priya tuli's randombloggz 2010-09-10T14:28:31+03:00 Apache Roller (incubating) Great-aunt Jemima priya 2005-08-15T13:19:08+03:00 2008-04-04T12:29:57+03:00 <p>Everybody and their great-aunt Jemima is writing an amazing bestseller these days, which promptly flies right off the charts and straight into amazondotcom land. Shortly thereafter, having sold movie rights to Hollywood for obscene amounts that run out of zero-space on the average calculator, the celebrated new author, along with great-aunt Jemima no doubt, likely retire to a life of lotus-eating bliss on some quietly decadent Caribbean island.</p> <p>What's worse is, in a majority of these cases, writing was not even a small part of their job description. </p> <p>So now, imagine that you've been writing for a living for the last 3000 years, like I have. Over the centuries, you and your muse have developed a tenuous and fragile co-dependency, bordering on the phobic. You are also, for some strange reason, increasingly fascinated with snails and three-toed sloths.</p> <p>You are no longer gobsmacked at these hordes of people who so prolifically toss off books, like so many peanuts at one sitting. Your awe-tank is now running on empty, and nothing surprises you any more. You have evolved, from awe-full to hope-less, in one fell swoop.</p> <p>You've stopped marvelling at where they get their ideas from. You've stopped banging your head repeatedly against the wall, bleating, &quot;oh SHIT I wish I'd thought of that!&quot;. You've lost count of the number of times you've yelped, &quot;Noooo, I don't BELIEVE it, that's the EXACT same storyline I've been developing the last 5 years and somebody already wrote the book and turned it into a screenplay!&quot; </p> <p>Instead, you sit down to write something...anything. All you get is a big blank expanse of screen, leering at you. You rediscover the 'Format' tab. You click on the 'columns' option and tell yourself it might work if you tried to write 3 words per column instead of 500 words per page. You run dry at Column 5.</p> <p>Change of tactic. You try Yoga to loosen the Muse. You do 7 tequila shots and throw yourself into the pool at 2 am. You turn out all the lights and put on loud rave music, which you hate, to scare the Muse out into the open. There is a definite desperate edge to the snailwatching, you realize.</p> <p>Okay, time to try it backwards. You bring out your best visualization toolkit. You close your eyes and imagine you've already FINISHED writing the book. You see the title up in flashing lights. Damn. Those lights are so bright you can't even read it. Try it without the lights. No good. You can't even visualize a title into being.</p> <p>Never mind, keep on with the visualizing...but hang don't WANT it to be justanotherbook, do you??? Hell, NO!!!</p> <p>Damn. Start over. Calm down, deep breaths...and suddenly, you just KNOW you're on the verge of a major breakthrough. You are thinking of ways to make it an un-book. Why not print it as a book of tear-off biodegradable brown bags, printed with vegetable pigments, so they serve a functional purpose and are eco-friendly too? Read it, use the brown bags when you're done, and then compost them! </p> <p>You consider printing it on napkins, so you can read through dinner, then use the napkin. No, no good, nobody uses a whole pack of napkins at one meal, and who wants to wait till dinner tomorrow for the next page?</p> <p>Maybe a book in sms-format? Since mobile phone screens are still small, it would have to be a book-in-50-words. So you could read it on the go. Now THAT could work! ANYONE could write 50 words! I just DID!!!</p> They say... priya 2005-08-14T01:05:49+03:00 2008-04-04T12:21:13+03:00 <p>They say, &quot;you are what you think&quot;. That makes me a slushy chocolate puddle in a wild jungle print sarong reading 5 books at the same time, none of which are making much sense any more.</p> <p>(What was I thinking, you ask? Just that chocolate is better when it's almost melted into a puddle and sarongs are the world's most comfortable mode of dress and I'm sure I bookmarked that page I need right now, but I want to finish reading the next 2 pages of each of these 5 books before I look for it).</p> <p>They say, &quot;you are what you eat&quot;. Are we talking 'what you should sensibly eat to fuel your body right', or 'what you lust after and gorge on every weekend', or 'what you eat when you know you shouldn't be eating it, like about 10 times each day' ? Damn, now I'm hungry...for all the wrong things.</p> <p>They say, &quot;you are manifested from energy&quot;. They must have run out of energy by the time it was my turn, because all that was left was cow-fart methane. I declined my quota; I can generate that myself. </p> <p>I say, &quot;they&quot; get away with a whole lot of sweeping statements that nobody can contest, because &quot;they&quot; have left no forwarding address, and we don't even know who &quot;they&quot; are. If you ask me, it's all quite clearly a part of that alien takeover conspiracy theory. &quot;They&quot; are quietly taking over our minds, subtly and surreptitiously seeding us with thoughts, which we spout when prompted, faithfully prefacing them with a &quot;they say&quot;. Notice how nobody even thinks to refute one of those?