Sunday, July 30, 2006

What to do only?

I burnt my fingers last night. They fucking hurt like hell but are fine this morning. I thought it was going to be reminiscent of the time when I burnt my right foot by spilling a whole frying pan of burning hot, almost on fire, oil on it. That was nasty.
I liked how the monotony of my feelings was broken up with the burning sensation in my fingers. In a strange way, I felt like I was doing something. I was dealing with pain. And I was dealing with it bravely, something I like to do so that I can pride myself on it. I can pride myself on it by just wincing every once in a while but mostly soldiering on, stoically. I mock myself but parts of this are true. The larger part of pain for me is that I know it is finite and there is no point dwelling on it since the more you think about it, the more it pains you. It WILL go away at some point, as physical pain is wont to do. I just like to be mean to myself sometimes, (like these days) and therefore I mock myself.

I knew that I did not sit idle gracefully. I have just discovered something I previously ignored about myself or just did not have the concept of and thus no language to communicate with myself about: I don't do indecision gracefully either. Now that I have "real" choices in my life and want to participate in making choices rather than going with the flow or seeing where I end up (it seems preferrable now but I may have come too far), I am in a dreadful position of having cast a net and waiting to see what the fuck the deal is. I think this is why I cut my hair by the way. I think this is why I do anything at all to my body since those are easy, final sorts of decisions to make, that can be made, easily, quickly, definitively. I like decision making, which is possibly why I categorize myself as impulsive. Nothing pisses me off more (there are things but we will go with the figure of speech right now), than indecision. When people when hem and haw and say things like, I don't know, what do you what to do? and then not want to do what you want to do and have an opinion about it. Make a fucking decision, fuck face, and stick with it then.

I am being harsh, to no one is particular but a made up person of all the people who have mildly irritated me. The made up boogey man (and it is a man today), is made up of random words that random people have uttered that I have randomly picked up on (like, and have put together in a cohesive package to channel all my hate into. It's not even hate more than malcontentedness.

Dear graduate school which I have applied to: Tell me if I am coming to school or not, or if I should take my savings and fly myself over to Lebanon somehow and work with the Lebanese Red Crescent. Would appreciate it if you hurried the fuck up with that decision. How hard can it be? I am tired of not knowing. I am also really fucking tired of the question, so how long are you in NYC and what are your future plans? The next time I get asked that, which will probably be in the next five hours since I have human interaction planned for later on today, I will take a fork and stick it in the questioning person's hand. I will tell them to sue you and not me, since you are responsible for my not knowing the answer to these questions. They are Americans , the people I am meeting, so they will sue you. With American lawyers, so expect to lose.

So....what to do only?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dispatches from the Edge.

I was ambiguous on whether I would leave my boyfriend for an affair with Anderson Cooper or not. There are two people on the list, Michael Ondaatje and then another man whom I know too well to list publicly, but also an older male writer. Anderson is only ten years older than myself, and my o my, what an attractively angst ridden man he is. His book, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters and Survival, throws out a challenge to all women by stating on page 35, that “I had never broken up with someone I was in love with, and I didn’t appreciate the pain of such a loss”, or on page 46, “Everyone could have seen that, like a broken locket, I had only half a heart”. It makes me want him…bad. To be the woman to break through that tough exterior where surely, surely the reporter of Hurricane Katrina, the sensitive, thoughtful, good looking and smolderingly sexy (rich to boot) man lies. After finishing his book though, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Too much baggage and I am still trying to check mine in.

Besides peppering his book and making connections (valid but scarce ones) with his personal life, Cooper takes us on a very straightforward, no frills, plenty of thrills, no theory journey of his reporting life. As a humanitarian, who does feel that journalists are not necessarily the enemy just supremely lazy and arrogant when it comes to covering stories, I felt that Cooper is refreshingly self aware but I am still not sure why he wrote the book. The obvious answer is to tell us his story. To tell us about his adventures and why he loves roaming the planet in search for the next complex emergency, famine, war. Yawn. He says towards the end of the book that he wrote the first draft on vacation (he loathes vacations and is always rushing off since he needs to be in perpetual motion to stop himself from succumbing to his inner pain). He alludes to writing it in ten days. It reads like that as well.

