Monday, May 29, 2006

Vote for war

From tamilnet again.
It is so going to happen. This is such bullshit, all of it.
I understand now the frustration that friends of mine who had been in the country for a while felt when talking about the LTTE since when I went in, I was into the freedom movement etc. since that is what I am wont to do but after working with ordinary, young tamil civilians who just want a life and one that is somewhat normal at this point, things like this are VERY frustrating since they are feeding ego's and political agenda's. With the onset of the calymore attacks in mid April, the tigers did effectively pull out of the talks not to mention the petty squabbling over transport. Poor thamilchelvan has to sit there with a straight and sincere face and say, which is technically the truth, but then that is so tiger, they didn't pull out of the talks.

I'm still neutral and impartial, true to my Red Cross creed. Both sides suck ass in my opinion right now. Normally the GoSL gets the bulk of my ire. Militant monks do that to me. Also, the ghettoization of an ethnicity having seen it done time and time again. I get the need of the tamils, there just must be another way to get there.

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EU ban will impact the Peace Process - Thamilchelvan

[TamilNet, May 29, 2006 05:21 GMT]
Pointing out that the Liberation Tigers never pulled out from the Geneva-II talks and that it was the obstacles that the Government of Sri Lanka introduced after willfully changing the procedures for the inter-theater transfer of our military commanders that derailed Geneva-II, S.P. Thamilchelvan, Head of LTTE's Political Wing, said in an interview with TamilNet on Saturday that EU's ban will impact the functioning of the monitors from EU countries, and the "decommissioning or abdication of arms is non-negotiable."

Political Head of the LTTE S. P. Thamilchelvan
TamilNet: Where does Geneva-II stand?
Thamilchelvan: Post Geneva-I posturing of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) exposed a serious problem with the implementation of the CFA by the GoSL. The Liberation Tigers have never said that they would not participate in Geneva Talks II. The Sri Lankan government blocked us from meeting our commanders, side-stepping our serious concerns in the inter-theatre transport of our key commanders. We were planning to attend Geneva Talks till the last moment, hoping that the travel arrangement would be resolved with the active engagement of the SLMM. But it did not materialize. Other serious concerns on the ground, related to paramilitary and security force violence, have now pre-empted any possibilities of talks to be held in the near future.

TamilNet: Denmark, Sweden and Finland, Nordic countries that are also members of the European Union, are part of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). Do you think they are providing their silent support to the EU’s expected ban?
Thamilchelvan: Members of the SLMM have performed extraordinarily valuable service in the peace efforts and in maintaining adherence of the parties to the Cease Fire Agreement. EU's ban will conflict with the objective functioning of monitors from EU countries, and will damage the trust and good will Tamil people had in the EU countries.

TamilNet: The European Union has demanded that the Liberation Tigers must be prepared to lay down their arms. What is your response?
Thamilchelvan: Armed resistance was forced on us by the Sri Lankan government. For more than 58 years, Tamil people fought for their Lfundamental rights and freedom using democratic forms of political resistance. Successive Sinhala governments used force and violence to suppress the resistance. Tamil people armed themselves to assert their fundamental and political rights, and to protect their life and property. Demanding the Tigers to lay down arms is tantamount to requesting them to compromise Tamils' future.

Tamil people have achieved remarkable success in their path to freedom: they have fought, provided financial support to acquire skills and materials to build a conventional army, forced the enemy to withdraw from nearly 70 percent of our land, and built administration and law-and-order machinery, close to forming their own state. The international community, therefore, has to come forward to accommodate this prevailing reality with an amicable settlement. Unilaterally assisting and strengthening one party will not lead to any practical solution to the grave issues confronting Sri Lanka.

TamilNet: How much do you think is true of the accusation that the LTTE does not tolerate dissenting opinions in the northeast? What type of freedom of opinion do you accept? Will there be a scenario in which you will allow political parties of paramilitaries to function in the northeast?
Thamilchelvan: Tamil people in the northeast and the Liberation Tigers as the people's national liberation movement have been fighting for the right to self-determination and a honorable peace with justice for the last several decades. The success we have now was obtained in little steps at a time, with enormous sacrifices and hardship. With institutions built to effectively administer a nascent state, the current struggle is more focused toward winning our political rights. In this climate and within the constraints of illiberal democratic rule we are fighting against, the expectation for allowing political activities for paramilitaries is impractical. Besides, who are the paramilitaries? With the support of the Sri Lankan government, the paramilitaries have been working against the aspirations of Tamil people.

