Flying by ANA


I flew by Nippon Air from Sin to Tokyo. I have to say it again, Japanese pay so much attention to details.  The flight was very neat and the toilet in the flight had many buttons like at the Tokyo airport.  They even gave passengers a wet warm towel. Who does that ha ha. Their service is quite good I must say. Once we landed at Tokyo airport, I had little time before I had to move on to the next flight but this time I was prepared. I bought many Japanese sweets – Tokyo banana and mochi  :)

I caught my connecting flight to Seattle. Most of the flight was spent watching movies, sleeping and walking around.

My previous travel episodes:

How I ended up going to Seattle

On perfect beauty


How did I visualise beauty? – great skin, great hair & a perfect body. 

This is an ad I have seen in many magazines & this is the kind of hair I wished I had.

This is an ad I have seen in many magazines & this is the kind of hair I wished I had.

The truth is my hair is neither this thick or this long. It does not look so put together & instead is frizzy & curly. I did know that Kareena did not have this hair but what the hell?!

There was no particular celebrity I had in mind for perfect skin but these magazine covers gave me an ideal to aspire for.

This was the kind of abs I was looking at. Again, nobody in mind.

Last year,  I had an attack of pimples near my mouth & chin & I just kept getting more of them.  I was literally in tears because I never had a pimple attack  even when I was a teenager. Nothing was making them go away.  I was comparing my skin with so many girls here.  They all appeared so fair  in photos in Facebook next to me & their skin was never ever oily at the end of the day. And yes, they all had rosy cheeks. Why couldn’t I have skin like that?

The  reality was everybody was wearing makeup. At the moment when my skin was in bad shape, all I could see my pimples, my pores, my facial hair, my dull complexion.  I was blind to the fact that they had obviously different skin colour in the face & the neck.  I used to wonder why I never had rosy cheeks and they did.  I contemplated buying BB cream because it promised perfect flawless skin. Maybe, it would work on my skin &  I would be like them. 

Time passed and my skin has gotten better. I really worked at getting rid of those pimples.  Maybe I just needed to give it some time to clear up.  I used to observe the skin of people around me. Others also,  did not have perfect skin, just like me.  Everybody has this pressure to look perfect. I have seen some people I know like 1 time without makeup in 2-3 years.  When I saw them without makeup,  I realised my skin was not so bad after all! I could not believe what a world of difference make up could make. Sometimes, it was like seeing different people.

Upon reflection, it amazes me how much of the images about beauty I had internalized, though I was completely aware of Photoshop, surgery & Botox on a certain level.

Have you ever noticed, how when every celebrity is asked about the secret to their ‘glowing skin’, they attribute it to exercise & diet. Not that I deny the role of these 2 components but to attribute it to their wrinkle free skin at 60 is stretching things too far.  Nobody loses their hair. Nobody has any scars after c-section.

Madhuri Dixit & Juhi Chawla

Most articles attribute Rekha’s “timeless beauty” to yoga & proper care. What about Botox, make up & surgery?

Rekha

I do not have much of a problem if people want to wear makeup but I think the pressure to be always made up & perfect is so intense & it gets into everybody’s head. I don’t see a point in pretending to be somebody with perfect skin and hair when you don’t & setting unachievable standards for everybody else.  Most celebrities do not want to admit to the truth & make everything seem effortless & natural. On top of that, most media articles about them also  do not talk about their treatments.

It is disappointing when women who tell you to accept ‘feminine wisdom’, ‘aging’ & how everything can be set right by ‘affirmations’ and healthy habits resort to facelifts/ botox.

Dr Christiance Northrup

The message you get is  that you don’t  have a healthy enough lifestyle or not thinking positively enough if you cannot look as good as them. 

Louise Hay – Tells you everything including cancer can be cured by positive thinking but gets a facelift.

It is frightening on what we have come to accept as normal standard of beauty & the kind of beauty standards I aspired for.  I understand that the media needs to keep us dissatisfied, so that we can buy products et al but was  I not setting myself up for failure when I accepted their standards?

