Friday, August 29, 2008
One of the most tangible skills I will be taking home with me is the ability to wirelessly reconfigure a router. Did you know that a router has to be configured? Me neither.
I take insane pride in my mystical technical skills. I relish telling and re-telling the same fucking tale of working in an office of men and being the only female and the only one who could get the printer working. It was a high point of my life, and I will not relinquish it.
I had an impromptu lunch with an Australian who was the vice-principal of a primary school here. We happened to be having our lunches alone at the same restaurant and, being the shameless whore I am, I struck up some conversation.
He's only been here a month, although he has made several visits since his first ten years ago. That was when he was doing the 21-years-old-and-backpacking-across-the-world stint.
He confessed he was still in the "honeymoon" period. He was in love with the villages. He couldn't see himself going back to Sydney, where people didn't talk to each other on the street and nobody tried to mind his business.
It's always good to talk to people like that, because I do like being reminded of all the good amidst the bad.
I've come to accept that there are days when all I want to do is to tell every Bangladeshi just how fucked up this country is, and then there are days when all I want to do is to give them a hug and tell them they are really such wonderful people and I'm so sorry for all the bad feelings I've ever had about them. I believe such contradictory behaviour is called "being normal".
I stepped out of the newspaper office at 10pm in Karwan Bazar, and the sound of a jaunty percussion had me tapping my feet as I chatted to the security guards. A crowd had gathered nearby, and I walked over to see a man with an instrument that looks like a banjo (only that its not, but I don't know what the name is), entertaining everyone.
The speed at which friendship and camaraderie is formed here is unbelievable. The only thing you need to be admitted into a group is to simply stand within it. The crowd of strangers, all laughing and singing along and cajoling him to do funny bits -- some gave me a look, but they soon returned their attention to the singer.
These are the workers of Karwan Bazar. The labourers who make their living using their muscles, sleeping in the same huge baskets they use to carry goods from the trucks into the stalls. I looked at their laughing faces -- it just felt so good to be standing there.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Fantasy Kingdom 12:26 pm
I made my way down to Fantasy Kingdom (thanks to Trond, for the tip), expecting to be overwhelmed in the land where kitsch went to die. Strangely enough, it wasn't that bad - I think Sentosa (and just Singapore, in general) had primed me well.
It wasn't as crowded as I had expected, and the space wasn't that large at all. Many rides were closed, evident from the weeds and grasses that had grown over the control booths and steel beams. Still, a fair number remained opened for business. I was tempted to give the solo roller-coaster a try, but I guess I just wasn't in a risk-taking mood that day.
I planned to return to the long stretch of highway built on an embankment cutting across Ashulia lake. It seemed absolutely beautiful when I had passed it on the way to the Kingdom. Empty chairs and food stalls dotted the side of the road facing north - it looked promisingly peaceful.
I was wrong, though. The crowds emerged along with the impending sunset, and I soon felt as if I was back in Dhaka, squeezing my way through streets that were never wide enough. With every lewd stare and catcall, things just got worse and worse. I couldn't speak, couldn't say anything. Anything I uttered was deemed hilarious and just turned me into more of a circus act. I felt utterly exposed. Twice, I shoved men who pointed their camera phones into my face. One laughed, the other got scared and mumbled something about how he was actually not aiming the thing at me.
The only brief respite I had was when I climbed down the embankment to watch some boys swimming and performing various acrobatic feats. I turned my back to the main road, where there was already a sizable group just standing around watching me, and tried to pretend I was alone.
I felt relief when the sun finally set, thinking that the darkness would make me less noticeable. It didn't occur to me that others would think the same way.
The first hand reached out and barely grazed the side of my pants when I was walking past an exceptionally narrow stretch of road. If it hadn't been for my bulky camera bag limiting access, the hand would've gotten a lot more than a handful of cloth.
I was startled, and was walking far too fast to have broken my momentum in time to know for sure who did it. I didn't slow down, didn't look back, but mentally prepared myself to not let it happen again.
Sure enough, barely five minutes later, when I had already reached the other side and was so close to getting a CNG and going home, another hand reached out from right behind me. He didn't just get a handful of cloth.
I swung round. There were two men behind me, and both stared right back at me, expressionless. I grabbed the front of the shirt of the man nearer to me, yanked him closer, and slapped him hard across the face.
He was stunned for a moment, and started babbling angrily. I honestly have no idea what he was saying, but it seemed to me that there was no apology hidden amidst those words (was he trying to protest his innocence?) and as he started to raise his voice again, I slapped him a second time.
I didn't really know what to do, at that point. I couldn't argue with him, I couldn't yell, I couldn't tell the people around me what he did. I didn't know the words. So I turned around and walked to the nearest CNG, got in, and left.
