Acute Forwarditis.

Posted on January 03, 2010 by Priya Tuli

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Forwards generally piss me off, particularly the ones that
say your eyes will fall out of their sockets, your computer will self destruct, your fridge will be seized with violent epileptic fits and your ancestors will all rot in hell if you don’t send it on to 59,328 people in the next 0.3 seconds, thereby causing the internet to gurgle and choke and die... from too many forwards.

They also piss me off because people get mad at you for sending them these dire threats at the bottom of the email, they don’t care that they were part of the original forward, and personally attack you for promising something bad will happen if you don’t send it on in the next 10 minutes.

I usually just ignore that rubbish, and focus on the good bits in the message, assuming others will do the same. But not everyone does, as I realized when I received several death threats in my email from people who obviously didn’t.

Anyway, today’s harvest of forwards yielded this beautiful
little gem, which I’m quoting here in its entirety, because it really spoke to me. I’d seen it before, but some of these are keepers. Enjoy.

They're Playing Your Song
By Alan Cohen, author of "Living from the Heart."

When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child.

They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.

When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child's song.

When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood,
the people again come together and sing. Again, at the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song.

Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person's bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.

When I have shared this story in my lectures, a fair amount of people in the audience come to tears. There is something inside each of us that knows we have a song, and we wish those we love would recognize it and support us to sing it.

In some of my seminars I ask people to verbalize to a partner the one phrase they wish their parents had said to them as a child. Then the partner lovingly whispers it in their ear. This exercise goes very deep, and many significant insights start to click. How we all long to be loved, acknowledged, and accepted for who we are!

In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.

The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.

If you do not give your song a voice, you will feel lost, alone, and confused. If you express it, you will come to life. We attract people on a similar wavelength so we can support each other to sing aloud. Sometimes we attract people who challenge us by telling us that we cannot or should not sing our
song in public. Yet these people help us too, for they stimulate us to find greater courage to sing it.

You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn't. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you'll find your way home.

Thank you, Alan Cohen!

Barter: the new dealmaker?

Posted on January 02, 2010 by Priya Tuli

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I never understood why the old barter system died out. Long before there was money, there were goods that one person wanted and another person had. A simplified demand-supply situation. How badly I wanted what you had, and how badly you wanted what I had, was how the deal was struck.

It was simple enough when the goods exchanged were apples and oranges. I imagine the trouble really started when goods of differing value, from varied categories, created a commodity-trading value conundrum. I mean, how many sacks of potatoes in exchange for a Nubian Eunuch? How much tea from China for an old pirate ship? You see the problems this sort of thing could cause. So they introduced cowries, and assigned goods a certain value. Seems daft to me to pay with shells for a bolt of fabric, or a pound of exotic spices, or a dozen slaves, but that's the way it was.

Now we have money, but that introduced a whole new dimension, complicating the original "you got - I want" system, because you need to work to earn the money to buy the goods you want.

The strange thing about money is, when you have it, you don't think twice about spending it on foolish fripperies. And when it's in short supply, you shoot yourself in the head for having spent two weeks worth of groceries on a stupid lamp. Or at any rate, that's what I did about a year ago when projects were thin and I wished I hadn't bought the *&^%$%^&* lamp. I mean, I can't feed a lamp to the cats, or pay bills with it.

The value of an object is inversely proportionate to how badly you want to own it. It has little to do with how much it actually cost to produce, nor the price you pay for it. Which is why, when you're in uber-acquisitive mode, you think an object is worth a higher price because you really, really WANT it, and that determines how much you're willing to pay for it. Which is usually a whole sh*tload more than it's really worth. 3 days later, when the novelty has worn off, you will kick yourself for paying that insane amount for something you don't even like very much. I find this happens to me most often when I buy lamps. Maybe I take this whole "we are beings of light" thing too seriously, sometimes.

I know I would never pay that much for a silly lamp again. Unless it were a Tiffany-type stained glass lamp, those I would pay six months worth of groceries for. One can't have too many stained glass lamps. But that's not what this is about.

