Updates


Holy shit! I can’t believe it has been months since I posted. I keep telling myself the last time I posted was in September. So, here is an update of my life:

  1. This post is primarily because I dislike loose endings or leaving things in mid air without any notice. So, I owe it to whoever reads to give some updates.
  2. I don’t feel like blogging lately which is evident from my lack of posts. However, I am still writing (journaling)  and consuming a lot of media – books (I am pretty active on Goodreads), TV series, blogs, movies, news etc.
  3. Long distance relationships was not what I thought it would be.  Basically, Uncle has not been here with me since last Dec. We were meeting every 3-4 months. In the beginning, I was sad and excited because I enjoy being alone but then I realised that it wasn’t fun as I thought it would be. I couldn’t fall asleep easily and realised I didn’t enjoy being alone as much as I thought I would.
  4. I never was into fish but I have grown to like the fish in our household who has managed to survive despite all odds. My landlord purchased so many fish but none survived except this spunky one. He even dances when I come home!
  5. I have always been more of a dog person but I have come to realize that I am more like a cat. Particularly this street cat who lives in my neighbourhood. Now, I know why we clicked 😀IMG-20170719-WA0000
  6. The cat doesn’t like to move from her territory which consists of a building and car park and likes to relax all day.
  7. I didn’t want to leave Sg too, even though things were not working out for me here. just like the cat.
  8. Which brings me to the fact that I will be leaving Sg next month and moving to Bishkek because Uncle is working there and so will I.
  9. From being unwilling, scared, nervous to leave, I have moved onto excitement about leaving.
  10. I hope to have a nice holiday in Sg relaxing (because most of my time in Sg has been marked by work and stress) before I leave.

On to new adventures!

Positive Female Role Models


Now that I have dissed on one of the feminist book of 2016  here, what are the alternative? What are the positive (female) role models I would recommend? These recommendations are not for females alone, it is for all genders.

Note – To be honest, I am unable to offer resources for people of all genders (like trans) or all sexualities because I have limited time and can only consume a certain amount of media (in terms of books, movies, blogs, and TV) and I will look for relevant resources should the need arise in my life.

Books

  1. Zita the Spacegirl series
  2. Delilah Dirk Series
  3. Giant Days series
  4. D.I Kim by Angela Marsons – Well, women have their demons too but smart, strong women for the go.
  5. Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series –  I loved this one.

TV Series

Many of the shows I watch have excellent strong female role models (I am surprised as I thought of it for this article because I wasn’t analyzing it when I was watching them that way).

The Arrow – Felicity, Thea, Sarah & Laurel Lance, the villains – all smart, intelligent, funny, amazing women and some are lesbians/bisexual.

DC Legends of Tomorrow – Sarah Lance is a lesbian leader of the group. She is smart, strong and an excellent warrior.

SuperGirl – The main characters are strong women. There are coming out scenes and same gender relationships.

The Flash – Again, no shortage of strong, intelligent women with healthy relationships. There are 2 interracial relationships at the moment now. The women are strong, decisive, intelligent and give great advice.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead – Strong women. They are smarter than men actually.

Lucifer – Again, the women are strong with a better moral compass and all of this without hating.

Now that I think of it, there are so many healthy role models around. We don’t really need a book spewing hatred to teach feminism.

Baahubali 2 Wowed Me


Baahubali 2 wowed me but not mainly for the visual effects (which are great) or the fight scenes. I was bowled over by the portrayal of Devasena’s character and her love story with Baahubali.

There has been criticism of the portrayal of the love story between Shiva and Avantika in Baahubali 1. I noticed that Avantika turns from a warrior to a docile ‘my Shiva will do my job‘ after falling in love. Looks like the director did take note of the criticism.

Note: No spoilers ahead.

Why was I so happy? Because for the first time in a mainstream Indian movie:

  • The woman is the same before and after falling in love/marriage. She does not tone down in her retorts or become obedient and servile.
  • She dares to talk back to her boyfriend/fiancé/husband ‘s mother in front of everyone several times and there are no repercussions from her partner.
  • Her partner never once says – ‘You need to apologize  to my mom‘ or ‘She is like that. She is old. Forgive her and adjust‘. Not once.
  • The guy is a total momma’s boy from the beginning but he dares to oppose his mother in the court in front of everyone in support of his wife/fiancée/girlfriend.
  • He still stands by his wife even when his mom ignores him and stops talking to him.
  • Arrogance in a woman is not punished.

Usually, the only women who can get away with arrogance or talking back in Indian movies are villains or women who don’t get the guy in the end (think Padayappa). The lead women usually don’t talk back like that after falling in love. Of course, the rest of the movie goes into clichés like having men to the rescue and revenge.

