Saturday, April 29, 2006


Listening to: 'Call Me When You Get This' by Corinne Bailey Rae [Corinne Bailey Rae]

For those who are a bit confused as to why the BBC is no longer cool enough to be linked to on this blog *cough cough*...

Recent events in Sri Lanka have been reported on by the BBC news website. It is my view that these reports are biased, and the information they carry is in some cases untrue, and in others, exaggerated. These reports have also omitted certain details which would be considered important. In my opinion, responsible journalism should be impartial and factually accurate. Since the BBC coverage of the situation in Sri Lanka fails to meet either of these criteria, I don't see their journalism as being responsible... And a worldwide news agency that advocates irresponsible journalism is...well, not cool.

I will not discuss the topic addressed in the articles for the reasons I mentioned in my previous post. You are however, invited to Google that is still cool, regardless of what they wanna call it in Chinese!

Hope this clears things up, Anon!

P.S.- I finished Sustainability!!! :D

P.P.S.- Corinne Bailey Rae is awesome...check out her music if you haven't been mesmerised as yet!

P.P.P.S.- I should really stop post-scripting everything.

Dogs bark, caravan passes...

Listening to: 'Maha Pirith'

I told myself I wouldn't start a political discussion on this blog for two reasons:
a) It just makes my blood boil
b) There are plenty of blogs out there which say the exact same thing I'd say, and it seems pointless to echo them.

Instead, I will turn to the Dhammapada, as I always (should) do. One of my all-time favourites suggests how we should react to the treatment Sri Lanka has been getting from the global media...
Selo yatã eka ghano – vãtena na samirati
Evam nindã pasamsãsu – na samijjhanti panditã
(Pandita Vagga, #6)
This translates to:
Just as a mighty boulder
stirs not with the wind,
so the wise are never moved
either by praise or blame.
Stay calm, my fellow countrymen.

In light of the irresponsible journalism seemingly advocated by the BBC, my 'Cool Stuff' sidebar no longer links to their website...I don't think they are all that cool.

OK back to Sustainability...yes I'm still on Sustainability!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Compost tea, anyone?

Listening to: 'Trouble Sleeping' by Corinne Bailey Rae [Corinne Bailey Rae]

I've had a good day, as far as revision goes. Two chapters of Sustainability...and only dozed off once! How cool is that?

Sustainability is an interesting subject. Let me enlighten you *muahahahaha*. Basically, it's a subject that shows us engineers the detrimental effects of industrialisation and technological advancement that disregards the environment...and it presents suggestions on how to overcome the issues we face (global warming, famine etc.). From what I've been reading today, this course could've easily been called 'How Our Predecessors Messed Up Our Future' and the message wouldn't have changed at all. Scientists and engineers have spent the past few decades trying to modify techniques that shouldn't have been implemented in the first place. By trying to 'maximise yields' (and profit), we've seemingly dug ourselves into a hole that's almost too deep to crawl out of. Oops.

Yes, I said almost. Why? Because I'm an engineer...engineers are ingenious...we come up with practical solutions to the most difficult problems, using the knowledge we get from scientists. I'm confident that we'll get us out of this mess. Either that, or there'll be some form of natural/human-caused genocide somewhere on the planet that'll bring the population back to a more decent value. I remember that from O/L Social Studies...some guy said (too long ago for me to remember the name) that when things get too bad, some kind of disaster will get rid of 'excess' population. Sounds quite heartless, doesn't it?

Population...another one of my concerns, post-Sustainability revision. We've spent much of the past few generations improving the quality of human life. Advancements in the medical world have led to eradication of diseases, cures for congenital conditions...we've even had reverse heart transplants! (No cure for cancer yet, but I think Venus is gonna do something about that, aren't you my dear? ;-) ) The old live longer, the young live to grow old. A nice life, when I think about the fact that my grandfather plays with his two great-grandsons. But all these people have to eat. They have to drink. They have to be clothed. They need a roof over their heads. Have we created a society that we can't provide for? The way I see it, previous generations of scientists and engineers haven't taken into consideration the fact that our Earth is finite. Now we have to work with them to establish ways of overcoming the consequences of assuming an endless supply of resources.

It worries me...that as I go into my PhD in Biotech, I might be helping to develop a technique that drives our society further into dependence on finite resources. Shouldn't I be contributing to something that's more sustainable? Yes I know He said we should not dwell over the past, or worry about the future...but concentrate on the present instead. But somehow that seems apathetic and short-sighted in this respect. Wouldn't the characteristics of Samma Ajiva include consideration of the long-term consequences of one's industry? I wish I was at home...temples and wise monks are always nearby.

