Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Attention ugly and/or non-Ethiopian women ...

... no more coffee for you!

I sent as speechless an email as I could to some folks regarding this : Ethiopia tackles Aids with coffee-flavour condoms.
"It is about time to use an Ethiopian flavor for beautiful Ethiopian girls," said Dereje Alemu, 19, a university student.
Well, what have we learned here? His major is not English and he has a future in marketing. If he ever lives in the US at some point in his life he'll get sued.

Or maybe after reading this comment,
"It's inappropriate," said Bedilu Assefa, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Orthodox church, whose millions of followers are encouraged to abstain from sex outside marriage. "We're proud of our coffee."

I should have entitled this post, "No coffee for you - you're not Christian enough!"

But after reading this, the recipients of my email wrote back saying that they were confused:
"I hate coffee-flavoured condoms," said Tadesse Teferi, 37, a mechanic. "But I use ordinary condoms when I have sex with ladies other than my wife."

What's he been smockin', you ask? Well, we broke down the sentences into a conjunction of logical statements and after a careful analysis coupled with a wee bit psychology, we've come to a conclusion. This man means:

- he does not use condoms with his spouse
- he uses ordinary (unflavored) condoms with females other than his spouse
- he uses coffee-flavored condoms with men other than his spouse

Ummm ...yeah.

Let's hope all the wives of mechanics called Tadesse Teferi are illeterate, and that this article will never get translated into Amharic and/or other Ethio languages. Wait, should we not be hoping for the opposite? Hmm.

The thing I find most interesting is how every comment has a name attached to it. Since when do Ethiopians allow a person to appear behind a quote? Also not the lack of female comments.

The person who forwarded me the link (non-Ethiopian) had one question : Is decaf available?

I see so many jokes coming. And some kids may just giggle in the future when the gorebet Itye calles out 'ere nu buna TeTu! Indae ... berede iko'

I should stop.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sonata For a Good Man

There has only been one book that I remember, whose last page I turned and thought, 'I will read this book again'. The book was Atlas Shrugged. As I was reading it, I was folding pages to keep track of paragraphs that I had read and re-read, but wanted to come back to.

I read user comments about it on amazon later on. People either found it depressing or inspiring. In both cases, most people loved the book. I am in the depressing-book camp - it paints a very grim picture of society without much sense of hope. I wish, really wish I had found it inspiring.

I wonder what psychologists have to say about the discongruent congruency of readers' opinions.

Every so often I've paid my dues as a movie junkie - good ones and bad ones. Unless due to extenuating circumstances, I always finish watching them. Tonight's movie is the only one I can recall that I finished and couldn't wait to see it again. It's called Lives of Others.

Funny. It views like 'Our Lives'. I could almost hear the movie in Amharic, eventhough I was too young at the peak of Dergue and Dehnenet. If I spoke the language, I could hear the movie in Mandarin too. And Polish. And Bulgarian, and Russian ... and all those other languages in which people were too afriad to admit that they were afriad.

Georg Dreyman reminded me of Abe Gubegna. And Bealu Girma. I can't find the exact quote now Nelson Mandela is quoted to have said, 'If you don't have something to die for, then you've no reason to live'. How few those who lived for a reason. How extraordinarily rare those who who lived to say they lived for a reason.

HGW XX/7 reminded me of a conversation I recently had. It was one of those nothing-really-matters-distress topics. The question was if, as we grow older, we are giving up on our dreams and our sense of purpose, or desire to look for a purpose to replace them by "maturity" - a state of resignation and apathy. How many generations of dinner parties have discussed that exact topic? Perhaps the saying, 'if you're not a liberal at 25, you've no heart. if you're not a conservative at 40, you've no brain' is telling. Years pass, ideals break, responsibilities rise, children grow, time crawls onto the next cylce. But not to despair - somebody pulled an Oprah line, that you don't have to impact a whole nation or half the world - you can make a difference in the life of one person . We laughed it off, saying that that is one of the worst and most common excuses for having children.

Except now it doesn't seem so funny.

I thought the 'Good morning, sun' joke was very funny.

Talking of Abe Gubegna:

Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better be running.

Abe Gubegna
Ethiopia, circa 1974

As recited to me by a cab driver in Washington DC

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Kicked out", "kicked off" ....?

At 10:40pm my friend set me a txt msg asking, 'Did Beyonce just get kicked out of Ethiopia?' 10 minutes later I was on my laptop and on the phone with her trying to figure out where she got that from. We couldn't confirm that she was kicked out, but it seems she wowed the 5000 people in Addis that could afford her show.

Meh. Not my kinda gig. Each to his own, but of the story, this made me cringe

Beyonce's opening act, rapper Ludacris, also got a lukewarm reception Saturday.

"Rap music doesn't suit Ethiopia," said local music promoter Michael Melake. "Ethiopians need a melody.

"Rap music is all about the message and we don't identify with that," he said. "It's all about the black American experience, and we don't relate to that."


Beterefe gin I wonder if Anita Powell has ever been to Ethiopia, or how much time she's spent in Ethiopia.
Some 5,000 adoring fans in Ethiopia — a country normally unimpressed by Western music — turned out to see Beyonce. In this country, even teens tend to be loyal to music in the national language, Amharic.
In a country of 70 million people, surely it can't be that hard to come up with 5000 molqaqa, Ethiopian raised, English-only-speaking (or pretending) fans ... if not people who appreciate a balance of world music. If you round up all the kids from the private and international schools inkuan, you can beat that number.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two Things On My Mind

There've been a lot more than two of them but I've not had much time to pause and think ... or whatever it is that i do with things on my mind.

Lemn Sissay. For starters, shall I say, what an interesting name. 'Why a blessing?' ... unless it is 'beg for a blessing', which is less likely, but equally odd. If you dig around deep enough you'll find that his background has many twists and turns. And I can almost understand why they called him 'lemin sisay' ... but I couldn't find the bit where he said his mother named him that. But still, why would she name him that?

He was adopted by English parents until he was 11, apparently against his mother's will. But his adoptive parents turned him to foster care at 11 and I'm not quite sure how he grew up after that. He is, however, against cross-cultural adoption ... which is how I found out about him. No, I'm not against cross-cultural adoption, his position just caught my eye.

His blog and one of his poems :


If there was ever one
Whom when you were sleeping
Would wipe your tears
When in dreams you were weeping;
Who would offer you time
When others demand;
Whose love lay more infinite
Than grains of sand.

If there was ever one
To whom you could cry;
Who would gather each tear
And blow it dry;
Who would offer help
On the mountains of time;
Who would stop to let each sunset
Soothe the jaded mind.