The reason it is so ground breaking in my eyes is because everything from popular culture to our society don’t endorse or showcase such behaviour. It is always about respect and blind obedience to one’s parents. I have heard a lot of times about how Indian (and other Asian) sons do not support their wives or speak up for them in front of their families and instead tell their wives to adjust or along the lines of ‘sorry, I can’t do anything‘. Check IHM’s or Madh mama’s blogs for examples of letters from women whose husbands don’t support them and instead keep mum when it comes to their parents.

I tried to think of an Indian movie where a similar thing happens and I could not think of any. Do you think there are other examples in Indian movies where the lady is rude/talks back to her partner’s parents and still has her partner’s full support and is not portrayed as reformed or remorseful after that?

One Hundred Nights of Hate


I read this book – The One Hundred Nights of Hero (Early Earth) which has been highly acclaimed and suggested as the perfect gift for daughters for introducing feminism – One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenburg. This has been hailed as one of the best graphic novels in 2016 and has a 4.5 stars rating on Goodreads. To me, this is not feminism. This is more like a book written from the viewpoint of a man-hating lesbian.

The art work was okay. The stories were not that engaging. I was not dying to finish the book but I read them only because of Uncle’s critique of the book and he wanted me to judge for myself. Honestly, the book did not touch me.  The book is more of a reimagination of the creation story and Arabian nights.

My Critique of the Book

  1. The blurb on the back says that this is a book about love but the overall theme in the book was pure hate. I was surprised at the amount of hate emanating from this book.
  2. The entire book was about men vs. women. No cooperation. No kindness. I am not sure how we can spread feminism if we make an entire section of the society unwanted and unwilling to support feminism.
  3. The book perpetuates stereotypes of  women as dumb, naive, petty and mean falling for the first man who is nice to them. How is this even empowering?
  4. The book goes on and on about sisterhood. From my life experience, sisterhood exists but we cannot make an assumption that all women look out for each other. They are equally capable of betrayal and leave you in the lurch as much as any other gender.
  5. Open agenda against one gender.One hundred nights go hero
  6. The author’s attitude. When people critique her book as man hating, she uses it as an example and an extension of the men in her book on how they control women and lock them up and don’t let them read books.Isabel Greenberg Response to critique
  7. According to this book, the only true love is lesbian love.
  8. No healthy heterosexual relationships in this book.
  9. All the men in our lives are vile creatures according to this book

Do I really want my daughter to see the world this way? I will not prevent my kid from reading this book but I will not be gifting it to anyone. Instead I would love to discuss with my kid on how this is not okay. If an entire book were written stereotyping women and showcasing them as an evil gender today, it would not be acceptable (though there are several examples in history). Similarly, a hateful book about any other gender is also not acceptable. This is 2017 not 1373. If an agenda against homosexuals/bisexuals is not okay, then an agenda against heterosexuals is also not okay.

Sadly, books in favour of traditionally oppressed groups putting down and blaming the dominant group have been bestsellers and really popular. The popularity of this book reminded me of Susan Cain’s book – Quiet which blames extroverts for everything from the recession to wars and how superior introverts are. Something like this book.

Feminism does not mean hating other genders or blaming them for all the world’s problems. Instead, I would call this ‘placing women on a pedestal‘ syndrome wherein we start believing that the root of all evil is men and that women are incapable of any wrong. The truth is the world would not necessarily have been a better place had women been in charge because we are all humans and there are good, bad, ugly, mean, selfish, nasty, wicked people irrespective of gender.

The Art of Small Talk


I am so tired of the shit I have to hear in the name of chit chatting from absolute strangers.

As much as I do not like generalizing about cultures, I have experienced this here so much that I have now made a conscious decision to avoid initiating any conversations with people outside of the business I am there for. I loved to talk to people to learn more about their lives  and society but these talks have started getting on my nerves and I was pushed over the edge last week after hearing the same thing several times in a row.

I get this from everyone – people manning food/drink stalls, taxi drivers, doctors, people on the road asking for donations, people taking surveys at exhibits, workshops, at bus stops, in malls etc.

