everybody's waiting

everybody's waiting
Originally uploaded by Emmalen.

a propos of the earlier post:

Rodger Kamenetz, author of books on Jew-Bu spirituality (The Jew in the Lotus, Stalking Elijah), paraphrases a fellow Jewish mystic in one of my favorite metaphors for the interaction between Jewish faith and culture.

Judaism, he says, is like the battered old car we grew up riding, and inherited, and now drive ourselves. It needs spare parts from other vehicles, and it doesn't always run perfectly, but we can't just junk it. It's the way we know how to get around, and we can, with good maps, maintenance, and determination, get anywhere we want in it. This is not a world in which one can simply buy a new spiritual car; having learned to drive a new way, we would have a shiny paint job but no sense of the intimate workings and history of the machine. In the same way, rejecting Judaism for a new faith is foolish: why place oneself deliberately outside the warm embrace of thousands of years and millions of peoples' history?

This is copied from something I posted on Indi’s blog. Long enough to deserve a repost, and a riposte too. Bring it on.

Have your faith and eat it too

I think we can safely say that each of the Big Three Mosaic religions has a similar orientation towards violence—yes, you can do it in God’s name; yes, you can do it in self-defense; yes, God is not pleased with the non-believers, especially the polytheists, so go convert/subdue (!!) them first. This of course speaks to their all having come from the same part of the world, a place where life really was materially harsh and historically violent, filled with rapacious tribes, competing vengeful deities, and extremes of environment. There was a lot to fight over.

I’m a little shaken by people’s interest in a “realistic approach to God.” To me there can be no realistic approach to God, or if there is, it will necessarily be an approach I don’t want to take. Life is not, I think, “simple.” There are some moral precepts which are, but so much more that is not. I look for something of the sublime in religion; something that takes me beyond the ‘harsh realities’ of the world. It’s perhaps an opiate-of-the-masses approach, but as a Jew I’ve never been taught to believe in an immanent and jolly Heaven, so I find transcendence to be deeply impelling in this life, thus strongly anti-narcotic.

Without being a chauvinist about it, I find it deeply sad that Christianity and Islam ‘inherited’ or developed such watered-down versions of the Jewish conception of salvation. Early Judaism posited the future coming of the Messiah, after which the pious dead would be resurrected and all would live in a glorious Kingdom of God; mediaeval and modern Jews often believe(d) something more along mystical lines (in a strong parallel to Mahayanist Buddhism), wherein the universe and its contents are to be perfected at a future time, which requires the diligent work of all beings. Anyway, next-door Heaven of today’s Christians and Muslims, being judged at death according to your personal life, is sort of petty to me.

(Can you begin to imagine the bureaucracy? See Albert Brooks’ film “Defending Your Life” wherein he and Meryl Streep meet cute in Judgment City, a sort of bathrobed-denizened Los Angeles, where all the dead screen film clips from their lives to prove themselves worthy of moving “up” rather than going “back.”)

I don’t turn to faith only when things fall apart, though it is deeply in need at those times. Indi says “People seem to treat God like a candy shop, here to give people whatever they want..” The God-as-candy-shop image is one I like, but I’d expand it to include the incredibly petty idea of “fairness.” It’s a terrible irony that religions which acknowledge (nay, promise) suffering-in-life are still called upon to account for colossal unfairnesses. I feel like religious people should, you know, look back at Exhibit A; you got told up-front that shit would go down, you know?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it is/can be possible to “be” several theoretically exclusive religions. For example, I believe that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is (God’s) prophet, but not that he was the last one. I also believe that Jesus was a prophet, and in the rightness of what he taught, but not that he was the Son of God. I also believe that there is a destroying/creating force in the world, which I can conceptualize as Shiva. I won’t say what I “believe” about Buddhism because a good Buddhist doesn’t believe anything, according to my (devout) yoga teacher. And so on—I should become Bah’ai, but even that’s too narrow. Judaism is the skin and culture and religious lenses I was born into; I was also born into Catholicism and that too is appealing but so institutionally corrupt as to be unpalatable.

