|Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 6|
Every morning, except on weekends, the radio comes on from 7 a.m. to 8 am. At 8:30 is a segment where a foreigner comes on, usually speaking Korean (unless they’re from an English-speaking country) and extols the virtues of Korea. Now, I wonder are Koreans really that small-minded and insecure that they need foreigners to come on a local station and tell themselves what a great country they live in? On CBC or any Vancouver station you don't hear us going on about how great Canada is. You may hear ads for a tourist destination bike parks or ski hills, but not from Americans raving how special Vancouver is.
When people ask where I'm (from which is a daily occurrence) and I answer with Canada, I'm almost embarrassed. these people will inevitably give me a thumbs up and exclaim “Oh, Canada good!” and I'll smile and nod my head.
Sometimes, I’ll answer with how I really feel, “Not really or I wouldn't be here. There's lots of crime in the big cities. Problems with hard drugs and gangs, high taxes and like you in your country, I don't make nearly as much money in my country.”
Then they will go on to tell me about their brother or cousin who makes $3000 a month (big money to them) and I sit down with them and break it down for them-- the cost of rent, utilities, food and taxes, maybe they have a family and more mouths to feed and $3000 is barely enough to pay for everything. No, they're not starving and they have a warm bed with a roof over their heads and clean water and health care, but they'll never be rich or get any further ahead. If anything, their debts will mount. But it doesn't matter to these people I meet from far off countries. They live in shacks with no water or electricity. This place is still the land of milk and honey and I know I too, should be content and thankful for what I have or could have, but I'm not.
So, here I sit at 40 years old, in a jail in a foreign country, because I can't afford to pay the bribe to the government. The irony is not lost on me, but most of my fellow inmates in this penitentiary are here for accepting bribes-- some of them on behalf of the very government I refuse to pay.
Instead, the taxpayers of this fair country give me a free room and food while I write and draw and read. This is an opportunity to me, not a punishment. While I'm here, I get to meditate on life and create. I almost never have enough time to do these things because I'm too busy trying to feed myself. I may be behind a locked and barred door, but I have freedom to do what I want-- what I need to do. Maybe some of it will bear fruit and I'll be able to share all of this and maybe even profit, or maybe I'll be fated to obscurity and nothing will result from my labours. Whatever the case, I'm okay with that. Leaving this place will be a rebirth of sorts and I'll start a new chapter in my life. And it certainly has not been a boring life.