The ocean in the seashell

October 8, 2008 at 10:48 am 14 comments

My e-shoe box is not just a place I come to scream my frustrations out. It’s where I take things I find interesting and/or amusing and save them for a rainy day. Like the pompous way in which stand-up Comedian Meskerem Bekele crosses himself before going on stage. Like that Master of Social Science colleague who told me to quit reading books and put my time to better use. Like that classmate who always confesses she fears she’s become too hardened for romance because nothing moves her these days, but becomes more head-in-cloud-ish than a teenager the minute a cute guy drew near.

I treasure these moments. They are the delicacies that make life sweet. And ofcourse reveal the character more than half a day’s confession would. However, nothing delights my fiendish heart more than observing the various ways in which the creatures try to avoid pain. I, for one, joke and try to make people laugh about those things that pain me. Humor, as well as exaggeration, are my defense mechanism. When I can’t joke about them, I blog them. If I can’t blog them, I find somebody to rant about them to. When nobody can be trusted, I would take time to try and analyze who is [more] responsible for the pain: the rat or the fear the rat triggered. It may not always make me a blogger/friend/classmate you could trust your secrets with. But I’d have dealt with my pain in a way that would make my parole officer proud: without inflicting needless pain to neither myself nor others.

This guy, then, e-befriended me a few weeks ago. A polite individual who happened to come across my blog, and love it, he said he wanted nothing but friendship with the sister who he said isn’t perfect but “conscientious person being honest and engaged with curiosity and verve in self-examination and exploration of the world – and sharpening her writing skills!”. (“You aren’t perfect but..”, is, by the way, a word I find almost as amusing as another self-promoting expression: “my weakness”). Infact, he was all the ideal online friend should be except his keeping refering to the undersigned as “My sister”. For some reason, I do not trust people who call me “my sister” when no blood ties us together. The hair at the back of my neck literally stands as would a rabbit’s fur when sensing danger. Especially when, blessed/cursed with the ability to read people like a book, I know the caller’s intentions were far from brotherly. Which is why I slipped the information I was married while responding to something totally unrelated.

Guess what? This friend turned into this enemy. He started being cold, creepy & even rude. Giving the impression that he was dragged to the inbox unwillingly, and wasting a time that could have been spent in a more productive venture somewherelse (tell me about it!!). His reaction was almost as comical as that Doctor dude who bugged me for my mobile phone number after I joined his forum in an attempt to seek help to my not-so-good-in-English syringomelia-patient friend. I said, “I can’t give you my number, but I can give you another friends’ who is the perfect age for you, single and looking”. Doctor Dude’s response was indignance. “How can you misread me so?” he’d have said, had he known the expression. Instead, and totally ignoring the fact that I was party to his e-confession of becoming restless at the thought of poor little moi only a day ago, he listed his achievements. Achievements, I can only assume, are meant to intimidate poor little 10+4 me into believing a man of such accomplishments can have nothing but the purest interest in the undersigned.

“I am married”, he bragged, “and have two harvard materials girls, 16 and 9 yrs old. My wife is beautiful and with two degrees. I have a solid life..Honestly , I dont communicate on personal basis with people.I dont even know why I open up with you.I must say I have appreciated your love to [friend] and that broke a huge barrier .I also appreciated your skill of communication,other wise , I dont communicate with email with people I never met as I do with you…there is no time…I founded free clinic for the city I live in…and this is for Americans who have jobs but could not buy health insurance. I founded boarding school for orphans girls in Gojjam ..” etcetra etcetra. While I sat there, someberly shaking the head and thinking “ahuun ‘my bad’ maanin geDeLe beAbaabaa mOt?!”.

Now, I don’t expect any of us to turn the other cheek every time we feel attacked (deservingly or undeservingly). None of us are “Cheru Medhanialem”, after all. Who, in the hearing of the prophet Isaiah, is said to observe “yeSew liB kifu ne’w maan yawQewal”. I, for one, can take it as well as dish it out. But the minute we run out of good will, we seem to run out of temper as well. This is especially true with lovers, wannabee lovers and long time neighbours. There they were, I mean to say, supporting one another through thick and thin, in a way that would make the cat and the fox (villains of The Adventures of Pinnocio) sound aloof. Not just by speaking for eachother and referring to one another as “egna” (Seyoum’e Egziabher like), but by being eachother’s biggest fan. But the minute the ego gets bruised, the glove comes off and the iron hand beneath it becomes apparent. It’s as if they have spent most of their (together) life secretely waiting for an opportunity to destroy one another.

Love maybe like the morning grass, “there now, gone tomorrow “. But the conviction, where does it go?

