Nov 13, 2009

The Report Card Psyche

My mum is one of the smartest people I know. No, I’m not just saying it. She really is. She went to one of the best medical schools in India and is an amazing doctor. All through school and uni, she had the best grades possible. She started learning Spanish for fun a few years ago and did really well in her class and went on to the Advanced level. She knows so much about so many different things (mainly because she’s a voracious reader).

The reason I bring this up is because my parents recently moved to the UAE and mum can’t practice there until she passes these mandatory exams. She took one shot at them last month but she failed and ever since she has been down in the dumps. She keeps telling me she feels stupid because she couldn’t pass the exams. I tried telling her that it’s not so easy… yes of course she has been a doctor for over 20 years now but studying for exams is a completely different ball game. She said she felt like she was giving her med school exams again and I’m more than sure that wasn’t easy the first time around.

Anyway, what struck me is the dip in my mum’s self confidence. She’s a very confident and positive person so this surprised me even more. I realised then that no matter how old you are, academic success will to some extent always be tied with self worth. 

Considering how competitive the Indian education system and the employment scene is, I’m sure this psyche is stronger for Indians than others. Nonetheless, I’m sure every kid who goes to school in any part of the world is told they better get good grades or they’re not going to “make it”. History has shown us that people without good report cards have in fact “made it” but since this is usually the exception to the rule, academic excellence is still regarded as the only way to have a happy and successful career/life. As a result, failure to do well academically, depresses the average person because we feel like we’re no good and our life and other non-academic dreams aren’t worth anything. 

Good grades are important to me too but I have been lucky enough to be brought up by rational parents who didn’t threaten to feed my dinner to the dog if I didn’t get an A in chemistry. No I never got an A in chemistry, and although I would feel bummed every time I saw my chemistry grades, I moved on. What worries me is that some kids have their entire being wrapped up in the grades they get (or don’t get). For many of these kids, feeling down and dejected is not a momentary lapse of reason but it is the only way they know how to feel if they do badly in the academic field. Of course, not all children with this psyche are brilliant so some of them continue to do badly and sadly, they will forever feel inferior and less worthy than those who consistently produce A grade (literally) report cards. It doesn’t have to be this way but unfortunately that’s how the world is.

I am not discounting the importance of education and academic excellence… but we need to achieve some sort of balance. It is important to teach kids the importance of doing well in school BUT it is also important to help them understand that they are not failures if they don’t do well. It’s a tough lesson to impart but it’s not impossible. I just wish a person’s self worth and self esteem wouldn’t be tied to their ability (or lack thereof) to do well in school because from the way I look at it, for some people… it’s a lifetime in chains they never quite break free of.

Nov 12, 2009

Run Forrest Run!

I went for a run yesterday.
It was painfully obvious to me how unfit I am.

I’ve been going to the gym on and off for some time now but I don’t really take it as seriously as I should. More than losing weight, I decided to go to the gym to stop being so sedentary and get a little fit. But I fell in love with weights…and started doing lesser cardio. Stupid. Totally defeats the purpose. I look toned but don’t feel that fit at all.

Anyway, so a friend of mine wanted to rollerblade at this new park near my place and I thought I’d give her company. Since I don’t own rollerblades, I figured I’d try running. Needless to say, I was out of breath soon enough and didn’t really run for too long.

But, I actually loved it. Running near the water was really nice and it’s way less boring than a treadmill. I’m in pain today but I want to keep doing it so I get better at it. My sister has been telling me how addictive it is and after just one day of running, I can see what she meant. I loved the fresh air.

When I first started going to the gym, I was very conscious about myself and my body even though I’m not really fat. My gym has a ladies only area and I refused to work out anywhere but there. But after a few months, I became less conscious and would work out in the common area to gain some more confidence. Yes, its weird and I know I’m not that important but I honestly did feel like everyone was looking at me (like they don’t have better things to do). Plus, my gym is in the same building as work so everyone from work goes there and I felt like they would see how unfit I am and laugh at me. In fact, the reason I didn’t go to a gym for a long time is because I was so conscious.

Anyway, I am much better now and therefore more confident about running and not worrying about other runners laughing at me. It’s a big thing for me to have gotten past that. I will stop a million times to catch my breath. I will huff and puff. But at least I’ll be running and not sitting at home making false promises to myself. :)

Going running today after work. Alone this time, with no rollerblader in tow. Looking forward to it.

Nov 10, 2009

Reviewing ‘Unaccustomed Earth’

Note: No spoilers. I have tried to review this book without giving away any story lines or plots so even if you haven’t read the book, don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you.

It’s been a while since I read a book I found hard to put down. I mean, I read a lot… I’m always reading more than one book at a time. Some books I keep reading because I simply want to know what happens next but there is no real urgency; some I keep reading because I like the book but it’s not hard to put down or anything; some I keep reading only because I started it and can’t bear an unfinished story and then there are those I keep reading because I can’t bear to put it down and as much as I want to know what happens at the end, I keep wishing the book doesn’t finish because it’s so good. Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ fell into the last of these “keep reading” categories… so not surprisingly, I finished the book in 2 days.

I have neither loved nor hated Jhumpa Lahiri before this. I honestly can’t remember much of ‘The Interpreter of Maladies’ so I’ll leave it out of this discussion. I read ‘The Namesake’ long after it came out and had heard rave reviews from friends and family. Despite these or maybe because of these reviews, 'The Namesake' failed to live up to my high expectations. Coming from a Bengali Indian background like the characters in the book, I think most of my family and friends liked it because the book was about Bengali characters more than anything else. I liked it but I didn’t think it was all that fantastic. In fact, I liked the movie more… may be because the actors did such a great job.

‘Unaccustomed Earth’ however has been a different experience. It is a collection of short stories about the Bengali immigrant’s life in USA. I love the name – in two simple words, Lahiri explains her book – a book about living and growing up in a culture that you adopt, but somehow doesn’t become your own. The book is depressing, no doubt but it is very real too. I love how the author concentrates on various human characteristics and traits in each of her short stories. Some of them are very typically Bengali, some characteristic of most Indians while some others more universally human.

