Archive for July, 2010

Going Away Party

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Today is my going away party!!

Chris and Mark have very kindly offered to host it for me. And I get to share the joy with Chris’ colleagues from TouchType (http://swiftkey.net/). Lots of fun (and food) is bound to be had by all. 🙂

In fact, given the amount of shopping and chopping that’s already happened I hope people bring big appetites!

There will be lots of tasty meat for the carnivores and omnivores and lots of tasty rice and Sri Lankan curries for the omnivores and vegetarians. I’m hoping my brinjol muju and pol sambol live up to my expectations. The coconut scraper is primed and ready!!!

Anyway, must stop faffing with the computer and get back to the kitchen. Time to chop some red onion for the potato salad.

Missing People

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

It’s coming up for time me to leave again (3 weeks and counting at time of writing). And I’m trying not to miss my friends.

In the first instance, there will be time enough for me to miss people once I’m actually on the road, there’s no point in missing people pre-emptively.

Secondly, I’m trying to make the most of the time I do have. Trying to see people. And most importantly, I’m relishing every second I spend with my friends. And, in fact with Cambridge itself. I’m trying to notice each moment and enjoy it.

And I’m trying not to miss my Sri Lankan friends either. It won’t be too long before I see them again. 🙂

A Good Buddhist

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Here’s a post that I should have written while I was in Sri Lanka.

4 different, completely independent people on 4 separate occasions told me that they thought I was a good Buddhist. Which surprised me. I’m not a Buddhist. It seems to me that not being a Buddhist makes it impossible for me to be either a good Buddhist or a bad Buddhist. Likewise I’m not a good Christian, a good Sikh, a good Hindu, etc.

There are some bits of Buddhism that I like. Being honest. Being nice to other people. Taking responsibility for your own actions and their consequences. Shunning material possessions and physical beauty. Taking a balanced, middle road. Following one’s own path to enlightenment (or heaven or peace or fulfillment or …).

But there are a lot of very fundamental bits of Buddhism that I don’t like. Shunning personal relationships. Right speech (well, the bit about avoiding harmless chatter). Earning merit. Worshipping one’s parents/elders etc. The priesthood. Practicing a religion.

And there is so much about Buddhism that I don’t know about and that I don’t understand. As the previous two paragraphs may make very clear.

But I think that what people meant when they said I was a good Buddhist is the same thing that people mean when they say that I’m a good Christian (which I’m not). I think they mean that they think I’m a good person. I hope they do. They see some aspects of what their religion reveres in me and so they equate those qualities with their religion. Often they don’t see the aspects of me that their religion most certainly does not revere (lack of faith for a start, other Kath failings shan’t be mentioned here, suffice it to say we’re none of us perfect). So they look at me and see someone caring and kind and think ‘a good Buddhist’. I look at them and see someone warm and loving and think ‘a good agnostic’. (Actually I don’t, I think ‘a good person’, but you see the point.)

I also thought it was interesting that some said to me that despite me not being a Buddhist, I was a better Buddhist than many Buddhists they know (including a monk or two). Which just goes to show that subscribing to a religion doesn’t mean you automatically represent all that is good in that religion and that not having a religion doesn’t make you an inherently bad person.

I think faith and religion are probably about as causally related to ‘goodness’ as eye colour is (i.e. not at all).

Preparations

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I’m up to my eyeballs in to do lists. I’ve got a list of things to do this week. One of things to do in my last week. One of things to do when I get my passport back with my visas. One of things that can be done at any time. And then there’s my usual pocket shopping list of things to get on my way home tomorrow.

But I think it’s all mostly under control. I have bought almost everything I need. I need to get anti-malarials and antibiotics but I’m going to see my GP next week, so I’ll get them then. I need some phrase books, but one of my wonderful friends has offered to get them for me as a going away gift. And that’s it. I have everything else.

My passport is currently with the Chinese Embassy getting that visa. I have the Russian visa. Just need Belarus, Kazakhstan and India. I have bought my train ticket from Warsaw to Moscow and the one from Moscow to Almaty. I haven’t bought my travel insurance yet, but I know which company I’m getting it from.

I’ve been packing up my stuff here and creating an ever increasing ebay pile. (Ebaying things is on the do anytime list, but by next week will have moved to the this week list.)

I have a box of things to post to Sri Lanka. Gifts and extra clothes and suncream and wet wipes and teaching materials that I don’t really want to take with me on the train.

Yesterday I packed my bag and took it to work to see what the weight/size was like. And it’s good. I think I need to lose some more things from it, but I’m getting there.

Once the contents are finalised I’ll do a blog post about what I’m taking and why.

I bought some mosquito repellent clothing! Trousers and a shirt. It’ll be interesting to see if they work. I’m really hoping they do. Anyone who read my blog while I was away last time will know how much I hate mosquitoes. Grrrr.

I’ve got a global SIM card so that I can be in touch while away. So I’m now putting together my contact list and making sure all the important numbers are easily accessible (stored on the phone and the SIM) and are backed up.

So all in all it’s going well. But the fact that I’m currently having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep (and then having trouble staying awake at work) makes me think I’m more stressed than I think I am. There’s a mild background panic I think. All good fun, I’m sure!!

Anyway, now that I’ve written this blog post about my to do lists I can cross ‘write blog post’ off my to do list! Yay!!!