laugh out loud

I want to play this game, preferably whilst drunk: The Exciting Game of Career Girls. You can't make this stuff up!

In high school Annie had this hilarious 80s game involving boys one might potentially date, with these hideous photos of the supposedly 'hunky' boys. Most of them had chunky-knit sweaters and names like Troy and Derek. I just watched Troy (again: escapism) and my conclusion is that a) Brad Pitt really is a rather ordinary-looking guy, b) men look great with long curly hair and eyeliner and lots of gold jewelry, and c) giant battle scenes are hilarious if you continually remind yourself that they're all just randomly pretending to whack one another.

Leisure time activities today have been seriously lacking in quality. I need a new novel now that Moby-Dick is fin. (Okay that was funny. laugh already!)
go postal

Nothin much to say, but I just realized that it's a good time to tell people not to send me mail at ICES anymore. If you've been sending me actual physical mail, you are a blessed soul and you are accruing major points, redeemable towards hugs, home-cooked meals, vodka tonics, back massages, and other shamefully, embarrassingly sentimental rewards for being a kindred spirit and bosom friend. If you haven't been sending me mail, do so now! If you have been receiving mail from me and not sending return mail, you are damned.

But, yeah: no more with the Kandy address, as I'm moving to Colombo in about a week and a half. I will be back in Kandy in mid-September to give a talk at ICES, so no worries if something takes a bit of a while to get here, but from now on:

7 Flower Terrace
Colombo 07,
Sri Lanka.

Bosom friend points are still available!
Some people are way in the red on this one, so I suggest massive postal investiture!


one badass dude
(on the lighter side)

Went this afternoon to scenic Katugastota with Haakon, Lisa, and Joelline (new girl in town: French, NGO work, maybe taking my apartment) to watch Mangal Pandey: The Rising, the big shiny new Hindi film. It’s open all over the world. It’s good, go see it!

Why, pray tell, did we so scoutingly voyage to Katugastota, in reality a squalid crossroads? The film did not feature Shahrukh Khan. It did feature Haakon Aasprong, Norwegian social anthropologist and world traveler extraordinaire. He got picked up (twice by agents of the same film) on the hard streets of Mumbai while visiting there and stuffed into an East India Company Raj uniform, stood around waiting for a long time, and got to see Rani Mukherjee and other babe-a-licious gals in sexy semitransparent kit playing prostitutes. He got shoved by the male star, Amir Khan, as part of the scene. We couldn’t really see him.

The rest of the film was good too, heavily featuring white people speaking Hindi (inspiring!) and Amir Khan’s mustache (impeccable) and some more-than-usually scandalous love scenes. It’s about the Company sepoy (native soldier) uprising, led by one Mangal Pandey that predated India’s independence struggles by over fifty years. Violence both criticized and glorified, women both commodified and emancipated. Very beautifully shot. Amir Khan is a good-looking man and often shirtless.

I think more men should wear earrings, as proven by both Mr Khan and the perahera’s legions of dangly-jangly’d Kandyan dancers. They accentuate the ears and neck, sensual places on men as well as on women. A pair, not one: one is lopsided and creates problems of queer signification.

However, the above title refers not to Mangal Pandey, but to Mr Aasprong, who is recovering from devotional firewalking. Read all about it at globen cafe and, gosh, weep. When I was an ISLE student one of our TAs, a young atheist Lankan archaeologist, told us about his experiences doing all the different bodily mortifications (firewalking, hook-piercing, etc) without faith in order to prove that one didn’t have to be possessed by a god to do these feats. I say, you’re definitely possessed by something!

Haakon inspires me to pursue a career in being a Hindi film extra. (No firewalking please.) A friend of his even got to be a dancer in a scene filmed at the Taj Mahal! Forget Broadway, Mr. Goldstone...

“War is not an option”
reflections on the assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar*

This is one of those times when I don’t know for whom I’m writing. I could write for the stateside crowd about who died and who killed him and why it’s important, because the international media isn’t doing a very good job reporting on that. The Lankan blog crowd (see www.kottu.com) is mostly discussing the apportionment of blame, though media everywhere have fingered the LTTE, without clear proof thus far. I'm going for some of each.