TamilNet: While the Sri Lankan government is only prepared to consider devolution within a unitary constitution, the Tamil position has been that they are not prepared to accept a solution within the current Sri Lankan constitution. What is your response to those who say that the hardline positions make a major war inevitable?
Thamilchelvan: The Constitution of Sri Lanka is made for the Sinhala Buddhists. Neither the Tamil people nor the Tamil nation have accepted the Constitution. The Sri Lankan government has used the Constitution to oppress the Tamil people, to reject the aspirations of Tamils, and to violate the fundamental political, human and economic rights of the Tamil people by enacting laws that discriminated against Tamils in their language, religious, educational and economic opportunities.

Colombo, however, continues to use the Constitution to stymie the progress of the peace process. The Post-Tsunami Operational and Management Structure (P-TOMS), an agreement worked out with the assistance of the international community and lending institutions to facilitate the equitable distribution of tsunami aid, was derailed with the support of the Supreme Court.

As historical precedent illustrates and the international community is well aware, the current unitary constitution is not suitable for a multi-lingual and multi-cultural society, and more particularly does not allow the free exercise of Tamil sovereignty. Tamils are, therefore, forced to seek extra-constitutional measures to negotiate from a position of un-compromised sovereignty that will lead towards a political configuration that satisfies Tamils' aspirations.

Our struggle along this path will continue in the future.

Bits and Pieces

I hate coming up with titles for stuff.

The NYTimes has an article from an Indian woman, Sarita something (Indian Catholic who grew up in Indiana so a rare occurence which is important when we south asians are becoming so common in the US media)...her article is about marriage and wanting to find her own husband. Aren't we as a community BEYOND writing about that? It's so fucking passe.

Google.cn. Do a search on the Falun Gong and you can learn about the evil cult. Baidu is the China based search engine that did overtake Google in China. Not sure where those statistics are now that Google has sold out and has a censored Google in China.

I went ot the Strand today, the best bookstore in NYC, that boasts 8 miles of books. It is packed with books from floor to ceiling over several stories. Whoever goes to Barnes and Nobel or Borders in NYC is a loser.
I bought a book on the history of Salt by Mark Kurlansky. The other books I bought were one called Violence and Identity by Amartya Sen, The Crazy Years: Paris in the twenties by William Wiser and Memories of My Meloncholy Whores by Garcia Marquez. I loved Of Love and Other Demons and this is the same size so I'm really excited to read it. I am excited to read all the books I bought.

A fight broke out on Canal Street today while I was trying to catch my subway and I thought, too bad I don't have my camera to take a photo for Bill. I migt have been punched if i did. I also didn't want to really hang out there since it is Sunday on a holiday long weekend and only tourists stop and gawk and real New Yorkers walk on. Or at least I thought so, faking insouciance as I walked away (the fight followed down the street by the way, with sunglasses ending up all over the street and cops getting involved when the black dude all of a sudden broke into a run with small chinese women and one china man running after him)...I came home and told my sister and Murtaza about it and told them that since I have a perpetual fear of not being tourist like, I walked away. Murtaza rained on my parade and said that New Yorkers would probably stop and look to see what is happening and the tourists with their shorts, cameras, sun glasses and kids would have walked away to not get involved.
My faked insouciance gets me authenticity points. I mock myself. One has to.

I saw a friend today and I don't know if he just told me he has skin cancer. How the fuck do you miss that in a conversation? I did. Dammit.

I want to go to Indonesia. I want to coordinate everyone. I don't have friends in high places but when it comes down to it, I don't care that I don't and I may just go there. (they had an earthquake...that info is for my friends who live under a rock). My sister and Murtaza think it's......I don't know what the word is, but they thought about how I make a living off other people's misery. I do. I am OK with that. I like it. I love it. Not that people are miserable of course, I do have a heart...just that I can be there and be a part of it. If I sit here and pontificate on what that means about me, how boring would that be?

