Week Thirty-Three: Giving Thanks

It’s March in 2017 and not only have I neglected this space but have also not been blogging. Sigh. There has been too much going on really. But then when I think about it, there hasn’t really been a lot going on. You know like when you are really busy but then it’s difficult to explain as to why you’ve been busy at the same time? Yes, that.

But it’s at times like these that I remember more than ever the things I am thankful for. To me, it’s that sort of motivation to keep going, keep fighting and pulling that Kelly Clarkson whenever possible.

I know it’s Thursday (and not Tuesday) but here is my current  list of thankfuls in no particular order:

  1. The amazing people whom I have met and embraced to my life recently. I’m not one to make new friends, let alone fast friends but I have learnt that it isn’t too bad after all.
  2. Doctors, hospitals and similar (medicinal) healers for taking care of and lessening the burdens of a lot of my favourite people.
  3. The nice people at the Sampath Bank Thimbirigassaya branch who made my Monday (and Tuesday). Good service goes a long way.
  4. My family for making me food when I don’t ask them to and folding my clothes when I ask them not to (specifically my Mother, haha).
  5. Sleep and kottu roti – sometimes the best way to get away from problems and life alone is to find yourself a really nice kottu and go sleep on life itself.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Let’s (try to) Talk about Sex Education?

It’s a topic I’ve been wanting to speak on for a long time, but haven’t for the usual reasons, i.e.- procrastination and then for the more diplomatic reasons on whether we should speak about it at all. Because I mean after all, these sort of topics are saved for after marriage and I’m not married noh.

See but then this post is not about having sex. Don’t get me wrong. It’s more on the need for educating people about sex. Also most of these images are shamelessly stolen off the Internet.

If you do want to know more about sex and the works, I would suggest some sort of magazine or website and in other unrelated news, Playboy is bringing back nudes!

***

This post on the other hand was inspired partly by one of my drivers. We were driving back from Kurunegala a few days ago and he tells me,

මිස් දන්නවාද, Valentine’s Day  වල තමයි වැඩියෙන්ම ගෑණු ළමයි දූෂණය වෙන්නේ.”

Translation: Do you know that the most number of girls get raped on Valentine’s Day?

And no, I didn’t know that (and I don’t know if it is true). And yes, this post was to come out on Valentine’s Day but then I got busy with work (no there were no Valentine’s celebrations from this end as we are too old for that you know, lol) and never got around to it.

However, this conservation with my driver led to us talking about sex education, rape, contraception, family planning, STDs and unwanted pregnancies that these girls clearly knew nothing of.

See, before we go any further let’s throw out a few disclaimers for ol’ times sake but mostly because we live in a supposedly sensitive as fuck world where everyone seems to take offence for everything. Also since we are talking about “adult” topics, we will be swearing because, duh.

  • This post is not meant to draw sympathy on women.
  • Neither is this post aimed at penalising men.
  • Nor does it conform to the norm that women are victims and men are those at fault.
  • I will only focus on the male and female genders and  heterosexual relationships because these are the populations that have easily accessible data and stuff.
  • Also:
just letting ya'll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)

just letting ya’ll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)

 ***

Since this post has been coming a few days and I’ve lost my train of thought one too many times for my liking, let me try to go through a few reasons as to why I think we need to speak more on sex, having sex and well most importantly, having safe sex.

just sayin'

just sayin’

Consent 

I usually refer the dictionary on themy Mac for definitions and this is what it had to say on consent:

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A lot of the time, rape takes place when the “victim” (we are trying to be gender neutral here) has no idea that what is happening to them is wrong. This is true especially in the case of children and rape within their own families. I also have no numbers and statistics to back this information. If you are looking for a good read with numbers I strongly recommend the Bill and Melinda Gates Open Letter.

So it’s pretty simple right? If someone does something without the other’s permission, or consent, it is a violation of their rights or privacy or something on those lines.

Eg: – A few weeks ago someone took away the (my) laptop I was working on to show another some screen on Facebook, without asking me. No consent!

If you are still confused, the following video explains it thoroughly as well. I recommend you watch it as a family or a classroom – though I’m very well aware that my audience does not attract such people, haha.

The Birds and the Bees

Okay, I get it. I’m Sri Lankan too and my Mum never spoke to me about the birds and the bees. And still to date as a twenty-something year old I’m confused as to what the birds and the bees have to do with this. Why can’t we go more Freud about it and call it a lock and key or snake and window or you get the point. Or if you don’t, your mind is not dirty enough to be reading this post. 

