Phrase of the day

January 28, 2009

Hot Room
n. A social setting that involves a mix of people whose relationships to each other are, well, complicated

For this and other Gen-Y slang, check this out.

Three cups of tea

November 7, 2008

“Here (in Pakistan and Afghanistan), we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die.”

– Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan.

I read a lot but I almost never read narratives. I also realized that I don’t read fiction anymore. I can’t seem to find the patience to read about something that didn’t actually happen (which seems to me to be a loss somehow).

I recently finished reading “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I’d bought the book while I was in Cambodia for missions 3 months back. Relin isn’t the best writer but I don’t read non-fiction for the cleverness of the writing. A powerful story tells itself and this was a powerful story.

It made me think about the importance of education for all children, not for education’s sake but rather as a tool to level up opportunity for the disadvantaged. It made me think about the impact 1 person can have by being a catalyst for change. I’m no tree-hugger and you won’t see me teaching English to kindergarten kids because the “leverage” on the investment just isn’t enough. I’m a policy analyst/advocate and economist and it made me think about the importance of improvements that could be replicated quickly and effectively. That said, it also made me think about the importance of building relationships and understanding the cultural nuances of the place you operate in. It made me think about what the professional / personal skills that I bring to the field. It made me wonder if I was ready.

And in the transit lounges of the Sydney airport, I felt thankful for people who give a shit and prayed that I would always be one of those people. And I sent out an email to try to make my next trip to Cambodia happen.

Ride a maggot?

October 12, 2008

Giant bugs climbing up the stairs at City Hall (Singapore Biennale '08)

Giant bugs climbing up the stairs at City Hall (Singapore Biennale 08)

One Inch Tall
by Shel Silverstein

If you were only one inch tall, you’d ride a worm to school.
The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool.
A crumb of cake would be a feast
And last you seven days at least,
A flea would be a frightening beast
If you were one inch tall.

If you were only one inch tall, you’d walk beneath the door,
And it would take about a month to get down to the store.
A bit of fluff would be your bed,
You’d swing upon a spider’s thread,
And wear a thimble on your head
If you were one inch tall.

You’d surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum.
You couldn’t hug your mama, you’d just have to hug her thumb.
You’d run from people’s feet in fright,
To move a pen would take all night,
(This poem took fourteen years to write–
‘Cause I’m just one inch tall).

Phrase of the day 08/10/08

October 8, 2008

Today’s phrase of the day is “rational pre-emptive strike”.

And the phrase that is on loop in my head is – And all I ever learnt from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you. (Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah.)

Oh dear.

The Man in the Bowler Hat

October 7, 2008

The Man In The Bowler Hat
A.S.J. Tessimond

I am the unnoticed, the unnoticable man:
The man who sat on your right in the morning train:
The man who looked through like a windowpane:
The man who was the colour of the carriage, the colour of the mounting
Morning pipe smoke.
I am the man too busy with a living to live,
Too hurried and worried to see and smell and touch:
The man who is patient too long and obeys too much
And wishes too softly and seldom.

I am the man they call the nation’s backbone,
Who am boneless – playable castgut, pliable clay:
The Man they label Little lest one day
I dare to grow.

I am the rails on which the moment passes,
The megaphone for many words and voices:
I am the graph diagram,
Composite face.

I am the led, the easily-fed,
The tool, the not-quite-fool,
The would-be-safe-and-sound,
The uncomplaining, bound,
The dust fine-ground,
Stone-for-a-statue waveworn pebble-round

I was reading background briefs on the “war on talent” and out of nowhere, The Man in the Bowler Hat starts playing on loop in my head.  I’m sure there is some sort of subconscious significance to this.

O Lord, when Thou didst call me, didst Thou know

O Lord, when Thou didst call me, didst Thou know
My heart disheartened through and through,
Still hankering after Egypt full in view
Where cucumbers and melons grow?
– ‘Yea, I knew’ –

But, Lord when Thou didst choose me, didst Thou know
How marred I was and withered too,
Not rose for sweetness nor for virtue rue,
Timid and rash, hasty and slow?
– ‘Yea, I knew’ –

My Lord, when Thou didst love me, didst Thou know
How weak my efforts were, how few,
Tepid to love and impotent to do,
Envious to reap while slack to sow?
– ‘Yea, I knew’ –

Good Lord, Who knowest what I cannot know
And dare not to know, my false, my true,
My new, my old; Good Lord, arise and do
If loving Thou hast known me so.
– ‘Yea, I knew’ –

Christina Rossetti

Phrase of the day 18/09/08

September 18, 2008

Today’s phrase of the day is “pure kamikaze lust”.

You crack me up.