I have become more aware. Lately when I check myself out in the mirror,  I have noticed that my skin or hair is not that bad after all. Actually, it is great!   I have stopped setting unachievable standards for my body. Remind me to check photos of celebrities without makeup or Photoshop, should I forget.  

Til then,  here is to self acceptance.

Review: Aromas Solid Perfume


I had been wanting to try solid perfumes for quite some time but I could not really find something I liked that was natural as well as not too expensive  & smelled nice.  I noticed that natural perfumes were pretty expensive! Thus, when Aromas was launched, I though of checking it out because the ingredients were simple enough. To be honest, I was not sure how the product would fare. It looked too simple to work well unlike the usual perfumes/body sprays I am used to with a long ingredient list.

I bought it when it was first launched and had introductory offers. The shipping was not too expensive because it comes from Australia and it is very light.  They sent me 3-4 sachets of other scents but they kind of melted because it was hot & all of them smelled the same. So, I do not know  how the other scents are like.

I purchased this - Parisian scent

Ingredients - a natural base of coconut oil and beeswax, plus fragrance 

I emailed the people at Aromas and here is what they have to say about fragrance –

“All the fragrances are sourced from various fragrance suppliers of US origins.  These are not essential oils, but fragrance oils, and the normal INCI ingredients labeling guidelines specify to list as “fragrance” in product. Fragrance oils may contain both natural and synthetic notes.”

I carried this with me when I was travelling and I was quite glad I had it. It is light, no liquids, easy to use & smells good. The scent does last but I used it mainly in the winter in US. I carry it in my bag and use it in the evenings when I want and it seems to be working well. I like the fact that I do not have to use my hand to apply it unlike many other solid perfumes. 

I still have 3 bottles of perfumes/ body mists to finish which I am currently using  before I will be looking at switching full time to anything else.

What do you use when travelling? At home? Have you tried solid perfumes?

How to deseed a pomegranate


Do you like deseeding pomegranates?

I did not really like the job. Thus, in my house, my dad ended up deseeding it & the rest of us would eat it :D Then, I would feel bad that we got so little seeds after so much effort on taking them out individually. When I move abroad, I never purchased pomegranates for over 4 years because it was too much effort to deseed them.  

I found this video on how to deseed a pomegranate & initially I was skeptical.  Incidentally, I found some pomegranates on sale  that month & thought of  trying this technique out.  

I am so glad this works. I read another suggestion on a blog to have a bowl with water for collecting the seeds because that prevents too much juiced from splashing around. I agree with that tip as well though it is not mentioned in the video.  Also, if any of the fleshy part fall in the water it will float & you can remove it easily.

I have to admit that I am having a lot more pomegranates now because of this technique.  Yay to internet!

That song on the radio


We were travelling in a car with another family. The song “I am sexy & I know it” was playing on the radio.

Immediately, one of the  7-year-old girls asked us to turn off the radio.

“Why did you want us to turn of the radio?”

Girl – “It has many bad words – sexy.”

Mother – “Very good. It is very important in life to be able to tell right from wrong.”

I kept my mouth shut because I was not the mother but I did feel the conversation could have gone better. I was disappointed, to be honest. How can our children have healthy attitudes about sexuality when we encourage the belief that anything related to sex is bad? Is sex/sexy really a bad word?

What do you think? 

Exploring Sg – Serangoon


Dated 1 March 2014

One of my favourite weekend pass times is hanging out at Indie cafes. I have my favourites but I want to explore new cafes for hanging out. A good cafe for me needs to have- 

  1. nice ambience – Bright, not crowded or cramped
  2. Free wifi
  3. Nice coffee and cakes
  4. Relatively quiet

I decided to try some new cafe. After many decisions & poring over a lot of blog reviews, I and U ended up going to The Coffee Daily in Serangoon. 

For starters, it was not really near the MRT. So, we had to take a bus after going all the way to Serangoon MRT.  So far off….

