I found myself panicking during last year’s floods. It was probably the first time in my “adult” life that I had seen a calamity of that extent and moreover, affected to those closest to me. Devastated would be a more accurate word to describe what was going on. You know how ‘news becomes news’ to you noh, “if it is in vicinity” or something to that extent they teach you in journo class. It changed how I saw things. It gave more perspective to how I see consumption in the light of climate change and God forbid, it probably even made me more sensitive.
Yes, I agree that people can’t sell their houses just like that and move away to higher ground. I understand not everyone has means to do so. But at least take precaution?
Let’s be honest, you had an year to prepare.
And no, this is not me blaming the government.
This is me blaming those who live by these riverbed areas who assume that their aeons of non-technical layman experience can overstep the word of science, measurements and accuracy. Almost, accuracy.
True, our DMCs and other organisations responsible need to up their game. They need to have better management, better organisation and the works. But for the latter, our private-funded ish volunteer-led associations have stepped up to liaise with them and there are better deeds happening. Or at least it seems so from behind this laptop screen.
But you, yes you who lives in these disaster-esq areas. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Are you taking precaution? Have you even looked into purchasing an insurance for your house? Do you have that emergency bag stacked up in a corner to take and go? The latter was a little practice we used to have (or imagining because I was little) during the time of the war, 94-96. We don’t have an emergency pack truth be told (I have one in my car), but should the necessity arise, my parents and I, will leave.
No material thing in your household is more worthwhile than your lives.
Yes, you might not be able to replace them for a long time, but someday you might or you could just steal them, I don’t know.
But this lack of preparation and organisation among the people affected really makes me angry. Why are they STILL not co-operating? Didn’t they lose enough last year? Christ, this scares me from behind a screen. Is this not real enough for you?
Also, has anyone posted a disaster-selfie just yet?
It’s March in 2017 and not only have I neglected this space but have also not been blogging. Sigh. There has been too much going on really. But then when I think about it, there hasn’t really been a lot going on. You know like when you are really busy but then it’s difficult to explain as to why you’ve been busy at the same time? Yes, that.
But it’s at times like these that I remember more than ever the things I am thankful for. To me, it’s that sort of motivation to keep going, keep fighting and pulling that Kelly Clarkson whenever possible.
I know it’s Thursday (and not Tuesday) but here is my current list of thankfuls in no particular order:
The amazing people whom I have met and embraced to my life recently. I’m not one to make new friends, let alone fast friends but I have learnt that it isn’t too bad after all.
Doctors, hospitals and similar (medicinal) healers for taking care of and lessening the burdens of a lot of my favourite people.
The nice people at the Sampath Bank Thimbirigassaya branch who made my Monday (and Tuesday). Good service goes a long way.
My family for making me food when I don’t ask them to and folding my clothes when I ask them not to (specifically my Mother, haha).
Sleep and kottu roti – sometimes the best way to get away from problems and life alone is to find yourself a really nice kottu and go sleep on life itself.
It’s a topic I’ve been wanting to speak on for a long time, but haven’t for the usual reasons, i.e.- procrastination and then for the more diplomatic reasons on whether we should speak about it at all. Because I mean after all, these sort of topics are saved for after marriage and I’m not married noh.
If you do want to know more about sex and the works, I would suggest some sort of magazine or website and in other unrelated news, Playboy is bringing back nudes!
This post on the other hand was inspired partly by one of my drivers. We were driving back from Kurunegala a few days ago and he tells me,
“මිස්දන්නවාද, Valentine’s Day වලතමයිවැඩියෙන්මගෑණුළමයිදූෂණයවෙන්නේ.”
Translation: Do you know that the most number of girls get raped on Valentine’s Day?
And no, I didn’t know that (and I don’t know if it is true). And yes, this post was to come out on Valentine’s Day but then I got busy with work (no there were no Valentine’s celebrations from this end as we are too old for that you know, lol) and never got around to it.
However, this conservation with my driver led to us talking about sex education, rape, contraception, family planning, STDs and unwanted pregnancies that these girls clearly knew nothing of.
See, before we go any further let’s throw out a few disclaimers for ol’ times sake but mostly because we live in a supposedly sensitive as fuck world where everyone seems to take offence for everything. Also since we are talking about “adult” topics, we will be swearing because, duh.
