Thursday, December 31, 2009

MUSIC | Skunk Anansie, "Hedonism"

I hope you're feeling happy now
I see you feel no pain at all it seems
I wonder what you're doin' now
I wonder if you think of me at all
do you still play the same moves now
or are those special moods
for someone else

I hope you're feeling happy now
just because you feel good
doesn't make you right
just because you feel good
still want you here tonight
does laughter still discover you
I see through all the smiles
that look so right
do you still have the same friends now
to smoke away your problems and your life
oh how do you remember
me the one that made
you laugh until you cried

I hope you're feeling happy now
just because you feel good doesn't make you right
just because you feel good still want you here tonight
I wonder what you're doing now
I hope you're feeling happy now
I hope you're feeling happy now

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brief Update: 13th December 2009

It's 2:02 am on a Sunday. The date on my laptop says it's 13th December 2009. Time has slipped pass me indeed.

I just came out of a MSN chat with a friend. We argued - we have been doing that a lot lately. There is just too much unresolved tension between us. It can be uncomfortable when a friendship seem to have sidestepped into a kind of romantic/sexual attraction. I am not sure if I am ready to deal with this right now. Neither of us knows what to do.

I'm still trying to come out of the fog at the moment. Things have not been ideal - but real life rarely is. I'm trying to keep thing simple right now: Re-establish a regular yoga practice. Get a social life. Read a little more. I don't think I am ready for anything more complicated. A relationship feels too messy for me to deal with at this point.

I find it harder to read these days. Again - the problem with a short attention span. I am reading Victoria Finlay's Colour right now, a journey discovering the colours of the paintbox. I thought it would be interesting - but I guess some colours interest me more than others. We are on black and brown right now, and as intriguing as the history behind these colours are, I really want to find out more about the more vibrant shades. Give me the blues. Give me the reds. But life is truly interesting because of all its infinite varieties, isn't it?

I also have Laurie R. King's The Language of Bees available. Old favourites comfort me.

Just keeping things simple right now. Maybe I should start making a list of books I would like to read for 2010. It seems like a good way of getting myself back into the reading game.

I hope everyone had a good year. I had some pretty depressing moments in 2009, but I know I also met some good people this year - good friends that I would love to keep.

Life is interesting precisely because it is not perfect.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Brief Return To This Blog

Dear Friends,

Hi, I'm back after an absence of several months. Where have I been? I'm still online -- but I have been almost exclusively on Facebook. It's a long story -- mainly I have been too involved in a Mafia War clan, which has taken up too much of my time.

Some of you have expressed concerns over my absence from the blogsphere. Thank you for the concern. I will be back soon, I promise. I guess the truth is, I found it difficult to blog these past year. The time spent in Dubai has not been healthy for me. I find that I am only able to write comfortably if I can find an emotional anchor. These past year have been a series of emotional upheaval. I couldn't centre myself sufficiently to stay coherent in my own thoughts anymore. I couldn't even find the peace of mind to read anymore. Which is an irony, since I work in a bookstore. I have stopped being a vegetarian. I have stopped my yoga practice. My life as I have known it, has stopped.

So I played Mafia Wars instead.

I guess this is just a note to my friends to say, "Hi, I ain't dead." But most importantly, I am happy to announce that my HR Department has confirmed the last day of my one-year term in Dubai will end on 31st August 2009. This means 10 days from today, I will no longer be bonded to the Dubai store. My ticket for home is for 14th September.

There is a slight anxiety at the back of my mind about coming home without a job. My colleagues have been trying to persuade me to stay in Dubai for a 2nd year. I considered it very briefly -- I have given HR the figure I need to extend my contract. They have reverted on what they are will to pay -- which is less than half of what I asked for.

I said no. I could have told them not to insult me. After one year here, I know what I am worth. They can take their offer and stuff it up their arse.

I have given one year of my youth here. After this one year I have decided life is too short. This is not the place for me. Time to move on.

My Department Manager asked me what are my plans. I have none. I will have to watch my spending. I may travel -- maybe to the Philippines. I have a friend living there that I met online. It would be interesting to actually meet her in person.

But we shall see. So many things are uncertain right now. I will worry about them later.

~ darkorpheus

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spoof Video of Total Eclipse of the Heart

The MTV for "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was ridiculous, with their bad hair-do and strangely garbed dancers (ninja dancers who twirl). It took more than a decade for someone to make a spoof video of just how ridiculous it is though.

If you want a good laugh, you seriously need to watch this video. Trust me. I watched several times and I still laughed every time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Forget the Em-Dash, Go Semi-Colon

Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, writing about the beauty of the semi-colon.

Besides, the semicolon is supple as well. It may imply relatedness; it may imply contrast. With perfect clarity, it nimbly separates elements of a list that themselves contain elements of a list. For example, "These days, the semicolon exudes an aura of the fusty, the fastidious, and the defunct; of mildewed stacks, tight hair buns, and prissily sharpened pencils; of hesitancy, diffidence, and uncertainty, in contrast to the em-dash, which exudes a spirit of strength, flair, and decisiveness."

Full essay

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some films adapted from books feel so right - that is, until you watch it and you realise how the director got it all wrong; It was totally different from how you imagined it when you read the book.

I'm still hopeful that one day I will be able to finish reading all of Colette's books (and she wrote so much, some of which have gone out of print in their English translations). I also happen to be a big fan of Michelle Pfeiffer. Which was why my initial reaction to the news of Cheri - the film adapted from Colette's Cheri - was delight. Then I saw the trailer, and I was a little hesitant.

Why? Because it felt too light-hearted - almost as though it was a romantic comedy. For Colette, her body was her temple - but she was uncannily self-aware of the nuances and contradictions of human emotions. Colette's books are lush masterpieces where you walk through the labyrinth of the human heart. They are complicated, layered narratives. This trailer, in spite of the sheer beauty and perfect bone-structure of Michelle Pfeiffer herself - makes me suspicious of the worthiness of the adaptation.

Still, I want to see Michelle Pfeiffer - who is now 50 years old - as a cougar of the Belle Epoque.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Want Ice Kachang

I'm giddy with excitement right now, the reason being: I've just confirmed the flight for my home visit. This means, if everything goes well, I will be back home in Singapore from 25th July - 15th August. I will be spending the Singapore National Day on my native soil. I feel very patriotic right now. :)

Need to make a list of things to eat when I'm home. I have decided the first thing I want to eat when I touch down in Singapore is Ice Kachang. Ice kachang is shaved ice flavoured with syrup, mixed with sweetcorn, redbean, palm seed, grass jelly, agar-agar cubes at the bottom. I love it when they add the condensed milk liberally. It's cold and sweet - the taste I want for a homecoming.

