Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What makes a woman a lady?

What makes a woman a lady?

What with the lack of ladies, I’ve started to list out things that make a woman a lady. Those short and tight dresses that leave very little for one’s imagination certainly doesn’t make a woman a lady. Of course it makes her something else, but I’m not going to comment on that. Cursing is also not very ladylike, nor is sarcasm. Language doesn’t make a woman a lady. Just because you can’t speak English doesn’t mean you are just a woman. Yet, how you speak what ever language you use can make you at least seem like a lady.

Since facebook and instagram make models out of nearly everyone, there are more and more photographs being uploaded. While the poses only confuse your mind, (I mean, how do they manage to do all that while wearing the highest of all heals and a dress that will blow away at the slightest breeze?) the ‘models’ feel no shame at all to expose what little they have to the entire world.

A profile picture of a girl that left very little covered got over hundred ‘likes.’ What were these people, men and women, liking? The picture was not exceptionally good; a monkey with a camera could have taken it! Her dress wasn’t something I would wear in my worst nightmare. And yet, those likes! What they liked was her seductive pose and look, and her body while not impressive was mostly uncovered. And so all the men and for a reason I’m still to understand, women liked her picture, commented on it and most probably did a lot of unspeakable things with it.

Clinging on to every man you see also doesn’t make you a lady. Embarrassing your self trying to get the attention of a man, who most probably has a cabbage in stead of a brain, doesn’t make you a lady. In fact, it makes other females want to drive a pitchfork through your head!

Being a lady shouldn’t be a female’s one goal in life. And yet, behaving like one wouldn’t hurt. So keep your legs together, sit nicely and stop embarrassing us, females!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A New Memory

We rode into the future in search of the past. Desperately trying to remember that first ride on a bike, with a boy, if you could call him that, who is as distant from my memories as that bike ride. It was when I wore my hair in a long plait, when dresses were puff sleeved and covered more than they do now. It was also a time when games weren’t about slicing fruits or running away from a monster while collecting gold. These were days of playhouses and run and catches. They were the days I love the most, when I was just a little girl.

Today, I’m grown up. Not as grown up as most people, but older than I was when Kumara broke all rules to win our hearts. I don’t remember that day, and the fragments of that memory will now never, count as my first bike ride. The first for me would be the one I went on recently. Too recent for me to be able to forget the tiniest details about that day.

I didn’t care if my memory of Kumara will get lost behind this memory in the making when I got on the bike. It was something I can’t remember doing, and the task of not embarrassing myself seemed more important than worrying about remembering that long ago day. As I held on to the bony shoulders of the one who even unknown to him maybe, had my life in his hands, I got used to the wind in my face, the feeling of nothing mattering anymore. I got lost in my thoughts as we passed streets and buildings, crept through vehicles and sped away from a typical day.

Then I tried to close my eyes, to really enjoy and absorb that feeling. My psychology teacher once told me that our senses are more active when less of them are used. This is why a silent bath with your eyes closed is more enjoyable and soothing. The skin gets to feel more. I wanted to feel that as the heat of the sun warmed us but didn’t burn us. It was too overwhelming though and my eyes open, I started getting used to the thrill of actually being on a bike. Then I started to drown in my thoughts. I feared this experience would make my memory of Kumara hide in a dark corner of my mind.

Memory, you see, is a complicated thing. Each memory is like a snapshot on a transparent paper. And as the memories gather, some get stuck together. These separate sheets become one. The fragments of two memories, years apart can become one. Not always can you tear apart the sheets that are stuck together.

When my cousin brother reminded me of our pet goat, who to him was black and a gentle creature, I thought nothing of it. I later remembered my cousin was born years after the goat passed away. There was also the issue of the goat being white. The stories he had heard about the goat had become a memory to him. I still can’t understand the color, maybe his memory of our black dog became one with that memory of the goat. None of this can be helped though. Memories change, they fade away.
Sometimes, they are too treasured to die. My memory of Kumara, whatever is left of it, won’t fade away completely because of the new memories that can replace it. Maybe my recent bike ride, the one I will always consider my first, is not too far away in the past yet. No matter what the reason though, as we rode into the future, I didn’t find the answers I looked for. Instead I found a new memory to treasure.


A slight continuation of http://causepigscanfly.blogspot.com/2013/04/learning-to-let-go.html

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

Recently I was contacted by the author of a book I had just reviews. Now, I’m not a great reviewer, I just give my honest opinion. This particular author had a stroke a decade or so ago, and his autobiography was lacking of quite a few things. So what he said was that knowing about his stroke, I shouldn’t expect a grammatically correct text. He said something like, “you can’t expect me to look into all that.”

