Thursday, December 11, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I always enjoy the creative/interesting translations on signs, menus, etc.
Here are some favorites:
a new cafe near my apartment:
A memo I received:
In order to avoid any inconsistencies regarding final grades, extra attention should be given to the recording of scores.
so, in order to do my job...do my job? thanks.
The title slide in a powerpoint at a departmental meeting:
"The Implementation of the Regulation Pertinent to the Quality Control of Teaching and Learning Procedures of the Examination Processes."
The title of one of the courses I teach is:
"English for Specific Purposes"
....we're not gonna tell you what they are, but they're specific
Think it says "Lay" in English? My friend Ted pointed out that they did a really great marketing job because it also says "Lay" in Thai! What looks like an 'L' to us is an elongated 'sara ee' the which sounds like the way we say "A", what looks like the letter 'a' to us is the Thai 'L' (the vowel is written before the consonant but is still pronounced after it) and what looks like it could be a 'y' with a really curly tail is pronounced as a "y" in Thai (but usually looks more like a backwards 'B')
Sometimes I teach vocabulary, and I usually try to learn the Thai word after I have taught the English. Last week I spent several minutes in class explaining what a buffet was. I even mimed getting up and helping yourself, and said that it came from French, etc. Then I asked if they understood, and they nodded like they always do, even if they have no idea what I'm saying. I was skeptical. "Okay, what's the Thai word for buffet?"
(in unison) "buu-fay"
When shopping in the market, the nice ladies I buy produce from always suggest different things. I bought some pumpkin (ฟักทอง "fak-thaawng") and they offered me some of a long, green squash I had never seen before, "very good for soup!" I asked what it was called and turns out its ฟักเขียว "fak-khiaw" (yep, sound it out...)
and 2 classic examples:
Caution! Be Slip Down
Latin Club: A dancing club where adds you a hotness in the fashionable and elegant atmosphere with professional dancers who will make you fascinate in a hot step.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This week we had a cold snap, and it has felt quite autumn-y in the evening and at night (despite still being 85F/29C during the afternoon). The shadows are a little longer, the light a little more golden, and there's a cool breeze that makes me crave hoodies, pumpkin pie and apple cider. All this has left me missing Fall, and so in the spirit of honoring life cycles and the earth's seasons, my goal for the week was to celebrate Fall. To me fall is squash and cranberries, apples and cinnamon, golden fields and early sunsets, but I'm looking for some new ways to get into Fall. So how do you celebrate Fall? What does this season mean to you? Do you have any beautiful Fall pictures you want to send me to make me jealous?
I was so desperate for Fall leaves, I downloaded this for my desktop wallpaper:
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Although I would define myself as an ENFP (Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving) and most people know me as one, I'm actually a "closet introvert". Until 8th grade, I was very quiet and shy. Then one day (quite literally) I decided that I was missing out on a lot of fun by being shy and that from now on I was going to be outgoing.
After that, throughout high school and college, I was much more sociable and talkative and took on several leadership roles.
Since coming to Thailand though, I've gone back inside myself quite a bit. I've become much quieter - observing and listening, and spending a lot of time alone. I often don't even feel like communicating with friends and family at home (no offense).
Despite my best efforts to be fully accepting of who I am, I still find this quietness/introversion a bit distasteful - a leftover from my adolescent rejection of this part of my personality.
I think my emotional "shell --> core" reaction is caused partly by the differences of living in Asia (as westernized as Chiang Mai is), and the shock of being so far from loved ones. But partly, I'm realizing that life goes in cycles. You can't be "on" all the time or you'll burn out.
Sometimes you work hard, and sometimes you relax, sometimes you go out and explore the world, sometimes you curl up at home with a book and cup of hot tea. Sometimes you're on top of everything and other times things pile up unorganized... happiness and sadness, energy and lethargy all have their time. I'm working on being okay with this.
The earth goes in cycles we call seasons, and sometimes it doesn't make sense to me that we don't follow the earth's lead. There's a time for planting, growth, harvest, and rest. That makes so much sense, yet the way we structure our lives (particularly with respect to work) asks us to be harvesting output all the time, giving the same amount of energy year round with no time for the soil/soul to rest. I may be quiet and reclusive right now, but it's okay, it's not permanent; I'm just giving myself a long-overdue winter.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
One of my favorite books of all time is "Ancient Futures." It is about the language and culture of the Ladakh. The author weaves linguistics, anthropology, and life lessons into a beautiful story of a changing society and challenges our assumptions about "development = progress."