These are the questions and comments I encounter from people I have met for the first time in the name of small talk:

  1. Are you a citizen or a foreigner? In these exact words. Because they can’t tell. Uncle never gets this question because white skin = foreigner. How does this matter to a guy who is trying to collect donations for a charity? He told me he was trying to know me.
  2. Which country are you from?
  3. Why are you here if you are a foreigner?
  4. What kind of a visa are you on? The type of visa can easily help you determine my salary range.
  5. How long have you been here?
  6. Did you apply for permanent residence/green card?
  7. If it is a citizen, they go on to tell you to do this, apply for job here, on how easy it is to get a visa/PR, to keep trying blah blah. Unless you are working in the immigration or the highest levels of the government, I am not looking for advice from people who are not in the my/Uncle’s fields on job applications. You are a citizen and you have never had to apply for a visa here. You absolutely are not aware of the terms for visa application and when it is granted. I don’t know why people feel it is okay to give unsolicited advice. Like telling us, we didn’t get it because we did not try enough or do things properly.
  8. If it is a person who got a green card, they go on to make a judgement of your suitability for application of green card like they are the immigration officer. There are so many factors for getting one (none of it is listed btw) and just because they were lucky to get one 15 years ago, does not mean that the situation is exactly the same now. Also, people are shocked that I would even consider leaving the country because according to them this is the best place because they have a green card. They tell me that I should keep on trying forever until I succeed. Why the hell would we want to continue staying when one of us (I/Uncle) cannot get a visa long-term?!

I AM JUDGING YOU

Let me demonstrate some of the incidents where I am asked these questions.

Incident 1

I went to the doctor and she is east Asian and she told me she felt like a second class resident in Australia and so she took up citizenship here. She started advising me on how good this country is and why I should not move out despite that fact that we are having issues with getting visas. What  are we supposed to do? Become illegal immigrants? I didn’t point out the fact that she feels comfortable here because she belongs to the majority race here while I am not. It is quite easy for her to feel like a first class citizen because she is in the majority here.

Incident 2

I was walking by and there was this donation drive. A guy stops me and asks me if I am a citizen. Which visa I am on? What am I doing here? I asked him how all this was relevant to what he wanted to talk about? Oh, I was just getting to know you. I could see he lost face. How in the world does my passport or visa help you know me? It just helps you put me in a box, you will never take me out of. People need to get better questions to ask.

Incident 3

I was at a free exhibit, when a lady (clearly from a government department) asks me if I would take a survey on visitors to the exhibit. I was like okay because I am aware that they need  to show some data collection. The questions in the survey are

Q1 – Are you a citizen/PR/foreigner on visa A/B/C?

Q2 – Age? I gave a range and she wanted the exact age and she put an age she preferred. You ask any woman here her age and she will for the life of you never tell you. The moment they are over 30, they are start claiming  – I am 16/18 forever ha ha ha but they will not tell you. So, I don’t get how that question got an approval.

Q3 – How did you hear about us?

Q4 – Occupation? How does it matter for checking out a free exhibit?

Q5 – Your salary range?

I politely told her that she needs to provide feedback to her superiors that these questions are very invasive. How does my salary matter for checking out a free exhibit? That is so dumb.  She totally lost face.

How would she feel if I were to meet her on the train and start asking what her highest educational qualification was or what kind of house/flat she lives in because I can easily determine her wealth status from her housing type. Wouldn’t that be invasive coming from a stranger? She was like she would be totally fine with it (Asian justification tactic alert. Never admit the problem and make lame excuses). She tried to justify on how income correlates to mentality but I told her that income/education need not correlate to a certain mentality. Maybe it did, 50 years ago but not now. Some of the most racist/ignorant/crappy people I have met here are people who earn a lot and better educated that an average person. They have travelled to USA, Europe, Australia etc and yet are some of the most ignorant people on the planet while people who are not high earners (in their definition) have been pretty egalitarian and less racist. This is totally judging people based on their incomes and boxing them.

Incident 4

Even the library system flashes in capital letters that I am a FOREIGNER. It really flashes in large capital letters! Why does it matter? A library member is a member irrespective of their visa.

Incident 5

Taxi driver telling us that we should apply for this job here and there and that we should apply for green card in this way or another. He is not even remotely in our field.

I am so tired of such stupid invasive questions/comments from strangers when people in this culture will never reveal anything about themselves even if you have known them for months. For example, they will tell someone of their own race about their boyfriend but will never admit to you that a certain guy is their boyfriend. Instead, they will correct you when you say boyfriend and tell you that he is ‘a friend‘. My colleagues of 2 years will not tell me where they went for a holiday because I am not one of them #samerace. They will have bitter arguments with other colleagues but will still tell them about their holidays because #samerace.

All this coming from a culture that is so non-inclusive, you will never be in their insider circle even if you have known them for a bazillion years because you are not one of them. I don’t get why such a society feels justified in asking invasive questions.

I have been to several states in USA (not in the last 1 year) and I have had so many conversations with strangers without being asked once about my visa status. I find it ridiculous that I am asked that question regularly here, everywhere I turn from people who have no legal authority to do so.

