Friday, December 21, 2007

Reality check

So US troops have found torture chambers in Iraq. I wonder if the US would be kind enough to let UN officials check its Guantanamo site for torture chambers… or even the CIA headquarters. For all you know, the Pentagon too. What might they find there, do you think?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lessons learnt early, and suchlike

When you think of your younger self from an adult perspective, things seem so different. Unless you were an absolute angel as a child, you inevitably end up thinking that you could have been a lot nicer. Yeah, on reflection – and not much of it – I could have been a lot nicer. In fact, I was probably the sort of kid whom I'd have loathed had my adult self only met the younger me then. Ah, you know what I mean.


When I look back on the years spent in Dar es Salaam, a few friends from then come to mind. I didn't have many friends, thinking about it – yeah yeah, probably because I was a little creep but also because I preferred books to people. One of the things I remember was playing hopscotch outside our house for hours.

Two of my playmates were Pammi (Paramjit) and Madhuri. Pammi was a skinny Punjabi girl with long, hip-length braids and a permanent giggle. No matter what you said to her, whether you were being nasty or rude or whatever, she'd giggle. I don't remember where she lived but she must have been fairly close by because we played together a lot. (Maybe she came for tuition from my mother - but I honestly dont remember.) I have to say I don't remember meeting her parents ever. Madhuri was the daughter of my veena teacher, a pretty, solemn girl with large, dark, soulful eyes. She was not very good at games (worse than me, which was saying something) but always tried to join in.

I'm ashamed to say that both girls irritated me enormously – one because of the giggle with which she countered my worst remarks, and the other because she'd hang around me, ignoring all instructions to go away because we didn't want to play with her. I don't know why those two continued to play with me, because I was rude to them an awful lot. Only once do I remember Madhuri going off crying because we refused to let her into the game – and although I was relieved, I also felt rather guilty. So when my parents insisted that I go to her house, apologise and bring her back, I was quite happy to do so. I was nice to her for a while thereafter because of residual guilt, but the irritation cycle started up again in time…


There were a few next-door neighbours whom I visited, but the girls were far older than me. I found them intriguing because although their mother was of Tamil descent and the girls had South Indian names, they were totally African in behaviour and spoke Swahili like it was their mother tongue. Well, it was their mother tongue because they were Tanzanian… it's just that I couldn't get my head around the fact that their mother spoke to me in Tamil while they didn't know the language at all. I couldn't imagine how that situation could come about.

Their house was stuffed with furniture and possessions, and I never really figured out just how many daughters the old lady had. The dimly lit house, smelling of strange cooking, seemed to be always filled with people - different ones every time, or so it seemed to me.


The school I went to was run in the afternoon from 1pm at a local secondary school premises. It wasn't very far away so at first I used to walk to school, taking the longer way around. Then I discovered a short cut, a small path that went past some houses inhabited by the locals. For a few days I found it a pleasant, shady route where the odd hen or two would cluck along beside me for a bit, then go away in a flap if I said "shoo". On one of those occasions, however, a gang of teenage Africans surrounded me, demanding money. They were kids from the same school I went to, except that they attended the morning session which was Swahili-medium. They were quite menacing and I was petrified. I didn't have any money so I kept repeating "Amuna hela", which means "No money", while they grabbed my school bag and rummaged through it. On finding that I wasn't lying, they upended my school books on the path and made off with my pencil box, with the warning that I'd better have some money for them the next time I came that way, or they'd beat me up. Naturally enough, I avoided the shortcut like the plague from then!

Not that walking on the main road was always trouble-free. Some teenage boys had other ways of harassing us girls, especially if we were walking alone and there was nobody else around. They would come up behind us and flick our skirt up to expose our underwear, or even try to pull our skirts down, laughing like loons when they were successful. Once, three boys chased me all down the road, turning tail only when some parents, who were dropping of their children at school, appeared on the scene. After that I kept a wary eye out for any local boys, crossing the road to the other side well in advance if I saw any of them, and walking very, very quickly if there was nobody else on the road…

Those early lessons of caution were learnt quickly, and learnt well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nothing quite like it...

That nice, warm shock of pleasure you get when you random-hop your way to a totally unknown blog - and find your food blog linked there? Niiiiiiiiiiice!

At random

Seven reasons to turn down a marriage proposal:

1. The proposal letter begins with “Dear Madam or whomever it may concern”.

2. You know he’s a momma’s boy.

3. The reason you know this is because momma is standing behind you, holding up flash cards as prompts for him.

4. He’s putting together ideas for his first anthology of poetry, to be dedicated to you – but until then he’ll need looking after.

5. He says his two wives have been asking him to bring in a third person to make up a bridge team.

6. He’s a commune Elder and you’re 14.

7. You’re already married (unfortunately or otherwise).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A pleasure beyond measure - but why?

I like chocolate. I’m choosy about the chocolate I eat – I don’t go for the supermarket brands like Cadbury’s whose sugar content is higher than the cacao content. Even from the pricier European brands, I only like those with nuts in, and preferably whole hazelnuts (Ritters’ Sport being my all-time favourite for the highest ratio of whole hazelnuts to chocolate). Otherwise I tend to prefer dark chocolate that is not as cloyingly sweet as the regular or milk versions.

However, I’m certainly not crazy about any chocolate to the point of addiction. One or two squares (or individual sweets) at a time usually satisfies any small urge I might have. If I buy a bar of chocolate, I don’t feel the compulsion to eat it all rightaway – or even open it, sometimes for weeks. (However, if Pete sees chocolate – any chocolate...!)

But why is chocolate mostly always associated with women? I know plenty of men who love chocolate just as much as any women, my husband being a prime example. So why is it that all the TV adverts for chocolate feature women in the eating role? I havent seen any ads where the man bundles a girlfriend out of his house, locks the door, whisks out a hidden bar of chocolate, settles comfily on the sofa and then proceeds to break off and masticate a piece of chocolate with all the facial expressions to indicate a pleasure beyond measure. Is chocolate better than sex only for women? Sure, women have more hormones than men - but don’t men have any hormones at all that can be soothed or improved by chocolate? Ideas, anybody?

Monday, December 17, 2007

"At-trash-ion" - the pull of supermarket rags

As anybody who knows me might know, I’m a voracious reader. I’m usually willing to try mostly any genre or any author, especially if it’s for the first time. I’d like to say that I’m a thoroughbred intellectual when it comes to my reading matter… but I’d be lying if I said that. And, like George Washington before me, I cannot tell a lie. What I can say is that what I read is directly related to what is available to read. If it’s a classic novel, then I’m as intellectually literary (or literarily intellectual, take your pick) as anybody could wish for. If I’m stuck anywhere bookless (a fairly unusual state of affairs), then I read whatever is at hand. If it’s a trashy magazine, so be it. If there’s not even a trashy magazine handy, then I read whatever’s available – a poster, old grocery lists (found in my bag), the statutory warning on a discarded cigarette pack, someone else’s newspaper, the bus timetable, leaflet handouts, basically any scrap of paper that has any writing on it. If I'm really pushed, I will even read a self-help book by a self-help guru. That’s how desperate a reader I can be.

However, I have a confession to make… trashy magazines are strangely compelling. When I was younger I went through a phase when I read all the film and women’s magazines going at the time (in India)… Star Dust, Filmfare, Star & Style, G magazine, even Women’s Era - although I hated every story and article in every issue of that particular magazine. (To think there was a time when I actually believed everything written by Devyani Chaubal about the film stars… but that’s neither here nor there - although if anyone knows what’s happened to that nasty old woman, please do let me know.)

