Thursday, November 16, 2006

There's a Meme Going Around...

Saw this on The Itinerant Librarian, who got it from Ruminations, etc.

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

I need to make an appointment to get new eye glasses.

2. Favorite planet?

Not technically a planet, but, definitely, the moon. I'm a Cancerian ruled by the moon, also born just a couple of minutes after Neil Armstrong put the first step on the moon.

3. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?

Don't have a mobile phone. Is it just America that calls them 'cell phones'?

4. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?

See above, #3.

5. Do you “label” yourself?

Nah. The world is limiting enough - why limit myself more?

6. What does your watch look like?

Baby blue face with analog hands as well as digital 'windows' that tell me the time in two other timezones.

7. What were you doing at midnight last night?

In bed reading a book.

8. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?

See above, #3.

9. What's a word that you say a lot?


10. Last furry thing you touched?

My cat, Figaro.

11. Favorite age you have been so far?

28, so far...

12. Your worst enemy?

People who will not accept that anyone can believe anything but what they do.

13. What is your current desktop picture?

A daylily seedling.

14. What was the last thing you said to someone?

"Want a cup of tea?"

15. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?

I've always thought flying overrated. I'd go for the million bucks. (I could buy more books!)

16. Do you like someone?


17. The last song you listened to?

No idea...

18. What time of day were you born?

See above, #2. Two minutes after the first man landed on the moon. (Short answer, night.)

19. What's your favorite number?


20. Where did you live in 1987?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

21. Are you jealous of anyone?


22. Is anyone jealous of you?

Doubt it.

23. Where were you when 9/11 happened?

At work.

24. Do you consider yourself kind?


25. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be?

Middle of the back, just above the the bikini line.

26. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?

Should be Chinese. But I would say Japanese.

27. Would you move for the person you loved?

Yes, and have several times now, covering 3 continents.

28. What's your life motto?

Me? Motto?

29. What's your favorite town/city?

Too many to choose from: Auckland. Tokyo. Sydney. London. Each has its appeal and are amongst my favourites.

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?

Last week.

31. Can you change the oil on a car?


32. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?

He'd moved to Colorado.

33. How far back do you know about your ancestry?

A couple generations on one side, and about 10 or so on the other side.

34. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy?

I went to a friend's wedding in Hyderabad. I wore a sari.

35. Have you been burned by love?

Of course. I'm human.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Zahir gets blocked by all kinds of things: commitments, children, our social situation. And after a while, by despair, loneliness and your attempts to control the uncontrollable.

Do you feel this block? I think that most people feel it to some extent.

So, you ask, what is a 'zahir'?

The Zahir was a fixation on everything that had been passed from generation to generation; it left no question unanswered, it took up all the space; it never allowed us even to consider the possibility that things could change.

The all-powerful Zahir seemed to be born with every human being and to gain full strength in childhood, imposing rules that would thereafter always be respected:

  • People who are different are dangerous
  • We must marry, have children, reproduce the species
  • Loving is only a small thing, enough for one person
  • We must do jobs we detest because we are part of an organised society, and if everyone did what they wanted to do, the world would come to a standstill
  • We must at all costs avoid saying 'No' because people prefer those who always say 'Yes'
  • What other people think is more important than what we feel
  • Never make a fuss
  • If you behave differently, you will be expelled from the tribe because you could infect others and destroy something that was extremely difficult to organise in the first place
  • We must eat three meals a day
  • We must dress according to the dictates of fashion, make love whether we feel like it or not, kill in the name of our country's frontiers, wish time away so that retirement comes more quickly, elect politicians, complain about the cost of living, change our hairstyles, criticise anyone who is different, go to religious service on Sunday, Saturday, or Friday
  • Our children must follow in our footsteps; after all, we are older and know about the world
  • We must have a university degree
  • We must study things that we will never use
  • We must never make our parents sad, even if this means giving up everything that makes us happy

How many of these rules have you lived by, without question? How many do you believe cannot be changed? It is in Society's best interest for us to follow these 'rules' - or is it? It is probably not in our own best interest.

Amazon link to The Zahir

Monday, January 10, 2005

To Be Read...

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
(I have his book 'How Proust Can Change Your Life' and this one sounded interesting: Why do we travel? Answered by examining what great writers and artists have thought...)

