20 January 2020

Book Review: The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa

Oh, this is one wonderful read. It seems that with Vargas Llosa, most of the time I like his books, though there are some exceptions which I just find myself hard to be enthusiastic about. I must say that this one is not an exception. If you're looking for a good historical novel to read, then this is definitely a recommendation for you.

The Dream of the Celt is a novel about the life of Sir Roger Casement, a diplomat and Irish nationalist. He lived during the time when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, and so he served as a diplomat of the British Foreign Ministry. He travelled to the Congo and to Amazonia, as a representative of the British government, in order to investigate the various atrocities that have been happening over there against the native inhabitants. In the Congo, he exposed the cruel practices of the Belgian colonialists just so that they can extract rubber. Similarly, in the Peruvian Amazon, he went there to expose the atrocities that the Peruvian Amazon Company (a British company) were inflicting on the indigenous peoples. These rubber boom companies were essentially generating their income using forced slavery. And Casement wanted to expose these practices, so that Europe would realise what was happening.

18 January 2020

Peru, 11 Years Later

I first visited Peru back in 2008. This visit was actually triggered by numerous visits to a now-defunct Colombian restaurant in Prague. Back in 2006, I spent the summer months in Prague, where I stayed in the city for 2 and a half months. There was a Colombian restaurant which somehow we visited numerous times. I once remarked that I would like to visit South America one day, but I was told not to, because I "would be kidnapped". I wanted to prove that wrong. So I prepared myself, and in 2008 I found myself spending ten days in Peru, visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

However, the country is big, and there's more to see than Machu Picchu, so I decided to come back. 11 years later, I was back again, and this time, I spent three weeks, visiting other areas of the country, a few months ago, in September-October.

16 January 2020

Getting High Without the Cocaine

Recently, there have been some stressful situations at work. Some colleagues have characterised it as a "major crisis situation". And I happen to have been heavily involved in these situations, which lead to my colleagues approaching me now and then asking how I am. The thing is, I actually felt good and was doing fine!

14 January 2020

My Fourth Visit to Spain: Caminito del Rey

The last thing I wanted to do in southern Spain was actually the Caminito del Rey. This is an old foot path in a very scenic part of the country. When I knew that I was going to Andalucia, I made sure that I had tickets to go to this place.

12 January 2020

Goodbye Academia: When You Have a Pet Project

There was a recent event at work that somehow struck an interesting nerve with me. See, there were some academics who wanted to do a study, and somehow the topic of this study was rather close to me professionally, for some reason. It was a very small study, very qualitative and not the most data-driven, I must say, yet the turn of events that was triggered by this study was rather large, and resulted in a few stressful though exciting days. I don't want to talk about the details, but in any case this just gave me yet another reason why I feel like academia is not for me. The thing is, for academia, when you have a pet project, you think that that project is the most important thing in the world, and sometimes, one fails to be an academic: instead of looking at the evidence to confirm or reject one's hypothesis, one just selects random bits and pieces of information that would support the hypothesis and discard information that doesn't.