Robot Dancing

What better way to spend a sunny Tuesday afternoon than attempting to break a world record for the largest number of people to do the robot dance at once? Yes it completely derailed my day, but it was fun and silly and I learnt to do a dance I didn't know before (though admittedly I'm not going to be breaking those moves out in a hurry).

The ABC reports that we have broken the world record, but I don't know how official that is.


Two things kottke posted recently that I had to share:

This is what A-Ha's Take On Me would sound like if the lyrics actually had anything to do with the video.

In a similar vein, a song where the lyrics are about the lyrics. It's worth listening to the end.

Food around the world

What the World Eats, Part I is a photo essay documenting what 15 different families around the world eat during an average week. It's from the book Hungry Planet, which features many more families and apparently deals in some detail with their lives and their relationship with food. It doesn't sound like it'll be all that interesting, until you start looking at the pictures. Even with very little text accompanying them, they speak volumes.

Fourteen Passive Aggressive Appetizers

Having people over that you'd really rather not? Or just feeling a teensy bit, you know, vindictive? Trust the New Yorker to be able to tell you what to do:

4. Blend fresh crabmeat with diced avocado, scallions, and a dollop of mayonnaise for a canapé topping so delicious that it will take your guests a full minute to realize that they’re eating it off dog biscuits. Once they catch on, act mortified and stammer that you must have “mixed up the boxes,” until everyone calms down. Then start crying because the biscuits remind you that today marks exactly eight weeks since you had to put down Buster, and you just miss him so much.


6. For a taste of the U.K., fry up mini-servings of fish-and-chips. Take it to the next level by wrapping them in small pieces of newspaper, which, oddly enough, all seem to be printed with unfavorable reviews of Jeff ’s novel.

The Onion gets it right...again

I strongly suspect that all the real news is to be found in comedy and that the stuff passed off as straight news is actually a huge joke. Anyway, this made me giggle.

Novelists Strike Fails To Affect Nation Whatsoever
Nor has America's economy seen any adverse effects whatsoever, as consumers easily adjust to the sudden cessation of any bold new sprawling works of fiction or taut psychological character studies.

"There's a novelists strike?" Ames, IA consumer Carl Hailes said. "That's terrible. When is it scheduled to begin?"

The strike kicked off last fall...

Moving time

As the post title might have told you, we're moving! We just did the requisite signing and I'm about to book the movers and then the sorting shall begin. I'm really excited. I absolutely love moving (and yes, I have been told I'm not right in the head already, thank you). How much do I love moving? When I was about 17 months old and made my first move from Sri Lanka to Islamabad, I apparently packed myself into one of the boxes the movers had brought over. Panic and drama ensued, but I missed it all because I was napping. My second move, from Islamabad to Geneva, happened when I was 4 and I remember being constantly underfoot (and being stepped on as a result) because I wanted to 'help' by packing all my toys myself. Since my parents didn't want to tell me that they'd dumped my toys, I was told they'd got lost on the way. Bad idea. I was 7 when we moved again and I made bloody sure every last toy got packed and sent off properly. Of course then we put them into storage and rats ate them, but that's not the point.

The point is, I love moving because it gives me a chance to review where I've been, pick and choose what I want to take with me, and discard the rest. It's a clean slate, a fresh start and all that. Even when it's a tiny suburb-to-suburb move like this one, it's still a good way of clearing out the stuff I invariably accumulate when I'm in one place for any length of time. It's as if things - papers particularly -  get sucked into my orbit and I can't shake them loose - a bit like the way staticky cellophane just won't come off - unless I do something drastic like move house. And as I discard physical objects, I often end up discarding a lot of baggage of the other kind as well. I decide again and again whether something I've carried with me for years and years is really really really worth keeping and sometimes, even though I've always thought I couldn't possibly be without it, the time comes to let it go. It's always a bit of a surprise, but it happens. Some things I don't think I'll ever get rid of, like my two Sri Lankan good luck devils or the little amethyst ring my mother got when I was born, or ticket stubs from the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey, or the other random little things that it makes me happy to look at because they remind me of where I've been - that I've really been there and I didn't imagine it all.

