Friday, December 10, 2010

Tweeting is ruining my blogging....

I didn't think it was possible, but it seems I can say everything I want to in chunks of 140 characters.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Bits n bobs.

I write and leave and then come back again....

Problem is: there is SO MUCH other good stuff to read out there!

On my mind these days is the winter and how much I hate it. I kinda really do. I like it for about 4 days and then I get really tired of it. It's cold. It's not very nice. Luckily, I live in a very warm apartment.

FOOD! Food is on my mind in a big big way again....I think it has to do with how I plan on remarketing myself even. Hah.

Remarketing myself: Yes, that too is on my mind. We get so easily stuck in our boxes that it irks me and I've never been very good at accepting it and fight it, from inside my box, of course.

Charity Water and other social change projects. I'm just not convinced and I want to be. I really do....

I think that's good enough for now. I always have to come and write first and just spit it out and then I can get onto actually getting into (or not) some of the stuff. Too lazy to actually link anything at this moment either. I just know I have been feeling guilty about not writing ANYTHING at all and I felt like I should...say something, anything at all (I have James playing right now..blame him).

Christmas lights make me happy. And I don't even celebrate Christmas. But if I give presents and take a holiday and like the lights, that's celebrating isn't it?

A Jehovah Witness came to my apartment today...she wanted to tell me that Jesus wasn't born on the 25th of December. I didn't have the heart to tell her it didn't matter and that was the least of her issues. He existed, right? She asked if she could come back and I did have the heart to tell her, no, I think this is plenty. Leave your magazines with me and I will try to awaken and if I do manage to wake up, I'll call you.

There is something to be said about belief and how we do believe. I come from a family of believers and I respect it. I see what it does for people. I believe in things my head. And I know how strongly I do believe in these things of mine. They don't have to be religious or spiritual the things we believe in but they so provide us with comfort.

It is exhausting to not believe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Girl Effect

Any chance to write about work....especially a good uplifting story and I am on it!

Check out this org: Girl Effect.

Great video posted on there about the girl effect (ie: if you can get a girl in poverty (age 12) out of a vicious cycle you can build a more positive self generating effect.

Here is the video and my post below:

Today, it's about blogging it. Tara of wiseliving came up with the idea for bloggers to blog about it today to raise awareness. Do go check out the website so that you can read the other blogs that have posted about this. Last I checked (20 minutes ago, about 32 blogs were up...)

The girl effect.

I've seen it.

I just saw it in was pretty amazing especially since I was despairing about life as a rural woman in Pakistan. In a totally flooded village, in Sindh, near Mohen Jo Daro. The only village I managed to visit where two of the women were educated. They were the only 'educated' people in the village. Village of about 1o0 households or so. They spoke Urdu, while most of the other women spoke Sindhi or Siraiki. They were two sisters who married into this village. The village, pre floods, had a school, where they taught (and yes, both girls and boys). The village also had healthy people since the two women had made sure that everyone was aware of simple hygiene practices. Deaths from pregnancy were not that common since the two women refused to have home births. Others followed that practice. Girls were not married off at 14...the practice of watta satta (literally, an about it at the's a terrible concept but I can understand part of it given the cultural norms...but I do not endorse it...however, just saying STOP IT is not the solution. Need to be a bit more creative around it) was rife in the neighbouring villages but not so much in this village.

Talking to the two women was amazing. Even more amazing, they made sure everyone else was heard. I didn't have to ask, they just did it. I can speak Urdu but not really Sindhi, so they were doing simultaneous translation so that I could be understood by everyone AND were making sure other voices were heard. They also illustrated a point I make anytime anyone works in a village: those who have more education are the ones that get their voices heard. In this case, exceptionally, it was two doesn't tend to be where I have worked (except in Tamil villages in Sri do NOT want to mess with those women...they will show whose boss..and yes, they tend to be educated). Access to information is a whole other post and how we, as aid workers, think we are looking at social practices and structures but in reality, we listen most to those who know how to talk to us (and those we want to talk to in orer to meet donor demands). That changes the social dynamic...are we aware enough about our own role as an active stakeholder in the community participation we talk about?

When leaving and talking with the head of the village as I was leaving, he was like, it has been SUCH a blessing for us to have these two sisters in our village. Things have been better since they arrived.

Is that a girl effect story or WHAT?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Pakistan Post...(one of)...

Do you see ME there? I was asked that by a friend...he spends time shuttling between Karachi, Toronto, New York, Bombay and who knows where else. He wasn't asking if someone like him would be needed there...he knows they would....he asked instead, rhetorically: do you see me there? As in, I'm not, am I?

In ko apnay haal par chor dou.

Guess who else I don’t see here?

Baraish kitni khubsurat hai. Tree hugging hippy and it pops out of my mouth-it’s automatic aid worker guilt of living a lavish lifestyle. Unless you live in a tent on the side of the road.

I don’t and you don’t and we all scoffed at Sean Penn.

Guess who else I don’t see here?

Who do I see?

Bosnia, Rwanda, Myanmar, Timor, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Ache, Haiti-I see lots of Haiti but then again, I saw a lot of Sri Lanka in Haiti.

It’s not a global community and you don’t know best.


I see ghar aja pardesi, tujhe desh bulaye. My eyes do look for Shahrukh and Kajol. Wrong country…same fields. I wouldn't even know which Pakistani stars to imagine instead...Nadeem and Shabnam were before my time. Babra Sharif might be too dirty.

Allah kay naam pay, beti, dua karouN geeN. I give her ten rupees and say: dua karna, amma.

She cracked me a huge smile and leaned forward slightly and opened up her fist and gestures at my Western colleague two cars away from me..

Unhoun nay mujhe 50 rupay diye.

She did her routine first and unable to keep the news to herself she shares it with me.

You say I’m not local?

It started with her: Her face, the way she spoke, her clothes and the way they wore her. Her script: beti, allah kay naam par, bhalla, dua. I know that script.

I KNOW that script. I know her. She made me feel at home.

These are my people

I want to say it but am wary about how empty that will be- if I were to say my people out loud I would have to move here. I bite it back constantly.

So you see ME here? Guess who else I don’t see?

I thought there was a drought and then massive floods. I see really healthy buffaloes everywhere…and lots of them.

That is an elite Karachi girl much more local do I need to be?

The world's a buzzin!

It just feels that way to me. Must be the happy pills....hmmm.

So, on my mind: Stuff I forgot to write about yesterday in the looooong post...twitter (yes, again), music I'm listening to, books I'm reading, shit i'm thinking...I guess that comes through anyhow.

I do have a life outside of the Fluevog obsession. It might not extend past that and Twitter though.

One of the things that I have been seeing, which after the initial surprise, I thought, enh..of course. I got two twitter streams going that monitors Haiti and one that monitors Pakistan. Haiti twitter feed: all about cholera and the earthquake reconstruction. Pakistan twitter feed: floo...oh wait, no, it's not about floods that are STILL WREAKING HAVOC in parts of the's about cricket. And bombs and a Christian woman being persecuted there. No good news since when does Pakistan ever have good news coming out of it, but the most flood related things I have seen: outrage at a flood tax (only the rich tweet from Pakistan), and donating goats for Eid. Unbelievable. Every once in a while, an aid agency tweet will find itself in the feed saying something about affected people.

That Pakistan post is coming...real soon. In fact, I wrote something (ok, scribbled) in my notebook while there...I should just transcribe and put it up here.

That was the most important thing on my mind this morning, as it turns out. I think it just makes me mad at Pakistanis so now I have lost the will to write anything else. Ewww.

Don't you worry...I'll be back. You know I will. Haven't yet met the thing that can stop my yappin...

Friday, November 12, 2010

The great Fluevog Escape plan

OK I already mentioned, I have a Fluevog Obsession....Obsession with a capital O. Obsession to the degree I have with television and therefore I don't own one or turn it on if I am in one with a room by myself. It turns me into a one eyed zombie and I am incapable of conversation or picking up the remote control and turning it off. So, I don't have a television set and will not turn it on of my own volition. I do not have the Fluevog website open since all I will do is drool at the shoes on there.