My immigrant experience has been very different from the characters described in the book… for many reasons, some of them being:

a) I am a first generation immigrant of the 21st century… the characters are a generation or two ahead of me. Many of them suffer the identity crisis second generation immigrants do.
b) I don’t live in the USA… Bengalis haven’t adopted Australia (yet) the way they have USA & UK.
c) I don’t limit my social interaction to a Bengali/ Indian crowd only.
d) My upbringing hasn’t been as traditional and orthodox as of the characters.

Yet despite these differences, I can relate to these characters, not just because they are Bengali, but also because they are immigrants.  I miss India but I don’t think I could go back to living there. I love being in Australia but there IS a reason I call myself a Legal Alien ;-). Therefore on some level, I can identify with the characters a little.

I love it when authors paint a vivid picture… but I love it more when they create strongly etched characters. I think what I liked most about this book is that in each of the short stories, Lahiri not only creates a beautiful picture of the surroundings, the culture and the general atmosphere the characters inhabit but also creates strong, real characters and situations that one can identify with. Usha, Hema, Kaushik, Sang, Rahul and all the rest are not just destined to live within the pages of the book – to be forgotten once the book is closed but come to life and tend to stay with you. 

When Lahiri describes the close-minded & judgmental Bengali, the loveless but respectful marriages, the haunting sense of “duty” that plagues parents and children, the head-in-the-sand approach to family problems… etc… I did find myself thinking of my own family (immediate and extended) and friends and that is what made me realise that Jhumpa Lahiri has done an amazing job of creating fictional stories to portray cultural issues that are very real and very much the norm. Through her stories, she courageously talks about various cultural issues that Bengalis (and Indians in general) prefer to brush under the carpet.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and true to form, find myself wishing there were more stories in the collection. Stories of immigration and the identity crisis that follows… what’s new you may ask? I agree it does get old if you don’t create a new twist; if you don’t tell the story from a new angle. But if you open a new window for the readers to look through, it doesn’t matter how many such stories have been told, yours still stands out from the rest. I believe the short stories in 'Unaccustomed Earth' have managed to do just that.


I took up this tag from Psych Babbler. It doesn't really have any rules except that every answer must be in one word. So here goes:

1.Where is your mobile phone? Couch

2.Your hair? Long

3.Your mother? Strong

4.Your father? Optimist

 5.Your favorite food? Indian

6.Your dream last night? None

7.Your favorite drink? Coffee

8.Your dream/goal? Happiness

9.What room are you in? Bedroom

10.Your hobby? Blogging

11.Your fear? Death

12.Where do you want to be in 6 years? Newspaper

13.Where were you last night? Home

14.Something that you aren’t? Loud

15.Muffins? Chocolate

16.Wish list item? Couch

17.Where did you grow up? Calcutta

18.Last thing you did? Gym

19.What are you wearing? Purple

20.Your TV? Sony

21.Your pets? Jingle

22.Friends? Support

23.Your life? Awesome

24.Your mood? Bored

25.Missing someone? Sis

26.Vehicle? Holden

27.Something you’re not wearing? Makeup

28.Your favourite store? QBD

29.Your favorite color? Blue

29.When was the last time you laughed? Sunday

30.Last time you cried? Friday

31.Your best friend? A

32.One place that you go to over and over? Beach

33.One person who emails me regularly? Sajani

34.Favorite place to eat? Bar-B-Q

Nov 9, 2009

The real meaning of Christmas

This is part of Challenge 24 at Blog This. This is the first time I'm participating in one of these challenges.

The Challenge:

  • What does Xmas mean to you and your family?
  • Have you got some traditions?? 
  • What will you cook?! 
  • Who will you spend it with? 
  • Got a favourite Christmas memory? 
  • How are you decorating??

Technically speaking, Christmas is not a festival I should be celebrating. You know, not being Christian and all. But I come from a land that celebrates some festival or the other every month and although religious traditions and customs are the main reason for the festivities, the end result is a getting together of the community, of friends and of family. Of course, growing up in the northern hemisphere, one of the most important ingredients of Christmas was the cold. Albeit it wasn't freezing, the slight chill in the air made Christmas what I remember it to be. The Aussie Christmas I celebrate now is of course is all about the sun and the warmth. :)

I went to an all-girls Catholic school run by Irish nuns hence learning about Christianity and secretly being indoctrinated was the norm. ;-) We painted Easter eggs, got a week off for Easter (not normal in India), got 3 weeks off for Christmas (as opposed to 10 days for other schools) and participated or watched the Nativity play being performed every single year. I enjoyed it and that was my first initiation to Christmas.

In Calcutta, India where I grew up, there lives a large community of Anglo-Indians and as a result, Christmas is very big in the city. While many Anglo Indians have branched out to other areas of the city now, the area near my school was known for its Anglo Indian residents and in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the neighbourhood would have a magical aura about it. From shopping and candy, christmas trees and tinsel, bright lights and presents - I loved the feeling of Christmas in the air.

Every year, my my parents would help us a decorate a Christmas tree and we even had a (slightly freaky looking) Santa Claus figurine. Christmas Eve is a night for parties and as children we would look forward to it, as my parents would be out for the night leaving us children (my cousins, my sister and me) at home to have our own little party. Those are my first memories of Christmas. We would wake up on Christmas day to the excitement of presents under our pillows from Santa Claus. Yes, I loved Christmas.

In the evening, my parents would take my sister me out to see the beautiful lights that lit up the city on Christmas day. Traffic was terrible and a journey that would usually take about 30 minutes, took 1 hour and 30 minutes but I never remember my father complaining about the drive. It's a tradition we carried out every year until I left home.

Growing up meant my cousins and sister started heading out to their Christmas Eve parties. Somehow I never ended up going to those. But what I did enjoy more is heading out for Midnight Mass one year with my family with my mum being the most enthusiastic and even helping us sneak into the church from a side entrance even though we were told the church was full! My school has its own church and we watched the service there. Not being particularly religious, I didn't care so much for the service but more for the warm feeling the festivities gave me. I liked watching people bow reverentially, innocently praying and seeing so many families together made me happy.

So although Christmas is not technically a festival I should have been celebrating, I did celebrate it. I loved to celebrate it with traditions my family created over the years. When I look back on Christmas today, I think of my parents and how they did the little silly things like Santa, the busy Christmas day drives, the midnight drive to the Church... just to make us happy and help us feel part of the general festivities in the air. Christmas to me is family, and I think in that sense, my family and me definitely managed to live the spirit of Christmas.