The shooting has provoked more (as if there could possibly be more) debate on who and what the LTTE are. The brilliant recent article by Philip Gourevitch (Aug 6 New Yorker?) on the conflict’s history and parameters clearly and properly depicts the LTTE as a horrifically violent, dysfunctionally fascist guardian of “the Tamil people.” The group’s development is basically a chronicle of them killing anyone who isn’t literally with them, especially other Tamil radicals and also Tamil moderates. Still, they control the lands and lives of over a million people in the island, and have quite an elaborate ‘state’ set up in their territory (as defined by the 2002 ceasefire). No one except wacko Sinhala supremacist hardline hawks would claim that the Government (GoSL) shouldn’t negotiate with them, or that peace is achievable without their concession and agreement.

On the other hand, GoSL has committed more than its fair share of horrific war and human-rights crimes. Indi wrote on his website that ‘terrorism’ is by definition the activity of a non-state group. I couldn’t disagree more. Think Milosevic, Rwanda, Third Reich, Herod... the reason we remember these more than, say, Sierra Leone or Armenia (arguably) is that they were state-supported. Because the GoSL is a democracy, it bears greater responsibility to protect citizens than does a Fascist separatist junta.

It is admittedly harder to blame or criticize a democratically elected government, with its necessary evolving cast of officers, than it is to nail the unchanging leadership of a military organization to the wall for the same crimes. We resort to a crude and often ideologically-driven analysis of the magnitude of each side’s atrocities in order to decide who’s right, or at least who’s more wrong. This gets sickeningly elaborated into arguments like “it’s worse to bomb the Central Bank in Colombo than a refugee-filled church in Jaffna because the LTTE really was using churches as cover.” Then we have to decide whether the government’s actions against non-Tamil militants (notably during the dark bloody days of the JVP insurrections) register on the atrocities scale generally.

That we even have this debate over state vs. non-state terrorism is a devastating indictment of the rotten values of the 'democracy' that spawned and perpetuated the horrors we've seen over the past 50 years. The Tigers argue that the Sinhalese-controlled GoSL committed genocide against Tamils and their culture, which is hyperbole and then some, but the underlying truth is that post-independence Sri Lanka has been a long story of aggressive government Sinhalization of all areas of life, from politics to education to economics to religion to geography. If I were Sri Lankan and not a middle-class Sinhala Buddhist conservative I’d feel pretty damn marginalized. That’s a lot of people.

Totting up the numbers dead and sacrosanct places violated on either side is clearly not a step towards resolution. Though it’s odious to quantify terror, in some instances it's important to do so. Assessing the size of the evilness of a terror act helps us determine as a society what measures we will take to prevent its occurring, and what punishments we will condone for its doers. For example, random public sniper attacks are horrible, but racially motivated ones are worse. In a just world we punish the latter more severely because it represents an attack on a category of people even when it doesn't physically harm all of them.

Ignoring the psychological intent of terror implicitly condones psychological violence. I am quite specifically classing terrorist acts as hate crimes because they are similarly motivated and experienced by a large swath of people not ‘directly hit.’ In Sri Lanka, hate goes both (really, several) ways. Additional psychological straitjackets placed on ordinary Tamils, both those living under LTTE control and those not. Vanni residents are held at collective gunpoint and, I think, have mass Stockholm Syndrome. Elsewhere in the country Tamils are told that it’s a Sinhala Buddhist country but, hey, they can live here too if they’re polite and quiet.

We are not looking at a happy multicultural melting pot or salad bowl. Decades of Sinhala supremacist political, academic, and media rhetoric have produced a discourse of ‘Sri Lanka==Sinhala Buddhist,’ which denies the rich hybridities that underlie the island’s cultural and political history. They’re trying to freeze and unmix society’s elements, using a set of bogus claims based on shady historical evidence and preying on ethno-nationalist and demographic fears.

The moral responsibility, as I see it, is with the government—both as a democratically instituted power and as a past perpetrator of terror against its own people. Which is not to say that I've picked my side. I have neither love nor sympathy for the aforementioned Fascist Junta. People seem to forget (or not believe?) that a military solution to the conflict is not possible—you can’t win a war against suicide bombers.

