27 February 2015

So, my Facebook page is about to hit FORTY THOUSAND LIKES. (I know, right? I have no idea how that happened, seeing as it basically lay fallow for several years till I linked it to my Instagram and noticed a crazy amount of activity.)

To celebrate, I'm doing a week of book giveaways starting as soon as we hit that elusive Four Oh. I've asked my writer friends to participate, and you should totally come and play. I have about three hundred likes to go, which is nothing. NOTHING.

Here's the page! Enjoy! Good luck!

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9 Reasons Why It's Awesome That Bombay Can Party All Night

26 February 2015

So, Bombay—sorry, sorry, Mumbai—is getting an all-night nightlife. This means that once it’s implemented, if you’re drinking in Bombay, you won’t get kicked out at 12.30 am, also means that you can meet people for dinner/drinks whatever time you like (just finished a meeting at 2 am? No problem!). I think it’s a fantastic idea. I wish other cities would follow in its footsteps.

Granted, I can see some pitfalls, like the Delhi government is doing in a bid to stop the capital from following suit: “oh but what about the drunk driving? What about the rape?” Ugh. Please. People will drunk drive at midnight just as much as they’ll drunk drive at 4 am. People will rape at 5 pm, or at 3 am or whenever they please. Why must we pander to the lowest rungs of our society, why can’t this be a problem for the police to deal with instead of putting a barricade up on the whole city? Sometimes it feels like laziness drives a lot of decisions in this country.

Anyway. This week I wasn’t going to rant in this very rant-y column. Instead, I was going to list nine amazing things that will happen once Mumbai is a 24 hour city, in the hopes that this list will inspire everyone else to follow suit.

1)   The city will actually become safer. Don’t believe me? Think about it. A 24-hour-city means that there will be more people on the street all night long, and not just your creeps and your loners. Example: I was in Bombay recently, and got lost finding my way back to the guest house I was staying at. I got my taxi to stop next to a man parking his car outside his building and asked him for directions. “Are you okay?” he asked me, checking to see if I needed help and even offered to drop me to the guesthouse himself. I like to think of that as a nice gesture (I stayed in my cab though), and that more chivalrous people will be out in full force in the middle of the night.
2)   Not everyone is going to get raging drunk every night. Just like you know that one guy who will always be drunk and misbehaved no matter what night of the week you meet him, there will be those people in Bombay too. But the rest of us can enjoy our drinks in a civilized way, and even if we don’t drink out and eat out every night, it’s always nice to have an option. 
3)   It might mean the end of house parties, which is a good thing in Bombay because the flats are so small you’re always running the risk of annoying the neighbours. Plus, most people in Bombay have a rule of taking your shoes off at the door, which, like, totally ruins an outfit, darling. 
4)   It’s going to be fantastic for the economy. Much more employment all round. Much more spending. What’s not to love, other city governments?
5)   It’s a policy approved by the Shiv Sena so there won’t be any crazy fanatics from that side at least trying to beat people up for having a good time. Instead everyone will just mind their own business and live and let live, which is how this whole entire country should be run. 
6)   The nightlife will have to rise to this new challenge and keep reinventing itself. The tired old bars will have to come up with new ways to pull in customers. I think it’s a great way to keep things fresh and alive.
7)   Not just bars, it’s going to be a shot in the arm for the city’s culture scene as well. With 24 hour licenses, imagine going for a film at 2 am, or a dance performance, or a concert. People in corporate jobs needn’t worry about missing out anymore!

8)   Also, with everyone going out later in the evening, traffic will lessen considerably around rush hour, I hope. 
9)   And finally, when Bombay’s experiment is a success, the rest of the country can follow suit and India will be exciting and accessible. Win win!  

(A version of this column appeared in mydigitalfc.com)
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Genres of bad-news books I will buy and read no matter how many versions I've read before ranked by order

25 February 2015

1) Anything about a mountaineering expedition gone wrong but ESPECIALLY tales of people who have died on the Everest.
2) Anything about how you made one TEENY TINY mistake and wound up in a foreign prison for forty years to life.
3) Anything involving a historic incident where a lot of people died and how unaware everyone was in the beginning.
4) The serial killer/rapist and his family life and how he was caught in the end.
5) How you lost everything and there is no redeeming quality to this book and WHY THE WAVE?
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Off to Gulmarg!

19 February 2015

Hoping to look a little more cheerful
I'm going away for a few days, so there won't be any posts up here. Check my Instagram for my live travel feed, it's usually where I post updates.

I'm going SKIING, and it's my second time this season, so I feel quite official. I'll tell you all about how awesome it was when I return. In the meanwhile, have a great week!
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Pondering Mr Kejriwal and his relationship with his wife and how that affects the rest of us

18 February 2015

An apology goes a long way, as Mr Kejriwal has realized, and as other politicians are beginning to get. I was as wounded as any other Delhiite when he chose to leave our city after we had handed it to him, but the more I read about him and how he said, “Listen, I’m really sorry, mistakes were made, give me another chance,” the more I wanted to vote for him. So, he quit. People have done worse things—not apologized for them—and still won elections. Why should this be his Unforgivable Thing, which for a man brand new to politics, isn’t even that unforgivable?

A lot of people on my social media blamed Modi’s jacket (which I talked about two columns ago); emblematic of his attitude, some said; for his party’s resounding loss. The BJP and the Congress have both gotten far too smug, far too comfortable with the idea of being the only two choices for most of India, and as a result, they’re not doing very much else beyond big words and talks of reform and slugging mud over at their opponents.

But I think the measure of Kejriwal could be taken by his attitude to his wife. While Mr Modi pretended Mrs Modi never existed, Rahul Gandhi is a confirmed bachelor and even Kiran Bedi is… divorced? (It’s hard to tell), Kejriwal has always been a man of his family. A photo of him hugging his wife circulated as he tweeted, “Thank you Sunita.” An Indian man. An Indian politician. Hugging his wife in public? It’s huge! It’s a victory already! He even made her come onto stage with him as he smiled at the roaring crowd, cheering for his victory. “This is my wife,” he told them, as they chanted his name, “I would not have been able to do anything without her.”

In contrast, I can’t remember a single other Indian politician acknowledging that there were other people besides his or her party who helped them get where they were. Modi works alone, flashing peace signs at crowds who sing his name, Rahul Gandhi is, yes, accompanied by Mummy, but only so Mummy can keep one beady eye on him as he smirks through his speeches. I tried to remember if I ever saw former PM Manmohan Singh in public with his wife, so I Googled it only to find pictures of her with him greeting the Obamas and other such affairs which did not expose her to the Indian public. More? Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a well-known philanderer. Indira Gandhi had a husband somewhere once, who was never in the picture again after their kids were older. Only Rajiv Gandhi seemed to acknowledge the fact that he was married, and I’m sure his glamorous Italian wife and the mood of the ‘80s had more to do with that than a political move.

Now I’m not saying Kejriwal’s hat-tip to his wife was purely political. I’m sure he loves her, and there was also a very sweet photo collage of him and his son, who first extended a hand to be shook and then, overcome by emotion, Kejriwal reached out and hugged him hard. He seems like what he always says he is: a middle class man with a family, who works hard and cares for them. It’s nice! He’s a politican people like us can identify with, because we’re either related to someone like that or are someone like that. He’s a politician women like because he respects and speaks out for women. He’s a politician basically that speaks across borders (except I don’t think the very rich care for his brand of populous politics): his peculiar way of being (that ghastly muffler, those horrible sweaters!) making him even more endearing. I’d be too shy to have lunch with Rahul Gandhi, too intimidated to have lunch with Narendra Modi, but I think Arvind Kejriwal and I could have a lot to talk about.

Actually, I think I’d rather have lunch with Sunita Kejriwal. She strikes me as a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it for herself or for people she loves. She also strikes me as someone who knows how to have a happy relationship without giving up work or sacrificing on motherhood or wifehood or all those other things the media says we can’t have if we have the other. I’m going to be watching her journey at her husband’s side, and wishing her well, just as I do him. 

(A version of this column appeared in mydigitalfc.com)
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For everyone who accuses women of "playing the gender card"

17 February 2015

This will be my go-to feminism image.
Maybe we wouldn't have to "play the gender card" (I'm imagining the Queen of Spades) if you didn't reduce every argument to whether or not the person you're arguing with has ovaries and how you disagree with them, but specifically you disagree with the ovaries. Cannot win with you people.

Basically: don't be a douchebag about women's issues if you're not a woman. Don't be a douchebag about it even if you ARE a woman. Don't be a douchebag, period. 
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What I'm reading: Link List #3

16 February 2015

Spent yesterday having several Bloody Marys in honour of Scout! Who is getting married! She's maybe one of my only "blog friends" who made it to a legit IRL relationship and attending her wedding I think adds a whole new layer of legitimacy. Read about our adventures in Singapore here and here. And Hong Kong here. Happy wedding trails, Scout! May all your troubles be little ones! (Honestly, I just re-read our Singapore adventures, and goodness me, how far we have come.)