What I certainly haven't imagined is the deadline we're working to now. It's not that bad really - we've packed and moved a six-bedroom house in a day so this little shoebox and its contents shouldn't be a problem. At least in theory. What actually happens remains to be seen.

Memory Meme

Penni's guest-blogging at Inside A Dog this month (twice the fun!) and did an earliest memory meme, so I'm picking it up too. Hey, I should be blogging and writing and am doing neither at the moment, so this is a good thing. Seriously.

My earliest memory is of sounds - my father brushing his teeth, the clatter of crockery when my family had breakfast, more clattering when my grandmother came home from work, the car horn when my father came back from work, the sound that the front door of my grandmother's house made when someone opened it, the different sounds each ceiling fan in the house made. Layered on top of that are smells - porridge and toast and chocolate milk and laundry and slightly damp clothes being ironed and the smell of the jasmine we'd collect in the evenings to make into garlands. The dominant smell isn't really a smell though - it's the dry, slightly grainy smell that seemed to follow the sunshine around. Inside, outside, in cars, in other people's houses, I could smell it underneath all the other smells. These are all Islamabad smells and sounds though - I don't have any memory of Sri Lanka that I know of.

The first full thing I remember is the day, when I was about 2 or 3 years old, that I realized adults didn't always tell you the truth. I'd asked about something - I don't recall what but, knowing me, it was probably badly-timed and 'inappropriate' - and had received some sort of vague, nonsense answer. I was walking up the four steps that linked my parents' room to the rest of the house and I remember the moment not just because it was when it clicked that the answer I'd got wasn't true but because it was when I realized that I could tell. I remember also realizing pretty quickly that it wouldn't be a good idea to tell the grownups that I was on to them. Instead I decided that I needed to learn to read asap so I find out for myself.

I remember my mother being ill and in bed a lot and being kept away from her because of it, which I didn't mind because the room she was in always smelled metallic and cold. That's also probably why I have so many memories of my grandparents. One very clear memory is of looking at the Margalla hills from the back windows of the house and being fascinated by the shapes at the very tops of the hills. Trees, as it turned out, but my grandfather saw me looking and told me that they were monkeys who were observing my behavior. I still get a little creeped out when I see them.

I don't remember what my mix of languages was pre-Geneva, but I do remember not speaking Punjabi because one day my brother and I decided to make an effort to speak it (or rather I decided and since he had nobody else to play with, he had to go along with me). Our parents were very amused and of absolutely no help at all, which was frustrating because I wanted to learn it. Later when we moved to Geneva and the number of languages around us diminished enough for me to pick up on the Turkish my parents spoke, I tried doing the same thing, with the same result. They didn't want us to learn Turkish either.

I do agree with Penni about first-borns being the memory-keepers of the family. Being older, I naturally remember more than my brother does, but the odd thing is that I often seem to remember more than my parents as well. Actually it's probably not more overall but just more things specific to our family unit since I didn't have the 'noise' of work and family and friends and all that. On top of that, since we moved around so much, my brother and I were probably a lot more focused on our parents and each other than other children our age.

Hey if anyone decides to do this meme, let me know.

Here comes summer - and this time I'm ready, punk

Even though I'm dreading the trip to the library that I have to make in just a bit, I think I might not be entirely unhappy about the coming of summer. I generally like the end of the year, and I generally dislike the heat. Of the two though, it seems my fondness for the last two months of the year is greater than my dislike of the heat, specially when Australia seems to enjoy it so much (barring the bushfires, of course). Holidays, Christmas, carols by the lake, long lazy days - I think I see the appeal.

Now the thing is, the way I know for sure that the season's turned is not the weather forecast as such but my nose and arms. There's a difference in the way the air smells and feels in each season, just as there is before rainfall. In autumn, the air begins to feel more dense and seems to hit the front of my nose as I breathe. That first whiff of ozone means that winter is setting in. When the air expands enough to carry the smell of grass and flowers, it's spring. And when it expands so much that it fills not just your nose but your whole mouth with every breath, it's summer. Which is unfortunate, because summer is also when everything starts to stink.

