Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Ahmadinejad's visit to CU: Watch your back!

Eastern and Neo-western notions of hospitality are eons apart. In the East (and my East here includes Africa, the Middle East and Asia), a visitor is respected and honoured. In many Eastern cultures, this "guest worship" is such that some hosts give up their beds for the visitor, empty out their pantry to produce a feast and generally treat an invited guest like a mini King. In the Neo-western society, things are to say the least, a bit different.

This is the background of the "this is so wrong" feeling at the pit of my stomach after reading an account of Ahmadinejad's visit in this article on Yahoo dotcom. I can't believe how Ahmadinejad was introduced according to the article:
where the school's head introduced the visitor by calling him a "petty and cruel dictator."

There are so many things that I feel are so wrong about the way he was treated, when he came at the invitation of the University authorities. Let me state here that I do NOT like this man at ALL, or support any of the ridiculous policies of his homeland. All his anti-western stance and drama is a ruse to distract Iranians from his failure in the area of the economy, and if recent reports are to be believed, I think that some people in Iran are beginning to wake up from the deep hypnotic sleep they have been put in. I can't believe that anyone would question the Holocaust, even though I can understand Arab sentiments, that maybe responding by giving the Israel "Palestinian land" was not the best solution (as a Christian, I say here "it was written"). I do grudgingly think he is brave for standing up to the world community on the issue of nuclear weapons? even while shuddering at the thought of this madman and his extremist regime getting a hold of WMD. What gives the west the right to decide who can or cannot have weapons(weren't these same self righteous people Osama's sponsors while the going was good?).

After that disclaimer, which makes me sure that you are clear that I do not support Ahmadinejad at all, let me say that I think it was not a very wise decision to invite Ahmadinejad to Columbia University in the first place. Yeah, Bollinger, Columbia University's president has scored some cheap points by asking the tough questions. But, I am pretty sure that he will have deepened Arab anger at America by this act. I can assure you that Ahmadinejad was expecting to be treated with the same public courtesy that he would give an invited guest in his own country. Note: the keywords here are PUBLIC and INVITED. I understand and respect the freedom of speech and the right to information, but isn't this taking that a bit too far?

This is another display of a lack of what is popularly called intercultural competence in my opinion. A westerner would probably have known what to expect, I am convinced that Ahmadinejad did not. And that made his public ridicule all the more dangerous. America, thanks to Bollinger, you need to watch your back even more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Plastic roads: something for Nigeria?

I just watched a report about the Plastic road technology, which was developed in India.
The technology of using waste plastic to lay durable and cost-efficient roads, developed and patented by the Department of Chemistry of Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) here, has attracted countrywide attention. 1

Trials have shown that roads tarred with the Bitumen and Plastic mixture seem to be more durable than road tarred with just Bitumen/Asphalt:

The New Prabhadevi Road laid by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation using plastic-bitumen technology has withstood the onslaught of two cruel monsoons.
Today, the road, laid on December 7, 2004, is stable and has no pothole or crack.
The same is the condition of 4-year-old Jambulingam Street in Chennai.

500 metres on the Chavadimukku-Pullanivila stretch in Thiruvananthapuram is an
example of the strange mixture used on roads. There has been no damage to
the stretch even after one-and-a-half years, the Chief Minister said. The
technique of mixing tar and plastic is used in Tamil Nadu, he said.

Using this technology would help in job creation:

A unique feature of this exercise was that 3700 women's self-help groups were
involved in the collection of plastic waste. Each group was paid Rs.12 per kg of
plastic collected.

It is environmentally friendly, if the material is properly processed:

A km of road with a single lane will consume one tonne of waste plastic 1

And maybe, just maybe, Lagos would become at least a little bit cleaner!

Sources :

1 http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/28/stories/2007012817030300.htm

2 news:www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEO20070906023351&Page=O&Headline=Plan+to+try+out+plastic%2C+tar+mixture+on+roads&Title=Thiruvananthapuram&Topic=0

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some of my favourite books

Reading is my hobby. I read anything and everything, from non-fictional works, to chick lit, to crime fiction, depending on my mood. The only thing I refuse to read (or watch) is anything in the horror genre. Here are some books I love and have reread more than once(apart from Nr 9!), not in the order of preference:

1) Barchester Towers - This is the second book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope(1815-1882). Actually I love anything by Anthony Trollope, but this is my favourite, probably because I discovered him through this book. It is also arguably his best known work. Read more on Wikipedia.

