Let’s Talk about “Gay Marriage”

For the record, I’m neither gay nor am I married.

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.

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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.

Until next time.

#ThinkSunny

Let’s Talk about Failed Writing – II

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.

Let’s Talk about Failed Writing – I

See the notion that comes from “Working from Home” is the supposed abundance of free time. Well, yes and no. Yes, because you are at home, supposedly chilling in your pyjamas (unlike YouTubers who have morning routines where they get about their day at home with a full face of makeup, the furthest I’d go would be to have a shower, breakfast and wear more home-clothes) and deciding what you want to do with the rest of your day. No, because working from home also requires an abundance of self-discipline that seem to come in like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. Sometimes, it’s not as infrequent depending on your levels of happiness, hormones and Heaven knows other monstrosities that govern your day to day existence.

But when it comes to writers who work from home,

(Still despite all hesitation, confusion and problems where career is concerned like to think that I am a writer)

there is no excuses, right?

Or that is what I thought so too the days I’ve stayed at home to work. See the work (that is not necessarily related to writing) always happened, but the writing, never came by.

And I’m not even talking about novels. It’s these little blog posts. Prose poetry stuff. Or even a Trip Advisor review.

If I were to show you the number of posts that are sitting in my WP drafts, half-written Pages saves or even the scribbles from various notebooks, the only question would be as to why not go ahead and finish them now.

I’ve done that before and all I can say is that the train of thought once lost, doesn’t really come back. It’s weird because for someone like me who remembers shiz that no one ever should, it should ideally come easy. Because I remember things. But trains of thought seem to pass by and never come back, I don’t know why.

While it definitely motivates and makes me happy to read others’ writings, it doesn’t always help to see pages and volumes of publications making its way to the Internet and print media, while I am stuck here trying to hit a 500 words.

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(c) Creative Commons

Until sunnier times to write.

An Open Letter from Me to You

To the dearest people in my life,

These are different from the previous open letters that I have written. This one is a tad bit more personal even to the extent of TMI. There might be parts that you might think are exaggerated but this is just me talking through the written word because we all know how bad I am at communicating in real life.

I don’t always speak my mind. You see, I’m crying-emotional AF and any sort of extreme emotion gets my waterworks running. I am not very emotional otherwise as most may already know. If you don’t believe me and know any of my close friends and family (or even better the ex-boyfriends!) do ask them too. I also used to be affectionate once upon a time but that too was lost after growing into adulthood. And on being sensitive and sentimental, but we’ve spoken on that before.

Instead of me speaking my mind, I want you to read my mind. No one is psychic here I know, but I can gauge your feelings. In a similar way I want you to do the same too. Because you wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t tell you otherwise.

I also don’t ask for things. If I get something I take it but if not I don’t. Because if we are close and I were to do things for you I would expect that you knew on how the drill worked. But if it doesn’t turn out that way that doesn’t mean i would care less about you. But you should know that I don’t ask. On the contrary if I do ask or say I want something, please by all means give it to me if you can or if you can’t say so. You see it’s part ego and part social anxiety that prevents this happening often.

Continuing on the note of asking, if I ask and you don’t respond because you may have simply forgotten, I won’t ask again.

You see, I’m not a very second chance type of person. My Mother is heavily into that but to an extent I’m unforgiving and I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because I don’t forget easily. I would want to ideally forget, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind style, but I don’t. This means I will ideally never (or not for s very long time) ask anything related on these lines again.

I also want you to remember. Mostly again because I remember.

I suppose a lot of these sound like I want you to be me, haha

Because for me if is always the little things. Also because I’m just tired of constantly reminding.

You should also know that I get lonely. I like being alone and we all know that, but being alone and being lonely are two different things. It’s probably again due to my social anxiety and female hormones, but I get lonely and because I don’t communicate, I don’t tell and I would want you to know. I want you to know and be there for me without me having to ask you for it. Because I don’t ask. But if you don’t, that’s alright because I wouldn’t love you less.

Finally, if you are wondering on what you get out of all of this, all I can give you is unconditional love. I will also give you little material or edible things when I can but it’s my “love” that you will always have and it’s not because love will save the world. I will also make sure that no one around you tries to hurt you and if they do I would wish nothing but unspeakable things on them and to the rest of their generations.

Overall, I’m asking too much. I know. But I can’t help it and the person in me is too adamant to change her ways. But if you are already here in my life, thank you for being there for so long. If you are new, welcome and I’m glad to you have here too. I hope this letter explains my behaviour because I’m simply a little tired of trying to explain myself.

Love,
Seni.
Open Letters

Let’s Talk about the English Language – Part I

Before I launch into an ultimate rant, let me just put out a few disclaimers for all we care:

  • Yes, I’m aware that I speak in English than Sinhala when given the opportunity;
  • I’m also aware that my blog posts are entirely in English;
  • and finally, despite it not being my first language or “native” tongue, I’m quite aware on how better I think, write and make sense of when using the English language.