Onward to the reading list! It's HUH-YOUGE this week, so maybe bookmark this and come back when you have a little time. 

* Ramchandra Guha in The Telegraph has a fantastic piece on the self love of the Indian male, starting with The Coat and going on to scientists trying to name traffic circles after themselves.

 Mashelkar is a former director general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and much else. He has not, so far as I know, had a circle or building named after himself. Yet his conduct in public is scarcely less boastful, as witness his editorial in a recent issue of the journal, Current Science. Entitled '"Indovation" for affordable excellence', it is mostly about the author himself.

* QZ has a photo feature on Delhi's smog which looks rather lovely and post-apocalyptic until you realise you're actually breathing that air unfiltered. 

The city’s air has become so toxic that US president Barack Obama’s recent three-day visit to the capital reportedly shortened his expected lifespan by six hours.

* Related: in The Economist, how our life spans are lower because of our bad air. 
In theory, at least, every Indian city is now supposed continuously to measure air quality. But state governments are slow to enforce national orders, while the Central Pollution Control Board, India’s main environmental agency, does little. Mr Javedekar promises “aggressive action” to improve fuel standards, which would cover those belching lorries coming into Delhi. In March the Supreme Court may anyway order standards to be tightened, by reducing sulphur, as well as instructing carmakers to cut vehicle emissions.

* Ooh I had another article in Scroll on Valentine's Day when I deconstructed six "romantic" love stories from Indian mythology to point out how secretly sinister they were. Super fun to write.

The Story of Ahalya and Gautam OR Love In The Time Of Godly Body Doubles
Ahalya was super-hot, and her dad, the god Brahma, decided to have a contest to see who would marry her, which is always a great way to pick your future life partner. Indra really wanted to win, but the old sage Gautam won by using some lawyerly logic. Indra disguises himself as Gautam and rapes Ahalya. Other sources say that she saw through his disguises but had sex with him anyway. Who can blame her, being married to a pedantic old dude? Gautam is super pissed and curses both of them, and Ahalya is turned into stone, only set free after the Lord Ram touches her with his foot. She and Gautam live happily ever after.
Why it’s sinister: On two levels: one, if she was raped, it’s one of the earliest bit of victim-blaming in Hindu myths. Two, if she was seduced, it was probably because her husband was old and boring. Poor Ahalya. She didn’t have a chance.

* From Gawker, How ISIS Makes Its Blood Sausage, a story showing how they get their videos produced and out there. Interesting--and super-chilling--read. 

In terms of fidelity and graphics, what ISIS is able to produce is on the same level as something you'd see on ESPN—Alkhouri speculates militant studios could be using pro software like Pinnacle Studio or Adobe Suite. Gone are the days of grainy Bin Laden recordings that look like they came from an attic.

* Also from Gawker, a dated, but still cool old article: On Smarm  and niceness versus sarcasm on the internet. (Personally, I vote for the latter, at least it's a more interesting read.)

It is also no accident that [Dave] Eggers is full of shit. He is so passionate, and his passion has such rhetorical momentum, that it is almost possible to overlook the fact that the literal proposition he's putting forward, in the name of large-heartedness and honesty, is bogus and insulting. Do not dismiss ... a movie? Unless you have made one? Any movie? The Internship? The Lone Ranger? Kirk Cameron's Unstoppable? Movie criticism, Eggers is saying, should be reserved for those wise and discerning souls who have access to a few tens of millions of dollars of entertainment-industry capital. One or two hundred million, if you wish to have an opinion about the works of Michael Bay.


In 1993, Farrell published his full-throated manifesto,The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex. The book tackled a number of pressing issues affecting men. It also took some bizarre turns: At one point Farrell pondered whether the American male was the new "nigger." ("When slaves gave up their seats for whites, we called it subservience; when men give up their seats for women, we call it politeness.") He took a sledgehammer to bedrock feminist ideals, claiming that women have themselves to blame for unequal pay, that domestic violence is a two-way street, and that government programs to benefit women only exacerbate inequality.
* The Pune Mirror runs a lovely column by Mitali Parekh called Pet Puja about the city's animals, and this week it featured a pig, an animal which is both delicious and very smart. 

Mini is most active when she's in heat. She'll steal blankets, laundry and towels to make a nest. Once she even stole hay used to feed horses, and piled it knee-high in her kennel. Things get a little dangerous for Amit, who works in the office. He is the object of Mini's focused affection. "Mini will not leave him alone. She follows him around and looks at him pleadingly. He doesn't leave the office when she's in heat," says More.

