When you find gold.

“Hey Aarthi, you seem to know a lot of guys and some of them seem like pure gold. Any sweetie-encounters?”

Someone asked me that a few days back and I sat down to think about some of the sweetest things guys have done for me. Firstly, this is not a list to tick off against because sweetness isn’t some formula. Secondly, this list is, as many other things on my blog, my way of remembering and commemorating certain sweet things.

I’m not going to number this list because I don’t know how to put them in any chronological order.

  • The guy who stayed up with me on the phone the night after I had stitches running across my face. Despite the fact that I couldn’t talk, he stayed up with me cos I could not sleep in the immense pain and he could not come visit me as my mum would have issues with that since I wasn’t supposed to know any boys.
  • The guy who waited three hours below my block to surprise me although I was sound asleep due to my fever. Even when I woke up he didn’t want to tell me he was below my block until I looked out of my window and saw him walking away while on the phone with me.
  • The two guys who rushed to see me when I was down with a fever during my A level prelims with a bag full of medicine.
  • The guy who carried me home along with my sister after my 19 shot wonder with no complains whatsoever and for never reminding me of my silly antics.
  • The guy who bought me half the world for my birthday and got my best friend to go shopping with him to do so and seals the surprise with a cake and a sudden appearance.
  • The guy who dressed me up one day by buying me a dress/shoes/earrings and the whole works, along with soap and a towel so that I can get ready and go out with him. To find out my shoe size and etc, he went to extents of concocting stories that didn’t make any sense.
  • The guy who came to the carpark across my house the night I couldn’t go clubbing with my other two khakis and manages to muster enough courage within me to get me to come over. Later, when I go back home and they are still there, he sings me my favorite songs from across the carpark.(the closest I’d ever get to a serenade)
  • The guy who surprised me on Christmas with a watch. The beautiful part is that, he made me painstakingly choose the watch saying it was for his mother.
  • The guy who remembered a book I wanted so badly and got Kinokuniya to get the book down for me.
  • The guy who remembered all the important things I needed and made sure they got done. From planning my timetable to an ankle guard during Dhool practices to even a Calligraphy brush.
  • The guy who followed me to school everyday and bought me lunch and kept me company everyday through my fast after my Dad passed away because he didn’t want me to feel lonely.
  • The guy who mysteriously appeared outside Ramakrishna Mission and outside the temple during my Dad’s death anniversary prayers.
  • The guy who would always bring the laptop charger so that I needn’t carry it around as well as appear at the forum at all my breaks to keep me company.
  • The guy who bought this adorable handbag I saw near my school and stuffed it into his schoolbag during my college days and tried to hide it from me the entire day (whilst the rest of my ICS members all knew what he was up to.)
  • The guy who stuffed a stuffed toy with 100 reasons as to why he likes me.
  • The guy who taught me how to drive a car.
  • The guy who braved a very popular celebrity-sugar-daddy/mummy to talk to me through the night.(hehe)

So for those disillusioned girls, there is still hope out there because all these boys do exist. Maybe that’s why I’m still such a hopeless romantic, because I’ve been lucky enough to meet such angels before. Its the little things that give you that much more faith in love, so people, keep believing in the power of the little things and keep working on the littlest of things.

And ladies/gentlemen feel free to add your own sweetie-encounters so that we can give the others a little hope that gold still exists. 😉

More Sex is Safer Sex

I got this link of the IndianStallion’s blog. The article was in New York Times and it’s pretty interesting (if you’re up for the whole warped intelligence thing).

‘More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics

Published: July 8, 2007

MORE SEX IS SAFER SEX

It’s true: AIDS is nature’s awful retribution for our tolerance of immoderate and socially irresponsible sexual behavior. The epidemic is the price of our permissive attitudes toward monogamy, chastity, and other forms of extreme sexual conservatism.

You’ve read elsewhere about the sin of promiscuity. Let me tell you about the sin of self-restraint.