I realized yesterday that the two funniest people in the world are my sisters and that to them, I am one of the funniest people in the world.

I have stopped writing in my journal and write on my blog instead. That is dangerous. And I am overreacting. I haven't written in my journal for two days. Get over it, Z. I am going to go write in my journal now. Too bad you all are not invited.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Restless

I am restless. This was supposed to take longer...the restlessness to set in but no, not even two weeks home, and I am itching to be doing something. This might just be me being out of cigarettes and in NJ in a jungle where nothing resembling a corner store is in a ten mile radius or I may really be feeling restless.
Funny, but I am feeling hot as well. It is a different hot from SL. This one is emanating from the inside. Not sure what that is about but perhaps it is time to get that physical I am supposed to get after my mission. Being lazy about that...and I know that is because I come from a family of doctors and feel like all it will take is to pick up a phone and I will be done. That isn't true, but that is how I feel.

I tell people in NYC about SL and one of the first questions they love to ask is how people like M.I.A. I love telling them that the Sri Lankan rebel pop star teeny bopper that they all love to love is unknown in SL. Yes, she is Sri Lankan and all her lyrics have to do about SL and yes, she has just been denied a visa to the US even though she is British, but no, people in SL don't know her. I even played her music for the people I knew in Ampara and Colombo and they were like, who is this? They didn't particularily like her either. But then again, they only heard her music and didn't see her cute, well clothed, well oiled body dancing away. They would like her if they did. For those who want to know more about her, hear her songs and look at two videos, one of which is her with other SL women who she doesn't really interact with as they do things Sri Lankan in bathing with elephants, playing with flowers, plaiting their hair and basically hanging out in the jungle (which as we all know is what women in Sri Lanka do on a daily basis), check out: http://music.aol.com/artist/mia/674864/main.

The video I am talking about is sun showers. It is a catchy tune. And I guess these are fighter women. Maybe it would help if I listened to the lyrics. I have a theory about why she is not interacting with the extra's in her video. Here goes: Her music is not "Sri Lankan", the influences are mainly dance hall and then hip hop and some dance. She was probably not hanging out with the other Sri Lankan kids she was growing up with and was forced to hang out with as we are in the South Asian diaspora. Even though she is using her tiger dad as a great media tool in selling her music, she may not really want to be seen as soley Sri Lankan and therefore, the other women in the video are making her uncomfortable and she doesn't really want to relate to them, since she really doesn't and ta da, there we go.

Why am I sitting at two thirty in the morning, dissecting some stupid music video. God. I am restless! I applied for a job, I hope I get it so that I can occupy my time. I am starting to go a little mad. This cannot be that I have forgotton how to relax. I used to be queen of not doing anything and now it terrifies me. I feel like I could have gotton SO much work in these two weeks and instead, I have done close to NOTHING. I did catch up on some sleep yesterday. That was nice. And important. I unpacked, not just from SL but stuff that came in from Houston. That too was a good thing. I wrote my end of mission report. I fixed my CV, applied for a job and went to the interview. I got my transcripts and took care of that bank shit I had to. I started my personal statement for the grad school application. I have my two recommendations secured. I bought my ticket to London. I have hung out with family. Ok, I guess I did get some stuff done.

I know what I can do...go to museums. I want to do that too. Whew. One day at a time.

Suggestions welcome. What should Zehra do with her free time till she hears back about this job....?

Friday, May 26, 2006

This boils me blood

From www.tamilnet.com which I check everyday. I should probably check either the Daily News or Daily Mirror (the latter being less a govt mouth piece than the former), but I check tamil net to see how close to my friends claymores are going off.

This makes me mad. I have chosen to be mad about it. I took a look at it, it stood out and I am upset about it. I want to be able to say something intelligent about WHY I am mad about this, and have been pretty chilled about the rest, but the mind is not rational.

Batticaloa is the district that is straight north of Ampara where I was working and people I worked with were routinely there and in fact, my field workers who were going to University there, Tamil boys, were routinely harassed. All in a day's work.