If there was ever one
To whom when you run
Will push back the clouds
So you are bathed in sun;
Who would open arms
If you would fall;
Who would show you everything
If you lost it all.

If there was ever one
Who when you achieve
Was there before the dream
And even then believed;
Who would clear the air
When it's full of loss;
Who would count love
Before the cost.

If there was ever one
Who when you are cold
Will summon warm air
For your hands to hold;
Who would make peace
In pouring pain,
Make laughter fall
In falling rain.

If there was ever one
Who can offer you this and more;
Who in keyless rooms
Can open doors;
Who in open doors
Can see open fields
And in open fields
See harvests yield.

Then see only my face
In the reflection of these tides
Through the clear water
Beyond the river side.
All I can send is love
In all that this is
A poem and a necklace
Of invisible kisses.

Another worthy read : why do we fucking swear? I've been told I put sailors to shame ... which is another odd thing, i think. Because I rarely swear when I'm angry ... or at work. Perhaps subconsciously I'm putting on a show? Who knows. Anyway, me likes article.

Hmm. Of poets and swearing, Kim Addonizio is one of my favorite poets ... alongside maybe Dorothy Parker. I'm not poetic, nor much of a poetry reader, but I've come to realize that what brings these two women together in my world is their 'vulgarity' and humor. Well, DP is unquestionably very funny ... and is even quoted in the article above.

Kim Addonizio ... I was working in Daytona, FL in the Summer of 2004. I was bored and roaming the hallways of the hotel I was staying at when I saw a pile of her books up for sale on a table. She was scheduled to speak that day. I picked up one of the books and opened to a random page to be faced by a poem called "Fuck". My thought exactly - what the fuck?! I read the poem. I bought the book, and went to the hall where the poet of that strange book I'd just acquired was speaking. She read a poem from the book about a dying brother, I think ... and yet made the reading sound so sexual. But then she also read about her cat and to me she was still sounding like she was on the same wavelength. Maybe I'm not receptive to nuances of histrionics. Anyway, no further comment 'bout that, but here's ...

There are people who will tell you
that using the word fuck in a poem
indicates a serious lapse
of taste, or imagination,

or both. It's vulgar,
indecorous, an obscenity
that crashes down like an anvil
falling through a skylight

to land on a restaurant table,
on the white linen, the cut-glass vase of lilacs.
But if you were sitting
over coffee when the metal

hit your saucer like a missile,
wouldn't that be the first thing
you'd say? Wouldn't you leap back
shouting, or at least thinking it,

over and over, bell-note riotously clanging
in the church of your brain
while the solicitous waiter
led you away, wouldn't you prop

your shaking elbows on the bar
and order your first drink in months,
telling yourself you were lucky
to be alive? And if you wouldn't

say anything but Mercy or Oh my
or Land sakes, well then
I don't want to know you anyway
and I don't give a fuck what you think

of my poem. The world is divided
into those whose opinions matter
and those who will never have
a clue, and if you knew

which one you were I could talk
to you, and tell you that sometimes
there's only one word that means
what you need it to mean, the way

there's only one person
when you first fall in love,
or one infant's cry that calls forth
the burning milk, one name

that you pray to when prayer
is what's left to you. I'm saying
in the beginning was the word
and it was good, it meant one human

entering another and it's still
what I love, the word made
flesh. Fuck me, I say to the one
whose lovely body I want close,

and as we fuck I know it's holy,
a psalm, a hymn, a hammer
ringing down on an anvil,
forging a whole new world.

~ Kim Addonizio
Everytime I read this poem, I'm surprised by how it starts, laugh in the middle, and surprised by its end.

I hate it when people swear in Amharic. Hate, hate, hate it. Yidfash, yisenTiqish, yiCHergidish is fine! It's the inat'shin and like crap that's repulsive.

I used to think you're not truly fluent in a language of a culture until you can understand the local humor. I now think you're not fluent until you can "appropriately" be offended by swearing.

So am I or am I not offended in English?


That was 3 things. At least.

p.s. It just occurred to me, his name can mean, 'Why, Sissay?'

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Net Rhytms

It took me almost a 3 weeks to get Internet at my new apartment. Partly because I was taking too long to pick up the phone to make an appointment, and partly because there's a waitlist for everything in NYC. Then it took me another 3 weeks to set up my router (does plug and play ever work with routers for other people? Every single time I set up my Linksys, it's been a painful multi-day exercise for me). So, it really is nice to know I finally have it. But the damage is already done - the one month residential internet free existence has broken my email and other web rhythms.

Anyway ...

A farewell scene from Joisy (no, it wasn't me!)

...and a welcoming scene from Central Park.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Melkam "Alicha" Millenium

Here is to a prosperous ..eh ... thousand more years.

I happened to miss the DC hoopla last weekend, and I even skipped to Ohio for the week. I spent yesterday evening having a quiet Ethiopian meal with a friend. It wasn't even a matter of choice... Columbus Habesh people (and there are a lot of them!) must be celebrating from home... which is, if we go by tradition, the right way to celebrate. If the Ethiopian restaurants ever go quieter than they were yesterday, they'll need to shut down the businesses.

I called home, and my mom told me Addis Ababans are calling it the Alicha (yellow) Millennium. Apparently the price of berbere (red pepper) has rocketed to something like 1300ETB per 17Kg (not sure why i got the rate in 17kg units - must be some Ethiopian thing I'm missing). To help me with comparison she said it was 14ETB per 17kg during Haile Selassie, a hundred something per the same unit during Dergue, and 400+ETB during EPRDF. Finally now it's simply not affordable to have Qey woT for the average folks in Ethiopia.

The jokes go:

Man, after getting his shoes shined : how much is it?
Listro : 8.50 Birr.
Man : Indae, mindin new? Beberbere new indae yeTeregkew?

Daughter calling from the US: Ima, what should I send you for new year?
Mother : Ya balefew kelakulish berbere and hulet lastick isti melisesh lakilign?

My mom also reports EPRDF (hmm ... we're a 'multi party' system, maybe i should say 'the government') has been rationing electricity in most areas, but places like Churchill (aka Chercher) Avenue (what's on Churchill?) have been getting 24/7 service. I guess consumption has gone up beyond the city's capacity(doing what, and where?). So, according to my mom, it's also become the Chelema Millennium.

I guess everybody in my family, myself included, are not very interested in this "Millennium " business - to remind people of the obvious, the 'new' 1000 years started last year. I wasn't that interested in the ferenj 2000 either. But it's interesting/amusing to see what's been going on. Really :)

So for real ... melkam addis amet!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Refresher for the soul, lessons for the mind

If you're going to go off trail and start bush walking, don't do it while you're 3 hrs away from camp with 5 hours to sunset. Never.

Sap is apparently great for starting fire.

