Wow. Well my dear readers, another kind fellow-blogger, the Wanderlust Gene, has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! So I am considered both versatile and inspirational, which is very nice. Thanks so much to my friend half-way across the world on another tropical island – Sri Lanka. You can read her blog at https://thewanderlustgene.wordpress.com/. It’s wonderful – the photos and descriptions are stunning.
According to the rules, I am now supposed to list seven deeply fascinating (?) things about myself, so here we are:
- I have long, red (not natural) hair. It’s the first time I have had long hair since I was 20 years old, and I’ve always wanted to be a redhead.
- I have a passion for the Icelandic “post-rock” band Sigur Ros. They don’t know it, but I am their biggest fan.
- I love very tall trees, and have one in my yard in Kingston, Jamaica. In Australia, I fell in love with all the trees.
- I have a brother and a sister, both younger than me. Always hated being the oldest.
- The first reggae song I ever heard was Gregory Isaacs, “Soon Forward.”
- I love dark (bitter) chocolate and strong black coffee.
- I am tired of watering the garden every day during this never-ending drought
Not sure if the last one really counts, but it’s true!
Anyway, I hereby nominate the following for various reasons as the blogs that have inspired me the most recently:
- In Search of a Life Less Ordinary: Adventures in Making a Home Away from Home: http://www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com/. Reflections of a young Englishman living by the sea in Sydney, Australia – a great city which I have visited.
- Mirth and Motivation: Motivate. Elevate. Laugh. Live Positively… http://eof737.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth Obih-Frank’s blog is full of amazing quotes, images and thoughts. She calls herself an international nomad, teacher, trainer, motivator.
- Lady Romp: Truly one of my favorites, this blog explores the lives and achievements of women globally – from Margaret Thatcher to Winnie Mandela, and many others less famous. http://ladyromp.com/
- Time to Be Inspired: A lovely, fresh and optimistic blog with a great design and beautiful photos. http://timetobeinspired.wordpress.com/
- Informed Comment: I have learnt so much from this blog, a daily item of news on the Middle East“with an occasional look home at American politics” by Professor Juan Cole of University of Michigan. http://www.juancole.com/ With a liberal slant.
- Crazy Train to Tinky Town: I adore this blog – the adventures of a single woman living in Turkey. It makes me laugh, and it’s so vivid. http://crazytraintotinkytown.com/
- Alice’s Bucket List: http://alicepyne.blogspot.com/ Alice is a sixteen-year-old girl who has had terminal cancer for the past four years. Her motto is: You only have one life, live it!
Thanks to all. This is a nice idea, and I love my ever-expanding blogging community!
A number of random news reports and thoughts have brought the Petchary to this conclusion:
The world is not made up of the haves and the have-nots. It’s the must-haves (at all costs) and the never-will-haves (don’t even think about it, if you even know it exists).
Two juxtaposed items of television news, following so swiftly and heartlessly after each other, started this train of thought. Firstly, there was a report from a man with a high-pitched voice, reporting on the Mobile World Congress, currently proceeding at an intense pace in Barcelona, Spain – which looks like a highly-colored, arty picture postcard. The MWC’s shiny website has a social networking portal, a tab called “App Planet,” you can download the show daily, etc. The report included interviews with some very intense, clean-cut representatives of mobile companies, a strong emphasis on the Android (shades of “Blade Runner“) and all its wonders, new apps and new configurations, new models, new, new, new. The reporter interviewed girls with shiny hair and young men with black-framed glasses and bald heads about what their favorite mobile was and they mostly said, on cue, IPhone or BlackBerry. OK.
Immediately on the heels of this report, we were taken to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka – a beautiful, musical name, but a place where persistent flooding has taken many lives, and livelihoods, away. A man waded up to his chest from one rickety house to another in thick green water. There were concerns about contaminated wells. Since the beginning of this year, the floods have swelled steadily. The rain falls. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee… and where to? Paddy fields are under water, animals drowned. Yet another appeal for relief has gone out, but not enough money is coming in. There are floods in Pakistan, too; a food crisis in West Africa; conflict in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and of course Haiti has not recovered from the combined disasters of a huge earthquake, incompetent leadership, a returned dictator, cholera and a shambolic election process.
