Let the Nice Life Go Along With You

Hear hear! Give thanks for being in Sri Lanka, sayeth Jill Gavin and I in a remarkably poor caricature of a Thanksgiving lunch. (Rice and two lame curries. That restaurant came recommended, even! Harumph.) We hadn’t really even planned to have a “Thanksgiving lunch” but just to hang out, and then I was reminded that oh, it’s Thanksgiving.

The title, above, is imprinted on the handles of some pretty plastic spoons I bought. I think the set is from Japan; who else but the Japanese puts such things on plasticware? Each spoon is labeled with the name of a fruit and a nice little color drawing of that fruit. I find them charmingly cheerful. Each time I grab one from my glassful of cutlery, I have a moment of delightful anticipation—what fruit, today? Watermelon! Apple! Mango! The phrase is a good mantra for me, half blessing and half ‘hakuna matata.’

Yesternight I wrote long and hard in my journal about last Thanksgiving. I saw things I had never seen before:

“…it may have been the first time I realized how irrevocably we are all getting older, all the time—words deepening in complexity and savor in mouths as we speak them. I started seeing the family—both my families—not as people who happened to be related, but as people who chose, year by year, to relate; to come together and torment and love one another as only family (of biology and habit and grit) can do. Plans are made, dates are set, side dishes cooked, favors done, small niceties remembered. It’s all intentional, and I am so grateful.”

So, thanks, family. Remind each other to read this, as I’m not following through on my promise of pinging people when I post. As you can see, my use of em-dashes and semicolons and horrid run-on sentences is even more lavish in my private writing. Curses on the finished thought!

I would have been more thankful yesterday if the darn Peradeniya Library people would stop being such sticks-in-the-mud regarding my application for Postgraduate Reader status. (Doesn’t that sound lovely?) They will accept me, but want me to pay the way-exorbitant rate of Rs.600/ a month for library access. We’re not talking about taking books out, by the way; this is just to get in the door and read stuff. You can’t even bring outside books in, just pen and paper and a small purse if you’ve got one. So annoying! I should be able to pay the local rate of Rs.100/ a month, as I have a residence visa and I work at a local institution which is technically affiliated with the University.

However, the head librarian says that “space is at a premium” in the reading rooms. Total lie, they’re always at least 90% empty—like, rows upon rows of chairs in carrels. He implied that the higher price was thus to discourage me from being there, which is ridiculous. They know that they can basically extort the money from me, because I’m a foreigner and probably have it. It’s totally unjustified, though.
I feel a little guilty about this because I’m thinking of joining a gym at the rate of Rs.750/ a month. Obviously my work should merit at least similar financial consideration. However realistically I am going to go to the gym at least twice a week; not so with the library cuz my office has a pretty good one. Maybe I can get the Fulbright Commission to pay my library access fees. Besides twice-weekly gym visits will do immeasurably more for my self-esteem than twice-weekly library schleps.

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