Then again, I said above that ‘palatability’ (practicalism, realism) is not a good yardstick for faith. Well, like all good theological arguments, I’ve come full circle and found that I can easily undermine my own point. Thus: life is not simple. Faith is not easy. I only wish I had the (personal) discipline to spend more time practicing and deepening my faith(s). The last time I had a proper religious community and attendance record (Protestant values, I know!) was as a freshman at Swarthmore and went to Meeting regularly.
Staying Home

I hate being stuck in/around the house all day. It seems to happen a lot; my own fault of course, but there's always needs-doings: laundry, email, writing, anti-ant-warfare. The weather is gorgeous; sunny, breezy, light cloud cover. Was thinking that perhaps the weather in Boston is the same as here today: it feels, properly, like June. Interesting to remember "summer;" as Jill remarks, we forget that it's not always colder there.

In lieu of interesting tales:

In every age, there must be truths people can't fight--whether or not they want
to, whether or not they will go on being truths in the future. We live in the
truth of what Freud discovered. [...] We aren't really free to suppose--to
imagine--he could possibly have been wrong about human nature.

Possession, A.S. Byatt


wheels on the bus
and, appropriately, meeting my once and future fellow Americans

Having left Jaffna at 8am yesterday, we arrived back in Kandy at approximately 8pm. It’s about 350km, for an average speed of under 30kmph. I can probably bike that fast. (Not for 12 hours straight, it’s true.) We switched buses in Vavuniya, which is less than halfway, at 3pm, and waited half an hour to depart there. This means that we spent roughly 8 hours getting out of the Peninsula and across the Vanni. More than half that time was waiting at checkpoints—for the searches to be done, for the passports to be returned, for what? We didn’t know. There was insufficient A/C and the Vavu-Kandy bus was open windows (nice breezes and views but boy was I filthy).

So, was kind of wired-tired last night. Tod had come into town for the Tulane orientation and after I had lavishly bathed and fed myself (toasted Granny Swiss applecheese with copious mustard) we stayed up a while having one of our usual rambling semisnarky philosophical conversations about Love. He mocks my various idealisms and devotions and yet he’s a more unredeemable romantic than I. Someone should find that man a good-hearted woman. I have him to thank for a good-hearted man.

Pages and pages to write about Jaffna. So glad I went. It’s possible, clearly, to have been here a long long time and not comprehended the conflict as I am now [more] able to do. Instead of writing that, however, I wrote dam safety comments and references. Ah, my little illicit side project. Today there was more of that, and also extreme culture shock at the Tulane meeting. I had quite forgotten what Americans are like.

Which is not to say that I disliked it/them. A small glimpse of what cultural incomprehension awaits when I eventually go back to the States. They were loud, friendly; mostly big, white, and homely (sorry); sarcastic and unguarded. They were obvious in their preferences and disdains. They were, despite being all grown-up law and med and Master’s and PhD. students, obviously cliqueish. On the other hand they were enthusiastically scarfing down the kiribath at tea, and making friends with the fabulous ICES staff. Hella funny compared to any similar gathering of academic Lankans.

Last night Kandy felt like a first-world country. At least, there were no pillbox bunkers on the corners, bristling with machine guns and bored soldiers. Have to fully digest the trip, get a good night’s sleep, and submit more dam[n] work. Then, something will get said about Jaffna.
Here's something I wrote up as handout for the new Tulane/ICES batch, who arrived yesterday and got subjected to a long orientation seminar today. I was asked to speak on "cultural issues" and "practical dos and don'ts" of life here. Not bad for being written at 4am.

Make Your Life Easier* As a Foreigner in Sri Lanka

The Golden Rule: Wait, Watch, and Do
if you’re in a situation where you feel unsure or uncomfortable, e.g. visiting a temple or eating in a small restaurant, wait and see what Sri Lankans do, and copy them as far as you’re comfortable.