Consider Martin, a charming and generally prudent young man with a limited sexual history, who has been gently flirting with his coworker Joan. As last week’s office party approached, both Joan and Martin silently and separately entertained the prospect that they just might be going home together. Unfortunately, Fate, through its agents at the Centers for Disease Control, intervened. The morning of the party, Martin happened to notice one of those CDC-sponsored subway ads touting the virtues of abstinence. Chastened, he decided to stay home. In Martin’s absence, Joan hooked up with the equally charming but considerably less prudent Maxwell – and Joan got AIDS.

When the cautious Martin withdraws from the mating game, he makes it easier for the reckless Maxwell to prey on the hapless Joan. If those subway ads are more effective against Martin than against Maxwell, they are a threat to Joan’s safety. This is especially so when they displace Calvin Klein ads, which might have put Martin in a more socially beneficent mood.

If the Martins of the world would loosen up a little, we could slow the spread of AIDS. Of course, we wouldn’t want to push this too far: if Martin loosens up too much, he becomes as dangerous as Maxwell. But when sexual conservatives increase their activity by moderate amounts, they do the rest of us a lot of good. Harvard professor Michael Kremer estimates that the spread of AIDS in England could plausibly be retarded if everyone with fewer than about 2.25 partners per year were to take additional partners more frequently. That would apply to three-fourths of all British heterosexuals between the ages of 18 and 45.

A cautious guy like Martin does the world a favor every time he hits the bars. In fact, he does the world two favors. First he improves the odds for everyone who’s out there seeking a safe match. The second favor is more macabre, but probably also more significant: If Martin picks up a new partner tonight, he just might pick up an infection as well. That’s great. Because then Martin goes home, wastes away in solitude, and eventually dies – taking the virus with him.

If someone has to get infected tonight, I want it to be Martin rather than Promiscuous Pete, who would probably infect another twenty people before finally dying.

I’m always glad to see guys like Martin in the bars. When he takes home an uninfected partner, he diverts that partner from a potentially more dangerous liaison. When he takes home an infected partner, he diverts that partner from giving the virus to someone who might spread it far and wide. Either way, I sure hope he gets lucky tonight.

Sadly, none of this makes for a good pickup line. You’re unlikely to get very far with an approach like “You should sleep with me so you can get infected, die, and take the virus with you.” That would be like saying “You should sell your leaf blower so your neighbors’ lawns stay cleaner” or “You should stay seated at the ballpark so everyone else can see.” The whole point is that what’s good for the group can be bad for the individual, and that’s why we get bad outcomes.

If multiple partnerships save lives, then monogamy can be deadly. Imagine a country where almost all women are monogamous, while all men demand two female partners per year. Under those circumstances, a few prostitutes end up servicing all the men. Before long, the prostitutes are infected; they pass the disease on to the men; the men bring it home to their monogamous wives. But if each of those monogamous wives were willing to take on one extramarital partner, the market for prostitution would die out, and the virus, unable to spread fast enough to maintain itself, might well die out along with it.

The parable of the monogamous wives has a more profound moral than the legend of Martin and Joan, because it shows that even on a society-wide level, increased promiscuity could retard the epidemic – at least in principle. But what about practice? That’s where Professor Kremer’s research comes in. With plausibly realistic assumptions about how people choose partners, his work shows that the moral remains essentially the same. When your relatively demure neighbor experiences a rare moment of rakishness, he really is doing his part to combat the deadly scourge.

That’s one reason why you should root for Martin to have sex with Joan. Here’s another: they’ll probably enjoy it.

Enjoyment should never be lightly dismissed. After all, reducing the rate of HIV infection is not the only goal worth pursuing; if it were, we’d outlaw sex entirely. What we really want is to minimize the number of infections resulting from any given number of sexual encounters. That’s the same as maximizing the number of (consensual) sexual encounters leading up to any given number of infections. Even if Martin fails to deny Maxwell a conquest, he can at least make someone happy.

