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the cinnamon peeler's wife

1.28.2005 at 10:35:00 AM

vagaries of existence

i apologize for the dearth of posts. school work (or at least my attempt to bs it) is keeping me very busy. well actually not so much work for my classes, but other stuff. so in the pipeline, i am applying for jobs (both for the govt and a bunch of ngos). additionally i have applied for various clerkships at any international adjudicatory body (itlos, icsid, icc, icj, etc.). i have applied to international law llm programs just to live in europe. also i am chairing the woodside speaker series and we are focusing on education, poverty, and disparity. so any speaker suggestions would be welcome. we are working on getting j. kozol (read his savage inequalities).
in terms of classes, besides the normal law ones (international ip, copyright, 14th amendment, professional responsibility) i am taking an arabic grammar class (oh so much fun) and a poli sci grad class (peace and conflict). what can i say i am a glutton for punishment. so that is what is up in my life. here are a few interesting tidbits for you all:

1. going to the chapel and i am going to get... no. no more weddings! since thanksgiving i have gone to a handful of weddings, mostly desi. and of course people continue to get engaged: desi and otherwise. i am tired of all the pressure, ostentation, guilt, gossip, and craziness that is a desi wedding. but there is nothing new about that and people continue to discuss marriage, relationships, and all that jazz. however recent discussion and some interesting articles sparked some new topics (and you all thought we had talked relationships to death!). all my friends are in three critical phases: 1- worrying about/hating marriage and yet talking about it nonstop (i.e. single) 2- in the lalaland that is the engagement/honeymoon phase and yes they can not stop talking about their angelic significant other (you are officially annoying) and 3- the "on my second child, have been married for years" girls who keep trying to convince the rest of us of their wedded bliss (we are not buying it!). anyway while i give my heartfelt congratulations to those in phases 2 and 3, i have to love all my girls (and guys) in #1. all i can say is for all this talking, phase 1 is fun. now when i say this people will respond that i am just trying to convince myself that i don't want to get married. it is not that, when (and if) it happens it will be (hopefully) wonderful. but right now life is fun and great. so for everyone fretting, stop. you don't have to wake up in the middle of the night for the crying baby. you get up and go whenever you want to. okay so you have deal with your mother's nagging, but from what i hear that nevers stops anyway. so let's enjoy the freedom! anyway if you are a smart woman, marriage is not a cakewalk! the men just want mommy article in the nytimes sparked much discussion among my friends and my inbox was flooded with comments about it. it was something we have always believed anyway that was just affirmed in the nyt. i watched 'love actually' again recently and the article made me see the movie very differently. the paradox faced by women reminded me of "women don't ask". this book is a must read for all professional women: how can one be assertive and not be labeled bitchy?
also on the topic a fairly comical look at non-desi (read white) weddings from a desi perspective. here's a great line: desi weddings have devolved into games of one-upmanship, with each family trying to outdo the last in terms of extravagance and ostentation. I'm expecting the next invitation sent to our home by carrier pigeon or perhaps inscribed in bricks of solid gold.
well i am (gulp) off to another one in philly next weekend!

2. galvanize. the new single off the chemical brother's new album: push the button. very catchy. something about it makes you listen. it samples some arabic music and it features q-tip from a tribe called quest. watch the video.

3. my poli sci class is full of first and second year phd students. for me it is a very interesting sociological study. the difference between grad students and law students is quite apparent. the jargon, the dress, and the outlook between graduate and professional students is interesting. as an outsider there is something romantic about the pure pursuit of knowledge that is academia, unsullied by the drive/race that is professional school. but on further thought (and listening to my sister suffer in grad school), i realize that i need a break from school.
anyway in the midst of yesterday's discussion of deterrence and nuclear war, the prof decided to bring up writing style. most grad students have heard the pleas about elegant writing. i totally agree, academic writing that is grating to the ear and abrasive to the mind is not good writing. dr. schweller reminds us that 9 out of 10 times, if you read something and it hurts your head this is not because you are too dumb to understand. rather it is due to the writers lack of ideas cloaked in verbal incoherence. using complicated sentences with a lot of big words does not result in good ideas. elegant and enlightening ideas are capable of being expressed in terse and simple language. beautiful prose has a cadence to it that makes it enjoyable to read. anyway he mentioned a great book for style: ten lessons on grace and clarity. i must admit that i like this book. it has good examples and focuses on modern american writing. i only wish my writing was graceful. on a totally random sidenote, in the same class someone mentioned america's plan for a 'gay bomb'. i thought he was loony but no it is true.

