March 28, 2010

The Rubaiyat of Oman Khayyam

Ok, I cheat, what I have are not the originals, but when I first read a selection all those years ago in Grade 10 Literature (yeah, we're cool like that), I was hooked. I love how he can communicate so much in such short stanzas. In case you don't know what this collection of 'Rubaiyat' or quatrains were originally written by the a fore mentioned Oman Khayyam (pretty self explanatory title, eh?) until they were 'freely adapted' by Fitzgerald in 1875, when he was attributed authorship. The collection is largely about how life is short and how we should live it. I share a few of my favourites:

Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certian, the the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, Sans Song, Sans Singer, and - sans End!

March 27, 2010

The Smiles and Sobs of Children

There are a lot of things I could say about this idea; children have the universal power to make people, especially women, smile and empathize. I'm totally serious! Next time a kid does something cute, chances are all the guys look and laugh, and the women are smiling knowingly. I just wish that children would always inspire happy thoughts.

To the tales of the day!

We had a group of Canadian Parliamentarians come visit one of our schools on Thursday that they had help fund. Technically it's only our school in the way that we run it, but some fancy architect built it. Out of Bamboo.

The Canadians come, look around, and talk to the kids for a while, before one of them asks "Do you know what two languages are spoken in Canada?"

The kids look around and scratch their heads for a bit, before one gets up the courage to shout "Thai!"

We all laugh, and he asks the question again. Same reaction, and another kid shouts "Thai!"

For kids like this, the whole world is only what they know, and so what they know makes the whole world.

Then at Mass today I find out that two 12 year old boys at Mercy raped a little 5 year old girl. Where they learned this, I have no idea, but the kids decided that they didn't want people like that living with them, and so the boys are gone.

A dear friend of mine was raped, and years later it still affects her perceptions of men, and of humanity; I hate to think how a 5 year old girl will be effected by this. It's a theft, of her health, her dignity, and of her faith in mankind, so how do we restore that?

March 19, 2010

Plans, Plans, and the Choice to make the Plans

You know the feeling you get when you make a plan? For some people, its a mild form of internalized panic as you feel the doors and windows shutting. For others, it feels like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Sometimes it's pure, paralyzing fear. I have to admit, in the past year I can think of innumerable instances when I've had to make a choice and felt each of these different ways.

I'm at a point in my life when choices have to be made, and believe me, putting your head in the sand does help at all. It's hard to believe it's been scarcely 6 months since I was sitting in a dry bathtub in a Singapore hotel room crying my heart out because of missed opportunities.

Some days I look back on the decisions I've made, to come to Thailand, to stay with JW, to not play Basketball, to apply to LSE; sure, some of them weren't the best choices to make, but when I think about it, I'm a relatively happy, healthy person.More importantly, the world hasn't ended.

As terrifying as making plans, and the necessary choices can be, that's the important thing to remember. The world goes bumpity bump,(in Father Joe's words), no matter what happens.

The last few days have involved calls to my mum in which she first asks me "Have you heard anything from universities yet?", to which I honestly reply no. She then tells me "About this summer . . . Em and I (insert positive or negative) coming to Canada with you. " Three times that's changed, and each times its another loop on the emotional roller coaster.

I met A's mum Y on Saturday, as she's in Bangkok for a week to certify a school. I woke her up at 9, and we talked solid until 5. And you know what we talked about?


Plans about getting a job, plans about university, plans about JW and A, plans for Mum, choices that we all have to make in order to make the necessary plans.

I guess there just comes a point when you just have to sit down, buckle up, and breathe before the next turn comes and you've fallen out of the car.

March 17, 2010

Technology in Little Hands

Just got some pictures from the Kindergarten; whoever said young, poor kids don't enjoy or learn from technology was simply being ridiculous.

At F-12:
Favourite TV show? Tom and Jerry.
Favourite programme? Paint.



Not much going on today, but I'll just leave you with this answer to the following fill in the blank from a normally taciturn student:

Question: "I'm not ready yet. Could you_____________a little longer?"
Answer: "Sit down and shut up"


March 16, 2010

Issues and Jealousy

So I've been reading some blogs lately. . .

Ok, I admit, lots of blogs. Some are absolutely hilarious, some inspiring, some, (like this one) boring. But my favourites, are freaking inspiring. Can I really be that boring? I'm having some serious blogging jealousy right now.