Now when I blog no one goes through my post before I ‘publish’ it. No one corrects the spelling or grammar, and I rarely ever read through what I write. When I write articles, it’s a completely different story. I read through it, and so do many others. A text, anything at all, that gets published must be good enough to be published. A blog requires just a single click to be published; it doesn’t count as a text as such. I’m not a writer just because I blog, it doesn’t make me read-worthy. And yet, when I see a spelling mistake, thanks to spell-check, I correct it.

But yes, I’m of sound mind, I know enough English to write and I’ve never suffered of anything life changing. My life was never turned upside down; I never had to learn everything all over again. Yet, I can make excuses. I could have said I didn’t fair well at my O/Ls because it was a rocky time at home. I could have said I didn’t pass my A/Ls with flying colors because I had just switched from the Sinhalese medium to English.

I could have made all these excuses, but I didn’t. Because you can’t make excuses in life! Looking at the author of that book, well, sure he had a stroke. Sure you can’t expect him to know perfect English. Yet, he can’t use his stroke as an excuse. Why couldn’t he get someone else to read through it? What stopped him from getting a friend to read it?

People also use their misfortune against others. I’ve seen many posts showing people with various disabilities, followed by the words, “what’s your excuse?” Well, my excuse is that I don’t need to be climbing Mount Everest; I don’t need to be writing book after book. I don’t need to swim across the oceans. I am using my two good eyes, ears, hands, arms, legs! I don’t just sit at home doing nothing. So sure, it’s great that you crossed borders even though you were born with nothing below the knees. But you can’t expect us all to be climbing mountains and what not!

This doesn’t mean you should be making excuses about everything. I’ll do it later; I’ll get back to it. Don’t make those excuses! But don’t make those other excuses too. I had a stroke so don’t expect me to check my spelling. I had cancer, so don’t criticize my book.

Simply put, shit happens. It happens to everyone, in one way or the other. Just don’t use that as an excuse.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"There is only one god and his name is Death"

The last time a death made me cry was somewhere last year, when Alfie, our baby squirrel died. Since then quite a lot of people and animals have left this world; my cousins’ dog, my grandaunt’s husband, a relative, someone who lived two roads away from me and yesterday I started the day with some terrible news. So this was a man I had seen once, on the day of his wedding. He got married to someone who wasn’t a relative, but who proved that water can be thicker than blood. His name always slipped my mind, and just a few days ago I tried and tried to remember his name, was it Ranjith? Ranjitha? Well, it was Ajith. And Ajith is dead now, no more.

I didn’t cry though. The tears gathered, threatening to spill down my cheeks, but they never did. I tried to get them out of me, but I couldn’t. Not when I heard about the dog’s death, or even my granduncle’s death. I felt sad, and something hurt inside, but I’m still waiting for those damn tears!

So last night I wondered if these deaths hadn’t really affected me! Maybe they weren’t as a big a deal as I assumed they would be. Then I realized that, I did care about these people. I love them in my own way. Even if I hadn’t spoken to them or seen much of them, they were family.

I also gave being in denial some thought. Sure, I mostly speak about these people in the present tense! Their deaths didn’t hit me the way a door is slammed shut by a sudden gush of wind. I never saw those dead bodies, dressed up for people who rarely saw them. And sometimes it slips my mind that they are dead. Yet, I know they are no more. Just ashes that were carried away by the wind.

Then why can’t I shed at least one tear for these people? Well, I think it’s because at some point of your life deaths of the not-that-close (that is people you don’t see nearly everyday!) just become a normal thing. At first you are scared that you’ll miss that presence but that space they leave behind can be replaced. And it will be. And so at some point, there are no more tears. You can try, but the tears are just not there.

It’s a different matter if it’s someone closer to your life. You’ll miss their greetings, and all those little things that irritated you. The clothes and towels flung on a chair, the unwashed glasses and plates that you always ended washing for that person. And in a more simple way, the facebook comments and likes that were always there, the random text messages that made you smile. They won’t slowly stop, most of the time you get no warning. One day you’ll wake up and those things, those everyday things, won’t be there anymore. And you’ll be lost and scared and curse that person for dying.

But once the deaths start piling up, once you start getting used to those everyday things just not being there anymore, you will stop crying.

