I hate tourists. I loath The West. The East isn't usually much better. It's all money, obnoxiousness and sleaze.
Ok, so I may be generalising a little here. It's not that I hate everything about the world. Don't get me wrong there's plenty of awesome stuff out there like good food, music, the laughter of children, books, meeting eyes with a pretty girl across the bar and bashfully looking away and then later ending up in your hotel room alone, in the dark, wishing you'd had the guts to make that move that could have ended your loneliness and crying away the night whilst masturbating into a sock. See? I'm not that cynical about the world. Right?
In fact, the list of things I don't condone in this world is mostly pretty self-deprecating; these concepts are so obviously dis-likable that I think most people would agree with me about their wrongness. So while my initial statement of "I loath The West" is true, it's more on a pseudo-moral basis, instead of being based on any real, tangible emotion or experience (although I have had a few of those too). I actually quite like living in the developed world, with electricity, hot water and pesto. And don't worry, I haven't regressed into awkward self-loathing and projecting my problems onto the world at large. I'm actually continuing my process of reflection, realisation and, consequently, maturing.
There's just certain things that I vastly dislike, usually involving fat and/or old, close-minded people that travel and expect everything to revolve around them, wasteful and greedy consumers who're unaware of the wrongness emanating from them. The kind of people you see in MacDonald's with their kids, feeding them additive-coated happy meals to do just that. Keep them happy. Great parenting skills.
I started getting this feeling of wrongness (let's just go with that terminology for now, I can't decide on a better word to describe it) about a year ago when I was working on a pretty small project, part time. Being part of the Music Industry, or at least the very detached corner of the Music Industry that both the Scottish unsigned sector and this project seemed to inhabit, left me feeling disillusioned and cynical with the whole process. Ironically, I would greatly prefer to work for a "sell-out" Label, already established and set in their money-grabbing ways than to start out with a (fairly) entry level Indie of authentic, immediate background and at least begin with some cultural integrity, and work my way up. From what I saw, it'd be pretty soul destroying.
This wrongness has been at the back of my mind for a while then, an abstract concept growing; feeding off sub-conscious insights. These insights can be grouped into two main... groups (awesome writing there...). First there are the Tourists, the Groupies, the Consumers intent on doing what everyone else is doing, just so they don't "miss out" on what everyone else is having, and never mind any authentic, meaningful experiences of their own, in their own country or abroad. And even if they do stray from the beaten path, they manage to cheapen their experiences by applying a tourist mindset to what they see and do.
Example: I went to Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, the most sacred temple to Shiva in the world, a site that every Hindu is supposed to pilgrimage to at least once in their life. There, the Hindu dead from around the Kathmandu Valley are burned in a four hour ceremony, alongside the banks of the Bagmati River, twenty-four hours a day. It was one of the most deep, spiritual and cultural moments of my life. And as I was leaving, I happened to pass a Caucasian family on the bridge of the river, complete with linen shorts, faded pastel tank tops and impatient children. The father disrespectfully continued to pull out his long-lens SLR and took multiple action shots of the cremations in various stages with a smile on his face, all the while human ash is swirling around his family.
Safe to say I felt pretty ashamed of my heritage.
Then there's the Service Industry, the Supply, the Products of the Economics of Tourism. I don't know which has a worse effect on me, the people that pay so that these leeches can flourish or the leeches themselves. Sometimes it's not so bad, but it's pretty obvious here in Kathmandu; I can't walk down the street without some shady Nepali trying to sell me trinkets or drugs. I've worked in the Service Industry and I don't plan to go back. Ever. The idea of sell sell sell, putting money before everything and the loss of dignity involved is abhorrent to me. Not that I don't like money, or feeling successful. It's more the means that get me. The rush, the narrow mindedness.
I accept, obviously, that I will be unable to avoid contact with the wrongness. Hell, if I hadn't had contact with it, I wouldn't be writing this and following these thought processes. But sometimes it grates on me, like when I go to a restaurant (purposefully between the busy lunch hour and the start of the dinner service) for a relaxed meal and to read, but the waiter decides to hassle me none the less; "Another drink? Food? No? Here's the bill." or when I'm walking past a MacDonald's and I see that overweight family, a clear product of the world we live in.
"Get a salad!" I want to shout.
They never do. The dicks.