Let’s Talk about Suicide in Urban Areas

It was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday and trust me if we don’t talk about it, then, when will we?

NB – There are tonnes of disclaimers in the following text just so we don’t offend anyone you know.

I don’t mean to sound like a negative nanny by the end of it, but like most causes in life, I feel as though it’s becoming one of those where the privilege is allowed to speak of or share their opinions on. Or even become ambassador’s (for its prevention) of.

If you ask all the kids of my generation and maybe the ones before or after, they’ve all probably either contemplated suicide or even attempted at it. I mean, does writing ‘farewell notes’ before an attempt and then waking up the next morning only to realise that the attempt was not successful sounds familiar to you?

See that’s the sad thing about it. I mean I thought it was only limited to cancer, AIDS and maybe Alzheimer’s and similar things – please note that I mean neither to offend nor belittle anyone undergoing any of these conditions, in this day and age of everyone being offended with everything – where causes were overtaken by celebrities and all. See, I know the benefit of having celebrity endorsements. The cause gets more money towards research, development and those suffering from it etc.

But what about those who try to speak about it but are sidelined by the people who are more eloquent on the subject?

It’s like why we don’t talk about marital rape in urban areas.

Or when we don’t talk about rape of younger children within a family.

Because it’s shameful.

Because the voice of the supposed privileged doesn’t matter in this instance. Because like most things, many of these situations cater to the underprivileged. Like I said, not to be a negative nanny or to diss those who were not born into privilege but I realised during this conversation of suicide and suicide prevention, why can’t those who are born into privilege speak about it? And by privilege, I mean the English speaking, credit card using, yes, I have some #Wanderlust on my Instagram feed community.

While our reasoning for committing suicide are probably not the same – no our crops did not fail and no, we probably don’t have money lenders knocking on our doors. But perhaps we are lonely and in need of someone to talk to. I mean everyone around us, including our own selves, continue to hustle hard in this day and age when petrol prices increase when you go to sleep at night.

Can you not judge?

Like my friend said, can you give us something other than prayers?

We would like someone to listen.

Maybe tell us we are not mad. Or that we are a little mad and it’s okay to be mad. That they are mad too.

We would like someone to make us feel accepted. Welcomed.

You know, make us that cup of tea with a little bit of extra sugar, just so we know that you like us.

Taken off Google

Yes, we come from privilege. But that doesn’t mean we do not want to be heard.

27 Ways to Make 2018 Great

To Bhagya – who reflects along with me, even from a distance.

One of the most beautiful sunrises I have been fortunate enough to have woken up to. Orissa, India – December 2017

This was supposed to come in as a birthday post but that didn’t happen. New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing but most of 2017 has been spent a lot with a good deal of self reflection that has obviously resulted in the following. Here’s how I intend to make 2018 the Year of “Now”.

1. Be grateful

It’s not as though I was not grateful for 2017, but it’s fair to say that gratitude din’t come easy. I’ll hopefully be giving thanks once a day, I don’t know. I usually have a problem with…

2. Be(ing) ambitious. 

It’s funny why this is a problem because I consider myself to be mildly narcissistic anyway, haha. But it doesn’t hurt to think a little more, dream a little bigger and know that if I aim for the stars that I will land somewhere on a coconut tree.

3. Take time off

I’ve been doing a lot of this already in 2017 be it when driving alone, eating alone or not doing anything significant. Hopefully there will be more of this in the year ahead.

4. Spend time with family

I would like to nail it down to age but family has become an integral part of my being. I can’t imagine life without family. While part of me lives in my fragmented memories of India a greater part of me is able to find roots here thanks to the time I’ve spent with my family. Here’s to being rooted for longer.

5. Spend time alone

I heal best when alone. There’s no harm in having a little extra healing as backup either.

6. Travel Sri Lanka more

Despite the shit state the country is in, I have love for this island. Work has been fortunate enough to take me around and here’s to seeing more of it.

7. Travel India more

2017 was glorious. Work once again took me to India a few times and Nepal, once. These travels have helped me find home in places I think I find myself.

