Marnova – of and from a wandering mind…

Marnova's musings on life, media and Mongolia

Archive for April 2010

Secrets and Lies (with a nod to Mike Leigh*)

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I recently went on a trip to Malaysia.  I hadn’t been in several years and was looking forward to the heady mix of cultures, food and lively atmosphere. It was an eye opener in many senses, but particularly in one way that I hadn’t expected.  Perhaps returning as an adult made a difference;  coming of age lifts the veil on so many things, you  become less worried about what people think of you and start noticing the cracks that appear around them instead.

What it was that took me so much by surprise was the secrecy and lies that came hand-in-hand with everyday life.  This can probably said to some extent of every society – it’s important to keep up appearances.  However, it seemed extreme in Malaysia, where white lies are almost told as a matter of course or as before the expectation has even been born.  Astonishing by it’s normality.  Teenagers keeping secrets from their parents (as is their perogative anywhere),  grownups keeping petty secrets from their parents…slightly weirder, parents keeping secrets from their children (fairly normal), people keeping secrets from their colleagues (normal to an extent) and everyone telling lies including strangers to strangers.  I guess part of this whole charade was to keep ‘face’, to improve face, for an easier life, and to oil the whole darn machine.  But it is a complex, confusing mess.

I’m still not really sure why all these secrets and lies exist in such apparent multitude in this particular country, or whether I just happen to be privvy to part of the truth masked by these lies, but it’s a brittle glue to hold together a society with.   Malaysia in some ways is becoming increasingly conservative, not entirely coincidental timing with strengthening fundamentalist Islamic movements; in other ways, it is rebelling with a counter movement of Western culture.  These two forces obviously don’t sit well together, but Malaysians sure as hell try to pretend that it still does and under the same flag of One Malaysia that it used to fly.

And of course it’s unhealthy for people to live with constant lies and fake smiles.  The fear of discovery weighs each person down and heartbreakingly, when challenged they can’t tell you why they do it either.  Maybe it’s best that way, for if they stop to think a moment about it, the fragile mask cracks and they are as bairns, naked to a wind they have never felt before.   Then they can either walk into the headwind, or fall back. 

I continue to wonder and have no real answers.  I know every machine needs a little oil, and it’s not as if I haven’t smiled through gritted teeth at someone I dislike, but I would like to think that this is the last resort rather than the first.  I can guess that it is going through some teenage growing pains, trying to be something that it isn’t anymore.  It will be interesting to see what it grows up to be.

Reaching skyward

Reaching skyward

* Mike Leigh’s film of the same name… http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film-life-is-sweet-after-allsecrets-and-lies-mike-leigh-15-1348702.html

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Written by marnova

April 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Deep + Meaningful = Pretension

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Monologue from the distant mind of a once-upon-a-time student film maker…
 
Words without images:

“Suddenly everything is empty and meaningless, surely some good must come from this.  Am I just another of the Prozac generation?  Hello, don’t cry…take a pill, wave your fears goodbye.  

I think and I philosophise deep and meaningful thoughts.  What use are they?  Another poem about suicide is all we need.  Another film about depression and death.  I hate all this darkness.  I want colour.  Light.  Fun.  Happiness…but they don’t belong to me anymore. 

Grow up?  And what will that be?  Shaking off these insecurities and being happy smiley people that say, “How are you doing?” and look scared if you say, “Not very well actually,”  or will we grow to be a nation of people making the sounds of love lost, revenge and The End?”  Will we sit here and watch the pictures pass us by.  Sigh and say, ‘Wasn’t that sad?  How very meaningful.’  And analyse the film for the next week with our friends and cyber-friends.  Will it totally change your life for a week, or will you dismiss it as another overwrought, pent-up social misfit mistakenly being allowed an expression.  

Do we really believe that we can change the world with our work.  Or is this a mistaken understanding that we ever learn?” 

Images without words:

Just one frame

Just one frame (Trish Ng as Mia)

Just another frame

Just another frame

Yet another frame

Yet another frame

Written by marnova

April 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Poverty kills childhood?

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Save the Children are committed to ending poverty for children.  I admire their ambitions.  Very commendable.

Their latest slogan is ‘poverty kills childhood’.   But…does it really?  I know where they are coming from – innocent children, starving, with no access to medical services, but there is a flipside – if they have enough to eat, a close family and plenty of love, then they are doing better than a lot of kids in the Western world.

Someone very close to me that I respect a lot, grew up in complete poverty in a village in Asia.  He was born in the shack they lived in.  Technically, the family had a roof over their heads, but not with enough space for him to sleep there, so he slept with the other boys in the village hall.  His family couldn’t afford for him to take lunch and a drink to school so he had to choose one or the other.  They had no money for clothes, so he had to wear clothes donated by the local temple, whether they be trousers or dresses.  He had to leave school when he was seven to work in the fields.   For years, his sole existence was to put out the fishing basket on his way to going to mind the family water buffalo (no money for fences so it had to be stopped from eating other people’s crops), then checking the fish on the way back.  Heartbreakingly, his father did not even have enough money to bury his first wife (poor health so often comes with poverty) when she died, so he took her to the mountains (good feng shui) on his bicycle and buried her himself.

So what became of this boy?  Did this life of poverty destroy him?  Well, he put himself through night school and did  his homework by candlelight.  When he came of age, he eventually left his village for Europe (with a passport someone had posted to him) and worked hard until he found stability and eventually had a family.  When you speak to him now, it is rare he tells his story and he never seeks pity on the occasion that he does.  Life wasn’t easy when he was younger, but he had something that a lot of adults, let alone children are now missing – a spirit for survival. 

Struggle and strife were part of his childhood, but they also shaped and defined who he became.  He worked for and achieved the things he wanted, valued the people he loved, lived with humility and didn’t take anything for granted including each meal he had.  You can imagine – that is a person with their priorities very much sorted.

And of his childhood?  Maybe it would have been different if he’d grown up in the city, but he will tell you about the fun he had with the other kids when they returned from the fields, the mischievous whisperings between the boys that shared the loft in the village hall and all the normal things that kids get up to when they’re young. 

Curiousity

Curiousity

Written by marnova

April 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm