Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 115

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Thursday & Friday, October 1 & 2 2009 (diary)

E M Forster Nature has struck again ! Earthquakes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean have generated a tsunami which devastated the islands of Samoa and Tonga, with hundreds dead. Within a day a powerful earthquake from the fault line running along the West coast of Sumatra, has largely destroyed the city of Padang, with 1,100 dead counted so far.
In these acute cases of misery the Developed world has been quick to come to the rescue. Food, clothing, medical supplies and aid personnel have been flown in from the US, EU, Australia and New Zealand.

So in situations like these the Developed world is showing a humane side. But it is on the larger and long term issues like trade liberalisation, poverty, education, diseases etc. (where meaningful action may adversely affect the purse or the lifestyle of the people in the Western world), where progress is as yet very slow and largely inadequate. And don't blame the various Governments for this, because these only act according to the mood and desires of you and me, the people themselves.

An insightful and in my opinion profound statement by E M Forster in his novel Howards End I just read today comes to mind :

Money is the fruit of self denial

Meaning : making money comes at a considerable cost to ourselves. The time we spend on making and thinking about money (through work or whatever) is time lost to the things we would rather do. Time lost on self expression, on development to become a better individual.
In this modern world we all need money to survive, to live, to fulfill our commitments to others (our family), so there must be a certain balance between what we have to do (work) and what we want to do (becoming more ourselves), but in the present over materialistic world this balance is way out off wack, to the detriment of self expression and self development and humanity as a whole. Only when we move away from materialism towards a more balanced approach in our lives will this world become a better place for all its inhabitants.

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Saturday, October 3 2009 (diary)

Leiden, The Netherlands Yes, it is 3 October again. Every year this comes around my mind travels back to my old University city Leiden. The whole city is celebrating its liberation from the Spanish siege way back in 1574. For the full story see my entry from last year.
And again something from E M Forster's novel Howards End comes to mind. One of the characters in the book (Helen) wonders which she loves more : people or places. People come and go, but places are there forever. In the end she decides on places.

I believe Forster brings up an interesting point here. I too love places, but it is more complex. Today my heart goes back to Leiden (one of the places on earth I dearly love) : the city as a whole, Societeit Minerva (the student corps club premises), Hogewoerd 30 (my home for most of the 8 years I studied there), the Geology Department.
But mixed with that are the memories of my friends, my fellow students, my Profs. etc. The two, places and people are united together into one endearing tapestry of memories which has been and always will remain a part of who I am on this earth. The places remain, and although the people are gone, the imprints of their former presence too live on forever.

And as we get older, for each of us the number of places we love together with their associated people increases, making us emotionally richer in the process. A wonderful aspect of life.   One of the spin offs (I believe) of moving about a lot through one's life is the large number of places one gets to love and feel close to on earth.

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Sunday & Monday, October 4 & 5 2009 (diary)

Mango season Prompted by a question from Mairead (who herself has a mango farm) I have counted the mango trees on our property. There are just over 80 trees. An additional 50 or 60 trees were cut down to make room for the house, pool, two huge sheds plus an ablution block and my cabin. This all is only one half of the original farm, the other half belonging to the next door neighbour. There are more trees on that property than on ours, so the entire original farm would have consisted of close to 300 trees I think.
The trees on our half are irrigated with a sprinkler system (one sprinkler for each tree) which operates three times a day for a full hour each time. The trees look very healthy and strong with lots of fruit, compared to the very tired looking (not irrigated) ones of our neighbour.

The mangos are almost ripe and attract a huge bird life, hundreds of mango geese, honey eaters, galas. The mango geese stay on the ground picking up scraps. (When I do my daily walk in the morning the sandy path is covered with a dense intricate pattern of symmetric foot prints from the three toed mango geese.)
The smaller birds fly around everywhere excitedly, but they too only pick on fruit lying on the ground. Only the flying foxes get onto fruit in the top of trees at night. Gordon is fighting a losing battle against them, chasing them with a torch at night, and picking fruits from the tree tops in daytime with a long poled mango picker.

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