If you are a monomaniac whose goal is to minimize the prevalence of AIDS, then you should encourage Martin to have more sex. But if you are a sensible person whose goal is to maximize the difference between the benefits of sex and the costs of AIDS – then you should encourage Martin to have even more sex.

To an economist, it’s crystal clear why people with limited sexual pasts choose to supply too little sex in the present: their services are underpriced. If sexual conservatives could effectively advertise their histories, HIV-conscious suitors would compete to lavish them with attention. But that doesn’t happen, because conservatives are hard to identify. Insufficiently rewarded for relaxing their standards, they relax their standards insufficiently.

When you take a new sex partner, you bear some costs and you reap some benefits. Those are your business. You also impose costs and benefits on others, and those are everyone else’s business. If you have a history of reckless promiscuity, that’s a cost. Everyone’s fishing for partners in a great communal stream and you’ve polluted that stream just by entering it.

But if you’ve always been cautious and selective, you’re likely to raise the average quality of the partner pool. Just by jumping into the stream, you make it purer. Thanks to you, everyone who goes fishing for a partner tonight has a better chance of catching a safe one.

Like any other communal stream, the stream of partners has too many polluters and too few volunteers to clean it up. The reason factory owners don’t do enough to protect the environment is that they’re insufficiently rewarded for environmental protection (or insufficiently punished for neglecting it). They reap some rewards (even factory owners like clean water and clean air), but most of the benefits go to total strangers. Likewise, the reason Martin might not do enough to fight the scourge of AIDS (by sleeping with Joan) is that, while he certainly would reap some rewards (such as sexual pleasure), many of the benefits would go to Joan’s future partners, and their future partners.

The flip side of the analogy is that Martin’s chastity is a form of pollution – chastity pollutes the sexual environment by reducing the fraction of relatively safe partners in the dating pool. Factory owners pollute too much because they have to breathe only a fraction of their own pollution; Martin stays home alone too much because he bears only a fraction of the consequences.

The pollution analogy is so powerful that it dictates the moral of virtually any story you could tell. To conclude that Martin’s coupling with Joan slows the epidemic, you have to make some assumptions about what Joan and Maxwell and all of their potential partners would be doing if Martin stayed home. But to conclude that Martin’s coupling with Joan makes the world a better place (where “better” accounts for both the costs of disease and the benefits of sex), you don’t need any of those assumptions. It is a quite general principle that when goods (such as Martin’s sexual services) are underpriced, they are undersupplied.

Here, then, is what we know:

When sexual conservatives relax their standards, benefits spill over onto their neighbors. That alone is enough to tell us that the world would be a better place if we could loosen these people up a little.

There is, however, more than one way for the world to become a better place. Maybe the epidemic slows down. Maybe people enjoy more sex. Maybe the epidemic speeds up, but people enjoy so much more sex that it’s worth it.

Pure theory – in the guise of the communal-stream principle – tells us that at least one of those good things must happen. Professor Kremer’s research suggests that both good things happen: we get more sex and less illness.

If all you want to do is slow down the epidemic, Professor Kremer’s research says that more sex is a good thing. But if you want to maximize the excess of benefits over costs, then even more sex is an even better thing.

So: how do we encourage Martin (and others like him) to have more sex?

I wish this book could nudge him in the right direction, but sadly, there’s no reason why it should – even if he reads and understands it completely. (Don’t let that stop you from buying him a copy, though.) Martin has already chosen the activity level that’s right for him. He’s not likely to adjust that level just because he learns that a bunch of strangers – namely, Joan’s future partners and their future partners – would appreciate it.

Martin, being human, tends to concentrate on what’s good for Martin, not what’s good for the society he lives in. You can make a polluting factory owner understand that he’s hurting his neighbors, but that’s not the same as convincing him to stop.

