Wednesday, July 30, 2014

7 colours of my life -well, actually 6

1. YELLOW - The morning I learnt that it was my turn to write for Listserve, we were having a long discussion with my family on how their past years of poverty has affected us (I got a sister and a brother) as kids. We cried together. I had a bedwetting problem until starting high-school. My sister got married at her 19. (We are both OK now, she has three wonderful kids)

2. PURPLE - Since the day I realized that I have a younger look than my peers and I will never have beards, my biggest challange has started: Not letting others define my character with their words/looks on how I look. (classic modern story)

3. TRANSPARENT - I belive that we people are destined to live with a misconception of ourselves no matter how hard we try. -This is something I discovered during my Sociology master.- Maybe that’s why I prefer “loving” to “understanding” or I belive “to understand” is only for “to love”

4.BLUE - I am an English teacher in a suburb of İstanbul. -Between “to educate” and “to be a good example” I would definitely bet on the latter.- My students (7th and 8th graders) love visitors in the classroom. If you ever happen to visit the city you are always welcomed in my English class. Just e-mail me. I have a million membered Facebook page, Learn English -the one with the colourful monsters on its profile- and I dont know why I am sharing this with you guys. Sorry.

5. WHITE / PINK / WILD STRAWBERRY / RED - And the biggest news!!!!! I am getting married with the girl I am in love in 5 days. :) She is adorable and I already owe so much to her. I love her. I love to discover the meanings of things in her soul.

Could you help me surprising her, please, please, please??? I am preparing a photo slide for her and I just need a photo of you -or someone you know- holding a paper/carton with a short note (Congradulations etc.) and our names on it, Süheyla & Mehmet… It will NOT go online... We will -hopefully- find a good way to thank you afterward.

6. ORANGE - I have made a wedding website in 3 hours with no coding and stuff on wordpress. That’s a part of the surprise for her. If you can’t write a book, you can make a website.

7. GREEN - Plant trees.

Best regards.


(Now, I wonder if I get my own e-mail) :)

Mehmet Biçer

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

just a moment

I've enjoyed reading everyone's messages, short and long, and in them I've found many beautiful words and inspiring thoughts.

I'll share a story.

We'd been drinking all night. We were in university, working for the student newspaper, and we drank in bars with wood paneled walls.

I walked him home; it was on my way and I was happy just to be close to him. It had to end when we reached his door.

Instead of going inside he leaned in, hugged me to him, and kissed me. His stubble burned my lips. He pulled back, and asked if it was ok; sounding almost afraid. It was.

As a boy who'd resigned himself to the idea that no boy would ever love him back that moment was a fulcrum for many changes in the way I saw and lived my life.


Ottawa, Canada

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things that Changed Me

My self-harm, which was mostly a cry for help, which no one that could have done something for me picked up. I was fourteen and didn’t know how to ask for what I needed. Twelve years on, I’m in therapy and still fighting the urge to hurt myself – not daily, but more than I’d like.

Being in and stepping out of an emotionally, sexually and psychically - in that order - abusive relationship. I never found that strength in myself again, and will be forever grateful to the boy who triggered it in me back then.

Learning to drink coffee. It gives me calm and comfort on weekend mornings.

Going to journalism school, which I dreamed about all through my five years of university and way before that. It opened a whole new world to me: suddenly I needed to do things, see the world, write!, after five years of sitting in benches, listening and taking notes. It made my love for writing and reading even bigger, and was a dream I would have blamed myself forever for not pursuing it.

Music. Indulging me in it from the very beginning of my life is one of the few things I am my parents truely grateful for.

Being left by my best friend because he’d rather not be with me all than be with me his love unanswered.

Joining a youth movement, which taught me valuable things like engagement and teamwork, but which also confirmed yet again what I already knew by then: making friends is not my strong suit (to say the least).

The psychiatric problems in my close family, and mostly: that we never talked about it. I was thirteen, heard my sister crying all the time, saw the fear in my mother’s eyes, and had to make up my own story.

My most recent ex- and most serious boyfriend ever. He taught me things, he inspired me, he cared for me when I didn’t care for myself, he supported me, he gave me a home, he made me a better me.

Take care,

PS Do you happen to know a good cure for chronic urticaria? I'd love to try it.

Lotte Van Doren
Antwerp, Belgium

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Karma is a b@#%h

Karma is a bitch. It's a soft cuddly puppy that can greet you with a blissful expression if you are nice or bite your ankles if you are rude. I learnt this recently.

I was traveling in the Delhi metro, when I bumped into a ragged, shabby looking kid wearing half pants. He fell on the platform and scraped his knees. I happened to have a Band Aid handy so I bandaged his wound and set upon my way. 3 stations out, I realized that my phone had been nicked. I immediately ran back to the boarding station with the intention of reporting the theft. As I was heading towards the police booth, someone tapped me on my hand and said to me in Hindi, "Here's your phone. My knees have been bleeding since morning. Although I have nearly a lakh rupees ($1700) worth of phones in my pocket, I can't really afford a Band Aid. Good Day".

Karma is a bitch. A soft cuddly one in this case. Puts things in perspective doesn't it?

I am Hem, 25 years of age. If anyone is coming down to Delhi anytime soon, hit me up and I would love to show you around/swap stories over a pint of beer. Or just write to me. I love to meet new people and would love to hear from anyone who would like a penpal :) I also play in a band called "The Purple Jays". We are writing an album which will be out by November this year. Head out to our Facebook page and stay tuned for updates :)

PS: Thanks to Deepali V. for introducing me to Listserve. A big shout out to Monica, Akanksha, Ishita, Prateeksha, Pasha and Ankit for being the best homies I could ask for.