The quotation above comes from a Reuters interview with Tamilchelvan, the LTTE’s no. 2 and spokesman/ideologue. It sounds nice, but the full text reads: “War is not an option, but if war is thrust upon the Tamil people, we will have no option but to face it... So it's in the hands of the Sri Lanka government.” That means, of course, that they’re waiting for any slight provocation. The Tigers have proved themselves untrustworthy, bloodthirsty, pitiless murderers time and again. If I had any power with the GoSL I’d use it to urge the highest moral ground possible, especially given today’s world political atmosphere. We have to win them over, not win over them.

*inspired by and tiny bit excerpted from debate at www.indi.ca


the illicit fruits of the twice-aforementioned conspiracy
(be warned this post contains gratuitous sexual imagery though I didn't actually write it)

Apparently the shady, shadowy powers-that-be are not only allowing me access but sending fun things my way. From horoscopes at nerve:

Leo (July 22-Aug. 22)
Like someone who has recently returned from a trip to the Third World, you may feel the social equivalent of reverse culture shock, unable to sleep on a bed and unsure how money works. You may feel like you're speaking a foreign language until Wednesday, when good old American Hedonism kicks in and you unashamedly embrace the simple pleasures afforded by your First World residence: masturbation, picking people up in bars, oral sex in a big, soft bed. Be careful on Sunday — the contrast in your feelings may catch up with you, leaving you disoriented. Head it off by spending the day quietly.
I wonder what this means for someone actually not-yet-returned from the Third World. I just posted three times in under two hours. Shame, shame on me, and off to bed. That would be, in case you're keeping track, a narrow, hard, Developing World bed. And yes, I'm speaking a foreign language, and I'm always unsure how money works.
they're onto me

Very weird: I just posted the below, and while checking to see that the formatting had properly arrived on the blogpage, found that I could access several of the sites. There are two explanations for this:

1. There is a vast conspiracy to deny Sri Lankan users equal access to quality political, current-events, artistic, procrastinatory, and erotic information. As I type the watchers are watching me. They've thrown me this bone to make me think I was wrong about them and their diabolical plans.

2. I was wrong and it's a connection thing.

Still, anyone know anything about site blocking/web censorship here?
Or maybe critical fubar in the connection?

I’ve noticed recently that my computer can’t, or won’t, load a whole slew of websites. This sucks, because it takes away my ability to waste time following my friends’ inline links and therefore can’t always figure out what the bloody hell they’re writing about. I was shaking my (actual, physical) fist at the computer—in itself reliably irritating—when it occurred to me that the problem may actually be larger.

Are there mechanisms in Sri Lanka, as are massively used in China, for wholesale blocking of certain websites? I tried using a ‘net café to access some sites, and found the same ones unviewable. The logic of the (alleged) censorship isn’t at all obvious, which makes me think that something is screwy with the infrastructure. That is, some of the verboten stuff is totally benign from any vice-oriented or propaganda point of view. Is it really likely that some GoSL wonk is blacklisting the following (just a sample)?

PG-Rated but Vaguely Risqué for Sri Lanka

No News is Good News?


Objections Positively Spurious

Perhaps it’s naïve of me to be asking these questions. We are, after all, living in a State of Emergency; if this was the US (but with SLan moral codes) you just know the Feds would be cutting off all the raunchy and/or informative sites.

Perahera, second time round, was great. Having companions and a padded seat does not, however, remove the unpleasantry of waiting approximately six hours. Crowds too much, as our return-trip-overpriced driver remarked. This time I brought my own tea. Haakon supplied samosas, bananae, and chocolate; Lisa supplied planning and wit. I took photos this time, hampered by poor light conditions and insufficient chip space. Where is that damned USB cable? We spotted our old (in both senses: in 2002, when I studied under him, he was 77) Kandyan dance teacher in full awesome regalia, and our yoga friend Thanuj (he of the amazing Playboy mansion) on his elephant. We had delicious Ram's buriyani lunch with Joseph and Kwah, who are good souls. I am tired.

A good (and accessible!) link:
This woman's young husband is dying of liver cancer and she's going broke over the pain meds. She's a theatre academic like me in my fantasy life. You can contribute to a PayPal fund for her here.


Festivities Ensue
clearly, the best two weeks of my life so far

Coming off the high of the Festival I was sure that the whole birthday/perahera experience would be a let-down. I was completely wrong.

