Travel – regardless of destination- will involve wading the muddied holy waters of the human condition. The muddied holy waters is perhaps a little paradoxical but that is the nature of the beast isn’t it?! The human condition is just that really isn’t it? If we attempt to look honestly at ourselves we are capable of magnificent and truly beautiful highs and the most horrific monstrous lows.
Within my group of friends there are five of us who have travelled the developing worlds of Asia and Africa. The experiences have been as varied as we would expect, ranging from very negative – couldn’t wait to get out of there, to absolutely loving it – might move to India and help in an orphanage!
When I attempt to understand how a small group of like-minded people can have such a varied response I can see a key factor at play. Those who loathed the experience were there on business. As the developed world decamps to the developing world, seeking cheap labour and resources without the red tape, the two worlds collide.
First time business explorations to exploit economies of scale are wide open to dysfunction it seems. There seems to me an aspect of comical karmic balance in these dealings. We the big fat rich capitalists, all-knowing, all-educated, all-privileged waltz into these developing nations hoping to execute a quick can’t-lose exchange to line our deep pockets, like taking candy from a baby we think.
Life in the trenches of the human condition is tough for all, but when the stakes are surviving from day to day, trying to feed a family and keep them healthy in a polluted crowded industrial area the battle is perhaps more at your back. So, often the developed business people are the babies, the locals swipe their fat American candy and send them home wounded and unfulfilled. They are shell-shocked often having worked to the top of their fields on home territory, and once again they are fledglings flapping their down wings fruitlessly. It hurts their ego, it makes them feel vulnerable again and failure looms as it hasn’t for decades fresh out of college.
The real boom time for these quick deals is probably gone. The underdogs are in the know and it is easy to grossly underestimate their business nous which is closely linked in times of hardship to survival. Ethics and civility are luxurious extravagances when you are fighting for survival in the bowels of the human condition. So hire a middleman for the business deals and go later as a tourist and experience the history, colour and action of these fascinating countries. Meditate on their tenacity and marvel at their enterprise as a non-invested visitor!