Monday, December 31, 2007

43TK = S$1

Or This morning I made myself two half-boiled eggs and the taste was closest I got to home since I got here. Not even my Ramen noodles invoked the same sensation. I suppose there's something about black sauce, a mountain of pepper and eggy goo that strikes deep.

This morning I paid my rickshaw wallah 15 takas to cycle me from my house to my office. I would say that would be a locally-acceptable rate, although some may argue 12 would have sufficed. I generally judge how acceptable the payment is based on my rickshaw wallah's face after I've handed it to him.

The locals haggle and deal before getting on the rickshaw. I don't bother because I never win and it takes too much out of me. So I just pay what I gauge would be a price that would make them happy enough not to ask for more.

Sometimes I gauge wrongly and they look at me slightly sorrowfully with their palms outstretched, refusing to pocket my money. I ask them, not enough? And I give more. Sometimes they ask for a lot more, by which I mean asking for 25 taka for something that is usually 15. Sometimes they yell at me even though I've given a reasonable amount, which usually pisses me off and makes me not want to give them more.

I've seen some wallahs get beaten on the back and the legs by policemen wielding unprofessional wooden sticks, trying to herd them back behind an imaginary line. I've seen wallahs get their rickshaws thrown up and over because they crossed imaginary lines. I've seen too many of them getting yelled at by their passengers (then again, it could've been conversation since I don't understand the words exchanged). I've heard of cases of people running off without paying. I have also heard many singing as they cycled, chatting to each other and exchanging friendly taunts and dishing out helpful advice (you go first, quick quick, ok move in front of me here). Some make snarky comments about passing vehicles. Others try to tell me jokes I can't understand. I've had one hold my ankle the entire ride begging me to give him money for his family. Some chat and complain to me when we are stuck in a jam and we heckle at the big cars together. Some question my rickshaw wallah about where he picked me up from. Others don't say a word.

And so this morning I paid my rickshaw wallah 15 takas. What does this mean?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sacrifice

Eid

Won't be having much time to blog these days. Happy New Year in advance, everyone.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Victory Day

Will probably be MIA as everything shuts down during the Eid/Xmas season.

Have fun.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It is only after being faced with a student who constantly questions me and talks back that I realise how fucking irritating I must have been in school.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Space Between

Happy Victory Day to Bangladesh.

Woke up to a phonecall from Zaid at 4 am informing me that he had changed his mind about going to Savar after all, and would I perhaps like to be ready in half an hour so I may catch a lift from his father's car?

The cold 's inescapable at night, and even after borrowing Arjun's ski cap and jacket I found myself wishing I had a huge jumpsuit of wool or a big fat sheep to hug.

The streets were predictably empty, a couple of people making their way to good-ness-knows-where, and one lone rickshaw ignored my shouts as he hurried by.

It's been a while since I allowed myself to be really, truly alone. The house doesn't count anymore, the space has been marked out by too many. This is why I used to come home late at night, I was claiming my space somewhere else - a space no one else wanted. It could have been anywhere, but anonymity and public-ness usually guarantees my privacy.

Savar was a lot of fun - Bangladeshi press pool is not a pretty sight. Most press groups I remember seeing came across as being hungry and earnest. Eyes wide open, trying to up one on each other. This bunch had a sense of menace about them - like a pack of wolves who knew exactly what would happen next.

Will post some photos soon. Just glad to be out and about and shooting - although the ankle almost gave way after a stupid jump and now I think I may have a long-term injury on my hands and I spent a good deal of time on the bus thinking of all the shots I would never have been able to get if I had this sprain a year ago.

The university has requested I stay to teach a new course during the next Spring semester. Which is really good news because this is how I gauge whether or not I've fucked up yet. The course has too many words and too many syllables in its title and I think I'll be learning as much as my students about the subject.

I have also started saying "too much" when I mean to say "very". This is entirely my roommate's fault.

Also, a certain friend is visiting in a couple of days, during which I will talk nonstop in Singlish and use big and bombastic words. I am too much excited.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Someone had a birthday.

Bandors

"How long have you known each other? When did the two of you become friends?"

"After we were born."



Trio

Fellow Saggi and resident of my dwelling ( aka roommate), Arjun, turned 24 a couple of days ago. The four of us - birthday boy, a roommate, an aunt and a childhood friend - didn't go anywhere. We ate a lot of fried chicken and most of his cake landed up everywhere but our stomachs. There was plenty of dancing, but the kind which doesn't require a darkened club and illusory lights. Arjun's guitar got quite a work out. Oh, and no bartender in sight either, but let's just say I successfully woke up with a hangover anyway.

In other words, it was an awesome party.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Song Won't Leave My Head



- Ajab Si from the latest SRK movie Om Shanti Om.

Just listen lah. Hard to find full song you know.

If you think the movie looks cheesy, well be happy with the knowledge that it's intentional. But hey, how gorgeous is Deepika Padukone man.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I swear that sometimes listening to him talk is like hearing myself speak.
Unless he's speaking Bangla of course. Doh.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Q&A

Sometimes you find out things about yourself when you least expect it. Or at least, when you don't expect it.

The conversation was awkward enough, and I'm generally better at such things when they take place inside my head. In my head I'm awesome. In my head I ask questions like there's no tomorrow.

But this was real life. In a lighted scenario. No shadows, no where to hide. I didn't know what to do with my hands. Then, the question that I wasn't expecting.

"Why are you so nervous?"

First, the realisation that I was indeed nervous. Hand-wringing, lip-bitingly nervous.

Then, the question itself - why indeed?

"What are you afraid of?"

Puzzled smile, head tilted quizzically.