I know it's only May right now, but I am looking forward to going home. More than the food, I miss the people that I care about back home. I miss the crazy girls at my old work-place who dedicated a cupcake to me - because we used to share cupcakes during lunch.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Matt Taibbi, Reza Aslam and Naomi Klein with Bill Maher

Matt Taibbi, Reza Aslam and Naomi Klein on "Real Time with Bill Maher," May 8, 2009.

I'm Into Facebook Mafia Wars

I'm feeling a little guilty about the lack of posts these days. I want to be able to write something on a regular basis - both as a form of therapy and as a means of disciplining myself. Life of course has a way of interfering with all our plans (and our blogs, of course). Recently however, my excuse for not reading or writing more is my addiction to the Facebook game, Mafia Wars.

Mafia Wars is basically a strategy game on Facebook where you are a gangster. You build up a mob by inviting your friends to play the game. You buy properties, do jobs, fight/rob other players. It's an absolute time-suck. I started playing Mafia Wars only about two months ago, but I am so proud to have reached Level 101, earning the title of "Consigliere". (It's absolutely geeky, I know!)

It's a fact of life, that we gravitate towards those that share our interests. I have also joined a Facebook group of women Mafia Wars players. We hav "tagged" ourselves and formed an informal "girl mafia". We watch our girls' backs and we try to help each other in the game. I love the estrogen in my gang of mafia girls. Most of my Facebook Profile posts these days are about my Mafia Wars activities - and it's funny how responsive my Mafia mates are to these posts. I suddenly find myself in a strange virtual community of very generous and funny ladies, all because of a game.

I wonder about the amount of time and energy that goes into playing this game, and imagine if we channel the same amount of time and energy for something else. Can you imagine just what we can achieve?

PS: Starting today, I have set myself the goal of writing a blog post everyday. (Exccept on days when I have no access to the internet or my laptop dies on me) This probably means you will be privy to too much information on my life and other obscenities. I can't guarantee that everything will be interesting, and I promise you, a lot of it will be fly-by-cuff stream-of-consciousness. If you do choose to drop by once in a while in spite of the information overload, I thank you for your attention in advance. :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Naomi Klein on The Rachel Maddow Show

Naomi Klein, on the Rachel Maddow Show, talks about the current bank bailout and how it fits in with her theory of the Shock Doctrine.

The geek in me is just happy to see two of my favourite women in the same room together, talking about the state of the world.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Life Here and Life Back Home

My resentment at work has been building up lately. Recenty I found out about some "cost-saving" measures, and part of it involves Upper Management f**king with our health care benefits. This is a sore point with me as I really do not want to be ill in Dubai without health insurance.

My seething rage is evident to all the managers right now. They advise me to calm down. I need my cool when I deal with bastards like these. My quick-temper will only led me to mistakes.

I am trying to lay low and just do my work today - as advised. But it must be my karma that trouble comes looking for me; H has spoken to the Upper Management about her moving out of the apartment. Today, Upper Management spoke to my Department Manager about MY accomodation. Upper Management - or as I call him now: The Cheap-Ass Bastard - feels that I should not be staying alone in a 2 bedroom apartment. The Cheap-Ass Bastard asked my Department Manager if I would mind moving out of the two-room apartment into a one-room apartment? But it will only be for 3 months. Three months later, they will try to move me to a one-room studio apartment.

Notice that no one is talking to me about where I should be staying?

I am also offended that I should have to move out of my current apartment. I had no complaints about my current accomodation. It was H who decided to move out. I could have lodged a complaint when H kept inviting her "friend" over to stay the night in her room. I did not. I did not want to get anyone in trouble.

Except I learnt that H went to the Cheap-Ass Bastard first, and she made it seem as though I was the one making it difficult for her.

Bitch. Now it's her word against mine, and she got her story in first.


On a more personal front, my friends Alice and Wilkie are moving to Australia soon. They had a little girl, Avery a few months ago. I remember how Alice first broke the news of her pregnancy to us in a cafe at Vivocity. We were so happy for them. Then I came to Dubai, and little Avery was born. Now Alice and Wilkie's Facebook updates are filled with Avery's pictures. There are some ugly babies out there - but Avery is really cute. I mean it. She is adorable. I love the pictures of that little girl - even though Alice refuses to take my advice and name her baby after me. :D

I have known Alice since we were classmates in college. We were 16 then, and now we are twice that age.

I remember how many of us would skip the dull Economics lectures. We relied on sober, hardworking Alice to help the absentees "fake" our attendance - oh, and to help take the lecture notes. Then one day, the lecturer found out Alice was the only one from our class attending the Economics lecture. There was hell to pay then. When we look back on our school-days, we don't remember what was taught during lectures. Instead, it's memories like these - skipping lectures, being found out and punished for it - these are the real memories.

I am looking back at my time spent in Dubai the last 6 months, and I don't have these pleasant memories. Instead, I feel a sense of loss. I am absent from my friends' lives - even as they continue with their lives. I have never met Baby Avery in person. Now that Alice and Wilkie are moving to Australia - Avery will probably not be a baby when I finally do meet her.

This leads me to wonder: Why am I working here in a foreign land, fighting with unpleasant people - when what would make me happy right now is just to pinch Baby Avery's cheeks before she is old enough to resent it? Or at least, to be able to send Alice, Wilkie and Avery off at the airport, as they leave for a new life in a foreign land.

I came to Dubai imagining myself self-sufficient, free of emotional attachment. Life away from home has proved me wrong. I am more invested in my relationships than I had assumed.

If The Cheap-Ass Bastard wants me to move, maybe I should oblige him. Right now, I just want to move back home. I have a real life that I care about back home. It feels like I am sacrificing a real life for nothing that I care about over here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

kd lang on the Jim Henson Hour

Here's a bonus for all k.d. lang fans: k.d. lang singing "I Love Trash" on the Jim Henson Hour.

Seriously - you are nobody until you hang out with the muppets.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MONDAY LYRICS | kd lang, a spiritual practice and a song

I haven't been able to get my hands on the latest issue of the Shambhala Sun. (They don't have it here in Dubai. Go figure.)

I miss my monthly diet of Shambhala Sun. I started reading the Buddhist magazine about 6 years ago, and I rarely miss an issue. The magazine is one of the little things that supported my spiritual practice. I miss it.

Some things are good to have, and some things are absolutely necessary. We become unhappy when we are unable to make the distinction; Shambhala Sun is good to have - but it is possible to maintain a spiritual practice without the magazine. I just have to adapt.

Instead, I have been going online, where they do make some Shambhala Sun articles available on their website. I have been re-reading some of the old articles, which is also good.

