(The new picture header was taken in Sai Yok National Park, Kanchanaburi province, earlier this year.)
So what do you think of my blog make-over?
I had been using the old blog theme layout since early 2010 and it really was getting a bit stale and boring.
OK, I admit the new theme is not going to set the world on fire, but all those exciting, wiz-bang, gimmicky blog-themes which only techno-savvy people under the age of 18 can comprehend is not really what my blog’s all about.
I like the new theme because it’s clean and clear; the text is easy to read and it does everything I need my blog to do – I hope!
It’s still a work in progress and I have a bit more fine tuning to do.
You may have noticed that I have changed the blog title from:
“My name is Mobi; I’m an alcoholic”,
“Mobi D’Ark: Author, Blog Writer & Alcoholic”
This is because I wish to reflect change the emphasis in my writings from being a blog about a practising, (and subsequently recovering), alcoholic, who wrote about his drunken, and occasionally sober exploits in Pattaya’s bars and dens of iniquity, to an alcoholic who is now almost three years sober and is trying hard to refocus his life.
I am now a published author and from time to time I write a few things about the world around us that may be of interest to my readers.
The sexy pics are no longer part of my new blog-life, and to those of you who only clicked on my site to see the latest manifestations of glorious Asian womanhood, then I can only apologise. Like many of you out there, I still worship the Asian female form, but in future, I will do so away from the inter-web.
After all, every morning when I wake up, I see a beautiful, real life example of what the best of Asian women are all about, so I no longer have the need of external stimulation.
(The stand-alone, ‘Mobi-pics’ website – http://mobithailandpics.wordpress.com/ will remain in place for the foreseeable future, but I will not be making any new updates.)
Mobi’s eBook Market Place
The most important reason that I have given my web-site a make-over is because I am planning to use the re-launched site as a vehicle to sell my creative work.
I will continue to write a weekly blog about ‘my life and times’ and write articles on current events and matters that interest me, but my focus will be on trying to persuade my readers to dip their hands into their pockets and buy one or more of my humble creative offerings.
Some of the more observant amongst you may have noticed that a couple of days ago I had a ‘soft launch’ and went live on Amazon-Kindle with the publication of my second novel, “ Madju-Raj, the Messenger of Death”.
To be strictly correct, “Madju-Raj” was my first novel and was written some 10 years ago, but it was only recently that I dug it out, dusted it down and got it into a reasonable shape for publication, following the publication of my second novel, “a Lust For Life.”
So to those who say that most author’s first novel is autobiographical in nature and after that, they tend to struggle for material and inspiration, I am a living example of someone who didn’t even attempt to mould my life story into a novel until I had been writing for over 10 years.
Unlike “A Lust for Life”, “Madju-Raj” was published on Amazon on a non-exclusive basis, which means that I am free to sell it elsewhere on other eBook platforms, including my own website.
Once the 90 day exclusive period for “Lust” expires on Amazon, I will also be selling that novel here and on other eBook platforms.
I am in the process of setting up the necessary “bells and whistles” so that readers will be able to buy a download of my books here by either using their credit cards or through Pay Pal.
Hopefully this will all be up and running within the next week or so. It all depends on whether I turn out to be a ‘techno-thicky’ or a techno-‘geeky’ .
As well as the two novels, I will also be publishing a revised and ‘dusted down’ version of my collection of short stories entitled ‘Tales from Thailand” which was originally published in paper back in 2002.
Once those three works are available on Amazon and my own website, I will turn my attention to my children’s novel and some other stuff that may be worthy of publication – including maybe, a collection of the ‘ best of my blog essays’.
Eventually, sometime next year, I will make a start on a third full length novel, but there is much to be done before then, assuming of course that I’m still alive.
In the meantime, please continue to enjoy the free ride on “Madju Raj’ and the other stuff that is available to read on my blog, as it may not be there for too much longer.
Or of course, if you prefer to read it in comfort on your Kindle or similar device, then please be my guest and buy it through Amazon at the amazingly low price of $2.99 or £1.93. Simply hold your cursor, (or press on your device touch screen), over the link on the sidebar under ‘Mobi’s Published Works’ and you will be taken to the relevant page on Amazon to make your purchase.
