Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On the Darkside

The feeling of numbness that echoes through each bone of our bodies. A low rumble of a shudder, a cry, a piercing of the heart in a loop of despair.
Suffering.
Questions, hopes, and fears played over and over in the brain. An unbearable longing for a loved one that brings you to your knees.
Musings on loss, of the mundane everyday afterwards. Of the absolute nothingness and horror of sudden goodbyes that are filled with words unsaid.
Hugs ungiven, and memories not quite cherished until you realize they were all.
Silent tears threatening to spill at random moments of the day. 
Trickling down on to an already damp pillow... 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tricks & Treat

Trick = One day, we disappear.
People everywhere. Loved ones, family and friends, acquaintances, neighbours, strangers.
Treat = Happiness. Love. Contentment. 
Laughter, community, traditions and simple rituals. Insider jokes, memories. Secrets.
The treat, easily becoming a simple trick. Might as well be a dream, lost in the yesteryears at the cornerstones of our brains.
And life continues the trick or treating of one another.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Scrambled Eggs on Toast

Some butter on a warm slice of toast, mixed with a generous slap of marmite. 
Perfect start to a lazy weekend, more than anyone can ask for. 
Scrambled eggs, on wheat bread. 
Dreams of future tomorrows, baking extravagant goodies, pastries, bread and cake. I can almost smell it. 
A quick mental break from the darkness, behind the thin veil of reality.
At the back of my mind, always, we are reminded that death is lurking. A stark reminder of everything we hold true in this world to be so fragile.
A beautiful lie.
So, I make the most out of my scrambled eggs on toast with marmite, a comfortable familiarity of the every day before me and yesteryears, preparing for the inevitable tomorrows.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sermon Of The Crows

The soothing cacophony of crows can be a rare insight in to something deep. I'm not sure exactly what that is right this moment. But I know it is.
I find the thought to be soothing.
Crows conjure up memories of garbage cans and left over food. It also reminds me of YouTube videos on the "Secret life of crows." Google it. You'll see.
Crows share food. They call upon each other when they spot anything to eat. They also pass down memory and secrets to their offspring. So, generations of crows can learn from their elders. Knowledge for posterity. Very human like.
Misunderstood creatures of darkness, these peculiar creatures, they have so much character.

Most humans misunderstand, our nature is to fear all things black. Crows. Cats. Darkness. It's a pity, because I am in awe of these wild feathery, shiny beaded creatures that are so adaptable to their environmental conditions. Such clever beings.
Next time, listen to their sermons. Who knows what you'll learn. 
Don't be wary of crows, because they are signs of life.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Eyelash

At times, it hurts.
As tears pour down your cheek
Stubbornly irritating the eye
scratching the eyeball an angry red

Sometimes, it is a wish
Gently laid on a wrist
Blown away
with whispers of hope

At times, it is beauty.
Loning for shiny black curls
At times, peace and calm
As you pray to the universe

At times, signs of aging.
Turning grey, then silvery
As the years become numbered
And they have been a witness

They are the glue.
Holding the eyes tightly shut
The eternal rest
When they close one last time

A million memories turn to dust
Having softened the tears
Over the years
As they fell


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

As I sit here

My days are blurry, these last few weeks. Maybe they were months. I can't really remember anymore.

I battle with insomnia induced by caffeinated drinks at unholy hours of the day. Once a tea drinker, now a hopeless coffee addict. I think I battle slight fits of depression and anxiety too. Who knows. I push these things aside for my life post-thesis writing.

I play chess and learn arabic obsessively, anything to procrastinate writing a thesis. I have also started thinking in my dreams. My best ideas,  swear, come to me at my waking hours. Between the few feet from getting out of bed to switch the hateful alarm off, to walking to the sink to wash my face.

I have allergies too. Detestable unruly runny nose, constantly sore and red from wiping. I sniffle a lot too.

I am caffeinated right now, too. A mocha. Did I mention it also adds quite a bit of calories to my otherwise non exercise receiving body. My cheeks are fatter, I swear.

I miss my family. I miss my grandmother who is dying of a terminal disease. I miss my friends who I do not shower with enough love or letters. I think of all my friends who I have missed birthdays of, gifts to friends who have newborns. Please forgive me for this brief time I do not exist in the universe.

