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Sands in Seychelles Today

Thin Skin Burns

S. Hanks

“Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that humor excites in those who lack it.” ~ George Saintsbury

There is a childhood adage dating back to the mid-1800s that goes, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Meant to arm kids with a tool to fend off the nastiness and name-calling pervading schoolyards and neighborhoods where children gather to play and taunt each other, it can work quite well. After all, words are just ephemeral bits of sound waves that bounce off eardrums or squiggles on a page that register in the brain as having some meaning, whereas bits of wood and rock can draw blood and literally break bones.

The tendency these days, however, is to attach all sorts of potential for injury to utterances, an attitude which can leave recipients in blubbering heaps unable to either ignore comments or to fire back with a biting retort, the lack of both a lifetime handicap. Being thin-skinned does not allow much bounce and makes people mean in their attempts to prove themselves perpetually correct and superior in everything.

Certainly no one should ever attack another person’s physical, mental, emotional, familial or whatever personal attributes another may have — that’s just rude and low, and says more about the commenter than the target of their vitriol, This, however, is far from a perfect world, so would it not be helpful if those earmarked for verbal assault were taught to deflect disparaging remarks in innocuous ways?

This is where humor comes in handy. Pointing and laughing can ricochet an insult off the thick, humor-armed hide of a victim of denigration, then slam it smack dab into the sloping forehead of a venom-spewing jerk at high velocity and packing a punch not soon forgotten. An effective quip, a barb dipped in sarcasm, a snide aside … all have the potential to disarm a tormenter and leave them a sputtering puddle of mortification without having to do any more than send a few well-chosen sound waves or squiggles in their direction.

Unfortunately, the sense of humor is not evenly spread throughout our species; some people just don’t get it, either through a genetic deficiency or having suffered a sagacity excision somewhere along the line. This is especially true when the taunting bully is shored up with self-righteous indignation they feel conveys some sort of carte blanche giving their views priority and protection against embarrassing come-backs. For reasons beyond comprehension and often contrary to the effectiveness of any original proposed point, this sort almost always lacks a funny bone, appreciation of well-placed irony and satire, so reactions to jests and jibes tend to go the way of obnoxious at best, and downright loathsome in many cases.

Due to objectives having less to do with civil discourse carrying potential for influence, but more about self-aggrandizement, this sort also vigorously and vitriolically takes part in social media and, absent humor, resorts to rudeness, threats, toddler-like verbal foot stomping (sans the humanity-leveling comedy routine that comes with “I know you are, but what am I?”, and “Neener Neener Neener!”), often ALL CAPS and, in typically cowardly fashion, under a fake profile assumed to absolve all personal responsibility.

Designed to intimidate, this does sometimes work, but many who have developed a sense of humor, honed it to a fine point and maintain its edge with practice, find it hilarious.

After all, sticks and stones …

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Sands in Seychelles Today

Where’s the Clock Tower?

S. Hanks

Do you remember the days when town was a pleasant place to be? When a stroll through the streets offered a mix of restful respite and an exciting sense of potential adventure? When a fun day in Victoria was a regularly scheduled event anticipated with delight?

No?

Me, neither.

Before the big screen TV went up and began bombarding visitors with adverts, before the traffic patterns were altered by what had to be some schizophrenic crack addict compelled to add sort-of-one-way streets, squeeze in extra lanes and install traffic lights set to back up cars from Le Chantier to Anse Etoile, Victoria was a quaint, slow little town with streets that encouraged meandering and people content to meander.

Meandering was required in those days, as straight-ahead shopping was, for all intents and purposes, simply not possible. Finding required or desired items took time, quite a bit of luck, and no little local knowledge.

For example, if scrubbing against a concrete slab had worn the crotch out of every pair of knickers you owned (washing machines being rarer in those days), vital shopping info included the fact that the place that sold undergarments for ladies could be identified by a stack of car tyres on display at the door, and although moulouk and samosas were ubiquitous, cheese that came in anything other than a blue box required serious hunting that was most often unsuccessful.

Those in the know knew where to go, though, so the pace was easy and, aside from Saturday mornings in the market, the crowds were thin and friendly, unless, of course, some new or long-vanished item was suddenly on offer; occasions that could, and sometimes did, result in mayhem.

Today, however, Victoria is far different; all hustle and bustle with some hassle and wrestle involved in making one’s way down Market Street or joining a ridiculously long queue in some bank or office. Frustration builds as nerves fray and folks have other places they were supposed to be an hour ago.

