Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I could not tell where the sky met the sea today. A little sailboat drifted along, a blip on that cold grey canvas.

At the supermarket, a couple argued. The woman's an urgent dangeous hiss. The man's an angry frustrated yell. Heads turned, ears pricked up. Who could resist?

I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
Madeleine Peyroux and kd lang - River (yousendit)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Veiled sentiments

i first learnt of Lila Abu-Lughod through an essay she had written titled 'Do Muslim women really need saving?' - material for my class last term on Globalisation and Culture - where she explored the issues of cultural difference especially with regards to American intervention in Afghanistan. Her frank, straightforward writing made an impression and I ended up picking up her book Veiled Sentiments from the university library. It is more than just a book on Bedouin poetry, it is a study on personal relationships, on issues of power, honour and of course, gender, among the Bedouins, with whom she lived for some two years. It is the tale of a 'vibrant community with its strong bonds of kinship and intensity of feeling, its extraordinary moral system, and the remarkable way ordinary people express themselves through a poetry with the power to move anyone'.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I was in the school library on Wednesday, taking out some books to read over the weekend in preparation for next week. I bumped into a classmate and we began talking about the different classes we're taking this term. Talking, mind you, not whispering in hushed Library tones. It's a noisy library, especially on the ground floor. People chat, people answer phones. If you do want to work properly, you're best off on the first or second floors, especially in the 'quiet zones'. The one really quiet zone is to one end of the building, with the Ds and the Gs. The problem with it - that musty old book smell as most of the Ds are ages old (that's where I got out some books on India that were from the 1800). So I tend not to hang around the library for ages - it's more of a grab-and-go technique. Plus their sofas look like they've been around since the school opened. However, there are some nice spots around the library which look out to the downs - lush green rolling hills. It's very pleasant especially if you turn on the ipod and drown out the noise.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

january is endless

Just a few cm of snow this morning and
1) traffic slows
2) fewer buses run
3) it took me an hour to get to school when it's usually just 1/2 hour
4) the prof was late by an hour due to traffic
5) my classmate taking the train in from Hove was 1 1/2 hours late cos the trains weren't running for a while
6) and more chaos

And while I was waiting for the bus, I decided to poke my head around the corner from the bus stop and saw:

the brighton dome

the royal pavilion

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

snow day

What a surreal morning. I wake up to a quiet sea, to a quiet town. And then I draw back the curtains and see snow on my window ledge, the beach blanketed with white.

weather update

Weather's turning cold, temperatures range from 5 to -1 this week. It's nothing compared to Illinois where it's been snowing, but hell it's still cold, especially when you have to stand around waiting for the bus.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

a windy thursday

The wind is howling like there's no tomorrow.
I have the feeling I'll be staying in today.
Rather than stepping out into the possible likelihood that I'll blown away.

(The storms are raging throughout England and apparently it's so bad that the Brighton & Hove bus company's only putting out single-decker buses along the coastal roads. )

Saturday, January 13, 2007

back to school

In case anyone's just dying to find out my workload for this semester, here it is:

I'm sticking with the two options for my course as they seemed pretty interesting, although a few of my coursemates are taking options outside of the programme.
Idea of Race
In this course we consider the historical development of the idea of race from the late-nineteenth century to the present. Our emphasis is on race as an intellectual and scientific concept rather than the sociological phenomenon of "racism" - though the latter is of course implicit throughout [....]
We begin the course by considering the resurgence of interest in race and biological difference today: this refers to issues such as the human genome project, the question of innate intelligence, and includes problems like multi-culturalism in contemporary Britain. Such problems are put into their historical context through consideration of a range of themes, including social Darwinism and eugenics, sterilisation and IQ testing, empire, and gender. The course concludes with the scientific attack on the meaning of race that emerged in the post-war era, and with a consideration of the challenges of `multi-culturalism’ in contemporary Britain.

Transnational Migration and Diaspora
This course focuses on the cultural dimensions of transnationalism and diaspora. The emphasis is on lived experience and the everyday geographies of migration in the postcolonial world.
With reference to historical and contemporary examples, students on this course will critically explore:
• theoretical and empirical research on transnational migration and diaspora.
• the multiple and complex relationships between migration and belonging.
• the ways in which diasporic and transnational identities are practiced, performed and represented in everyday spaces.
• the meaning and practice of home in the mobile context.
• the wider implications of migration on cultural identities, including debates around cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Ah natural yoghurt. What a delight it is, and how useful.

It's great as a snack - dollop some big spoonfuls into a bowl, slice up a banana, throw in a good handful of raisins, maybe sprinkle some muesli, and then a spoonful (or two if you like it sweeter) of honey.

And it's amazing as part of a marinade for roast chicken - mix it up with some olive oil, some honey (yes again, it is good stuff), some garlic and ginger (finely chopped), a hint of soya sauce, some salt and pepper and a pinch of chili powder, and pour it over your chicken (I used chicken legs - they're cheap here.. the British don't seem to like their meat to have any semblance of once being an animal and thus the legs go cheap while deboned chicken breasts are nearly twice the price.) I let mine sit for about 4 hours in the fridge. And when you're ready, throw the chicken on a roasting tray and into a preheated oven and you've got yourself a juicy chicken dinner.

It's good stuff.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

my not-so-secret food stash

The problem with sharing a flat with three other girls is the lack of space in the kitchen - we each get one skinny pantry cupboard and another couple of rows in the lower cupboards. And one shelf each in the fridge and a shared freezer compartment.

As a result, food spills over into my room. My second shelf is its own pantry. I've got a box of muruku, one of ginger snaps, another of raisins. One ziplock of butter biscuits (which are pretty good dipped in a hot drink, otherwise they'd crack your teeth), another bag of cheddar crackers, 1.5 packets of bak kwa sent over from Singapore (unfortunately they come in small vacuum packs and each piece is gone in three bites...how unsatisfactory), and one lone teacake from M&S. I've got loads of teas - oolong, jasmine, green tea, darjeeling, green tea with jasmine, and a ginger-lemon tea. A lone clementine sits on the other end of the shelf, the rest of its family long eaten. On the windowsill is a almost-finished chocolate orange - startingly better than I thought it'd taste and a bottle of water and some lemon sweets.

I'm not done yet - a plastic bag under the bag holds the following: cornbread mixes and mac&cheese-in-the-box brought over from the US, some chocolate mints given at Christmas, and a bag of potato chips (I must say that the potato chip flavours here are really something - Peking Duck, mango chilli and more). I'm sure someone will have sthg to say about the mac&cheese but yes it's a guilty pleasure. It's just so much easier than doing it myself, although I did prefer the DIY version as adding cornmeal really gives it a nice interesting crunch...mmm...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

five down

(and many more to go)

I lugged five books (all hardcover mind you) back to the school library today. As I handed over Marx's Capital to the librarian, he looked at the spine and muttered 'Capital'. I wasn't sure if that was a comment on my reading habits or that it was a capital book. (Not that I actually read the whole book of course, I just wanted the first section on commodities for my rather absurd term paper on domestic workers.) Maybe he just liked the sound of the word.

Unfortunately, returning five books meant borrowing three more. Mathematically, it's still two up for the books, but it's a minor victory for me and my (lack of) room.

Term paper-wise, I'm still sitting on them. I am tired of them, tired of the evil robber-murderer-domestic-worker (don't ask) situation.

This morning as I walked to the bus stop, I saw a man with a sneaker on his left foot and a black leather shoe on his right. Maybe he too was tired of the evil robber-murderer-domestic-worker situation.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reading 2006

It seems that in 2006 I hit 75 books (not counting those for school, which would probably make the number rise plenty as I have right now have 16 tomes on my shelf and windowsill, waiting to returned home to the library). September was the best month for reading thanks to my transition from being employed to playing student. 2006 was also a year for exploring libraries - the ones in Champaign and Urbana, and the one here in Brighton.

I'm not going to list everything I read, but here were some I really enjoyed.

Alice Sebold – Lucky
Marjane Satrapi – Persepolis
Lionel Shriver – We Need To Talk About Kevin
Jeanette Winterson – Tanglewreck
Mary Roach – Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Diana Wynne Jones – Howl’s Moving Castle
Jane and Michael Stern – Two For The Road: Our Love Affair with American Food
Harvey Pekar – The Best of American Splendor
Dodie Smith – I Capture The Castle
Zadie Smith – On Beauty
Nicole Krauss – The History of Love
Tom Perrotta - Little Children
Ursula Le Guin - The Earthsea Quartet (probably my 4th reading)
Luis Alberto Urrea - The Hummingbird’s Daughter
James Agee - A Death In The Family
Nancy Mitford - Love In A Cold Climate
Curtis Sittenfeld - Prep
Orhan Pamuk – Istanbul
Oliver Sacks - Seeing Voices: A Journey Into The World of the Deaf
Zoe Heller - Notes on a Scandal
Elliot Perlman - Seven Types of Ambiguity

What now for 2007? Similar reading goals - a wider variety of books, more graphic novels perhaps, more literature from non-western authors and perhaps I'll attempt more classics. Is there time to read more? I'll make sure I make time.

Monday, January 01, 2007

too soon

For a while I was foolish enough to think that maybe I'd gotten better at it, but that last hug and kiss and wave at the departure gates is always painful, whether you're the one leaving or the one left behind.

But what a grand time we had in these two weeks.

Walks on the beach when the precious winter sun was out.

Poking around the village of Lewes and its castle.

Showing R around my school

Wandering around Brighton

And watching as R takes all these lovely photos, including this one of the Royal Pavilion.

(and here's a snapshot of my personal photographer)

Or just hanging out in the flat, watching DVDs, talking, cooking dinner together.

And now it's back to the mundanity of student life.