This post is not meant to draw sympathy on women.
Neither is this post aimed at penalising men.
Nor does it conform to the norm that women are victims and men are those at fault.
I will only focus on the male and female genders and heterosexual relationships because these are the populations that have easily accessible data and stuff.
Since this post has been coming a few days and I’ve lost my train of thought one too many times for my liking, let me try to go through a few reasons as to why I think we need to speak more on sex, having sex and well most importantly, having safe sex.
I usually refer the dictionary on themy Mac for definitions and this is what it had to say on consent:
A lot of the time, rape takes place when the “victim” (we are trying to be gender neutral here) has no idea that what is happening to them is wrong. This is true especially in the case of children and rape within their own families. I also have no numbers and statistics to back this information. If you are looking for a good read with numbers I strongly recommend the Bill and Melinda Gates Open Letter.
So it’s pretty simple right? If someone does something without the other’s permission, or consent, it is a violation of their rights or privacy or something on those lines.
Eg: – A few weeks ago someone took away the (my) laptop I was working on to show another some screen on Facebook, without asking me. No consent!
If you are still confused, the following video explains it thoroughly as well. I recommend you watch it as a family or a classroom – though I’m very well aware that my audience does not attract such people, haha.
The Birds and the Bees
Okay, I get it. I’m Sri Lankan too and my Mum never spoke to me about the birds and the bees. And still to date as a twenty-something year old I’m confused as to what the birds and the bees have to do with this. Why can’t we go more Freud about it and call it a lock and key or snake and window or you get the point. Or if you don’t, your mind is not dirty enough to be reading this post.
Again, if you do have five minutes at hand, this is a very good video to watch or show the children around you.
See, a lot of the time, when there is no education or well discussion on what really happens when people have sex, it leads to things like, you guessed it, rape!
There is no shame in talking about it to children and truth be told, if I were to have kids, I would start speaking to them or introducing the concept of sex from primary school. It would not only teach them what they ought to do to protect themselves but also teach them the right way of treating others and respecting them.
True we have Google and most in my generation, a few before and all those younger to me rely on the Internet for information. However, the Internet too has come a long way since early Millennium dial-up and information sharing. It has become more vital than ever for everyone to not only cross check news sites (because fake news brings money too, it seems) but also inquire on the authenticity of information provided. Hence, if parents or adults are not going to speak to their kids about this, they will only rely on the Internet for (mis)information.
I asked my Mother recently as to why she never told me about how children are made / babies are born. She laughed it off and said that I knew more than she did. While I did laugh along with her because it was funny, it did also dawn on me that there are many kids out there who are incapable of having such conversations with their parents. What are they to do then?
I saved the best for last because I believe that contraception becomes the solution to a lot of unwanted and unplanned situations including STDs and (not so) happy accidents.
Okay, let’s assume that consent has been attained and now two individuals (no I’m not looking at sexual relations with more than two people so don’t be offended) are maybe going to have sex for the first time. So no, they won’t get STDs and that box is checked. However, in the case of a heterosexual relationship, what about the risk of pregnancy?
If it amounts to anything on the lines of progress, which I think it is, some of the Healthguard Pharmacies here in Sri Lanka now not only sell condoms on shelves but also have emergency contraceptives as well. I think this is great as it not only reduces the risk of anything you are not really ready to have for but most importantly reduces the stigma and mental strain someone would have to go through when asking for it over the counter.
On another positive note, Sri Lanka is a country that does not require prescriptions for Oral Contraceptive Pills or OCPs. I don’t really know what this means in a medical sense, but as a layman or woman, I think this is a great progressive step as it again shortens the number of steps one would have to climb when wanting to have safer sex and access to contraceptives. While there isn’t a plethora of choices to choose from, I guess this is a start of sorts.
The least we can do from our end is to probably talk about it more to well, normalise it in to general conversation so that there will be no stigma when anyone would want to ask questions about it (as opposed to Googling for an answer).
There is no shame in parents or teachers speaking to their children or educating students on sex and all the other safety precautions they need to know because it would seriously do this country a world of good. See, once the discussion is out there in the open there would be criticism and probably a ban on speaking about the topic in open (like in the case of the big matches) but until that time, there is a sense of responsibility from every generation to the next.
