Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who was at fault for Jacintha Saldanha's suicide?

I'll tell you who - Jacintha Saldanha, that's who. Everybody is going nuts blaming the two Aussie radio DJs for her death, but the simple truth is that it was not their fault, any more than it was your fault or my fault, that Mrs Saldanha died - it was entirely and only of her own doing, and nobody else can be held responsible.
She was probably mentally disturbed or stressed or something, in the first place, because can you imagine anyone else killing themselves over a stupid prank that made NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER to anybody, least of all Kate Middleton? It shouldn't have made a difference to Mrs Saldanha either. She wasn't being persecuted by the tabloids - in fact, she hadn't been "outed" as the nurse who was taken in by the DJs, and not even her name was mentioned until she turned up dead. Until then she was only "a nurse" or "the nurse who". The truth is that literally nobody (outside of her immediate colleagues, perhaps) knew who she was, until she turned up dead by her own hand.

I assume that she was not British-born and bred, otherwise she might have recognised the accents of the DJs as Australian, or at least as not British. That she didnt realise it wasn't the Queen and Prince Philip was, therefore, not surprising. It wasn't like she gave away state secrets to the DJs, or revealed anything really personal about Kate - I mean, she didn't say "yeah, Kate's had trouble taking a dump because of her haemorrhoids", did she? She did absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or worried about, and an honest mistake is not a sackable offence. At worst, it would have been a mildly embarrassing issue.

I sincerely believe that it takes a special kind of stupid for someone to be so incredibly, selfishly sensitive over a non-issue and kill themselves without a thought for their children. Well, either that or mental illness. Either way, the DJs are not to blame. What are entertainers meant to do, check with potential "prankees" and get their permission in writing before they play a harmless prank on them?

As it is, the swiftness with which this nurse killed herself is the ONLY reason the Daily Mail got to harass the Aussie DJs and not her. Otherwise the Daily Mail would definitely have discovered who she was, published her photo and that of her children and husband and pets and more than likely the £250,000 family home in London, played up her gullibility in falling for the prank, run an opinion piece by one of their "calumnists" (as I term them) on how if the nurse had been White British rather than Indian she would have realised the Queen doesn't speak Aussie, and added a couple of sidebars on how immigrants from India are stealing away jobs that rightly belong to the British, and how asylum seekers are living in luxury off British taxpayers in a £1.5 million home for free.
*deeeeeeeeeep breath* 

There. Now I'm done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sunday Scribblings - "Talisman"

The Talisman is one of my most favourite books EVER, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It’s a fabulous adventure/fantasy/horror epic that has as its protagonist a young tweenager, Jack Sawyer. You might think that, with the hero being a 12-year-old boy, it’s meant for young readers – or at least that it’s “young adult” fiction. Not a bit of it! But it’s completely riveting... the basic storyline is that Jack has to save his mother, who is dying of cancer, by finding the magic jewel, the Talisman. His adventures in this world and its parallel, the “Territories”, form the basis of this novel – although “adventures” is really too mild a word for the dangers that Jack goes through. (For a more in-depth review of the plot, check this out: The Talisman.

The storyline might have been developed by both King and Straub, but if you ask me, the writing is entirely King – and vintage King at that. Purely out of curiosity (“how good would this guy have to be for Stephen King to hook up with him”), I looked up a book by Peter Straub, but I have to say I found it very hard going. It just wasn’t my kind of interesting. I guess my curiosity was resolved, though - the answer to my question being “not all THAT good”.

If you haven’t read The Talisman, I suggest you do – it’s a brilliant book and will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up reading faster and faster just to see what happens at the end, and then bitterly regret it when the book does come to an end! Be warned, it’s not all happy endings, because Stephen King does not hesitate when it comes to sacrificing characters that you like very much... but it’s also not a down-and-out tragedy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A hairy tale

I’ve personally always preferred to keep my hair at a medium length, just short of touching my shoulders, and that’s the way it’s been ever since I could afford to go to a hairdresser by myself. It’s been shorter than that sometimes, but never longer. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve grown my hair out to over shoulder-length, simply because my husband has begged me to not cut it short. As with most men - especially those who don’t have hair any more - he thinks that long hair is beautiful.

The one advantage of having long(ish) hair is that I don’t need to get it cut as often - although, as my hairdresser said to me the other day, leaving it untouched for nearly 5 months is very uncool and does my hair no favours. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, as I was saying, any time I mention the words “hair-cut” in Pete’s hearing, he puts on his most puppyish face and begs me (he dare not warn me! Haha) not to give in to my instinct for short hair. It makes me feel quite gleeful (more than I should admit to publicly, I think!) to torment him saying that I’m going to lop off 6 inches and get it to chin-length.

Anyway, last Saturday I decided that I WOULD get my hair trimmed as it was looking very definitely straggly and split-endy. With Pete’s usual exhortations ringing in my ears, I instructed my hairdresser to only trim as much hair as was required to get it into shape. This turned out to be about 2 inches off the ends and somewhat less off the layers, so that the longest part of my hair now falls to just short of my shoulder-blades.

