The Exotic–Esoteric or Exoteric?

IMG_20170401_134420Hello Internet, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. We’re going to get deep, so prepare thyself!

I traveled home to the US last November for a month. It was my first time spending more than two weeks there since leaving for Kobe, Japan in August of 2009. Before the trip, I daydreamed about what I would eat (the greasiest eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns I could get my fork into were at the top of this list), who I’d get to reunite with, and what I would do with all that time. I found myself really excited about the prospect of starting up conversations with random people and sharing my love of Japan with them. I even carried Japanese candies in my pockets, confident that if my words didn’t do the trick these tiny pieces of Japan would! I made a point of taking public transportation and making eye contact with anyone somewhat receptive to show them I was ready and willing to talk.

I was not disappointed! Having a bouncy two-year-old helped spark conversations, too. I had people sharing family pictures on their cell phones, inviting me to visit them in in their home states, and taking pictures with us. God, it felt good to be home.

I did notice that once the conversation turned to Japan people began throwing around the word “exotic.” And it was then I realized what a truly strange word it is. Exotic–often used to describe something that is, “unusual and exciting because of coming (or seeming to come) from far away.” (Thanks Cambridge Dictionary <3)  Just take a moment to reflect on this concept. I can sit here and imagine settings that feel exotic to me, but I can never really experience them as exotic. Maybe no one ever really can. The moment I am there experiencing it, it becomes real–even ordinary.

As usual, when I have thoughts like this, I refer to the Google to see what the world is saying about it. I ran across a very thought-provoking discussion: the connotations of exotic. I particularly like the third thread of discussion.

Deep enough for you, Internet? I promise to be back with a light-hearted lifestyle piece next!

Post-script: What this all means for the blog. I cannot share what is “exotic” about Japan, because everything feels oh so ordinary to me. And I realized this is also how I feel about India–I am not looking forward to finding the exotic, but instead discovering and revealing the ordinary.


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