Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
So, since he isn’t going to be in the office tomorrow, Mr. Boss made sure he kept me past 5:00 p.m. so that I missed not one, but two buses. The wait for the next one (after rush "hour" in this poop-noodle town), is 40 minutes. It's obviously a power thing with him. Speaks volume about the man's character, doesn't it.
I took the "it must be done tonight since I'm not going to be here" letter into him. He looked at it, read it thoroughly twice, signed it, and then, glancing at the clock, said "This doesn't have to go out tonight. Be sure you proof read it and sign it for me if you find any errors".
I may just slip in an error or two not there at 5:15 p.m. this evening. He complained so much about the last "error" I made, when I typed "chess of drawers" (oops) instead of "chest of drawers" and he didn’t catch it despite the fact the letter went through at least three drafts that he proofread each time… Well, darlings, they can fire me, and I'll sue their butts for age discrimination, sexual discrimination, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (I believe I'm suffering from early onset Alzheimers, not to mention having been driven insane because of working for this Person for the past five years...)
The bus ride home tonight, once it finally came, was relatively peaceful. Only two loud teenaged girls sitting in the back seat, talking ghetto (do any teenagers speak standard English these days?), spraying really lousy, stinky cologne over each other for two miles (the scent permeated the whole bus and since it’s freezing cold outside opening windows to try and clear the air was not an option). They got off on 27th Street, Thank Goddess! I ride to 84th Street and another couple of miles south.
Then, the mile hike home in pitch dark. I live in a suburban area, not well lit. Just what I need to cap a lovely day spent earning my pay. Walking home in the dark, in the cold, wondering what might jump out at me from the shrubs, wondering what even worse might decide to pull up in a car, or shoot from a moving vehicle.
I was in need of something to cheer me up beyond my fantasies of torture and murder of Mr. Schmuck "oh my plantar’s fasciatis hurts, owie, you must now feel sorry for me, that's an order". It showed up by way of an email waiting for me tonight when I finally got home - not shot, not raped, fortunately not dead.
Some months ago, I believe it was in March, I ordered and paid for in advance a limited edition book on chess pieces. It was advertised in the Chess Collectors newsletter, and so I figured they were vetted and creditable people, as the Chess Collectors are very rich and are nobody's fools.
WELL! The book has been delayed twice already. And tonight in my email I received this:
Beste besteller van het boek 'Chessmen', Hierbij vragen wij u om nog enig geduld voor dit boek. Bij de eerste druk is er helaas iets misgegaan, waardoor het boek thans in herdruk is. Naar verwachting zal Chessmen in week 47 (week van 19-23 november) verschijnen. Het boek zal vervolgens zo snel mogelijk aan alle bestellers worden uitgeleverd. Wij hopen u hiermee voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd en danken u bij voorbaat dank voor uw begrip. -- Met vriendelijke groet,Renske Pronk
I figured it had something to do with my book order, and deduced from a few scant clues – such as "boek" means "book" and "in week 47 (week van 19-23 november)" - that the book would be released sometime during the week of November 19-23, 2007 (I hope 2007). Just for the hell of it, I ran the words through AltaVista’s babelfish translator and got a good laugh. Here is the ‘translation:’
Dear besteller of the book ' Chessmen ', We you ask for still some patience for this book. At the first very something has unfortunately gone wrong, as a result of which the book is now in herdruk. According to the expectations Chessmen in weak 47 (yielded of 19-23 November) will appear. The book will vervolgens as soon as possible be extradited to all bestellers. We hope have informed you sufficiently and thank you in advance thanks for your term. -- Kind regards, Renske pronk
I got a really good laugh out of that translation, darlings. I thought "besteller" had something to do with "best seller" – which would have been interesting since the book hasn’t even been released yet! Just goes to show you what a day at the office can do to one’s brain function. Duh! After reading the babelfish ‘translation,’ I realized it means something like "Dear Stupid Person Who Has Pre-Ordered This Book and Paid for It In Full Already, Ha Ha Ha".
Oh Goddess! I almost peed in my pants, I was laughing so hard…
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
By Olenka Frenkiel Reporter, This World
The nine-year-old Royal Kumari is worshipped as a goddess by the people of Kathmandu. For 240 years since they conquered and united the country of Nepal, the Kings of the Shah dynasty have sought her blessing to rule.
Each year, the king - himself traditionally worshipped as a God - has gone to her temple to be blessed with the tika, a red symbol on the forehead giving him another year as head of State.
But this year there was doubt about whether the King would attend the ceremony.
Nepal's constitution is in limbo and one of the poorest countries in Asia is stuck in a political vacuum.
King Gyanendra is still king but has been stripped of his power. His palaces have been nationalised. He has become a king with no kingdom.