Mobi’s State of health
I know this all starting to sound like a broken record, and I apologise for yet again for giving such introspective attention to the precarious state of my own health.
By way of excuse, I do know that there are a few of you out there who seem to be genuinely concerned about me and whether there will ever be another blog.
Apart from that, my medical trials and tribulations’ can serve as a warning for all those who may dream of following my path along the road to a dissolute and distinctly unhealthy life-style.
Despite the fact that my endoscopy and EGD at the Sattahip Naval hospital revealed nothing untoward in my innards, and I was told ‘nothing wrong’, my constant and debilitating diarrhoea has continued unabated and I am still suffering from regular attacks of pain in my upper abdomen.
So last Sunday I saw another specialist at a new hospital, (Phayathai in Siracha). After examination, she thought that the problem was in my pancreas (even though the previous specialists had ruled this out) and to cut a long story short, last Monday I had an MRCP scan which lasted nearly three hours.
The MRCP is really an MRI scan (where they roll you into a tunnel, and bombard you with very noisy magnets), in which they map out every part of your stomach’s working parts – you know – liver, kidney, gallbladder, large and small bowel, pancreas, bile ducts, digestive tracts, and so on. The worst parts were when I had to raise my hands above my head up for the final hour or so, (my right shoulder hurt like hell), and also when they injected some ice cold serum into my vein which felt ominously creepy as it spread throughout my entire body.
On the whole, I’ve never been so bored, (and deafened) in all my life, and considering I genuinely suffer from mild claustrophobia, especially when my head and mouth are in enclosed spaces, it’s a miracle I didn’t emerge as a gibbering wreck – well no more than I am already. I managed to survive by thinking about all the things I was going to do with my blog and developing new plans on how to try and sell my stuff…..
So I guess you have my time in the ‘horizontal Tardis’ to thank for my newly revamped blog.
The diagnosis emerging from this very expensive test is that I have chronic pancreatitis, for which there is no cure. I have a permanently ‘impaired pancreas’ which has atrophied in parts.
It’s a bit of a bummer, but at last I know the worst and the good news is that there is no sign of cancer, so I should be grateful for small mercies. I have been an insulin dependant diabetic for over 20 years dues to the failure of my pancreas to produce enough insulin for years, and now it isn’t producing sufficient enzymes to break down my food.
The only treatment for this condition is a medication called CREON, which are capsules containing synthetic enzymes that I must take with food and are supposed to help with the digestion of food, as the pancreas is no longer up to the task. I have to take 4 of these capsules with every meal, and they are VERY expensive. If they work, they will nearly double my monthly meds bill, which, as most of you know, is the last thing I need right now.
Chronic pancreatitis is caused by many years of alcohol abuse and/or diabetes. Really? What a surprise….In Mobi’s case it is undoubtedly alcohol AND diabetes.
Be warned, my friends.
I have been taking this new medication since last Monday afternoon and while not wishing to jump the gun, I have to say that it doesn’t seem to be working.
Maybe it takes time for it work, but I fail to see why that should be, and there’s nothing in the medical ‘blurbs’ to suggest that this might be the case. Apart from one ‘free day’ of bowel discomfort, I still have very bad diarrhoea, and on Thursday I had quite a nasty pain attack. I will see the specialist again tomorrow, (Monday), and see what she has to say, but as far as I am aware, the only other treatment is surgery….
I hope I’m wrong.
Charlie and The Killing Factory
Many of my long time readers will be aware of my personal “Hobby Horses’ that I rail against from time to time.
Chief amongst these are the unspeakable crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government for a very long time and somehow continue to avoid the attention of the world’s so-called concerned western democracies.
By any reasonable standards, Europe, the USA and even countries from the Indian sub-continent should be screaming from the roof tops about these appalling crimes that continue unabated in that terrifying ‘Island Paradise.’
