The 18th, Monday here, I…

The 18th, Monday here, I woke up feeling better, just a little achey. Excited and pleased, I took the malaria pill that I had forgotten to take the night before and then headed downstairs. Went out and walked a few blocks in the already heat of mid-morning to buy a cell phone card, succeeded. I wasn't really hungry yet, so I decided to stop before breakfast and check e-mail. This proved to be a mistake. About ten minutes into my e-mail, I felt really flushed, sweating, ill. I logged out and made it up two flights to my room barely in time to vomit in the bathroom, rather than in their lovely hallway. Not sure if it actually was the illness at fault -- you're supposed to always take the malaria pills with food, and I had forgotten, so it may well just have been that.

Was feeling pretty shaky after that, so instead of trying to face the buffet breakfast downstairs, I ordered toast and tea in my room ($2.20). Nibbled very slowly at the first two slices of dry toast. By the time I got to the third, an hour or so later, I was feeling confident enough that I would keep it down that I actually dared to add some butter. All seemed well. Rested for a few hours, reading mostly. I then indulged myself with a long, half-hour ($10) phone conversation with Kevin. Oh, that was lovely. We talked about where we might put stuff in the new house; we've now decided that the tv won't be downstairs, but will be hidden upstairs in the little guest room. That will hopefully mean we'll watch a bit less tv than we have been. I love tv, but in the last year, I think I should've read more books. I like books too, I do. TV is just so easy...

Around 11:30, Suchetha called, and invited me out for coffee. I hesitated briefly, but I felt reasonably okay, so said yes. Turned out that half a block away from the hotel, there's Barista, a very Starbucks-like air-conditioned caf. Lots of foofy coffee drinks, and even the art on the walls looks like Starbucks style.

We chatted for two hours or so, and he helped me get a slightly better grasp of recent Sri Lankan politics. Though I suspect I'll need more refreshers -- I have a terrible time trying to keep historical-type stuff in my head. Dunno why. Then I mentioned that I wanted to buy some books by Sri Lankan authors, so Suchetha led me a few blocks down Galle Road to a small mall, which had a bookstore with an entire Asian authors section (mostly Sri Lankan authors). A treasure trove, exciting. I picked up a bunch of Carl Muller, plus a few other authors I hadn't read before. Will let you know what I think.

Afterwards, Suchetha said that I really had to see the video store downstairs. I obediently followed him, to find a well-lit store just packed with bootleg DVDs and CDs (not illegal here). Not that I could tell they were bootleg -- they all appeared to be in their original packaging. The only difference was that a few were marked with a special sticker -- those were non-bootlegs, and far more expensive. For example, a non-bootleg version of The Incredibles was 1800 rupees, while the bootleg version was 220 rupees. I suspect Jed and other proponents of strong copyright disapprove of bootlegs, but for relatively poor countries, I can't say I blame them.

The exchange rate is 100 to 1 (so that bootleg would have cost me roughly $2 US); it's not actually that bad in terms of buying power for locals. It's more like 8 to 1. A local bus ride costs 5 rupees; a tuk-tuk to cover the same distance would be more like 75 rupees; an air-conditioned taxi might be 150 rupees. So if I translate, the bootleg DVD is costing locals their equivalent of 15-20 dollars, which seems a reasonable price, whereas the non-bootleg (same video quality) would cost 125-150 dollars. I can't imagine who actually chooses to buy the non-bootleg in those circumstances. The problem for the content creators, of course, is that they get no revenue off the bootleg versions. As an author, I'd rather these people had the ability to actually read my books, even if someone's manufacturing a bootleg version that I get no royalties from. Of course, plenty of other authors and other content creators would disagree. YMMV. I would've been tempted to buy up masses of DVDs to bring home, but I don't know if US Customs would have let them through. Ah well.

Afterwards, Suchetha walked me back, and we sat on the verandah for a bit more, but I was fading fast. I'd been out for three hours, which was about my limit. So we said goodbye, and I promised to take him up on his offer of free internet sometime real soon, and I headed up to my room, where I spend the rest of the day in bed. I did do a fair bit of photo-editing work, as well as reading most of the rest of that fantasy novel. I was tired, but only a little achey, so I risked a tasty room service dinner (rather than plain rice or toast) -- nasi goreng, an Indonesian fried rice, served with a sunny-side-up egg on top, plus a mango milkshake. Yum. Early to bed, and a sound sleep.

1 thought on “The 18th, Monday here, I…”

  1. Just to clarify a bit about the DVD situation in Sri Lanka.

    Bootlegs are illegal here, although until recently everyone turned a blind eye to them. But due to Sri Lanka’s IP laws being brought in line with the US (don’t ask.. that’s a whole new rant) the cops have started clamping down on the sellers of botleg software pretty hard.

    in a realistic sense, the cops are only putting the pressure on until all the hue and cry stops.. then they’ll start sending their bagmen to the shops asking for.. contributions shall we say?

    (yes corruption is that bad here)

    the “original” dvd sellers are screaming that they are losing billions of rupees due to bootlegging. but they are basing the numbers on the fallacy that everyone who buys a bootleg at rs250 would have bought the DVD at rs2500.. calculating the REAL loss is left as an exercise to the reader.

    of course if the manufacturers were to sell a low cost edition here in sri lanka (at rs500, say) they would make a LOT of the money that they are NOT getting now.

    anyway. it was good to actually meet mary (especially after being pretty much in awe of her for so long) and i was a bit worried that we overdid the walking bit.

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