Anyways, the cafe was located in one of the old shophouse/ independent bungalow kind of buildings. There was only 1  long table outside which was occupied. I felt claustrophobic when inside. They cramped every possible space with a table and chair (-30). People had to carefully move from their tables or they would end up bumping into somebody’s table. We were deciding to stay or go, when they cleared a table and offered us a table. So we kind of decided to stay for a quick coffee. One thing I cannot understand is every time I read bloggers’ reviews of cafes, the photos make the cafes seem large , empty & spacious. When I visit them, they are cramped to the core. This is the 2nd time this has happened. Does a cramped cafe not bother many people?

Luckily, as were waiting, a couple of people left and I quickly grabbed the corner sofa seat. Better but I have to say again that the cafe was so very cramped.  We ordered coffee and it was served after 10-15 minutes (-10). I had a read a blog post & even the cafe seemed to stress on their cakes – rainbow cake.  The cake was dry and looked like it had been kept in the fridge too long.  Not a nice eat (-10).

This place looked like a local hangout and many people looked at us and we definitely were the odd birds there.  So weird but does not matter too much to me (-3).

The locality where the cafe is situated is quite nice. Many independent houses and did not seem too crowded, at least in the housing area. A different world altogether.

Not a cafe I would be visiting again and the hunt for a good cafe continues…….

Patriarchal Conditioning


I read this article by Christiane Northrup and this line really spoke to me:

“When I say patriarchal society and programming, I’m referring to the belief that the masculine ways of being (and doing) are superior to the feminine ways of being (and doing).”

Patriarchal conditioning is widespread and sometimes pretty difficult to weed out. Many people often assume that only men perpetuate patriarchy. Women are equally guilty of reinforcing these norms and a lot of sexist behaviour comes from women!

- I clearly remember our neighbours telling my mother that it was unfortunate that she had no sons. 

- I was about 9 when an old lady told my mom why girls today were wasting their time on education instead of learning to cook.

- Aunty K was super patriarchal.  

You are a woman.

Learn to cook.

You must learn to live in a joint family.

Get married. Don’t study too much.  

Why do we have girls if not for doing the cleaning?

Don’t wear short clothes because if you wear them now, how will you adjust after marriage?

Women should not read the vedas.

I have observed that she was very critical of her DILs & daughters but would overlook the same thing done by her sons.  All the girl kids would be assigned duties of cleaning up but not the guys. The women would have to wash their plates after eating but men would just leave their plates on the table after eating and the women were supposed to pick them up & clean up after them.

- Women telling you to ‘cover up’ and wear proper clothes.

- Another paradox (not). At the outset, east Asia seems more developed and gender equal. Women wear short clothes, work,  date & they do not have arranged marriages.  Despite being ‘developed countries’ for many years, patriarchy is ingrained in collective consciousness of the society.

There is no obvious reason for wanting a son*, but so many people want and try for a son – having 3 kids till they get a son, aborting when it is a girl, trying traditional medicines and some have about 9 years age gap between the son & the daughter. 

* in term of safety for women, having to give dowry, spending on a wedding, women having to live with her husband’s family, women being a financial burden or not working etc.

Did you know that Japan, despite being a developed country is very patriarchal and most women do not work after marriage or children?

The saddest part is this overarching sense of inferiority of being a female & lack of self worth without a man. There is a strong need for a male authoritative figure in their lives. A father. A boyfriend. A husband. A boss. Even Jesus.  Advice by a woman is rejected but the same advice coming from a man is taken.

- In the same vein, why are so many women are critical of stay at home moms/wives [SAHMs]? They feel that she is ‘wasting’ her education by not working & doing nothing by being at home.  In some ways, they consider the feminine inferior to masculine roles. Isn’t that patriarchal as well?

- I have noticed this many times : 

When a male boss/colleague is a jerk, he is a jerk & nobody evaluates his relationship status. When a female boss/colleague is a jerk, everybody will jump on to judge her on the basis of her relationship status. 

“She is a bitch because she has no man in her life.”

And these kind of statements are mostly made by women. 

 Patriarchy is so ingrained & reinforced constantly in our collective psyche, that it often goes unnoticed by us.  The first step is awareness. Next comes change.

Action – Watch your thoughts, words & actions. In what way are you reinforcing patriarchy in your life?