In which he is mean and sarcastic towards people and places he loves

The Museu do Oriente has a rich, well organized, well-labeled collection; it's also at the end of the world across three wrong sets of tracks and therefore real hell to get to; and in a building which makes me sick (it's a converted factory, all reinforced concrete, sloping ramps and delivery size elevators; and all shapes are relentlessly, unforgivingly straight and perpendicular).

It also has a gift shop which is not just ridiculously priced -- they buy for 3 euros and sell for 36 -- and full of utter and total junk -- not a single item of any value at all -- but is also totally wrong: the Asian outfits are not Asian, Burmese "laquerware" is plastic, the cabinet with tea-pots, helpfully inscribed "China" -- and "中国", for added authenticity, no doubt -- has not a single Chinese item in it and the tea implements in it are worse than useless. The museum does a good job popularizing some aspects of Asia; but its gift shop then completely undoes it all. I am entertained -- I can't help laughing out loud at some of the shop items -- but also shocked. Is the museum really allowed to do this? Is this not a violation of some kind of principle? A perversion of its educational mandate?

While waiting for my show I watched a documentary on Goa -- it featured interviews with people I know and pans of the insides of their homes; Mario looked younger and healthier than I remember him; perhaps the video predated my stay, Goa seemed somehow cleaner than I remember it.

The show was Bharatnatyam by Saju George, the Dancing Jesuit (oh, yes); not the greatest BN I have seen, Saju also tired towards the end of the first half and began to lose balance; still, for a priest -- I mean, an amateur -- he was really remarkably good, even excellent. For a moment I had a spell of aesthetic delight.

I left early, unwilling to remain behind to join the announced discussion regarding matters of dance and priesthood. I like the dance alright, it's the priesthood I can't stand.


Coming back by way of a fancy restaurant where overpriced vegetarian food is served in Indian thalis (a thali in India is a way to serve an economic dish) I noted that, it being Friday, it was time for their weekly Oriental Dance. The lights were on and the curtains drawn; I looked in. It wasn't Bharatnatyam, though, as the thali has always suggested to me, but, somewhat disconcertingly, North African belly dance. Except that it wasn't that either: it was a pretty lame ad lib by someone who has clearly not even taken lessons. That someone was pretty and was clearly having fun; she caught my knowing glance through the window; and gave me a pixish smirk: she was enjoying herself -- the fraud perhaps more than anything else ("I can't believe they are paying me to do this"). She was clearly English -- a tourist perhaps or a student -- it's such an English joke; and such a English smirk.


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