Recently I was re-reading this interview with k.d. lang, for the release of her "Watershed" album. She talks about her music, her spiritual practice and it helps explain why it took eight years for her to come up with an album of brand new songs. She is a pracitioner in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and that has been her priority these past many years. Music has simply become a means of paying the bills.

She has asked herself the question shared by many of us who first started a spiritual practice: does it means we have to give up our life as we know it? A big part of a spiritual practice is renunciation - but of what? A spiritual life often feels at odds with real life. For lang as a musician, she wondered if it meant she has to give up her music. She feels a part of herself changing as she practiced - does this mean she will never be the musician that she used to be? Song-writing became difficult. As she discovers later, with practice, things do start to fall into place: Ordinary mundane life and the practice "starts to integrate":

k.d. lang: Exactly. You can become pretty carried away, to the point where you feel you have to let go of your friends and your house and all sorts of things, and nothing can be integrated. It’s total chaos. Then all of a sudden everything starts to integrate. At a certain point, Buddhist practice is so inseparable from everything you do that you start to live and breathe it. I suppose that’s the gradual process of awakening—it’s naturally incorporated into your very being. You don’t even think that you’re processing things in a “Buddhist way,” particularly.

Our spiritual practice is not inconsistent with real life. In the beginning it will be difficult. Personally, in the beginning it feels like my life is being dismantled. I don't recognise what I am doing, and I wonder: will I still be the same person? Will I still be able to keep my existing friendships?

I believe what was happening to me at that time was - my practice was slowly breaking down my old mindset. This fear that arose. was my ego struggling against this change. What I came to realise much later, was that an established spiritual practice is not inconsistent with life. With practice, life do become more bearable. With mindfulness, your choices become more consistent with your greater intentions. My spiritual practice became the guide to my work and my relationships. Things become integrated. It doesn't matter if I call myself a Buddhist or a yogini or whatever. I am just a ordinary person, trying to make the right choices, the best that I can.

Most of all, I love what k.d. lang has to say about her magnificant voice. I have almost all her albums, even the odd collections where she contributes one or two songs. Lang herself remarked how she is amazed by the sound that comes out of her own body:

k.d. lang: On a purely mundane level, it is totally mind-blowing to have this sound come out of my body. It feels like a whole ocean of surfers are available to me at any given moment to open up my voice and play around with a melody. It does blow my mind.

But the deeper truth is that we all have world-level gifts. I’m not just saying that. I honestly believe it. Maybe sometimes we are not able to reach and bring out our gifts, but they are there. It can be quite ordinary—when you see a Bhutanese woman making cheese dumplings and you taste one and it’s the best cheese dumpling you’ve ever eaten in your life, it’s the same thing! It’s essence. Ultimately, I don’t really see myself as separate from anybody else in terms of having a gift.

I was undecided on which song to feature on this post. I finally decided to let the lyrics make the choice for me, since this is supposed to be about the lyrics. With k.d. lang though, it is her voice that carries the song - not the lyrics. She can sing the names off the phonebook, and it would still sound like the music of heaven.

I have chosen "Flame of the Uninspired" from Watershed. It's about looking back on life, relationships and desire.

"Flame of the Uninspired"

I spend a lifetime carving out my fate
Things I like, things I hate
My very nature is to criticize
And then cut myself down to size

On the cusp of compromise
To living hell, I slipped and fell

I´m in the corner licking off my wound
Loves come and go, all too soon
Looking back upon my life as such
And the remedies they cost too much

Such a frail and fragile place
This egg and shell upon my face

Fueled by desire
Wind adds to fire
Flame of the uninspired

On the cusp of compromise
To living hell, I slipped and fell
Such a frail and fragile place
This egg and shell upon my face

Fueled by desire
Wind adds to fire
Flame of the uninspired

Thursday, April 23, 2009

READ | Paper Towns by John Green

Just needed to write something about Paper Towns, by John Green. It's not going to be a very in-depth discussion, I'm afraid. My mind just isn't ready for long blog-posts these days. But I thought I better start getting into the habit of writing about what I've read, and of course - actually reading more so that I can write about them.

Quentin Jacobsen is an ordinary high-school teenager who has been in love with the girl next door - Margo Roth Spiegelman - since he was a child. According to the social hierachy of high school, Quentin belongs to the nerd side of the fence, while Margo is on the cool side. While Margo was kind enough to keep the local school bully off Quentin and his friends, Margo and Quentin just don't mix in the same circle. That is until one fateful night, Margo sneaked into Quentin's room dressed like a ninja, and pulls Quentin along for a night of adventure - and revenge on Margo's cheating boyfriend.

After that night, Quentin felt maybe there was a connection between Margo and himself. Except, Margo suddenly went missing. The police and Margo's parents didn't seem to have a clue where to find her. Margo's parents in fact, don't seem all that eager to go looking for her. Then, from a poster of Bob Dylan in Margo's room, a note Margo left hidden on Quentin's bedroom door - and most of all, an annotated copy of Leaves of Grass, Quentin decided Margo had left clues to where she could be found.

Paper Towns is about Quentin's search for Margo Roth Speigelman. On a more metaphorial level, it is about Quentin's search for the real Margo Roth Spiegelman - that elusive search for the authentic person, instead of an idea of a person. It explores that universal desire to be known for who we really are, rather than merely existing as an idea, a stereotype, for the other person.

In particular, I found myself ready to identify with Margo, especially with her record collection. (I don't have records, but I have plenty of CDs) The idea that our record collection can be too personal to be shared - because it represents such an important part of ourselves - I get that.

Margo Roth Spiegelman was a person, too. And I had never quite thought of her that way, not really; it was a failure of all my previous imaginings. All along--not only since she left, but for a decade before--I had been imagining her without listening, without knowing that she made as poor a window as I did. And so I could not imagine her as a person who could feel fear, who could feel isolated in a roomful of people, who could be shy about her record collection because it was too personal to share. Someone who might read travel books to escape having to live in the town that so many people escape to. Someone who--because no one thought she was a person--had no one to really talk to.

And all at once I knew how Margo Roth Spiegelman felt when she wasn't being Margo Roth Spiegelman: she felt empty. She felt the unscaleable wall surrounding her. I thought of her asleep on the carpet with only that jagged sliver of sky above her. Maybe Margo felt comfortable there because Margo the person lived like that all the time: in an abandoned room with blocked-out windows, the only light pouring in through holes in the roof. Yes. The fundamental mistake I had always made--and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make--was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.

I liked Paper Towns. It was charming, written with good humour. It isn't heavy-handed in its messages, and the ending particularly - was left wide-open to possibilities.

MUSIC | St Vincent's New Single: "Actor Out of Work"

The music video is out.

