Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To give away..

I was thinking up on my bucket list when I remembered my organ/blood donor dream.

One I was reading the paper when a particular request among its pages caught my eye. A fifty five year old mother of five was requesting for a kidney from a benefactor. The reason why this caught my attention was because she had asked for a kidney of the same blood type as mine. I immediately went into the "I think I should give my kidney" mode. Called Darling on the spot and told him of what I intended to do. Here's how the conversation went.

Me:    Darling, there was an ad in the paper asking for a kidney, shall I donate? It's the same blood type as mine.
Darling: kidney? You want to give one of your kidneys? Won't there be any side effects?
Me: No I don't think so. I have two kidneys and this woman has none so I don't see why I shouldn't give, don't you think?
Darling: mmmmmm... yeaaahhh... I guess sooo.. If you really want to...

End of conversation. Happy that Darling was on my side I texted my Doctor Cousin. It was a simple text. There was nothing to get worked up about. It simply said that I was think of donating one of kidneys and asked what she thought of it, you know from a purely medical point of view.

The next moment, I get a hurried call.

"AKKKKKAAA!!! Are you nuts! You can't give away one of your kidneys. You haven't even had a child yet. wait till after you do, if you really want to. And do you really really want to live on medicine forever?, It could lead to complications".

I said "OK, point taken. Won't donate a kidney just yet.".

Maybe I gave up too easy. I don't know.

It's just that I've always wanted to donate blood, but have never been able due to constant presence of asthma medicine in my bloodstream. I once almost lied to the blood bank that I was not under any medication so that I could give blood, but at the last moment the mortification of having to lie hit me and I told the good doctor who was there "I'm on an inhaler". That was the end of that dream.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bucket list

OK so this is a topic covered by everyone yeah? While this is obviously not a comprehensive, below are a few things I want to do before I die. I agree, some of them are so very cliche. But then, most good things are. aren't they? I will add more, as time goes on.

01. See aurora borealis
      My brother said that one night he was rudely woken up by his roommate and dragged up a hill just to see them. I know that they are basically solar wind. But really, they seem magical. And yes, I call them Aurora borealis. You can call them Northern lights if you want. :) When I first heard "aurora borealis" something magical happened in my head. So now I'm doomed until I see them.

02. Visit Prague.
      Why Prague? Have you read the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Johnathan Stroud? In the Golem's eye, which is the second book, they travel to Prague. Which according to the story is mysterious and beautiful.

03. Visit Prince Edward Islands, Nova Scotia.
      Why? Anne Shirley of course.

04. Learn woodwork, i.e carpentry
     Why? Don't know. Just an itch I have. Attempting any other craft doesn't seem to satisfactorily scratch that itch.

05. Visit Morocco
     Colours. Isn't Morocco full of colours?

06. Bungy jump
     When we visited Thailand, darling very happily jumped. I stayed down with my feet firmly secured on the ground. This is Darling jumping. Next time, I'm jumping.

07. Finish reading Ulysses by James Joyce and the Lord of the rings trilogy. I'm stuck.

08. Learn to swim.
      I'm so embarrassed to admit that I can't swim. When I'm in water I get this irrational fear that almost paralises me. I need to learn. It is after all, a life skill.

09. After learning to swim comes, learning to dive. Darling is a qualified advanced open water diver. It will    be so much fun if I can share it.

10. Write a book.

So far these are the ones that come to my mind. What's on your bucket list?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ramayana: A little bit of epic romance

When I read the Valmiki Ramayana, out of all the pages in the book, one of the scenes that stayed in my mind was what happens when Rama and Sita see each other for the first time. I know that there are many renditions of the Ramayana. Even the love story of Rama and Sita has been told in countless ways. But this particular version is not one that a person forgets easily.

Sita, the adopted daughter of king Janak, is in her balcony that overlooks that street. Rama along with his brother Lakshman and the sage Vishvamitra has just entered Mithila, which is the capitol of Kosala which king Janak rules. Rama passes below Sita and sensing her, looks up locking their eyes. The moment passes and Rama carries on.

