On feeling homesick in a familiar place

Thursday, 22 March 2012

 

I’ve been feeling really homesick today.

 

It started as a mild case this morning, but became ever stronger throughout the day. I gave it some thought, wondering why I was feeling like this now.

 

And I realised that it’s a number of things put together:

 

  1. Being in Africa, but in Kenya, in a place that is somewhat familiar, yet so foreign to me. The language, the cars the humid weather;
  2. The type of hotels I am contracting are very different to those at home – larger and often in a poorer condition;
  3. I can’t relate to the bulk of the guests at these hotels – I’ve seen all of 1 good-looking, youngish guest. The rest are all old and wrinkled from years of sunning themselves for 2 weeks at a time;
  4. I can not see myself spending 2 weeks lying on a sunlounger, going out at 6 or 7 each morning to put down my towel and a magazine to make sure I get the particular one I want. Most of them seem to just lie there, many not even reading. In the evenings they sit at the same table, in their smart-casual clothes listening to the live band, or watching the local fashion show, or even taking part in karaoke. Nah, this is not a market I can relate to at the moment.
  5. The way of doing the rates contracting is so different to what I am used to – which in itself is not a problem (and I was aware of it) – but I didn’t expect some of the subtle hostility that we’ve encountered.
  6. In most discussion that we have about “home” or where one is based, I now need to say that I am from Munich. And I’m not from Munich (yet… kinda) – so that makes me feel even more detached from anything familiar and comforting;
  7. And then I think back to Germany, and I start inwardly at the sterile, cool environment that Germany can be – the place that is not quite home yet.
  8. And then I meet some more of the older Germans that have been working here for years – and I realise that my colleagues have a “network” of ex-pats here – a group of people I automatically have access to, but feel no affinity to. I’ve always had mixed feelings about ex-pats in general, and especially in countries with multiple social layers;

 

And then I got to thinking (as one does during a massage) about my visit back to Cape Town in May.

 

As much as I can’t wait to see my friends, I dread the process of working out how many I can see without ending up spending the day driving from coffee date to cocktails. How I make sure I get to do some of the things I want to do, without disappointing anyone.

 

I have an idea brewing, and I hope it will work 🙂

 

Yeah – I miss home.

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