Reasonably frantic preparations now afoot for our upcoming umrah. We set off for Makkah tomorrow afternoon and Yazir, Wan & Maya, who will be accompanying us (along with Fuad & Rozita), are now in residence. Most things are settled, but still lots of detail to consider, both on the practical and spiritual fronts, so that's what I've been applying myself to and will continue to endeavour to do so. Useful to have no real choice.
Friday, December 2, 2022
When I was seeking a discharge from the hospital in early October the sticking point was my elevated heart rate, which, to be honest, was quite a concern for me as well as the medical staff. I did wonder whether some kind of damage had been done resulting in the consistently inflated numbers even when I was just resting. And the breathlessness I experienced in the early days of my recovery also seemed to point to some sort of fundamental damage.
Things have greatly improved since then, of course, and I have recently had a strong sense of getting back to something like normal, but it still came as a relief to be told today by a specialist that my heart was functioning well and had recovered completely from the trauma inflicted upon it in September. The doc even went as far as suggesting that some exercise was now in order, which sounded very good indeed.
Of course, the most important aspect of my heart is that it belongs so entirely to my dear wife, who celebrates her birthday today.
Thursday, December 1, 2022
I really should devote more of my time to furthering my education in the visual arts through the resources available online. There's an astonishing amount of informative and insightful material out there of obvious expertise. The excellent Open Culture website regularly features intriguing posts on artists ranging from the classically famous to the modishly obscure and keeps reminding me of how enjoyable it is to expand my knowledge and understanding of the basics.
For example, a recent piece about Picasso at fifteen reminded me of something I once knew and had managed to forget. The young Pablo was a gifted artist in formal terms. An awareness of that helps put in perspective how extraordinary his later development was. The brilliance of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon becomes even more obvious when juxtaposed against the earlier naturalistic canvases. You are forced to understand how nothing in the modernist Picasso has come about arbitrarily: his command of technique is such that he means all of it, even if it leaves us puzzled as to what exactly it 'means'.
By the way, Open Culture doesn't provide an interpretation of Les Demoiselles, but it's very easy indeed to google quite a number, some of which sound reasonably plausible. And if you click on the title itself in the article you're given a link to a decent article on the great work. So no shortage of good stuff, like I said.
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Just watched, for a second time, the episode of Grand Designs in which the guy fails in his ambitious plan to build a personal lighthouse on the North Devon coast. In the process he gets deeply into debt and his family falls apart. Since most episodes of the programme see the projects featured successfully completed, this one was atypical to say the least. At least this time round I was prepared for the bitter disappointment at the end. Still left a sour taste in the mouth though.
Good to be reminded of life's difficulties, I suppose - especially when someone else happened to be on the receiving end.
Monday, November 28, 2022
Look at the moon! said Noi just now as we were driving home. Her excitement with regard to the appearance of our lunar friend is always to be welcomed as a sure indication of something worth paying attention to.
And it was. A gorgeous crescent moon thickly aglow in the lower sky. Still there, through the window, for the Ishaq Prayer.
Sunday, November 27, 2022
I was quite taken aback today reading an article on the Channel News Asia website concerning transgender students finding places in halls of residence at local universities. What took me by surprise were the numbers of such students involved. Whilst these were a bit vague they went well beyond the handful I suppose I'd vaguely imagined, with an estimate of 50 to 60 in one university. I couldn't help but wonder if these youngsters were getting the support they needed at a crucial time in their lives, given the challenges I assume they face. Reading between the lines, I got the impression that the various universities were trying hard to adapt to something quite new to them (but I'm just guessing here; the article didn't give any sense of historical context, which was a pity.)
Essentially the tone of the piece was, rightly, sympathetic and non-judgmental - in many ways positive, though there were hints of the difficulties encountered in the various families of the youngsters involved. Which made me wonder whether the deep-rooted antagonisms seemingly inexorably tied in with transgender issues in the West will eventually erupt in this part of the world. I'm thinking here of the visceral responses to J.K. Rowling's critique of the notion of self-identifying gender and the like.
Saturday, November 26, 2022
Friday, November 25, 2022
Enjoyed watching our drama guys putting on a performance for some little kids this morning, involving a couple of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes tales very loosely and playfully adapted for the occasion. No one took it took it too seriously so it worked beautifully for its audience - a perfect match. It looked completely casual, but wasn't. Which was where the craft was involved.
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Needed to spend a few hours of the day at NUH where I had two separate appointments, involving scans to two different parts of my body. This involved quite a bit of waiting around which, I must say, I really didn't mind at all. Why so? Well, the hospital is far from a depressing place to be. Quite the opposite, in fact. It fairly hums with life and a sense of purpose. If those running the place are trying to create a feeling of well-being then I can only say they're succeeding, in my case at least.
The amazing thing is that somehow the various departments are made to fit together. The Missus pointed out that the signage is a triumph of clarity in itself. Given the complexity of the place it needs to be.