I mentioned before that I would have to win the lottery in order to go and buy these shoes but I have an even better plan....

Russell Crowe (yes, that Russell Crowe), tweeted (yes, I know, I am admitting in public that I follow his tweets...and I can't recall how I even started doing it, I just know that he pops up every once in a while...and I like Gladiator...I thought it was a great film. I'm trying to recall if I saw Robin Hood...I did want to...I think I did...bleary eyed on a 14 hour long haul to South Korea...but it wasn't like Robin Hood as I know it...and Maid Marion wasn't a maid...she was like a widow (but Cate Blanchett who I adore)...and there was no big John...there was a Friar Tuck and there was a forest, I think and people did end up there living in tree houses at the end, dancing but there was a whole angle of like..revolution or something? And Robin Hood was actually a child of a revolutionary and had 'good' blood in him? The movie is starting to unfold in my head like a Dances with Wolves (skirting around Robin Hood, the cartoon and Kevin Costner versions) meets Gladiator and any other medieval type film with a hot white guy in it fighting for justice (Braveheart, that other movie with Liam Nieson, Sword in the Stone (cartoon version only) and Last of the Mohicans....Mohican which the Brits think means mohawk, the hairstyle....what do they call a fauxhawk then? Fauxheecan? Your man, David Beckham had one...I wonder what he called it)...

Anyhow, so he tweeted about his new movie...called The Next Three Days (it's directed by Paul Haggis. He made Crash. I really liked I'm guessing I will like this one...even if I already know the whole entire story. I think it's going to be one of those movies where it's the journey not the end result...which actually, is still a mystery to me...I don't know how it ends). Anyhow...So...the movie. One of the publicity thingies is this grand prize you can win etc. You can choose from 8 different locations to go have a vacation. One of those places is NYC. And you can stay at the blah blah and do the blah blah tour and blah blah restaurant and you get 2 grand spending money. AHA!!

So, the plan, is really very very simple. Win the grand prize, choose the NYC destination, get the prize money bit of it and go BUY MY FLUEVOGS!

So simple. So genius. Easier, I would think, than winning the lottery. Less people probably entering to win this giveaway grand prize thingie than those buying lotto tickets so my odds are better, no?

I do currently own shoes that cost more than Fluevogs do. I have a job and make money too. But, THAT IS MISSING THE POINT: I want my impulsive, indulgent shopping to be funded by free cash money and not by the cash I am currently not earning since I am writing a blog instead of actually working as I should be. (Employer: It only took me 15 minutes to write this...stop being a slave driver).

I need to write out my plan, ala Mr Crowe in his new movie (he has three days to spring his wife from jail...go see the trailer, don't ask me), and figure out how to make this work. Lottery plans or Grand NYC prize. Two columns...many rows...what will she do?

Must get post its. Lots of them. Different colours and sizes. I love post it notes. I in fact, travel with them to every mission I go to...yep...that's the kind of dork I am. I am waiting for someone to create the inflatable whiteboard....that would SO make my life. Maybe when I win the lottery, I can dedicate my time to making one.


Lots of bits and pieces (aka: browser roundup)

My browser is being overstretched...why? I blame twitter and my sudden obsession to know what is happening in the rest of the world. I have one too many things open now, all demanding a blog post/my unsolicited opinion.

I'm terrified (in my hyperbolic American way) to lose any of the info so I'm just going to write mini blurbs around all it..

I should prolly categorize but given that I recognize this as me procrastinating before i actually hunker down and do some work, I need to just get this over with.

First up: Haiti and Cash For Work.

My biggest pet peeve. I fucking hate CFW at this moment in time. The actual definition, for anyone who cares, of CFW is: Payment for work on community or public works programmes to improve or rehabilitate the community.

What has ended up happening instead is PAID LABOUR. The objectives of CfW programmes have started reading like food security objectives: ie: people will have cash in order to meet their food requirements. I fine this abhorrent and offensive. In the start of an emergency, people have MUCH BETTER THINGS TO DO than be part of CfW schemes in order to have some money in order to buy what they need. Examples of things they need to be doing includes getting their documentation in order. People lose stuff (Haiti-earthquake, Pakistan-floods...think back to tsuanami...things are lost)...if they don't have their IDs, home documents etc, they can't register for aid (government or otherwise as well in many cases).

In the Haiti example, and I was there and I saw this: rubble removal was the pet project for CfW. There is SO much freakin rubble in Haiti that even big mac trucks (and the country has 300 and no proposed dumping's an ISLAND), if these trucks were to work ever single would take ten years. I heard other figures as well but all pointing to how massive the problem is. Get some professionals in to sort it out...stop giving people gloves, vests and wheelbarrows and getting them to haul it off. For what purpose? You want them to have money...just GIVE IT TO THEM...don't force them to work for what should be a basic right (food and basic needs being met in an emergency situation). It's gross.

The article I link to is a good one. Read it. Pass it on. I am not done with my CfW rant but am happy to say that when I left Pakistan, at least the agency I was working for...I made sure we didn't have a separate CfW budget line. It was incorporated where it should be..within community projects and grants. I got yelled at for that, but I stuck to it. I am not about to further bad practice if I can help it. This whole current situation of CfW is a bad hangover from food for work, another disgusting form of programming.

Second up: Psychosocial work in Pakistan.
I need not say more...just click on the link. Diaries by Sara Klevmar...she writes wonderfully and simply and it's a way to see the work we do from the ground up. Well done, Sara.

Third: Sri Lanka. And Porn.

Yep, that's right...Sri Lankan porn. Why can't this country, which is so beautiful, and with beautiful people, get their shit in order? There is a hunt on for porn stars in Sri Lanka. No joke. Is there nothing else the police could be doing right now? They are publishing the photos (of what they guess to be teenagers) in the newspapers. Thankfully, there are sane people and advocates in the country that are pointing out that the people in the video might be there without their consent or through coercion and such a public exposure could harm them but the militant and weird brand of Buddhism in the country seems to support the moral outrage these porn videos (shot it seems, mostly with cell phones, by the way) are causing. No Sri Lanka story I read is complete without one classic line...Here's the one from this article: Police plan to publish images, taken from the films, of around 50 more in the coming days. The mug shots have been obtained by a special police squad viewing films "round the clock", officers said.

Fourth up: Haiti again. Media being offensive to me again.

Story written by a Ms. Georgianne Nienaber: Investigative journalist, author, Haiti relief worker.

My offense is simple....yes, I think what is happening in Haiti sucks and it should be reported on for transparency and accountability and with the aim of getting aid to people properly. She is talking about Camp Corrail...I have worked in that camp....Here is the offensive line:
This was our third visit to Haiti since the earthquake, and what this man says is completely accurate.

As ANYONE with ANY field experience TRIANGULATES information. I can already tell you that this mans outrage is completely justified however, what is he is saying is NOT completely accurate as Ms Nienaber says. Two examples: People were not forced to move from Petitionville Golf Course camp...they were given options and these were explained. They were also given more than one bag of rice on arrival to the camp. I know, because I was there...and the agency I was working with didn't move them and we didn't give out relief items so I am not being biased here. Now, this one mans story, could be completely accurate just for HIS situation...however, he is NOT representative of the first batch of people that moved to Corrail.

All I am asking for is what I exercise as a field person as well. Proper telling of stories. I think it's just irresponsible otherwise. A little bit more integrity please. It goes a long way...pass it on.

Fifth up: China and Pakistan and Nukes.

Pakistan, I don't know if I love you or not, but you never fail to disappoint. I look at Zardari's face and I feel sick. Ugh is all I can say to this article. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh.

Sixth up: A collection of just really cool stuff.

@blurb has put up this beautiful picture on his website. I heart it. Once I get paid, I'm gonna buy it and he's gonna sign it for me. WOOHOO!