It's late. I'm rambling. Sustainability has messed up my head big time. My bed is calling. I should answer.

Oh almost forgot...the Sri Lankan national Cricket team was in Cambridge for their first warm up match, and I got photos of me with famous cricketers (the one with Murali being the prize). Me is quite chuffed!

BTW in case you were wondering...the title isn't that random. Compost tea is a seemingly viable alternative to pesticides (horrid things that poison our waterways and food).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just to be close to you

Listening to: 'Lady (You Bring Me Up)' by Lionel Richie & The Commodores [The Definitive Collection]

Yup, I'm in a Lionel Richie mood. He's been on nonstop since 10am this morning...except perhaps when I was listening to an side-splitting impersonation of a strange new Pizza Hut ad from back home (you know who you are :P ). Lionel Richie's amazing...he takes bloody ages to come out with an album, but when it does come's amazing. Thinking back, when I was little...I think I called him Richie Lionel :D

I'm just finishing dinner. Quarter to eleven isn't when I'd like to eat dinner, but oh well. I've been sitting in front of the laptop all day looking at numerous graphs...mindnumbing Data ANALysis. I'm so bored, it's unbelievable. And my elbows are really bony so I keep knocking them on the desk while typing...they hurt.

Still loving the BBC. I only have issues with them when they cover news stories from home, 'cos I don't think they're that impartial. I guess the same applies for every other country...but at the end of the day, some news is better than no news (or is it?). Some interesting articles today, ranging from Tom Cruise's weird sense of humour (it might make you queasy; thanks for the tip Venus!), to guys exchanging paper clips for houses! What a strange world we live in, eh? There was also a report on the wave of left-leaning leaders in South America....maybe the Middle East isn't all the US has to worry about? I dunno, I don't claim to be an armchair I can't really judge.

There was also an article about Tony Blair encouraging more international students to come and study in the UK. I'm someone who has benefited from such an education, and I would recommend it to anyone. Quite a few of the people who've commented on the article seem to think that international students have a substandard secondary education and are less intelligent than their UK counterparts, and they also seem to have forgotten where universities get their funding from. Wonder what song they'd sing if we all stopped paying fees and went back home.

I wish I was at home. Dinner would be on the table at 8, hot chocolate/water/whatever-I-wanted-to-drink would just be a "please" away...all I had to do was study. No wonder A/Ls were easy...I didn't have to worry about anything else! And of course there's the added bonus of getting hugs from my mother whenever she'd walk past my room. Aaaargh missing Mother...but if I tell her, she'll feel sad, and I can't do that to her. Grit my teeth and wait till end of June, yeah? yeah. The hugs will come. And the squeals at graduation (I'm half expecting her to squeal inside Senate House...would not be good). And the smiles on hers and my father's faces when I'm wearing that silly mortar board and gown and having my picture taken. Everything is worth being able to see that. that homesickness (or rather, parentsickness) is out of the way, I shall wind up. To dirty dishes, and beyond!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I ♥ BBC News (most of the time)

Listening to: 'Better Together' by Jack Johnson [In Between Dreams]

Nothing to do with me this time. I've been visiting the BBC World News site quite a bit recently...possibly my only link to the outside world while being stuck in revision mode. Along with the slightly bizarre articles about ear wax removal in Japan and lawsuits over Easter bunny rights, a few more relevant articles have caught my eye. In keeping with the tradition of ranting whenever something stirs me, I shall comment on these articles.

Violence over Indian star's death

So what's this we read about from the land of Mahatma Gandhi? One of South India's most celebrated actors has passed away peacefully (or as peacefully as a cardiac arrest would allow) at the age of 77. So what do a handful of his fans do? They set buses and cars alight and stone offices in Bangalore, because...erm...erm...(I can't think of a good reason, can you?)

While I can understand (but not condone) the violence following cancellation of the England v. India match in Guwahati, I can't find any sense in the violence following Rajkumar's passing.

It's a shame that countrymen of the greatest advocate of nonviolence in recent times cannot follow his example.

Moral police hit Mumbai nightlife

I know it seems like I'm picking on Mother Lanka's big sister, but she seems to be asking for it. Now personally, I have no opinion on dancing girls. If they're making what they consider to be an 'honest' living, then that's fine by me. Exploitation of women is an issue, but if those being *exploited* don't mind, I don't think there's anything that can be done about it. You can't force anyone to drop their career without giving them a viable alternative.