8. Be at peace with myself

It’s still a work in progress.

9. Embrace myself

Because self-criticism comes easier. Here’s hoping that 2018 will not be rough.

10. Take each day as it comes

Because life is so fickle and we never know what the future has in store for us.

11. Save more

To help yourself, to help others and to see the world.

12. Take care of more people

Because altruism saves the world that helps save yourself.

13. Take care of myself

I’ve been falling sick more than I would have liked to. The last quarter of 2017 was rough. I’ve made friends with more hospital staff than I would’ve liked to. Here’s to healing and looking after my old soul.

14. Write more
To heal and to reflect. I’ve not been doing this as much as I should’ve. Hopefully giving thanks every night should set things right.

15. Connect more with colleagues

I like to compartmentalise my relationships. Never let one see what the side another would. Colleagues would always remain at work and friends at the bar. But 2017 has taught me that blurring the lines between the two can bring about changes, good changes. Here’s to opening up and making friends out of colleagues.

16. Appreciate nature

By being one with nature. Not seeing the world through a screen in 2017 has helped me be more in awe with everything around us, like sunrises.

17. Look forward to things

Yes, the very things I put down in my planner.

18. Compliment more

Especially women. I am unsure how men feel about complimenting each other but women feel great when other women compliment them and what better way than to uplift spirits of your sisters?

19. Say NO

To things I don’t want to do. The world has evolved, I’ve matured and I can say no when I want to.

20. Write more letters

Because letters heal. It heals those who write letters and it heals those who read them.

21. Try harder

Without giving up easily. While I do believe that good things take time, I can also be impatient in seeing results. Here’s to trying harder and not giving up easily.

22. Believe

In myself, in something.

23. Forgive myself

If not it would be difficult to believe in myself.

24. Heal

Because if have not healed, I will not be able to take care of myself. 

25. Breathe deeply more often

Use the app or just practice it in traffic while driving. Breathing calms me down and brings clarity when things are blurry.

26. Meditate

A little bit everyday. Yes, I fail. Drift off to sleep. Deviate. Think of things I have to do tomorrow but it doesn’t matter.

27. Reflect

At the end of the year to see how far I’ve come. There’s no turning back now.

Picture – Sunrise at around 0614h in Puri, Orissa.

Let’s Talk about Personal Space

See I’m a closed up person. I’m not the book type where the more you get to read, the more I open up. In fact, I feel as though you are the wrong type of reader or you just don’t spend enough time in a library, you will be getting to read a different book. Actually, for every reader that gets the right book, every wrong reader gets a different book because, different approaches and let’s face it: I don’t want you comparing notes with each other.

However, (keeping in line to the excellent book analogy because I’m fabulous for thinking of it in the first place) all readers alike get a common introduction. #NoHate #AllLivesMatter I like to (try to) be funny, a bit chatty, open to listening and being a cheerleader about saving the world and spreading sunshine on rainy days #haw

Still for all, there are few things I don’t speak much on for various reasons among which include:

(Local and International) Politics

No, I’m not trying to be diplomatic about it. Truth be told, unless it’s the UNFCCC or your names happen to be Trudeau or Macron, I’m not interested in knowing about you either. Mostly because I am a little blissfully unaware about what really goes on. Shameful I know, but I’m not lying when I say that it bores me. Sometimes to near death. I’m not proud of it needless to say but at least I’m being honest about it and avoid partaking in conversations I don’t quite understand much of.

On How Parents Should Parent their Children

Of course I will give ample advise on how I would raise my unborn children and in my mind write countless blog posts about how wrong I think you are raising your own. But, I for one will most likely not be able to afford any of my own and since you are bravely raising children, I genuinely do believe that you have a better idea of what you are doing with your kid(s), I think.

Education

While education is essential and a right for all, let’s face it. In reality, not everyone has access to it and due to various reasons, those who do have access to it sometimes leave it behind due to commitments, financial concerns, more lucrative job offers and the genuine lack of interest in wanting to study. While education is one way towards the road of smart(dom), it isn’t the only way and learning happens in everyday life and not just in an institution.

