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.