to careful selection, cleaning, and ironing.  At equivalent of couple of USD per shirt, they make for an affordable supply for locals.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Sorrow of Asian "Emotionlessness"

When the author was growing up as a secondary school student in the US, a favorite conversation topic among his Asian-American group of friends was the perceived "weirdness" of their respective Asian families.  The concrete example of "strange" were mostly bouts of what can be termed social aloofness, with awkward gift-giving during holidays, awkward presence and absence of affection, and even more awkward get-together of friends and families.  The comparisons were always with non-Asian families, were social occasions, to the Asian kids, seems always so smoothly conducted.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terrorism Wins When Attention is Given

There is no doubt that the terrorist attacks in Paris is unfortunate, and it is perfectly justified that traditional media are filled with news of latest developments and social networks are filled with messages of condolences.  Killing of innocents are morally and legally wrong and deserve to be condemned.  But the label "terrorism," after years of its continued threat to the Western world, should be more or less learned by now.  The very purpose is to generate attention through fear, with collateral damage to innocents as a tool.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

When the Rain Brings the Agricultural New Year

For someone that has lived for years in the tropics, the coming of the monsoon has become more of a signature for passing times than change of seasons.  And just as past years, the author getting his "start-of-rainy-season" diarrhea and fever (quite literally) as the first rains of the monsoon land in Iringa.  Even as he holds his stomach in pain on the bed for much of the day, he cannot forget the romanticism that he has come to witness every time this year as he retraces the memories of the first rains in tropical Southeast Asia.

Monday, October 12, 2015

當他人的不幸加强了民族的自卑

上周,著者曾以當事人的角度觀察了本組織的同事們是如何以一種表面上的不以爲是來打發一個令人悲傷的新聞。很可惜的是,這件以同時男友被殺害開始,以其同事的心理崩潰而突然離開組織而結束的故事并未在最近的一個星期繼續發酵,以至著者無法再以實際事例證明這件事情對所有人的持續傷害。但可以肯定的是,即便這件事情永遠不再同事間的會話中被再次提起,它對這個組織,特別是對其抱有“在非洲拯救世界”理想心態的所有外國雇員的心理打擊是持續的,所造成的心裏陰影是永遠的。

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Can a Person "Invest" in His Own Isolation?

In the downtown areas of Iringa, there is the usual array of Tanzanian eateries serving local favorites like rice and beans, chips and grilled meat, along with localized versions of Chinese, Indian, and Western favorites.  Some of the more high-end restaurants frequented by moneyed local businessmen/officials and foreign tourists on their way to nearby national parks try even harder to specialize those local favorites in a more higher-end setting.  The results, will still fitting for the local environment, create more sanitary and secluded environments for foodies, local and foreign.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The "Frivolity" of "Forever"

In his now 27 years of existence, the author has never been to a proper wedding.  To him, the pompous ceremony is cringe-worthy in its underlying meaning beyond all the obvious pomp.  The cheesiness of exchanging vows to be side-by-side forever always have that fearful element of a permanent contract between two people, one that requires enforcement through changes in circumstances and personalities.  A wedding is, beyond ceremonial symbolism, a real symbolism of newly required maturity, one that the author is be no means ready to accept.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

the Colonial Vestiges of Personal Names

The more one learns a language, the more one starts to notice the unique subtleties that are idiosyncratic, but can at the same time by conflicting.  The author's recent journey in mastering the Swahili language sees plenty of previously foreign pieces of linguistic rules being understood as things that are inherently local.  For instance, local Swahili words does not allow (just simply don't have) the ending of any consonants.  Foreign loanwords, for instance, generally end with the letter "i" to ensure consonants does not finish any word when pronounced.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Surprising Phenomenon of Linguistic Protectionism

As part of his new work at Tanzania, the author is attending weekly one-on-one classes to master the local lingua franca that is Swahili.  Despite English being the working business language as well as the main language of instruction in local schools secondary and above, to work with people with less than adequate amount of formal education (i.e. the farmers, the organization's main clientele), being able to communicate and comprehend at least some of Swahili (as well as the local tribal language of Kihehe) is almost a requirement to succeed.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A "Words of Mouth" Expat Community

Alongside the smooth tarmacked main roads leading southwest of Iringa, there are countless numbers of dirt roads leading into what seem like middle of nowhere.  From faraway they are seem quite similar: a few thatched, dirt-walled houses surrounded by small-holding farms and patches of temperate forests covering the more remote parts of the region's characteristic hilly terrain.  Each generally had either no sign or small signs that are entirely unnoticeable to vehicles passing through at high speeds on the main road.  The only exception to these were shops that occasionally placed themselves at these makeshift traffic turnoffs.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A University Graduate Living on Four Dollars a Day and a Prostitute Making 100 USD an Hour

Back in town at Iringa, the town that graciously hosted the author for the previous interview trip from a month ago, there was a job advertisement on one of the lamppost on the main street leading to the bustling central market.  A renowned international organization was hiring local stuff to do market research and data analyses to help determine the best strategies to gain access to target markets.  In its brief description, the high expectations for the job is clear.  To get the job done, computer and critical thinking skills, a rarity in this mostly farming community, are obviously essential.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

令人悲哀的古跡商業化

上海安遠路玉佛禪寺。一個經歷幾個世紀風雨,度過多次毀而修、修而毀的古刹,今日已不見當年的輝煌。雖然内部佛像依舊完整、傲氣逼人,但其地址已是在一個再普通不過的住宅區内。若不是地圖的標記和路人的指點,著者也不會從一個再平常不過的一個地鐵站走多少個街區將其尋出。不過找到時的興奮還是有的。在一個一棟又一棟、參差不齊但外貌相同的住宅樓叢林中,一個古典木製寺院顯得異常突出,并給一個普通的街區帶來莫名的歷史感。

Monday, July 20, 2015

Gentrification and Over-Gentrification

As a society develops, it increasingly obtains the energy and the luxury to look toward its past, and begin to incorporate its remaining history into sustainable future development.  Europe, as the leader of modern economic development, has already reached a stage where tradition is combined into modernity.  The same traits of tradition's new-found role in economic progress is spreading from Europe to Asia, especially China where, despite large scale destruction over the course of ten-year-long Cultural Revolution, significant amount of traditional customs and architectural heritage remains intact.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The One Who Wants Time to Stop

The author met a former coworker from Rakuten, who he has not met in some four years since he quickly departed from the company after less than a year of work.  Interestingly enough, he had met her on the very day she was handing in her marriage registration.  The author, not someone eager in communication, obviously had no idea of the fact that she was getting married, or that she was in a serious relationship at all.  Surprising at it seems, four years is not a short time for a person to grow up.  It gives a person much time to proceed with personal plans outside the career path.

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Omotenashi" Revisited: How to Get People to Part with Their Money in the Most Pleasant Way?

By anyone's standards, traveling in Japan is not a cheap affair.  Shoe-stringing backpackers that frequent Southeast Asia should definitely not be here, considering that cheapest lodging tend to be around 30 USD per night and the cheapest lunch 6 USD.  Combine that with extremely expensive local transportation, which can average 20 USD for even short-distance train travel, and the expenses pile up in ways that does not justify the incomes of even the average person that lives and works in this country.  Most of the time, the money flies out of the wallet without even the user really noticing.