I guess the mind wants to smooth things out. Change gray patches into clearly defined sections of black and white. Find a method to the madness.
After spending several years away, I find that my mind has done some serious over-simplifications when it comes to viewing this place. The lack of deep snow has been translated into it always being mild here. Not true. The common abruptness of the population had in my head turned into the expectation that I would find no kindness in strangers. Also not true.
And then there is the poverty issue.
This is a wealthy place. One of the most economically prosperous spots on the planet. So that fact has also been flattened out into this mythical image of a place where everybody is comfortable, well off, with a roof over their heads and good food on their plates.
My new office has a nice view over an old part of the city. I am a few floors up, so I can see down below the houses, and into the backyards. And right now, I am looking at a small, pudgy person, bundled haphazardly in worn clothes, rummaging through a dumpster, sticking soda cans and other trinkets into the large plastic bag that she is carrying at her side.
So much for that illusion.