Dated on August 17th, 2005, from Kashiwa

/ A Bat /

       The blazing heat of summer is as severe in Japan as in Cambodia and it is hard on our body. I wished I were in Cambodia because at least I could enjoy the cool air every day after the heavy squall. I couldn't touch even a drop of rain in Japan. One morning, I found a 'bat' as tiny as a beetle clinging on the wall of our house. It is a rare occasion to see a bat in Kashiwa city. I wondered if the unbearable heat caused the bat to come back to the wrong home. Where on earth do bats make their homes in a place like our city?
       Man-made roosts can sometimes be seen on the tops of coconut trees in Cambodia. They look like pigeon's cage but they are actually for the bats. They are set up so that humans can gather their droppings. I hear it makes very good fertilizer.
       Of course, bats themselves are eaten. A rice porridge with a whole bat, with its bones minced, is a treasured food for Cambodians. The bats I saw in the food market were rather big and each of them was bound within their wings like bagworms. It's not only bat but also live beetles(you can hear their squeaky noises throughout the markets) and their larvae which are eaten for their rich protein source. It seems that they use everything as food. But I think it's not because they went through the Pol Pot period when food was scarce but because they have for a long time lived by making use of everything found in nature.

/ Power Down /

       The dry season had gone and the rainy season has come. We were happy with the idea of having cool air. But something else made us suffer. Our office didn't get any electricity service. When we had our electricity cut last time, it was because we defaulted on the bill. We first didn't realize that and found out after checking with the power company. Within a month after the due date, power had totally been cut off. It seemed that they wanted to charge us for reconnecting the electricity. But this time, the situation was different. The power plants were suffering from soaring oil prices. PCs are a must for our jobs. Perhaps we need an electric generator. But then it needs oil to operate. What should we do?

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