22 October 2008

Letter 3.72

Several glorious months up at Wat Palad, outside Chiang Mai, came to a sad end when my visa contracted what may yet turn out to be a fatal illness, terminal. Red Tape-itis. I'm in the middle of one of those interminal oriental intrigues, this one designed (by the Director of the Department of Religious Affairs) to kick out all foreign Buddhists without anyone who cares knowing about it. Some of us have banded together to try to Do Something about it, but Doing Something in Thailand is a very difficult matter, not at all like in the West, and though we're not defeated, we're rather stymied, after several months of fairly intensive effort, and it seems a possibility (to say the least) that a few of the most expendable of us (of which I'm at the forefront) may have to leave soon enough, the rest to follow in dribs and drabs as the Director, a xenophobe if there ever was one, can manage. It's a very long story, so naturally I consider writing it up. Difficult to start it, though, when it hasn't yet ended.

What is this about a publisher interested in Bones? A hell of a thing to mention it and to say no more. Well, say more. Please be less cryptic than usual. I know the world suffers from too much straightforwardness, too much prosaicness, too much detail, too little fancy, etc., but You have a Golden Oppy to add to the mess, and I'm surprised you would pass up the chance to leave your portion on the pile. Please don't keep me posted. The cancelling machines are hard on my fingers. But if you write fairly soon I'll still be in Occupied Palestine, oops, Siam, since I expect to hold out till the end of the year before giving up the visa -- the modern equivalent of giving up the ghost -- and transmigrating to Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Sikkim, Bhutan, Bangladesh, or Tavatimsa [1].

I always thought a Sooke [2] was part of a town; the part where they sold not Buddha bones but Mohamed hairs.

Yours in falchah shovelling,


[1] Tavatimsa: the Buddhist 'heaven'; a blissful, albeit impermanent, place or state of being; highly dangerous as it may sap the will to break through it to liberation, nibbána.

[2] A play on the Arabic word souk meaning bazaar or marketplace.

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