4. 12% of Americans believe that Noah's wife was Joan of Arc! so we are a country that believes God speaks in the bible but can't be bothered to read it. anyway the la times carries an interesting article showing while americans might be more religious than europeans, we are by far more ignorant about religion. comparative religion is a common topic in european schools, but alas the failures of the american public school system abound.

1.18.2005 at 11:19:00 AM

a little bit of law and other ramblings

1. happy mlk day. “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and ... when they fail to do this purpose they become dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” These words are from Dr. King's letter from Birmingham Jail. It was hearing these words that really pushed me over the brink, leaving behind med school, and embarking on the journey to law school. Establishing justice in the flow of history and social progress is accomplished through small changes: law and its manifestations are the bulldozers for the structured dams blocking the flow for so many. Maybe a foolhardy notion, but maybe i am not jaded as i thought.

2. so the report of the train fire in gujarat, india is out. just a small sidenote in the ny times. but the report confirms that the fire was an accident (not the result of a mob). but the aftermath of the fire is undisputed: 2500 Muslims killed in a systematic fashion. while in sri lanka, i had lunch with a prof from William & Mary, who was studying the Gujarat pogroms. he had found that the electoral rolls and public records had been distributed to the goondas ahead of time.

3. i have been reading Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail. It is almost eerie how closely the McGovern campaign against Nixon in 1972 mirrors this past election. Just as Kerry hopefuls imagined a huge turnout by those disaffected by Bush's policies, so did McGovern supporters. They saw students, civil rights supporters, anti-war activists, and other anti-Nixon people to turn out in droves to kick out Tricky Dick. Alas just as Bushie surprised all the blue staters, so did Nixon. Even Thompson had foreseen a McGovern landslide and was sadly disappointed. One explanation offered in the book is that no matter how many young voters you get, they ultimately vote just like their parents and thus do not affect the vote. Only about 10% of those actually disaffected vote and make a change. Additionally, no losing candidate in the last 50 years has got less than 40% of the popular vote, thus arguing that no major party candidate can be 20% different from the other candidate. Basically they are all the same. An interesting read.

4. saw spanglish and sideways this weekend. liked them both. spanglish is one of those feel good relationship/family movies- but nice nonetheless. sideways is hilarious, though not one to drink, the wine knowledge may be useful somewhere.

5. there is a nice article about doctors in pottuvil, sri lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami. pottuvil is a small almost 100% muslim town on the east coast of sri lanka. pottuvil is just outside of arugam bay, the hottest surfing spot in sri lanka. i stayed there for a fun weekend at a small hotel on the beach. pottuvil has a great eco-tourism spot with mangrove conservation. or at least it did. but anyway a nice story about a wonderful village. okay this was the place where the villagers wouldn't leave me alone but still i miss it.

6. i am in international intellectual property this semester. a class full of people who believe that corporations should rule the world. we have been discussing the strategic reasons why developing nations would adopt stringent ip laws. of course there is the aids medications debates. our prof threw out the idea of reparations for colonialism and giving away ip for this. people were in an uproar, it wasn't the poor corporations who colonized the third world (british east india company?). anyway along similar lines india may decide to stop producing their generic aids drugs and all this means just more problems for african nations that need the drugs desperately. the editorial is entitled: india's choice. but really the wto leaves very little in the way of choice, no more gatt ala carte, india just like other nations are pressured into adopting the new ip standards. how about price gouging: why are the same drugs sold in norway at a fraction of the cost that they are sold at in malawi?

7. by the way i am really enjoying les nubians. listen to them. also the garden state soundtrack is great!

addendum: in honor of bushie's second inauguration here is a great clip from jibjab. watch the one called second term. enjoy!