What irritates me when reading the above article is the attitude of the stereotypical upper class, which seems to be quite similar in India and Sri Lanka. The article mentions 'regular party-goers' who are seemingly distressed by the thought of having to leave a nightclub at 1.30am instead of 4.30am (hmm...wonder what time they were planning on sleeping). Now I'm not averse to clubbing, and I have been quite a few times and have enjoyed myself thoroughly. However, if a club's going to close a few hours earlier than before, it doesn't bother me.
The way I see it, a club closing early means I'd save some money that would otherwise be spent on least I'd think that way if I did drink.

In my limited experience, these 'regular party-goers' are less the hard-working individuals who like to enjoy an occasional night out with their friends, and more the socialites of the land who live off inherited wealth. Is there nothing in these people's lives other than flashing their money around and partying? Is this a time to be partying? We come from countries where over half of our population spends the night worrying where the next day's meals are going to come from. Sometimes I think the stereotypical upper classes aren't a part of our countries. They live in Cuckoo Land where everything you want can be bought and that's it. No poverty, no sadness, no suffering, no reality.

Now I'm not saying that we should all leave our comfortable lives and go and feed the poor. Not all of us can be humanitarians, and if we tried, our social structure would collapse. BUT, while as upper or upper-middle class citizens we are able to enjoy a certain level of comfort, I don't think we're entitled to grumble about things that aren't necessary. Your world is not going to end because you have four pairs of designer jeans instead of five. The sky isn't going to fall down because you couldn't go to the *party of the century* (or at least 'party of the century' until next week's party). In the words of Lord Buddha, Anicca vata sankhara - all is impermanent.

Hopefully the blindness of the stereotypical upper classes is impermanent too.

n.b.: I have used the term 'stereotypical' when generalising about upper class behaviour. I acknowledge that quite a few members of the upper classes do realise the situation in their homeland and don't let their wealth and social status go to their heads, and that it's only a prominent few who give the upper classes a bad name.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Because you don't do work during the Punya Kaalaya

Listening to: nothing (I'm supposed to be revising, you see...)

I've been dozing off at my desk for the past few hours, so I thought I'd type up something here to wake myself up (see I knew this blog would have its uses!) It's not that I don't enjoy reading about Catalysis and the Kinetics of Desorption...probably just that I don't enjoy revising. I know I'm not the only one.

What's the Punya Kaalaya, you ask? Well, it's the time between the Old Year and the New a No Man's Land between countries. Traditionally, you're not supposed to engage in work during that time. You're supposed to be with the family and engage in religious (i.e. meritorious) activities...go to temple etc.. Well, considering I'm in bloomin' England, they're both out of the question! Unless of course this was London...but it's not. Oh well.

Was talking with Angel on Tuesday. Unavoidable circumstances resulted in her finally getting on MSN :D It was amazing to talk to her in real time after such a long time. Well OK, I did see her in December...but that was aaaages ago! And so we had the customary gossip session...a.k.a. "So what have you been up to men?" - it was quite funny, for while she's been having the time of her life...I've been quite dormant. I don't mean in a 'life in general' sort of way...instead, I'm referring to the affairs of the heart. Some of the questions she asked me led me to question myself later on. Have I resigned myself to spinster-status? Is this a problem? What am I doing with myself? What happened to my vision of getting married at 25? Where are the three kids going to come from? Am I ever going to find that someone? Am I even bothered about it?

*Sigh*...I really don't know. I've taken my own cool time healing my wounds...they're healed now, but I've aged. I am 22, I look...18 (or less?) apparently, and I feel 35. Surely this can't be right? I'm exhausted. Dealing with fickle humans is tiresome. Perhaps that's why most people avoid confrontation...a sort of 'self preservation' exercise. Back to the point. I've been out of the social 'game' for years. To be honest, I was never in the game...I was hunted down and swept off my feet (LOL thinking about it still brings a smile to my face, regardless of the massive *thud* that followed when I fell back down to Earth). Someone once said:
Relationships are less about turning heads and more about turning hearts...
Let's face it...I'm not the type to turn heads. But how do you turn someone's heart if they don't notice you're there? And how will they notice you're there without you turning their heads? Listen to me trying to turn heads! What's the point when there isn't even
a prospective object of affection/admiration/infatuation/whatever-you-wanna-call-him? As has become the case on many occasions, I am left not knowing. Prince Charming...if you're out there, I hope you're making plans...'cos I'm not!

In other news, I bought a WebCam! Am hoping the parents will venture online tomorrow, so that I may give them their New Year gift . I'm quite thrilled with this little gizmo. As I told Shorty in an email...
It's so cute...sitting on the laptop, peering at me from above the monitor. Looks like a little animal.
I clearly need more sleep.

