Hex appeal anyone?

The Hindustan Times, July 24, 2008
"I get beaten up regularly, you will learn to adjust too," her to-be mother-in-law told her. Luckily she didn't take that parental advice and walked out a week before her marriage. She was 23. Another was not as lucky and grew to be very scared of the night, that's when her husband came back from work. She was 18. He never beat her, technically, but he raped her every night, every possible way. She took three years to get out of the marriage. Both women are 'comfortable' sharing their stories over a cup of coffee but neither of them is a blogger nor wants to be one either. One wonders if there would be any takers for their blogs or would they be labelled 'feminists' and cast aside?

It's ironic that while both 'feminine' and 'feminist' come from 'female', one conjures images of Marilyn Monroe's mystery, Sophia Loren's sensuousness and Bo Derek's twins; the other neither invokes such visual richness nor summons any pleasing reactions. 'Hard-nosed', bitch, needs-a-lay are just some of the polite words. Currently the blog world is divided over feminine and feminist too. Feminine will write about sex, or rather who she 'shags' (and how); feminist will write about who shagged her -- and then beat her.

If on one hand there's cleavage-baring (nice cleavage though) Zoe Margolis aka Abbey Lee aka Girl With A One Track Mind who gives insight on men-women-relationships with a generous dose of her generous , there's Fay Weldon who also gives insight on men and women but sans the cleavage or her sex life. She does write on sex though, more on the lines of "It's OK to fake an orgasm" or "Rejecting a lover can give you more gratification". Those are excerpts from an article she wrote on keeping men happy on Femail daily. If Abbey Lee talks about massaging a man's gonads, Weldon talks about squeezing the same to prove your point.

Feminine or feminist, all women seem to talk about bodies, babies, boobs and beatings. There's Samantha Brett on Ask Sam who answers dating and relationship queries. While Sam's writing is neither witty enough to compare with Abbey Lee nor scathing enough to match up to Weldon's, for some quick easy (at times, can-find-anywhere) advice on what's the right thing to do, she suffices.

For those who'd rather read fiction than facts, there's – hold your breath – Witchy Chicks who write fictional, sex-filled, lustful, orgasmic (etc, etc) stories on wicca, sex, women, sex, wizards, sex… Don't read for much quality – 'Hex Appeal' anyone? – but it's worth a laugh.

PS: Current status: No internet yet, course going fine, met awesome Sri Lankan girl, wore green socks yesterday that were called woolly mammoth and moss among other polite things. Cooked Indian dinner. Gave CV to chef saying I was a baker, he was Greek and said he will call back. So that I can bake for him. Like the idea, it should pay. Let's see. Gotta go, this is the library!!!


The Pope, politics and potty!

In another hour or so I'll be heading for my first class. Let's see how that goes, kind of nervous. Even before classes, I found myself signing up for two campaigns. One supporting a change in abortion laws in Victoria (the state Melbourne is in) and another supporting the cause of giving transport (train/tram) concessions to international students and postgraduate students. Hmm. No, I hadn't planned to join in campaigns but I did. Hopefully there will be a workload from uni and hopefully it should not be boring. I am BLOODY bored and itching to get on with things.

While on one hand the media is/was abuzz with Pope Benedict's visit on the World Youth Day (misnomer though, should have been World Catholic Youth Day, since it seems the rest of the world's youth will really have no hand in world peace or such similar nice things), the other three big news are about Indian-origin doctor Jayant Patel being extradited from the US on charges of negligence and manslaughter while he was working at te Bundaberg hospital in Queensland, a senior foreign correspondent for commercial Aussie TV channel ABC being arrested in Singapore for trafficking 'ice' and Aussie PM Kevin Rudd being torn apart in the media because he said the C word. No, NOT 'clit' (bwahaha) but CARBON, rather carbon emissions. It's funny how earlier the media here loved to bash their PM-for-12-years John Howard and now has a gala time trying to make Rudd trip and fall. Funny how the media here is EXACTLY the same as the media back home. They even say wrong English on TV, "Dr Patel FLIED out of US this morning." Pray, what the eff is FLIED? That on national TV on a show called Sunrise. Perhaps the anchor needed some waking up.

However, unlike the Indian media, media criticism here is much rampant and much more scathing. While our NDTV does a good show in the form on 'Gustakhi Maaf' (lierally means 'pardon me', the puppet-based show anyone?) that critiques (more often ridicules) the politicians, we don't have ANYTHING that looks at the media as such. There's a show here called 'Media Watch' that does a darned good job of looking at what the media - print, online and TV -- is upto. From which journo was heard flirting on air, to putting his/her foot in the mouth, to what report was plagiarised, lacked facts or was botched and even taking down magazines for stupid captions -- they did on lag mag FHM, which had a caption for a camera saying something on the lines of 'Gave all paedophiles/pervs a hard-on when passing by the school.' IMAGINE having a show or even a column like that in India. What do you think will happen? 1. journalist will lose his/her job for suggesting such a column 2. Times of India will most probably start suing everyone involved. Anyone remember what happened to the Mediah blog?