I refuse to believe when we have writers like Philip Gourevitch out there writing books like We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, that we will publish Anderson Cooper’s book, an incomplete journey/reflection of why those of us who do live off the misery of others, choose to do so. Also, I hate to tell you this Mr. Cooper, but you are not the first one to think it is funny or wry that you live of the misery of others and, I have had no suicides or death of a parent or world famous mother, and yet, I choose a similar career to yours and in fact my dear, I live it for more than the maximum of a month you might spend there. Journalists and humanitarians, as much as we might hate each other, understand each other best. I like you and think you are a good journalist. I just wish you had put more thought into your book and really delved into and answered the fundamental question of why you do what you do. Selfish of me, but that is what I am trying to figure out for myself.

We are running from something and there is a numbness to our lives, which is why we like perpetual motion, so that we don’t succumb to the nothingness that is out there. This is alluded to in the book but never really looked at or a connection made to what he sees out there. It is there in the eyes of the people we meet and work with. I too was in Sri Lanka after the tsunami and in fact started work right by the train crash that Cooper mentions and like the journalists I met, he went in, saw what he wanted to see (mangled train reminding us of mangled bodies, tragedy and the triumph of the human spirit) but there is no mention at all of what lies underneath this all. He writes in fragments that are smacking of post colonial, adventure tourism, which is something I am constantly trying to reconcile for myself in my work.

I expected more from such a good-looking Yale graduate. He is a journalist though, so perhaps I should not have. Pity. I think an affair might have been fun. My first one night stand will just have to wait till Ondaatje finds me.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Arugam Bay

The fun thing about reading this article is that I was there last year at the surfing championships. I manipulated my bosses, Desk Officer from Germany and Head of Delegation from Colombo, into going there since all my friends were. All hotel rooms were taken and everyone stayed in dingy nasty rooms. This was the weekend that EHB ended up in a gutter since he drank so much. Regardless of the dingiest room I have EVER spent time in, I had fun. Lots of fun. It was my first time in ABay. If I knew then what I know now.

From AlertNet.

FEATURE-Recovery dreams wiped out in Sri Lanka's surf capital
21 Jul 2006 01:02:05 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Peter Apps
ARUGAM BAY, Sri Lanka, July 21 (Reuters) - Sitting on a bed in a surf shack overlooking the Indian Ocean, 33-year-old rickshaw driver A.L. Salaheen watches the handful of surfers catch the morning waves.
This year was supposed to be the best ever for Sri Lanka's surf capital of Arugam Bay.
Four years after a ceasefire halted the island's civil war and more than a year since the 2004 tsunami, the town hoped it had bounced back.
"Last year there were not enough cabanas because of the tsunami and lots of customers," Salaheen told Reuters. "Now there are lots of cabanas and no customers."
Dozens, including foreign surfers who have been visiting the resort since the 1970s, died when the tsunami slammed ashore in Arugam Bay. Even 100 metres back from the coast, whole buildings were swept away by waters perhaps 15 to 20 feet high.
But less than six months later, surfers descended on the town on Sri Lanka's southeast coast for the World Championships. Hoteliers, most of them without insurance, pulled together money to rebuild and take advantage of the goodwill and publicity.
"This year we were hoping for real big money," says Naleen, co-owner of the Tsunami Hotel, named for the big surfing waves and then completely destroyed by its namesake.
"This should be the peak season. But this is the worst in years. People have been scared away."
Renewed violence between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels has killed more than 700 people so far this year, most of them since early April, raising fears of a return to war and scaring away all but the hardiest tourists.
There has been no violence in Arugam Bay so far. But it is only a few miles from areas in the east where the Tigers, government and a breakaway group of ex-rebels frequently clash.
"People see there is trouble in the Eastern Province and they do not realise there has been nothing in Arugam Bay," said Naleen.
While overall tourist figures for Sri Lanka have so far held, visitors have been staying away from Arugam Bay, leaving newly rebuilt hotels empty.
When Reuters visited recently, hoteliers estimated there were only about 25 visitors in town, compared to the 600 they had been hoping for. Many of the visitors were aid workers taking a break from reconstruction work further north.
But hard-core surfers, some of whom first came through the chain of army checkpoints around Arugam Bay at the height of the war, seem largely unconcerned. Indeed, some are glad there is a dearth of tourists.
When the first hippy surfers came to the area in the late 1970s, they slept in villagers' huts or out on the beach under the stars. Swiss physiotherapist Nadim Ismail first came before the ceasefire and says since the town has changed for the worse.
"The atmosphere has changed," he says, sipping a beer after a day on the water. "People are much more money-centred. But the atmosphere is much more relaxed again this year."
That said, he's wary of the Police Special Task Force commandos as they patrol through the town carrying M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles.
During the war, Ismail says the relationship between the surfers and the security forces was awkward, and might become so again.
Once, he says the surfers protested to the local base commander after an ethnic Tamil boy was imprisoned and beaten up by police. That worsened the relationship, but they managed to build bridges with a friendly football game with the commandos.
"We were one nil up at one stage," he says. "But they won 7-1. It was a really friendly game."
For some of the hotel owners, the new, quieter Arugam Bay is good and bad.
"Commercially, it's not very pleasant," says Briton Steve John, who has just rebuilt a hotel after the tsunami. "But in other ways, it is very... pleasant."

