28 December 2007

Martyred in Pakistan

A poignant article from Salon.com one day after Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan was assassinated.

"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy," President Bush predictably told reporters in Crawford, Texas. "Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice." He's missing the point. This is not an episode of "Law & Order," where the killers have to be caught and punished. That would be the way to end the story of Benazir Bhutto.

If Washington and Islamabad are really serious about democracy in Pakistan, they would do better to heed the words of Indira Gandhi: "Martyrdom does not end something; it is only a beginning."

20 December 2007

Happy Christmas to all...

To those in Ontario, Alberta, NYC, Koriyama, PDX, Seattle, the UK, D.C., New Jersey, California, Florida, and India, I'm sending you my love and best wishes for the holidays.

Dave, you've got to read "The Night Before Christmas" by yourself this year. I know you can handle such a big responsibility. Take care of the Dons...they might be extra weepy come the 25th. Watch "Muppet Family Christmas," and kindly remind them that Gobo has always said "Eh" right before the final scene. I miss you guys so damn much!

18 December 2007

Maureen Elsey (McManus)

Maureen Elsey (McManus)

After a valiant struggle with dementia, Maureen Teresa Cecelia passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday December 16, 2007.

Mourning her loss are her five much loved children: Brent (Catherine), Dawn (Donald), Cathi, Mark (Laurie) and Scott (Matina). She also leaves her grandchildren: Douglas (Li), Sheila, Michael, Donna, Krystal, Ishmail, Jasmine, Jennifer, David, Garrett, Karlie, Mackenzie, Stephanie and Jamie all of whom she loved dearly. Maureen was predeceased by her husband Norman, grandson Richard, as well as her parents and siblings.

A celebration of Maureen’s life will be held at St. Laurence Anglican Church, 5940 Lakeview Drive SW, Calgary, on Monday January 21, 2007 at 1.30 PM with a reception to follow at The Glencoe Club, 636 – 29 Avenue SW Calgary.

A heartfelt and sincere thank you to the staff at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, Units 12-2B and 12-1 for the wonderful and compassionate care they provided to Maureen.

In honour of Maureen’s commitment to serve others, as a nurse and as a volunteer for many organizations, we ask that in lieu of flowers, donations can be forwarded to The Calgary Drop-in and Rehab Centre 423 – 4 Avenue SE Calgary, AB. T2G 0C8.

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back

May the sunshine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

As my youngest cousin, Jamie, noted, "Now Grandma Moe can spend Christmas with Grandpa Norm."
We love you, and rest assured the clan will continue to be loud, boisterous
and - most importantly - together.

17 December 2007

Mother, May I?

May you please let us know if you will sell our books? May you please make a reservation for me at 6pm for two? May you please shut the hell up?

My boss today told me I have a "strange turn of phrase" in my apparently singular use of "May you please/May I please." Blogging co-worker told me she found it odd - in a good way. This is not the first time someone has pointed this out to me (my American employers at OHSU thought it was both archaic and grammatically incorrect - they were at least wrong on the latter account). But my entire extended family uses this phrase. I was taught, along with the generic "please" and "thank you," that an oft-placed "May I" was essential to good manners. In fact, I'm often taken aback by those who don't use the formal request in business, although it would appear I have inappropriately high expectations.

Manners are sexy. I was raised by generations of Brits - I'm genetically wired to think so.

15 December 2007

Running in the Red

Saturdays at the office. Not something you'd initially be excited about. Not something I was excited about when I woke up this morning. But after a banana smoothie and a good laugh at The Hindu's weekend "Gender" Section ("Air Kissing is in this month!"), I rallied my spirits and meandered into work. Besides, we only are supposed to work until 1:30pm on Saturdays...

Three interns, a production manager, a master printer, a secretary and a jack-of-all-trades convened upon the Tara office to do the last-minute mailings for a last-
minute and ridiculous book launch for our new title, Matchbook. I say ridiculous because the artist behind the book has insisted upon a glitzy, Bollywood-aspiring, pop-culture-aggrandizing party two days before Christmas. And it was our job on this beautiful and cool Sunday morning to stuff 1600 invitations into bright red envelopes, address and seal said envelopes, and then courier them to Mumbai. But after 2.5 hours at the office, the invitations still hadn't arrived from the printer.