I am obsessed with Fluevogs...they are shoes. Heels, in fact. Who knew I had that in me. But I am in love. It started with my sister buying a paid before I went off to Pakistan, or maybe even before that but I was like, yeah, ok, whatever. And all of a sudden yesterday, I was like, hey, let me see those shoes again...and I tried them on, and though she is like, three sizes larger than me, I put them on and was like, HOLY SHIT, this is amazing! I need to win the lottery in order to buy a pair. I am buying tickets starting tomorrow. You gotta be in it to win it.

Social change and media has my attention...I like it. Here is a piece on using mobile technology to gather data fast. It's important to be able to do that, and I like that I saw it being used in both Haiti and Pakistan. Real time info, as fast as we can get it and then use it to meet needs gets massive brownie points from me. The UN also has an initiative to harness this hype around technology called Global Pulse. There have been bits and pieces around mobile phone subscriptions in India and the continent of Africa and how the numbers are getting higher and higher and how people use the technology for all sorts of things (of course, they don't dis-aggregate African data but what? It's a continent, not just one BIG massive homogeneous country? Wha?)

For you apple mac lovers out there....some nice geek stuff on how to make full use of the automator.... I need to re read the piece in order to figure out how to actually do it and what added value, if any, it might bring to my life.

Seventh up: Gender Equality and Business.

I'm to tired to write anymore, but I have it up here so it's important enough for everyone to read it. I will post it in conjunction with a report from the Women's Refugee Commission...scroll down to the middle of the page and download the report: Peril or Protection: Link between Livelihoods and Gender Based Violence. . It's important. Read it and be educated.

WHEW! I'm done. For now. I need to stop reading and close my mind off to anything else for the time being and get some work done. If only things weren't so interesting and I didn't want to know something about everything.

Jane of all trades, Mistress of none.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cuddle Class

For someone who flies as much as I do this is welcome news...

Cuddle class in economy. Way to go New Zealand Air.

It's for long haul flights. Set to launch in April. I can't wait to see what this looks like. I HATE flying. Especially long long flights, which if you live in the States like me, you end up taking to go anywhere there is a disaster (cept Haiti and the rest of the continent below us).

I need to fly with someone...or learn to cuddle strangers.

I just googled cuddle class after hearing about it on one of my favorite shows...NPRs Wait wait, Don't Tell Me. It's great. You can podcast it.


Oh man....check out Jamie Oliver's new place called Barbecoa in London.


Read the story of the place and how they started it. I love good stories. And and and and and...they have a butchers shop downstairs! I am so jealous. So very very jealous. I want one too...cept of course, I'm not the greatest chef (I'm ok), and I don't have the patience to have a restaurant etc etc...but still...I WANT.

The menu is amazing...they have all sorts of bar b q ovens all over the place...

I am drooling.

I hate Jamie Oliver's tweets by the way...he misspells everything and they are like half thoughts etc. You have 140 characters, dude, it's not that hard. But anyhow, he has redeemed himself in my eyes by this new restaurant. I have no idea what other restaurants he has, actually, but still...this one looks FREAKIN COOL and I want it.

Calling London! We will be going there when I'm in town. Along with my three other faves: Sake No Hana (posh Japanese in posh part of town...I can't recall exactly where but close to that place where you get baskets. Something & Something or maybe it's just something something), Cafe Helen (awesome late night shwarma, Edgeware road), and Tayyabs (amazing Pakistani food...STAND IN LINE....I swear to you, it's worth it-East Aldgate). The other one to add to my list of London places actually is also Poule a Pot...I think that's what its Orange near Sloan Square and Victoria stations. Great for winter to go into this cosy cosy place and eat lovely lovely French food. Mmmmmmm

I just ate daal and chawal. Nothing in the world beats that.

Still, I'm coming Jamie. Make way.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

World Kindness Week

What a lovely idea...

World Kindness Week.

There is a foundation: Random Acts of Kindness and it was started in 1995. Not sure where they get their funding from or anything, but what a great idea. Works for me.

I was told recently that I need to keep business as business and not be so friendly. I disagree. Part of me is wanting to be a good person and I see that as spilling over to anything I do. I will go out of my way to help people when I am working or not.

Anyhow, this is not about me and what a nice person I am...even though it should be. Hah.

It's about how we can all be kind and the benefits of doing that. Here is a great article on how 7 ways of sharing can make you happy....

Anyone got random acts of kindness stories to share? I'll guest blog you! I like stories of kindness. A lot.

Monday, November 08, 2010

We are all stalkers

I just looked at the live feed on who comes from where to view this blog. I can't see WHO you are dear readers, however, I can see where you are coming from.

So, the people who do a search for f zehra know me. There are tons of searches for just zehra and zehra rizvi and there are lots of zehras and zehra rizvis out there...

Some of you arrive direct. Interesting. Some of you are still arriving from facebook. I deactivated facebook, so I am indeed curious how you do that.

That was fun and I've been dying to update my facebook status to say, I DEACTIVATED! I am free of facebook! Except I can't do that anymore obviously. The withdrawal symptoms of leaving facebook have faded by now.

I'm back from home Pakistan by the way. It was a pretty amazing experience. I am still deconstructing it in my head and will write about it in all probability.

Anyhow, if you know me and come onto my blog...send me some love. It makes me want to write and that should make it easier for you to stalk me, no? Especially since there is no facebook to track my EVERY movement :)

Amazing but I can still function without a passive audience watching my every move. I miss talking people on be fair, I had zero time in Pakistan to do that, but still. My sisters and I are close so they have had to adjust to not being able to stalk me as well.

We go old school talk to each other.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

i like this

By martial

MARTIAL, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:—
The richesse left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join’d with simpleness;
The night discharg├Ęd of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress.
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate
Ne wish for death, ne fear his might.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I'm off

It's off to Pakistan for me...

I don't feel so nervous this time going off on a mission. Normally, I do. I get massive anxiety around it and this time, I feel very calm. Almost to the point of denial. Ha ha.

I know the team I will be working with and that helps immensely. It's the unknown that bothers me, I think. I know the team and the first time going out in an emergency, I know the language. That is a huge comfort.

My South Asian heritage is going to be both an advantage and a disadvantage. I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out. It could go either way and once again, I have to have that balancing act in place. Things are easier for me, yes, but they also become much harder. The standards set for me are different as are the expectations.

Interestingly enough, for a mission that I feel comfortable with, I think everyone around me is a little freaked out. Everyone except for Micky. He might be but he doesn't say he is. He's seen me in the field. Like, really, in the field. My dad sent me a message saying I need to be careful out there. This is a man whose wife has been going to Iraq almost every year since the war. His other daughter goes to Pakistan regularly. I haven't been in 8 years. And even then, it was for two weeks. The time I went before, it was for three weeks, 10 years ago. Both times for weddings. My about-to-be boss, someone I have worked with before, just admonished me to dress conservatively. Or else he would take me to the shops. I laughed. I push boundaries, yes, but I'm not stupid.

I'm good at what I do and at sensing situations and what I can get away with. This time, I'm not looking to get away with anything. I just want to go out and do my job and be proud of the work I have done. I hope it's helpful and of some use to the people that need the help. And there are lots of people that need the help.

I do wonder how this will all play out. Am I walking blind into a situation when for the first time, I don't feel like I am?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friends...and other things.

I'm glad I have the ones I love.

Have been playing catch up with everyone after a very hectic and chaotic first 6 months of the year. It's been amazing to see people and to reconnect with them.

Helps that the weather has been amazing and that I do love being in NYC. I have begun to realize (and this would have been blasphemy a few months back), but it's not about the place. NYC is just a backdrop. And a gorgeous one at that, but's just a place. It is in fact, about the people that are there.

I have friends from all over just popping up. I was telling one last night that I am not interested in making new friends. I don't really want to make the effort with them. I like the friends I have. I like seeing them. And I am making an effort with them. To reconnect, to hang out, to be with them. I do miss it when I don't have it. It's one of the things I like to complain about when not 'home'.

