Truth and Freedom

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lost Remote: Proposed shield law could protect bloggers

Lost Remote: Proposed shield law could protect bloggers

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Dear Sheila,
It’s been ten long years since we last talked.

This is how the letter to his mother would have started, had her name been Sheila. Or if he had a mother. He was an orphan, and in his own mind it had seemed dangerous to give his real mother a believable moniker. If he found her one day and her real name was the same as the one he had ascribed to her imaginary personality, it would be too difficult to reconcile when real and imagined personalities were incongruous. No, it wouldn’t do at all. He had to choose a name he thought would be too ridiculous for his mother to possess. Sheila it was then.

He glanced again at what he had written and squinted through the thin curtains to the quiet street below. The rats weren’t quite as large as he had seen in Delhi last week – they hadn’t been visible in the pre-dawn darkness – but they continued to move with impunity through the streets as the sun rose. A knock on the door drew his attention away from a small child who had crossed the dirty laneway to avoid a gang of rats that advanced up the left gutter. He tore the unfinished letter from his notepad and threw the crumpled paper at the curtains. A second rapping knock, insistent.
“Mr Halder?” The voice was politely deferential but obviously its owner was not about to leave. To prove it, the knock came again. “Mr Halder, your driver is waiting in the lobby.”
“Okay.” Drew Halder pulled aside the curtains and looked out into the street again as footsteps echoed down the hallway. His piece of paper had somehow made its way through the curtains and fallen to the street below. A particularly large rat had set upon it, obviously unperturbed both by the stirrings of life taking place around it and the fact what it was attempting to masticate was not in fact food.
Relieved to be moving on again Halder picked up his bag, took his last look at the dingy room and closed the door on a week in Mombassa. It was a week where he had experienced, not for the first time, threats to his personal safety and to his dog. Okay, threats against his dog were a new one for him but he wasn’t particularly concerned. He didn’t have a dog. He had realised some people were simply not qualified to be threatening, but he wasn’t complaining.

The customary squeal of every step on the wooden staircase announced Halder’s arrival to the entire lobby – a snoring drunk, a receptionist, one of the rats who had made its way inside and curled up on the main couch with the drunk and Halder’s driver Fariq. On first meeting him, Halder had been genuinely concerned for his young driver, assuming he had been shot or stabbed in the gut. Legs splayed at awkward angles, Fariq pressed himself to the wall, looking as if he were about to slide slowly to the ground in the final throes of death. Apparently he was relaxing, but pushed himself off the plaster with great effort and moved towards the exit as Halder made a beeline for the door.
“Sir, aren’t you leaving today?” Fariq asked him as he took a drag from one of his infamous cigarettes Halder had long ago concluded were, at best, dry camel dung.
“Not so loud Fariq. Yes, but I don’t have any money, and how many times do I have to ask you not to smoke those vile things around me? If I wanted to sniff…”
Fariq was ten steps behind Halder before he noticed he was now talking to himself.
“Fariq, what are you doing, we need to get out of here now.” Halder realised he had more to immediately fear from the drunk and his rat friend than he did from the receptionist, but the receptionist had a phone, and Halder needed to make it out of the city. The look of disgust on Fariq’s face turned to disbelief and anger as he realised Halder had no idea what he had just said to induce this horror.
“And where shall I be taking you today sir? You know full well my services are not provided free of…”
”Fariq!” Halder hissed. Taking a deep breath, he continued in a soothing, conspiratorial tone. “You know I always have payment for you.”
Fariq’s lips spread apart to reveal a row of puffy red gums interspersed by the occasional tooth. Halder forced a smile in return while asking, “Can we please go now?”
“Of course sir, and I’ll stop smoking these when you get me some American cigarettes.”
Walking outside the hotel, Halder was glad the humidity at six in the morning was not accompanied by the usual day’s dust kicked up by the city’s half a million inhabitants. As he slid into the passenger seat of Fariq’s decrepit taxi, Halder commented dryly that Fariq should stick with his camel dung, it was probably better for him anyway.
This was greeted with another showing of pristine bulbous gums as Fariq blew a cloud of bilious stench into the air and accelerated away from the hotel.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Don't give up hope

I know you may be visiting this site every day and asking, "When, oh when may I read your brilliant writing?" But I guarantee that won't be the question once I start. Then it will be something more akin to, "Why? Why would you cause me to waste any of my precious life reading this crap?"

But the point was, don't give up hope. Sure it's the middle of November and, if on target, I should have expected to have 25,000 words written by now but, you know. Things happen. Actually, I have an exam in exactly six hours that I should be studying for. Perhaps next Monday, that's right, the 22nd of November, I'll have time to start. But never fear, 50,000 words in 9 days is only... oh. 5,556 words per day.

Like I said, she won't be pretty...

Thursday, October 21, 2004


This is my NaNoWriMo novel/blog.

The aim: write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

Likelihood of completion: 60%.

Title: as of yet unknown. Update: Truth and Freedom. I don't know why. It will likely espouse neither. It will simply stumble from one day of 1,666.6 recurring words to another.

Plot: are you kidding?