Sexuality and Gender

I added both, despite knowing very well that one is different from the other because I am unable to clearly explain as to how one differs from the other. My Gender Studies lecturer from 2012/2013 will be disappointed, I know. But like what you may, who you may and do whomever you please, so as long as you stay away from my man, you and I can always, ALWAYS drink together. I’ll even buy you a round.

Body Size

Let’s just say, #AllBodiesAreBeautiful

and they are! If you are unable to see beyond that, you and I clearly cannot be friends.

Facebook Relationship Statuses

If you are not on Facebook, well I don’t think this would apply to you, but irrespective of you being single, married, widowed, divorced and any other new type of relationship you choose to be in, I’m chill, with the exceptions of you either complaining about your chosen status or making out with you bae next to meet when we meet every four months for dinner. (ew)

Religion

These include the beliefs and practices of my own, of yours and those around us. Unless otherwise provoked with hateful comments on any religion, I will continue to believe that all religions speak of love, unity and togetherness because that’s what all religions preach. I think.

Coz we all love the pope.

This also means that I bear judgement (maybe a bit on parenting one tho) and have no biases (unless you are a child of war or divorce) on the different perspectives you and the rest of the world choose to believe in.

Because, personal space right?

We will soon speak on religion and agnosticism. However, if the sun chooses to shine and rays of inspiration hit me, I will speak of travels.

Week Thirty-Four: Giving Thanks

Oh hello to you too! I have a list of thankfuls for today because it seems like one of those days to be thankful for because it seems to be the only thing that makes sense just about now:

  1. Taking notes! A weird thing to be thankful for but the past few days have been really crazy and thanks to the 800 notes I have taken, things don’t seem too bad during this recovery period.
  2. The weather Gods for not raining on my lovely friend’s wedding. I’ve uploaded pictures on my Instagram. Just sayin’
  3. The little miracles that seem to be hitting me since the past few weeks. Makes me realise that things are not too bad after all.
  4. Upcoming holidays I plan to take with my favourite people, yay!
  5. Sobriety (ish) and I’ll leave it like that.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Week Thirty-Three: Giving Thanks

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Doctors, hospitals and similar (medicinal) healers for taking care of and lessening the burdens of a lot of my favourite people.
  3. The nice people at the Sampath Bank Thimbirigassaya branch who made my Monday (and Tuesday). Good service goes a long way.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Let’s (try to) Talk about Sex Education?

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.

See but then this post is not about having sex. Don’t get me wrong. It’s more on the need for educating people about sex. Also most of these images are shamelessly stolen off the Internet.

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,

මිස් දන්නවාද, Valentine’s Day  වල තමයි වැඩියෙන්ම ගෑණු ළමයි දූෂණය වෙන්නේ.”

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.
  • Also:
just letting ya'll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)
just letting ya’ll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)

 ***

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.

just sayin'
just sayin’

Consent 

I usually refer the dictionary on themy Mac for definitions and this is what it had to say on consent:

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-23-23-03

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? 

Contraception 

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.

sorry, Google.
sorry, Google.

If you are interested, here is an excellent compilation done by Pew Research on abortion policies across the world.

Other suggested reading:

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.

#ThinkSunny

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.

***

download

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

December Diaries: Giving Thanks to 2016

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

jqx8zrb4sdizi760ylu3sa_thumb_4a8a
Also one of my favourite people got married this month. ❤

Big Changes 

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.

In other news, I got a car
In other news, I got a car.

Family

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.

Food = family.
Food = family.

Mum’s Presentation

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.

15380836_132733263882257_406937016332908393_n

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.

screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-16-09-08

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.

I know Cambodia was a highlight but my heart will always be with the sea.
I know Cambodia was a highlight but my heart will always be with the sea.

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.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_4a8d

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.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_4a8e

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.

This was from 2015 but the next picture in this series of pictures was definitely my favourite <3
This was from 2015 but the next picture in this series of pictures was definitely my favourite ❤

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.

I hope 2017 brings you nothing but sunshine.

Written as part of the Giving Thanks series – Week 35