Jul 15, 2011

Friday night dinner

The best pizza in town and wine...the perfect night. :)

Jul 14, 2011

Stop the Terrorism. Enough!

Ever since the 26/11 attacks on Bombay in 2008, (It is still, and will always be Bombay to me) India has bumped itself up on the Terrorism Risk Index. And here we go again. I’m so, so angry and again, like in 2008, I’m so deeply saddened.

When people ask me about India and what to expect, I always tell them nothing can prepare them for India because it’s so unique in its madness. India is a lot of things. It is, as is often said, a country of contradictions. It is rich, it is poor. It’s beautiful and fugly. It’s modern and oh-so-third world. It’s historical, it’s cultural, it’s steeped in religion and tradition and it thrives on familiarity.

It's an assault on the senses. People have no concept of personal space. Roadside Romeos make you squirm and turn you aggressively feminist. Con artists will often rip you off for a quick buck. It is colourful, crowded, polluted, alive and awake at all hours of the day and night, hot in winter and even hotter in summer. It is a crazy and chaotic existence that is absolutely normal for a resident but unbelievably surreal if you’re looking from the outside.

It is all of these things. But, it is not a country of terrorists. But would you believe me now? I wouldn’t believe me now.

India is continually terrorised by a country I try so hard not to judge and very often feel sorry for because of the myriad problems it faces; but at times like these, it’s so damn hard not to. But today is not about them. India is governed by a bunch of corrupt, money hungry mongrels who care so little about the actual people, I’m amazed we’re still called a democracy. Australians, you think Julia Gillard is ripping you off with the Carbon Tax? Try having an Indian minister siphon off millions and yet get re-elected over and over. Now imagine every minister at local, state and federal level doing this. No wonder the poor only get poorer in India.

Life goes on in Bombay after an attack because it has to. The politicians make it sound heroic and call it the “Mumbai spirit”. Fuck the Mumbai spirit. The average person has precious little choice but to go on with their life and to hope there is no next time and if there is, to pray that their pantheon of Gods will protect them because the politicians sure as hell aren’t. 

When I was in Bombay last December, I went to many of the tourist places that were attacked in November 2008. There were security guards everywhere for sure, and that was a positive sign. But I can’t help be a little sceptical about their ability to actually prevent a terrorist attack. Another thing that concerned me was the (lack of) security on the local trains. Local trains were a prime target in 2008 (and even before it) but I didn’t see much protection there. WHY? Non-tourist locations in the city had little to no visible security – and yesterday’s attacks once again prove why it is so necessary.

India cannot afford to be complacent. Terrorism is very, very real and it is not going away so this head-in-the-sand attitude isn’t working. Just because terrorist attacks were foiled twice after the 2008 attacks, doesn’t mean they’re going to stop trying. Bombay is the heart and soul of India. It’s India’s City of Dreams. Don’t the city and its people deserve better than this? Empty words like “my prayers and sympathies go out to the people" mean squat when people are dying. What we need is some empathy and some positive action towards protecting Bombayites and everyone across India.

Ditch the political correctness. No one wants to hear it. Why do the Indian & Pakistani Prime Ministers make statements like “I condemn the attacks”? Who wants to hear political fluff like that? Of course you condemn the attacks. EVERYONE “condemns” the attacks. Can you say something useful and/or meaningful for a change? Stop telling people to be calm and be rational. Why should they be when they are so helpless?

I’m not saying we need to terrorise other countries in exchange but we need to scare the terrorists enough so they don’t assume India is an easy target; so they don’t assume India can be terrorised and they can get away with it like they always do. And we need a government that actually gives a shit and actually protects India. Why should Indians feel so vulnerable?

Yes I’m angry and I can’t do anything but spew hate at people who actually can do something but won’t. I feel helpless too.

Bombay, you are in my thoughts. India…you are in my thoughts.

Jul 13, 2011


Is the person you thought you were meant to be, the same as the person you turned out to be?

Jul 12, 2011


It's been an overwhelming day.

Jul 11, 2011


Sigh. They suck and I'm not feeling too well.
So until next time.

Jul 10, 2011

Day 10

Today is Day 10 of my NaBloPoMo challenge and I’m STILL WRITING!!!!

