Friday, July 20, 2007

Consolatory haiku

Looking on the worst,
Darkest of humanity:
Strange consolation.

During my round-the-world backpacking year (quite some time ago), I reached a point of complete emotional exhaustion (not unrelated to financial exhaustion) in Fiji, and was very, very depressed for a while. I read Schindler's List, and that snapped me out of it.

During my recent nightmare travel experience in Hangzhou airport, I diverted myself by reading José Saramago's Blindness, an almost equally horrendous parable of the failure of humanity. It's good to restore a little perspective at times like that. This is very, very annoying - but things could be a lot worse.


Anonymous said...

hmm, I hadn't visited your blog since early yesterday. since then, I'd had a tiring and hectic day, running around town for meetings and ending with dinner at xiabu xiabu with some friends. xiabu xiabu is a very chinese hotpot fastfood cafe located in one of Beijing's new international style shopping malls (well, there are several locations, I just happened to be at this one - and for Froog's reference, i was not in the Soho complex). So, I was completely surrounded by a very Chinese environment, living a very Chinese life.

and i was very tired of it. As I waited to be seated and waited for my friends to make there way through traffic and arrive, all I wanted was to turn and talk to someone and not have to struggle to be understood; to listen to music playing through the speakers and find that it was something familiar; to sit down to eat and find a plate of homey american style italian spaghetti and meatballs in front of me.

There's more, there's much more. But the point is that i was tired of it all. Which is what I texted you.

So, imagine my surprise to wake up this morning to this posting! After your ordeal, no doubt you were feeling it ten times as much as me. And here's the positive solution you posted to yourself: “things could be a lot worse."

hmm, imagine that. Froog is being positive.

Froog said...

You sound surprised.

I am generally a rather upbeat character, I think. At least, in my public persona. When my dark moods take hold, I generally skulk at home, keeping my own company.

Donning my 'sensei' hat (if senseis wore hats), I would say, "Beware of 'referral'. There are other stresses in your life, other irritations, sources of dissatisfaction. You vent that by focusing on obvious loci of ennui or annoyance in the daily China experience - but that's not what's really getting you down."

When you're tired of life, you're tired of China. Not vice cers. You will get over this.

Froog said...

By the way, I'll have to lend you the Saramago.

The very mannered style gets wearisome at times, but it is a devastating story - well told, very 'cinematic' in its execution.

Anonymous said...

I'm just finishing up Sacred Games (excellent book on Indian Mafia), so I'll be ready to take on Saramago in a day or two. Lend away.

And, i know other things are irritating me. But when irritated, our ability to deal lessens, making us long for the "comfortable."

the same thing happens in the USA, when I am in DC, I long for Tulsa; when I am in Tulsa, I long for Houston; when I am in Houston, I long for NYC... etc. I am a heart divided, a comfort divided. And it's okay. But every once in a while, I have my "not okay" moments. And I get over them.

And, finally, regarding your public upbeat persona... I don't think that is how I know you. I can believe that this persona exists, but its not been a large part of our interactions.

Anonymous said...

by the way, i consider you, sensei, to be part of that "comfortable", so I won't be cutting the strings any time soon. too bad for you.

Froog said...

That should have been - was, I'm sure - vice versa, of course.

Clumsy late-night typing... or more sinister gremliny tampering with the fabric of our Universe?

I am particularly discombobulated at the moment, because I have just failed to rendezvous with two friends who insisted they were sitting on the sidewalk adjacent to a very conspicuous and well-known restaurant..... yet I completely failed to find them. Worse, the restaurant in question was closed, locked, unlit - and there was NO-ONE (well, no-one apart from a few Chinese geezers chewing the fat outside a xiaomaibu here and there) sitting outside eating on the sidewalk on that entire block.

If they are not just playing a practical joke on me, then something very, very strange and disturbing has happened to me. I am in The Twilight Zone.

Anonymous said...

how bizarre. does that qualify as a "china-moment"... er, no, i think it could happen anywhere. it must be twilight zone. and we'll chalk up the misspelling to it, too.

though, i must say, these things (failed rendevous) rarely happen anymore. nowadays we just call each other's mobile. did they not have any? or did you call them and they told you they were there? (that would definitely be twilight zone).

Froog said...

Yes, they called me. From where I was then standing, I should just about have been able to see them - if they were where they said they were. But since I had already been up and down that stretch of street 2 or 3 times and seen no restaurant that had tables and chairs outside; and since they were insisting that the foreign restaurant they were using as their reference point was open for business as usual, when it plainly wasn't; well, I just had to assume that we had somehow slipped in to different Universes for the evening. Strange indeed.