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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I'm back in Haiti.

Maybe I should just end the blog post that way. As always, I have the issue of coming and writing here after a long time and try not to think that way and play catch up since that gets to be overwhelming.

I'm writing since I have been advised to do so. And really, I like writing here. Like I said in my last post, it's a good journal (for the whole world to read), on my life. It is fun to come back and read stuff.

Am still with the Red Cross and we all live in tents. I had never lived in a tent before coming to Haiti. I don't like it in, I don't get WHY people do this for fun. It works for me now, because I have to live like this, and actually, it's fine. It works very well and I am impressed that the RC can keep the show on the road the way they can with so many of us here.'s Haiti. My upbeatedness about living in a tent with this mission in no way means that I endorse tent living in other circumstances.

Am working on a massive cash program. Giving people money for what they need. We are doing it through SMS/text and a remittance agency. It's cool. I am not sure, since this is my personal blog how much of it I can write about so I will err on the side of caution. And say NOTHING MORE!

I need to get my iphone to start taking photos and videos so that I can post them up here. Will get on that. And let me end this post in the way that I probbaly end most of my posts...I like this and I am going to get onto writing on my blog again! (I really do mean it when I write that...)