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STF orders shops closed in Batticaloa as punishment

[TamilNet, May 25, 2006 22:55 GMT]
"Special Task Force (STF) troopers went around the markets in Arayampathy and Kalavanchikudy areas in Batticaloa district Thursday around 12.30 p.m, assaulting many traders and forcing them to close their shops for five additional days, as punishment for their current two day voluntary shop shut down as a mark of respect for Col. Ramanan, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Deputy Commander of Batticaloa district, who was killed on Sunday" said Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian P. Ariyanenthiran.
Mr. Ariyanenthiran said that he had registered a written complaint of this incident with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The parliamentarian told the SLMM that traders had spontaneously expressed their grief on the loss of Col. Ramanan who was very close to them and the residents in the Batticaloa district, sources said.

Thaya Mohan, the LTTE Batticaloa district Political Head said that he too had registered a complaint with the SLMM and mentioned that their response was as lukewarm.

The STF soldiers who regularly harass and attack Tamils civilians in the Batticaloa district had been infuriated by the successful hartal and the respect shown by local residents to the late Col. Ramanan, sources said..

The SLMM went to Arayampathy and Kalavanchchikudy regional markets following the complaints and subsequently inquired the STF, who denied any wrong doing, said sources in Batticaloa.

The SLMM has asked the traders to resume their usual business activities from Friday, sources said.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Big Pimpin'








I hope this comes out looking like a reel of photos you know you get out of a photo booth? Four in a row...that is how I took them. We will see. I am not as savvy about this and I don't even have dial up to blame now. I went out today and did take my camera and even though the photo would not have been in Central Park since I don't really go that far uptown if I can help it, I was going to take NY style photos for Bill and then firstly, my camera battery was low, OOPS, forgot to take care of that earlier and then secondly, I felt silly walking around with a camera. I never like to, which I know sounds strange to people in Sri Lanka since I would basically assault people with my camera flash whenever I had a chance but in NYC, and this will sounds awful, in a city that I call home, and I am feeling slightly out of place to begin with since EVERYONE is gorgeous and so stylish (which normally is not an issue but I haven't taken care of that pesky leg hair of mine and since I am me, I am making no effort to hide it either, and so sometimes, I recall to be conscious of it but in a posed blase way. Anyhow, so, yeah, I used to make fun of people with camera's and was not really mean to them before but certainly didn't look at them with any authencity at all and I don't want to be one of those people. I want to take nice photos and not furtive ones so we are at an impasse since I cannot look like a tourist in this city. Categorical refusal to do so.

So Billy, I am sorry about that. No photo of Central Park with two people arguing, a yellow cab and a hot dog vendor. Though that is all I saw today, just not in Central Park.

The sun was out today which means so were the hotties. Aw yeah!

I want to see a photo of BIll using his bread maker which he claims he uses and it makes him happy every morning. I saw Bill around his pasta machine and it is just a decorational object in his kitchen now. Can't even be used as a weapon in an emergency since it is bolted to the table. Unless you do a Hulk move and just hit the intruder (probably Ramasamy or his lover) with the whole table.

So, these are my new sunglasses I bought. In L O N D O N. Heathrow has some of the ugliest people I had ever seen and perhaps that was just since I as just getting back to the West and it was part of the culture shock. Edward claimed that most of them were probably traveling through, from New Jersey, but I think Mr. Public School practices a higher form of denial than even myself.

I just handed in me EOM so I am feeling a little giddy and really and truly done with SL. Except of course, all my lovelies that I have left behind. But you all will leave soon as well and that is how it works.

Did you all know that Indians and Pakistani's came to America sometime early in the last century? It's true and wait, I should write a separate post about it, since it is actually interesting versus the dribble I normally write. I need to get my sister to start talking about it again so that I can plagarize her thoughts onto my blog. Good thing I can type fast. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Was that really just a year and a half?


I am sitting at a cafe in Brooklyn, across the street from where my sister lives. It's called Smooch and has one of those annoying menus where they are trying to be clever and cute. Yuck. I am not complaning since the coffee is good, and I am sitting on the floor in the no shoe zone, wireless at hand which is great. The only bad thing is that I cannot smoke in here but I will get over it. Probably better that way anyway. A photo of me from here since now I can do things like that with my computer.

So, I am deciding, but not till I get admission, but to go to graduate school in the fall. It makes more and more sense for me to do so. SOAS was lovely when I visited and in talking to the people teaching there, I realized that they would indeed be able to give me what I need and have been looking for in my further education, i.e. analytical tools. When I was working, I knew that I was making decisions that felt right but I did not know why I was making those decisions and my decisions were affecting the people I was working with and that makes me feel responsible to....to be more responsible for my behavior.

