22 August 2007
That's me, the national dancing tree
[8/17/07 UNIV. OF ANTANANARIVO -- Dear John, At the petanque match, I sat on the concrete stadium stairs next to the mascot for the Island Games, Ravi. That’s short for Ravenala, the name of a famous Malagasy palm with leaves that fan out on a single plane.
This mascot’s real name is Manitra. (He is one of 10). He’s 23 year old, and he says being the mascot is a good job. He dances for crowds and takes photos with tourists, mostly. He likes dancing, but the costume is restrictive, he said. You can see scratch marks on the shoulders of his red vest from the head bouncing back and forth while he dances. And the suit is hot. But whatever, he said, he gets to be on TV (although his friends make fun of him and you can’t really tell who he is). So here’s to dancing that’s uninhibited by television cameras or restrictive tree-character costumes. Love, John]