Sunday, December 25, 2011

30 Minutes Left of Christmas

          Does anyone else feel like December is breezing past us faster than we can recall the lyrics of the 12 Days of Christmas? Actually, I wish Christmas would officially last 12 days. Why didn't we ever take the hint from the song?

. . . . . . . . . . 

          Despite managing to get decorations up and cards sent out on time, Christmas is still less Christmasy for me this year. I think whereas physically I have accomplished all of what it is I usually do this time of year (for instance: making sure I have Christmas colors on me when I step outside the door), mentally I'm away from the holly and gingerbread, tinsel and sleighbells. It's a surreal experience. Like, I'll burn my traditional Christmas mix CD without the ambition to listen to it. I'll buy presents for people without registering mentally that the occasion is for Christmas. I'm just not present in the season, though I can't pinpoint where exactly I am either. I'm probably immersed somewhere in thoughts about the Worlds Debate Tournament (becoming a reality in a day), life after college, and what has become of the people I saw everyday when I was in high school. Maybe I'll always be the Student Council President in my head.
          Anyways, for the sake of blogging, here's how I spent Christmas. I just realized how eventful my Christmas day looks after listing it out for my friend, Josh, seconds ago on Facebook.

      • Woke up early. Made breakfast for my three-people clan. Opened presents.
      • Left the house at 9 a.m. to meet up with Pang to buy traditional Thai dresses at Pahurat (apparently Bangkok's "Little India"). 
      • Got our dresses and adornments. Parted ways.
      • Incredible traffic. Then a long walk in the sun and uncommonly cool air.
      • Ice cream.
      • Returned home. Cleaned, packed my suitcase, and made a mess.
      • Christmas dinner by mom. Heavenly as usual.
      • Watched Tangled for the first time and fell in love with it.

 Happy Hanukkah, everyone.

Courtesy of Mom

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bangladeshi Rock Music

I got introduced to Nemesis, a local rock band, while I was in Dhaka. This song, Kobe, which means "when?" is the first single their new album, Tritio Jatra, released just this year. What I heard from the experts of Bangladeshi music - I mean Zaber and Mabrook - is that "when?" is about the band's frustration of not being able to produce an album in 5 years. You can see in the music video that the singer is trying to break free from strings that have been holding him back. Yea... take that literally. I understand the frustration though; I waited 5 years for My Chemical Romance to return after the Black Parade. =P

          Anyways, enjoy Kobe. =]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Twenty Taka"

          I'm on the way to getting my life back. I'm at the homestretch - one more online exam to go - so I thought I'd step out of the track for a minute and tell you about what's been keeping me busy.
          Earlier this week, I came through the gates at Suvarnabhumi airport, dressed in a turquoise Bangladeshi sari, with red lips, red wedge heels, my strawberry blonde hair in an up-do, and a functional laptop backpack on my back. It was actually entertaining collecting the stares, smiles, and comments from Dhaka to Bangkok. Immigration was definitely easier to pass at Dhaka in that getup. For anyone planning to travel to Bangladesh, you might want to consider wearing their traditional clothes - stylishly, mind you - to Shahjalal International Airport.
Me & Art; Me; Me & Dad
           You can probably guess my camera worked overtime on this trip to Bangladesh. I actually did take a lot of pictures, despite the fact that I was there for debate. To be honest, I would have probably never had the opportunity to visit the country if it weren't for the tournament, the 3rd Asian BP Debate Championships, hosted by North South University.

         Here's the part you ask me how I did and I tell you swell. Truthfully though, my partner and I put up a real good fight - together. =] Pon was eloquent and unnerved from round to round as usual. As for me, I'm 4 months experienced now, and I personally feel that both my progress and determination have been boosting exponentially. Kudos to me. 

Team Chula 2
          As for being in Bangladesh, the environment was nothing like I've ever experienced. Firstly, it's a Muslim nation, so dress appropriately. If you forget that fact or underpacked - which was my case - don't worry! Solution: get a sari, or a kurta for men. I got a beautiful cotton sari for only 1700 taka. That's like 680 baht, including the two-piece you wear under the sari. Silk ones are about triple the price, but that's still a good deal. Don't try to buy one by yourself though or wear one yourself with only instructions from Google. Get a local to help you!
         But truth be told, there is a lot to be alarmed about in Bangladesh. To begin with, the traffic is the worst. I swear I did not see a traffic light there. There are no lanes and no rules. Maybe just one, which is  honk continuously.  Expect to get harassed by the poor when you're sitting in the car during a jam. They can get aggressive and really in your face too. And don't even try to escape the smell of cigarette smoke; there is no such sanctuary in Bangladesh. And Bangladesh has the worst mosquito problem in the world. They're everywhere and can suck through clothes! Another airport tip: don't go into your gate until boarding time. Confined area + mosquitos... you do the math. Better to roam around in the airport. 