</p> <p>Here's another thought. We all have our favourite &quot;they say&quot; bits of obscurantist alienspeak. Send them in, and when we have enough of them, we'll throw them in a sack and pick a winner, and put it up in neon lights that &quot;they&quot; can see all the way from whichever alien galaxy &quot;they&quot; inhabit.</p> Saving H2O one brick at a time: the displacement theory priya 2005-08-12T11:16:58+03:00 2008-04-04T12:18:56+03:00 <p>They started talking about 'water wars' years ago. At the time, it seemed a remote and unlikely possibility. Most dismissed it as another nutty-professor theory, like when they first started talking about methane from cow farts causing ozone depletion and global warming. </p> <p>Water wars seemed like something that probably<em> could</em> happen, but not anytime soon. Within the realms of possibility, but well...more like the Apocalypse. Doomsday. The End Of The World. At any rate, not in <em>our</em> lifetime. After all, the planet is, like, 80% water, right? </p> <p>In recent years, the emerging reality has proved those doomsayers right...our cities are rapidly running out of water. Urban water tables are dropping radically. You need to dig deeper bore wells to access that water table. Deforestation compounds the issue, as there are fewer trees (they've been cut down to expand the cities) and therefore fewer catchment areas around urban centres, to prevent runoff when it rains. So the rainwater, which would normally replenish the groundwater supply, instead turns into torrents of destruction and devastates these very same cities. </p> <p>Apart from which, water shortages are today's stark reality, not tomorrow's murky possibility. Think of it. Thirsty? Need a shower? Sorry, no water. As for water wars? Check the links below. It's happening already; people are killing for water. Next, we'll be killing for air to breathe...but let's stick to water for now. </p> <p>So, should you worry? Let me put it to you another way: Do you live in a city? And do you use water? There's your answer. It's in the cities that the most water is wasted. </p> <p>I have a little story for you. During my 3+ years with the UNDP World Bank Water and <em><strong>Sanitation </strong></em>Program (I mention this only so you won't think, a bit further along, that I'm being overly Freudian about toilets), I was in the Philippines on work. That's where I first came across a truly inspired idea. It was lo-tech and so simple, so brilliant and so effective that I wish I'd thought of it myself.</p> <p><strong><em>One brick at a time!</em> </strong></p> <p>Okay, back to toilets. Did you know that every time you flush, the average toilet whooshes around 7 gallons of water down the drain? Most often, less than a third of that would do the job just as well. </p> <p>Now, how many times do you use the toilet a day? Multiply by seven...and that's just what YOU use. How many people in your household? Now multiply that by 30 days per month, times 12. Do the maths... and you get a staggering figure. </p> <p>Sure, there are new 'water saver' toilets on the market now, which use 1.6 gallons per flush. And the 'smart-flush' sort that let you take the momentuous decision (according to what you did in 'em!), of whether to use the half-flush or full-flush mode. But mostly, in Asian cities, we still use the old 7 gallon variety. <em>(Outside of the major cities, the far more water-efficient 'pour flush' toilet is widely used. Not much fun if you have arthritic knees and can't squat, but it saves much water). </em>So, what to do?</p> <p>Here's the solution. Ready? Take a brick, wrap it securely in plastic and place it in the cistern of your water closet. </p> <p>That simple. Really. Water displaced is water saved. So you use less each time you flush, while the plastic bag prevents green gunge from growing on the brick, appearing in your toilet bowl and giving you a fright in the morning. </p> <p>It's so simple and could so easily be adopted as a global campaign, one that every city could implement. It needs no financial outlay, no rearranging of pipes and plumbing, no NOTHING. The only reason NOT to implement it would be sheer apathy. I think the time for apathy is long past.</p> <p>Unfortunately, most of us think, 'This problem is bigger than me, and anyway what difference can one person make?' Oh, my. Think stone, pond, ripples. One person is all it takes to start that ripple. Be a stone. </p> <p>Better still, be a brick advocate...contaminate all those around you! First, toss a couple of bricks in every cistern in your home. Then target your neighbours, friends, homes, office blocks, hotels. Most definitely hotels! Plenty of ripple potential in every city in the world! </p> <p>Me? Apart from the bricks, I'm doing my bit by not showering more than once a week, starting tomorrow. Beat that!</p> <p><a href=";%20http:/;%20http:/;">Water Wars</a></p> 1001 perfectly good reasons NOT to write a book priya 2005-07-19T02:15:46+03:00 2008-04-04T12:13:53+03:00 <p>Over the years, you lose track of how many gazillion times you've been asked, &quot;So, why don't you write a book?