I have been busy yet again, but this time it is harder to say doing what exactly. As I think I said in my last post, things have become everyday here. This is nice, but it doesn’t make for interesting reading via this infernal blog. The last week or so was spent writing my 6 months report, on card gambling if you must know. 6 months, I think after the 4th time just picked up to gale force conditions. I still sleep a night or two a week in the settlement, I still go to pokies when I can, I still find it difficult to find time to go to the market. One thing happened last week though, I was finally given a house to rent in the National Sports Institute. After being in a dorm room the size of a british bathroom 50 metres from a kitchen which it is unsafe to leave your kitchen things in, and 100 metres away from a not so inviting toilet and shower (just enough to consider investing in some empty plastic bottles for nighttimes), I now have a 3 bedroom house with hot water and a fridge the same size as my previous room. The first thing I did when I got it was to go to the second-hand and buy a strong blanket I fashioned into a hammock. I now relax and smoke on that any chance I get, ignoring the fact it is now a haven for mosquitos that get up seemingly only to invite me in to their domain and then get comfortable for a good meal. It is very luxurious for me now, and I can have people over and make them feel at ease in a way I couldn’t before.
I have changed my mind about when I will return, which will be in June next year, hopefully in time for my birthday. This means I will be able to sit on a panel at the ESFO conference in St Andrews in early July, and leaves me three months of fieldwork funding remaining to go back when the inevitable questions arise out of the writing process some months later. This means that I have only 9 months more here, and I feel the time pressure. My fieldwork being in a sense multi-sited, with different gambling locales partially disconnected, it makes me feel pushed to go here and there and less so to other places previously looked at, while the relationships I have made and the investigations I have partially completed in those places pull me back to them.
My report though, it is 12,000 words long and has some interesting things in it about card gambling, at least I think so. Especially there is the matter of the history/genealogies of the games, which is fascinating, for reasons I would rather reveal in more formal writing/speech. When I write these I get very excited about my work, which I hope will be interesting for others too. The main question in my mind now is what is luck, or ‘laki’, but this is very hard for people to explain.
What news, what news… Oh yes, Fiona and Simon have come! To those who don’t know who they are, they are PNG national classmates of mine at St Andrews, and Fiona has come back to do her research on gender violence in the capital. Simon has staggering offers which are up in the air so I can’t say what he is doing. I would like to go and see them sometime, but I don’t know when that is possible. That reminds me though, I would love to know how my fellow classmates are getting on in their respective fieldsites, and who of my seniors has finished their theses and moved on, any news? Ha, the tables have turned now, so little news I have that my news section becomes a reciprocal begging enterprise, but I have so little to give I guess I cant expect much!
I do have some trouble in the settlement with people expecting payment for services rendered, which of course I do not mind, but when it is not up front and it becomes a mud-slinging contest bypassing me then I get annoyed. Basically a man who I thought was a really good guy may not be, he may be more a ‘man blo tainim tok’, as we say here. This concerns me because it may be damaging to some friends of mine, and me. I am now intent on spending more time with other members of the community and if that does not work then to lose the settlement altogether, there is enough work to get on with elsewhere.
Anyway, that is all for now, spout generalities at you next month…