Thots in My Head

…which all suddenly seems to have disappeared.

* There was an absolute moment of silence at the traffic light today. Anyone who’s been stuck at any traffic light in India knows it is generally chaotic. Horns, noisy vehicles etc. And I was at a major junction today when I was returning home and despite all the traffic around, there was this one moment of quiet. No one honking, no noisy vehicles. I wondered if i’d gone deaf suddenly. But nope, everyone waited patiently for the light to turn green, so the person in front to move at their own speed, for people to cross the road easily. Damn weird. There is some sanity in the world maybe. Or this was the exception to the rule.

* Had the most awful sheesha at Mocha today. Second time in a row… the coals keep going off… the flavor is barely there and today, i could taste the coal. Nearly choked. What on earth is happening? With increased competition, isn’t the service supposed to get better? Actually, the service is better… for once, they are all smiling and chatty and really quick. I just love the smell of sheesha… it is so… ethereal. And when done right, it is almost a ritual.

* And talking about weird stuff… yesterday was an abnormally busy day. We had more stories, stuff to do etc. And in between I got a call from an ex-colleague. One I consider a friend as well. Except he called to ask me to send him some documents which we were using for a story. They were public documents and he could access them, with the right passwords etc, which any news organization would have. But it was still rather shocking that he would call me, when we are competitors and actually think that I would send it to him. I love my friends but work’s work. And I’d never ever send any such breaking news to anyone. Everyone knows we journos are super competitive. I know that ‘share and care’ system exists in more places. It is natural… my boss would yell at me if you got a scoop and I didn’t. And so would your boss if the position were reversed. So a lot of people tip off their competitors after we’ve secured the lead. So he could’ve called his direct people… why me? When things aren’t so rosy for me here anyway?!?!

And I make the mistake of telling a coworker this… forgetting that the coworker has the biggest mouth in the newsroom. Ugh!

* This whole morning stint proved one thing – mornings aren’t for me. No matter how early I sleep, it is still difficult to pull myself out of bed every morning. It is still horrible to drive myself all the way to work so far… and i hate the traffic. And I feel so much awake in the night and filled with energy and creativity 😦 I prefer something starting by noon and ending late evening. This bit about catching up with friends wud perhaps plain stop if i were working this shift really everyday. This is just a celebration of the deviation.

* I went shopping in a part of town I had long discarded. I had to wait for friend so figured I could make use of the time. Except every shop I went to pulled out the most horrible stuff they had. I want loose tops, but with some shape cuz i’m skinny and short. Except, they pulled out saggy tops in horrible colors… and when I pointed out that they were all too big for me, they shrugged and said “this is all we have”. If that is all they had, then why show me?!? Do they expect me to  buy those extra large sizes? So then I said I want a plain white t shirt or singlet. And they pulled out stuff which was in bad stretchy cotton and long. Really long. When you wear a singlet, you usually wear it inside something or just plain. So in circumstance would you wear a LONG one. Least not something that comes up to your butt and makes you look weird and fat!
So I skip that as well and look for skirts. There was a fairly decent cotton skirt on display… white, knee-length. Except, that is ALL they had. In that one size on a mannequin of a size no Indian woman is. The rest of the skirts were the flowy cotton ones that are copies of the gorgeous ones you see on tv but no where the same class or style. Cheap sequins and cheaper material sewn together badly.
I am not a brand person. I discarded so called ‘peasant blouses’ at Pepe cuz they were just badly sewn, thin cotton, shapeless piece of… cloth. But why do they make it so bad? It costs the same to buy the material and stitch it. The same tailors sew everything. So what is the problem?
I figured I’d head to Show Off, which used to have some decent clothes. I badly wanted a top by then, as I was sweaty and dirty… I was meeting friends and wanted to look fresh and nice. Show Off – glittery, satiny, sequinny, ripped, saggy. They look like discards or left over from the 60s movies. In a bad way. And to top that off, there was a ‘make-over show’ being recorded there. The host was passable attractive, though she was wearing tights that made her thighs look fat. But the model who was ‘made over’ was even worse. Skinner than me and she was wearing – beat this – a red satin clingy dress, with a black synthetic singlet inside as the ‘summer’ wear. I was tempted to walk over and ask them if they were out of their goddamn minds! They advertised tights, half-sleeved velvety stuff for summer. Tights? Seriously? I walked out… I could not take the glitter anymore. Needless to say, I still haven’t found anything I have fallen in love with.

This is the problem when I go shopping. I have an image in mind and that apparently never suits any trend in vogue. Skirts are too flashy or disgusting, jeans have sequins all over them. Tops have fluffy, frilly stuff and shoes are all flats. What happened to simple and elegant?

* One more earthquake in Turkey. Maybe this is the end of the world.

* The news – The kid who was found dead in Australia. Something comes along every now and then that manages to pierce the shell that is built around your heart and make your stomach twist. Honestly, when I first read the article, I thought it would just lead to more furore about racism and all that shit. Strangely, there was none of it. And the Australian government really did their bit in finding the culprit. And he turned out to be a roommate… How could someone you know do something like that to your child?
And then I saw the picture of the child… In a long time, I felt like crying. There was such joy, such mischief in his eyes. The kind of kid who would play pranks and smile innocently that you could do nothing but laugh at it. What kind of a monster even think of extinguishing that joy?