I finally mustered up the courage to speak to the woman who comes to sit in the same place at the coffee shop two hours before it closes, everyday. Or at least most days I am here. I made eye contact with her, and I asked her if I could get her a coffee. She gracefully declined, and then continued to talk to me. She told me she taught kids. I didn't understand everything she said. But I noticed she wouldn't stop talking. She has a laptop, she has bluetooth headphones and a phone. She charges everything, and then everyday, she falls asleep on the comfy chairs. I yearn to know her story. I wonder why. She has a suitcase and a bag. She owns a broken laptop with a big screen cracked right in the middle. I do not know. I hope she is ok. She understood the title of a paper on my pile of books. She knew and understood the nature of my work. She seemed lonely. Perhaps it was my conversation that was the real coffee.

I have been thinking about her the last few days. It is so strange. You don't know if it is appropriate to offer coffee or not. Is it offensive? Who knows. I hope I didn't hurt her feelings. I hope in some small way I was able to show kindness. I hope she is ok.

I must get back to my thesis writing now. I wonder if this is the end of my higher education. I hope not. I hope it is. I don't know. I hope everything will be ok.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Skype Goodbyes

You smile at me across the screen
Thousands of miles away
And memories of a lifetime flash before me

Forever grateful for this time,
cherishing these random moments
As our days together are numbered
Cherishing every last new memory of you
Knowing our days are numbered

Hearing your childishly girly giggle
Laughing at my silliness
I chatter away, heart breaking to a million pieces

Knowing you have suffered
Felt excruciating pain,
And I dread the next few months before us
Where modern science stretches to its limits
And comes to a screeching, painful halt

And the natural progression of life takes over

As one mother, the child of the other,
watches her own mother suffer
Yet, to the very end, only a mother protecting her child
from the realities and inconveniences of life

A disease that slowly eats away, from within
The helpless grandchild, a witness from afar..
Hoping we have given you all we can
As you offer your "ayusha" to me for a long life
I offer you my silent gratitude and love

Please, with all my heart,
I pray to the universe
for the peaceful passing
you had always promised yourself.



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Greenwald's No Place to Hide and Documentaries on Fukushima and Inside Job have in common..

The overarching issue that seems common and stand out the most, when discussing Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, the documentary on the Fukushima nuclear radiation as well as the documentary on the making of the movie Inside Job is the apathy of the general public. This seems universal, regardless of whether the issues are in Japan, or the United States.  Increasingly, the impact of these cover-ups are felt by people everywhere, no longer confined to one particular group of people. Just as the NSA spying was upon everyone, not just US citizens; radiation from the Fukushima power plant affected people in California, and the effects of an economic collapse in the US affected markets around the world. We are truly interconnected. 

This is certainly a terrifying realization; with the advent of the Internet and “free” information, there are new challenges. My message to you today, however is that there is still hope. One individual cannot achieve global justice. It requires action of the collective, sparked by the actions of a few brave souls such as Snowden, Chelsea Manning as well as future generations, inspired by them. I believe the very existence of the material we are discussing is evidence of this hope.

Never before have whistleblowers been as relevant and as urgent as they are today. The changes brought about by Snowden revelations are evidence of it. Yet, there is more work to be done for disseminating information related to the Fukushima nuclear radiation and the financial meltdown of 2008. In Japan, this documentary is blocked even today. Large amounts of people still believe these are simply conspiracy theories, a popular myth perpetuated by those who would seek to obscure the truth.

I would urge you, to discuss these issues with your friends and families to create dialogue and awareness. That is probably the only way we as world citizens can give back to the brave men and women who have risked their lives and liberty, for the truth.

Charles Morris published a book warning of the financial melt down which was ignored. It demonstrates, lack of credible information and the powerful rhetoric of flawed arguments to support the status quo, can only be countered by an independent media. Thus, global justice requires not just whistleblowers but also as Greenwald argues, free investigative journalists who can ensure an informed public that demands transparency and accountability from their governments.





Monday, February 22, 2016

Response to a Book: Machete Season (2003)

To Joseph, Leopord, Elie, Fulgence, Pio, Alphonse, Jean-Baptiste, Ignace and Pancrace,
           
           First and foremost, I write to you after deliberating over your accounts of killing in Machete Season.  I must clarify, the reason I write to all of you, is because I wish to point out I have no particular preference for either one of you, I struggle to think of you as individuals, when really, you are all a representation of people who failed many innocent victims with every blow of your machete, every time you scoffed at a feeble cry of an innocent victim as they were hacked to death. Thank you for participating in Jean Hatzfeld’s interviews. I imagine this was not an easy task for you, openly discussing your participation in the deaths of innocent people you had lived side by side with. I wish you had pointed out moderate Hutus were killed by Hutus too. I think this is an important point in the horror that happened in Rwanda.