It's interesting..Micky and I were talking about this...the web and network that I can sustain. He likes friends and people in a place, a location, where he stays in touch with them right there. I have a more amorphous friend network. And I keep it alive. I have lots of friends and I love that I can see many of them right here in NYC but the others, I keep alive. In a variety of different ways. Some of them don't get along with each other but everyone has something in common.

They like me. That's important :)
More importantly, they know who I am. That I will stay in touch sporadically but we will pick up from where we left off, maybe play catch up, maybe not, but we are who we are and even if we change, somehow, it's ok. We are still the friends that we are. I love that.

Living this close to Haiti has its perks as well. I keep hosting people coming through and I love it. We had Luca here last week and Tom is coming tonight. Overnight stops at our place. I am glad to be out of Haiti. Pakistan is looming and that is an overdue post but it's coming. Chances are I will be there in Sept but not sure exactly how and doing what, but I am on a roster for Sept and there have been noises about my being out there for a month.

I haven't been writing here and now I want to. This blog is like a friend of mine. Sporadic but no need to play catch up either.

I have my fingers crossed for a job in NYC. It's with a good organization and it's for a year and it will give me that stability that I seem to be craving and needing. Nice, how I distance myself from that sentence saying, it SEEMS to be what I need. LOL. Professionally, it will be really good for me. I went through three interviews so let's see what happens. It will be a first if I don't get the job that after interviewing, I haven't gotten a job. I didn't tell them that. What I did tell them, grinning away at the first serious question they asked me was: I can't remember the last face to face interview I did. It's strange not being in my pajamas when talking to you. I did manage to give a credible enough answer to the question as well.

The fringe was on in NYC. We saw one play. I didn't realize we had the fringe here as well. I know it's something I should know but I always just thought it was in Edinburgh. Whoops. Anyhow, a friend recommended it. The play we saw was called RASH. We were four humanitarian/aid workers of sorts and opinion was divided. My life was on stage so I was in love. Micky saw me on stage so he might have been scared but he thinks there is hope for me. The other two just didn't like it and I wasn't that interested to find out why. I loved it. That was good enough for me and my 15 bucks. If any of you get a chance to see it, do so.

Weird how things come together sometimes. The week before, I had turned to Micky and said, I love disasters. It is who I am. We need to deal with this. Without going into too many details, let's just say, I love them and he really does not. My work is the other man but I'm working on it :). The play spoke to that part of me. I could not just understand but empathized deeply with the character. I am two people at times and both are equally strong.

And both are equally pig headed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More music!

Why not continue on a theme I

The last post wasn't so much about it as it turns out.

Been listening to lots of music, especially since I am working from home right now. I love how music can do so many different things to me.

I have three favorite songs at the moment...well, more than three, but three different bands. Let's see if I can post them all up right now.

Song number Travis (I know nothing about them...I should probably look them up). This song showed up on my genius playlist and I fell in love with it. I dance around in my apt to it all by myself. It makes me happy in a strange way.

Second video...kinda annoying that I can't actually get the real video up. I discovered V V Brown since it was free on iTunes and I was like, awesome! And i just rediscovered this song last night...and now it's on repeat. Another one that makes me happy just to sing it out loud and shout.

And the third...Scouting for Girls. Their new album. I downloaded it. It's the first new music I've bought in a long time. There are way too many songs to put up but one as an example posted below. My other favorites are: On the Radio, Good Time Girl, and Take A Chance On Us. I read a review of the album which wasn't great. They said it was all toooo perfect. All made for the radio. It's true. But I unabashedly love pop songs :)

I need to listen to Mumford&Sons. I keep hearing about them. Haven't yet, knowingly, listened to one of their songs. Maybe I should do that now. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 20, 2010


I'm listening to music that reminds me of my time in Uganda. Not because it's Ugandan or anything but just because I used to listen to it all the time while working. It's great how music can transport one. Sometimes great, sometimes not so great when you recall that you aren't still in that moment. Hah!

My weird dreams are continuing. Today was a big day for them. Not sure WHAT is going on...the last one, it's like I couldn't open my eyes and couldn't see. My younger sister was annoying me for some reason and I finally got away from her and was in this cubicle and was charging my iPhone near a sandwich and all of a sudden, the whole thing started smoking. I was able to unplug it but the smoke was still coming and I couldn't see it. I would close my eyes and could tell that there was light outside but when I would open my eyes, I couldn't see a thing. And I needed to see since there was smoke still coming from stuff. And, typically, I didn't want to ask for help since I was in an office type environment even though I think it was full of my family. I kept rubbing my eyes and trying to open them and squinting. Kept turning lights on and off since I felt like I was looking at things in the dark. The lights would pretend to work, then not work at all and then work with SUPER dim lighting which is worse.

I HATED that dream. It must totally suck to be blind and lose your sight like that.

Good anxiety dream. Well done, me.

In my earlier dream I was certifiable insane.

Great. Really, that's just great.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I love my job.

So, I've been in Vietnam to help facilitate a training. Readers of my blog will know by now how much I LOVE this part of my job. It's hard work, and you have to be on but the interaction with people, especially if they are field people implementing in the field is totally one of my favorite things.

And it's for reasons like this. In about ten minutes, one of the participants put this together and showed it at the end of the training. How TOTALLY awesome is it?


Friday, July 23, 2010

World Humanitarian Day (not today, but still)

My new fave video. And Matt is in it..dancing.

Maybe I am getting sentimental in my old age...I got a little teary eyed watching this. It is something to be a humanitarian. Something really special and I feel connected to people I may have worked with for only a few hours, but that connections, it holds. It's hard to describe. But anyhow, we don't do this enough (I am especially bad at it), but here's to us.

Monday, June 28, 2010


It's probably not healthy to find any meaning in your past self but I have a blog, and I know how to use it!

I wrote this post the summer I was off to graduate school. It's not necessarily interesting. Just that I said it was hot and that I was having strange dreams. If you read the blogs from that time, you can see that I was in a weird limbo place as well at that time.

Must history repeat itself? Or perhaps I am supposed to learn from it?

Last night, I dreamt of dolphins. I have never swam with dolphins or had other than a momentary thought about swimming with them. I could feel the dolphin in my dream. We were swimming together. It wasn't slimy and felt like I would imagine it would feel like. Firm-ish and smooth-ish but still icky-ish. We were just chilling, me and the dolphin. I was out of the water and could feel it swimming near my feet which were in the water. Something happened, which I can't recall now and all of a sudden, it became human/alien and like a grown fetus it came out of the water and was laying there.

That woke me up for obvious reasons. It wasn't scary but it wasn't nice either. It has alien like big eyes (or perhaps that baby like big eyes) and the hands are what struck me. They had gills on them. Neatly patterned gills.

Seriously....what the fuck? I am having strange dreams these days. Is it wishful thinking to attribute it to the heat?

Why don't I just go ahead and attribute my whole life to the heat right now? So much easier.

It's frickin' hot.

Zeb and Haniya

Check out these videos. Coke Studio in Karachi has started this music sessions which are incredible. Zeb and Haniya burst onto the scene maybe about two years ago or so and Zeb has an incredible voice. I love their music. Two of my favorite songs and you can buy their stuff on iTunes! Also do click on the Coke Studio link...they have lots of videos and info on music in Pakistan which is fantastic these days.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I love you, Matt, whoever you are...

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! This has just made me SO very very very happy.


And smile. What would life or this world be if we didn't smile...and in the wise words of Paulo Coelho #ilovelifebecause it is not a sin to be happy.

Au revoir...

A week to go before I leave.

I have had to pace myself. A 7 week mission. Some people are out here for much longer and I keep saying, I know what my capacity is and how long I can go in order to still be able to function with some modicum of efficiency and effectiveness.

How are the others doing it? Those who have signed up for three months, six months, a year?