Heat Wave

It's frickin hot.

I had a dream that Bill called 4 am. And asked me what time it was. I didn't know at the time since it was dark and I was sleeping. He said he would call back. He hasn't so I must have been dreaming. Perhaps I should call him.

I have been having strange dreams and I am attributing it to the heat. Normally I dream about my life, which is strange and mundane and I am not a big fan of it since lots of time I like to sleep to get away from my life. No luck.

I am not working today since I wanted to get this job application done, which I did!!! I hope they hire me. I don't think they will. That would suck. We will see.

I went back and read old journals that I have. Very fun. I love doing that. This is going to serve as that, by the way. But all of you can read it.

I added new links to the sidebar. I am supposed to be writing something for DesiCritics right now. I know what I am going to write. Desi, for those of you who do not know, means, literally native and comes from the word Des (urdu) or Desh (hindi) meaning country. It is now colloquially used to mean South Asian. I recall a time when my younger sister and I would taunt our elder sister by chanting desi! desi! since it used to be used in derogatory terms to mean villager, uncouth person (langauge tells us so much about culture, I love it!). It has been reclaimed like so many derogatory terms out there.

I wish I had a magic wand to wave over people I liked and it would solve all their problems. I don't and am not happy with the lack of it in my life. It's ok. Well, it would be ok if I were near them to give them hugs.

Ah well.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The time to write

I have it, I don't know why I don't write more often. I often start blogs and don't finish them (I am not advanced enough in my own organization to write it out in a word document first like some people...or perhaps most people).

So, some quick blurbs.

Still working in the Bronx and as a friend recently asked me, is that all black people? NO, it's not. It's multi colored people. Jesus. Still using that Spanish which is awesome. Very happy about that. I guess I shold have said Heysus.

Saw Goal Dreams, a movie about the Palestian National Football team trying to qualify for the World Cup. That is going to be part of a longer post. Check out the website in the meantime, It is a bad title for the film. I saw the theatrical premier in NYC, since it was at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music. Check them out too,, one of the many cool things that I live near in Bklyn.

I took a quiz on AlertNet and got everything right. Since I am not out in the field, I read about everything obsessively now. I like that. I love reading. And on that note, FINALLY read Philip Gourevitch's book on Rwanda. That too needs to be another post since there is lots to talk about with that, which I know the whole world has already talked about, but I wasn't part of the initial conversation.

Photos above from the concert (free) that I just went to at the park where I learnt how to run and trained for the (half) marathon, right around the corner, the Fort Greene Park. That's my sis and me. We saw the tremendously fabulous Brazilian Girls and you HAVE to google them and listen to their songs. My three favorites are: Don't Stop, Pussy and me gusta cuando callas. The lyrics in the song pussy are: Pussy. pussy, pussy, marijuana. No joke, that is a line. Great songs. Great band. They are coming out with a second album soon. Exciting.

Good to see that Bill updated his blog. Ahem...Byron......?

I don't answer comments, but please rest assured, I read and LOVE them.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Homely Brides Beware

From not posting for days, three posts in a row. Each more scintillating than the last.
I love this one. Sent to me by my sister. Relates to an earlier post about arranged marriages. I just love the last few lines about how the guy sues anything tha moves.
More on that later.
'Homely' bride prompts lawsuit
Family of 'handsome' son claims fraud in arranged marriage

Citing the potential bride's protruding teeth, bad complexion and poor English, a family in Massachusetts called off an arranged marriage and filed a lawsuit for damages.

The Hindu family, residing in Belchertown, Mass., had agreed to an arrangement proposed by Hindu friends in Maryland to marry their niece, who lives in India, the Springfield Republican newspaper reported.

But the father of the groom-to-be, Vijai B. Pandey, 60, filed suit after family members saw the selected bride in New Delhi last August. The Pandeys, according to the lawsuit, were "extremely shocked to find ... she was ugly ... with protruded bad teeth, and couldn't speak English to hold a conversation." The woman's complexion also was cited.