Though the birthday was low-key, festive specialness has been going strong for two weeks plus, with no signs of fading. Six birthday parcels helps that (among many many other things, my mother sent me a multi-pack of shiny steel wool scrubbers, definitely the most bizarre gift I’ve ever received) so thanks to those who sent them. Finished some good books, with notably weird parallels between them: Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Mitchell’s first novel Ghostwritten (which shares a lot with his brilliant Cloud Atlas) are both intense and pointedly non-linear, concerning Japan China Manchuria Mongolia The Search for Truth in Self And Place and The End of the World. Also hot on the reading list: A Happy Married Life (a Buddhist Perspective) and Women in the Kandyan Kingdom.

The perahera, though, was unbelievable. Tomorrow is the last night and while I have decent seats (in front of a friend’s friend’s tailoring shop) booked for then with Lisa and Haakon I couldn’t wait. I decided to brave the sidewalk masses alone. The jammed bus ride into town was worse than the crowds. I don’t really mind the seething-mass-of-humanity aspect of festival events so it wasn’t at all unpleasant to be jostling and craning. Except for sore, tired-of-standing legs. Ended up on the Soya Centre balcony, my old haunt, with ice cream and samosas and covertly whispered offers from the staff to use the toilet. I imagine they don’t let just anyone pee there during perahera!

Parades, processions, fanfare and ritual convince me of the existence of a god. How else would puny humans have the capacity to create stunning spectacles of coordination and cooperation (think of the social contract that makes the spectator/street/participant arena work!) other than that we all have within us a fragmented spark of the uniting divine One?

I am not being flip. I feel a supernatural presence in the life of the crowd; we move, think, talk, breathe, and wait as one. People start snacking at the same time. People pause and gasp (even at nothing) at the same time. People get tired and fall asleep on each other at the same time. I’m sure that behavioural science has a social-presence explanation for all of this, but to me it will remain mystical and wonderful.

One of my favourite moments of tonight was when, cutting through the cacophony of the spectators’ various noisemakery whistles, buzzes, squeaks, and and tootles, we began to hear the distant whipcracks of the perahera leaders, whose job it is to scare away any evil spirits so as to clear a path for the dancers and drummers and elephants. You could hear the tootles twitter down by degrees as thousands of minds awakened from bored self-amusement to eager, searching anticipation. People were also excited about the mini street-cleaning machine, which was obviously not part of the parade but as it was the size of a small elephant it clearly should have been dressed like one.

And o! the elephants! Endless elephants, all costumed in sequined and light-bulb-speckled velvet, satin, and lamé. Some were dancing, no joke, along with the drumming. I made friends with a family smashed lovingly together alongside me and, having told them positively everything about myself (“What’s your boyfriend’s nickname, again? Will you marry him in September before you go?”), and been plied with their giant thermos of blessed tea, was thrilled to hear the littlest girl counting elephants and announcing the numbers with growing shock every ten or so. There were a hundred. A hundred!

I haven’t really described the whole shebang, because I don’t feel like it, so nyah. Maybe tomorrow, after I process some more. I was crying with joy, seriously, for a while tonight; if that happens again you may all write me off as irredeemably soft in the head. I want to do a devotional dance in jangly jewelry. I want to learn to walk on stilts and spin wheels of fire on my head. I want to play outrageously discordant saxophone in a Kataragama band. I want to remember to eat dinner tomorrow night.

The first time is always the best, but then the second time is even better: anticipation.


just so long as he remembers where he came from when he's rich and famous

This is so exciting: the show Adam is the gestalt of performing in at Edinburgh, the reason initially for my trip, just got this stunning review from the Scotsman. He reports that they're sold out for the rest of the run and getting lots of visits from agents and suchlike. He is going to have a Career.

I am so happy for him, and jealous of course, but that's my nature, and somehow the two coexist equitably. Ester gets the credit for 'discovering' him at Swarthmore, which is appropriate because she's a casting sub-agent now and will no doubt soon rise to prominence in that field. I want to give myself props for grabbing onto Adam early in my own directing (and giving him his start in characters he's too "
too fresh-faced and slight" for) and not letting go. It's some consolation that two of the three of us have, um, moved briskly and dare I say successfully into the field we want to be in.

And to think before I got there he was telling me how bad the play was!