This will be my third Christmas in Australia and I will miss home, school and the memories I have of the wonderful times my family and I spent. I will miss decorating the tiny tree we had, the Christmas day drive and  my mum's penchant for Christmas cake! But, instead of living in the past, I will recreate that Christmas warmth at home this year by getting a tree, getting some presents for my boyfriend and me and simply spending time with each other the way a family should at Christmas. If I can do that this year, I think I will have had a great Christmas.

identity crisis

My bosses at work recently spoke at a fraud convention and because of the line of work they are in, they did get a lot of media attention. (excuse the vagueness, I'm still not sure if I should be talking about work in more detail). Being the writer in the company, I had to update a lot of content related to fraud and scams and though this meant a hell of a hectic week at work, I actually learnt a lot.

In specific, what I found interesting was identity theft and fraud. I remember watching a movie ages ago that dealt with ID theft and I found it strange and brushed it off as something that either happens only in the movies, or, was one of those strange things Americans had to live with. This of course was at least 8 - 10 years ago.

Anyway, so while researching for the content I was required to write for work, I realised that I could just as easily become a victim about ID theft. Apparently, in the UK, the easiest way to steal someone's identity today is by hacking into their Facebook account. We give out so much of our personal details on Facebook.. like date of birth, phone number, work details etc... so imagine how useful that info would be in the hands of a hacker/ scammer? A former ID thief has said that a date of birth and a phone number along with the person's name is all one really needs to steal someone's identity and apply for credit or open utility accounts in their name. Hmmm... guess what I did after I wrote all this content? ;)

Anyway, so maybe I was being a little paranoid but I don't care. My bosses told us about all the people they met at this fraud convention who had lost thousands of dollars due to ID theft or a scam, and though I don't have thousands of dollars to lose.. I still don't want someone else pretending to be me... I have enough of an identity crisis any way.. ;-) For once, I'm letting the paranoia get the better of me. May not be such a bad idea.

Nov 8, 2009

I'm back!

The past couple of weeks have been stressful. I've had exams, work and a lot of other things happening but I'm just glad its over. I'm working on a post for my other blog. It's taking me a while to write because I don't want it to sound like I'm just complaining but want to present a valid argument. Anyway, more on that later.

Even though I've finished exams etc... it still hasn't sunk in. I guess when I don't have to go back to uni in February, I might realise it then. Hehehe..

I have nothing interesting to report really so will stop before I ramble on unnecessarily. I do want to thank Psych Babbler however for giving me a couple of blog awards. :) As I have been so inconsistent in the blogging world, I don't really have too many blogger buddies but when I do, I will pass on these awards.

Oct 15, 2009

Skinny Barbie Has Cankles?

I was watching the CBS Early News this morning where the anchor walked around town asking people if they thought Barbie was fat and had cankles.

Cankles are ankles which are as thick as ankles and one of the world's most famous shoe designers Christian Louboutin who is designing shoes for Barbie this year has apparently said Barbie's ankles are too thick. Funny, considering Barbie's body has always been criticised for promoting unrealistic standards.

Anyway whether Louboutin actually said it or not does not really concern me. I am more than sure this was done chiefly to generate publicity, after all Barbie did turn 50 this year.What did worry me was that no one really thought about the fact that little girls play with Barbie and as if they did not have enough body issues to deal with.  They hardly need to know what cankles are, let alone worry about them fitting into a pair of Louboutins!

Okay so maybe I am overreacting but maybe I am not. After all, kids the world over play with Barbie so is it healthy teaching them that Barbie with cankles is not good enough for designer shoes? Barbie's skinny body sets unrealistic standards anyway, do her miniscule cankles really need to be a topic of debate?

Oct 13, 2009

Exactly one year ago...

... I lost Jingle.

Jingle a.k.a. Jinksie, Jinks, Jing Ping (and all the other ridiculous names of the world), came to us in August 1992 and he filled our home with so much joy and cuteness. For 16 amazing years, he loved us unconditionally and filled our home with so much happines.All he ever wanted was to be surrounded by the people he loved because he derived his happiness from our happiness.

I last saw him in February 2007 when I left for Australia and I remember fearing I would not get to see him one last time.... and that is exactly what happened last year. I will forever be heartbroken about that.

But, at the end of the day Jingle I hope you're happy in doggy heaven and having lots of fun. I know you were in pain and I hope the pain has gone now. Thank you for teaching me how to love unconditionally and being the bestest friend by always being there. I will always miss you...

Oct 12, 2009

New Blog

My journalistic alter ego will from now on reside at

Do drop by.

Oct 8, 2009

lunch time "amusement"

So I'm standing in line at Subway (which, being only 5 people long at lunch time was pretty amazing in itself!). Anyway, so 30 seconds into her wait in line, this lady in front of me turns to me and goes "Why are they slow.. its only a sandwich.. how long does it take?" I just smiled because I did not want to be rude. Anyway, so she's at the counter soon enough and when the girl asks her what bread she wants, she yells at her saying "just normal bread". Umm, hello.. what is "normal" for you? Anyway...moving on, with lots of crankiness in between for being asked "what cheese?", "what salad?" etc she reaches the end of the line and tells the guy she wants chilli sauce so he asks her "Hot chilli or sweet?" And man, she just lost it yelling at all of them and telling they were totally incompetent for not even knowing what chilli sauce is etc etc.

Amusing lunch, yes.

The reason you are asked, what bread, what size, what drink, what salad etc at a fast food restaurant is because different people have different choices and I bet, if people weren't given a choice they would complain even more. Ordering at Subway is all about making choices and I like that - you don't just get a standardised sandwich, you can pick what you want in it. Whether or not this lady had ever been to Subway before, she had no reason to treat the staff so badly. I felt so so so bad for them.

