It’s raining, so I get to add to my holiday verses. Part of the second stanza paraphrases a quote recalled from Michelle De Kretser’s The Hamilton Case:
The coloniser returns as a tourist, you see. And he is mad for difference. That is the luxury commodity we now supply, as we once kept him in cinnamon and sapphires.
The first stanza is the only example I witnessed of a tourist behaving really badly. Here goes:
A fortnight away (part three)
‘I’m not paying,’ he said, ‘for my beef
rendang. It came lukewarm. I took it out
and asked the cook to heat it up. Good grief!
“Cook it yourself,” he said. I didn’t shout,
but I was firm: “No, you. I’m not the chef!”
I think he might have pissed in it, the lout.
I didn’t eat it. He was rude to me.
So I won’t pay.’ Three-fifty AUD.
As colonisers first we came for spice
and now we’re back as tourists keen to see
your difference commodified. So nice
the offerings, incense, ‘selamat pagi‘,
the off-leash dogs, the terraced fields of rice
(your photogenic toil), your artistry
in wood and stone and ink and cloth and food.
We bring our cash. Forgive us when we’re rude.
Aah! The ugly tourist! They exist in every culture! But the more terrible when reflecting our own – of course!
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