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Suzie Eisfelder
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An old column where I type out a paragraph from a book and examine it in any way I choose. Today I’m looking at a paragraph from Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell.

Taking our, by now almost lethal, Jak fruit, we drove back to the hotel. They were not overjoyed to see us since they had only just succeeded in getting the smell of the Jak fruit out the bedrooms. The following day, having replaced our now rotting fruit with fresh, we reported once more to the airport. For some strange reason, we had to be weighed in again, as did the money. They found we were overweight. It was at this point that I began to have serious doubts about the mathematical abilities of the Mauritians but, as anyone knows who has tried it, it is useless arguing with an airport official. We sat down, having discarded virtually everything but the clothes we stood up in and our nets, and ate some more of our precious fruit. The fact that we were now carrying the extra weight within us, rather than in hands of bananas, did not appear to perturb the airport officials at all. The temptation to discard the Jak fruit was immense but even I realized its pungency might prove useful in luring the bats into our tents, provided it did not asphyxiate us or them first. We had just consumed another glut of bananas when they told us the flight was cancelled again.

I loved this book. In fact I loved every book in this series. Durrell’s writing is nothing like his brother’s writing. Lawrence Durrell writes slow, ponderous passages. Gerald Durrell writes easy, readable passages. The things their writing has in common is that there is so much information in everything they write. Take this paragraph for instance. We’ve got information about Jak fruit, airport officials and Durrell’s patience. Not forgetting that they’re in Mauritius and they’re taking the fruit to the bats. If you want to trust me and buy it through Amazon here is a link. Or through Booktopia if you prefer to buy in Australia.

I love this paragraph, there is so much hilarity and this specific paragraph seems to highlight a lot of what Durrell has written about in his many books.

I know that what Durrell has done divides people. Some people feel he shouldn’t have collected animals and put them in zoos, others totally admire his dedication with conservation. It’s because of Durrell’s work and the work of his staff that so many species are not extinct. He insisted on having quality food for the animals in his zoo rather than receiving leftovers. Durrell is the person who pointed out that most animals in the wild eat the freshest food and therefore shouldn’t be given food that was about to be thrown in the rubbish. And it was him and his staff who started taking incredibly detailed notes about the animals in their care. This ensured the animals had better quality care and better quality lives.

The first sentence gives some idea of the overpowering smell of Jak fruit. There are two foods I know of that have overpowering smells, Jak fruit and asafoetida. I don’t like either of them, although I’ve been told how to use asafoetida to minimise the smell and maximise the flavour.

Reading this paragraph makes me want to argue with an airport official. It’s a good thing I have a friend who happens to be an airport official, I can just point her to this article and she’ll understand why I’m arguing with her. Normally, I try to make them all laugh. I’m generally very good with security in the US but there was one lady I made laugh.

Every book written by Gerald Durrell is worth reading. This one is no different. Here is a link should you wish to find out why.

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