Sita is instantly ailed with love. It is as if she has taken ill. She can neither sit nor stand. She can neither sleep nor stay awake. She cannot eat. She cannot drink. She cannot stand the glare of the sun. When the sun goes down, she cannot stand the light of the moon, it is too harsh for her. Her maids fearing for her and seeing that she is as pale as the moonlight in which she cannot bear to be , light lamps filled with ghee which gives a soft glow. But nothing comforts her as the only thing she can think of is the man who locked eyes with her. She doesn’t know who he is.

Rama fares no better. He cannot stop thinking of Sita. He doesn’t know who she is. 

Now how about that eh?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Daughters to daughters in law- Part Two

Lately I've been thinking a lot on what it means to be a daughter in-law and a mother in-law. While I will not have children in the foreseeable future, one can always wonder what the future will bring. And I'm more than determined that I will be a cool mother in-law.

I suppose when a new person enters any household, a bit of apprehension from both parties is unavoidable. For the newbie, fear of the unknown plays havoc in her mind. The key is to go with an open mind. But after all, this is much easier said than done. What we all do wrong is expect the worse. At everything we do in life, we worry about the worst. If we have just sat for an exam, we worry that we might have failed. You get the drift. So as practiced through out life, we go into marriage wondering whether we will be accepted, whether we will be loved, whether the in-laws will be good, whether the husband will the same as he was in the relationship stage.

Sri Lankans love to give advice. And many which are given to a prospective bride just before her wedding are not very sunny. I have met many a bride ashen just by hearing the non-welcome and indeed unasked for pre-wedding advice from well meaning aunties. These more often than not run along the lines of " Don't share everything with the husband" " He will change, they all do, you know" "Don't tell your family secrets to him" "Keep your own money" "All mothers in-law are bad, fortunately only I had the chance to get a good one". blah blah blah

Why on earth for a change can they not say " you will have a fabulous wedded life!" " Share all and sundry with him!" " He will change, but only for the better" " you must always share your happiness, sorrows and all your money".

Thus, brides go into the new family dead scared of what is to come. What they should be prepared for is the fact that all families are different from one another. Just as no two individuals are not the same, neither are two families. Families have different quirks. Your mother might cook every meal at home, but his family might eat out every night. Maybe people in your family do their own chores, but his family has three maids. Maybe you are a neat freak. But they are messy. Or vice versa. Maybe you are an only child, but he has four siblings. Thus all families are fundamentally different from one another. This basic fact and the fact that you are very very different from your intended spouse ( after discounting the obvious similarities that drew you together) are what a new bride needs to know. Not what to do with her money. That I'm sure every couple will figure out on their own at some point.

I am by no means a marriage expert. And I have been married only for a very short period of time. But the points which I laid down are ones that I wish I had thought of before I got married. I'm married to a wonderful man, but I must confess that after all the unwelcome advice I entered into marriage a little prejudiced. Only later I realised my prejudices and that the basis for a good marriage is understanding the differences and finding middle ground. This is so for a married couple and between you and your in-laws.

Because, you will expect to get everything you got when you were at home, but this might not happen. You will expect to be loved just the same way that you were before married. People are different. They might not show you their appreciation. But inside they also want to be loved by their new daughter/sister in-law. They also want to be appreciated.

Being a wife and a daughter in-law is a two way street. You have to give to receive. People, in the end are fundamentally good. Try to find that goodness. You are after all, with the man you love who is there because of his parents.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bubbly tea

Who doesn't like tea right? For us Sri Lankans, tea is the ultimate beverage. Rain or shine, when someone visits us we give them a cup of tea. To show that we are not at all stingy and very very hospitable, the tea given to guests is always over sugared. And the guests, to show that they are courteous to the hosts, always leave about one quarter of the cup undrunk.

Until a few years ago, for Sri Lankans tea only came in one kind. Black crushed leaves. There were brands of course, but tea could be also be bought loose from the grocer. Now there are many brands and many varieties. Some absolutely fantastic!

I'm used to be a huge teaaficionado. About two years ago, if you opened my middle desk drawer at work, you would have found, about ten varieties of tea. Black tea, green tea, matcha, raspberry flavoured, lemon flavoured, jasmine flavoured, moroccan mint so on and so forth.

