Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At This Point In My Life

"At this point in my life, I'd like to live as if only love mattered,
As if redemption was inside, as if the search to live honestly is all that anyone needs
No matter if you find it
See when I've touched the sky, the earth's gravity has pulled me down
But now I've reconciled that in this world birds and angels get the wings to fly
If you can believe in this heart of mine
If you can give it a try
Then I'll reach inside and find and give you all the sweetness that I have
Oh, At this point in my life
At this point in my life
------------------------------------Tracy Chapman

It is late evening and I am seated at the Coffee Korner in PP rediscovering my ability to eat and drink. I am just recovering from my bout of that damn fever and I am pondering the workings of the universe. I belong out here; I know it and I feel it so strongly that I am puzzled as to why events have conspired to send me back to the beginning. It's as if I am merely a piece in a cosmic game of snakes and ladders. Most people get to a point in life when they try to figure out what it all means; they want their lives to make sense and it's not uncommon for someone to come to the conclusion that it's all meaningless. Life seems so random that the idea that there's a grand design to it is a bitter pill to swallow. I have had my moments of despair when nothing has made sense to me and I have come to the conclusion that it's all about the moments. This belief has served me well for a long while but it cannot any longer. There must be something more.

It is late evening and I am seated in the waiting room of Kampala Coach in Nairobi, my bus ride is still hours away and it has been one hell of a journey to get to this point. I am still disappointed that I'm back on this continent but here I am. I decide to pen a few thoughts to while away the time and put something in my tummy as well. I meet Rama whose mother runs the restaurant and I prompt him for his story and then something is revealed to me. I have been feeling it for a while now, a sense that something is happening to me that I do not yet understand. I have come the 360 degrees and suddenly there it is in front of me. I have come to a realisation that I am merely an instrument of the universe, that it moves me and points the way to the places I must go. Certain things begin to make sense now and I see the path that lies before me, I am here for a reason and if it is all to be worth it there are things that I must do.

At this point in my life, I believe that the universe moves me. That my life is no longer simply my own and that there is a grand design to this thing we call life. Perhaps my mind has gone vacationing on the other side but I simply believe that I have been called on to do the best I can. We, my dear friends, you and I are going to do something that will change one life for the better and will hopefully be the beginning of something bigger than ourselves. I will be in touch.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It’s in the words

I have a friend who doesn't listen to the lyrics of songs; she simply loves the rhythm and melody. I guess I can understand that, I like Henri Dikongue's music and I don't have a clue what he's talking about but he can pick that damn guitar. However for the most part the words are what matters most to me. The rhythm and melody hook me and then the words reel me in until I am awash with raw emotion and energy. I feel the words as if I was reading poetry and the emotions just seep through the artist's voice. Sometimes I identify with a song to such an extent that it becomes intricately woven into the fabric of my life, it's as if the words were written for me and those moments in my life. Sometimes the words simply say you're not alone, other times they allay my fears and give me hope and every so often they inspire me and point the way. These songs obviously become all time favourites.

I was stuck in airport terminal thousands of miles away just the other day and so with all the time in the world I scoured the internet for something to while away the time. Facebook excels in this respect and I'm sure many companies have experienced a decline in employee productivity due to this marvellous application. Anyway I found an application on FB that allows you to make all sorts of top 5, worst 5 and probably even mediocre 5 lists that you can then share with your friends and get them to waste 30 minutes or so of company time. But what the hell, all work and no play eh? So I made top 5 lists of all sorts of things and when I did one on favourite songs I found that I had so many songs I liked that I decided I would hazard a top 20 list on this here blog and get some of you to do the same (and nick another 30 mins). Let me see how far I can go down this rabbit hole:

  1. Angel – Sarah McLachlan

    This has been the theme song of my life for a long time. There is a certain melancholy to it that I somehow always identify with and I have a thing for sad songs. I have been in the arms of the angel and found comfort there. I first came across it while watching "City of Angels" and the moment I heard it, I knew I had to find this song. I waited for the credits until I got the title and artist and I have since been a Sarah McLachlan fan. In fact the movie soundtrack was the first CD I ever bought.


  2. Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen

    This is the most romantic song I have ever listened to. Sometimes I prefer the one with the voiceovers from the movie "Jerry Maguire" and other times the original is just as intoxicating. It brings back memories of a more innocent time when I believed that if two people loved each other, then nothing else mattered. It was a time when I watched romantic movies featuring the likes of Drew Barrymore and I felt all mushy and warm inside. It reminds me of conversations I had with Carol back in A' level, of writing down the lyrics and having her giggle and say "Secret Garden" in a naughty way.


  3. You Move Me – Susan Ashton

    I can't recall when I first heard this beautiful song but I fell in love with it. I remember being told it was a gospel song and that being atheist it should be out of my sphere. "It is a love song" I said "And I am very much a believer". It reminds of Jackie O back in A' level and of our conversations about the Christian God, of her writing down the words for me and her hope that I would one day see the light. Ah you cute girl, I hope he still moves you.


  4. I'd Like - Freshlyground

    I heard this song only last year and it captured all my feelings for you. I wish I had told you all these things sooner, held back by the fear of rejection I could only have you listen to it. I felt these things for years but I could not say them, I was scared of one thing only. That one day you would feel different and leave me and I would lose the will to go on. Ironic that you're now gone and I struggle for the will to continue. But I know that you felt the same things.


  5. I Cried For You – Katie Melua

    This woman has the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. This song will forever be with me. These are the words of the songstress, these are my words.


    "You're beautiful, so silently it lies beneath the shade of blue, it struck me so violently when I looked at you.
    But others pass, they never pause to feel that magic in your hand, to me you're like a wild rose they'll never understand.

    I cried for you and the sky cried for you and when you went I became a hopeless drifter.

    But this life was not for you, though I learned from you, that beauty need only be a whisper.


    I'll cross the seas for a different world with your treasure a secret for me to hold

    In many years they may forget this love of ours or that we met, they may not know how much you meant to me.

    I cried for you and the sky cried for you and when you went I became a hopeless drifter.

    But this life was not for you, though I learned from you, that beauty need only be a whisper.


    Without you now I see how fragile the world can be

    And I know you've gone away but in my heart you'll always stay

    I cried for you and the sky cried for you and when you went I became a hopeless drifter.

    But this life was not for you, though I learned from you, that beauty need only be a whisper.

    That beauty need only be a whisper"


    The sky cried for you, I crossed the seas for a different world and now I drift but I am hopeful.


  6. Falling Into You – Celine Dion

    I am a Celine Dion fan. I am not afraid to say so. I remember being gutted when I found out that she didn't write most of her songs, I had put her on a pedestal so high that I needed a ladder to reach up there and bring her down a notch or two. Nevertheless she still moves me. This one reminds me of Geri; it reminds me of those days in G.P. when we would sit and chat about anything, about our shared love of the music and my infatuation with R. It all began there; my love for you, that was the point I began to fall into you. In the end, I could not be all that you wanted and your rejection forced me to reinvent my life but that was the path I was meant to tread for it is the one that led me to her and brings me to this point. You will always be one of the most beautiful people I have ever known, I hope you have all the happiness you've ever wanted, because no one deserves it more than you. Oh, and thank you for making the music very special.


  7. Healing Song – Bebo Norman

    Another gospel entry and another beautiful song, Bebo Norman is nothing short of amazing. You can feel all his emotions when he sings. Every time I listen to him I am reminded of Diana T, of those conversations we had all the way up on P floor. I remember the discussions about God and the meaning of life, going for Cell and to KPC for the experience. Your earnest attempts to get me to see the light and you accepting me just the way I was. I remember meeting Dimples and being amazed by the purity of spirit and that sparkle. I could pick any Bebo Norman song and it would bring those memories, this one however resonates with my life.


    "And for the love, for the love God,

    Oh I've gathered up my pride, I've gathered up my bits and bones

    And in a world that broke me down, oh I'm standing up, oh but not alone

    'Cause this is a healing song and I've got a heart that fails

    But love is pushing me along; I'm lifting up above this veil

    This is a healing song, oh and I don't know if you can tell

    But love is pushing me along; I'm pressing up against the rail, pressing up against the rail"    


  8. Here With Me – Dido

    Fiona thinks Dido should be given the equivalent of a knighthood for her music, I couldn't agree more. You can never be the same after listening to her music, she tells you stories about all manner of things and when she's done something about you is changed. Dido introduced me to the internet. I was watching TV one night when I managed to catch an episode of Roswell and what captured me most was the theme song. I did the credits thing and then mounted a search for a CD, after an unsuccessful tour of the music shop (if I recall properly we only had that one on K'la Rd.) I discovered I could download it from the internet. Enter all sorts of new words like IE, P2P, CDRW, etc. Back then a blank CD cost about 20,000/= and I had no idea that one needed a CD writer to be able to burn CDs. I was fascinated with this world of computers and the internet that I ended up working in the "IT" field for years to come despite studying different stuff at campus. I have engaged in and will still engage in my fair share of copyright infringement. My apologies to all those artists, if I ever become filthy rich, I'll send you a couple of bucks until then LimeWire will do.


