Monday, May 31, 2010


Just a little ongoing project of mine which looks at the ground below, and, as John Lennon said, above us only sky.

Let sleeping dogs



A little altitude makes a whole lotta difference.

My trip north to Sylhet made me feel a little sad for the south of Bangladesh. Sure, the rivers are wider there, but look at all the green they are missing out on! I'm not quite sure why, but up north, the trees seemed greener, thicker, taller and richer. The Sharee river, flowing south from the hills of Meghalaya, was greenish and clear, its water cold and clean. I drank a few mouthfuls whilst on the boat. The last time I drank something that wasn't first boiled or filtered or from a Singaporean tap was when I was 14 years old, at the shores of a lake nestled between the mountains in Yunnan. The taste was the same - cold and free.

We stopped in the middle of the river, as the boatman made a grand sweeping gesture towards the hills in the distance. India! He pronounced, grandly. We got off the boat at some little touristy rest stop, and saw two magnificent Asian elephants.

I am useless in front of elephants. I am in so much awe, that they could be in front of me and not want to crush me to death, that I feel like getting down on my knees to show my respect.

I cannot fathom why animals put up with human beings. It would be so easy to shake off the four silly humans clinging onto its back and lumber away to freedom in the forest. I mean, what could we possibly do? Yell really, really loudly? (No guns present, hence not included in this equation.)

And yet, we've got these elephants doing inane tricks, like a salam with the trunk and a cute curtsey, eliciting loud laughter and even more gawking. What a disgrace. We are not worthy.

This is probably why I like cats, due to their low regard for all things human. They caught on fast to how silly we are.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I am quite good at cutting people out of my life -- it is not always intentional, and it doesn't always hurt, but it does make me feel like a robot with on-off switches.

What is up with these inward-looking thoughts in the middle of the day?? Oh right. I'm procrastinating.

It's like (here comes the bad analogy) surgery with permanent local anesthesia. You don't feel anything as you slice it off, it doesn't hurt even after the surgery, and there sure as hell isn't any sensation as the wound heals up. You don't even think about it, but sometimes you do get a glimpse of that cavity, that hole which you have created and you wonder shouldn't it hurt a lot more than this when you lose a bit of yourself? How is it possible to feel nothing?

This only applies to self-inflicted wounds. If someone else does the slicing against your free will - it will hurt like fuck. I still can't look at photos of my great-grandmother.

Oh shut up, Jess.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It occurred to me today, that I no longer notice the scars on my hands and face, that I am puzzled and surprised if someone asks me about them - which is rarely, since they are not really that noticeable - and I reply with a Oh! But that was ages ago! Which is true - it has been almost six months since the crash. I am used to the dentures, I hardly ever forget to wear them in the morning now, and I can taste food again even with that huge piece of plastic in my mouth. I still can't quite take a good bite from an apple though. I showed the dentures to a person I liked, because I didn't want to feel like I was hiding anything, and he said, "Are you trying to make me leave?". I knew it was a joke, but it was a bit of a mean joke, I think.

Anyway, the point of this mid-morning ramble is to muse on how quickly I forget. If a near-death accident doesn't make an impact on me - what can?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

no te metas con el toro

Amongst other random, strange things from my mornings - a Huffingtonpost report on how a celebrity couple no longer sleeps in the same bed, a video on too many of my friends' Facebook Walls on teeny tiny girls doing some sexy dance (so much irony in re-posting a video that you find nauseating), an image of the matador that got gored through the throat (you've been warned), brief musings on how I'm getting increasingly irritated by photographers who are too in love with their own work, shock at news of Sygma being closed down, and trying very hard to recall the last dream I had before I woke up and not being able to and then suddenly remembering it as I brushed my teeth that I had dreamt of two toddlers standing on a parapet and yelling at them to come in IMMEDIATELY and then somehow my mom was there and asking me why I was yelling and I explained to her and she seemed not to quite get it and tried to fall out of the window to see what the fuss was all about and then there was a lot more yelling (from me) as I grabbed her feet and dragged her in.