I used to work at McDonald's...for about 3 months in 2007. Anyway, I didn't hate my job as much I hated the people I served because like this lady, some people would just be cranky and yell at you for no reason. I also worked at an Italian restaurant for over a year and though infinitely better than Macca's, cranky customers can really ruin a day for you. I know, from experience, that no matter how many other trouble free customers that Subway gets today, the staff there is going to be cranky about this lady until end of the day. I know Macca's is "fast food" but the word is "fast" not "instant" and I remember some people would get sooo irritated just because they had to wait a couple of minutes to get their burger. Now I am not saying Macca's is perfect.. some of them have really bad service but the one I worked at had amazing managers and it was a very efficient team so a customer seldom had to wait too long, even in the middle of lunch hour.

My point is, why do people unleash their wrath on some hapless fast food server? Does that really make you feel better about yourself?

Human nature is strange... the moment people realise another human being is "serving" them, they automatically feel superior and seem to have this urge to treat them badly - whether its a maid, a waiter or a shop assistant. Its mean and its petty but you will notice some people thrive on it.They do not believe these "servers" deserve common decency and a basic respect. It's disgusting.

On the other hand, having worked in hospitality now, I think I sometimes I am overly polite to waiters and retail staff...and I think people may find that a bit strange too. But better strange than rude right?

Oct 6, 2009

How Howard Roark Spoke To Me..

I just finished re-reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, again. I first read this book when I was 14 and though I loved it then, I don't think I fully understood it. Ever since, every year or so I have re-read it and it means different things to me at different times. But more than anything, Howard Roark reminds me about the true meaning of selfishness and why it isn't the worst thing in the world if you think of your self when living your own life.

I have always had trouble with people who are so self-sacrificing that they forget who they really are because they are trying so hard to please everyone around them.Howard Roark describes these people as "Second Handers" - people who live their life according to other people and what society expects them to be. I have seen this a lot in Indian society where people do everything to please their parents, their in-laws, their neighbours, their friends and almost everyone but themselves. But I always had trouble with this. I always had to do what ultimately made me happy. Yes sometimes this meant making others unhappy, but at the end of the day, I figured it was my life and I had to choose how to live it and made decisions accordingly. I have offended many people with my "selfishness" especially living in a society which expected you to do a lot of stuff based on what others wanted you to do.

To give an example, when I wanted to study arts in school and college, according to a lot of people I was being selfish. To explain, in India studying arts basically means you're not going to have a very good career. This was selfish because my parents have two daughters and I'm the eldest and I should think of supporting them in the future. By studying arts, I am selfishly flushing my future down the toilet and also not thinking of what will happen to my parents. BUT, arts is what I wanted to do so thats what I studied and I am lucky my parents don't think like the rest of the pack. I was selfish, but in the way Howard Roark describes - the way that makes you happy within, and what ultimately makes you a better person because you are thinking for yourself, living with a complete consciousness of the self.

I am not very good at reviewing books that inspire me so much (there are two or three of these at the moment) so hence I just had to describe how it influences me. I'll end it by quoting Howard Roark and some of the things he says about the importance of self and of second handers and why it is important for every person to be self-ish and not live their own live second hand.

"In the realm of greatest importance - the realm of values, of judgment, of spirit, of thought - they place others above self, in the exact manner which altruism demands. A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn't need it."

"The only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other men."

"If any man stopped and asked himself, whether he's ever held a truly personal desire, he'd find the answer. He'd see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He's not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander's delusion - prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded.

 - Howard Roark

When the going gets tough, Howard Roark's words often inspire me into realising that no matter what anyone else thinks or believes, at the end of the day, I am still doing what makes me happy and so my achievements will give me a joy that no one else will understand. That alone is often enough to keep me going! :)

Facebook Farming

If there is only one thing that comes to your mind when I say "Facebook" and "Farming" in the same sentence, you are either:

a) an addict; or
b) as irritated as I am!

What is this obsession with Farmville? Somebody enlighten me please? I love Facebook I really do but this new found obsession that people on my friend list seems to have developed with farming, fishing and other similar activities is just beyond me.

Ever since the latest Facebook format was launched, the News Feed features waaaaay too much information on all your friends, including the millions of quizzes that everyone seems to be taking these days. That I've gotten used to but Farmville, Happy Aquarium, My zoo, My Virtual pet etc etc are so aaaarrrggghhh.

Please, I do not want to grow a farm, I do not want to visit my neighbours and compete with them and I definitley do not want you to keep sending me requests to start growing a farm. I am really quite happy limiting my use of Facebook to catching up with my friends!

Oct 5, 2009

another tag!

I have been blogging since 2003 and somehow, after a point I lose interest and all my blogs have died but this time I don't want that to happen. I have promised myself that I will write, even if its just a few lines every few days and when I am totally out of ideas, I will do tags - but update I must. Tonight I'm really tired and fighting a horrible allergy so I will just do a tag that I've seen on quite a few blogs recently. Happy getting to know me! ;)

Rules: Respond and rework – answer these questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own, and add one more question to the list.

  • What is your current obsession?
    Jude Law? ;)

