Wednesday, October 01, 2008

i have a busy life, but i still occasionally find stuff that i'd like to do, given time, or maybe a weekend. there are things i'd like to know, for example, but don't really have time to find out. now that i feel like i can write, there's a few stories to tell, but i don't even know half of them, not having time to do much but remember them occasionally, or make them up.

but one of the real ones is a great unsolved mystery here in this town, called the pyramid fire; it happened in 1992, apparently, two years before i got here, but they were definitely still talking about it when i got here, as there was a fire on that day also, in august 1994. in 1992 a fire broke out in the pyramid apartment complex and killed six students, most malaysian, not all. it happened in december (the 6th), but the fire was so hot that apparently the fire department was unwilling or unable to go in, and was criticized later, though i was not in their shoes, and couldn't say one way or the other. someone was suspected of setting the fire; they say it was arson, or they have evidence it was, but don't know who did it. rumors point a finger at one person, but rumors are just rumors.

so the other day i was at campus lake, and students were supposed to arrive there for a boat outing onto the lake. it was a hot day; the last of summer hung in the air although it was already september. three students who did take advantage of the trip went out on the lake, came back sweaty but happy, and left; i was alone with the boat rental people who were doing homework. i strolled along the bank of the lake and came to the monument to the students. it hoped that their lives would mean something, and their tragic and pointless deaths would be remembered. a simple monument, it listed their names and ages; from this information i've assumed their nationalities, without even knowing. the odd thing, from the point of view of an internationalist in this small town, was that by the time i got here, two years later, malaysians were virtually gone; had the government pulled them out? was there actually a reaction to the fire? these things tend to get big press in the home countries, where people don't die so pointlessly or where they watch a lot of american movies and assume that the whole country is like the streets of the city as it's shown in some thriller. actually life is often somewhat boring; still as a september breeze on a tepid lake. with some seaweedy kind of slimy thing just under the surface, catching the sun, murking up the water, and making it possible for fish to hide until a better day.

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