Sunday, May 27, 2007

The World is Not Flat

On eight nails sticking out of the earth, just high enough to defeat the Pacific, lives an entirely different world, or perhaps two worlds. As a kid I remember wondering if, when Sri Lankans drew a map of their country, they drew India in a corner, really small, like the way our maps showed Sri Lanka. Obviously I wasn't paying a lot of attention when the teacher discussed geographic scaling. In Hawaii I corrected a different, in some ways an opposite, error.

Eight hours by flight from both the US mainland and Japan, it is hard to know where to fit Hawaii. McDonald's and calligraphy shops face each other, and Macy's and sushi, and beautiful banyan trees that reminded me of India, with people sleeping under them through the afternoon. And it is not like Chinatown, where you go down a certain street to find a different world. Here two worlds collide on every street, confidently incongruent.

I was initially stupid enough to be surprised that one of the western-most corners of the US should be its most east-like. But it was good to be reminded that east is east and west is west only because that is how we print our maps. If we published our maps with the eight small islands in the center, and the world flowing both ways from there, breaking off perhaps somewhere in the middle of Europe, that map would be just as accurate.

Honolulu:







Kilauea volcano (Big Island):



Kona:



7 comments:

No Desh said...

I've not been there for nearly 20 years, but I did find Hawaii to be a rather unique place. Your statement about it being in the middle of a map - a paradox of sorts - is very poignant, actually. Glad to see that you're back, as are we.

musical said...

So good to see you back :).

and as you are saying this, i am in a part of this world that i call home.....i am reading another parallel perspective in your post.....and i completely agree, our concepts of directions and places are very one dimensional/static.....i loved the thoughts "East is East and West is West only because this is how we print our maps".

and lovely pictures :).

Anonymous said...

Amazing post :)
From today onwards, I will always visualize Hawaii as "nails" :)

S

Anonymous said...

hey sakshi,

i'd loved your comments on probability/math/econ type stuff on SM. i wrongly assumed that sakshi was probably a woman's name (although of course it doesn't have to be), and was giving you extra props about being into math and flaunting it. today i just followed the link to your blog and was surprised by your interest in poetry.
more power to you. i'm going to browse for more urdu/hindi titles - this might be a good place to start.
cheers,
p. manteau

sbkt said...

Hi p. manteau,

Thanks a lot for the props.
I occasionally fear I overdo the nerdiness at SM, but I am kind of tired of the apologetic attitude many nerds seem to have.

Also sakshi is not my real name. Its more of a nom de plume ;). I picked it on impulse, and regret it occasionally, but its too late to change.

cheers! :)

musical said...

"I am kind of tired of the apologetic attitude many nerds seem to have."

Why do nerds have to be apologetic, and what for? factoids are always welcome :-D.

have a great time.
musical.

bee said...

what gorgeous pix.