Saturday, January 21, 2012

Be angry

"First they came for the Ahmadis and the Shias,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an Ahmadi or a Shia.
Then they came for the queers,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a queer.
Then they came for the members of GKI Yasmin,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Christian.
Then they came for the atheists,
and I didn't speak out because I'm a believer.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me." 
Niemöller, re-written.

I am not who you should be worried about. I am not who you should take offense from. Your God is not less great because I don't believe in him.

You don't think your God is any less great because one billion people are Catholics. You don't think your God is any less great because the Hindus worship Shiva Brahma and Vishnu. You don't think your God is any less great because the Japanese never bow to a distant Arab land.

So no, your God is not any less great even if I wrote a Facebook status that claims otherwise.

So chill.

But if you are so keen in winning back my worship, there is one thing you can do: be angry.

Be angry when a man is mobbed for voicing his thought. Be angry when the Ahmaddiyah and the Shia fear for their life. Be angry when the congregation of GKI Yasmin are forced to worship their God from the sidewalk.

Be righteously angry.

Because docility repels me.

Show me you can tolerate others with disagreeing view. Show me you are compassionate to the weak. Show me that you, as your prophet before you, are not legitimizing those who are forcing their minority view.

Much less shoving it down the throats of the helpless few, bullied and intimidated into conformance.

Then even if you don't have the answers to all my questions, I will hold you in renewed respect. Your lessons I will listen with open ears, with less prejudice than I would otherwise hold.

And perhaps that would even make your God looks upon you with pride.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The morbid gift and the religious leap

A thought popped in to my head.

So understandably, I groaned. Because I knew then I wouldn't get any sleep. I was trying to steal a nap before the next class, you see. To compensate my diminishing nighttime sleeping hours.

So I weighed it in, remembering that the only way to get rid of an earworm is to sing it through, to complete the whole song. And then I decided to just go ahead and follow the thought-thread.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Enumerating the Manila experience

4 years. The first time I went to WUDC, it was held in Thailand, as the world welcomed 2008. Last month was my second time going for Worlds, and it was also my second time going to the Philippines. I did not dare to entertain any hope that it would be more like the first time around.

9 kgs. Yet away I went, armed with 9 kgs of books, clothes, and a laptop securely packed in a backpack. Two other academic deadlines were weighing on my mind, a nagging burden impossible to shrug. That's the price you pay for wasting your time, I said morosely to myself.

7300 kms. Hong Kong Express whisked us off from Kansai International Airport on a clear Tuesday afternoon. Away to Hong Kong, then to Manila. Afloat until it's nigh on midnight.

9 days. And off with a grueling start. Eyelids heavy and shoulders burdened, it was not until 4 in the morning we gained access to our rooms. To be fair, the committee was more than helpful, being promptly providing additional bus from Ninoy to Sofitel, but the weary eyes can not appreciate a comment made in jest by the LO that four more hours of travel is necessary to get to the hotel.

5 socials. Squeezed in between days of debating, what makes Worlds different is its socials. Nonetheless, I skipped German night, and arrived well after opening cocktail was concluded. It's a shame, as rumor has it that it was a mean opening cocktail indeed! But the libation in other socials was aplenty, and break night aside, they served more beers than you could care of in all socials. It was fitting, really, as San Miguel corporation was the main sponsor of the event. An interesting aside: all the finger foods during the socials was halal. This was a far cry from that Australs.

9 rounds. At the end of the year, my team won eleven vps, two fewer than my Thailand record. And nowhere near enough to break either English-as-Foreign-Language nor English-as-Second-Language. Not that we're qualified to break EFL anyway, as I was classified ESL, following WUDC 2008 language assignment. I did apply to ESL--and not EFL, mind you, unlike some individuals who chose otherwise.

654 speaks. Not an impressive record by far, but I was surprised that even this meager result was actually a full 10 point improvement from Thailand. Good grief, just how crappy I was four years ago?

0 balut. I opted not to eat balut the first time I was in Manila, and fed the one the I bought to Uphie. This time, I was genuinely curious. But having not much time to venture and procure one that actually looks edible (i.e. the fried one that seems to be less messy than the normal one), no balut for me this time around as well. The catering did offer a lot of the boiled ones during Filipino night but given that everyone who tried eating that was made into spectacle, I refrain. Tirza's disdain surely also did not help made the delicacy more appealing.

6th pair of glasses. Three short years of wearing glasses, six glasses totaled in total. One was bent after a skiing trip. One left inside a train. One washed away to the sea. One snapped. One had the screws literally fell off. And this last one had the right side lens cracked after it fell from my knee. Me and glasses, not the best pal. With this track record, the very thought of contact scares me witless.

2 jars. Therein lies the highlight of the delights. Two jars of sambal terasi abc, made available by Tirza's infinite kindness. I mean, honestly, I could probably go to Manila for this reason alone and as it were I am indebted for life to her. The fact that I have indebted my life to various individuals who ease my sambal cravings throughout my two years here notwithstanding, this was priceless. Of course, both jars were promptly polished off within the four days between my returning home to Kyoto and the writing of this post. Spicy happy tummy.