I will never forget the first time I read this anecdote because it struck me as beautifully simple and effective:
"Dolma once slapped her three-year-old son as he tried to grab the hot teapot. At the same moment, almost instantly, she gave him a big hug. I wondered whether receiving such unclear signals would be confusing for the child. But after I had observed many similar incidents, I realized that the message was, “I love you, but don’t do that.”
Tonight I was leaving my buddhist meditation group and a friend asked if I was going his way. Normally I would have offered him a ride even though he was in the other direction, but tonight I was tired and apologized, saying I wasn't. As I drove away, I immediately felt I had made the wrong decision, but kept going.
Not two blocks away, I ran out of gas (my gas gauge is broken, so if I don't pay attention, this can happen at anytime). I laughed to myself and nodded to the universe, "yup, I got the message, don't worry." Within seconds a tuk-tuk driver had pulled over and an old man on a bike had gone to get his gas can (though Thailand disregards many rules, they seem to be strict about not putting gas into anything besides specially designated receptacles). The man on the bike got me some gas and the driver stayed with me and started my ornery bike when the old man returned. I am continually humbled by Thai kindness, and the loving lessons I receive from the universe.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
First of all, thank you to everyone who sent cards, e-mails, facebook messages, thoughts and love to me today, and people who called or tried to call (my cell phone was in a bad mood today); I had a wonderful day.
This year, for the first time, I understood people who don't like to make a big deal out of their birthday. Usually, I like to host a big dinner party or get a group of people together to do something, but this year, I didn't want to do anything. I wanted to avoid the whole thing all together; I didn't want to plan anything and I didn't want anyone to worry about it.
I think I was scared of what a birthday would mean so far away from family and old friends, but I was blown away by the love I felt from my friends here and the amazing community I've become a part of.
Though I didn't want to plan anything, I was really lucky because there were already some fun things planned at Wild Rose. I got to do fun things, see my friends, and not have the focus be on me, just on the getting together. It was wonderful and I had a really special day.
My friends Jo and Gaura were teaching a partner yoga workshop and they and Rose decided to give me the class as a birthday gift, and it was beautiful. I worked with a guy I had never met before (we were the only people who hadn't signed up with someone), and it really stretched my notions of trust and communication and letting go.
There were 16 of us and we did some work as a group and then in pairs, working together in postures and using each other to stretch and open and be supported.
After that there was a Kirtan/World Music Jam where a group of about 25 of us sang and chanted and drummed together and there was a great energy that turned the whole thing into a dance party.
I received a few small, really thoughtful gifts that made me realize how lucky I am to know the people here that I do. A couple that I am close to (Laurence and Gaston) who are in my sangha (meditation group) gave me three beautiful photos of different stages of a lotus flower with gathas (meditation poems) written on the backs.
Then a few of my closest friends took me out for amazing dessert crepes (I had caramelized apples, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon and dark chocolate on mine). At the creperie, they did "watering the flowers" for me which is a practice of telling a person what you value about them, so everyone said really nice, thoughtful things to me and Laurence wrote them all down in a birthday card for me. So my love list for today is really just one thing: I love good friends, be they close or far away.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I had about 3 weeks for vacation so I went to Bangkok for a few days to visit my friend Kate, then to Ko Chang (and island about 5 hours south of Bangkok near the Cambodian Border) and then to an Organic Farm for a 3-day Vegetarian Thai cooking course and farmstay.
I always find it amazing how, once you hit a certain city size, they all start to look the same. Except for the Thai script on signs, I could have sworn I was in Toronto (and knowing TO, there's probably a "little Bangkok" where you would see Thai letters). Bangkok is known for it's shopping, and so part of our orientation was to check out the Malls. There are several of them in one area connected by walkways above the street. You start on one end and you can walk for at least an hour going from one to the next, gradually increasing in ritzyness until you see names like Prada and Gucci. There's a lot of hi-so, rich people in Bangkok and travelers as well; and again you could be anywhere in the world when you're inside.