Again, if you do have five minutes at hand, this is a very good video to watch or show the children around you.

See, a lot of the time, when there is no education or well discussion on what really happens when people have sex, it leads to things like, you guessed it, rape!

There is no shame in talking about it to children and truth be told, if I were to have kids, I would start speaking to them or introducing the concept of sex from primary school. It would not only teach them what they ought to do to protect themselves but also teach them the right way of treating others and respecting them.

True we have Google and most in my generation, a few before and all those younger to me rely on the Internet for information. However, the Internet too has come a long way since early Millennium dial-up and information sharing. It has become more vital than ever for everyone to not only cross check news sites (because fake news brings money too, it seems) but also inquire on the authenticity of information provided. Hence, if parents or adults are not going to speak to their kids about this, they will only rely on the Internet for (mis)information.

I asked my Mother recently as to why she never told me about how children are made / babies are born. She laughed it off and said that I knew more than she did. While I did laugh along with her because it was funny, it did also dawn on me that there are many kids out there who are incapable of having such conversations with their parents. What are they to do then? 

Contraception 

I saved the best for last because I believe that contraception becomes the solution to a lot of unwanted and unplanned situations including STDs and (not so) happy accidents.

Okay, let’s assume that consent has been attained and now two individuals (no I’m not looking at sexual relations with more than two people so don’t be offended) are maybe going to have sex for the first time. So no, they won’t get STDs and that box is checked. However, in the case of a heterosexual relationship, what about the risk of pregnancy?

If it amounts to anything on the lines of progress, which I think it is, some of the Healthguard Pharmacies here in Sri Lanka now not only sell condoms on shelves but also have emergency contraceptives as well. I think this is great as it not only reduces the risk of anything you are not really ready to have for but most importantly reduces the stigma and mental strain someone would have to go through when asking for it over the counter.

On another positive note, Sri Lanka is a country that does not require prescriptions for Oral Contraceptive Pills or OCPs. I don’t really know what this means in a medical sense, but as a layman or woman, I think this is a great progressive step as it again shortens the number of steps one would have to climb when wanting to have safer sex and access to contraceptives. While there isn’t a plethora of choices to choose from, I guess this is a start of sorts.

sorry, Google.

sorry, Google.

If you are interested, here is an excellent compilation done by Pew Research on abortion policies across the world.

Other suggested reading:

The least we can do from our end is to probably talk about it more to well, normalise it in to general conversation so that there will be no stigma when anyone would want to ask questions about it (as opposed to Googling for an answer).

There is no shame in parents or teachers speaking to their children or educating students on sex and all the other safety precautions they need to know because it would seriously do this country a world of good. See, once the discussion is out there in the open there would be criticism and probably a ban on speaking about the topic in open (like in the case of the big matches) but until that time, there is a sense of responsibility from every generation to the next.

#ThinkSunny

Let’s Talk about “Gay Marriage”

For the record, I’m neither gay nor am I married.

Second, I add the phrase “gay marriage” in inverted commas because I don’t even see how a “gay” marriage is any different to a “regular” marriage between two “heterosexual” people. As far as I know, marriage is a union of love, gay or otherwise. Or one of convenience, if Jane Austen was bae.

Third, I’m quite aware of the sort of possible criticism that this post might gather and my dear fragile heart (apparently I do have one after all) might not even be able to handle it. But it’s been bothering my pea brain and of course if this means that I’m finally going to blog about it, so be it.

Fourth and finally, my research might be flawed. I’m not well read on the topic and have only bits and bobs of information I sourced through the Internet.

***

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According to the news there was talk of Sri Lanka “decriminalising homosexuality” (I suppose that would be the first step towards gay marriage) and then in less than a day this proposition was called off. I also made the mistake of reading the comments in this news article – the comments are not for the faint hearted.

In fact when American legalised gay marriage nearly two years ago and Facebook suddenly had an influx of all these colourful profile pictures. I mean this is great and all. No doubt about that. But the question my pea brain had in mind was as to how the world came to a state where the right to marriage was a question of gender and not of more important things like age or mental stability? However, those in America who were able to be married as a result of the events of 2015, good on you no doubt.

With Sri Lanka though, it’s a different story all together. Our friend in the city actually put together a video I am happy to share and that’s not even because of my favourite friend Dili. They walked around “progressive” Colombo and asked people their thoughts on legalising same-sex marriage / “decriminalising homosexuality”. The word “decriminalise” makes me wonder what sort of word rapists of paedophile get. Again some content is not for the faint hearted. It doesn’t scare you like a horror movie. It just makes you sad to realise that there are people (probably the same age as you are) that think aeons different to you do. Also that there might still be people who have no idea on what they might be talking about to start with. Here, I specifically refer to the loose use of the word “culture”.

