I'm a bit unwell. I need more sleep and some pancakes. Some cheese will be great too.
(thank you, Josh)
The beach was a lot dirtier than I expected it to be. My family would frequent this beach when I was younger and we’d collect hermit crabs and empty shells (I know, it’s not the smartest thing to do, but I didn’t know any better. So get off my back). But I didn’t see any hermits there that day. No hint of any of them.
Years ago, this place was the place for a budget beach holiday. We’d rent a bungalow, eat some battered shrimps, burn some mosquito coils, play with some stray puppies and catch a few jellyfish. But this time when I returned with a bunch of friends, freaks and friends, the bungalow seemed smaller. And the ping-pong table that I used to race hermits on became a proper ping-pong table. Except that I can’t play proper (or just don’t talk to me when I'm playing).
So here are some photos from the beach.
This is Dinesh, a kid I befriended at the beach. He was really shy when I pointed the camera at his face. So I lied to him. When he thought I was done shooting his back, he’d turn to face me and I’d press my shutter down. Eventually he found out and ran away from the camera. But he loved seeing himself in the camera and insisted I show it to him again and again. He kept asking me why I wanted his photo. But I see myself in him. We have much in common.
I will upload more photos when I get the Holga shots developed.
A friend sent me this the other day. I don’t know what it is like to lose one of my five senses. Without sight, the world seems stranger than it already is. I love taking photos and drawing and I don’t know if I will cease to be me if I can no longer do those things. Am I defined by my dis/abilities or something else?
So I tried to go blind.
And my skirt was caught in some wire mesh. Embarrassing.
Here’s the step-by-step guide to experience seeing beyond sight:
1. Blindfold yourself.
Wear shades or tape your eyes shut.
2. Go out in public and make your way in the world.
Go 1 block, 1 hour or 1 roll of film; go with a friend or alone; make up your own process.
3. Photograph things you notice. And, just notice.
What do you notice differently about objects, people, actions, interactions?
4. Embrace the whole experience as much as the picture taking.
Engage. Have a conversation with people you encounter. Take it all in.
5. Share your story.
For each photograph write a caption about your experience - a few lines or several paragraphs if you want.
6. Challenge some friends to do it.
Email them the link: sf0.org/seeingbeyondsight
I will be away at a rented bungalow with 30+ people this weekend. We have the beach and a barbecue pit. I have a Holga and no batteries.
When I told the kids that we were going to clean up the park, they sulked. Bad idea. But it’s ok to be unpopular, I figured. So there we went walking to the park in a row and me looking silly with a huge black plastic bag tied to my sling-bag.
The strangers who were staring at us must be thinking how cruel it was to subject these kids to such punishment. Picking crap, sheesh.
Then one kid asked me why. I told him that the park is dirty and if we want to play here, we need to do our part and clean this place up. He bought it. When others saw him picking up thrash, they followed suit. From sulky kids, they turned into eager garbage collectors. Like children on an Easter egg hunt, every candy wrapper and plastic bottle were like treasures. They were/are amazing.
After getting our hands dirty, we headed to the skate ramps. Climbing up the ramp, they slide down on they backs. When tired, they laid their bodies outstretched on the ramps with their faces looking up to the sky. This is heaven.
One guy even allowed these kids to hijack his skateboard while he took cigarette breaks. After a while, he’d take the skateboard back and show them how it’s done. But the kids still prefer to sit on the skateboard in twos (and sometimes threes). And the guy didn’t mind. We need more people like that.
When we bought them ice-creams, I thought to myself how I should also get myself some. But before I could take out my wallet, one kid shoved an ice-cream to my face, insisting that I share it with him. Soon, every kid started to shove his or her ice-cream to my mouth. They wanted to feed me. I was/am just blown away. I told them that they’re amazing. We all laughed. Two boys gave me flowers they picked from the park on several occasions that day. One of them even covered my car seat with white flowers (I love white flowers). I don’t know why they did it, but I think they will do well romantically when they grow up.
