Saturday, February 28, 2009

It’s a documentary, it’s a social statement, it’s a comedy!

Seriously, what is it? I remember the first time I saw it, at the impressionable age of about 11. The National Gegographic nudeness, the strange clicking sounds and the baking heat of the Kalahari. I’ve watched the Gods Must be Crazy (and part 2) many times since then and I’m yet to figure out what the hell it is. The tale of the little bushman trying to throw a coke bottle of the ends of the earth because its sudden appearance from the clear blue sky (courtesy of a thirsty pilot with a penchant for littering) causes feelings of envy and want to turn up in their tribe.

It starts out with a documentary style tale of the Bushmen in the Kalahir….documentary as I mentioned.

Then all of a sudden there occurs what is possibly the worst planned yet close to successful coups ever shown on film. The elaborate plan involves a bunch of armed people in two jeeps pull up to the presidential palace, charge in unchallenged and blow the cabinet up in a hail of machine gun fire. Of course the presidential guard shows up inoppurtnely late shoots a few people and then gives chase in a Mercedes gazzguzzler, which promptly runs out of gas.

By this stage I’m scratching my head, theres a fat rebel leader who looks like he was outsourced from Cuba and a bunch of joker rebels. What part they play in a documentary I know not. A lot of banana trees promptly get the fuck blown up, a positive banana smoothie. All through this the little bushman wanders, walking to the end of the earth.

Baboons and Bushman talking, now it’s like a social/nature documentarty on crack. There’s a great white hunter (though an awkward around ladies great white hunter), a beautiful blonde teacher in distress. Oscar award wining drama written all over it by this stage. A grand rescue, machine guns, a romantic liplock and of course all through this the little bushman walks to throw the coke bottle off the end of the earth.

My favourite random quote from the movie:

That’s funny, this elephant’s dung is completely missing Boron.

I personally think this movie in terms of interpretation beats out the best of David Lynch. Mulholland Drive aint got shit on Gods Must be Crazy. It’s a social statement on the evils of materialism and the modern world with a random lovestory, third world coup, adventure tale thrown in for kicks. I have no idea who produced, wrote or dreamt up this movie…but I think I should look them up. Cos I want whatever they’ve been smoking.

And my newly rediscovered catchphrase: Ai, ai, ai, ai

Thursday, February 26, 2009

And it begins

The emotional blackmail. Put off for awhile since I made a deal that I wait for the blue book and not abscond back to the promised land prematurely. Now that I am inches from that goal, comes the anecdote,

Aunty N’s friends boyfriend…he went to Australia, got citizenship, came back and didn’t get dual. They refused him
No idea…

Sure….why do I have the feeling more aunties and their mothers are going to have trouble with dual, dealing with the shock of moving back.

What baffles me sometimes is the selfishness of the people who say they love you. All they really want is succor for themselves. So what if living here will crush my soul, destroy my sanity and make me a mindless corporate drone consumer? So long as I’m there in some form, who cares if it’s just the husk left.

All I really wanted to say was fuck off, stop putting doubts, paranoia into my head, into a situation which is already scaring the shit out of me. Self doubt is a specter difficult to fight even without the little whisperings of doubt from people who should know better.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Electronic memories

There’s this song, Knuddelmaus by Ulrich Schnauss, that automatically causes the strangest , bittersweet memories to play of all the senses. A grainy, almost eighties film vision of the airport at Hong Kong, a suitcase on a grey cart, red uniforms. An empty chair, rattan crackling as I ease into it. The musty metal smell of the old school telephone, the dusty unused air of the cabinets. Crawling, itchy, sweaty April heat. Soft skin, crinkly cotton and sweet scented perfume. A solitary mynah croaking by the window. A spray of hair down my shoulder, steady breathing. Bright sunlight, as the plane lifts off, rays sparkling off the ocean blue. I’m not trying to figure out the montage, just describing it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean

27 feet down, this was not exactly how I had envisioned my first California dive, off Escondido beach in Malibu. They had promised kelp and that most definitely was there. I was after seated right next to one. As I had raised my hand and released the air from my BC and slid under the waves, everything disappeared into a pea soup green haze. Divemaster Dave, Phil, Brian and P sank right next to me, yet when I hit the bottom they were nowhere to be seen.

And boy did I hit bottom. For some reason, it seems that people dive out here in California with much more weights than we did back home. Even taking in the discrepancy of wearing a full wetsuit, hood, etc 27 pounds seemed a bit excessive. As soon as I went negative on my buoyancy, I shot through the water so quickly my sinuses didn’t so much equalize as implode quietly. I’m glad I didn’t do this over the Marianna because I’d still be falling.