So we need something more effective than mere education. Extrapolating from their usual response to environmental issues, I assume that liberals would attack the problem of excessive sexual temperance through coercive legislation. But as a devotee of the price system, I’d prefer to encourage good behavior through a well-designed system of subsidies.

In other words, we could pay people to have more sex with more partners. But that’s not ideal, because we don’t want everyone to have more sex with more partners. Maxwell, for example, is quite oversexed enough as it is. The problem is to subsidize Martin’s sexual awakening without simultaneously subsidizing Maxwell’s genuine excess.

So we should pay people for having sex only if they are relatively inexperienced. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well either – not as long as Maxwell can lie about his past and keep a straight face long enough to collect his handout.

What we need is a reward that Martin values and Maxwell doesn’t – like, say, a library card. I’m guessing that Maxwell, with his busy social life, doesn’t spend a lot of time at the library.

That’s a definite improvement, but it’s still imperfect. When Martin arrives at the circulation desk looking appropriately smug and disheveled, how can the librarian know whether he’s really fulfilled his coital obligations or is just putting on a good show?

Let’s try again: We need a reward that’s of no value to Martin unless he actually has sex. And as before, it should be something the cautious Martin values more than the promiscuous Maxwell does.

I can think of only one reward that fits both criteria: free (or heavily subsidized) condoms. To reap the benefits of a free condom, Martin has to have sex. And Martin probably values a free condom considerably more than Maxwell does. Here’s why: Martin’s almost surely not infected yet, so a condom has a good chance to save his life. Maxwell, by contrast, knows he might have the virus already, so a condom at this point is less likely to make a difference. Subsidized condoms could be just the ticket for luring Martin out of his shell without stirring Maxwell to a new frenzy of activity.

As it happens, there is another reason to subsidize condoms. Condom use itself is underrewarded. When you use a condom, you protect both yourself and your future partners (and your future partners’ future partners), but you are rewarded (with a lower chance of infection) only for protecting yourself. Your future partners can’t observe your past condom use and therefore can’t reward it with extravagant courtship. That means you fail to capture all the benefits you’re conferring. As a result, condoms are underused.

In other words, people use too few condoms for the same reason they have too little sex. When Martin has sex with Joan, that’s good for Joan’s future partners. When Martin uses a condom, that’s good for Martin’s future partners. In neither case do the future partners get a fair opportunity to influence Martin’s behavior.

It’s frequently argued that subsidized (or free) condoms have an upside and a downside. The upside is that they reduce the risk from a given encounter, and the alleged downside is that they encourage more encounters. But that’s not an upside and a downside – it’s two upsides. Without the subsidies, people don’t use enough condoms, and without the subsidies, the sort of people who most value condoms don’t have enough sex partners.

The main drawback to subsidizing condoms is that they’re not very expensive to begin with. You can reduce the price of a condom from a dollar all the way down to zero without having much impact on people’s sexual choices.

Our goal, then, should be to drive the price of condoms below zero, by rewarding people who use them. In other words, we should pay a bounty for used condoms. The best of all possible bounties would be one that is more valuable to abstemious Martins than to promiscuous Maxwells. With that in mind, the journalist Oliver Morton has made the marvelous suggestion that if at least some abstemiousness is due to shyness and the inability to find partners (while the promiscuous have relatively little trouble in this regard), then the answer might be to establish a government-funded dating service: bring us a used condom and we’ll get you a date.

The entire problem – along with the entire case for subsidies – would vanish if our sexual pasts could somehow be made visible, so that future partners could reward past prudence and thereby provide appropriate incentives. Perhaps technology can ultimately make that solution feasible. (I imagine the pornography of the future: “Her skirt slid to the floor and his gaze came to rest on her thigh, where the imbedded monitor read ‘This site has been accessed 314 times.'”)

