Thursday, September 29, 2005


dying to get home

I almost never go home from work at lunchtime. Almost. Today, for the first time in months, I drove back to the apartment to get some work I’d accidentally left at home this morning. As I approached the turn off the main road out of work, I noticed that there was a funeral procession further ahead, causing traffic to back up almost to the start of the street I was turning into. Funerals in the Philippines often involve a slow walking procession behind the hearse, from the wake venue (held for several days before the church service and burial) to the church and/or from the church to the cemetery.

After noting the funeral, I turned my attention back to what was immediately in front of me. This happened to be a car driven by a senior researcher from work, and “immediately in front of me” was an apt description, as I used his car’s rear end as a very effective means of coming to a stop myself. It was a decent a thud, but the damage was relatively minor (see photo of my car, above). It was all very amicable and we’d arranged replacement work cars within an hour after lunch. That it was another work car that I hit was a godsend – had it been a private car, I’d probably receive numerous hospital bills along with letters from lawyers notifying me that their client was seeking various spurious damages, despite my work insurance covering all repairs (this is exactly what happened after I backed into car in a car park – stupid, I know – about a year ago; the claims include petrol money for taking the car to the repair shop, money for developing a photo of the damage, and the ominous “undisclosed legal fees”…nothing has come of it and while I’m curious to know what happened, I’m not so naïve as to stick my nose in and ask).

Friday, September 16, 2005


I seem to have offended all Indian staff and students at work (a couple of dozen, I think) with an article about drought in India (and its effect on farmers) that came out in the most recent issue of the magazine. Most of the info that's got back to me has been second hand, but it seems that it’s partly a pride thing – the article makes the region I wrote about sound poor and in need of help (which it is), but people feel it has been badly represented.

I stand by the information in the article (which was taken from a report by a senior researcher here and cleared by him) but in hindsight I should have run it by somebody from the same area (the researcher is Nepalese).

Apparently there is also some offence at the use of a photo that shows farmers (all male) without tops on. One of the Indian staff is intending to talk to me about it when he gets back from the region described in the article. I don’t know if he was planning to go there anyway or if he’s going because of the article, but either way people seem to be taking it very seriously. One Indian friend here
was apparently chastised for talking to me at lunch the other day. I've never been blacklisted in my life.

I actually gave the guy going to India a lift to work the other day. He was standing on the footpath and waved me down when he saw the work car; I assumed he must have missed the work bus or something -- or at least that's what I thought until I realised it was him. It seems awfully coincidental that the lead guy in the newly-formed anti-secretwombat brigade would (presumably for the first time ever) be standing on my route exactly as I drive by. Coincidence or not, the chat was amiable enough.

Not sure yet how I’ll handle it. If the topless photo is a real problem, we might need to publish an apology in the next issue, but I don’t think we can publish an apology about the information in the story. I’ve let people know that if there are grievances, send them to me in a letter and we might be able to publish that in the next issue. Whatever happens, even though I feel bad for offending people – many of whom I know and like, and (I think) like(d) me – this is by far the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me at work. In a funny way I'm glad of it (though the offended people are not an audience I would actually want to offend).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Average speed in Manila


spaghetti & fork

sweet sweet potato