Several Things

Two men came to the gate, offering to clean our coconut trees -- Rs. 20 each for three trees. Chinnaraj has a long pole with a hook on the end, for pulling down coconuts when we need them, but he's too old to climb up the trees. The men shinnied up the tall trunks with their aruvals, cut down the ripe coconuts (38 in all), and cleaned the detritus and dead fruit stems out of the crown.

Mary suggested that we sell the surplus coconuts to the vegetable vendor who brings his cart around to our gate, and snoozes in our shade in the afternoons. She said that he he would pay according to size, but that we could expect Rs. 2 or 3 apiece for them. It hardly seems worthwhile for such a tiny amount, but she says that another crop of coconuts will be ripe soon, and we now have more than we can use.

Yesterday a man came to read the electric metre. He said that we had used a tremendous amount of electricity in the last two months -- about 5,000 units, as compared to the usual 1,500 or so. He asked if we were running a factory. I said no, but that we had had a big power surge last week that might have damaged the metre. I said that we had certainly not used 5,000 units, and that I didn't want to pay for them. Then he lowered his voice and said, "I can help you..." This is a story that every Indian knows, no need to tell the rest of it here.

... Janine maintained that the source of Flaubert's scruples was to be found in the relentless spread of stupidity which he had observed everywhere, and which he believed had already invaded his own head. It was (so supposedly once he said) as if one was sinking into sand. This was probably the reason, she said, that sand possessed such significance in all of Flaubert's works. Sand conquered all. Time and again, said Janine, vast dust clouds drifted through Flaubert's dreams by day and by night, raised over the arid plains of the African continent and moving north across the Mediterranean and the Iberian peninsula till sooner or later they settled like ash from a fire on the Tuileries gardens, a suburb of Rouen or a country town in Normandy, penetrating into the tiniest crevices. In a grain of sand in the hem of Emma Bovary's winter gown, said Janine, Flaubert saw the whole of the Sahara. For him, every speck of dust weighed as heavy as the Atlas mountains.

-- W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

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