Mr A. Writinghawk (writinghawk) wrote,
Mr A. Writinghawk

Return of the native

On the train yesterday I sat next to a young man and woman, probably brother and sister, with dark shiny black skin. I wondered what African language they were speaking to each other and assorted friends as they chatted, texted and browsed on their smartphones. As we got near Cambridge I realised it was English, which they spoke with a thick and glorious accent. (Hearing him mention 'Feezbwk' while he browsed Facebook on his phone was the key that unlocked the mystery.) Just in time to hear this exchange, when he stood up to gather luggage while she still texted away:

He: When you press on your phone, it presses back on you.
She: Well, obviously. We learned that in ...
He: It's not obvious, because phones don't have fingers.
She: You're such a geek.


For yes, I'm back in the UK. How time has flown. I stayed in Kudafari a couple of weeks after the end of term to be present for Eid, the biggest holiday of the year. Everyone goes 'home' for the five days or so for which it's celebrated, which may mean to an island they haven't much to do with the rest of the year, and tiny Kudafari filled up with hundreds of people I'd never met before, arriving in boatloads. It may have been even bigger than usual, happening to fall in the school holidays this year. The celebrations involved a fair amount of processing through the streets in the evenings with bodu-beru drums and a 'coadi', a sort of portable house somehow made of sheaves of palm leaves. Details apparently vary from island to island. Here, everyone assured me the tradition of a boy anonymously leaving the coadi at the house of a girl on the first evening was formerly used as a means of proposing marriage, but is now just a bit of fun.


Before coming home I spent ten days in Kathmandu. Long-time readers will know I've been there before and have a great attachment to the place. I'd have blogged while I was there if the place hadn't kept me far too busy, but it was pleasant to catch up with old friends and acquaintances. Let me just mention visiting Bouddhanath, the huge Buddhist stupa with the famous painted eyes. A casual google will remind you of the white dome with chain-link red decorations, and the day I was there with a friend of friends this happened to be being redecorated, as apparently it is every few months. The whole thing was done in half an hour by chucking washing-up bowls of whitewash at it, from both the base and the top of the dome. The white is chucked first, indiscriminately over the dome. Then bowls of red are thrown with a careless-looking flick that causes it to land in quarter-circle swirls which join up to make the finished semicircles.


I'm supposed to be going back to Maldives in February to work in the education department of the local Province Office, where I was recruited by Sambo. Obviously I know nothing about administering education, but no-one seems to mind that, and after all I knew nothing about teaching this time last year. The office is on Felivaru, an 'uninhabited' island whose main human activity takes the form of a fish canning factory. If you have ever bought Waitrose tinned tuna 'in spring water', it may have been canned there - Jasmine and I visited Felivaru for a couple of days and saw boxes of it being loaded up. I have no idea what 'spring water' means, as Maldives has no springs and the general advice is not to drink water from the wells.
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