I finally beat my bout of the flu. Two days off work away from the cesspool of infection and re-infection – and a strong smelling concoction served up by my friend O – proved the final sucker punch that knocked out the few remaining colonies of the bug I picked up. I still do not consider myself at 100% fit, but at least it has become possible to settle into a close approximation of my old routines even though a slight headache remains.
For lunch today, I meet up with two new friends – A Pakistani Catholic and an Iranian Muslim. We were introduced by a mutual friend at a professional meeting and we got to share and enjoy each other’s company. As a concession to our halal eating friend, we have lunch at one of the smaller Pakistani eateries in town. Inevitably our conversation drifts to the recent events in the Arab world which have culminated in a de facto civil war in Libya. Interestingly, their conviction is that the West (quote America and Britain) are somehow complicit in the popular uprisings. I take the position that the uprisings can’t have done the West any favours what with changing balances of power and corridors of influence in those countries. The Iranian counters that the West has a history of meddling, and recommends that I seek out Philip Agee’s CIA diary as an expose of the capabilities of the CIA. I make a mental note to chase down a copy for my education.
An interesting subtext to our discussion is the subject of faith. Our Pakistani friend, like me, has lapsed into a nominal notion of faith and religion – more a cultural marker than a defining idea for life. Our Iranian friend though sees more than a notional value in faith – he argues that morality and faith are inextricably linked and that absolute standards of good and evil under-gird morality. Matters of faith are not high on my agenda just now, but these are matters that I really need to engage over the next few months. After all one needs some form of moral compass I would think.
My reading this year is evolving as I go along. I’ve finally dived into Teju Cole’s Open City and as I expected it has delivered meditative prose much in the vein of his other offering Every day is for the Thief. His attention to little details about the city, and quotidian events which would otherwise escape the average person are qualities that have made me a firm fan of his; disciplines which I am trying to acquire over the course of this year. Two other new books arrived in the two days I was knocked out – both by Dave Eggers – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Zeitoun. I can only hope I get the time to read them.