Either of polar bears or grizzly bears cannot go downhill, and the other can't go uphill. Figure out which is which before you're stuck in the woods with no reception. (hint: one can slide)

Color, color everywhere.

If you see a weird looking lake ... such as this one ...

... it's quite unlikely that after two hours of bush walking you came to a different lake of haunting similarity.

Color, color everywhere.

Crazy sized mushrooms. Another one here. (actually i'm not even sure they're mushrooms - "mushroom-like-things-on-trunks-of-trees")

A camping hammock is so not excessive!

Even trees have social outcasts :-/

Smores are sooo much better in the morning.

Adirondack Mountains, NY

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Before the long weekend takes charge...

Drunk and Wild
Have you ever tried Amarula? The best I can describe it as is that it's like Bailey's ... except it's tastes so much better. And it's African! It is made in South Africa from a tree called Marula.
The trees themselves cannot be cultivated, and so the fruit must be harvested in the wild, where it stands ripening under the African sun. As they ripen the berry.s skin becomes a light yellow, with white flesh inside around a large stone. Rich in vitamin C, and the nut packed with natural oil, this succulent, tart fruit draws the animals of the plains with the promise of its annual feast. This fruit is the base ingredient from which Amarula is made.
So, I kinda knew all this. What I didn't expect was this - utterly hilarious!


Then the top 100 undiscovered websites, classic and for 2007. It was a del.icio.us fest.


Remember when Netscape used to have a built in wysiwyg basic HTML editor? I think that used to be about the only reason i ever used Netscape. It's a cool feature, I thought. Netscape didn't think so ... the feature disappeared (and/or Netscape disappeared from my list of apps). Anyway, I'm not sure what to do with this find yet, but here's a nifty plugin for Firefox. It lets you right click on a text box and Xinha then gives you a separate window or a sub-window to compose HTML, alternating b/n wysiwyg and source.

Spider Nation

This is one of those rare moments where a new discovery in science sucks.

Physicists have found the formula for a Spiderman suit. Only recently has man come to understand how spiders and geckos effortlessly scuttle up walls and hang from ceilings but it was doubted that this natural form of adhesion would ever be strong enough to hold the weight of real life Peter Parkers.
This will pretty much kill the sport known as rock climbing. There'll be freaking spider-wannabes everywhere. Or maybe that will be the new sport.

Khadja Nin

She's from Burundi, raised in Burundi and Zaire. I used to listen to her music a while back. A very long while back ... then I must have stopped.

I can't believe this CD has been out for over 10 years and I never got to it until recently. I only know 'M'barik Fall' in there. Well, better late than never.

Sambolera is an easy favorite ... of everybody, apparently. However, Sina Mali, Sina Deni stands as the most replayed in my book right now. You can listen to samples here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

UK, Japan & US

Amy Winehouse

I knew the woman was nutty, but I didn't think I was betting my money on it. Months ago a friend and I bought tickets to her upcoming concert in Darby/Philly, PA. It was supposed to be on Sep 13th, which is Jewish new year ... a day after Ethiopian new year. Since my friend is Jewish, and I Ethiopian, we figured, hey, what better excuse to party in the middle of the week?

But then we both kept coming across news articles that made us question our wisdom in buying those tickets. There was the spitting at fans, hitting her own head with the microphone, vomiting on stage, collapsing due to drug overdose ... you name it, she's done it. And she kept singing Rehab:
They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go
Well, there's only so much a (withered) human body can take. It seems she finally said, 'yes, yes, yes'. She's canceled her US tour and checked into rehab. About time.

If you've not heard her before, her voice/music is something. She is ... something else!

Now I need to hunt for my refund.

Kabuki in the 21st Century

There are a few places I have to visit. Japan's one of them.

The Matrix Ping Pong

Why is my girlfriend mad at me?


It started out well, with me packing 1/2 a box of books. It ended with me reading the books I was supposed to be packing. But that's cool. I figure, I never perform well while not under pressure. I never ever do. So to hell with packing. Today's chill day. Tomorrow's activitating. I'll start packing on Friday at 8pm and stay up all night.

Hey, at least it has worked before ...


So, tobian.blogspot.com went on vacation coz ... well, not too long ago yekolotemari stopped by my apt, and then claimed that it was his birthday (good one, yekolo ... nice stab at trying to get pampered). Well, there's no pampering at my place. But I figured I could masarer something in my underused kitchen and hope that siyayew dengiTo Tilo indemiTefa.

At that point I knew who yeqolotemari was coz .. well, there can only be one of such a person in North Jersey! I've seen him comment around here a few times but I never volunteered to share my blog identity, I never asked for his.

So, as I was mangodagoding in my kushna, I heard him yell, 'anch nesh demo lekas Tobian?' At first I said I'd no clue what he was talking about. Then I asked where he heard it from. He heard it from somebody who I technically don't know ... which was kinda odd. It bothered me. The first time was during New Year in DC. Somebody introduced me as, 'this is Tobian' at a party... umm, how about not? I don't even like being called be bet sim let alone some username. But the music was loud, the crowd was happy, alcohol was in the air ... well, I smiled and moved on. It never got better since.

Andrew noted that one of the similarities Sudanese bloggers have with Ethiopians is that we use a lots of pseudonyms. We've a few real lifers, like Noalwi, Yemi and Fezz. The rest of us stick to nicknames coz ... well, for whatever Habeshalacious reason I didn't create this account under my real name.

So, here's my resolution ... if you ever ask me to my face if I am Tobian, I will always answer that I am not. So don't ask. On that note, Tobian, whoever the hell she/he/it is, is back on ranting track.

Well, this has been a ranting ground all along.


So I put a functional template on this thing and started reading through posts from the past month and realized that they're a lil too peronal for my taste. Argh.

This is why I should instead be packing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I dislike packing. I hate packing. I loath packing. Arggghhh ... maybe this is it. I'm finally hitting my limit.

I've moved in 6 of the past 7 years. Wow. WTF? I hadn't thought of that until I decided to procrastinate by writing crap I shouldn't.

It's 10pm. I almost never sleep before midnight - it makes me feel like i'm wasting the day. Today I've been feeling like going to sleep since 8pm. So far I've packed 1/2 a box of books.

I need to start throwing out books. I've read almost every English book that's not school/work related and is not a reference.

I've not read most of my amharic books, but the ones I've read, I've read multiple times.

I've way too many bibles ... for a person who hasn't read the bible in over 15 years. Which reminds me ... i think i've an old post i should publish.

I should have paid for packers and movers.

I don't think I'll move next year. Or the year after.

That's a depressing thought.

