HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.







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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Large cats

Sometimes my absolute stupidity surprises even me, and I'm used to it.

My plans at the moment largely revolve around: finishing my book, quickly, and going travelling. This now encorporates a volunteer scheme of some kind, because I have selfishly decided that I need to balance out my karma after TBJITW me-me-me-ness by caring about other people for a change. At the moment this is probably one of the most me-orientated things I have ever done: it's primarily about making me feel like a good person, if I scratch the surface. However, I'm pretty sure that when I get out there and am actually confronted with people I have to care about, I will be able to see past myself for a little bit and actually throw myself into doing something for the genuine benefit of somebody else.

Where I go, however, is the problem. I know diddly squat about geography, and realised last night that the three places I have thus far pin-pointed (Peru, Nepal, Sri Lanka) have all been pin-pointed because I know somebody who has lived there. Sri Lanka is currently looking like the best bet, simply because it looks like it actually does help people (orphans from the tsunami), and because it's on a beach. I haven't lived on a beach before: I'm quite keen to try it.

Anyway, I decided to email IBB, who - by complete coincidence - has just finished a teaching post in Sri Lanka.

Is it good? I messaged him yesterday.
Amazing, he messaged back. Really amazing. So rewarding and beautiful.
Okay for a girl on her own? I asked.
Yeah, fine. You'll get stared at coz you're white and pretty but just ignore it. Oh, and watch out for the Tigers.
This, I thought, was the second time somebody had talked about tigers when I mentioned Sri Lanka. Dad had said something about tigers too.
Oh come on, I emailed (after writing the obligatory: 'I'm pretty? Aw shucks.'). How vicious can they be? I'll carry a ball of twine around with me, and just hope that I only get approached by the little fluffy ones.
There was a bit of a delay in between that email and the reply. I presume he lost his internet connection. Technology in Sydney is always a bit touch and go.
Hahaha, he emailed back eventually. You always make me laugh. There was a pause, while I worried about IBB's sense of humour, not for the first time. I think he mainly laughs because I'm posh and British, actually, and he thinks I'm like Gwynyth Paltrow in all the films where she's playing a posh British person. Then I get another one: You know that Tigers are the rebels who are fighting out there, right? Guns, murder, etc. Not ones with paws.
I stared hard at the screen. No, I thought. I did not know that. I thought I was being warned away from particularly large cats.
Ahaha! I sent back. Of course! What do you take me for?
And then I came off messenger and spent the rest of the morning on Wikipedia.

Maybe I'm being naive, but I still think I should go. IBB managed it, I can manage it too. They wouldn't let volunteers go out there if there was a genuine risk to their safety, would they? Anyway: frankly, the fact that I clearly know so little about the world just proves to me that I need to get out there, come what may. I need to experience, and stop asking restaurants to 'cook my fish all the way through. All the way through, please'. I need to open my mind.

After all, there are no tigers - or Tigers - out there that are as scary as utter ignorance.