I am sure that there are better ways to chat and get to know people.

i dont need to your visa

A Photo Essay: The Sleeping Cat


The Sleeping Cat #1
I was in a deep sleep
The Sleeping Cat #2
when I was woken up by a some noise
The Sleeping Cat #3
Bah! It was some noisy kid
img-20170420-wa0016.jpeg
Wish this human would cuddle me instead of taking photos.
The Sleeping Cat #5
Yes, please!
The Sleeping Cat #6
Human! Cuddle me here.
The Sleeping Cat #7
🙂
The Sleeping Cat #8
Wide awake! Nothing like a cuddle to wake you up and feel great!

News: Unroll.Me Has Been Selling User Data


Unroll.Me has been highly recommended in several blogs I follow for simplifying and managing your email inbox. Basically, it accesses your gmail and collates all the email newsletters you have subscribed to and then asks if you want to subscribe to them or unsubscribe. If you still wish to be subscribed, it collates them all in 1 newsletter for you to go through it at one go.

I have used Unroll.Me to unsubscribe but have immediately removed the app from my account. I am surprised and upset that user’s inboxes were scanned and data was being sold to various companies.

To be safer in the future, it is best to restrict access of third-party apps like Unroll.Me and Boomerang to your emails. They are free. Of course, they are going to earn money in some other way. Also, this opens you up to hacking and vulnerabilities that cannot be controlled by your email provider.

The NYT article is here. The Guardian article is here. I actually learnt about this yesterday when reading NYT’s article on Uber and its business practices. It seems less and less  like a nice company.

Note: Sorry about my long absence from blogging. I didn’t really feel like blogging due to some personal reasons. 

Review: Eco Essentials Sughandi Bath Powder


Updated on 9 Jan, 2017

I bought Eco Essentials Sughandi Bath Powder at Khadi Eco Basket in Secunderabad and was really excited to try it.

Ingredients: Indian sarsaparilla, Spiked Ginger Lily, Vetiver, Crape ginger, Wild turmeric, Dhumparastrum, Neem, Sandalwood, Tulasi, Rose petals, Green gram powder, other herbs etc. [See the photo below]

Eco Essentials Sughandi Bath Powder

Price: 50 rupees

Size: 100g

How to use it: Make a paste with 2-3 tablespoons of the powder with water or milk and apply paste all over body.

Texture: Not finely ground.

Smell: Smells nice and herb-like pleasant

Feel: I really wanted to like it but I did not like it on its own because it is coarsely ground and my skin felt like it was being scratched when I applied this paste and it hurt a little even though I had oil on my skin. I now use it mixed with finely ground green gram powder in a ratio of 1:1 which alleviates decreases the coarseness of the bath powder overall. I would not recommend using this particular bath powder daily because of its coarse nature but weekly should be fine only when it is mixed with finely ground green gram powder or besan (gram flour).

Attempt 6 – 9 Jan, 2017

I tried the powder on its own. This time, I did things differently. I made the powder into a more watery paste. My skin was throughly wet. Then, I rubbed the watery paste gently on my skin. It did not hurt.

Do note that it is better not to do it on freshly shaved/waxed skin or on areas with skin issues like blisters or cuts. Also, do not scrub too hard or use on dry skin.

Note: Herbal bath powders do not foam like soaps though there is little foam due to green gram powder.

Overall: 2.7 3.3/ 5

Review: Zion Health Clay Soaps


I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed Zion Health Clay Soaps yet because I have been using them regularly since last year.  So far, I have used:

Ingredients: Varies but is usually Montmorillonite Clay (Kanwa), Shea Butter, Edible Coconut, Olive Oil, Essential Oil, Fragrance

Zion Health River Spring Soap

Price: 7-10 SGD depending on the variety and size. I feel the price is quite reasonable taking in account the size you get for the money compared to other equivalent organic soaps. I got them from iHerb.

Size: Comes in 2 sizes – 170g and 300g. I have tried both and usually get the 170g one. The 300g soap is really huge to hold in the hand for me.

Zion Health Soap
                                                                                                              300g                                                                                            
Zion Health Ancient Clay Love Soap
                                                                                                           170g

Lather: Good

Scent: My favourite scent was Ancient Clay Song Bird which is quite mild. River Spring has a perfume like scent undertone to it and has a strong scent.

Feel: The thing I really like about these soaps is the presence of clay. This really makes the soap a gentle and mild cleanser and I used it on my face for quite a while with no issues.

Overall: 4.85/5

Recommended: Yes

*I paid and tried all the soaps with my money.

On Goodreads


I was facing a reading drought in 2014. I was reading more non-fiction than before but was at a loss on what to read in fiction. Every time we were at the library, I would go through the fiction section and did not know what to borrow and ended up choosing the same old authors – Nicholas Sparks and Janet Evanovich or pick nothing. I was getting tired of them and wanted to expand my reading repertoire. Choosing non-fiction was relatively easier: just go to a particular section like health and check out whatever looked interesting. But then, I wanted to go beyond certain topics in non-fiction too.

