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.

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:

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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.

***

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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.

Why I Want to Write about Financing (or “Budgeting” predominantly)

If I start to count the number of videos I watched before starting this post, trust me I would’ve failed having tried to keep track of em. As far as most writers go, I am pretty Jon Snow when it comes to financing. The most I would’ve gotten as far as financing goes would be that o/level commerce class and a/level accounts option weirdly paired with some English literature. As most people would admit too, I’m not that book smart. I like to think that I’m street smart instead because let’s face it, if it’s not the books it has to be the “streets” until someone comes up with alternate terminology.

My “budgeting” days start somewhere in 2007-2008 when I did “odd” – but legal – jobs on the side. Then it was more on getting pocket money that I would dish out at once because, well, the chief finance officer = the mother!

Starting 2009, there were regular pay cheques coming in monthly that ranged from four figures to lo and behold, five figures every month. It wasn’t a steady stream of money but in retrospect, I actually did more with that money than I do now. This might also be because I didn’t use four-to-five-figure face products as I do now. Gah. I remember shopping for everyone after my first real “pay cheque” and even throwing a little birthday party for my mum with her closest friends and family (that amounted to around fifty people) – with only four-five figures!

Next it was India. No, my degree was neither in financing nor commerce. On the contrary, it was in communications (though I later went on to major in English with minors and psychology and communications, because I tend to be indecisive as fuck). My Mother paid for my degree and my sister for accommodation and survival as I was not book-smart enough to look out for scholarships.

I would like to think that my real journey in to budgeting and finances began then.

The first two weeks of the month was always glorious. My lovely Sri Lankan roomie and I would try out different restaurants that were forever in our bucket lists and the next two weeks spent getting as creative as you could get with sliced bread, Maggi noodles, lots of canned food (read: tuna) and the x-number of sauces. I would’ve said cereal but in reality trying to get creative with cereal sounds a little too gross.

I know I could've just done the same with my Scrabble board but we have Google to save our souls
I know I could’ve just done the same with my Scrabble board but we have Google to save our souls

But this was somewhere in 2012 and fast forward to four years now, I am a little surprised at how not much has changed! Haha. No, I’m not proud of it either. I’m laughing because that’s what I do in situations where I don’t cry.

See interestingly, the routine is still the same. Except that I work three jobs (+ odd jobs – all legal!) now and expenses and all that jazz have significantly increase. Let’s not even start with the other vices now, haha. I recently bought myself a car, or will continue to buy (or pay) sounds just about more accurate as that’s what I will be doing for a while and have decided on travelling far more than my travel quota the coming year completely disregarding my shaky job situation.

For the umpteenth time, I’m neither book-smart, nor am I feeling very brave but as the book of English idioms would have it, I’m feeling very “take the bull by its horns” these days.

Fingers crossed this goes well!

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.

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.

8714058497_f3aceebafa_b

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.

An Open Letter to All Those in Nepal

Dear you,

I don’t know if you would ever read this or if you would, but after the storm has passed. Obviously catching up on random WP blogs and social media are not priority, I understand.

A few days ago a terrible earthquake shook and tore the beautiful Kathmandu I know. I’ve been there twice and it was love at first site. From the rickety airport that looks similar to our central railway station here in Colombo to (only) the main roads of Kathmandu City that were done up with the same haste and sham as our pavements for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, we have a lot in common.

You, Nepal have also a special place in my heart. Some of my closest friends live there and having lived amongst you people while in university and while on work, I cannot help but be genuinely devastated by the disaster that has engulfed you.

I don’t recall myself being as emotional when the tsunami struck in 2004.

That may perhaps be a result of the lesson in journalism we were taught: familiarity. Media and individuals consider what is newsworthy, based on a few factors namely proximity and level diplomatic importance. The latter of which would mostly be important for media and state-related news I suppose. The proximity of newsworthy-ness refers more often than not, to the geographical proximity of things. This is why, news of Modi or the Great Wall of China collapsing would be important to us. This also very strategically ties up with diplomatic importance, in this instance funding. But Nepal? Last I checked, Nepal was as significant as the recent climatic disasters in Chile. Of course, some may argue that I am concerned by these topics due to my line of work, but it is not always the case. I have a few online friends in South America and some of my closest friends in Nepal. This becomes proximity to me and hence, the news I follow may seem different from what is shown on television.

Nepal, I hope you are safe and please keep your people safe. They mean a lot to me and trust me, these people are trying. They are trying to remove themselves from the political and diplomatic clutches while at the same time trying to become self-sufficient and they try to maintain political stability. It’s not easy. Coming from Sri Lanka, I know it is not. But please keep trying and do rebuild your City and bring to life the political willpower and positivity you as a people have in yourself. The news tells me that your Government is doing a splendid job and I hope the news does not lie.

I don’t pray, Nepal, I’m sorry. But in my hearts of hearts, when I silently wish for things, I wish for your safety and your health. I want to come back to Kathmandu as much as I want to go back to South India or even come home after a long day’s work. Keep your city safe and your people happy.

Love,

Me.

Open Letters