Democracy – Lame Duck or Dead Duck?

Excellent piece by my friend Michael O’Leary if you’re wondering what the hell is going on in UK politics these days.

Padraig Colman

This article was published in Ceylon Today on September 26 2019

https://ceylontoday.lk/print-more/41193

I have been reading a very depressing book called How Democracies Die by Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. They go back as far as Peron’s populist subversion of Argentinian democracy beginning in the 1940s which eventually led to the horrors of rule by a military junta in which dissenters were dropped out of helicopters. In between, they cover the overthrow of Chile’s democratically-elected president in a military coup sponsored by the USA. They analyse more recent examples such as Erdoğan in Turkey and Trump in the USA.

The book was published in 2018, so they do not cover the ongoing farce that is Brexit. In the UK, as I write, there is fierce contention over the meaning of “the will of the people”. This is a dispute that could lead to civil unrest and has already…

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Freelancing and mental health

Except for the bit about children, I can very much relate to this.

EAT SLEEP EDIT REPEAT

Note: I agonised over whether I should share this post at all, especially on my work blog – but I decided it is better to talk about these things. I also stressed over what to call it, but decided anything else would be a euphemism.   

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I haven’t done it before partly because I didn’t dare to admit weakness, and partly because I felt too inert to actually crank out the words.

For those who know me, online or in real life, that part about inertia might seem unlikely, I know. I run an editorial business. I mentor other editors. I have two children, and do my fair share of looking after them. I write short stories and novels in my spare time. I’m studying part-time for an MA. I blog. Sometimes I manage to vacuum the stairs…

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A Move, A Break or A Decision

The title makes little sense, neither did my head when I finally decided to leave the country I have called home since October 2004, yep 13 years.

13 years of joy, sadness, hurt, immense moments of happiness, fun, near-death experiences, sickness, health, evil and good, and fucking great, absolutely dreadful, but fantastic too. Beauty and ugliness, rich and poor, intense colour, and black and white. Sometimes, sadly, just black. Not meaning the dark-skinned smiling faces, no. The darkness of depression.

The country I probably love as much as I do my own has certainly made me who I am today, and I must acknowledge that. People who holiday there, those who spend extended holidays there, and even those who pop in and out for work or what have you, will not have experienced what I have, or ever will.

That in itself does not bother me. Everybody is different. I made things difficult for myself mostly. BUT, no regrets. What bothers me is a multitude of numerous things (HA! How many can I fit in she wonders… a multitude of infinite things perhaps…). But, relax not now. Later, maybe.

People inadvertently want things to work out at the beginning. Nobody likes telling their friends and family a job did not work out, they were fired maybe or decided it was not for them. Their relationship broke up, they cheated on their husband or wife or they have a regret about something else big. Whatever, nobody is 100% perfect, people fuck up – fact.

Well, my stuff just was not working out. I needed to leave. I fought this feeling for over a few years to the detriment of my health (mental AND physical). I am now in Holland and doing great. I miss many things. I really do but no lists here, not now.

This article is about transition. So no photos of curries, people, animals and sunsets that I miss, no sentimentality, no moaning, no nothing.

Also no blurb about the benefits and pitfalls of Holland, no photos of cheese, people, animals and sunsets, no sentimentality, no moaning, no nothing.

Just an article to say – hey this is what I just did. It’s not so difficult to make a big step. I am going back soon, but not like before. Because I learnt my lessons the hard way.

So, I am in Haarlem (NL) for now – more to follow on that!

 

The Sri Lankan Phobia of the Confident Woman

Excellent perspective on sexist issues in Sri Lanka today.

three sugars in my tea.

For a country that won’t shut up harping on the fact that it elected the first female Prime Minister, Sri Lanka sure can’t stand to see a strong woman hold her own without giving into some innate need to tear her down.

A strong, opinionated woman who is willing to face her oppressors head on, an anti-thesis to the patriarchy most of them have been fed since birth. Conflicting with what they’ve been raised to expect from women – quiet, docile, and with a physical appearance for their pleasure.

I suppose it’s most visible online, since we’re all drowning in our digital existence [don’t deny it], and the comments and memes are too hard to ignore. While the harassment of women online is not specific to any particular type of woman, those who step out with confidence in themselves and in their convictions are going to get torn down solely…

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Overflow

Excellent blog post by a volunteer about the good and the bad of the relief efforts in the recent floods & landslides to hit Sri Lanka. As Indi brilliantly put it “Sri Lankans are actually amazing in a crisis, but if we were organized we could actually be effective.”

three sugars in my tea.

Endless lessons have been learned in the last week of witnessing and being involved in activity to help support families affected by floods in their time of need. Lessons we’ve learned on the go and after making mistakes, as this relief effort has by and large been a trial and error system put in place by thousands of concerned citizens. There have been overflows everywhere – in our rivers, in our lakes and in our hearts, as laid out in the observations below.


Social Media

I might spend time on it but I’m actually not a fan of Facebook. Until last week.

I was added onto two groups #FloodReliefLKA Volunteers and Flood Relief Sri Lanka – Volunteers – that were functioning as two large hubs for information exchange on needs and availability of items.
Long story short, it was a blessing and a curse. Blessing in that someone who needed…

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Vesak 2016, One Like No Other

Today is Vesak Poya (full moon) Day. It is probably the most important festival of the year in the Theravada Buddhist calendar. Buddhists commemorate the three most important events that took place in the life of Lord Buddha on this Vesak Poya Day (always the first full moon in the month of May). First is the day Siddhartha Gautama was born, which took place under the arbour of Sat trees in in Lumbini Park on the Nepalese border where Queen Mahamaya gave birth to him. The second event was Siddharta Gautama’s supreme enlightenment as the Buddha, under the Bodhi tree in Gaya. The third event was Lord Buddha’s Parinibbana (passing away) over 2,500 years ago at Kusinagar.

lord-buddhas-parinibbana
Lord Buddha’s Parinibanna

YAMU states that “Vesak is traditionally the most observed day of uposatha, the Buddhist day of observance. Devotees flock to the temples to observe ‘Ata Sil’ (the eight precepts), spend the day in meditation and attending sermons, and generally partaking in dana (giving), sila (observing precepts) and bhavana (meditation). Vesak usually attracts the most number of attendees out of all twelve annual Poya days”.

“Even the seemingly ‘secular’ celebrations around Vesak carry deep spiritual meaning. Offering flowers is a way to contemplate the way the flowers wither and die in the sun, just as every being does, and a reminder to be mindful of the fragility and impermanence of life. The eight-sided classic Vesak lantern is meant to represent the Ata Lo Daham (the eight vicissitudes of life – gain and loss, good repute and ill repute, praise and censure, and pain and pleasure), and the candle inside is to remember not to get attached or affected by these – lest it be a cause for suffering (as the candle touching the sides of the lantern causes it to burn down).”

vesak3
Vesak Lanterns

As with all religious festivals (you need only look at Christmas), commercialism has left its mark, not always for the best. However, with the recent sad natural events in Sri Lanka with large parts of urban areas on the outskirts of Colombo and in the West of the country being flooded due to extremely heavy rains, and more disastrously several landslides more inland close to Kegalle causing nearly two hundred deaths (the definite numbers are not yet known as rescue operations are ongoing), this Vesak will be one like no other. I remember last year we were praying for Nepal during Vesak, now we are praying for the country I choose to call home, Sri Lanka.

Many relief operations are ongoing (see below if you want to help, especially the end note).

During Vesak the Dana (food) plays an important role. Every devotee gives alms. This symbolises sharing the joy and peace with people. Richer members of the community will usually donate food or money to poorer families and societies or just groups of friends will have collected money from the community in order to organise a local dansal (free gifts of food, coffee, tea and refreshments to people, in particular travellers on their way to worship at temples). In my village, Narigama in Hikkaduwa, the dansalas have been cancelled and the food and money collected has gone to help survivors of the floods and landslides.

If you would like to make a donation or help in any other way then this article has all the information you need:2016 Flood Relief by YAMU

2016 Flood Relief by YAMU

NB: if you are going up to affected areas with donations please use your common sense and do not hamper rescue operations in any way. If you do not have a direct contact where you are going I would advise you to bring your donations to a known collection point instead. In some areas supply is exceeding demand whereas other areas have nothing. There are also opportunists around who are all too happy to accept your donations with fake tears. Don’t go on the off chance you may be able to help – you won’t. By all means collect items that may be of use in the coming weeks BUT, LEAVE THE DISTRIBUTION TO THE PROFESSIONALS IN THESE EARLY DAYS. 

May the thrice blessed Vesak be a contemplative holiday for all.

A blog about freelance translation as a digital nomad, travel, food & drink and all things Sri Lankan and Dutch.