Friday, March 10, 2006

I am Helen of Troy

I’ve not been sleeping well. Aside from the fact that I am a chronic worrier, I seem to attract crank calls. It’s led me to change my telephone numbers many times only to acquire a new spate of moronic crank callers.

Photo from

You may roll your eyes and assume that I am an overwrought, delusional female desperately in thrall of her own appeal. Eh … no. No, I am no Angelina Jolie with the divine symmetry to be the Achilles heel driving men to the pits of obsession. I just happen to have an unfortunate knack of attracting stalkers. While normal mortals lure stalkers from within their sphere, Abby Normal me manages to compel stalkers across vast seas and mountains.

I began receiving a series of late night (as in 3 or 4am) calls from an unfamiliar overseas number last Christmas. Coming every ten minutes for about 2 hours, the caller would occasionally utter a few words in Arabic before hanging up. The breakthrough was when the man finally spoke a few words in broken, accented English.

“You talk to me please? I love you …”

I hung up and switched the phone off.

This continued for almost three months with sporadic breaks to lull me into a false sense of security. Except now, my admirer with the over-anxious digits would remain silent for a split second before hanging up. The discovery that the origin of the calls was Yemen sent me into a tailspin of self-questioning.

Was this some kind of strange Taliban recruitment? Why me? Have I been (gasp!) fingered as a highly secret Bush sympathiser? Or did I forget to pay the shisha man?

Unfortunately, the telephone company would not block the call and the only alternative was to change my number, which I was loathed to do.

Finally, I took action. I complained to the only Yemeni person I knew who could have led to this bedevilment - A. Over our shishas, I interrogated him on any unresolved and hidden grievances he might harbour against me. Then I blew smoke in his face as I questioned him on which of his idiot relatives he had given my telephone number to.

Photo from images/0CL-BLU_3.jpg

While I was grilling my only suspect, we were joined by two other friends – one being another Yemeni friend, Farhad. Amused and alarmed in equal measures that I had been suffering under the yoke of such torment, they cast incredulous and vaguely accusing miens at my indignant Yemeni friend. A was compelled to defend himself and volunteered to call the stalker’s to demand that he cease and desist this harassment.

Grinning inwardly at my deft manipulation, I handed my stalker’s telephone numbers to my Yemeni hero … yes, my stalker called me from two different numbers, which I had recorded for purposes of nefarious vengeance.

It started out well. A woman answered the mobile phone number and upon A’s gentle questioning, it was determined that she was a friend of the stalker cajoled into answering the phone for him. Ah, so nice to be stalked by a brave, manly type who would hide behind a woman.

Things quickly turned defensive on the other end and you could hear the static of fear and wariness creeping into the airwaves. Finally, they plucked up the courage to ask for A’s identity. Upon hearing his surname, a frantic fumble of the phone being dropped was heard before the call was disconnected. We cracked up completely and teased A terribly about the power of his family name.

Irate yet intrigued now, A called the landline. Yes, this is how daft my stalker was! He actually called me from both his mobile and his home number. I can’t even beguile a canny stalker, only the half-witted ones …

A barrage of Arabic squawked over the phone. The other party hung up. A was terribly offended at such loutish behaviour and called again. Another barrage of Arabic. A was hung up on again.

Farhad took over, being a macho and take charge type. Obviously the stalker had not received the memo that Farhad is the manly, macho … and did I mention, slightly volatile type? It was now a complete role reversal with my gallant knight errant in white robes hounding my stalker over the phone, demanding an explanation of why he “was bothering his little sister”.

By this time, my attention began wandering to that happy place where I am basting some roast lamb, slow cooking some salmon, baking a pavlova and …

“Shobua? Shobua???!!!”

Farhad was shouting down the phone, his face an alarming rage of purple. A was quietly snickering into his coffee. Apparently, my harebrained stalker had decided to scare off Farhad by announcing that he was from Shobua. Now Shobua is reputed to be one of the scariest parts of the Yemens where Osama bin Hidding recruited most of his army. Or so my Yemeni friends tell me. So, anyway, Yemenis would use it like some people would say they come from the toughest parts of the Bronx.

Slight problem here though …

Farhad is from Shobua. And boy was he pissed when the man maligned his village and his people. Suffice to say, suddenly the original reason for Farhad’s call was forgotten. I swear smoke was emanating from Farhad’s head dress as he threatened to find my misguided stalker and with his brothers and their trusty, nifty guns, hunt him down for the lying coward that he was. He demanded satisfaction for the harassment of his sweet, defenseless little sister … that’s me, in case you are wondering … and for insulting Shobua.

It was now a matter of honour.

The man hung up and refused to answer the phone after that. Unfortunately for him, A’s family is fairly prominent in the Yemens and his brother is a politician. A call was made to trace the numbers and to “sort things out”.

