Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Today I thought, going to a foreign country is about learning things— but that's not new, we're always learning things.  Going to a foreign country you learn different kinds of things— fundamental things, things that you used to know but now suddenly you don't.  It made me think (and I know how terrible this analogy is, but here goes) of a person who's had a bad accident, or a stroke— someone who says, I had to learn how to talk, or how to walk again. Basically, I’m here in a great city that has many resemblances to other cities I've been in, except here I can't really talk.  I can walk fine, and I look like a normal person, but I can only buy groceries or order in a restaurant in the most clumsy and approximate way.  I’m sort of like a gorilla in a very good disguise, smiling gamely and pointing at what he wants.  (Since people, including me, seek this experience out, presumably this kind of relearning-from-the ground up is salutary, or at least stimulating, or at least makes for something different.)  I am excellent at taking the subway, and I can borrow a bicycle from the good citybike program with a level of clumsiness similar only to that I deploy in cafés— but taking a bus, for example, or buying a theatre ticket, are so far projects whose complexity have been too daunting to approach.  Here I come!

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