“for you, a thousand times over”

We went to see The Kite Runner last evening. I really enjoyed it, and Andrew and I both marvelled at how they managed to bring action and suspense to… kite flying. Evocative and symbolic as that was, though, it wasn’t, of course, the point of the film. (For Kelly, there are parts of classic Westerns dubbed into Farsi.) 🙂

For all my prodigious memory for useless information, for media I suck. I can read a book, see a film, and absolutely love it… and then forget it. The only thing I’m worse about is remembering people I’ve met and details of our interactions. The Kite Runner goes into that category. I recalled the basics of the book, but had forgotten a lot of the details. Fortunately, as usually happens, when I the movie unfolded, I started remembering things.

One thing the film left me pondering, based on the gorgeous geographical footage, was why people settle, and, most importantly, stay in the places they do. Especially those who choose to eke out an existence in places where Mother Nature, at the very least, really doesn’t seem to want them. (And it always seems that when there’s a place where Mother Nature is particularly harsh, people seem to follow in her footsteps.)

Even though the movie was filmed in China (near the Afghan border), I imagine the geography was reasonably accurate. Aside from the sweeping mountain vistas, it’s a rough place. It looks like it’s the place where the edge of the world is crumbling away. Perhaps that’s why the kite flying was so striking — those colours, that innocence and dedication against that stark backdrop.

It left me pondering, too, the effects on those who stay in these places (with their turbulent histories), and those who leave (or escape — not quite the same thing). That relates, too, to a conversation from the other day with Andrew and Paula (his housemate), where the topic of friends of hers whose families had been refugees came up. Vietnamese families sent to Nippissing, Columbian families sent to Austria. And in my own social sphere, Romanian families leaving for Israel, or Laotian families coming to Cambridge.

Having always been relatively settled and certainly well taken care of (and, let’s face it, being white and middle class), I haven’t the foggiest about these people’s lives. And I haven’t travelled enough yet to the right kinds of places to have gotten a decent idea. Honestly? I don’t know how much I’d want to.

It’s part of why I find it fascinating and mind-boggling and offensive when racist and xenophobic people go on about “lazy” immigrants (in many cases, like with refugees, for some time you’re not allowed to work). Or about how they’re “taking our jobs”. Right. Go watch something like Dirty Jobs. Like any nice, white folks aspire to being cab drivers or night janitors or nannies to children whose clothes and meals they could never afford to feed their own children.

Makes me think that they should reinstitute the Grand Tour, but not just for the privileged few — everyone who reaches 18 should be sent on a trip around the world. This Tour, though, wouldn’t be just to lovely, cultured places to study art and drink themselves stupid and contract syphilis. This Tour would make stops in Soweto, Calcutta, Bogota, the West Bank… and hey, for local flavour we’ll throw in remote native settlements, and the types of neighbourhoods in Toronto and Vancouver that Michael Moore likes to pretend don’t exist.

Of course, my evening of thoughtful pondering would have ended much better if I could have taken these mental wanderings to bed with me, but Anatole didn’t seem to think that was acceptable, hence his inside/outside cat scrap shortly after midnight, resulting waking me up rather unceremoniously, the strewing of yet more of my belongings, and the destruction of a plant that had already survived one cat “incident”. Bah.

One Reply to ““for you, a thousand times over”

  1. Just wanted to commend you on a note well written and I completely agree with you that everyone, especially people living the privileged life, should undergo the grand tour of some of the cities you mention. We have so much to learn about the world outside of America.

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