Second, I add the phrase “gay marriage” in inverted commas because I don’t even see how a “gay” marriage is any different to a “regular” marriage between two “heterosexual” people. As far as I know, marriage is a union of love, gay or otherwise. Or one of convenience, if Jane Austen was bae.
Third, I’m quite aware of the sort of possible criticism that this post might gather and my dear fragile heart (apparently I do have one after all) might not even be able to handle it. But it’s been bothering my pea brain and of course if this means that I’m finally going to blog about it, so be it.
Fourth and finally, my research might be flawed. I’m not well read on the topic and have only bits and bobs of information I sourced through the Internet.
According to the news there was talk of Sri Lanka “decriminalising homosexuality” (I suppose that would be the first step towards gay marriage) and then in less than a day this proposition was called off. I also made the mistake of reading the comments in this news article – the comments are not for the faint hearted.
In fact when American legalised gay marriage nearly two years ago and Facebook suddenly had an influx of all these colourful profile pictures. I mean this is great and all. No doubt about that. But the question my pea brain had in mind was as to how the world came to a state where the right to marriage was a question of gender and not of more important things like age or mental stability? However, those in America who were able to be married as a result of the events of 2015, good on you no doubt.
With Sri Lanka though, it’s a different story all together. Our friend in the city actually put together a video I am happy to share and that’s not even because of my favourite friend Dili. They walked around “progressive” Colombo and asked people their thoughts on legalising same-sex marriage / “decriminalising homosexuality”. The word “decriminalise” makes me wonder what sort of word rapists of paedophile get. Again some content is not for the faint hearted. It doesn’t scare you like a horror movie. It just makes you sad to realise that there are people (probably the same age as you are) that think aeons different to you do. Also that there might still be people who have no idea on what they might be talking about to start with. Here, I specifically refer to the loose use of the word “culture”.
What nags my ignorant self is probably not knowing as to why the world need a “special” law passed in order to practice the right to love.
And I’m not even the romantic one in my present relationship.
Where do I even start. I actually just took a break from writing to scroll through my Instagram that I believe has some of my key highlights and also because scrolling through my planner right now doesn’t sound too appealing. psht.
A lot of bad things has happened this year, the most significant of which is the flood that will probably be engraved in one to a side of my brain for a very long time. Today though, I am going to narrow it down to ten good things that happened this year because it’s important that we focus on the positives. So in no order whatsoever, here are my list of thankfuls for 2016.
The Month of December
December is always stressful., which is also probably why it is first on my list. There is not only the end of the year rush, but also all of our special (and expensive) days. This December was even more stressful because of work, a troublesome shoulder and back and lots of other little struggles that I continued to battle;
because end of the year = birthdays = end of expectations, loss of hope and basically cause for mental tantrums
I don’t get too personal in here because as a writer, this blog not only becomes a representation of some of the shitty work that I may do but also a space where a lot of the people I know refer to, lol. But career wise, there has been changes. Good changes I feel, or at least hope. Like many things in life, I try to continuously find stability within myself and my career as a writer (and whatever else that comes out of it) is an area I like to work on as well.
My sister has been fortunate enough to fly down almost every month since the middle of the year and we hope that she will permanently be here in Colombo very soon. My extended family suffered from the devastating flood but besides the house and some other material possessions, they are safe and good.
My Mum made a stellar presentation at the Human Rights Commission on the work she does and I was lucky enough to go see it. Akki and I are really fortunate to have a mother who believes and is truly passionate about the work she does.
Letter Earthlings Grew Closer to my Heart
My favourite past time is not only writing letters, but to inspire people to write letters. Letter Earthlings has become one of my most looked forward to activities every month and this year in particular has truly help bring the initiative really close to my heart. I sincerely thank my friend Nivendra for letting me be a part of it.
Discovered a New Coffee Place
Or my favourite coffee place! It’s a pity that I don’t grace coffee shops as much any more but if I were to, I know where to go and might have a bit of a tough time knowing what I want.
Travelled a bit more
Across Sri Lanka and to East Asia. Some trips were on work while the rest were adventures with those I adore the most. I am grateful for being able to do what I do and the opportunities I get.