You know what I'm talking about. Bad smells just don't seem as bad in winter - either the air is too still to carry them or it's windy and you're too busy feeling miserable and cold to register this annoyance at the tip of your nose. But in summer, with every air molecule taking up far more space than is decent, odors invade your consciousness, forcing you not just to smell them but to taste them as well. Even relatively good smells can turn cloying or unpleasant in this kind of weather.

On the train today, for instance, people had clearly taken their cue from the predicted high of 36 degrees Celsius and been extra generous with the deodorant and other nice-smelling stuff. In itself, this is something to be appreciated and encouraged, specially on tightly packed trains and trams. But when you mix that many different smells together in that kind of concentration, they will blend to create an overall scent. Unfortunately for Melburnians, the smell they seem to create when they all huddle together on public transport is: Baygon. And I don't mean the politely scented bug sprays you get here in the first world, either. I'm talking about the stuff they sell in South Asia: unadulterated poison that can stop a rat-sized daddy-roach in its tracks and half choke you to death in the process.

Still, it was better than that other harbinger of summer: body odor. There is something inherently upsetting about BO, I find - something as invasive and offensive as cigarette smoke in a closed room. Much like cigarette smoke, BO is often also unapologetic. It has no problem with its existence; you're the one with the problem. Which is why I dread sitting in the aisle seat in trams because sooner or later it will get crowded enough and someone will reach for the strap hanging above my head and, in doing so, will expose their stinky underarms. Being short, standing doesn't really provide any respite - it can, in fact make it worse if, as often happens, I'm about armpit-height to the (usually male, usually large) offender.

So I have devised a strategy.
It's simple, really. Carry a can of antiperspirant deodorant and, when confronted with a foul armpit, spray liberally. If the recipient raises a fuss, you can always claim self-defense. Think about it. Rather than waiting it out by burying your nose into the recesses of your handbag or just hand or sleeve or anything else you may have with you that smells better than these atmosphere polluters, DO something about it. And since you can't very well carry around soap and water to offer them a wash, this is the next best thing. It won't keep the smell away so much as mask it, but hey, the goal is to make your own life easier, not give hygiene lessons.

Vigilante deodorizing. Give it a try today.

Clowning around

I have to admit clowns make me nervous, but this is just awesome. The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, or CIRCA, is a group of actual, trained clowns that, according to its website
...aims to make clowning dangerous again, to bring it back to the street, restore its disobedience and give it back the social function it once had: its ability to disrupt, critique and heal society. Since the beginning of time tricksters (the mythological origin or all clowns) have embraced life's paradoxes, creating coherence through confusion - adding disorder to the world in order to expose its lies and speak the truth.

The rebel clowns that make up CIRCA embody life's contradictions, they are both fearsome and innocent, wise and stupid, entertainers and dissenters, healers and laughing stocks, scapegoats and subversives.

Rebel Clowns are trained by CIRCA recruiting officers, using a variety of different exercises, training includes finding your inner clown, civil disobedience tactics, learning to be spontaneous and playful, practicing clown gaggle manoevers and last but not least marching and drilling.

They got a chance to put the training to excellent use at a VNN/Nazi rally held in Knoxville in May this year. I found the story thanks to Belledame222 over at Fetch Me My Axe who posted an excerpt from an Indymedia article describing how the clowns completely took the wind out of their white supremacist sails.
“White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s angrily shouted once more, “White flowers?” the clowns cheers and threw white flowers in the air and danced about merrily.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, “ohhhhhh!” the clowns yelled “Tight Shower!” and held a solar shower in the air and all tried to crowd under to get clean as per the Klan’s directions.

At this point several of the Nazi’s and Klan members began clutching their hearts as if they were about to have a heart attack. Their beady eyes bulged, and the veins in their tiny narrow foreheads beat in rage. One last time they screamed “White Power!”

