Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"I am afraid again I have not received the justice that I had a right to expect."
- JBJ, 2003.

Damn right.

As a nation, we have treated him most shamefully.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I supposed I should get this out of the way before midnight and before Blogger logs this under a different date.

A particularly unspectacular day, which is a rather apt way to mark what has been a particularly unspectacular year.

What did I do today?

I went to work, not knowing that it was a Muslim holiday and I didn't need to show up for work. Did not realise this until an hour before I was due to knock off. I attributed the strangely empty office to the fact that some folks were flying off today and I figured a lot of people must've gone to the airport to send them off.

I went and had dinner at an expensive Chinese restaurant. Sichuan pork and tofu. The dinner was unintentional and prearranged, meaning it was not because of the date. I did not tell the person I had dinner with that today was my one year anniversary in Bangladesh.

My friend brought up the subject of pity, and I told him that I hadn't really resolved or figured out my views on it yet. My weak summary was as such: its hard to pity people who don't pity themselves.

I told him that it was also it would make my life unbearable. The constant contradictions would kill my head. How could I feel sorry for people because they didn't have enough to eat and then sit down to enjoy an expensive dinner? It was not possible.

I feel a strange sense of annoyance when I hear foreigners talk about "horrible living conditions", "abject poverty", houses in "unthinkably dirty surroundings". You can't imagine having to live like that? Things shouldn't be this way? Yeah, no kidding. Why don't you tell them that?

I shoo-ed away a couple of girls that followed us for a long distance. The beggars in Gulshan are a lot more aggressive and, as I said before, it makes me feel less human every time I tell one of them to go away. I had to say that a lot tonight.

Took a CNG back. Traffic was bad, as expected in the mad pre-Eid shopping rush.

Looked out for the cats. Couldn't find them. Maybe they've wandered off for good.

And that makes it, officially, One Year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jess, no one gives a fuck about your dreams ok?

Dream log:

Saw a rather grubby and fat white cat stretching itself and then chatting to another black and white one (also fat) about how it managed to get on the MRT train, and how on earth was it going to find its way back? Cat said it was simple, it was only one stop (Yio Chu Kang) and he had to go pick up another cat, by the name of Wando (surely not), and they would both go back together.

In a separate part of the dream -- me cramming stuff into one of my too-small bags that I left behind in Singapore. And then trying to fit that bag into a shopping bag I had. Went through a pile of bags (some were not mine) in an attempt to find one large enough but still small enough to be considered a handbag. In the meantime, Guiqing and Jill have both given me 7 missed calls asking me WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU HURRY UP.


My mom has a line that she utters with relish whenever she sees me leaving the house with one of those ridiculously small handbags that's only big enough to fit a flat piece of plastic and a handphone (depending on the size of your handphone, of course). I love hearing her say it.

"So big ah? Don't have smaller one?"

To which I would always reply. "Shut up."

"No, no. Really. Its too big. You should use a smaller one."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dream log:

Wandering around with a woman in her golden years along the cobblestoned pavements of a quaint Eastern European town, trying hard not to gawk like a stupid tourist, but seeing amazing da Vinci-like contraptions (including a giant spinning sphere like the rides you see in amusement park but with da Vinci-levels of intricacy and made of green, rusting metal), we stopped at a church and I made my way down the pews and knelt in front of what looked like the sign of the cross laid out at the altar. Only that it wasn't the right way up, and as I knelt there and pretended to pray I leafed through a booklet that was at the altar that gave very specific instructions on the steps of worship. The woman I was with came up to me with a worried look on her face, and I told her I hadn't known, I thought it was just your average church. And she explained and said that it was the sign of the inverted cross they were worshipping, and the lines that made up the cross were broken at one point, leaving a gap, and at the gap was a symbol of the earth -- and she said that this symbolised how humankind and the world in general was preventing goodness, and that was why the cross remained inverted. At least, till that gap was filled.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Midday Rant

For fuck's sake. It's not all about money. It's NOT.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Listening to DJ Mel on This is Music online, I was rather surprised to hear a radio ad asking American citizens to come! Sign up! Join the CIA!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Yesterday, as I walked back to my apartment, I took a shortcut across the lake/recreation area rather than jostle with the crowds on the main roads.

As I stepped out from the shadows of the trees to cross a small bridge across the lake, the light shone so brightly I stopped in amazement and looked up at the moon.

I mused for a bit about how rare it was to see your shadow formed by the light of the moon (or the lack of it, but you know what I mean). This doesn't happen much in Singapore. In Singapore, your shadows come about either by sunlight, lampposts or some florescent tubings.

It was really quite beautiful, and I stood on the bridge for a bit.

Just five minutes ago, I realised from Tym's blog that it was mid-autumn's festival yesterday.


It'd slipped my mind completely but I suppose its nice in a way -- the first time I had appreciated the beauty of a full moon because it was stunning, and not because I was deliberately looking out for it since that's what you're supposed to do on 中秋节.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I'm not entirely sure what to make of it now, since I've hardly had the time to digest it, but if I had a beer in my hand, I would raise a toast to Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell.

Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes

"...Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I humiliated a man for breakfast

The guy who collects the payment for newspaper subscriptions has been regularly overcharging for our daily papers. We even have the receipts to prove it. His mistake was inconsistency -- when the rates keeps changing, its kinda a giveaway don't you think?

So when he showed up this morning, asking for a payment which was 100tk over the usual fake amount, I hauled him over next door to my translator/neighbour's and proceeded to humiliate him in lousy Bangla.

His hand shook as he wrote on a piece of paper, trying to calculate exactly how much money he had siphoned off our bills. I asked him repeatedly in Bangla, "Do you think I'm stupid?"

Counting from the time since I moved in (since I've no idea what went on with earlier tenants) we established that he had taken an extra 360tk. He wrote off the bill for this month, and handed me 60tk from his own pocket.

He didn't look sorry -- he looked stunned. He tried speaking to me placatingly as I went back into my own apartment. I told him, "I'm very angry now." I closed the door in his face, not in triumph, but in defeat.

What have I accomplished, really? Yes, we established the fact that I am indeed not stupid, but also that I'm not much of a human being.

In the month of Ramadan, instead of handing our Eid bonuses, I permanently cut off a man's monthly supply of an extra 100tk or so for himself, and took money from him.

I feel rather shitty right now.

"We have come to think of taking offence as a fundamental right.
We value very little more highly than our rage, which gives us,
in our opinion, the moral high ground. From this high ground
we can shoot down at our enemies and inflict heavy fatalities."
- Rushdie

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why, hello there (Part II)

Finally finished grading papers and tallying up final scores... No one failed! Hooray! Although one guy almost got knocked down a grade because I can't do simple sums. Seven plus nine is what? Thank god for calculators.

I should sleep, but someone sent me links -- and now I'm much too distracted. These photos are yummy, but she looks a bit too much like Becca here and that's an unnerving thought.

The guy that did the azaan yesterday at around half past four in the morning was seriously out of tune.

I felt kinda embarrassed on his behalf. It was karaoke-gone-wrong, and maybe that's why they had him do it in the middle of the morning? Letting him have a practice run during the off-peak session?

Maybe it was his first time, and he was just nervous. It takes guts to sing to an entire neighbourhood from huge ass speakers, I'll give him that. I can't even do it with a tiny microphone in a bar with three friends. Unless, of course, I'm drunk -- but then again list of things I won't do when drunk is painfully short.

I really don't think I should be writing stuff like this during Ramadan.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I don't know how I missed this when it was first released, but I spent the most part of my previous working day reading Slate's special issue on procrastination. It was quite a spread.


Letter to a Young Procrastinator

I, too, am a procrastinator. Always have been. In college, I'd start 10-page papers after midnight on the day they were due. Half my memories of this period involve screaming at my printer to print faster, ripping the pages from its maw, and then sprinting to my professor's office with moments to spare, sweat streaming down my face...

Why did I subject myself to so much stress, instead of starting my work earlier like "normal" people do? Well, you've no doubt heard all manner of theories regarding the root cause of procrastination. Fear of failure. Crippling perfectionism. Abnormally low type-2 phloxiplaxitus levels.

I'm here to tell you that it was none of these things. The root cause of my procrastination, in technical terms, is this: I'm lazy. Extremely lazy.

Don't judge, pal—you're lazy, too. It's why you procrastinate. When there's a difficult, disagreeable, or tedious chore that needs to get done, guess what? You don't want to do it. So you don't. Until you have to.

It's just that simple, my slothful friend. And guess what else? The trick to overcoming procrastination is even simpler. Ready? Here it is:

Get off your fat badonk and stop procrastinating. Right now. No, not after the Gilmore Girls rerun ends. Now now.

Will you do this? No. You will not. You will dabble at the crossword for a while. Later, you might get a yogurt. Eventually, you'll start reading pointless crap on the Internet. You see, you're doing it as we speak! Because: You are lazy.

He knows me better than I know myself.
Brian said his goodbyes today at the last staff meeting. It should have been an emotional and teary thing, but true to my form, I kept up the defences and just kept smiling. "I'll see you again soon, when you get back!"

I wonder if it would have been more appropriate of me to have shown a little sadness. The truth is, I am. Having a boss who actually knows what the hell he's doing is something I've come to appreciate. The insane amount of faith he has in me is rather frightening. I may have been here for almost a year (anniversary's just around the corner), but I still think any moment now, they're going to realise they've hired a moron.

But I will see him again, so that's that.

Tonight, I am thinking of Choosin's classic "leave a light on for me" moment -- which I hope I'll never forget.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I want to be God.

I kinda really want this.

I spent hours failing at the Sims and SimCity -- this might be easier, I just have to try not to die.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

SMS Conversation between me and my strangely unsympathetic father

-- How to make belacan ah

-- We dont make but use it to blend with chili paste and abit of lime

-- But there is no belacan here so i have to make

-- U dont seem to understand it is made in factory from fermented shrimp and fish so u cannot make it ok

-- :(