&quot; After years of mumbling lame replies and being totally consumed with guilt and inadequacy, which in turn afflicted me with an itch I spend most of my waking time scratching, I finally hit upon the perfect reason. 1001 of them, in fact.</p> <p># 1. I'm not really a fiction writer </p> <p># 2. Who needs more books? </p> <p># 3. I can't use paper, the rainforests are dying </p> <p># 4. Every story there is has already been told </p> <p># 5. I'll start tomorrow, after I finish this project I'm working on </p> <p># 6. Writing doesn't pay the bills </p> <p># 7. What would I write about? </p> <p># 8. I'll start next weekend, at the beach </p> <p># 9. I lost the little notebook where I jotted down my story ideas... all 5 of them </p> <p>#10. I can't write without my laptop and the beach shack has no power </p> <p>#11. What would I write about? </p> <p>#12. What if I wrote and e-book? Hmm, must think that one through sometime </p> <p>#13. I'll write the next time we have a thunderstorm, all that energy is totally inspiring! </p> <p>#14. People don't read much any more, except for txt msgs </p> <p>#15. I'll write when I have free time for 3 days in a row </p> <p>#16. Maybe I should learn to draw instead </p> <p>#17. Should I write a children's book? </p> <p>#18. Damn, the cats are fighting </p> <p>#19. Damn, I spilled a vodka-tonic into my laptop </p> <p>#20. Damn, I just saw a UFO, did you see that? Is this an alien takeover? </p> <p>#21. Okay, I am going to sit here and write 500 words, if it takes me all night. </p> <p>#22. Just as soon as I get a coffee </p> <p>#23. Too many mosquitoes, I can't concentrate </p> <p>#24. After I've watched the 10 rental DVDs which are already 5 days overdue </p> <p>#25. Okay, finally got another project! No time off till next month now... </p> <p>#26. I really need to tweeze that chin hair, it's 2 inches long by now </p> <p>#27. The computer crashed when I was doing some web research on a story </p> <p>#28. Maybe I should sleep early tonight, it's only 3 am... </p> <p>#29. Okay I got a title, now I just need to throw in 500 words and I'm done </p> <p>#30. Yawnnn... </p> <p>#31. It's either write and get paid, which is work, or it's write and don't get paid, which is scary. I mean, how many people actually get a book deal that will buy them a lifetime supply of catfood and a small island somewhere remote? </p> <p>#31. Still only at the title... </p> <p>#33. Maybe if I started a list of what I DON'T want to write about? </p> <p>#34. Or if I just did pictures; then I could write really big captions </p> <p>#35. When you've spent most of your working life writing headlines and advertising copy, your subliminal mantra is &quot;keep it short!&quot; A book is not short!!! </p> <p>#36. They say the first line takes the longest time to happen, and then you're on a roll </p> <p>#37. It's been several years since that first line happened and I ain't rolled nowhere yet </p> <p>#38. Last week there was this HUGE thunderstorm and I thought we'd get flooded! </p> <p>#39. We didn't get flooded... </p> <p>#40. but we might have. </p> <p>#41. ... </p> <p>#42. *&amp;^%$#$%^&amp; </p> <p>#43. I could write about lactose intolerance </p> <p>#44. Or peeling grapes? </p> <p>#45. I could cut random words out of magazines and arrange them to form a story </p> <p>#46. It would take at least a month to do 500 words that way, but it could work </p> <p>#47. to #1000: repeat #1-#46 above in random order and&nbsp;wake me when you're done... I'm off to bed now.</p> WYSIWYG? Haaaah! priya 2005-07-04T09:07:53+03:00 2008-04-04T12:01:59+03:00 <p>The fact that you're reading this online tells us you are evidently comfortable with the way computers have taken over the entire galaxy and a large part of your life as well. You're a willing convert, awed at the plethora of facts, functions and trivia brought to you by the wonderful www. And if you're anywhere near as tech-savvy as I am, you still don't know your html from your muesli. </p> <p>Which is why we depend on these clever new programs that purport to magically convert text into web-friendly format without our having to fraternise with geekdom or fiddle with &lt;html tags&gt; and other strange phenomena. That's the upside. The downside, I've discovered, is that they're not exactly a gift from the gods.</p> <p>They're called WYSIWYG editors, and I can just SEE them sitting in their plush corner cyberoffices, messing with my text, chewing it up and spitting it out. Or worse still, swallowing it whole, which is what happened when I was writing this, so I am now forced to regurgitate from memory. This could take anywhere from three to five centuries. Meanwhile, all the little gems in the original are now lost forever to that giant wordfill somewhere in cyberspace. That's right, the one already overflowing with all the stuff that people keyed straight into a WYSIWYG program, totally unaware that it would vaporize before they could hit 'save'. </p> <p>WSYIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, and it rates right up there with the Bush administration, the WTO and the G8 for credibility and veracity. Because everybody