It’s the Letters that Make Us Who We Are

If you know me, you know that I love to write. I probably don’t write as much as I should for a “writer” but then this is not the post where we argue about what I do for a living. Instead, it’s this journey that began as a writer then proceeded to a letter writer that has actually brought me here.

This is also not a shameless promotion of the wildly crazy bunch at Letter Earthlings founded by Nivendra. Instead, it’s an honest confession of what letter writing has done to me and how it has contributed towards making me who I am today.

I began writing letters as a little girl. Of course this was after the time that I was taught to read and write. I was no child prodigy but an ordinary-IQ child. The letters (if that’s what the scribbles of airmail could be called) first went back and forth between my grandfather, uncles and myself. If I recall correct the practice came to me through my grandmother and then to my older sister and me. IDD (or international direct dialling) was ridiculously expensive in the late 90s and often times we would wait until the dead of the night on a Friday specifically for a two-minute (or similar time longer) phone call from my uncle.

I would like to think that relationships were sacred then. As a firm believer and lover of technology it does sound hypocritical now that I think of it but those two-minute once or once in two week phone calls were God-sent. There was no ease of dialling calls from your mobile. We made an effort to remember a phone number. This is probably why the only phone number I remember besides my own is my mother’s!

Then as I grew a little older, I would like to say ten? My then best friend from school, Saashya and I would write each other during school holidays! It was somewhere about three years after when we were into our cool teenage years did we once go through all the mail that was sent back and forth and boy oh boy! 🙂

In my teenage years I would holiday in Nuwara Eliya for a good long while and then my sister and I would write to our grandmother in Colombo. I was older then and would like to think in retrospect on how sentence construction having come easier.

(c) Letter Earthlings

It was about a year or two later that my sister moved to Dubai for work. I then began writing to her whenever I could and even got utterly creative (in my mind of course) and wrote to her in a gigantic kottu-roti wrapping paper with a permanent marker!

We kept writing back and forth – she was more of a card-person and I a letter-person – up until I went to University in 2010. The letters to her still continued but then I also started writing to my mother, grandmother, best friend back home and others perhaps who may have been romantically inclined. I also began getting creative with my packages and the letters always contained a little more.

Because suddenly, the letters were no longer adequate, I had to add something more. This could range from a fridge magnet (with of course the padded envelopes then) or to even confetti. I still do the confetti because even as annoying as it is to clean up afterwards, the sheer joy of having little pieces of shiny paper fall on as you unfold the letter is everything magical.

I got back to base after university, lost, probably under the not of best influence and careers I had not really thought through. I kept going nearly about a year and a half after graduation and then by chance I was to write an article on Letter Earthlings for Roar.lk and started chatting with the page admin. Ironic as it may seem, it was a senior from university (we didn’t have a lot of Sri Lankans on campus) and he asked me to be a part of the gatherings.

See what letter writing has done to me since February 2015 is not just a monthly gathering of wonderful people and colourful stationery. As corny as it may sound, it has coloured my life. I have always been the sort that has had the inability to express myself in speech. Instead, I always chose to write. Usually an essay because my poetry can be abstract-in-the-not-so-modernist-way AF. This is when I began turning to letters. They started appearing on my blog. My cards to people began turning into letters. And even in the absence of birthday cards, I wrote a letter. Because to me, a letter is a gift. And a gift is more often than not, personal.

Being the optimist I am, I believe that everyone can write letters, just as everyone can dance. We are not looking for accuracy of language because no one is going to grade you on your skills or supposed language demands. Instead in letters we look for authenticity and the feeling of belonging when you take the effort and sit down to pen your thoughts, to me.

Stream of Consciousness Postings – II

It’s been too long, far too long. It’s like those habits we try to shy away from, or keep at, without much luck. I read some bits everyday. I would’ve liked to said “a lot” but that’s genuinely not the case. But of what I read, I am amused, entertained and enthralled. Enthralled at how good the writing I read is and then I realise how much I have slipped away from this writing only because I don’t write. It’s not writers bloc. It’s probably mismanagement or YouTube of time and how I work around my schedule. Because a schedule is important to me or so I say. I like to think that I once had the ability to weave my way through words. I don’t think it’s the case any longer. I don’t write to please anyone but myself and I am not pleased. I suppose that could be a problem.