I actually prefers this video of her rehearsing the song. It's the way she handled that guitar.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One Person Less in the Apartment

The inevitable has arrived: my housemate, H, just moved out a few hours ago. Well, she packed a bag and an extra mattress, so maybe she's not gone for good. Since our apartment is provided by the company, she may not get to change accomodation as easily. Still, she has made her intention pretty clear.

How did this happen? A gradual build-up of frustration and resentment over the last 6 months in this desert city. A colleague and I were talking about this the other day: it's living in this desert city - we become less patient, our temper grow shorter.

My side of the story is - for the past 6 months, I have been picking up the slack for H at work. I have only told my Department Manager about this - and he has been trying to talk to H one-on-one. Unfortunately H just thinks we are bullying her.

I want to tell H this to her face: No, you moron. If we really wanted to bully you, we would have told the Store Manager about how you did not re-order Obama's Dreams From My Father. How you allowed Eat, Pray, Love to go out of stock for a month before I asked you about it. How you hid in the office on weekends when the store is busiest to avoid the customers. So many things we could have done to discredit you in front of the bosses. We did not. I walked away so many times when I could have confronted you and mock you for the incompetent, political backstabbing bitch that you are. You tried to drive a wedge between my Department Manager and myself when we first came to Dubai. You tried to take credit for my work. You thought we were stupid. We are not. We are just more decent, and we were too busy to play your games.

And you think we are bullying you.

What happened today was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I asked H to follow up on the order for a bestselling travel map. We are down to ONE COPY of the #2 bestselling travel map, and we need to order more urgently. It was part of her job, and I was tired to doing her job for her. Later in the afternoon, I found out H "delegated" the order to a colleague, Moideen. Except she didn't follow up with Moideen on the orders. So, her method of delegation is to throw the job to somebody else.

I decided I had enough. So I wrote an email to H, copying my Department Manager. In that email I told H that in future, if she would like to delegate her orders, I would appreciate it if she could at least supervise or check through the orders. I pointed out that Moideen's orders did not include our #2 bestselling travel map - which I highlighted to her. I sent it out right before I left the office, so I did not see her reaction. But I knew which button it would push.

H doesn't care about her job - but I still care about the store. I worked so hard to build this store and we are doing better than anyone expected. I will not allow a weasel like H to undo what we have built.

Now H has moved out. There will be repercussions, of course. Eventually the bosses will find out, and we will have to explain the accomodation change. My Department Manager will be alarmed (but he will not be surprised) when he hears about this.

The internet service in the apartment is registered under H's name. So when she moves out, she might want to cancel the internet service. This means I will probably be without home internet access for a while. Yet the idea of finally being able to come back to an empty apartment without H is so comforting.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Neko Case on Letterman

I am so glad Nymeth posted this on Twitter. It took my mind (briefly) off the stupidity at work today and sent me spinning on a tornado of LOVE.

*sigh* Marry me, Neko.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Neko Case Interview in TimeOut NY

Just like to point everyone to this TimeOut New York interview with Neko Case. In between she talks about wielding a sword and animal revolution, where the whales should just bite off their trainers' legs.

Whose gas-guzzler is that on the cover of the album?
That’s my car. I think I’m going to auction it off for charity in the next couple of months.

Springsteen auctioned off one of his motorcycles at a benefit here in New York a while back. I imagine your car will fetch a good price.
Um, well, I’m not as popular as he is, but we’ll see what happens.

He threw in his leather jacket to sweeten the pot.
I’ll throw in some of my used gym pants. That’s all I’ve got. I don’t have any awesome leather jackets or anything. I’ll throw in a skanky sports bra. Drive the price higher. Up about 60¢.

Neko Case, I would gladly buy your skanky sports bra for more than 60¢.**

**Yes, I know how pervy that sounds. But it's probably for a good cause.

Monday, April 13, 2009


"As much as movies, books and television shape our youthful definitions and notions of love, it's music -- with its lyrics ripe for memorization and repetition, and often written for and about the beloved -- that becomes our guide and our adoptive ode. We insert ourselves into a song's narrative -- which, of course, we can do with film. But with a song, it's neatly packaged inside of a scant few minutes; the story is brief, fleeting and, best of all, instantly gratifying because of its quick conclusion. For our young, impressionable hearts, a love song is just a metronome that keeps the time until a new beat comes along."
~ Carrie Brownstein, Monitor Mix

I tend to be the sort that prefers the sad love songs. "Good Things" for me is a song about the failure and futility of love. It's not epic in terms of its lyric, and the song itself concedes as much. But it is the kind of angst-ridden post-breakup songs that you listen to over and over. One can easily identify with the sentiments and slip ourselves into its narrative of angry disillusion that is only possible, because you were once foolish enough to believe in the romance.

All things changes, all things ends. Even love - especially love. How true, these lines: "why do good things never wanna stay/some things you lose some things you give away". Sometimes your heart is broken, sometimes you are the one doing the breaking. Why do we keep making the same mistakes? Why do we never learn? Why do we insist on falling in love in spite of all the pain? Because we need to believe it, we tell ourselves that it will better the next time.

this time it'll be alright
this time it'll be okay
this time it'll be alright
this time it'll be okay

Will it? Will it really be better the next time?

Good Things
by Sleater-Kinney

got this feeling
when i heard your name the other day
couldn't say it
couldn't make it go away
it's a hard place
can't be friends we can't be enemies
it's just too much
feel the weight crushing down on my face

the hardest part is things already said
getting better worse i cannot tell
why do good things never wanna stay
some things you lose some things you give away

broken pieces
try and make it good again
is it worth it
will it make me safe today?
it's a dumb song
but i'll write it anyway
it's an old mistake
but we always make it why do we

the hardest part is things already said
getting better worse i cannot tell
why do good things never wanna stay
some things you lose some things you give away

this time it'll be alright
this time it'll be okay
this time it'll be alright
this time it'll be okay

the hardest part is things already said
getting better worse i cannot tell
why do good things never wanna stay
some things you lose some things you give away
some things you lose some things you give away

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trying to Find Sattvic Strength

Things have been a little challenging at work lately. There has been some issues raised on how a certain co-worker has been negligent on the job. It doesn't help that the co-worker is my housemate, so there is no way to walk away from the unpleasant emotions stirred up along the way. It has been an emotionally draining week. Enough to make me want to just quit this job and go home.

Still, I have at least 6 months on my contract before I decide to extend or to leave. I have to weather this storm. Which was why I am re-reading Sally Kempton's essay for the Yoga Journal - on strength to weather life's difficulties.

In the article, Kempton talks about the gunas (rajas, tamas, and sattva). She explains: "Rajas is the energy of passion, aggression, willpower, determination, and drive. Tamas is the energy of inertia, dullness, passivity, and sleep. Sattva is the quality of peacefulness, clarity, and happiness."

I can see the forces of rajas and tamas at work in the situation with my housemate. I am now at the tamastic stage. The problem feels so difficult I am ready to resign. I am looking for sattva, the wisdom to resolve this .

The word sattva comes from the root sat, which means "being" or "truth." It's literally the power of beingness, the inner integrity that let the Buddha sit under the bodhi tree until he became enlightened, the power that supported Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the power that you feel in cathedrals and redwood forests and in people who quietly offer help to those who need it. Sattvic strength is one part discipline and three parts trust—trust that the invisible is stronger than what you can see or touch, and that what you are speaks louder than what you say.

Sattva is born in stillness. True sattvic strength arises out of a willingness to wait, to allow actions to unfold out of the quiet of your center. The forceful agent of sattvic strength is the force of clear intention—a subtle, yet unbending clarity about what it is that your heart and soul truly want.

Intention—the formulation of what you want to happen—is created in silence, through contemplation. It's refreshed each time you return to it. Then, often without your knowing how it happens, the subtle power of intention will guide your actions and words, and gradually, almost invisibly, create change. The key is to keep acting from that stillness out of which the intention was formed.

Why must human relationship be so challenging?

Monday, April 06, 2009

MONDAY MUSIC | Wicked Little Town: Tommy Gnosis Version

This is from the last song on the film, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

"Wicked Little Town: Tommy Gnosis Version"

Forgive me,
For I did not know.
'Cause I was just a boy
You were so much more

Than any god could ever plan,
More than a woman or a man.
Now I understand
How much I took from you:
That, when everything starts breaking down,
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
something beautiful and new.

You think that Luck
Has left you there.
But maybe there's nothing
Up in the sky but air.

And there's no mystical design,
No cosmic lover preassigned.
There's nothing you can find
that cannot be found.
'Cause, with all the changes
you've been through,
It seems the stranger's always you,
Alone again in some new
Wicked little town.

When you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise
Of this wicked little town.
It's a wicked little town.
Goodbye, wicked little town.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I've been having a lot of problems with Google and Blogger. Anyone knows what it means when they say:

The security certificate presented by this website has expired or is not yet valid.

Security certificate problems may indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the server.

Are there hackers/some nefarious worm hanging around my blog or on my laptop? I can't log in using Safari or Firefox. Only Explorer. Which sort of creeps me out, because I prefer not to use Explorer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Little Stranger

One of the titles that I am looking forward to for 2009 is Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger. I love how she manages these historical pastiche so well.

The publisher website has just made part of the first chapter available for preview.


Something I was tagged on Facebook.

Using ONLY SONG TITLES from ONE artist, cleverly answer these questions:

My artist is SLEATER-KINNEY. (Surprised? If You are, you don't know me well enough)

ADDITIONAL RULE: You cannot use the same artist I did, or duplicate song titles even if they were performed by another artist. Make sure you send a copy to the person who sent you this.

(I listed the song title, followed by the album title)

1. Are you a male or female: "Be Yr Mama" / Sleater-Kinney

2. Describe yourself: "The Drama You've Been Craving" / Dig Me Out

3. How do you feel about yourself: "Let's Call It Love" / The Woods

4. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend: "Was It A Lie" / All Hands On The Bad One

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: "I'm Not Waiting" / Call The Doctor

6. Describe your current location: "Living in Exile" / The Hot Rock

7. Describe where you want to be: "Taking Me Home" / Call The Doctor

8. Your best friends are: "Good Things" / Call The Doctor

9. Your favorite color is: "Milkshake n' Honey" / All Hands On The Bad One

10. You know that: "Burn, Don't Freeze" / The Hot Rock

11. What’s the weather like: "All Hands On The Bad One" / All Hands On The Bad One

13. What is life to you: "Not What You Want"/ Dig Me Out

14. What is the best advice you have to give: "What's Mine Is Yours" / The Woods

15. If you could change your name, what would it be: "Anonymous" / Call The Doctor

Did you know Sleater-Kinney has no song title with a colour in them? Amazing. Anyone wants to play?

Monday, March 30, 2009

MONDAY LYRICS | "Choose Drugs" by Juliana Hatfield

Juliana Hatfield - where have you been?

I withhold your medicine
But you've still got a connection
They remember everything
In the sky, oblivion

I never knew your innocence
Your white skin glistens
You pried my eyes open
I've lost my ambition

I say it's me or drugs
You choose drugs
I say it's me or drugs
You choose drugs

I say it's me or drugs
You choose drugs
I say it's me or drugs
You choose drugs

Library Raid on Saturday, 28th March 2009

Library Booty:

  1. Paper Towns, John Green
  2. Nation. Terry Pratchett
  3. Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, Peter Høeg
  4. The Quiet American, Graham Greene
  5. Up at the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham

I'm indulging in my bad habit of moving back and forth between books. This is why I often end up finishing very few books, or several books within the same week. But all in all, it was a good reading weekend. I'm now actively reading Nation, Paper Towns and Shock Doctrine.

The fact that I am actually reading more is a positive sign that life is returning to some sort of balance. I still miss my life back home though: I miss my quiet but nonetheless existant social life - and my practice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bits from Paper Towns

Margo's list:

3 whole Catfish, Wrapped separately

Veet (It's for Shaving your legs only you don't Need A razor

It's with all the Girly cosmetic stuff)


six-pack, Mountain Dew

One dozen Tulips

one Bottle of water


one Can of blue Spray paint

"Interesting capitalization," I said.

"Yeah. I'm a big believer in random capitalization. The rules of capitalization are so unfair to words in the middle."

From Paper Towns, by John Green

I smiled when I read this bit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

James Beard Foundation Award

Some Book Award Nominees:

by Grant Achatz
(Achatz LLC/Ten Speed Press)

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook
by Heston Blumenthal
(Bloomsbury USA)

Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide
by Thomas Keller

My vote for this category is Alinea. It's awesome.

How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition)
by Mark Bittman
(John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)

Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook
by Martha Stewart with Sarah Carey
(Clarkson Potter)

The Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook
by Barbara Fairchild
(John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)

Mark Bittman gets my vote. Please - Martha Stewart?

In Defense of Food
by Michael Pollan
(The Penguin Press)

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
by Fuchsia Dunlop
(W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.)

Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef
by Betty Fussell
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

I want Michael Pollan to win this one, but Fuchsia Dunlop seems more fun.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

POETRY | The Journey

By Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

24th March 2009

Too often I have friends who will find themselves caught up in a state of spiritual and emotional fatigue. Sometimes we talk, and I always tell the story about people going back to the things that first inspired them.

I have been neglecting my yoga practice for 6 months now. This is about how long I have been in Dubai. With work and having to adapt to a very different culture, my practice has been put aside. I am not proud of it, and I feel lost without my practice. The practice has always been the one sure thing I can fall back on whenever life hits me hard.

It has been a while since I allowed myself a moment of self-reflection. But I forced myself to sit down and write this post today because I need to stop and find my bearing again. I am 33 years old today. For the past few years, I have always taken a day of work to spend time with myself. This year, while I can't take time off, I still want to spend time with myself.

Without my regular practice these days, it seems I lost a bit of focus in my life. I need to come back to the mat. But the question is: How?

So I come back to the story I always tell my friends: Go back to the people or things that inspire you. I came across this yoga demonstration by Ana Forrest this evening. I remember how awe-inspiring she is to me. I know yoga is more than the flexibility and strength. It is more than the advanced twisty poses.

What I want is her discipline. Everything she does in the video below happens because she worked really hard at it. 

TED | Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity and a Little Bit More

You probably know Elizabeth Gilbert from her book, Eat, Pray, Love. If you have been inside any bookstore the last two years, you probably see stack-loads of it around.

TED invited Elizabeth Gilbert to speak on creativity. As a public speaker, Elizabeth Gilbert is engaging and her speech is sprinkled with humorous anecdotes so that it never feels boring.

The reason I decided to post her TED video here today is because of her message towards the end: She was so successful with her last book that she is now caught p with the tremendous pressure and expectation for her next book. How can she possibly write anything that can be as successful? As she admitted to the audience: her best days as a writer may already be behind her. How does somebody live up to this sort of pressure? How does an artist continue to work, knowing you may never create anything that was as spectacular as what came before?

Elizabeth Gilbert explains one of the one of the most painful reconciliation for an artist: there will come a time when you know that the moment of almost divine inspiration has passed on. How she comes to term with this is to accept that perhaps, this moment of inspiration - this "most extraordinary aspects of your being" that came from somewhere outside of yourself is just on loan to you. It was with you for a moment, and when you are finished, to be passed along to somebody else.

I love this idea that we do not own our gifts. That it is something shared with us for a brief moment of our lives. When the time comes, we pass it on, grateful for what it has brought us - for what came by grace is never ours to keep.

Please watch this video for her message.

Elizabeth Gilbert's website

Monday, March 23, 2009

MUSIC | Corin Tucker's Solo Album (Possibly)

This morning I received a message from one of the Facebook groups I subscribe to. It carries with it a bit of unverified news that can really make my day. If it's true. *fingers crossed*

The news is: Corin Tucker (one-third of my favourite band, Sleater-Kinney) may be releasing a solo album this fall. The fangirl in me goes, "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!"

Meanwhile, here's a few video of Corin Tucker performing her solo at the Reading Frenzy benefit, at Holocene in Portland, Oregon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

St Vincent and Tori Amos @ SXSW 2009

I'm following the SXSW 2009 online coverage at the moment. Among the fun stuff posted is this video of St Vincent rehearsing her new single, "An Actor Out of Work" (from her forthcoming album, Actor - due 5th May):

I want that new album to come out now.

Also, Tori Amos showcasing some new songs from her new album, Abnormally Attracted To Sin (out 19th May):

"Curtain Call":

"Mary Jane":

Don't you wish you can be there?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

CHALLENGE | Once Upon A Time III

I know I suck at challenges - though that has not been a factor whenever I sign up for a new one. I guess the point is just to try.

But with my reading in decline these days, I'll work on "The Journey" - which is just to try to read as many as I can. If not, just to enjoy the process.

Pool of books to read:

  1. The Devil You Know, Mike Carey -
    Mike Carey wrote the Lucifer and Hellblazer comics. His Felix Castor series is in the genre of supernatural suspense. Castor, you see, is a freelance exorcist who finds it hard to quit. Things just happens, you see.

  2. Let The Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist -
    Some of you might have watched the film that was drawn from the book. Oskar is a 12 year old boy who is living with his mother. He is bullied at school, unhappy and he wets his pants. Then a mysterious girl moves in next door. She doesn't go to school. She doesn't leave the flat during the day. Oh yeah, she's a vampire.

  3. Black Ships, Jo Graham
    Gull is an oracle, chosen to serve the Lady of the Dead. Her destiny arrives in the form of four black ships, bringing with them Aeneas from the fallen city of Troy. Gull will have to brave the gates of the Underworld to lead Aeneas to his own destiny.

Well then. Let's see where we end up.

Reading As Protest

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has often expressed his disdain for the novel, La Princesse de Cleves. His very public opinion of the 17th century novel has helped the book gain a reputation as the literature of dissent against Sarkozy. [ Source ]

Recently the sales of La Princesse de Cleves has risen. The French people dislike Sarkozy so much they feel they need to read the book.

This is the kind of story that makes me go all warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me want to learn French and move to Paris. I love a culture that protest by reading.

Friday, March 20, 2009

'FESS UP FRIDAY | Haruki Murakami's Routine

I haven't been doing this for a while. But recently things have finally started to resume a sort of normality. I found some time to write a little. My recent London trip gave me some ideas. I'm not sure where I'm going with them, so I'm just writing to get the words out. It's therapeutic in its own way.

For writing tips, I offer: Daily Routines - how Haruki Murakami goes about his day:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

- excerpt from The Paris Review, Summer 2004

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Flickr Records of London Trip Feb/March 2009

Just a note: I will not be updating my pictures to flickr for a while. Just found out my internet service provider has blocked my access to I am distressed by this, because I have only just signed up for a paid account to flickr and now this.

Here's some of the pictures from my recent London trip. I wish there's more - but most of the time I'm busy looking instead of keeping records.

Trying to stay in the moment, yeah? :) But no worries - there's always a chance for a second trip.

MUSIC MONDAY | Say Hallelujah

A friend of mine - The Brat - played Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life" at her wedding - a choice that I totally approve of. Not that it matters what I think. It's her wedding, not mine. Still, we are living the age of soundtrack, where for every significant moment of our lives, there has to be a song to go with it.

This thread of thought started with this music meme, where my answer to "WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?" is "Number One Enemy" by The Slits. It was irony by randomness, but it did make me think a little about what song would I want to be played at my funeral.

In one of those moments of idle chatter, I asked The Brat what song would she pick for her funeral. She said it didn't matter; she would be dead. The song really, is for the living, just as a funeral is also for the benefit of the living. A funeral is a ritual, something for us to cope and come to terms with that unknown and terrible notion of mortality. What is it about death that I fear most? I guess I am afraid that nobody will come to my funeral. It's an irrational fear, but one that is entirely possible, because I kept my life so compartmentalized, my family has no idea who my friends are.

If I have a choice though (because I would want my funeral to be about me, because we would like some governance over our lives and our deaths in any way we can) - I would like Tracy Chapman's "Say Hallelujah" to be played at my funeral. The lyrics says almost everything I would like to tell my friends, especially this part:

Dry your eyes
And stand upright
Put a smile on your face
He wouldn't want us to cry

I wouldn’t want my friends to cry too much at my funeral. But if you must, you may.

"Say Hallelujah"

Say Hallelujah
Throw up your hands
The bucket is kicked
The body is gone

Close your eyes
And bow your head
To rest your soul
And to praise the dead

Say Hallelujah
Throw up your hands
The bucket is kicked
The body is gone

Dry your eyes
And stand upright
Put a smile on your face
He wouldn't want us to cry

The sun will rise
The stars will shine
Turning day to dusk
And night to dawn
We'll pass on
But until that time

Say Hallelujah
Say Hallelujah

Say Hallelujah
Throw up your hands
The bucket is kicked
The body is gone

Have mercy
It's a wonderful life
Eternal rest for the weary
Mourners party tonight

Say Hallelujah
Throw up your hands
The bucket is kicked
The body is gone

Wave your hands
But don't say goodbye
We're all gonna meet you
On the other side

Friday, March 13, 2009

Create Your Own Hero

Just found one of those time-sucking stuff to do online. Create your own hero and see how your hero looks on the cover of a comic book. Here's mine (yes, my heroine would be a redhead):

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Am Reading At the Moment | Shock Doctrine

[Photo: Shock Doctrine, with my spectacles, and a triangular pencil from the Tate Modern souvenir shop.]

I bought Shock Doctrine when I was in London. Just a few pages into it, I was hooked. It quickly became the book I carried with me everywhere I went; I read Shock Doctrine when I was commuting on the Tube. I read it when I was waiting for the rain to stop. I read it the moment I woke up. I came back from work this evening with the sole intention to continue reading the book.

It has been a while since any book - fiction or non-fiction - had such an immense power over me.

I had to do Economics for my 'A' Levels - and I hated it. I reckon I was absent for more than 50% of my Economics lectures back then. This is why it is so amazing that Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine made me realise how an understanding of economic theory is intrinsic to an understanding of politics and the world today.

Monday, March 09, 2009

MEME | The Letter W

Doing the Letters Meme, where I list 10 things I love that starts with the chosen letter. I asked for a challenging one, so Nymeth gave me "W". Ha! I laugh at you, letter "W". (This makes me feel like a character from Sesame Street.)

  1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps: When I talk to my friends about the Beatles, they usually tell me how much they love the Sgt Pepper album. I'm not disputing that - but personally, the Beatles album that I love is The White Album. I believe The White Album is the best showcase of just how talented they are as song-writers. My favourite song from The White Album - and probably my favourite Beatles song - is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - written by George Harrison, with Eric Clapton on guitar.

  2. Winterson, Jeanette:  I quote a lot from Winterson's books and essays on this blog.

  3. Washington Post Book World: Washington Post Book World will go out of print as a separate section in the Washington Post - but thankfully, it will still exist as an online entity. The Book World gave voice to well-read bookworms like Michael Dirda to chatter about the pleasure of reading - and re-reading. We need more newspapers to put this kind of focus on book culture.

  4. Woods, The: The final album by my favourite band, Sleater-Kinney. Some bands stick to the known and the familiar. While some of them do find commercial success, and their music do find loyal fans - there are the other bands like Sleater-Kinney. They could have signed up with the more commercial labels, but they preferred to retain the creative integrity of their music. They never stopped challenging themselves as musicians, always mindful that they want to produce the kind of music that they can be proud of. They went a new direction for The Woods, with a new producer who was not familiar with their prior albums - who could therefore provide a fresh perspective on their work. The Woods irritated  some fans, who found it deviate too much from the music they loved - but they also earned some new fans.

    The Woods represent everything that is admirable about Sleater-Kinney: they never fell into complacency. They came to a point where they knew they were not progressing musically, and so they announced their "indefinite hiatus" in spite of all the fan-protests. They understood that life (and by extension, their music) is about moving forward.

  5. Wanderlust: Wanderlust, a great book by Rebecca Solnit. It's a series of essays on the idea of walking, of wandering, of our relationship to moving, of time, of history, art, culture and politics. Solnit is as wiling to wander off in the middle of the essay to pursue a line of enquiry that interests her. I love her writings, because she exemplifies how we learn so much more when we are willing to wander off the familiar path to seek out the unknown. Wandering is to defy boundaries.

  6. Willow Rosenberg: Who can resist the most powerful witch in the Northern Hemisphere on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Dark Willow is cool too. :)

  7. W
    ild Thing: I was fortunate to have met some Anusara-inspired teachers, and they sometimes incorporate this backbend - known as The Wild Thing (show in the picture to the right) into the flow. The Wild Thing is one of my favourite yoga pose, because it allows me to play with the natural flexibility of my body. The asana is a great heart opener - therapeutic when I'm feeling lethargic or depressed.

  8. Wit: Maybe it's because I'm the sort who prefers to mull things over, I find a person who can think fast on their feet very sexy. Especially if they can make me laugh.

  9. Wikipedia: You don't have to know anything anymore. You can look it up on Wikipedia!

  10. Walking: I walked a lot during my recent London trip, and I got lost A LOT. In fact, on my very last day, I was waking towards Brick Lane and ended up at the Tower of London - which was okay. I went in to see the Tower instead. Walking is the best mode of transport when you're travelling, and it's healthy. Walking is the best way to see a city, because everything is at the ground level, you see so much more. All of us who are able to walk should be grateful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Books for London

I'm excited about my London trip. It's 10:38 pm right now and I need to be at the airport early tomorrow morning. I should turn in soon, but I'm trying to finish this post. It will be short.

Some of you may know, part of the fun of planning for a trip is what books to bring along. I did very little planning for this trip. I scribbled down a few places I want to see, but I'm keeping my schedule very easy. It will probably be a matter of waking up every day and deciding at breakfast what I want to do that day. Still, there is the question of what books to bring. I suspect I will be bringing books and DVDs back, so I'm keeping it down to a few:

  1. Lonely Planet London - my guide. That, and just asking around.
  2. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Kate Summerscale - read the book about crime and murder in Victorian London, then walk around the places mentioned. :)
    I actually started on the book a few days ago and I'm hooked.
  3. Ice Princess, Camilla Lackberg [translated by Steven T. Murray] - I heard it was going to be cold. So I grab this one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yoga and Grameen

Here's a post that combines my reading with yoga.

Muhammad Yunus's Banker to the Poor is one of the titles I have shortlisted for the World Citizen Challenge.

In 2006, Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in using micro-credit to battle poverty. The idea of micro-credit is simple: lend small loans to the very poor (usually around USD 200 or lesser) and allow them to start their own business as a means of sustaining themselves. Each loan is usually repaid within 6 months to a year - yet it offers a proven hope against poverty. In fact, the repayment rate is about 95% - and specifically, results have shown that women are more likely to put the profits from their business back into the family: for the children, for education, better nutrition, to improve the standard of living etc.

What has this got to do with yoga? Some yoga teachers and practitioners have come together to found Yoga Gives Back, an organization to help support the Grameen Foundations. Real yoga is about the practice off the mat. You practice, and something within yourself changes, expands. You see more clearly. You feel more. That is when you recognize that you are connected to this world - and you have a duty to try to be a positive force in this world.

Here's the link, if you would like to contribute to the Grameen Foundation. Or you can help spread the word on your blog.

I leave you with this quote:

Poverty does not belong in civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum. That's where it will be. When schoolchildren go with their teachers and tour the poverty museums, they will be horrified to see the misery and indignity of human beings. They will blame their forefathers for tolerating this inhumane condition and for allowing it to continue in such a large segment of the population until the early part of the twenty-first century.

~Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

YOGA | Building Inner Strength

Received this Yoga Journal e-newletter in my email box today: it's on building Inner Strength:

Breathe. Alternate-nostril breathing can help calm you down. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through your left nostril for four seconds. Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger. At the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale for eight seconds. Switch to the left nostril, and begin again. This, Devi says, cleanses and rejuvenates vital channels of energy.

Affirm. As you inhale, think: The strength I feel inside me is enough to sustain me during any experience I have today. As you exhale: The compassion from my heart will lead me to help anyone in need. With such thoughts, Devi says, what we're doing is strengthening and bringing prana into our system, which helps us become strong and compassionate toward others.

Relax. Lie down in Savasana (Corpse Pose) and mentally go over the parts of your body one by one for 15 to 20 minutes.

Goodness knows I need the inner strength these days.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I'm utterly besotted with Nellie McKay.

Ever since I chanced upon the video of her performance for TED a few days ago, she became a singer I had to follow.

Yes, she is pretty, with her cutesy white-blonde hair and charming smile. Yes, she sings a mighty jaunty tune. Nellie McKay is everything sugar and spice - but she is not always nice. (Or maybe she is) She is also a musician with an uncompromising streak who fell out with a major record label because they wouldn't let her do her album the way she wants. Beneath that adorable face, this girl has backbones.

Nellie McKay's style is whimsy, playful and a little naughty. Watch her on this video, with her ukulele performing "Mother of Pearl" - the Sarah Palin version.

Feminists don't have a sense of humor
Feminists just want to be alone (boo-hoo-hoo-hoo)
Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor
They have a tumor on their funny bone

They say child molestation isn't funny (hahahahaha)
Rape and degradation's just a crime (lighten up, ladies)
Rampant prostitution, sex for money (what's wrong with that)
Can't these chicks do anything but whine

Dance break
(Take it off)

They say cheap objectification isn't witty (it's hot)
Equal work and wages worth the fight (sing us a new one)
On demand abortion, every city (okay, but no gun control)
Won't these women ever get a life

Feminists don't have a sense of humor (poor Hilary)
Feminists and vegetarians (Make mine a Big Mac)
Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor
They're far too sensitive to ever be a ham
That's why these feminists just need to find a man

I'm Sarah Palin, and I approve of this message

Nellie McKay on myspace

Dara Torres Is Back with a Book and More

You know Dara Torres. She was the 41 year old Olympic-class swimmer, and mother of one. She competed in five Olympics, set 3 world records, and won 12 Olympic medals. In the 2008 Olympics, she missed the gold medal for 50-metre freestyle by 1/100th of a second. Did she moan and cry about it? No. She took it with good grace and a self-deprecating humour. This is the mark of a real champion; it's not just about winning the gold. It is also how you go about winning, and how you behave when you don't.

Did we think this will be the last of Dara Torres? No. According to this interview, Torres is training for the World Championship this July. She also has a book coming out this April - Age Is Just a Number - written with Elizabeth Weil.

I admit I geek out when I talk about Dara Torres. She captures my imagination because she is the kind of inspiration I want in my life. I want to see more stories like Dara Torres's - stories that tell me - with enough willpower and perservance, we can overcome the limitations imposed on us.

Well, that and the fact Dara Torres looks really good.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Neko Case Album on NPR

I know some of us will be buying Neko Case's new album, Middle Cyclone, the moment it reach the stores. For the rest of us, it is likely the album would never reach the local music store. (Because the music store SUCKS!)

I was all excited when I found out NPR is offering an Exclusive First Listen to stream the complete album starting 23rd February. That's a few days from now. I am a happy puppy.

PS: The New York Times did a big feature on Neko Case recently. (hat-tip to Nymeth)

I swear: the album cover is just much fun:

BOOKS | 13 for 2009 PRIME

13 is the key - but anything beyond 13 is a bonus.

  1. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher • Kate Summerscale
    [21/02/2009 ~

  2. The Redbreast • Jo Nesbø [translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett]
    [01/01/2009 ~ 09/02/2009]

  3. The Girl Who Played with Fire • Stieg Larsson [Translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland]
    [02/02/2009 ~

  4. Cyteen: Regenesis • C.J. Cherryh
    [24/01/2009 ~

  5. Arabian Sands • Wilfred Thesiger
    [21/11/2008 ~

  6. Drood • Dan Simmons
    [05/12/2008 ~

  7. The Great War for Civilisation • Robert Fisk
    [13/01/2009 ~

  8. The Eight • Katherine Neville

  9. A Book of Silence • Sara Maitland

  10. My Fantoms • Théophile Gautier

  11. Victorine • Maude Hutchins

  12. Travels With A Tangerine • Tim Mackintosh-Smith

There is no way I can just list 13 books to read. So, I hope to finish at least 13 titles from the pool of titles below:

  1. The Travels of Ibn Battutah, edited by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

  2. Yemen, Tim Mackintosh-Smith

  3. A Dance with Dragons (Song of Ice and Fire), George R.R. Martin

  4. Acedia & Me, Kathleen Norris

  5. Child 44, Tom Rob Smith

  6. In the Woods, Tana French

  7. Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

  8. 2666, Roberto Bolano

  9. Shadow Country, Peter Matthiessen

  10. A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle

  11. Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? Ajahn Brahm

  12. Mirror to Damascus, Colin Thubron

  13. The Hills of Adonis: A Quest in Lebanon, Colin Thubron

This list just keeps getting longer! Help! Help! Somebody save me from myself!