Everyday, there are new faces out here. With a week left to go, I am not even bothering to get to know them or find out who they are. That happens in every mission, without fail. You get used to the people you know and you are comfortable hanging out with them. By luck, or they know someone, a new face will become part of your group. It's just too much effort otherwise.

We were talking about this and it seems to be a mental shift. I know I am here for 7 weeks. Those on longer contracts know they are here for the long run. You pace yourself differently. Every 6 weeks, most people are entitled to a week R&R. That seems to be the marker then. You think in 6 week blocks.

I see myself coming back to Haiti. Not sure in what capacity or for how long, but I see myself coming back here. I would be surprised if I didn't.

A first mission delegate was out here and as she was gearing up to leave (after extending her mission more than double), she was struggling with saying goodbye. You dont actually ever say goodbye. Not a place and most certainly, not to people. You never know when you will see them again and that's the beauty of what we do. I am working once again with someone I worked with five years ago. We saw each other socially, twice since then, but here we are now. Having breakfast together, checking in with each other. It's great.

My tattoo brother is out here too. Five years ago, Oct 2005, Berlin, Germany, he gave me his tattoo from his calf for my back. I saw him after that last year, again, by mistake in Nairobi. People ask me about the frog on my back. It's not a frog but I can see how it looks like one. I was telling someone about my tattoo brother and lo and behold, the next night, he shows up. Random. And typical. And typically, I haven't seen him since then, three nights ago. I could track him down and find out but I like the relationship we have. There are no emails unless we have something important like a birth of a child (his), marriage (mine), and we see each other when we see each other.

You don't say good bye.

Just au revoir.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yep, I changed it

The fact that the stupid YouTube videos were too big and were blocking stuff on the made it look messy. So, I changed it.

I feel like I've come home after a long time and someone has rearranged all the furniture. But that's ok. I will get used to it.

And so will you.

i can't stop lovin you.....


here's more entertainment. 30 full fledged bollywood stars past and present. More present than past. Some not so past but still past.

And I do LOVE SRK. King Khan.

I miss Bollywood. I haven't been able to see a Bollywood film in a while.

Actually, the last film I saw was Indian but not Bollywood per se. FANTASTIC film. Would highly recommend it. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi.

Recommended not for all ages, but for all sorts of people. You don't have to be brown to enjoy it. It is a film about activists...sort of. It's a film about life and activists are starring in it.

Back to the entertainment....

Friday, May 21, 2010

Addicted... Twitter. Again.

This happens every once in a while. I go through phases. I am totally back into blogging and tweeting, and honestly, it feels GREAT. There was a whole community out here that I just dropped out of. And they forgave me...or, didn't notice. Either way, it's how I like my life to be. I can come and go. My best friends are great that way to me as well. They know there will be times when I will be there and present and...well, there! And there are times when I drop off the face of the earth. They don't hold it against me.

What is weird with tweeting is that I was feeling out of touch with Stephen Fry, Johnathan Ross, Pink, Alyssa Milano, Susan Orlean and the person who is a tweeting train wreck because of his HORRIBLE spelling, Jamie Oliver.

I obviously don't know any of these guys for real. I will say though that Wyclef Jean is now following me (I am one of 7000 he follows, go figure), and I'm sure it's only cuz I tweet about Haiti every once in a while..Also, of the 100 people I follow, that's it on the celeb list. And they do know how to tweet, though seriously, if Jamie doesn't get his act together, I am blocking his ass. This is your last chance, Jamie. Learn something from Alyssa, Stephen and Susan...they're good. Boris, by the way (the Mayor of London), is way better at tweeting than Obama is. I have a feeling, and perhaps it's a good PR/comms person, but I actually think that Boris is in fact tweeting. Himself. With his own fingers. Obama is not. He's got WAY more personality than his tweets.

Anyhow, it does feel good to be connected again. It's great that I come on my blog and I do write. It feels more comfortable now. After a long time.

Yay for that.

Email can be dumb

Do you ever think your email will change your life? Like, there will be that one email in your inbox, that all of a sudden will be like, Hi, I am not a Nigerian banker and am for real and you just won a gizzilion dollars...or even didn't apply for this super fantastic job but we know you would rock it and you would love it and it's like you and this job were made for each, it's all yours.

I check my email obsessively. And I know I do it because I keep thinking, something will be there that will change my life.

Am I unhappy with my life? No.

But there is still something about changes that I like. The unknown factor of it, I s'pose. Though I do deal with change badly. Well, not badly, per se...just not as well as I would like to. I try to normalize things and find the familiar in them as soon as I can.

Emails have changed my life. I have gotton lots of important news over email. Also, you never know what you will find in your inbox. Someone from way back when might email you and say, hey, I'm in town. An old CV from long ago might finally make it through some HR system and you will get an interview. Your friend might be pregnant. You might get poked.

I am needing a change...I am, weirdly enough, thinking my inbox is going to provide me with some answers. I might be a complete idiot or....

....the revolution will be emailed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wee Willie Winkie

I looked him up for the last post...

Did you know there is a WHOLE entire poem dedicated to him? Beyond the first para, which I thought as the whole song...I love Wikiepdia.


Wee Willie Winkie rins through the town,
Up stairs and doon stairs in his nicht-gown,
Tirling at the window, cryin' at the lock,
Are the weans in their bed, for it's now ten o'clock?

Hey, Willie Winkie, are ye coming ben?
The cat's singing grey thrums to the sleeping hen,
The dog's spelder'd on the floor, and disna gi'e a cheep,
But here's a waukrife laddie! that winna fa' asleep!"

Onything but sleep, you rogue! glow'ring like the mune,
Rattling in an airn jug wi' an airn spoone,
Rumbling, tumbling round about, crawing like a cock,
Skirlin' like a kenna-what, wauk'ning sleeping fock.

"Hey, Willie Winkie - the wean's in a creel!
Wambling aff a bodie's knee like a very eel,
Ruggin' at the cat's lug, and raveling a' her thrums-
Hey, Willie Winkie - see, there he comes!"

Wearied is the mither that has a stoorie wean,
A wee stumple stoussie, that canna rin his lane,
That has a battle aye wi' sleep before he'll close an ee-
But a kiss frae aff his rosy lips gi'es strength anew to me.

Versions paraphrased for English readers began to appear in print from 1844 in the form:

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Up stairs and down stairs in his night-gown,
Tapping at the window, crying at the lock,
Are the children in their bed, for it's past ten o'clock?

Hey, Willie Winkie, are you coming in?
The cat is singing purring sounds to the sleeping hen,
The dog's spread out on the floor, and doesn't give a cheep,
But here's a wakeful little boy who will not fall asleep!

Anything but sleep, you rogue! glowering like the moon,'
Rattling in an iron jug with an iron spoon,
Rumbling, tumbling round about, crowing like a cock,
Shrieking like I don't know what, waking sleeping folk.

Hey, Willie Winkie - the child's in a creel!
Wriggling from everyone's knee like an eel,
Tugging at the cat's ear, and confusing all her thrums
Hey, Willie Winkie - see, there he comes!"

Weary is the mother who has a dusty child,
A small short little child, who can't run on his own,
Who always has a battle with sleep before he'll close an eye
But a kiss from his rosy lips gives strength anew to me.

My childhood lullaby

Along with wee willy winkee, which, now that I saying that, out loud, after many years, sounds like a porn star name, my mom used to sing us hindi songs. We used to have musicb playing in the kitchen when we were little...songs from when my mom was little. She had a million casette tapes which she gave away one day, (the day the music died.....)

Me and my sisters all have a very special place for the song posted below. It's gorgeous to listen to and I can recall my mom's voice singing it to us...

Brilliantly enough, I was hanging with Alka and Milan, her gorgeous baby boy, and she has this lullabies from the world CD that she plays for him at bed time, and out of the blue, this song came on. We sat there, both of us humming to it, with a fourth generation child soothed by the voice of Lata in black and white.

For you listening pleasure.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

yaddi bladdi

My jaw hurts but it's certainly not because I'm smiling too much. No way.

