17 June 2008

Letter 2.10

I am glad to hear you are well and keeping cool. I am also well and keeping cool, though I don't have air-conditioning or air cooling. Nor, I imagine, does anyone in the village -- you might ask, more appropriately, if anyone in the village has electricity -- but yes, being on the coastal route, some of them do. But as for appliances of any sort more elaborate than radios and light bulbs, I doubt if there are any -- perhaps the few wealthiest villagers might have a refrigerator. I get along quite well without such mechanical devices and find, when I encounter them (as in Colombo) that they raise for me more difficulties than they solve. There is a pump on the other island which is run for about an hour every few days to pump water into a storage tank, and when I was living on the other island, I found it to be a great disturbance. On this island, however, there is no pump and no disturbance.)

No, the customs people have not yet settled matters. They agreed -- several weeks ago --to re-assess the duty on the mosquito netting, but I have not heard from them since. These things usually take 3-4 weeks, everything in the East being done slowly. Since I'm in no great hurry, however, I don't mind waiting. Sometimes -- usually, in fact -- it's better in the long run to proceed slowly than to rush about. Many reasons, not the least being that one has time to reflect upon one's actions, which develops both calmness and insight. Another difficulty with the customs people is that they have refused my application to import the typewriter that Mark is donating to our project. I'm in contact with Remington's agents in Colombo, and expect the customs people may reverse their decision, commerce über alles.

Remember the map of the Indian Ocean floor you sent last year? Well, I've framed it and hung it on the wall of the kuti, where it looks very nice. The frame is made of bamboo and I made it myself. The map is blue and yellow, the bamboo is yellow, the wall is white. The good thing about this map is that it is subjective. Most maps are objective, and so, while useful for measuring distances, are essentially unreal. This map, being subjective, has a point of view (located somewhere near the South Pole, about 1000 miles up), and a perspective which lends it both reality and interest.

No comments: