Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Growing up Foreign

This is what they do to buses in Pakistan

While much of America is getting ready for the holiday season, I’ve found myself thinking of friends and families but also of the places I’ve lived. It’s hard to really put into words how growing up expatriate has affected me. I do believe that riding on the buses in Kenya and Pakistan for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week are to blame for my hard of hearing. And I am extremely jealous of the younger generation’s access to the internet...what I would have given for underwear that fit while living in Africa, or a bra in Pakistan! Yes, we did have mail order from JC Penny’s and Sears and the highly anticipated once a year trip to America (when you were young and grew up overseas, you would say “America” not the “U.S”), aslo I might add that JCPenny and Sears for all their guarantees, were not reliable in their APO shipments during the 80’s and early 90’s- you were lucky to receive anything within 3 months, which was usually just another catalog

My parents for what ever reason, maybe it was due to stress, had left out thoughts like proper fitting clothing and pads for their children...Please take a moment to imagine what it would be like for a half Okinawan, half German girl to buy “sanitary napkins” in a store in Islamabad in the late 80’s...see that’s me wanting to die. Did you know that pads in foreign countries are 100 times larger than the ones here in the US? It’s true. Believe me.

This is a photo of Jinnah Supermarket. You could buy pirated music here for, if I remember correctly, for 25 rupees (?) I could be wrong. Thanks to Pakistan, I was able to grow up listening to Guns and Roses, Metallica, Tone-Loc (can you believe I got Funky Cold Medina in Islamabad?!), Madonna, and Mr. Big (there’s more, don’t worry). The best thing about pirated music in Pakistan is that the dude recorded the tapes would substitute whatever he felt like or maybe while sitting in his room with hundreds of music tapes, he would get confused to which tape was what. So sometimes you got what you paid for, sometimes it would be a Michael Bolton album in a Skid Row (handwritten or photocopied) cover. Other times if there was space left on the tape after the album, you could also sample some other random music that wouldn't be listed on the tape cover. But most of the time you really did get the right album. Those were good times.

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