Just a collection of some ideas and realizations jotted down on my phone during a family trip to Spain during my winter break coming into 2019.

1

I wandered upon the Oh Africa! exhibit in Lisbon, which hosted a variety of African artifacts “acquired” around the 1950s and 60s. On the metal plaques, the museum would detail the function of each artifact within African society. The exhibit had been divided into a couple of sections, not limited to “Exploration and Conquest.”

I thoroughly read each plaque in attempt to document the museum’s attitudes towards Portugal’s history of colonialism. I could find only one entry that tangentially mentioned colonialism — a pair of metal handcuffs — which had been explained to be used for controlling the indigenous population through dehumanization. It seemed quite scientific, as if the struggles of an entire population could be summarized into a one paragraph description of a pair of handcuffs. Through the dearth of other details of colonialism, it also suggests that human rights abuses is the only detriment of colonialism.

The presentation of the artifacts created a separation between two temporal spheres. There was the then, and here is the now. The sterile and archaeological diction within the description created an air of distance, similar to how I would read about ancient Egyptian society within my history textbooks. Only when I reach then end of the plaques am I forced to come to face the reality of artifacts, notably, that they were “acquired” fairly recently. The details of such an acquisition I could only imagine, but I would be deeply mistaken to believe that colonialism is a relic of the past.

The truth is, I do not know how so many African artifacts could be acquired in such a short of a time period. The museum guard did not know either, but I did find it deeply disappointing to have found an exhibit with so little regard to the modern effects of colonialism while the effects of colonialism could still be seen in such an obvious way. If museums in possession of colonial artifacts could be justify under the guise of education, then why do I find it so difficult to find information that matters, as opposed extraneous details that will be forgotten, like “This masks was used in rituals.”

2

If colonialism is just a hostile takeover of a country, then colonial powers were just the private equity firms of their day.

A frequent practice among colonial powers was consigning soldiers from their existing colonies or indigenous ethnic rivals to support their conquest of another region, comprising the debt financing necessary for a leveraged buyout. Once their conquest of a colony is complete, the colonial power pays off the interest from their debt through allowing their favored ethnic groups to hold power in the region, as long as they continue to support their majority stake in the region. Some corruption may exist to ensure regional hegemony with as little initial capital invested as possible.

Once a colony is under the control of a colonial power, the colonial power must decide between creating extractive institutions or inclusive institutions. In other words, the colonizers must decide whether they want to reinvest their cash flows back into their colony or divert the cash flow back towards the Old World for other potential investments. The status quo is maintained until the colonial power decide to relinquish their companies or another colonial power wishes to acquire a majority stake with a higher capital investment. In the end, sovereignty could just be measured through a calculation of profit maximization.

3

Why do European countries still have kings and queens?

That’s so… 2008.

4

I got in an argument with my dad over tipping the taxi driver. I do appreciate the action of tipping for individuals within any service job, but I do not understand why he would tip taxi drivers in Spain when he did not tip taxi drivers in China. Perhaps it was the hypocrisy and not the act that had been the source of my irritation.

Tipping is customary in the United States because of historical reasons. Tipping is not customary in the subset of countries not including the United States because of a lack of historical precedent. Oftentimes, such as in restaurants, the service charge is already priced into the bill. Furthermore, the waiting staff earn a living wage in accordance to the cost of living dependent on each city, unlike the United States. In countries other than the United States, tipping becomes much less of a necessity as opposed to other countries. That being said, I suppose that having a job that is not considered high-income would be difficult regardless of country.

Taxi drivers are a different question because I would doubt taxi drivers get paid relative to an hourly wage in any country. But, similarly, I would imagine the same standards of tipping apply; the same historical precedent defining norms in the United States differ from those standards here in Spain. Tipping is mandatory in restaurants. Tipping is an established courtesy for taxi rides. But, if tipping operates outside of the realm of established courtesy and merely exists as a circumstantial courtesy, what system of tipping would serve as a paradigm for procedure?

5

A man in dressed head-to-toe in Supreme climbed over a fence to get a marginally better angle of the view of Barcelona. After he took a couple pictures on a precarious ledge overlooking a five meter drop, he returned to show off the picture he took to his friends, who, coincidentally, were also decked out in other expensive clothes by other “street wear” companies. I saw that he was shooting on automatic.

Why does everyone, especially rich people, think that owning a DSLR camera is the equivalent of being good at photography? Why does everyone feel the need to take photos, at least, outside the scope of conspicuous consumption? After all, does consumption without display negate the inherent value of consumption? Does taking photos during travel allow us to believe that we have claimed ownership over a tourist attraction?

6

When a shop merchant attempts to speak Chinese with my parents, they think its quite funny. I think it’s quite offensive; language, with all its sentimental value and cultural heritage, should not be used as a tool to extract profits from consumers. If merchant does that to me, I will immediately leave the shop. Should I be annoyed about that? Am I just being too sensitive? I have been told that I get triggered too easily. Perhaps I am just implicitly exercising elitism through the form of intellectual discrimination.

7


I can literally see Morroco from the top of a hill in Malaga. Did Spain ever attempt to colonize Africa?

8

On the tour bus, an Asian man sits in front of me.

Name: Unknown

Age: 20

Height: 6′ 2″

Other notes: Compulsively tucks his shirt

Here is a man would not even speak a word to his mother throughout his family’s entire trip to Spain. I never could quite understand. From my experiences, I have learned that many children from Asian immigrants tend not have the best relationship with their parents. But, here is a man who is entirely relying off of his mother to bankroll his travels in Europe, and he would not even mention her existence. If he does not want to speak to his mother, why did he come along on the trip at all?