At 1pm, after waiting around all morning, the invitations finally arrived. And they're actually quite stunning, very posh for a Bombay glitzorama - or whatever the lingo is for those in-the-know. So now we all hunkered down to stuff envelopes (typical intern work!). Imagine a sea of red envelopes, scattered glue sticks and Scotch tape (Indian envelopes don't come with glue), and seven hungry workers. Inevitably, we started talking about food, and before I knew it, I was online with Mr. A, our production manager, trying to figure out how to have Domino's pizza deliver to the office. Let m
e tell you, there is nothing quite like the nostalgia that comes from having two large pizzas delivered to your office in suburban Chennai, South India. I don't think pizza has ever tasted that good...

You can't read it, but the party is called "THE PYROMANIAC PARTY"
and features DJ WHOSANE!
Rumour has it that Bollywood's top actors might pop-in. Ha!
I'll be on a beach in Kerala.

14 December 2007

Reasons being...

So if you received an invite to my blog and are wondering why you didn't need this before, a brief explanation:

Turns out, a co-worker of mine at dear old Tara had a blog on which she posted exaggerative, sarcastic and often downright ugly things about her world. This happens to include her day to day work life. She gave everyone and everything a nickname (mostly hurtful). She was also stupid enough to leave a link to her blog on my roommate's blog, so of course I started to read it.To make a long and childish story short, after she started to mock me with content from my blog, I decided enough was enough. It is really quite a shame that my blog cannot be public right now, but if my words are going to be misconstrued and twisted by an immature young woman who hates her job, I've got to just remove her from my readership.

So I'm sorry about the extra step in coming here to read this damn thing. The internet is strange, strange place. And co-workers can be awful, even in India.

11 December 2007


The land of spirituality. A place to find yourself. The wellspring of god/enlightenment/peace/happiness.

We’ve all heard these euphemistic descriptions of India. I encountered them prior to my arrival, and I certainly am bombarded with them now that I am here. So many people from every nationality come to this place seeking solace, answers and inner change. While there is no doubt that India is imbued with spirituality, a land filled with seekers is not always a positive place in which to reside. Many come to India expecting her to fix their problems, to heal mental and emotional wounds, or to run away from lives and realities back home. On the other hand, pilgrims and devotees and yogis can be incredibly inspiring with their bhakti and dedication.

I’d recently felt a deep frustration that my life here felt – at times – rather mundane. Press releases and mailing christmas presents and budgeting are things I can do anywhere in the world. Working and residing in India is quite different from romantically, haphazardly backpacking around for months on end. Yet I’ve always been grateful that I am seeing India from a day-to-day urban perspective. Chennai is quite cultured, if barely cosmopolitan. What we lack in nightlife and liberal alcohol laws we make up for in classical music and dance. Still, I found myself feeling challenged by the fact that my India was, in many ways, a life quite ordinary. But I was simply missing the details.

About week ago, along the walk to work, a group of men began to build an enormous structure in the middle of the road. At first I thought it was a bus depot, then perhaps an impromptu wedding hall. It turns out it is a puja, or worship/ritual structure that has gone up in honour of an important pilgrimage that takes place this time of year. On Friday, this place was lit up and featured live musicians and various hawkers and the requisite firecrackers. There were 20ft tall images of the three important Hindu goddesses outlined in tiny coloured lights. And yesterday, as we three interns were trying to catch a rickshaw to a Tara book launch, we got stuck in the midst of a long parade. Well-dressed women and children carried oil lamps as the men danced around with drums and horns, and all moved ahead of a large deity processing on an oxcart. A brahmin priest sitting with the deity gave me ash for my forehead. And I smiled as I remembered why my life here will never be mundane. I merely have to open my eyes – something I can do anywhere in the world.