Clothing: More is better

I am sticking this out front because it’s really important. Dressing in short-shorts, t-shirts, and lugsoled sandals is the quickest way to get pegged as a tourist. Dressing up a bit is a cheap (but useful) way to give yourself an air of professionalism and propriety. For women, this means long (mid-calf or ankle-length) skirts/dresses or long trousers and a blouse with sleeves (the longer the better) and a collar or nice cut. For men, this means long pants and a collared shirt. Go ahead and roll up the sleeves, it’s hot, but for pete’s sake don’t wear short-shorts and a t-shirt, or a tank top, or a fanny pack, or a sarong.

Making friends: Save trouble and stick to your gender
There is in Lankan culture a separation of gender groups generally, in work, social life, family life, education, etc. Making friends across genders is possible but often can be misconstrued. Keep things polite, brief, and public; if someone makes you uncomfortable don’t hesitate to tell them bluntly. Same-gender friends are much safer; saves embarrassment and frustration. If you have a phone number or a place of residence, DON’T give it out. Asking personal questions (“are you married?”) is here a normal part of a friendly conversation but lie if you feel uncomfortable. If anyone is really bothering you (i.e., touching on a bus) make a big indignant fuss and the person will be embarrassed—plus someone else will likely come help you.

Shopping and Bargaining: Not idle pursuits
This is a hard one to understand, coming from America where we shop for fun. If you are shopping in a Market you’ll be extensively touted—asked what you want, shown stuff, etc. This is not particularly aggressive so much as motivated by the desire to help you. However if you’re “just looking” (a phrase many shopkeepers know) say it upfront. Once you start really looking through stuff, pawing the merch, people will be disappointed and maybe a bit annoyed if you don’t buy anything. Once you bargain (extensively discuss the price), you’re sort of promising to buy it. Don’t bargain hard and then not-buy. Remember, it’s a lot more money to the shopkeeper than to you. It’s a little tricky—use your judgment.

Patience, patience, patience: You can’t always get what you want

Especially when visiting government ministries or trying to shop for something specific, you’re going to have to wait, and chances are someone will tell you that what you want is ‘not there’ or ‘over.’ You want to leave extra time and room in your mind for other possibilities—a different way of getting where you need to go, a different menu option for lunch. In an official/bureaucratic situation, be sweetly persuasive and slightly firm; getting mad won’t help. Don’t pursue things that aren’t important, because you’ll go crazy waiting for someone to make it happen. “No problem” doesn’t mean what it sounds like—it means there’s a problem and they’ll fix it but you’ll have to wait.

Visiting homes: Prepare to be stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey
If you have the chance to visit someone at home, take it. It’s the best/only way to really enjoy the laid-back culture of Sri Lanka. It won’t feel laid-back at first—they’ll be slinging tea and biscuits and food at you. It’s polite to protest a little and then accept. If it really is too much, go ahead and keep refusing, and stick to your guns. People will stuff you if you let them. Be prepared for a lot of chilling-and-waiting; some people ‘visit’ all day, through two teas and lunch, and just hang around. Bring a small gift (box of chocolate, cake, fruit) and just put it somewhere obvious when you come in; people don’t open gifts in front of the giver here.

Beggars: Please, not with the camera
I won’t yammer on about it; just be polite to beggars. You don’t have to give them anything, but don’t be mean! (This is more my personal feeling than a cultural norm, honestly.) Don’t stick cameras in their faces and take photos, especially without giving them any money. I know this awful exchange student who thought they were so picturesque. Please. Giving them some small change is a nice thing to do. I try not to give kids money because I don’t want them to be used as bait or to learn to beg from a young age—if a kid asks me for money I’ll buy him a rice packet or some short eats.

*and mine too. An important reason to observe politeness is that people’s impressions of Americans/foreigners are quickly and easily shaped by the actions of us, the representative examples. What you do affects the way others are treated later on. There are good and bad stereotypes of foreigners. If you think you’re above the social norms, and you don’t mind getting harassed or disparaged, fine for you, but the rest of us can suffer under the extension of your bad image. You don’t have to remake yourself to be happy here, just be wise to the broad points as above.



