The front door opened and three Israeli girls in pastel tank tops came in to use Khao-San Cyber Home's international long-distance service. They took their shoes off and left them by the door, a Thai tradition that most shops on Khao San forgo. Urasa decided to uphold it because she wanted her customers to see a little bit of her culture, her life style, even though it meant that some backpackers in twenty-four-eyelet hiking boots chose to check their E-mail somewhere more lenient. A similar impulse accounts for the Buddhist altar and the King's portrait, though not for the enormous framed Michael Jordan poster beside her desk. "He's mine," Urasa said, tapping the glass above Jordan's eye. "I never heard about him until my sister went to college in Illinois, and she said to me, 'Urasa, you have to see this man. He is a god.'"
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I would add that collective memory often also functions as an escape and an idyll, providing a moral warrant for nostalgia — an extremely problematic emotion ethically, not least because, to reverse Freud’s conclusion about mourning, deference to reality never gains the day. The Cuban-American writer Orlando Ricardo Menes was making a related point when he wrote, “Idyllic memories are a jeweled noose.” He knew what he was talking about: the Cuban exile community in the United States to which Menes belongs provides a textbook case of the way nostalgia and self-absorption (the other cardinal vice of the exiled and the scorned), however understandable a community’s resorting to them may be, also often serve as a prophylactic against common sense, political or otherwise.