Monday, September 08, 2003

St. Scarlett is back.....

My dear fellow bloggers...I apologies for my protracted absence and my repeated promises to return to this wonderful blog, only to stay away for yet another few weeks. As it is, way out in the field, my internet access is still unsatisfactory and expensive, so I have little freedom to blogg.

However, things have been progressing.Remember my last installment on the charming town of Banska Bystrica, Central Slovakia, currently 'home'? I have discovered the darker side of this charming little town with the hourly glockenspiel(which varies weekly...someone has fun creating little tunes for it...). In fact, I have sniffed out the local mob cafe, which lies a convenient 2 minute walk from the county court house, which itself shares walls with the county jail. All very neat and within walking distance......why go to too much trouble, eh ?Also, I have discovered a bar which has red walls outside and in (not to speak of red lights), but I am not sure whether it is the local whorehouse, strip club or heavy metal joint (or any combination of these).It also lies across from the county court (a majestic, palace like building).

Fieldwork is moving along at a decent pace, I travel between folk festivals and am having increasing succes with my interviews. I'm busy, reading, writing, spying on people (participant observation in anthro-speak), but people generally don't believe me. They think I am dilly-dallying about, not really working. How hard is it to go to a few festivals, chat to some old ladies about lace and got to museums ? Why am I rushing around saying I'm busy, when really I am just doing what they do when they're on holiday ? In fact, a lot of people think I am still on holiday, and now that term has started, I'll go somewhere to some institution and really start working. It does get a bit annoying at times, especially when I have just spent the whole day somewhere, have travelled home with the bus (sometimes more than a 2 hour journey) and I know I should write a bunch of fieldnotes, but I am dead tired. On the other hand, it is quite funny, because when they innocently invite me in for a cup of coffee, they might not realise I'm most likely going to go home and write about it!(evil laugh.....)

The food situation is driving me slightly mad. The first week or two I was glad to be here and eat all the things I miss when outside of the country and then I started longing for curry, Chinese, Thai....all what I consider normal. But half the time I can't find chilli, ginger, coconut milk and so on. I have even been forced to start buying Heinz baked beans (something I have always found uselessly overpriced in the UK), because every other kind just didn't taste right. It took several days to find Basmati rice and I have given up on things like bambo shoots, fresh asparagus, any kind of fresh herb (even basil) etc. etc. Funnily enough, if I had chosen to do fieldwork in a place where they deep fried grasshoppers (quite common) I would have accepted this with grace, but being able to get some foodstuffs and not others in a sort of seemingly random mix is frustrating. They have the most beautiful freshly picked eggplants on the market, but you can't get the spices to make a decent vegetable curry (of the Indian or Far Eastern kind).HHRRRMMMPH

All in all, I am well fed, well rested, get enough sleep and have so many surrogate mothers (everyone thinks they ought to take care of me now that I am alone...especially feed me), that I have to fight them off. So, the conclusion is, that life is satisfactory. My current trouble is the lack of young company, but I think with some patience and perseverance that will resolve itself too.

I'm sorry for Sister Andrea's never ending trials with her thesis, I know what it is like and dread my up and coming nightmare of writing my PhD. Whats worse, dreaming in Old French and English or being spun into a never ending web of lace by a huge flesh eating lace maker.....I wonder what nightmares await us.

Sister Fashioner


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