Dec 29, 2011

The longing to belong...

The universality of human experiences despite our many diversities has made me realise that our identities are not bound by race, nationality or even gender.

Yet somehow, we have all felt out of place at some point; We have all felt like we don't belong...anywhere. I'll be honest, I have really struggled with my longing to belong (and still do sometimes). But through the struggle, I have realised it's not something that should get me down, but it's something to enjoy.

Not belonging means not being limited by gender stereotypes, by cultural expectations or societal pressures and that's very liberating. Ironically, this state of "not belonging" actually helps me belong in a way too - belong to a universal humanity. To know I am my own person and yet one with the universe is awe-inspiring.

This year, my only promise to myself is to not worry so much about belonging and an identity that fits in somewhere - I think being in a perpetual nomadic state of belonging or unbelonging may not be so bad.

From one Legal Alien to all the others out there - hope the coming year is filled with limitless discoveries.

Oct 31, 2011

Groupon Fail: Bisro Fleur, Paradise Point

I bought a Groupon voucher for a meal at Bistro Fleur at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast in late September. Last week, I rang the restaurant to make a booking for Friday night. The man taking my booking (who I later found out is the owner) was the average cordial restaurant person - until I mentioned I had a voucher. His tone immediately changed and he very rudely asked me "what voucher?". I mentioned having a Scoopon and he yelled, saying "That's already expired so I can't take your booking".

Shocked by his rudeness, but still trying to maintain my cool I told him that I was sure my voucher was valid as I had only bought it a month ago and it said it was valid for 3 months. I said I may be mistaken and maybe it was a Groupon. He cut me off before I could even say anything else and snapped at me saying "If you don't know what you've got I can't take your booking".

Clearly, he wanted my business.

By this point I really wanted to just slap him but yet, I summoned all the niceness in me and very politely said to him, "Look, I know I have a valid voucher and I'm just trying to make a booking. If it's such a big deal, I will ring you back with the details of my voucher." I was out for lunch at the time and needed to wait till I got back to the office.

But Patrick wasn't listening and just went off at me about how they had 3 vouchers going and I couldn't use an expired voucher etc etc. I wasn't trying to use an expired voucher! Anyway, so I told him I'd ring him back and he hung up on me!

I rang him back and his tone and attitude was no better when I told him it was a voucher I bought on 20th September. He asked me when it expired and I told him it was valid for 3 months. He snapped at me asking what date. I'm sorry, is it that hard to figure out that 3 months from 20th September is 20th December? He took my booking but left me fuming. I was seething for the rest of the afternoon and eventually ended up deciding I wasn't going to go. I looked up Bistro Fleur online and found these reviews on Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor - so many of them saying how badly they were treated and guess what, Mr. Patrick got a special mention too.

I was really excited to go to this restaurant. I've never been to a French restaurant before and I was keen to try out some snails. I really enjoy eating out and I love discovering new places through sites like LivingSocial, Groupon etc. If the Bistro Fleur experience had been good, I would have definitely been a repeat customer.

I have worked in a restaurant and I know sometimes customers are stupid and sometimes they will try to use expired vouchers. But you don't yell at them. If I was annoying him by saying Scoopon instead of Groupon, he could've simply said "I'm sorry but our Scoopon voucher has already expired, did you mean Groupon?" AND in a tone that is more customer service friendly not one that accuses me of being stupid.

I was shocked to find out I had spoken to the owner of Bistro Fleur and he was so angry that I had a voucher and had the gall to use it. Why does this man sell vouchers to his own restaurant if he wants to treat voucher-holding customers like shit? If you don't want customers, don't sell vouchers. It's really as simple as that. The whole point of vouchers is to generate business and possibly create a new customer base - but if you make your customers feel like shit, they're definitely not coming back - totally defeating the purpose of having a voucher.

I was going to ring him back and cancel my booking and tell him it was because he was so rude but I forgot to do it. At 7:45pm on Friday I had a voicemail on my phone from a very angry Patrick saying "You haven't bothered turning up, I'm going to cancel your booking". There's that lovely tone again.

Aug 24, 2011

These sleepless nights

I didn't quite end up finishing the NaBloPoMo August challenge did I? This time it wasn't laziness though.

I haven't been sleeping well for a few weeks now and I think a lot of it has to do with me not unwinding enough before bed. I am physically exhausted from the lack of sleep so you'd think I would crash as soon as my head hit the pillow but nope, doesn't happen. My mind…has a mind of its own. Haha really it does! I cannot stop thinking, stressing, planning, analysing - just not giving my mind a break!

This is why I'm trying to disconnect, unwind and do other things when I get home. I try to spend as little time in front of the computer. Of course it doesn't always happen. But I'm hoping it will work and I won't wake up feeling so tired every day!

Aug 8, 2011

Mundane inanities

Today was my first day back at the gym after many months and I'm so happy I'm finally back :)

It was a struggle for sure but I'm happy I got there and am finally healthy enough to be gymming again. Exercise keeps me sane and so I was obviously going a little crazy not being able to exercise.  I am disappointed with my fitness (naturally) and I know it will take me a while to build it back up again but I'm grateful to be back and at it again. Yay me.

In other news, today I found out they are re-releasing one of my most favourite movies of all time - The Lion King in 3D - for 2 weeks in September.

Besides being one of the best Disney movies (in my opinion) - the movie brings back a lot of wonderful memories. It was 1994 and I was loving my 9 year old life. My parents took my sister, my cousins and me to watch the movie - which was sold out so we had to sit way up in front (in the fifth row) to watch the movie. It didn't matter that our eyes hurt - we loved the movie and we all cried when Mufasa died.

I think 3D still has some way to go before they add a wow factor to regular movies but animated movies in 3D are amazing. So yes, I cannot wait for Lion King in excited!

This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

Aug 7, 2011

John Lennon says...

I have a coffee table book called 'Imagine' with quotes from John Lennon.

Aug 6, 2011


These random pangs of homesickness
Unasked for
Triggered by a song, a sight or even a smell.
A longing for a home that is no longer home
Will always be home.

The people. The people...
The familiarity.
The memories
...A life long gone.

Can you be homesick for a person
A person long lost...
Another version of you in another life, another universe?

I  never was very good at hide and seek.

This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

Aug 5, 2011

Currently reading...

Going back in time and re-reading the whole series :) 

This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

Aug 4, 2011

Of course this post is about Harry Potter

It's over *cry*

Yes ok, it's been over for a long time but you know, it's finally O-V-E-R. Nothing to look forward to anymore :(

The movie was absolutely brilliant. Admittedly the first few Harry Potter movies weren't very good (I still watch them though) but they definitely picked up their game and the last two movies have been amazing. I'm so glad this last one didn't disappoint. Such an amazing way to end it all.

Of course I got emotional during Snape's memories of Lily. Of course I was holding my breath for a few scenes (Molly ending Bellatrix, in particular). And *of course* I wished certain bits from the book hadn't been left out.

I loved the movie and I wish I could say it better instead of just gushing like a little child but I'm not feeling very writer-y today. I *will* write a Harry Potter post though. Soon.

This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

Aug 3, 2011

Harry Potter at last!

Going to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 tonight. Finally.

I'm too excited to write a proper blog post. Maybe tomorrow, I will write about it and my grief that it's over.

This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

Aug 2, 2011

Ethics vs Religion vs Politics

I went to an Irish Catholic school for 13 years and yes surreptitious religious indoctrination was definitely part of my daily school life ;-) However, as part of the school curriculum, Christian students had to go to Catechism classes once a week while the rest of us attended 'Moral Science' classes. These classes started from Year 1 and attending one or the other was compulsory right up to Year 12.

Being of non-Christian faith, of course I went to the moral science classes where, for a change we weren't just being talked at, being lectured, being forced to strive towards academic excellence that some of us clearly had no drive for… In these classes, we talked about almost anything of any relevance, including current affairs, world issues, human rights, books, religion, politics and much more. Even with the limited worldview that childhood brings, we debated and discussed issues with our classmates. The teachers didn't preach - they encouraged us to think, respect someone else's opinion and most importantly, have an opinion of our own.

The reason I bring this up is because last week I heard about Fred Nile and his Christian Democratic Party pushing for NSW public schools to do away with the recently introduced Ethics classes which are an alternative to scripture classes for non-religious students. Nile believes these ethics classes are "in competition with scripture".

This made me angry and while I was busy trying to frame my thoughts in a coherent way, 11-year old Charlie Fine came along and said it better :  

"By all means, Mr Nile, you go out and be as Christian as you want; I respect that entirely. But that does not give you and your supporters the right to attempt to shape a future generation of adults in your mould – that is a religious conservative."

Go Charlie!

One of the first things I noticed when I moved here was how little Australians cared about religion and I liked that. However, of late religion seems to have become such a big part of Australian politics.  Politics is dirty and when religion comes into play, the waters get even murkier.

During the last election campaigns, the Liberals constantly harped on Gillard's atheism. Suddenly Australians were going on about "Oh she doesn't believe in God…" even though it probably would have made no difference to them had Tony Abbott not used it as his catchphrase. Would Julia Gillard's capabilities as a Prime Minister have improved if she were Christian? And would God help Tony Abbott "Stop the Boats!" had he become Prime Minister?

And now Nile and his CDP are promising to "torpedo" the NSW state government and its legislations unless their religious demands are met. Nile doesn't surprise me but it is disgusting that the NSW Premier is considering a "deal" with a man who is unashamedly homophobic and believes pornography is equivalent to eternal damnation.

A progressive society is made up of free thinking people with a variety of opinions and beliefs. Governments don't need to play nanny to what morals or beliefs children are being taught at school - I think that is a parent's decision. Encouraging children to think critically to grow into free-thinking adults is a tough ask and if these ethics classes are aiming at that, I am all for it. I am not saying ban scripture - but I believe religious study should be an option for children and their parents, not something that is forced on them.

I'd just like to say to Mr. Nile that  being religious does not automatically create a better breed of Australians or a better society. I'm sure you will find that sometimes religious fanaticism makes a country regress. So just let people be Mr. Nile…I assure you we are capable of making our own decisions, without any help from you. And if that decision involves us not believing in God…oh well, shit happens.

As even an 11 year old will tell you, "I think it is possible to be non-religious and a good person."

This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

Aug 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo - Take 2

I'm hitting up NaBloPoMo again this month. I was very enthusiastic about it last month but not having a computer and a buggy Blogger app made things annoyingly difficult.

So armed with a new computer, I'm here to kick things off again.

NaBloPoMo Take 2.


This post is part of the NaBloPoMo August challenge.

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.

Jun 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo - Ok, I'm doing it!

I signed up for NaBloPoMo - in short it's a challenge where you have to post to your blog, every day, for a month. I've seen Psych Babbler do it a number of times and seeing as I have such little motivation to blog, I figured this might be a good prompt.

I am starting it on the 1st of July. I like NaBloPoMo because it's pretty free-form and does not ask invasive personal questions like a lot of the other memes do. I am tempted to set a theme for the month but I also know there will be days I will have nothing clever or interesting to say and then be guilty of not sticking to the theme. So I've decided, the general theme will be Multiculturalism (it's a *very* broad topic when you think about it) but some days I will write fluff posts because I'm unable to channel the smarts.

So wish me luck and please do come back to see how I'm doing.

Apr 15, 2011

Being Bengali...

When I was younger, I thought I was far removed from the stereotypical "Bong" but over the years I've grown to realise how much of a Bengali I really am and there's no escaping really.

As much as I try to deny it, I am a little bit of a nerd who loves her literature (and Harry Potter) and enjoys nothing more than an afternoon spent curled up with her favourite book. I reserve the right to be nyaka the way only Bengalis can. I love my afternoon siesta and of late, I am even beginning to enjoy a cup of cha.

Music, prawns, family, being laidback, prizing intellectual achievments over being rich and famous, adda... the list of Bengali stereotypes I DO identify with goes on. But to me, the essence of being a Bengali is the passion we have for food. My personal love affair with food is such a large part of my identity. This is the 5th year in a row I'm not with my family for Poila Boisakh/ Nobo Borsho (Bengali New Year) and when I think about what I miss - it's definitely the family reunion but it's also most definitely the food.

The centrepiece of every Bengali festival/ function/ family occasion is food and LOTS of it. To the Bengali, food is not just something you eat when you're hungry. It is a passion that involves buying the perfect ingredients,  cooking it with lots of love and sharing it with people you love. Food, is not just about the food for a Bengali - it's about the whole experience.

Me, I have always been a food lover. I grew up with a mum who cooked everything from a boring bhindi to a fancy roast like a Masterchef and a Dad who (can cook but prefers not to :P) encouraged us to try everything - from the street food in Gariahat to the flash new restaurant on Park Street. Together they opened up our tastebuds (and minds) to food and experiences not many have been privileged to.

Of course, the Bengali passion for food is closely tied in with the Bengali sweet tooth. If there's anything a Bengali loves more than a good meal, it's a good meal that's finished off with an even better mishti or dessert. If you know me, you know that every meal is followed by an INTENSE craving for something sweet! Growing up, my cousins, my sister and I bonded over our common passion for good food and baking. One, of the four of us, was always baking ensuring the family was never deprived of sweet stuff. Over my holidays in India last December - our "going out" revolved around food, staying home also revolved around food (eating it or cooking it). We're not gluttons I promise, we're just gastronomes.

Today, I am a combination of my parents' passion for food - I enjoy cooking as much as I enjoy eating out at places small and big. Food makes me happy like nothing else and like a true Bengali, I'm doubly happy when I have someone to make goo goo eyes at my food with. They say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach - well the way to *this* woman's heart is definitely through her stomach. Treat me to a good meal and I will love you long time ;-)

You don't have to be born a Bengali in order to become one of course. If you grew up in Calcutta you are often a Bengali and food passionista by osmosis.

So, whether you're a Bengali by birth or a de facto Bong, I hope this Poila Boisakh is filled with an endless supply of good food and mishti. We might not know what year it is in the Bengali calendar, but we sure know how to celebrate it over a good meal ;-)

Here's to food...and being Bengali.

Shubho Nobo Borsho!

Mar 10, 2011

This Lent I Am Giving Up…Lent.

I am not religious. Being of Indian origin – that is almost as shocking as saying "I don't like cricket". In some cases it is synonymous. But I digress, as usual.

Religion plays a central role in the lives of a lot of people and I understand that. What I don’t understand is the patronising self-important smugness some people develop as certain religious holidays draw closer.

Lent has just kicked off and suddenly the previously hedonistic are showing off the guilty pleasures they have so heroically sacrificed. Most major religions in the world have a period of abstinence in their holy calendar and while this religion-fuelled detox makes sense for the truly religious – the buffet style, nouveau Religionistas are the ones that annoy me. When abstinence becomes a douchebag status symbol, it totally defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Kinda like charity. Or third world child adoptions.

There’s a South Park episode…(youbequiet. yes, I am one of *those* people who thinks of a South Park reference for everything #dealwithit)…where everyone gets hybrid cars – not to save the environment, but for pure Smug value. Religious abstinence is often the same.

Being [insert religion here] isn’t a part-time activity you indulge in for 40 days to absolve yourself of your 325 days of decadent, over-indulgence. Besides, if you are so smug about your abstinence, you’re probably doing it all wrong.  

Maybe, next time religion “compels” you to give up something – you will consider giving up self-indulgent Smugness. That would be an infinitely bigger sacrifice than abstaining from wine and cheese for 40 days. Amen.