The clown women thought they finally understood what the Klan was trying to say. “Ohhhhh…” the women clowns said. “Now we understand…”, “WIFE POWER!” they lifted the letters up in the air, grabbed the nearest male clowns and lifted them in their arms and ran about merrily chanting “WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER!”

There's a more sober account of it in the local newspaper that focuses more on why the rally was held and talks about the arrest of its organizer, who apparently couldn't control his rage at the clowns and attempted to attack them, then resisted arrest. Tsk tsk.

I think this is brilliant, not just because I love it when people get all subversive, but because CIRCA really does what clowns/fools/madmen through the ages (at least those we know of, starting with the Greeks) were meant to do: hold up a mirror to society and reveal all the really ugly bits we'd rather not deal with.

The Bourne Ultimatum…wow…

What crap.


Ameel loved it. Stephanie Zacharek, who writes brilliant reviews for Salon, loved it. I'm sure other people did and do as well.

And there were good things about it. I liked the way the story began right where the previous movie left off, that the end looped back to the beginning, that the bad guys seemed likely to see some kind of justice. I also like the way the story looks at identity as a construct of our memories and the dissociation that happens when one loses or at least can't locate those memories. All good stuff, all interesting. I have no issues with the story itself or the larger metaphorical tale-of-our-times stuff that everyone's raving about.

No. The issues I had with the movie had more to do with the way it was put together. Did we really need all those over-the-shoulder shots of intensely intense eyes being all intense? Did we really? And all from the same angle too? Oh and how about that shaking camera? Nothing like feeling carsick in the middle of a movie theatre to put the finishing touch on your cinematic experience. And that chase in Tangier that some people loved? Oy. Yes you can run over rooftops and through windows, open or not, but do you have to do it for ten whole minutes? And yes you can beat the living shit out of the guy out to kill you, but could you, um, well just get it over with already? First you slam the guy into a wall, then you get slammed into a bookcase, then it's other random bits of furniture, then a huge mirror, then you get books involved, then you take it to the bathroom whose fixtures, naturally, come into play, and then, finally, finally, the baddie croaks. Phew. Well that was close. Because, with about half the movie's running time left, there was a big question mark there about whether the title character would make it. Yeesh.

Oh and please, let us not forget the silences. The long, meaningful, significant and deeply, deeply, deeply annoying silences. Yes, yes, he's alone and isolated. Yes the dead girlfriend is still 'there' (and far more substantial than poor ol' Julia Stiles without even being in the frame). Yes there's a story there with Stiles's character, but please somebody bloody say something. I'm all for tension building and such, but this was frustrating because the actors were so busy emoting their little guts out that they forgot to engage with anything. What is this, acting by numbers? Ameel pointed out that it might have just been bad editing, and I'd like to believe that if only because I like Stiles and I think that even in a crappy role she brings something interesting to the screen. If I can blame someone else for her crappiness, I'd like to.

One of the best scenes of the movie was utterly ruined because they show it, or at least all the important bits of it, in the trailer. God I hate it when they do that. And the less said about that inane car chase the better.

This movie annoyed me because, with all the potential there was for a truly fantastic ending to an interesting story, we got this shoot-em-up drivel rife with oh-look-I'm-pretending-to-be-a-spy speak. By the time it ended, I had no idea how it had begun, who had done what to whom, why, when, where and, quite honestly, I didn't care. Bourne gets his memory back and lives to swim out of the East River, bad men get arrested, Julia smiles to herself in a coffee shop, and all's right with the world. Lovely.

<Insert rude noise of choice>

Dogs and kids

Or, more properly, one dog and one kid.

Clearly the dog is used to this and the baby's delighted, so it's probably not at all dangerous. The last shot when the baby puts his little hand on the dog's jaw is my favorite. It's so trusting. At the same time, the confidence makes it look dominant, which makes me think that the child already knows how to handle dogs, specially such gentle, cuddly ones. Adorable as the whole thing is though, I can't help getting a little knot in my stomach at the fact that the dog's jaw is about the same width as the child.