“There is only one god and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: “Not today.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Learning to Let Go

Kumara is only a name in my memories. I think he was dark, and not that tall. I think he wore shorts, but I can’t be sure. What I do remember about him is related to bikes.

Since my brother was the leader of the pack, even though the pack had three girls and only one boy, we were mostly tomboys. We never had Barbies and tea sets to play with. Among our various treasures were our bikes. Since the pack of cousins was nearly all the same age, we went through the same phases together. The most excited phase for me was the bike phase. Each of us had a cycle and we loved racing each other around the heart shaped lawn in my uncle’s garden.

We never spent too much time with the training wheels, and had our knees scraped too many times. I still remember the time I fell off, my bike landing on me. The sun was setting, and my body was covered in sweat. I knew my knee was bleeding and dreaded the moment the adults would clean the wound. When my uncle and aunt rushed to me, I told them to leave me there. I thought I was paralyzed, and told them to inform my mother of my death. Of course, they didn’t even listen to me, and pulled me away from the bike. By then they were used to our many wounds and scratches.
Kumara, who was staying with my uncle at that time, he would have been 18, taught us how to cycle. I still remember him pushing the bike forward, telling us to trust him. He would run behind us, hidden in a cloud of dust as we learned to cycle. After the first few falls, we managed to cycle without the training wheels. Kumara still pushed us around, since it was more fun that way.

He left before we went from kids bicycles to those adults use. Then we outgrew the lawn. My brother and I cycled the streets and then the puddles of muddy water and dusty roads stopped being interesting and fun. Now we don’t cycle and we don’t have bikes. Kumara too, is gone. I don’t know where he is, or if he remembers us. Maybe he doesn’t but it doesn’t matter. Kumara will never be forgotten by us.

Before he left, Kumara also made criminals out of us. We were alone at my uncle’s, Kumara the responsible adult who was supposed to take care of us. My uncle had a motorbike, a white one, I think. None of us were allowed on this. Kumara found the keys on this day and took each of us around the lawn, once. We weren’t allowed to demand for a second round and we had to promise not to tell any one.

I remember very little of this ride. I can’t remember if the wind blew through my hair, and I smiled into the rotating world. I can’t remember if he was going fast or slow. Maybe this is one of those tricks our minds play on us. Maybe Kumara never took us on that bike. I don’t want to know how real this memory is though.

Since then I’ve never been on a motor bike. I’d love to, with the hope that I can then add something to my memory of that bike ride. Yet, it just doesn’t seem fair to my memory of Kumara. It feels like I would be cheating on that memory.

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is”
-Sir Francis Bacon


Thursday, April 18, 2013

For strangers stop being strangers

Change is such a simple thing and yet, change can take away a lot with it. I find it difficult to accept change and yet, I’ve changed so much. I’ve gone from being a talkative and active girl, to a depressed and quiet teen to the person I am now. More in control of my feelings and more accepting of other people. There was a time when I hated those who drank, or smoked. Now, well, I still hate it when people I love do those things, but I’m more accepting of them.

Even with all this, I was still shaken when a friend accused me of having changed. Then my grandmother said I’ve changed. And I realized that I have indeed changed. The days where all that mattered were people you have been friends with forever, and everything can easily be forgiven, where you had a best friend you told everything to, those days are gone. So long gone that they are but fragments of my memory.

So yes, I’ve moved away from the people I loved with all my heart even as recent as last year. Not on purpose though. This shift and change was inevitable. When I started working I met so many new people. They were older than most people I associated with. They are more mature, and yet so simple and easy to get along with. At first I thought I would be miserable, because I found it hard to open up to them, to join in their conversations. Now I feel more at home here, even though I’ve only been in this place for three months.

There’s also the moving away from the kid I am. Overnight stays, outings and so much more are slowly making me an adult. An adult in a very none-adult way. I’ve grown up, but not enough to do away with my childhood. Not enough to not be a kid anymore. I still have fun, still laugh at lame jokes. Maybe not so much with some. And even though I was afraid of the distance that had grown between my cousins and I, two days ago, I realized there was never a distance.

We may not talk everyday, or see each other as often as we would like to, but we still have the same conversations, we make the same jokes, do the same childlike and yet such ‘us’ kind of things.

So you can hate me for changing and you can distance your self from me. It doesn’t matter though, because friends stop being friends. And strangers stop being strangers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

friends, trains and everything in between

Kandy. The city of the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Also a city of an amazing lake, nice buildings and too many birds. Not to forget the palm readers, promising you that marriage is just around the corner for you.