But these days, I hardly drink tea. In the mornings Darling and I opt for freshly squeezed fruit juice. But sometimes, when the mood hits, a tea becomes indispensable. Today was one such day. As I was making tea I remembered our childhood (when we were about six or seven), when nangi and I used to sit on the bed after getting a wash and wait for amma to come dress us. She would always give us our tea (milk tea of course) first. Our tea HAD to have a lot of bubbles and froth. Otherwise we would scream "ammmaaaa!!!! pena oney!!!" (mom! we want bubbles!!)

Froth is created when the tea is aerated. This is done by pouring tea from one cup to another and back and forth repeatedly  for a few minutes. Not only does this cool the tea, but it also gives it a lovely taste. If you visit one of those fancy tea bars in Colombo, you can get a cup of aerated tea. But a long time ago, any cup of milk tea offered at one of those roadside kades in a village, was aerated. It was called, "yaara daanawa" meaning that the tea would be poured back and forth between two cups a yard apart.

So today, we had yaara damapu te.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Working out issues

I started this yesterday as a part of my new workout routine. I can't walk. Or stand straight.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The pain of losing weight

I was told by the kind doctor whom I visited that I was overweight. He was of the opinion that it would be greatly beneficial to my health if I was to reduce my weight to the lower mark of my ideal weight spectrum. But it has been so hard.

It’s so hard for many reasons.
     I hate working out
     I love food
    I try to cut down on the portion sizes but somehow don’t manage to
    When I’m down or feeling blue I tend to eat
   I dream of new kinds of food to make
  When I’m happy I eat
  When I’m bored I eat
  When I watch tv I need to eat

Which is why you would find me in a state of forever munching and forever chubby. I know that I need to make changes. But somehow I seem to lack the will.

Any suggestions dear friends? 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Daughters to daughters in law - part one

When I got married, after the traditional home coming was over, I remember the desolate feeling I got as I watched my family leave me with my husband’s family. It has all felt surreal up to that point. That moment when they all left, leaving me feeling all alone among people who were strangers to me, has been the loneliest moment of my life. I knew that darling was there. He told me not to cry. He held me as I sobbed uncontrollably. But I had never felt as lonely as that moment. I felt as if my family had abandoned me. I also knew my feelings were irrational. I was the one who had wanted so badly to get married to darling in the first place. I had zealously planned the wedding, been very happy throughout the ceremony and had had a wonderful honeymoon. But that moment, when I was alone in our room, after my family had left and darling had gone to talk to his parents about dinner arrangements for friends who were coming for dinner I felt wretched and miserable.

All my life I had laughed at brides who cried at the wedding ceremony, Each time I saw such a bride I would ask someone, why one earth she was crying on what was undoubtedly the happiest day of her life. I didn’t realise the pain of separation until the wedding of my best friend, where I saw her father shedding tears holding his only daughter.

Then came my wedding. I went through all the motions happily, until the moment I mentioned of earlier. One reason for my misery was my innate somewhat inexplicable understanding that no one else would understand. That this pain was shared by only me and my family. That darling’s family was not prone to, having only two boys and no girl given away in marriage.

I know that saying “given away in marriage” is rather archaic. But in the Sri Lankan context it is true even for today. Even today, children stay with their parents until it is time for them to marry. After marriage most of the girls move from their childhood homes to the homes of their husbands, i.e. husband’s parents. They become a part of the husband’s parent’s household. This is so at least for a short period of time, which was the case for me. After the wedding is over there is an understanding that the bride would come to live the husband’s family at least for a day or two. There is even a traditional handing over done where the bride is given away by the bride’s father to the groom’s father.

And for those who have always been a loving caring and doting family, it is the most difficult moment of their lives to part from their families. There are fears. There are doubts. There are uncertainties. “What would the new family be like? Will they treat me well? Will I fit in” so on and so forth.  They even include the rather crazy doubt of “Will my family forget me?”  Because you later find out that families never forget their children, that fathers always love and adore their daughters, that mothers would call you everyday just to find out if you ate, that to your siblings you would always be the, well, you.

So while I was eating my heart out and wanting to curl into a ball in a corner and die, what was playing over and over in my head was that I had not done enough by my family. That I had been mean to my mother sometimes, that I hadn’t been attentive enough to my father, that I should have been a better sister.  I thought of how I should have gotten up in the morning and cooked for my family. It was remorse of a kind I had never known before. It was unbearable.  I had been the average kind of child. Maybe more than average. I was spoilt rotten by my parents. I wasn’t unkind and I did stuff when it pleased me, not a moment sooner. I picked fights with my siblings as all do.