knows that what you see is never what you get (and vice versa). There are various reasons, usually around four per person. These are mine: </p> <p>i. The last time you 'got' something, it was the punch line from a joke someone told you 5 months ago</p> <p>ii. Your failing eyesight is not to be trusted any longer; also, your sugar levels mess with your vision so you're seeing double anyway </p> <p>iii. Your sharp new sunglasses are 3 shades darker than hell, so your day-vision now matches your night-vision </p> <p>iv. It's all grown old and ugly and you really don't want to look anymore</p> <p>Which brings us back to WYSIWYG (pronounced Wissiwig). What these web editing programs are meant to do is obviate the need for coding and html tags and such, so that if you can key text onto a keyboard, you can post text directly into templates on the web in a more sexy format than you previously could, thereby depriving millions of html geeks from feeding their families and vacationing in the Seychelles. Simple enough, right? Wrong.</p> <p>First, you need to choose from stuff like editor-dhtml. jsp, editor-ekit.jsp, editor-wiki-js.jsp and so on. What's the difference between them, you ask? Who knows?! A bowtie, maybe?!? Whatever, you're naive and trusting enough to believe WYS will actually be WYG, so you laboriously key in around 500 words of text, checking for syntax, logic and flow as you progress...and when you hit 'post', it all vaporizes off your screen. Poof! Gone! </p> <p>The Other Voice In Your Head asks: Did you save it as a draft first? Heck no, I was going to POST it, that works like a save, right? Or what's the POINT of a WYSIWYG editor?!? And how did I know the 'session' expires in 20 minutes so I automatically get logged out, and need to start over again?!? *&amp;^%#$%^&amp;*</p> <p>Well, key it into WORD first, then copy it into the web template, says The Other Voice. Okay, let's try that. That's even worse, because the WYSIWYG program converts ALL punctuation, including hyphens, dashes and inverted commas, into instant hieroglyphics. Except you only see that when it's posted to the website; it never shows up that way on the 'new post' template OR the 'edit' template. To add insult to injury, it then either reduces the font size to microdot, or 72 point Garamond Bold. Take it or leave it.</p> <p>As you can imagine, if you had say 500 words, with 5 lines of dialogue and a smattering of !!! and ???, you're going to be correcting that post well into next week. So off you go, dashing back and forth, login &gt; edit &gt; logout &gt; check post &gt; damn, another one &gt; login &gt; edit &gt; check post etc., checking and rechecking, till you finally decide you don't really give a toss anymore. Which is about where I'm at right now. </p> <p>So really, the moral of the story is this: 1. Never post direct to the web; good old Bill Gates will be making money off me on MS Office for awhile yet, and I suggest you let him do the same off you, too. 2. WYSIWYG is just another myth propagated by geeks OD-ing on Java; whenever you hear it, no matter who says it to you, duck behind the high-pressure air curtain and stay safe. 3. Clean up your post as best you can. Just don't give it more than 5 minutes, nothing is worth that kind of frustration. 5. Stop using punctuation altogether, be good to you and feed yourself some chocolate instead. </p> Of Minotaurs, Labyrinths and Koumbaras priya 2005-06-25T23:50:01+03:00 2008-04-04T11:58:10+03:00 <p>Ahh, beautiful island of Crete! There I was, in Iraklio, a stone's throw from historic Knossos. But no, I wasn't checking out Daedalus's fine handiwork and getting lost in the labyrinth, sans fair Ariadne's ball of twine to see me safely through. No Minotaur was chasing me around the block, and no Greek-god-like youths were being offered up for sacrifice in my honour. Sigh.</p> <p>Instead, I was to officiate at a friend's wedding, as witness. It actually happened by default, as you will see a couple of paragraphs down. Even so, that technically made me a 'koumbara', the Greek version of a bridesmaid. But boohoo. It was not a Big Fat Greek Wedding, just a Small, Skinny Registered one. As it turned out, I nearly ended up being the key player in what could have turned into a classic Greek Tragedy. </p> <p>My Greek friend, whom I shall refer to as 'Babis', to protect his identity, was marrying a Frenchwoman, whom I shall call 'Vera', to protect her identity. </p> <p>Now, anybody who's ever had a registered civil ceremony knows how complex it is to pull it all together without any glitches. The Magistrate demands all sorts of stuff, including birth certificates, proof of identity, Best of Show certificates from the Kennel Club, wrappers from all the chocolates you've consumed in the last 6 months, the serial number of your computer and the pin code for your ATM cards. Oh, and your preferred brand of toilet paper.</p> <p>And that's if you're both the same nationality.</p> <p>When you're from different countries, well, it gets slightly more irrational. Firstly, each Government has different requirements, so what if both countries have now been swallowed whole by the EU... drachmae, French francs and all. Burp! Ergo, the better part of 6 months were spent lobbing required bits of paper between Athens, Paris, Iraklio; Paris, Iraklio, Athens; Iraklio, Paris, Athens... you get the drift.</p> <p>Finally, with all the paperwork in order, the date was set and family/witnesses informed. Vera's parents, brother and sister-in-law duly arrived from Paris 5 days ahead of the appointed date. An ex-girlfriend of Babis, who was to be his witness, came in from Glasgow with her 8 year old daughter. It was now officially 'wedding time'!</p> <p>There were beach trips and swimming in the sea, there were lazy afternoons at the taverna, and late nights when everybody segued into party mode, and then 3 days before the wedding, when Babis went in to the Town Hall just to make sure all is as it should be, guess what? Of course, it's not! There should have been an insertion in the local newspapers a week before, announcing the ceremony, they say. The newspaper clipping is a crucial part of the registry process, they say. Without it, no wedding, they say. These are the rules, what can we do.</p> <p>The quintessential Greek Tragedy was rapidly building up to Plot Point II. This was already a Friday, so the whole business with the newspaper insertion could only happen on Monday. The Registrar was unable to give a date the following week, so the ceremony had to be postponed for 2 weeks. </p> <p>&quot;So what does this mean, no wedding?!?&quot; Gulp. It was hot and tempers began to fray. Babis didn't stand a chance. Vera's brother and family could not stay on another 2 weeks; the bridesmaid had to leave on Tuesday and so yes, without the witnesses, this meant no wedding. Let's just leave the ensuing chaos and drama to the imagination; next day, 3/4ths of the (un)wedding party left to go back home as scheduled. </p> <p>Vera's parents decided to stay on until the wedding, which would be who knows when?! Babis and Vera learned to cope with their joint homicidal tendencies until the newspaper announcement finally appeared, a week later. Vera's friend JJ from Paris agreed to fly out to be her witness on the rescheduled day. So now, the heat was on for Babis to find a 'koumbara'.</p> <p>At it happened, I was traveling to Crete for a workshop during that time. My one free day was coincidentally the 24th, so of course, I offered to be Babis' witness. It was decided; I would give up a day trip to historic Knossos in order to be his 'koumbara'. I would take the 4-hour bus ride into Iraklio the night before, and take morning bus back the day after, to rejoin the workshop. </p> <p>But wait... a small problem! The morning of the wedding, we're due at the Town Hall in 2 hours, Vera is in the shower and Babis asks me for my passport. </p> <p>Me: &quot;Oh? I didn't bring it, why?&quot;</p> <p>Babis: &quot;WHATTT?!?&quot; </p> <p>Me: &quot;I left it locked up in Xania because they said be careful not to lose it, pickpockets and stuff! What do you need it for?&quot; </p> <p>Babis: &quot;THEY need it for identification for you to be my witness!!!&quot;</p> <p>Me: &quot;WHA?!? OH! MY! GOD! Why didn't you TELL MEEEEEEEE???&quot;</p> <p>Babis: &quot;But I asked you on the phone last week!!!&quot;</p> <p>Me: &quot;You asked me, 'Do you have a passport?', so I said yes of course I do, what a silly question! You didn't tell me BRING it!&quot;</p> <p>We stare at each other in disbelief.</p> <p>We wail in unison, as if on cue: &quot;Oh skataaaaaa. SHITSHITSHIT!!!&quot;</p> <p>Vera from the shower: &quot;Allo? What's going on out there?&quot;</p> <p>Babis: &quot;Shhh, we better not tell her!&quot;</p> <p>Me, whispering: &quot;OMG. Wait. I have an old ID card from work. I have credit cards with my picture on them. We better call the Registrar. OMG. We better DO something.&quot;</p> <p>Babis: &quot;Shit, maybe this is a sign, you know, maybe I shouldn't be getting married! Everything is going wrong since the beginning, one delay after another... &quot;</p> <p>Me: &quot;grrrrrrrrrrrrrSHADDUP!!!&quot;</p> <p>Anyway, we are finally all showered and dressed, and along with our merry little crisis, we head off to the Town Hall. Babis and I are snippy and snarly, like a couple of Dobermanns. Vera is ominously silent. The parents and JJ are thankfully still oblivious of the drama to ensue. </p> <p>To cut a long story short, after much explaining and pleading and cajoling, the Registrar miraculously agrees to conduct the ceremony without my passport. BUT, they will need to do some final paperwork first. Could we wait half an hour? We want to tell them we'll wait as long as they want us to, a week, a month, a couple of years, just as long as they DO it. </p> <p>So we wait. Babis is hamming it up, gibbering, &quot;No, no no! I don't want to get married!