Well, like, duh.

Not so hot on the man-hater qualifier. You're lovely, fellas, but really, everything isn't about you, you know? And can't men hate men? And...'s a blogthing, Nadia. Let it go.

You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Are You a Feminist?

How pathetic can you get?

I have an ex I'm very fond of. We got together back in high school in Kathmandu and broke up some time after it, but more because the relationship just died a natural death and there really wasn't any point continuing it. No dramas, no scenes; just a see you later, take care of yourself and hey, keep in touch. I was about 19 back then. Over the years, we've seen each other through various relationships, mistakes, breakups, fallings out, disasters and ultimately each of our 'holy shit I think this is it' moments.

I have and have had similar relationships with what I now realize is a fairly large number of men. To be clear, I never dated any of them, but I absolutely adore them because they're all some combination of intelligent, creative, funny, sweet, talented, silly, downright weird (on occasion), gorgeous (in the 'I have my shit together' sort of way), great to talk to, supportive, generous, well-read, able to listen, interested in things I find interesting (animals, cars, motorbikes, books, music, politics, history, physics, whatever), well-travelled, kind, honest, inventive, original and so on. In short, they're people. Real, functioning, thinking human beings around whom I feel challenged, switched on, comfortable, safe and happy.

I'm all for the whole imprinting on one's parents thing because my relationship with them is basically a repeat and expansion of my relationship with my father (and arguably all of that formed a blueprint for my relationship with Ameel). It's always a bit silly to say 'if not for X, such and such wouldn't have happened' becuause X was there and whatever it is did happen and you have no real way of knowing whether your statement is true. But, coming from a relatively 'conservative' nation (for lack of a better word - I wasn't born in Pakistan and spent more time outside the country than in it, so I feel that, if anything my passport makes me from Pakistan-the-idea rather than Pakistan-the-place), I lucked out. I'd always thought so, because bad fathers are an unfortunately world-wide phenomenon, but I realized just how much when I went back to Lahore for college and discovered the utter monsters that are allowed to raise children there. Some had attitudes similar to those of my father (after all, he's from there too), but what the apparent majority of men(with the collusion of their wives and families) put their children - particularly their daughters - through was appalling.

With some notable exceptions, the men my own age that I met there were just as appalling. (So, too, again with some exceptions, were the women, so ultimately I guess they pretty much deserved each other.)  I made an effort. I really did. But seriously, if a man's fool enough to pull the macho crap and try to tell me what to do...

But that's just it. They really, honestly don't seem to know any better. The few that tried it with me probably still don't know where they went wrong (or what hit them), and I doubt that they really have any need to seeing as how they're probably now with women who do the whole subservient little woman thing anyway. And everyone involved is probably quite happy with things too, which I suppose is fine. Just because it's not my thing doesn't make it automatically' bad'.

But what does make it bad is when this crap spills over into my life. The web makes it possible for me to reconnect with all the wonderful people I've had to leave behind because our lives went in different directions. I've found people I haven't seen or been in touch with for ten years or more through things like Facebook and Orkut and have, thanks to them, actually managed to stay in touch with people. They're good applications, specially for us wanderers, because they bring all our different worlds into one easy to manage space. It's more of a home than any real place I can think of because everyone from evereywhere is there. Virtually.

Along with all of that, unfortunately, comes the aforementioned crap. Because my network or nationality or name or friends or some combination of these usually place me within reach of the 'desi' presence on the web, I am occasionally pestered by men seeking to be 'friends'. Now in desi-speak, 'friends' (or 'frraands' as it is generally pronounced) does not mean friends who chat once in a while, perhaps even over coffee or drinks, or friends who know each other a bit better and are interested in each other's lives, generally helpful and kind, and mostly truthful except perhaps when concerning an unfortunate haircut, etc. A 'friend' request from a desi man to a woman he does not know means simply that he thinks she's hot and that he has a chance of getting into her pants (virtually or otherwise) for some reason, be it that he thinks she's 'western(ized)' and therefore a 'slut' (read: a woman who has clapped eyes on a man not of her family oh, maybe once?), stupid enough to fall for his 'friend' routine, or so starved for attention that she will immediately fall to her knees in gratitude. Need I mention that these men are quite often also delusional?

