Mar 29, 2010

Email Out of Nowhere

The following message was waiting for me when I opened my email this morning:

Larry, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined finding a teahouse in this remote corner of the world. Not a teahouse in the Japanese tradition to be sure, but a public place that serves a variety of teas. The incongruity of this place reminds me of the opening scene in Meredith Monk’s film “Book of Days”. I am astonished this place exists, but thankfully so. And there is Internet access as you can see if you are reading this! And the keyboard is in English, though a lot of the keys have strange characters inked in.

I’ll have to hurry as the generator is only fired up once a day for about an hour and it’s only because I am such a unique visitor that the young locals have allowed me a few minutes of their time at the machine. The toothless elders simply sit and stare in disbelief. Luckily I type very quickly which amazes everyone even though what I type must look like gibberish to them. The owner of this out of the way cafĂ© tells me he went to school for three years in Santa Cruz, California, in the eighties, hence the name: The Sticky Wicket. He has already shown me a much-thumbed picture of himself standing on a California beach somewhere with his wife, who is from Whittier, California (haven’t met her yet). Who would have guessed? His is the first English I’ve heard spoken in several months and it almost sounds foreign to me. Anyway, after several grueling days of cross-country travel I am euphorically sipping a cup of black tea, my first in several weeks! Fortunately I have grown accustomed to Yak milk, and local honey is available. Dawa, the owner, admits he sells far more Yak butter tea than anything else.

I am down to my last pencil nub and make my journal entries on flimsy scraps of paper I manage to buy or beg along the way. Can you imagine what might happen if I pulled a sparkling white ream of 8 ½ x 11, 20 pound bond from my rucksack right now? Very little, probably. Only Dawa might be impressed.

I started out from Rangpur with at least a dozen number two pencils but gave many away, and others were apparently stolen. Will write if I find sufficient paper and an envelope, or just a sheet of paper large enough to fold into an envelope. Remember those thin, blue-paper aerogrammes we once used? My watercolours are almost exhausted so I make few sketches.

Well, the local lads look rather anxious for their turn at the machine and I need to refill my cup so I’d better sign off. Just wanted to let you know I am still alive. I have much to tell you.

Ciyarsa, (or something like that)


Ps I may stay here a few days, or weeks if the weather holds, and if I do I’m sure I’ll be able to email you again before moving on. Nights are still chilly. Dawa has a large photo of a place called Mt. Emei in Sichuan Province, China on the wall above his tea collection. Looks like an interesting destination.

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