Dave’s instructions rolled through my head, 30 seconds down and if we don’t find each other surface. Of course being on the bottom of the Pacific in conditions that seemed reminiscent of the inside of an Blue Whale after a solid rice and curry session wasn't exactly condusive to recalling those instructions. Visibility was down to a couple of feet and everything was pea soup green.

It was with some relief then that Dave appeared out of the gloom, fluorescent tank gleaming. As he motioned for me to follow him and we swam off, I assumed we were going to join up with the rest. Yet we continued swimming, at what seemed to me unseemly haste through the kelp. The brown green streamers pushed at us as we weaved through them. If I thought visibility was bad in the open, under the kelp everything went a chocolate brown. All I could see was the fluorescent tank and the faint gleam of Dave’s torch.

We continued swimming through the kelp, at one point Dave jerked up over a rock as something zapped him. I took great care to swim further up over the rock (turns out it was some kind of electric ray). After approximately 17 minutes of exploring this area, getting sick of kelp and learning to control my fear as the light kept ebbing and flowing, Dave gave the thumbs up. Ascending through the green and then dark blue waters, we got to the surface, right hand up as a sacrifice to any passing speedboats, we surfaced.

I was intensely curious to find out what had happened to the original plan of all five of us swimming in one line. Maybe because of the visibility Dave had decided to split us up. Of course it was with some surprise that I noted when the mask came off at the surface, that my dive buddy was in fact…not Dave.

I could however hear Dave in the distance, yelling. Floating on the surface, nervously eying Phil next to me, I couldn’t for the life of me make out what they were yelling. It was only as Phil looked over curiously and wondered aloud what the problem was, that it started to dawn on me….Phil hadn’t stuck to the plan. He’d grabbed me as a dive buddy and decided to go a wandering without waiting for anyone else. Me, being unable to differentiate white folks at the best of times and most definitely not underwater and in scuba gear, followed as had been instructed. Admittedly I did think the situation strange at the time, but then how does one discuss these things a couple of stories down in the water? Also if it was any consolation, Phil had thought I was P, which if anyone has seen us in real life would realize how laughable a mistake that would be.

As it turns out Dave had, rather un-gratifyingly in my opinion, decided that I must have panicked and drowned Phil (another experienced diver) with me. He had gotten Brian and P to take off their BCs and tanks, tied them to a kelp plant in order to help him look for our bodies. The worst thing is that P didn’t even defend me, pointed out that I’m not a likely person to panic. He was just trying to figure out how to tell the maternal unit without losing vital body parts. 911 was even being dialed as Phil thankfully decided not to explore anymore.

As it turned out, once we surfaced all was well with the world. Universal OK signals were exchanged and we came back to shore in staggered shifts. One thing is getting through the surf at the beginning of the dive was not an issue. But at the end, freezing, tired, disoriented, it’s a hell of a thing to be battered by waves while carrying that tank and wearing those fins. It was not with much dignity that I exited onto the beach. The rest of the dive club members assured me it was standard at the beginning.

Carrying the weights and tank in a wetsuit up PCH was also not the most fun. But it was worth it, despite some of the worst visibility I have seen outside of a drain in Colombo, I mean for all I know I could have had Jaws next to me I wouldn’t have noticed, the dive was an experience. The main lessons being stick to the plan and learning to recognize white people better. I think I’ve had my fill of kelp but I am looking forward to seeing what populates those forests, Channel Islands next stop!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ela Kiri!

Ela Kiri though would be a good way to describe the day though. Despite driving on the 5 and the 101 in the pouring rain and being indescribably confused by the parking downtown and waiting for what seemed an interminably long time for the interview the breeze with which it was conducted put me on cloud 9. I am a bit suspicious as to how easy that was...hopefully that's just my paranoia talking.

Oh yeah and my lawyer was looking quite dishy and smelt really nice, the perks of spending two grand on her I guess.

So obstacle one is down, the major one. Now just some paperwork to be done and the light is shining ever more brightly down that long tunnel. The boss asking me about ‘putting down roots’ did kind of bum me out though in a defensive kind of way. For one thing, it’s none of his business and for another, ‘roots?’ Ermm….marriage and kids….out here? No thanks. The thing is that when it’s a pretty girl and I’m under the influence I can lie with the best of them. But a big, white dude…not real good.

