Thursday, October 23, 2008

So apparently hand eczema is severely aggravated when the hand on which the eczema exists comes into contact with detergents, soaps or any other hygiene-inducing products. In fact, frequent immersion in water (especially hot water) should be frowned upon.

This could mean many things, depending on the context:
  • [Conservative marriage arrangement]: Inability to do housework means 1 cow instead of 5.
  • [Singaporean living arrangments]: Continue to live with Mother.
  • [Principles regarding hiring of domestic help]: If you'll do all my ironing too, you're hired.
  • [Hygiene standards]: No more eating food off the floor, unless the piece of food is picked up by using a fork and not bacteria-laden fingers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Clearly, I was wrong when I said I had masochistic work tendencies because if I truly had masochistic work tendencies I would be an accountant.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

=)


"I like rice. Rice is great when you're hungry and you want 2,000 of something."
- Mitch Hedberg

Friday, October 17, 2008

Purnima - Kamlapur Buddhist Temple

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monty Python could've written this

Best summary of Palin so far, but none other than John Cleese:


What fascinates me though, is how, people watching her on televsion, can they not see that she's basically learned certain speeches? It's like a nice-looking parrot because the parrot speaks beautifully and kind of says, 'aw shucks"'every now and again but doesn't really have any understanding of the meaning of the words that it is producing, even though it is producing them very accurately... and she's running as a partner 72-year-old cancer survivor. I mean, Monty Python could've written this."


Worth watching, if only for the most awesome laugh that Palin's name evokes.


That's Gotta Hurt.

While reading The Economist's obit of JBJ, I was getting increasingly disappointed with each paragraph because it mostly read like an unfeeling, bland report, and I was about to just let it all go with a sigh when I reached the last words:

Certainly Mr Jeyaretnam, most distinguished of that tiny band [of opposition politicians], was never silenced. Lee Kuan Yew may have been infinitely the greater statesman, but some would have judged Mr Jeyaretnam the bigger man.


I'm smiling like an idiot now.

Sky Lights

Popcorn

I could see the specks of light in the sky as the CNG made its way towards the temple, feebly trying to squeeze its way between too-big luxury SUVs, beaten-up cars with broken fenders and motorbikes carrying its female passengers slung across sideways.

Random side note: Why do these women sit like this? I did it once, but only because it I was in a nonnegotiable long skirt, and throughout the journey my center of gravity yelled at me for being utterly stupid, and I'm never doing it again.

Admittedly, I had no idea what the festival was all about, or what it signified. I only knew there were going to be pretty lanterns let off into the sky and that's really all the motivation I needed to get my ass down there. I'd been there a couple of time before, and I like it. Geese and dogs wandering around the place. Its a temple/monastery, after all. Peace and tranquility are to be expected.

Well anyway, I know now its Pravarana Purnima, held on the full moon and marking the end of the Buddhist version of Lent.

The Daily Star reports as such:

THE Holy Pravarana Purnima is one of the greatest Buddhist festivals. The Buddhists of Bangladesh observe the holy day with due solemnity, religious dignity, freedom and fervour ... the festival is observed in the month of Ashwin, and is also known as Ashwini Purnima ... The breaking of the Varshavasa day is called Pravarana Purnima. On that day, the Buddha came down to this world after preaching the Abhidhamma to his mother and other gods in the Tavatimsa Heaven during Varshavasa. The Buddha advised his disciples to propagate the true Dharma on this day.

A whole lotta words. Article gives nice background info on the festival's origins, but fails to mention its highlights -- pretty lanterns in the sky.

And that bit about solemnity and dignity? Dude, have you attended one of these things?

Too late now to edit pics to prove my point more forcefully, but you'll see what I mean soon. There was some serious dancing at the end, dancing involving gyrating, half-naked, sweaty men with abs, grabbing each other and shimmying all over the place. Jessica was not unpleased.

This crowd was (dare I say it) putting on a show more gay than any of the action I've seen in Happy or Taboo. It would've been a lot more pleasant if these guys weren't straight and all that ass-slapping actually meant something (maybe it did, but I'd like to see you try finding one guy to admit as much). The one thing that they do have in common with the crowd in Singapore's awesome gay bars? No one gave a fuck about me.


Half-naked dancing men aside, the main feature of the festival was fabulous. Till now, I have no idea what the lanterns signify. If I had to give a guess -- cleansing, a fresh start, releasing your wishes into the night sky in the hopes that the gods hear you better at a higher altitude?

All religious allow these outlets of hope. Hope that your prayers will be heard, whether or not its by writing your wishes on slips of paper and attaching it to a tree or
writing prayers on floating candles. Hope for absolvement, that the past will be forgotten by all, including yourself, when you step into the confession booth or let that lantern of yours float away, away into the night.

