Friday, October 22, 2010

Groove is in the heart...

When Karma stepped off the plane at SFO 2 weeks ago, he thought he would see a sea of "yellow-haired" people (as the Tibetan refer to us toe heads). He's just blown away by how many dark haired people live in California, especially Asians. Really, he's baffled. He said at dinner tonight that California is going to become "Asia/California." Of course this is reflective of the small area he's seen and the fact that we live with a Thai girl, Joy, and her friends come over. We had a birthday dinner for Joy's sister this week and there were 9 Thai women, 1 Thai man, Joe (my Caucasian landlord/roommate), Karma and me. Karma was so tickled that Joe and I were outnumbered in "our" country. 

Which brings me to a more serious subject: How do I teach a person about this country with all it's stereotypes, prejudices, generalization, etc...without teaching him to believe all of them? 
They are there and he will not understand our culture entirely without knowing about them--it's also extremely awkward to explain. Actually, it's an amazing practice for me because I have to listen to myself say things out loud that I normally wouldn't. I've actually stopped myself a few times. It's amazing how deep judgements and stereotypes are engrained in my habitual tendencies. 

Another thing I think about is being eco-conscious. Here's a man that has lived without many modern "conveniences" that we westerners are now beginning to shun for "not being green." Do I show him these things and then say, "Hey, look how easy and convenient this is, but you shouldn't use it because it's ruining the Earth..." Or do I simply show him how I try to do things and leave him in the dark about them? Up until now I've been trying to take the middle way on this and, actually, he's very conscious about not wasting water, food, energy, etc... 

He started school yesterday. He's the only Tibetan amongst about 15 people, mostly Chinese, but various other countries, too. He said that one of the Chinese girls had never heard of Tibet. That's just so incredibly sad to me. He said another Chinese girl was asking him questions about Buddhism, but she clearly didn't know much about it at all. This week, in the Tibetan news, a huge protest has been mounting inside Tibet. It started with high schoolers, but now includes college students and as of today, the group has about 4,000+ people. I think it will continue to grow (and that the Chinese gov't will eventually intervene). They aren't asking for a free government for Tibet, they are asking for the right to study the Tibetan language. 

Speaking of studying, Karma is such a dedicated student! He's been studying anything he can get his hands on, magazines, newspapers, dictionaries, my Tibetan-English textbook. He also LOVES homework. Sounds like the ideal student, eh? He was appalled that his classmates were eating and whispering during his class yesterday. That's a huge no-no in Tibetan learning environments (as well as most Asian countries as far as I know). 

We're starting to get in a groove and he's becoming SO much more comfortable. His goofiness is increasing by the day, which only makes me love him that much more. LOL. We've seriously laughed every day until I've almost been in tears. That pretty much seals the deal. That and the fact that he'll give me back rubs and he thinks I'm a good singer...well, the list goes on....

Highlights of the week:

  • He's never heard of the Beatles. His saving grace is that he love Michael Jackson.
  • After observing how the young African-American guys in our neighborhood wear their pants sagged really low, he's come to the conclusion that they're not mentally ill and that it's just fashion (we have a lot of homeless people in our area, so there is a distinction that must be made). He told me this with the utmost sincerity and I couldn't help but laugh. 
  • He pretends to do kung fu...sometimes in his undies (please don't tell him I told you--he'd die!)
  • He's starting to warm up to the idea of singing karaoke and actually danced in front of my friend Jenny...the shyness if lifting...
  • He's psyched to help me clean the house tomorrow (okay, that's boring, but it makes ME happy)
Tomorrow he's going to hang out with one of my best buddies, Sean, just the two of them. I'm hosting my ladies-only sangha, so I have to kick him out. He kept sarcastically saying, "I'm going to do something very special tomorrow" because he has NO clue what they are doing.

Sunday is another friend's birthday party. This will be the 4rd birthday party he'll have been to in 2 weeks. We have an ongoing joke about it. He keeps asking me, "Whose birthday is next?" Then he'll say, "If no one has a birthday next weekend, I'll pretend it's mine." I mean, who doesn't love a good party?

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