To add the surrealnes of the day was the other email, a PhD offer from Monash. Unfortunately no funding accompanied this so despite R’s rather out-of-the-box thinking that I can fund it by gigoloing myself in Melbourne I will have to, with great regret, decline the offer. On the plus side though, it does open up dialogue with someone who seems a great supervisor to figure out exactly what I have to do in the next couple of years to get funding.

Items on the plate now:
  • Await the final bit of paperwork and then implement some further paperwork for the homeland.
  • Figure out financials, a retirement fund, a safety fund, travel money, etc.- Figure out travel plans, the thought of going to Amsterdam and then Qatar seems fraught with danger for some reason.
  • Figure out what equipment is necessary for the future.
  • Talk to sup about publications.
  • Research potential jobs, leads, etc.
  • Keep plugging away at the Reserve deal
  • Get the fuck out.

Ela Kiri!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On being a whippersnapper

Despite being on the latter end of three decades on this planet, there is nothing like my field and the small town (weirdly enough it is small) to make me feel like a wet behind the ears consultant trying to Old Men of the world their job. I swear the last two crisis meetings I’ve had, the average age of the room must have been around 50 and I have more hair on my chest than all the heads in the room barring mine. Everybody seems to know of everyone else and leading meetings in such an old boys club is nerve-wracking.

What is surprising is how many of these people cannot think out of the box and how many keep turning to me to get things done. Now this doesn’t mean their bad at their jobs, the vast majority are excellent to a fault, but the bigger picture is something that seems to elude them. In a way it provides me with some comfort. I’ve never been the kind of person to want to specialize. The thought of being a dentist or mortgage broker or something similar scares the crap out of me, doing the same thing over and over again.

I need variety, on a large scale to keep me enthusiastic. Even in a job as varied as the consulting I do, things have started to pale. It might be the economy, the lack of big clients but things are boring now. Stressful and boring. Not a good combination, fingers crossed for a big fuck up of a project with a client looking to get shit done by spending money. Like a headache subdivision, in the coastal zone, in the mountains with a couple of access problems and pissed off county staff. Now that would make the stress worthwhile, for a bit longer.

I think I went off-topic there.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bonding over Slumdog

While the world was happily wining and dining their significant others, I had a slightly different kind of evening. I went out with the maternal unit for a movie. Specifically Slumdog Millionaire, which she had desperately wanted to watch for ages. In the end it was an enjoyable experience. The movie actually worked better for me the second time around. Danny Boyle’s cinematography was more vivid and Pinto was even more beautiful. The only issue I had was the winning the contest which seemed to jar with me for some reason. Getting the girl and the money? Oh so Hollywood.

Also I discovered that one of the advantages of bonding with the maternal unit over a movie was that there wasn’t much talking involved. Don’t get me wrong, I love the maternal one as one should, but considering I met her a handful of times over more than a decade, our interactions are always a bit guarded. Especially considering the sibling and her have such a strong bond, it tends to leave me feeling a bit of an outsider. The lack of context with the family unit tends to make close interactions difficult but thankfully it’s gotten easier over the last couple of years.
Anyways familial complications aside, watching slumdog with the mother was quite a pleasant way to spend the evening, despite getting the slight ribbing received. Just another step toward normality.

P.S. I wonder what this does for my badboy status?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gods with clay feet

Something’s been bothering me for some time now. It’s been itching in the back of my head, irritating my subconscious for almost a year. This fog of adulthood, so different from the bright sunshine of youth. I need a light, a beacon to take me home. One of the hardest things to come to terms with is that those who were your pillars of strength during your childhood are, well, human. How does one come to terms with the cold, hard truth when they make mistakes, leave flawed legacies behind that make you question the very truths you built your existence on? How does one let go of the resentment, get on with what needs to be done and finally accept them and love them unconditionally for who they are, who they were? Human.

I’m still trying to figure that out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Friend to Family

Do you know when a friend has crossed over the threshold into family? When from a single line, non-commital email over a business matter, they can figure out that your pissed off, stressed out and stretched drumskin tight. Yes I may have been working 10 hours a day for the last couple of weeks. Yes I may still be far behind in where I have to be. I may be addicted to sleeping pills (and possibly some other things) and my ulcer may be back with a vengeance judging from the constant pain.

But at least I have friends like R (and a good exit strategy) to help keep me going.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Sometimes it is worth it. It really is. Waking up in the morning, rubbing the bleariness out of your eyes, lugging a heavy tripod out, setting up everything with shaky fingers and figuring out F-Stops and exposures.

It really is worth it.