Entry filed under: Latest Posts.

“Abiyotawi Decmocracy” made simple–r Where are they now?

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dr. Ethiopia  |  October 9, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Oh boy. You must blog about your nuisances customarily. Personally, i enjoy reading them. Some of us might think about them as just another phenomenon in a day, but they are easily relatable and fun to read.

    Abo tewuna beyachew.

    The Ocean in The Seashell. How unique is that?

    Neat post.

  • 2. abesheet  |  October 9, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Why thank you Dr. Nefse 🙂 . I know that couldn’t have been easy. Which makes it the more precious.

  • 3. Dr. Ethiopia  |  October 9, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Hey, you’re most welcome. BUt that was a candid talk. I come to your blog to get away from the “same ol-same ol” stuff that i see around these blogs, that lack a zing.

    I personally think you are very original in your thinking and you write in your own voice. Believe me that is not intended to be a compliment, rather a fact stated in black-and-white.

    Keep writing my friend, and don’t quit. Later

  • 4. Totit  |  October 10, 2008 at 4:02 am

    LOL…intertaining ABesheet…U cracked me up soooo…:) U are a great observant of the human nature…what can we do….the Ego…By the way have u read Echart Tolle’s book…the new earth?

  • 5. abesheet  |  October 10, 2008 at 11:50 am

    No i haven’t mokshit totit. Is it good?

  • 6. Totit  |  October 10, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Well It disects the ego…and it is more of a spiritual book…I think it is one of the greatest books …but u know …we each have our liking…:) I have a PDF fromat of one of his book…if interested I can send it to u…

  • 7. Mazzi  |  October 13, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Selam Abesheet…

    Been on hiatus lately, but always nice to check out the out of the ordinary sense of humor and point of view that is your blog ….

    Great post. Ah…. the male ego! The awkward kind to be exact! I blame our poor (sometimes none existent) male/female socialization growing up and the general tendency for men in conservative cultures being accustomed to most of the times getting what ever and whom ever they want at the time they want it. So when anything/anyone challenges that, the ‘ugly’ in them comes out. How sad, and how emotionally immature.

    In college some African American male students, who considered themselves ‘down with their blackness and African roots’ went around campus calling the African/African American female students “My Nubian Sisters.” It always felt weird, and it never stopped them from sometimes still mistreating their black women, or from secretly dating curious and sheltered ‘never been out of the suburbs’ white women. It was quite hilarious actually. So when ever a group of us black ladies heard someone say “Hey my Nubian Sisters!” instinctively we all did a collective eye roll, and a tiresome sigh. So you were right for seeing through the ‘my sister’ reference.

    Ah how interesting to be a man. Once one of my African friends whose ego was bruised from being rejected admitted to me that before coming to the US, he was used to living in a world where “men had the right to choose, and women had a right to agree.” In his romantic pursuits (if you can call it that), he was not happy to have to consider whether women liked him back. He felt it was enough that he liked them, and that they should feel honored!! What he said pretty much sums up most customary social interactions between males and females, probably in many parts of Africa and not just Ethiopia.

    Sigh! Boy do we have a long way to go………

    P. S. I second Totit in her advice for you to check out Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” He has a unique way of describing, and elaborating on the concept of “ego” and how it literally rules our lives. You should check out the book if you get a chance, and maybe share your thoughts on a blog? I am curious to know what you will think of the book.

  • 8. abesheet  |  October 13, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Totiye and Mazzi,

    Thanks for recommending the book. Will check it out when i go to Book World. It sounds like a self-help book though. Is it? There is something i always say to self-help books (i thought i might raise it, for the sake of discussion). Which is: NO. Why? Because I feel my life was given me to enjoy/discover it for myself. I don’t know if that would sound arrogant, it does to me 🙂 , but what makes anybody’s version [of life] better (more credible) than Mazzi’s, totit’s or even poor moi’s? Aren’t we all going BeDabessa in this chaotic world we found ourselves thrown in, Map-less? Aren’t we meant to learn from our pains, which every discovery is proceeded by? I know that makes drawing the line hard. Because I enjoy nothing better than reading a good book, be it fiction or non-fiction. But i fancy i read fiction & non-fiction (the likes of biography) for the sole purpose of discovering another person’s world, and not in the way my friends & colleagues read self-help books. I.e. with the hope of finding a map to figuring their way around life/men/self-discovery/men. I’m not saying i hope to never learn anything from fictions/non-fictions. But I generally try not to anticipate it, so the book is non the less valuable if I finally don’t (learn anything new). Do i make sense? Or is that stubborn abesheet, who is tired of and easily takes offense at anybody telling her what to do with her life/what it’s meaning is supposed to be/etcetra, talking? (Sounds like it to me).

