Friday, April 6, 2007

Pakistani goatskins and a long-haired camel

From time to time, I receive a genuine but hilarious e-mail. This morning, a Pakistani guy contacted me, stating: "I have heard from reliable sources that you import musical instruments from my country. Please take a look at my offer of low-priced goatskins to make bongo drums." It's possible that this e-mail owed its origin to my former association (in the '70s) with the concrete-music research group known as the GRM in Paris. Or it could be just run-of-the-mill spam.

Thinking that my son would appreciate this trivial story, I phoned him in Brittany. As often happens, he reacted with a far funnier tale. Recently, he found a message on his mobile phone: "This is the director of the zoo in Paris. Your long-haired camel has escaped, and we've just learned that he's wandering around at a busy traffic intersection on the edge of the city. Would you please contact me urgently to tell me what we should do." The caller left a phone number. Amused and intrigued by this unexpected tale, my son decided to contact the phone number. He was amazed to find himself talking with the zoo director, who informed my son that the incident concerning the escape of the long-haired camel was perfectly true, but that the stray animal had soon been captured, and that all was now well. The director thanked my son for having been sufficiently concerned about the fate of the long-haired camel to phone him up. So, it was not a hoax call. The director had been trying to contact the circus owner who had donated the long-haired camel to the zoo, and he had merely used a wrong number, which happened to be that of my son.

The moral of my post. We should never brush aside messages about Pakistani goatskins and long-haired camels, because there might well be an element of truth in them. Put differently: Life is surely more than a drawn-out April Fool's Day joke. We must persist in believing that there might indeed be more to human existence than spam and hoaxes.

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