Kandy. A city of unforgettable memories. Simple yet, awesome times and innocent fun.

I've been to Kandy by train before. So going by train wasn't a brand new experience. Yet, it was still a new experience. Three girls, three guys. Six friends.

The trip really proved that you may know a person, but you really know them once you have spent a long time together with them. About the people, I realized many things. Speaking to them, talking about various issues. Or just making jokes. Even when we were silent, things seemed to fit in. We weren't pieces of the same puzzle, though we did some how fit in. We had our differences, but differences don't always matter.

During the return trip, and for me, this is what I loved the most, one of the group and I abandoned our seats. Barefoot, we sat near the open doors of the train. And as it rocked along, sometimes speeding away, I felt as if, if I let go of the bars I was holding onto, I would just fly. And we talked, or when the train was too loud, we sat in silence. It was well into the night by then, and rocking with the train, it settled things.

There was also the time spent sitting by a lake. We found our selves a tree to sit under and talked about nothing and everything. We had little in common, yet had so much to talk about. And sometimes we didn't need words to 'talk.' We knew each other to understand, but we didn't know each other to know all. I learned a lot about these five people I call brother or friend, people I love and care for. They showed me that age, sex, type of relationship didn't matter. It didn't matter that at first we were still not used to each other. It didn't matter that that last bus ride was all we could have survived.

Our eyes half closed, bodies covered in sweat, clothes dusty and feet aching, we parted with that unsaid promise to meet again.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Leaving something behind

Leaving something behind
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

Dogs mark their territory by urinating on them. Maybe not always with that intention, but those stains are evidence of ownership. We too are like dogs, we keep marking our territory. Only in a less raw manner. We instead stamp our names on what we own.
My room is strictly mine. Not just my name pinned to the door, or the paintings and drawing I have decorated my walls with. The room that was once someone else’s is now mine in the way my clothes are scattered about, my books crowd the room and how an assortment of items cling on to whatever space they find. When entering that room, you don’t just enter any bedroom, but my bedroom. And besides the emotional attachments I have to that room, there is also materialistic attachment.
We have somehow marked everything we own, clothes, books, shoes, places and even memories. We add things, we forget certain other things, and we make those memories ours.
Table and chairs in schools too have names carved into them. Even though you would use them for maybe a year, or just a day. Lovers carve their names within hearts on trees or walls when these marking will actually outlast the relationship.
I went to a temple recently, and found names of those who made donations on gates, walls, oil lamps and even Buddha statues. Books in libraries too have names and even dates, markings of ownership.
People too, we own, by adding a ‘my’ to their names. My mother, my father, my best friend extends to bands, music, movies and actors. We make all these things ours even though we have no real ownership of them. And do we take them away with us? Can we make them ours forever?
When Sri Lanka was hit by the tsunami in 2004, clothes were collected to send to the affected areas. My mother packed bags of clothes we no longer used. She also packed in these blue shorts my grandmother once bought me. They were no different from other shorts and they were not even a new pair. I loved that pair, but I was too big for it and rarely wore it. It only seemed right to give it away, but I never let her. I hid it away, because they were mine. Sadly I never wore them after that too.
A novel I quite enjoy reading spoke about these marks we leave behind, and how they are too often scars. There are marks and scars that we leave behind, unknown to us. Love, affection, kindness and so on, can be remembered generations from now. When people thank you for a good deed decades since that now forgotten gesture, it is not because you are asking to be remembered. It is because you are worth remembering.
Scars though, don’t deserve to be remembered. Certain marks too. Memory is a funny thing however, and remembers many things not worth remembering. Michael Jackson died a few years ago, and is still remembered. Princess Diana died more than a decade ago, still her name floats around. Shakespeare died centuries ago, his work though, is still widely read. Jesus Christ was a man of the very distant past and his words are still followed. We remember all these people who definitely left a mark behind, but we also remember the bag and the ugly. Thirty years of conflict, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, Hitler and much more. These incidents and people left scars that are still remembered.
Not all these marks or scars last forever. People, mistakes, wrong doings are forgotten. Sadly, the forgiving part of the ‘forgive and forget’ concept is not as easy as the forgetting part, but we do easily forget to forgive.
Marks though, demand to be left behind. And in many ways, we too have this human need to leave them behind.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

causes worth fighting for

Reading the paper this morning, I read about protests about Sun newspaper. Sun has a huge readership, though I think they do very little reading, due to these picture of nude or semi-nude women the paper publishes. So basically these feminists want to put a stop to this.