On the way back, it occured to me that this was the first time in my life when I had intentionally slapped a person. I'm sorry to say that it felt good.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Why, hello there 2:15 am
Am slightly obsessed now with finding out more about this particular character, which would not have been the case had I paid a bit more attention to news coming out of East Asia in 2005.
I'm a great lover of androgyny (in women only), and I thought Katherine had it nailed down, but then again she had a rather unfair advantage since she's supposed to play up the androgyny in her role as Shane. Not that she has much difficulty in that area, but surely the script helps.
This TIME magazine article does a rather good job giving the background info on Li Yu Chun:
What Li did possess was attitude, originality and a proud androgyny that defied Chinese norms. During the tryouts—in which 150,000 contestants were winnowed to 15—Li wore loose jeans and a black button-down shirt, with no make-up and the haircut (and body) of David Bowie during his Space Oddity phase. She auditioned with In My Heart There's Only You, Never Her, an oldie made famous by Taiwan's Liu Wenzheng—a man. In the main competition she sang other songs written for male performers and called herself "a tomboy." For an audience reared on the bubble-gum, lip-gloss standards of Chinese girl pop, Li's disregard for the rule book produced an unfamiliar knee-weakening.
She stood out in the China's official song for the Olympics, a plain Jane in the midst of numerous heavily made-up women that litter the entire video. Then I watched her MTV, and just kept thing, holy shit -- that's hot.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Joy Juice 11:54 pm
I could be confusing that with kickapoo - which to me is the most artificial looking drink on the planet. I know the name hardly rhymes, other than the "a" in the middle, but there's a common chicken element (to be explained very soon).
I vaguely recall first seeing it in primary school, and being rather subconsciously put off by the cartoon chicken endorsing the drink. Of course, I've since realised the very lousy drawing is not actually that of a chicken - I actually have no idea what it is, really. But when I first saw it, I flippantly believed it to be a chicken, and I thought it very odd why anyone would want to drink a toxic-yellow liquid that looked like pee and appeared to have been made of chicken parts.
Last night I dreamt I was pregnant. I've had dreams about my children, but this was a first. Don't ask me who the father was, I've no idea. It was all very festive, I remember feeling particularly happy about it (at first, before it evolved into the nightmare). It seemed like I was four or five months on, and the bulge was showing and some old friends gathered round celebrating with me. I felt complete, fulfilled. And then, erm, it became nosso pleasant and I won't elaborate more about how it turned into a nightmare. Can't remember most of that part, anyway.
It was all very, very odd.
Post-alcohol update: I read my stuff from 2 years ago, and I think I was a lot funnier (even if I was still a grumpy, grouchy bitch) and didn't keep harping on the Same Old Things. I miss ST more than ever.
Culture 1:50 am
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Very Bad Idea 3:47 pm
And everyone talks about using belacan. But no one is telling me how to make belacan. You think here can find meh??
My sentiments, exactly. 12:16 am
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Balance 1:39 pm
It's a sense that no matter what China does, it won't really be accepted as an equal on the world stage, that it will always be left cleaning the toilet at the OECD country club.
Ok no prizes for the pun. But, ah, the rest of it was... heaven. I leaned back in my chair to slowly savour every single word of this piece. It was like someone scratching an itch I couldn't reach. It was bliss.
So are the media just being a little mean to China? It does at times feel akin to if coverage of the Atlanta Olympics were focused on the failings of the U.S. health care system and the plight of the American Indian. One foreign correspondent for a major American newspaper agreed, telling me, "In Athens the traffic jams were presented as the outgrowth of a hip Mediterranean lifestyle. Here they become yet another product of state repression."...
... Right now, China is an awkward place that just wants to be loved—and that makes it particularly easy to kick around.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Staying Awake. 4:47 am
I'm refusing to sleep tonight, for reasons unknown.
Took more pictures today. I am annoyed at how the colours on photoshop and flickr appear totally different. WTF?
Karwan Bazar is a place that I should rightly spend hours in, but barely a couple of minutes in the maze of stalls, and I'm ready to call it quits. A lot of it has to do with fear. I get claustrophobic quickly in there. Everywhere I turn, I can feel the eyes boring into the back of my head. I imagine that I would not escape in time if the crowd mobbed me. The last time I went there, I got lost and very nearly started to panic. Its all irrational and ridiculous, of course.
I'm still feeling shitty, and those who know me well will know why. There's only one thing that can get me down like this. Third time lucky? Fuck that.
I really should get some sleep.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Yeah, still in a foul mood. Been considering moving to another site which allows posting of bigger pictures. I've been experimenting, but I do realise that doing that requires a helluva lot more commitment from me regarding pictures.
Stuff from the other day. Slow steps.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
How much are you capable of taking? You never do know until you're pushed all the way. Everything's possible in theory -- its real life that's the bitch.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster 4:07 pm
I've been reading bullshit on the net about names since I came across this one (a friend actually does know her) which reminded me about the other one I read about sometime back.