In on of the ritzy malls, we decided to do it right and see Bangkok Dangerous in Bangkok
While it was quite the terrible movie in it's cheesiness (sorry Nicolas Cage, you're just not professional hitman material anymore), seeing it gives you free license to use the title as an adjective synonymous with badass, like: "whoa, that was so bangkok dangerous" or "tonight's gonna be bangkok dangerous." Watching it in BKK amped up the cheesiness because in the opening scenes Nicolas Cage says in a dark, intense voice "Bangkok: dirty, corrupt, dense" and then there's a montage of city scenes that's supposed to be shocking and drive home the dirty, corrupt, scary message, but it loses a lot of it's power if you can say "I think I ate at that street stall for dinner" or "hey Kate, don't you live down the street from there?"
Forget the Grand Palace, forget the Reclining Buddha, the ultimate, true Bangkok experience is sitting in traffic for over two hours just to get out of the city.
This is Kao San Rd.
otherwise known as Backpacker Row, where you can get everything from a sarong to a fake degree from Oxford. Most backpackers never leave this area, but it's really just a bunch of souvenirs shops that has more expensive version of what you can get at Chaduchak Market. Chaduchak is HUGE, and completely overwhelming, it has pretty much anything you could ever want and if I ever open a coffee shop/restaurant, I'm coming here to decorate it!
I realize that my whole life I've been buying clothes, jewelry and decorations that come from Thailand. Of course they're much cheaper here, but it's not just the import cost, I think basically you're paying someone to come through here and pick stuff out for you, narrow your options, because it's utterly overwhelming (for me) to find so much cool stuff so cheap. I've made the commitment to myself not to buy anything I don't absolutely love because otherwise I'd get sucked in by the cheapness and end up with lots of stuff and no money!
I think my favorite thing about Bangkok was watching about 200 Thai people do synchronized aerobics in Lumpini Park.
The pollution sunset wasn't too bad either.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I feel like my internet life is a dirty room. You're too busy to clean it, and once it starts to get cluttered, it's even harder to put stuff where it belongs, you just stop trying and things pile up on top of other things and it gets to the point where you don't even want to go into your room because you can't stand it.
I cleaned up my apartment yesterday.
Today, the internet! Tomorrow the Worl--oh nevermind...just gmail? (I actually need to spend about 3 days straight online to deal with all my backlogged stuff).
The end of the semester was busy with grading and getting things organized and then I went to Bangkok and Ko Chang (island in the south) and then You Sabai/Pun Pun (organic farm and seed-saving operation with vegetarian cooking school) for a 3-day cooking course (funny how we are in such a rush to get ON VACATION, that we stress ourselves out and leave our life in shambles just to GET THERE), so I haven't blogged in about 3 weeks, never mind replying to e-mails, facebook messages, wall posts, past blog comments, reading blogs I follow, reading the news, or skyping people (I actually stopped even opening non-urgent e-mails a few weeks ago). So for that, I apologize (However, I DID have a great vacation!)
It's funny though , if I sneak on to post a blog so I don't feel toooo guilty and so people know I'm still alive(even if I don't have enough time to respond to personal e-mails) I know that people KNOW I've come online so I COULD'VE replied to them but didn't. I don't mean anything by the not replying, I'll get there. I guess what I'm saying is I love you all and I appreciate all your personal communication and I promise I will reply soon (snail mail too, it's coming - I swear!) :)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Last week Wild Rose (the yoga studio I practice at) held a Music Exchange and Potluck party with the theme of Raw Food & Juice (several people in the WR family had just done a juice fast and wanted to continue that theme of food). It sort of morphed into healthy food + any form of chocolate, but I was completely okay with that. We decided that chocolate is exempt from all the rules: it's vegan, raw, and calorie-free. The idea was bring some food and the 10 best songs you can think of and share.
1. World Spins Madly On - The Weepies
2. Helen - Nizlopi
3. These Streets - Paolo Nutini
4. What About Everything? - Carbon Leaf
5. I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
6. Rainstorm - Matthew Brookshire
7. Closer - Joshua Radin
8. Collide - Howie Day
9. Tears & Rain - James Blunt
10. Wait for Love - Matt White
Even though I took the time to look through all my music, I could have just cliked the "Top 25 Most Played" button in itunes, because my top 10 were, of course, the ones I have listened to the most, each with a play count of over 50 (and that's just in itunes - when I get into a song, I listen to it over and over again!).
Despite my gravitation towards my own contributions, I do love a lot of the music I received, especially "Sweet" by Jehro, check it out and do a music exchange in your community!