What nags my ignorant self is probably not knowing as to why the world need a “special” law passed in order to practice the right to love. 

And I’m not even the romantic one in my present relationship.

Until next time.

#ThinkSunny

December Diaries: Giving Thanks to 2016

Where do I even start. I actually just took a break from writing to scroll through my Instagram that I believe has some of my key highlights and also because scrolling through my planner right now doesn’t sound too appealing. psht.

A lot of bad things has happened this year, the most significant of which is the flood that will probably be engraved in one to a side of my brain for a very long time. Today though, I am going to narrow it down to ten good things that happened this year because it’s important that we focus on the positives. So in no order whatsoever, here are my list of thankfuls for 2016.

The Month of December

December is always stressful., which is also probably why it is first on my list. There is not only the end of the year rush, but also all of our special (and expensive) days. This December was even more stressful because of work, a troublesome shoulder and back and lots of other little struggles that I continued to battle;

because end of the year = birthdays = end of expectations, loss of hope and basically cause for mental tantrums

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Also one of my favourite people got married this month. ❤

Big Changes 

I don’t get too personal in here because as a writer, this blog not only becomes a representation of some of the shitty work that I may do but also a space where a lot of the people I know refer to, lol. But career wise, there has been changes. Good changes I feel, or at least hope. Like many things in life, I try to continuously find stability within myself and my career as a writer (and whatever else that comes out of it) is an area I like to work on as well.

In other news, I got a car

In other news, I got a car.

Family

My sister has been fortunate enough to fly down almost every month since the middle of the year and we hope that she will permanently be here in Colombo very soon. My extended family suffered from the devastating flood but besides the house and some other material possessions, they are safe and good.

Food = family.

Food = family.

Mum’s Presentation

My Mum made a stellar presentation at the Human Rights Commission on the work she does and I was lucky enough to go see it. Akki and I are really fortunate to have a mother who believes and is truly passionate about the work she does.

Letter Earthlings Grew Closer to my Heart

My favourite past time is not only writing letters, but to inspire people to write letters. Letter Earthlings has become one of my most looked forward to activities every month and this year in particular has truly help bring the initiative really close to my heart. I sincerely thank my friend Nivendra for letting me be a part of it.

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Discovered a New Coffee Place

Or my favourite coffee place! It’s a pity that I don’t grace coffee shops as much any more but if I were to, I know where to go and might have a bit of a tough time knowing what I want.

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Travelled a bit more

Across Sri Lanka and to East Asia. Some trips were on work while the rest were adventures with those I adore the most. I am grateful for being able to do what I do and the opportunities I get.

I know Cambodia was a highlight but my heart will always be with the sea.

I know Cambodia was a highlight but my heart will always be with the sea.

Made New Friends, Grew Distant from Some Old Ones

It makes me a little sad to talk about this but the realisation has simultaneously helped me learn and grow closer to old and new friends who have come into my life in the most unexpected of ways. For those who I may have distanced myself from, I’m sorry but I guess it worked out for the best. You will always be in my heart and I will always remember your birthday.

Those who came into my life and for those who have been here with me, thank you. You mean more to me than I will ever verbally let you know.

Wrapped more gifts!

Gifted grew slowly on the side.

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We took on orders we could execute and didn’t for those of which we knew that we either didn’t have enough time or enough resources for. Thank you for all those who ordered with us and believed in us to add some magic to your loved ones special day.

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Fell in love, again

With the same man of course, haha. But this year has been one of truly understanding him (and I hope vice versa, lol), knowing that he will be there for a very long time. If he chooses not to, I will buy him back with all the confectionary, speakers and car parts left in the world. Muhaha.

This was from 2015 but the next picture in this series of pictures was definitely my favourite <3

This was from 2015 but the next picture in this series of pictures was definitely my favourite ❤

But thank you once again for all those who have been a part of my life and given me everything that you have. It’s been a rushed year, but a good one, I like to think, despite all that has happened. We are older, not necessarily wiser but have grown to become more content with what we have, the people in our lives and most importantly, the little time we have.

I hope 2017 brings you nothing but sunshine.

Written as part of the Giving Thanks series – Week 35

December Diaries: Adult Accomplishments

It’s been a while. I would like to think that it is work that kept me from writing here, which isn’t far from the truth because the word “busy” is nothing short of an understatement now. I have a 2016 round up post coming up one of these days, at least on one of these days I will sit down to reflect on it.