That’s when, I saw ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette‘ by Maria Semple recommended on a blog (A cup of Jo) and picked it up from the library and I loved it! What’s more, I had been to Seattle and knew the places and things the author was referring to. I still remember this because this was when my reading changed dramatically.

After this book,  I decided to look for other recommendations on blogs, Goodreads and started filing books for my future reading.  I tried to have a good mix of fiction and non-fiction. Having this ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads really made my life easier and organized. I knew what books to look for in the library and I started borrowing more because I did not have to spend time in indecision every time we were in the library. I just went through my list and checked what was available. Later on, I started noting down the catalogue number of the library of the books and availability even before I visited the library to be more efficient.

This one change increased the number of books I read dramatically. In 2014, I read 15 books of which 6 were fiction and I didn’t like some of them. In contrast, I read 6 times more in 2015, 50% of which were fiction. All because I had a list and was more organized. Of course, one does not need Goodreads to organize their books but I like it.

Some people may see list making as a chore but I love it and feel it contributes to my life significantly and I am so glad to have my lists.

*This is not a sponsored post and is my personal experience. 

Listening to: Egire Mabbulalona from Happy (2006, Telugu)


I watched this movie (3rd or 4th time) last month and this song has been running in my head since then.

P.S: You might also like Listening to: Mansa gelupu needera- Godavari & Listening to: Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins – Top Gun.

Not Permanent


About 6-7 years ago, if I needed to buy something for use in the kitchen, I thought along these lines –

  1. Try and do without it
  2. Look for the cheapest workable alternative
  3. See if my parents/others have an extra that I could take

My main logic was that I was renting, why have too much stuff  when I am moving around so much and am not here permanently. Why bother?

I made do without a blender for 3 years.

I did not have a proper cutlery set for 4 years.

I avoided getting an oven for almost 5 years (There really was no extra space for an oven in my rental kitchens).

I had very little cookware.

I used a knife I did not like for 3 years.

I had an epiphany – I kept on postponing buying things for years and lived without stuff because of some plausible move/settling somewhere else in the future. I was depriving myself of pleasure and ease for some point in future. I had been saying that ‘I was not permanent here‘ for 3 years! Even, if I did move and settle permanently somewhere, would it be wise to spend a lot of money buying everything I needed at one go? Knowing me and how much research, analysis and searching I do, it would take me months before I got everything I wanted. At least buying stuff and using them would let me know if I liked it enough to take it with me or buy the same when I moved.

This was how I started buying kitchen stuff I wanted about 4 years ago and stopped postponing to some indefinite point in the future when I had my ‘own house and was settled‘. Granted, I have made some mistakes along the way and bought stuff I never used much or did not like later on but I have also invested in some cookware that has made my life easier and made me quite happy because it is a pleasure to use.

I am not permanent here but I am not permanent anywhere. 

Weird Things About Pokémon Anime


Last updated on 31 Aug, 2016.

I shall update this post as I watch more episodes.

I started watching Pokémon anime because of Pokémon Go. I liked the TV series and found it quite funny but there are some weird things in there and I am sure, I don’t get some things due to cultural differences. However, I am really glad that they did not edit it out when the series was dubbed in English. I wonder if these would be considered kid appropriate even though all the kids were watching it.

The weird things don’t make me want to stop watching this series because I really enjoy it and it makes me laugh. It is cute and heartwarming and has some lessons thrown in. Besides, I love these little quirks 🙂

Season 1

  • 10-year olds leaving home to be trainers alone in the world! Hey, it is a fictional world. Anything is possible.
  •  Ep. 20 (Beauty & the beach)

Ash meets his mom after 2 months on the road and they never hug or touch! His mom was physically closer to the prof. throughout the episode than to her own son. Ash always hugs his pokémon though!

Same episode, there is a beauty contest and only this part is still in Japanese and not dubbed. James (a guy) who is dressed as a woman and claims his beauty does not lie in a man. He often likes to dress as a woman. Maybe, a great introduction to kids about gender fluidity and cross dressers?!

Then, James says ‘service, service’ in Japanese (It said service in the subs) and presses some button on his bikini and his breasts inflate a lot.

Everyone cheers for them and James holds his large breasts and says to Misty (who is around 13-14 years old) – ‘You participated 10 years too early’! Look at Misty’s face – She is devastated by this!

 

pokemon
; The subtitles say:You participated 10 years too early!

Note – Points 3,4,5 are from the same beach beauty contest scene. 

  • Ep. 34 The Kangaskhan Kid was super bizarre.

Fathers dangling 3 year olds from the windows of a helicopter and accidentally dropping the baby in the jungle.

