We set off in a pick-up truck and headed out of town. One of my co-worker’s mp3 players provided us music through the car stereo. One of the countless cyclists we passed was a nice looking young man in a bright red shirt sporting the logo of the Montreal Canadiens.
We turned off the tarmac and onto the dirt road. We reached Msoro shed and made lunch over a charcoal brazier. We ate on the floor of one of the paymaster’s houses, nshima, beans and beef.
We headed further into nowhere, to the area’s busiest pay point. In the truck I allowed myself the indulgence of retreating into my own thoughts. I enjoy being present for conversations that I am not expected to contribute to. I listened to the cadence of the Nyanja sentences as background music.
I watched the passing scenery as a rolling variation of earth tones. I silently assessed the climbability of each passing baobab tree. I looked at the minute changes in the architecture of each small village.
The kilometres clicked by.
Small crowds gathered around boreholes.
Herds of goats leisurely crossed the road.
Distant hills sat against the horizon.
The sky was light blue and dotted with soft white clouds. The sun was shining at just the right angle to wash everything with a painted quality.
I was absorbing the colours, the sun, the landscape while in the back of my mind my thoughts rolled lazily and aimlessly between disjointed snapshots—work, a new book, an old friend, the limits of understanding, the groceries I needed to do.
The driver honked at a clueless goat as the song changed. As the voice of Carly Rae Jepson filled the cab, I barely managed to restrain my simultaneous reflexes to laugh and sing along.
It occurred to me that this summer has changed my definition of globalization—or at least shrunk it a little. It’s no longer the dizzyingly large macro trends in trade, economics, communication, politics. It’s a Habs shirt. It’s “Call Me Maybe.” It’s a million tiny things that some days seem absurd, and some days seem the norm. It’s the million tiny things that serve as reminders that the only place borders exist is inside our minds.