&quot; in the corner. We ignore him. JJ is taking pictures. Vera's Dad is speaking to me in French, which I don't understand. I am replying in English, which he doesn't understand. The Registrar comes in and does his thing. Vera is laughing, she doesn't speak Greek and Babis is mis-translating everything and throwing in innuendoes that could not possibly be originating with the Registrar. JJ is rolling his eyes. Vera's Mama is trying to concentrate on the ceremony but looks close to giving up. </p> <p>15 minutes later, we heave a collective sigh of relief... it's finally done! And we walk out into the blinding Greek sunshine. Babis and Vera are now Mr and Mrs Kandris. I am legally a 'koumbara'. Vera dubs us the United Colours of Benetton, we are Greek, French, Afro-french, Indian. We head off to the best Cretan taverna in town, and we're lucky to have the whole place to ourselves. </p> <p>They sing us a wonderful traditional Cretan wedding song. I write the words down on a napkin, which is still lurking around somewhere in my immediate environment, waiting to be exhumed and converted into bloggz, whoknowswhen. We toast each other with ouzo, eat a lot, laugh a lot and then head down to the beach for the rest of the afternoon, where Vero proceeds to sunbathe topless, with Babis encouraging her to drop the bottom as well. What a surreal end to a surreal wedding day! But for tonight, it's XRONIA POLLAAA to Babis and Vero, exactly one year and one day after the wedding J Filakia polla!</p> <p><em>Randomfacts: 1. Till one day before the wedding, Babis and I had never met in person; 2. the Cretan wedding song was actually more like a bawdy bar song with little left to the imagination; 3. I have actually lost the napkin on which I wrote an ouzo-influenced translation....</em></p> ...About God is a Man... priya 2005-04-09T01:39:33+03:00 2008-04-04T11:55:57+03:00 <p>For one, it's as obvious as the wart on my nose that's he's majorly into misogyny. <em>(Which, by the way, is the Greek word for woman-hating.)</em></p> <p>Allow me to demonstrate why.</p> <p>One: you've heard of female infanticide, yes? Don't hear too much about male infanticide <em>(not that I condone either, not at all). </em>Two: barring a few communities, too few to count, that still follow the matriarchal/matrilineal system, most of the world lives by the patriarchal family structure. Who made that rule? Three: how many men do YOU know who've never had an orgasm?</p> <p>Now for more of the messy physiological stuff.</p> <p>Who gets to bleed to death every month, with cramps and depression and goodnessknowswhatelse? Who gets to walk around with a bowling ball in their bellies for 9 months? Who gets to birth babies <em>(I imagine a good analogy for labour might be: threading a needle with an ear of corn)?</em> And after that, who gets a good old episiotomy? Oh, ouchh!!!</p> <p>Then there's the Big Oh. It's crazy the number of women who have never experienced one. Because, well...<em>(insert your favourite man-bashing story here).</em></p> <p>That whole women-as-nut-and-berry-gathering-nurturers thing is so old and tired <em>(yawnnn). </em>As working women, we don't need men for their economic support or their protection (!!!) any more, as they did in the Dark Ages, so marriage as an institution is redefinitivelydundant. For women anyway.</p> <p>Men? They got it real good. </p> <p>The older they get, the better they look. <em>(I'm not going into what happens with women, but you can check several bloGGz ago for a rough idea.)</em> They hit the Big Oh from zero to 3 seconds on a good day <em>(that's a bad day for the woman). </em>They get to be boyfriends, lovers, husbands and never have to worry about getting pregnant: &quot;Condom? What condom? I HATE condoms!!!&quot;</p> <p>Truth is, if I'd been born male (and no, this isn't a subversive form of Penis Envy), I'd probably have been the worst kind of MaleChauvinistPig. I mean, what's not to like about being a man?!? You get to live in a male-dominated world, you get a personal female slave who cooks, cleans, has your babies, feeds them, changes nappies, grows them up, keeps house for you, does the supermarketing, looks decorative, and stays home mostly, while you go out and do man-type stuff. </p> <p>Hell, I'm a woman, and <strong>I'd</strong> like a wife!!! </p> <p>So then, what are men good for?</p> <p>Well, I'm sure they're good for something, just can't think what it might be. I mean if a woman wants a baby, she can go to the sperm bank, choose what she wants and produce it. A man? Well a man needs a woman to grow his babies for him. And then birth them, take care of them and etc. and you know the rest of that story. </p> <p>Seriously though, these are amazing times to be a woman. <em>(I'm a woman, I should know.)</em> I have met some amazing women, and not ONE of them was a man. There's a bunch of evidence to suggest that things are finally coming full circle, that women are finally waking up to their power and taking it back. Gimme gimme. Yes, we're hitting critical mass. I'm just bloodthirsty, so I hope it will be a big, noisy, radical revolution. It's been a long time coming. </p> <p>I remember reading Germaine Greer and Simone de B in my 20's. More recently, the Da Vinci Code and The Dissonant Daughter. All good reads that'll blow the cobwebs away, vive la Holy Grail. And they're all talking the same truths... before there was God, there were Goddesses. The concept of Shakti, of the Divine Feminine, of the Power of Womanhood is as old as civilization, possibly older. It was threatening to the Second Sex, then males. So it was subverted, by guess who. Fascinating stuff; true stuff. Looks like today's Second Sex, the females, are moving to seize their power back again. About time, don't you think?