Posts tagged ‘Beijing 2008’

Surviving Consumerism for Dummies

If you asked someone a week ago who Micheal Phelps was, that someone is likely to reply they don’t know who he was, but his last name reminds them of Bertie Wooster, whom Spode once threaten to beat to a jelly (assuming that someone has read “The Code of the Woosters” and is a quick thinker). Now, we not only know who Micheal Phelps is but are expected to care how many calories a day Micheal Phelps takes, what sort of love-triangle Micheal Phelps is in and who Micheal Phelps’ father was.

Advertisements set values, we all know that. They tell us what’s right, and what’s wrong. What’s good and what’s not. And we consume accordingly! Sometimes they don’t even have to come to us. We go to them. “The way you talk, the way you walk, the way you dress” is what makes you who you’d like to appear in today’s world. What you say don’t seem to matter as much as “how” you say it. So we buy the magazines, we switch on to the channels, we google. And we consume accordingly!

Some of us may want to think we are more independent than that. We have our own minds, we may protest, and our ‘beauty’ truly ‘is in the eyes of the beholder’. In the end, though, the powers that be, the Vishnu’s of this world, lord it over us like they do those [fainted-hearted] creatures we do not see ourselves alongside with. In one way or the other, they get us. Their hands are too long, their appetite unquenchable. That is something we can’t stop. It’s a given! But, we can help not sucking at their teats like babes incapable of choosing, surely! We can draw the line and say ‘no more!’ ‘enough is enough’. Or we’ll be like those people the bible talks about: who are pushed and pulled by every new teaching that comes along, like a ship without sail.

A look at msn’s health section bears ample witness for this. The food that was shunned last week, becomes “full of fiber” or “disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols” this week. The dietary plan that Oprah has been gushing about a month ago, suddenly becomes banned in half the modern world. Unless you are meant to lose weight by worrying about the continuous change in your dietary plans, you can never know where you stand with them. (Which is why I tell my friends to gobble up whatever they can get their hands on and leave the rest to providence. “Hasn’t the bible, after all, said ‘Sew be enjera bicha aynorim?!'”, I add).

This is the age of information, as well as consumption. We need information to consume, and they need us to consume theirs. So they try to tell us what to consume. A double-edged sword, it cuts both ways. Which is why we need to beware of what we hear. Lest the information we are consuming ends up consuming us instead.

August 21, 2008 at 8:42 am 1 comment

More than silver, more than gold!

Nothing brings an Ethiopian family together like the Olympics. It makes comrades of the most unlikely people: me & my mom for example.

It was a typical family gathering at my parents’ last night. There was the undersigned, who stayed around until the late hours of the afternoon to watch ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ on Dubai One TV. My father, whose disappointed look made us switch the channel to Al-Jazeera Sports. My mother, a hardcore fan of anything that involves Ethiopia, who hasn’t even changed into her ‘dirriaa’ & ‘gogera’ when she joined us in the living room. Martha, an ex-aunt-in-law, who didn’t explain to what we owe the privilege of the visit. Worke, a family member for almost 21 years, making coffee. And my two siblings, who didn’t inherit the patriotic fervor from neither their parents nor their elder sister, wearing the long face. And, ofcourse, the center of attention – a non-flat screen TV of about 21 inches wide.

Herebelow is the “asselalef” of this Beijing Olympics’ Men 10,000 metres final spectators:

  • Worke handing out & rounding up coffee cups along with ‘erBo’ full of ‘fendisha’.
  • My mother shaking her fist at the TV in an attempt to make it produce good result, it seems, and prophesizing gold, silver & bronze to Ethiopia.
  • My father, dozing in and out of a nap, a result of the evening-before marathon where somebody or other won a gold medal to the dear mother land.
  • Martha declaring how scared she was of the Kenyans with long legs, one of whom she confused with Paul Tergat, “that guy who out run Haile ‘under the influence’ some years back.”
  • Blen watching the TV with the odd fascination of a tourist, as if she’s trying to understand how it relates to her life.
  • And babi, the youngest, busy with the “Setting” section of some poor blighter’s mobile he got his hands on. (“You are advised not to give Babi your mobile if you plan to use it after today” is one of the warnings guests never seem to take seriously when entering my parent’s humble abode.)
  • After about 20 minutes, ofcourse, things hitted up. My dad, woken up by my mother’s screaming “Anbesa! Kenenisa!”, very suspicious for a Protestant Christian who “abhors” secular songs indiscriminately, started grumbling how he’s worried “that tenquay” athlete from Algeria may have had some ‘digimt’ on his feet, to help him win. Martha’s prayers to “YeEthiopia Amlak” become more audible and intense. Blen started watching my mom with the amusement she reserved for adults who sometimes exhibit what they might have looked like as a youngster. While Worke simply repeated what everybody else was saying and Babi continued fiddling with the mobile in his discretion.

    When the result finally came, and our screamings were shared and echoed by the victorious screamings of the neighbors, and Babi has complimented Kenenisa for being ‘a fast dude” (or, in his words, “dude is fast!”) we each confessed hopes, anxieties and doubts. I told everyone how I cared less about whose flag waved in the stadium as long as that Eritrean guy lost. ‘Anyone but him!’ I said bitterly. Blen observed how tough life must be for Seleshi, whom she observed as being ‘always the bridesmaid and never the bride’. But, like I said, my mother was the super star of the night. The victory added to her animation. “See?!” she kept saying, to no one in particular, “I told you he’d “meFeTLek” from their middle when they least expected it. His enemies were saying so many things against him, that his marriage was on the rocks, that his wife has divorced him and was sueing him him. See…?!”

    Before I had an opportunity to chip in that I didn’t see how that has to do with this, the faithful noise came from outside. The guys who watch sport events at the restaurant next door were out in the street inviting like hearts to join them with a resonant ‘HO!’. We all run to the door and started watching the growing crowd of hooligans jumping and clapping to the victorious noise, accompanied by the cheerful honking sounds from the various vehicles whose way they were blocking.

    What a wonderful thing it is to belong, thought I. It’s good to be Ethiopian. And just go with the flow. From time to time!

    Beijing 2008 – Superstars: Kenenisa Bekele

    August 18, 2008 at 5:54 am 15 comments


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