 I had to reflect on forgiveness from the perspectives of those who seek it and those who have suffered so much. I am not entirely sure how the role of forgiveness can ever make what you have done any less horrific.  Yet, I remind myself you yourselves are victims of a larger crime, a larger conspiracy by military officials who did not want a ceasefire. I wonder if even now, years later, you can realize you were simply pawns in a much more complicated political game. Did you ever consider that the president's death was carefully orchestrated, not by racist, ignorant civilians, but military leaders who used civilians for their own benefit? It makes me sad, to realize each of you had the opportunity to resist even for a moment, the thought to kill your neighbors, people you lived with side by side, collectively. You all had the chance to change history. Instead, you made history in a way that has only hurt Rwanda and the futures of many generations to come.
              Thus, forgiveness is not for the sake of belittling your culpability that is both moral and legal, but for the sake of the future of Rwanda. You have been punished, and yet, I wonder if there is justice for what you have done. I reflect on how punishments are relative to others. It seems to me, you hid behind the veil of ignorance and racist propaganda, when there were economical gains for you in the downfall of the innocent neighbors around you. Your chilling accounts share how seemingly "normal" people become complicit in "work" related to the "business of the killings and compensation" (page 14) because it was simply more lucrative than farming. While I appreciate your honesty, I suspect there is a lot more you did not share. It is fascinating to note how even your regret harbors on your personal inconvenience and unfortunate circumstances. It would seem you are more dismayed by losing the ‘war’ and not being able to complete what you began; that of killing all the Tutsis and moderate Hutus, than the actual crimes you committed.

               There is no point in dwelling on what cannot be changed, now. You are a stark reminder of how vulnerable humanity is to manipulation by those in power. I conclude by wondering if your stories mean what happened in Rwanda is merely human nature? Hannah Arendt might argue this is entirely possible and you are a classic case of the ‘banality of evil.’ I remind myself there were numerous cases of people who helped other people, even when society disintegrated in to total chaos and disorder. So, ultimately you are responsible for you own actions, and entirely deserving of the consequences of those actions. No matter what, you have to live with the reality of your past, and blood will always be on your hands. No amount of forgiveness can take that away from you, and that, is your cross to bear.  Thank you.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Dear Immaculée Ilibagiza: Response to "Left to Tell"

                 You do not know me, yet having read “Left to Tell:Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” you have shared a deeply personal, intimate experience with the reader. Now I feel obliged to share how your story has impacted my own life, and thoughts on an unfortunately dark side of human nature. It seems rather important that I begin by telling you, I do not believe in a God. I am not a deeply religious person, and having been raised a Buddhist in a South Asian country that had its own share of civil war (nothing compared to Rwanda of course). Having grown up in such a background, I could not help but realize how easily people can be manipulated by powerful racist rhetoric to serve the narrow purposes of a small group of people. I appreciated your story made very clear that instead of over simplifying a very complex issue, but breaking down the issue to simply Hutus vs Tutsis, you made clear the issue was between extremists who were ignorant, cruel Hutus against moderate Hutus and Tutsis. This was a very important aspect I considered while reading through your harrowing but unique perspective of the Rwandan experience. Your remarkable faith is extraordinary, something my skeptical atheist nature finds difficult to comprehend. It has nonetheless, forced me to consider how faith functions as an important factor for reconciliation, reintegration and post-genocide Rwanda. After all, what has happened does not help those who survived moved on, and you offer an admirable model that points out vengeance does not serve the purpose of moving forward. 
            However, faith, trust in God and forgiveness in no way minimize the moral and legal culpability of the perpetrators of genocide; compassion is one thing, justice, another. The question arises, how is it possible to convict a vast number of people who committed such atrocities, often the witnesses the victims and those who survived the genocide, mostly fellow perpetrators of the exact same crimes.  Yet, some form of truth telling and deliberations are important.  Redemption can only be achieved through a process of some form of justice, and most importantly ensure that mechanisms are set in place to ensure Rwanda never again disintegrates in to such utter chaos and madness.