The sheer hypocrisy and indifference appals me. Long before a certain Mr Ed Snowden told the world about the widespread mass surveillance and eavesdropping on the world’s leaders, there was no doubt that the powers to be in countries such as the UK, EU and US s were in absolutely no doubt of what was going on in Sri Lanka – that literally tens of thousands of Sri Lankans, many of them innocent women and children, have died needlessly and brutally in that tragic country.
Our estimable leaders know exactly what these murderous barbarians have done, yet they say and do nothing.
Why? Political expediency.
Another of my ‘Hobby Horses’ is the British Royal family – one the richest, most privileged families in the world, who still believe they have some kind of divine right to rule. OK they can no longer rule in the old, traditional sense, but trust me they still wield enormous power behind the scenes, and the British public still put their hands deep inside their pocket to finance Lizzy and the extravagant life-styles of her hangers on.
Some of you may have guessed where this is going.
The forthcoming Commonwealth Conference is about to be held in Colombo, Sir Lanka, and guess who is going to open it?
None other than our tree-talking, homeopathatheolocical, architecture–hating, serial adulterising, servantputthetoothpasteonmytoothbrush-loving, eco-protecting, climate-warming-fear-mongering Prince in waiting – the one and only….right Charlie ‘imelf.
Charlie – you know, the one who has written hundreds of disapproving letters to government minsters on matters of ‘principle’. Charlie – you know – the one who has single-handedly managed to stop countless commercial developments because he happens to think they don’t look very pretty. Charlie – you know – the one whose princely businesses do not pay their full taxes. Charlie – you know – the one whose lawyers continually thwart every effort to make public his correspondence with countless governments through the years – even though the Royals are forbidden by law to interfere in day to day politics.
This man – the one who would be King and the one who would be our ‘Knight in Shining Armour’ is leading the Commonwealth charge into the heart of the brutal and repressive Sri Lankan Capital.
Why? Because he’s been the ‘King in waiting’ so long he couldn’t possible turn down such a wonderful opportunity to play the role of Royal Regent. Think of it, the Commonwealth conference which is to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 15th to 17th November, will be attended by some 53 Heads of State, who represent no less than one third of the world and encompasses a population of some 2.3 billion people.
How on earth could Charlie refuse such a starring role?
I reckon that for all her faults, our Lizzie had her head screwed on right on the day she told her minions that she would not be going on this particular trip.
She knew better and realised that if there was any anti-royal flack, then far better it was her Crazy Charlie who took it than her gracious Majesty. After all, if Charlie became REALLY unpopular, he could always abdicate in favour of his ever-popular son, Baldy Billy.
Back to more serious matters.
Sri Lanka’s Unfinished War
A recent report by the BBC tells us that serious, verifiable allegations of rape and torture by the Sri Lankan security forces, are still occurring four years after the civil war ended.
One evening earlier this year, a woman we shall call ‘Vasantha’ was going back to her home in northern Sri Lanka when a white van drew up and two men asked for her identity card.
She says she was thrown into the back of the vehicle and blindfolded.
Vasantha says she realised the authorities had finally caught up with her, four years after the war, just as she was about to leave for Britain on a student visa.
Her story is one of a number given to the BBC – horrific accounts of torture carried out long after hostilities ended.
During the civil war, Vasantha had helped Tamil Tiger rebels pass messages and set up safe houses in the capital, but she says she never took part in the fighting or held a gun.
Vasantha never saw the outside of the building where she was held or met another detainee, but she said she did hear female voices, screaming in Tamil.
She describes being photographed and fingerprinted and then kicked, beaten with batons and pipes, burned with hot wires and cigarettes, submerged in a barrel of water until she thought she would drown, suffocated by having a petrol-soaked plastic bag put over her head, before being repeatedly raped by men in army uniform.
She says she signed a confession in a language she could not understand – Sinhala – but the torture and rape went on for 20 days before a relative could find her and pay a bribe for her release.
For the last three days, she remembers her skin itching terribly in a filthy cell as she was kept completely naked.
“On the last day, at about two in the morning, three people came and they blindfolded me again and handcuffed me. At that moment I thought they were going to kill me,” she recalls.