It's not that her parents haven't tried to set her up. They took her to meet a boar in the neighbouring piggery, but she tried to bite him. They lived together for a month, but there was no chemistry and Mini came back a virgin. Once a boar broke into the farm and they engaged in loud adult play for three days and immediately after, the boar bolted.
* Speaking of delicious and cute, an Indian restaurant in London is serving squirrel curry.

Rajasthani spiced grey squirrel has been put on the menu at the Cinnamon Club by head chef Rakesh Nair.
For the speciality dish, squirrel legs and shoulders are marinated with coriander, cloves, garlic, chilli and pineapple juice, before being cooked in a tandoor oven.
While the belly is braised and turned into a kadhai-style stir-fry with peppers and onion.

* And finally (I have more, but this is already ginormous so I'm saving some for the next post), Isaac Stone Fish on gay cruising in Modi's India.

The travel website Cruising Gays called [Nehru Park], which is named after India’s first prime minister, the “grand dame” of New Delhi’s cruising places. “On Sunday evenings, the gardens are rocking with over a hundred men hanging around, waiting, looking and just checking out the scene,” claimed an undated post on the site. “If you are a novice and looking to meet other men, this is the place you should start with.” The technique, the activist told me, was simple. Stroll, keeping your head up, and make eye contact with men who walk by. If someone catches your eye and smiles, walk up and say hello.

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I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy

13 February 2015

We got Olga da Polga spayed yesterday, which is quite the operation. On top of this, we're fostering an eight-week-old kitten, who began by being called clever things like Benedict Pawmerbatch and Sub-Klaws, and is now just Squishy. Squishy is the world's cutest kitten, but he's also the world's maddest kitten. Between him scratching all the bare skin he can find, Olga sulking in recuperation and Bruno being very condescending about the pair of them, we have a full (CRAZY) house.

Squishy is all black and now I have to go look for him again, because I keep losing him.

Lord Squishton of Squishfell, Sigil: Claws
You should consider fostering, especially if you'd like a pet but travel a lot or whatever. It's easier and less permanent, plus all the fun of a kitten or puppy without them being boring old dogs and cats.

That being said, he is SUCH a Squishy, let's just say my heart wouldn't break if they didn't find a home for him.

Here's a link to the cat group in Delhi I help out with: Everything Meow.

This is a sort of disjointed post, but there are suddenly kittens that need my attention EVERYWHERE. 

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Free speech, motherfuckers

11 February 2015

Liberty. Let’s consider that word for a second.

“The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's behaviour or political views.”

Liberty happens at several levels. There’s the personal: where you are free to come and go as you wish, to live a life you want to, free from society’s interference. There’s the political: where you are free to vote or not for whoever you like (democracy!) or stand for election yourself, or say anything you like about anyone without getting into trouble.

Now those definitions are already somewhat problematic. Consider this. What if living the way you want involves child abuse or something equally horrific? What if saying anything you liked about a political candidate meant that enough people listened to you and the person was not elected even though what you said wasn’t true? It’s a fine line, a delicate line, and all too often, we err on the side of caution. “As long as we’re not hurting anyone,” we say, as we live perfectly innocent but perhaps morally not-that-great lives in India. In the latter example, you’d assume the people you’re talking to are smart enough to figure out who to vote for on their own, but that’s why defamation laws exist, I suppose.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom of speech. I had sort of complicated thoughts after the whole Charlie Hebdo thing—of course, no one deserves to die over a few hurt sentiments, but still; was it really necessary or just a print version of clickbait to put the images out there? It was a truly, truly horrific thing to happen, and somehow I think those terrorists were just looking for an excuse to slaughter, but I don’t think it was as cut and dry an act of denial of freedom of speech as people supposed.

