2 November 2008

Letter 4.10

No doubt some magazines had articles about Bangkok's hokey 200th anniversary -- hokey because there are a lot of ways of counting, and they chose this one simply for the sake of the publicity and tourist bucks. Last March, I think it was, I met a husband-wife team on a photo assignment for Town and Country magazine -- he was gay and she was lesbian, so I guess they were a perfect match; they should get it about right.

Sri Lanka had an election about 10 days ago -- no doubt you've heard more about it than I have, since I didn't inquire about the results and nobody bothered to tell me. There were a lot of fireworks the next day, so I gathered that somebody did win it, but remained in doubt until recently I went to Kolatenna to visit some friends and, passing through Bandarawela, saw much green bunting in evidence. Since green is the UNP color I suppose they were re-elected, and that would be the first time since independence that any government has been returned to office. Nominally they would be classed as the right-wing party, so no doubt Reagan & Co. expressed their pleasure; but the truth is that that division is unrealistic; it's really a matter of Sri Lanka's two most powerful families pitted against each other, and ideological stances are strictly secondary, a matter of convenience rather than conviction. I don't read the papers because Sri Lanka's papers are too dull for words, all Tea Board quotations and mundane provincial news, lacking balance, depth, or relevancy. Foreign reportage is equally ill-balanced, since the mentality is so provincial that they can't distinguish the trivial from the momentous. But the less I hear of it the more trivial it sounds when I do. The last paper I saw was in August, and I doubt anything much has happened since then -- the football strike in the States was the international ordeal that day. (Last year, in Chiang Mai, I read Paper Lion, which I enjoyed in spite of its thinness.)

A brush with death can have markedly different effects on different people, you're right. Few, it seems, even after that, see the necessity of coming to grips with the fact of mortality, but rather something one's glad is behind one (which it isn't) and best forgotten about (which it isn't).

I'm pained that I'm unable to do anything as regards mother; but, pained or not, there seems little that can be done. You can know, at least, that which can be done you are doing.

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