The kids carrying 2 adults on a palanquin kinda thing because the adults don’t want to walk in the jungle.  Why couldn’t they drive?

Misty smacking a kid who barely reaches up to her waist.

The father hitting his 6/7 year old with a wooden log on the head! Then, all characters justify it as a good thing because it helped bring his memory back ha ha.

When the kid regains consciousness, the father opens his coat and shirt, shows his bare chest and asks ‘My boy, remember papa?’! What was that for, I wonder he he.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 12.40.18 PM.png
Tommy, my boy
Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 12.41.19 PM.png
Remember papa?

These adults who cannot even walk in the jungle because it is too hard decide to live in the jungle forever.

  • Ep 47 A Chansey operation

The adult male doc says ‘I can never say no to a pretty face‘ when Misty pleads for them to treat Pikachu. It is not like he is calling her a cute little kid but more in an adult dating kinda way (she must be around 12-14 years old). Even Misty confirm this when she comments to Brock ‘Looks like the doc is not the only one who likes pretty faces‘ because Brock is hitting on every single woman he can find.

  • Ep. 48 Holy matrimony

The underground room where rich Jessie tries to make James a ‘gentleman’ seemed to hint toward BDSM from the stuff in the room to the way rich Jesse and Jame’s parents talked.

Pokémon Go


Usually, I am a very late adopter and prefer to wait until the hype has died down before I even try out new things.

The latest craze here is Pokémon Go and everybody in public spots seems to be playing it. I downloaded the out of curiosity last Monday because:

  1. It is a game
  2. I did not have to queue for it
  3. No ‘sold out’ problems

I really enjoy playing it and am now one of those people crazy about Pokémon ha ha. It is fun and a great way to explore the city/town you live in. Now, I have become one of those people glued to my phone screen looking for poke stops and catching Pokémon. I am surprised how addicting it is (for me). This was the first time, my phone battery drained in less than a day because of constant GPS use and playing the game.

On top of that Uncle does not play this game but encourages me by sending me info about the game (like tips & tricks) as well as joining me on going to different places for catching Pokémon. Also, my orientation is not that great and Uncle tells me where we should be walking based on the map.

Last weekend, we went to Chinese gardens and we were surprised at the crowds there and almost every other person was playing Pokémon. We all were walking around catching Pokémon 😀

One good thing about playing the game here is that everything is connected by transportation and compact. Plus, I do not have to drive to far off places to catch Pokémon.

The good

  • I am we are walking more and a bit extra to catch pokemons and hatch eggs
  • Exploring new areas  and noticing landmarks which serve as Poké stopsand that increases the chances of catching different Pokémon.
  • I used to have a lot of data left over every month in my plan and now, I can utilize it more.

The bad

  • I am glued to my phone.
  • My reading has slowed down.
  • I am only partially listening at times because I am focused on the game.

I was a teen by the time Pokémon (anime) released in India and I never watched it, though I heard about it. Now, with Pokémon Go, I started watching it and I have to say it is fun and funny! Watching the series made me realise that catching Pokémon seems actually cruel even though it is fiction. It is like catching wild animals against their will and taming them and trapping them in balls. No animal rights  lessons in there, though the main characters are really kind to their Pokémon and there is some talk about freedom of Pokémon (Season 1 Episode 10 – Bulbasur and the hidden village).

Are you playing Pokémon Go?

On Cherries


As I was walking home, I saw that the vendor was selling cherries in loose. Usually the supermarket sells it in pre packed boxes and it is quite expensive. The only cherries I have had were those sugar soaked sour ones found on top of cakes and I never liked them. I was curious to try fresh cherries. The cherries were great and I was pleasantly surprised by their sweet taste.

Cherries

I realized that I have never had fresh cherries all my life until last week ha ha.

Are there any fruits you have never tried or tried only recently?

What is Curry?- 2


How do I explain curry to foreigners? Here is an article that does 🙂

Some relevant quotes:

“The idea of a curry is, in fact, a concept that the Europeans imposed on India’s food culture,” Lizzy Collingham.

“The Indians had specific names for each and every dish of theirs (rasam, korma, rogan josh). Not only did the British call all these unfamiliar dishes “curry,” but once the British went home and had to satisfy their cravings using only the spice mixes prepared by their cooks back in India, they sprinkled these spice powders onto anything and everything and called the dish “curry.”

“British used the term curry to describe dishes from every Indian region. This was a boon as well as a curse in disguise: A curse because they glossed over the regional differences and compressed the staggering heterogeneity and diversity of Indian cooking into a simplistic box;”

“Indians call their dishes curries while referring to them in English, notwithstanding the fact that they are referred to by their individual names in the native language.”