While our desi papers and channels have a fair share of Australia-related news, the three news items I've read here that concerned India were 1. About Dhoni "saving himself" for the 20/20s or one-dayers and not playing in the Test. Someone tell Dhoni his hymen isn't involved. (2.) another about the nuclear deal going bust and India looking at imminent elections and how three politicians with criminal records will be released from jail to participate in the same and how India is one of the world's MOST corrupt nations (think we are number 7, have to check) and (3) Indian-origin doctor Patel news. I logged-in to ibnlive.com this morning and the first interesting news that was flashing was how
Indians beat the world in defecating in open places.

Wonder though if we should really feel bad about that since the British top the list when it comes to potty-bums -- defecating and not "washing" themselves. What's worse: Getting it out of the system in the open or letting some loving remains stick to you? Take your pick, leave a comment or mail me. We're talking shit again. ;)

Below is the column I wrote for HT last Thursday, which of course I forgot to put up. Mea culpa.

The Hindustan Times, 17th July 2008
The blogger’s world is abuzz with stay-at-home
single dads (and

beleagured moms)
who are sharing more
than just pictures of
their kids in the buff
Some parents have a strange habit of clicking pictures of their babies in the buff. With the Internet and blogging, some parents are also putting up those pictures for all and sundry to see. Either there should be legislation against allowing parents to click naked pictures of their kids or some sort of age of consent where kids have a say if they want the world to see those pictures. Parents need to be told that 2-year-old Ratan's picture showing his little wee-wee is really not funny when said Ratan, now 32, brings home the girl he wants to marry.

If on one hand Angelina Jolie's newly popped-out twins are sending the paparazzi in a tizzy to get that first shot (pray why, aren't all newborns red and wrinkled?), elsewhere dad and Australian newspaper The Age's art critic Robert Nelson, is in the midst of a media blitzkrieg for publishing naked pictures of his six-year-old daughter Olympia in the magazine's (Art Monthly) latest issue. While first he denied the pictures are sexual, an essay written on his wife Polixeni Papapetrou's blog seemed to say otherwise.

Perhaps Nelson needs to learn about parenting from mommy-daddy bloggers – parents who blog – who despite sharing regular insights on everything from baby poo, nappy rashes and when-to-wean-the-baby, don't put out naked pictures of their infants. While mommy bloggers come in all ages – from the to-be mommies, newly-mommies to wish-I-wasn't-mommy-because-the-tots-turned-to-teens – the daddy bloggers seem to be singularly of the same 'type'. Most are new dads, most are stay-at-home and most try to be funny. Some succeed.

Some of the daddies rue the time they were single, some of the dads are single and trying to juggle babies and booties and some dads are plain preachy. Writer, blogger, and divorced single dad David Mott invites voyeurs to his blog and offers stories, tips, and expert advice "in an age of online dating, friends with benefits, hookups and booty calls" on Dad's House. If he recommends a beach vacation as the best family outing, he also supports tantrix sex. "Cooking is sexy. Reading is sexy. Tantric sex is sexy. It's the fast-food guzzling, sports blathering, selfish lover sorts of men who are unmanly," says David supporting the cause of men-who-like-gourmet.

Reading through some daddy blogs breaks the myth that it's only women who 'think' babies all the time, men do too! However, unlike most mommy blogs, the daddy bloggers use more humour. Consider the issue of baby names for instance. Greg on Daddy Types suggests using drug names for baby names for originality. "Aren't Paxil, Ambien, and Cialis kind of cute names? Tramadol, Klonopin and Zyrtec, not so much."


Somalia, Sholay and Islam ...

or, let's go to MelBUN!

Clich├ęs have an irritating habit of being bloody true. Beyond laughing at other accents – including the Indian non-accent – and enjoying Peter Russel who disdainfully rips apart almost all tongues, I really had not realized the true import of the phrase “lost in translation”. Till last afternoon when due to my own stupidity, I roamed around for 15 minutes in a cab when I was just a block from our house in Melbourne (we are in an area called Flemington).

I am NEVER going to ridicule people who go abroad and give up their native accents. Hours have I spent laughing at people who go the US or another Western country and develop a nasal twang. Or for that matter at Partner who was rapidly losing his Australian accent and would sound Indian, almost. I have an awesomely pronounced Indian accent and though I speak good English – and Aussies speak ‘Australian’ NOT English – my interactions and conversations with people have been bloody interesting. For one, despite knowing English I can convey MORE through sign language than I can through words!!!

I am being forced to attach an ‘i’ to my vowels and though I think I am doing a horrible job at saying words the Aussie way, people here seem to understand almost anything better than desi accents. Hrmph. Since I cannot keep up with this longer and even the last four days have been enough to make me forget HOW a word is pronounced, think I will have to change the accents of the people around. Let’s see. People don’t understand when I say I’m living in MelBOURNE… unless I say it’s ‘MelBUN’. Why not spell like that as well?

So I got into this cab yesterday and asked the dude to take me to ‘Sturt’ street. He took me to Stop street or something like that and we were both lost. Since I was VERY nervous, I chattered a mile-a-minute and despite pronouncing everything in a way he couldn’t understand, we got talking. He was from Somalia, works 10 hours and has four children. The oldest is 8 and the youngest is a year-and-a-half. “We are creating an African village here,” he said laughing. If his candidness at that was refreshing – couldn't help but think of Narender Modi’s, “Hum paanch, hamare pachchis?” (We five, our 25, alluding to Islam allowing four fives and five kids off each wife) – what was to follow knocked my socks off. When I told him I was from India, he beamed in the rear view mirror and said, “I used to watch a lot of Indian movies in Somalia. I love the one where they toss a coin to decide everything. Sholaiye it was called. Jugnu was a good movie too.” So what if Melbournians don’t understand my accent, Bollywood is conquering the world!

Laughing at yourself is an art, it shows humility and shows you are neither scared nor ashamed to be yourself. It’s something I can do only when I am very comfortable with the people around. Hmm. There are some who just can’t see the lighter side of life and take everything too seriously. Like the Pakistani boy who sat next to me on the Bangkok-to-Melbourne leg of my flight. “Do you know Quaid-e-Azam?” he asked. I didn't and he mocked me saying he knew Gandhi and was shocked that I didn’t know “Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.” Well I ‘knew’ Jinnah but my general knowledge being sucky, didn’t know he was called Quaid-e-Azam (great leader). My history books (sadly) didn't teach me to look at him that way. THEN the kid asked if I liked poetry. I refused again since I really don’t understand poetry and was playing sudoku and didn’t want to be disturbed. THEN he asked if I knew Prophet Muhammad. I said yes I did and the dude launched into some Urdu shaayeri. By now I had had enough conversation and asked him why he was insisting on TEACHING me about Muhammad. “As a Muslim it’s my duty to spread the message of Islam.” To those who might not be interested? Why?

That incident apart, it’s been an interesting four days. It’s amusing at times, at times worrying, the way India is perceived. At times, there’s nothing to do but accept that we are ‘like this only’. As we argued over Partner wearing the seat belt, Partner’s 16-year-old piped in, “Do you have seat belts in India?” To my ‘of course yes’, he was rather surprised and said, “But why? People sit on top of trains there!” Well, I told him that India is trying to patent seat-belts for on-top-of-the-train rides and he nearly believed it. *grin* But then maybe we should, seat belts and double decker trains. India 2050. What say?

PS: It’s like old days right now, notes in diary and then typing them out later; will be more regular once I have my own computer. How’s everyone?


Ok tata, bye bye!

Oi people,

As of tonight, am flying out to join Partner in Melbourne. It's a year and a half of studying and writing and missing Delhi and those I met here... and learning a new way of life. DAMN. I won't lie, I am excited, nervous, terrified and cannot eat anything right now. Bile tastes real yucky I tell you.

Hopefully Melbourne and me will adapt to each other and no one will feed me to the crocodiles. Given my size and lack of meat, don't think the crocs will enjoy me either. Have no idea about jelly fish though and prefer to see them from this side of a glass wall under artificial life. I SUCK at sport and need to learn swimming. I can only doggy paddle now and the lack of a tail makes that difficult as well. As for 'net ball', playing it with specs on is kinda tough and without the glasses I am blind.

Then again, people have told me they enjoy my food BUT I don't think Aussie dishes use haldi (turmeric) or garam masala. So tad nervous about how does one know when a steak is rare and when its medium-rare when cooking at home. And the moment I think of how happily a kangaroo hops BEFORE it lands on the dinner table reduces me to tears. But then, if i am quite happy watching a chicken die and eating it, i hope i can harden my heart about the roos as well. HRMPH. Shall learn.

Recently when packing, my dad called my clothes 'chindhi', which means 'rags' in Hindi. Now that has made me nervous too since well, I wear small things and well, if I dont like the size I tend to run scissors through it. So well, a lot of my clothes have irregular hemlines because I have chopped them off. And some of my favourites are stuff that have Golu -teeth marks on them... And chicks in Melbourne dress real well... Man!

My best friend called - and she's studied and lived overseas a lot -- and told me to take it easy. So well, no more frantic typing for lack of anything better to do. Shall keep repeating the following to self:

1. What I don't know I can learn.
2. What I cant wear, I shall carry off like the latest fashion statement.
3. NEVER to embarrass my Partner. (will need practice)
4. Learn to keep my mouth shut or speak softly if at all I get the itch to say it as-is.
5. TRUST people. HMMM.

OH... PLEASE mail me your phone numbers and email ids as my current Delhi phone will be out and I am most likely to lose the SIM to retract numbers from it. Eve Emancipation the blog, will continue...let's see if it changes or how. And perhaps Mishraji will visit Melbourne...

To all I have met along the way -- sorry if I said and did things you didn't deserve and if you DID deserve those, let's hope we can start afresh some other time. If you're not interested, let me know, will save me trouble. (Woman, you just said 'learn to keep my mouth shut!)

Aaaaaaaaaa, am blabbering. Am off for second cup of coffee and DO something about this drasted RAT that's running around my friend's house and has jumped OVER my legs twice. Shit rodent.

Ok tata bye bye!!!
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