Random thoughts, then. I am stuck reading The English Patient. I hate this book. It is well-written for sure, but I find the writing to be so poetic that the story and the characters don't ring true, as if the characters are moving in a hazy shroud of hyper reality, or fantasy, and it's more style over substance than anything. While I find the Sikh character quite interesting, I am now at the part about the English patient's affair with a married woman - and this is the thing that annoys me most about this book, and books that deal with this particular subject matter. I cannot stand how the novel glorifies cheating and extra-marital affairs. I find it incredible - as in not credible - that the affair in the book is glorified as an all-consuming passion, as True Love. It seems to me rather infantile and silly. While I understand and can empathise with the kind of love that burns and consumes, I hate how this characterisation of love has become the extra-marital affair cliche. It's stupid, and I don't want to read a book about two irresponsible adults, a book that glorifies their irresponsibility. Of course, I have not reached the end; it is a struggle to read a few pages every night, and I've been struggling with this book for months. It may well be that the writer eventually denounces these two idiots. Still, I could not help but cringe and roll my eyes when I read that the English patient tasted the menstrual blood of his lover. SERIOUSLY? It's such rubbish that evidence the glorification of such affairs by such books, and it really pisses me off.
I feel as if there is something missing because I am not reading enough. I need to finish this freaking book and move on with my life.
I am still waiting to hear back about the bloody scholarship and still waiting to know when my viva date is. It is as if I am in limbo right now. It is really frustrating, and it gets me down sometimes. At this point, I am giving up on the scholarship and I am taking it to mean that I didn't get it. Oh well.
On a brighter note, I made some red wine tomato pasta the past two days (with different combination of ingredients). I bought a bottle of wine from Sainsbury's and it's lousy, so I decided to use it in pasta. It is quite nice, and so I will try again for lunch tomorrow. Cooking can be quite fun.
The weather was really sunny and warm yesterday. I played tennis with Martin and some of his friends at Jesus Green, from 2.30 to about 4.10. I was under the sun for at least an hour with no proper sunblock, and today Catherine commented that I'm very tanned. It's nice to be tanned, but I don't want to get too tanned. I must say, though, that I felt quite good walking through town today in my new white denim shorts and tank top, flaunting the tan that the Europeans around me so desperately want. HA!
Anyway, tennis was great. I really love playing with Martin because he's so good. There were about 5 or 6 people when I arrived and they did a round robin thing: singles, first to three points, winner stays on the court. There was this American with a double-handed forehand; I lost to him twice. I beat his wife, who was a complete beginner, and I went on to beat four others in a row, including Martin, if memory serves. I also beat his friend whom I see around quite often, Kennedy. In fact, I'd seen them play a few times before I got to know them, and they commanded attention because their high level of tennis stood out like a rose amidst the thorns of the crappy players that usually knock a ball about on those courts. I used Martin's racquet, a Wilson something. I really liked it, oversized grip and all. It had incredible control. Most of my shots went where they were supposed to go. I may look into getting it at some point in my amateur tennis "career".
It was really fun beating those men, even if two of them didn't have proper strokes. But I did get quite tired after that, and then lost to the American with the double-handed forehand. When it was just five of us left, we played half-court singles. Martin gave me a really good work out again, and that combined with the heat made me really happy.
I went to Evensong later with Dominic and Josh because Rowan Williams, the Master of the college, was preaching. But I was so tired from and distracted by tennis that I didn't really listen to what he said. I was thinking about tennis the whole time - how it felt, visualising the forehand take back, the backhand, how it feels to hit the ball at exactly the right time, exactly the right spot, feeling the impact, seeing the ball go where I want it to go. I love tennis.
We then had dinner at Cocum; Sean came along too. I enjoyed having him in my corner against those two Catholics! He talked about meditation (he's Buddhist) when Josh asked about it, and it sounded really intriguing. He said that meditating helps you to harness the ability to feel the calmness and sense of awe that arrests you when you're staring at a sight of pure beauty; for instance, when I was lying on my back in the Adriatic, looking out to the endless horizon, surrounded by mountains, or when I was standing on a sandy beach in the Gili Islands, looking out to an unobstructed sea. Meditation allows you to feel this awe on command, almost, and you don't have to wait for the right place, the right time, the right moment.
I think one could make the argument that there is an urgent need for me to cultivate some calmness of being. Maybe I will try this. We will see.