2) Emma - I fell in love with her before it became hip to read Jane Austen, lol. Her short stories are also quite good.

3) The Mystery of the Blue train - again, this book represents my love for Agatha Christie crime fiction. I have read almost everything she wrote, and more than once!

4) The Mayor of Casterbridge - tragic story by a great writer.

5) James Herriot's "All things": I remember reading the first of this series once when I lay at home in a doped on chloroquine trying to fight Malaria, at the age of ten or so. All Creatures great and small was the first book I read. You do not have to be a veterinarian to appreciate these books. I was so excited several years ago when I found a battered copy of The Lord God made them all in a flea market in Moscow.

6) Eats, shoots and leaves : The zero tolerance approach to Punctuation -
hilarious book, and quite useful too.

7) For Matrimonial purposes: This book is about the family pressure on a twentysomething Indian woman to get married. It maybe about an Indian, but it resonated loudly with me, and was funny on top of that. I definitely recommend it - it is light reading:

8) The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. First of the slightly
naive, very touching, definitely addictive series by Alexander McCall Smith. The Audio version of the book is also very good, for a nice quiet evening. This series is currently being made to a movie in Botswana. You can read more about it here and I am really looking forward to seeing it. By the way, it was mentioned just a minute ago on CNN and you can watch Inside Africa this week to learn some more about the series.

9) The Lord of the Rings - very great read, unfortunately verry long. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the movie, since I felt it could not possibly match the book, but I have heard that the movie really does justice to the books. So maybe I'll watch the movie soon. It would definitely be a lot faster than reading it again!

10) How to be a Nigerian - this is one funny book, no matter how many times
I read it it still cracks me up. I have not been able to purchase it on Amazon (last time I checked they were out), but I hope I'll be able to get it on Albiris (I set up a notification for it) or when next I'm in Nigeria. Or maybe it'll be easier to filch my dad's copy from his study lol.

This list is in no way exhaustive. I wonder if there is anyone else who likes the same books out there.
**This Template makes such posts look disastrous. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time right now to work out how to transform this template to how I really want it to look.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Things that meant a lot to me growing up: My cards

We are a letter writing, card giving family. I got Birthday cards appropriately filled with gushing words from adoring parents for as long as I can remember growing up. I remember poring over the cards for days on end, they made me feel warm and loved by my parents. It gave me a warm protected feeling, taking the place of hugs and goodnight kisses. Since my parents settled back in Nigeria, for some weird reasons, I had become highly uncomfortable with the rough hugs my father gave us. I know it is his way of showing love, but he hugs in a funny way still till this day trying to force my 20 something head on his shoulders. I bear it nowadays because, heck, I only see the man about once a year. But I digress.

I got Birthday cards from my siblings and friends as well. I got Success cards when I had exams and Congratulation cards when I passed my exams. I got Easter cards and Christmas cards as well. I got Get-well-soon cards and Be-my-val cards. Well only one Be-my-val card, but it still counts, doesn't it? I also loved to give cards. I pored for minutes in gift shops trying to pick out the exact card which would convey the intensity of my feeling for my mom/ dad/ siblings/friends, in fact for who ever it was I was getting the card for.

I have saved all my cards since I was about 10, maybe, and I carry them around with me. That is one of the few indulgences I allow myself in my worldwide voyage. I have left furniture behind without batting an eyelid, shed a few tears over some books before eventually leaving them behind, left things behind with the hope of eventually returning to get them sometime, but never my cards. I always take them with me. They are of the utmost importance to me. Even if I only pore through them once every year, or sometimes even more irregularly, yet I know they are there waiting to take me years down memory lane, to that card from daddy on my 13th birthday, that card in which my mummy wrote how proud of me she was, that first handmade card from Eddie or that christmas card from my friend T whose becoming a mother anytime from now........The only thing that means more to me than my cards are my letters.......but that is a post for another day.
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