I'm in Colombo en route to Jaffna. We're taking the bus, not flying; no seats and we're just hoping the bus people don't remember us three (Lisa, Jill, me) as those awful whiteys who were faffing around with the tickets last go-round. First we didn't show up, then we wanted to change them, then we wanted to cancel them and get a refund... last poya they was hatin' on us, to put it briefly. This time around there's more general government instability but no actual hartal in Jaffna itself. There's been quite a bit of violence, which seems also to be escalating still, in Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Vavuniya. I hate the bloody JVP and their fearmongering propaganda.

But, no deal! I'm going for a jaunt in Jaffna, la la la. Packing for this trip has been an exercise in reevaluating my frump levels. I finally got a bunch of new and altered clothes back from the Dangolla tailors, so I have a nice sacklike long dress which is super comfy and frump-tastic. Also a sort of half-kurta, half-national-dress shirt which is emerald green. I'm hoping that the Jaffnaites will not lynch me for a Muslim or a UNPer. Packed my most baggy salwar kamiz too, the one my host family called a 'grandma kit.' I will be styling.

Of course, now that I'm in Colombo, I'm suffering under my own sartorial conservatism. I find myself just hating all the women in above-the-knee skirts and sleeveless, nay, spaghetti-strap tops. It's shocking how many white people there are in town. I have gotten used to envying gorgeous Lankan women and wishing I was brown; oh, the injustice of having to also envy gorgeous Western and Arab and African women too! Also I dislike being this self-centered and lookist. Shame on me, for pete's sake.

Clothes are just so important. It's too hard to manage the wardrobe choices: how not to look like a tourist without looking like a ragbag. My customary US fashions are too weird for here and even in Colombo I feel like a freak when I wear even minorly revealing stuff; I'm just tall and bigger than everyone. This is shallow and vapid anyway; not sure why I can't let go of it. I should have a t-shirt made saying Ï live outstation"but then I'd have to wear it.

But actually. I am psyched for Jaffna.

Last night I was at a post-class dinner party with the yoga crowd; a sort of umpteenth housewarming for Thanuj's new-built manse. Ruchira, another yogafriend, designed the house and had been describing it as "simple" but lordy lord, this place is incredible--beautiful carved salvaged temple doors and windows, three storeys of exposed concrete and lovely antiques, walls made of grilles open to the outsides, overlooking a river, internally ceiled with lotus-printed panels like a temple ceiling. It was one of those "I didn't realize how rich my friend was" experiences.

I report this not because it has anything particular to do with Jaffna but because it's a new major file under my portfolio of thoughts on class and wealth and work here. It does bear some thought on the contrast between the wealth that pays for this house and the poverty and oppression of the North. Thanuj works hard and isn't a jerk, but still, this is one incredible and somewhat ostentatious house for a single 34-year-old guy. It's definitely a babe magnet; Ruchira's Aussie friend Anya came to yoga (for the first time) and dinner and as far as I could tell was classily throwing herself at Thanuj--the house, really, though he's a kind and attractive guy.
Anyway. There are rules and rules about behaviour; dress is just one of the areas of rules and class is just one of the contributing variables. It is so sad to me, still, that after all this time here I am still always an outsider, peering through obscured levels of social reality to try and find the place that fits me. Age, wealth, race, education, gender, work... it's as complicated as the worst Lankan bureaucracy, and at the end there is an inevitable metaphorical headwaggle.


What separates boys from men?

As a "young woman" I am frustrated by the lack of terminology for people like me. We don't have to think about the boy vs. man question often, because hey, they're all "guys." Natalie Angier likes the term "gals" for us not-girl-not-woman types, but that's a wee bit goofy. In order to be a "gal" I need pedal pushers, a bowling ball, something jauntily plaid (hat?), and a convertible. But I digress.

Given the obscuring nature of the guy designation, it's possible to go from being a 12-year-old boy to a 40-year-old man without any definitional confusion; you can just shrug by on "guy" for the interval. Female types have more trouble. I minorly cringe at being called both "girl" and "woman." The former is someone with pigtails and/or Chapstick. The latter is someone with children and/or pantyhose. Guys are just guys but the term is too casual for me: it always comes with a shrug attached.

