The downside of having a hunger to see the world is that you do more than just see inert objects in foreign countries. It’s visiting someone’s home; even the local-shunned tourist-trappy parts of someone’s home are still things they feel an ownership for, things they’re proud of on some level. And you can’t visit someone’s home without getting to understand them a little, that’d just be rude.
So when i see a bomb go off on Istiklal street, i think of the disinterested people who served us crummy kebabs nearby, the bag-laden shoppers that are no different than the ones i’m used to on Newbury, and the cats in the Tunel station.
i think of that weird cafe in Brussels that seemed sketchy but fed us a nice dinner and the drunk bros that i sang along with at Anderlecht. The smelly subway station even on a cool day.
i remember walking out the door and past the mediocre cafes and bakeries, the quotidien parade of shoppers, commuters, and schoolchildren in and around the attacked neighborhood in Paris. The teenager that looked like he was ready to beat the hell out of one of his friends in the park.
It’s one thing to think about the postcards when you hear something bad happen in a place you’ve been. Ironically, i’m most sad when i think about the shitty parts; the normal people that were rude to the dipshit tourist, the guy who sold me the overpriced bottle of Coke or the postal employee who snarled as i mangled her language. People being shitty makes them more real to you, somehow, and the thought that these people are caught in tragedies is a good reminder of who’s truly an asshole.