The civil suit against Lallan and wife Kanti Giri of Boyds, Md., seeks $200,000 in damages. The charges include fraud, conspiracy and violation of civil rights resulting in emotional distress, the Massachusetts paper reported.

Lallan Giri said the family pleads "not guilty, 120 percent."

While the Giri's current attorney had no comment, their former lawyer, Matthew R. Hertz, claimed the Pandey mischaracterized the original plan.

"It was more of an informal 'would you like to meet her' ... no money ever changed hands that would require reimbursement," Hertz told the Springfield daily.

When the Giris initially proposed the marriage, the lawsuit states, the Pandeys noted Pranjul was handsome, personable and spoke English, and asked if the young woman was "equally beautiful ... and a good match."

The complaint contends the Giris assured the Pandeys the woman was comparable and would learn English. The Giris allegedly agreed to compensate Vijai Pandey "for everything," if their niece was found unsuitable.

The Pandeys received a photo of the potential bride but said they "couldn't tell much" from it. They followed up, however, with long telephone calls to India and sent money for a passport in anticipation of her eventual move to the U.S.

The lawsuit says Vijai Pandey's wife Lalita, their daughter Pramila and Pranjul, went to India last August to finalize the wedding. The Pandeys arranged for the bride-to-be, her mother and her sister to rendezvous with them in New Delhi.

The marriage was called off after an Aug. 22 meeting.

Vijai Pandey claims the Giris knew all along the young woman "was homely and unsuitable and no match for Pranjul."

The Giris have refused to give Pandey any money.

Pandey has filed a number civil complaints since the 1980s against defendants such as Massachusetts judges and lawyers, an insurance company and others, the Springfield paper said.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Red Birthday Cross Happy!

“I work for the Red Cross”, is something I have stopped saying in NYC now. Everyone looks at me very sadly and in hushed tones ask, Oh, how is that? It makes me feel as if someone has died. I quickly started responding, not for the Americans, though, but that is also tricky since how many people out there really know how the RC movement actually works? Most of you know, since most of you reading my blog are people who work in development but for the randoms out there, a very quick RC Movement lesson in my next blog after I finish writing this one.

Katrina happened while I was in Sri Lanka. The Pakistani Earthquake did as well and it was the two times that I felt pangs to not be working in either place. Both are home to me in some way, shape or form. Seems like AmCross really fucked up Katrina. I actually don’t have lots of information on this and perhaps should look it up but the Red Cross is vilified here because of the poor efforts in New Orleans and the fact that things are STILL a year later, in not just a developed country but THE developed country, looking really bad. All donations, I think, were channeled through the Red Cross and they were the big ones, along with FEMA to coordinate the Katrina activities. I guess they didn’t do so well, which is why everyone just looks at me sadly with eyes that say you poor poor child working for the Red Cross. Very different from the reputation of AmCross overseas and within the movement in fact where they are kind of a power house, which was one of my reasons for wanting to stay away from them. I should do a google search on it and write about it more since it is in my backyard and all. Hmmm, perhaps I should have written the post AFTER I did the research so that I could have looked smarter. Ah well.

There is more to come but first, a joint Happy Birthday to Emma and Bill. Emma just had her bday on the 5th and Bill will be having his on Sunday with the World Cup Final (what a lovely way to spend a birthday! And given the time difference, it will be a drunken viewing of the game late at night) and it sounds like he has some big celebration planned. I was there for his birthday last year where he drank so much that he kept saying I am utterly utterly arseholed, and was alternatively hugging trees and burrowing into the sand. We stuck him in a tuk tuk and EHB had to put him to bed. At least Bill is not on a beach this time around. Amazing that someone who hates the beach (sand and sun and salty water are not his thing) has now spent something like NINE years on a tiny tropical island.

If I had not just had some alcohol poisoning which was one of the worst experiences of my life, I would be raising a glass to the two of you. I still can, I suppose, but it will have to be a virgin arrack and coke. Which I guess is then palm juice and coke which sounds nasty to my queasy stomach. Ugh.

Either way,
a Very Happy Birthday
to two
Very Special People.

Mini Red Cross Lesson

The mini lesson I said I would write about in the above post. I hope my sisters read this too. Only because one of them is sitting next to me while I write and wants me to read everything out to her so that she doesn't have to. Too bad lazy. Start reading.