  • What are you wearing today?
    Why does this question feature on every tag? Im wearing a big fluffy lace gown with frilly sleeves and furry pink slippers and a tiara.
  • What’s for dinner?
    Lamb curry
  • What’s the last thing you bought?
    Popcorn for my lazy Sunday movie marathon
  • What are you listening to right now?
    Everybody Hurts - R.E.M
  • What do you think about the person who tagged you?
    Nobody tagged me.. I just tagged myself!
  • If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
    New York or Paris.. or right here on the Gold Coast is pretty great too!
  • What are your must-have pieces for summer?
    Singlets, shorts and sunscreen
  • If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
    Dubai (my parents are there and I'm in an I-miss-mom mode)
  • Which language do you want to learn?
    French and Japanese
  • What’s your favourite quote?
    Oh this is the wrong question to ask me! I love quotes and "collect" them. But ok, what the hell, I'll quote one - "All I can do is be me...Whoever that is" - Bob Dylan
  • Who do you want to meet right now?
    Hmm....a fair few people but most of all my mum, my sister and my best friend.
  • What is your favourite colour?
    Blue and Orange
  • What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own closet?
    Jeans! Always a winner!
  • What is your dream job?
    Well, dream job is not having a job at all and being self employed!
  • What’s your favorite magazine?
    Reader’s Digest, Time
  • If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
    Books or Shoes. Always.
  • What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
    Im no fashion guru so I don't have too many rules but no checks with stripes and definitely no velvet!
  • Who according to you is the most over-rated style icon?
    Paris Hilton! Style for me is originality and there is nothing original about her style.
  • What kind of haircut do you prefer?
    Layered and very very easy to maintain
  • What are you going to do after this?
    Read some more blogs?
  • What are your favorite movies?
    Thats a hard one to answer considering I watch so many
  • What are three cosmetic/makeup/perfume products that you can’t live without?
    Im not very good with makeup so I dont wear much so Im pretty sure I can live without. My favourite perfume is Christian Dior's J'Adore but I wouldn't die without it.
  • Give us three styling tips that always work for you:
    When in doubt, wear jeans
    Don't follow fashion trends blindly
    And I always pick my shoes first! ;)
  • What do you do when you “have nothing to wear” (even though your closet’s packed)?
    Wear jeans!
  • Coffee or tea?  
  • What do you do when you are feeling low or terribly depressed?
    Get some fresh air/ Eat chocolate
  • What is the meaning of your name?
    Well, Legal Alien - someone who is technically in the place theyre suppposed to be but still trying to figure out where they really belong. 
  • Which other blogs do you love visiting?
    The ones on my list plus a few more.
  • Favorite Dessert/Sweet?
    Chocolate or anything made with
  • Favorite Season ?
  • If I come to your house now, what would you cook for me?
    Well hopefully you wouldn't expect food at 2am but if you insist, I guess I could make you some pasta or some bacon and eggs?
  • What is the right way to avoid people who purposefully hurt you?
    Hmm....I dont like this quetion so I'll replace it with: Name one thing from your Bucket List (things you want to do before you die!)
    Go to Disney Land/World
  • What are you afraid of the most?
    Losing the people I love
  • What inspires you?
    My ambition and drive and certain quotations
  • Is it possible to be in love with two persons simultaneously?, I don't think so
  • Life without Music/Dance -
    would be TV without American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance! ;) Okay, in all would be really boring
  • My Question - What TV show do you secretly love to watch but hate admitting it?
    Gilmore Girls! ;)
I’m not gonna tag anyone here because I don't want to compel anyone to do it. If you are reading this and want to take this up, please do so and let me know.

Oct 3, 2009

My Hit List

Psych Babbler's post on Pet Peeves today spurred me on to write my own. I call mine a Hit List because this list is mainly about People know the "type" of people I just CANNOT stand. So here goes..

I hate it when...

... people litter! It is a disgusting habit and I think the Indian case for it is only worsened by the fact that there are no rubbish bins on the street. Nevertheless, if you're in a car... you could hold on to your rubbish instead of just throwing it on he road! But come on people, if you're in Australia, there's always a bin nearby... how hard is it to throw your rubbish in the bin?

... people automatically assume you can't speak the language if you have an accent. Dude! It's an accent not a language disability!

... people stereotype. "She's a party she must be dimwitted!"... "He's Asian so he must have poor English skills"... "They're Muslims...must be terrorists." Now really, if the world were that easily boxed into categories and types, wouldn't someone smarter than you have figured that out by now?

... people argue for the sake of arguing without having any logical base for what they are saying. You know, people who cannot look at a situation objectively but will just fight for a cause because apparently that's the "right thing to do" (a longer rant on this in a soon-to-come post).

... pedestrians don't say thank you when you stop the car and let them cross the road even though it's not a zebra crossing. Yes, Psych this is similar to how you feel when people don't say thank you when you allow them to merge lanes in front of you. Seriously, it's just a wave people.... not that much effort!

... people try to cut in front of you in a queue.

... co-workers leave the microwave and kitchen bench filthy and leave their dishes in the sink and expect someone else to pick up after them. Seriosuly, who does it for you at home?

... people don't order off the menu and insist on modifying everything they order.

... people get offended if you don't say "Hi!" to them on GTalk or MSN even though your status message clearly screams "AWAY" or "BUSY".

Okay, enough hating for the day methinks... I'll just stop here for now :)

Oct 1, 2009

5 Reasons Why I Love The Gold Coast

Time and again I have said I am a big city girl and am happy living in big cities but today is one of those days I'm happy living on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast does not qualify as a big city. It is definitely not a small town but it's yet to fall into the big city bracket. It's one of those places that used to be a small town so recently that people remember it; but now is one of most tourist friendly cities in Australia.

When I tell people who don't know much about Australia that I'm on the Gold Coast, they don't know what I'm talking about. Saying I'm next to Brisbane usually doesn't help either because for most non-Australians, Australia is Sydney and Melbourne. But if you are planning a trip to Australia, it is likely your travel agent will suggest you visit GC (Gold Coast).. especially if you're travelling with the family. It's not that there is anything spectacular here... sure there are lots of tourist attractions, but aren't they everywhere?

But what GC has is something I've never seen/felt anywhere else. The city is on a 24/7 holiday mode and although there are plenty of locals and there is definitely a normal life here, most of the time it feels like the Gold Coast was created for the tourists. In fact, that is an argument that often arises here - that the Council does more to attract tourists rather than care for the locals. Anyway, so if you're looking for a fun holiday, I can see why Australians and international visitors choose to come to GC. There is just something in the air around here that automatically puts you in holiday mode and it cleverly disguises the mundande boring aspects of life that are still plain to see in most other cities...and sometimes I hate that but today I love GC and these are the top 5 reasons why:

The Beach
I'm in Australia and I love the beach. Cliche I know but oh well, what can I say...I love the fact that I live in a beach town. (I think this is also one of the reasons for GC's 24/7 holiday mode). I may or may not move to another city at some point but if I move to some place like Brisbane, I think I will really miss the beach. No matter where you go on the Gold Coast, you're never too far from a beach and you can smell the salt in the air almost everywhere in town. I like that. I used to be terrified of water as a kid but now the ocean has a calming effect on me. Now that it's starting to get a little warm, I hope I'm going to end up going more often!

The People

Yet another cliche but bear with me. I haven't had the chance to travel much in Australia but my trips to Brisbane and some other big cities in India have led me to believe that people are in too much of a rush to be nice. I am not stereotyping.. I'm just speaking from my experiences. I believe in some years when the Coast also becomes one of those busy bustling cities, people might become as cranky but because the general lifestyle here is so laidback, I guess people have less reason to be cranky at the moment and that is nice. And I know this applies to almost every city in Australia but I'll still say it, I love the multicultural population of the Coast. I have met people from so many different parts of the world and learned so much by just living here.