Now the issues!

Who is a feminist? Someone who fights for the rights of women. Equal rights as men. Women still can't go about without at least one comment from a man. Not a simple compliment but some insulting or crude remark. There's also the issue that many communities still limit what women can do. They are payed less, exploited more often and are still very much discriminated. So why not take up these issue to protest about?

The pictures! Now its hard to believe that these pictures are taken by force. Most of these models have lots of money, so they can't use that as an excuse, unlike certain prostitutes and strippers. These pictures are of girls willingly posing, not being tortured and forced to pose! They strip and willingly smile for the camera and know what these pictures will be published. They also know what both men and women do with these pictures. Now if they didn't know the nude shot taken for a lover will be published anywhere, the publisher can be sued! In this case, they know where the pictures are going. So if women never willingly pose for such pictures, they won't be published!

So these feminists should find worthy causes to protest and fight for. Not only the feminists, but people in general. Please, think wisely before you pick up a cause. In the midst of many issues, one wrong choice can get your bum in prison. You can end up with a label, you would never want. This is why the voice of the people has lost its depth or seriousness. People protest about early everything.

Vegans try to force non-vegans to miss out on a lot of good food. The religious want the non religious to take up robes. Teetotalers want to slaughter alcoholics. And so on! These are such silly issues that we are forgetting about the more serious issues. Issues we can protest about together. Issues we all face as one.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Guess my Age

During my school years, we had a science exhibition. The group I was in discussed Carbon Dating, which a method of guessing the age of ancient items. Somewhere during the exhibition an elderly gent posed the most feared question humans have to deal with, “Can you guess my age?” he asked with a shrewd smile. I blinked a few times before doing a few mental calculations. His grey hair and the fact that he was with a younger couple meant he was a student’s grandfather. Not an older student though so he must be at least sixty years. I guessed his age to be fifty, just to be safe. He laughed and thanked me for thinking he was so young.

Truth though is that guessing someone’s age isn’t as easy as it seems. A child wants to look older, an adolescent their real age, an adult, a year or two younger, someone in their naughty forties wants to look twenty years younger and an elderly person wants to look middle aged. One wrong answer to the dreaded question and it’s awkward and embarrassing to both parties. Also the question-asker feels insulted.

Sometime back age guessing was quite easy. Clothes, makeup, hair and skin pointed you in the right direction. Today though everything has turned upside down.

First the women. There are the ‘beauty’ products like anti-wrinkle creams and whitening creams. Recently I saw an advertisement that read “ten years younger in just five days!” Why would anyone want to look ten years younger? Anti-aging creams, skin ‘perfectors’ and skin repair serums seem to have taken over the shelves of supermarkets and stores. Moving away from products for the skin, there are the hair products. This doesn’t include anti frizz moisturizes or products for dry hair, but the hair coloring used by many women. There’s the chocolate brown, the muddy brown, the dark chocolate brown, the burgundy, the various blacks and shades I didn’t even know existed. It’s one thing to color your hair because you want to, but it’s a whole other story to do so only to cover your greys. Clothes too are an issue. Women of fifty wear tight pants and tops that reveal way too much skin. For me a grandmother is someone who doesn’t wear pants. For some reason with age, pants should be retired. The image of today’s grandmother is that of a short black haired lady, with pancaked skin, sporting tight yoga pants and a bright pink top chatting away on a smartphone!
Enough about the women though. What about the men? I learnt recently that men grey before women, thus a twenty year old with a few greys isn’t an uncommon sight. Sadly though lists for the top ten cars, or TV shows, games even have been replaced by “Top 10: Anti-Aging Products Every Man Should Own!” Included in this list are products like scalp stimulants, eye creams and fairness creams for men. I was actually surprised to find separate hair coloring products for a man’s head and beard/mustache.

When men and women coat their bodies with all these products age-guessing becomes more difficult than a maths exam, unless you are terribly good and familiar with the subject. The reason though is unclear. Are people ashamed to age? Next they are going to be ashamed to die! It’s a futile pursuit though. The terrible diets, tanning sessions, anti-age products will not buy you any time in life. They will only make you look like clowns because behind the hair coloring products, mascara and lotions lie the wrinkles and grey hairs. Back then both men and women would seek shelter from the rain to protect their outfits or health. Today though the situation is different. When the rain breaks lose, the screams are, “my makeup! My lotions!”