A spinoff in proper "Rhoda" style of my patented e-mail blastograms, this blog was created with the intention of keeping friends and family updated on and amused by my life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Deliciously incongruous

Proper brits would be appalled. And yet there is something so deliciously beautiful about an american ex-pat sitting across from big ben in a track top eating kebabs and drinking stella while reading a book by an american ex-pat about the quirkiness of this quaint nation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On my way to trafalgar square

Though i walk by parliament almost daily. Yay sun!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sichuan Fog

Originally uploaded by knezovjb

This photo was taken on the highway between Chengdu and Kangding, which lies within a couple hundred kilometers of the epicentre of today's earthquake.

They were still in the middle of building the road the first time I travelled the route. We got stopped on the highway for three hours because of the construction--they had limited it to only one lane of traffic, and we were going the wrong way.

The mules they were using to carry the heavy rock looked exhausted, stumbling under the weight.

It was also here that I encountered my favourite Chinese toilet ever: two planks of wood sticking out over a cliff off the side of a road, covered by a tarpulin. Needless to say, I did not venture over the cliff to enjoy the facilities.

I wouldn't be surprised if part of this road is now covered by a rock slide, or if pieces of it haven't fallen off the side of the cliff.

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A self-indulgent post

I hate the feeling of helplessness. In fact, if I had to choose a single motivating drive in my life, it's avoiding that feeling of helplessness. And yet, here I find myself today. The earthquake in Sichuan, China, has brought me there again.

Terrible things happen around the world daily. Hourly. Probably even by the minute. I imagine it to be the opposite of the naive, or at least blissfully unconcerned, Amelie Poulin. Towards the beginning of the film, she imagines the number of people across Paris in simultaneous ecstasy. But what about those in pain and misery?

Of course, we tend not to think of those until it hits closer to home. I remember sitting in my flat in Kunming on 26 December 2004. I was lazing on the sofa in the bright winter sun and working the crossword. Then there was a slight rocking, the sofa tapped against the back of the wall and the curtains were swaying ever so gently back and forth. Back and forth. I thought it could have been an earthquake, so I logged on to the internet only to be confronted with the tsunami (it was an aftershock that I had felt).

In that rocking, there was solidarity, but NOTHING THAT I COULD DO. As Bauman argues, the media have given us artificial eyes, but they have not extended our hands. And so, a feeling of helplessness overwhelmed, and I made it my new year's resolution not to feel like that again.

Today, I have been imagining myself back in my seventh-floor walkup in Kunming. Imagining my life on a different path (a loop of Sisyphusion proportions?). But I would still be there, rocking, with nothing tangible to be done.

Here in London, how far has that boulder rolled? I tell myself I'm making a difference working in international development, but I can't help but cower before the surfeit of problems facing this world. Today, massive earthquake in Sichuan. Last week, killer cyclone in Burma - and thousands of times worse, a military junta so full of itself it is hindering international aid efforts. Mugabe is trying his best to steal the election in Zimbabwe (again). More fighting in Lebanon. A massive food price crisis leaving people starving across the world, even if there is enough food to go around. Darfur. Chad. Afghanistan. Iraq. And those are only some of the major problems, and that's only looking at serious (or potentially serious) humanitarian crises. There's much more simmering below the surface.

So, how to move beyond the paralysis?

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