I went home fully expecting that Pete would immediately notice how much shorter my hair was and would shed tears of sorrow at the loss of the length. I suppose should have known better - he’s only a man, after all.
Pete: “Didn’t you get your hair cut?”
Me: “Of course I did! See?” turning my back to him so that he could check my hair out.
Pete: “It looks longer now.”
Me: “What???
Pete, looking pleased: “Yeah, it looks longer.”
Me: “....”

Next time, buster, it’s going to be the full 6 inches. We’ll see if you still think it looks longer after cutting than before. Men!!! Grrrr...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My kind of paintings

Take a look at these paintings. I can't come up with enough words of praise for the amazing paintings, nor do I have any words to describe the painter, apart from "genius".

Paintings like this I can marvel at and relate to. This is the sort of artistic genius that I deeply envy because what wouldn't I give to be able to paint like that! What I don't understand and can't appreciate is Picasso-style stuff, or the arty-farty "here's a red spot in the middle of a white canvas and for this display of amazing artistry I'm going to charge you just £50,000" type of painting.

I do like Salvador Dali, though. Not that I "understand" his paintings, but at least they're amusing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

She who sprints

is now two years and 10 days old. I'd call my niece a toddler, except she doesn't toddle anywhere and hasn't done so since shortly after she began walking. What that kid does, is run. She runs everywhere that she's allowed to, she doesn't hold anybody's hand when she doesn't have to, and her stroller(s) are probably put away for good since she will only be seated in one under extreme duress and after much planking (what babies do when they don't want to be bent into a sitting posture).

I would post a photo of her looking angelic in her mint-green birthday dress... but I won't, because I can't. Suffice it to say that she's more a little devil who just happens to look angelic. It's not easy, but Sanaa manages it without breaking a sweat - unlike the hapless adults who run about after her...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hands up those who dislike hot summer days

ME, for a start! I like rainy summer days. Rain keeps the pollen count down. Hot sunny days like today, on the other hand, raise the pollen count to miserable levels. I had a b*stard of a day at work today - non-stop sneezing, itchy runny swollen eyes, thumping headache caused by the sneezing and eye-rubbing, and painful sinuses... all thanks to the pollen. Oh, and let's not forget the itchy, painful throat. It's like having a really bad cold, only worse. And all this after taking anti-histamines prescribed by my GP. 
I would do a rain dance if I knew how. Bring on the rain, bring it on, bring it on, bring it on!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Skype isn't the real thing

I think my little Sanaa is realising that seeing people on the laptop (on Skype) isn't the same as having them in front of her for real. Earlier - and by that I mean even a couple of months ago - she used to be quite content with saying happily "Shala athai" (or "Neha maasi" or "nanaji" (or whoever) - and then she'd run off to do whatever she was in the mood for, evidently believing that we were watching her even when she was out of camera range. 

Yesterday, for the first time, she said something like "Shala athai dekhenge" (let's go see Shala athai), even though her dad assured her that she WAS seeing me. It was pretty obvious what she meant, though, and she came very close to crying, saying she wanted to see me (I'm glad she didn't, because I came perilously close to doing the same). 

Luckily, she's still fairly easy to distract, and my collection of hedgehog figurines came to the rescue this time, along with a robin redbreast. She's got this habit, whenever I show her something (say, a "kutti little hedgehog"), of immediately repeating "Another kutti little hedgehog" - I've not figured out whether she means she wants to see it again, or if she thinks I've got an endless supply of kutti little hedgehogs or robins or kitty-cats to bring out for her entertainment. 

What's obvious even on Skype is the unmistakable light of naughtiness in her eyes along with the realisation that I can't do anything about whatever naughty thing she's doing while I'm watching her on Skype. She loves sucking on her fingers, and every time I caught her doing that when I was around, I would pull her hand away, saying "Ewww, that's dirty". It became a game for her (anything can become a game, with her saying "Again, again" each time) - as fast as I pulled one little hand away, she'd put the fingers of her other hand in her mouth. 

And now she's taken to doing that all by herself while I''m watching her, putting one forefinger in her mouth, taking it away, putting the other forefinger in and taking it away and so on, giggling all the while. Like amma says, her pollathanam (mischievousness) is increasing exponentially every day. And damned if she doesn't look incredibly cute (I know - word in serious danger of chronic overuse, but what can I do) with it!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My niece smartest, cutest, adorablest, cleverest, quickest, beautifullest

This is an unashamed (non-commercial) plug for my will-be-2-on-July-8 niece, Sanaa. Non-baby people may kindly stop reading right here. Actually, no, on second thoughs don't do that, because I wish to sing her praises to EVERYBODY, not just the baby-mad! So read on, read on.

Recently I managed to spend some quality time with Sanaa on a family trip to Utah and Nevada (Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Las Vegas) last month. For quite a lot of that time she was strapped in her car seat while we drove around, and I've never had so much fun on a road trip before, ever! I know for certain, poor baby, that she felt quite desperate to get down and run around. There's nothing that she loves more than being allowed to run around freely, without having to hold anyone's hand - unless it's "pidi pidi", otherwise known as being chased round and round any stationary object in endless games of "catch-me".

And how do I know she was desperate? Because, every so often, she would say "Want to get down", sometimes cry to get down, even - but for long stretches, it was possible to amuse her and take her mind off being imprisoned in her seat. I have to say I never got tired of entertaining her.

There's nothing babies like more than repetition, and certainly I could not get enough of her expressions and reactions to the same things, so I was happy to repeat myself time after time just to watch her and give her/get from her the reactions she loved and expected. I guess we made a pretty good pair, really, because we kept each other sane (or so I like to think).

I'm not going to write a coherent piece about her on our travels. That would take too much organisation of chaotic memories into the required orderliness. So I'm just going to jot down whatever I recall at random, and wait for my family to add their bits (or ask me to add it for them - I dont mind).

- We spent a lot of time listening to her singing along with MS Subbulakshmi's Hanuman Chalisa or Bhaja Govindam, or Lata's Om jai jagdish hare, which were played regularly as clockwork on phones whenever possible, every time on request. If not, she would sing them on her own anyway.

- Singing "Old MacDonald had a farm" with all the traditional animals and noises, a few dozen times. Then she got tired of the same old same old cat, dog, pig, horse, donkey, duck etc and began adding her own animals to the menagerie - "On that farm he had a lion" - which was easy enough to supply a noise for. Then Old MacDonald acquired an elephant, a lion, and a monkey, which were sorta manageable for noise. The "golla" (gorilla) was harder, but I managed to wing it.

- But when she went on to "On that farm he had a giraffe", and then looked earnestly to me to supply the corresponding noise, I had to say "I don't know what a giraffe says, Sanaa". Then she'd ask "rhino?" "hippo?" - and I'd have to turn those down too.

- Eventually, after being assured that I (and everyone else) really couldn't tell her the noise made by giraffes, rhinos and hippos, she gave up and went on to add random things to Mr MacDonald's farm - aeroplane, car, bus, UPS truck, train, motorcycle. By the time we were done, it was a p.r.e.t.t.y crowded farm!

- Every so often, though, she would return to the giraffe, rhino and hippo, possibly in the hope that we would NOW be able to supply her with the right noise, or possibly to catch us out.

- Every time she saw a cow or horse in the fields (this was rural Utah, so there were plenty of opportunities for both), she'd start singing "old MacDonald", where he had a cow or a horse. It was like she was programmed to start up every time! Really funny.

- If we were walking anywhere outside, and we came across a grating on the roadside, she would not move away until she had peered down at the pani below (she's a multilingual baby - Hindi, Tamil and English). Every single grating had to be inspected.

- She would not often let both her hands be held (while walking by the roadside, for instance, when it was definitely not safe to let her walk/run free) - it was as if she felt she retained some measure of independence if she had a hand free, even if the other hand was firmly in someone's grip.

- When we were having lunch in Provo (Utah), she refused to eat anything substantial, but was interested in the fruit cup. Which she insisted on eating by herself, neatly spearing the orange segments with a plastic fork and conveying it to her mouth - no spills, no accidents. (I don't know about the hand-eye-mouth coordination capabilities of most toddlers less than 2 years old, but I was really impressed, mainly because I can't claim to 100% accuracy for myself even now!)

- Sanaa usually will not eat eggs in any form unless they are unusually well hidden, such as in cake. But in Vegas, while we were all having breakfast, she was distracted enough to take a couple of bites of an omelette from her mother. Pretty much immediately thereafter, she got very cranky and started crying, refusing to even be comforted by her paatti (grandma) and insisting on clinging to her mother - which was really unusual, because she's a happy, good-natured (if stubborn) baby most of the time, ready for any distractions that come her way.

We discovered the reason for her crankiness back in the car when she threw up quite spectacularly all over herself and her seat. I didn't know what projectile vomiting was until then, and I hope to never see anything like that again. Poor baby, she must have been feeling so queasy and ill, with no way of letting us know. Luckily she was fine after she got it all out of her system, and she was ready for more "run-run" back at the hotel after she had been cleaned up. But how the heck do paediatricians manage to diagnose anything in babies before anything obvious happens to clue them in?

- The weather was quite cool in Vegas when we got there - enough that it was nice in the sun and somewhat uncomfortably cold in the shade with the prevailing breeze. But Sanaa LOVED the wind blowing in her face and always had a delighted grin when it happened, even if she was shivering at the same time. - She would say "Wow, look at the wind" (the "wow" said exactly like her mom!) on random occasions if a sudden gust blew.

- "Karadi Rhymes" sung by Usha Uthup is one of Sanaa's most favourite song collections ever, but even among those she has super-favourite ones (and so do I, if she's singing any of them!). For instance, for the last 8 months at least, every time I saw Sanaa on Skype, I've begged Kumar or Tanu to sing part of the first line of a particular song that goes "When I am feeling...", just to hear Sanaa chime in to finish the line with "saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad and hurt" - and it was just so incredibly cute to see and hear her. She KNEW it was cute and that I (and everyone else) loved it, but it didn't stop her or me. Eventually, as she grew up just that bit more, she would go all shy and duck her head after saying "saaaaaad". That was cute, too. Once in a while, to amuse myself in the car, I would sing the first four words very softly, just to see her ears perk up and watch her delighted but shy grin as she sang her part.

- "Madhavi from Alleppey" is another song that she and I both like. For no particular reason I taught her that Alleppey is in Kerala. After that she would keep asking me "Where is Alleppey?", and I would keep saying "Alleppey is in Kerala", or for a change "You tell me, where is Alleppey?" (and she would say "Kella" - close enough).

- Then she came up with a variation based on her (then current) obsession with the colour orange - "Where is orange Alleppey?". At first I told her there's no orange Alleppey, but then when she kept asking, I changed my answer to "Orange Alleppey is in orange Kerala" - and her delighted smile was a thing of beauty, believe me. Her next question was "Where is orange Kella?". Can you guess? Yep, in Orange India!

- For a not-yet-two-year-old, she picks things up very quickly (or maybe that's normal in toddlers. The only toddler I know well is Sanaa, so my empirical experience is very limited.) She has been able to say her numbers from 1-10 in Hindi, Tamil and English for a while now. I've taught her to say them in Japanese, Italian and Swahili as well, and she can rattle them off at will, ending with a big smile and a flourish on 10. Apparently she recites them all to herself at night in bed!

- If I asked her to sing "Twinkle twinkle little star" (for instance), and she wasn't in the mood, she would immediately counter with "No, Baa baa black sheep", and if I said "Ok, Baa baa black sheep, then", she'd counter-counter with something else. After I'd stopped pestering her, she would eventually pick on a nursery rhyme of her choice and sing it.

- If I happened to sing along with her and she didn't want me to, an imperious "Sanaa sing" would stop me in your tracks. Then she would start over. I enjoyed annoying her by singing along anyway, forcing her to stop again and say, more forcefully "No, Sanaa sing!". (I would stop when she looked like she was going to cry from frustration.)

- It was sometimes possible to get her to sing a nursery rhyme of my choice if I went about it in a sneaky way. Basically, by humming or singing it very softly (but so that she heard it) - and she would start singing it as well without realising that she had been conned.

- Sometimes Sanaa didn't sing anything in words - she would hum or "ta ta ta" or "da da da" or substitute any other sound she felt like, but very correctly in tune to the original song. Her ability to match the rhythm and pitch of the original tune while not using the actual lyrics was quite amazing. If I was singing with her and I changed my pitch to a higher or lower one, she was able to follow me without any trouble and without breaking off her singing even briefly.

- I taught her the sound an owl makes (stylised as "tu-whoo"), because she's been obsessed with owls ever since she saw the owl pendant that I was wearing on one occasion when I was Skyping with amma (at least 6 months back). Of course, once she knew the answer to "what does an owl say?", she then went on to "orange owl?" and then owls of every colour she could think of. Unfortunately I couldn't do "orange tu-whoo" sounds (or red, blue, green, pupple, or any other hue), but luckily she seemed quite pleased with the same "tu whoo" answer. Just as well.

- I had a little pot of vaseline lip balm that smelt like chocolate (it was cocoa butter flavour). Of course, when Sanaa saw me apply some to my lips with my fingers, she immediately wanted to do the same herself. So I came up with a tactic - I applied some vaseline on my lips, told her firmly that I would put some on hers and THEN she could do it herself. Mostly I managed to ensure that she only barely touched the surface of the pot, but there were a couple of occasions when I was too slow to pull the pot away from her gouging little fingers and I had to hastily wipe her fingers before she smeared the stuff everywhere!

- If we were going somewhere in a group, she would get very agitated if anybody fell behind. It was funny to watch her in shepherding mode as she tried to pull or push the lagging persons to join up with the ones in front.

- Every time we got into a lift, she would have a delighted grin on her face, as if it was the most amazing experience. She and I went in every lift that we used, quite a few times.

- We didn't need to worry about leaving anybody behind by accident, because there was always Sanaa to do a head count to ensure everyone was there.

I wish I could post photos of my little niece on my blog... but her parents think it's not a good idea - and as a matter of fact, I'm sort of uncomfortable about it too. Not that I can imagine what anyone could do with a photo, it's just the principle of the thing. I guess you'll have to take my word for it that she's a beautiful little toddler with a gorgeous smile, big eyes and a very determined chin (like mine).

Friday, April 27, 2012

My 5 least favourite words

The Guardian article What is the worst of all words? made me want to list my own five least favourite words. Since I'm unable to comment in The Guardian without registering (I seriously cannot be fagged to do so), I decided to make my list into a post on my blog. What's not to like, right? And feel free to list your favourite words to hate, too.