My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere by Susan Orlean
(From the author of: 'Orchid Thief': Also would like to read: 'The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People' OK, let's face it... I want to BE Susan Orlean...)

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara W. Tuchman
(The amazon synopsis says it all:
"An exploration of one of the paradoxes of history: the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests."
Couldn't resist that.)

November Grass by Judy Van der Veer
(The only reason this one caught my eye is because it has a foreward by one of my favorite author's, Ursula K. Le Guin. This book is currently rather low on my list of 'should get', unfortunately...)

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
(Set in India a few years after Independence, and including the run up to the first General Elections, this is a rather epic story - I've started reading this one - the story of early Independent India as told through characters - Hindu, Muslim, Men, Women - from 4 interrelated families.)

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
(Just because everyone says this is a book that must be read.... so I want to decide for myself... doesn't sound like an interesting topic to me, though...)

Far Pavillions by M.M. Kaye
(Fantasy story about an Englishman brought up in India who falls in love with and Indian Princess... Lots of people really like this book, however...)

Stone Virgin & Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth
(Sacred Hunger won the 1992 Booker Prize, Stone Virgin sounded like a good story:
"a good dosage of history, mystery and sensualism" as one Amazon review put it...)

Little, Big by John Crowley
(Another much talked about book, sounds really interesting...)

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
(Another tale of India, this time set in the 1970's....)

The Waves by Virginia Woolf
(A classic - I should get back my copy of 'To the Lighthouse' and re-read that again as well...)

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
(A 'classic' that I 'missed' reading when growing up....)

Jenny by Sigrid Undset
(Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature... this is one of her lesser known works....)

A Book of Lights by Chaim Potok
(A novel about a Jewish student studying the Kabbalah, and his friend whose father helped create the Atomic Bomb...)

A Word Child by Iris Murdoch
(Another by a 'classic' writer... described as a 'love story'...)

A Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle
(of 'A Wrinkle in Time' fame... autobiograhical novel about life and marriage....)

The Book of Dead Birds by Gayle Brandeis
(Environmental fiction - I know, weird category... but it was recommended...)

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand's novel depicting the 'perfect man' as she puts it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Thoughts for New Year's Resolutions

1. Make the house more eco-friendly (e.g. from simple things like using more Ecover products and composting more faithfully, to installing a solar water heating unit and solar modules to make the house 'off the Grid'

2. Travel more, learn languages, study cultures and histories.

3. Make more notes when reading - need to keep a record of thoughts and ideas that occur in reaction to what I've read.

4. Be more aware of the natural cycles of the sun, moon, seasons, etc.

5. Edit possessions, release more (better) books on, simplify wardrobe, focus on what important to me (starting with the above 4).

Friday, November 19, 2004

Death tolls

One thing that visiting Hiroshima did was put some things into perspective....

Nearly 200,000 people died as a result of the Atomic Bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima (excluding the victims at Nagasaki).

The September 11 death toll was 3021.

Now, while every loss of life is a tragedy, there really is just no comparison.

According to a CNN tally, 1,129 coalition troops from 15 nations have died in Iraq. (Dated 8 September 2004)

Though, this pales into comparison with:

A good discussion, with many valid points on this topic can be found at:
(I do realise that these topics are very complex and many issues must be taken into consideration. )

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Addicted to reading

Having just got back from Japan and Thailand, I have begun to wonder if someone can really experience a place (it's people & culture) without the help of books. I'm not talking about the usual guide books from Lonely Planet or Rough Guides... I mean novels and histories, essays and even poetry.

Having visited Hiroshima on the trip, you cannot escape the history of the place. But having read The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes and Hiroshima by John Hersey definitely deepened the experience of being there. My daughter also read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which increased her interest immensely and, I think, made a lot more 'stick' in her 8 year old mind than normally would have.

By contrast, we also stayed in Hagi, which played an important role in the Meiji Restoration, however, not having read much about that period, I didn't feel as connected to the place. (However, they've got great pottery!)

While travelling on shinkansen around Japan, I read The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi. This certainly gave me a thirst for more information about the Tea Ceremony and Japanese culture in general. It made me notice things in a different way and gain an appreciation for the country I was travelling in.

Choose your travel companions (books) carefully! They impact your experience of place more than you might imagine.