Anyway, here's wishing each and every one of you a peaceful and prosperous Sinhala & Tamil New Year!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Oh for some motivation (and some money)

Listening to: nothing these days...can't listen to music while revising

What a lazy Sunday. Woke up at 10 after going to sleep at 4 (no I wasn't partying...well, I was-ish...then I came back and did half a chapter of Optimisation). Had a nice chat with the parents. Went to hall. Came back. Tried Sustainability. Man why are there so many words in those handouts?!?!?! We're scientists...we can't handle prose! Fell asleep numerous times, checked Facebook numerous times, checked BBC News numerous times (they have some nice pictures up at times)...carried on with Sustainability. Then went to hall again. And came back again. And back to Sustainability. And back to dozing off every fifteen minutes. Finished chapter and moved on to report writing. Ugh not liking my Results section. I might scrap it and do it again tomorrow.

But wait...I can't do that tomorrow 'cos I'm gonna be running around Cambridge begging for money! First stop department to beg for funding. Second stop college to beg for funding. If neither works out, bye bye PhD!

It's funny how these things work out. Just a few months back, I had two out of five replies - both rejections. I thought "that's it...better find a job, no PostGrad for me!" Then last month, I had two more replies - both offers. And yesterday, another offer. Suddenly (almost) everyone wants me! But they also want me to be really really rich - which isn't gonna happen. So essentially, I'm back at square one. Unless college decides that they love me so much, they're going to pay me to study. Ah the plight of international students. Some are lucky enough to be sponsored by companies or their governments. Others, like myself, have to hope for scholarships and be really nice to Daddy. I better not stop looking for a job.

Moving on...New Year this week!!! Apparently the New Year dawns at 1.49am on Friday. I'll probably be awake doing my report. Not too keen on making milkrice at 2am, but I might make it on Friday morning for breakfast Oh it's at times like these that I miss home the most. We're not a very traditional family, but there's still the ritualistic visit to the grandparents'...a massive family get together with all my little cousins and nephews. Awww. And the food! How could I not mention the food? Ugh I miss kavum. So oily, but so good :D

The stuff on the top right hand corner is what it's all about :D Maybe I can get my parents to send me some through someone who's gone home for Easter. Ooh getting excited just thinking about it!

Right...1am again. I've definitely underperformed today. Not good. And tomorrow's a long day. And waking up is hard to do.

P.S.- Just realised that the concept of New Year in April is not common to all...basically, the Sinhala & Tamil New Year marks the astrological transition from Pisces (Meena) to Aries (Mesha), and is celebrated in a big way at home, with numerous auspicious rituals and timings...and food :D

Saturday, April 08, 2006

And Voltaire said...

Listening to: 'My Stupid Mouth' by John Mayer [Inside Wants Out] (ironic, eh? :D)

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

It's been a tumultuous week on this blog. I've been virtually hugged, accused of spending too much time feeling sorry for myself, and advised on the meaning of friendship. I have to say, all this has left me feeling a tad disillusioned - about my lofty ideals of friendship, about how many true friends I really have, and about the freedom of expression. I also have to say, I love it. I love learning new things that cause me to question what I have already assumed to be true. At first it would seem distressing, but the realisation that follows is like the clear blue sky that appears after the storm.

I feel there are two points which I haven't addressed as yet (most were addressed in my last post), so I shall attempt to address them now.

It has been suggested that I diminish (or even expel) my expectations of friendship, to minimise my disappointment. While initially this sounds like a good idea, the idealist in me screams out nooooo! - maybe finally I've realised what's truly important to me. While I like to have 'friends' around me, I'm not willing to compromise my ideals just so I have more friends, or so that I never get disappointed. This may sound selfish, but like I's what is important to me. My convictions are the most important thing to me...everything else in the world is fickle. While alleviation of suffering is a Buddhist concept, in order to alleviate that suffering, one must first identify suffering, and accept that it is a part of everything...especially that which makes us happy (the first stage of the Caturarya Satya)...only once this has been accepted, can one go about ridding oneself of the craving that brings on suffering (the second, third and fourth stages of the Caturarya Satya). The way I see it, it is up to me to accept that not everyone will be able to surmount the bar, and to be OK with that. I will not lower the bar (for that would be giving in to the desire to have more friends), but I won't look down upon those who can't reach it. Maybe my fault is believing that the bar can be reached by everyone who approaches it. In that, maybe I have found a compromise within myself: I haven't lowered my expectation of friendship, but I have accepted that not everyone can satisfy my expectations...and that is not a fault of anyone. A resolution to be less harsh on those who let me down, perhaps? We shall see.