As if to reassert this point, Natalia convinced me to go to a Carnatic (classical South Indian style) music concert on the beach at 5:30 on Sunday morning. The (free) concert was to feature two of today’s most revered and talented professional vocalists, and was to be Chennai’s first professional sunrise seaside event. While I will typically sleep in until 11am or noon on a weekend, a small voice inside urged me to go. We rode our bikes to Kalekshetra, the dance academy/school near the shores of the Bay of Bengal. We then walked down a torch-lit path to the beach, where there were 300 other early risers mingling in the pre-dawn light. We settled on a mat just in front of the musicians, and listened to the most beautiful music as the sun rose over the ocean.

It was, by far, the most moving experience of my time here in India. The vocalists started by chanting Om and Sanskrit mantras to the sounds of crashing waves and accompanied by Indian violin and percussion. Then, as the light in the east grew brighter, so did their songs. They picked up the tempo, welcoming the day, as local fisherman wandered across the beach to hear the music. At one point, I felt compelled to envision myself doing the Sun Salutation (flowing series of yoga poses meant to honour the sun and invigorate your day). I breathed in time with each imagined pose, doing one complete salutation. I opened my eyes, looked towards the sunrise, and saw a dozen young yogis, all dressed in white, going through their own Sun Salutations. It was surreal!!! I felt so connected to my surroundings by the music and the environment and the yoga (real and imagined). What a beautiful way to start a Sunday!

07 December 2007

My new favourite site:

05 December 2007


New Habits:

- making coffee/tea for the office sometime between 4pm and 5pm. This involves querying one boss on his choice of beverage, remembering who wants sugar and who wants sweetener and who’s a diabetic, and generally having the same conversation at the same time every afternoon

- days on end of sobriety

- keralan martial arts at least twice a week, complete with mostly incoherent lecture from instructor (whom I am supposed to call “Master” – not yet a habit)

- half-heartedly tutoring a nine year old Korean boy twice a week, which means reading Captain Underpants or playing Hangman

- making bad puns (an influence of the local culture/office environment)

- text messaging Seattle several times a day

- cooking the occasional South Indian dish (this used to be much more habitual)

Old Habits That Die Hard:

- setting unreasonable exercise goals to be achieved at unreasonably early hours, and then snoozing through my alarm for an hour and a half

- going to bed after midnight every night

- inclinations to brownnose despite better judgment

- procrastinating at work

- inability to manage money

- inability to write friends and family back within a reasonable time frame

- enduring idealism

- habitual, compulsive planning

Another masterpiece from 3147...

So while most of you did not get to meet Dan Klockenkemper or Adam Stone (former Portland roomies), I think I bragged about them enough for everyone to know that I think the world of them both.

A month or so after we moved in, Dan purchased a ton of whiteboard from Home Depot and mounted a large piece on our kitchen wall. While ostensibly this was for roommate-to-roommate notes, we really ended up using it for impromptu art projects and as a way to tell one another when one of us had last fed the neighborhood cat. This cat, whom we call Frank Larson (long story), managed to convince every house on the street that he had been abandoned and desperately needed food. Actually, come to think of it, that's not too different from our office dog, Mooji.

Today Dan sent me the latest collaborative effort from 3147. I
t's called "The Frank Larson Story." Enjoy:

03 December 2007

Tesla Schaeffer is the love of my life.

In a recent e-mail to Tesla, I wrote:

"Life has been crazy, in completely different but completely empathetic ways from your craziness. India and I are wrestling like Jacob and his god, but to continue the metaphor, it is a struggle in love."

Today she writes me:
"wrestle away, my love. thats where god is. and in those moments when both you and india herself are lying sweat-drenched, black and blue and wasted on the ground, kiss her and tell her that you love her."

It makes me cry with gratitude to have a friend like Tes. (Her graduate school proposal is also brilliant - Get Ready, World!)

01 December 2007

The Dons and their toys

So Dawn Abel is the cutest woman alive. And yes, she had my dad spray-paint her crutches so they wouldn't be so damn ugly. But she chose lime green, which for me raises a few questions about what she deems "ugly" in the first place.
When my mom got in her motorcycle accident, my brother and I jokingly told my parents that they were to sell the motorcycles and purchase a Ford Shelby Mustang or some equivalent. Obviously they took us seriously. This picture explains why my father is the luckiest man alive: