Hair on my chest

Posted on January 09, 2011 by Priya Tuli

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I had the most surreal Sunday morning today. I resurrected my beloved Bialetti Moka Express, which had been lying neglected in some forgotten corner of the kitchen cabinet for months, maybe years.

Being prone to taking the path of least resistance, I gave up the elaborate ritual of preparing my own Moka Express brew every morning in favour of the Indonesian way of doing coffee...boil the water, dump the coffee (fine-ground) in a mug, pour in water, drink. I add: sugar and creamer, inhaaaale, light cigarette, sigh, grab newspaper. That's only on Sundays, mind you. Maid's day off.

So today I thought I'd give myself a treat. Dug out the Bialetti. Got really upset at the grungy state of it. Why do they look so leprous after they've been used? The only sexy Bialetti is a brand new one. You use them, they go to hell. The aluminium loses its shine, the insides look like something that will surely give you at least three types of poisoning, and my Italian friend made me swear never to use detergent to wash it. It ruins the build-up, she said (of what? 50,000 cups of coffee and water scale and millions of colonies of caffeine-starved micro-organisms?!?), and then your coffee will forever taste of soap. So I have never washed my Bialetti with washing-up liquid, but I have tried to shine the outside with a scouring pad...to no avail. Still leprous; enough to make me weep.

But ahhhhhh, the coffee it makes! So today I rinsed it out, tested the rubber washer for signs of life (rigid; could crack if I screwed on the top too tight). Filled the bottom to the valve mark. Put in my freshly ground coffee. Screwed on the top loosely (big mistake; NEVER be kind to the washer). Plunked it on the stovetop and waited.

The water first started to trickle out as it heated, from where I should have screwed on the top much tighter. Not much was getting to the top. I waited, as half the water spitted and hissed its way onto the stovetop, dousing the flame several times. I finally figured half a mug was all I'd be getting, the rest had escaped in the process. Damned rubber washer. Poured it out, added sugar and creamer, inhaaaled, lit a cigarette and grabbed the newspaper. The first unsuspecting sip of my devil's brew jerked me straight up in my chair. My heart stopped for a few beats. About 2000 volts of double-espresso -x-500-strength coffee raced through my barely-awake system, which began ringing loud alarm bells in my ear...the good one. Talk about a power-chug; this was one-mug worth of coffee in half the water it needed. And then I felt hair growing on my chest, just like that.

The good thing is I've never been this wide awake in decades. What's not so great is I'm too wired to attack the mountain of work staring me in the chest. Concentration is down to 0.3 seconds. Ah well, it is Sunday. Work can wait until manyana. But oh dear, I'll need to get a chest wax first...

Luna-tic?

Posted on April 27, 2010 by Priya Tuli

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We all know where that word comes from, right? And about the effect a full moon has on tides and tempers. They say cops don't really look forward to bright lunar-lit nights, because the general wave of criminal activity seems to peak and go crazy around then. No coffee breaks on loony nights for the cops, obviously.

Well, we have a big, fat, full moon looming tomorrow. I've personally been tracking this phenomenon closely of late, for reasons I am not going to elaborate on here. Ha. And sure enough, I find everything in general, including me, goes a little more barmy around the time la luna getta fulla. In other words, before, during and after da fulla moona.

It's not just me, everyone is more batty than usual, and the cats...ohhhh, the cats. I made the biggest mistake during the last full moon, of trying to get two of them to get along and not fight so much. Bad timing...it was a really full moon, in Aries to boot. Which means fire sign energy was rampant and exploding all over the place. I should have known better than to try a major reconciliation at that time.

Well, there was much fur flying...literally. Now I know exactly where that term comes from. And believe me, much as I adore my moggies, a catfight ain't a pretty thing. Thong. Thang. But now I do know better, so they have all been separated and shall remain that way for the next 3 days, until the full moon energy abates. I have learned that lesson very, very well.

And while I'm at it, I've decided to hole up as well during la luna loco times, because an ounce of prevention is better than a shitload of cure. So if you're trying to reach me for the next couple of days, forget it. I'm not available. I'll be off baying at the moon and plotting insane schemes, cackling wildly all the while. And probably looping off for a test-ride on my new turbocharged broomstick. The one with all the bells and whistles. Meanwhile, you stay safe, don't forget to howl at la luna as she reaches fecund fullness. And remember to watch out for the vampires. Keep lots of garlic handy to bean them with. Awrooooor!

"But the camera is only 2 MP!"

Posted on April 20, 2010 by Priya Tuli

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I finally got that new phone. It was quite a production, I can tell you. Almost as bad as I had expected. To start with, there was the superior attitude and open incredulity of the young sales staffers to contend with. I asked for their simplest model, no bells and whistles.