  9. I will always love you – Whitney Houston

    This was the theme song of my first crush ever. I was in P.7 and one day I just looked at this girl and I fell. I spent a good number of weeks day dreaming but I could not say a word. Back then such things were a no-no; in fact I remember receiving a good number of lashes for passing on a note some guy had written to some girl. Granted the contents of the note were along the lines of "girl I wanna make you sweat, sweat till you can't sweat no more..." but I was merely a link in the delivery chain. The girl on receiving this note screamed and ran to the teachers who promptly decided that anyone who had touched this note was complicit in this 'crime'. I pleaded my innocence vociferously stating the fact that I did not possess X-Ray vision and could therefore not have known what the note contained but inevitably I had to succumb and receive my share. Damn you Mr. Mpagi! Anyway my crush lasted a whole term before I let it go but I will always remember.


  10. Baby Can I Hold You – Tracy Chapman

    Okay, who does not like this song or Tracy Chapman for that matter? This one, along with other classics by Abba and Whitney Houston, reminds me of my mother. She loved this music, I recall spending weekends listening to these songs and having a blast. This is one song that I would really love to be able to play on the guitar. It is simply timeless.


  11. Angel – DMX feat Regina Bell

    I remember telling a friend of mine once that if I had any religious inclination, this song would inspire me endlessly. Rap music is normally associated with violent, shallow and sexually explicit content and with good reason. I mean, what the hell do you do with a song like "I get money" by 50Cent? It was the worst song I heard in 2007. However this particular time, DMX dug deep, sifted through his life and soul and came up with something to inspire. To this day, I am moved by the passion with which he delivers these words.


  12. Where Is The Love – Celine Dion

    Yes, here she is again, wowing me to the moon. She asks, "If ever the river could whisper your name, would the choices you make still be the same?" This one will forever remind me of Sheila back in my S.4 Vac. It is nice to be young and in love.


  13. Dear Mama – 2 Pac

    For all those who have been and will forever be my mothers.


  14. King Of Sorrow – Sade

    "I want to cook you a soup that warms your soul" There's a line that I will never forget. Thank you Jacque for telling me that "Beyond every mountain climbed, there's another waiting to be conquered" I hope I never lose the desire to conquer these mountains.


  15. Let It Flow – Toni Braxton

    The first song I ever heard on CD. It was back in school and we had gone to a certain girl's school for a function. I remember the clarity of the sound, beautiful stuff. I love Toni's husky voice and the song reminds me of my cousin Jimmy who was my best friend back when I used to stay with a certain uncle of mine. Those were the days of discovery, of awakening to an inner spirit and beginning a journey of self discovery that has led me to this point.


  16. Doggy Dog World – Snoop Doggy Dog

    I used to be hip in my younger days; I was on top of most things hip especially the music. I had a knack for listening to rap songs and getting the lyrics. I remember my classmates asking me to write down the lyrics to songs like 'C u when u get there' by Coolio. I was cool! However my foray into rap music all started with that album 'Doggystyle' by Snoop and this was my favourite song. I can still rap it from start to finish.


  17. River – Natalie Merchant

    No one sings a sad ballad like this lady. The first time I ever heard her, I was sampling my aunt's music collection. I put her Tigerlily album into the CD player and pressed play, in 5 seconds I was hooked for life. She simply begins "San Andreas Fault" humming and its beautiful stuff. River is dedicated to River Phoenix, a promising Hollywood actor who died of a drug overdose in the early 90s. It is a moving song.


  18. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls

    Another entry off the "City of Angels" soundtrack, however this one reminds of the Rick Dees show that was my rock music source for a long time.


  19. Lay Down Beside Me – Alison Krauss & John Waite

    Another timeless song that reminds me of Don Williams who vaguely reminds me of my father, I also recall that you loved this song.