And there has been silence on the media end. No speculation, no story about why an Indian did this to another Indian. All the racist comments… all the drama that was there about someone beating up adults and we remain silent about the death of this child? WHY?

* The travel bug is creeping up again.

Song of the day: Fawn – You Make Me Smile

Racism? Mugging?

A friend of mine sent me this link on Outlook about racial attacks in Melbourne. By far, the most balanced article I’ve seen in Indian or Australian media so far.

The Indian media+government have been screaming their heads off calling this racism while the Australian media+government have been playing it down. And we wonder what the truth is.

The Indian media tends to exaggerate, as I can say from personal experience. A couple of years ago when I was still living in Australia, when they found one of the suspects of the Glasgow bombing incident living in Gold Coast, the Indian media reported that Indians were being bashed up in Australia. The truth – no one I ever met was even aware that the guy had been living there. The Australian media picked it up only after a week or so. But that didn’t stop our parents from panicking about the situation and calling us asking if we were okay and how was the situation.

I do agree that GC is not a huge city like Melbourne where there is a little more global awareness. But in my time in Melbourne too, I didn’t see much racism.

People in the above quoted article say that racism has gone up in the past couple of years. Then again, so has the population of Indians and the economic conditions have changed. So what are the facts?

It is a fact that a very small percentage of Indians actually interact with the locals. Most Indians when they get there prefer to be within their own communities. Not just the nationality. The same community. The Gujratis, the Punjabis, the Teluguites, the Malyalis, the Bengalis, the Tamilians etc. They are shy and scared to interact with the locals or with any other country people actually. But that doesn’t stop them from making fun of the ‘goras’. That doesn’t stop them from leching at the girls walking around in skirts and shorts. That doesn’t stop them from saying that the white women are easy, even if they’ve never really been able to score with one. And they feel jealous of a guy who is dating a white girl, and raise eyebrows at a girl dating a white guy.

The Indians become more rigid and more backward when they get to a place like Australia which is laid back and easy going. True, a lot of Indians do come from small towns and cannot speak that great english. But nor do many of the Germans and French who get there. Or the Chinese. That doesn’t stop those people from interacting with the culture and adjusting to it. But we just lack the confidence to walk up to someone and speak to them, to make eye contact.

How does adjusting to a culture mean giving up what you hold special? Why do we keep harping that we are being treated unfairly when we do not step up to the plate? I have known several people who have made Australia their home and are as happy as any Australian.

Now to the Australians – yes, some of them are racist. Like the above article quotes those two parties. Those two parties represents the Australian counter parts of Shiv Sena or the RSS. If Bal Thackrey and either of those ministers got together, they’ll probably end up best friends. Those guys are voting for the ‘white guy’ and let me remind you that Australia is not about white people alone. It is not about Christians alone. Are Indians a threat to ‘white australians’ alone? What about the rest of the country? The Aboriginals, the Africans, the Chinese, the Greeks, the Italians… all those people who have made Australia their home over the years. They are as Australian as the ‘white’ guy, whoever he may be. Australia doesn’t promote one religion or one culture. So the people who say they do are racist.

And such people exist everywhere. People who beat up others because they belong to a different caste/sect/religion or even sex. Can we honestly say that doesn’t happen in India? And it is equally maddening when it happens here. Why should I forgive the Shiv Sena for advocating the ‘Only Marathi’ thing in Bombay? And why I should I forgive an Australian who says it is for white people only?

Australia has a history of racism and they are learning from their mistakes. Most people are easy going and great. And there are some who will push you away because you are Indian, Chinese or African or even French or German. Or English. Afterall, ‘pugs’ is the biggest insult you can hurl at an English guy in Australia. The Australian government needs to work to change those people (however that would be possible).

I met an Irish guy in Australia… and he told me that his boss refused to hire any Indians at all. He didn’t want to. But that doesn’t stop Indians from being everywhere. At all the 7/11s, at the restaurants, the fuel stations, behind the grocery counter. Yeah some of them work illegally and earn too much money. And they spend that on ipods, laptops, fancy phones and such. We do love our gadgets. And that does mark us as good targets for muggers. The Chinese and Japanese held that distinction for a while.

It is perhaps the way a culture grows. You’ll have to ask an anthropologist for that.

But the fact is both cultures need some adjustments. India needs to stop hyperventilating and Australia needs to stop treating this so casually.

And I really wish Indian guys started having a little more respect for women, anywhere in the world. Stop taking pictures of women in skirts and shorts. Yes everyone else does it but most other guys understand a ‘no’ a little easier than Indian guys. Stop thinking that a woman living alone, wearing skirts, drinking and having a mind of their own were ‘easy’.

Maybe getting the woodstock back would be some sort of a buffer to all this hatred.

Song of the day: Bob Marley – One Love