In no particular order, here goes:

1. Peplum (a recent dislike) - simply because it's a stupid fancy description for something that already HAS a word - and that's "frill".
2. Ooze - *shudder* Brings disgusting things to mind, like pus and slugs and squashed animals on the road with their insides on the outside. When a food item is described as "oozing cheese", does that make you want to eat it or throw up over it? (You'd have a pretty good chance of guessing my answer.) It's not possible to ooze anything in a good way. Just. Not. Possible.
3. Hubby - Doesn't that sound like a stunted hobby or something? Why is it "hubby" and not "husby", assuming that it's derived from the word "husband"? Not that I'd want to refer to Pete as my "husby", either.
4. Gutted - A particularly British description for "heartbroken" or "deeply disappointed", one that I avoid using at all costs, because it just GRATES ON MY NERVES! It makes me grit my teeth every time I hear it, and if I knew who used that word in that context for the first time, I would damn well sue the person for causing unnecessary wear and tear to my teeth!
5. Bap - Rude slang for breast (especially to do with older women), and also British for a soft, flabby, round bread (like a bun). Whichever way it's used, it makes me cringe. How can anyone want to eat a "bacon bap"? Gross!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A hypothetical question

Before I get started, I'd like to say that David E Kelley is a genius at coming up with addictively watchable TV shows - L.A. Law is one that instantly springs to mind. I was a fan of Picket Fences too. And Chicago Hope, until the bad singing started to take over the storyline. And The Practice. And Ally McBeal (pretty much). The man is GOOD. My latest addiction from his studios is "Harry's Law". I love Kathy Bates, and she plays the rumpled, bad-tempered, straight-talking, cynical, soft-hearted solicitor Harry just perfectly!

I just wanted to say that for the record.

Ok, the reason I started this post was not merely to worship all David E Kelley productions. (Actually, while I'm on the topic, I haven't watched Boston Legal or Boston Public... although if they started showing those from the pilot episode, I'd be watching. Just saying.) The latest episode of Harry's Law was particularly thought-provoking, and I wanted to perhaps get a few other considered opinions on a particularly controversial topic.

So here's my main hypothetical question: What would you do if you found out that a teacher in your school - that is, the school that your kids attended - had, in his or her off-time, made adult videos or was a pole-dancer/male escort or anything else along those lines? Not advertising their porn stardom, or running a brothel, or trafficking in women, or doing anything to harm minors... just providing adult entertainment for adults, without coercion and of their own free will. Let's even rule out the more extreme fetish and hardcore sections of the porn industry.

Knowing that, would you demand that the teacher be sacked immediately and put on the sex offenders register? Or would you consider the teacher's school record and general demeanour and behaviour in the school before making up your mind?

If you wouldn't for one second countenance such a person teaching your precious babies, no matter HOW well they taught your babies and how dedicated they were to their job, what would be your main reason? Apart from the obvious reason, I mean.

In other words, why would you NOT want someone with an adult hobby (not publicised in the school or anywhere that students would be likely to accidentally come across) to teach your kids? What would be so terrible about an adult entertainer teaching geography or mathematics, or any other subject for that matter?

Would the kids' age matter at all in your decision?

Would you be okay if the teacher was teaching college/university students?

I put my question to Pete and, rather to my surprise, he said he would not be comfortable if he knew that such a hypothetical person was teaching his children. So I asked him to tell me in more detail why not. Then he thought about it a bit more, and said that he would not like any kids over the age of 10 - basically, pre-teens and teenagers - to be taught by my hypothetical teacher, as there was a high likelihood of some of those students accidentally finding out (mainly via the Internet) about their teacher's off-duty work. That would be embarrassing for the school and the teacher, not to mention set a bad example for the students.

Yeah? Because it's normal for teenagers to consider their morally upright and conventional-hobbied (to coin a phrase) teachers as their role models?

And think about this - is it feasible that the teenagers who find out that their teacher is also an adult entertainer will immediately all fall off the straight and narrow? Even IF there is the odd one who thinks "ah, here's validation for my ambition to become a porn star", what reason is there to assume that all the students will also want to take up that as a potential career? (Isn't it a bit like the reasoning in those "cultures" that women who do not undergo ritual genital mutilation will all cuckold their husbands?)

If any student has gone online to surf for porn and stumbled across the hypothetical teacher on a stritcly-adults-only porn/adult entertainment website, who is most at fault? The teenager, for illicitly and illegally accessing porn? The parents, for being unaware about their offspring's access to adult websites from home, unmonitored and on the sly? Or the teacher, for being an adult entertainer?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Booking in

The Kindle is a marvellous, fabulous, sanity (and space) saving invention, and I love mine unreservedly, even if it's now a dinosaur compared to the latest models. I don't mind that mine is bigger and clunkier and isn't a Kindle Touch and doesn't have colour. Colour, for god's sake! Anyway, I don't need colourful pages to be tempted to read - black & white will do me just fine. 

 The trouble with the Kindle, as y'all probably know, is that it's so desperately easy to buy books from Amazon with the "one-click" function... and unless you're downloading the free books, you'll find suddenly that you've spent rather more than you intended - dunno about y'all, but with me, if I don't actually SEE money change hands, I retain the illusion that I haven't spent anything. Until I check my bank account, that is. Buying the cheaper £1-or-less books might seem like a good idea, but believe me, even those add up pretty damn quickly ("Ah, it's just a quid, that's won't break the bank). 

 So, what I do nowadays is check out the daily deals on Amazon and if there are any books that seem interesting (and here I should thank the good reviewers who take the time to post their views), I login to my library account, do a search for the preferred authors and reserve the books. Sure, it costs 35 pence per book to reserve, but that's nothing compared to what I'd have to pay if I actually bought the books. Plus, I don't have to feel annoyed at having to find the space at home to store a physical book that turned out to be a crap read.