         Bangladeshi food however makes up for the madness. Okay, the take-out meals we got for lunch during the debate days were... crap. But if you get the opportunity to eat a home-cooked meal or hotel buffet there, you're in for a flavorful treat. I know Pon absolutely loved the biriani rice. I was crazy for roti and chutneys. I have to extend a special thanks to Zaber who treated us to a home-cooked lunch at his home, introduced us to Bengali contemporary music, got a car to drive us around, and helped me buy a sari.

Zaber's Crib. Bengali Coke!
          Overall, what I value most about the whole trip was meeting great debaters, adjudicators, and organizers from all over Asia. And apart from debate, downtime with perverted word games really took my mind off reality, which was what I needed. (1 word: pwnage!) 

Fraternizing with the Japanese team. Do I blend in?
The Chula gang at Asian BP 2011
Definitely excited about meeting more people at Worlds (Philippines) in 2 weeks. =]


Monday, December 5, 2011

Father-Daughter Movies

Today is Thai Fathers' Day, and this post is for Dad. 

          About 3 weeks ago, I watched Tower Heist with my dad at Central World. Then last week, we watched the original Ocean's 11 at home. (Yes, I'm back home now.) These two movies struck the longest leisure conversations my dad and I haven't had in a while, and it made me realize something. That there are particular types of movies I can enjoy so much with only my dad. It surprised me that I never gave an active thought as to what exactly makes a movie a "Father-Daughter" movie for me, and so I've been inspired to compile a list of criteria here:
  1. Comedy from beginning to end, but NOT the sick, retarded kind that characterizes distasteful movies like Austin Powers, Bruce Gigolo, and Epic Movie. (Feel my raging dislike?)
  2. At least 1 (2 would be more ideal) classic Hollywood actor in lead role. The mention of any of the following names, for instance, would spark unconditional interest from us:  
    • Jack Nicholson
    • Robert De Niro
    • Ben Stiller
    • Steve Martin
    • Morgan Freeman
    • Reese Witherspoon
    • Drew Barrymore*
    • Eddy Murphy
    • Tom Hanks
    • Jim Carrey
    • Jackie Chan + Chris Tucker
  3. Action. Crime. Trickery. (Any or all.)
  4. Nothing philosophical, or thought-provoking, or tear-jerking. We aren't movie-criers anyways.
  5. Out-takes at the end. 
  6. Only "realistic" special effects. 
    • Examples: car bombs, falling from a skyscraper, 2012 stuff... even aging backwards is fine. 
    • Non-examples: vampires, blue creatures, aliens, robots, Voldemort (unfortunately), animation...
    • Borderline: superheroes
  7. Martial arts sequences are a plus! We like to point out specific moves.

          It's worth noting that this list far from describes my favorite movies.  But I think it's only normal to have different "settings" for the different sections of your life. That why we don't try to integrate all our cliques together, right? Or why keeping them separate doesn't necessarily mean that one is not good enough for the other.  I treasure the tight relationship and abundant mutual interests I have with my dad. It's only sad that our types of movies have dwindled in box office release over the years (or maybe I'm just don't have as much downtime as I did in 1998, when Rush Hour just came out and when TV ruled my life).  So I guess my belated thanksgiving is for Tower Heist, the original Danny Ocean and his gang, and flood-induced holidays. Thank you, God. I love you, Dad.

Bonus Material: 10 Father-Daughter Movies Off The Top of My Head
              1. Rush Hour (1998)
              2. Rush Hour 2 (2001)
              3. Meet The Parents (2000)
              4. Bruce Almighty (2003)
              5. Legally Blonde (2001)
              6. Showtime (2002)
              7. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
              8. The Sting (1973)
              9. Bowfinger (1999)
              10. Something's Gotta Give (2003)

*My dad met her several times when E.T. was still in the production process. Why can't my life be that cool?