Oh yeah, of depression & suicide. I always end up saying something that I think I'll regret when I speak of both topics. No regrets yet. I never mean to be disrespectful - it's just there's something that doesn't sit well with the way society expects me to react. It finally struck me, these two issues are much like homosexuality. A very common argument that you'll hear being thrown at homophobes is, 'you know statistics show that most homophobic people are gay themselves'. It may be thrown at pple to make them feel uncomfortable, but I think there's an element of truth in there. You can only make other people's business personal if it is personal to you as well.

The thing with depression/suicide is ... if somebody makes a conscious decision to not commit suicide after a difficult deliberation, then to say suicide/depression is beyond the control of the individual is to invalidate that person's state of conscious being. It can have a few alternative meanings. a) although the person has had previous brushes with suicidal thoughts the person was not truly suicidal to begin with b) the person is suicidal, but the conscious decision not to commit suicide was not done at the true testing limit.

So if it ever crosses this person's mind again that suicide is still an option, in both cases the person will now be thinking, 'maybe now I'm really suicidal and I can no more control it'.

Basically a suicidal person who makes a conscious decision not to commit suicide should not be encouraged or forced to believe that suicidal tendencies are beyond one's control ... as is commonly acknowledged of mental health in today's society.

That's what bugs me.

I think I'll go pack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

As the world marches on ...

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is looking to hire foreign pilots due to unprecedented fleet expansion. I understand they need to stay completive, but in a country where there's 90% urban unemployment rate, and being host to one of the best pilot schools in Africa, it seems to me somebody in EAL failed to plan well (even if staff left for other airlines ... every company has a turnover. Get with the program.)


Last year we got a group together at work and went for paint ball. One of my office mates, who happens to be an extremely tall guy, decided not to participate. His height had nothing to do with it, but if we didn't blame everything on his height, then he did. On this occasion the reason he gave must have been related to his hight, I think about how it would make him an easy target.

Upon hearing that, one other work mate disappeared for a while, came back and told us, "Did you know that Wilt Chamberlain was in the paint ball hall of fame?" Ok. I'd no clue who Wilt Chamberlain was -- it turns out he's a famous, tall (of course), American basketball player. "Really!", he assured us "Check Wikipedia."

So we checked Wikipedia and lo and behold, the entry said,
'''Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain''' ([[August 21]], [[1936]] – [[October 12]], [[1999]]) was an [[united States|American]] [[National Basketball Association]] [[basketball]] player. Known as ''Wilt the Stilt'' (a nickname he hated) or ''The Big Dipper'', he is regarded as one of the greatest and most dominant basketball players of all time for the incredible statistical achievements he attained throughout his playing career. Also a member of the paint ball hall of fame.
We didn't even have time to be skeptical. In a few minutes the original Wikipedia article had been reverted. We were as amused by our workmate modifying the entry as we were amazed by wikipedia's speedy reversion. Do they automate the supervision, or did somebody actually read through the modification and reject it in what felt like a minute?

Anyway, we thought it was the end of Wilt Chamberlain's Paint Ball Hall of Fame ... until this tool surfaced. It lets you search what wikipidia changes have been made from say, a range of IP addresses. In fact, it loads with IP range for your current location. As can be expected, Wilt Chamberlain's edit showed up under our work IPs.

It's kind of a creepy tool ... we were looking through the list and could sometimes guess who made the changes at work. Like, what are the chances somebody else at my work place will edit something about Ethiopia? (Thank god I don't have a wiki account :)

Of course it also has its good uses.

I forwarded a link to my tall, now ex-office mate, whose verdict was, "That sounds like a pretty sweet tool. It says to me: Run and hide!"

Pretty much.


I am officially procrastinating from packing ... and I will pay for it dearly ... soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The New Onion

I started reading The Onion before they got a website, or before I knew that they'd one. Their newspaper wasn't easily available in my area so I only used to read it whenever I went to visit siblings. When I found out that they had a website ... I no longer had reason to visit the siblings. Now The Onion has started video transmissions ... I no longer have reason to be literate. Yay!

The first (three) are flat out hilarious.

Military Ban On Gays For Their Own Protection, Says General

Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas

Study: Multiple Stab Wounds May Be Harmful To Monkeys

This is a great parody.

Live From Congress: Rep. Hardy Calls For A Ladies' Night Out

Talking of ladies nights, an American man was really talking of a 'ladies night out' time out. I guess everybody gotta get their 15 min of fame by all means necessary (I actually agree with him ... the issues just just doesn't seem worth the time)

Finally this, I just like the cover for Time magazine.

Time Releases Annual List Of Least Influential Americans

Monday, August 13, 2007

Multple Choice

Select one of the following
a) huh?
b) woha!
c) wtf!?
d) all of the above.
for each of the news items below.

Item 1 : 'Mooning' student in African jail

Item 2 : Texas goes exectution-happy. Again.

Item 3 : Hint: If it's not India, the dowry always comes from the man's side. Repeat after me. If it's not India ...

Item 4: Warning : Do not approach the police while high, or while looking to get high

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stuck & Restless

Getting stuck at airports is horrible. Partly because, well, it sucks. Also because it prompts me to do things I generally don't have time to fabricate. As it is I have to make a conscious effort to un-glue myself from my computer, but when I get stuck in a shitty airport with free wireless, what to do, what to do? Of course, there's a magazine in my bag ... but ... those papery things are so antiquated. It's more exciting to spend time on the computer trying to find a website that has hard-copy articles available online. Isn't ... it? Maybe I'm subconsciously an obsessive environmentalist. I've an aversion to leafing through dead leaves. Yup, that's it.

This is an attempt to de-glue myself from fabricating online adventures. (Maybe i should pick up WoW?)

I saw a workmate online and we started talking about a wedding he just returned from. He mentioned there was a gay reverend at the wedding who asked one of his buddies to a dance-off. At the dance-off the reverent started groping his buddy. Nice. I told him that's like a multi-purpose reverend ... of spiritual, entertainment and ... other values.

I'm not sure what led to what but my workmate then created a blog called "had-to-take-out-link-to-his-blog-coz-he-posted-the-image-below-w-my-full-name-which-is-a-no-no" - his line of thought when he's not talking work is often random and ridiculous, which makes him an awesome person to talk to.

Then we somehow got onto online ordinance. I mentioned I knew somebody who presided over a friend's wedding after getting his ordinance online. He'd to pay some minuscule amount but was legal enough to preside over the wedding ... which worked out perfect for the couple who were non-practicing Catholic and Jewish. That led to a google search and discovery of The Universal Life Church Monastery . Somewhere along the way I got ordained as :

I can get a prettier hard copy of my certification for some amount, which I've differed at the moment. Do you see the recurring theme here? Save the environment! Dyum, it's in my frugal blood.

