Sunday, 22 July 2012

a long week

another blogging break, but i have reasons.

i turned 46 on monday, which doesn't bother me.  i've been feeling 46 for the last 6 months, for some unknown reason, so when it actually happened, i felt no change at all in my mind.  which is factually correct in a sense - on your birthday, you're actually only another day older rather than another year older, and that's what i felt.

i was hoping that i wouldn't mind the signs i've aging.  i wrote last year about my grey hairs and how i feel about them.  that hasn't changed.  and i don't mind wrinkles on my face.  but somehow i do mind that my fingers are getting all wrinkly.  i couldn't possibly explain why.  i don't have conventionally attractive hands with long tapering fingers.  i have very plainly ordinary hands, and yet i don't like my fingers being all wrinkly.  i'm sure i'll get over it soon.

a friend of mine thought it would be hilarious to gift me "fifty shades of grey" for my birthday.  which it was - we both laughed for ages.  i guess you had to be there.  i'll write what i think about the book another time.

also this week, i've had some minor surgery, which involved quite a number of stitches and also quite a number of injections of local anaesthetic.  the latter probably because i have such an issue dealing with physical pain.  i found the injections pretty painful, but the rest of it went ok.  i managed to be at work the next day, but it means that i've been pretty exhausted in the evenings, and certainly not in the mood to blog, or to do anything much else.

and then there are the various tragedies around the world.  mostly the horrific events in syria, and then the shooting at a movie theatre in america.  so much misery and sadness.  in terms of syria, i can't see a way out of this mess that will lead to a positive outcome.  given what's been happening in egypt and libya, there just seems to be so little cause for hope.  all i can do is pray that things will get better, and that the people of that country can live in safety and prosperity.

as for the cold-blooded mass-murder in american, i feel for the people who have had to live through it.  and then live through the victim-blaming.  again i note that the word terrorism isn't being used, even this is a deliberate act done to instil terror.  i've also seen little mention that one of those killed was an arab-american, although there has been plenty of coverage of jessica ghawi.  her brother's blog giving updates is really sad, even though he reports in a pretty factual way.  i really found moving his acknowledgement of the need to focus on those who died, and that all should get equal attention.

then there's the debate over gun-control, which is an almost impossible one to win in america.  and yet there are people who are continually raising the issue and spreading awareness.

and finally for today's mish-mash of a post, ramadan started on friday night, and i'd like to wish everyone ramadan mubarak.  already we are busy with invitations, and with the extra prayers.  its a time to remember those who suffer, those who have so much less than what i have been blessed with, and to be grateful and appreciative for all the wonderful things in my life.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

mid-winter holiday

so i've been missing in action lately for a good reason.  i've just had a lovely 2 week holiday overseas which involved visits to melbourne & malaysia.  i feel incredibly lucky to be able to do such a thing, and i very much needed this mid-winter break.  the problem when i get back is dealing with the jetlag, and trying to build up enthusiasm for all the various things i'm involved with.  so i'm in that phase where i'm trying to settle back into my "normal" life.

i've also been extremely lucky in that the places i've stayed when i travel have been incredibly lovely and the hospitality very humbling.  to not have to worry at all about cooking, cleaning or any other domestic chores, as well a total break from works and meetings of any kind, was wonderful.

one of the best days of the trip was exploring melbourne city.  catching a train into the city centre, armed with a map and using the trams to get around to the museum and the queen victoria market.  then managing to get on to a shuttle bus for a drive around the docklands & being dropped off right in front of the art gallery, which was also stunning.  one thing we found was how amazingly helpful the city is to tourists.  all the free transport, and both the trams & shuttle bus having detailed commentary so that we could easily find our way around to the things we wanted to do.

we spent the evening wandering through chinatown & had dinner at a japanese restaurant.  it all felt so safe and so incredibly easy.  i can't say i've felt like that about any other city in the world, though istanbul would probably be my next favourite city that i've visited.

malaysia was wonderful, as always.  and as always, it's because we fit into the majority culture, and it's so relaxing to not have to worry about finding halal food or a place to pray.  it's also great to find clothes that are right for us.

the global recession seems to have passed malaysia by, with the shopping malls all packed & plenty of construction activity going on.  there's something to be said for a regulated economy, and a prime minister that had the guts to stand up to the world bank and IMF.  which isn't to say that there is no poverty or social problems, but on the whole, the country seems to be doing well.

i enjoyed the whole of my time in malaysia, but the highlights would be visiting the shah alam mosque, and visiting i-city.  they were both beautiful in their own way, but the latter was pretty spectacular - the photos at the link really don't do it justice.

i also spent a fair amount of time watching wimbledon, and was very happy with the results.  i am, of course, a long-time fan of mr federer so it was great to see him play well and take out the title.  but i also really enjoyed watching serena williams come back into form to win another title.  i love watching her, not just because of her game but because of who she is.  i love that she's a woman of colour succeeding in a sport where so few of them are seen, i love that she is considerably bigger than most of the other women players and yet super fit and super strong.  i would love to see more women like her playing top-level tennis.

i also actually enjoyed watching tamara paszek, who is austrian but of mixed ethnicity.  and it was great to see martina navratilova in the crowd - my most favourite female tennis player ever (it would have to be boris becker for male players).  the funniest moment had to be in the press conference rafael nadal gave on losing in the 2nd round, when he said "it's not a tragedy, it's just a tennis match".  i love it!  if only all sports people (and sports fans) could have that kind of healthy attitude towards their sporting endeavours.