By now, Farhad was in a lather of indignant vigilantism. Fairly frothing at the mouth, he promised to avenge me and Shobua on his return home the next month.

Throughout this, the theme song from Godfather was running through my head.

I am Helen of Troy … I launched a thousand phonecalls.

I also never heard from that particular caller again. But all is not well. In the last year, I have been receiving sporadic calls from another idiot from all over the world. The same man every time. One time the call came from Bali. Another time it was Paris. And another, London. And so on. My jetsetting stalker claims to know me and by all recollection I had met him only once at some dinner and made the fatal mistake of exchanging cards as part of the normal business practice in Asia.

For some reason, this man persists in calling me from all over the world every few months. He calls me usually at 3 or 4am in the morning. Despite telling him that it is the wee hours of the morning and is he bloody insane to call people at that time, he persists in trying to have a conversation with me – and usually fairly smarmy and positively slimey. Now, I get violent when my sleep is disrupted (especially by inane and unwanted twit nothings into my sleep flattened ears) and the only thing that saved him from having the telephone cord wound tight around his neck was sheer physical distance.

This week, Orlando (no, not Bloom … more like blooming idiot) has called me twice. At 3.30am. Each time I politely tell him I am asleep and to call when I am not sleep talking but he still persists in calling me when I am riding the soft wings of sleep. I have never had a conversation with him beyond “Please go away and leave me alone. Stop calling me!”

In true stalker fashion, this appears to entice leads him into make obsessive, consecutive calls for the next hour, forcing me to turn off my phone. By then I have been violently jolted from sleep and I am now a very angry and sleepless woman.

Yesterday (or this morning) was particularly trying. The man called four times in half an hour. At 4 in the morning. Finally I switched off my mobile, realising the man was not going to give up. So, I am a walking zombie during the day craving sleep and peace. With lack of sleep comes a lack of appetite. And all that suppressed anger is affecting me physically. I decided it was time for a good detox. A tea to calm my nerves, soothe my tattered senses, cool my temper and purge my body of negative energy and toxins.

I first learnt of this tea last year when I was searching for natural treatments for nourishing the skin and hair. This Chinese herbal tea apparently has the ability to detox the body as well as clear the complexion. Made of honeysuckle flower, dandelion and immature bitter orange, this tea is a thick, bittersweet tea that is terribly hard to drink with a strange hint of sweetness.

I tried this tea out a number of times. While I did not notice any significant impact on the face (sic), it did have the benefit of soothing a sore throat and detoxing without any harsh abrasions to the stomach. It also cooled down my system and is wonderful for the days when I feel overwrought. I do not know the name of this tea since it was something I scribbled down in my notebook so I am just going to call it …

Clear The Decks Chinese Tea

20g Jin Yin Hua aka flos lonicerae aka honeysuckle flower
20g Pu Gong Ying aka herba taraxaci aka dandelion
20g Ji Shi aka fructus ausanti immarturus aka immature bitter orange

(I get these from the Chinese medical hall and get them to seal it in individual portions so I just break one open and brew a day's worth of peace and calm)

1. Combine all and add 1.5 litre of water

2. Bring to the boil before lowering the heat to simmer for 50 minutes

3. Drain the herbs and drink

You’re supposed to drink this daily for at least a week before you can see any significance effect. Unfortunately, I am a wuss. I hate bitter medicines. I try to disguise it with massive spoonfuls of honey but it is still a harsh tonic to swallow. So I drink enough to make me feel virtuous and well and then I run off into the fridge for my Coke.

I'm lightheaded with exhaustion ... I just need some sleep right now. And a talisman to guard against crazy stalkers. Is a single night of peaceful, dreamless and phoneless sleep too much to ask for? How much barricading in the sanctuary of my home must I put up???


I am going to shut the door, close the curtains, silence the piercing ring of the phone and dim the lights to a soft glow. Cloaking myself with the comforting, warm embrace of my duvet, I will press my cheeks against the soft cloud of my pillows as I hide behind my hair and tired lids. And pray that the dulvet tones of silence and gentle rocking of sleep takes me on a journey of blissful oblivion

I don't know where I got this lovely image from but it has become one of my favourites. If this belongs to you, please do let me know so I can attribute it to you and thank you for a wonderful talent. Every time I look at this picture, a sense of overwhelming peace overcomes me.

Categories – Chinese Herbs, Rambling Prose


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Steph - that's tough - especially if you think that this happened through the exchange of business cards. What a coward he is -- and one of the worst transgressions -- to be woken from slumber and have to be confronted by all that crap. I'm working on some kind of retort you can give him that would ensure that he never called you again (I'll put my sick bastard cap on and try to produce something for you - :-) ) Some response that would completely neutralise him - probably a tall order.....

Hang on in there (and sleep tight!)


4:12 pm  
Blogger sweet-gut said...

