Friday, December 19, 2008

The weather and the land

My student left halfway through the movie Australia that we’d all gone to see at the cinema. Afterwards she said that she hadn’t expected it to be a story. She thought that the movie would be about the weather and the land.

After nearly a week of no internet

After nearly a week of no internet, during which I had had been on the phone with countless representatives of two different internet providers – both our actual internet provider and the provider that had tried to poach our business by setting up an unwanted contract, sending out an unwanted modem and then changing the coding on our ADSL line without our permission – after nearly a week of phone calls with technical support staff (mostly in India) and customer relations staff from the poaching provider (mostly in Australia), during which I was becoming more and more incensed and given to venting my frustration on any hapless person on the other end of the phone line, it was humiliating to have it discovered that the supposed fault I had been railing about, since the original coding was finally reinstalled three days after it was removed, had been caused by all the plugging and unplugging of cables that I had been doing under instruction from various technicians – where, in short, the phone line had fallen out of the back of the modem and got lost in the tangle between the wall and the desk.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Numerous arguments and examples

He told me about a girl he knew who, while teaching English in Tokyo, had discovered that all of her Japanese adult students without exception believed, as a race distinct from everybody else in the world, they possessed an extra foot of intestine and were alone in being able to perceive every colour in the rainbow.

Even when this girl had insisted that these claims couldn’t be true – and attempted to prove it by numerous arguments and examples – her students had continued to believe that they were in the right and she the one being misled – a situation evidently astounding.

Of course, both of us had already had a couple of drinks at the time and so were in no position to judge.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The common myna

The common myna which, I have read, is a communal nester, gorges in quantity on the streets of the city. Yesterday morning I saw one in the gutter pecking at the soft, flecked turd of a dog that had probably been eating a boil-up of vegetables. In the afternoon I saw another pulling flesh from a chicken wing near a telephone booth.

The balding one I saw crossing the road with his several mates only two days before had the look of someone determined to behave as if he hadn’t been drinking – or at least as someone who doesn’t need his drink to sound like the most knowledgeable, prescient, firm-thinking figure that anyone has met in the ornithological world.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Second time around

The main difference between a hundred day memorial service for the dead and the funeral itself is actually very small, my student told me. In each case there is the three thousand dollars for the prayers of the monk and six hundred dollars for the food – a whole pig, a whole duck, and a lot else besides, as she said – but at least the second time around there is no expense on the coffin. And neither is there anything to be decided about the disposal of the dead.