I look down a lot, I have discovered. At the ground. I can not make eye contact in's much easier, but here for some reason, when I want my five minutes of cigarette smoking privacy and I stare off into the distance, or look at the ground and AVOID eye contact, it's hard. People are going out of their way to establish eye contact, or WORSE, they walk up to you and start talking to you...and the way to start a conversation: you looked so peaceful and lost in your thoughts.

And you had to interrupt my peace and my being lost in happy land to tell me this?

My normal face, is not a smiling face. I'm trying to think how many people have a normal face that is a smiling one. I want to say not many, but that's so that I am not standing on the fringes, but actually, I haven't looked enough to know. I am going to start observing...and if, IF, most pepole have no smiling faces then........

.....then the next time someone says to me: HEY, pretty girl! Why aren't you smiling?

They will get smacked because neither are they.

Fantastic photos from Haiti

Check it out. A GORGEOUS slide show on Haiti. Courtesy of Jake Price and Phil Coomes and the BBC.

I wish I could embed it somehow. Hmmm. Maybe I can.

I tried. For two minutes. You can just click on the link instead.

I do wish I were patient enough to learn to be more tech savvy. Maybe that's what I will do on vacation one day.

I need to go and grapple with excel anyhow right now. Time to generate some data!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From the hammocks at base camp....a little piece of heaven.

I felt like I was dying last Saturday and I remembered that we had hammocks on base camp. I found them and I didn't LEAVE them at all. It was fantastic. I spent the whole day there and was under the ONE tree we have...which, as you might be able to hear, attracts birds.

I did eventually get up...and make dinner for 90 people. Which is in fact, as difficult as it sounds but totally worth it as so many people told me they really liked it. I think just having something different makes a BIG difference. I will try once again to cook for everyone...

My view from the hammock.


Well then!

OK, there's a lot going on in the world...(at least mine).

Firstly, there is 8 year olds dancing like Beyonce.

Secondly, there are philosophers doing cool stuff.

Thirdly, it's still too hot in Haiti.

Fourthly, there is a sketchbook project which sounds amazing and I am totally signing up for it.

Fifthly, I have to pee like NO ONE'S business but the god damn chemical toilets are SO far away...will I make it?

Sixthly, and most importantly, I only just noticed at the multitude of pokes that I have on facebook that I have done nothing about.

Where am I supposed to start?

A to do list...

(that's four separate links there, people...people love their to do lists...)

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's too hot

It really is. It's so freaking hot today. I say that EVERY DAY. And believe it or not, EVERY DAY, it's freaking hot.

It's hard to work in so much heat, especially when you aren't used to it.

One of the offices of the organization that I am working with, has an AC. There are some local staff there and they keep the door closed so that the AC air does not come into their office. It's too cold them for.

Samuel, the field offider that I work with, came in with a glove on one hand. He lives on the outskirts up in the hills (they really aren't that high), and the air is cooler there. He wears the one glove since when he hails a tap tap, his hand gets cold.

Many of the African expats that I am working with all wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and yes, they are sweating too but they are comfortable and able to function efficiently. We had a long conversation about it. The conversation started with mangos but that's another post for another day.

Can it be for real that you can get used to working in heat like this if you are born into it? I love heat, I tell people I am a tropical girl, but who am I kidding? I am an east coast American...I HATE the winter but I think most people struggle with it.

Why can't it be permanently spring wherever I go? In the little bubble that surrounds me?

Blogging aid

Here's a site to check out. Saundra, who writes the blog is out here in Haiti and we have been having interesting discussions around the aid community and bloggers. It's big business now and I think it's great. It's a good informal way for all of us to keep in touch and share stories (and therefore, lessons) and also, it's a good way to know what the trends are and for someone else to do all the reading and research for you and synthesize it...

Saundra's blog is all about donor education. When she first said that, my brain went straight to DfiD (now known as UKAID, which is a dumb name but no one knew what DfID stood for), ECHO, USAID, etc. But what's really cool about her blog is that, she is talking about the average joe (the plumber), donor. You and me.

If you know someone who works in the humanitarian sector and you see a disaster on TV, you will ask them, who should we give to? Where will our money actually make a difference? I get asked that all the time, and now I will point them to the charity rater/tracker that Saundra has developed. It's very cool. It's not a 'give to this agency and that's that' kind of thing. It is a multiple choice thingie and it makes you THINK about how you want your money to be used and for what and helps you make an informed decision about how best you want your money to work.

The blog is called, wonderfully: Good intentions are not enough. Love the title. It gets quoted in the NYTimes and Saundra has plans for expansion. It's tough what she does but as I was saying to her last night, it's reallly realllly reallllly important. I have always believed that the giving public is actually smart. They get treated like idiots by mainstream media but I just feel like if you put out ways for people to self educate and think things through, they are more than able to make informed and smart choices and decisions.

I think lots of people miss that point in our education system. It's not about knowing dates and formulas, but rather, a good teacher will show you how to think critically...and have a brain: use it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

That's Entertainment....

I am SO entertained by this. Sitting in Haiti, at my desk and it was an amazing ten minute break. Huge smile on my face as each new song came on. LOVED IT. Well done young 'uns.



I was talking about breakfast and mornings in this post recently. It was this breakfast that inspired me to write about it actually. A photo of the breakfast I was having about a month ago. At the Oceanview hotel. By the beach. It was lovely. I should put up photos.

Let's see if I have more.

Part of the volunteer training. This might have been the first day we all got together and did our 'team building day'. That was fun.

They are a very cool bunch with all sorts of different personalities mixed in and it's been a ball getting to know them all. And for them to get to know me.

Me. After a morning spent in the sun. This was just last week at Moulin Sur La Mer. That was fun. Lovely place though the food is lacking. And even if you are brown, you can BURN. I put on factor 55 and people think I'm crazy. Burning is crazy. It...burns.

Note the UGLY green bracelet thingie. They make you wear those at hotels here. It's very annoying. It scratches at night and I don't like wearing stuff when sleeping, other than my earrings (they are tiny), my rings (not bulky and they are my normal two), and my piercings (they don't come out). I had to wear the damn thing in the shower wrist felt like it was dirty.


Maybe I should take more photos. I like posting photos. I don't have a camera. Just my iPhone, but it seems to work well enough!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The PoPe

Do you think the Pope just feels like a rock star, all the time? I'm reading this BBC story about the abuse scandal and he's in Lisbon and 80,000 people come out to see him.

Can you imagine being the Pope, or Bono, and only five people show up in the city centre to see you? That just doesn't happen does it? With Bono, I guess it happened when he started out but the Pope just starts from...Pope. And yes, there is an individual who becomes the Pope and he's worked his way up etc, and maybe at his first sermon, in a backwater somewhere in some village in eastern Europe, three digruntled people showed up and old skool movie style, threw rotton tomatoes at him, but when you are are Pope. And that just commands crowds.

Does he ever think back to the rotton tomatoes, do you think?

In my lifetime, will there be a gathering where the Pope is present/making an appearance/presiding (whatever it is they do other than ride around in the pope-mobile), where there won't just be 80K people at the drop of a hat?

Oh, you know what? Maybe he should go visit his followers in Iran or Pakistan. Wonder what kind of crowd that commands. We got Christians, persecuted ones, in Pakistan...not sure they are catholic though and if they care for the Pope.

I'm guessing it will be a much smaller audience than perhaps the Pope is used to....

I should get back and read the article I have linked this too...and see what the latest on the kiddie fiddling is about.

I don't care and I probably should. Actually, I don't care. I care that kids are at risk from figures of authority and trust, but it doesn't matter if you are a still happens and this grand focus on this issue should really lead to a larger impact on the WHOLE issue, not just it happens in church.

Why do people struggle SO much with perspective?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Back to black

I don't even know what that means, back to black. I should probably properly listen to the songs...