Now after 15 years of civil war Nepal's politicians are trying to steer the country to elections and then, almost certainly, a Republic. But elections have twice been postponed.
This king took power in 2001 after the Royal massacre in which most of Nepal's Royal family were killed. His unpopularity deepened when he staged a military coup in a bid to crush the Maoist uprising. He failed and had to back down.
This year, for the first time, the king was asked to stay away from the Royal Kumari. Nobody knew whether the goddess would bless his rule - or whether the king would brave the crowds.
Some hoped 2007 would be the year he stayed away, which could be interpreted as a symbolic abdication.
The Royal Kumari is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists who believe that she blesses the people of Nepal with peace and prosperity. She is chosen by a committee of priests and advisors. She must be physically perfect, unmarked and her horoscope must match the king's.
Today's Kumari - whose real name is Preeti Shakya - was chosen five years ago when she was four years old. She was taken to the Kumari Temple where she will be worshipped as a goddess until puberty.
For her mother Reena Shakya, it was a wrench to let her go.
"At first I didn't want her to be the Kumari. I'd be sad without her. So I hid her upstairs, but they insisted and took her and said you shouldn't talk like that.
"They told us her horoscope matched exactly so we couldn't say no. My mother-in-law said something bad might happen if we didn't let her go. And it was good for the family name - so although we were sad, we let her go."
Her 12-year-old sister, Priya - an ordinary schoolgirl - is looking forward to her sister's return, once she's no longer a goddess.
"I used to cry. I miss her so much," she says. "If she was with me at home it would be so much fun. We would play together."
Preeti the goddess cannot leave her temple, except at festivals. But Priya is free to dawdle after school, buy an ice cream, chat with friends. She says despite the biscuits and chocolates worshippers bring, she would not want to be the Royal Kumari.
"I would not like to be separated from my parents. And I wouldn't have any friends in school. I can go to school and I can go outside as well."
'Abuse of rights'
Sapana Malla is a human rights lawyer and according to a Nepalese magazine, "the most influential woman in Nepal". She believes the role of Kumari is an abuse of the rights of the child and with other activists, has taken a case to the Supreme Court.
"The key deprivation is she cannot live with her mother or father - she must live in a temple without them. As a child you have a right to grow up in your own community with your own family. As a Kumari you cannot. You cannot play with your friends because you are a goddess."
She believes Nepal is modernising and it is time to abolish or at least reform state sponsored gods and goddesses.
"How many people now really believe that Kumari is really a goddess? They just follow it because it's a practice," she says.
Sapana did not believe the king would go to the Kumari's blessing this year: "The king used to go as head of the Hindu kingdom. But in all these religious ceremonies now it's the Prime Minister who goes."
She is hoping Nepal will become a secular Republic.
Avoiding taking sides
But Nepal continues to wait. Elections have again been postponed after the former Maoist revolutionaries pulled out of the country's interim coalition.
Sagar, of the Maoist Communist League, shows me a poster of his heroes - Engels, Marx Lenin, Stalin Mao and the Maoists' leader Prachanda. "Great leaders," he says proudly.
Maoist supporters are bussed into Kathmandu in daily shows of strength. But they, like the king, made enemies. During the war years they raped, tortured and murdered.
Many suspect the election boycott stemmed from fear. A bad election result would reduce their influence and ability to shape the future of Nepal, and in a worse-case scenario even threaten the peace process.
The Maoists want a Republic declared immediately. "We hate the Monarchy," says Sagar.
He sees the Kumari as an expensive distraction from the real task of building a new Nepal.
"Besides," he says, "she belongs to a narrow religious tradition of just one small ethnic group. Nepal has many."
Nepal may be changing, but the Kumari's blessing to rule is still an important symbol and on the appointed day vast crowds gathered to see who would come for the tika.
A convoy arrived in the darkness. It was the Prime Minister. He entered her temple and emerged with the tika on his brow. For the first time ever.
As the crowd thinned people asked whether it was the birth of Nepal's republic - and the fall of the House of Shah.
Then another car arrived. It was the king. Unofficial and unannounced. He too entered and emerged, blessed. The crowds cheered.
So the Monarchy is not quite dead. But the Republic is not yet born.
The Royal Kumari has deftly avoided taking sides. And Nepal's stalemate continues. **********************************************************************************
We've seen over and over again throughout history (herstory) that spitting on the rituals and rites of the past leads people backward, not forward. The way to proceed is how the ancient Egyptians did it: integrate the best of the past into the present, and create a new synthesis. Come on, people, if they could do it 5000 years ago, we should be able to do it now. If we cannot, then we truly deserve all of the curses that the Goddess will rain down upon us.