One result of these changes has been an ever-growing outbreak of a syndrome that could be called, were it ever officially diagnosed, Town-Avoidance, the symptoms of which include fever-like sweats at the very thought of the Trois Oiseau roundabout, exhaustion resulting from lost sleep due to pre-planning possible routes and parking options, and interminable must-do lists mushrooming frighteningly as a consequence of putting off any trip to Victoria for as along as possible.

Sufferers hail from as near as Macabee and as far as Takamaka and range in age from just walking to sensibly intolerant of jostling, although there does seem to be some immunity for those between the ages of 12 and 20, especially during school holidays.

At this point there is neither treatment, nor cure for this affliction, so sufferers must either cope with the agony of town days or fall victim to depleted supplies, incomplete paperwork and rumors that the clock tower has been relocated.

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I’m now a columnist in the only newspaper worth reading in Seychelles and will be posting my twice-weekly contributions here a couple of weeks after they’ve run.Here’s Number One:

Today in Seychelles
June 8 at 6:27pm ·
Sands In Seychelles Today

‘20 Years a Seychellois’  by Sandra Hanks

Much to the chagrin of no few in this country, I am now a new and regular addition to this publication and will be contributing two columns per week. I will be writing of a wide variety of subjects that for one reason or another grab my attention and prompt thoughts I find worth the time and effort to put down in words for general consumption by Today readers.

Experience grown from responses to articles, blogs and social media has shown I am often disagreed with and my take on situations challenged; a circumstance that is more than okay with me, as my raison d’être has long been to promote discussion in efforts to broaden the width and plumb the depths of interactions while sharing information and seeking out unfamiliar opinions for examination and comparison.

Topics will range widely, often inspired by timely events, ridiculous situations, frustrations, observations and escapades, and, as any who read my work know, I take no prisoners. That is to say that I call ‘em as I see ‘em and, this being my column, I see no reason to frame reflections in vagary, nor do I have any inclination to modify my writing for easy reading. I like words, so I use them, and if some are unfamiliar a dictionary is a very handy tool.

To those who will attempt to shut me up (or down) by attempting to throw the fact that I wasn’t born in Seychelles of Seychellois parentage and my Creole isn’t that of one born here, allow me to point out that according to the latest in demographic information I have lived in Seychelles longer than 30% of the population while fully participating in all aspects of life, embracing family and raising children here.

I will also mention there are THREE official languages, and English is one of them.

I am a ‘naturalized’ Seychellois, a designation that could be interpreted to indicate it was no random accident of birth, but rather a fact that out of all the countries in the world I chose this one to call home: ‘Home’ meaning ‘the place I do my best to keep tidy, protected, safe, and conducive to happy, healthy life’.

It often happens when I say or write something someone disagrees with or feels offended by, responses lobbed like grenades in my direction have less to do with valid contradictions or challenges to observations or postulations I have made, but instead suggest an unhelpful, ‘love it or leave it’, and, ‘go back to where you came from’ message revealing a thin-skinned mentality that rejects any constructive criticism while favoring genuflection at the altar of ethnocentrism.

With no inclination to fall to my knees under most circumstances, that is not going to happen, so here’s a caveat … If you don’t like what I write, there are three options open:
1) Don’t read it
2) Read, then react through civil comments that make some sense
3) Read, then ponder … reading ALL the words with no cherry-picking

I look forward to lively dialog, passionate exchanges of information and perspective, and sharing my obiter dictums with readers of Today.12088234_886024151435396_5922235486110094192_n

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“if you will always give great ears to the cacophony of the masses instead of the solemn voice of your true purpose, you will never leave a distinctive footprint” ~` Ernest Agyemang Yeboah ~

A Truckload of Jingling Keys.

A Truckload of Jingling Keys.

With November on the horizon, many are making plans to encourage growth on their upper lip, or preparing purple or pink-and-blue or silver ribbons to replace the pink ones worn through October … all admirable endeavors.

I, however, having no desire for any more facial hair than I already spend too much time erasing and not a single straight pin in the house, am planning to put my nose to the grindstone, rather than use it to frame a statement, by accepting another November challenge … NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo), is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words (the minimum number of words for a novel) from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30.

I’ve had a number of novels percolating for years: a trilogy on the history of Africa as seen through the eyes of elephants; a completed, but as yet unpublished account about the gifts of terminal illness that needs a rewrite; the birth and life of a female messiah.

So many stories, so little time, motivation, energy, and far too much living and working and .. well … noise.