For the longest time, I've been trying to actively revive the barter system in my own life. I've managed to do a couple of interesting deals so far, and am considering closing my bank account soon, if this pans out well. I just need to refine my offering, in order to get things off the ground. So far, I've come up with house-sitting skills in exchange for a week in Santorini, now I just need to find someone there with a villa. Then there's migraine massage and foot reflexology skills, I'd trade those for a case of Dom Perignon. And there's navel-gazing, I'd do that for free. Any takers?

But seriously, I just did a deal with the local trashpicker. He agreed to relieve me of a whole load of junk, and traded me gloriously empty spaces in my home in exchange. I think I did rather well on that deal, I can FEEL the 'chi' really starting to flow. Now to find someone with a migraine...

Earth Day 2009, anyone?!

Posted on April 22, 2009 by Priya Tuli

Filed under Viva Gaia! | 3 Comments

Today, in celebration of our fragile blue-green home-planet, I plan to turn off all non-essential lights, including those in my head, which I do every day anyhow. I also plan to skip showering, just for today, thereby conserving 80 gallons of water per shower x 3, that’s a staggering 240 gallons in one day. So don’t come too close; fair warning, as you’ll probably smell me approaching a mile away.

I am also going out into the garden to hug my glorious 10-year-old ficus benjamina, planted way before tree-planting was even remotely fashionable. This particular Tree has history and much character, with huge aerial roots that have turned into part of the trunk.

It started out as a spindly indoor plant , and sat in my living room by the French windows for several months till it reached the ceiling. Then the cats began to use it as a scratching post; in fact, it still bears those gouge-marks on its incredible 186 cm. circumference. I moved the pot out into the garden for a few months of respite from feline attentions and lo and behold, the roots actually broke out, smashing the pot, and one very persistent aerial root simply grew into the soil, canting the Tree over at a precarious 50-degree angle. It resisted all my efforts to straighten it up, eventually righting itself as it grew, tall, strong and proud.

I later realized that bcause it had leaned over like that, I got to see it from my bedroom window, which faces out onto the garden. So when it grew so tall and I couldn’t see any leaves, just the trunk, I moaned about it to the Tree. In a few months, it responded…I kid you not…by putting out new branches at window-level, so I get to enjoy watching new leaves appear year-round. That Tree really hears me.

Anyone visiting my home stops and stares, exclaiming at the Tree, which is the first thing you notice in my exuberantly overgrown tropical-jungle garden. That Tree has a certain something that makes you stop and take notice. The local Feng Shui man told me that I’m lucky the Garden God has blessed me by choosing my Tree to reside in, of all the others in my area. This is true; I have always felt safe and protected in this house, and I am connected to that Tree in an inexplicable way; perhaps because my father bought it for me when I first moved in. I feel it still connects me to him in a real and tangible way.

So today’s agenda: fewer lights, no showers, hug the Tree, take my own shopping bag to the supermarket, which I mostly do anyway. That’s part of my contribution towards Earth Day this year... for the rest of the year. What’s yours going to be?

Here’s a humble suggestion. If you do nothing else today to celebrate our planet, you could do just this one little thing. Go check out  and watch the video, browse some of the issues on that page and sign up to receive campaign alerts and find out how you can make a difference. Get involved; by now you know that every voice is important, every person counts. So come on, people, let’s see a show of hands! Stand up for your home-planet and do one thing to make a difference each day. It’s such a small price to pay for the privilege of being here, innit? :-)

Desktop dilemma

Posted on April 13, 2009 by Priya Tuli

Filed under tech-no! | 2 Comments

Today, I am going to share with you a dilemma, the horns of which I've been messing with. My old laptop has been slowly dying on me for the past several months; besides being five years old and choking to death on data, the cooling system is shot. So it gets overheated and shuts down several times each hour. I’ve been using a bag of frozen peas to rest it on, a nifty little trick picked up from a friend similarly afflicted. It works till the peas defrost; I realize I need a new computer very soon.

That brings up the whole PC versus Mac issue again, another dilemma I’ve been grappling with for years. Always a PC user, Mac just intimidates me. Since I’ve now hit the Fearless Fifties, Mac don’t scare me no more, so I decided I’d make the switch. Particularly as I can also have Winblows installed on it. I’m so glad I didn’t Mac earlier.

So back to the original dilemma: Desktop? Or laptop?