  • 9. Mazzi  |  October 13, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Selam Abesheet….

    When ever I recommend books, movies, music etc to my friends or anyone else for that matter, I usually do it with great caution. And that is because my taste in books, movies, and music does not always mesh with that of some friends.

    It is with this spirit that I recommend Eckhart Tolle’s book to you as well. It is true that as far as genres go for books, Tolle’s book ‘The New Earth’ igets classified under ‘self help’ or sometimes ‘spiritual.’ You are right in thinking that sometimes so much undue importance is given to ‘self help’ books by millions of readers (judging by copies sold). And yet, God forgive me for saying this, some of the authors of such books and what they write about down right would not even pass for anything worthwhile if put under heavy scrutiny of what is considered content and great non-fiction literature.

    ‘Life on the fast lane’ is the bread and butter of some every day folks in this country, and some want their literature like that as well. Independent thinking and questioning the status quo have become burdens for many people whose lives are very stressful with day to day struggles (despite living in the richest nation in the world), so they are more than happy to let other people do their thinking for them. Of course besides stressful lives, lack of personal responibilities and sheer laziness also contribute to why some people don’t think for themselves. It is easy to blame someone else (and not one’s self) when $hit hits the fan after all!

    Why do you think Bush got elected twice? Lobbyists, interest groups, religious and social leaders, politicians, business people and anyone else who would have benefitted from his style of government instilled the living fear in voters what would happen if they did not vote for him. So instead of finding out for themselves if what they were being told again and again through media, work place, and places of worship was true, they voted more out of fear. And we all know what transpired later.

    I consider most ‘self help’ books in a similar way. Celebrity and media worship that is rampant in this country does not help the situation. If an author/writer has the right and well funded publisher/publicity group that places the writer in key and strategic magazines, TV and radio programs to promote the book, the book will sell well whether it has any worth or not (Paris Hilton has well selling books. Need I say more?) Same goes for movies. So readers and movie goers start associating success of literature and movies with dollars earned.

    Not enough people take the time to examine their own lives, and they would rather be told what to do by some charismatic leader or ‘successful’ writer. And ‘self help’ books get sold a lot precisely for this reason.

    I read Tolle’s book because the most unlikely person whose opinion I value (a friend’s Ethiopian mother!) gave it to me as a gift. I had read Tolle’s previous book (The Power of Now) few years back, and my reaction after reading the book was..”Eh… No news there… we all have to learn to live in the ‘now’ as there is only the ‘now’ and no past and no future.” So to tell you the truth, initially I was not too thrilled have to read the book. But when I watched Tolle on TV being interviewed about his book and teaching, what struck me most was not so much the message in his recent book but his ever confident (in not an arrogant way), and TOTALLY ‘ZEN’ persona that made him look like he was genuinely and utterly at peace with himself.

    I knew Tolle’s background and his difficult journey from his previous book, so I remember thinking if he can appear this genuinely at peace with himself and the world, he must have come to some realization. So my curiosity was piqued and finally read “The New Earth” book.

    I like how Tolle is not loyal to any one religion (he just admires and respects many enlightened teachers that have walked on this earth across time), and he shares in this book why he finally found peace in his personal life without having to preach.

    His book is one ‘self help’ book I actually finished reading! That means he captured my attention though out, and for the kind of reader I have become, that says a lot! Having said all this, it does not mean I agreed with all his philosophies or messages, but I sure appreciated his points of view because I could relate to most of them.

    Even on this side, relationship ‘self-help’ books that dictate to women what to do, not to do, and what rules to follow in bagging themselves husbands are extremely popular. Books about get rich quick schemes, and dating advice for men who want to get women in their beds in the shortest times possible are also top sellers.

    People who refer to such books as their personal bible annoy me from here to Timbuktu! So I am with you on not relying on some other ordinary mortal to tell me how worthwhile MY life is, or what I SHOULD DO to improve it. Absolutely nothing has come easy in my life, and just about any valuable lessons I learned came from failing or various life adversities. So I sure do not think some one else’s [version] of life is any better than mine.

    If ever you venture into reading Tolle’s book, however, do share your opinion.


  • 10. abesheet  |  October 14, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Wow Mazzi. I’ve never met an Ethiopian who understands people as much as you do. (I used to pride myself in “reading folks like a book” but i’m an amateur compared to you). I love the way you make points thus far difficult to understand childishly simple. I’m lucky to have you as one of my readers. And ofcourse amma reading Tolle. If, for nothing else, to discuss it with you.