But having said that the best of inspiration strikes midway during a yoga pose where I may or may not be balancing on one foot, because I can’t do inversions. Or when I’m in doing laundry. Or worst, when I’m driving and it’s a weird case of “Siri not available” or is available and doesn’t really pick my accent. But when the time does come soon after these bursts of inspirations, the moment is gone, words are lost or worse, the words are not lost yet there is an expressionistic lull that follows and forcing the completion of that lull would be as fake as .

But then the material I read! How are they written? Is it just me or don’t you wonder how beautiful articles of writing are pieced together and strung into a little dose of perfection?

I do. I constantly do because it reminds me of how much I may have failed as writer. Because a writer is all I have been wanting to be for the past seven years. It scares me to think on what life would be if I weren’t a writer or did not want to be a writer.

You see, writing was the real skill I thought I had up until now and it’s not the case anymore either. It’s not as though I acquired another skill but rather, I seem to be out of touch or have lost the only skill I seem to have had. I feel the same way about wrapping gifts too.

There are different things I do as “work” that does not entirely involve writing and while that does make me happy I keep wondering as to how do rework or reword this writerly-ness. There is no room for crappy writers out there .

…and then the expressionistic lull comes in like a wrecking ball.

New, Happy Things

No before one would jump into any conclusions after reading the title:

  • No, I did not find “new” love – quite happy with the existing one and will be for cheesy long time;
  • I neither found a new job, I still have the supposedly luxurious lifestyle, which again I will have for a while (I hope!)
  • There is no new house either, I mean we just moved in and everyone is  broke to the bone.

I did buy a car last month yes, but this is not about that.

Instead, it’s about this blog! I’ve been doing mad reflections the past few days. I mean when I’m not thinking about the next five years, I keep thinking of how better I can write things and what would happen if my wrist issue goes mad and I have to stop writing (I don’t really have what an average person would call “skills” you know) and also before it does go mad, if I could actually have a live functional blog of my own. I mean I do have this baby yes, but a blog-blog-domain name-blog, you know? That is in the works (by works I mean has been added to the annual financial plan) and until then I’m thinking of ways to make this existing space as good as it can get.

What this “Good” Entails 

A former employer and mentor of mine once told me to find my “niche”. It was a new word for me back in 2013 and for the first five months were spent diligently going through 101 websites, blogs that have found their “niche” and another set of articles aimed at helping one carve this “niche”. Every month following that were spent in a combination of I’m-giving-up-this-niche-business-is-too-much-for-me and it’ll-happen-when-it-does practicality.

Needless to say, up until a few weeks back, I actually forgot about this “niche”. Then, probably supported by the overdose of YouTube and multiple shower thoughts, I began to think of:

a) What I did more than other people (not better, just more);

b) The activity I spent more time doing, during the day / week;

c) Any form of consistency in the activity I have been doing regularly.

and that’s when it hit me like a wrecking ball 

  1. I have this supposedly luxurious option of working from home
  2. My supposedly luxurious work choices have also led to many a travel
  3. I have regular but sporadic (yes I spot the difference) interest and practices in yoga, health and wellness

make that three wrecking balls

Among the free pictures I could find

Among the free pictures I could find

I’m still a little wary on putting up a blogging schedule because, we all know myself better than I do.

But here’s to exciting times.

Stream of Consciousness Postings – I

Of all the things running through my little head, I knew it was time to write. Journaling would’ve been the more ideal choice at this given time but my wrist situations makes typing long-form easier than writing.

I would like to think on how I’ve spent the past few days and weeks in deep self-discovery, self-exploration that may have provided the stepping stones towards self-actualisation, I don’t know. Everything I seem to read, listen to, have been told recently or just even see, makes me feel, a lot, of emotion.

And I’m not that emotional type.

I do cry yes, in abundance. Cry for everything under the God-forsaken sun. But leaving behind the physical aspect of crying too frequently for my liking, I am not that emotional. I was sentimental, but no longer.

But then, as my friend told me the other day, maybe we feel as much because we are writers.

But am I actually a writer?

I ask myself this constantly because I really do not write as much as I did or as much as I would like to.

Even if there are so many things out there that I would love to write about, I read a lot on similar things and then I realise that I would never be half the writer of those reads. Which then makes me wonder, who would read a/this shitty piece of writing? I know that I surely wouldn’t and for a confused-writer, I do judge a lot of writing. Because we all love judging people who are not us.

But coming back to being emotional on things, maybe part of doing the sort of work I do in the name of being a “writer” is part feeling these things you do. Or it might be hormones. Or the twenties. It’s hard to say.