  20. Just Dance – Lady Gaga

    Because it tells me you're okay and I should just dance.

There are tons of songs that I feel should be on this list, like Anything Can Happen, Nantongo, Like a Woman, Don't Speak, My Favourite Mistake, 3 Little Birds, etc. I'll stick with this one for now and if I were to change anything it would probably be among the last 6 songs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The People Will Rise!

Phnom Penh (PP) is hot, humid, and dirty and most of it smells. That's the first thing you notice about it. You get used to the smell after a while; it becomes a minor irritation at the back of your mind that only pops up once in a while when you're in the poorer parts of the city. I think it arises from the fact that the drainage system is almost nonexistent, apparently when the government put out a tender for a company to do the drainage system, the prospective companies engaged in a bidding war and the winner realised that it was going to be impossible to do a proper job for the amount they had quoted. Their solution was to dig a bunch of holes several feet deep where the water would collect. As a result most streets flood every time it rains and you have to wade through ankle high water and sometimes worse. The heat and humidity can't be helped; it's a climate thing, light clothing is key, it's actually quite common to see the Cambodian boys and men topless in the afternoons playing with water hoses (the boys of course), I wish I could partake. I was anxious to sample the food and my first meal of the staple noodles and beef disappointed me. I was dripping in the sweltering heat by this point and proceeded to ask for a glass of the coldest water, the waitress brought me a glassful of ice and a jug of hot water! I could not express my disbelief due to the language barrier but considering the state of the establishment it was the best they could do. I poured the water over the ice and waited for it to cool. I had a couple of delicious meals later on from more respectable establishments the best of which was Mi Char, the classic noodles with beef which was lovely. The food is cheap though, the Mi Char set me back $1.95 and this was at one of the nicer places that even had air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Dollars are actually the currency of choice because the Riel is {insert fancy economic term here; I can't be bothered to think it up now}. The 'Russian Market' which is 10 meters from where I was staying is a one stop point for everything, and it's bloody cheap. Having been on a shoestring budget, my plan was to have all my meals there and purchase anything I needed there. I figured I could spend at most $3 on food per day and I would be covered for a good 4 months. Other wares range from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to Buddha statuettes. The clothes are all designer because all the damn factories are here so a pair of GAP jeans costs about $10 and a pair of good sandals will set you back $5. Next time I come, I will pack two pairs of jeans and one of shoes and buy everything else here.

The first Sunday I was here I went exploring with two of my classmates; Niall Crotty and Ray Frost. We went up to the Boeng Kak lakeside in the northern part of PP and gradually made our way to the Tonle Sap riverside in the east to celebrate Amy's (classmate) birthday at the Foreign Correspondents Centre (FCC). It was my third day in PP and I got the chance to me see and meet the people. Cambodians are a lovely people, warm with smiling faces and very patient. They will do their best to try and understand you and it's up to you to try and get your message across. They were constantly amused by me, I guess because I'm a big black chap and I smile a lot. There is an alarming level of poverty, there are many beggars on the street and many of them are young kids who should by all rights be in school. It's hard to come to terms with it because if you are the kind of person who can't say 'no' then you'll give all you have away until there is nothing left. I was constantly plagued by this feeling. Then there are survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, many of them disfigured or without limbs, how do you say no to them? On our way to the FCC, we met Peter, a 'Tuk Tuk' driver who told us how he was once rich and prosperous until the KR came. He lost friends and family and now tries to support those he has left by driving a 'Tuk Tuk' which was donated to him by a tourist couple from Denmark or Netherlands.

The story of the Khmer Rouge is one of mankind at his worst and I cannot delve into it here, but a quick Google search should give you an idea. The whole mess can be blamed on America and the French. Out of nothing else but sheer greed, these western powers looked to have an influence in this part of the world, the reason, chaps were finding oil all over the place so hey, why not grab a chunk of land here or there. It was obviously not as simple as that but suffice it to say that the wars in S.E. Asia which eventually led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge would not have ocurred but for the presence of the the French and the Americans and why were they there in the first place? "Because of vast Dutch oil discoveries in nearby Indonesia, first the French, then the Americans, wanted to explore the broad Vietnamese continental shelf." Of course in retrospect most monumental events can be linked by a chain of events to one cause and I bet if you went further you would come to the conclusion that we shouldn't exist at all because we as human beings are capable of the most atrocious acts. We delight in destroying and subjugating each other and there is no other animal on earth that behaves like we do. Anyway, my favourite humour site (cracked.com) lays most of last century's wars if not all at the feet of that Austrian dude whose bumping off sparked WW1, apparently with utter disregard for his life he just had to visit his buddies in the hospital right after a failed attempt on his life, his hapless driver got so lost that they ended up passing by a cafe where the main guy who had planned the assasination was having a consolation sandwich, he just couldn't believe his luck.