It occured to me only after I submitted my real name goodbye that I'd not actually checked their tenet. What if they're into killing babies, i asked? "Even so, the certificate would be worth it", he assured me. Hmm. It turns out :
The Universal Life Church has only two tenets:

* To promote freedom of religion
* To do that which is right.

It is the responsibility of the individual to determine what is right as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others and is within the law.

And this is their logo:

I can live with that. In fact, I support that.

Is the church 4Real? I don't know. Regardless, you should henceforth refer to me as Reverend Tobian.

Where is this fucking plane?? I've run out of stuff to ramble about.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Not so mid, not so late

A couple of years ago a few things came up and knocked some sense into my perspective of the world. First was the realization that I am fully responsible for my happiness, and the other was a realization that our bodies are, God forbid, fragile. For a while I didn't quite know how to react. At first I buried my head in a pile of work and by the time I was done working, I was lucky if I had time to sleep. After around 6 months, I burned out. I took a few days off and went on a long drive by myself. The drive spanned a few of days. It was interesting but didn't like being by myself much. When I got back home I was clear about one item : I did not want a life that I would look back and regret.

I went on a rampage. My weekends started getting booked 5 weeks in advance. I jumped out of planes, i splashed, i ran, i boarded, I danced, I sang (in the shower mostly), I climbed, I threw parties, organized trips, I drove ... my god, I drove.

Now it seems I've come to the end of the circle - once again I'm not quite sure how to proceed. My trip to Ethiopia was a good needed pause. In a way it seems to me I went from one state of non-thinking (working on end) to another (playing on end). On a good note, I don't regret either. But as I transition from my mid-twenties to not-so-mid-twenties, I have have to suck it up and ask, 'Where does this yellow brick road lead to?'

Somebody once told me, 'you can't reach your destination if you don't start out with a goal'. I didn't really have a goal over the past couple of years.

So, on this birthday, I have the set myself the goal ... to set a goal :)

For enduring the past few years' time and taste : Tizibt.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tempted New York

I had been thinking a lot about moving to Manhattan, but battling with the idea of trading my currently calm surroundings of statewide, littered 2 story buildings and strip malls for the hustle bustle of preoccupied, perhaps a tad self-important new yorkers pouring out of skyscrapers at odd hours of any day. I feel like if one has the opportunity, cities like London, New York and Tokyo are must-live-in places, especially in the absence of kids and family.

I gave my notice to the management office of my apartment and now, whether i like it or not, I've to be out of my place by the end of the month. Looking for an apartment is a daunting task. Looking for an apartment in Manhattan is a daunting task and a half. It so happens I had to be out in Ohio last week, and I’ll be back there again next week. I attempted a bit of apartment hunting this weekend and here Sunday evening approaches with nothing to rave about.

I went up in Spanish Harlem to see two apartments, one of which reminded me a the meqabir houses you'd see in the country side in Ethiopia - tiny, windowless and dark. The street scene, on the other hand, was my kinda scene. I've never liked prim and proper places. Harlem streets, in my opinion, have personalties you can never characterize. This time a rushed Hispanic man stopped me and fired a couple of inquisitive sentences. I responded, 'No hablo Espanol', with a weak smile in what I know is a decent accent (well, Americans have a knack for butchering pronunciations and I'm not there yet) . He looked at me for a second more and walked on. (Ok, I speak a bit of Spanish but I hear it less, and specially less when it's fired at me at 5 words/second rate). Then there was an old man sitting with a very nice pile of stereo system, drumming well (very well, to my untrained ears) to blasting Caribbean music. A block lower was a lady who screeched away on a microphone in Spanish. She paused in between to interject 2 or 3 English sentences, the gist of which was, 'Evil, evil is no good for you. Evil takes away your ignorance.' I do hope she meant innocence, or arrogance. Maybe she means both. Oh wait, the latter is ... bah ... who knows what she meant.

The better of the apartments was owned by a guy who turned out to be a funny Israeli who's lived in new york for 'toity' years. 'Twenty?', I asked. 'No, Toity'. Huh? 'Toity, toity ... three... zero'. Oh. I don't know if that's an Israeli thing. 'I hate rent', he told me. I told him, likewise, and if he figures out a way for me to have that apartment sans rent, I'd take it on the spot. He pauses for a bit and goes, 'You mean like a sugar daddy?' I guess I had that one coming. I told him that, in my book, would still be considered as rent.

I filled out an application and pointed out that somebody will have to clean the kitchen more. He called me back and said, 'let me see your knees'. What? 'let me see your kneeeees'. I'm standing right there in a pair of jeans. I stare on. I had no clue what he was getting at. 'Good knees!', he goes, 'Woman, get down on your knees and do some cleaning.' I briefly thought of a HBO documentary I saw last week of Billie Jean King handing Bobby Riggs a pig symbolizing male chauvinism at their Battle of the Sexes match in '73. But this man was laughing at his own joke so hard that I'd to let it go. Later we walked by the kitchen when he said, 'oh, gross', like a 13 year old kid. I said, 'Exactly!'. But surely, he must have seen it before.

On my way out of the city, I parked my car 'near' (4 avenues out) my office to grab my laptop. I was legging it and on the phone with a zemed when i noticed a car slowing down on my right and a man saying something which appeared to be directed to me. I figured he was asking for directions. I got closer to the curb, leaving a parked car between myself and this car. There were three men in the car, the one in the driver's seat yelled out,

'I've been waiting for you for 30 minuites. You never showed up.'



It took me a while to acknowledge that there was no way I could have misconstrued a question for directions into that statement. I start laughing and walk away. The car continues to crawl at my pace.

'Come on. Let's go have breakfast'.

I keep talking on the phone but the guy is relentless.

'What do you say ? Let's go to a MacDonald's'

At this point I start laughing again and ask my zemed when MacDonald's started serving a breakfast menu, and more importantly, when did pick up lines become so bizarre as, 'hey babe, let's go have breakfast at a MacDonald's'. I glance towards the car, nod my head yeah-rrrrite, and continue walking.

The next thing I know the guy has pulled the car into a spot by a fire hydrant and is following me saying, 'Let's at least have a talk, sweetie ... I'll make it up to you', when it occurred to me, holy shit, he thinks I'm somebody else.

I opted to bolt. I was in mid-town at 11am. I didn't expect anything weird to happen, but I crossed the street and hastened my pace. The next time I looked back either he'd given up the chase, or become indistinguishable in the crowd. I stayed in my office for an hour before I made it back in the streets again.

The thing is, when you start apologizing to a girl who you presumably ... let's say, slept with but can't even remember what she looks like, shouldn't there be a rule of thumb as to how far you'll go to apologize ... for whatever it is that you've done?

And for heaven's sake, don't take her to a McDonald's!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lam alegn besemay ...

I was talking to Wegesha earlier today and we got onto discussing Ethiopian Airlines. He says that they don’t treat Ethiopians well. Well, I just think they manhandle anybody seated in their Economy class. Then again, according to some material that’s been coming through email lists, a good number of Ethiopians are getting ready to file a class action suit against British Airways for delayed, lost, tarnished luggage and disproportionate compensation and lack of customer service thereafter. I can attest that my qiraqinbo on my way there and doro weT on my way back arrived punctually with Ethiopian Airlines. Gorf siwesd iyasasaqe new ... yemil wey yemil yemimesil teret ale.

So, I had been meaning to write about Ethiopian Airlines since my return but like many stories, it got forgotten. I flew first class on my way to Addis, and yelele tsimen iyashashehu, I came back on economy.

Cloud #9, as the call their first class was, well … delightfully empty, for one thing, but more importantly 100% black. I don’t know when I became a color conscious Ethiopian. Maybe years in the US does that to you, and besides US commercial flights almost never fail to disappoint with their one color business class lineup. This one was a rare sight.

The one thing that was disturbing was that the crew kept referring to me be antuta. ‘yemiTeTa yifeligalu?’ I kept wanting to look back to double check they were indeed referring to me, but like I said, the place was empty. At some point bichegirat my mom disrupted a conversation and ask, “ahun anchi sint ametish hono new yichin ‘irswo’ yemityat’?” The lady responded, ‘ay inema besiraw lemden new’. She easily has 10 years over me (or so I flatter myself). They refused to call me ‘anchi’. Finally my mom and I concluded, not only age, but money buys you ‘antuta’. Adis bahil new … temaru.

As I mentioned earlier I think Ethiopian Airlines manhandles anybody in their economy class. Inen gin yechegerengn was that they manhandled people in the first class, too. Let me explain. First of all, bemigib akuaya inae qoraT habesha negn. By that I mean I eat 10 kinds of vegetables, 8 kinds of cereal, 5 kinds of fruits, 3 kinds of animals and 0 kinds of shell fish. Maybe I’m off by 1 here and there (not about shell fish) but those figures are the universally acknowledged habesha truths.

Ihis? What do they serve in 9-gnaw Damena - Yejib Tila. Mushrooms, as far as I know are for kicking around the backyard and here I was, thousands of feet above the ground stuck with a mushroom on a fancy plate. Of the five courses, none of which fell under the universal habesha amegageb truths, I remember one that had those tiny leafed, thin stemmed things which I unmistakably identified as arem. As a child I remember that growing in wuha yequateru grassy areas during the kiremt season in Addis Ababa. Basically if they think that my ass is going to start eating meno and arem to attain the ‘desired’ level of western sophistication, they’re mistaken. A long time ago I remember Ethiopian Airlines first class had yummy injera as a meal option. Alas, this was one trip where they didn’t have it – and to think we were mid-flight on Fasika.

There were three flight attendants fully dedicated to the 5 people who were in business class. These women were so bored that they’d not let us rest in peace. I kid you not. They’d stop by our seats, “Lemindin new gin yematbelaw?” Lemin? Coz you’re feeding me CHid is why yemalbelaw. So I tried to kick back and sleep. Spacious, at least, you think. No. They kept hovering. Bichegirat every so often mom would nudge me and point at a concerned looking flight attendant to me to ask if she can bring me ‘something else’. Like what, girawa be koba this time? Ok. So the food sucked … for me. Whatever. Idmae le tsom yemaychal yelem. But why couldn’t I at least enjoy the space I paid for in peace?

I know, I know. They need a cloud #4. Bring down the fanciful menu and attention a notch down and I’m game.

(btw, I’m half kidding. It was my experience, and it really wasn't entirely enjoyable but if it seems like it caused me serious grief, it didn’t. It can always be better though :)

Friday, July 20, 2007


As I parked my car this morning, the last words I heard of the news summary on NPR was that EPRDF let opposition leaders out. Sure enough, Ethiopia releases protest leaders, BBC reports.
Three minibuses have reportedly left the prison while the group's supporters whistled and shouted for joy outside.
It's a happy day to be Ethiopian :)

A thumbs up to Meles Zenawi & co. It was painful. It was long and unnecessary, but it's done. yegzer selamta and "thank you" never hurt anyone, so thank you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Death Penalty

The Ethiopian court sentenced Mengistu H/Mariam, who's currently enjoying luxurious life in exile in Zimbabwe, to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty because it's 'unethical' to kill an aging man. Death penalty at this age would not be 'fair but a vendetta', they reasoned. As opposed to if he was younger where it would be like what, redemption??

Yet somehow seeking death penalty is so ethical for CUD leaders , hmm? Granted they've not been sentenced but it makes me sick to the stomach that they're tried in the same court and in the same manner as a man like Mengistu Hailemariam.

The moral of the story: if you want to be a politician in Ethiopia, make sure you seem like you're old & dying. And befriend Mugabe.

I have been reading People's History of The United States bit by bit. It's supposed to be the history of America you wont read in school text books. It's depressing. It details how native American populations were exterminated, how the will and culture of black people in America was systematically broken down unpon their arrival to the United States to beat them into submission. One thing I found 'amusing' is that most of the non-wealthy Europeans who originally came to the US apparently came indentured as house servants. They paid for their fare across the Atlantic through the promise of labor to masters who could sell and exchange them as property, much like slaves, except Europeans could eventually win their freedom. This is reminiscent of slavery systems in most of Africa. Fast forward to the present - I always find it amusing when I hear 'real' Americans (i.e. white americans) complain nowadays about there being too many immigrants (i.e. people of questionable color) since these Americans are clearly children of immigrants themselves. Now I'll add to my amusement by thinking of the many indentured European 'pioneers'. At least the Mexicans came as free people - should that count for something? (Me? No. I'm no immigrant. I'm a tourist :-) But I digress ...

So in People's History the manner in which parts of society that didn't own property were literally tortured into submission made it seem like I was reading about most of today's Africa. It's a chronicle of death, violence and betrayal that lead entire communities into seemingly resigned states of political existence.

The real moral of the whole story : the death penalty of any form was moronic, is moronic, will always be moronic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I was reading a blog entry by Kal Pen where he said that Gogol, his character, did not have cultural struggles in the movie. In his opinion it was Gogol's mother who had ethnocentric issues to resolve.

