|A Western fantasy
||[Oct. 24th, 2010|02:14 pm]
One of the things that confuses and annoys me is people in rich countries romanticizing the tribal life. If you're well off, the least you can do is be thankful for books and roads and medicine and all the conveniences of modern life, and respectful of the hardships faced by people who live simply, rather than pretending that they inhabit in some kind of rustic paradise and you're the one that needs a break. I think it comes from the tendency to idolize nature, which is something I vehemently oppose as well.
Consider this text from Three Cups of Tea, in turn quoting Fosco Maraini:
The Balti really seem to have a flair for enjoying life, old bodies of men sitting in the sun smoking their picturesque pipes, those not so old working at primitive looms in the shade of mulberry trees with that sureness of touch that comes with a lifetime's experience, and two boys, sitting by themselves, removing their lice with tender and meticulous care.Fortunately, the author doesn't share the opinion expressed in the quotation (unsurprisingly, I should add, given the topic of the book and the role of the author therein, which is humanitarian aid in Pakistan). The very next paragraph reads:
We breathed an air of utter satisfaction, of eternal peace. All this gives rise to a question. Isn't it better to live in ignorance of everything—asphalt and macadam, vehicles, telephones, television—to live in bliss without knowing it?
Thirty-five years later, the Balti still lived with the same lack of modern conveniences, but even after a few days in the village, Mortensen began to see that Korphe was far from the prelapsarian paradise of Western fantasy. In every home, at least one family member suffered from goiters or cataracts. The children, whose ginger hair he had admired, owed their coloring to a form of malnutrition called kwashiorkor. And he learned from his talks with Twaha, after the nurmadhar's son returned from evening prayer at the village mosque, that the nearest doctor was a week's walk away in Skardu, and one out of every three Korphe children died before reaching their first birthday.I'm still near the beginning of this book, but I think it's going to be a good read.