Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Words in the Week: March 26, 2013

"Life is both giving and receiving."


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recent Reads: "Behind the Beautiful Forevers"

When you open the pages of the book that won the National Book Award for nonfiction “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in aMumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo, you are directly taken to the slum of Mumbi named Annawadi.

The author follows the lives of particular Anawadians where corruption and unfortunate cycles of ill events happen to them as they try to work their way out of the slum.

Boo explains in her own words, “As every slumdweller knew, there were three main ways out of poverty: finding an entrepreneurial niche…politics and corruption, and education.”

Nowhere in the book are the author’s personal influences or thoughts or emotions on the situation of Annawadi influenced as the stories of these people’s lives are told.

The book reads, in some ways, like fiction; as the author writes in third person, not first which is very common, with close interpretations of the perspectives of situations and life in Annawadi.  As Boo says in the notes at the end of the book, she followed them very closely.  The following quote speaks not only of how the author interoperates the thoughts of the people in whom she is telling about, but also a glimpse at life in a slum.

“The forces of justice had finally come to Annawadi.  That the beneficiaries were horses was a source of bemusement to Sunil and the road boys.

They weren’t thinking about the uninvestigated deaths of Kalu and Sanjay. Annawadi boys broadly accepted the basic truths: that in a modernizing, increasingly prosperous city, their lives were embarrassments best confined to smalls spaces, and their deaths would matter not at all.  The boys were simply puzzled by the fuss, since they considered Robert’s horse the luckiest and most lovingly tended creatures in the slum.”

The book is an eye opening perspective on life in the slum, the sad and unfortunate circumstances for those who live there, and a look at how the corruption of the government is stuck in a very vicious cycle where only the wealthy capitalize and the poor stay very poor.  Being a part of the slumdwellers lives through the book it becomes clear how the corruption is just as prevalent in the lives of the poor, and one unfortunate decision can be twisted to a varying list of outcomes. 

From Boo’s notes:

“It is easy, from a safe distance, to overlook the fact that in under-cities governed by corruption, where exhausted people vie on scant terrain for very little, it is blisteringly hard to be good.  The astonishment is that some people are good and that many people try to be-all those invisible individuals who every day find themselves faced with dilemmas not unlike the one Abdul confronted, stone slab in hand, one July afternoon when his life exploded.  If the house is crooked and crumbling, and the land on which it sits uneven, is it possible to make anything lie straight?”

Many questions run through the readers mind as they learn about the Annawadians:  Will they ever be able to change their lives and get out of Annawadi? Will the corruption of the government ever be overturned?  Will there be self-destruction for those who sell out to politics?  Will these people ever have opportunities outside of the slum?

                The book ends for the reader, but the people of Annawadi carry on.  Hopefully perspectives of life in another part of the world will be enlightened and the stories of their existence not forgotten.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Foto Friday: Convenience

Although a couple of years have passed since I have been in Mexico, my heart longs to go back each year.

I took this photo while sitting with my cousin on a quiet beach listening to the Sea of Cortez as it moved in and out.  This man was well stocked with supplies of convenience.  There weren't many people out that day, so he had a long walk between potential buyers. 

Today, as I look out at the snow, I wish I was back at that beach and I could say to him, "Yes, I'll buy that hat on top."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Words in the week: Flogging Molly, "If I Ever Leave This World Alive"

The irony in the lyrics is what I like most about this song.  That and the mixture of music from the mandolin, fiddle and accordian with the distinct Irish and yet modern sound of Flogging Molly

We know we won't make it out of this world alive- the irony- but through all of the twists life sends us we will be all right, even on our own- part of the message.

But read the lyrics for yourself, and let them say what they will.....

If you prefer the live version...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Foto Friday: Under the slanted rock

Driving the back roads around Moab, UT is an adventure, especially when you are in a Dodge Ram 2500 truck.  Somehow we made it under this rock.  Talk about a "tight squeeze."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Words in the Week: Irish authors speak

William Butler Yeats

"Happiness is neither virtue nor this thing or that but simply growth, we are happy when we are growing."

"I being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

James Joyce

"Mistakes are the portals of discovery."

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today.  I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."

"Think you're escaping and run into yourself.  Longest way round is the shortest way home."

Bram Stoker

"A house cannont be made habitable in a day; and after all, how few days go to make up a century."

"No man knows 'till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.

"How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Small Stones #19

Thursday afternoons are for my daughter and I.
I pick her up from school and she tells me about her day as we drive home.
We'll feed the horses together, cook, or do a craft.
Sometimes when we cook she writes,
in her journal about what we are making.
She wants to capture our process, the recipe.
She is not so different from me.
I so look forward to Thursday afternoons.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Words in the Week: Recent Chinese Fortune

Thank you, wise Chinese fortune writers.