“Curry powder was an attempt by the British to capture all the Indian cuisines into a bottle, a pan-Indian spice mix. “

Indians – Please do not use the word ‘Curry’ to describe Indian dishes to foreigners.

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Landline


Updated on 13 July 2016

It all started last December when I was reading Rainbow Rowell’s Landline. A landline phone features prominently in the plot and it filled me with so much nostalgia. I am not a sentimental person usually and I was surprised by my attraction to the landline. I really wanted a landline!

Here’s why I like landlines:

  1. I have a thing for all things retro including landlines, watches and paper calendars – Things an average person (I know) doesn’t use these days.
  2. Pure nostalgia – the hours spent talking on the landline phone!
  3. Avoid cell phone radiation – While I do not believe in overblown reports of dangers of cellphone radiation, I do believe that there is some truth to it.
  4. My ears hurt when I talk using cell phones for more than a few minutes for real.

I thought that this was a just a fleeting desire due to the book. Two months later, I still wanted a landline! I researched my options and realised that I couldn’t have a landline because

  1. I would have to get a new number and I don’t like clutter – why have 2 numbers?
  2. it was expensive – one can get a free local number with internet connection (depending on the offer) but international calls are expensive.
  3. I was renting. Was it worth getting a landline in my name?
  4. I was in office most of the day.
  5. I would still need to keep my cell phone.

Next I started exploring the options of transferring the calls from cell phones to landlines so that I could use the landline. There wasn’t anything like that.

During my search for landlines, I came across the retro handset which is essentially a speaker microphone which can be connected via the earphones jack in cell phones! This seemed like an ideal solution and I set out to search for it. I didn’t want to spend too much money on it because I was afraid I might get over it in a week or two.

Every single time I wanted to buy a retro handset for the price I wanted, something went wrong.

Try 1  ($8) – The product image showed a person speaking using a normal sized handset and I was sent the tiny version. I became wary of purchasing sets that did not state the measurements clearly.

Try 2 ($12) – I placed an order and later was informed that the item was out of stock.

Try 3 ($20) – Was regularly checking local websites for second hand retro sets. Contacted a seller and the seller kept changing the meeting time/date/ place and it drove me nuts.

Try 4 ($10) – Contacted another seller and asked for dimensions. No reply. I gave up. This was when I told Uncle the whole landline story. He messaged the seller again and they replied. We decided to buy it the next day. This was in May 2016.

It is on my desk!

I keep it in my office as I use my cell phone there mostly. It works great. My voice is clear and no more ear pain! I thought I would stop using it in a week or two after I got it in May but I still love using it 🙂

Note: My handset stopped working 2 days ago 😦  Looks like I will have to get a new one.

On Gone Girl – 2


Contains spoilers.

From the time I was freaked out by the movie ‘Gone Girl‘ and decided against reading the book, I read 2 other novels by Gillian Flynn. As I liked her work, I decided to read Gone Girl but I couldn’t find a good edition in the library. I mostly came across those tiny print books and not the larger hardcover edition for the last few months. The moment I saw the hardcover edition, I picked it up.

So, have my opinions changed since I last wrote about it?

Not really.

For starters, I have become fairly familiar (and not too shocked) with psychopathic characters and their behaviour as I read other novels with similar characters and read other books by Gillian Flynn.

I found the book a bit slow in the first 120 pages and then it was terse and great. I do wish I had read the book before the movie and it is quite rare that I have watched a movie before the book. I have to admit that I would not have seen it coming the way I could in the movie.

I felt the book overall, had an undercurrent of hatred running through it.

  • Nick and his dad – Seem to hate women
  • Amy – Seems to hate her parents and Nick and men and has contempt for everyone.

I liked how the book explored additional things like how Nick felt when Amy came back, thoughts running through their minds and the additional people Amy had harmed. One thing I could not get, was how 2 psychologists could not see the psychopathic tendencies of their own daughter. Also, I felt Nick should have walked away citing (publicly) that he was not good enough for Amazing Amy, the moment, he found and destroyed her vomit jar and not have informed her that he threw it away. His reasons for staying pre-baby seem unsatisfactory to me.

This book paints a very depressing and creepy picture of Missouri.

Did I feel it was a portrait of a marriage after reading the book?

Not at all.

The section that seemed like a commentary on marriage was the first part with Amy’s diary entries but clearly it was engineered and written by a psychopath after studying people and other media (books, movies etc.). Psychopaths are great at studying others and make it seem like they get it but they really don’t and they can be highly intelligent and never get caught for all their lives. These mundane things like normal relationships bore them. They love playing and challenging people, both of which Amy did. I think it is pointless to try to understand the mentality of a psychopath because we never can. They are great at manipulating by mixing what triggers us at the raw emotional level with what they want. At the time of the book, Amy wanted a perfect marriage.