Consider the following:
"I'm seeing a new guy." --> whatever. He's just this guy, eh.
"I'm seeing a new boy." --> mincing, yet inexplicably sexy, I've got to say.
"I'm seeing a new man." --> seems aggressive somehow.
Augh! What to do?

Lexicological squeamishness aside, I'm interested in the deciding features of boyhood and manhood. I used to have a simple test: male individual = 'boy' if he wears flipflops or those giant overpadded sneakers more than 50% of the time. However by this criterion, there are almost no men in Sri Lanka, and Ross is not a boy*. Indeed?

A better analysis is needed. I suspect that this is a morass quite similar to the problem of deciding when one is a Real Grown-Up. Let's hear suggestions. Males reading: what do you call yourselves?

*actually, this is not logically implied. It's funny, though, if you know Ross.
second verse, same as the first
and in a lot of cases followed by many more identical verses

...for really real this time. Going to Jaffna this coming weekend, by plane (in one direction at least).

We just decided tonight, and thus I'm going to scramble tomorrow to get-done-what-needs-doing that I expected to have all week for. Tuesday is poya and I've got plans to attend a lunch date, a children's perahera, a yoga class, and an evening party. Wednesday I jump to Colombo to see Sachin again (Swarthmore friend, visiting from India where he's finishing his Watson Fellowship, the brilliant deserving lucky-duck), Thursday off to Joff. Back to Kandy via bus on Monday for Tuesday's ICES/Tulane students orientation, in which I am giving a brief cultural orientation.

Being busy makes one feel important, even if there is no real point or progress being achieved.

Are we following the Sri Lanka news? Oh yes, there is political shaking-and-stirring afoot. I have a little bit of writing on that simmering away in me but it will have to wait. The politicians are doing the hokeypokey and playing acronym-switcheroo; violence escalates in Trinco (glad Malka's far out of there!); Janaka my yoga teacher informs me solemnly of the latest in bizarro racist conspiracy theories. Apparently the Catholic Church is behind the whole conflict here. "They want to destroy the real Buddhism."

Favorite recent newspaper headline, from a statement by a politically moderate and dovish monk: "Death fasts not viable solution to national problem". This after several sets of hawkish monks began ludicrous circusy public death fasts. This is not helping my cynicism about Buddhism at all: there should be no hawkish monks! Gandhi is spinning in his proverbial grave. The Death Non-Eaters were all protesting the Joint Mechanism for tsunami aid. This is an administrative body, with dedicated spaces for each of GoSL/LTTE/Muslim parties. Sing: one of these things is not like the other...

Anyway the ultra-nationalists on the Sinhala side are yelling about how the Mechanism is a prelude to partition. The LTTE are demanding that the JM get signed straightaway, trying to seem belligerent about their stake in the plan, seemingly to distract the public from the weak stance it actually allows them. The media are having a major coffee-klatsch about the Meaning of It All; they particularly like to publish pop-psychology analyses of what's going on in Chandrika's head, and empty declarations of bloody historic it all is, rhetoric that doesn't help calm the nerves of all the people who do see the JM as prelude to Eelam.

The opposition parties are acting like bugs on their backs: lotta wriggling, no motion. I suspect they're stunned and biding-time. Ranil (UNP opposition leader) is getting bizarrely kissy-kissy with CBK which is creepy because a) they are super-eterna-rivals, and b) he's gaaaaaay!, so all their congenial photo-opping is just downright seedy. The newly self-exiled opposition JVP are clearly devoting all party energies to the printing of endless ugly banners for display in Kandy.

The national polls commissioner daily repeats his "no comment" regarding the date of the next presidential elections. The prices of eggs, rice, and petrol have gone up again. The CEB unions are whingeing more about the threat of privatization via the (extremely cautious and conservative) restructuring plan. The new head of UNICEF kindly requested the LTTE to stop kidnapping children. Public bus unions want more public buses and higher pay; private bus owners are mad that they cover only 60% of the routes despite operating 83% of the buses. The US is starting to admit that they (we? Not in my name) lost the war.

The southwest monsoon brings pleasant cool days to Kandy, though with them comes jarringly alternating rain and sun. As much as eight or nine times a day, it starts and stops pouring, a far cry from the northeast monsoon, when it just pours punctually at 2 and all afternoon. There's an apt metaphor in there, but I'd need a tweezer to find it.

I can't remember how, but tonight Jill somehow induced me to imagine all the Fulbrighters as baby birds in a giant twiggy nest, reedily screaming our heads off in extreme treble for Tissa (exec direc) or Phil Frayne (American Center supremo) to come and vomit greenbacks into our gaping pink throats. Nice. I’ve been kind of woozy this week, no doubt a result of disordered sleep and last weekend’s beach hedonism. The upside of this is generally greater friendliness; when I’m concentrating on balance all my social paranoiae are smoothed. The downside is that I feel dumb.

What else? Life is really quite good, in contrast to the above. I am sad because my friends are leaving, yet new friends are popping up. I have lately enjoyed reading emails from all the recent Swattie grads, detailing their upcoming adventures. One year out, I feel certain that there are a lot of adventures I’m going to have that I haven’t even dreamed yet.


Six Degrees of My Mom
Happy Birthday Last Week, By The Way

This is going to be a little sappy, but: I hope that all of you who read this are aware of how fortunate you are to know, or be proximately linked to, my mother. We had this 2-hour-ish phone convo last night, which I know I am going to regret when I get the bill, but which was just so enjoyable otherwise. Good gossip from all directions and sane, insightful advice too. (Note to the rest of my family: I love you too, and can write additional gooey endorsements here if you like.)

But really: Ruth Goodman is an absolute gem.

As the only child of divorced parents, I got the opportunity [foisted upon me] when growing up to really know my parents. When there isn't a parent-pair, you get a much more unvarnished view of parent psychology, because they don't get to tag-team each other during the rough parts. As a kid I saw my mom go through some difficult times. As a young adult I resented a lot of her extreme emotionality, because it felt unfair that during my adolescence she seemed more prone to whatever, self-directed negativity, than even I was.

Now I’m a somewhat less young adult, and haven’t lived at home for three years, and there’s thousands of miles between us. I miss her. Of course I’ve always loved her, and most always admired her; usually when I’m mad at her it’s because I think she’s doing something incommensurate with her usual high standards of logic and care. After yesterday’s lengthy yammerfest, I’m thinking mostly about how proud and happy I am, of and for her.

With a lifelong perspective (my life, that is) it’s possible to say a lot of things about Ruth’s Change Over Time. She very wisely pointed out to me that I don’t know her from before I was born. She says she’s a spontaneous person; my experience is categorically the opposite but her point is valid. Anyway, the center of the wonderfulness of Ruth’s Change is that she does: without making a big deal of it, without constantly inflicting self-discovery on the rest, she does the right things to solve problems in her life. I won’t embarrass her by listing details of her various accomplishments.

What I will say: it is uncommon to find someone so assertive of hope in the world, so proactively engaged in good works, and so generous with her friendship and her care. She is someone who struggles with negative self-perception (as do I) but unlike many people doesn’t make her self-esteem an issue for others. Instead she projects joy and love; she works to change herself without taking the project too seriously. She delights in her own wackiness, and celebrates strange habits and odd pleasures.

So, you-all are lucky to have my mom in your lives. Or just in my life. I’m blessed, that’s for damn sure.


someday, you can be cool like me

At sunrise today, I was sitting at dining-desk and struggling with the damned computer. Though failing to fix the bugger, I did compose this attractive ensemble of items I never wear, in order to protect honky status and future vision capacities. I hope to parlay this photo into a lucrative multipicture cinema studio contract.


Boredom and Bliss

At the beginning of my time here, I was nervous about living alone. Now that I’m starting to think seriously about leaving of course I’m sad to give it up. At the same time, Malka has sort of moved in with me and it’s nice to have someone about. With Jill living across the street, Yvonne and Judee around the corner, Lisa on the other side of the hill, and Gavin the next suburb over, I’ve not (mostly) lacked for company-on-demand (or on-planning). However: Gavin’s gone, Y&J are leaving next week, Malka the week after that, and Jill in a month. Brave Lisa will hold forth until December.