Vasantha has a medical report from an independent expert who corroborates her story of rape and torture, as well as documents to show her family reported her disappearance to Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission at the time.
She has recently been granted asylum in the UK on the basis of her story.
Vasantha is one of 12 men and women who say they were raped by the Sri Lankan security forces in detention this year – one as recently as August.
The Sri Lankan government says it does not tolerate torture and the military says there were only five incidents of sexual violence involving soldiers in the north of the island from 2007 to 2012.
But a Human Rights Watch report documented 62 cases of sexual violence involving the security forces after the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka and said their evidence strongly suggested the abuse was widespread and systematic.
The UK charity Freedom from Torture has examined 120 incidents that took place after the war in Sri Lanka, while two British doctors from the charity Medact have seen more than 60 cases of Sri Lankans branded on their bodies with hot metal rods since the war ended.
“There is such a systematic set-up in Sri Lanka, whereby it’s absolutely clear to me… that detention and torture is going on in a very large scale and that it’s done in a very similar way every time,” says Dr Alison Callaway, an NHS doctor from Coventry who has written 200 independent assessments for the Home Office of alleged torture cases from Sri Lanka in the past five years.
“It must be assumed that it’s the deterrent effect that they will never again be able to have the strength or the purpose to want to fight against the Sri Lankan government or undertake underground activities against them because the terror and the distress and the trauma has been so great,” she concludes.
A BBC investigation also found seven Tamil men who allege they were tortured in the Sri Lankan government’s official rehabilitation programme for suspected former rebels. Four have documentation to show they were rehabilitated as well as medical reports corroborating their allegations of torture.
Organisations such as the International Commission of Jurists and two United Nations reports have said the Sri Lankan rehabilitation programme failed to meet international standards and warned of the possibility of torture, but this is the first testimony from survivors.
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence says it had “a world-class terrorist rehabilitation programme” that offered healthcare, education, vocational training and facilities for sports, meditation and entertainment to former Tamil Tiger rebels.
This was not the experience of a man we shall call ‘Ravi’, who says he was forced to join the rebels for the last six months of the war but then spent four years in rehabilitation being tortured in all the places he was detained.
“They would put my testicles in the drawer and slam the drawer shut. Sometimes I became unconscious. Then they would bring someone and force me to have oral sex with him. Sometimes if we lost consciousness during the torture they would urinate on us,” he says.
A leading British lawyer examined the evidence of continuing torture and rape gathered by the BBC along with other documentation from the United Nations and human rights groups.
Kirsty Brimelow QC says: “It all equates to a crime against humanity and therefore in cases like this, normally you’d be looking at them being brought to trial.
The Sri Lankan High Commission in London said: “Allegations of systematic abuse are a travesty of the truth for they suggest that this is the policy of the Sri Lankan government. It is certainly not so.”
They said it was not fair to expect them to respond fully to allegations contained in anonymous testimony.
Their written statement suggested the people who spoke to the BBC could have been paid to discredit Sri Lanka or even tortured by the Tamil Tigers themselves.
I have previously written two pieces on this subject. The first, I published on 21st March, 2012, and the second, a follow up, on 8Th April, 2012.
If you didn’t read them at the time, or wish to refresh your memories, I have re-published them below.
II promise that you will be absolutely horrified about what you read.
How dozens of the world’s leaders can bring themselves to meet in such a barbarous country and thus provide a veneer of respectability and approval to such a brutal regime is bad enough; but how someone who hold himself up as some kind of moral authority in this wicked world can deign to ‘chair’ such a conference is totally beyond the understanding of this humble blogger.
Only the Canadian PM had the guts to stand up and be counted.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has confirmed that he will boycott the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, and perhaps more significantly, he threatened that Canada could cut the purse strings to the 64-year-old Commonwealth organization due to on-going human rights abuses by the host Sri Lankan government.
The prime minister cited everything from the impeachment of a chief justice to allegations of extra judicial killings and disappearances and the jailing of political opponents and journalists.