  • Amy pretends to be a ‘cool girl.’
  • Then, some guy (Nick) likes her.
  • Nick with a huge need for approval from everyone was also pretending to be this likeable guy .
  • All seems normal till now because many people are pretending while dating.
  • However, she is a perfectionist and has contempt for every human fallibility (another psychopathic tendency).
  • Everyone and everything has to be perfect.
  • They stop pretending after marriage.
  • She fills with hate when she realises that he doesn’t like her the way she is and when he is not perfect either.
  • Of course, the guy is a total douche bag and deserves to be dumped.
  • She plans for an entire year and works hard to frame him for murder.
  • He plays her and makes her come back.
  • He is shit scared of her.
  • He stays because he can’t settle for the normal girl anymore.
  • She gets pregnant by her own scheming.
  • He stays to protect the baby.

If marriage with a psychopath and a crazy jerk is the portrait of a marriage, then Gillian Flynn’s other books should equally freak us out about trusting our own parents and siblings. So, should Angela Marsons’s books. Because, everybody is out to kill you by that token.

Was this book feminist or misogynistic (one of the critiques to the author)?

Neither. Nick’s dad was misogynistic. Nick was afraid of turning into him. Amy zooms in on everything that can go wrong in marriages and wants her marriage to be perfect. Additionally, she goes on ‘feminist’ rants when men seem to like the woman she pretends to be and not what she really truly is and how she has to pretend. To me, this comes of as this man-hating anger and full of resentment and not really feminism. Amy has contempt for everything that is not perfect, so there’s nothing surprising there.

It also makes me wonder how when a guy is a psychopath, he is just a psychopath. When a woman is a psychopath, she becomes a representative of all crazy bitches women and cannot be just viewed as a psychopath.

 

What I’m Into – May + June 2016


Books

You can follow me on Goodreads here. Books I really enjoyed reading in the last 2 months are:

  1. Habits of a Happy Brain – Interesting take on modern Neurobiology and helped me connect several of my ideas.
  2. Reclaiming Conversation – I thought this book would be boring but  I liked it a lot! It is about talking in today’s age of emails and avoiding face-to-face conversations
  3. Gut – I really liked this. I miss scientific books put in a fun way. I got so many ideas from reading this.
  4. A man called Ove 
  5. D.I Kim Stone Series – I really loved this and can’t wait to read book #3

TV Series

  1. Game of Thrones – This week’s episode was one of the best this season!
  2. Full House – I love it!

Movies

  1. The Conjuring 2 – Was a good horror movie

It is summer time and I have lots of books to read. So, I have cut down on my movies and TV series!

If I am not Having It


If I am not having it, you can’t have it either. 

I find this attitude ridiculous but it is quite common. The underlying principle for this attitude is “I paid for it and I have no use for it but I would rather let it go to waste than let someone use it for free/cheaper cost because they did not pay (the full price) for it – I mean, why should they enjoy it for free/discounts when I paid full price for it?”

  • Today morning I saw a dustbin placed in the middle of a parking lot where my boss usually parks the car. Boss is on leave and that parking lot will be empty this week. My colleague must have done that because they do not want anybody else parking in that lot because it belongs to our office! Our lane is a very high traffic area with narrow lanes and people end up parking on the side of the lanes blocking other vehicles. If the parking lot is going to be empty, what is wrong if other people park there temporarily?
  • Same with a supermarket here. They give discounts for food that is going to expire soon but the price is so high even after the discount and I know nobody will buy it for that price.  Why not slash the price to $3 instead of keeping it at $8/$14 when the milk or salami is going to expire in 3 days?! When we provided feedback to the manager, they come up with their lame standard reply: ‘If we slash the price too much, people will wait for us to cut the price rather than pay full price.’ The unsold expired food is thrown away. To me it seems criminal that perfectly good food is flown all the way from USA or EU and then thrown away because the management is unwilling to provide proper discounts. Why would anyone pay that much for about to expire stuff when I can get fresher food for $1-2 more?
  • Another example from my office: We had perfectly good samples packs of scientific reagents from redundant brands which could have been used to perform 3-4 experiments. As we got it for free and even though the brands were no longer relevant to us, I did not see why we could not give it away to some customer who might put it to use. Instead, it was not given away and all the stuff expired and we still have it in our office – It was neither used nor thrown away. To me, it is just a waste of plastic and reagents which could have been used by someone.

Of course, there are cases when I have something I do not need but cannot find takers for it or don’t know where to look.

In my opinion, if one has something that is going to expire or not of use to them, it is best to give it away or sell it to someone who has some use for it rather than selfishly hoard it. In the end, one doesn’t use it and neither do others. It is just a waste of resources.