I am back in Haiti. Went home to NYC for R&R for about five days and it was awesome. Great weather and just good to hang out at home. Very important.

The day I got back, we had an aftershock. Which wasn't fun especially since I have been waking up every night thinking there was an aftershock...I didn't last night. I just recalled that I only just got back yesterday at mid day. I feel like I have been back for a week already. WHOOPS. The next 22 days are going to be interesting to get through.

Anyhow, I was talking about aftershocks. So we had one, and then 20 minutes later, I was CONVINCED, totally CONVINCED that we just had another one. Smaller than the first one, but I SWEAR I felt the desk move the same one.

I imagined it.

I think that's another whoops.

Let's hope I don't wake up tonight thinking the earth just moved. I don't want to feel that way. Or think that I have some sort of PTSD. That would suck. It would suck for the sake of sucking but also, HOW LAME that aftershocks and not even a real earthquake are giving me PTSD. That really is lame.

I went to the field today. We gave out money, finally today. Went out to do monitoring and it was sooooooooooooo good to work with the guys that I work with. I have this style of hanging back and just watching and letting them learn on the job. It's how I learned. If something is going TOTALLY wrong, yes, I will step in and take charge, but if it's not then let people discover their own rhythm and what works for them and how to make things happen. Everyone is clear on our end result. We all have different ways to get there, but get there we will!

I didn't have a camera. I don't like taking them to the field. I don't like taking photos of people. I probably should but it feels wrong. I have always had an issue about that. Objectifying people. I know it's worth a thousand words, but I'm a better writer than a photographer. That's my excuse. Truthfully, it makes me feel icky. The time it does not, is when I have spent time in a community and they feel comfy with me and vice versa. Then it's ok. Then I don't feel like I am imposing or being rude or just...nasty.

There is so much potential coing out of what we found out today and I do wonder if anything will be done with this or not at all. I have no idea how any of it will play out but I guess we wait and see.

I am getting tired of the wait and see attitude by the way. It's an excuse to me now. An excuse of being afraid to do anything and somehow thinking that saying wait and see and sounding prudent is fine somehow. It's not. Not anymore.

It's inexcusable.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A whinge

I lost/misplaced/had stolen from me a shit load of money.

I think that bite was a spider bite. It's better now.

I live in a tent.

It's been a 100 degrees.

I live in a tent without a fan and zero air circulation.

I get whistled at a lot. Whistle is the polite way of saying it.

I see things that need to happen or get done, and I can't do them. Not because I don't want to, but because I am not the person to do them.

I feel like running and hiding. Actually, I don't, at all. I want things to MOVE, but it's a little slow, all of it.

I love what I do.
I love who I am.
I think I want to whine because I feel like I should. I can see things that should make me want to whine. But really, it's none of that. None of the above is actually a problem.

The volunteers yesterday were asking me about strategies, since I am a 'trainer, with experience', on how to talk to or approach people when interviewing them.

My answer:

Let me tell you a secret: There is no strategy that can be taught. I like people. I like talking to people. I have seen you guys over the last couple of days, and you like that as well. Listen to people...that's all they really want. Care about people and it shows and people will open up to you. Care about what they are saying to you. Do unto others. Above all...respect people. It really is as simple as that. There is no formula and it's the one thing I have learned working in the sector that I do. There is no checklist, no book that lays it out for you. Be yourself, follow your instinct and your that heart to others. It's the best thing you can do for yourself and for others around you.

There was a lot of head shaking like in a church and is inevitable, a hand went up.

So, is there a strategy you can give us?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I slept HORRIBLY. It was so still. Hot, muggy and still. I have woken up with a massive bump on my arm (ok, not massive, but's very obvious when I hold my arm sideways that there is a mini mountain/molehill). It's kinda itchy but not really. And there might be teeth marks in it. Can't imagine what bit me but since I didn't wake up, it wasn't a rat. And since I am still alive, it wasn't poisonous. And it hasn't gotton worse so I am going to not think about it anymore. Slightly pinker is not cause for concern. And to be honest, I am a little bit too tired to actually care unless it decides to self combust.

I wish I had slept better. Hate when that happens.

The last time I was here, in one day, we had three tremors. The last one, in the middle of the night, scared the shit out of me. My whole body went cold. It was right after the second one as well which woke me up.

I have been feeling tremors since I got here. At night. My whole body goes cold and I am convinced there was a tremor but no one else around me moves, and it's probably actually, my neighbour in the tent pod next to me as our camping beds sort of touch and he moves a lot.

I wish my body wouldn't go cold the way it does.

If I am affected from three tremors in one day, small ones mind you, can you imagine what people go through every day here?

That thought, as hackneyed as it is, is real. And I can't let it paralyze needs to galvanize me.

I wish there were a better outlet for the galvanized me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Inside Disasters


Watch it.

Inside Disaster Trailer (April 2010) from PTV Productions on Vimeo.


Shit like this, because I'm such a baby, scares the shit out of me. A ghost in a Scotland.

I grew up with stories about paranormal stuff and witches and djinns etc. And snakes in stoves that protected families. I don't want a snake protecting me. I don't want a ghost or djinn protecting me either.

I close myself off to stuff like that. Because, in my head, I think if I open myself up to, I will see it all around me and that's scary.

I know people, who I respect and trust, who say they talk to djinns. You can control a djinn. Control is the wrong word. I am trying to think of the word in Urdu and how to best translate it in English. The word in Urdu is kaboo. Which means control and possession in the same breath.

My understanding of djinns is that they can travel and appear at will. No waiting in lines at the airport. And they report back.

Witches have feet turned in. I think that's just a thing that has come down from the ages since people differently formed, from polio, perhaps, were seen as misfits.

How hard it must be to be a misfit. Six fingers and toes is good luck in India. Ask Hrithik. You could be a differntly formed human being and it can be a boon or a curse. Depends on where you're at. Where is it that twins are bad luck? I just read about this somewhere.

People don't like different things. They say they do but anyone walking outside the line of normal is shunned in one way or another. We then put a label of special on them to make them feel like it's ok. And it is ok...there need not be a label in the end. We spend so much time worrying about what is normal, and trying to be normal.

No one really is. But we all pretend.

We all lie.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Re visit...

revisiting my own blog...

I like this post.

It's the first time I felt panic at a new job. First time I was going off to a new mission the way I do now.

Not much has changed from when I wrote that post. Down to leaving my mac behind and being hard on myself and not wanting to pack...I suppose it's comforting...that I can, whatever I do, just be..


End of April...

I have been waiting for the end of April for what feels like AGES! I know it hasn't been ages. It's here. The end of April started today. It will go for a week. And then it will be May.

How anticlimactic.


Where has the year gone? I had just moved to NYC. It's May already. Wow.

So, here is an embarassing admission. I am TOTALLY into a Britney Spears song. Unusual you. It came onto my iPod today and I was like, wow, what is this, who sang it? And immediately wanted to throw myself out the window when I discovered it was Britney....who I do have a lot of sympathy for, by the way.

Went to Indigo finally. Beach resort type place in Haiti. Brown girl got BURNT (and I laugh at that...yes, I have been burnt...)

Feel very tired which just having a day off can do to you. That with the combination of sun and half a bottle of wine. And never ending heat.

I go home in three days. And it's cool so I can snuggle into a blanket. I can't wait. I want to just sleep. And sleep and sleep and sleep.

And there are miles to go before I get there.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Innit amazing?

....that a small change, some words, something, anything can change your mood, completely and totally.

I am no longer restless.

Perhaps, because I know now. I think that was the problem. I didn't know something and now I do and it feels GREAT. I hate not knowing shit. And actually, it's not even like I know, but it's more, I don't NEED to know. Whew. I am about to be a joy to be around and not the moo cow that I was being all morning. I mean, I was still smiling but damn, the difference! I got my music on and am bopping in my chair and it is amusing every single person walking by. Good. I like that.

There was a big bollywood party last night, Basement Bhangra's 13th birthday. I missed it and yesterday, I didn't care. MAN, I wish I had been there and had been able to dance my ass off. I feel like dancing. Lots.