  • 11. Mazzi  |  October 14, 2008 at 7:01 am


  • 12. Totit  |  October 14, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Hey Mazzi…hummm….I always get envious of people that can write as eloquently as u do…U said whatever u had to say…without being entangled in words nor phrases…I know what u mean by the ZEN look he has…I have watched a couple of his dicusssions with Oprah…I feel like he is at a place that I would love to be at…but would have to work a little hard to get…Yeah The NEw Earth is a self help and a spiritual book somehow… it is also very different form all of them…I am very cautious to recommend the New Earth to people, because each sentence has a lot of info, and it can turn out to be real boring if the message does not get through…but it kept on giving me aha moments again and again…and it took me a long time to read it…because I kept on going back and rereading it on several occassions….Hummm I also see u were mentioning the rules in ur discussion…my friend keeps on trying to make me read that book…goooodness I think it is just BS…but amazingly enough it is a best seller…anyways abesheet can not wait for u to read it…so u can tell us what u think

  • 13. abesheet  |  October 15, 2008 at 6:03 am

    As it happens, you won’t be waiting long, Totitye. I haven’t realized the “New Earth” was the red book with roots and stuff I’ve been seeing a colleague go around with. Did yesterday. So .. the minute she’s done with it.. i’ll drag my stubborn butt to a chair and start reading. It ain’t gonne be a joy-ride, that i can assure you (the more a book is talked about, especially if Oprah has anything to do with it, I begin to trust it less – bra-size and getting your ideal jeans, that’s what she is good for! I think! The word you are looking for maybe “a poor woman’s complex” – in it’s purely Amharic form). Still.. you are going to hear about it from me.

  • 14. Mazzi  |  October 15, 2008 at 9:49 am


    Thank you for your comment. I enjoy writing though I only do it informally. Don’t have what it takes to be a sober ‘professional’ writer at all. Good to know that you could also relate to Tolle’s ‘New Earth’ book. You are very right in saying that, though the book gets classified under self-help book among other things, it is really not a typical self-help book. I too had checked out on the Internet some of his discussions with Oprah before reading the book. He totally came across as the personification of all that is ‘Zen’ (to me at least) and I was envious of that. It sure will take a whole lot of work before I can even remotely consider my life anything in the vicinity of ‘Zen. ‘ But I sure appreciate people who have found peace in their personal lives.

    Another reason why I like Tolle is because he comes across as totally nerdy and shy and I could identify with nerds on account of having grown up as a totally nerdy kid. I am glad to say I was able to shed some of that persona once I crossed the ocean, but still harbor a soft spot for nerds :-).

    His book is definitely not an easy read (compared to interesting fictions or even non-fictions for that matter). So I designated his book as my ‘in between book’… that I mean the book I always carry in my bag incase I am stuck in airports, waiting rooms, waiting lines, bus stations etc… I hate waiting in lines and airports with purple passion, so I always carry a book to read incase I have some ‘in between’ time to kill.

    So I read the book in bits over a period of time. But the fact that I actually managed to finish reading a book that is considered self-help was an accomplishment for me because I sure am not fond of that genre of books at all. But for all the trash I read in various books, magazines, and the Internet, I am glad I got around to finally reading it.


    Funny you mention Oprah and her book club. When Oprah chose Tolle’s book for her reading club, she was underwhelmed by the fact that Tolle was not jumping up and down with joy at the news. As you can imagine, she is used to getting over the top reactions from authors/writers (and their publishers!) when she selects their book as it instantly translates to best seller book if it is not already.

    So she kept saying to him on one of her shows, “you were not even remotely excited when I called you personally to tell you that I have chosen your book!!” He just looked at her calmly, nodding his head affirmatively, while she got excited again about her own news! Now, that is how ‘Zen’ he is :-).

    If only he can rub some of his ‘Zen’ on Oprah’s shamefully overzealous audience members who are like hungry puppies (all the damn time!) that just jump and cheer with over the top joy for ‘tirifrrafi sigga’ she throws their way in gifts. Middle class men and women (but shamefully mostly women) damn near swoon at the idea of being given a $25.00 book for free that they can afford themselves many times over! Dignity people, DIGNITY!!!

    I am glad your friend can lend you the book. And you are right in anticipating that it will not be a regular reading experience for you. I too do not ever recommend this book to anyone because it is a weird book that one will either tolerate, like, or find absolutely waste of time! There is something to be said about a book that could fall all over the spectrum!!!

    I like reading your opinions about a lot of things, so I figured even if you do not like the book, you sure might have something to say about it :-). So thanks for indulging Totit and I, and for being brave enough to make an exception to your ‘absolutely NO!’ rule to reading any kind of book remotely classified as self-help.

    Happy reading :-).

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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