The First Monday of the next Decade

Monday April 22, 2019 – 23:30

Sleep didn’t come easily last night. While I was fortunate enough to not have dreams that haunted my waking hours, the turn of events, especially from knowing that the Sunday morning victims were my friends who were Catholics and Christians in Sri Lanka and by evening to come into the realisation that these acts of terrorism were carried out by extremist groups that use the name of a religion your family is associated to, was beyond understandable. Also yes, that was a very long sentence that doesn’t make sense, which I cannot be bothered to shorten or correct.

The message I sent to my Catholic and Christian friends on Sunday morning, letting them know that my home is also theirs during the time of need, was sent back to me once terrorists were identified. True, we are mature enough to disconnect an extremist group from the entire community of believers they supposedly represent, but in 2019, no one is taking any chances.

The country is still reeling in the aftermath of what has happened. My Mother walks from room to room (and no we don’t have as many rooms) sits down and looks straight ahead or at her phone. Sometimes she falls asleep. I haven’t looked at my planner in two days or even the lists that lay on my table – yes, they seem like first world problems but to say that we are unable to move past what has happened, is fair. The sombre mood in our house is very new, to all of us. While we are not the loudest of people, we are ones who continue moving forward regardless. The saying “the show must go on” should perhaps be the motto of our family. But not today.

Two days we have spent doing the bare minimum. Sleeping. Waking up. Watching/reading the news. Eating. Cooking if needed. Watching/reading the news. Cleaning up. Using the toilet or having a shower. Watching/reading the news. Our fingers are number from the endless scrolls and our eyes hurt from staring at screens for longer than we should. Occasionally we will pause our routine to pack an emergency bag. We are not sure where our cars would take us but the bags are now packed.

Elsewhere, even before the government and media called out on the perpetrators, people belonging to different minority communities began worrying for their own safety. A justified worry, but an untimely one. As someone who finds it difficult to restore her faith, no I do not identify or I cannot relate to what you are going through. However, as I live with my parents, their fear does become my fear too. But when there is no one who has been held accountable for the massacre, do not claim responsibility and defend yourself (and your community) for something you didn’t do. PLEASE NOTE THAT AT SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, YOUR FEAR OR BEING LABELLED AS “GUILTY” IS FAR LESSER THAN THE EMOTIONS FELT BY THE FAMILIES WHO WERE A SUBJECT OF THESE ATTACKS. Also, while it is 2019, some people are among the educated. I have an issue with labels anyway during such times. While I do understand that people will always reach out to “their” kind first, during calamities, the child in me wonders why everyone cannot be “our” kind as we are bonded by the connection of being human and Sri Lankan. At the end of the day, regardless of one’s faith, we still have the same shitty Government, so what good does it do when you choose to protect your own kind? Or perhaps this comes from my Game of Thrones affiliations and how I continue to remark at the groups coming together to fight for survival.

There is so much more to write, especially on how the Government chose to not act on information received earlier as well as on the complaints made by minority faith groups, but the fact is, I’m exhausted. I’m overrun with emotion and I’m not sure if it was all those emotional Game of Thrones reunions and Brienne’s knighthood, post-period hormones or just the state of the country.

Perhaps tomorrow.

As I write this, there is another curfew imposed and the President has issued a Gazette Extraordinary that brings a State of Emergency into operations in the country. We can’t say who will lose a job in office this time and frankly, I don’t think the people really care anymore. If you are interested, this live update on the First Post will give you the information you are looking for.

I would like to once again leave with a thought that was inspired following the attacks at Christchurch in New Zealand.

Share the names of those who are not with us anymore. Share the names of those who did not make it through. Let’s remember them. But share not the names of those responsible for these crimes.

Stay safe and sunny.

Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka

Sunday April 21, 2019 – 23:53

It’s probably not the time to write this, but writing for me, has always been a source of therapy. And therapy is what I need now. I’m also aware that I began a sentence with “and”. I’m also quite aware that I don’t often write about my country as I don’t feel the need to.

I began drafting this post in my mind from the time I was woken up with a call with this very news. While asleep, I dreamt of blood. Blood on me and blood around me. I’ve been having weird dreams for weeks anyway so that’s all there is to it. My Mother, while watching the news tells me of the “fall” of Notre Dam and how it was symbolic of the things to come and even possibly, the end of the world. See, unlike me, she believes in religion. She, unlike me, has been able to bypass and look beyond the cruel intentions of small groups of organised religion and continue with her faith. I, unfortunately, have not been able to.

Which is why these multiple coordinated attacks on a religious holiday bother me so much. It bothers me more than the floods from two years ago. Because this wasn’t a natural disaster that we couldn’t prevent (the floods too could’ve been prevented if we looked at adequate measures but that’s a conversation for another day). It was a disaster, there were multiple attacks, which were targeted predominantly at a minority ethnic group in the country.

It’s a topic we are all too familiar with. For 30 years, to be precise. Since the “end of war” in 2009, we have witnessed smaller-scale attacks on other ethnic groups on several occasions, a few times a year. Correct me if I’m wrong but – and no I don’t mean to trivialise war and the state of the country – during the last few years of war, with the multiple bombs going off every day, it became a normal thing. Yes, war, was normalised. Just as how when a male/female is “accidentally” touched when travelling in public transport or catcalled when dressed well, is normalised. Both of those statements sound wrong and it is wrong, but that’s what it was and is. Anything more than 10 casualties may have been taken seriously. People found it horrendous when the forces carefully scrutinised a packet of rice but that’s what it came to. But that was in 2009.

After the war ended, at home we continued the practice of carrying our National Identity Cards (NICs) with us at all times. In the event of us not having the NIC at hand, we would have our driver’s license or passport. My Mum used to work with war widows pre-“end of war” and we used to travel a lot to the North Central and Eastern provinces. I too often accompanied her as my parents were getting a divorced around that time and my Mother didn’t want to leave me home alone – we didn’t really have a lot of people we could rely on, save for the kindness of our neighbours and friends from the neighbourhood, some who offered to house and feed me while she was away sometimes (and my sister during the time was working abroad). During that time, we both had a majority-ethnic-group last name, which worked for our advantage. Travelling to my Mother’s location of work today would take us no more than four-five hours without stops thankfully for improved infrastructure. Travelling then, took about seven or eight if went in public transport and six or seven if she drove. Sometimes, Akki (my older sister) would be there on holiday and we would take her too during the field visits. Lucky for us, she is very fair and looks Southeast Asian for most of the part. This meant that the checkpoint checks will be cleared for us in no time – yes, that actually happened the two or three times we all travelled together.

Besides carrying our NICs at all times, our house was always well stocked. We always had an extra gas cylinder, extra dry rations and sometimes, extra frozen meat too. We were always ready for a curfew. Ready for an emergency. And ready to run. We continued this practice even after “the end of war”. Since the post-2009 wave of minority group attacks, we would even have a bag of essentials ready, in the cars and in the house, the latter would also have a bag/box of documents to take and run. In recent years, we wondered why our house had only one entrance and we contemplated asking our neighbours if they didn’t mind sharing a back gate in the common wall.

So fear, as you can see, has not been something new. Perhaps it has not been shared in equal degrees by all people, some more, some less, but fear has always been present.

 

A fellow tweep had this thread too. I asked him for permission and he was okay with me posting it. (edited 23/04)

However, as years went by, the fear remained, but we grew positive about life, sometimes about the economy and about those around us. For those wondering if we grew positive about the government, it’s fair to say that it never happened. We knew deep down that what befell us forty years ago, might not strike again. However, a month shy of our “10-year anniversary/victory day celebrations”, we had a change in heart and we feared this might happen once more.

For me, personally, what makes things scarier is the fact that people have more access to improved technology and communication. While this is a good thing, what this does is people have the capacity to become overnight journalists and share unverified information from sources they are not even certain of. They are capable of sharing “fake news” and information that is not true. The calamity of the situation doesn’t stop there. Despite the war and multiple ethnic-group attacks we’ve had over the past so many years, those whom we elect as our leaders would constantly fail us. They will not be able to reassure us and with each passing election, the country and the future of this country grows to become more apathetic than the next.

The government has currently blocked social media, which is a good thing I believe. It helps lessen the spread of rumours and false information. Of course, those who are keen on disseminating such information will download VPNs and continue as per usual, but there is a certain degree to which, this has been curtailed through the blockage. It’s a radical move, yet an important one. Sometimes, the older generations who have been introduced to embrace technology and digital media have not perhaps been familiarised with identifying accurate information, which is fair, as it was never a concern during their time. However, it is now.

I might continue this post later today, however, I’m hoping that there is no need to and all we talk about is the new Game of Thrones episode. While we wait for the curfew to lift, I would like to leave with a thought that was inspired following the attacks at Christchurch in New Zealand.

Share the names of those who are not with us anymore. Share the names of those who did not make it through. Let’s remember them. But share not the names of those responsible for these crimes.

Stay safe and sunny.

Week Thirty-Five: Giving Thanks

It’s been over a year (and more!) since I visited this side of town and I’m just going to continue from the last week because no one has time to be setting up new processes.

It has been a long time and a lot has happened, duh. But let’s not try to get too ambitious and call this a weekly practice, but a frequent practice of being thankful to what’s around me.

  1. The (newish) construction of our daily use by-road – first things first, I’m in my late 20s and I get super excited about new shortcuts and homeware purchases. Having said that, this particular road, while may not necessarily be a ‘shortcut’ in the traditional sense, does help us avoid a fuck tonne of traffic. It’s always been a really bad road and I silently (always) apologise to my tires and the misery I put it through. But recently they had reconstructed it and also added the much-needed speed breakers to avoid us getting too fast and too furious on it. But yay, for new roads!
  2. My mum and I finally went to the homeware-some-clothes-type discount store in my area. True enough we shopped quite a bit but these included some birthday presents and many 2019 Eid presents too. Woohoo.
  3. I’m thankful for mad productivity levels and the shitty days too. I’ve realised that my productivity is not consistent. I’m pretty sure that I’m not burning out and I take extra-precaution not to but somehow, Monday and Tuesday work out great and then Wednesday turns out to be an utter-fucking-flop. But still, I manage to bounce back on Thursday so all’s well.
  4. Speaking of bouncing (I love that epic transition though), I began a rebounding class! It looks a little like this. Or at least I look a little like this.
    It’s balls of fun. It’s not HIIT and in fact is a low-intensity workout that works well for me. I do these classes with Playmore and I’m quite thrilled with myself for having gone for a few classes, yay.
  5. My sister is back! I know all of you must think that I complain about Akki a lot, lol, I do. But then I realise that I do that a lot about the people closest to me. I analyse and justify my reasons for doing so as being me being able to show that I can live without anyone when in actuality I probably can’t. Haha.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you have a good week ahead!

#ThinkSunny

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