Monthly archive for January 2009

Why I need to stop mumbling

At the hairdresser’s:

Large Lebanese Barber: Where are you from my friend?

Me: (indistinctly apparently) New Zealand.

Large Lebanese Barber: Israel?!?

Me: No, no, no NEW ZEALAND.

Oh how we laughed.

But there was a moment there where I suddenly became very aware that a hairdresser’s gown basically immobilises you, and scissors are just two knives, bolted together.

Anyway, I look like this now:

I thought I posted this already

But I apparently I hit a button that did something else instead.


Last week (two weeks ago now), the editor of Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickramatunga, was killed by gunmen whilst driving to work.

The widely suspected instigator of this murder is the government of Sri Lanka, led by Lasantha’s friend of over 25 years, President Rajapaksa.

If this weren’t already enough of a Greek Tragedy of a story, Lasantha, realising that the noose was tightening, editorialised his own death.

Its long, but worth reading, for even a small window into what’s happening in Sri Lanka at the moment, a conflict often oversimplifed or simply ignored in the international press.

It ends thus:

If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

Which is, ladies and gentlemen, Journalism with a capital J.

A billion dollars will buy you…

- Sponsorship of more than 54,000 ‘dollar a day’ children for 50 years.
- Almost 100 Bugatti Veyrons
- One million houses in Detroit
- Bebo (well last year anyway)
- Safe drinking water for everyone in the world for at least a month
- about 666 black market clones of yourself

and of course, 1 billion dollars. As “art”.

What 1 billion dollars will not buy you (according to the ever-so-down-on-their-luck Gulf construction industry)

- Safe transport to and from work for your poorly paid immigrant labourers.

This will in fact (apparently) cost 1 billion Bahraini Dinars. At the current peg of 2.66 US Dollars to the Dinar, that’s a lot of clams.

It would be an absolutely absurd, hilariously audacious claim, were it not for the fact that lobbying from the construction industry has (again) delayed the enforcement of this (2 year old) law and that the Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and others who are the underpinning of this whole 5 star hotel fantasy will continue to be huttled to and fro on the back tray of light trucks. If they’re lucky there’ll be a couple of wooden benches and a makeshift canopy. It goes without saying that the back of a truck usually doesn’t come furnished with nicities like air bags, crumple zones, or even that new fandangled ‘seat belt’ I’ve been hearing about.

Throw in some winter cold, some blistering summer heat, and some of the worst, most reckless driving you’ve (well, I’ve) ever seen, and these people are obviously going to keep getting mangled and killed at a fairly consistent rate.

At least they’re cheap to replace.

A Milestone

So this is it, after 28 years and a journey of several thousand kilometres, I have finally attained the ultimate state of ‘New Zealandernessism’.

I have joined a Rugby Club.

The Bahrain Rugby Football Club to be precise.

Granted, its only so that I can gain admission into the British Club, and use their pool and drink their cheap Guinness, but its still enough to make a man want to put on some stripey socks and pose with my arms crossed while Dave Dobbyn blares in the background; whipping myself into a frenzy of angry drunken disbelief every time my chosen group of men in tight jerseys fails to beat another group of men in similarly fitting garb in the contest of falling over at a designated place whilst carrying a ball.

Or something. Clearly I’m not good at this.

A picture is worth…

In which our intinerant blogging hero encapsulates the whole messy world of culture vs consumerism, old vs new, tradition vs youth, east vs west in one strikingly pithy image.



My week so far, in pictures

Well just one picture:

fail coke

A Lament

For the guy/gal who invented those glasses where you look through the zeros.

You had a pretty good run. Perhaps its some consolation that in a thousand years or so your idea may come back in vogue.

Or you could start poking out people’s left eyes in preparation for next year.

Jus’ sayin.

Disappointments 3

(this is like, the 2nd to last one I promise.)

On the occasion of the new year and the general state of things.

From ‘A State of Seige’ by Mahmoud Darwish

[To a killer:] If you reflected upon the face
of the victim you slew, you would have remembered your mother in the room
full of gas. You would have freed yourself
of the bullet’s wisdom,
and changed your mind: ‘I will never find myself thus.’

[To another killer:] If you left the foetus thirty days
in its mother’s womb, things would have been different.
The occupation would be over and this suckling infant
would forget the time of the siege
and grow up a healthy child
reading at school, with one of your daughters
the ancient history of Asia.
They might even fall in love
and give birth to a daughter [she would be Jewish by birth].
What, then, have you done now?
Your daughter is now a widow
and your granddaughter an orphan.
What have you done with your scattered family?
And how have you slain three doves in one story?

Here’s the whole thing, its pretty good if you like that sort of thing.