</p> <p>So. About God is a Man. You know why? Simply because the Goddesses were all away on maternity leave and he was asked to stand in because he was the only one NOT pregnant at the time. Well, now that the kids have all grown up and gone away, roll over, MrGod!</p> <p><em>RandomMusing: I'm thinking, I will probably get tossed off a cliff as a sacrifice if any men read this. I'm also thinking, good thing they only sacrifice virgins. </em></p> Treetime? priya 2004-10-09T12:09:03+03:00 2008-04-04T11:53:15+03:00 <p>Ten years ago, I didn't know what a keyboard was...and I didn't want to. Period. Today, I'm umbilically connected to my laptop. I get anxiety attacks every time my cable goes on the fritz. Email <em>(and telepathy)</em> are my preferred forms of communication, and I have begun to speak Instant Messaging language <em>(which will soon take over the entire Universe),</em> even when I'm not on Instant Messenger. </p> <p>All this doesn't make me tech-savvy, unfortunately. Although I'm still a megatechdweeb and blue-screen still reduces me to gibberingwreckstatus, I'm amazed at the way my entire life has been abducted by my alienmonitor. I do try resisting, once in a half-hearted while, but it's far easier to succumb. </p> <p>So I end up spending hours glued to my chair, hunched over the keyboard till my fingers freeze into perma-type position and my right shoulder locks up. My butt goes numb, my wrist lets me know it's mad at the mouse again, and my eyes see Arial Narrow imprinted across everything, including the catt's tail. Ahh, technology.</p> <p>I look around at the shelves stacked high with my books, and sigh. I do still read voraciously… nothing surpasses the sheer tactility and familiar, tangible heft of a book. <em>(Yes, I know where paper comes from and it does give me nightmares. So do tsunamis, geckos and US presidents called Bush.)</em> </p> <p>And I think of the youngsters of today and tomorrow who will never get on intimate terms with dead trees as we did. They will never know the pleasures of can't-put-it-down all-night readathons. Of flipping back to re-read that passage one more time. Of reading right through the entire book to get to the last page even though you're dying to peek and find out how it all ends. </p> <p>And yet, there's such a vast repository of information on the web, even I've become an inveterate surfer. I've stopped referring to print encyclopaedias any more, because there is nothing you can't find on the net. Isn't that amazing.</p> <p>I have looked up colon polyps, yoga asanas, cruises, Pavarotti, arachnids, breakfast cereal, ingrown toenails, Chengis Khan, drosophila... truly, the web is a trivia-fiend's paradise. And though I also use <a href=""></a> a lot, I will nevereverever give up my real-time dead-tree dictionary. I've had it so long, another few years and it's an antique. Besides, it was my favourite bed-time read in my schooldays, when I'd run out of things to read.</p> <p>Net-net, web-surfing will never replace reading books, not for me anyway. As in info-source, yes. As an alternative to the pleasures of a good read, curled up on the couch on a rainy afternoon? Nope. Not in this lifetime. I've already planted several trees in exchange, in order to assuage the dead-tree guilt. One of them's a teak tree. It's 2 years old and in all that time, it's only put out 3 new leaves. Wonder how many years it'll take to provide enough paper for a good read...</p> Island People priya 2004-10-06T10:43:09+03:00 2008-04-04T11:51:36+03:00 <p>I must've been a self-confessed Islandholic for at least the last several lifetimes. There's something about oceanic expanses of water and sandy beaches that I have never been able to resist, ever since I was knee-high to a flea; large land masses just don't cut it for me. How strange, then, that I've lived most of this lifetime in a land-locked city, a situation that needs to be remedied as soon as possible.</p> <p>Therefore, if any of you own an island and need a house-sitter while you're off jet-setting or clinching yet another business deal, I'd gladly offer my services plus those of my catts, two of whom are excellent mousers. The rest are just fraidycatts...</p> <p>Apart from the beaches and sunsets and the susurrus of the waves, the other thing I love about islands is the way every day has a holiday texture to it. A lot of that has to do with the locals, whom I call Island People, no matter where in the world they are. They seem to be a whole different breed of humanity altogether... open, friendly, laid-back and very <em>&quot;manyana&quot;. (I know, phonetic spelling, this silly page won't let me use a tilde!)