Hello Helen (and hello anonymous Graeme) ---

I hate this too. OK I'm not stalked by randy men, but e.g. recently when a bank manager rang at 7.00 pm on Friday evening I said it was 'unreasonable' (i.e. a non-concensual intrusion), and the interesting thing was that he evidently thought I was nuts or something (especially when I said it was time for him to go and put the phone down). As in 'Who needs privacy? I've got a job to do'. Eeeeeeeeeeeeek. Am I from Mars? Do we have special rules on Mars? Maybe the inter-galatic anthropologists whould come and study us and our strange belief system? (see Freak X. and Weirdo Y. (2006). 'Delusions of Privacy: An Intergalactic Study'. Archiv. Pers. Space. 1(1), pp 1-1000.) And I guess being stalked as a woman is a lot worse than this, especially after a bad-laksa day.

Anyway, the tea sounds great, and, at the risk of sounding like a big brother, or of giving away my secrets, here are two more 'recipes' for trial or comment. ---

(a) Walls Behind Walls. --- The idea is to use secondary phone numbers, emails, etc which you look at say once a month. By then communications have lost their urgency and you can weed with ease. So people wait a while. Tough. E.g. my email on this site is secondary.

(b) Hypnos' Feet. --- I learned this on a mountain in Austria. The father (of my ex-partner) had his feet under the table in a basin of warm water. 'Wot?', I said. 'Macht schlafen', they replied. And it does. --- I.e. when stressed, before bed, put feet for say 15 mins in a bucket of warm water (and waggle toes languidly while watching TV or whatever). There's no money in it (no branding, no therapists' salaries, no equipment, no authors' royalties, no celebrity endorsements, no ingredients from Jupiter), so it vanishes from our market-world, but I promise it works.


7:32 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Graeme baby, you have no idea ...

Worse migraine ever after that and I am just recovering. Truly the bane of my existence at the moment. Some things just do not change do they? Anyway, I just want to be left alone ... now I am sounding like Garbo instead of gabrah.

Tang Lao Ya - No randy men stalking you? Want mine? Speaking of laksa, if you ever come to Singapore, you have to go to Katong and have the laksa there as well as a little stall in Marine Parade - truly the best laksa in town.

Walla idea sounds reasonable except that in Singapore, most companies demand that you put your mobile number on your business card ... and you are supposed to answer it. There is no such things as employee protection in this country.

And the foot bath idea is grand. I used to have nice foot baths in Europe but in Asia where it is so hot, they are actually a bad idea as they just raise your temperature unbearable here and you feel ill instead.

Thanks, mate for commenting and all your brilliant ideas! By the way, saw the video ... nice jamming!

3:22 pm  
Blogger Jasmine said...

Oh dear...

I've been stalked before -- an ex-boyfriend, a couple of busines relationships, a friend of a friend and a woman I met at a donor event. Calls at home and work, emails gah...

The problem is certain people have never been treated as a human being which means when I (or anyone else) treats them as such), they think there's "something special going on."

The other sad thing is I've got this *voice* ... you can imagine the messages and the comments I get...

Best of luck and I hope they get what they deserve...


10:16 am  
Blogger sweet-gut said...

Good morning Helen. Hope your migrain is better. Fair points about walls 'n' feet. Re. the feet, you've given me an idea --- maybe in hot weather we need a cold footbath? It's not hot enough here in London to try this yet, but later. Those hydrotherapy cats (Kneipp, Priessnitz, their 'hood), they're into temperature differential, right? So this could be cool when it's hot. --- I'd like to try Katong, and thanks for the tip. In the meantime there's this tea. Rock on. TLY.

7:24 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Jasmine - Egads, et tu? Sorry to hear that ... it's a bloody nightmare isn't it? I've got a voice that's a cross between Olive Oyl and one of the chipmunks I think but even then I've gotten a couple of weirdoes going strange on me just from the voice too. Are we emitting some kind of weird pheromones or something? What perfume do you use?? LOL.

Donald - Ta, mate.

12:06 am  
Blogger Gourmetish said...

That's awful! I hope those phone calls stop. I know if I get one iffy phone call I am nervous for the whole week. Stalker calls are the worst. Once I had this guy leave me a message that said "oh, I see, you're playing hard to get!" Meanwhile I was right there screaming at the machine "NO! I'm not. STOP CALLING ME!"

Sorry to hear about your migraine. I hope you're feeling a lot better now.

2:26 pm  
Blogger James said...
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12:26 pm  
Blogger MM said...

Gourmetish - Thanks. He's not called since so I do not know if that is a permanent thing or another one of his lulls. Sigh.

And how bloody ironic is this. I get my first spam-bot. Now, that's another type of stalking harrassment - thanks James for advertising an enhanced way for stalkers. I am going to moderate comments from now on.

6:56 pm  

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