When the KR came to power, it set about enforcing its ideologies on the nation. The intellectuals and anyone who so much as showed an inclination towards acquiring knowledge were quickly done away with along with anyone who had ties to the former government. Urban dwellers were accused of "economic sabotage" due to their lack of agricultural ability. All ties to the outside world were cut off as the KR decided that Cambodia would become a self sufficient nation of peasant farmers. The year 1975 was declared year zero.

It is hard to believe that to this day most of the perpetrators of these crimes have not been brought to justice, in fact as a testament to the ability of these people to forgive, some live among them as if nothing had ever happened. They are kind, warm, gentle and forgiving but they can only take so much. The current government is utterly corrupt down to the very last police dog. The people are unhappy and one of these days they will realise where the power truly lies. Incidentally Cambodia is on some sort of international list of countries that could experience a revolution soon. I pray that it is peaceful, but yes the people will rise. I have come to hate the city because of some damned disease but I love these people. Rise up!

Of landmasses and conversations with ancient gods

So, I have had to cut my extended world trip short after just one month because I was afflicted by some damn disease called dengue fever and it rendered all my plans futile for now. In truth I really did not have a well laid out plan, I'm not the kind of person who does that. I don't have plan B's for most of the stuff I take on, and this one was really spur of the moment because it dawned on me that I should have been doing this shit already and I did not have any more time to waste. That coupled with the fact that I had to get away for a while made me come out here. The plan was simple:

  1. Fly to Cambodia.
  2. Do an intensive 5 week TEFL course which includes practical teaching as part of the course
  3. Volunteer with the school as a teacher for 3 months after that
  4. Find a volunteer opportunity in rural Cambodia and do that for about a year in exchange for food and shelter
  5. Learn the language (Khmer)
  6. Find my way into a monastery for another year or so after that, hopefully teach English there as well
  7. Strike out with my new found wisdom after that and explore the continent, using my teaching skills to fund my travels.
  8. Go back home after 5 years or so.
  9. Do the occasional doobie wherever I could find it

The overarching goal of this was to simply work my way through my bucket list. The hope was and still is that; I will return wiser, I will change someone's life for the better, I will write some stuff to inspire others and generations that come after, I will save a life, make this brief existence meaningful and dedicate it to one who has gone before. Anyway, the dengue ensured that I couldn't complete the course and that I also run out of money in a blink. Now that I think about it if it had all gone according to plan, I would have probably caught something else in the rural areas because I didn't get any of the relevant vaccinations and the list of the ones I need doesn't fool around. If I got one of those, I wouldn't even have the time to pen off a quick goodbye. Briefly; there's Hep A, B and C, some Japanese Encephala-something* and a few others guaranteed to literally kick the living shit out of you. At least now I know, I do not possess Wolverine's healing factor.

The good thing is that I still have a place on the course and I can do it in either August or Jan as long as I get my ass back here. Hence I'm coming home to probably do some boring stuff and hopefully gather enough green to strike out again in Jan. Um...hopefully I will have a plan B this time round but I doubt it, some habits persist.

I am still upbeat; I have now set foot on two continents and visited one house of worship. It was Wednesday afternoon that I decided to go to the post office and send some post cards and it so happens that it is near Wat Phnom from which the city gets its name. I knew it was going to be an emotional day because I wanted to find a local who spoke a modicum of English and have a conversation. Instead I found myself sitting before an array of Buddha statues and statuettes, lighting a couple of incense sticks and having a one way conversation with one who has gone before, a prayer if you will. There is something wrong with me these days; I find that I am easily overwhelmed by emotion and so I find that thinking about certain things opens the floodgates. I was reading jiny23's blog post about his friend's loss and when I went to comment on it I let loose about a litre. My machismo is down to zero for now. Anyway, I had a long conversation in that temple; I prayed for peace for those who have gone before and those of us who follow, I asked for guidance in my endeavours, for a light to show the way back and for the strength to overcome the myriad of obstacles. All the time I could not stop shedding tears and I hoped that the sweating disguised them from my fellow pilgrims. All in all, I said my bit and I left. There is a tree with the loveliest red flowers here, I don't know if I have seen it elsewhere but its beauty strikes me every time I see it. I said my goodbyes to the city, promised to return and left a few hours later. I have now been stuck in the Bangkok airport for 2 days and I feel a fever coming on. Which reminds me, the song "Fever" is forever spoilt for me because if someone gave me that fever, moreover in the morning, day and night, there would be murder!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Masterpiece of Nature

