Quarantined - Part 9

As one of the travellers from Peru quarantined in a Sydney hotel since March 31 – and due to emerge into the ‘real world’ this coming Monday, I’m pleased to know that, as I write, another party of 280 Australians is on its way back home from Peru on a Qantas flight to Melbourne.

It’s taking a while, but at last the government is involved in flights being organised from several places, some as distant as Nepal, with fares reduced and loans available for those who can’t afford the fares up front.

It’s so easy in life to grumble – and so difficult at times to see the value of life in micro.

But what a wonderful discovery I’ve made here in my hotel room, to find a true soul mate! Perhaps even a great love, even though he’s quite old and dessicated. I can handle that.

In any case, aware as you must be by now of my proclivity for French culture, imagine my curiosity when a friend living in Seattle*, who read my blog recently, suggested I check out, Voyage Around My Room, written by Count Xavier de Maistre.

Sure, I’ve heard about this book, somewhere in my dark past … but to rediscover it in this setting – confined as I am to a room with a bed, a sofa and a table (plus a bathroom and kitchenette, I admit, though they’re not relevant to this matter of coincidence) – has created un resonance exquisite. Seriously. Please stay with me on a journey around my room …

I found the book on Google and was able to open it in part, to quickly develop a taste for the author’s arch yet confident style and purely optimistic tone.

Former editor of The Paris Review, Richard Howard explains in the Introduction that in 1790, de Maistre, a 27-year-old Savoyard officer stationed in Turin, was punished for fighting a duel and put under house arrest for 42 days, during which time he wrote a text ‘to beguile the languors of his solitude’.

Now I ask you, isn’t that what I’ve been trying to do, ‘beguile the languors of my solitude’? And mostly achieving it with the help of meditation, a few exercises, and my impulse to share the experience with you, dear readers. Although I do confess I stayed in bed longer than usual this morning simply because I’d woken at 3 am. That jetlag is a surprise package, isn’t it?

Howard goes on to write that four years after writing Voyage autour de ma chambre, de Maistre left the manuscript in Lausanne with his older brother Joseph, who published it the following year without his brother’s knowledge.