Traffic & Parking!!
I cringe every time I have to go to Brisbane because I'm so spoiled down here. Traffic is definitely not bad and parking is easy to find and also easy on the pocket. I understand now why people in Brisbane (and other similar cities) don't drive much in the city. Parking is such a pain!

The Weather

I love Queensland weather.... I'm a tropical girl and I like the sub-tropical weather here. Not too hot and not too cold. Just right!

The Food
Again, I'm sure other places in Austalia have more claim on this than GC but what the hell. I love GC for the variety of food available here. I know we don't have too many fine dining places except the several five star hotels but that doesn't bother me. Food is all about the taste and just walking around GC has opened up so many types of cuisine to me and I love that.

I will always love big cities and might even move to one again soon but that can't change the fact that I love living on the Gold Coast. It's the only other place I've lived in long enough to call home! :)

Sep 27, 2009

rant rant: food & travels

There's something funny I have noticed about Indians abroad (actually there's more than one thing but we'll just stick to this one for today!)

The Gold Coast attracts lots and lots and lots of Indian tourists every year and I've noticed that these tourists either go to the standard McDonalds/KFC or they just go to an Indian restaurant. Now, if I were on holiday in a different country, I would like to try a bit of the local fare. I am a bit more adventurous with food than many people but I know a lot of people aren't and that's fine. I am not saying that you should jump in and try mussels if you really don't like seafood but come on, KFC is KFC the world over so at least one day out of your 14 day holiday, wouldn't you like to try something that you've never had before?

Eating only Indian food abroad is a bit silly I think. I mean, if you've come to Australia you can actually get so many different kinds of food so why not try some of that? I mean, how about just a plain (non-Indianised) version of Chinese food even? Or how about some Italian without the Garam Masala? I know many Indians will not have a steak and to each their own, but how about even enjoying the Aussie barbecue experience and setting up a barbie on the beach or even at a park? Its not something we do in India.

Travelling to me is all about learning about the country you're visting and it's culture. Food is a very, very important part of a country's culture and in Australia's case, for lack of any authentic Australian cuisine, its just the multicultural nature of the cuisine available here.

Travelling is not just about visiting theme parks, shopping and doing the touristy things. If you're lucky enough to be able to travel, you should make the most of it by absorbing the uniqueness of each country and once again, the food is such an important part of this. Travelling is supposed to open up your mind and show you how others live in a different part of the world. If an Indian tourist told me they simply tried Vegemite (a shoe polish type looking spread which Aussies love!) I would applaud them for trying.

Why must these tourists play it so safe all the time and stick to Indian restaurants where they hope to treat the waitstaff like trash, just the way they do back in India? Maybe thats why. They like the familiarity...but then WHY go on holiday?

How do I know Indians love to eat only Indian food when they come here? Well, a close friend owns an Indian restaurant, another works at one and I worked at an Italian restaurant on a street that is packed with other restaurants and can count the number of Indians I served or spotted as there was no Indian restaurant in the vicinity.

Sep 21, 2009


I wrote this when I was in school (I was 17), the night before my English exam. Though I know it's no fantastic piece of poetry and even slightly childish means a lot to me, even more because I seldom write poetry. It's one of my favourites! :-) And, btw, for the lack of a better title it's called Desire, but I really wish I could come up with something better.

I want to sit and read on top of a tree

I want to run like an animal who’s just been set free

I want to learn how to cook a French meal

I want to learn how to train a seal

I want to listen to Mozart and Pink Floyd at the same time

I want to write a good poem without a rhyme

I want to jump off a building to see if I can fly

I want to laugh so hard I begin to cry

I want to read every book ever written

I want to understand the working of the minds of men

I want to never have to apologise

I want to know the true meaning of ‘wise’

I want to write like William Shakespeare – The Bard

I want to write the invitation on my own funeral card

I want to learn to drive a bulldozing machine

I want to never step out of my teens

I want to be interviewed by a famous journalist

I want to be able to tell my life story in a gist

I want to adopt a dog, a monkey, a lion cub

I want to remember an itching nose becomes worse when you rub

I want to love like I’ve never loved before

I want to keep loving more and more

I want to travel to the north and south poles

I want to believe in the existence of souls

I want to travel abroad without a passport

I want to be old enough to vote

I want to be able to laugh at myself

I want to know what Enid Blyton meant by ‘elf’

I want to scuba dive from Kanyakumari

I want to know what its like to break your knee

I want to be brave enough to say I don’t know

I want to know what its like to be a crow

But most of all…

I want to be me.

Aug 27, 2009

to write or not to write?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and mostly because I have been sick for what seems like forever but also because I write for a living and that seems to have taken a bit of the fun out of it. I read somewhere once that if you take something you enjoy doing and turn it into a job, you will start hating it. I don’t hate writing (I could never) but because all I do all day is write, write, write… the last thing I want to do when I am home is write some more.

For a while I’ve wondered about writing stuff about work and the things I observe and learn there but I’m still not sure. The thing is, the company I work for is a pretty big international online business and my observations are obviously about their business niche. I will obviously not divulge their name or anything confidential but it’s still a toss up about whether or not I should talk about other work related things online. There are things I find funny, some true and some plain bizarre and I know it will make interesting writing because very few people work in this niche. I’d like to talk about it but I’m still trying to figure out how to do it without divulging too many details.

My employers have not placed any specific restrictions on us about discussing their work on social media but a general employment contract at every workplace will require you not to divulge confidential information. But after a major Twitter controversy, Telstra (Australia’s largest telecom provider) now has a social media company policy and I think is the first Australian company to have such a policy. It details what can or cannot be discussed by Telstra employees online.