And I, you ask? When am I leaving? That would be good to know. September? Let’s see about the finances, shall we.

It is lovely though sometimes lonely to have the house to myself. It permits all kinds of scandalous indiscretions; swanning about in the altogether, eating cookies midmorning when I feel like it, blasting Eminem while doing my pitiful yoga practice (the neighbors must love me), and so forth. Not feeling bad about the scattered dishabille of my dining-table/desk, which at any point is likely to house two art projects and a half-written letter and a mess of Sinhala flashcards and several newspapers and lots of dangerously unprotected CDs.

When I have had roommates, I become more uptight, more tidy, vaguely fascist in my kitchen ordering (see: 13 Park Avenue, Dishwashing Contest). I was brought up to clean up after myself and respect other people’s space needs and tidiness standards. That is not to say that I always do these things in my parents’ houses—heavens no! If I just behaved all the time then how could I provide them with opportunities to love me despite my flaws? (see below: Procrastination and Personal Worth.) When alone, I can be just as fascist as I like (see far below, December, I think: The Anal-Retentive Chef) and enjoy it too, without feeling like I’m imposing.

Roommates, though, provide necessary distraction and moral support. Also they are people to cook for, an element sorely lacking in my solitary life. Cooking for people is one of the great altruistic pleasures of life, on par with certain activities not mentionable in a public forum. Much as I enjoy the pajama’ed readathon that my Sundays often are, much as I appreciate the freedom to bust out (and leave out) the watercolors for a week on end, I truly enjoy the living presence of other people, and the closeness that comes with having to share air, fridge space, and toilet paper.*

Former roommates who read this, take it as: I miss you, and wish you had been here to read-in-pajamas with me today. I wish there had been quiescently frozen confections to share. Unfortunately, the freezer isn’t very cold, and plane tickets aren’t cheap.

After solitary quiescence, involving Fruit&Nut Kandos (the midprice range; opt for the more spenny 21 Collection range if you can) and books, I headed to Kandy for beer and slightly contrived (okay, I texted him) meeting with Haakon. I was sure we’d run into each other at Food City or the Pub! Instead a cute Sinhalese girl in a logo-bespangled flight suit tried to sell me Surf Excel, a Unilever-brand detergent powder. I refrained from a tirade about American cultural-product hegemony, and instead bought some broccoli. The Cruciferae section of the produce cooler is a piece of hegemony I’m glad for. It will have to wait, however, for tonight I feast on takeout garlic curry—another reason I’m glad to have no roommates, who might otherwise keel over from the inevitable garlic breath.

Other than that, what’s up? Nuttin’, honey.

*It’s incredible how much toilet paper some people use! I can still remember being instructed by my father, as a very small child, on how much was appropriate. The key is to wad, not wrap.
Yay Hooray

Phone is working again, incoming and outgoing, all the time, full speed ahead, etc and so forth. Go thou forth, and call me, for I am … never mind.


(Don't Leave Me) Hanging on the Telephone

That's a Cyndi Lauper song.

Anyway, again the phone is out, this time for real. No dial tones, no internet at home, no outgoing calls, nothing. Was hoping to make some calls in the next few days but no dice as the SLT goons are going to have to come monkey with the actual phone lines. Thus, very sorry and please do call the mobile if you're inclined to say hello, statesiders.

In current events, how about that visit of Clinton's to our fair isle? My interpretation of his advice is "wise up, idiots, you need to build some friggin houses here and it doesn't bloody matter who organizes it." Also, he looks quite slim next to Chandrika. Heart surgery will do that for you. Also, would the JVP stop fronting and bring on the coalition-desertion? For how many weeks can one rattle the same ol' sabres? I think we're just about ready for some election-related violence to take over from the pissant Vesak-related violence in the East.

I am being sarcastic.