So, let’s see, here are a few things the Must-Haves, well, must have:
- Must have the latest Android app
- Must have the stylish boots for winter, or the cool skinny bikini for summer
- Must have a “killer” handbag – so very important
- Must have the same nail polish that Kate Hudson uses
- Must have a hair style like Rihanna
- Must of course have a BlackBerry – essential for the modern man/woman
- Must have a kitchen with a really big island in the middle
- And must-have kids must have all of the above, plus a really cool school bag/latest video game/MP3 player in shiny bright colors/cute sunglasses…etc, etc
- Never will have any of the above
- Wake up in the morning hungry
- Go to bed in the evening hungry
- Try to send their kids to school, but have to choose which one
- Have ageing, sickly parents
- Are afraid of getting sick themselves
- Are used to breathing in the stench of sewage and garbage
- Don’t know their birthday, or their children’s birthdays, and don’t celebrate them
- Only own two sets of clothes, or maybe only one
In my beloved island of Jamaica, the Must-Haves:
- Attend every party in hopes of getting their photos in the social pages of the latest newspapers (“we love how she/he is wearing this of-the-moment hot blue number”)
- Travel to Miami as often as they can to buy the latest fashions and electronic gadgets
- Go to “tweet-up” events, talk loudly over cocktails in bars
- Laugh very loudly in public
- Are seen in all the “fashionable” eating places and look around at everyone to make sure they are seen
- Engage in long conversations on their iPhones, BlackBerries etc – everywhere
- Sweep through Manor Park/Liguanea etc in their Toyota Prados while talking on the said mobile devices (occasionally mowing down humble Jamaican citizens at a bus stop, as happened recently)
- Stand in their front yard ordering their gardener around (make sure people see)
- Stand in their house ordering their helper around (make sure people hear)
- Complain about said gardeners/helpers to anyone who will listen
- Pretend not to be very bored indeed most of the time
- Don’t know what a cocktail is – white rum or Malta yes
- Doesn’t know what a tweet is
- Young males: spend 3/4 of their day sitting on the same shabby old wall (in the city) or under the same old tree (in the country)
- Young females: try to have sex with older men or even schoolboys for cash, food or clothing (in the city and the country)
- Have a cup of sweet tea for breakfast
- Always eat out of plastic containers
- Are afraid of the police, soldiers and officialdom in general
- Worry about their children’s health
- Live on gully banks or in tenement yards
- Can’t afford a pen, paper or a bus fare for their children to go to school (let alone lunch)
- Don’t possess a car, a birth certificate or a passport
- Have never traveled outside their community
The Petchary has discovered that it was apparently Miguel de Cervantes who coined the phrase “haves and have nots.” And of course, the ever-suave Humphrey Bogart and the sultry (but in this case very youthful) Lauren Bacall starred in a film called “To Have and Have Not,” based loosely on an Ernest Hemingway book of the same name and actually set in the Caribbean. Their off-screen relationship heated up during the filming.
The “must haves” are, however, not really a new breed, wherever in the world they live. We used to call it “keeping up with the Joneses.” It’s one way to spend your life, I suppose. And of course the “never will haves” were always around, and always will be.
Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
- The haves, the have nots and the dreamless dead (reuters.com)
- To Have and Have Not (1944) (filmsite.org)
- To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (1937 review) (nytimes.com)
- UN’s Sri Lanka appeal falls short
- Mobile World Congress
- 5 Online Must Have’s – My Valentine For You (cindyronzoni.com)
- Bless me father, for iHaveSinned: New iPhone ‘confessional’ app (inquisitr.com)
2011 hasn’t got off to an impressive start, has it. There are floods (Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka), famine (Kenya, parts of India), and indeed pestilence (Haiti, a few African countries). There have also been large quantities of birds falling out of the sky, and dead fishes floating side by side on the surface of lakes and rivers. All very Biblical, and very discouraging. And no, the Petchary does not believe in “the end of days.”