But this isn’t about the English language. Rather, it’s on the growing sense of uneasiness a lot of the people come across seem to have with the use of the Sinhala or Tamil languages.

I would speak mostly for the Sinhala language though as the encounters are higher there.

If you know me in person, you’ve probably heard multiple rants of mine where I tell people on how it’s “okay” to actually get the English language “wrong”.

Yes, I am also one of those people that finds secret humour in ridiculously misspelled words, but this is about the spoken language and not the written. 

One of the things I still remember from my uni days was this lesson from my English Language Teaching class: the LSRW system or method or whatever. So, LSRW stands for “Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing” and is a method (in that order) followed when teaching second or foreign languages. However more often than not our education system practices an exact reverse of the same method where most children end up “listening” towards the end of their learning.

Now you wonder why young and older adults have arguments with each other and often throw in “you don’t listen to mes” – haha. It’s also not surprising how my aural skills are shiz and I had the attention span of a fly when it came to my music practical exams!

But leaving out LSRWs aside, when it comes to English or any other second languages, something we must all understand is that it’s okay to not be accurate. I used to teach English once upon a time in my life. I gave up for two reasons:

a) I was convinced that I was a terrible teacher and

b) I did not agree with the teaching system that was set out for us teachers.

Because for an individual like myself that harps on the fluency > accuracy formula, the system just did not work

However, the funny thing is that (at least from what I’ve seen here in Sri Lanka) non-native speakers of English and other “foreign” languages garner more attention and praise from the general public when compared to those who either do not speak non-native languages or those who speak it with “flaws and inaccuracy”.

In my posts, I usually try to refrain from dragging in the line of work I do. Mostly because my blog is separate from work and while I am influenced by what I see and experience during my tenure, I try not to write of it specifically. And no, in case you were wondering, I’m not a spy, or you weren’t but I just wanted to type that line out, haha. 

As a “communications” person and as a language enthusiast that picks up languages fast, one of my key personal objectives at work and in life is to “communicate” messages. Now these messages need not be communicated verbally. It can be pictures, hand gestures, miming and you know the rest of things we do when in search of a bathroom while travelling within a country that doesn’t praise the English language as much as ours does.

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However, in the context of verbal communication, the motive remains the same. The goal is to communicate a message from one party to another (or more). For which, the kind of language used in communication is secondary. If you live or work in Colombo, chances are that you speak more than one language. And if by chance you as a recipient are aware of the speaker’s language capabilities, it is your responsibility to ensure that you speak the language they are comfortable in.

Do you know that when an individual is comfortable speaking the language they do, they usually bring out their best most authentic self, which is a great way to build your relationship with them? 

So, why do we stop people from speaking in languages they are comfortable in?

  1. Shame – Quite similar to Cersei Lannister’s walk of shame, there are those who get uncomfortable and squirmy when someone speaks in a native language (in our case, Sinhala or Tamil).
  2. Classism – Stereotyping yes, but those from “upper” classes, do not speak in their native languages. Not all, but some for reasons I do not know.
  3. Upward Social Mobility – Similar to classism, this refers to the aspiring upper class.

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If you wondered why me, as an English writer chose to write this in English and not Sinhala given my supposed opinion on it, my reasoning is surprisingly a little similar to what’s listed above:

  1. Shame – I am not very fluent in Sinhala writing. I was nearly a decade ago, but I have stopped writing in Sinhala, especially long form. I am aware that it would be a bigger shame to speak incorrectly the language you were taught in school as opposed to the language you picked up through media.
  2. Lack of Adequate Resources – As a writer, I have no shame in saying that I refer dictionaries, Google and other websites when I need to clarify grammar and ridiculously big words I don’t understand. I’m also more familiar typing in English. However, while there are some resources available in Sinhala, there aren’t as much and kind of removes the guarantee otherwise vested when writing in English!

Speaking in a native language is a good thing. Most languages are on the verge of extinct today because people don’t speak them and newer generations aren’t taught the language for any of the above reasons. It’s funny because then you have countries like China that, with the help of their massive population have managed to make Mandarin / Chinese (I’m not sure of the difference) among the main languages in the world.

Perhaps this all goes back to the time of colonies where post-colonisation, the colonisers left with the colonies the need to spread and “colonise” their language and present it as more superior to others. *

*”Colony” word count: 05

Until next time and more rants and writings.

P.S. – The Part I is obviously an indication of more rants to follow, haha.

