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March 16, 2006

Bad, bad daughter

If my mum had a blog site (we’ll pretend for a moment that she can operate a computer, and all other home electrical appliances for that matter) it would read something like this…

Today my baby girl came back home. Gee golly it’s good to have her back again, even if it is for such a short time. I really haven’t seen her much though, she’s been staying up late at night watching rubbish TV and by the time she gets up around noon, I’ve already been at work for hours. When I get home she is all surly and unwashed, I mean really, I don’t know what her problem is? She can be such a little madam sometimes! Waltzes in here like she owns the place, throws a pile of washing at me and demands home-cooked meals every night. And if I dare ask her a question about how Sri Lanka is or say that I think she and M should get back together (such a nice boy!) I get a mouth full of filth. I don’t know where she learnt to behave like that, it certainly wasn’t while she was living under my roof. If she wasn’t so big I’d put her over my knee and give her a good smack!

Posted by catherine at 1:58 PM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2006

Home again

I hung out with my Dad today. It was nice. He’s a nice man, really mellowed in his old age. And he looks older than the last time I saw him, which makes me a little bit sad.

We took a drive into the centre of Bunbury and cruised the quiet streets together. I bought us hot chocolates with marshmallows, a shiny new pair of shoes that I don’t need and can’t wear in Sri Lanka anyway and some non-pirate CDs (these three things I have decided are the only things that differentiate western countries from those that are ‘developing’…)

He pointed out blokes as they walked by that he’d nicked back in the days when he walked the beat with a baton and a blue uniform and told me who had come good, and who was still a ‘little bandit’. He told me how much he hates his job and about all the ‘dickheads’ that work with him. He whispered that he won’t be shopping at that Pharmacy anymore because they charge $2.50 more for his anti-inflammatory medicine than at the other Pharmacy. He gave me some advice about saving money and buying a house and gave me a run down about his plans for tomorrow. Twice.

Dad’s are funny like that.

Posted by catherine at 3:22 PM | Comments (4)

March 8, 2006

I didn't think anyone was looking

It never occurred to me that anyone except my friends read this blog site. It was a little naive of me to think that I suppose… but really it’s not that interesting and I don’t know why anyone would bother. I just realised that, if they want to, anyone in the world can read this site and make a comment.

This morning I received a comment that stated - Catherine, ur positively butt ugly! - from mahgeeil@yahoo.com.

Now, I don’t know who this is, but I have decided they must be a real cunty fucker. Firstly, the comment doesn’t even make sense in relation to the blog entry it was posted in response to. Secondly, I have zero respect for people who abbreviate words like ‘you’re’ to ‘ur’ - it is lazy, unnecessary and insulting to the English language. But I suppose mahgeeil@yahoo.com must be just way too super cool busy in this fast-paced techno whiz bang word to write the full word. Thirdly ‘butt ugly’ should be saved for the school bus. If you want to insult my appearance please consider comments that actually reflect my shortcomings.

Please send spam to mahgeeil@yahoo.com

Posted by catherine at 8:24 AM | Comments (8)

March 7, 2006

Same Same, but Different

I had just started writing an entry about development smelling a lot like colonialism, something I have been mulling over since I got here, when I remembered Naomi Klein was meant to have written something about Disaster Capitalism a while back. So I went for a trawl through the old world wide web only to discover that, not only was my bright idea not that original after all, but that the smell of colonialism was more pungent than I though.

I had started to write things about fat white consultants, creating a culture of dependency, relentless branding of aid distributions and reshaping the weave of the landscape with lego-land, little-western-world construction sites, but she says it a lot better than I do….


What she doesn’t mention though, are all the other obstacles on the road to reconstruction. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and “Mega NGOs” can shoulder some of the blame. But, in this part of the world, just as detrimental are corrupt government officials, dodgy contractors, civil conflict that can shut down a whole town for days at a time, entry and security problems in certain areas, remoteness, basic infrastructure that needs to be constructed first before any ‘visible’ construction like houses and schools can happen, labor and material shortages and of course, the sheer scale of destruction - I don’t know if it is physically possible to build houses for the “600,000 people who lost their homes in the tsunami… still languishing in temporary camps,” rebulid all the schools and hospitals, address the lost livelihoods of those directly and indirectly affected while taking care of ongoing, day-to-day water and sanitation needs, health and nutrition demands and child protection issues in under 15 months. I don’t know. Maybe it is, but I don’t think anyone has ever tried before…

I’m not defending the Big Boys, and I’m certainly not blaming local communities, but like all good stories, there are two sides.

Right. Good. So that’s the problem. Now what’s the answer? Maybe you shouldn’t complain about something if you don’t know the answer…

Posted by catherine at 2:05 PM | Comments (1)

March 6, 2006

Where is my mind?

I don’t know what I’ve done with them, but I have lost most of the memories of my life. I can’t remember where I put them…get it? When I think about things I have done, it all becomes a blur. There’s general brush strokes of colour, but somehow I’ve lost the detail.

Holidays overseas are reduced to street stalls selling hand-carved stamps, burnt CDs and paper lanterns, playing the guess-what-song-i’m-whistling game on the deck of a boat, a sacrificial goat losing its head at a Kali temple, bananna pancakes, late-night Bob Marley infused swimming, a motorbike accident going down-hill in the rain and billboards in a language I’ll never understand.