“In the past two years we have not only seen no improvement in these areas, in almost all of these areas we’ve seen a considerable rolling back, a considerable worsening of the situation,” Harper said.
“Based on that, I have made a decision I will not attend the Commonwealth leaders’ summit this fall.”
Good on yer Stevie. If only the remaining 52 hypocrites could be half as brave….
Here are my earlier articles, both written last year.
Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields
There is another country where, until quite recently, there was very little public outcry about what is proving to be one of the greatest war crimes of the still young 21st century.
The name of that country is Sri Lanka.
The nature of the crime? It has been conservatively estimated that upwards of 40,000 innocent men, women and children were deliberately slaughtered during the closing stages of the civil war which ended in 2009.
I confess to being one of those who tended to close my eyes and think of other matters whenever reports of the hideous crimes being committed in Sri Lanka ever made their way into the world’s media. Like so many in this cruel world of ours, I was feeling a lot of ‘compassion-fatigue’ and just didn’t want to hear about any more atrocities.
I well recall my interest being aroused when I read in the Daily telegraph of a graphic and gripping documentary that was made by Jon Snow of UK’s Channel Four, entitled ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ and I was moved at the time to download it.
But I never watched it – until last night.
It wasn’t only me – it seems that hardly anyone watched it when it was first aired, but now due to a late and sudden upsurge in interest in what was really going on in this idyllic tropical tourist destination, Channel 4 broadcast the programme again this week and slowly the world – and Mobi – is trying to come to terms with what was going on there 3 years ago – and still is, to some extent, to the current day.
If you do decide to watch this truly harrowing and sickening documentary, then I advise you not to watch it on a full stomach, as there is every chance you will lose much of the undigested food in your gut.
The Channel 4 documentary is a very difficult programme to watch, but what sticks in my mind was the blatant shelling of makeshift medical centres in the ‘No Fire Zones’ set up for innocent civilians, mainly women and children, trapped in the conflict. Time and time again, the wounded and dying are blasted to smithereens by shells from government forces, and in the end, the wounded are abandoned to their fate by doctors and medical staff as it is a totally hopeless and lost cause.
How did the Sri Lankan army know precisely where to shell? They were provided with the coordinates by the International Red Cross, as the idea was that these areas, above all others, should be considered no fire zones…..
Towards the end of the programme, some of the most shocking footage emerges, most of it taken on mobile phones by the perpetrators themselves. It includes the slaughter of countless men women and children, by bullets to the head or by slitting their throats with primitive knives and we see the unspeakable sexual mutilation and abuse of naked young women whose bodies are defiled and thrown into heaps with kicks of disgust and hatred.
There is also much evidence shown in the film that countless numbers of Tamils, who surrendered in good faith – many of whom were not soldiers but part of the civilian Tamil regime, were tortured and murdered in the most barbaric fashion. Also killed indiscriminately, were the leaders’ children, babies – anyone who had any connection with the rebel regime.
Now, at long last, nearly 3 years after the cessation of hostilities, there is an American-led initiative calling on Sri Lanka to account for the carnage that ended its civil war.
The arena for this is the United Nations Human Rights Council, where the United States has put forward a resolution calling on the Sri Lankan government to address serious allegations of violations of international law by initiating credible and independent investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for such violations.
A United Nations panel said last year that the Sri Lankan Army, in the course of what the government called a “humanitarian rescue operation,” caused the deaths of as many as 40,000 civilians in the final stages of the war against the Tamil Tigers insurgency. The panel’s report found credible evidence that both sides in the conflict had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Human rights groups have now seized the opportunity to air allegations of continuing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, affecting not only the Tamil minority but also any government critics. Amnesty International released a report last week listing 32 abductions or disappearances in the country since October, and criticized what it called a sense of impunity for security forces.
The group says that hundreds of people are still being detained without trial, often held incommunicado and frequently tortured. Independent journalists and human rights defenders have been harassed and attacked. Draconian security laws inconsistent with international standards remain in place.
Amnesty International, in a report launched in Geneva on Tuesday, said dozens of people in Sri Lanka have been abducted and tortured by security forces since 2009, and hundreds are being held in illegal detention without contact to the outside world. Among those detained are suspected Tamil Tigers, but also lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.