And then I did the unthinkable. I called them and told them that I had not been a good daughter and a sister. In my remorse, I had not realised that they were also feeling blue, trying not to miss me. Nangi had gone to bed without dinner. Malli had gone and gotten drunk. Thaththa had been staring into blank space. Amma told me that they all loved me and that I shouldn’t feel like that. I could hear how she was trying to stifle a sob.

I don’t want anyone to think my family is made of a bunch of cry babies. In reality, they are all very hardy and strong.  But separation is difficult. Especially, when you have just gone and deposited your child among people whom you hope will love her and take care of her as you have done.

Why all this ranting after years of getting married? I was in the party that went to hand over darling’s cousin to her in-laws today. She held on to me so hard and cried that everything I had felt in my moment of misery came rushing back. She is very close to darling. When she didn’t see him, she called “Ape ayya ko?” (“Where my brother?” ape meaning more mine than ours in this context) and was weeping into his shirt a moment later. I knew how she was feeling. I didn’t say anything, because I knew that no words would encompass the pain of loss she was feeling at that moment.

That is when I realised that for the rest of my life, I would not be able to see another crying bride and not remember when I was also weeping into my brother’s shirt. Just one word to would be brides, be nice to your family. Do everything you can for them, while you are with them. Later would be too late. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

About yesterday

This is yesterday's post. What happened to me yesterday? Let me tell you. First I went to a wedding. Then I went to a funeral.

Darling's cousin got married yesterday. While we were trying to get them settled into their honeymoon suite we must have passed a million new couples. There were so many weddings yesterday.

And while we are on the topic why would we need to settle the newly married to their room? Anyone who wore the Kandyan attire as a bride would understand. The basic Kandyan jewelry set includes the following.

4 padakkam
4 chains for the padakkam,
Nalal patiya
sun & moon for the head,
agasthi Malaya
2 pethi Mala
hand ornament (with the rings)
earrings ( koodu arungal)
two bangles ( beekku and agasthi)
one extra bangle ( agasthi), 
waist chain, 
konda katuwa
sari pin with a gate bead.

Trust me. They weigh a lot. Add to these the flowers on the head with a million or so hair pins. For an example, see this picture of a beautiful bride that I happened to take. Wouldn't all those jewelry leave her with a massive headache and a neck-ache

I've been there. I remember after the reception was over, my neck hurt so much from carrying all that weight. While I wore less flowers on my head and my overall attire was less decorative than the pretty bride in the picture, I suffered from a massive neck cramp afterwards. But I suppose all that trouble was worth it. :) 

So yesterday, by the time the wedding was over, the bride was near tears and I felt it was my duty to relieve her from her bridal jewelry. There is no way that she could have taken it all of f by herself. While the new husband was pacing the room impatiently, I removed all her necklaces just to find a sore wound on the nape of her neck where the metal wires the bridal dressing person had used to link up the necklaces had rubbed. You can rest assured that I threw a fit of righteous indignation when I saw the fellow to hand over the jewelry.  Why pay them so much, if they can't be bothered to come up with something less painful? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Saying goodbye

Someone really dear to my heart passed away today. When I was small, he would hold my hand and walk me down to the main road and wait with me for the school van. Sometimes he would buy me a seeni sambol banis.
Sometimes when he came home after work, he would bring me peni appa.

He let me study at his work table. He was kind not only to his family, but also to all who met him. I've been told a story of how he harboured a person while rioters checked his house in the 1983 riots.

We love you seeya. May you rest in peace. We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

There's a land that is fairer than day, 
And by faith we can see it afar; 
For the Father waits over the way 
To prepare us a dwelling place there. 

In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore 
In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

We shall sing on that beautiful shore 
The melodious songs of the blessed; 
And our spirits shall sorrow no more, 
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest. 

In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

To our bountiful Father above, 
We will offer our tribute of praise 
For the glorious gift of His love 
And the blessings that hallow our days. 

In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making an awesome me!

Nangi sent me this, which I think is awesome.

So as lame as the next phrase is going to sound, I have also decided to take up the mantle and write a blog post everyday for 366 days. Is that weird? Does that make me a copycat? Will people read what I write? I'm full of doubts.

But maybe this is a good thing. At least I can polish up my writing.

So in the middle of 2012, here's to a new year! Here's to a new me! Trying to become awesome.  

Oh by the way, did I tell you that I've decided to start learning Finnish? It's always good to learn a new language right? So far I know how to say "Hello, where is the toilet?" "Hei! Missä WC on?"

Monday, May 7, 2012

The case for proper language

So here's how the argument started. "If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" was going on the radio and I commented on the use of the conditional and how in those days songs contained proper grammar. This led to the question of if there were any songs which were grammatically incorrect. I said "Of course, I' a huge fan of Bruno Mars but what about 'Had your eyes wide open, why was they open'?"

It turns out that I'm a stickler for convention. While I understand that all my writings are not grammatically perfect, I can at least comfort myself in the thought that I try to write proper. Here's my question. Is it wrong to expect proper language?

A common language is the communication platform for people. Imagine when humanoids first got the speech. One would have pointed at a tree and said "Booboo"(Yes very yogi bear!). Another would have said "twheee". (I'm just improvising here.) And to the first person who thought of a tree as Booboo, twhee would have sounded like gibberish. But somewhere along the evolutionary way, common words evolved and common languages evolved.  And basic rules and protocols were laid down so that anyone who knew the rules would understand what another person was saying.

My husband dearly argues that language is a living thing. And that just like any other aspect of civilisation, languages must also change to reflect the current society they are being used by. That is true and there is not a speck of a doubt. But then he also thinks that all man made conventions are artificial and that man must be let free to run amok. (Run amok was what I said. What he said was that civilisation itself was artificial and that man must be free of all ties of convention, at which point laws of nature will fall into place and everything will run smoothly and that I need not unnecessarily worry about the fate of man in a lawless society).

What confuses me is (As a person who tries to  never use "LOL") how difficult is it really to say "I don't and he doesn't and not "I doesn't and he don't"?

We need not speak like Shakespeare. But how about speaking without the use of a whole lot of acronyms, mixing up singular and plural and many other little grammatical faux pas? I do realise some will be angered by this post. But this is the way I feel and truthfully, why not go back to the basics for a change?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Among the pages: Anansi Boys

Just like me to write about a book. Don't you think? And to write about a book by Neil Gaiman, again. I can't seem to help it. Remember when I wrote about American Gods? This time it's Anansi boys.

Anansi Boys is a wonderful read. It's witty. Funny. Gripping. and sometimes a little sad. It's a story about family ties and brothers. It's a story about fathers and sons. Mostly it's an Anansi story. What's an Anansi story? I don't want to give the story away. I have been blamed countless times for giving away endings of books, tv shows, movies and so on, and told that I ruin the stories for people. But as one who reads the last page of a book first, I really don't get what the big deal is. You know what I mean? Or maybe you don't? So what I'm trying to say is, it's best if you get the book and read. And trust me, you will not regret it. It is that awesome!

If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman like me, then you probably have read Sandman and Stardust. The book Stardust is a little different from the lovely movie with the same name starring Michelle Pfeiffer. But that's not the point and I'm straying from the topic.

As I started to read Anansi Boys, I got a strange spidey feeling. I really don't know how to explain it, but it was only later I realised that it was because the book was about Anansi the spider God. That's how genius Neil Gaiman's writing really is.

What else is in it? There's a boy named Fat Charlie. And his brother who is called Spider. One a rather normal person and the other charismatic ans suave.

When you read the story you realise that the Gods aren't so different after all. And they are people too. That's how I felt anyway. So I thought I write this post because lately I've been feeling like I need to tell people my opinions. :)

Even if you are not a Gaiman fan or have not read a single one of his books yet, start with this one, It will have you hooked by the time you're done turning the cover page.

The funny thing is that for a while now, every time I went to a book store (which is frequently by the way) I've asked for any Neil Gaiman books. And the nice bookstore people have kindly informed me time and time again that they are out of stocks. Only one day for me to come home to find that my sister had found Anansi Boys. Here I am searching for them all over the place. But my sister, up gets and finds one.

So if you have time, find it. Read it.  And tell me how it went. I would also love to hear any of your thoughts on all things Neil Gaiman. :). I'm a little obsessed. Did you notice?