Unfortunately, they obviously have some measure of success because they just don't go away.

When faced with a 'no thanks', they first begin to pepper you with messages asking you why not. When you don't respond, they beg for reasons why their oh so manly manliness hasn't had it's 'normal' effect (excuse me while I snort). When they still get nothing ( I don't believe in feeding the animals at a zoo either) they go and steal pictures they find of you on the web, put them in their own photo albums on said networking site, usually with some kind of inane caption, and then leave you a link to it. Now, this generally does get a lot of (desi) girls to contact them, if only to ask them to remove the picture because they're usually compromising (sometimes the mere fact that a perfectly innocent picture is in the possession of a 'stranger' is enough to get them into a world of trouble). This generally gives the harasser a 'way in': he's achieved his objective of getting a reaction and can now blackmail the girls into further contact, whether on the 'net or, more dangerously, in real life.

The problem that these shits run into with me is that I'm not too fond of being harassed or blackmailed and I'm not one to run from a fight if provoked. I'm also not liable to stop till I've ground them into a pulp. This is why I generally stay away from physical fights. I don't need the lawsuits or the possible jailtime, thank you. But in the virtual world, you can kick someone's ass from here to next Tuesday quite nicely, and all without getting your hands too dirty.

So when this particular idiot took a picture of me off this site and did the usual (on Orkut, this was), he didn't get the expected hysterical messages. Instead, Ameel and I

  1. put all the messages I had from him up on my Orkut page,

  2. messaged my friends about his harassment, pointing out the stupidity of 'stealing' a picture that is already in the public domain (under a creative commons copyright),

  3. asked them to check out his nauseatingly pedestrian profile, his visible harassment of other women on Orkut (scrapbooks are publicly viewable), his messages to me, and then

  4. invited them to come express their opinion of him on my page.

It was hilarious to see him scampering to delete his trail and remove most of the pictures from his album, all the while leaving idiotic messages in his defense. The last was the usual 'I just wanted what was best for you and promise me you'll be happy always and I would have been a true and devoted friend'. When that got nothing but jeers (Thanks, mate, but I already have all the dogs I want.), we were all told that this person had had a terrible accident and was in intensive care and that we should all be ashamed of ourselves for being such meanies. When that didn't get a reaction, we received another message saying that he had died and asking if we were happy now. From his account. A 'friend' of his logged in for him you see, because obviously the first thing you do when a friend is dying in hospital is log into his Orkut account and inform all the people there who have expressed overt dislike for him that someone they don't give two shits about has had a completely random accident, most likely caused by the stupidity he so blatantly exhibited online. Naturally.

If any such thing happened at all. Since I've had similar crap pulled on me before (I know. But I didn't fall for it then either.) I knew not to take it seriously. Sure enough, a while later a person with the same name starts commenting on this blog. Nothing untoward was said, so I didn't react. Then someone, again using the same name, sends me a friend request on Facebook. Now, I like Facebook because you can ignore requests and keep these people out of your circle and therefore unable to harass you (other than by private message, and that's a bit of a bother to do. You have to, like, articulate and stuff.)

All was well until lo, one day I get a friend request from a Nadia Niaz whose profile has a picture of me (again from my website, and this time from Ameel's photo page) on it. Another friend had also received a request and was wondering if it was some kook. So I reported it. Obviously. And so did a number of other people. Facebook removed the account. Bye bye, troll.

Or so we thought. Now there's a Nadia Niaz on Orkut whose profile picture is the same picture this loser first took off my site (and which I was using on Facebook for a while). Oh and get this, this Nadia is also 28, is single, and is only interested in women because she has had 'bad experiences' with men in the past. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. I think I'm meant to be offended or something. I mean, my goodness, a lesbian. How very original. Hands up the women who've been called dykes by men they weren't interested in? I think it's even funnier because, really, I have no issues being called a lesbian. I think women are lovely. The person I ended up committing to happens to have been born male, but it really wouldn't have made much of a difference to me personally either way. So umm, no, sexuality's not really an issue kiddo.

What I would find fascinating, if I could be bothered to investigate this phenomenon more, is why these people don't give up. It's not just on the 'net that this happens. While in Pakistan, pretty much the moment I got a cell phone was when I started getting random phone calls from people who wanted to 'get to know' me. How do these people have the time? Are they really all at that loose an end? No wonder the country's going to shit. And really, how pathetic and frustrated do you have to be to do this ad nauseam? Eventually, I wouldn't bother hanging up. I'd put the moron on hold and let him talk. (They always want to talk - one of the made up this very entertaining story about why I wouldn't speak. He probably wouldn't have figured out he was on speakerphone addressing not just me but my husband and a few friends as well if someone in the background hadn't burst out laughing.)

It comes across as cruel at times, I realize. But I've tried being nice, and I've tried reason, neither of which I think they're entitled to. I've also tried ignoring them. And yet he/they seem to think their lives are some shitty bollywood movie where the hero (them, of course) must pursue the heroine (whatever woman they're fixated on) even though she claims to not be interested in him because, of course, she either is secretly mad for him and is simply too dishonest to admit it, or is just too stupid to realize how great a catch he is and so must be repeatedly dazzled with much's just....well...he's male dammit and he wants her so how dare the impudent female say no? That's not what happens in the movies! And movies, specially big bollywood productions, are absolutely realistic. Oh yes they are!


Anyway, I've reported the creep again. Let's see how we go. Orkut is apparently less stringent about such things, but then most of my friends have migrated to Facebook already, because it affords one more, obviously much needed, privacy from such fuckwits.

And you are…?

Not unlike a lot of other women my age, I didn't change my last name when I got married. There was never any question of my doing so, as far as Ameel and I were concerned. It only came up once when I referred to someone we knew changing her name and my observing how odd a concept that was. He agreed. End of discussion.

Of course we were aware that some people would have trouble with that, if only because it's not what they're used to. The funny thing is who has trouble with it. My father doesn't. Ameel's entire family doesn't. My mother and grandmother, on the other hand, can't get their heads around it. It's been over three years and yesterday my mother calls asking what name she should use when mailing me something. Specifically, "Mrs what?". (Not because she doesn't know Ameel's name but because somewhere the message that his last name is not the default has apparently sunk in.)

Because it isn't so much which name I use, apparently, but the ambiguity that not using that particular loathsome title causes that bothers them. At this point, they just want me to tack a 'Mrs' onto the front of my name, regardless of what it is, or how bizarre it sounds.

I just don't get it. I really don't. And apparently neither do they. But what I do expect is for the people who actually know me to respect my "choice", specially when that choice does not involve any change. I could understand if they had trouble remembering a new name or title for a bit, because that happens, but I can't understand having trouble remembering, well, nothing.

Which is why I kick up such a fuss. I told my mother that any mail addressed to a Mrs anything would be sent back. I have refused to attend events to which I've received invitations addressed to a 'Mrs'. I have made friends resend/re-address invitations to weddings and such when they've made that mistake. After all, that's not my legal name, so I conclude that the mail or invite or whatever is not for me.

If I'm harder on the people I'm closest to, it's because I expect them to know my name. Random strangers address me as Mrs Khan and Ameel as Mr Niaz when they know we're married but only know one of our names. I don't have a problem with that. I'll correct them when and if necessary but they don't matter to me and I don't to them, so why go off on a rant when they're just trying to be personable/get a job done? I'm not trying to prove a point or make a huge statement. All I'm saying is that I am who I have always been.