I did attempt to speak with him to challenge my presuppositions but he just shrugged me off. I spoke to his mother briefly at a rest stop, who explained that he attends the University of Maryland with no tuition from her faculty discount. He sat at a table nearby eating food that he bought… with her money. Of course, one genial conversation with a mother could in no way allow me to understand their relationship. But, from my experiences, the between a parent and a child transcends mere emotional comptibility. No matter how the emotional strain of a relationship, how could he genuinely be convinced that his mother does not love him when she has sacrificed everything for him?

It seems quite ungrateful, and that seems to be a theme that I have noticed among many of my high-income Asian peers that I have grown up with. Through a mix of ungratefulness and an indoctrination into western ideals of love, it seems that income of high-income immigrants wish that they grew up in another environment. Instead of appreciating the uniqueness afforded by the sacrifices of their parents, they wish to assimilate in to a white-dominated society without retaining their cultural heritage. For my parents, from what I have observed, there exist no greater sacrifice than the sacrifice of being an immigrant. And no matter how difficult my relationship with me, my love for them is never a question.

I used to believe that Asian parents do not love their children, but I have since come to realize that I have been merely brainwashed into the romantic conception of love because of my indoctrination in western culture. It a couple of books explaining eastern conceptions of love before I have come better to understand the nature of my relationships with my parents. It is only recently, especially with the inception of subtle asian traits, that I realized that bringing fruit upstairs every night is far more a genuine expression of love than saying “I love you.”

9

Does accepting determinism increase free will because of the self-shattering impulse?

Maybe I should cover my nipples with Canada Goose logos.

Do I dislike people for not taking their coffee black?

Am I really going to spend 15 days in a single outfit?

I have this view on the world. Should I accept it as fact if it is not peer reviewed?

I wish that I had a compilation of travel guides written by locals.

Tour buses are such great examples of economies of scale.

Does the Bible actually stipulate the existence of a church?

Tourists in western Europe remind me of Penn; everyone’s rich.

In Chinese, there are more words to describe family relationships because the importance of family is of greater magnitude in Chinese culture in contrast to western cultures.

My dad said someone had a 水萝卜脸 (translated: water chestnut face). I lol-ed. In context of my life, it was the most he has ever made me laugh.

There are a lot of Valencia oranges in Valencia.

10

Some of my American friends are confident because they have received validation as a child for their accomplishments. Their confidence is dependent on the validation they received as a child. They have confidence in themselves because they have not habituated within a world where they have not received validation for their accomplishments. They will continue to have confidence as long as their efforts are continually met with validation provided by the universe, in replacement of their parents.

I did not receive validation for my accomplishments as a child. Many children of Asian immigrants, like me, received very little validation for their accomplishments as a child. I do not even view my accomplishments as parts of my life that should be validated. My accomplishments had been the result of the resources and opportunities provided for me by my parents, and they should not be validated because there exist countless individuals who do not have the same opportunities that I do.

I am not confident if confidence is a factor dependent on validation. Because I have been indoctrinated within a culture that utilizes validation as a measurement of success, I used to believe that my inability to receive validation from my parents had been indicative of an assessment of my values as an individuals. Years passed since I carried the resentment for my parents for not showing me enough validation as a child. Now, I thank my parents — for giving me the ability to pursue modern living without the need for validation.

11

Why do all Asians in their twenties wear some combination of ironically expensive street wear and entry-level luxury? It seems like a combination of attempting to be as flashy as possible while also seeming as rich as possible. Or, at the very least, seeming as rich as possible paired with a binary of either class or edge.

But, as someone who also wears edgy clothing (but mostly from H&M and thrift stores), I find their choice in style in contrast to their socioeconomic status and understanding of the world to be a bit annoying. For one, to me, edginess is about understanding hierarchies within society and subverting. But, with brands such as Supreme and Gucci (at least, Gucci in the present moment), it seems that edginess has been commodified and transformed into another level in the hierarchy, which is exactly what edginess is suppose to subvert.

If edgy clothing is meant to attack hierarchies created by brands and consumer culture, then what does it mean for edgy clothing to be appropriated and transformed into another part of the system it attempts to undermine? I don’t know; I find it deeply ironic.

I think I’ll just call it: rich people edgy.

12

Chinese people who did not grow up in Beijing do not have an intuitive understanding of where to add 儿 (pronounced: er). For example, the usage of 儿 does not change the connotations of 一点 (translated: a little) because 一点 and 一点儿 refer to the same definition, but it does change the connotations when referring to 宝贝, as 宝贝 refers to a precious item and 宝贝儿 refers to a precious individuals.

Furthermore, because 儿 oftentimes does not change the meaning of a most phrases and words, its use is deeply contextual and depends on intuition. For nouns composed of one character 儿 is acceptable when referring to seats, liquids, and holes but not acceptable when referring to fires, books, and mountains.

Needless to say, there exist many rules dictating the usage of 儿 that are, for the most part, very arbitrary, which is why I find it interesting that some individuals 儿 when referring to individuals attempt to fake a Beijing accent. Similar to how American and English accents hold culture hegemony within the the English language, there are other elements of fetishization within different dialects in Mandarin. In this case, a Beijing accent is considered to be more ‘proper’, whatever that means.

13

Some dreams are unattainable — like Carmen.