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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Another Thing

Here's another thing about being incommunicada for 4 days, similar to my Third World observation:

One feels like life is passing you by -- the world turns, and you stay stock still.

This reminds me of a type of Peace Corps work I once did in South America back in the year 2000.

For almost two summer months, I lived in a small village with no running potable water, and for whose purpose we were there to help to build.

There was one "armazen-tienda" in the whole village, which acted as pub, village meeting place, town hall, supermarket and restaurant, which held the only working colour television set for miles.

Now, I have never been much for television.

I have never watched one whole episode of Friends, Seinfeld, 90210, Buffy, barely any British or American shows, or any of the normal television viewing a person my age should have had. Here in the US I watch sport, History Channel and PBS, that's it.

So when I signed up to volunteer, I thought I was going to be fine with no telly.

I wasn't.

Every night I would go to that tiny, overstuffed village inn with a thousand smells, and cling to that 13" TV set like a Spanish moth to torchlight.

It was my one contact to the outside world, and I treasured any news from abroad, no matter how trivial.

During the whole time, though, I kept wondering what it must be like to live like that for one's entire life.

It's fine if you were raised like that, but one would think that television would attract people by that which is shown in the many telenovelas and news shows on at night.

But I realised at once why, perhaps, that wasn't the case.

If you have never lived in a minor country, like say Bolivia, or Albania, or Laos, a country not often on the world scene, you cannot know how much of the news focuses on what goes around the world, far away from your reality.

It's almost 90% of the footage, and though all humans feel some kinship towards others, when say flooding in Venice is shown, or a summit at Y-River, or even the latest film shindig at Cannes, you get an odd, disembodied feeling about the world.

You're not a part of it. What's it to you?

Unfortunately, that wasn't my case.

Perhaps it's the insularity of the British, with our insistence on any news in a small island being of monumental interest to all, or the Americans, with their juggernaut hold on current world history, but I never felt like I was outside the loop or not au courrant.

That's what this hurricane robbed me of -- the feeling that the whole world was living life, and instead of being a part of it, I was standing stock still, living an insignificant and localised existence.

What an awful feeling that is.

Today was a hectic day, and tomorrow will be too. But slowly I am getting into the rhythm of things.

Such was my frame of mind as I turned the corner at the main campus of my University, at the Registrar's putting in my sabbatical request, when I almost bumped into Toni Morrison.

Turns out she was there to give the Convocation Address tonight.

Now how come she never goes to any tiny, remote Andean villages for a pep talk, hmm?

Surely, they need it more than the pampered, privately educated poodles at a big, glamourous American University.

But perhaps after living in Paris, hanging about in Stockholm and New York, she too doesn't want to feel outside the loop.

Just this once, I can relate.

4 Comments:

  • Laos is one of my favorite unimportant countries and I would like to see it appear more often in your blogs. I can lend by Beerlao shirt if necessary.

    By Blogger Jim, at Tue Aug 30, 09:22:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Really!

    I should have Renaud guest-blog about his Laotian wife, mebbe. She might like that t-shirt too.

    BTW, this reminds me that I have yet to do these blogposts:

    1- Your England friendly photoblog (of course...)

    2- The International Supermarket blogpost

    3- Famous Drinks from around the world


    I keep putting off the best for dire Toni Morrisson blogposts.

    What's wrong with me??

    Got home after a superbusy day, but I should be on later tomorrow, Jim. You will laugh when I tell you my adventures in U-Hauling. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Aug 30, 10:56:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Actually, the opposite seems true. Natural disaster focuses folks' attention more than anything but, well, open war.

    So even if you didn't feel it, you -were- the news. OK, not as much as those guys in Mississippi or Louisiana, but...

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed Aug 31, 12:48:00 am GMT-4  

  • You're quite right there, JSU. We were indeed the news, even though we were in the dark most of the time.

    It was the biggest joke here in South Florida, for example, that the VMAs were taking place in Miami, and everyone in the US save in Miami would be watching it!!

    BTW, I will be taking part in the Hugh Hewitt/Instapundit led blogathon, in relief of Katrina victims tomorrow.

    Maybe you'd like to participate?

    I will write up a post on the topic as soon as I come back from doing a million and one chores today.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Aug 31, 12:35:00 pm GMT-4  

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