The thing is, when I grew up a bit more and acquired some sophistication (so I believed), I shunned those magazines like they delivered the plague rather than unsubstantiated gossip every month. Trashy magazines were for people who declared “Oh I cant read a book, they’re so boring, I only read magazines”. I felt intellectually and morally superior at having grown up and moved on to classics and literature. I don’t mean that I wouldn’t have read those same magazines in a book emergency - but I wouldn’t have actively gone out and bought one of them. And I certainly wouldn’t have admitted to reading them! Little did I imagine then that those trashy magazines would make a triumphant comeback into my life a few years down the line…

Thaaat’s right. I read all of the supermarket rags now, and I'm only moderately ashamed of admitting it. I read the “true” confessions and “shocking” real life stories with catchy headlines like “My husband ran off with my mother”, “How I spent £5 million and became bankrupt”, “I spent £30,000 on surgery to look like Posh Spice”, “My gambling habit lost me my house, husband and children but I’m still going to Vegas”. I’m au courant with all the excitingly trashy behaviour exhibited by the Great Unwashed and recorded in painstaking reams of print in dozens of colourful magazines. So it’s not my finest hour, intellectually speaking. So what if there's a sea of good books to read and I choose the reandom rubbish that is washed up on shore? At least now I know what the ladies in my office are talking about. Y’want to know what Kerry Katona said about Katie Price in her latest column? Ask me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Returned without thanks

This is how to screw up a child.

If this couple have had her for 7 years, from when she was just 4 months old, where would "culture shock" come in? Whose culture shock? The girl's, or theirs? And once again, what sort of culture shock appears after 7 years? Did they suddenly realise that Jade was Korean * shock* and not Dutch? Was the girl made to realise that she was different, or did she realise it herself? Did she feel wanted or was she discriminated against, compared to her non-blood-related siblings?

And now look, she doesn't speak what should have been her natural mother tongue – Korean. She DOES speak English and Cantonese, but she's neither English nor Chinese. Evidently she's also not Dutch. Where would she fit in? With what sort of family, of what ethnic origin? And for that matter, in what country?

Obviously I don't know if she was a difficult child… but I cant help feeling that any child who's been with a family practically from birth would have learned to live like that family, acquire that family's tastes in food, speech, habits and so on. It's nurture, not nature, that's paramount in the early years of childhood. Who knows, perhaps Jade might have been better off unadopted, and unconfused, in her native Korea.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wrong conclusion

“The planned increase in jail capacity is a disastrous admission by Labour that it expects its social programmes to fail”

I disagree. The prisons are supposedly overcrowded NOW, so the new prisons planned will hopefully redistribute those who are already in, and keep them in. That way, perhaps, violent muggers, murderers and rapists wont be let out early for reasons of “no space in the prisons”.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I have a question...

But first, the background:

Company A does some work on Person B’s house, helping oversee the construction of an extension. The plans for the extension were drawn up by a now former employee of Company A and overseen by an external contractor, so Company A does not, strictly speaking, have anything to do with the construction itself. A few months after the extension is complete, a persistent and serious leak appears in the roof, the cause of which cannot be determined.

Despite many tests and inspections by Company A, and various exploratory repair works, water continues to get in. Person B has trouble finding a buyer for the house because of the leak. However, a specialist manages to finally sort out the leak and presents Person B a bill for a few thousand pounds for the work. Person B insists to Company A that the original plan drawn up by its former employee must have had a flaw, thereby allowing the leak to happen, and therefore the bill for the repair work should be paid by Company A.

Company A , however, insists that it cannot be proven that the plan was flawed, since the fault could not be satisfactorily determined. Also, the company was not directly involved in the construction or in overseeing it, so it was not liable for the repair bill.

However, Person B is adamant that Company A should pay the costs, and threatens to go to Court over it.

Finally Company A meets with Person B and the external contractor to try and negotiate a settlement. Which, eventually, ends in Company A agreeing to not charge Person B for the time spent on various inspections of the leak over the years, and also pay the entire cost of repair works.

A letter is then drawn up to confirm this settlement. The wording is “This offer is made without prejudice and without any admission of liability on the part of Company A”.

My question is: When Company A is willing to pay Person B a few thousand pounds AND waive its fees (amounting to at least a few hundred pounds), isn’t that already an admission of liability or guilt? I mean, why else would a business part with a large amount of money, if not to forestall having to spend an even larger amount of money after losing its case in Court. Is it possible in law that although Company A is obviously admitting liability by paying up, it isnt seen as liable because it says it is not admitting liability? How bloody childish an argument that is! It's like saying to someone: "Ok, since you're threatening me with court action, I'll give back your money, but I am not admitting that I took it or was in any way guilty."

Could any legal person who happens to come across this post please leave a clarification? I would be MOST grateful!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why so much venom?

I didnt realise there were people who wrote festering, tasteless, unfunny blogs like this until very recently. To target bloggers in that venomous way is bad enough... but to make an innocent child the target of obscenity, is, as the two anonymous and cowardly writers like to say about other folks, PUKEWORTHY.

I hate news like this, where murderers have “rights” that are forever denied to their victims. A prison sentence only partially redresses the crime that was committed, especially if the crime was murder. The dead don’t get any rights at all, least of all the one where they are meant to live until they die a natural death. Where does a killer get off demanding any rights?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

They might go to the USA, they might go to the UK, they might settle anywhere in the Western world, study the hardest, be the most expensively and extensively educated, earn in the millions, and live as modern a lifestyle as anybody in the West… but in the end, they don’t change at all. Nothing changes. Attitudes remain as anti-female as that of anyone from the poorest, uneducated, illiterate and blindly superstitious masses that never knew a world outside their village, never mind their country. When will they learn to love their daughters? It is all more depressing than words can ever convey.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Only vegetarian kids allowed

Oh for god's sake, again. How many more ways can religious nuts come up with to create divisions in society? Even among the followers of the same religion?

One other thing strikes me - do Muslim schools or madrassas insist that their pupils MUST follow Islam? I really dont know if they do or dont.

Whip some sense into them

Oh my God! Or rather, Ya Allah! Plenty has been written about this poor woman who got her class of 7-year-olds to name a teddy bear and unwisely went with the kids’ choice of “Muhammad”.

But I'm still putting in my two bits, so I’m going to say that this sort of ridiculous over-reaction from Muslim governments/clerics/leaders is EXACTLY what makes people think that Islam is a totally intolerant religion whose followers mostly have no access to reason and no recourse to common sense. And not much compassion in them either, from all accounts.

If Gillian Gibbons IS going to be flogged for letting her pupil name the teddy bear Muhammad, and ignorance is no excuse, then somebody should go after the parents of the Muslim kid or kids who chose to call the bloody teddy bear Muhammad! Give them a flogging as well for not telling their children enough about their sensitive religion.

I mean, those kids who were Muslim should have known, shouldn’t they, that you shouldn’t name an inanimate thing Muhammad in case it becomes a representation of the Prophet which of course is forbidden. You can’t flog children (that is, I hope you cant), so why not give the offending parents a religious lesson with a whip?

(If you ask me, a cuddly teddy bear seems SOOOO much friendlier as a representative of a religion than… oh, let’s see, a bearded guy with a hook hand. Now HE was inciting hatred and violence allright, but did anybody threaten him with a flogging? Hmm… let me think.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Things I did today at work:

- Sorted out my paperclips according to size and arranged them in neat piles.

- Tapped my fingernails on the desk to imitate a horse clip-clopping along, then trotting and finally going at full gallop.

- Tried to compose a new song by patching together old ones at trotting tempo

- Ran said imaginary horse off the table to a sad death hundreds of millimetres below on the floor, so held imaginary funeral for it. (No neigh-sayers there.)

- Tried to look out of the window without moving my head, sending my eyeballs in that direction instead. Tried so hard that I popped a contact lens out.

- Spent two minutes popping contact lens back into eye and blinking madly to settle it in.

- Drew dust flowers on my monitor screen.

- Tried to twist a coil of my hair into a ringlet, using my pen.

- Spent five minutes disentangling the pen from my hair.

- Spent two minutes removing stray hairs from my pen. Gluestick didnt help re-attach it to my scalp.

- Drew a doll face on my thumb and played with it, using a piece of tissue as a head scarf or veil.

- Used the power of my boredom to fast-forward into time, but apparently only succeeded in stopping it.

- Yawned 457,983-1/2 times

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More memories from school

- My brother spent the most time at St John’s, starting from Std 2. My sister started from Std 5 and I from Std 8. At first my brother was in a separate building, about 3 minutes walk from the “big” school, which housed kids from LKG to Std 4. But soon enough we were all three in the same building. I’m afraid I tried to pretend that they didn’t exist, finding for some strange pre-teen reason that it was embarrassing to have siblings younger than me. Of course it was impossible to keep the teachers and our classmates from finding out that we were – ahem! – related. One time some kid came running up to me and said “Your brother’s had an accident, he’s broken his leg, he’s crying in the auditorium”. I rushed down to the auditorium (but as calmly as possible because you see I didn’t really have a brother at my school) and pushed through the crowd of students to peer through one of the windows… and to my huge relief it was some other kid who was lying on a table bawling his head off. Not my brother. Just as I turned away from there, my sister came up all wide-eyed and anxious – evidently she’d been told the same story. But all I said to her was “It’s not Kumar”, and then I went off to my classroom. Because you see, I didn’t really acknowledge that I had a sister at my school either.

- With the three of us in the same school, I occasionally came in for the “why cant you be like your sister” variety of remarks from teachers of subjects in which I didn’t excel (which incidentally was anything maths or science-related). I know that my brother definitely got more than his fair share of being asked “Why cant you be good like your older sisters” – but then he probably deserved those remarks. Heh.

- Urban legends abounded in our school, with rumours doing the rounds far longer than they deserved. (I’m sure this happens in any school, though). The one that made the biggest impression on me was the tale about the kid from our school who drowned when he fell into an open drain during the monsoon downpours. He wasn’t walking on the pavement like he should have been, he was apparently walking by the side of the road. It could even have been a true story, because the kerbs and roads quite often were flooded knee-deep with rainwater… so the corporation guys sometimes removed the gridded manhole covers for the water to drain away quicker. Which is why, if I couldn’t walk on the pavement or tell where the raised kerbs were, I would walk right in the middle of the road where I KNEW for sure there weren’t any drain holes that would be left open! I risked being run over by rickshaw-wallahs and cars and scooters and buses, but at least I wouldn’t drown somewhere underneath the road in the drains.

- Mondays were “all-white” days - white canvas shoes and white skirt with a white shirt. The rest of the days we were meant to wear black Mary-Janes and a blue skirt and white shirt. I preferred my canvas shoes, so I would get regularly pulled up by the gate minotaurs (I’m going to leave that Freudian slip in, but what I meant was “gate monitors”) for being out of uniform. Until I overheard a classmate and got my perfect excuse - “The shop didn’t have leather shoes in my size, so my mother has ordered them specially from the factory/is getting them made specially at the cobbler”. And that was pretty much it. My permanent excuse, as nobody remembered it from one week to the next. It even worked on the PT teacher. (I should add here that my classmate’s excuse was one-time and legitimate.)

- Wednesdays were my favourite day, because there were only two classes after lunch break, then we had PT for the rest of the afternoon. Our school didn’t have playing fields, so we marched two-by-two to a municipal playing ground about 10 minutes walk away. It was a bare open ground with two goal-posts provided and just one tree to provide any shelter. Most of the girls in my class would just sit around under the tree and jabber about things that didn’t ever catch my interest. Very occasionally one of them would consent to play badminton but mostly they would just sit like gossipy old women. I used to envy the boys greatly because they never sat around – they were always playing football or cricket. It wasn’t done for girls to join the boys in playing anything. Bah!

- A few weeks before School Day, we would start practicing march-past in the playing ground – no sitting around then for anybody! Those of us that were taking part in various sports would practice for the heats. I always wanted to be the flag bearer because I was such an uncoordinated klutz. The flag bearer didn’t have to swing his/her arms, just had to hold the flag stiff and yell “Forward March” or “Eyes Right” or “Eyes Left” or “Halt One Two”. My feet marched beautifully in step, but could I ever swing my arms in sync, without hitting the person in front or at the side? Could I hell as like. But I never got to be flag bearer. That was always the privilege of the PT master’s favourite girl, Padmini. One of those all-rounder-type perfect girls who was the apple of every teacher’s eye. Bah again.

- As School Day came closer, we’d have classes only in the morning. All afternoon was spent marching and by the time we finished, we’d be absolutely parched from the dust and heat. No matter how much water we took along, we’d finish it in an hour or so. Some of us who’d brought along our bags (to save having to go back to school to fetch them before going home) would beg for some water to drink from the houses on the way. Some of the houseowners would threaten to complain (especially if the boys were extra boisterous) to our headmaster, but there were a few who were very kind. There was one old lady in particular, bless her kind heart, who would have a huge kodam (pot) of cold water ready just for us, every time. We couldn’t thank her enough, and I cant begin to describe just how refreshing and welcome that water was! She was definitely an angel.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The teachers of school years past...

Random teacher memories over the years from school (St John's Jr College in Mandaveli):

- A substitute history teacher of whom I was terrified because I was always afraid he would pick on me like he did with another girl who was fat. He found it very funny to sing a corrupted version of an old Tamil movie song at her. (His version: "Miaow miaow poonai kutti, class-la sutthum yaanaikutti" – literal translation "miaow miaow little kitten, a baby elephant in the class"). He never did pick on me, for whatever reason, but 45 minutes of sitting in the class waiting for him to "discover" me was almost worse than any actual teasing. I wish I could remember the b*stard's name. To that girl's credit (cant remember her name either) she never seemed intimidated by him, whatever her feelings on the inside.

- A very pretty geography teacher who spent a lot of her time standing at the entrance to our classroom, flirting with the senior PT master (their classes coincided that way) in the next classroom. She had a somewhat nasal voice and would insist on calling me "SYAAmala". I liked her – well, the entire class did, because we could pretty much do as we pleased. She would only exert herself if the noise level rose beyond tolerable. Occasionally if we were really noisy even after being warned by her, the PT master would poke his head into our classroom and threaten us with dire punishment. We kept quiet for a little longer when that happened. Oddly enough, I cant remember the names of either teacher now.

- A bad-tempered physics teacher, whose name was Miranda. He was disgusting – oily lank hair with a parting far over to one side and combed over, although he wasn't balding. Longer than normal, his hair came up to his earlobes and if he was seated when he called you to the blackboard, you could sometimes see oil-stains on his shirt collars. Yuk. But the worst part was that he was a closet pedophile… he always made me uncomfortable, but I didn't know why until a much more worldly-wise classmate (who was my best friend for a brief 9 months before she moved to Bombay) made us aware of his sleazy tendencies. She told me and another friend never to be alone with him in the staffroom.

- A history teacher, a Mallu lady who was terrible at her job, and who was utterly unable to earn the respect of our class because we knew exactly what button to push to get her flustered. All one of the boys (sitting nearest the corridor) had to say was "The Princi(pal) is coming, miss" and she would rush to cover the blackboard with dates and names as proof that she had been hard at work, raising her voice and trying to get us to be more responsive. She never seemed to twig on to the fact that he hardly ever turned up. ("It's okay miss, he's gone into VIIIB miss").

- A chemistry teacher who never picked on me, but was renowned for the nasty painful nips she gave with her fingernails as punishment for not answering questions correctly, or for making a noise, and so on. She was very fond of my sister, so that could be why I escaped the nips even though I was dismal at chemistry. She was quite kind at heart, really, but her attitude in general was as politically incorrect as you could get. Her usual way of addressing the 2-3 guys in the class who were Jains, was "You, moneylender" or "You, pawnbroker". (Jains were mostly from Rajasthan, and the majority of them were pawnbrokers or money-lenders, usually on a small scale although reputed to be as tightfisted as they were rich.)

- A young(ish) botany teacher who, along with a couple of other Christian teachers, was in charge of the school choir. We referred to her as "Vidi miss" – I don't know if that was her surname or her given name, or even if "Vidi" was the right name! Her most favourite instruction to us was to "open our mouth wide" while we sang. I didn't understand that until much later, when I saw a proper "Western" choir sing. They certainly opened their mouths wide!

- An assistant PE teacher, Alagappan, a minor tyrant and wannabe head PE teacher. Unfortunately named, because he was the opposite of good looking. He tried to terrorise the boys in my class (when we were in the 12 th standard) but ended up with egg on his face because those young thugs were more than a match for him. The way they dissed him was pretty awful, but then Alagappan shouldn't have tried to bully them. The kids in the lower classes bore the brunt of his bad temper, sadly.

- Our English teacher, who looked like Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh. That exact same pinched look, that fussy air, skinny and high-strung, with thin hair pulled back very tightly into a bun. (It's because of her that I was convinced for YEARS that Rabbit was a She rather than a He.) She stood absolutely no nonsense from anybody, wasn't afraid of slapping down – literally – recalcitrant teenage boys twice her size and was the first to tell us off for calling her "miss". ("Call me 'Ma'am', or "teacher" or even 'Hey you', but for god's sake don't address me as 'miss'. I'm a married woman.") She was my favourite teacher by far, although I'm not sure she returned the favour. I do know from personal admissions that a couple or three of the boys, who argued with her all the time, had a crush on her! Go figure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Rhett...

Well, how about that. There’s going to be another take on Rhett Butler.

I don’t know, though… I mean, do we really need to see a “soft” side to Rhett? Do we really need the details of his life (abusive father, awful childhood blah blah), to see why he is what he is? Do we really have to see him march his every emotion out on parade, whine about his lot and so on? Me, I’m content to have him as the cynical-yet-ultimately-soft-hearted man created by Margaret Mitchell. It’s easy enough to imagine a past for him without rewriting The Book (yes, it deserves capital letters, it’s that sort of classic) from a point of view that I'm certain will end up whiny.

I read Gone With The Wind before I saw the movie. Actually I'd read it several times before I picked up the 2-video set from Tic Tac Videos in Chennai. I cant actually remember with whom I watched it, but I have a vague idea that it was my best friend from college. The reason everything else is vague about that movie experience is the one overriding memory that has been burned into my brain – the utter, total, devastating disappointment that Clark Gable had played Rhett Butler. That middle-aged man (I was a teenager then and he really did seem old to me!), with his Halloween pumpkin head, stick-out ears and Halloween-pumpkin crooked teeth… how could HE be the Rhett Butler of my dreams? Not even his dimples mitigated my disappointment – and I’m usually a sucker for those. I hated him wholeheartedly for years, taking the side of Vivien Leigh who had disliked her co-star enough that she chewed garlic every time before a kissing shot with him!

I didn’t know then and I still don’t know who would have been the ideal Rhett Butler. And now I’ve watched the movie enough times that I’ve gradually been able to accept Clark Gable as Rhett. I just hope nobody tries to re-make that movie.

The other thing I hated about the movie was that large chunks of the book had been left out… but in hindsight and with numbum* experience, I guess that wasn’t such a bad thing or the movie would probably been 14 hours long rather than 4.

No, I haven’t read the rewritten Rhett-as-New-Age-Man version… yet. If I do read it, it will be only to prove to myself – unnecessarily, yes – that nobody can rewrite perfection. Pretty much like I skimmed through Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett”… and what appalling crap that was!

*numbum = that deadened feeling you experience in your hindquarters when you’ve been sitting too long in a movie theatre

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm the Librarian!!!??! :D

Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with
You scored as The Librarian

You’re the Librarian! Once a wizard, now an Orang-utan (due to an unfortunate magical accident), you refuse to be turned back for a few reasons: In this form, it’s easier to reach the shelves and hold more books; having the strength of five men makes people return their books on time; life’s great philosophical questions boil down to “when do I get my next banana?‿ You say “ook‿ but are usually understood well enough.

The Librarian


Carrot Ironfounderson


Gytha (Nanny) Ogg




Cohen The Barbarian


Lord Havelock Vetinari




Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


Commander Samuel Vimes




Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The other face of parental love

Today I read a very interesting item on the BBC site – basically, a father informed the police that his crackhead son had beaten, stamped and violently mugged a teenager and left him unconscious… all just to get a mobile phone. (More details here).

I personally think the father did the right and responsible thing. I cant imagine how difficult it would have been for him to do so, but he’s a hero for bringing his son to justice. He should be given some sort of award for setting an example well worthy of emulation!

If someone you knew had committed a violent crime, wouldn’t you let the police know? Wouldn’t it be your civic and public duty to do so? Why should that change just because the crime-doer is a son or daughter or some other family member or friend? Would you really, as a mother or father, keep quiet about your offspring’s crime, knowing that he or she had seriously injured or even killed someone else? Would you keep quiet about it, just because you felt that jail wasn’t “right” for your son or daughter?

Perhaps murder or violent crime is too much to imagine. Let’s say your child cheated at school to win a prize, or bullied another kid - and you alone knew it. Say your child would be expelled from the school if the school authorities found out. Would you keep quiet about it to protect your child? Would you let another child continue to be cheated of a prize, or be bullied, just because YOU love YOUR child and cant see your child punished?

I’m not a parent, but I’m pretty sure that I would not be able to live with my conscience if I knew a friend or relative had committed a serious – and especially unprovoked – crime, and I did nothing about it. Granted it would not be easy to give that person up, not at all easy… but it would be more difficult still to ignore the fact that my child/relative/friend had brought terrible grief to another family. And if MY friend/family member was the victim, I would most certainly want the criminal brought to justice.

Which I why I cant understand how Patsy McKie, whose son was shot dead, says she could never tell another parent to shop their child to the police because, in her words: “You love your child; you want the best for your child. And ending up in prison isn't the best for your child”.

If you ask me, ending up paralysed or dead isn’t exactly good for the victim of “your child” either!

I bet there are plenty of people who feel that Patsy McKie is a wonderful mother, all the more wonderful for saying that she doesn’t want the parents of her son’s killer(s) to shop their children to the police. Well, I beg to differ. Patsy McKie and her admirers might think she is a saint, but I wonder if they have considered that leaving the killers “unshopped”, as it were, could endanger the lives of other innocent people! Innocent people who could well be the beloved children of loving parents! What about the fact that the victims and their surviving family need justice? Is all that less important than the need for parents to protect their violent/murdering/thieving offspring from the law, out of parental love?

One other thing also struck me. How, exactly, does Patsy McKie want the police to find her son’s killers, if she doesnt mind the parents keeping quiet? Is it okay for someone other than the parents to “shop” the killers, perhaps?

Going by her logic, I guess all rapists, murderers, muggers, thieves and really anybody who commits any serious crime at all, should just roam about free… because after all, they’re also somebody’s “child” - and since prison “isn’t the best for your child”, they shouldn’t have to pay for their crime in prison. Never mind the victims, they’re dead anyway.

Parents who knowingly shield their criminal children and obstruct justice aren’t worthy of admiration. That isn’t love – it’s pure selfishness. It doesnt matter how exemplary they have been as parents till then. The truth is, such parents are as contemptible as their offspring, and should be considered as guilty of committing their offspring’s crime.

Friday, October 26, 2007

And I'm off again..

New York, this time. Again for about 10 days. Hope to see lots of Fall colour and maybe the Halloween Parade. Fingers crossed!

This is the sort of problem that shouldnt be aired for fear of being called a showoff... but I'm airing it anyway because hell, when am I ever gonna finish the Croatia travelogue??? And now I'll probably have to add a New York one to the workload!. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm back...

with a new imbecile suggestion!

Wait - that didnt come out right. Rewind. Replay.

I'm back! With a new imbecile suggestion that I read on the BBC website,
right here.

Tell you what... I have an even more radical suggestion. Forget driving at 20mph, that will only halve the number of road deaths. My idea is better still. Here it comes.

If everybody drives at zero mph or less, that would prevent ALL road deaths. Brilliant!

PS. Working on Croatia travelogue. Promises to be a long one.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hurray Hurray it's a holiday

Off to Croatia for 10 days... see y'all when I get back. Hopefully with photos and material for a travelogue post (at some point) :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm Gonzo. Although I've never seen him in the fur.

Your Score: Gonzo!

You scored 42 Mood and 22 Energy!

You are eccentric and often feel somewhat removed from your peer group. You are loveable and sensitive, but sometimes suffer from bouts of depression and existential angst.

Link: The Muppet Personality Test written by TheLadyEve on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

When inspiration fails... do silly quizzes and post 'em

Hooray, I'm Donald Duck! He's my favourite guy! :)

You scored as Donald Duck, Your alter ego is Donald Duck! Try as you might, you have a nasty temper that is hard to control. But you try hard to please, and you arn't one to go down without a fight.

Donald Duck




The Beast


Peter Pan








Snow White


Sleeping Beauty


Cruella De Ville


Which Disney Character is your Alter Ego?
created with

Monday, September 17, 2007

Toilet tourism

Since it would seem people (and by that - at the moment - I mean Americans) will queue up/travel to take photos of just about anything, perhaps we will soon be seeing a new variety of guided tours - Toilet Tourism. (Just imagine the guide: "... and this toilet - please dont push, everybody will get a chance to look at it - is where Mr Famous Person made his secret assignations with willing young men until he was caught. For an extra £5, you can actually sit on it." You get the idea...)

There's a business opportunity here which I'm sure some enterprising person can take up and make a clean profit. (As it were. Echooch the pun pliss.)

Idle thoughts

The superstition is that when a black cat crosses your path, it brings you bad luck. But have you ever wondered at what distance the bad luck begins to affect you? That is, how far away does a cat have to be? Two feet? 10 feet? A few hundred feet? Do you even have to SEE the cat crossing your path for the bad luck to start? Or is it enough that a black cat crossed your path at all, whether you see it or not?

Apart from this distinct lack of precision, superstitions also dont reflect our modern lifestyle. For instance, does it matter that you're driving when a black cat runs across the road in front of you? (The cat that ran across the road yesterday certainly was lucky that I was driving in a 30mph zone. Or it could well have turned into a splat.) Why cant superstitions be more precise?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ban on smoking

The pro:

- Pubs and other public entertainment venues are smoke-free on the inside.

The cons:

- Smokers are encouraged to take their cancer-sticks outside. So they hang around the entrance, smoking there. If you want to enter a pub or restaurant, you have to make your way in through a thick haze of cigarette smoke. Ugh.

- If it's good weather, non-smokers cant sit outside, because naturally all the smokers are congregated there. That way, the ban has definitely worked in their favour. I personally am waiting for winter and cold wet windy days, when us non-smokers can sit inside and be warm and comfortable, and watch the determinedly dimwitted smokers shivering while getting their fix. Yes, I'm looking forward to that allright!


The ban should be amended every so slightly to make it impossible for smokers to light up within 50 yards of the entrance to any building. Shouldnt be THAT difficult, surely?

Earliest memory of perfect happiness

I was in Standard Four, studying in Bunge (pronounced Boon-gay) Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. On the days that my dad didnt pick me up from school, I used to walk home in the evening. I guess the school wasnt very far away from home (although I'll have to go back one of these years and look at it again from an adult perspective).

One of those evenings turned out absolutely perfect - cool, gently breezy, with rainclouds building up and the footpath shady with all the trees lining the roadside. It was a long straight road and there was nobody else on it. I remember picking up a small leafy branch that had little red berries on it and skipping along singing songs aloud. I didnt even feel the weight of my school bag - at least not in my memory. Of course I didnt know what made me so happy - I just knew I felt light-hearted and content.

A couple of weeks later, after school, one of the girls in my class (we'll call her "S") said she'd show me a new way to get home. She wasnt the nicest of girls usually, and I was a bit dubious about going with her... but I didnt know how to say "No" - and truth to say, I was somewhat afraid of her because she was a bully. Anyway, S led me away from our normal route into the residential streets around the school. A few twists and turns, and I was pretty much lost. (Yep, my inner homing pigeon never hatched. Very likely it got lost too). At that point, S said: "I'm going to leave you here, you'll never get home", and then she ran.

Of course I tried to follow her, but she must have hidden herself because when I turned the corner, she wasnt there. Being the brave, adventurous type of child (not!), I only blubbered a little before trying to wend my way back. Naturally enough nothing was familiar. At some point S materialised again (she must have been following me, watching to see what I would do - the sadistic monster!) and I distinctly remember telling her "I dont like you!" and then marching off without looking back.

Luckily for me I eventually recognised a street as one that I passed on my usual way home - that was a huge relief. Perhaps S was just being meanly mischievious and wouldnt really have left me there and gone home herself - I'll never know. But I'm giving her the benefit of doubt because I'm a nice person.

Anyway, because I was so upset, I tried to make myself happy like I had been that other day. I picked up a branch, skipped a bit and tried to sing happy songs... but it just wasnt the same. For starters, it was a very warm, muggy evening. And then there were no rainclouds, no cooling breeze and I most certainly wasnt happy. I know I was puzzled why it didnt work, why I didnt feel lighthearted again. Eventually I gave up and just walked home. I guess that was the day I realised - although probably not in so many words - that you cant manufacture perfect moments at will. They happen when they happen, and that's it.


I wonder if I can make this a tag - the bit about the earliest memory of perfect happiness, I mean. The few of you who visit this blog, please take it up and do a post about your earliest happy memory, wont you? I would love to read about it. Thanks in advance!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Didnt we already know that?

Children outsmart chimps. Well, thank GOODNESS for that and Praise the Lawd! Now mothers everywhere can breathe easier knowing that their babies are very likely to be cleverer than chimpanzees. The future of humankind is assured.

Resolution for the New Year: I will try to go easy on the sarcasm. But for now.... PAAAAAAAATAAAAAY!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Are we Indian women growing younger?

Or just putting off growing older? A 40-year-old woman today is not the stately matron of a generation ago, whose life, whether she was working or not, revolved around family and home. There werent many who considered themselves "young" at that age then, and fewer people still who didnt label them "aunty" even if they (the labellers) were in their mid-20s! (I'll come back to that bit later.)

I doubt the 40-year-olds of then (unless they came from a VERY broadminded family - I wouldnt know about that, mine was a typical middle-class Brahmin Iyer family with the outlook typical of such a family) would dream of wearing jeans and shorts and short T-shirts and skirts and anything else going in the world of fashion today. They might have clawed each other over the latest saree designs or salwar fashions, but nothing less decorous would ever be seen on them. Not at "that" age, when they were wives and mothers, possibly of teenage or pre-teen children.

I'm glad that women are staying younger nowadays. The one thing I loved instantly when I moved abroad was that people did not let their age stop them living life as they wanted, rather than be hemmed in by social expectations and morality forced on them by society. Fifty, sixty-plus-year-olds going around holding hands, dating, cheating, divorcing, re-marrying, getting drunk, travelling, determinedly living alone and independently... it was a refreshing change from back home, where turning 40 meant humdrum decorum and respectability, especially in public. Not that decorum or respectability are wrong. That's not what I'm not saying. (I'm also not condoning cheating, drunkenness and other unpleasantness which is as reprehensible in the over-40s as it is in the under-40s.) But to be able to live like you're young, rather than be burdened with middle-age because of family and societal obligations when you're really in your prime - that's desirable, that's required! In fact, I'd expect it. Women have other expectations to live up to, apart from the mother and wife ones.

I'm pleased to see that at least on the surface, things seem to be moving that way in India for your normal everyday women, not just celebrities and the jet-set millionaires/billionaires whose lives and lifestyles are well beyond normality anyway. Perhaps it's because more women are employed and financially independent. Perhaps it's to do with the increasing exposure to the West and its way of life. Whatever the reason, I'm just glad that Indian women are staying younger for longer.

Which brings me to the 20-somethings who address the 30-something women as "aunty". Nothing but nothing makes me see red quicker than this pseudo-humility. And most of the time, it IS pseudo. It's just making oneself feel younger at the expense of the older person. "I'm so young, I'm so immature, I'm so inexperienced, I'm such a child" - these statements get on my nerves! And this sort of behaviour doesnt happen at formal interviews - oh no. Where it happens is in a social environment, usually in front of others, just to impress upon them the much younger age of the so-called "young and immature" person.

I have nothing against children addressing me as aunty and I dont think I have any serious hang-ups about my age either. (Just dont ask me how old I am. Heh). But I'm not impressed at all when adults - and I consider anyone 20 years and above as adult - address comparative strangers as "aunty". "Mrs so and so" would be fine, first-name terms would be even better. Calling your uncle's wife "aunty" is more than fine. But if the addressee is not remotely related to you or known to you since childhood, "aunty" is a not-so-subtle put-down and just downright rude. Embarrassing, too. Not that everybody would agree with this, but it's what I feel.

Ok, rant over. Back to the older generation here in the West (and by West, I mean the UK since that's where I've lived the longest). I'm all for people of all ages living their life to the full... but there's also a limit to wild behaviour from them over-50s. They're meant to have a little more responsibility and wisdom than adolescents and young adults, not rival them in rowdy behaviour or thoughtless violence. I grant you, the older generation are more sinned against than sinning in terms of violence, etc,... but I cant help wishing that the minority of them who dont seem to have the sense they were born with would just grow up a bit! A little decorum and responsibility there wouldnt hurt.

Hm. Looks like I'm asking for an idealised world! I shall lead by example! And if you believe me, I'll be really impressed! That's all! Thank you! (I have the monopoly on exclamation marks!) !!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Here's the buzz...

I always thought I was attractive to mosquitoes because I'm a sweet person (well, somebody's gotta say it!)... but it turns out that it's not so much sweet as sweat that draws them. Nasty little fetishists!

PS. If mosquitoes make a beeline, do bees make a mosquitoline? What sort of a line would wasps make?

There's just no end to my scientific curiosity...

Does my coffee look good in this?

Very clever. Watch the video here. I wonder if coffee tastes better for being artistically presented?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here we go again

Burglar falls out of 4th storey window, sustaining serious injuries. Home-owner arrested for burglar's fall and injuries. No doubt the burglar (eventually) or his family will be suing the home owner for inability to "work" and subsequent loss of income (due to injuries sustained on the job).

Maybe the homeowner pushed the burglar out of the window, maybe he didnt. If he did, I still consider it reasonable. The thief might well have been the non-violent kind, not inclined towards the murder of his unwitting hosts, but how was the homeowner to know that? A quick exit for the burglar via the window - only fair considering it was the entry point as well - would have seemed much the best choice at that point and I cant blame the homeowner if he took the chance. I personally would have thought it bloody weird if he had ushered the potential burglar politely out of his front door with a friendly pat on the back!

PS. Oh, and it was only an "alleged" burglary, as of course there are legitimate reasons for somebody to be climbing through someone else's window on the fourth floor without invitation in the dead of night.

PPS. Oops, the burglar was climbing through the window at 6.10am, not in the dead of night. Hard-working fella putting in overtime, evidently...

Friday, August 03, 2007

No, I dont feel sorry

Kafeel Ahmed's death from his burns doesnt make me feel sorry for him. Maybe a little pity for his parents and family and to some extent his friends... but nothing at all for him. There's hardly anything more reprehensible than an educated, well-read, affluent man stooping to the level of trying to kill innocent people who have done him no harm, motivated by nothing more than religious belief. So, yes, I think he deserved his 90% burns. I'm sorry that he died without actually being forced to help with police enquiries. I'm sorry that he didnt get to spend the rest of his miserable life in prison. Most of all, I'm sorry that he turned out to be an Indian. But I'm not sorry he was badly injured while trying to kill members of the public.


And what the flaming HECK is
Idi Amin's SON doing in the UK? What IS this country, a repository for the families and friends of all the world's worst dictators? Should we expect Mrs George Dubya Bush and family to relocate here eventually?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

8 things I'm proud of

Yes, yet another tag. Don’t you just love ‘em? This time it’s good ol’ Broom who tagged me wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back - I guess that’s in return for me tagging her, also wayyyyyyyyyyyy back. I love it when a good deed passed on bounces right back to me! Heh.

Right. 8 things I’m proud of.

One. My family – my late dad, my mother, sister and brother, and now my husband too. (I wonder if that counts for one thing or five?). Anyway, they’re the best anybody could ask for, irritating traits and all.

Two. Managing not to give in to familial pressure to get married to various guys deemed “suitable” (but not in MY view they werent!). Also, to clarify - I wasn’t being pressured to marry various guys at the same time! My family are law-abiding and besides, I’m no Draupadi.

Three. Acquiring enough patience (dunno how) to take up embroidery and stick with it. Wonder if age has anything to do with it.

Four. Learning to talk professionalese on the phone to clients. I hate phones! And sometimes the clients.

Five. My friends. Thank goodness for them and the easy relationship we share.

Six. Surviving my work experience in Singapore.

Seven. The 6 different rose plants in my patio - all with heavenly fragrance. All growing, too!

Eight. Finally finishing this tag. It's been sitting around awhile!

Clever octopus

Watch the octopus open a bottle

But would you really want to drink from the bottle after all those tentacles have been all over it???


(PS. Sea creatures with tentacles and suckers aint my thing - alive OR dead!)

The thing to do with history

is learn from it, not pretend it didnt happen.

Whether it's Tintin, or Enid Blyton, or even P G Wodehouse (one of my all time favourite authors), the point is that the (now politically-incorrect) terms used in those comics/books are merely reflections of the attitude of the times. None of it was maliciously meant - at least in the three I've mentioned. I'm certain of that, because otherwise the characters would not have been likable, and any maliciously racist overtones would have been set in concrete.

Enid Blyton might have used Gollywog in a lot of her fairy tales - possibly in ALL her fairy tales, even - but in none of them is Golly bad just for being a dark-faced, red-lipped and curly-haired caricature of Africans. Golly is just as likely to be as brave or helpful or naughty as the next all-white character! Removing Golly from all the latest editions of Enid Blyton's books is just silly. Banning Tintin is a stupid thing to do. Letting Nazi-erected buildings be destroyed (like in former East Berlin) either through neglect or wilfully, is terrible! Merely erasing the physical signs of a not-exactly-edifying history doesnt change that history. Glorifying Nazism is the true crime; teaching about it in schools, so that children learn about both good and bad, is the sensible thing to do.

A slight segue now, but not completely unrelated:
A while back, one of the partners in my workplace described someone as "the nigger in the woodpile" while on the phone. I do believe that it was not nastily meant - unpleasant though he can be, he is not overtly racist, so I think he didnt even realise what he had said. But it made everybody within hearing look up in shock and disbelief, and truth to tell, I was just as taken aback. However, it never crossed my mind to take it as a slur against me personally. Yet his secretary immediately bustled over and apologised for his having said the "n" word in my presence.

On the one hand, I know why she did that - I'm the only non-Caucasian in my office. But there was a part of me which wondered: why did she single me out for the apology? Was that term only supposed to be offensive to me, and not to everybody else? Should she not have included everybody in the apology, since the "n" word is a no-no in formal company, rather like "f*ck"? And, had I not been present, would there have been an apology at all, or even a need felt for one?

She might have thought she was being politically correct, but it just made me feel awkward. The N-word - and the attitude behind that slur - should be anathema to everybody, not just those with skin colour that isnt white! I guess she didnt realise that her apology only served to emphasise that she didnt much mind the N-word herself, but she felt obliged to make sure I wasnt offended.

Am I making too much of what is essentially a little thing? Perhaps. But it still did make me think. Me, I feel that a lot of PC terms are merely that - terms, for show. Whitewashing over unpleasant attitudes. Because really, not-so-deep inside, we know that racist and chauvinist attitudes still exist. They've just gone a little bit undercover. I'll call myself cynical - yet again - because I cant help feeling that a lot of the time, being PC is a lot like being dishonest.

(Note: I do like most of my colleagues, I dont believe they are racist, and I'm sure the feeling is reciprocated. My workplace is quite pleasant, really!) :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sorry, I've turned my brain off.

You know how sometimes you hear something said to you during a conversation but dont really take it in? What the other person has said could be perfectly normal, something you've heard and understood a zillion times previously... but there are those special woolly moments where the sum of the words simply does not add up to comprehension.

You try to put the syllables together in your mind to see if you can turn the sounds into meaningful words, but it just doesnt happen.

You ask the other person to repeat what they've said and (if they're in front of you) you watch their lip movements closely or (if they're on the phone), you practically weld the receiver to your ear so as not to miss anything... and still things refuse to fall into place.

When the EUREKA moment finally happens (usually a while after the conversation has ended), it's almost an epiphany, like you've seen the light of true knowledge. Mind you, that
feeling of elation is only momentary, because immediately afterwards you think: "So THAT'S what he/she said. WHY did I not get it then? WHY did I have to come across as a complete thicko for such a simple thing?"
It happens. I'm sure it happens to other people too. But what I'D like to know is, why my cloth-headed moments almost always reserve themselves for those occasions when I'm speaking with important clients.

I wish someone would give me an answer. Preferably one that makes sense.

Thank you.

That's all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Legitimately tagged...

...and I'm not entirely sure that I want to do this tag - or, indeed, if I should do it. But I'm going to, anyway. Broom, if I find myself alone and friendless after this, you're to blame for tagging me! :)

  • I'm judgmental about people who persist in speaking bad English when they can communicate much better in another language that we have in common. I dont see the point of trying to show off skills you dont possess, making a fool of yourself in the process.
  • I judge people who put on accents after a year or two abroad and yet cant speak or write correct English. If you must affect an accent with your countryfolks (ok to do so if you're trying to communicate with Westerners), at least make sure it doesnt slip!
  • I end up resenting people who are tight-fisted even though they are flush. I dont expect anyone - especially if they're relative strangers - to spend on me but I DO expect them to have the courtesy to at least offer to pay (at the very least their own share) when we are in a group! Just the offer alone is enough to keep me paying happily!
  • I judge people who are not quick enough on the uptake for my satisfaction, thereby making me repeat things (although there are plenty of instances involving maths/politics/electronics where I'm no more responsive than a sponge).
  • I judge people who are overly concerned about their looks and clothes. There's more to life than fashion and men, even if you're a perfect Size 8 and a man-killer to boot.
  • I judge people who dont respect my personal space (or who remain unaware of my discomfort and cool response) and are loud and noisy, and who keep using my name in every other sentence. I consider them pushy and insensitive.
  • I judge people who dont keep a rein on their (un)lovely children in my house. In fact, I judge them for the unloveliness of their brats - it can't be anyone else's fault!
  • I judge people who dont learn the correct expressions (idioms, phrases, whatever) despite hearing them used right, or who dont learn to spell words right even after seeing the correct spelling. How much time does it take to look a word up? And to remember how to write it? And if you're so stupid that you think you're right ALL the bloody time (about everything) and dont even resort to dictionaries... well!
  • I get judgmental about women who seem normal around other women but turn into affected, attention-craving nitwits when there's a man to impress.

Right, I've just taken a look at what I've written so far and I think that's enough fodder for judgment. Therapeutic though it's been to vent some steam, I think I'll stop short of transmogrifying into a complete monster in public. :)

It's the SUN that's making us hot!

The world is getting warmer, right? All because of us baaaaaaad human beings with our carbon footprints and all, or so we're told. Well, it could just be that the sun is to blame, my friends... oh what it is to have a refreshingly unbiased opinion about global warming!

PS. If it keeps raining all summer, though, I might have to query not just the presence of the sun, but its very existence!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A question of life or death

Should we just think of and preserve the rights of the murderer and not think of the rights of others?

This question, from Suhaila Hammad of Saudi Arabia's National Society for Human Rights is, as far as I'm concerned, a direct shot at the hullabaloo that human rights activists create when it comes to the death penalty.

Dont get me wrong, I'm against the death penalty too. I dont want murderers and rapists and genocidal dictators (not EVEN George Bush or ex-World Prez Blair) condemned to death for their crimes.

But my reason for this is the direct opposite of those who think any life too precious to be taken (and I cant help feeling that the phrase "especially that of murderers and killers" ought to have been added to the end of the previous sentence). I dont think murderers' lives are precious. I'm against the death penalty because I think a quick death is too damned easy a way out for the evil b*astards who abuse and kill the innocent. (A secondary reason is that IF their innocence is established later, it wont do them much good if they're dead. There isnt much point to posthumous freedom.)

Death would mean they wouldnt suffer much. Their punishment should be solitary confinement for life - just one little room in which to spend their remaining days. No time off for good behaviour (that deserves a separate rant in itself, which I will save for another day), no TV, no books, no luxuries of any sort. Just plenty of time to think about the people they abused and/or killed, and the helpless grief and bereavement of the families who lost loved ones for no reason. Since the bereaved cant speak to their loved one ever again, the murderer should have to suffer the same sort of bereavement while living. Yes, that would mean his innocent family might be affected too... but that's justice. Tit for tat, without taking a life for a death. If you think that is a living death, so be it. I think the same too.

Why fight for the rights of those who didnt give a single thought to the rights of the human beings they killed? What about the rights of the innocent victims who died unnaturally, their lives cut short by random violence? Even if we concede that the dead no longer have a say in anything, shouldnt the rights of the families of victims take precedence over those of the murderers? I definitely do think so.

Suhaila Hammad's question is relevant in the widest sense, even if not in this particular case. I dont know the facts here but if the Sri Lankan maid didnt have a lawyer to defend her, I guess the trial cant have been fair except as in Islamic law. That comes down to religion, in any case, not law. I feel most strongly that religion should NOT have any kind of say when it comes to law and crime. It wasnt Allah Himself who decided that the maid should be beheaded - human beings did.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Boo! said the garden

Nervous gardening, which is my style, usually brings its little "Boo!" moments - those times when it's not so much you getting close to Mother Nature as much as it is Mother Nature's many-legged creations trying to get closer to you.

Of her various creepy and crawly offspring, the ones I loathe most are slugs - followed by snails, earthworms (no lectures on how garden-friendly they are, thanks) and any scurrying things with many legs that live beneath pots or in cracks.

Yesterday there was a brief respite from the near constant rain, so I ventured out into the garden to see what my plants were doing. As I bent down to smell my favourite rose, my gaze fell upon a gently quivering pile of something like translucent jelly.

Wild, panicky images of monstrous slugs and other oozing creatures filled my head as I backpedalled down the path...

...until I suddenly realised that it was the water-absorbing crystals that I had accidentally spilt while potting some herbs a couple of days back. The crystals had lived up to their name and absorbed unholy amounts of water (well, it's been raining constantly!) and swelled up to jellyfish proportions.

Phew. Who says country life is boring?

PS. I had bought the crystals because the manufacturers claimed that when mixed with the compost in small amounts, they would cut down on watering and keep the plants moist. They'd better do the job after the fright they gave me!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Not so much live as dull

Does anyone else feel that the Live Earth concert (at least the one in Wembley) was a somewhat damp squib? Oh, the weather was surprisingly nice and the stadium seemed quite full... it was the concert itself that fell short. If you asked me exactly what was lacking, I'd be hard put to pinpoint it - but on the whole, I think what was missing was conviction. Spirit.

Which doesnt surprise me. For all that it was supposed to be about raising awareness for the environment and saving Earth from ourselves, hardly any of those interviewed (apart from "green" journalists and the like) seemed to know exactly what was happening, or why. Or even how they, through the concert(s), were supposed to be helping. Jonathan Ross and the more media-savvy of his interviewees made tongue-in-cheek jokes all the time, and none of them seemed convinced about the urgency of saving Earth.

One Green journalist - I cant remember her name, sadly - said it was wonderful that celebrities were actually coming out and linking themselves with the Green Movement when even 5 years back they wouldnt have bothered. Well, five years back the Green Movement wasnt cool enough! Besides, anybody can SAY anything, especially if if means TV time. The question is, what do they do when the cameras are off. Do they actually fly cattle class, or do they hire their own private jet to get from one place to another? Call me cynical, but until I have proof that the super-rich are actually being forced to give up their carbon-printing lifestyle, I'm not about to give up air travel or do anything else that the rabid Greens are advocating for us hoi polloi. (Yes, I've said this before - you arent experiencing deja vu!)

I wish the music groups would just be honest and admit that they were happy to play their music and get more exposure for themselves, instead of playing along with one rabid "do-good" organisation or the other. Does NOBODY in the Green Environmentalist belt realise the supreme irony of trying to raise Green awareness by - wait for it - the expenditure of HUGE amounts of energy via wiring up enormous open stadia for sound? By flying in bands and pop/rock/whatever groups all across the world JUST for that one day? What about CO2 emissions, or does that not matter when it's for a "good cause"? Could not a few hundred villages have run an entire year on the energy used for a one-day concert?

Oh, and of course the previous concerts to rid the world of poverty and disease have done their work. The people of the Third World have been saved by a few concerts held in the First World, yeah? I guess that's why we are all now busily trying to save Earth itself.

I'm a cynic. I admit it. But it's only because of what's happening in the world, because of the huge gap between the preachers and the preachees. As one of Jonathan Ross' interviewees said, if we could only harness the power of cynicism, the world's energy crisis would have a permanent solution.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Queenie goes begging

You'd think that one of the richest women in the world, from one of possibly the richest families in the world, living in an actual palace in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world, would actually be able to dig into her own pocket (or that of her son) to get some "essential repairs" done in the massive building in which she lives in state. Why ask the government for the money? Especially as Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, is aware that the government is tight for money. In his words: "We know the government is tight for money, but we think we are only asking for a very small extra sum." Since it's that small, why cant Prince Charles and his mum scrounge up the required amount to do the necessary repairs? I dunno, but Royalty seems SO far removed from Reality.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bookish tag - on Indian Writing.

Hmmm.... a literary sort of tag, kindly put forward by MumbaiGirl. I feel less of a frivolous airhead when I do one of these, being as it's about books. Indian Writing, no less. Wow, I feel like I'm back in college already! And, as MumbaiGirl said in her post, the list is going to be pretty random, in no particular order and incomplete.

1. Vikram Seth’s "A Suitable Boy": I thought it was heavy going - too much history written for people unfamiliar with India and its past. Still, I read it.

2. David Davidar's "House of Blue Mangoes": A very good read, but I thought it kind of Jeffrey Archer-ish in that it covers three generations quite quickly, and it's a riches-to-even more riches sort of story. No solid chunks of history to plough through, and it was nice to have a story set in South India, though.

3. Arundhati Roy’s "The God of Small Things": I found this readable although again I felt very strongly that it was aimed at the non-Indian market.

4. Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance" and "Family matters" - I guess he figures on everybody's list - or he should. Brilliant writer!

5. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's "The Mistress of Spices" - Okay, I picked up the book because I just fell in Lurve with her name the moment I read it! (I love Bengali names.) The book turned out to be a pretty good read, so I dont regret picking it up!

6. Anurag Mathur's "The Inscrutable Americans" - What a shame he ruined this really quite funny book with his stupid ending.

7. Anita Nair's "Ladies Coupe" - Very nice book! Very empowering of (to?) women.

8. Meera Syal's "Anita and Me" - Does she qualify to be in this list as a British-Indian? I'm adding her anyway. I dont like her brand of "acting", but no complaints about her writing.

9. S Muthiah's "Madras Discovered" - I read it because he was one of my favourite lecturers, but it was truly revelationary (if there's such a word) because it brought to life the city's past.

10. Rudyard Kipling's "Kim" - I know, he wasnt "Indian" but Kipling was such a wonderfully evocative writer that he HAS to figure on my list! I found Kim very heavy going at 10 years of age, but when I read it again a few years later, I was hooked. What a fantastic book! I've re-read it at least a dozen times and I love it every time.

There, that's it. I wont tag anybody in particular but anybody who wants to write about their favourite Indian authors can consider themselves tagged. Man, I do love writing about books! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My lebenty seventh tag - or some such number

Cant remember now where I came across this one, but the lady said she was tagging everybody who read it on her blog - and, well... I considered myself tagged! :)

1. Yourself: Sorta laidback.

2. Your Partner: Workaholic, wine lover, endlessly patient

3. Your hair: Black(ish), with shades of white *sigh*

4. Your father: Generous, brilliant, gregarious. Nearly 20 years since he passed away.

5. Your mother: Couldnt ask for better!

6. Your favorite item: "Dreams" - perfume by Anna Sui.

7. Your dream last night: Dreamt I couldnt breathe, then woke up to find I couldnt breathe - wheezing brought on by thunderstorm.

8. Your favorite drink: Cold water.

9. Your dream car: Bentley

10. The room you are in : Big, bright, plenty of windows

11.Your Ex: Not worth mentioning.

12.Your fear: Pain.

13.What you want to be in 10 yrs: Much travelled.

14. Who you hung out with last night: Pete.

15. What you’re not: Aggressive

16. Muffins: Orange or chocolate

17. One of your wish list items: To learn Japanese.

18. Time: Never enough for all the things I want to do.

19. The last thing you did: Checked out the status of my Amazon book order.

20. What are you wearing: Grey striped trousers, black short-sleeved top with flowers outlined in cream beads

21. Your favorite weather: Cool, clear and sunny

22. Your favorite book: Cant name just one, so wont name any.

23. The last thing you ate/drank: Biscuit and tea.

24. Your life: Usually good.

25. Your mood: Usually good.

26. Your best friend: I wont play favourites!

27. What are you thinking about right now: Wondering who will read this!

28. Your car: Range Rover, when I can get it away from Pete.

29. What are you doing at the moment: Typing.

30. Your summer: Cycling, long lazy weekends doing embroidery, suffering from hayfever

31. Your relationship status: Married.

32. What is on your TV: Dust? Kidding - not. Stargate or Malcolm in The Middle

33. What is the weather like: Rainy

34. When was the last time you laughed: About 5 minutes back.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Or possibly, if you looked at it from another perspective, rantings...

Before you can own a dog in this country, you are extensively investigated - you have to fill out forms and answer all sorts of questions, officious (and official) people come home to check that you actually live at that address and that you are mentally and physically ready to own a dog. They also check that your house has enough room for a dog to live healthily and happily.

I have no objections in general to those in-depth checks. I love dogs and I would hate them to be abused or ill-treated.

But I quite like children too, and would hate just as much for them to be abused and ill-treated. Yet anybody - no matter how messed up they are, no matter what their track record in looking after their offspring - can have a child, and nobody checks to see if they are lunatics, addicts, or worse. There's no way of keeping track of such people, no way of following up on the children to see if they're being harmed. Mentally and emotionally, if not physically. There are people whose every child ends up in a home or being fostered - and if that is not a crying shame, I dont know what is.

There's no solution to this, I suppose, bar draconian measures which I'm sure would set all the human rights, pro-life and suchlike people frothing at the mouth.


It's only a small segue from there to why the UK has the most teenage pregnancies in Europe, why binge drinking is becoming rampant, why pre-teens are sexually active, why they're shying away from education, etc. Well, it seems pretty obvious (to me) that one of the reasons is that most of them dont have the right role models. It's a sadly vicious circle - or should I say a sadly vicious circle of indifference, unlikely sounding though that is.

When the parents are poorly educated, sexually promiscuous and heavy drinkers and smokers, what child will not see that as a normal existence? They dont know better - and even if they DO see better, they dont really have much chance of breaking through that circle. If they see their mother/father in unstable relationships with partners coming and going quicker than you can say "stability", if they see their parents coming home staggering drunk on weekends, and if they have siblings who have only the mother in common - arent the kids going to assume that it's the norm, the only way to be?

With what authority could the parents possibly tell their kids not to emulate their behaviour? In fact, how many parents would even see their own behaviour as undesirable? And if they dont realise that about themselves, how would they tell off their kids? "Do as I say, not as I do" is not the most convincing of arguments under any circumstance, and especially when trying to change behaviour patterns!


And what about this guy who, last year, killed his lover by stabbing her 145 times, at his home, with six different knives - and then mutilated her body further. Worst of all, her 10-year-old daughter was there while this was happening.

The man, of course, denies murder. Well, what else would you expect? Why would anyone call it murder? He only stabbed her with half a dozen knives, nearly 150 times, while suffering an "abnormality of mind which had reduced his mental responsibility". In English, it meant he was in a jealous rage.

This monster might just get off with a few years for "manslaughter", reduced still further by "good behaviour" while in prison. He'll be free to live the rest of his life. And in the meantime, one soul has been gruesomely taken and another young life very likely ruined by the trauma of witnessing such a brutal murder. It's a f*cked up world, I tell ya.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why careful editing is SO important...

Look at the first sentence of the last paragraph in the article. It begins: "Anyone who wishes to contribute to the fun..."


The cop was shot dead, poor man. Fun isnt what his family is having. Fun isnt what anybody is contributing to.

The word is FUND. Spell-check only tells you a word is spelt correctly. It doesnt tell you it's the wrong word for the context. Minor mistake, but in the circumstances it isnt funny one bit.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Oh no, oh no!

I've just read this news item and my heart has sunk right into my boots, anatomically impossible though this might be. I feel like setting up a loud wailing and weeping with much gnashing of teeth - Bill Bryson not to write any more? Or at least not until the English countryside is clear of litter? One of my most favourite travel-writers feels more passionate about litter than writing and it's all the fault of these careless, rubbishy litterbugs!


I've been looking forward to a new book from Mr Bryson and I do not want it to be about litter!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

World's most perilous job?

Pakistan advertise for new coach

I wonder who the new coach will be. Brave man, whoever does take it up. I mean, when you think that the consequence of the team's failure is death by murder - of the coach, that is. Not the team. Kind of a risky job, what?