Post-genocide Rwanda is also a country of traumatized people. It is clear even those who committed the killings were in no way emerging out of this horrific time, ever to be ‘normal’ again. It is important these failings of humanity are discussed, rehabilitation services made available and most importantly people are able to heal. Faith is a powerful way to heal, as you have exemplified in your struggle to forgive. I cannot help but admire you. Yet, I would gently point out, for those who do not have a faith in God, they must also have an avenue for some closure, and for them, justice and due process may perhaps be the only way to go on. It must be a combination of all the above. Thank you for your bravery and compassion, you are truly an inspiration for all of humanity, urging them to be better, breaking the cycle of violence and hate. Until people can look at each other as truly equals, without the prejudices of ethnicity, religion or nationality, there will always be a danger of another holocaust, another Rwanda. I hope we can all learn from this disturbing past, to reflect on the fragile elements in our society that preserves what makes us human, and ultimately, civilized. 

Thank you. 

P.S - This was a class assignment, and I had to save it somewhere. Can't help but draw the similarities to any country recovering from a post-war world. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Perfect Sri Lankan Watalappan


You will need: ·  

  • 500g of grated juggery (I got lucky, I've found grated juggery from the indian store. Will add more pics). 
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk (I use coconut milk cans or pitikara polkiri powder)
  • 8 large eggs / 10 small eggs (or 18 eggs if double the recipe)
  • About two cloves worth of ground cardamom
  • One ground clove 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • (I know you can add cashew, I've never been a fan)
Directions: 

I like to vary it up, and try different dishes.
  • Pre heat the oven to 320F.
  • Fill an oven safe dish with water half way, and place it in the oven, one rack below where the watalappan will go on top. 
  • In a large bowl mix the coconut milk and jaggery, cardamom, cloves. 
  • Stir well until the jaggery is dissolved. 
  • Whisk the eggs with the vanilla, in a separate bowl, and add the coconut milk and jaggery mixture to it. 
  • Mix well.
  • Strain into oven proof moulds / ramekins. The straining is very important. 
  • Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Sometimes it takes me an hour or more, depending on how thick the watalappan is. It really depends on the consistency. The thicker it is, the longer it may take. I've learned to take it out when I feel like it might still be uncooked. As long as it doesn't stick, it is fine. 
  • Cool for 15 mins and refrigerate overnight. 
  • The more times you make it, the better you become! Trial and error, my friends :D 

I made so much, I even shared with neighbors!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

To never miss a sunset

Time stops still, while the sun sets every evening. I try my best to catch each and every single one of them. I am acutely aware of how little time we have, and increasingly I am reminded the finite number of sunsets in my life are constantly missed by the daily chores after work. So. I try to sit on the balcony and take in the colors of the sky, as they fade. One sunset, never the same from another. 

That is breath taking. We don't need to climb mountains or fly to exotic lands to look up at the sky every evening. This is the beauty of it all. 

Each and every  evening as I gaze west, the parking lot below in the apartment complex disappears.
Over the hill tops on the horizon , as I sip my chocolate laden milk tea (knowing the cholestrol that is going in to my system), not caring I am missing a visit to the gym and making mental notes to figure out a better schedule that includes this moment in my day, I take it all in. 

As the fading lights, dancing hues glow and fade and the twinkling lights of stars come up, the descending airplanes also appear in the sky. I think of satellites, of shooting stars and the steady blinking of the descending flights...

On cue, like clockwork, the darkness sets in. The best time of the day, as it comes to an end. It is a gentle reminder, as the night begins. In these moments, I am grateful to be alive. To breath. To be healthy. For the opportunities and priviledges life affords. I yearn to be good, to be productive, to have meaning. 
I look forward to the next day, to the sunset again, and I hope life can always be this carefree. 

I hope I never miss a sunset in my life, or the beauty of the moon, through branches of trees... 





Monday, January 25, 2016

Confessions to the blog-o-sphere

I wish I could learn oh, so many things. As I get older, I realize my time is short. Besides, having to make a living really cuts in to my free time. Plus, studying never seems to end, either. I know, personal goals and the cultural brain washing we have been through, that pushes us to gain an 'education' not knowing what that really means in terms of income and returns in the long run. Anyway. I digress. 

