Listening for the Alien Heartbeat

(Madagascar, 4 Jun 2012)

One of the sobering sights of Tamatave is the cadre of  ex-middle-aged Frenchmen enjoying startlingly poor judgment in their particular choices of young Malagasy women.

Some are permanently stranded here (this used to be a French colony), some just felt insufficiently loved at home. But overall these were not gents whose judgement I admired.

But as I have discovered, some people will always make unlikely choices. Passing an island in the south of the Philippines (years ago on a windsurfing trip, clothes strapped to the base of the mast, money in a plastic bag) I encountered an older German with what appeared to be three, very decent, young Filipina wives. He was making a living as the only boat engine repairman for some nautical distance. But, despite these blessed circumstances – three wives, and a monopoly, in a paradise – he was clearly looking much the worse for wear. He had given himself to drink.

Now why one would give oneself to drink with three wives to manage, I did not (at the time) understand.

It may be that the further you go to look for happiness, the further you distance yourself from it.  Here, also in Tamatave, is a couple that don’t have much, but even so seem to be very happy with the way things are.

Tamatave - two nice people

And here a nice gent, not far from his home, and with even less, who still seemed to find life quietly amusing.

Tamatave - smiling man with headband

6 Responses to “Poor Life Choices”

  1. disperser

    Don’t know what to make of this post . . . I’ve read it three times, and am still not sure exactly what I’m reading. If anything, it raises more questions than the information it presents.

    I get the 3 wives bit, but the rest . . .

    I’ll just wait for the next post.

    • alienheartbeat

      Yes, I agree – it is rambling. I had originally removed it from the menus and pages, but as it seems to have been recently found – I guess through the new “Related” feature – I guess I have to restore it.

      And it does raise questions that it does not answer, but as my views tend to the eccentric, any opinion I expressed would likely get me attacked from all four sides. No need to create controversy that benefits no one and resolves nothing.

      The reason I kept the post and did not kill it off is just that I liked the people in the pictures.

  2. Anonymous

    “They seemed to find everything funny, which made me wonder why I didn’t.” Yes, I saw this in Jamaica too. Some of the poorest people without the least chance at having a decent life and still, happy. I think for many of them, an unshakable belief in a god I couldn’t believe in, is what kept them happy and sane.

    • alienheartbeat

      Well, I think what makes poor people happy is the same as makes anybody happy – living within your expectations, connections with friends, love of family. But I am sure they also have many moments when they don’t smile – they just don’t feel the need to infect strangers with it.

    • alienheartbeat

      yes, poor sod. I think theoperative here was “why one would give oneself to drink with three wives to manage, I did not (at the time) understand”. Age, even if it does not bring wisdom, at least brings caution.


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