</em></p> <p>Island life is largely about taking things as they come and enjoying the day, which revolves around children, family, community, eating, drinking, dancing, music, the sea. The fact that they are separated from the mainland by an expanse of sea seems to inure Island People to the vicissitudes of mainland life. Nothing is important enough to cause an all-out stress-attack; nothing is so urgent it cannot be put off till tomorrow. </p> <p>They instinctively know something that we haven't yet learnt...that each day is a new day, and deserves to be lived for what it is, and not rushed through in the race to tomorrow. </p> <p>They have watched the sea turn from calm to stormy and then calm again... just as life does, as love does. They see the parallels and understand them and accept them at a deep, cellular level. Our mainland concerns have no meaning here...they pale into the insignificance of nothingness. These people seem born to an innate island wisdom; a wisdom that empowers them to live life simply and fully, a day at a time. A wisdom we city-slickers and mainland dwellers would do well to emulate. </p> <p>Me? I'm making a start on my long-deferred conversion to &quot;Island People&quot; status by instantly trashing all my deadlines. As of now, my official mantra is <em>&quot;</em><em>manyana&quot;!!!</em> </p> Woman-ness priya 2004-10-03T10:41:28+03:00 2008-03-30T16:51:56+03:00 <p>The first 10 years of my life, I hated being a girl.</p> <p>I had 6 male cousins, assorted ages, who would regularly line up at the end of the garden and hold &quot;whocanpeethefurthest&quot; contests. Guess who was always the referee that got beaten up?? Yep, me. Because guess who always won? Yep, the youngest.</p> <p>The next&nbsp;few decades, I hated being a woman. Hated being the first to have to wear a bra in my class. First to start the bleeds and&nbsp;that teenage angst&amp;crappolastuff. Being a tomboy didn't help the brand image either, and though I loved that the guys treated me like &quot;one of the guys&quot;, sometimes I'd get miffed and none of us could figure why... not even me. That was also around the time we were all trying to get on first-name terms with our hormones.</p> <p>The&nbsp;20's whizzed by in a major serotonin rush punctuated with manic depressive cycles, self esteem issues, guys, university, the spaced-out alternative reality of smoking grass, first job, the evils of booze, second job... We were that lost generation between&nbsp;&quot;stay-at-home moms&quot; and &quot;career women&quot;, still nameless&nbsp;because nobody had coined that term yet. We had stereotypes to break, and new paradigms to launch. We were The New Woman. Yayyy! (Gah!!!)</p> <p>Around age 30, I grudgingly accepted the fact that unless I wanted drastic surgical intervention (which I didn't, I mean what would I do with my lifetime collection of party bras), nothing much was going to change so I had better start accepting my gender, never mind gracefully.</p> <p>At age 40, I actually started to enjoy being a woman, in a tentative sort of way. And then they changed the rules again. Once more, I was first off the starting block and bang-splatt into the ChangeOfLife. Perimenopause, I learnt, is that long last sigh between bleeds where everything about you goes into reverse gear at 110mph. You get worse PMS than you did in your teens, which was so long ago you have no memories from there anyway. And headaches, which you now suspect might be an armada of aneurysms waiting to implode when you're not looking. And that's just the start.</p> <p>You hear voices and it's nobody you know. You don't want to hug anyone because they'll think you forgot to towel off after your shower. You walk into a meeting where the temperature would make a polar bear frisky and you break into a hot flash.&nbsp;You start saying something and three words later, you forget what.</p> <p>Wait, there's more. Your body smells like you borrowed it from a tennis ace when all the exercise you do is walk to the fridge. Your skin starts a slow crawl over your&nbsp;body and slips right off every so often. Joints you never knew you had, start screaming for mercy even when you're curled up in foetal position and barely breathing. Then your heart starts palpitating so fast you're sure it's going to trip some vital circuit inside you.</p> <p>Finally, at 4 am, when you should be asleep but you're not because you're still canoodling with InSomNeah, you leap out of bed and dash into a cold shower to chase away the 59,800<sup>th</sup> hot flash of the day. This is the age when you really get socked into all your unknown body-parts and what they do. And sometimes&nbsp;wonder, in an intellectual sort of way, about what if they don't.</p> <p>Now it's different for every woman, as all the books will hasten to tell you, but chances are you'll experience at least 50% to 80% of this stuff purely on the basis of your gender. A select few (possibly the same select few that got pregnant despite their IUD) will be unfortunate enough to actually experience every last symptom in all of those books... and then some.</p> <p>Then they'll do a case-study on those few (statistics, you&nbsp;understand), and a whole new slew of books will have to be written. More trees will have to be cut down in virgin rainforests to produce the paper for those. Resulting, of course, in more illegal logging and greater ozone depletion and more global warming... so you see how they're going to pin that whole disaster on us women as well. But that's another story...</p>