And then, my Mom metamorphosed into a young Caucasian man with suicidal tendancies ("This is my third try but I keep failing") and I sat with his hands in mine as his wife sat beside us and I tried looking into his eyes to try and understand why why why why why. And his wife, who was blonde with big eyes grabbed my arm and pleaded to help her understand as well.

The daily act of reading newspapers in the morning is always a bit of a despondent affair.
Today's papers, for instance -- An an 18-year-old boy beaten to death in the middle of the night at Kamalapur railway station. A 14-year-old domestic worker who was "found" hanging from the ceiling fan in the house of a policeman where she works. The last line was a particularly nice touch.

The deceased went to sleep around 11:30pm on Saturday and did not respond to repeated calls the next morning, he added.

And the International pages -- out of the six stories on one page, five of them had some variation of the word "kill" in the headlines. Kill. Killed. Killing. Assassination.

I don't really have pleasant dreams, but even my imagination isn't that fucked up. I think now about that line from that speech Meryl Streep gave at a commencement ceremony in NY (another FB-linked video) about how you should pay attention to the cracks because that's where the light gets in.

I like how she whispered this line, leaning in close to the microphone but whispering it so softly that you just had to lean in to listen and thus listened to every word she said.

And this in turn reminded me of a dream I almost had - I can't remember now if I made this up or I dreamt it, but either way it is all very real to me.

And also, there was this:

I subscribe to an RSS feed that feeds (I do beg your pardon) me with lots of interior design images which I usually click through with a Pffffft but this one elicited more of a gutteral purr quickly followed by a brief imagination session about the many ways one can climb into a hammock.

Of course, in my version of this room, there is at least one cat sprawled belly-up on the stone floor, soaking up the sun.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Writing grant proposals, drinking too much espresso, dreams of Cambodia and South Africa threatening to distract me, really needing a tiny little cigarette.

Monday, May 10, 2010


- A sign that advertised 'Live Surgical Demonstration'
- Electric storm over Dhaka with humidity so thick you feel like there is a mask on your face. Thunder-less lightning is always unsettling.
- A dream about an entire cinema hall singing out loud BOWIE'S IN SPACE

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Today I met an ayah on the roof of our building. She was walking up and down, across the length of the roof. I watched her for a while and couldn't help but ask her what she was doing. Walking! she said. Because any other form of exercise wasn't possible in Dhaka for her.

The city does strange things to people.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Whoever said that a watched pot never boils clearly didn't watch it for long enough.

Or at least, I think that is the belief on which my stupid brain operates.

Monday, May 03, 2010

the nearest exit may be behind you

Back in 2005, I actually did a daily countdown on this blog just to see how many days I had left in Dhaka. I remember getting rather stressed, because I couldn't finish doing all the things I wanted to do.

I expect that things will be a lot different this time around.

On my iTunes playlist is a 45 minute-long recording of an interview I did during my days at Lexean. I interviewed someone who ran a counselling center for single fathers, and I think it was one of the most enjoyable chats I had with someone while on the job. The conversation flowed effortlessly, and it makes me smile hear the words 'acrimonious' and 'state of equilibrium' uttered with a Singlish accent.

I let it play for a bit today - I find it strangely comforting to hear myself talking with a Singlish accent. I'm not sure if it's because I'm overseas, but I often catch myself lapsing into some weird bastardised British/American/Pretentious mixed accent -- it sounds so awful I don't know why people talk to me.

I find that I have a tendency to mimic accents -- you may want to kill me when you hear me speaking to someone who is French.

Anyway, the person I was interviewing was explaining the consequences of divorce and how they are trying to help keep families together, and something he said hit me as hard as when I first heard it:

"And after a while, the child is forced to choose - and that's what breaks children."

Saturday, May 01, 2010

For all those who can't remember the lyrics. Remember - Sunday always comes too late.