So yeah, It's a great way to keep up with the latest stuff and find new authors without wasting good money on authors that you may not like. 

latest reservations are for a couple of books by an author called Priya Basil. She's had some good reviews, all 5-star, so I have high hopes for a book called "Ishq and Mushq".


In other news, the teenage son of a friend of Pete's has apparently sent out feelers (through his mom, as he was too bashful to make the request himself) to see if Pete would be kind enough to take him and three of his mates to the 6th Form Ball in the Rangerover. It's apparently de rigeur for the teenagers to arrive at the bash in fancy cars, mostly limos, and this kid wanted to make his mark in a slightly different style. 

 Of course Pete was more than willing to help, so no doubt they are going to pull up at the entrance to the posh hotel (where the prom is usually held) in a squeal of tyres, leaving rubber skidmarks on the tarmac - it's the sort of thing that would appeal to my husband, because he likes a bit of mischievous fun... plus he would get to show off his beloved Rangerover Sport Supercharged. 

 I, meanwhile, am considering sourcing a chauffeur's uniform for Pete, complete with cap and livery, if possible. It's the very least I could do for the lads for Prom Night! Right? Yep, thought so.


Here's something really odd - lately I can't seem to reply to comments on my own blogs! I don't know why that is. I login, I write my reply, do the security code thing to verify that i'm a person, then I get the message that my comments will be published after verification from the blog admin (me). But when I go to the "comments awaiting verification" section, there's nothing there. Nada, zip, zilch. Anybody else encountered this problem? Why is it happening and what do I do about it? And how is it that other people's comments DO appear for verification by me, but not mine? *sigh* Blogger is getting to be more trouble than it's worth. I may yet have to migrate everything to my own domain. Although Pete says he'll host it for me, it's still going to be such a pain. I'm not ready for that sort of thing yet! Bah. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tag - I'm it. Part 2.

11 questions from Lakshmi, who tagged me back.

1. Who is the guy who makes you go ‘what a hunk’ today?
Yesterday, today, tomorrow – Liam Neeson.

2. The last book you read completely?
The most recently read book – The Submission, by Amy Waldman

3. Will Akhilesh Yadav make or break UP?
Who’s he?

4. What comes to mind when I say NZ?
You :) And volcanoes, earthquakes, mud pools, sheep, the TranzAlpine train journey – to name a few.

5. It’s just not done to talk in Tamil in all the happening’ places in Chennai nowdays. Cool or uncool? And why?
I have to say “uncool” because what’s so wrong with speaking your mother-tongue? That said, I’m very aware that I’ll come across as a Grade-A hypocrite because *I* don’t speak/read/write Tamil properly or much, and never have.

6. Would you ever go back to live permanently in India? Why/why not?
Nope, not unless circumstances absolutely forced me to, because a) my husband is English and b) my mother and my siblings are all settled in the States.

7. Do you believe in global warming? It is just part of the Earth’s routine cycle of climate change or is it man made?
Routine cycle of climate change. Unless the scientists are wrong about the reason for previous Ice Ages and hotter times being all-natural causes... in which case, why did THOSE come about? Modern civilisation with its machinery and excessive numbers of cattle didn't exist then to take the blame.

8. If you think it would make a difference to global warming, would you turn vegan?
Perhaps. Very much based on how quickly the difference – good or bad - would come about.

9. What would you spend on a million bucks on, without regretting it?
Travelling to fabulous places, no question.

10. What is your favourite perfume?
Keeps changing. Currently it’s White Diamonds by Emporio Armani.

11. What is the one thing that always makes you happy?
A really good, well-stocked lending library.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tag - I'm it!

I think this tagging thing is going to be interesting if everybody who does the meme tags the tagger. :) I've been tagged by Anu, so here are my answers to her questions!

1) Which is your favourite Enid Blyton book? 
The Family at Red Roofs. 

2) Did you ever see an UFO or see something you thought was an UFO? 
Nope :( 

3) Which was your least favourite subject in school? 
I'll take the liberty of two least favourites here - maths, because my brain could never deal with it. And physics, because the teacher was a sleazeball. 

4) Where did you meet your spouse/ significant other? 
In Singapore, at Borders bookshop on Orchard Road. 

5) Which childhood friend have you kept in touch with? 
Girish Vaitheeswaran. 

6) Are you still good friends? 
No... but we catch up occasionally on Facebook. 

7) Who was your least favourite boss? And why? 
Shivaji, the news editor at Indian Express when I joined as an apprentice. His was a poisonous personality - Shakespeare must have had him in mind when he wrote "O villain, villain, smiling, damn├Ęd villain" and "one may smile, and smile, and be a villain". That was Shivaji, in a nutshell. Also, he absolutely REEKED of sweat even though he only ever wore white - we were forced to hold our breath if he was in our proximity!

8) If you could change jobs what would you rather be doing? I'd be travelling to exotic places and staying in the best hotels for free AND being paid handsomely for the privilege! Conde Nast, are you listening? 

9) Which book have you read as a child that you would like to re-read but can't find a copy anywhere? 
It was not so much a whole book as a collection of excerpts from various kids' adventure tales - The Hamlyn Book of Modern something or other... wish I could remember the name. I wish I could remember all the authors who featured in it... 

