Friday, January 22, 2010

On Nothing to Do

Getting bored is the main problem one faces in a laid back place. At least for one who come from Asia where there is a lot of stimulation and distraction? Unfortunately, one finds himself in this position and wonders how is it that people could survive without much to do. Sometimes there are a lot of meetings scheduled but not much accomplished except communicate and ask for comments. I guess that’s how things move around here. The circumstances remind me of our Japan office with its long serving salary men. Is it because life here lacks stimulation or is there really some virtue on drawing things out slowly so everything is analyzed and well-thought off without rushing to a conclusion.

Asia is all about speed, energy and creativity. It is not a matter of aggressive, innovative desire but only a matter of survival. The pace of action often happens at the bottom, low end scale where people scrape and hustle to get above the poverty line. On the other hand, the creativity and energy here comes from the privileged middle class, where dot com entrepreneurs innovate to make themselves millions before thirty. This is the situation in both sides of the world. Unfortunately, it rarely exists in the South where the pace is slow and leisurely and even exclusive. A new comer is faced with the prospect of slowing down his pace and relaxing. Hence, what does one do?

I guess like me, one surfs the Internet, constantly reads and attends meetings. Hence, it is a good environment to experience new things and learn new skills. It’s a conscious slowdown of the mind. One feels left out from the ‘slow’ swirl of things, where old cliques thrive and diversity is not respected. It is the constant dilemma of the newcomer. But don’t get me wrong. There are very intelligent people around and new developments in the city to make it look modern and progressive. But it is just the natural inclination of people to take things easy. As one calls New Orleans the ‘Big Easy’ it’s a fitting metaphor about life in the South. What are the skills needed to survive?

Sometime I feel that the key skill is shooting the breeze, talking with fellow workers and exchanging views. One also needs to relax and meet people more. I guess the country or more accurately, its society prefers the outgoing and outspoken. People like these are the heroes, as they often strive to be characters and try to make things that work. It’s the stereotype of the citizens here – the epitome of the cowboys of Western lore. Communicating constantly is the challenge and one should be open and straightforward to be able to be communicative at the level of the natives here. But one has too many secrets, preferring a hidden life in the shadows of abuse. This is the main roadblock to openness and should be controlled.

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