Even without such detailed social media policies, most employees do have a basic common sense about what can or cannot be said on a public forum. Yet it’s all so subjective that I think it is impossible to have uniform guidelines for every profession, occupation and company. Obviously if you work for the Secret Service, you’d have to be good at keeping things, um well, SECRET but your boss at Maccas (McDonald’s) is probably less anal about the confidentiality angle of your job. ;)

Nevertheless, every company has secrets and as un-secret-like as they might seem to you, as employees it is important to protect and respect that confidentiality. Once again, it comes down to common sense and basically just thinking before broadcasting it to the world. For example, your Facebook status might say “I hate my boss” but if your boss is the Prime Minister of Australia, you’re obviously badmouthing your own party and everyone knows what could happen there; if your boss is the manager at the local 7/11, you’re less likely to be in trouble (unless your boss is on Facebook, in which case, you’d just be stupid!) and if your boss is the local mob boss…(need I complete this sentence?)

But, back to my original point, sometimes the boundaries are slightly blurred…so how do you know what details are okay to share? Can you ever really know for sure whether your comments have the potential to get you fired because what you think is funny might be insulting for your boss…

I might sound overtly paranoid especially considering I don’t really work for a super secret job or anything and I don’t have things like attorney-client privilege to worry about but I think it’s the journalist in me worrying about defamation, libel etc. Yes, I am studying Media Law this semester. ;-)

Jul 1, 2009

of memories and music

I clicked on iTunes yesterday and was momentarily shocked when there was nothing on my playlist. Shocked because I have over 12GB of music and I didn't expect to see an empty iTunes library staring at me. We got a new desktop recently and I haven't updated the music on it yet. Anyway, so while I was updating iTunes, I started listening to some songs I hadn’t heard in aaaaaaages. Some made me laugh, some made me nostalgic, some I’m not sure why they are on my playlist at all. But it got me thinking about how songs can trigger certain moods and how our brain makes certain associations with certain songs. They are not necessarily always our most favourite songs but they just stick with you anyway.

Off the top of my head, these are some of the songs that I always associate with something/ someone.

Everybody Hurts – R.E.M: This is my ultimate sad song. Whether it’s a fight with V or missing home, this song always makes me sadder yet better.

Yellow – Coldplay: This is the first Coldplay song I ever heard and I love Chris Martin. Sometimes it makes me feel romantic, at others it reminds me of school and a cousin and his car stereo where we discovered many of our favourite artists together

Leaving On A Jetplane – Janis Joplin: Between 2003 and 2006, I couldn’t listen to this song without crying. V was studying in a different city and I’d only see him once every 6 or 8 months. It also reminds me of my best friend A because we listened to this the day before I left for Aus and it’s so true… “don’t know when I’ll be back again….

That Thing You Do – The Wonders: Again reminds me of A and my sis because ever so often we’d go a little mental and dance to this song (in the secrecy of our homes) like there was no tomorrow.

Turn Me On – Kevin Lyttle: It was such a HUGE rage a few years ago and my sister made up this little dance for my dog, where she would be flailing his little paws all over the place. It makes me laugh so much and reminds me of all the torture we put our dog through! It’s a happy-sad song now.

Romeo & Juliet – Dire Straits: It’s not exactly a love song a couple should be singing but somehow V & I both love this song and he loves to play it so it always makes me feel gooey. :)

Anything Metallica: V worships them and I started listening to them a lot more because he insisted on playing all the songs for me. I quite like them now. But I can’t listen to them all the time.

Say My Name – Destiny’s Child: Hahaha… okay, my cousins and I came up with a ridiculous harmony version of this song when it first released. It’s funnier because none of us can really sing and we did a four part harmony with seconds et al. I heard this at the sushi place the other day and I was laughing by myself. Must’ve looked a bit loopy I reckon.

Never On A Sunday – Melina Mercouri: My mum used to sing this song when she was in one of those happy moods where annoying me only made her happier!

I Want To Break Free – Queen: I went to an all-girls Catholic school and there would be days we wanted to “break free” from the sometimes archaic rules we had to follow. We even had a wooden desk beating nice percussion beat to go with the song.

Absolutely Everybody – Vanessa Amorosi: This used to be the theme song for the ads on Star World (an Indian TV channel) at one point and my sister and I were obsessed with it. We had a thing for TV & movie theme songs and would download almost all of them.

I’d really like it if some of you did this and wrote about your songs and the memories you associate with them. Its fun!

Jun 26, 2009

Jai Ho?

Why "?" and not "!" you ask? Well, its because this song is really, really annoying me right now.

I don't mind the original version from the movie (the one in Hindi). Its nice, I'm not sure who sings it but they are good and like I have said before A R Rahman (the music director) did a good job but this is definitely not his best. Not after Roja, Bombay or even Saathiya. Anyway, so I don't have a problem with the Hindi song or with Slumdog Millionaire. The problem is with the slutty Pussycat Dolls version.

First of all, its stupid that they say "Jai Ho" and say "You are my destiny" because that is not what “Jai Ho” translates to but it's pretty much how they sing it.

Secondly, Pussycat Dolls? Sorry, no offence if you like them, but yuck!! Double yuck!

Thirdly, every store and every radio channel seems to have this song on loop. Lucky for me (not!) that I work so close to a mall, so I end up going to the mall at least once every two days and its hard to walk past a Supre, Cotton On, Ice, City Beach store (all clothes shops, for the non-Australians) without being assaulted by the song. Notice, I said "walk past" because the song puts me off so much now I don't even want to go into the stores! Plus I was listening to the radio and the commercial channels down here play it a little too much, so I switched to online radio and I couldn't get away from ‘Jai Ho’ online either.


I know many Indians in India have a problem with Slumdog Millionaire, I'm not one of them. But I wonder, is ‘Jai Ho’ even half as popular in India? I think a sudden increase in the popularity of ‘Jai Ho’ could also be because the Pussycat Dolls were touring down under. But seriously, I think the world can do without their plans for “Doll Domination”.

The song isn't really that bad but when any song is played a million times, it loses its charm don't you think? I don't know what it was like in other parts of the world, but this reminds me of Celine Dion's ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from Titanic. It isn't a bad song but when the whole world and its cousin wants to request it on the radio and on TV, play it at home, in the car, at parties, at nightclubs.... it gets a bit much. That’s how it was in India circa '97. Some people tell me that they can finally like the song again, now that the hype is dead. But the charm of the song died for me the day I heard the taxi drivers and auto wallahs obsessing over it.*

*Disclaimer: No offence to taxi drivers or auto wallahs a.k.a. drivers. Its just that, in India, these are not the sort of people who wouldn normally listen to an English song (because they don't understand/speak the language) but when they did too, it just meant the song had been really, really overdone.