Thank you Mark, Dincy and all those of you I'm yet to discover I owe a lot. I would be stuck out here otherwise. I have truly tested my beliefs and they have held firm. I will now embark on paying it all around, back and forward.

And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship."
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

.................................Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If you're out there...

There is a general feeling the world over that the proverbial has hit the fan. Everything seems to be linked back to the economic crisis which, seeing as I really have never flown high financially, I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing first hand. In fact I seem to have acquired more material wealth in these times of crisis. Let's see, new laptop, camera, old phone, um... new shoes and automobile was in the pipeline but I opted for an extended Christmas holiday which stretched from November to mid January. However I can't deny the fact that everyone's excuse for lack of funds seems to be the credit crunch or munch as some people see it. My reasons for languishing in poverty are purely personal, I plan to become a monk so I am getting used to the idea of doing without material desires. Seriously! Anyway that said, the current global outlook has been one of doom and gloom for the past several months.

However, being the marvelous creatures that we are, we seem to dig in and use moments of adversity to propel us forward. History has several examples; in the wake of WWII, the British parliament formed the National Health Services (NHS) which is regarded the world over as an excellent model for Universal Healthcare. The civil rights movement was borne of the violence that erupted due to racial segregation and discrimination. Vietnam gave us the hippie movement and Bush, whose cardinal sin seems to be that he was short changed in the IQ department, has given way to Obama, the man of the people. The important thing to note is that each of these moments has had someone leading the way, someone with a vision and with the interests of the people at heart. It remains to be seen whether Obama will pull the US and by extension the world through these tough times, there can be no doubt that his heart is in the right place but he cannot go it alone. Hence the call to his fellow americans to help remake the nation and a global call to rest of us to help remake the world.

The point of this post is to simply ask if you are ready to do your bit and remake the world. I once asked my friend Mark if he could consider himself the person to stand up for his generation and make a change and I remember he was overwhelmed by the suggestion. I believe that each and everyone of us has the ability to make a difference, to begin today, right now and start making your world a better place. A place you will be proud to call home. Some of us are meant to lead the way, some of us are meant to inspire but each one of us can and should, bit by bit make a difference. Are you ready to heed the call and be the change you want see. It all begins with you. I give you one whose words may inspire you more than mine.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John Legend

If you're out there

If you hear this message, wherever you stand
I'm calling every woman, calling every man
We're the generation
We can't afford to wait
The future started yesterday and we're already late

We've been looking for a song to sing
Searched for a melody
Searched for someone to lead
We've been looking for the world to change
If you feel the same
Then go on and say

If you're out there
Sing along with me
If you're out there
I'm dying to believe that you're out there
Stand up and say it loud
If you're out there
Tomorrow's starting now
Now, now

No more broken promises
No more call to war
Unless it's love and peace that we're really fighting for
We can destroy hunger
We can conquer hate
Put down the arms and raise your voice
We're joining hands today

Oh I was looking for a song to sing
I searched for a leader
But the leader was me
We were looking for the world to change
We can be heroes
Just go on and say

If you're out there
Sing along with me
If you're out there
I'm dying to believe that you're out there
Stand up and say it loud
If you're out there
Tomorrow's starting now
Now, now

Oh now, now

If you're ready we can shake the world
Believe again
It starts within
We don't have to wait for destiny
We should be the change that we want to see

If you're out there
If you're out there
And you're ready now
Say it loud
Scream it out

If you're out there
Sing along with me
If you're out there
I'm dying to believe that you're out there
Stand up and say it loud
If you're out there
Tomorrow's starting now

If you're out there
If you're out there
If you're out there

If you hear this message, wherever you stand
I'm calling every woman, calling every man
We're the generation
We can't afford to wait
The future started yesterday and we're already late

Oh, I don't know who was solely responsible for the Hippie movemnt, but a thumbs up to them. The herb is holy, when done in moderation.