I think these kids ministered to me more than the other way around. They have a way of showing what love is like, rather than what love is not. While it’s always easier to finger-point and say what love is not, many a times we don’t even know what love looks like. And love is not like an illusive beast, Bigfoot or Nessy. It’s here in all the likely places and we only make it hard to find because we think love is hard to come by. I get uncomfortable when I hear preachers say that the only truth is found in the Bible. I don’t know how to respond to that because I keep hearing/seeing truth and love in people, music, art and books. Or comics. And all of these only echo the kind of love and truth that is Jesus. (Speaking of which, everyone reading this should check out Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible. Good stuff. ‘Intervention’ and ‘No Cars Go’ are currently on my loop.)
Before I left them, Saras came up to me and asked for a sayang (in Malay, it means deep love and care. Also an adjective). I thought she meant that she wanted me to sayang her, but instead she gave me a hug and planted a kiss on my cheek. I came here wanting to give love, but I received love instead. The dictionary will tell you that ‘thank you’ in Malay is terima kasih, but that doesn’t even mean much. Terima kasih means receive(d) love or acceptance. I've never found a more appropriate time to use it than now.
The day started off all hot and humid. By the time I was ready to leave the office, the sky unplugged itself and released its weight of glory. My shoes were soaked and I had to roll up my jeans like a fashionable fisherman.
Fantabulous freak weather.
That’s my sister. She has a love-hate relationship with her keloid. She hates it because it reminds her of the dog chase and that it makes her self-conscious when wearing skirts. She loves it because she thinks her keloid can tell the weather. It hurts like needles when it’s cold or when it’s about to rain. She will tell you that I made it all up, but I know she believes this with all her heart. While photographing her and doing some gymnastics in the car, I broke my mom’s vintage belt. The leather just snapped. I'm still hurting.
Here are some photographs I received today… um, I mean, yesterday. It’s still Friday for some. My friend, Josh, is in Uganda spreading his photography germs and providing humor to the orphans there like a good ambassador. I'm sharing about it here because it makes sense to me. Because sometimes/more often than not, the good news is in a bare-foot soccer match, a shared ice-cream, a new shirt, a smile and even in an arm stretched across the shoulder of a new-found friend. Or in this case, a Polaroid.
I also like how the colors from these photographs contrast the ones of my day. In one part of the world it is raining and in another remote area, sunshine is eternal. It reminds me that other countries really do exist beyond travel television, guidebooks and maps, and how real people dwell there. Real people with stories put a face to a country.
It’s almost 5am and I should be sleeping, I know. And I'm sorry that it’s already Friday (for some) when I post this up.
Thursday was fun. I had a simple lunch: honey and peanut butter charcoal toasts, two soft-boiled eggs and a glass of refillable iced lemon tea. Anything with peanut butter is fun. And anything refillable is perfect.
To not bore you any longer, here are some photos of what happened on Thursday (still sorry that it’s already Friday).
I was at Laundry after work/dinner because my friend insisted that I must not miss a Tempered Mental gig. Not my kind of music, but Melina William knows how to work those magic fingers. She’s fast. Very fast. Did I say impressive?
Before the gig, I spent some much needed time at Borders and I picked out Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution. As I was reading bits here and there, I was reminded of one of my favorite books, The White Rose (die Weiße Rose). I found it in the Goethe Institute in KL, but I don’t know if the book can be found in your regular bookstore (edit: I just found it here). It’s one of those books that causes the idealist in me to rise up and not feel alone. The kind that makes you want to rise up with fists or hold a vigil. (I've done the latter, but never given the former a chance—yet). It’s about people believing in a cause greater than themselves and working “against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism”. Against dehumanization.
I could run for Miss World. Almost.
So anyway, this weekend we’re taking the kids from the home out to the park. Instead of simply roughing it out, climbing the monkey bars, seesawing, swinging or going crazy (those are oh so important!), we’re giving them (and ourselves) a chance with the rubbish bags. We’d be picking other people’s crap. Malaysian parks are very colorful, we have candy wrappers everywhere.