Well, that was also the question five years ago, when I finally decided on the now-dying laptop. So here it is again, five years later, same question. It’s true what they say, if you don’t kill an issue once and for all, it will come back and bite you in the butt later. It has.

I have strong pros and cons for both. Yes, I did a SWOT on it, and lots of head-talk. Here it is, in no particular order of priority.

I use my laptop like a desktop, but now so do most people.

My current laptop weighs 5 kilos in the bag; I cannot hump it around any more, it puts my back out. Besides, it’s just such a chore to plug-unplug-replug everything.

I love the flat-screen desktops. Glad I didn’t buy 5 years ago, they’ve made them even sexier now!

OMG I love the iMac desktop! That was 2 years ago.

Last year, it was: OMG I WANTTTT the new 20” iMAC!!! No CPU! Just a flat screen with everything in it!

But I’m skeered of the Mac.

But I can learn. How long is the conversion time?

I figure it will take a couple of weeks until I can navigate the new interface without squawking every few seconds.

I remember I’m Fearless Fifty-something now. I am NOT skeered!

I will do this thing.

Toshiba died out on me again. I MUST do this thing.

But why desktop? Just get the MacBook Pro, everyone said. Nooo, don’t want a heavy laptop, I want a light ultraportable. I want the MacBook AIR, I want I want! Besides, I've got a hump that challenges Quasimodo's from hunching over my laptop.

Bad idea, the AIR, they said. No DVD drive. I don’t need it if I have it on the desktop, I say.

Do you need two computers?

Hmm. I decide on a desktop for now, because I want a large flat screen.

Do I need two computers?

I need one that can travel with me.

Do I travel that much? Not for the last few years, but something tells me I will be travelling a lot pretty soon.

Okay, so I can defer the ultraportable for now. Till I travel next.

But if I do get one, which one? Only two choices. Macbook AIRRRR. Vaio Pocket. Ughh. Expensive, both. Ahh, but so sexyyyyy!!!

So. I finally bought the iMac 20" desktop last week. Immersed neck deep in a sudden project, no time to set it up. It sits in the spare bathroom in its box, safe. Away from the cats who will surely want to rip the carton to shreds.

This week I shall have to get it going.

Butbutbut...I’m skeered!

Hi-rises on shifting sands

Posted on March 31, 2009 by Priya Tuli

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There isn’t a single new place that I’ve visited that I haven’t liked. Well okay, that’s oversimplifying it a bit; most places, I love. Some I love more than others. And some, well there are aspects I dislike. Those are the places I don’t particularly want to visit at all, or that I’ve been to and wouldn’t care if I never went back. We’ve all been to places like that, literally or figuratively, if you know what I mean.

And then there’s Dubai.

Not a destination of choice, I have transited through Dubai and stopped over for a couple of days on 2 occasions, to catch up with friends and family en-route to more inspired locales.

Everything in Dubai is an adjectival superlative: the biggest, the tallest, the longest, the widest. The most expensive, the most exclusive, the most modern. Dubai (do-buy?) claims to have the largest malls, and it probably does, it’s just that I’m mall- phobic and a mall is a mall wherever you go. And I’d rather not, so I didn’t.

I was happier wandering around in the fruit-and-veggie section of the local Deira souk, discovering saffron-flavoured pistachios from Iran and around 20 varieties of dates from across the region, each distinctly different in size, flavour and texture. I fondled figs, hefted oranges, poked pineapples and chanced upon a rocket-flavoured herb that I immediately wanted to buy armloads of. I meandered amongst great big sacks of walnuts and almonds and pine nuts and countless variants of  beans and aristocratic long-grained rice, and I sniffed a tiny box of precious, heady saffron. Finally, I was introduced to something I had never encountered before…the phallus of a male date palm, replete with seed spilling out. That’s what you get when you ask, “Oh, and what’s this?!?” Pictures as soon as I learn to upload them!

After a couple of hours at the souk, heading back into the glass-and-chrome world of high-rises that are so unsuited to the climate here, the essence of Dubai really hit me: Dubai is UNREAL.