I suppose at this point, I will always be a life long learner of some thing or the other, and the following list, at this point has been a constant so far :

1) Learning chess - I must join a chess club. My personality does not allow me to be a good chess player. I am too impatient. I also find that I am too lazy to learn the strategies, so I remain a mediocre wanna be forever. I should find a chess club. 

2) Knitting and crochet - Something I learned from my grandmother. I have grand notions of sending scarves and new born baby gifts to everyone I know, to dazzle everyone with my knitting skills. But so far, I have no succeeded. Maybe if I tried harder to learn how to read patterns. 

3) Baking bread, cakes and desserts - Last year, I took a cake decorating class and felt very sophisticated doing it. Unfortunately, it was so messy and the cleaning up after was such a chore, I am yet to use the tools I purchased to assist me with this hobby. I do continue to bake the same things over and over, but alas. I have not been as creative as I know I have the potential in me to be! 

4) Playing the guitar, ukulele, flute, mouth organ and piano - Ah yes, the inability to master written music. I wish I had done more piano as a kid, I know my poor parents tried. Reading music, you realize as you grow older, is a gift. The fortune of being able to understand some 

5) Reading books

I feel like I could do these things, if I managed my time better. TV shows have tended to be the biggest waste of time, slowly fading away. I've been trying to blog more, and hopefully this will keep me motivated to report back to the blog-o-sohere. Goodreads helps. I want to read more sinhala literature too, I know I didn't read enough. 

6) Learn Languages, specifically Tamil, Spanish & Arabic and perfect the English language writing - With duolingo and other online applications, I have been able to work on the basics. However, got a long ways to go. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Thoughts about Random Books

It's been a while since I jotted down anything that felt like nothing. Inspirations come and go. Funny how they are fleeting. Like a feather in the wind. Once past,  it is lost forever. What ever inspired a thought and torrent of words,  never return. Disappear in to the air,  just like where ever it came.

I started writing that a while ago, and then it just stayed as a draft, like most of posts usually do.

I AM MALALA (2012)

Last night I watched the TED talk of Malala's father. Yes,  the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for education for girls in Pakistan. What an inspiration. I realize there are other view points on the issue. However,  the point is they were doing good work before the NYTimes documentary and before all the international attention. Unfortunately the same hype has helped them,  keeping the story alive,  western whatever regardless. What an amazing father. Especially his closing line. Such an inspiration for parents in general and good practices of how to teach your children to stand up for what is right.

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR (2016) 

My most recent obsession was the journey of a neurosurgeon that died at 36 years old. I googled everything there was about him, and pre-ordered his book from Amazon on an impulse. I knew it was a bit extravagant, given my current need to be financially responsible. But what the heck. This was about meaning and life. So. "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalinithi became my book #2 for my 2016 personal reading challenge. Please do check it out if you have time. Totally worth it. He died in the middle of it, so his wife finished it. Beautiful story, amazing thoughts and truly a loss to science and humanity...I wish more doctors were like him, insightful enough to understand the nature of the Doctor/patient relationship. Scratch that, I wish the world could focus on being kinder to each other, period.


THE HOUSE GIRL (2015) 

A thoughtful gift from a friend over the holidays, I did end up reading this in one go. I always consider that a sign. It is about slave repatriations, and just a story about two women from very different times. I liked it a lot.

SARAH'S KEY 

Finally got around to reading this. Have a few more books to finish.

Books in Progress : The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden,  The Historian, Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Tiger's Wife

I think I might keep coming back to this when I have time. 

Bubbles

You know, how just when the world starts to seem magical and nice...

Everything becomes hazy and confusing...you start seeing double visions
and all you can do is sleep.
Hibernate almost, completely unaware of what is going on or why it is not where you would like it to be.

But isn't everything happy, you ask yourself?

Well, that's exactly the point. It is. It is.

"Then why? What's the matter?," I ask myself.

"I don't know, I just don't know. Something just feels off."  I reply to myself.

Deep long breaths seem to help. Reading lists, on and on.

Partly it is all the things that need to get done, and things just become overwhelming sometimes.

Deep slow breaths. Short, manageable tasks.

Focus. Time management.

All this, so hard and yet so urgent.

It's ok to hibernate sometimes, I tell myself. Recharge a bit, and even collect some extra energy for times ahead.

All those people in my head, loved ones I want to send things to, send messages to, let them know I am thinking of them and sharing in their big moments. Well, it is never too late to let them know.

One day at a time, stop being so hard on oneself.

A moment, each day.