1.12.2005 at 11:02:00 PM

i have no energy

i know that my blog has not been updated in quite a few days. i do have lots of ideas for new entries. but i am being lazy. i think i have the seasonal disorder, without sunlight i am so tired. everyone who talks to me thinks i am dying. no i am alive just don't want to move. i feel like i am drained of all my energy.

it was very hot today: yucky and muggy. it is almost midnight and currently the temperature is 61 degrees! in the middle of january?

i just had cake from mozart's. yummmmmmmmm.

as a consolation, i will leave you with a funny clip entitled "gay boyfriend" (especially for all you single girls out there)

p.s. i will probably be in dc this inaugural weekend, should be exciting.

1.03.2005 at 9:05:00 PM

my head burns, and everything is circling about me

DA 34 TE MH. YRAE, February 349

No, I have no more strength to bear it! O God what are they doing to me! They pour cold water on my head! They don’t heed me, don’t see me, don’t listen to me! What have I done to them? What reason have they for torturing me? What do they want from me in my misery? What can I give them? I have nothing. I have not the strength, I cannot suffer all their tortures, my head burns, and everything is circling about me. Save me! Take me away! Give me a troika, steeds swift as the whirlwind! Drive on, man, let my bell ring out, soar upward steeds, bear me from this world! Further, further, that nothing may be seen, nothing. The sky whirls before me; a star glitters in the distance; the forest rushes on with its dark trees and the crescent moon; a violet mist carpets the ground; the string vibrates in the mist; the sea is on one side and Italy upon the other; and now the Russian huts appear. Is that my house that grows blue upon the distance? Is that my mother sitting before the window? Mother, save your wretched son! Drop a tear upon his aching head! Look how they torture him! Clasp a poor orphan to your breast! There is no place on earth for him! They are casting him off! Mother, have pity on your sick child!

(from The Diary of a Madman by Gogol)

i have wanted to write since it happened and yet every time i sat down to do so, my mind swirled and i could not. the passage from gogol came to my mind this week over and over. the picture is of arugam bay on the east coast of sri lanka. it was a wondrous sunrise after an amazing evening on the beach. the laughter of that night continuously echoes and the faces stream through my mind. this place no longer exists, swept away by the tsunami.

for days after the tsunami hit i was stunned. i could not sleep at night, i kept seeing the faces of the sri lankans with whom i had lived, worked, and traveled this summer. the small island where we went snorkeling doesn’t even exist. places that had been closed off by war till recently, like batticoloa or jaffna, have now been devastated by the waves.

i called colombo and spoke with various friends. thankfully, most of the people i knew were safe, but all of them had lost family members or friends. some of the australians i knew are still missing, now presumed dead. a grad student here lost 9 members of his family: his parents, his wife, his brother, and his young children. one of my roommates from the summer may be going back to aid with the relief effort. my relatives in orissa, india felt the aftershocks of the earthquakes. galle face road, where we used to take nightly strolls, has been destroyed as it approaches galle.

i visited a friend from sri lanka who happened to be in ohio for break. she was numb. i did not even have words to comfort her. i do not have any words of comfort.

now back at school, it seems a dream. a horrible nightmare. the beautiful places of my summer. the battered people who were rebuilding their lives after the war, now the poorest of them facing a tragedy beyond description. we are raising money through the local mosque which will be sent directly to villages in sri lanka, india, indonesia, and somalia.

also sri lankan airlines has agreed to fly medicines back for free from ny. we are collecting medications. i have a list from the colombo red cross. we are organizing trips to new york to deliver them. contact me if you can donate any medical supplies, i will send you the list of what they need.

please donate wherever you can. i know many companies have plans to match funds with their employees, take advantage of these. also there is the Red Cross, Islamic Relief, or many others.

i spoke with a friend who has been driving back and forth to the east coast of Sri Lanka with supplies. he has never seen so much death: stepping and tripping over bodies.

hum to samje the ke, barsaat me barse gi sharaab
aayi barsaat tho, barsaat ne dil tordh diya