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Rambling thoughts on history.

In the spring of 2011, I was talking to my friend Karl about why I wanted to go home. Societal norms had been shaken to the core: premarital sex, LGBT community… issues once hushed up were now proudly coming to the fore. The changes in our private life highly correlates to the shift in ideology of the country we live in. I predicted that we would see more fractures in politics, and I wanted to be home for it. Change always excites me, especially when things are going downhill.

One year later, while doing research on the urban development history of Vietnam, I first saw the uncanny parallel between the Vietnam under French rule and the Vietnam today. It is the same pattern of land expropriation, proletarianization of landless farmers, construction of grandiose structures catering to the fancy of the top few, and an aspiration to Western aesthetics and modernity. Read the rest of this entry »


dalits in india
hazara in afghan
Probably everywhere, people find some groups to discriminate again. And a lot of time the discriminated would just accept it that way. “The resigning eyes of a sacrificed sheep.”

You know what’s oft said by tourists/travelers, how children in developing countries still enjoy themselves despite all their daily (and very likely lifetime) hardship, unlike the spoilt kids in materially advanced countries like the U.S.? i wonder if that’s true, that the lack of material wealth, instead of not “corrupting” them, blunt them? just see all the street kids struggling with hunger… what does it mean for them to grow up? not having the joy that’s commonly associated with childhood: being free from all concerns, what’s the word, carefree? and another truth is that, poor people here can get by with so little. we don’t want to use the word “development,” ok, but poverty is still a reality.

every one’s been talking about it: the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. An economics illiterate, i cannot comment. Let’s just assume that this in the long run is better for tax payers. It’s taking some money away from them, true, but the other scenario would be much worse. So the government is just choosing the lesser evil. Let’s agree on that.
But what about all the public schools, healthcare system, pollution, ok, nothing new, they’re all so old, but they’re not worth rescuing?

– those who don’t have access to running water, who have to ration their use, who treasure every single drop, would pay ten times more than those who can turn on the tap 24/7

– those who live next to electric dam or who were displaced by its construction would be the last to get electricity.

– those who would never kill stray animals, who observe strict vegetarianism, would still kill other human beings, people of other religions.

– those who are so devout that they would wage a war to triumph their religious conviction would blow up themselves and others during the holy month.

Sep 16,

The First Promise – Ashapurna Debi: The rural life in West Bengal in the tide of colonialism. Descriptions of customs, traditions (child marriage, puja, etc.) the women and their roles, how they change and are changed. the transition, the uncertainty and the inevitable. the fundamental part of identity that is challenged and that is bound to change (caste, e.g.)

Women are oppressed (and this goes for many other groups) certainly not only because men are sexist. A sexist society nurtures a sexist mentality in both men and women, so women can certainly be oppressive to themselves. They have to find the empowerment to break through. Liberation doesn’t lie in the hands or at the mercy of the sexists.


Sep 9,

The Hungry Tide – Amitav Gosh: I don’t like the two foreground protagonists (if such a notion exists), but the book offers a beautiful, rich, and humane depiction (or documentation?) of Sunderban, where the relationship between human and nature reaches both extremes: symbiosis and enemy. Meticulously researched like a comprehensive anthropological work that covers everything related to the locale: environment, folk tradition, history.


Aug 26,

The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai:

a novel exploring extremely complex and intertwined issues: interethnic relationship, nationalism, immigration, uprising, globalization, the making of history, etc. in a series of everyday stories. It seems straightforward enough, but the perspicacity could hardly come from someone who hasn’t spent time in another part of the world, seeing another angle of the apple. Immigrants, or just people who move in general, do have that opportunity of stringing together the pieces.

In light of the ongoing Jammu-Kashmir upheaval and the Georgia-South Ossetia controversial break, it brought back the questions that I’ve stuck with for a long time: How can you know that your acts are of your true desire and not of a mob mentality? That they are a dedication to the cause and not an abuse of the cause? When you’ve already been part of the whirlwind, how can you cut yourself off, take a step aside to see which way it’s going? What’s the difference between a personal revenge and a public punishment? Can either be justified?

people tend to be on the look out for you, to go out of their way to help you
you’re unlikely to get into a fight with a stranger
you can see married women who never show their faces to any men not directly related to them (father, brothers, children), except the husband.
It also means:
In India, a conservative estimate claims 0.5 million missing girls a year.
In China, the sex ratio is 119.6 male : 100 female (CIA world factbook reports an 111:100), compared to the global 105:100. In the two southern provinces of Hainan and Guangdong, it’s 135.6 and 130.3, respectively. This skewed ratio has lead to a constant threat of cross-border kipnapping for Vietnamese women.

It doesn’t spare the “developed” South Korea and Taiwan either. No wonder about the overseas bride demand.

– always accumulate for themselves, live selfishly and yet, always live in the fear of rumors and yield to others’ judgment.

– go to temples and pray to the Buddha; Buddha teaches – at least this is what i think – not to be self-absorbed, not to avoid hardship in life, and to be detached from all wants, and yet they only pray for more wealth and more success