The Old King Is Dead, Long Live The King

I am not easily given to celebrity worship and the like. I like lots of singers but don’t care if I never see them in concert, but if there’s one concert I would give an arm and a leg to be at, it was a Michael Jackson concert.

I know people love to hate MJ but I love him and I am not ashamed to say it. Child molestation, plastic surgery, bankruptcy aside – he still made groundbreaking music and come on, when was the last time someone created their own dance style. There may be a million Macarenas and Souljah Boys but never another Thriller. How many other songs/ dances inspire something like this?

I can listen to Heal the World and Will You Be There all the time, and I do.
And even though I was blessed with two left feet, Thriller, In the Closet, Give In To Me, Remember the Time, Smooth Criminal and so many more ALWAYS make me want to dance
I really wanted to go for a concert in London and when I heard he’d postponed to 2010, I seriously thought about it. Sadly my life right now doesn’t let me plan much in advance because I have other things to take care of but if I didn’t, I know I’d be flying to London July 2010 ….that’s if he hadn’t died of course :( When he performed in India in the 90s, I remember begging my parents to take me but they didn’t quite get why a kid who couldn’t even dance wanted to travel halfway across the country to see Michael Jackson! :(

I know hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital and he deserves nothing less.

I hope Neverland becomes to MJ fans what Graceland is to Elvis lovers.

I hope MJ fans refuse to accept the reality of his death and even 20 years after his death, I hope there are rumours that MJ will resurface because the guy who actually died was his twin brother (or any other equally far-fetched story)

There will always be only one Michael Jackson…and I can’t believe he’s gone.

so I'm here...

Only problem though, Blogger and WordPress obviously do not like each other so I can't import blogs from one site to the other. I know it does not have too many posts and nothing that spectacular anyway, so I'll just leave them be for now and start afresh.

I love the template so much.

One day when I am really bored, I will manually copy-paste from some of the old blog and also from my first blog which I started way back in 2006 (which I ditched because it was become too personal and I couldn't stop!). I can't delete that blog, and may be some day I will go back to it... just not now. I'll stick to this one for now.

I also collect quotations like crazy. I have a pile of books on them and I want to put them up online now. So I started a new blog - My Fave Quotations, a few days ago. Some of the quotes that are currently up are ridiculous, but they made me laugh. Those are quotes I must have really enjoyed when I was 10 years old (that is when I first started collecting quotes) so I thought I would put up a few. It's still a work in progress because I can't find a template I like.

Those of you who are kind enough to drop by, sorry for all the confusion and sudden change in address. I hope you will stick around. No more flitting around, just serious thinking and writing.

Jun 24, 2009

should i come back?

My current blog is here -

But I'm considering coming back to blogger, especially for the templates.

What say?

Jun 3, 2009

To the Indian media

What happened in Melbourne and Sydney is sad but branding a whole country racist on that basis is stupid and ignorant. The average Indian has never been to Australia and does not understand how multicultural it is so I blame the media for sensationalising the issue and blowing things out of proportion. Every Indian now suddenly has a Rang De Basanti type patriotic flame burning within them without even having a proper perspective on the issue.

Racism technically doesn’t exist in India simply because the majority of our population belongs to the same race. Saying that racism doesn’t exist because Indians are better is adopting a holier-than-thou attitude Indians have no right to. Indians discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion, color and wealth; so to say we are not capable of racism is a blind refusal to look at reality. Simply take a look at Bollywood movies that always have something to say about the “goras”. Yes, that is racist too so it’s time we stop pointing the finger and take a look at ourselves too and yes I think history will prove, Indians are just as capable of violence over such issues.

Race and ethnicity are common topics in a country like Australia which is made of an immigrant culture. Yes some people are racist but on the whole the 20 million people of Australia live fairly peacefully and the last time I checked, there were more riots and attacks in India as a result of some sort of discrimination.

The majority of Indian students abroad are clannish and move in packs. Yes it is natural to be more comfortable with people from your own country but making friends from a different culture is the best way to start acclimatising to a new culture. Australians don’t marginalise Indians. Indians choose to stay marginalised because of their refusal to adapt to the Australian culture. “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is obviously not something most Indians have heard of. Had they heard of it, they would quickly learn that the Australian culture is often about cracking a joke on each other. If Indians put their excessive sensitivity aside and take a healthy dose of a sense of humour once in a while, they would understand that the thousands of races in Australia are often a topic for jokes too and a joke about an Australian is appreciated just as much. This is not intended to be racist and usually isn’t.

No I am not saying we must always say the White Man is right and give in to racism. I am simply saying Indians need to adapt to the culture and understand how things work in Australia before crying foul and blame an entire nation for being racist.  If the average Australian has a wrong perception about Indians, the average Indian does not know much about an Australian either. So I think we’ve achieved a balance there. Expatriate Indians cannot expect Australians to adapt to them, they must adapt to Australia. Expecting to create a mini India wherever they go is ridiculous. If you dislike Australia so much, I don’t mean to be rude, but stay at home. Really.

As a journalist, I have always been taught that every story must represent the whole picture but the Indian media has obviously forgotten its journalistic integrity somewhere along the way. Amazingly, all the reports talk about Indians who have “suffered” in Australia. How about interviewing Indians who have done really well in this country thanks to opportunities they probably would have never received in India in the first place? How about explaining Australia’s multicultural identity? How about interviewing Indian students who actually enjoy studying here? There are plenty of each, I assure you.

Indians are not being targetted the way the Indian media would have the country believe, but may be after the burning of the Australian flag and posters of Kevin Rudd, we will be and again, I will blame the Indian media for it.

I know I will be accused of losing my Indianness because I now live in Australia. I don’t care because I don’t need to justify myself. But I do need to make a point on behalf of the thousands of Indians who are very happy in Australia. While the Indian media refuses to look at an issue objectively as journalists should, I thankfully still have my objectivity in place.

P.S. This article in the SMH makes a similar point. Thanks for sharing, Psych Babbler.