Made New Friends, Grew Distant from Some Old Ones
It makes me a little sad to talk about this but the realisation has simultaneously helped me learn and grow closer to old and new friends who have come into my life in the most unexpected of ways. For those who I may have distanced myself from, I’m sorry but I guess it worked out for the best. You will always be in my heart and I will always remember your birthday.
Those who came into my life and for those who have been here with me, thank you. You mean more to me than I will ever verbally let you know.
Wrapped more gifts!
Gifted grew slowly on the side.
We took on orders we could execute and didn’t for those of which we knew that we either didn’t have enough time or enough resources for. Thank you for all those who ordered with us and believed in us to add some magic to your loved ones special day.
Fell in love, again
With the same man of course, haha. But this year has been one of truly understanding him (and I hope vice versa, lol), knowing that he will be there for a very long time. If he chooses not to, I will buy him back with all the confectionary, speakers and car parts left in the world. Muhaha.
But thank you once again for all those who have been a part of my life and given me everything that you have. It’s been a rushed year, but a good one, I like to think, despite all that has happened. We are older, not necessarily wiser but have grown to become more content with what we have, the people in our lives and most importantly, the little time we have.
It’s been a chaotic week, to say the least and I cannot help but feel sorry for my unlucky self everyday. Of course I am quite aware that there are people out there who are having it worse, so I only needed have that thought down on paper (or screen) to remind myself that things aren’t as shitty as I thought they were.
It’s at times like these that I feel that immense sense of gratitude towards especially the little things and good things that come my way because let’s face it, we all need some good news after continuous waves of shitstorms that have come at you. I’m also quite aware that waves and storms are two inherently different things but I’m not too worried about it. So here are the good things that I am grateful for this week:
My ability to get things done by not raising my voice (and hopefully channeling whatever sense of assertiveness there in me) – basically on how I made Anim8 allow me to have the payment option I wanted because they messed up the quotation.
My online delivery packages that came in yesterday – well ahead of time, yay! Also taught me to maybe plan shopping purchases ahead of time and save the not-very important bits for Black Friday deals.
My PickMe tuk guy today. Such a gem of a man, who agreed to come back and get me after I got done with my stuff.
The roll and hot dog from Cafe Ama – I might be bias because the venture is run by a friend, but the place is clean, a little slow (but that’s only because they are trying to maintain excessive levels of hygiene that is great!) and has great value for money. I paid only LKR 205 for three rolls and a hot dog (two rolls was for my good old tuk guy)
My most recent vendors and service providers – they’ve been kind and nice to me and most importantly, answered my calls.
You see, writing “well” for me was never easy. I always wrote, even as a child (since when I could actually start writing that is) but it wasn’t about being any good at it, but more so as a practice of documentation and now in retrospect (as an adult, lol), to keep at it. Because like the electronic organ that I used to play (for fifteen years mind you!) the more you practice, the better you get at it, yes?
Of course this was before a time when I started considering if “good” writing was even a question. This was before the time of competition, before the time the Internet would be a wonderful but terrible place where I would get to see “better” pieces of writing on the same thoughts that had run through my mind while driving home the previous evening but I had let go of it because I was just too tired to put it down once I got home.
This was before the time I had decided to make a career out of it.
See that’s the other problem. I like to call myself a writer but clearly, I don’t seem to be doing much of it. Mostly because of time. There simply isn’t time between navigating through traffic and replying to a gazillion emails. Second, is inspiration. When there is inspiration, there is no time (or there are more important tasks at hand – a time like now for instance) or when there is time there is no inspiration. I don’t write books or long form as much now so whatever discipline I used to have during my journalist days seems to have casually found its way out of the window.
With the problem of being called a writer – because it’s difficult to explain to people what exactly I “write” because I too don’t really know what that is any more – there comes the question of career. For those who know me well enough, you probably have heard enough about my existential career crisis. For most of the part, I don’t know what to do or maybe at times I do and then there is no clear definite path to get to where I have to go.
Maybe sometimes it would be better to go back to a time of no choice, no Internet and standard careers for all those who graduated school and ran into university. Choice supposedly makes us more creative, brings out the best in us and leaves us more confused than ever.
My career as a supposed writer may have failed because I’m only 434 words in and here I am trying to finish up my train of thought that began with some definitive goal at the beginning of this piece.