Ok, yes overuse of exclamation marks but I am very excited. I’ve never managed to get this far in a blogging challenge (which says a lot about my stamina :P).

It’s hard thinking of a blog post everyday (which is why on some days I think out loud and use it as an excuse for a blog post…like right now). But, it’s also fun. Sometimes whilst writing my post, I often come up with another topic, another issue I’d like to blog about. And that is why I love blogging, why I love writing – it stimulates me. It gives me the intellectual hard-on that I crave for but seldom achieve via my daily conversations with people (barring a few people of course).

Here’s hoping, I get through this challenge with a stack of good posts and that my blogging lasts beyond July 31st. (*fingers crossed)

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 9, 2011

Giving without money

In keeping with the tone of my last two posts, I’d just like to say there are millions of people across the world that need some help, in some form. Most people I know want to give a little back, help out someone who is less privileged and I know many, many people who regularly donate to a charity of their choice. Sadly, it’s impossible to donate to every charity, every cause that needs help. Sometimes, even with all the good intentions to help, you may not be in a financial position to make a donation. And that’s fine.

If you want to give but money isn’t an option, you can consider volunteering. Non-profit organisations are always looking for volunteers. Pick a cause and see what opportunities are available in your area.

Donations don’t always have to involve money. I do a wardrobe cleanout every six months or so and instead of just throwing my clothes out, I take them to the local Red Cross or Salvation Army store – because I know someone might need them. The same goes for household goods (in working condition) too.

If you are money and time poor, I’d like to share this article with you – 7 Easy Ways to Do Good Online Beyond Donations. It’s an online world and there are many, many ways you can “give” online. In addition to the resources shared in the article, I’d like to add the UN’s online volunteering website.

Oh and if you love words, Free Rice is an amazing way to do your bit. It’s a vocabulary game and for every answer you get right, you donate rice to feed some hungry mouths. Come on, you’ve gotta love that!

You may not be able to help everyone, but if you help one person, one cause – it makes a difference. Besides, it racks up a lot of good karma. Trust me. But more on that later.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 8, 2011

Take Your Dreams And Go Back To Where You Came From

I live in la-la land a lot of the time. I will hide behind the excuse that I’m an Aquarian and we reserve the right to be dreamers. ;-)

We went through some tough financial times as a family and of course at times it was very depressing. But my parents, my dad in particular, is infectiously optimistic and a dreamer. They always encouraged us to dream and dream big – assuring us that we shouldn’t worry about how to make the dreams come true. It’ll work itself out, they promised.

In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

It’s a simple but beautiful line. I love you Mr Coelho and The Alchemist is one of my favourite books, but I think my parents beat you to the punch. They’ve been telling me this since as far back as I can remember. They are wiser than I believed at the time. It did work out for us and my sister and I have realised many of our dreams and are en route to fulfilling some more.

I’m still a dreamer but at 26, I’m slightly jaded too and I know fulfilling those dreams would’ve been near impossible in a less fortunate environment and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.

In yesterday’s post I talked about the children in the Kenyan refugee camp and their dreams. The power of believing in your dreams is incredible. Sometimes, it’s all you have. These kids have lost everything, live their lives in limbo in a refugee camp that is only marginally safer than their war-torn homeland – but they still have big dreams. It’s sad because you wonder if the universe is conspiring on their behalf too?

It’s a Catch-22. Without their dreams for their future, life would probably seem very bleak to them. But, how many of these dreams are biting the dust?

When you tell a refugee family to “go back to where you came from”, you are not only denying them their right to life, but killing the dreams and hopes of young children who have little else to live for. 

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 7, 2011

Go Back To Where You Came From: A Reaction

A few weeks ago SBS aired its controversial documentary/reality TV show ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’ where six Australians had a firsthand experience of refugee life – from staying in detention centres in Australia, to halfway houses in Malaysia, Jordan and Kenya; to going back to where it all starts in Iraq and Congo – interacting with real refugees and learning their stories.

**SPOILER ALERT** - If you haven’t seen the show, I will be discussing some bits below, just you know.

The show has been hotly debated since and everything else apart, I think it was just useful in showing people some realities of life without first-world privileges and why people flee and seek refuge. The fact that it created a national debate is important in itself.

Denying asylum to genuine refugees is a violation of basic human rights - denying them the right to "life, liberty and security of person", at the very least. It’s as simple as a dying man asking you for a drop of water that will save his life and you turning your face away. Australia is a big BIG country and we have a lot of room for refugees and just a blanket “Stop the Boats” policy is not humane.

Yes, it is important to ensure we don’t encourage non-genuine refugees to take advantage of this. Integration and societal assimilation are very important too. But those are secondary issues. It’s easy to sit on your couch and pass judgment on the “queue jumpers” telling them to wait in line, like everyone else. It’s easy to say you would wait in line if you were in the situation. But if your life was in danger and you couldn’t see a way out, would you wait or would get on a boat to find some hope?

The show stirred many emotions in everyone – making some angry, some cry and making some others even more jaded than before. For me, there is a bit in Episode 3 that touched me more than anything else – where a man waits in a Kenyan refugee camp for his fate to be decided, having fled war crimes in Congo. He says something to the effect “…all we ask for is tomorrow”.

You and I, we take tomorrow for granted. We assume tomorrow will come.

What should I wear tomorrow?”; “How am I going to get through tomorrow on $10?”; “I need to call mum tomorrow”….We may stress about how to deal with tomorrow, and the tomorrows after but we never question if we will see tomorrow.

But for these people, there hope lies in just seeing tomorrow and they are literally living one day at a time.

His children talk about their dreams; dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, teachers…and it really puts things in perspective. If I dreamed about becoming a doctor, I’d only have to work hard enough for it. But for these kids, working hard doesn’t guarantee them the opportunity to realise these dreams. Yet, they dream. And they pray for tomorrow.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 6, 2011

Do I Look Fat In This?

Its funny (not funny haha, but youknow) how girls everywhere have some variant of a body image issue. Too fat. Too thin. Too dark. Too pale. Big ass. Small boobs. You know the drill.

Country specific culture usually determines the dominant body image issue women usually subscribe to. But the overall problem of a negative body image is a universal phenomenon I’ve noticed. The fashion industry, popular culture and women themselves, form the terrible triad influencing women about an idealised (probably non-existent) body type that women should aspire to.

Australian women (like most women from Westernised societies) are chiefly concerned with weight issues and fat talk. Secondary issues of course include aspirations for the perfect breasts, the perfect face or the perfect tan.

Best market for: Anything that promises weight loss without any hard work. Not surprising that Jenny Craig started here. Plastic surgery too is booming. 

A common matrimonial ad for a bride in India includes “fair/ slim/ convent educated”. Fair of course really means less dark than the next best applicant. It’s not a post-colonial hangover like some people seem to think. Indians don’t want to be white as in Caucasian. They want to be fair-skinned like many North Indians are.  In ancient times, the North Indians were the ruling upper class who dominated the darker-skinned Indians. The definition of beautiful was an upper class woman so obviously an ordinary woman wanted to look like her fair-skinned counterpart. The upper class has gone but the obsession with fair skin is going nowhere.

Weight related negativity is also gaining increasing amounts of traction.

Best market for: Fairness creams. Quick fix weight loss is also a burgeoning market.

Have you heard of medical tourism? Latin American countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and a few others are hotspots for cosmetic surgery tourism. Colombian women are known for their love of cosmetic surgery. Think there’s a body image issue hidden there somewhere?

Best market for: Cosmetic surgery. Duh.  

Even Chinese women of yore weren’t free of the guilt. Women with large feet were unacceptable because they weren’t feminine. Cue foot-binding practices. Cruel and painful yes. But we women, we do anything for fashion and to look like the “ideal” woman who isn’t.

Best market for: Feminine footwear – especially size 5 and under.

And then are teenage girls. They are being bombarded by a variety of sources that tell them what “perfect” is. When an adult woman struggles with societal pressure on how she should look; what chance does a teenage girl have of coming out unscathed? A teenage girl worries about every part of her body and that is being fully exploited of course.

Best market for: Guilt tripping.

If you’re expecting a lecture on how “society” needs to stop making it so hard for women to be the way they are – it’s not happening. Society is made up you and me.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 5, 2011

Would have, could have, should have…

At some point or the other, we’re all sucked into this circle of regrets and the more we wallow, the deeper we get sucked into the vortex. But when you’re busy wallowing, who has the time to be wise? For most people wisdom comes retrospectively.


In the last year or so, I have lost and found myself (for lack of a better way to say it). A lot of this time was spent wallowing in regrets. Wishing I would have/could have/should have…. Needless to say, a lot of time has been wasted. This overwhelming sea of regrets I seemed to be drowning in came as a surprise to me however. I have always looked to the future positively but this past year all I looked at was the past and second-guessed every semi-important decision I’ve made.

But then, life cannot be lived in rewind. I’ve always believed that. Of course I have not completely absolved myself of all regrets and negativity. I’m a work in progress – I will always be. On the whole however, I like being positive. I have quixotic views of the world sometimes, I’ll admit. But I like being an optimist and seeing the good in people and the world in general. It’s what makes me a happier person I’ve realised.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 4, 2011

The power of music

Today I’ve been listening to a lot of Thomas Newman. He’s done the music for a number of big movies and some of my favourites include The Road to Perdition and the score for The Shawshank Redemption.

While thinking of a blog post for today, my mind kept going back to the music that’s been my soundtrack for the day.  I know I’m not the first to say this but isn’t the power of music unbelievable? I have no musical talent whatsoever yet music is so important to me – in the way it affects my mood; in the way it makes me feel. Music and emotions go hand in hand for me.

Of course I know I’m not the first person to marvel at music. Studies have found music can be a powerful healing tool for the recovery of people suffering from diseases like stroke and Alzheimer’s.  And then of course, there is no denying the claims of studies that assert music is “one of the best de-stressors”.

There isn’t much in this world that is universally significant and important in every culture. Music however, transcends culture, age, time, language, place, species and any other traditional barriers you could think of. Music creates universal meaning.

Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit.” ~ Anonymous

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 3, 2011

Day 3

Day 3 of the blogging challenge. Today I am exhausted. I know it's the weekend but it's been busy and tiring so hello and tomorrow I will write something coherent.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 2, 2011

The 'M' Word

I read this article on multiculturalism and it pretty much sums up the Australian view on the pros of cons of living in a multicultural society right now. There isn’t a black and white to this issue unfortunately – there are various shades of grey.

While I haven't been in Australia for very long, I have been here long enough to agree with this comment the writer makes "...people’s understanding of multiculturalism has evolved over the past few decades and, in some circles, it has become a bit of a dirty word, often blamed for all that is wrong with our country."

Immigration and multiculturalism are unfortunately becoming causes of worry – sometimes out of ignorance; sometimes as a mere human reaction to protect what is familiar.

Australia IS multicultural. There is no denying that and trying to deny its cultural diversity is silly and ignorant. However, making this cultural diversity non-divisive and a national strong point is an issue that the country needs to deal with better.

“Multicultural” Australia needs to be an all-inclusive term because at present,”multiculturalism” seems to connote everything that is not Anglo-Saxon Australian.  It’s not Anglo Saxons vs. the rest of the Australian population. It’s the entire population that is multicultural and Australia’s challenge is making this multiculturalism work in everyone’s favour – not just immigrants, not just citizens, not just refugees – but for every Australian.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.

Jul 1, 2011

Multiculturalism? Cliche Much?

For my NaBloPoMo challenge this month, my general theme is 'Multiculturalism', as I mentioned in my previous post. "Multicultural" is a much, much overused word in Australia right now but that doesn't mean it's any less relevant. It has many, many aspects to it and is something I find very interesting.

Back when I first started this blog, the idea was to talk about being a permanent alien. No, not the green kind with antennae but a cultural alien. I've spoken about this before - that when you're an immigrant you eventually end up belonging to two (or more) cultures and then on some days, you feel like you don't belong anywhere at all. To me, this used to be depressing but I've realised it's very liberating actually.

Nationality and ethnicity factor in to our identity to such a large degree that it is nice to be able to transcend that I suppose. I don't disregard either of the two cultures I belong to yet at the same time - there are things about both the Indian and Australian cultures that I could never identify with. It's interesting to say the least.

But more than my own personal "multiculturalism", what interests me more is what I learn from my exposure to multiculturalism. I have learned how similar some things are in all cultures, how some courtesies go beyond just culture, how some idiosyncrasies are unique to a particular culture and that "normal" is a relative term.

*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.