Sunday, July 19, 2015

Foreign Exchange

Dearest Suparna,

Today was a lovely day in Amsterdam. While it doesn't have this reputation, I think the city gave us a lot to think about today. One of the greatest reasons for that is that we spent most of the day walking and talking with our lovely cousin Uttara (yes Utty, I am claiming you as my cousin for now and all the years to come). Time has really flown by since that Berkeley summer, and it's so great for us to all be here together again.

I called this one foreign exchange, to think about and reflect about economy. First of all, this place is way way cheaper than Norway, which is a much welcome change.

So we went to the Van Gogh museum today. Something really struck me in the way that the captions talked about his studies in colors. I never thought of the work of an artist as a study before. The museum really made me appreciate Van Gogh's tenacity and will to become great. He didn't decide to be a painter until 27, and managed to become one of the greatest. But as good friend John pointed out to me, people don't respect the fact that artists get better through hard work, they just think it's innate. Like math, as Niral had studied and helped me gain a lot of insight into.

There was something really remarkable about how deliberate Van Gogh was with his work, every painting used as a learning opportunity and a chance for him to grow. I like to think of every moment in life the same way. Think of how much we are learning and growing together in this trip.

And of course, we also took a walk through the red light district. There was something very disorienting about seeing all of these women selling themselves as the product. As you pointed out, when you're the product, what does it do to your sense of self when someone decides to pass you up for "Something Better?" I don't think I have any clear manifesto on morality or empowerment to say here other than that it is complicated. And I don't think I understand it, so as an outsider I'd prefer not to pass judgement.

I feel like all of us sell ourselves every day in little ways. Is it because of the capitalist super structure we live in, or is it just part of being human? I can't say for sure, but you can guess which way I lean.

Today was wonderful in so many ways, and gave me a lot to keep thinking about. I'd love to hear more of what you think.

Tumhaaraa hamesha,

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