Friday, April 01, 2005

Drowning Chickens

The sour and musky air of Wan-Tong Lucky Tiger restaurant mixed with a quick gust of fresh wind, as a curious trio stormed into the main lounge. A slender aging man with mild middle-eastern face positioned himself near a small table in the corner. He was immediately joined but two companions, a tall black gentleman with a small beard and a petite lady whose features betrayed her Indian origin. After ordering three plates of General Tao Chicken and a bottle of rice wine, the woman spoke in a deep soothing voice:

-Now Edward, I can not agree more wholeheartedly with your assertions about the depth to which the west misunderstands the east, and indeed the very nature of this crude distinction. But the constructed charm and appeal of the oriental rests in its relative isolation from the European influence. At least, you have a sense of the way things are in reality amongst yourselves. What the post-colonial cultures have to go through is confusion over the actual nature of our presupposed values. The western perception of India has penetrated deep into its very soil and is now almost inseparatable from the authentic. I think Olu will confirm my words.

The tall man disposed of another chunk of succulent chicken, then proceeded to wash it down with a hearty gulp of wine. Finally, he spoke:

- Yes Gayatri, you are quite right. After all, there should be a sense of camaraderie between those who lived in the ex-British colonies. (Olu paused for a second observing the effect his Marxist joke has had on his colleagues) Nigeria today really is a peculiar eclectic mix of reality and it’s perception that takes root and becomes just as real. As I am sure can be said about India or even this merry ex-colony where all three of us happen to end up. But it would not perhaps be prudent to suppose that the same process did not take place in the context of the orient. In fact, Eddy pondered the very subject in the beginning of the lecture that you had to miss.

The older man looked at his companions and a broad smile spread across his face.

-My dear friends, have I forgotten to mention that I grew up in Egypt? We are all three of us products of British colonialism. My lecture was not however centered as much around the impact of the west, as it was a discourse on the constructs that originated in the west and continue to propagate here. We have to acknowledge the problem with the source, before we can attempt to counter the effects it has on our respective cultures. Now, I have always wanted to try sushi, will you care to join me in this little exotic experiment?

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