Let’s look at the famine (food) part of it, to start with. We can move on to the floods, pestilence and showers of dead birds in another post, perhaps. Today, a president, who has ruled his country (Tunisia) for as long as our adult son has been on this earth, fled from the power he so tenaciously clung to, leaving behind burnt barricades, bleeding and masked protesters and streets filled with the acrid scent of anger and pain.
How did the Tunisia crisis start? Well, there is a food connection. An unemployed young man was selling vegetables without a permit, and set fire to himself in protest. The first demonstrators shouted the slogan, “Bread, water, Ben Ali out.”
Of course, the protests took a political turn. And, as so often is the case, the high price of food was closely linked to dissatisfaction – essentially, anger – with the government in charge. Reuters reports the chant of Tunis protesters, ”We don’t want bread or anything else, we just want him to leave…After that we will eat whatever we have to.”
And, naturally, the gloomy specter of unemployment and lack of opportunity – social, educational and economic – shuffles around in the background, in shabby doorways. The dark shadow taps the young, eager-faced students on the shoulder, reminding them, “I’m here for you. Whenever you’re ready, here I am.”
Now food riots are contagious. The price of food (and perhaps, oil) can sometimes have the same effect as tossing a can of gasoline on an already smoldering bonfire. There have been riots in Tunisia’s close neighbor, Algeria, and now down into Jordan. Last September, there were food riots in Mozambique, where huge price increases were sparked by catastrophic fires in the great wheat fields of Russia during a tremendous heatwave.
Many developing countries, including little Jamaica, are highly dependent on imported wheat. We may have to change, and start producing more cassava flour, yam flour, breadfruit flour. Why not? The Petchary watched a TV report this week about how Indian cuisine is suffering because of the high price of onions. Well, guess what… find a substitute. We will all have to adapt, and we’d better start now. In Jamaica, we can stop moaning about the price of salt fish, too. It’s an anachronism, a colonial hangover that is just too expensive. Find something else.
Yes, we use words like “catastrophic,” “crisis” and “chaos” with increasing frequency, don’t we. Crisis is really sadly over-worked, and we try to find other words, like… well, there’s no word like crisis. It sums it all up.
Meanwhile, in Jamaica, there is the scare of food poisoning – which may seem trivial compared to the riots, but is also sometimes rooted in poverty and deprivation. After the death of an Argentine tourist at a Christmas wedding celebration, apparently from saltpeter liberally used instead of salt, a rash of ackee poisoning has broken out. Warnings are going out (as if we didn’t know) that ackees must be fully and naturally opened before they are consumed. But people are desperate, picking them when they are not open and therefore poisonous, and selling them. And again, desperate thieves are busy stealing sweet peppers and other crops from the fields of the long-suffering, industrious farmers, and selling the food with the residue of more poison – freshly sprayed chemicals – still on them.
Food and want, going hand in hand.
The Maputo riots last September were a direct result of climate change. Fire caused by high temperatures is a destroyer of crops. Floods caused by an over-enthusiastic La Nina in Australia and Brazil (yes, both the same cause) also destroy crops. So do the numerous hurricanes and storms that afflict the planet daily. Let’s bear this in mind, too.
Adaptation is the name of the game. Which means: get used to change; roll with the punches; make changes in our lifestyle; leave the cultural hangups behind; become self-reliant; think outside the box; prepare for the worst, even if we don’t know what that is.
A U.S. professor who visited Jamaica last year, an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas Fellow named Gerry Galloway, made a simple statement: ”The only thing we know for certain about climate change is that it is uncertain. The future is uncertain.”
Let’s get used to it, people.
- Sri Lanka floods hamper food distribution; 27 dead (ctv.ca)
- Revolution in Tunisia: photo gallery (boingboing.net)
- First Goes Tunisia, Next Goes… (businessinsider.com)
- Mozambique food riots: The true face of global warming