Which brings us to the next thing: the All India Bakchod (AIB to fans and familiars) roast. A “roast” is a popular form of comedy where people take not very PC pot-shots at other people. I Googled a few before I wrote this column, mainly to see if there was an art form to it but apart from the quality of jokes, it’s pretty much the same format. A bunch of people get together and make fun of other people. It’s funny! It’s a roast! Granted, it’s probably more amusing if you’re actually there, but it didn’t stop millions of people from checking out the AIB roast online, and writing their own thoughts on it. I checked it out, it was not bad. Perhaps what made it the most worth watching was just people admitting Karan Johar had lots of gay sex (welcome out of the closet, Karan) or that Bollywood stars actually had sex at all. That bit was nice. A lot of swearing, not quite my thing, but okay, I could see the appeal. Mostly, I was pretty shocked no one had objected to it yet, and guess what, the Indian government lived up to my expectations and issued an enquiry, the videos got taken offline. My god, but the fine folk of Maharashtra either really totally resent everyone in Bombay for being in Bombay or they’re just the fun police. (Let’s not even discuss the songwriter who had to remove the word “Bombay” from his song, even though it rhymed.) (Lighten up, you guys, it’s not like Voldemort, it won’t magically morph back into Bombay just because a few people call it that.) (Bombay! Bombay! Bombay! Bombay!)

The gist of the matter is that there’s this guy on the Censor Board called Ashoke Pandite who is exercising his Brahmanical right to object to everything and called it “porn.” Because there’s no other porn available on YouTube? I’m not sure what what Pandite’s MO was in this case, but pretty soon everything became rather muddled with people filing police cases saying it offended religious sentiments (lots of sex jokes, no religious ones). Finally the Maharashtra police backtracking under a tidal wave of unpopularity saying that actually they were only checking licenses and so on, not moral fiber.

Is this going to be how stuff is now? Writers, artists, comedians, anyone who creates, first having to check a source of inspiration to see if it offends anyone? If that’s the case, stamp those passports, because we’re checking out. 

A version of this appeared in Financial Chronicle as my column last week. 
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Around the world: 10 amazing books from 10 countries you have to read + some FREE ebooks

9 February 2015

I have SO MANY clickbait top ten listicles just sitting in my documents folder thanks to freelance work, that I thought why not polish them up and put them up here. A version of this appeared in POPxo. My basic problem with top ten lists is that it seems to be telling you HERE THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD READ AND NOT ANYTHING ELSE, which is, I guess, the premise? But think of this more like a top ten SUGGESTION. When it comes to reading, it’s easy to stay in a safe zone. You have your usual classics, your “classical” classics so to speak that everyone reads in college or high school and then you forget all about classics for the rest of your life.  Read this shit though. You'll enjoy them. 

Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn (Australia)

Technically a book for young adults, this story of a young girl who loses her mother and has to go live with her long lost father and new family will make you weep like nothing has since Little Women. It’s also a very Australian book, the eponymous Thunderwith is a dingo dog, there’s Australian farmland and references to literature, and all in all, it will leave you richer for reading it. I can't find a nice (cheap) version of it for you to buy online, so you'll just have to do it the old fashioned way and ask your favourite bookstore to order it for you.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Britain)
I'm like obsessed with this book as you already know. It could be because it's the first classic I discovered for myself: borrowing an abridged version of a friend's. A basic hero’s journey plot—Jane is an orphan with cruel relatives who’s sent away to a boarding school for poor children, then earns her living as a governess to a man who has a secret in his attic (no spoilers!) and falls in love with him as one does. It’s vast and spanning, and I remember when I first read it, I couldn’t put it down. It's lapsed copyright, which means, yup, FREE. Read it here.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Canada)

Where you should begin your long course of dystopian writing. Atwood’s book continues to echo in all the best sci-fi books list, and it’s not for no good reason either. It’s about a world where women are forced to have children for powerful men and one rebel. Brilliant and will echo today’s horrible world. Here's where I have to stop and say THANK YOU to the Good Thing, for, yes, yes, recommending it and insisting I read it. Buy here.

Twenty Love Poems And A Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda (Chile)

It couldn’t be a proper top ten list without some poetry, and what poetry this is too! Neruda’s verses are the sort you want to get tattooed on your wrists, just
so you can look at them over and over again. It’s brilliant, and you’ll find yourself reciting it alone or to someone you love at 2 am. It’s that kind of poetry. Here’s a bit:
I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it's not true.

Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (Denmark)

Andersen’s tales are too dark for children, and can only be properly appreciated from a grown up point of view. Think of The Little Match Girl where she freezes to death lighting matches and seeing all her dead loved ones appearing in front of her? Or The Child In The Grave where a dead child brings his mother to heaven or wherever he is to reassure her that he is happy? Plus hundreds of stories you probably never even heard of. The good news is that it’s copyright free and you can read them all online here. This ain't your Disney mermaid though.

Sex And The Citadel by Shereen El Feki (Egypt)

Not quite a classic-classic yet as it just recently came out, but this is an important book dealing with sex and sexuality in Arab countries. El Feki, a journalist, spent several years travelling across Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries to talk about sex, what it meant to people there, and how Islam relates to sex. It’s an important book for anyone who wants to know more about sex or religion or both. I heard her at Jaipur last year, and was super impressed. Buy it here.