What have I been doing recently? Well,
  • Dodging Red Shirt protesters on the five minute walk to work. Yesterday they started collecting witch-doctored blood to throw and government employees, and on Friday they were paying people to hand over their ID cards and put on a Red Shirt. ( okok, not really true. I haven't seen any protesters, but the blood and pay offs are real)
  • Having lunch with the Canadian Ambassador to Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos. I'm a political player! Dream come true! I mean, the only reason I was there was because I'm the only Canadian at Mercy, but I did get invited to a press op with some Canadian MPs and a reception at the Ambassador's house next week. Yes, I am excited, and no, I have nothing to wear. Any ideas?
  • Organizing new classes, one teaching a girl who, as I learned today, can't speak any English, and another with our newest student at Pearson College. More work, less fun; a day in the life of an unpaid volunteer!
  • Researching options for a possible trip to Myanmar at the end of the month. I have to go to the border to check on my visa anyways, and I'll never be closer than here, so why not? In the words of my fellow high school Myanmar adviser, "Myanmar Rules!"
So that's what I've been up to, which, when I think about it, are dealing with some big issues of the day. Any thoughts on these world changing topics? (ignore the third point, just so you know, my classes won't have a world wide effect). I mean, as Dom Marquis said,

The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race.

Judging by the blood on the doorstep, that could certainly be true!


March 10, 2010

Walking on . . . Graduation caps?!

Kindergarten graduated yesterday. . . Is it weird that I was more excited than they were? Of course, they had to go to school today which is something of a buzz kill, but I am so happy because of it.

Didn't have to go anywhere in the morning, and I canceled my classes in the afternoon (which turned out to be a really smart thing to do). Straightened my hair for the first time by myself (hey, I was bored), and I have to admit: even though I looked freakishly like my sister, I felt hot. Which is awesome, because if there's one thing volunteering does is bleach you of your sexy. Heels and straight hair, all the way baby.

Went around 11:30, and we got all the kids dressed in their little caps and gowns. Out of the 267 kids at our school, we had 77 graduates yesterday, and I was proud of every single one of them.

Parents brought huge bouquets of flowers and stuffed animals (how they fit in a bouquet is simply amazing), and there were about a thousand pictures taken. It this case, heels were not a smart thing; made me even taller than them and made leaning down incredibly dangerous. I always find it interesting how people I have absolutely no relation to want my picture sometimes. I took pictures with cute but random babies and total strangers, as well as really cute soon-to-be graduates.

Lined them all up, socked feet neat and tassels securely hung for the walk into the meeting room for the ceremony. Now, I generally when you have 150 kids in a room for over three hours in very cramped quarters they're likely to get ansty. Not these ones; they were all incredibly patient and quiet. We had some who were on the road to Dreamland, all of which simply increased my pride. Its absolutely hilarious how almost none of them smiled, and those who did fought for a while before just beaming.

*This picture was taken after the whole thing was over and they were waiting to take their own pictures; smile barrier broken.*

Father Joe gave a speech after handing out all the diplomas with the general message of 'stay in school!' It was totally awesome though because I understood most of what he was saying, like this gem:

Even if you're hungry and people are doubting you, always learn. . .
When we stop learning, what's to keep us going?

My opinion on the matter?

I love my kids!


March 8, 2010

Net Mouse

So, when I was little my Dad stayed in a house full or computers, of varying degrees of completion and usefulness. After we moved and he got remarried, he bought up a dying computer store. The place loses money like crazy and they're constantly renovating the place with his new Zen/Buddhist style, but it means the computers have another place to live, instead of functioning as a perfect table when eating illegal, sugary cereal. Back in those days I called myself a Net Mouse.

Dad was a Net Rat. Perceptive little kid I was back then.

A few years ago I spent the summer living with them and working in the store assembling machines and installing XP on machines whose owners had realized Vista sucks.

I thought those days were over; Mum never ceases to remind me that I've never been particularly technical, my computer sucks, and I don't fix things either.

Haha! Today was different! I gave the Kindergartners computers! I gave life! (metaphorically, of course)

10 second hand desktops, that just need a couple extension cords to be fully operational. Take that nay-sayers!

My hands were ridiculously dirty and they were feeding me half ripe green mango, but my dignity did not suffer. I'm a god today.

Plus, while waiting for the rest of the world to wake up this morning, I watch the Keira Knightly "Pride and Prejedice."

W arm and Fuzzy today, my friend. So warm and fuzzy that I leave you with this from the 1978 Farmer's Almanac :

To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

That's so true too.


March 7, 2010

An Introduction to Thursdays

Thursdays . . . I've always liked Thursdays. Somehow they're always good days. At school there was always Assembly or ELSR Day or Volleyball or some sort of event, which meant that the beautiful afternoon was almost never spent in academic pursuits.

Here, Thursdays are Home Visit Days, on which yours truly joins a Community Health and Development Centre (CHDC) team on one of their daily visits to one of our contacts with HIV/AIDS who are well enough to live outside the hospice on their own or with family. Normally that team consists on NK and Y, two wonderful ladies with varying levels of English. NK herself has AIDS, two boys, and some non-malignant form of Cervical Cancer. She doesn't skimp on the details and certainly doesn't hold back.