But that isn't ok. The way they read it, being married confers upon women the honor of being someone's property and we should therefore all proudly declare our status as chattel. To not do so is to give great offense to our husbands and their families and society in general and, in doing so, dishonor our own families. The less medieval see it as simply being disloyal or somehow indicating that we don't love our husbands as we should because we're not willing to take on the shiny pink extra-special role of wifey-pooh.

What a load of bullshit.

I'm not even going to bother addressing the whole honor thing. But I can't get my head around the idea that I should have to 'prove' to anybody how I feel about my husband. As far as I'm concerned, that's between me and him (and maybe the people on public transport that we nauseate every now and then). And why does being married make a difference? Are unmarried couples in long-term relationships automatically less committed? If so, what if one of them took their partner's last name? Would that make people feel better about their relationship? Isn't how they feel about each other the important thing? And isn't all of this very much NOT anybody else's business?

I feel about my husband exactly as I did before we got married. A ring and a piece of paper, whether or not accompanied by a name-change, in the final analysis, have nothing whatsoever to do with how you feel about someone or how committed you are to the relationship - they certainly didn't change my committment. They just mean that, on top of being goofy about each other, we can share health cover, live together legally in countries that require cohabitants to be married,  and travel together more easily. And that we got to invite lots of of people for a huge, fun party three and a half years ago. We didn't stop being the people we were because of any of that and I don't think either of us should pretend that we did. If anything, I think we're most ourselves when we're together and that is altogether too precious for me to taint or burden with such stuff and nonsense as 'tradition' or 'appearances' or whatever the trend-du-jour happens to be.

Giant steps are what you take

...when you have tickets to see the Police in concert. Oh yes. Six months from now, but holy @#$%^&**&^%$# I'm going to actually see the actual Police in actual concert. Fourteen-year-old-me would have killed for this. Current me is pretty over the moon too. We forked out for the mid-range tickets - nosebleed seats when you want to see the drummer just won't work.

This is turning out pretty awesome, really. We get to Oz and Pearl Jam turn up, then the Cure decide to pop back in after 5 years away, and then the Police not only get back together but come down to Melbourne before the year is out. Add the Transformers movie to the mix and I'm reliving 1983-1997, only on fast-forward and at full volume. Which doesn't work on video (remember those?) I know, but does in real life. I think. Whatever. I'm happy.

Now to come up with a viable PhD proposal...


Eight bits and pieces

It is amazing how Penni always manages to distract me at just the right moment. This time its 8 things about yours truly. Yes, I know. Fascinating stuff, isn't it? But first, the rules:

  • each player lists 8 facts about themselves 

  • the rules of the game appear before the facts do

  • the player ends by tagging 8 people, which means listing their names and then going to their blogs to tell them that they've been tagged, then going back and commenting on their lists.

  1. Nothing in the world melts my heart faster than a dog. Big, little, puppy, grown up, recognizable breed, mutt, whatever. I go from a relatively articulate post-grad to a jibbering, cooing, baby-talking fool at the sight of a dog, regardless of where I am when I see it. People on the tram have been known to move away. 

  2. I hate wearing socks inside the house because they feel funny in my slippers and on the carpet. And they feel funny because I never had to wear any when my dog was alive - he had a habit of sitting under my chair or as close to me as possible, which made it easy for me to slip my feet under him when they got cold. German Shepherds beat socks any day.

  3. Some people's singing voices make the bones in my forearms itch. Their speaking voices are fine though.

  4. I remember the layout of every house I have ever lived in, except the one in Colombo because we left when I was only about 16 months old.

  5. I can understand more Turkish than my parents realize.

  6. I'm scared I won't be able to learn all the languages I want to learn.

  7. I'm afraid of medication and won't even take pain pills unless absolutely necessary.

  8. I love people who challenge gender/sexual identity because it just goes to show how artificial and socially constructed our concept of it is in the first place.

On to tagging. As it happens, I don't think I know enough people...Eunice and Ameel for starters. Miriam--or Nome, rather since he does the blogging. Roy, if he gets around to blogging. Sin and Kyla too, because I like them.