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The Argonauts - givemoney
STOLL/Proposal for What is the nature of freedom 2006.
Give money?
As I squat behind a rock with my pants
down, I admire the scenery. The sun pierces
the thin atmosphere, bursting through
brilliant white clouds and shattering into
sparkles on the rocks. Shadows pan across
the ground and up the mountains like disco
lights. It looks as if I've entered a floorshow,
"And here we have the deluxe, super-size
Himalayan Model."
The prevailing winds push streams of rose, orange and yellow sand up and over the
mountains. I wish it were so easy for me. Eight other bicyclists and I are riding on a gravel
road up the world's longest hill. We joined forces in Kathmandu to buy the visas, permits,
truck, driver and guide that the Chinese require for travel down the Friendship Highway in
the "liberated" and "autonomous region" of Tibet.
After my potty break, I coast alongside the New Zealander, Edwin. Although Edwin is
the strongest rider in the group, he always waits for the weakest member; in this case, me, as
I am sick. My intestines feel as if I swallowed a boa constrictor, and my back end makes
noises like a squeeze bottle. During my absence, a Tibetan shepherd has found Edwin.
Nearby, the shepherd's large flock of sheep graze the small plants hiding among the rocks of
the high-altitude desert.
"I'm trying to teach this guy that pens don't grow on trees," Edwin says.
The Tibetan turns to me, holding out his hand, "Hello. Pen?" a variation of the ever-
popular question: "Can you give me some money?"
Somewhere in Africa tourists began giving children pens, which the children were
required to have in order to attend school. This tradition of giving away pens soon spread
through Africa, sailed across the Indian Ocean, sped over the plains of India, through the
jungles of Nepal, up the switchbacks of the Himalayas and swept into Tibet like the People's
Liberation Army of China.

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