People

A Crash Course in Newsworthiness

This is a tweet from the official Real Madrid account before today’s game against Real Betis.

https://twitter.com/realmadriden/status/325640502219268096 : A minute of silence in the memory of the victims of the Boston marathon bombings. #halamadrid

I may be alone in this, but I blinked twice, then thrice, when I saw this. Why on earth is Real Madrid, one of the world’s foremost sport brands, commenting on an incident in the United States? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been watching all the coverage of the stories emerging from the Boston bombings, just like everyone else. And that’s for 2 reasons. One is that I was searching for answers about why this happened. The second reason is because that is the only thing any news outlet is talking about.

But here’s a glimpse of other events in the world that would have had more airplay if the marathon ended without incident: the Sichuan earthquake which killed 100+ persons and injured 5000+ others (yes folks, that’s thousands injured and over one hundred dead); the bomb blast targeting a candidate in the upcoming Pakistani elections which killed 3 of his family members and injured 7 others; random Syrians are still being killed in the civil war crossfire. I would look for positive headlines, but that’s becoming as scarce as pygmy elephants.

So why is a Spanish organization which is ranked by Forbes as the of most valuable football club in the world, observing a minute’s silence for the victims of the Boston bombings and not every other “significant” disaster in the world? I mean, one does not become globally successful by such myopic pandering. I guess American victims are more interesting than Chinese or Pakistani or Syrian victims. And it helps that #PrayForBoston was trending. Better than that, Madrid.

That brings us to this gem. Quite a lot of folks saw this as heartfelt condolences. I think that’s a gross misunderstanding. Let us think for a second what it must be like to live in terror… real terror… everyday. Not one Monday at a large public event. Everyday. Think about something as routine as going to find something for your family and being very uncertain to make it back home.

And so with tongue firmly in cheek, and armed with très American “peace” signs, the Syrian Revolution sends condolences to the first world.

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People

L’eau des nuages

Il a quitté mon cœur

Sur son retour à lui-même

Il a mis son cœur

Dans une boîte, cachée

Il a l’oublié, je me pense

Dans la tempête forte

Avec les vents de peine.

Il a parlé,

Il a parlé des choses simple

Et il a satisfait

Content, sans me voir.

Il a regardé

Les jeux.

Il a ri

Avec ses amis, un sourire.

Il a travaillé

Comme rien n’a changé.

Sans me parler,

Sans me regarder

Il s’est senti de moins en moins

Il ne l’a pas vu

Ses mots ont se assis comme les nuages

Où sont les profondeurs de tu?

J’ai espéré avoir de ses paroles les plus vraies

Parce que je les aime

Et j’ai su que je te ai connu

On veut quoi d’autre?

Sans tout le cœur

Sans les deux mains

Et moi, je suis me souvenu

Les temps de parler,

De nous nous sommes compris.

Je reappelle. C’était un décembre.

For those of you who are familiar, this is clearly a tribute to “Déjeuner du matin” by Jacques Prévert. Déjeuner du matin is the first French poem I have read (last week, in fact), and I immediately loved it. The Frenchies may correct my mistakes, and suggest better or more poetic phrasing. I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to your thoughts.

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Uncategorized

“Necessity… is the mother of invention” – Plato

There is a first time for everything, and tonight is the first time I wished I had amazing computer programming skills. Why would I want to venture into the murky world of geekdom? Because after much reading and googling (and I am an expert googler… like most people born in 1986 are), I still cannot find a website that can either offer English passages for translation to beginner-level French, nor a site where I can input English words and have a passage generated using them.

Somewhere, a programmer probably wrote the required code for this for fun and has it saved on a diskette.

Necessity, ftw

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Uncategorized

A Simple Friday Sunset

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Further up the coast, a half dozen vultures are congregating. A little closer, I notice for the first time that there are vines on one of the sea-trees. To my right, there is a family enjoying a laugh. And an ambulance whizzes by on the highway behind me. A blackbird offers me an uncharacteristically pleasant chirp. Fourteen vessels and a steel carcass dot the horizon. The water laps the rocks gently, like old friends. The hidden currents stretch out a vast pattern for me on the water’s surface, swirling pathways into the distance.
And me? I wait for the sun to peep out from below it’s wispy blanket on it’s way to the next side of the earth.

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Books, People

Pages of My Imagination

I’ve started reading again. And not just my daily dose of 5 or more BBC articles about anything. I’ve started reading novels again.

The last time I got on a bike, it was the first time I’d ridden in more than a decade. It was either a wake or an Old Year’s lime in Couva; I forget which. But I remember getting on the bike and thinking, “everyone says you can never forget how to ride a bike, but I’m pretty sure I’m making this up as I go along.” I just wasn’t at ease as I used to be on it.  If you’ve had a non-literary tertiary education, the only reading you ever did was textbooks. Since then, I’ve only read a handful of novels and many of those were Nicholas Sparks’. Reading a book is nothing like struggling for lost dexterity and wondering where the enjoyment had gone. It’s always been smooth and seamless.

Thank goodness for my Amazon Kindle app and my phone. I decided that buying digital books would be cheaper, and simpler. The first book I came across (literally, the very first book Amazon suggested) was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It was just the sort of book I loved: a period drama, biographical and as a bonus it was also quite scientific. Mrs. Lacks was a black woman born in Segregated 1940s, USA. She had an unfortunately aggressive case of cervical cancer that killed her in her prime. What she is best known as is “HeLa”. Without knowledge or consent, a sample of her tumor was taken during a medical exam and cultivated for research purposes. Today, HeLa cells are the bedrock of biomedical research and have been used to test all manner or substances and conditions against the human genome.

Henrietta and David Lacks

Henrietta and David Lacks

Less known is what sort of person Lacks was, and what was the story of her life. Rebecca Skloot shared her experiences while researching this extraordinary woman perfectly, and showed us how far down the rabbit hole goes for those connected to her.

I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I’d always wanted to see the movie (a bit of a fan of RPattz’ acting, not so much Team Edward though). This was a wonderful read. I kept forgetting the writer was female because the protagonist is male. This made me wonder a lot more about what men think about and how they perceive things. Mrs. Gruen is also happily married with 3 sons, so I suppose she’s pretty much an expert. Most of all, I’ve found myself haunted by the main character’s struggle with his advanced age and issues of loneliness. Only a great book could do that… And so begins my journey back into a familiar place where my imagination paints outside the lines of the author’s story, and I muse upon the lives of the characters long after the last page.

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People

Live Feeds 101

One of the phenomena of this modern “electro-digital-social media” era must be the increased propensity to over-share. Keep it real: you’ve seen it, and you’ve done it. 

If it’s not a shot of some (otherwise level-headed) girl with all her wares on display on Facebook,  it will be someone else typing 140 characters about how “people” can  be so mean/ stupid/ annoying etc. Then you read it and figure out “people” is a euphemism for John*,  who will likely read this thinly veiled rant-as-a-tweet and reply in kind.
But, why?

I just read a tweet on my feed from a friend about seeing through an unnamed person’s fake smiles and pretty words. Here’s the thing: why not just let the faker know in person that you see their game and move on?  Why do you always have to declare your moment of clarity online? Counter-intuitively, in the same way social media is supposed to be linking us more than ever, it’s ebbing away at the social skills that would’ve let Adam know Eve was miffed versus stoked.

The world wide web is our favourite invisibility cloak, under which we shout our hurt and displeasure to the world. Somehow it’s easier to let it all out with a hand-picked display picture in our place rather than our actual furrowed brow. But you know what? What about the fake smiles and pretty words we tell ourselves when we don’t have enough honesty to really look ourselves in the mirror? I’ve been through my fair share of fakers but the older I get the more conscious I am of what I say about them, and to whom. The allure of venting via status change has got to be reevaluated; many times one will realize the issue just isn’t that serious in the long run. Fakers can change into better people. Meanies might grow up. And if you first examined whether this point of offense is part of your modus operandi in any way before you hustled over to the little blue bird,  that’s 10 points to you for good sense.

* Ironic change of name to protect identity 🙂

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