The Red Cross started with the ICRC, which is the International Committee of the Red Cross. They started work in war and conflict situations and have a constant battle trying to keep their position neutral. They need permission from both sides of a conflict in order to work in that conflict. That is different from the UN and is in fact a very unique factor of the ICRC. I love them even though I think there are issues. They are one of the only and were the first organizations that were let into GITMO to work with the prisoners. OK, so after ICRC, the other big RC organization is the IFRC. International Federation of the Red Cross, Red Crescent. They are the umbrella organization for all the National Societies that are out there, which when I last checked was 191. We might be up to 193 with the Palestinians and Israeli’s being recognized which was a very political issue. I will get into why that was political later. It is the basic issue why anything having to do with Palestine is political. Recognizing Palestine as a state is a sticky situation.

Under IFRC, you have National Societies, like the American Red Cross, Saudi Red Crescent, etc. A PNS, which is what I was in Sri Lanka, is a participating National Society and that is what you are called when not working in your own country, but in another.

The National Societies have some basic rules governing them, the most basic of them being, they serve as the auxiliary of the government (which complicates the neutrality part which is why National Societies are now under IFRC and not ICRC), there can be only one National Society in the country (hence the Israel and Palestine complication, which by the way, along with the emblem issue for the Israeli’s stopped American funding for the ICRC and IFRC because of Jewish lobbying for a bit, which sucked) and when you are working in another country as a PNS, you are hosts of the National Society and therefore, ALL your programming goes through them and you can be kicked out at any time, (the problems of the Red Cross in SL stem from this basic rule).

I like the RC overall. I like the idea. Even though you feel like you work for an international organization, in theory, you are not. You are working under the National Society and therefore are supposed to be pretty grass roots and are working as an NGO. When you have a good National Society, as is the case in many Latin American countries, I have heard, it is almost magical to see programming happen.

Perhaps someday I too will see that happen. Didn’t happen last time for sure.

I didn’t realize before I joined the Red Cross just how big it really is and how it operates. How political and bureaucratic it is. I didn’t know it was a “Movement”. That takes a while getting used to and since, as much as I will protest to the contrary, it is political and such, I love learning how to manipulate, exploit and work with the system.

Check out the site, to get more info. They have job listings there as well for those who are looking. And you can read about Henri Dunant who I heard SO MUCH about that I just cannot write about him anymore.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Me encanta

Doesn't really get better than this, does it? Well, it can, I'm sure but I was amused.

from AlertNet about the AU summit this weekend In Banjul.

Khartoum and Ndjamena accuse each other of supporting rebels on their territories and Sudan said on Saturday it was expelling all the Chadian members of an AU peacekeeping force in Darfur.

But Libyan sources said Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Chadian leader Idriss Deby held talks at the summit on Saturday mediated by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Police Registration

From TamilNet.

Yay for registration and to feel even MORE marginalized in your country. I love it. I'm waiting for the internment camps.

Police registration made mandatory to Hill Country, Colombo Tamils

[TamilNet, June 30, 2006 13:59 GMT]
Sri Lanka Government announced that Tamils living in Colombo and suburbs, and in hill country will be required to register with Sri Lanka Police nearest to their residences, in a Press conference held in Colombo district Administrative Secretariat, sources in Colombo said. Deputy Inspector General of Police, Pujitha Jeyasundera, detailed the procedures to be followed by Tamil residents in fulfilling this new requirement.

Regional Assistant IGPs, Officers in Charge of Police, District Secretaries, Officials of the President's Office and Colombo District Government Agent, Mr Silva, participated in the conference.

Registration forms prepared by the Sri Lanka President's office are to be distributed by the SL Police assisted by Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) cadres to homes. Occupants are expected to complete the registration forms in front of the attending security personnel, the Deputy IGP said.

Details related to owners of residences, rented occupants, and boarders in the residence will be required to be entered in the registration forms. Visitors from other districts staying with relatives, and temporary occupants of boarding houses are also expected to register, Mr Jeyasundera said.

Business establishments, public and private, are also expected to register details of Tamil workers.

The new procedures are being implemented to strengthen security in Colombo and to prevent attacks by cadres of Liberation Tigers, Mr Jeyasundera said.


Why o why my dear English team do you insist on fucking it up?

I was rooting for you. Slowly I am understanding the fatalism and love that English fans live with. No wonder you drink so much. And then fight and punch innocent people when you do.

American commentators are blaming the Rooney crotch step for losing the game for England. It was a psych out, basically. and Robinson sucks. As do Lampard and Gerrard.

The Portugal team is really getting down. Sweet. Somehow sliding around on the grass with no clothes on is fun. Grass splinters are not, but it's ok.

Ferdinand and Beckham look really sad. Ferdi is crying.

Ronaldo is hot.

I need to eat. Stomach very jumpy. I gave my hair to the cancer society. Photo soon.