I said, "No camera, no internet, no nothing. Just the phone." They laughed outright, the whippersnappers.

They then conferred amongst themselves at length, giggled some more (even the boys), and finally showed me something so dated and butt-ugly that even I wouldn't use it. It was a model my friend's 5 year old daughter had around 10 years ago, in lurid pink. Shudder.

While they rooted around looking for something suitable, I wandered around the store, ogling at all the latest models and getting utterly seduced by them. I had several moments of extreme indecision when I nearly gave in to the siren call of the newest and sexiest. Man, these phones were so I-want making! But I talked myself out of every smartphone in the place. Dazzled, sure. But I'm never going to read an email on my phone, or browse the net; that only makes sense for people who are on the road and away from their computers for large chunks of their day. I'm generally never more than one room away from mine, we're joined at the hip. So why would I pay a premium for specs that are totally redundant in my context? And anyway, reading documents on that tiny screen would give me vertigo. Or hives. Or chikungunya. Or all five. And anyway, I'd rather get a netbook.

But oh my, the slide thing was so neat! And they even had an iPhone lookalike that I really liked... ahh! Decisions! But no, I wasn't giving in to technolust. No way Jose.

Those sales kids don't give up easy, though. When they'd see my eyes gleam at some fancy model or other, they'd draw closer and rattle off a string of entirely incomprehensible specs, till I'd glaze over. Even then they wouldn't quit. I think they just got their jollies watching my reactions and waiting to hear me squawk every time they demonstrated yet another incomprehensible and totally unnecessary feature.

Finally, after the fifth time of telling them I did NOT want 3G or a 7 MP camera, they heard me. And showed me the 2700 classic. I liked it. Simple, or so I mistakenly thought at the time. Larger screen than my old one. Better colours and resolution and sleeker looking. And only a year old, as models go.  But of course, not a patch on the BB or...sigh...the iPhone. "But the camera is only 2 MP", the salesboy said. No big deal, I said, I'm never going to use it. He seemed unconvinced, and rather deflated that his 2-hour sales pitch had failed so miserably.

The whole process, start to finish, took me four hours of vacillation. Then came the tough part, transferring my numbers. The old phone didn't have a cable that could plug into the new phone to retrieve them. So they tried to do it through the computer, and lost half my numbers in the process, before they eventually told me it wasn't possible. I was therefore faced with the prospect of transferring the remaining numbers manually, and am still faced with it 2 months later.

As a result, I now carry around 3 phones; my old Nokia, my new Nokia and my CDMA Nokia, for calls to India. All of them so last-century that I'll never make it into the 'hip' crowd with perma-bent thumbs, forever hooked into Blackberry-texting-position.

So we get home, and I fondle the new phone and affectionately name it Affandi. I then try putting in a few more numbers; I give up after about 10, it's just too painful. So if you never hear from me ever again, you'll know why. Also, this model works differently from my old one, so a bit of cussing ensued. Particularly as it would take me to something called Life Tools, even though I didn't want to go there. More cussing. Of course, I dropped the brand new phone three times on the very first day, I kid you not. So it has a pretty good idea of the sort of abuse it will be subjected to through this current avatar. Better to be up front about these things, I always say.

Anyway, I now have some of my numbers in the old phone, some in Affandi and who knows what on the CDMA. The rest went into the black hole that swallows up random numbers that are precariously living life on the edge, balanced between being transferred from one phone to another. Phone number limbo. So now, every time I need to make a call, I try guessing which phone the number is on. I am invariably wrong. In the end, I just give up the idea of calling altogether. Which sort of defeats the purpose of buying the phone in the first place.

Then I need to remember to charge all three, as one or other of them will start beeping incessantly from low-battery syndrome. And all three have their own charger, of course. Rare is the day when I step out of the house with the right phone and the right charger. Ah, well. The joys of connectivity.

Oh, and about the camera? I finally figured how to activate it. I've taken 3 pictures with it so far, and they were right. 2 MP is no fun at all, just very fuzzy and pixellated. So hey, how about this: if I buy you a beer or five, would you transfer my numbers into the new phone for me? Pretty please? And I'll throw in my old CDMA as part of the deal. What? You don't want it?! Harrumph!

Earth Day 2010...are we listening yet?

Posted on April 18, 2010 by Priya Tuli

Filed under Viva Gaia! | 0 Comments


Another Earth Day approaches, as volcanoes erupt and species are hunted to extinction, and we blithely continue to uphold our sacred creed of conspicuous consumption. I'm not going to take off on the evils of plastic or malls or consumerism today, nor rant about our wasteful and selfish ways. Instead, I'd like to share a beautiful thought from Chief Seattle:

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but
one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
"

He was wise enough to know then, what we are only now beginning to accept. The 'we are all one' mantra has recently begun to resonate with growing numbers of people across the world. The ancient Hopi prophecy could be right; maybe we really are the ones we have been waiting for. And no, that's not an Obama original, much as I like the guy. He's a good human bean.

So back to Chief Seattle, who was also a good human bean. There is a beautiful and moving speech attributed to him, and there is also an unresolved historic controversy about whether these really were his words or not. To me, that's a moot point; the sentiment in those words, whoever wrote them, cannot fail to touch you. It's long, but well worth a read. Get yourself a coffee and read it to the end, if you're not already familiar with it. And even if you are. :-)  This is not my favourite version; I couldn't locate the one I wanted on the net. But it's close enough. So, enjoy! My Earth Day gift to you.

"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

"Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine
needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

"The
white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man --- all belong to the same family.

"So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.

"So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be
easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in
the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our
ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is
sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that
each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

"The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

"We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father's grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care. His father's grave, and his children's birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

"I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of the insect's wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around the pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.

"The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same
breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.
The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.

"The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.

"So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition - the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

"I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

"What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

"This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

"Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know which the white man may one day discover; our God is the same God.

You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

"But in your perishing you will shine brightly fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

"That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

"Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.

The end of living and the beginning of survival."

1854

Decision time :-(

Posted on January 11, 2010 by Priya Tuli

Filed under tech-no! | 3 Comments

Okay, it's official. My 5-year-old Nokia, the one that went out of production 2 weeks after I bought it, which makes it extinct as a T-Rex, is approaching brain-dead status. (That was a sentence with three commas, in case you hadn't noticed.) It ran out of memory a year ago, so I haven't been able to save any more numbers on it since. Which is also a telling commentary on the pathetic state of my social life.

I can't buy more memory for it, because they didn't expect anyone would keep it that long after the model went obsolete, considering the gazillion new ones that have come out since then. I can't find a new body for it, to replace the bruised and battered one it currently lives in, for the same reason. Other than that, it still works fine. Oh, and the battery dies out on me from time to time and well, that is rather inconvenient.

So anyway, I'm reluctantly in the market for a replacement. I have no idea what I should get, because I've only ever used a Nokia. I know what I don't want, though. I don't want to use my phone to check email. Or browse the net. Or scratch my back. Or make dirty videos. Or take fuzzy pictures. I have other stuff that does all that. I basically plan to just use it as a phone, you know, for calls and sms messages. And occasionally to throw at someone if they push my last button.

SO of course, the world and their uncle have been advising me to get a Blackberry. What for? That teensy fiddly qwerty thing would drive me nuts, and anyway, it doesn't fit my brief. And for that kind of money I could get a netbook. Which is tempting.

The other day my neighbour's 15-year-old geek-generation daughter showed me her new Samsung thingie with touchscreen stuff which looked very good. Because looks are important, at any tate for tecchie stuff. And the iPhone. Ahhhhh! SEX!!! But these things are scary. Too much razzle dazzle and I feel out of my depth. At the iPhone store, I held it for a few seconds, then I touched the screen and a whole new bunch of icons appeared and I have no idea how any of it works. So I went "eeeek!", and the salesboys all laughed. They knew that by the time I ever learned to use it, it would be redundant.

I like being dazzled by tech, and make all the appropriate noises when someone demonstrates one of their slick new gadgets, but using that stuff myself? Frankly, I find these sleek sexy gizmos endlessly fascinating, but also terribly intimidating. Besides, I drop my phone on a regular basis, I'm sure these hi-tech varieties would recoil at that sort of abuse. Lose all the numbers. Or just plain die on me. Like a friend's iPod did the other day. Just two years old, system failure. Cannot be fixed. Which is kind of sad, because one invariably gets emotionally attached to these things. Or is it just me?

The other day someone suggested they MAKE electronics so they die in a year or two, so people will buy a replacement faster. How else  would they sell more? I think that is probably the truth. Which makes me even more resistant to replacing my 15-year-old TV, which still works just fine. Plasma, they say, you should get a plasma TV. What for? So it dies out on me in 2 years and I have to buy another? Though I may just have to, because although the TV is fine, the remote is indecipherable. All those years of use have rubbed out the lettering on the buttons. And no, I can't get a replacement because they don't make those TVs any more.

So then, back to the phone. I think I will let the morning papers decide for me. Whichever ad I see first, that's the one I'll go and buy. Except the Blackberry, those just scare me to death.

Only in my head...

Posted on January 07, 2010 by Priya Tuli

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Does this happen to you, too? You receive an email, answer it in your head as you're reading it, then move on to the next thing on your to-do list and end up not replying? Then you wonder why no response to your response. So you check your outbox to see when you replied...and you realize you didn't. Damn! But you could swear you did reply! And you did, but only in your head.