Yes, we’re (always) looking for more people to help us out. If you’re free on Saturday evening, let me know. Yes, you.
And my hair still stinks of cigarettes.
Today is a good day to learn and enjoy.
I was doing some reading this morning about the Pentecost and grasped a little of what it meant to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And the interesting part is that it has little (or nothing) to do with tongues but more of feeding the poor and helping the needy. I'm enjoying how reading the new takes me back to the old and vice versa.
And I also read about how to live is to walk. It helps keep me in perspective on where I'm going, where I've been and where I'm at now, and ultimately who I'm walking after. I'm enjoying how tomorrow and the entire year is not panned out. Ooh... the mystery of tomorrow.
Today I learnt to rest. When I rest, I'm not defined by what I do or the multiple roles I play. I'm enjoying how I don’t have to be anything or anyone else. And it’s ok.
The weather is extremely hot today. It didn’t rain and the sky was rather hazy in the morning. So most people don’t enjoy conversations about the weather (I hear they think it’s shallow), but I like watching the weather forecast on tv. I think it’s as therapeutic as watching a cooking program. Or as mind-numbing and pacifying as getting a haircut.
In the afternoon, nine people were reported dead from the earthquake that hit Sumatra, Indonesia. A while ago, the death toll rose to 70. All I felt from the quake was a slight tremor that made me giddy. It only lasted a few seconds, but enough to make some of us walk/run out of the office. Then I realized what an idiot I am when I escaped with my iPod in hand. Of all things.
I'm so messed up.
And I'm so sorry it took six tents in a soccer field to help me figure it out.
The best/truest thing I've read/heard today: "I have been where you are".
And He's still here.
Everyday my journey home from work finds me under a new kind of sky. The sun, cloud, weather and color differ from time to time. Sometimes I even get to see the moon, but this usually happens in the early mornings when the moon prefers to linger a little longer than usual. It’s always nice to see the sun and moon together on the same horizon. It also makes me wonder what people on the other side of the world are seeing.
So this is Monday. I'm hoping that I will be consistent enough to do an entire week. At least till this Friday.
There was a rainbow against dark rain clouds in the east. Moments later, I turned around the bend and it disappeared. It’s fun trying to catch a rainbow from a moving vehicle. You people should try it sometime. Just leave the driving to someone else.
Yes, home is a warm feeling. It follows you wherever you go like body odor, only nicer. To add more niceness, this (.pdf) is one of the best chapter of a book that I've read. Usually I cry at the end of a book, but I cried at this first chapter. It has to be something. I'm not fond of stalkers, but I found this project to be sweet and even romantic. People can be so lonely, sometimes.
I had lunch alone the other day. I bought a box of fried vermicelli from the 7-11 below my office and ate it in the tiny room we call a pantry. Eating a RM1.80 meal in a tiny space can be pretty cozy. I got to read the backs of cereal boxes and found out that our large toe is vital to our body as it helps us balance and keeps us from falling. Also, did you know that the fastest muscle in the body is the eye muscle? Anyway, I didn't know. But I love fun facts.
Then I caught sight of an ant in the sugar jar. It was the only black in the white landscape. The lid was shut and it was all the sugar an ant could take—and more. But it wasn't enjoying it. It was circling the circumference of the glass jar again and again. When the ant was satisfied with moving horizontally, it traveled vertically. Up and down and up and down again.
I've always thought ants loved sugar, but this one certainly looked like it only wanted out. Perhaps it had its share and had enough. Maybe it was having a sugar high. Maybe it thought that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Maybe it wasn't good to/for the ant. I found myself empathizing with it.
So I opened the lid.
The amazing thing about the ant was not that it escaped, but that it did not (or made any effort to) carry a single sugar crystal out with it. The ant left empty handed and headed towards the unknown, where everything looked like giants. It's as though the ant thought that it was more dangerous to live in the sugar jar of comfort and abundance than in a strange place without a back-up plan.
And it was probably right.