This Millennial in Colombo

I was born to a privileged generation, Millennials they call us. True, as a Sri Lankan I had war, but then I lived in Colombo and the most we did was have a “drill” for emergency situations during the late 90s. But unless you live in Sri Lanka, it would be difficult to understand as to why we weren’t the “direct” victims of war. Yes, I had family and friends that died in war and we also had an occasional bomb that would go off some place close to where we lived or schooled, but as far as the “victims of war” were concerned, that was not me (I refrain from using “us” because of how soon people get offended for things these days).

With the height of war, the next biggest catastrophe (I speak for the number of localities affected that’s why I did not mention the the Central Bank bomb blast) was the tsunami. Internet was still at its dial-up days in 2004 and information was not freely floating around as much as it is now and up until the tsunami struck us in 2004, I did not know what a tsunami was.

True this island girl cannot swim and hence did not venture into the sea, but having grown up next to the sea (or schooled, would be the better word) it was unfathomable how my favourite past-time or gazing-at-the-sea-and-being-all-philosophical would bring upon a large group of people such disasters. Yes, I was aware of storms and the sort, but they were disasters “at sea” and to my teenage brain, the sea posed no threat to those living on land.

But just as the war, the tsunami did not hit “Colombo” – or parts of it might have but I’m not too sure.

Hence, once again, we were safe.

Fast forward to 2016, we have floods. Once again, there is no direct impact to me. Yes, I am stuck here at home because of the water and traffic on the main roads taking us to Colombo, but me, my family and house are okay. I also have internet to post this and as far I know, this is luxury.

My extended family however, is not.

I am told that this isn’t as bad as the early 90s flood. I would know it is not because what remains of their photo albums (sitting in one of my boxes) tell me so.

But it’s getting there.

A close friend and his family of five including a child at hand have taken shelter on their roof. My grandparents, uncle and aunt have shifted to the bed room and extension space on the second floor of their house. Most of the other family friends, even though not knee deep in water, cannot step out of their main gate.

Apart from the fact that we all know now how much I dislike rain, what bothers and irks me most (I think) is think is my inability to do anything, or rather,

how vulnerable I am when I cannot save (or be there for) those whom I care. 

Riding on my Game of Thrones high from yesterday, it’s similar to how Tommen feels when he cannot do anything for Margery or could not Cersei when imprisoned, despite being King.

But I’m not a Queen, not in anywhere inclined to any form of royalty whatsoever but I work for the development sector (particularly climate change and environment) that are yet to have its disaster management centre, met department and other authorities step up their game on early warning systems and similar practices. But instead, we work primarily on policy and on donor requirements that will help fulfil international energy targets and best practices of what is accepted industry.

I’m not complaining about the work I do and am no doubt blessed to be doing what I do, working from home and all, but sometimes when the industry you work for is unable to fulfil its responsibilities at home base, trust me it can get a bit discouraging. 

Should you need more clarity, I would recommend reading after the quake by Haruki Murakami. Yes, you would tell me that somethings were lost in translations but no, that’s not a concern now. Neither is it as dramatic a situation yet, but it’s a dreaded level of hopelessness that seems to have engulfed those of us who cannot do anything to help

I wanted to lighten the moment because who knew we drowned so deep and this seems to be the only apt copyleft image I could find.

Until the sun shines bright upon us once again and the laundry finds it way back to my dresser neatly folded.

Let’s Talk about this VAT thing

I’m the type of person who rants on supposedly first world problems as you saw yesterday. When it comes to VAT and other things of national importance, I become a hermit that quietly reads the news and shares it if it happens to be exceptionally interesting (like on Newscurry or something), or just keep it to myself for information’s sake and not discuss it in public fora. Mostly because I have no interest in discussing common man’s problems not because it doesn’t affect me, but my nonchalant dismissive and cynical ways lets me think that this is the way of life. And if you haven’t guessed it already: I am everything but the revolutionist.

I’ve always been the conformist type. Ever since I was younger, probably because my older sister got her way most of the time, haha, I to some extent mastered the art of manipulation, tsk. No hate now. I also mastered the art of doing something in order to get something in return. For example, when I was in my “early 20s” #waa I would be the type to clean the house the whole week, wash dishes and cook on most days just to go out that Friday night and party all night long. Now I’m too old to party and even if I weren’t I knock off by 2300h, because fatigue. But then, I would also be the type who would do things in advance just because I remember a lot of things (I rather not remember) #ElephantBrain and when I ask for something (which again is rare because I don’t ask for things because #EgoIssues) I do not get rejected. Unless it’s a salary hike or something, haha.

But then, when it comes to things like VAT imposed on healthcare, now that makes me one of those armchair computer chair revolutionists.

No not that VAT
No, not that VAT

So, I did not know this but according to the article I read this morning (linked above), healthcare was one of the few sectors where VAT was not imposed all this while and turns out (as per the article) this stands true also for “countries with more advanced medical facilities”.