Veritas Aequitas

I've been tagged by Shishi and asked to tell a few truths about myself. Here goes...

  1. I am in love with one who has gone before. It's hard but I am making my peace with it.
  2. Consequently I have discovered that all I want to do with my life is help, teach, write and travel hopefully all at once
  3. I am not afraid of death. Not so long ago it was the only thing I craved though I have a sneaking suspicion that my years will be long and testing.
  4. I seem to have an overdeveloped sense of empathy and this makes me profoundly sad because I seem to feel everyone's pain. I believe that my only cure is to embrace the simple miracle of being.
  5. I don't think I will ever get married, it's something I have known as true for a very long time and events have only conspired to reaffirm this fact. But I am open minded, I know that life is as funny as it is unpredictable and so maybe one day I will say the words "I do". I also have the utmost respect for the union of two souls and I think that some people don't hold it as sacred as it is.
  6. I am afraid that I will never love another soul completely again because part of me has been taken away and I don't know if what's left is enough. I hope that one day I will heal.
  7. I believe that life only has meaning when I do things out of love, compassion and kindness. All else is futile and would leave my days empty and bereft of joy.
  8. My favorite song is Angel by Sarah McLachlan closely followed by Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen
  9. I am a hopeless romantic and sad movies make me cry. It's a lot worse these days, I seem to have gone hormonal, I break down way too easily. The Secret Life of Bees tortured me!
  10. I can't engage in small talk. It is an art that has eluded me, I like discussing serious stuff like the fate of the galaxy, whether Frodo will get the ring to mordor and then there is that damn spoon or not. Seriously small talk is hard for me, I don't even know how to start it. "Um...the weather's lovely this month?"
  11. I have always been a dreamer. I always dreamt of being a Knight of the Realm. It probably explains why I love fantasy and sci fi.
  12. I don't believe in the idea of an omnipotent God as sold by the major world religions. I have always found the christian god to be pompous and malevolent. I discarded religion when I was 14 and have since engaged in arguments concerning said being. They always end in a stalemate and numerous prayers said on my behalf. I however understand why some people need the belief.
  13. I'm done for now.
  14. I think I have said too much
  15. I feel naked
  16. Someone hand me a loincloth
  17. Please!
  18. Oh and I like sleeping in the nude!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


You said I was Superman, you said I was extraordinary, that I could do anything. You said it would be okay, that we would be fine, you did not know but you made me believe. I held your hand, I wanted to give you my life, I knelt down and for the first time in 14 years I said a prayer. I have embraced my purpose, my one reason for going on but it hurts, all the time. I cry, I am the last son of a dead planet but I bleed. I bleed.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Cambodian Secret Police!

Football may be just a game but that Norwegian referee should find a quiet corner of this planet and lay low. Tuvalu might not be a bad idea Mr. Ovredo because if I was a Chelsea fan, I would have Timothy Olyphant on your ass. For all the Man United fans, "Big is Big".

I've been in this city two weeks now and it feels like a lifetime. I don't consider myself the kind of person who falls homesick so my longing for the cooler climes of home is based on a few things. I picked up Dengue fever a few days after I arrived or on arrival, apparently it has an incubation period of about 2 weeks so I might not have had that at all but I had all the bloody symptoms and that's what matters. Phnom Penh is hot and humid; I was shocked the first morning I woke up here; I took three steps and thought I was dissolving, beads of sweat formed instantly everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and quickly coalesced into rivulets. The temperature pretty much stays the same the whole day so imagine my shock when I woke up at 3:00 am on Wednesday morning and I was freezing! I thought I was going nuts and then the headache set in and finally the body ache (from which we get the name break bone fever). Having had my first thirty minute lesson the evening before, I was looking forward to the feedback session with the trainers but after two hours of attempting to "wriggle my big toe" I jumped on a 'tuk tuk' and headed to the clinic. A few forms later; some prods and probes, a bit of hide and seek because the kind nurse had showed me to a bed while I waited for the doctor and I got to see Dr. Velez. He was a nice enough doctor, took all my information and then proceeded to tell me that I might have dengue but that could not be confirmed until I had had the fever for a few more days. At first I thought this was hospital humour, the nice doctor's attempt at a lighter bedside manner and then I slowly realized he wasn't joking. So I asked him for the other symptoms of this fever and what treatment there was. Without flinching he runs through a top ten list of things you don't want happening to you in a strange land; nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, fever, diarrhoea, intense body ache and others. Then he prescribed me pain killers and said I should take as much fluids as I could and stay in cool places. I wanted to tell him "Dude, this is the hottest city I've ever been to; I have class from 9 to 4 and teaching practice from 6 to 8 and all in very hot rooms". After getting my bill, I really wanted to throttle someone, one visit to the doctor and I was in danger of becoming destitute in a strange land, and I had to come back in 5 days!