Instinctively I just said, "I don't know." One safe, plausibly honest answer for two impossible questions. But by this time my head (in which I am awesome, remember?) had joined the dots and I found out just how much a person can affect your life even if you haven't spoken in two years.

The fear hasn't left after all, it made itself a nice home in my head and I had forgotten to evict it - and I suppose I'm the only one to blame for that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Swept Away

Uh oh guys, we may have to brace ourselves for a very hard landing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The only way to have a conference call between people located in South Bangladesh, UK and the US is to have at at 7.30pm - Dhaka time.

Which means that Jess has been waiting, and she is hungry.


Bangladesh cyclone damage much worse than thought-UN
Tue Dec 4, 2007 7:44am EST

DHAKA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The United Nations said the humanitarian crisis caused by last month's cyclone in Bangladesh was much worse than previously thought, with more than two million people in need of immediate life-saving assistance.

Excerpt: "...The confirmed death toll has increased slightly to 3,268, the number of people considered missing is 872 and the number of injured has been revised upward by 5,000 to nearly 40,000.

Damage to property is also more severe than first reported. Nearly 564,000 homes have been completely destroyed, 200,000 more than initially estimated, the U.N. statement said. Another 885,280 houses have been damaged..."


Worse than thought? Is this the first disaster the UN has handled?? Geez.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Honestly

Lunch hour break: Others eat, I ramble.

Facebook might have a hit a low with these guys and the fine, fine group they formed:

We never made it to OCS nor SISPEC (ok maybe we did, but we got out of course anyway), but we've been going out with your chicks!

Proud to add that I only stumbled upon it because my brother's a member. And that led to more fine, fine groups such as SAF Eyepower Division.


When not on Facebook, I do have an annual report to finish, a document package to revamp and update, and two classes to plan lessons for. Oh, and a 1,500 essay on xenotransplantation which I'm doing for a cheque which I may not see till next year. In other words, I am swamped.

I started reading up on nouns and verbs and all that stuff I should have paid more attention to in primary school in preparation for my upcoming English classes. Jess, who heads the Grammar Genocide team, will attempt to tell people why sometimes an abstract noun is different from a noun. Honestly, this is going to kill my brain. Tym might be feeling particularly horrified right now.

Might be the first news report about Singapore's "farms' vegetable plots"

I love how someone reading this might think us as an agricultural country.


----------------------------------------------
Air force left red-faced by botched test

Mon Dec 3, 2007 8:18am EST

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A test by Singapore air force of a red plume of smoke for an acrobatic display has backfired after a cloud of the dye polluted nearby farms' vegetable plots.

The air force was testing the dye on the ground, but strong winds carried the smoke away from the base, the ministry of defense said in a statement Saturday.

Nearby farms had to destroy 200 tonnes of vegetables -- about 10 truck loads -- since the dye is not approved for food use, the Straits Times paper said.

The ministry of defense said it would not cause adverse health effects if inhaled.

The paper said it had received a flurry of complaints from people saying everything from a pet cat to white cars were sprinkled with the red dye. One farmer estimated his losses at S$70,000 ($48,410), the paper said.

Claims for compensation will be considered, said the ministry's Colonel Darius Lim in the statement.

----------------------------------------------

Monday, December 03, 2007

Clear Skies Ahead

White Out

Excerpts

A SAMPLING OF THE PARENTS'
CORRESPONDENCE VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
WITH ME, POST-MARATHON



"Quite scarry lor After 5hrs 45 mins still no sign Last year 5hrs 20mins she was already in.She slow slow. Only consolation this time is that she got no splitting headache and churning stomach IF PA NOT AROUND SURE JIA LAT ONE LOR"




"My timing this year was really good 6Hr to finish lor. Weather was so hot later part of the morning that i walk the last one km.....pa thought i was maybe in the ambulance when after 5.30hr still no sight of me....haha that old man thought i fainted but he did not realise how strong we women are."

Cyclone Destroys $291 Million Bangladesh Rice Crops, AFP Says

By Simeon Bennett

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A cyclone that killed at least 3,200 people in Bangladesh last month also destroyed $291 million of the nation's winter rice crop, Agence-France Presse reported, citing the state-run news agency BSS.

Bangladesh plans to import 1 million metric tons of food grains in addition to 1.1 million tons it's already shipped from overseas, and allow private companies to import another 900,000 tons, AFP said, citing BSS.

Bangladesh faces a shortfall of 3.1 million tons to meet domestic demand in the year ending June 2008, AFP said. The damage caused by Cyclone Sidr, which smashed into the nation on Nov. 15, follows the loss of summer crops of rice and other food grains caused by heavy floods in July and August, the agency said.

Last Updated: December 2, 2007 03:52 EST

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

Blackout - Portrait

They asked me for money and I declined, with a smile of course. Then they asked me for food.

"Ek ta shingara! Ami kheda lakse..." and she rubbed her tummy for effect in case the language wasn't getting through.

It's tiring and I feel a little less human everytime I do it. And it happens, every single day. I declined again, trying to engage them in inane chit chat. I decline because I want no part in this habit that they will rely upon when they grow up.

Chat to them? What for? It's ridiculous. Such a charade. Who am I kidding.

Then later a couple of guys left their table the the girl rushed over, scooping up the leftover gravy mixture of chick peas and potatos. She beckoned her friend over to share the spoils.

I used to believe that at the very least, I could be nice. I thought it would be a gesture that they would appreciate. Now I think they really don't give a shit.


---------

Jess has nothing to say for herself, so she's posting pictures.

All taken on the same day, the day after Cyclone Sidr and the day Dhaka had a city-wide power failure. I did a lot of swearing in Hokkien that day, and it felt good.


Blackout - TGINSN





Blackout - New Market


Blackout - New Market


Blackout - Shreds