I genuinely feel that people my age or around my age are more confused than we have ever been. I look at older-adults who were doing wonderful things at our age: reaching great heights in their career, getting married, making babies – of course there are other wonderful things, I was just using the stereotype and am not the kind that ranks making babies > career goals in the list of achievements.

But then what are we doing at our age? Can we even afford the things with what we earn?

And how much do we earn?

Or rather how much of our earnings would we ever term “enough”?

[also please read this. I had to go through forty minutes of search histories and Twitter feeds to relocate this one]

Are we living our lives the wrong way? Or is this the City Girl speaking? For all I know, Google will not offer the answers I am looking for and even if it does, it would most likely be written by a fellow 20-something city girl like myself.

Also, before you point out, quite rightly, I do not “live” in the “city”, but that’s not what we are addressing here.

Or maybe kids our age have too much going on. We take on too many things than we can handle because there is a constant strive for achievement. Because we read on how cooler kids were doing things in their early twenties and here we are closing in on the latter half of the third decade and yet are to do anything remotely cool.

Or maybe this is just me talking along with the rest of my insecurities

This Millennial in Colombo

I was born to a privileged generation, Millennials they call us. True, as a Sri Lankan I had war, but then I lived in Colombo and the most we did was have a “drill” for emergency situations during the late 90s. But unless you live in Sri Lanka, it would be difficult to understand as to why we weren’t the “direct” victims of war. Yes, I had family and friends that died in war and we also had an occasional bomb that would go off some place close to where we lived or schooled, but as far as the “victims of war” were concerned, that was not me (I refrain from using “us” because of how soon people get offended for things these days).

With the height of war, the next biggest catastrophe (I speak for the number of localities affected that’s why I did not mention the the Central Bank bomb blast) was the tsunami. Internet was still at its dial-up days in 2004 and information was not freely floating around as much as it is now and up until the tsunami struck us in 2004, I did not know what a tsunami was.

True this island girl cannot swim and hence did not venture into the sea, but having grown up next to the sea (or schooled, would be the better word) it was unfathomable how my favourite past-time or gazing-at-the-sea-and-being-all-philosophical would bring upon a large group of people such disasters. Yes, I was aware of storms and the sort, but they were disasters “at sea” and to my teenage brain, the sea posed no threat to those living on land.

But just as the war, the tsunami did not hit “Colombo” – or parts of it might have but I’m not too sure.

Hence, once again, we were safe.

Fast forward to 2016, we have floods. Once again, there is no direct impact to me. Yes, I am stuck here at home because of the water and traffic on the main roads taking us to Colombo, but me, my family and house are okay. I also have internet to post this and as far I know, this is luxury.

My extended family however, is not.

I am told that this isn’t as bad as the early 90s flood. I would know it is not because what remains of their photo albums (sitting in one of my boxes) tell me so.

But it’s getting there.

A close friend and his family of five including a child at hand have taken shelter on their roof. My grandparents, uncle and aunt have shifted to the bed room and extension space on the second floor of their house. Most of the other family friends, even though not knee deep in water, cannot step out of their main gate.

Apart from the fact that we all know now how much I dislike rain, what bothers and irks me most (I think) is think is my inability to do anything, or rather,

how vulnerable I am when I cannot save (or be there for) those whom I care. 

Riding on my Game of Thrones high from yesterday, it’s similar to how Tommen feels when he cannot do anything for Margery or could not Cersei when imprisoned, despite being King.

But I’m not a Queen, not in anywhere inclined to any form of royalty whatsoever but I work for the development sector (particularly climate change and environment) that are yet to have its disaster management centre, met department and other authorities step up their game on early warning systems and similar practices. But instead, we work primarily on policy and on donor requirements that will help fulfil international energy targets and best practices of what is accepted industry.

I’m not complaining about the work I do and am no doubt blessed to be doing what I do, working from home and all, but sometimes when the industry you work for is unable to fulfil its responsibilities at home base, trust me it can get a bit discouraging. 

Should you need more clarity, I would recommend reading after the quake by Haruki Murakami. Yes, you would tell me that somethings were lost in translations but no, that’s not a concern now. Neither is it as dramatic a situation yet, but it’s a dreaded level of hopelessness that seems to have engulfed those of us who cannot do anything to help

I wanted to lighten the moment because who knew we drowned so deep and this seems to be the only apt copyleft image I could find.

Until the sun shines bright upon us once again and the laundry finds it way back to my dresser neatly folded.

Non-Motivation Tuesday

It’s raining and I’m miserable. I wanted to Give Thanks later today but with yesterday’s remnants of awful rains and this morning’s gloomy skies, trust me, I feel grateful to no one.

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I know I sound wretchedly insane to be saying what I am saying given the continuous weeks of mad heat but I was (am) one of those silent warriors that advocated for preferred warm weather. In all fairness, I do know the importance of rains and all that jazz and no, I am neither blaming governments (both past and present) for decisions taken nor those before us that revved up the country’s temperature with the industrial revolution, development and the works and cause climate change and all that work that I do.

I’m just ranting on how I dislike this weather, mostly because I am sensitive as fuck to the cold (because we all know how insensitive a person I am otherwise, haha) and I get superbly unproductive and snappy in anything below 24*c.

I couldn’t go to work yesterday (yes, my supposedly “luxurious” job requires that I go to an office space every once in a way for meetings and the likes) because of traffic, flooding and traffic, in that order and spent the day at home catching up on work. I mean like, what else is new. Given the nature of my work and how far I live, I actually like going into the city you know. It can be a little magical.

I am also mildly convinced on being (self) diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, despite not having seasons, but you know, one could never be too sure with this terrible weather.

Given how unproductive I get with this weather and what nots, here are a few things that I do when the blues give me wrong cues.

  1. Workout 
    I’ve been a little heavy (and worried) on this department, no pun intended. Mostly because my best friend from school gets married in a month and a half and home girl needs to shed some kilos. There were regular workout sesh(s) in play, but then shifting happened and sickness happened and now we are just f-a-t. Sigh. But rainy days are good for working out yes! There are two downsides to this however:a) If you have past injuries they tend to do a bit of a Jon Snow during this weather and comes back to life. Just be sure to not put too much strain on it.
    b) If you are among the non-privileged that do not have access to hot water, showers are a little icy, to say the least.
  2. Nap (because you deserve it)
    It’s raining outside and chances are that it’s (either) thundering or/and lightning. If it isn’t, well and good, you can cook, eat and watch a film or something. However, if you live in areas like mine and experience constant power cuts and your wifi wargs into the nearest clouds, this might not be an option so just sleep. I mean, what else can you do, for free? Also, if you, like me, dislike rainy weather, a nap is something you deserve.
  3. Spend Time Alone 
    Yes, we all know how much I like drowning myself in loneliness. The rain, as it puts me in a bit of I need some water from the House of Black and White situation. So the time alone, does help, though too much of it, might actually be equivalent to drinking the water all together.
  4. Spring (Rain) Clean 
    If the rain comes alone without its equally miserable counterparts, thunder, lightning and awfully gloomy skies, go for the broom and start cleaning. I would advise against mopping (depends on the texture of the floor however) given the water absorption issues. But cleaning is good. Decluttering is better. Perhaps once the skies are cleared, so are your storage areas, floors and hopefully your mind #DrownInMyDeepWordsPuddles
  5. Plan / Organise (work)
    This may sound similar to the previous point, but this is specific to workload and task lists etc. I am one of those people who spend a considerate amount of time everyday (at least 20-30 minutes) planning work for the week and organising / cleaning up lists and similar chores. The rain, (up until it puts you to sleep) is an ideal time to go through what needs to be done and what does not and plan your life for sunnier, bikini-clad times.

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#ThinkSunny

P.S. – Sorry not sorry on the excessive Game of Thrones references. This season has been nothing but phenomenal so far (that is, compared to the last).

A Place to Call Home

April 08, 2016

It’s been a while since I was as ass and bone tired (I am assuming that phrase is a “thing” by now, eh, no? Well, then.) and it’s all been a good long while since I had as much fun on a Friday night, without alcohol. Before further judgements are made, lets just say that I treasure my Fridays out as much as you treasure your weekends off.

For those who don’t follow me on Snapchat (psht, I don’t even know why you would read this if you wouldn’t, but just in case you wanted to, I’m on ‘seniinthebox’, #kthanxbye), I’ve shifted houses. I currently live approximately 25-30km away from Colombo and I LOVE IT. I love it of course for very different reasons and if by chance I don’t fall asleep midway while writing this on a very sober Friday night with no sleep for the past twenty-four plus more hours at 2232h, I might even venture to speak more on it, hopefully.

thumb_IMG_1882_1024But let’s first speak on why this move is what it is to me. See, I am one of those who adapt well to situations. Okay, most situations.

