Sunday, January 30, 2005

Information blackhole and blogging from India

Gosh, it's been such a long time since I posted. Been busy, or at least pretending to be. In all my 4+ years of doctoral studies, I've yet to do any original research. Most of my work is that of the eager beaver who fetches scraps from what appears to be an information blackhole. I mean there is just so much information and data generated about any given subject and yet, it is so hard to retrieve and coherently put together all of it to build your own arguments. Hopefully, the next few months would have me collecting my own data and though I'm terrified of doing primary research (as opposed to crunching numbers), I'll get over it. Besides, I'll get to spend time at the ports and I just love the energy and heaving mass of that landscape. Of course I love the ocean too.

On the personal front, it's been the same as ever. S is still looking for a job, which he would have found a long time ago if he had looked harder. But then, S lives his own rythm and as I speak is taking a boat out to the ocean for a glorious day of sailing. I could have been there, but chose not too. Someone has to be the no-fun in the relationship.

Been reading a lot of blogs lately, mostly written by Indians based in India (or students in the US or UK like me). Usually I read blogs on Indonesia and the rest of Asia by expats and that's fun when well written. The Indian blogs were quite interesting. Most are written by very smart folks who have a way with words. They are also quite prolific and are voracious readers/music fans/film buffs/couch potatoes. Almost all of them clearly write for a readership (so it's not really a monologue, but then which blog is?). I do get the sneakly feeling that there is a desire to dazzle, not just write and contemplate. There is a lot of wordplay, obscure references, convoluted witticisms, something that most of the Indonesian expat blogs don't seem to do (though the ones writing them are also really intelligent). The most annoying characteristic though? The VS Naipaul obsession. Jeez, why? There's life beyond Naipaul, and by all accounts at this point he's pretty much a has-been author. And yet, everything that he says about India is dissected and analyzed as if our lives depended on it.

Also, a lot of these blogs are written by Bongs which explains the cleverer than though posturing. So that's my 2 cents of the day, and now I'm off in search of some grub. Which is not an easy endeavour given that I feel like eating Thai and Em wouldn't touch the stuff. And S is not here to bias the vote in my favour. We might end up with Mexican which is a happy compromise everytime I think salsa. Mmmmmmm.....salsa and chips (make appropriate Homer Simpson noise).

Monday, January 03, 2005

I've been reading every scrap of information on the tsunami tragedy on the few websites I visit over the last few days. And then yesterday, I sort of reined myself in a bit. I thought I was getting too caught up in the information aspect of it, too engrossed in the numbers. Perhaps I'm just trying to mask my own helplessness in the matter. Cannot do much, so just try to read the news and remind myself that the people suffering are brown, just like me. I guess I should not get overwhelmed, the business of living becomes altogether impossible then. Anyway, this blog provides vital information on the situation on the ground as well as agencies to donate to. Everyone's doing their bit.

Haven't heard from Azwar though I wrote to him about 5 days back. Hope his family's safe. Didn't know what corner of Aceh they were living in. Hard to imagine what he must be going through.

On another note, had to write a bunch of emails sending wishes for the new year. Last year, I had gone generic with everyone and got roundly criticised by Emil. This year I was a bit more careful, sending personalized emails to closer friends. You don't realise and suddenly there are so many people to keep in touch with, so many to touch base with. I try not to spread myself too thin, but then it is always nice to have several layers of friendships with different types of encounters reserved for different folks.

Spent New Year's Eve in a stranger's house in the middle of nowhere. Not as alarming as it sounds, I mean, the place was in LA County, and I kind of had a vague idea where it was, but it did seem like middle of nowhere when we reached there. And the hostess was someone we had only seen once (in Em's cousin's place) and her claim to fame with the boys was her rather nice ass, which made them very willing to attend her party. It was a fun party, not too intense, but with all our friends. On the way back Em and Suze were drunk in the back of our car, and boogeying to the music. Suze was screaming at me from time to time: "Dance bitch!"

It's the middle of the night and it's raining outside. That's a bit depressing. Actually that's quite depressing. Pitter-patter rain annoys me.