Of the many things I want to write about today, I want to focus on measuring your life’s successes or accomplishments with the results of your children’s actions. Eek. That doesn’t sound half as nice as what I actually have in my mind.

I know in the past I’ve written on childrenfailed adults and long back on parenting. The most recent I’ve written on is “On Marriage and (having) Children” that actually is a favourite post of mine.

I might probably be repeating myself here but some thoughts need to be stated a few times over because how else does a writer ensure that such frustrations are let out of their pea brains if not.

***

See here’s the thing that parents of the Baby Boomers’ generation need to understand. Your child is an important part of this society. We belong to the money-making-never-saving generation, despite the five, six or seven figures we earn now. We are to make supposedly wise decisions in life and these include calls we take on education, careers and relationship. But, your child is not the only child to exist in this world.

I know it’s contrary to our local culture and how we are brought up, but the idea of independence has always been important to me, of which financial independence takes priority. It’s a way in which I’ve been brought up and as far as preaching goes, I try to replicate it on all those around me. It’s fair for my folks to be proud of how my sister and I have turned out but truth be told, they have bigger accomplishments of their own that are unparalleled to ours.

And this is great.

It’s great that my folks are still individuals in their own right and have their own accomplishments to celebrate and NOT COMPLETELY PIGGY BACK ON THEIR CHILDREN’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND THEIR ABILITY TO BREED.

I apologise if the capital letters got in the way. It’s been coming a long time.

If I were to ever have children, of course I would think they are the greatest on earth and as a parent I would put their needs and wants before my own. However, being a parent does not mean that it is a loss of identity and individuality of who I am or what my Mother is.

Any marriage or child that my sister or I may have, will NOT be a measure of accomplishment for my family’s success.

and fuck you to all those who think that way.

While life in general should be celebrated, it doesn’t mean that you need showcase your family’s only “accomplishments” to the world around. Trust me, this looks as bad as wearing new clothes at a less-fortunate environment or showing your child extra-affection in an orphanage. Your unintended actions would not only be hurtful but a sad reminder of what the others around you have not yet “achieved” as a result of you make it seem as though having something that another person doesn’t, is a sense of accomplishment in this world.

If you have no purpose in life, I hope you find some in 2017. After all New Year’s are all about resolutions, finding yourself and all that shiz.

I get all my images on www.unsplash.com now :)

I get all my images on http://www.unsplash.com now 🙂

December Diaries: Gratitude

To all university students protesting out there,

I’m back with a bit of a rant today. It’s Christmas, the season of gratitude and thankfulness and the rant might seem a little out of place but the rant in itself is on gratitude, or lack there of.

Before you say anything, I don’t think I understand your cause. See I was among the “privileged” that was schooled in a semi-government entity and was even more (supposedly) “privileged” to have read for my degree at a private university in India. The experience in itself was a little difficult at first but to this date I’m grateful for having being able to study abroad for three years as it shed perspective and taught me a lot on independence, budgeting and most importantly growing up.

My Orthodox Catholic University wasn’t sororities and dorm rooms in cute skirts. Since I was in South India, this involved a lot of kurthas, shawls and a 2100h curfew at the on-campus hostel that didn’t give us food. My roomie and I moved out during the third year because they insisted on a similar dress code inside the hostel and fixed some CCTV cameras that we were not really down for. Also, we wanted to have some home cooked Lankan food once every four days. University also was 0900-1600h and 0900-1300h classes every weekday and Saturday respectively for three years with mandatory 85% attendance. If we failed to meet the criteria, we were first sent to a counsellor who would try and find out what the hell was wrong with us (family problems, relationship problems, mental / psychological problems, you know the dose) and then if we failed to make up for it, we were not allowed to sit for our finals without paying a certain fee of compensation (that varied according to the attendance percentage) – and let me not even start on the process when it comes to paying this actual fee.

On another note, I always believe that people who pay for their own things and possessions, often understand the value of money. This is why when I had to buy another Mac after spilling coffee on the Mac I already owned, my non-mathematical brain started doing a number of serious calculations in order to budget wisely and efficiently.

In Sri Lanka however, I have nothing against this free education system. I think it’s great that people are educated for free because it’s knowledge, which is a gift and is not equivalent to any sum of money (that you can actually pay, lol). I also have immense respect for teachers and lecturers because they take a lot of shit for very little pay (I speak of the government-paid cadre) and throw in a lot of their hours, despite the “paid vacation” etc.

