This year will mark my twentieth year being overseas and away from America. I have been through a lot in those twenty years. When I relect on my life overseas, I'm reminded of the scene in the movie "Blade Runner" where Batty describes his life experiences to Dr. Tyrell.
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."
Unlike Batty, I don't plan on dying soon, but his unique experiences of what mankind has never seen is somthing that I can relate to. You see, over the years I have seen and experienced things that many of my own countrymen would never be able believe, relate with or even understand the importance of.
I sat and drank a San Miguel on Roxas boulevard as US fighter jets roared just overhead during a coup attempt in Manila, I used to drink Tiger beers along the Boat Quey with Nick Leeson after work in Singapore. Through the earthquakes, coups, tidal waves and stock market crashes I've developed a deep understanding of the region, the people and the culture.
Over the years I have also seen a long procession of ambassadors, diplomats and "foreign service officers" come and go. Many of whom will spend their upto 36 month assignments deep within the dark dank recesses of the embassy compound playing Microsoft Solitare and flirting with the local female staffers. Occasionally though they will venture out from the compound and hook up with "Ahmad" to get the local scoop on things. Eventually, they will all be gone, to another country or back to the foggy bottom. And when they depart, I'll still be here.
But most importantly, over the years, I have come to not only speak a foreign language, but have come to the point where more importantly I've come to intimately understand the mentality of our adversaries and of that of my hosts.
I've developed an asset of tremendous value that I have been unable to market and it has left me perplexed. Like Plato's narrative to Glaucon, endeavouring to share what I have seen, I've returned to the cave only to be dismissed as just another pundit, my voice is drowned out in cacophony of self-proclaimed experts who have never ventured out of the cave themselves.
My problem seems to be marketing.