Anyways, this Thursday I went with NK, Y, and T (NK's old partner in visit) to visit three people. One was relatively close to Mercy, and lived by herself in the back room of a restaurant, for some reason cluttered with hairdressing equipment. She picked up work at the restaurant, but kept forgetting to take her pills and thinking about worrying about her boyfriend. It never ceases to amaze me how many older Thais have relationships; in the West, after about the age of 40 having a boyfriend is rare, but this woman was at least that.We talked to her for about half an hour, checked her temperature, and set an alarm to remind her about her meds. We also left her a care package of Thai essentials, instant noodles and Baby powder! With a few other things tossed in too.

Next stop was was visit a Lady Boy at work in China Town. He worked at a cosmetic wholesaler (Y bought 800 baht worth of diet pills from him), and there was a big difference in the visit. No paperwork, no checking meds, just a casual conversation between friends. It lasted no more than 10 minutes; I felt so bad being the only Farang in sight, I drew attention to the conversation. I amused myself playing with a dog on the street in a feeble attempt to seem unconnected.

Chinatown is . . . pretty much a huge string of markets that makes for a shopper's paradise. Its full of wholesalers, who sell huge quantities to people for resale (I've twice seen similar bags, at lest fifty of them, being taken by three little ladies on Tunisian Air; I see the connection now!). At this point it kind of changed from a work trip to a shopping venture, not that that's a bad thing!

When we finally emerged from the tangle, we took a Tuk Tuk past the Grand Palace (yes, I took the flak for still not having been) to Tamasat University for Lunch. Ferry across the river to Siraj Hospital, temporary home of the Thai King during his series of illnesses that have kept him hidden away for most of my time here. Bussed past NK's home to a gas station where our third lady was working at the car wash. She had strange colouring on her hands, and was complaining of shaky legs. Our conversation was maybe 5 minutes because she was surrounded by co-workers, but it was a relatively jovial meeting.

Bussed back, just in time for my five o'clock class with the international girls.

Now, this is rather unusual, but I also went with them on Friday this week. Two women were healthy enough to leave the hospice, but because neither had any family or support network we took them to another foundation called WE-TRAIN, where they would learn a trade and live until they could get a job and home of their own. We also took a woman to a distant hospital so she could pick up her daughter's medication. This is where Mercy is useful; she didn't even think of asking the doctor to sign the papers so she could get the meds at the same hospital they get their IVs, and much closer.

The stint at the hospital took almost 4 hours, so I wandered down to the first floor and ended up making and teaching others how to make paper air-fresheners that look like little polo shirts. It was fun, and I might have to teach some more people here for resale. It was fun though; I doubt they get many Farangs out there, so everyone came over to practice their English. . . The White Girl's Burden I guess.

We made it home, through heavy traffic, at 7 o'clock. The result? One very tired volunteer who fell asleep waiting to go to the bathroom. Barely made it up for the Fast this morning, but it was totally worth it.

Quote tine! The CHDC is by far the most organized department. What did NK and Y's records show for the month of March?

Only one person died this month.

March 2, 2010

Fasting Day One

So, in case you haven't got this yet (though I probably can't blame you if you didn't), I'm a Baha'i. No, that does not mean I'm a cult member and likely to eat your children during a sacrifice to a satanic statue; its a genuine religion, and I'm proud to be a member.

If you want to know more about it, ask. Otherwise, I'll simply leave you with this quote by Abdu'l-Baha, which I use as guidance whenever I can:

"To be a Baha'i simply means to love all the world, to love humanity and try to serve it, to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood."

Anyways, part of being a Baha'i is Fasting. It is, I suppose, our equivalent of Lent or Ramadan. Starting at the age of 15, for 19 days (one Baha'i month) we don't eat or drink from sun rise to sunset.

It started today, and I, being a total idiot, didn't wake up before 6:30 like I was supposed to in order to eat. So now it's 12 o'clock, 33 degrees, and I haven't eaten or drunk anything today. Note to self, tomorrow WAKE UP!


March 1, 2010

News Flash

Sorry its been so long for the no one reading this; the internet's been really crazy and most of my communication with people has been over the phone. . . with my mum.

Not entirely true; A called on Thursday and we talked for two hours. She did another silly thing that I had to mock her for, but considering the summer plans currently incubating in my mother's brain, I may get to see her as early as May!

Anyways, a short catch up of the past week:

JW hasn't e-mailed all week.

Wrote my first resume ever for a job I can't even remember the specifics of that, in all likelihood, I won't get.

I've been to a total of three Baha'i functions in the last few days (with another one tonight). Sure, its the holiday season, but does it have to be so busy? It's certainly not helping with the loneliness I feel seeing as I've had maybe 4 personal e-mails in past week.

Its a Buddhist holiday today, so I stayed at home all day chilling and feeling sorry for myself.

I've realized my life sucks.

Canada is really good at the winter Olympics.

Tomorrow is the start of my new fast induced diet, which also includes staying away from 7 Eleven for three weeks. Needless to say I've stocked up.

And there's this Bahai guy that I cannot help but look forward to seeing. A result of item one? Unknown, but I'm really feeling screwed. Have to see him tonight too.

So yeah, that's my hellish life :)