Where Are the Greener Pastures?
We all know the saying, “the grass is greener on the other side”, and never has that proven more true than now, while living in a foreign country.
First, there’s the skin tone issue. On our first Saturday in our new apartment, we did what anyone would do in an empty home…we went shopping! It’s amazing how much the “essentials” can add up. I digress…
While shopping at Tesco (which is sort of like Target but not nearly as clean or cool, and far more crowded — in fact, it may be closer to Kmart), we were looking for things like shampoo, lotion, after shave, etc. What did we find? Moisturizing cream with “extra whitener”. No, it wasn’t for your teeth…for your skin. You got it…white skin here is desirable because the equatorial sun is so intense that locals tend be much darker than your typical Caucasian. So, out come the umbrellas (not for the rain, but to block daily sun) and then there’s whitening cream in case you were over exposed. Fortunately for us, we have good (pale) Scottish and British roots so we’re like the standard here…almost. (DJ & Jessie, you know what I’m talking about).
Isn’t it interesting though, how hard we try in America to get darker? Because tan is “beautiful”. People here would be appalled that we lay in bed-like chambers indoors to get EXTRA UV exposure for more “coloring”. Still, I do need to do something about this farmer’s tan…
Oh, just to give you an idea of how much we stick out…consider this comment from Ms. Lush, the 1st grade assistant (and native Malaysian), as she struggled to find Jenny inside the classroom (which is not a big room).
“Oh there you are, Jennifer…I couldn’t see you at first…you blended in with the walls.” (Not meant to be mean at all, rather turned out to be really funny for both!). By the way, Ms. Lush is awesome and extremely helpful.
Next, there is the intelligence factor. I was having coffee with our Realtor (Melvin) and the coach for his sales team (Vincent), and we were discussing training and consulting opportunities in KL. They were very optimistic and encouraging about my chances, especially because “people [here] will always hire Caucasian businessmen before Asian. There is a perception that they know more…especially Americans.”
Again, it was just interesting because as I shared with them, there is a perception at home of superior intelligence among Asians (granted…that’s a broad generalization). Melvin added, “Ahh, greener pastures, or so…” Don’t ask what “or so” means, it’s just sort of stuck at the end of a lot of sentences here at random. But Melvin was spot on with the reference to the old saying that seems to ring true even here and reveal that bit of human nature that says maybe we tend to want what we cannot have, for just that very reason.
Share your “greener pasture” story if you have one. Was it true that the “other grass” turned out to be greener?