I am back in NYC now after a short stay with my parents in NJ. My god, I love NYC. Hung out with a friend last night and just walking around, taking the subway, being in the west village and just feeling NY, was pretty fucking amazing. I love this city and more so when I am byself and just able to enjoy it and to feel it on my own terms. It doesn't feel like I have been gone for as long as I have. I was told when I was younger that this would happen....time would start to fly. It is.

Brooklyn still feels like home. Thank god.

All I have to do is stop looking for snakes to come out and bite me when I walk in the dark and stop being paranoid that I cannot hear the mobile I no longer carry with me. Ain't no one evacuating me out of here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I'M HOME!!

My god the difference that wireless internet makes on a fast computer! Images that used to take me an hour to upload just took thirty seconds! I am in shock. The culture shock always works in reverse.
Watch this space for more writing and photos. I am too tired right now to do so but I promise, soon, there will be writing and photos about my trip to Berlin and London and being home. I might even write about Sri Lanka, something I shied away from doing before!

Photos of me from my new computer, which I love. It's the new mac book. Check it out online at www.apple.com. It's beautiful and I love it. It has this camera attached to it and this program caleld Photo Booth from which I took these photos of myself. The colors are correct. The setting was on thermal. I hadn't even showered yet since being back from SL. This is the down and dirty Z.



Saturday, May 06, 2006

Old chinese.



Me, Durga, Vero Johan and Michael...Many thanks to Durga for sending me photos! Promise to come back and edit this post to have more things in it. As aNny has correctly pointed out, my writing has gotton atrocious and I really need to step it up! Also, since I am being linked to other blogs, I feel like I need to represent better. The pressure, the pressure!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Who are u people?

Who are you people reading my blog? I feel exposed all of a sudden. I know that Sakina reads it even when she has Law School exams and Conny sometimes when internet connection allows her from Darfur and Bill from Ampara when he thinks about it and Durga from Australia and this guy on msn I told yesterday, and Fawzia Baji in Geneva (email me, I don't have ur email address and I think I am going to come and visit soon!) read it, but there is no way they read it four times a day. Who are you other people that my clicker counter thing on the bottom records.

Are you random people, doing random searches and ending up on my blog? What does one have to search for that? Brown girl? Words beginning with Z? It says nothing about SL in the topic for my blog and in fact, the topic is about...me, which you can't really search for unless you look me up.

Is anyone out there stalking me? Don't please, since I went through it once before and I really don't like it. Not fun at all. It's awful in fact and I was too young and unwise to have been stalked when I was. Ugh.

Anyway, who are you people? It's ok that you come to the site, just tell me who you are...drop a note or something...that is common courtesy you know. It isn't even like I have cool photos like Bill does on his website.

It is hot and humid in SL. This means I get headaches which I do not like. THe Zehra blog would like to be the first to wish Byron Pakula of Mebourne Australia, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY (it's Wednesday, May 3rd, and since there is still a half hour to that SL time, I am the first to wish him...this is a competitive sport in the Rizvi household and not one to mess with...who gets the first wish in is a delicate and practiced art).

So, Happy Happy Happy B day. I wish I had a photo of you to put on my site but I lost all my photos the day my lap top died. Oh well.

Anyway, those of you randoms out there...say hi.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm leaving...sort of


So I was supposed to leave (would have been home yesterday, actually) but then decided to extend for two weeks to get my shit all wrapped up. I think part of me wanted to see what was going to happen with the country as well. Anyway, there was a farewell party for me and Camilla and Chiara at Nelson's house (and it was Tracy's birthday!), which since I was feeling anti social I didn't think I was really going to enjoy but god, it was really fun. We danced our asses off and I haven't done that in a long time. Helped that it was my dance music on my iPod. Some photos from that night.








Bill, Camilla, Chiara and Nelson.








Bill and Mark tear up the dance floor.

Me and Em getting down. She was on fire!


It's as if she has private parties in her head sometimes. She was on her way to the bathroom that didn't stop her from popping some moves.


Me getting down.