April 20, 2016

So clearly the past few days have been filled with bits of unpacking (I was a champ who unpacked my room in 1 1/2 days because some of us have issues), lots of driving and a mad week of falling sick. I think my “wish” for not wanting to fall sick the week I was shifting and not minding falling sick during the holidays was granted, haha. But sadly, the holidays are over and I’m still at home, unwell. Jawks on me.

However, being the person I am, I did put together a few pointers that I wanted to speak on since the 08th (I didn’t complete it the other day because I fell asleep from exhaustion) so it’s sort of safe to say that I got it all covered. 😉

In fact, a cab driver I was once riding to the airport with told me that I have what he calls the කැරපොතු න්යාය (sorry that last word is grammatically wrong I know but my little Sinhala transliteration app doesn’t have the piece) or what translates to the theory of the cockroach / cockroach theory? lol. Anyhow, he tells me (based on our almost forty minute drive) that I am the sort of person who is capable of evaluating the circumstances and adapting myself to the situation at hand.

In retrospect, this may sound more glorified than it actually was because this was quite a few cab rides ago.

I mean, I do get a fairly praiseworthy sunset most evenings (when it doesn't rain of course)

I mean, I do get a fairly praiseworthy sunset most evenings (when it doesn’t rain of course). Also, the gate among few other things are to be completed!

But then we had India didn’t we. I mean, India was one of the most culturally and of course educationally (because that was its motive after all) experiences to date. Will I do India again now? Maybe in a difference context, because I’m older and supposedly wiser but yes, and because India (South India specifically) is one place I would not mind living again. You may continue to withhold your varying opinions, lol.

But then, my cockroaches were put to test. We shifted to a place I call “house” sometime late 2014 and for a year and a half from there, it was a downhill slide, both emotionally and mentally. Life was going on for me, in fact, it was the start of many amazing things in my life, yet it all became immaterial as soon as I got to the house.

It was the vibe. Don’t think LSD and other narcotics, but I am a firm believer in positive vibes and the lot, and if we lack these positive particles in the air, I’m not a very happy person. It’s like when the sun doesn’t come up! #ThinkSunny

***

But that’s a matter of the past.

This is what happens when you write very little spanned across days and days of unacknowledged uncharted thoughts and things and try to make sense out of it.

Fact to the matter is that our Mother has been able to attain her long awaited dream of building her own house (we had bought this in 2011, shifted out coz of a robbery, rebuilt and shifted back) and for my sister and I, her dream is our dream because if it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t be here and if it weren’t for her long hours and years of hard work, we wouldn’t have made it to where we are in life today. 

So here’s to our new home, our home and fancier shower gels.

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P.S. – I apologise again for the haphazard-y article. The trains and thoughts all seem to have been derailed!

This is more for Me, than for You

It’s one of those “work” Mondays that sits quietly before a mercantile *no alcohol* Tuesday and having spent a week in Cambodia learning things and extracting information for work, trust me when I tell you that it’s not the best of days to work. Or at least that is what I keep telling myself. But on days that you just don’t want to get out of that zone you call <insert appropriate terminology here> and all you can think of is pseudo-philosophical questions on the purpose of life and all what revolves around you, it’s a struggle as opposed to an effort to keep yourself from Googling Tumblr-esq inspirational shiz (no, I still don’t own a Tumblr account “yet”, lol).

But then, it’s those times when you are driving in traffic like a mad woman because you can’t concentrate and images of horrid mis-happenings keep flashing in front of you as you take junction after junction does it strike you that it’s you and no one but yourself who can motivate to get up and get moving.

It’s not the Tumblr-esq posts, countless hours on social media or happy pills that keep you going but a reality check on where life is going and what you decide on doing about it.

While I do believe in external motivation and rewards to keep you going – yes I am guilty of providing myself that extra-coffee, calories or half hour of sleep – not only is it not sustainable, it does not remove the responsibility or commitments you have brought on yourself. The very ones you did at one point because you considered yourself a twenty-something responsible adult and it seemed like a good decision then. Temporary fixes are always good ones so as long we make sure not to hold on to it for our life’s worth.

So here’s to sunny Mondays, better weeks and for all those who are trying.

P.S. – Also, this – no the video isn’t symbolic of anything, the lyrics devoid of the video maybe applicable to days like today.