I saw the movie and it really resonated with me. I am hard pressed to agree with Kal Pen in that his character had no identity conflicts. The one aspect of this movie that resonated so well with me was the idea of a first generation immigrant kid easily finding his niche in America but being unable to share his experience at home with wider America. To take an instance, scenes that followed his white, America girlfriend's first meeting with Gogol's parents were hilarious, but at the same time toe crunching for a viewer like myself that comes from a conservative non-PDA type culture.

Here was this American raised, Indian boy having gone through the typical suburban upbringing, done everything right, heading to an Ivy League school, landing his glamorous city job, and all the shebang that America is said to be great for. He glides through all this in style, albeit the occasional comments thrown in by his dissatisfied mother who thinks her child sees his time more fit to visit his American girlfriend and her family than his own parents. Ultimately he confronted by the death of his father and Indian mourning traditions which he is unable share with his girlfriend.

That mourning moment appears like his character had an Indian revelation but the underlying issue was that he never actually shared his life with his girlfriend. He shared her life with her instead and that is very acceptable and encouraged to/of immigrants in America. He played his American role like a well tuned fiddle to fit and be as invisible as possible within society. Not his fault. Not her fault. Not America's fault. It's just a fact of being an immigrant anywhere.

Sometimes I feel like I have multiple personalities. One that I have with Americans, another one that I have with immigrants in America and finally the my personality with Ethiopians, the last one being the closest to the real me. I'm not deceiving nor fabricating, it's just that I know limitations of my interaction with these different groups, and that's OK by me. But sometimes I realize that my interactions almost seem like work, like I have to actively monitor my boundaries, I am acutely aware of what fits in their world views and not. I wake up every morning and read the African news section of BBC after I keep up with 'normal news' that the rest of America might be reading(or not). My shelf has a pile of Amharic books that'll never be discussed at work or at my next BBQ. I like having another excuse to have a day off from work but beyond that I have no interest in July 4th celebrations and fireworks. Yeah, I can drag myself to somebody's garden cookout, but after all these years I don't look forward to that day even by the tiniest fraction of the way I miss yemeskel demera, buna'na qolo or nifro. True, I enjoy Japaneses cuisine and will take Roti Canai any day, but only because I can't get my qeTen yalech yeQibe shiro be'injera. And no, I don't ever tire of eating that stuff. How does one explain that? One doesn't. One can't. One just goes on to describe how good Roti Canai is. Really, if you haven't already, you should try it.

In Namesake I thought Gogol went through a similar experience. His father's death was a crosspoint of his two cultures. It was a moment he could not shelter his girlfriend from. It was a sombre and very traditional Indian experience which she tried to deal with in an American way. He had to be at home and with his familty, and it wasn't something he could compromise about. Inevitably it brought their relationship to and end.

In a way Kal Pen's right when he says Gogol did not have to struggle with his identity. He was a man in two cultures. He comfortably played both roles well and separately. His take on his father's death was not a choice he had to make - he knew the Indian way the only way to be and his explanation of his behavior was no consolation to his girlfriend. She was was never the one crossing boundaries. He always came to her ... until that point. So maybe he wasn't struggling with his identity, but he was still a victim of it, as was she.

To paraphrase Barak Obama's wife, she noted that human beings have a lot more in common on individual basis than we do as communities. Every day cultural boundaries are being trespassed by many of us. Differences become more noticeable when communities get involved. The plot of Namesake appeasers to be one such case.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Gudifecha - The Movie

Ah, gotta love nothing-to-do weekends. I got to see Gudifecha as well. Ok ... this one I really liked. If you've not seen the movie, beware as this may be a spoiler.

There was a weird scene that had 2 ferenj girls and the main character sitting on nicely mawed lawn, pointing and chuckling at a magazine. The audience does not get to hear their conversation. The scene appears out of nowhere and has no follow up. Very disconnected. At the end the director explains he was trying to create contrast for the end of the movie where the main character was forced to resort to traditional medicine for an abortion. He said the same dilemma if faced by somebody from the countryside would not be as disturbing, but for a girl whose world view was so much wider (he called it 'modern' which, of course, bothers me) and had all resources to afford her better medical treatment was unable to get treatment because it's illegal in Ethiopia (he failed short of pointing out the legality issue - I don't know if that was intentional). The idea was good, but it doesn't make the scene any less weird.

During a shimgilina scene where the father was being asked for his daughters hand in marriage, the father asks back the amalajoch, 'habt nibretus?' It cracked me up. It's so true - there's an awkward obsession with wealth and ancestry in our culture. I was raised to respect self-made people ... easily reinforced in my family as my parents had no 'tiliq sew' ties. A few golden times I have seen my father mention the fact that his father was a farmer in the midst of conversations where people revel in 'Tiru zer minzar'. Very inappropriate, but oh, so pleasing.

During my last visit to Ethiopia an elderly lady started quizzing me about my family. "Yeman lij nesh?" it started. What a weird question, what if i'm an orphan? I stammered. "Ay welajochish ineman nachew malete new?", she clarified. I was wondering if she taught I didn't speak Amharic well at that point. I could not bring myself to give her any answer that would satisfy tradition. I gave her my father's full name and my mom's full name. There was an awkward silence in the room. My friend who had been sitting next to me felt the need to intervene. She gave details of my parents' careers. In the end the lady said, 'Ere? Ay ine inkuan alawqachewim'. I was setting there thinking, 'Well then I can assure you my parents sure like hell don't know you.' I vaguely felt evil, but I really dislike 'who's your daddy?' and 'how much money?' questions. If it seems naughty or crude to say in bed then it should not be uttered outside under any context ;-)

Scenes I liked
- the hand washing at the trad medicine lady's home
- any scene that had the second doctor (minus the part where he spoke English - which he spoke darn well, I might add) he really played the part of a doctor well, i thought. very convincing.
- the "man neh?" tebel scene with Yoseph. Hilarious.
- the "beyesus sim" tselot scene with Yoseph. Hilarious.
- most of the lighting in the movie. It shows they put effort.

I can't believe the two main characters kissed on screen. Damn. When did I become so conservative?

My First Time ...

... watching an Ethiopian movie was today. Well, it was really yesterday and today. Yesterday I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to finish it so technically the end was today. In all due fairness, I hope this doesn't make it seem like it failed to captivate my attention. I started watching the movie at around 12:30AM and as an early bloomer arogit, that was way past my bed time.

That and the movie didn't captivate me. Ok. That was a very round about way of admitting that I was bored.

It was called Semayawi Feres. When I bought it I asked the sales lady at the movie store to suggest the best two habesha movies. She didn't bat an eylid when she picked Semayawi Feres and Gudifecha. After I bought the movies her selection was endoresed by a random second and third.

I have not yet seen Gudifecha, but of Semayawi Feres I have to ask/note:

a) Why 'Semayawi Feres'? The plot is about a development document regarding Abay. I didn't see any feres nor anything that reminded me of blue in the movie, literally and figuratively. Does Semayawi Feres have a symbolic significance in our clutre that i'm unaware of?

b) What's with the background music in the midst of a dialogue? Like I said, kalegizeye arjichaleu and I sure like hell couldn't hear some of the stuff that was being said. Thank god for the subtitles in English, which brings me onto my third question ...

c) What's with the English (not the subtitles ... which I wasn't expecting but whatever. In fact I've to give mad props for some of the semi-normal translations) all over the place? Guramayle Amarigna is so 20th scentury ... even by Ethiopian calender. I mean, habesha set pleading with her man, 'pliss, iskindirye, pliiiiiiiiiis ... ", right in front of Tis Abay? Abay aTint binorew'na biQeber, meqabru wust yigelabeT neber.

d) so the theme can be summed up as, some engineer devised a way to perform controlled evaporation from the Nile to generate precipitation. He came form London to present his findings to the Ethiopian government, but there're bad guys who want to intercept his work. Somewhere in there it's implied that the guy has only one copy of the document even though he sports his laptop on a field trip. So the part I don't get is, to what end were the 'bad' guys itching to get their hands on this 'study'?

e) I found it interesting that the main female character, Firehiwot, was imprisoned for having written provocative material that irked the government. Absence of freedom of speech in a movie plot ... I can dig that.

f) There was a car in one of the scenes that undoubtedly was the worst air pollution offender I'd ever seen - worse than Trenta quatros and lonchinas back home. If that was a statement being made by the producers, mad props. If not, that car needs to be banned off movie sets and all roads.

'nuff for today.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wede Dejen ...

Sometime back ...

I hitched a ride with a family friend to Dejen. He also had his brother, an Imahoy and a doctor in the car. The menekuse lady was a very funny. She was as worldly as unworldly people could get. I mean that in a sincerely positive way. She could easily join in on any discussion … from politics to the economy. A long time ago, she told us, she and her siblings inherited a lot of land … rist, I guess. Her siblings sold their land and moved to Addis. She remained in the countryside, kept her land until Derg came along and made her land wurs lemengist. ‘yesheTe teTeqeme. Indene yale arrerre, menekose!’, she said. But her motto is still, ‘meret yigezal inji yisheTal?!’ She advised us to buy (ishee imahoy … as soon I a get the dough)

Yalsemahut gud yelem on that ride, including the ‘fact’ that katikala cures amoeba (yes, the doctor was of the medical variation but his protests went …joro daba … ) and that Katikala also clarifies dirty water (at this point the doctor looked like he’d a have fit in his corner), of hills called Ali Doro, the lifetime of mankind and Haile Gebreselassies’s dis-political career. I’ll share the last two.

The Lifetime of Mankind

In the beginning God, in all his fairness, gave all animals 30 years of life. Humans, dogs and donkeys used to live together trough their steady 30s. Then one day the donkey went back to God and said, ‘I don’t mean to be disrespectful but I really don’t want to live 30 whole years’. God was surprised. He asked why, and the donkey replied. ‘Inae alchalkutm. Wetche gebche besew meseqayet new, meweqer new, meshekem new. Lezih nuro 10 amet yibeqagnal.’ God asked, ‘are you sure, donkey?’ The donkey confirmed, so god took away 20 years of from donkey life.

Now the human overheard this conversation and right after the donkey left he approached god and said, ‘God, if you don’t mind, I’d like to have those 20 years’. Good agreed so now the lifetime of a human became 50 years.

Some time later the dog went to God and said, ‘God, 30 years is a few too many years for me. Could you please taking back some?’. Again god asked why. ‘Well, my life is a hopeless state of indenture. I’m either barking or begging for attention, food and shelter. It gets tiring after a while.’ So god granted the dog his wish and he took 10 years off of dog life.

Once again the human went and asked for the 10 extra years, and God granted them.

Ina ahun yesewin hiywot sitayut, the first 30 years are lived inde sew … you’ve no worries, you’re strong, you’re happy, you fall in/out of love … you live the life of a human being.

Then come marriage and children. The shoulders, knees and CHegura start hurting for no apparent reason. You become a slave to your job and the well being of your family. You toil, day in and day out, for the good of others. That’s 20 years of donkey life.

Finally the kids leave your house, your energy wanes and all you want in life is to spend some quit time at home where you’ll often be heard barking, ‘man new? … eh … beru tenkuakua?’ (woof!) ‘yachin buanbua man kefto yetewat?’(woof!) ‘wey zendroooooo! Yezare 30 amet bihon’ko ….’ (rowwrrrowwrrrwwwooooof!) Ineho you’ve reached your dog years!

Haile Gebreselassie

Apparently Haile recently committed a political gaffe, at least in the eye of most Addis Ababans. He must have attempted a reconciliation of sorts between the imprisoned leaders of CUD and EPRDF. Or maybe he was simply found in the company of the wrong crowd … who knows. I was told of ye were were were as, 'Haile iko ine Professor'n "be Meles imenu" bilo limaled isir bet dires hedo ...' At the mention of words like ‘imenu’ and ‘liyamalid’ I was beginning to tune out of the conversation when the end of the story struck me funny.

'Ina Professor Mesfin adamTew, "Sima Haile, ante keCHinqilatih yiliq igrih yishal’na … bel … bameTahbet wuTalign", bilew abarrut'.

I loved that line. I imagine it was ye Addis Abeba sew miTmiTa, but I liked it nonetheless.

Belu'sti ... I’m off to live whatever’s left of my human years.

p.s. To clarify to possible Haile defenders, i find that line about Haile funny. I'm not saying i think it. It's just amusingly put.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

r u kidding me?

my first reaction on seeing that plastered on the side of a car was ... the title.

I've heard the world 'parkiologist' thrown around habesha circles in the US, and when i was in HS one of my friends used to say that she wanted to do engineering. floor engineering. She was exceptionally good at physics and math and curious minds usually asked for details. She'd answer, with a straight face, 'it's primarily ... janitorial sciences'.

I once read a play called 'Beggiology' published by AAU - on the 'science' of begging in Ethiopia. I was too young but it was still bizarrely hilarious (or maybe it was bizarrely hilarious coz i was too young)

Still, a 'Parking Engineering' car?! Hmm. Where can i enroll?

So many careers ... so little info ... so little time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Coming Out

Well, PhoTobia is. The qelawaCH types (:-) have already been to it from the 'Misc' section of links on this blog.

Next to internet, I can waste an obscene amount of time with a camera. PhoTobia is where internet meets my camera - a new and better way of wasting time.

Some more random pictures ...

Farm in Gojjam

Yeguada gidgida

Ye'ayate Dist



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