Saturday, June 15, 2013


Saturday, June 15, 2013

I am quite proud of myself today. I did something that, given my utter ineptitude in all things mechanical, I consider amazing, even miraculous: I fixed my vacuum cleaner! And because of that, though steeped in sweat and coated with dust, I am beaming with pride and joy.

I was vacuuming the carpet when the vacuum cleaner conked out.  The dust bag is already full, I thought immediately, so I opened the cleaner and emptied the bag. When I plugged in the machine, it still wouldn't work. I tried several times but it just won't budge.  There was clearly something wrong with the suction.  

So I was left with three choices: get somebody to fix the vacuum cleaner, buy a new  one, or fix it myself.  I opted for the last one.

With the help of Google I looked for articles on how I can fix the cleaner, but the ones I read were not that helpful.  Their instructions were for distinct types and brands of cleaners very different from the one I have.  But there's one thing that I learned from all those articles: If there is no suction, there must be a blockage.

So how do I check if there is a blockage? I thought.  I disconnected the hose from the vacuum cleaner then poured water into the hose, hoping that the water would flush out the problem. It didn't but it proved that there was, indeed, a blockage in the hose because the water didn't pass smoothly through to the other end.  I then looked around for something that I could use to push the debris out out of the hose.  I saw the curtain rod; but when I tried to insert it, it wouldn't fit because of the hose's curved parts.  Then I looked around some more until I saw those thick coaxial cables the cable TV guy left behind.  This would do it, I said to myself. And it did.  I was able to push the cable all the way through the hose and remove the blockage.  And by doing so, I saved several thousand pesos for not buying a new vacuum cleaner or paying somebody else to fix it and proved to myself that I can also be a handywoman if I put my mind to it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How a Culture Eats

Friday, June 14, 2013

"If a food is more than the sum of its nutrient and a diet is more than the sum of its foods, it follows that a food culture is more than the sum of its menus—it embraces as well as the set of manners, eating habits, and unspoken rules that together governs a people’s relationship to food and eating.  How a culture eats may have just as much of bearing on health as what a culture eats. The foodstuffs of another people are often easier to borrow than their food habits, it’s true, but to adopt some of these habits would do at least as much for our health and happiness as eaters."
 ~ Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, 2008

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My sister and I made a deal: she will sit through a string of Bollywood movies with me if I will watch (and stop myself from criticizing) the Twilight movies with her.  It’s just fair, isn’t it, for I love Shah Rukh Khan as much as she loves Robert Pattinson. “You are the only person in the Philippines who is aware that Shah Rukh Khan exists!” She protested.  “I am not the only one; you do, too!” I said.  “He is ugly,” she retorted.  “So is Edward Cullen.” I insisted. And so goes our conversation.

photo of Shah Rukh Khan, aka SRK, in the Delhi Times, which I kept and brought home 
My fascination with the Badshah of Bollywood, who also goes by the name SRK, started when I first watched him in a movie, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, recommended by one of my blogger friends. After several movies, I became a certified fan.  It was such a delight to see his face in newspapers and on billboards all over different cities in India.

The King and I in Jaipur, India
Come to think of it, I am SRK's number one fan in the Philippines because I may be the only one.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I want to be friends with Howard, Mickey, Yossarian, Saleem and Raskolnikov

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In a recent interview with Claire Messud, celebrated author of The Emperor’s Children, the interviewer asked her about one of the characters in her new book, “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim” to which she replied:

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?” (Source)

I was dumbfounded by her response, not entirely because of the ferocity of her indignation but more for the characters she mentioned. Three of them are my favorite heroes (or, to some, antagonists)  in fiction, the very ones that I want to be friends with!

My favorite heroes in fiction, here’s the complete list:

Howard Roark, architect

"His body leaned back against the sky.  It was a body of long straight lines and angles, each curve broken into planes.... His hair was neither blond nor red, but the exact color of ripe orange rind." (The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)

Mickey Sabbath, ex puppeteer

"Through the lens of unforewarned Norman, Sabbath saw what he looked like, had come to look like, didn’t care that he looked like, deliberately looked like--and it pleased him.  He’d never lost the simple pleasure, which went way back, of making people uncomfortable, comfortable people especially." (Sabbath’s Theater, Philip Roth)

Captain John Yossarian, US Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier 

"That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left." (Catch-22, Joseph Heller)

Saleem Sinai, telepath and chutney maker

"I have been a swallower of lives, and to know me, just the one of me, you’ll have to swallow the lot as well. Consumed multitudes are jostling and shoving inside me, and guided only by the memory of a large white bedsheet with a roughly circular hole some seven inches in diameter cut into the center, clutching at the dream of that holey, mutilated square of linen, which is my talisman, my open sesame..." (Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie)

Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, ex-student of law

"He had plunged so far within himself, into so complete an isolation, that he feared meeting not only his landlady but anyone at all.  He had lately ceased even to feel the weight of the poverty that crushed him. He had completely lost interest in his day-to-day affairs, and he had no wish to recover such interest." (Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Described like that, don’t you just want to be friends with them?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Preparing for Another Climb

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We have three months to prepare for another climb, but I have yet to graduate from sporadic bouts of exercise to a more disciplined routine. This lack of focus would only get me halfway through, I know.

Thinking of the discomfort, the sheer physical and mental danger and all the madness I would face going up the mountain is what pushes me to pick up my gym shoes and hit the stairs. Doing multiple rounds of stair climbing got me through more strenuous treks in the past.  I hope it will do so again this time.
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