Five Stars : CROSS ROAD BLUES : Blues singer vs. soul man
reviewed by Jay Richardson

A taleof a Faustian pact at the dark heart of the blues, this seductive drama crackles with diabolic menace. More myth than man, Robert Johnson died, poisoned in a bar at just 26, with only a few recordings to his name. But his reputation as the guitarist who sold his soul for greatness became the blues' sinister underscore. In the prickly heat of a Deep South night, against a backdrop of racial tension, lynchings and voodoo, this superb single-act play brings his legendary sacrifice howling and moaning to life.

Squatting at a crossroads, Johnson (Kwesi Asiedu-Mensah) is a journeyman musician with a terrible past, desperate enough to test the fable of the big black man with the gift of songwriting who appears at midnight to tune guitars. But the gentleman (Adam Bisno) who squats beside him is white and educated, alternately beguiling and intimidating, proffering whisky, cigarettes and a terrible story of miscegenate love that destroys itself. He drags the younger man's life story from him and convinces him that real music is born in defiance of God - it is the soul's release from imprisonment. The frightened Johnson complains that the stranger would like to read him like a book, but, in truth, he has already been played like an instrument, his ambition and fear of persecution deliciously manipulated. You will never enjoy equality, so what price posterity, asks the demon.

The outcome is, of course, never in doubt. But the precocious David Hall, who wrote the play when he was just 19, creates an atmosphere of creeping, uncanny terror that grips from the start and never relinquishes. Through the charged poetry of the dialogue he evokes slavery's ensnaring legacy and, through one man's existential nightmare, the protesting quality of the blues. While Bisno initially appears too fresh-faced and slight for a tormentor, his darting eyes and sly smile quickly convince otherwise. Asiedu-Mensah is equally impressive, a well-built man who appears physically to shrink as the play progresses. And the denouement, in which Johnson sinks to his knees and sings his woe even as the devil unleashes a triumphal stream of verse, is mesmerising.


Two Dreams
and a looming nightmare

1. I am working on my computer at home in Dangolla when the phone rings. It’s Rick desRochers (high school drama despot-director), who is frantic that I accept a part in a professional production he’s doing in Boston in the fall. Rehearsals start at the beginning of October and he must, must, must have me in the show. Can I take the part? I realize this is a great opportunity, but that I’d have to forgo a visit to India before leaving this part of the world. I ask him to push back the rehearsal period but he can’t. I accept the part, with equal excitement and sadness. What a great job for me when I get back!

2. I am a semi-omniscient but mortal wizard(ess) in the midst of an epic and horrifying fantasy-world war between various types of creatures (a la LOTR; am I Gandalf-but-female?) and spend hours and days running and hiding and rallying my little band. It is dirty and exhausting, and I am constantly having to jump off tall things (a waterfall, a magic tree) and combat supernatural forces.

The dream gets specific when I’m caught in an ambush of a colony of peaceful underground-dwelling good trolls. The troll leader shouts for me to gather the warrior girls and escape out the back. They’re all asleep and as I rush from root-wrapped room to room bundling them out of bed and into traveling cloaks and girdled shortswords I can hear the horrid pants of the enemy (Orcs? Rastafarians?) as they rip and thunder through the cozy beautiful warrens of the troll-hole. I and seven or eight maidens (elf-like, not troll-like) are trapped in a cliffside room with leaded multilight windows; I smash the panes out and dive hundreds of feet into a giant willow, and a stream below that.

The girls follow and we are escaping for days across hill and dale, and eventually into a quaint mini Amsterdam. The enemy is chasing us in a big black Morris Minor/UK cab type car. We’re still in cloaks and whatnot but the enemy leader is a stunningly sexy Japanese woman (whom I know is intent on torturing us to death in the most horrific way possible) in 30s Fascist getup. At this point it becomes clear that this is in fact a movie, with the beautiful troll maidens played by Christina Ricci, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, etc. (Mordor Lisa Smile?) There is a token black girl.

We are hiding out in an upstairs room with a view over a cobblestone square (once used for hangings!) where the evil car is parked and the evil trenchcoat babe is visibly directing her lieutenants to search all the houses thoroughly. Token black girl—she’s the brains of the operation—finds us hiding places around our tiny room, and I know that they are poor concealment and we will all be shot in a matter of minutes. I am crouched under a dropleaf table, trying to get my protruding elbows into the shadows when angry boots pound up the stairs, shaking the dust up from the floorboards. The door slams open—

And I wake up, heart pounding.