The other issue that has been raised is my right to comment on others in a public domain. In this respect, I refer you to the quote at the beginning of this post, by our dear friend Voltaire. I maintain that I am not criticising people just because I feel like it. I use this blog as a means of expressing myself in times of joy and turmoil alike, and I think (judging by the comments I've received) I receive advice on how to deal with these situations. While I might not always agree with the advice given, I always listen to it...and it helps me form my own, revised opinion on the subject (see above). I like to think that the advice I receive on this blog is far more objective than that which I'd receive from a confidante, as his or her advice would probably be biased (and watered-down, for the sake of showing support). I also stress that no real names are used in this blog, apart from my own (and that's only in comments by people I know). So only people involved would know whom I'm referring to...and they already know how I feel, so it shouldn't make a difference. In my eyes, presenting my opinions for all to see is far more honest than grumbling to someone (over and over again) in hushed tones in a darkened room, and pretending everything is OK to the outside world. It's not a popular concept, and I accept that. But it's the concept I believe in, and I hope you can accept that. No, it isn't pleasant...but then nothing truly is.

So please...when you read this blog, remember Voltaire...he was one cool dude.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reply to Anonymous #3

Listening to: nothing at the moment

First of all, I'll put an update of what's going on in my life soon...been quite busy (not necessarily with revision, which is a bad thing).

Right...on to what this is about. Anonymous #3, I'd like to thank you for your comment on my last post. In a world of undue judgment, it was refreshing to see some (mostly) constructive criticism. Something about the way you write (which, by the way, I greatly admire) makes me think that I know you; but since you haven't given me your name, I'll never know. If we haven't met, then I'm surprised that you feel you can pass judgment on what type of person I am just by reading a few rants. If we have met...then as you're not feeling courageous enough show your face, ideally I don't feel I need to justify my actions or opinions to you. However, for the purpose of posting a reply to your comment (and because at the end of the day, all of us feel the need to justify our decisions), I will attempt to address the issues you have commented on.

You've mentioned that I have to accept my friends for what they are, in order for them to accept me for what I am. I do, to a certain extent. The only issues I have with these people is when it comes to the meaning of friendship. To me, friendship is about being there for each other all the time, not just when the times are good. Friendship is about not being afraid to stand up for your friends when they're being treated unfairly, even if it makes you unpopular. Friendship is about trusting your friends enough to place your life in their hands, and being trustworthy enough for them to put their lives in yours. Friendship is about sharing laughs in the good times, and sharing hugs in the not-so-good. Friendship is about not being afraid to tell your friend when you think they're wrong, 'cos at the end of the day it's for their own good, and you want nothing more than for them to be happy...and being able to accept it when they tell you that you're wrong, for the same reason. So when my 'friends' do things that disagree with my ideas on friendship, I get upset. You say that changing myself doesn't necessarily make me fake. In my opinion, changing what I believe in just so that people like me, does.

You also mention that I should take matters into my own hand, and if these friends aren't a part of that future, it's their loss. I agree, I should. And I believe one of my main (if not my main) shortcomings is that I depend too much on others for my happiness. I have improved over the years, but the road is long and sometimes I falter. I am not perfect. I do try to improve though...hopefully I'll get brownie points for that.

In another paragraph, you question the suitability of this blog, with respect to the reactions of those who read about themselves in it. I have two things to say about this. One: those whom I comment about in this blog, already know how I feel about their actions. I have no issues with confrontation, and my blog entries are usually made after they have been informed of my opinion. So if they were to be pushed away, that would've happened before they got to my blog. Two: surely if my blog is pushing away those who upset me, then I'm effectively taking your advice (and that of many others) and ridding my future of these people?

There are a few other things you mentioned, which I feel are less constructive...but I'll address them anyway.
Change yourself or change your friends.
Would it not be more beneficial if both changed? A compromise, more than a give-take?
You're grown up now, life isn't fair.
I don't recall ever saying that it was. (to be honest) come across as someone who spends too much time feeling sorry for herself
One blog post maybe once a week (sometimes less frequent) spent lamenting about things that I can't change is 'too much time feeling sorry' for myself? Unless you know me, you won't know what I'm like at other times. And if you do know me, then you can't truly care about me, or you would've told me all this to my face.

Hmm...I finally feel I have adequately addressed the points you raised. So now I shall go and study. Thank you once again, Anonymous has been a truly invigorating discourse.