The Sri Lankan government, at the international level, has been able to get by without real accountability for their severe human rights violations, their war crimes and crimes against humanity and that their on-going impunity has sent a very clear signal to security forces throughout Sri Lanka that they can get away with abduction, torture, even murder, without having to fear that they will have to suffer any consequences for it.
Where does such barbaric and evil cruelty come from? We have seen it throughout history; from such unspeakably wicked leaders such as Atilla The Hun, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot. In recent years, we have lived through the crimes against humanity perpetrated in such places as Kosovo and Ruanda and we are currently standing impotently by, while similar crimes are hotting up against the innocent citizens in Syria, where it is estimated that over 10,000 civilians have already perished.
Meanwhile, back in that beautiful island paradise, our gallant English cricketers are warming up for their forthcoming test match series against the wily Sri Lankans, and in doing so, are providing this Tropical Island Nation with a veneer of respectability that it does not – by any stretch of the imagination – deserve.
Maybe it is right that sport has no place in politics, but in this humble blogger’s opinion, international cricket has no place in Sri Lanka. Not until all the innocent people are freed from jail, not until human rights are respected for all the citizens of Sri Lanka, but most of all, not until all those guilty of all those terrible crimes against humanity are brought to justice.
The more the world community lets these monsters get away with it, the more they will continue to perpetrate their crimes with utter disregard for the rule of international law.
The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka
I recently penned a piece concerning the unspeakable crimes against humanity that were perpetrated in Sri Lanka during the recent civil war, and the UN’s recent condemnation of these nefarious activities. I noted at the time that despite the Sri Lankan government’s assurances to the contrary, violent suppression of the Tamil minority was still continuing unabated.
As recently as a few days ago – the 6th April to be precise – two prominent political activists and leaders of the People’s Struggle Movement in Sri Lanka ‘disappeared’. Prior to their disappearance, both activists had been preparing for the first convention of the Frontline Socialist Party, a party formed by a dissident group from the opposition party. Party members have received credible information that both activists were under intense Government surveillance, shortly before their disappearance. There is currently no information regarding their fate or whereabouts.
One of the missing leaders had been instrumental in forming the new FSP political party which was due to be launched officially on 9th April 2012 and he was expected to be appointed as its head.
He is believed to have been abducted from his temporary residence on 6th April and he was last seen by a party member who dropped him at his residence at around 5 pm on 6th April following a party meeting. At around 11 pm that day, he asked to be picked up from his residence at 5 am the following day (7th April), and has not been seen or heard from since.
The second missing activist, a woman, was last seen by a party leader who dropped her at a bus stand in the Colombo District at around 6pm on 6th April. She confirmed that she was going to her residence although she did not answer her mobile phone the following morning even though it had been ringing till about 11am.
This is just one of dozens of reports of recent incidents of repression, abduction and even the killing of dissidents and critics of the Sri Lankan government. The sooner the US sponsored UN committee gets their act together, and holds this criminal government to account, the better.
Mobi-Snaps: There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country’… Part 8
Matlock and The Heights of Abraham
On 6th August my eldest daughter, her husband , Noo and your’s truly, Mobi, set out for a day trip to the Heights of Abraham, at Matlock in Derbyshire.
The journey to the top entailed a short walk from the car park through Matlock station, and thence to a cable car. There was a time when you wouldn’t have seen me dead in such a perilous means of trnsport, but these days I seem to have conquered my fear of heights. The spectacular views of the Derbyshire countryside were well worth the effort.
A strange folly with a scary and very tiring spiral staircase.
More views of Derbyshire’s rolling hills from the top of the ‘Heights’
It’s quite difficult to take a pic in cave with no light, but this wasn’t a bad try.
Raspberries or unripe blackberries? Not sure…
Cute vermin?… a naff memento of 2012… and a very strange ice-cream promotion.
Bangers and mash in the nearby George, complete with pinned 50 baht note on the ceiling. These pesky Thais get everywhere…