10)Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby or Daniel Craig? Which one do you consider best suited for James Bond? 
Pierce Brosnan, for the ultra suave Bond, and Daniel Craig for the gritty, back-to-basics Bond.

11)Your favourite poet? 
Hmmm.... probably Robert Frost.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tag - you're it!

1. You must post the rules. 
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post & then create 11 new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag 11 people and link to them on your post. 
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them! 

I haven't rounded up 11 people to tag... but I've tagged a few favourites :) I believe return tags are more than a possibility if you've got the time and the patience to formulate your own questions!

Here are the questions from Vani (The Life of Umm

1. Name the friend you’ve known longest. 

2. How did you meet? 
In school, as new students. 

3. How long have you known him? 
30 years, almost to the day. 

4. Name an embarrassing crush, one you would hesitate to accept in public. (But will now)
Ugh... a rickshaw-wallah who occasionally subbed for our actual rickshaw-puller in the days that we went to school crammed into a rickshaw with other kids. In my defence, I was young, and he had perfect dimples. That crush lasted a couple of months (at a guess) until I saw him blotto-out-of-his-mind-drunk during Deepavali. 

5. A man/woman from history you would have proposed to. 
Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

6. Name an international city that you feel is over-rated.

7. An Indian dish that is over-rated. 
Anything with coconut milk - I hate the greasy, queasily rich mouth-feel. 

8. What do you think of same sex marriage? 
I wouldn't, personally, do it - but no problems with anyone who does. Live and let live. 

9. Reality shows are:…………….. 
Devoid of actual reality. 

10. Designer clothes are:…………… 
Overpriced rubbish meant for people with more money than sense. As cliched as that term is, it's still true. 

11. Illayaraja or A R Rahman?
A R Rahman, no question!

And now, here are my 11 questions for: Teesu Gee MiM Shruthi Vani Boo Anu

1. Which city did you visit during your first visit abroad?

2. What was your first impression of it?

3. Your most favourite mode of transportation, and your least?

4. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

5. Good or bad, what memory from your childhood stands out the most in your mind?

6. Do you like soft pillows or firm ones?

7. Did you like school?

8. What would you tell your least favourite teacher, if you were to meet him/her now?

9. Do you like your name? If not, what name would you give yourself?

10. Your opinion of fund-raising balls/parties/dinners organised for/by celebrities

and finally

11. Got any advice for me? :) 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hair today, bald tomorrow

Although I hope Fate understands that by “tomorrow”, I do not refer to the day following today. I can wait - indefinitely - for baldness to descend upon me. No rush.

So, anyway (my favourite white noises while I try to rustle up a few thoughts) – hair. A woman’s crowning glory and all that sort of thing. Well, I’m fast getting to a place where the only glory my head is going to have IS the crown (no, not the one worn by the Queen). While I would much rather have a full head of hair, preferably shiny and straight, I have pretty much made peace with the idea that someday soon, I will end up looking like Persis Khambatta. (And doesn’t THAT reference give away my age! No, don’t ask me who she was. Just google her. Dammit.)

When I was much younger and learning German, there was a woman student in one of the other classes who was pretty, but getting towards nearly bald. She was a vivacious, confident person who took a leading part in organising programmes and so on. Her lack of hair didn't seem to affect her bubbly personality, from what I could see, yet I would wonder how she actually felt about her incipient baldness, and (I cringe to say this) if anybody would marry her. 

Then I discovered that she was married, and I had the temerity to wonder (and I cringe yet again) if her husband actually loved her because, you know, she had no hair! How could anyone love a woman without hair? For that matter, how was she so hair-free and yet confident when I - at that point in time WITH all my hair - was so tongue-tied and shy and lacking in impact?  

I guess I was under the impression that perfection was necessary for love and marraige, and especially that women had to be perfect. I know. Shallow, shallow, shallow. Forgive me, though. I was young and knew nothing of life or love.

Anyway, I guess it's karma, as they say, that my hair has been thinning gradually but steadily over the years. The only good thing about my situation at this point in time is that, 98% of the time, my self-worth is no longer tied up with my hair (so to speak), or with good looks in general. If physical beauty was the only criterion for being loved, wouldn't all the good-lookers in the world be happily in love and married?

That said, don't ask me how I feel about more intelligent/intellectual people.

So, anyhow, while the parting in my hair is nowadays more parting than hair, it's not yet in-yer-face obvious (she thinks). A combover will never be on the cards; I'm much more likely to deliberately go Persis.

Or I might get a wig. If you find me with inky black, thick, glossy, straight hair, you will know rightaway that it is somebody else's.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A word to the wise...

I learnt a new word today. It doesn’t enrich my world in any interesting way and it is to do with an area that holds absolutely no interest for me and never has – fashion.

The word is “peplum”.

Frankly, when I read the sentence “Peplums look like they're going to make a bit of a comeback this year”, I thought the word sounded like a particularly disgusting bodily secretion. Or maybe something to do with lactating women, even.

Guess what a peplum is?