Hem Chander

Friday, July 25, 2014

Four things

1: I find it expedient to distrust people who use the phrase "in any way, shape, or form". When it says "for your convenience we have..." then it is never for your own convenience.

2: Most people are not against you, they are for themselves (paraphrased from a comment on Reddit).

3: My son Riley turns five in August. Wish him happy birthday by writing him at rileyturnsfive[AT] and tell us where you live. He and I will find your location on his globe. We will reply to the best emails with a video. I love you so much, Riley.

4: There is a lady in South Africa named Martha who helped to raise me. She is currently battling health issues and I just want her to know that I am thinking of her right now.

Warwick Poole
West Chester, PA, USA

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More than just Big Macs...

It was a frigid Canadian winter’s day and I was supply teaching in a local school. I was having a horrible morning. Remember how your prepubescent classmates treated the substitute teacher when you were a kid? Well, I was now THAT teacher. Needless to say, I was attempting to keep the class under control but struggling to do so. I knew that if I was to make it through the afternoon I needed a coffee. At lunch, I drove to a plaza about 10 minutes away and got my caffeine fix. As I approached my car, I suddenly realized that my keys were locked inside. Ugh. As was my cell phone. Ugh again. Panicked and desperate, I hurried into a nearby McDonald’s and approached the man at the counter (who turned out to be the manager) and asked him if he could call me a cab. I briefly explained my situation and I could tell from his expression that he sympathized with my desperation. I was a little beyond stressed at this point. When you are substitute teaching, you are basically trying to make the best impression possible on every principal and school you go to in the hopes that they will like you and that you may be one step closer to landing a full time gig. Not showing up after lunch or being late would put you in their bad books. So the manager hurried to the back to call me a cab while I paced the restaurant. The clock was ticking. I had about 10 minutes until the bell rang. I debated running but it being winter and likely a long and icy jog back, I wouldn’t make it in time. Several minutes later he returned only to tell me that the cab company had put him on hold and that he had then become disconnected. He was now back on hold again. No cab was coming yet. Crap!

I must have made some sort of terrified face because without hesitation he grabbed his coat and said “I will drive you”. So without a thought I followed him. In no time I was back at the school with only a couple of minutes to spare before the bell. I thanked this man endlessly for his kind gesture and to which he replied, “that’s what McDonald’s is for”. Not just the Big Mac I guess.

I think back to this day often and it makes me happy. Happy that a total stranger would care enough to help me out of a bind. I guess we may not be able to solve all the world’s problems in a day but we do have the power to put a smile on someone else’s face and make their day just a little bit brighter. And who knows, maybe one day that person will write a listserve entry about you!

I am now a full time teacher living in Toronto and I share this story with my wee ones every year. It’s simply kindness.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. Shout out to Pedro, the best hubby a girl could ever ask for.

P.P.S. Shout out to Jo, Ange, Elena & Danielle, the 4 best friends that anyone's ever had.


Marisa O.
Toronto, Canada

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Travel as far as you are able, to what is unfamiliar

I write to you all about one of my passions, travel. I am afflicted
by what is likely the most amazing affliction possible, wanderlust. I
am fascinated & fixated on exploring this planet as often as possible.
Being able to see & experience places that are vastly different from
where I've lived puts everything in a new perspective. You learn to
appreciate what you have, or to realize that there are better ways of
doing things. You understand why some places are the way they are, or
learn that some parts of the world defy understanding. Travelling to
new & unfamiliar places makes you a better person.

I know that not everyone has the means to travel to distant lands.
But you don't need to. Sometimes going somewhere unfamiliar means
driving for a few hours to a place that is unlike where you live
(different scenery, different culture, different language, etc). Or
go hiking & explore a forest, desert, beach, or grassland that you've
never seen up close before. Wander to a new part of your town or city
that you've never been to before, or get on a public bus, subway, or
even a taxi, and check out a part of your city, province, state or
region that is unfamiliar to you. Just go somewhere that is new, and
take it all in. Additionally, travelling does not have to be a group
activity. While there are benefits to travelling with one or more
friends or loved ones, travelling solo has its own rewards & benefits.
Sure, it requires some more courage, it can put you much further out
of your comfort zone, but in the end, you'll learn more about yourself
(and if you learn that you simply hate travelling alone, that's
worthwhile knowing from experience too).

My favorite/recommended travel destinations:
* South Korea: China & Japan get a lot of the hype & buzz, but this
small nation is amazing. The people are friendly, the culture is
interesting, and the food is delicious
* Estonia: western Europe gets all the attention, but this ex-Soviet
era country is quirky, fascinating & fun
* Australia: I spent a month, a year ago, driving a campervan over
9000km all around, and had the most amazing time. Its a huge place,
with so much to see & experience
* Tanzania: my first experience in Africa, and I'm yearning to return.
Its wild, wonderful & unlike what most expect

Where to next? Oman & Dubai in September, quite likely Cambodia in
January, and I'm hoping to get to Antarctica in December of 2015. If
you've been to any of these places already, please share your tips,
warnings, & recommendations (places to see, sleep or eat, people to
meet, etc).

Almost as much as I love to travel, I enjoy hearing about other
people's travels. The next best thing to going somewhere new, is
hearing about your adventures. I'd love to hear from any of you with
a great travel story:
* Where have you gone that absolutely amazed you (and why)?
* Where have you gone that didn't live up to the expectations (and why)?
* If you have photos of your travels online somewhere, I'd love to see
them. Even better if there are stories to go with them.

When I'm not seeing the world, I'm an engineer at a Silicon Valley
tech company. Want to chat about anything? I'm on twitter
(@netllama), or try simply googling for "llama land linux-sxs"
(without the quotes), and the first few results should point you to my

thanks & happy travels!

Lonni Friedman
San Francisco Bay area, California, USA