A judge in New Zealand made a young girl a ward of court so that she could change the name she hated - Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.
Judge Rob Murfitt said that the name embarrassed the nine-year-old and could expose her to teasing.
He attacked a trend of giving children bizarre names, citing several examples.Officials had blocked Sex Fruit, Keenan Got Lucy and Yeah Detroit, he said, but Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and Midnight Chardonnay had been allowed.
Amongst others banned - Fish and Chips (for a pair of twins). Nice! Some people shouldn't be allowed to be parents. Case in point, as read on Dooce.
And do you want to know what is the manliest name on the planet? Although one dude left a comment saying the writers overlooked the obvious winner:
The president of Zaire: Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa za Banga which translates to "the all powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, shall go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake" Manliest name ever. period.Ok wait the comments thread for that article is more entertaining than the article itself. This is just such awesome stuff to waste time on!
Oh and Frankie found the most beautiful table eva. I felt loserish because I'm forever stealing stuff off other people's blogs, so I thought I'd head to the website to see if I could find anything else I preferred. Nope. No chance for any originality whatsoever.
John Nouanesing's Love Me Table trumps all else (although I seriously covet all the hang-on-the-wall stuff he had as well).
I think I stopped breathing for a bit when I saw it. I never quite understood what those hosts of interior design shows meant when they picked stuff out to be a centerpiece of a home (always ended to be some lousy fireplace or hideous sofa set) - now I get it. If I had this table, we would have nightly worship sessions around it. Fuck, I would build my house around it.
I need a better internet connection to waste more time this way.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Photos from yesterday. Nothing satisfactory - always just missing it by a bit, but I guess I do need a lot, a lot of warming up.
I was so sure I would remember his name that I didn't bother writing it down. Turns out I was wrong. It was a nice, chance encounter when I turned round the corner towards the main road and saw him sitting by the side of the road at the makeshift rickshaw repair stall.
I got onto his rickshaw two weeks back, and it was only after we had moved off that I noticed his leg. I was flustered (and late) that morning - I didn't even notice his crutch hanging off the handle bars till later.
This makes it the third physically disabled rickshaw wallah that I've met. The first lost a leg in an electrical accident, the other lost an arm (couldn't decipher his explanation even after I asked) and this one has polio. I really feel bad that I can't remember his name. It sounds like "Shankar" but I know that's not right.
After all the talk about ethics in class, I felt rather apprehensive about taking his photo. Exploitation and what not. I talked to him for a bit. He comes from Bhogra, saying that there was no work there. And I joked back that, why, aren't there rickshaws there too? And we laughed.
It might come across as being rather inappropriate (certainly seems that way when put in writing), but I stand by my lousy joke.
He painted on the mobile numbers of his family members back home onto his crutch. I thought it was awesome. He laughed at me for being so taken with it.
Machiam like gangsters, yeah? Didn't manage get the shot I was going for - this is the best of the lot.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Tired. 11:27 pm
I found it extremely difficult to have that class. I stumbled on my words, I took lengthy pauses. By the end of it, I really wanted to run into a closet to cry. My callousness was overwhelming, even for me.
In retaliation, I ended up shooting and spent hours at adsoftheworld.
(Foundation for girls with bulimia.)
"Don't make it a grad to forget."
- Mothers Against Drink Driving
"There are journeys from which you come back richer."
- ICEI - Association for responsible tourism
And my favourite tonight:
"I've made a creative team win a lion at Cannes."
- Clube de Criação do Rio de Janeiro
I am inexplicably exhausted.
Go Aussie! 12:28 pm
Slept too late, thought too much and now on a caffeine high. I'm feeling kinda awful because I'm bursting with energy yet feeling mentally lethargic.
The internet's pretty boring this morning too. Other than this quote from a commentary on the XX Factor regarding Barbara Walter's ruthless questions with Carla Bruni which the writer called "possibly the most sexist piece of television programming I've ever seen".
"Still: Did anyone ever ask Mick Jagger if it's true that he really can't get any satisfaction? I bet they didn't."
Bitches! 12:42 am
The dogs are lovable lap dogs - white and furry and I'm too goddamn tired to google for the exact breed (which is what I would usually do). They're not exactly my favourite kind (lap dogs are not real dogs, did you not know?) but if you're going to run happy laps around my feet - I'll indulge you. Oh fuck it, I love you too!
I know that I like it when people like animals, but now I'm wondering if I may prefer those who dislike all animals, as compared to those who profess a love for tiny lap dogs. Toy dogs and lap dogs are irritating. I'm sorry, but they are. I find it hard to be fond of a chihuahua.
I think this may indeed be the case. GQ - I much prefer you running away from animals than running towards pomeranians.
A very attractive man I met recently told me he liked poodles. It was a rather sad day.