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Reading ‘Arctic Summer’ in Zanzibar

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The book: Arctic Summer, by Damon Galgut

The place: Livingstone’s, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Also pictured: mojito; mango and avocado salad

Not pictured: actual bliss

This book was a delight. It made me want to read much more Galgut, and also some EM Forster, as I am ashamed to say that the only Forster I have ever read was A Room with a View, which was one of our English texts when I was fourteen or fifteen. I really am quite shamefully ill-read.

This book is party set in Alexandria, which made me wish I’d read it when I was living in Egypt. I’m pretty awful at that sort o thing – or indeed reading anything on a set schedule. I was quite proud of the fact that I managed to get through about a fifth of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet while actually in Alexandria last year, but I then put it down and have yet to pick it up again, over a year later. I should probably put that net on my list of Books To Slowly Make My Way Through, once I’m done with The Gulag Archipelago.

This photo was actually taken two days ago, and shorty afterwards I hopped in a taxi to the airport and then onto a pane back to Nairobi, where I am now, for another 36 hours or so. It’s been a lovely few days meeting up with friends and eating good food and trying to get to grips with Nairobi, which away sees oddly somnolent to me, possibly because it seems to be composed of little but a series of ring roads. Twin flies in the ointment are the fact that my laptop – an unwise and much-regretted panic-buy in Dubai in 2012, after my trusty and robust Toshiba was stolen in South Sudan – has competed its gradual decline into compete senescence and is thus practically unusable, AND I et my glasses in a Zanzibar taxi, so here I am, squinting astigmatically at a laptop screen as I painstakingly type using an on-screen keyboard, because half of my keyboard no longer works. Happily I should be picking up a replacement pair of glasses tomorrow, thanks to an accommodating and pragmatic Kenyan optometrist who is making me a good-enough pair with the lenses they had in stock, rather than sticking to my actual prescription, which would take two to three weeks. Thank you, accommodating and pragmatic Kenyan optometrist!

Here is a non-exhaustive list of ways in which I have lost or destroyed gasses in the past:

  • The pair that fell out of my pocket while I was cycling in Glasgow and were promptly run over by a bus;
  • The pair that I left in someone’s house in Goulimime, Morocco, which were then returned to me in Laayoune at great effort and expense, only to be permanently lost mere weeks later in Ziguinchor market;
  • The pair that were left in a restaurant in Yei, South Sudan, held hostage by a waiter for several days and then finally returned to me, only to be run over by a motorbike in Juba days later;
  • The other pair that were left in a restaurant in Yei, South Sudan, six years later.

The ones that I have just lost lasted about eight months, which is pretty good going by my standards. I may have the new ones surgically attached to my actual skull.



Written by Jess

April 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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