Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Collected Notes #8 - Ignorance

Hua Hin - Thailand, A Drowning Child, Development Work, Doubt and Reality

I was there on the beach at Hua Hin.  Wind buffing in off the sea.  A cool wind following three days of rain.  Cool?  Something less than scorching.  Wearing nothing more than shorts.  There was the surf, heavy enough that the sound of the swash drowned out the screams of the few children playing in the sand.  Not that many people on the beach.  It was the rainy season and the rains drove away most of the weekenders.
Was there on the beach for language lessons.  Really, little less than a holiday.  Part of an amplified holiday.  A long, extended holiday that...
... somebody was drowning out in the water they fell off their tire tube five or six people have gone to find whoever it was more people running along the beach a limp child  pulled from the water a crowd collects knitting itself tighter and tighter around the body a dense mob of humans on a sunny beach a strange blotch of darkness aiy-ho it is not a tragedy a man carrying a crying frightened boy the crowd dispersing people returning to the water just a sunny beach again with a smattering of men women children holding hands frolicking splashing and dashing and the surf and the wind and nothing happened did it blue blue sky above...
... included travelling to villages, eating strange foods, and planting a garden.  Some call this development training work.
And the waves were frothing in and the palms were shivering above and the sand was glistening below and the sea oh so sparkling and above that the blue, blue sky.  A way, way down the beach a huge rock climbed out of the water and the sea disappeared around behind it.  A haze settled over that distance.  And away, away down the beach the other way a haze settled over that distance too, a hotel and beach houses and coconut palms finally sliding into and disappearing in the green sea.  World wrapped in anaesthetic heat.
Anything terribly real about development work?  As if that mattered.  And if there was nothing terribly real about that fine grained white, white sand with the ever so finest grains of black mixed in, sand that spread away to one side and to the other the whole length far, far away, a thin strip between palms and sea smoothed over and packed hard by the steady caress of gentle waves and tide littering the beach with seashells and seaweed and lost fishing nets and the sparkling, sparkling dazzling sea and the swash and the haze and the bodies and the blue, blue sky...
If there was nothing terribly real about all that, then what was terribly real about me, or Thailand, or me being in Thailand?
More and more I know that I do not know.

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