Lying in bed I spend a few minutes reviewing the dream #2 for subconscious cues and calming myself down. I feel a vague happy anticipation, which takes half an hour to reveal itself as related to the job I think I got in dream #1. I realize that Rick didn’t really call me and I don’t really have a job. The letdown is worse than the residual fear had been. I really resent when my dreams are so misleading—one realistic and one fabulist is really just my mind totally fucking with itself. It’s damned lucky that I’m not on (anti-malarial and often psychoactive) mefloquine; clearly the lunacy is well supplied without additional chemical help.

Got back on Saturday night and what have I done? Stay up til 5am with Anushka watching movies. Go to another play (as if the Festival weren’t enough) Sunday night. Return to KandyMonday; dine with Lisa on delicious curries. Have a birthday (16th). Go to yoga, eat good Chinese dinner, gobble chocolates. Drink beer in teacups; alcohol can’t be served during perahera season so the places that want business carry on these goofy subterfuges. Attended excellent lecture by Jenny of ICES today on critical discourse analysis of newspaper reporting (on the London bombings specifically, but it was more about the modeling of the analysis). Make, and eat, nice soup.

I have less than two weeks left in Kandy, which is terribly sad, and I’m a little panicky about exit strategies and logistics and work. I feel like I miss everyone: those I haven’t seen in ten months, and those I will not see once I go. I don’t know whether to start acting like I’m leaving (i.e. schedule teary last visits) or remain low-key.

I’ve refrained from writing about the political situation (yet) because I’m not sure how it plays into my feelings about leaving—obviously it’s good to be departing as things become (it seems) less stable, less peaceful. It’s hardly about physical safety, though; more than I’m heartsick to see this country potentially readying for another series of violent political convulsions.


eight shows, no beer

Well, technically I had half a pint at this adorable cute pub on our way home. However, it was a Russian beer (made here, but) so not quite quite. I had noticed that the town smelled like what? vaguely akin to baking bread, but more specifically, matzah. Bizarre beyond reckoning that a frigid Scottish cobbletown smelled like the bread of roastingbacked desert affliction. Rowan, the board-op guy on Adam's show, finally clued me in that it was in fact hops or some other beer precendent. He too had thought it smelt like matzah.

I was more or less shocked that nearly half Adam's house is Jewish (counting me) but I guess the Dreyfus affair really was quite a while ago and they've loosened things up a bit.

Anyway, I'll have to get some more beer. Can't do proper reviews here yet but there was a fantastic Polish Faust with all the glorious trappings of the stuff we studied back in Allen's Performance Theory class--Jesus, fat bald guy, scary transvestites, twins, creepy broken mise-en-scene, Polish--which made me feel so at home. Finally got to see the Philly-based all wear bowlers, ludicrous hilarious vaudeville/clown bit with a scary live-doll ventriloquist bit and oh I just about peed myself laughing. And other good shows too. And glorious walking, through the alternate heat and chill of the day.

My birthday is in one week. Is 23 your late early twenties, or your early mid twenties? Terrifying either way!


the accents here are so sexy, when can understand them

O, this is a wonderful city. I arrived by train in a very light drizzle and walked 3km to Adam's house slightly outside the city centre, enjoying immensely the streetscenes and the people and the inviting falafel takeaway joints. His housemates are clever and British so I think everything they say is charming and hilarious. All is well; I am so gleefully, stupidly pleased to be here.

The city feels like Northampton made old, grand, and larger. Everything is 4-6 storeys high, except for some higher castley and modern buildings; the older sections of the city seem to have been quarried down-into, excavated, rather than built up from the ground. It's very hilly and stony, and the long long sunset hours are truly filled with golden slanting rays which warm the surrounding rocky outcrops and the marshalled rows of brick chimneys way past when the street level has gone into shadow and the lamps are lit. The sun begins to slide around 8.30pm but at 10.30 there are still blueblue streaks in the sky.