I might actually go to the bar tonight. I might actually be myself again.

Disco wale khisko, aj desi beat bajanee.


I'm restless today. Not sure why. Might be the heat. Might be because it's Saturday. Might be because I am sitting behind a desk today.

Have enjoyed training volunteers over the last two days but it is absolutely exhausting. I haven't done this in two years. I was doing LOTS of trainings two years ago. Did some last year as well but I was a co-facilitator so that was easier. I didn't have to be ON all day long. And that is hard. How the hell did I do it before? I am getting old obviously.

Almost lunch time and I am hungry. Good. Cept, it feels too hot to eat.

Why don't I just WHINE this whole entire blog post?

I don't sleep well at night (but am thankful I am in a proper tent with a camp bed or sorts that isn't on the floor on the pebbles).
It's freaking HOT all the time and it's horrible at night (I have nothing positive to say about IS horrible at night and it contributes to the bad sleep).
There is nothing to do other than work (there are and I am being a miserable bastard and not partaking in the bar night activities or talking to just seems like a lot of energy and going back to my hot and stuffy tent seems like a better alternative).

I'm actually done whining. It's not like I have a lot to whine about. I have my social network out here. The breakfast table and I see them for dinner sometimes. Sometimes, I see them in the hallways and we smile at each other knowing that there will be cigarettes and coffee and silence with each other in the morning.

For all the time I seem to spend by myself, I can't seem to stop craving more time. But, I think, given the way i am feeling, that is, perhaps, a bad idea.

That might have been the most commas I have ever used in a sentence.

The pauses. And that is not where comma's go. I know. But, I like that friends reading this can hear me, my voice, that way.

I should look up comma rules.

And I should stop being restless and get up and do some work...

Saturday in Haiti. What joy. But really, what would I be doing anywhere else? Haiti is just Haiti and it's just a backdrop but I would be restless anywhere right now. That much, I do know. Thank god for that.

Sometimes, it's just nice to know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I gotta feeling....

That tonight's gonna be a good night....

I love music. This song reminds me of Uganda. I'm trying to recall the first time I heard it. Might have been there. And then they would play it on repeat. Which I do. Songs I love, I play on repeat. I will make a playlist and play it to death. It has baffled people I live with.

I need to have music playing all the time. I remember when we were little and living in Pakistan, we had music always playing in the kitchen. Maybe that's why I love kitchens and music. My mother used to play old Indian songs that she had grown up with and they are still my favorite. She stopped listening to music at some point. She still does every once in a while but not with the crazy fervour that she used to.

God replaced that.

I miss DJ-ing. Something strange happened though. I used to just do it and it was fun and easy and I loved it. I struggle a bit now with it. I mean, I guess I could do it, but I like things to just flow. I was saying that at lunch with colleagues recently. With musical instruments (or anything really in my life). It's not that I don't work hard, I do. But with things that come to me naturally. I'm not into struggling. I don't see the point. The acheivement in the end. I say that but perhaps it's situational.

I have just tangented and JAMMED so much into one paragraph, all half thoughts and sentences.

Musical instruments: I would like/LOVE to play one. But, I want to pick up the cello and just start playing it. That will never happen. I might actually work at it, who knows? Depends on how badly I want it. I was saying at lunch, that perhaps, since I never learned to play an instrument, it's possible that I was a child prodigy at it and it was just never discovered since there wasn't the opportunity for that discovery and perhaps, I am a cello genius and once I pick it up, sweet sweet music will pour forth.

Long fucking shot. Doesn't hurt to dream.

Working hard versus effort versus natural ability: How I wish there were just one witty sentence that I could just write and explain the relational quality of the three vis a vis my life.

It's another sunny day in Haiti.

And I gotta feeling....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fuel shortage

There is a serious fuel shortage in Haiti.

This restricts our movements to what is totally necessary.

I know that sentence is not vague, but it is amazing to see what people think is necessary and what is not. One thing I have learned in the Red Cross is to S P E L L O U T what necessary means. Or even better, in an insecure environment, to spell out what common sense or precaution mean. Some people, are idiots.

I have learned to work with the LCDs in this world. I want to put that on my CV. It's a really important skill....and no, I am actually not being facetious about it.

And it's not about being an idiot, it's about communication and just being clear. Which, I think, is fair enough.

I heard about the fuel shortage and am weighing in my head how necessary my outing is tomorrow. Not very. I think we'll survive if I don't go to a coordination meeting or if we don't visit a site that really, I only REALLY must see before next Tuesday.

This time around, I have been able to drive around PaP and see stuff. I have not been to a camp yet...they are in fact, all over the place so it's not like you don't see them, but I know what you see on the outside, and there isn't much that you can see from the outside, it's totally different on the inside. I have heard, and seen photos, and there is no place to walk. People are jammed in next to each other. I would like to see a camp and be inside one, but there is no need for me to do that so I haven't gone yet (just for the fun of it). I feel like I understand that bit enough for the purposes of my being here and adding value.

I don't know how many of the staff that are working in the base camp or how many people who work for the Haitian Red Cross live in camps or outside of camps. I know them as the woman who sits at the reception who is a singer, the finance dude who is a music producer, a field officer who is a business administrator. I hang out with these guys over lunch, we email websites and music to each other, we chat in the hallways. I went to a party in Petionville the other day, (the posh area) and it was a mix of people, expats and Haitians. I could have been anywhere in the world (in an office, in a posh house). A very different world from the camps.

The streets, by the way, are TEEMING with buyers and sellers. TEEMING. A sea of people. Who may or may not be coming from the overflowing camps. It's not like you see someone on the street and think, you live in a camp. It's not even like people that you see in the camps look like they live in camps. What does someone who lives in a camp look like anyhow? The British Red Cross has this great T shirt, which I love wearing...look beyond the label. It's about refugees. It's about dehumanizing people. It's about not seeing the teacher, the civil servant, the engineer, music producer but instead, seeing someone in a camp and that is their identity.

I will get off my soap box.

I feel like I live in a bubble in the base camp. I feel like the people that I work with, the humanitarian community at large, areb living in a bubble of the camps.

I was talking to a friend and asked, what's the furthest place from Haiti?

His answer:


Monday, April 19, 2010

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I wake up at around 5 30 am. People look at me and are like, hey, you're a morning person!

I am not.

I still say that but I think when I wasn't looking, I became a morning person. It was in Uganda. Perhaps because the light streaming through the curtains (flimsy pieces of shit that they were), woke me up, but I do LOVE a bright sunny day and it does make me feel energized and as if I don't want to be in bed anymore. So, there is that aspect but what does get me out of bed is my morning ritual. Coffe, cigarettes and my computer. I love it.

I love sitting there in the silence, in a space, that's mine (not physically mine but just the space around me, I own that), and it's me and my thoughts and I guess the computer, once I am done checking my emails and facebook (which is still evil), is just an excuse to sit there and just be. Music on, coffee right there and nicotine going through the blood stream.

I used to do this in Sri Lanka as well. Wake up in enough time to be able to just sit for some time before I had to start.

I currently live in a place where 300 plus of us eat communally. There are 2 separate kitchens but it's still a shit load of people to share space with. I feel blessed that I have found the table where there are a bunch of us that just sit, and don't feel the need to talk to each other. It's not grumpy or anything like that. It's lovely companionable silence which we do break on occasion but mostly, we leave each other to it. Cigarettes, coffee, sunshine which is not yet strong when then kitchen opens at 6 30 and a light breeze. Outdoors. It's lovely.

I am just a happier person in the sunshine. I feel as if I was made to function in the sun. I HATE winters and dreary days and need to find someway to mitigate that.

In a place where you are surrounded by people ALL the time, having moments to yourself are special. To have the space to stare off into the distance (at some chemical toilets on the right, people on the left, and in the far distance: clouds). To my mind do what it loves to do and does best...

Run amuck.