Having gone to the hospital this morning to check on my blurring vision (bit of an Arya Stark situation here) I was wondering why the cashier was struggling to find 50 cents to give back to me (I didn’t know we still used em with current inflation rates) and later saw a little notice that explained on this VAT situation (this was at Asiri on Kirula Road by the way).

Apologise if this seems blurry. I couldn't really see what I was snapping.
Apologise if this seems blurry. I couldn’t really see what I was snapping

I don’t know what the status is for people who rely on government hospitals and free medical facilities. Does this mean that VAT has been imposed on medication / pharmacies as well? And then you think that Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa are bad for overcharging patrons with VAT and Service Charge even when taking out a mediocre kottu roti. Come to Colombo and by a card of Panadol and get 15% added to that.

See, this time what’s different with my nonchalant dismissive and cynical ways is me knowing that this is unfair. (What’s more the front page of the print-Daily Mirror says of a 4% increase to water bills – and you thought water was free. Why aren’t they charging us for air already). I for one know that I have a limited amount on the OPD section of my medical insurance. But what about those who do not have insurance, or work on part-time, consultancy (tsk) or day-labour that do not have a medical plan going on?

While my nonchalant dismissive and cynical ways pay no mind to what the Government is doing to the country, things like this somehow bring out that almost dying armchair computer chair revolutionist in me and like most other armchair computer chair revolutionist, I will until changes are made or revised, sit behind a screen and rant about it.

I hope you all are well, because it’s too expensive to be otherwise.

A non-statistical Analysis of the 2015 Presidential Election

Lol at the title and happy new year! 🙂 There was another post I had written halfway down the line but clearly, more important things got in the way noh, like the elections! Haha. To be honest, I was the least bothered by it and voted for the “now” opposition or former Government, shoot me, but I had a few reasons I thought (and still find) to be justifiable, at least to myself. However, when the news of the “new” President was made public, I was happily snoring, drooling most probably too, with my mouth open when Mama walked into the room at six-something in the morning. Apologise for the overly graphical image over there. Haha. As I said, no the election was not my primary concern and I was thinking of the best way to save up for a pair of Sarah Jessica Parkers, a Kate Spade handbag and a car. At least some of us have our priorities sorted.

Also this post is bound to get very country-specific and for those (if any!) who are not Sri Lankan, this might be a good time to go bake cookies.

Sunday I was having dinner by myself dead in the night, coz food happened in between meals and well you know. I was going through the Sunday Times supplement with all these information and given that my food was hot (and I don’t eat hot food), it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to map for trends and number patterns and what not. Not that I’m good at math or statistics but whatever okay I like comparing numbers and figures and judging people with my oh-so wise judgement. Lol. There are three main “patterns” I saw in the stats when compared to 2010. The Times supplement had given a side-by-side analyses of both the years. I am too lazy to get the physical paper from wherever it is so here it goes in no order of importance.

1. Registered Voters 

There are two (very obvious) significant changes that have taken place.

a) An increase in the number of registered voters;

b) A decrease in the number of registered voters.

So besides the very most obvious result of children growing older and being eligible to vote, (did I mention that this was my first election? shoving showing selfie) my first best guess is migration, for both a) and b).

It’s interesting to note how there are significant increases in the numbers that are closer to the capital city and other podi capital cities. But for people to actually “remove” themselves from their gama and register in the city closest to them? I asked my Mum on election day if people did that but she said that it wasn’t too frequently (or we both maybe wrong). But these were significant reductions and increases I tell you. Maybe when I become less lazier I will get the paper and quote the statistics.

Another reason could also be that people might be dead? (wait, the war ended) or they migrated,

by boat.

2. Voter Turnout 

From my not-very mathematical analysis I will say that the average voter turnout as a percentage of the registered voters was between 72-78%, which seemed promising, especially when compared to the figures from 2010. I narrow this occurrence down to three reasons.

a) An informed public

Maybe those not living in the city have been educated on the importance of casting their vote and the awareness generation programmes have done its part, voila.

b) A liberated public

Not in an attempt to take a hit at what took place six years ago, but I don’t panic (as much as I used to) when I leave the house without my NIC.

c) Democracy at its best

I nearly cringed when I wrote the title for c) but I don’t know man. The “Common” Candidate was by the People (we elected) and the “People” spoke and elected him. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here but if you get what I am trying to say, have a cookie.

3. Change in Preferences 

Damn son! Certain areas, which I will insert when I get hold that wretched piece of paper, which were pro-now-opposition had completely transformed its views and political opinions and preferences over a matter of five years or even the start of the “new” campaign. Amazing. As someone who is genuinely interested in marketing campaigns this is truly fascinating.

I’m a big girl now.

There were a few more I noticed while nomming down the plate of rice but these were the three that struck the most. Until I write, hopefully soon, and get that piece of paper, you babies stay safe. I’m excited about the Pope coming here. Woots.