Friday, April 27, 2007

In Touch With the Wide World

Some days the wide world touches me personally. I received a small package that makes me smile for many reasons -- the sheer irony of it's parts, mainly. Why do I have a picture here of a Christmas card, three stamps with Arabs on them and a label for Qatar? I've been participating in a web site called Swap-bot which is mostly, as far as I can tell, a group of women who do crafts and who write [much overlap of the categories] from all around the world. Inexpensive swaps are listed and members sign up and participate. I've found it a way to make myself do more writing than I was doing and a way of getting very interesting "snail maiil" like the package from Qatar. The multi-nationality continues because the writer was actually an Australian woman working in Qatar.

I also received a letter from a young American woman teaching English in Japan with an address so myterious I can't tell what city or town she lives in. She told me about 24-hours in her life. I had written such a letter to women in Prince Edward Island, Canada, Tasmania and I forget where in the US. I should get two more 24-hour letters in the near future. In a sense this is an artificial bringing the world to me; that is, I don't know these people but they are all playing a computer game in a sense, but it's not "virtual" it's real. I get and send actual pieces of mail, sometimes with items in them -- doing fat quater swapping is popular. [Fat quarter cuts of fabric, for non-quilters who might read this] and so are greeting cards and post cards and photographs.

Less "artifical" comes a nice note from Kay who was my roommate on my Mongolia trip. She lives in Canada and recently went to Egypt. She writes about the continuous presence of a police escort with tourists -- not, apparently, to monitor them but to protecct them from extremists. I was aware of much police presence when I was there about 15 years ago but apparently it's very stepped up these days. But she writes to me on a notecard, shown here, purchased on last summer's trip to Western Canada, including Bampf and Lake Louise.

I also bring the world into my house when I go shopping. Recently I found a brand of packaged food I'd never seen before, "ready to heat and eat rice meals" from India, no pereservatives. Why, I'm wondering, is India exporting prepared rice meals when several million people, especially in their northern provinces which have suffered droughts, are severely malnourished? Well, the answer is capitalism, the export-import thing. But it makes no practical sense to me. Still I like Indian food very much so I bought a couplepackages. Tthe one I've just tried was called "lemon rice". I expected a plain rice with a bit of a tangy lemon flavor, perhaps bits of lemon peel. No. What I got was a surprise -- a VERY pleasant surprise, reallly. I presume there was lemon in it, but I didn't taste it. There was a complex of herbs, little leaves of some type, round spice berries of some kind and the kind of mild burning sensation in the mouth that I really enjoy in Indian and some Sezhuwan Chinese food. Not everyone likes this kind of spiciness but I love it. It was truly lovely with the saved half of a meal of chicken and broccoli.

So I've had a trip around the world in just a few hours. Now I'm going to plunge into a novel I purchased on the strenth of the author's name, Dubravka Ugresic, because it's so exotic, and the first pagel which tells of an exhibit in the Berlin zoo [truth or fiction? I don't know] which shows the contents of a recently deceased walrus's stomach -- all kind of man made items, mostly plastic, wood and metal. She says the novel will be an amalgam of seemingly unrelated bits like the display but they will prove to all have a common denominator eventually -- I love novels like that which show how things are all connected, even if tangentially.

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