Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Four things happen in one afternoon

1. I am asking Ravi about his family's flight from Jaffna. Did you come with your mother and your father? No sir my father already (and he pantomimes a person sleeping with their hands joined under the cheek, like the reposing Buddha. After all this is a Buddhist country even though Ravi is a Hindu person). Was he sick or was he killed in the war? No sir he had an operation in one eye. Then the other eye got sick. Then he went to the toilet one day. You know how are toilets are? Not with seat. Yes I pantomime squatting. This is almost too awful for him to look at. Worse than it is for him to tell me about his father. He go for water (the squat toilets need you to do this). He trying to get water. He slip and fall in. One hour. Two hour. My mother find him. I come home from school she tell me Ravi your father already dead now. Then we go away from Jaffna. Did Ravi's father slip into the latrine or was he stuffed in there?

2.  My ex-student Ex sends me a tweet. Can you help me think of a masters project? I tweet back I just sent you an email. Here's what I sent in the email. Hello Ex. This is why I'm not connected with your university any more. Your professor arranged to come to this city in Sri Lanka to meet another American professor and her students. We arranged this many weeks in advance. When the time came he did not come. His students did not come. He never wrote to me. I don't need to have that connection. Now I have a huge question about Sri Lanka. What happened in the 1983 riots against Tamil people? Colombo (Wellawatta, etc) is fairly well known although I have seen absolutely NO MEMORIAL there. But what about Matale, Badulla, and smaller places where the riots devastated the communities? 

No one in Sri Lanka will speak about this. Most people, even "educated" people in the Sinhalese area deny that this happened. 

At your university in 2013 I heard lies about Matale, comparing it to rust-belt cities like Detroit. More accurately the graduate student should have compared it to German cities in 1938 where government-sponsored riots against Jews started the holocaust. 

If you want a meaningful project I think you might want to follow up on this problem (black July riots in small towns in Sri Lanka). There is almost nothing published about it in English. If reconciliation can ever begin in this country there must be truth-telling about these days and nights in 1983. 

He writes back that he can't do a project like this. He submitted a paper on this topic in 20-- and his degree was postponed for two years. Also he writes:
writing truth in Sri Lanka is not possible because the people who in the system both Tamil and Sinhalese not ready to accept their fault.   

the rulers need to travel for long to the reconciliation. 
I don't won't write any thing touching the politics or ethnic   
3.  Two very young Muslim couples come to the grounds of this guesthouse. It is an oasis with trees and water and natural beauty, the opposite of what they've built themselves in Kattankudy and Kalmunai. (Before you think about those poor Arabs in Gaza take a look at what newly self-proclaimed "Arabs" here in Sri Lanka-- they speak Tamil but they must distinguish themselves from ethnic Tamils at any expense--hence they are "Arabs"--ask them yourself! built for themselves here in the most beautiful country on earth. Their built environment is a living hell of ugliness and congestion. In the beginning of the 20th century Kattankudy was already known as the densest place in this country. Nothing to do with "refugees," poverty, or oppression, any of the awful things that supposedly mark Gaza. Here in paradise they built themselves a Gaza. In Kattankudy, in Kalmunai. Come and have a look while you are on holiday from Europe! Come and have a look at the beauty and the glory of Muslim architecture. Beauty that springs from unhinhibited communities building the world they want. Not the world they are forced into by evil zionists. You will not be disappointed. You will be able to see with your own eyes despoliation and base ugliness in what are reported--at the Muslim Heritage Museum in Kattankudy--to be over 99% Muslim. Drink it in with your eyes!). 

What are the young couples doing here? Taking in the beauty? First they stroll. Then they stroll over to the pool. Then they start making out. Haram! Also. Unacceptable. This is not a park or public space. Across the river is Gandhi Park. You can hang out there. But you don't like Gandhi. You don't respect him. These are the grounds of a guesthouse. You play you pay sort of thing. 

Things heat up and they ask for a room for the afternoon. We don't sell rooms by the afternoon this is not that kind of guesthouse they are told. If you want to stay here you must order food at least. Reluctantly they sit down to lunch. 

Are these young people (choose all that apply)

a) so hot to trot they lose control?
b) hiding from the prying eyes of their strict community?
c) so lacking in judgement?
d) setting up the guesthouse for retribution?
e) looking for the Mossad agent they know is embedded here?

4.  The manager Jainthi tells me the boys talk back to her when she asks them to do something. The fact that these boys wear a uniform and serve food and are paid Rs 25,000 a month for their lackadaisical "work" is astounding. How dare they talk back? Do they talk back to the (male manager) Prince? No I'm told. But only yesterday Prince told me the cleaning crew ignores him and makes the same mistakes over and over. According to Prince the girls do this to defy him. To get him angry. I can't talk for the girls. They must be very local. They are very humble. They wear thin cotton dresses and thin shoes and only after many months here make eye contact or smile. The boys I know also come from very humble backgrounds. Now that I started my map work with them I see how isolated and poor their communities are. I also see their phones and their hundreds of selfies on their phones and their poses and preens in the mirror in back of the house and them seating themselves on the motorcycle like they are something or someone and their love of Facebook. Janet doesn't like me to say these boys grew up among chickens but sometimes I can say something she doesn't like or which she calls a "bad description." But can twenty year olds who grew up with chickens who are just barely performing in their first job really talk back to their manager? What's happening here?

More things happened here yesterday. Thavaraja had a friend! They talked quickly and animatedly in Tamil for a good half hour! A book was delivered to me. I was walking toward the room when someone found me, breathlessly, "Someone's looking for you!" The book was one  that an expat Tamil lady from London had told me would give me the WHOLE STORY of what happened here during the conflict. She promised to deliver this book the day before she left two months ago. I think she was mental. Turns out the book was written by a Roman Catholic priest born in Chicago in 1909 and covers the period up to 1967. Well. We'll see. The lady weaving palm fronds yesterday did a beautiful job. Her hands worked gracefully and steadily and without apparent effort. The thatch she wove is even and symmetric and tight. She looked out of herself while she worked. While I was on the back porch I found out about the terrorist bombings in Brussels. 

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