Friday, November 30, 2012

Travelogue: Colombo

Monday, 26th November

Traveled to Doha, stopping in Colombo en route.

Left KL at 8.50 a.m. and arrived in Colombo at 9.45 a.m. or so. Took a tuk-tuk to town after several rounds of haggling and boarding the airport shuttle etc. The guy looked half dead with red-eyes and his bike was no better. But sharing with another guy, it cost me 630 rupees, which was about half the going rate and I really didn’t have the time to wait for buses etc. Arrived in Pettah Market which turned out to be a market district instead of a single building. Was denied entry to a masjid, (apparently ladies did not pray in public places), I wandered around and did not find anything worth buying. Ate some snacks at a corner shop with Coke and milk tea which turned out unacceptably too sweet. Asked around and was directed to another masjid in the area. Apparently the first one catered to Indian “bonos’, whatever that meant.

Found the people there very friendly and helpful. Communicating was easy since we all spoke some kind of English and I have like 3 crucial words of Tamil I learnt in Malaysia. The caretakers kindly spread a sejadah for me at a corner of the ground floor so I could pray in relative privacy. Afterwards, I bought some fruits outside and made my way back to the airport. I caught the 187 bus from the main road but it was really slow going as it’s a normal bus which stopped all along the way. At one point a priest (who looked exactly like the one on my flight from KL) came on board and the guy next to me stood up. I gave him a dirty look, daring him to sit next to me, but soon found MYSELF the focus of imploring looks from the public! Ooopss… Apparently, one was supposed to give up yr coveted seat for exalted priests of the land. Eeps.. my bad! Another aunty quickly offered me her seat instead, which I was reluctant to take at first, but eventually accepted upon learning that it was still some distance to the airport. After more than an hour in that rattletrap, I was praying for the bus to quickly get to the airport already so that I could enjoy the relative comfort of the waiting hall. 

Almost missed the stop, but managed to get down in time, and took a tuk2 to the departure gate. It’s normally 50 rupees but of course the guy insisted I pay the special price of 100 rupees. Since I did not have small change on me, I offered him a loose USD1 I had in my purse and he accepted. Changed out of my dusty t-shirt into a blouse and washed my face in the bathroom once I got to the airport. Immediately felt better! Bought some overpriced  tea at the shop and just sat around waiting for boarding. Yun and Julia joined me there, having come over from Colombo; they had overnighted in Kandy the previous day.

If the airport was deserted during arrival, it was PACKED for departure. There were so many people sending family members off, and there were numerous people from Nepal, Philippines and Indonesia heading towards Doha. The 747 towards Colombo was quite empty, but the Airbus 330-200 to Doha was filled to the gills. I sat next to an Indian guy who dared to challenge me at Sudoku, even though he just learnt to do it 5 minutes earlier.  Heh, typical Indian overconfident male! He lost.  Everyone slept after dinner.

Upon arrival in Doha, we took a cab to Ezdan Hotel where we were booked. Unfortunately the hotel messed up our booking and we ended up in a standard room with one king bed which dominated 95% of the floor space. I ended up sleeping on the floor but I didn’t care because I was so damned exhausted.

End of Day 1

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No Sense or Lack of Attention?

Reading about the father who raped his own daughter and fathered her child, I felt so sad...

There has been too many cases of (mostly illegitimate) children being born and murdered to cover up the mistake. Too many girls give in to their boyfriends' wishes to 'prove their love'; and in the end, they are the ones to pay for their actions. Imagine young girls suffering in silence for 9 months to cover their pregnancy, giving birth on their own without any medical attention and sometimes driven to kill their own child out of despair.

There were teens who followed 'new friends' out late at night and got raped; what were they doing out at that hour? Where were the parents? Did they not have responsibilities or chores to do at home? Shouldn't they be in bed, or at least home by midnight?

In this particular case, the girl admitted to allowing the man to rape/have sex with her. Why?? A much older man, which in this case turned out to be her own biological father, and she actually ALLOWED him to do it. Are you so starved for attention/love that you would allow someone you hardly know to take you home and take advantage of you? She was only 14 at the time. Old enough for sexual experimentation, I suppose, but in a normal world, it would be someone around her age, a boyfriend. Why follow an unknown man and do stuff with him? It boggles the mind.

A possible explanation is desperation for love and attention. Her mother is divorced, probably struggling to make ends meet without getting any support from the ex-husband. Probably there was no time or effort to guide her child about normal relationships and sex. I wonder if there was any emphasis on religion. So the girl goes around, guided (or misguided) by what she learns from her friends and the media. Sex is love, love love love... and she does whatever feels good... She gets the attention she craves, and she is happy, for a time. Until hell breaks loose and she finds herself pregnant. Did she tell her mum? Did she get any help? It was said that she and the child received assistance at 2 shelter homes. She is at least trying to finish her schooling. Thank goodness for that.

What worries me is that many children these days do not see the consequences of their actions. The media promotes FUN FUN FUN. Responsible kids are BORING and NERDS. Many don't have a vision for the future or know what they should be doing to prepare for adulthood; and a common missing ingredient is parental guidance. Parents work long hours to make ends meet, or earn more money to afford STUFF. Stuff which are not always necessary. It could be an opportunity to become more responsible when parents are absent, but it is also an opportunity to misbehave. Lord knows we always did what we liked up until the time our parents were scheduled to come home!!

And sometimes parents behave badly too. I know people who poisons their kids' minds about their dad since they divorced. I saw a nice boy change into someone quite unpleasant when his dad started to fool with another woman. He became an angry young man, torn between loving his now inconsiderate dad and protecting his mom. He started smoking and skipping school to earn money. He openly writes about his anger and relationships on Facebook. It is a sad thing to see...

I know I often get frustrated when I think about the lack of guidance I had from my own parents. I believe we could have become better people but missed that chance. But at least they were decent role models, if not perfect, so at least we didn't end up doing stupid things with unknown men.

I feel sorry for these children, growing up with no guidance, with equally misguided parents.. what would happen to them in the future?