Then there's text messages. You key in your response to a message, and continue talking to your lunch meeting partner. And you forget whether you've hit 'send' already, because your reply is still showing on the screen. So you hit 'send', while continuing your lunch meeting. Then you hit 'clear screen', and find you have two delivery reports for the same message. Sometimes even three. It happens every time. People must think I'm nuts to keep sending the same message over and over. That's okay, goes with the territory. Better that, than be bawled out for never responding.

But then there are times when you THINK you've hit 'send' on a rather long and involved text, and you clear the screen and realize the message isn't in your outbox and oh damn, no way you're going to re-write it now, maybe later...and then you forget. So really, it's a no-win situ.

So back to the email responses. Often, there isn't time for a long, newsy catch up right then, so you think you'll do it later, over a coffee break. Or tomorrow. Or maybe on the weekend. Five months later, you realize oh shyte, haven't responded to so-and-so yet. And overcome with guilt, you dash off an abject, grovelly apology, peppered with the million things that have happened in the last 5 months to prevent you from answering.

Then there's things like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals. Of course you'd like to wish friends and family on these special days, and now you can. Thank goodness for Facebook, the quick, painless way to communicate. Except you may not log on every single day, and you're sure to miss out on someone or other's special day. And so it goes.

So I'm working really hard on perfecting the art of communicating in my head. If you believe, as I do, that thoughts are vibrations, then you can project them at the person you're thinking of and they should be able to receive them. I'm not sure I've achieved mastery over telepathy yet, but I am working on it. And quite often, whoever I've been thinking of will pop into my inbox shortly thereafter, or call, or text. Even though I didn't respond to the last one. Oh, guilt!!!

And anyway, I figure the people you care about already KNOW you do, and they ought to therefore understand that you ALWAYS hold them dear, and wish them well, and want them happy, even if you always miss their birthday.

Evidently there is a signal problem with my telepathy as well, because I'm not sure all my people get the vibe. Which is why I am going to great lengths to explain that I already replied to that email, or answered their text, or greeted them on their born-day...but only in my head.

*&^%$##$%^&#@

Posted on January 05, 2010 by Priya Tuli

Filed under General | 5 Comments

The trouble with 'evolving' and 'personal growth' stuff is that sometimes it feels like you're taking one step forward and 10 steps back. I like to believe I'm a better person than I was, say a year or five ago. And then I regress, and end up feeling like a long, sad, multi-segmented earthworm for days after.

The other night, I got into Plate Smashing mode. No idea why. It could have been the full moon. Or the frustration of not being able to get my desk and workspace cleared. Or the fact that the cats had been scrapping all day. Or that I spilled a whole carton of tomato juice in the fridge and all across the kitchen floor, and stubbed my toe three times in succession. And I still had a heap of work to get through before I hit the sack for the night. You know, one of those days.

Or it could be that I'm still just a bad-tempered, grumpy sort, and leopards never change their spots. I've noticed I get grumpier when I have to do anything at all in the kitchen. Which is convenient, because that's where the plates are.

So anyway, when the juice spill happened, that was the last straw. I picked up the closest thing to hand, which happened to be a fork. I aimed it at the sink, where the dinner dishes awaited washing. And I hurled it at a plate, which was propped up like a dartboard at the back of the sink.

My aim has never been much good, but would you believe, I hit a bullseye. I think the Great Big Pie in the Sky figured I'd better have one win to close the day on, or more vile invective would flow. So the plate, being melamine, obligingly broke, but not completely. There was a jagged three-inch hole where the fork missile had hit, leaving the rest of the plate intact. Ahhh, it felt GOOD to have done that!

I finished up in the kitchen, retrieved the broken plate which I intend to hang on a prominent wall as a trophy, and slunk off to finish up my work, feeling a bit silly. What a goofy thing to do. It hadn't solved anything, and now I'd have to deal with the aftermath of having slipped backwards on my path to greater enlightenment.

The good thing is that I no longer give myself a hard time for too long after any such digression. So, I got mad. So, I swore and cussed in true sailor fashion for five whole minutes. So what? Far better to let it all out that carry it within, like a tight angry knot curled up in your belly, and then get passive-aggressive with the people around you.

Moral of the story: I learned that progress is happening even when you think it isn't, and getting rid of the anger and irritation by venting safely is a good way to get back on an even keel. My recovery time is much shorter now. I timed it. Took me half an hour to get over the plate, another half hour to get over how stupid it was to smash the plate, and I was cleansed. I even laughed, because I haven't smashed a plate in years. Thank goodness it wasn't one of the good ones. Except just don't show me a carton of tomato juice for a few days, please.