Or, as one of my Slate readers suggested, we could have an online service to record negative HIV test results. You’d type in your prospective partner’s name and get a response like “Last negative test result 7/4/2006.” Or, to protect privacy, you’d type in not a name but an ID number provided by the partner. Your screen could show both a test result and a photo to avoid fake IDs. This strikes me as such a good idea that I can’t figure out why nobody’s doing it yet. Until then, the best we can probably do is to make condoms inexpensive – and get rid of those subway ads.

I hope you guys managed to read the whole thing cos it’s brilliant yet extremely warped that I’m not quite sure what my opinions are on this matter yet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/books/chapters/0708-1st-land.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5124&en=6933cea1bafff86b&ex=1341460800&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Sangae Muzhangu 2007

What happens when your life is no longer under your control? When every one of your actions could decide how your future is sealed? When do the questions become the answers? When will we stop searching and start living?

Interesting isn’t it. Okay I know how much all you readers hate it when I start advertising but this is one show I really think you should all catch (not only because I’m participating in it, but if that rocks your boat then YES!). Sangae Muzhangu 2007 organised by NUS Tamil Language Society is not simply a display of the immense variety of talents these people have but more importantly, is a play that would take you to the edge to experience things and start questioning them too.

Stringing in many entertaining dances and songs into an extremely exciting plot, Sangae Muzhangu’ 07 is definitely not going to let you guys down. If you’re a sucker for wit, humor, great plots or awesome dancing please make sure you keep August 11th 2007 free! It’s going to be a wonderful show and I am not saying it simply because I am obliged to. I’ve participated in many shows before but this experience has certainly been one of a kind.

I’ve seen these guys slogging in their various departments ranging from the Admin side of managing the stage to canvassing for money all the way to the frontlines of painstakingly stitching costumes, building massive props and practicing dance till the wee hours of the night. And I am pretty sure that it’s all going to be worth it on that night but what’s a show without a spectacular audience right?

Proceeds from the tickets would go partially to NUS TLS’ Student Trust fund administered by SIET as well as to Sadhana – a tuition project organised by NUS TLS. Priced at $16 for an A grade show(and getting a chance to give to society while you’re at it), i think it’s really a steal. Many of you might have seen the standards of previous Sangae Muzhangu-s and I’m sure you guys can attest to the fact that it is a must watch.

Details are as follow. I’m taking ticket bookings online so simply add a comment telling me the number of tickets you want and leave an email address or some form of contact.

Sangae Muzhangu ‘ 2007

University Cultural Centre

11th August ‘ 2007

6.30 pm

Tickets at $16

For more details please go to http://www.sangae07.com

Click on Experiments to watch Previous Sangae Muzhangus and decide for yourself. Some of the videos are really old but click on 2001 (top right) as its the clearest.

Pls leave a comment with the number of tickets and a comment so that I can get back to you with your tickets.

Life on the Fast Forward

How often have you wished you would grow up faster or a moment would speed by you so that you didn’t need to experience it any longer? I know I am guilty of it and many of us probably are. This post has been very much inspired by me watching Click (yes I am a little late I know). Initially there I was, wishing I had a remote control to fast forward me through all my painful moments, bad memories and things I simply didn’t want to experience.

Then you realise that everything that happens, makes you who you are right now. Be it a bad breakup or an incredibly horrible downtime, it moulds you and shapes you and makes you that much stronger. I met a friend and a friend’s friend for dinner recently. My friend’s friend got dumped by his girlfriend of 9 years and he was ranting about how painful it was and how he wanted his wounds to heal faster so he could forget her. But, I had to remind him that every minute of the healing process makes you a tad more enlightened and brings you to realise what you had been missing out and what you need to learn.

Imagine if you woke up today and actually missed 5 years of your life. Might have been 5 years worth of pain, 5 years worth of financial losses, 5 years worth of friendships lost. But in those 5 years, you’d have learnt so many more lessons, made so many more special bonds and found so many other things to be grateful for.

Cos what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and in the end it isn’t the pain that you remember, it’s where you end up and what you’ve learnt that defines you.