My personal odyssey, unlike Homer‘s, has not had me stumbling across any muse that might infuse inspiration. She could be avoiding me in deference to my lack of belief in inspiration getting work done or light-bubbles-of-creativity putting words on a page, paint on a canvas or notes on a score.

Nope. The only calliope following me around emits a continuous, cacophonous clamor, comes complete with shiny objects and has the ominous distinction of being known as Distraction.

Ambient sounds, especially with words, occupy about 5-10% of your intellectual bandwidth.” ~ Peter Rogers ~

charles-payne-quote-that-may-be-a-distractionAs Halloween draws near, ghosts of unformed prose haunt me. Throughout the day, they sneak in from corners of my mind … not good when driving … and by night come oh-so-close to materializing, then vanish to mist leaving me whimpering in my sleep to wake grasping at jingling keys as dogs bark and the phone rings and the need to pee drives the dregs of plot points and dialog fragments out of my head.

Closing in on the Oct/Nov cusp I’m buckling down, warming up, preparing to ignore all that can safely be ignored, focusing, organizing, finding voice, plotting direction, knowing characters, and …

… writing a blog post!

Fuckin’ shiny objects!

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It’s the Day Before Christmas and the Tenrec is Stirring

It’s the day before Christmas
and the house is a wreck
The kids are excited
like dogs, cat and tenrec
The tortoise is unfazed
and Ryan’s asleep
and I’m hoping like crazy
the turkey will keep.

There’s a breeze in the palm trees
some waves in the ocean
Yet, no matter how normal,
the kids have a notion
that tomorrow is special
(I need some of their potion!)

The tree does it’s spinning
all covered in bobs
and tomorrow we’re dinning
on veranda with mobs
of friends from all places —
from Texas to Perth —
and the hope is all faces
will beam forth with mirth

I’m missing the heck
out of everyone far
and hoping that someday
we’ll find we all are
within distance to share
holiday hugs and kissing
and all end up where
we can pause all this missing

So …
From all of us here
down in this hemisphere
Merry Christmas to you
that we hold very dear.
We miss you, we love you
We hope you are happy,
and know you all know
Christmas makes me sappy

Happy holidays!

With love from Sandra, Sam and Cj …

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Fill in a blank …

I’ve been getting a bit of mail lately expressing concern over my lack of posts … my hunkered-down state of silence. For the caring concern, I am more than grateful; in fact, I consider each reaching out a lifeline.

For any who actually wish access to the machinations in my head, here are some recent thoughts as scribbled on my scribble pads:

I sail my thoughts
into the sea
toward tempest-tossed,
moon-driven,
wind-inspired
indifferent waves.

It throws them back.

Like Tatooine
my world
knows two sons
Revolves around both
One has set
The other has yet to fully rise
But so same they are
So brilliant

I see so many taking life in small bites completely unaware of the feast before them.

Insignificant sexual encounters, ego-bolstering events, some fleeting gratification of one sort or another.

Too often they never even bother to chew — just swallow whole, missing even the flavor of the moment.

Like digital photography there is no development process, just a click and a smile and an unjustified sense of accomplishment.

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Anse Lazio

Having nothing fun to say for myself this morning, it seems a good day to post the words of another, and who better than Ogden Nash with a take that is especially apt right now?

Pretty Halcyon Days
by Ogden Nash

How pleasant to sit on the beach,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun,
With ocean galore within reach,
And nothing at all to be done!
No letters to answer,
No bills to be burned,
No work to be shirked,
No cash to be earned,
It is pleasant to sit on the beach
With nothing at all to be done!
How pleasant to look at the ocean,
Democratic and damp; indiscriminate;
It fills me with noble emotion
To think I am able to swim in it.
To lave in the wave,
Majestic and chilly,
Tomorrow I crave;
But today it is silly.
It is pleasant to look at the ocean;
Tomorrow, perhaps, I shall swim in it.

How pleasant to gaze at the sailors.
As their sailboats they manfully sail
With the vigor of vikings and whalers
In the days of the vikings and whale.
They sport on the brink
Of the shad and the shark;
If its windy they sink;
If it isn’t, they park.
It is pleasant to gaze at the sailors,
To gaze without having to sail.

How pleasant the salt anesthetic
Of the air and the sand and the sun;
Leave the earth to the strong and athletic,
And the sea to adventure upon.
But the sun and the sand
No contractor can copy;
We lie in the land
Of the lotus and poppy;
We vegetate, calm and aesthetic,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun.

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