Everything in Dubai is about What Money Can Do. They’re greening the desert and planting it with brilliantly-hued petunias. Reclaiming land in the sea and building the Palm, the World and who knows what else. Building the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Dubai. At 160 stories high (800m+), it will overtake the Taipei 101 tower, currently the world’s tallest at 509.2 metres. I would not like to be stuck in the elevator on the top floor of the Burj Dubai during a power outage. On ANY floor. But there’s little chance of that happening, because as their blurb says, it’s only for the select few, and I am one of the select many.

Dubai is afloat with Filipinos, a big change from the last time I was here. Today, from the airport into the city, you see them everywhere; it feels like walking around in Makati City, downtown Manila. Bumping into Indians and Pakistanis in Dubai on previous trips was surprising, but not that surprising; they have been coming to Dubai for work since the longest time, and many have permanently settled here. Hearing Tagalog spoken at the airport, however, while men in traditional dishdashas and head-dresses wafted by, felt unreal.

With the economy currently in a shambles, as it’s based largely on the construction business which everyone tells me is at a standstill right now, the downturn is being acutely experienced by hordes of construction workers, many from India and Bangladesh, who used to flock here in droves. They are now being sent back home in droves.

If this is the downturn, I would not want to stop by in Dubai when business is booming. Because there is a vibrational hum that pervades the city, day and night. Construction may have slowed down, but has by no means stopped. The thrum of heavy machinery, cranes and cement mixers is everywhere. Even as you sleep, the background drone informs your dreams, punctuated with the clanks and screeches such machines are prone to make.

It took me two days to figure what it was that felt so unsettling about the place. I finally realized it was the absence of even a moment of total silence, even up on the 35th floor at 3 am. The insidious hum of construction never dies down; it penetrates your cells and your plasma and corpuscles and I’m sure it would eventually drive you crazy, over a period of time. Which is why I think the next big thing in Dubai ought to be funny farms, to accommodate the legions who are likely to go nuts while the construction boom revives.

Three down, x more to go!

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Priya Tuli

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Yes I’m back, in several little pieces, from my third (but short) trip to Greece. With another knapsack full of strange tales, heart-warming encounters and surreal experiences…and within hours of landing back home, the decision to go right back again as soon as possible! Though the last time that happened, it took me five years.

What IS it with Greece that just sucks you up and won’t spit you out? Not that I want to be spat out, not in the least, but even so? I sat pondering this as I gazed out at the Bourtzi (Venetian fortress) across the water in the original capital of Greece, postcard-pretty Nafplio. Trying to crack that one for nearly half a day over several ouzos didn’t work, of course, because the mellower I got, the further away drifted any remotely logical reasons. Present-day Greece is not a locale that enourages logic; the ancients did too much of it in the days of the great philosophers and now it’s the age of anarchy. I guess that’s why I feel so completely at home in Greece; that, and the fact I’m convinced I’ve lived many past lives there. Because something drags me back, I don’t know what. And I go willingly every time, no kicking and screaming. Must have been a GOOD past life.

I’ve had all manner of eventful detours both on the way to, and within Greece, every single time I’ve visited. Including missed flights that involved buying new tickets; reluctant 24-hour stops at ugly airports thereafter, waiting for the next flight to Athens; even strikes that have precluded the usual tourist visit to the Acropolis- yes, three times!

And this time to top it all, I had the most bizzare invitation- from a highly articulate Greek with an American accent who lives in Copenhagen and speaks ten languages who talked 2 hours straight all the way on the bus ride to Nafplio- to spend the night with him- and his mother!- at their family home in the Old City. He was convinced I was an Israeli spy, and kept talking to me in Japanese to see if I would respond. And then he actually made my bed so I could lie in it. All the while muttering about getting the crease right down the center. Decidedly OCD. Yes.  

The sad part was his real reason for being in Nafplio that particular weekend, but I won’t go into that now because it doesn’t rate flippancy.

So to get back to my inexplicable connect to Greece and the way-out-of-left-field experiences it always brings me, I think I’m just a junkie for strange, heart-warming and surreal. And though these pretty much follow me anywhere I go, they are at their Dali-esque best in Greece. I’m totally hooked. What to do.

I do believe each of these events rates a whole story to itself, and I’m not sure I’m going to put them all up here, I’m still too busy tracking all the post-its I jotted them down on. But tell you what, I’ll let you know when they publish the book so you can go and buy it, then I can go and buy an island, that old forgotten dream I found abandoned on a shelf and dusted off just a few days ago.

And since I still can’t post pictures to this blog, maybe I’ll just put those in the book too, as there’s no saying when my blog will go AWOL again and I’d hate to lose the pictures as well. Losing the blog was worse than a 5-month miscarriage. And it’s only back because I was finally able to stare down the wicked Cyclops who manages it, and prod it into resurrecting the site after who knows how long. For who knows how long. What? No, of COURSE I don’t back-up my files!!! I should???

New linguistic paradigm set to rewire our coaxials

Posted on October 04, 2008 by Priya Tuli

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The great language mutation we are in the midst of is nothing short of mind-boggling. In the space of a few short years, we’ve gone from books (and ships and sealing wax) to a few paragraphs of text on our computer screens, a few truncated sentences that serve as conversation, and a few words of txt msging on our mobile phones.

Our attention spans have already adapted, now closely resembling the Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) or cat flea, jumping from one thing to the next without any rational connect. Cat fleas can jump as high as 17 cm, by the way.

Generally speaking, it seems we are no longer able focus continuously on any one person, place or thing for longer than 3 seconds tops. Which means the old gender thing about women being supreme multi-taskers is now officially obsolete.

Today, everyone is a multitasking specialist. We’re all doing lunch while simultaneously txt msging, reading emails and drafting bullet points for a post-lunch meeting, while ordering dessert and coffee. And then we and look up at our lunch partner and smile brightly, saying, “Yes, so where were we?”

It’s the same everywhere you go; at meetings, airport terminals, spas, elevators, cafes nightclubs.

And my other big gripe: you’re on the phone to someone and you can hear the tapping of a keyboard between the pauses in conversation, music playing and a conversation happening in the background (oh, that’s the TV), as they simultaneously conduct a parallel conversation with someone else by sms on their other mobile phone. I am, of course, guilty of doing exactly the same thing as well, which sort of negates the gripe. Right?

And kids? Their thumbs are perpetually hooked in Gameboy position, even when they’re not decimating aliens or driving the Mario Kart super circuit. Will you STOP waving your thumbs around, please?!?

But to get back to fleas and their attention spans. I never met a flea yet that could read a book, and now with our limited focus, we seem to be following suit. There go our literary skills, too.

Collectively, we don’t have the time, the words or the inclination for any more than the shortest, grammatically incorrect, unpunctuated phrases at best. My last conversation, over three days ago, went something like this: “Eh? What, no really? Weird.”

Most of us don’t even really read much any more. Speed-reading is more like it, skimming over pages to absorb a word or three. Which means writers will soon have to adapt their writing. No more wordiness, neat turns of phrase, elaborate plots and 500-page Booker-winning titles.

Publishing firms will eventually bite the dust, what with the tree-hugger lobby loudly protesting that reams of paper are eating up too many trees.

Imagine instead, a whole book written in sms-ese, which you can read on the screen of your new iPhone on your way to work. I believe the Japanese have already full-body-embraced this new genre.

And now here’s one better, for the die-hards who still prefer to hold a live book made of dead trees between their grubby, grasping hands.

Look out for a whole new literary genre that I’m convinced will be the next big thang. It’s the six-word story, and is not that new, actually; Hemmingway wrote a six-word short story years ago, calling it his best: For sale: baby shoes, never worn." I totally love it. What the six-word story takes away in terms of descriptions, characters and plots, it more than makes up for by allowing you, the reader, to fill in the blanks with your own storyline.

I strongly urge you to go buy the book Six Word Memoirs. Our reading habit might well die an unsung death, but for sure our imaginations will take wing and go back to creating phantasmagorical tales, as they did when we were kids. Still, I could only get through several pages at a time; using one’s imagination can get tiresome. Far better, I think, to let the writer do that for you.

Even so, just to whet your appetite somewhat, here are some more six-word stories:

Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.
- William Shatner

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
- Eileen Gunn

Vacuum collision. Orbits diverge. Farewell, love.
- David Brin

His penis snapped off; he’s pregnant!
- Rudy Rucker

Wasted day. Wasted life. Dessert, please.
- Steven Meretzky