Years with Him now fills a few hours with a lazy Sunday in bed, late night gin tears, the first ‘I love you… ‘(that I could never forget), sing-song showers, onion risotto, nigga change, a rainbow flanny, piggy-back rides home from the Scotto, fighting about having a bong in the laundry and home made birthday presents.

Nearly four years at University is a mere day course where I read David Malouf, learnt to ‘show not tell’, sewed a few hundred costumes for some pantomimes, and wrote a couple of words for the student paper.

My childhood would make my mum cry, all I’ve got is learning to write my sisters name first because it was shorter, realizing ‘prick’ was a bad word when I said it to my mum in the car park of the fish and chip shop, getting paid one cent for every snail I collected from the garden and having my nails forcibly cut after I used them to draw blood and skin from my brothers’ back.

Hell, even yesterday is just a couple of pages of a new book, strong coffee and yoga. But give me a couple of weeks and I’m sure I will forget that too.

Posted by catherine at 3:07 PM | Comments (1)

March 4, 2006

I'm not really that stoopid

An example of how I betray me smarts

The Scene: Looking at a sun setting over the water down south of Sri Lanka, all palm trees, pulsing humidity and gin and tonic…

Him “It must be great living in Perth, you get to see a sun set over the water every day”

Me “I guess so. (pause) Why? Where does it set in Sydney?”

Him “Umm, over the land. It rises over the water.”

Me, vaguely “Oh. Yeah, I have heard something about that…”

Now, I’m not actually that stupid. Not even close. But sometimes I get vague. I get foggy in the head. I temporarily forget the basics of life. I drink gin, lots of it (though usually that makes me real smart… and charming and interesting and hilarious). But this person, the ‘Him’, has had a short conversation with a random girl on a foreign beach and will probably walk away thinking, ‘how stoopid is that?’ And that’s my own fault.

This weeks resolution: Pay attention, listen up, remember the basics and give up the gin

Posted by catherine at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2006

Puberty Blues?

puberty party.jpg

After having safron bath in the morning, she is led down a carpeted path while her family throw rice and flowers above her head. She is draped in her first saree and adorned with all her mother’s best gold, because she is a woman now. Then she is seated in a room under an arch of flashing lights and flowers and streamers for the whole day while well wishers come and offer her presents and eat Sri Lankan sweets and congratulate her parents. Her mother plays the perfect host, her self dressed in the most amazing gold saree, and flaps about the room making sure we all eat too much. Her dad is beaming with pride and pointing to daughter who is all grown up now.

… and all I got was a packet of maxi-pads!

Posted by catherine at 4:49 PM | Comments (0)

When times were clear

The electricity had gone off hours ago and I had continued to watch Hotel Rwanda in the dark until my lap top ran out of batteries, the air was hanging hot and heavy; sweat beading on my top lip and pooling on my back, the crows were hawing outside and the mosquitoes were flying low around my head. I’d been lying awake in darkness for hours considering my fate if the dengue-carrying mosquitoes found their target and vaguely thinking about the Bigger Issues. I rolled over, in an attempt to circulate some air if nothing else, and that’s when all my sweet-sixteen ideals fell apart.

I realized that every thought, every idea, about how to affect change I had ever managed to acquire in my barely-educated, foggy-headed, the-first-line-of-this-blog-refers-to-Hollywood-does-genocide-Hotel-fucking-Rwanda, couldn’t-make-a-convincing-argument-if-I-tried life, everything actually was, well, wrong.

I think if I was in Australia right now to ring in the 10-year anniversary of Howard, this crisis might be centred around the politics of my home land, but I-m not… I’m in an unreal world where, despite the deepest digging of pockets in the history of natural disasters, there are still thousands of people sitting in temporary shelters while age-old tensions, bad roads and forms in triplicate hamper construction efforts. Where shifty government officials stand ready with their hand out. Where white, air-conditioned, flag-flying, 4×4 Land Cruisers clog the narrow roads and swerve to miss the cows and old men carrying fire wood on their bicycles. Where the sheer number of agencies and international staff all jostling to work in the one small area has driven even the price of rice higher (not to mention building materials, daily wages, rent…) Where some days I just really struggle to see a way forward, let alone a part I can play in making it happen.

I liked it better when at least I thought I could help. Now I can’t help thinking I might actually be part of the problem.

Posted by catherine at 9:21 AM | Comments (2)

March 1, 2006

child friendly space.JPG

Now I’m really getting cocky. Look at me mum! I’m doing it all by myself. And not even one email to PP to complain of my computer stoopidity and ask for help.

Anyway, the kids are at a Child Friendly Space in one of our temporary shelter camps. Everyone loves a digital camera…

Posted by catherine at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

Australia Vs Sri Lanka

cricket team.JPG

The much anticipated cricket match, where I had a long walk back to the pavillion after getting out for a duck…. But really, after a year of having this blog, I’m just trying to work out how the fuck to upload a photo. Is it really that hard? This is my third time lucky…

Posted by catherine at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)