There are at least a hundred other things I should be doing right now in the middle of exams, but I cannot help but be astonished by how quickly the past three months or so since being back from Ghana have passed. Being back has been hard, but an adventure of its own. When I heard about people having a hard time adjusting back to life in Canada before I left myself, I never believed it. Boy, was I wrong…
In no particular order, here are some of my observations, irks, personal failures, rants and ambitions for the future:
If you had the misfortune of talking to me in the first few weeks after I was back, my apologies for my cynicism. It has been quite the journey from being angry at anything related to the Ice Bucket Challenge, to not caring about anything, to trying to rationalize everything. Not sure where it will be next, but it has taken a lot of time to put everything into perspective.
I still get furious when I see a classmate present a game-changing solution that will save Africa, or when someone asks me, “Tell me more about the cheetahs in Africa you saw this summer!” It is hard not to say, “How were the polar bears in North America this summer?”
Sharing experiences of racism can be a tricky subject- it is difficult to do so without inviting a plethora of uninvited pity and ‘I totally get what you mean, those people are racist pieces of shit’. Like many others, it is a complex issue that bores people and, fortunately or unfortunately, being a Punjabi Sikh, my sense of pride for my identity tends to inhibit me from inviting any sort of pity and, ultimately, largely avoiding this topic.
I certainly used this phrase before, but I can’t help but feel uncomfortable by it. Living in Toronto, I whine when my internet speed goes down, and it makes my day when I get student discount at Rexall. But when we think of someone in the other part of the world, we imagine a person always living in crisis.
At the risk of sounding cliché, it is the little things that make us appreciate life and that was certainly true of my host family- the kids complained when their phone battery died and when the bicycle’s chain came off. They were happy when it rained too much and they got to miss school. As noble as our intentions might be, #FirstWorldProblems characterises people in a way that strips them of their human nature. Sure, it helps us be thankful for what we have, but comes at the expense of others.
As a reference to the goats that roamed about our house, my roommates and I had a saying, Home is where the goats are. And it still is true- I miss the pace of life that allowed me to enjoy the little things. At the risk of generalizing, I really do think a middle-class Ghanaian is much happier in his life than a middle-class Canadian. At random moments, I miss buying Jollof rice from the chop bar close to my place, or buying cold water sachets in the middle of a hot day.
Enough. Time to get back to study.