It’s a frill. A frill or flounce of fabric that is attached to dresses, blouses and skirts at the waist, so that it comes down over the hips.

Who would've thunk, eh?

Still, I guess I've learnt a new word today - and unfortunately I'm never going to forget it or its meaning. That's the way it is with information I don't need or care about - it never leaves my head. But all the things that I have to remember for certain occasions (like exams)... they make a beeline for the exit without a single glance back.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Poor little rich/famous girls

Does anyone else find it amazing that practically every other "celebrity" of the female persuasion was "bullied in school" and informed that they were "ugly"? Or is it just cynical ol' me?

And another amazing thing is how 95% of them apparently eat like gluttons and it's their "metabolism" and "good genes" that help them keep their fabulous figures even though they "hate exercise" and "never go to the gym".

It makes you conclude that only bullied girls who eat like horses and hate exercise can ever attain the state of celebrityhood...


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guest post from my husband

I do not claim to understand much of this (I've dutifully read/watched the Wiki links), so please don't think of quizzing me on it. :) If Pete's post is right up your alley, good for you! If not - don't worry, you're in good company!
What Pete said when he emailed this to me is: "If I had the time to maintain a blog, this is the sort of thing I'd write about."


I have not been sleeping much lately as I have been preoccupied with something.

What is the world’s smallest bit?
When is a bit a byte?
And what is a nibble between friends?

Apparently the answers are: 12, 96 and 48, respectively - atoms, that is. Uhh?? If we had asked the same question a few weeks ago, the answers would have been totally different but that was way back in 2011!

Actually the real question in my mind has been where do I take our company and its services and... well, basically, what we will be doing in the next 10 years. After all, we should have a 1, 5 and 10 year plan,  according to our bankers (I think there a cockney rhyming slang in there somewhere).

If we all take a look at technology now against technology of say 10 years past, ok, so we have faster processors, bigger storage devices, and the computing power we had on our desktops 10 years ago now sits proudly in one hand. We all know there is a finite level of miniaturisation - I mean, just how much storage can you push out of a hard disk? Apple are renowned for thinking out of the box and they are not afraid of starting from scratch... unlike other manufacturers who just take an idea and make it better or cheaper – whichever sells the best.

So – what is outside the box, and who will be there at the forefront of technology in 10 years?  Surprisingly, a 10-year road map may have just been rolled out before us – and understanding what is involved is actually a breeze. How to achieve it is another question, but I believe this is where we go next. How many atoms does it take to store 1 byte of information on conventional data storage devices such as a hard drive or a solid state (chip) device?  The answer? Around 1 million atoms - roughly the number of atoms per byte contained in a current storage device. Multiply the number of Gigabytes 1,000,000,000 x 1,000,000... yeh ok, my calculator wont handle that either.   

IBM have turned their thinking upside down - instead of making things small, you need start small and see where you go from there.  So here is the punchline – IBM have announced that their boffins have stored 1 bit of data in 12 atoms! The world’s smallest bit.

1944 – At Bletchley Park, the world’s first programmable computer (computing as we know it today) sparked into life, with a memory capacity of – well, actually, nothing, but still amazing! (Ok - I'm just flying the British Flag !   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer

Later that year, IBM (And Harvard) are credited with creating the first computer that could store data – 72 decimal numbers to be precise – well, that’s many bytes in anyone’s books. But how many atoms by IBM’s new standard? Who cares and that’s not the point anyway. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Mark_I )

The point is IBM were there at the beginning and it looks like they are there at the new beginning. The 1948 machine was a monster. The equipment used in the lab today to store a number on 12 atoms. IBM is also monstrous – and the direct practical use of this is not what we are looking at; however, the materials that can be used to change the way in which data is stored IS.

Currently there is an accepted finite level of miniaturisation in the current manufacturing methods and materials employed, due to some fuzziness or something interfering with whatever it is that causes the fuzziness. But IBM have redefined the accepted finite level of miniaturisation .    

So, when does a bit become a byte? When you rearrange the magnetic poles of 96 atoms. And a nibble? Well, that's 48 atoms. 

As for my 10 year plan – Yeh right Mr Wanker – sorry Banker, I will give you a 10 month plan and you will be grateful.

Before anyone asks if I was bored or had nothing better to do... let me just say that I needed to spend 20 mins on something different.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On audio books

Do you like listening to books? Apparently Stephen Fry listens to audio books while going for long walks, but sadly they do nothing for me (walks and audio books both!). For people who don't read, I guess audio books are a godsend, but personally, I'd much rather read a book than listen to somebody reading aloud.

And here's the thing - I don't understand the point of adults being read to, unless they're physically unable to read. It's supposed to be a treat, right, if somebody reads a book to you? Not for me. I think it's meant mainly for children, until such time as they can read for themselves. 

Pete sometimes plays an audio book in the car when we're driving long distances. I've tried my best to get into the story, but after a while it just becomes a drone in the background. I guess I get tired of listening and simply tune out. My brain can't deal with the plot or characterisation or anything, no matter who the narrator is. Not even Stephen Fry, with his beautifully modulated voice, is interesting enough. I suppose I'm a reader, not a listener.

What about you all out there? Do you enjoy audio books? What do you think of them?