I managed to make it to class on Thursday and discovered that I could not afford to miss one more day or I wouldn't be able to get a certificate on completion which would make the entire course moot. I had my second teaching session that evening and it was fine. I seem to have had a handle on the sweating thing but I think that was mostly the fever. Friday morning and shit hit the fan, the pain killers seemed as effective as a fly swat against Godzilla and I felt like I had been trudging across the continent but I had to make it to class! My first weekly feedback session and my trainer Emily thinks that I'm a natural! Can you believe that? Me? A natural? I think back on all the teachers that I've had and I get the image of Mr. Okello, my primary four science teacher who used to prefix my name with an O. After pointing out areas for me to improve upon, Emily lets me go get some rest. It is sad to say that was the last day I stepped in class. The idea was to recuperate over the weekend and return to class on Monday brimming with energy. Friday was the beginning of something else; "halluciNation" is what I will call it. It all started innocently enough, someone whispering my name and giving me information about the Cambodian Secret Police and then somehow finding myself a member of it. Before I know it, there's a North Korea nuke on its way to wipe out Phnom Penh and I must do something. Then I find out that the nuke was a ruse by some ancient sect of power hungry beings, their plan is to empty the city and search for an ancient artifact that would grant them absolute power. I am the last of the guardians. I must not fail.

Anyway the weekend is full of such and the complete host of symptoms for Dengue fever. The headaches are so intense that I find myself doing the most intricate yoga positions involuntarily. At this point I haven't eaten in days, I have nothing resembling an appetite and I can't even keep water down, though I have been jumping off the Angkor Wat temples with Lara Croft. I called the doctor on Saturday to ask him for the dengue treatment since I was pretty sure I had it and I learn that the damn disease has no cure. The best I can do is treat the symptoms until the fever breaks and I'm in the clear. This news shocks and leaves me in dismay, if I'm not better by Monday then I can't go to class.....ergo. At this point I hate the smell of the city and its food, both smells seem to pervade everything here and I'm at the point of throwing up my guts. If it wasn't for the fact that I promised someone I would return, I would let this damn disease claim me. The poetic symmetry of it would be interesting at least. I understand too that the idea of going through this pain every week for the rest of your life is unpalatable and I have an idea now why you wouldn't fight any longer. I think I finally make my peace with it, strange that I had to come out here to do it and I think I know why.

Monday and the dream of going to class is no more, I cannot bend the spoon Neo, whether it's there or not. I go to another clinic, one that will not leave me trawling the streets of PP after a visit. The good doctor Sheppard takes the usual history and is concerned that I might have picked up malaria from elsewhere because of the dengue incubation period. I assure him that unless there was a stash of mosquitoes on those big aluminium birds we call aeroplanes then I have had no contact with malaria. After reaffirming that there is indeed no treatment but to tackle the symptoms, he tells me I should be in the recovery phase. He prescribes some anti nausea medicine; some oral rehydration salts (when did they start making them sweet?), some painkillers and the best piece of advice that I should have someone administer an IV from home as it would be bloody expensive to do at the clinic. He also takes a couple of vials of blood to look for different things.

My classmates and instructors are an amazing bunch and only a separate blog post will be fair to them but Amy and Lisa with whom I stay (same hostel) have been amazing. Amy has tried her best to pump me with all sorts of food and drink. Lisa willingly gave up her room with a/c so that I could recuperate and I think that did the trick. Anyway two IVs later and I can finally keep food down again, in a few more days I should be able to head on back home and plan another campaign out here. I will return you damn city, even if I have to put on a hazmat suit all the time. I will teach someone here and learn something as well.

In case you're wondering how the affair with the ancient beings and the last of the guardians ends, I will ruminate a while and see if anything comes to mind.