Having studied under the similar primary and secondary semi-government school conditions most kids on the roads these days too were once a subject of, I don’t recall being taught to protest they way these kids are doing so these days.

As an “adult” in her 20s, I am thoroughly “aware” that most of what I have become now are partly because of the education I have received. And as most other adults out there, I am thoroughly annoyed at this group of ungrateful shit heads that keep blocking the roads that other working “adults” travel to work in, to make a decent amount of money before it gets cuts off to taxes and vat and other ridiculous nonsense that pays off tuition fees for these kids who know absolutely nothing on the value of money.

However, their lack of gratitude does not stop there. Once they (finally) graduate, 800 years later, they are old, with only one degree and no work experience. They become frustrated mid-20s adults who still continue to live off their parents, shamelessly too, I must add, angry at the rest of the world.

Honey, the rest of the world was trying to move on in life despite you blocking the roads with ridiculous protests of not wanting to go to university for 80% of your student time. After all, what else is a full time student expected to do but study? Have you ever even stopped to think as to how privileged you are to have made through the cut off mark and eligibility criteria to start with? 

No? I didn’t think so either. 

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If it helps, think of the starving children in Mongolia children your age in rural Sri Lanka who do not have an opportunity to complete their secondary education, let alone university because of the family responsibility they took on after their father, a farmer, committed suicide after the last drought.

You don’t really know how that feels do you?

I don’t feel it either, but I’m trying on my part to do what I can for my family and to my country by being a “productive” working citizen paying a massive amount in taxes for your education and their spending.

I hope someday, soon, you understand how frivolous (and inconvenient) your actions are.

From,

A concerned, tired 20 something who did not make the cut off mark that the “privileged” kids did and chose to study in a private “privileged” university abroad

December Diaries: Six Impossible Things before Breakfast

Have I told you that Monday is one of my favourite days in the week?

I think Mondays are great because I have realised that I’m most productive before late afternoon, so the earlier the start the better it is going to be. Like today, before 1300h (now), I managed to get my car cleaned and sparkly, finish up some pending insurance work, collect a parcel from the GPO, get copies of all my documents and finish up a good deal of Christmas / birthday shopping, while making some calls for appointments during lunch.

#ProductiveAF

Yesterday was a downer, but today is a nice and sunny day. I don’t know what the rest of the week is looking like, but there will be its ups and downs, as life rightfully should be.

Special thanks to everyone who had panicked messaged / called me. I’m fine (ish). Will be better in time, but I think the downers would probably reflect more given that I have intended to blog as often (if not daily) as I can. But you guys are stars ❤

<Be in the moment.>

I got excited about 

Lunch. I did not have rice in the morning because I was busy slaying the world so resorted to three peanut butter sandwiches. They were great no doubt, I LOVE peanut butter. But the rice was what I was really thinking of while waiting for the postal guys to call out for parcel “64”.

I will be excited about 

Seeing my friend Lasantha’s short film on the 08th. I am mighty excited for all of my favourites creative ventures and the 08th is looking forward to, big time. You could come too, if you are interested! There is apparently free wine.

Also, I’m still emailing carefully Google-d positive thoughts to those who want. Do let me know if you would like one too.

December Diaries: Retrospection

I’ve been terrible and missed quite a few days already. In my defence, I got busy. Like real bat shit crazy busy. I’m still figuring things out slowly from the recent turn of events. It would be an understatement if I told you that I’ve been making progress. The end of the year blues doesn’t seem to help either.

Does that happen to you too? Do you feel sad, miserable, depressed (not used colloquially) even when the year comes to an end? I usually find myself feeling a very unusual sense of regret. Regret in itself is a funny feeling because I don’t feel it usually because I don’t regret things in life. I’m not lying. There are things I am disappointed about in life and things I cannot change, but the most amount of regret that I would have felt at that point was nothing short of momentary and it later found itself to the category of “acceptance”.

I’ve been doing a lot these days too. Accepting. I’m not happy with a number of things around me and there is either little or nothing I can do to change my circumstances. However, that too has found itself to the box of “acceptance”. I’m blaming it on the end of the year blues, because it gives me the same sense of hopelessness and misery that I feel at the end of every year. I still am unable to fathom as to why I feel the way I do because it’s not as though I have targets, goals or “resolutions” set out at the beginning of the year.

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But this year, like most years, I am lost. 

It’s a little difficult to write about things I’m at present grateful for given the way I feel, but here’s a lovely article I came across via Facebook.

I’ll be back with more sunshine tomorrow.

Do let me know if you are still up for some positive vibes delivered to your inbox every morning!