At some point, I teared slightly amidst the cheers as the lanterns went up one after another. Don't really know why. Ridiculous, since I still don't know what the whole thing means. Maybe I kinda wish I could attach some of my own stuff to those lanterns and let it all go.

Purnima - Kamlapur Buddhist Temple


I'll show you what he saw in my next post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Working from the house never really feels like work, so I still end up feeling un-worked and guilty for slacking even though I'm really sitting here crunching numbers on excel spreadsheets. I guess the guilt comes from the fact that, unlike being in an office, my music's being played at a rather loud level and I have a can of beer to help the numbers go down easier.

I prefer doing work in my house because it's just so that much more enjoyable. Is that so bad?

And the beer is making me say this - you do not schedule a fucking meeting at the very very last minute and then make me feel bad about not going. Made worse by the fact that you can't reschedule it because you're not going to be in town. This lies very much under the "not my problem" part of my brain. Just fucking send me an email about the scintillating meeting. If I'm there, all I'm going to do is nod and agree anyway.

Oh fuck it. When the beer wears off I know I'm going anyway.

Personal Heroes

I just love Dan Savage. Always have, always will.


From his blog entry on The Stranger, commenting on the latest case of horrific child abuse by a "normal" heterosexual couple.

"Maybe this girl’s mother and father saw Ohio Republican state representative John Schlichter’s recent campaign flyer—the one in which he warned that “same sex couples [are] adopting our children”—and pushed that dresser in front of the door to prevent gay men from bursting into their bedroom in the middle of the night and adopting their kids. Or maybe they’re just insanely abusive assholes."

And here's Dan extending his friendship to Sarah Palin because, you know, she said she had gay friends, but no one can find them :

Monday, October 06, 2008

Post-Eid

Slightly belated post on Eid, no thanks to general procrastination and an exploding laptop power adaptor. Actually, it didn't really explode, but then again there's never any smoke without fire, is there?

I woke up early on Eid to go down to Baitul Mukkarram in Gulistan, which I've been told is the biggest mosque in Bangladesh. Don't ask me what it looked like - I couldn't go in, seeing as how I'm challenged, gender-wise.

I put the photos up on Flickr a couple of days ago, and it's always interesting to see which photos get clicked on the most and the least. This one received the least clicks thus far:

Eid - Baitul Mukkaram

I would like to write about this as bluntly as possible, so forgive any remarks that may come across as callous.

Seeing as how I couldn't really enter the mosque, I spent most of my time at the gates where a sizable number of beggars had formed two orderly rows to "channel" people who were entering the mosque, therefore making it impossible for them not to notice the outstretched hands.

As expected, I was left alone as soon as I had made it clear I was not handing out any money whatsoever. Whoever else who approached me was soon told to go away, not by me, but by the other beggars who had previously tried.

While the atmosphere remained friendly for most of the time, it was hard not to become competitive with all this money at stake. It was Eid, the day of goodwill and general giving, and these boys and men coming to the mosque decked out in their new punjabis were obliged to hand out money. It was a buffet, and the money was yours to lose.

So the fastest got the most cash. The hands that reached out first, the one that looked the most needy. It was not a time for a display of strength. Most were either elderly or handicapped. One young and able-bodied youth who tried asking for money received a tongue-lashing about how he should just go get a job.

Several minor arguments broke out as a result, a little pushing and shoving, but nothing serious. Mostly over the question of territory. They didn't take too kindly to someone else honing in on their space.

I've always shyed away from taking pictures of beggars, mainly because I don't know how they feel about it. I feel like it takes the exploitation to a new, higher level, and I haven't quite figured out how to absolve myself in that way. Mostly, I worry that they would not take too kindly to my actions.

The group I photographed that day didn't seem to mind it at all. They smiled for the camera, they smiled at me, they asked me questions. I found their compliance most liberating.

But back to the least-clicked picture above. Its not uncommon to find beggars carrying around medical documents in plastic folders or bags. I usually can't understand what they're saying, but the point is clear.

The child in the photo couldn't speak for herself. She didn't smile at me. In fact, if anything, her eyes barely registered my presence. She remained silent as the others went on chattering around me. When I started to photograph her, the people who were accompanying her (family members, I assume) beckoned me closer, lifted her up and tried to arrange her in a pose that would expose her even more.

I stopped. I also had to stop myself from asking about the contents of those medical documents, stop myself from asking "What's wrong with her?" because, really, I didn't want to know.



I had thought I would've had good news to post on this blog, but an email came this morning that put that to rest. No good news for now, let's see what happens.