Now that probably doesn’t make very much sense to most of you but it’s something I’ve been reflecting upon and I’ve told myself life is only worth it if you live every moment to the fullest be it a good one or a bad one.

Now on a completely different note, thank you all for making my birthday a beautiful one. It was really amazing the lengths some people went to make me feel so loved. I hope to post some pictures of my gifts and all the beautiful flowers I got on both days soon enough (my 2nd sister got me a digicam so I might actually get to posting them!).

I hope you guys had fun and for those of you who were wondering, I WAS SOBER!

Tired

As much as I am so excited about my impending birthday I am so dead tired I cannot help but wonder if this is going to be my worst birthday ever. I seriously have to learn to start saying NO to people when they ask me to dance/work/partake in any activities.

On my birthday itself, I would be dancing as a favour to a friend for some show. Yes, I know, how sad right? Then there’s Samarpanam next week where Bavani very kindly got all the Girls from N.V to dance for the opening act. Fully classical item. (that’s next Saturday and I have no dance). There’s normal Sangae Muzhangu practice(will talk about this in another post) and there’s tuition as well as my usual dance classes which I have returned to after a 2 year hiatus. If all that isn’t enough, I agreed to relief teach at Bowen till the 20th of this month. So imagine what my days are like, I have suddenly forgot the meaning of Ladies Night, partying, late dinners and even sleep.

I’m really on the verge of dropping dead and I’m praying I last the next 3 weeks at least cos the burden eases. Suddenly going onto 2nd year seems a lot more fun than the holidays. I want to pull my hair out.

Now that was to get it all out of my system and to apologise for the many outings and appointments I’m missing. The many abruptly ending phone calls, SMS replies that never see the light of anything but my drafts section in my handphone and the many moodswings(especially to those very close to me).

It’s either I’d be out of my mind by the end of this month or I’d drop dead. I don’t know which sounds more enticing right now. Bleah.

On a lighter note, this song suddenly makes a lot of sense.

“Everything You Want”
Vertical Horizon

Somewhere there’s speaking
It’s already coming in
Oh and it’s rising at the back of your mind
You never could get it
Unless you were fed it
Now you’re here and you don’t know why

But under skinned knees and the skid marks
Past the places where you used to learn
You howl and listen
Listen and wait for the
Echoes of angels who won’t return

Chorus
He’s everything you want
He’s everything you need
He’s everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
He says all the right things
At exactly the right time
But he means nothing to you
And you don’t know why

You’re waiting for someone
To put you together
You’re waiting for someone to push you away
There’s always another wound to discover
There’s always something more you wish he’d say

Chorus

But you’ll just tight
And watch it unwind
It’s only what you’re asking for
And you’ll be just fine
With all of your time
It’s only what you’re waiting for

Out of the island
Into the highway
Past the places where you might have turned
You never did notice
But you still hide away
The anger of angels who won’t return

Chorus
I am everything you want
I am everything you need
I am everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
I say all the right things
At exactly the right time
But I mean nothing to you and I don’t know why
And I don’t know why
Why
I don’t know

 

No folks I am not going through any kind of withdrawals of any sort but I’ve met someone recently who seems to be everything a girl could possibly dream of having and he does mean a lot to me. But not as much as I would have expected him to mean. Is it him or is it me? I really don’t know. Maybe I don’t want the perfect guy. Maybe I want someone whose imperfections I can seek comfort in.

I’m definitely holding myself back from this person as much as I know how wonderful anything with this person would be. Not that I intend to skip right into one any time soon but even the thought of a relationship puts me off. I don’t know if it’s because of this one person or maybe I’ve become highly disillusioned that it doesn’t matter even if Cupid smacks me right across the eye.

It’s so scary when you have something so perfect, lacking all those annoying complexities and complications and all your eyes are set on is trouble,trouble and more trouble.

This is about the most confusing entry to make it to the new blog. Congratulations Aarthi.