It's hard to separate the city as it must normally be from the festival atmosphere (and, we are told, the million extra people that are here) but in a nutshell, this is my idea of heaven: a graceful and gritty town, walkable and human-scaled, with lively street life (well past midnight!) and good food and--most importantly--thousands of performances going on all the time, and hundreds of thousands of people just dashing about, thinking art, doing art, watching art, talking art. Everywhere there are posters and flyers and wacky-costumed actors and big choruses of singing kids. If only it were a little warmer... and a little cheaper.

I've had some great culture-collision moments, from people thinking I'm [English, Irish, French, Greek...] to the turbaned Sikh I saw in a kilt-and-Prince-Charlie kit to the takeaway truck offering haggis pakoras. Adam is wonderful as always. His show is good and getting better. I got some plain chocolate digestive biscuits, which are halfway to heaven by themselves. What else could I want?

Note to self: get job at festival next year.


dispatch from the future

Leaving Kandy this morning at approximately 7.30 I promptly fell asleep on the long-suffering man next to me (whose even more long-suffering wife didn't seem to mind). I woke sporadically and apologised to the fellow, whom I'm not sure I didn't drool on. Ah well.

Next was the airport bus, always a maddening trip as they seem to drive around Colombo for an hour trying to get additional riders before actually getting on the (wide, well-paved, speedy) airport road. Fearing I was late, I did not stop at the Dialog GSM kiosk at Katunayake, missing my chance to add global roaming to my phone package (and save time-will-tell-how-much in texting charges, as I now have to find a new SIM). Then waited forever to get through ticketing, and another forever to actually get on the plane. The off-duty passport/immigration workers were playing a Snood-like game on their fancy flatscreens.

The flight involved more intermittent sleeping, but I had a window and thus was able to confine the (feared) drooling to myself and the wall. Friendly seatmate, mediocre movies with incredibly poor sound. I liked Hitchhiker's Guide but wasn't able to remember the book(s) well enough to puritanically criticize it all.

The above-all high point of the trip so far is that while we were flying over the Arabian peninsula, there were no clouds. I looked out and saw hundreds of miles of spectacular sand mountains, dotted sparsely with scrubby brush and cut here and there with tiny roads and trickly rivers. There were basined valleys of sand, each cupping scant grey skims of water in smooth oval shallows, each with a small town of small dusty buildings and no apparent roads into or away. There were larger, magnificent rivers, cutting abruptly across the base of golden-banded mesas and smoother sloped dunes. There were, later, irrigated agricultural plots in long psychedelic wavy strips, Op Art Prada knit as compared to the plain patchwork quilt of the American heartland. Amazing.

Heathrow, and London, feel like the future. Of course they always did, even when coming from Boston or New York. Everything is so clean and nicely designed and goddamn expensive! The hostel is a madhouse but who cares. The Piccadilly Line isn't running in Zone 1, which is a sad reminder of recent events. The trip is a success thus far.


18 hours at home in Kandy
...and both feet halfway out the door (?)

This is just a boring couple of lines for those readers looking for locational/occupational updates. I returned from my week of hustlebustle in Colombo this morning at approximately 11.30, and began unpacking so that I could start packing for Edinburgh.

Yes yes! I am off tomorrow morning (today morning) to see Herr von Bisno (http://bisno.blogspot.com) in that apparently quite chilly and rainy city. Lo, may my thin blood sustain me. I am bringing the full Nuwara Eliya (cold, rainy, UK-esque hill station) kit including Actual Socks, fleecy jacky, and gasp! my silk long-underwear-top. If there's a blizzard or even a stiff wind while I'm there, remember that I loved you all well.

Last week's play was lovely and exhausting as plays should be. I have new friends (remind me to write about the tequila/karaoke night... lord!) and new ideas and it was just gleefully fun. I did spend quite a bit of the week not-doing-the-show too, but that was less fruitful; for example, one day I had a crippling headache for several hours, then tried unsuccessfully to buy a belt, then sat in a ridiculous traffic jam with a taxi driver who would not take another route.

Sigh. Must finish packing the warmies and goodies. I bought a cute halter top at Odel to take with but it will probably just hang out under some zippy type overgarment. I am preparing myself for major culture shock, and psyched as hell. I have set myself the goal of finding two critical silly Scottish things: 1) folk dancing 2) haggis. The second will be vegetarian. I bet anything that someone in that city makes it!

More soon from London, where I will (in observance of travel-induced poverty and not terror-induced skittishness) not be on the Tube.