Claudine in Paris by Colette (France)

There are four Claudine books, but this one—the second of the series--can be read as a standalone novel. It’s a coming of age story about seventeen year old Claudine, who has just moved to Paris from the French countryside with her father, maid and cat.  Written in a diary form, the book captures a young, innocent girl in the big city trope perfectly, and because this is Colette, there’s a certain amount of underlying eroticism. (Quite sexy.) Very French, and you’re bound to want a Gauloises and a glass of wine while you read it. Buy it here. Mmmm Gauloises.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (Germany)

This is the story of Gregor Samsa who woke up one morning to find he had turned into an insect. (Some people say cockroach, but it’s not specified.) With that kind of opening, how can you not want to read Kafka’s defining story about being who you are, and becoming who others see you as? Every woman should read this novella as an allegory if nothing else about social gaze and turning into monsters. FREE! YAY!

The Mahabharata by Ramesh Menon (India) 

Pretty much the best retelling of the Mahabharata I’ve ever read, this two volume wrist breaker tells the story in accessible, easy-to-read language. If you’re going to read a classic in India, begin with the mother of all classics and see where so many stories, and names come from. Plus, there’s a lot of sex and fighting to keep it interesting! Like Game of Thrones in Indian mythology. {I realise it's sad to compare an epic to a recent set of fantasy books (however amazing), but I need to appeal to the cool kids, so bear with me.} Buy it here.

The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (Japan)

I have my copy of this, one of the world’s oldest books, at close access all the time. It’s not a book you read all at once, but Shonagon used to be a court lady to the Empress in the 11th century and this is a collection of musings she put down in a book she kept by her pillow. Hence the title. You’ll find it a wonder of observations, personal thoughts and lists. Shonagon could be as bitchy as a teenager with a Twitter account you’ll find, especially in things like “Things people despise: […] People who have a reputation for being exceptionally good natured.” Preach it, sister. Buy here.
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What I'm Reading: Link List #2

7 February 2015

Hoping I didn't shoot myself in the head with my choice
Did you vote? I did! Actually, the last TWO timeS we had an election, I didn't have my voter ID on time (because I had to re-enroll, very boring new Delhi law) and so was super excited to cast my vote today. "It's the only time the citizens feel powerful," my mum said, and I'm inclined to agree.

On to what I read this week!

* First, by me, in Scroll, a website I'm growing to really like (and not just because they publish me!) for their original content. On Fifty Shades Of Grey, the movie:

The writing stank like the naala outside my house when the wind gets going, but Ms James knew her bondage and I read feverishly through the riding crops and the spanking and the almost painful showers. “Oh my,” I thought, and laughed the next time I saw a photo of people on the subway reading this book, their legs crossed, their breathing, no doubt, rapid.

 * Tsk, Uber Cabs. However, this is a story from a few weeks ago, so maybe all is forgiven? I don't know, I just know that my friends have become even MORE cautious about taking cabs home at night. Me? I live on the edge.

Uber sent copies of the email to its past customers, which also included the victim.Uber claimed in the mail that, "We’re back, to serve you and get you moving once again."

* Old, old excerpt, but still, if you haven't read it yet, it's super fun. On literature festivals, from the novel Karachi, You're Killing Me! by Saba Imtiaz.

A girl standing next to me makes a sudden rush towards the café, where the authors are holding court. One of them is waxing lyrical to a crowd of society aunties about the bougainvilleas in his old house. ‘They were the colour’, he says, with a strategic pause, ‘of blood.’ Another is chain smoking and looking bemusedly at the bougainvillea author, who now has a tortured expression on his face as someone tells him about the violence in Karachi. Another, who specializes in writing fictionalized accounts of major news events, is signing a towering pile of books. His latest, an account of the Osama bin Laden raid in Abbottabad, is getting turned into a film. ‘Oh, working on a film is amazing. It’s such a privilege. But I’d rather be here with people who really appreciate my work,’ he says, smiling at a young teenage girl, who squeals and scurries off.

* And finally, this infographic by Lovereading. Click to enlarge.

 What did you read this week?

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7 Reasons Why The Word “Friendzone” Should Be Banned Forever

6 February 2015

What is a “friendzone”? According to Urban Dictionary, it is:
What you attain after you fail to impress a woman you're attracted to. Usually initiated by the woman saying, "You're such a good friend". Usually associated with long days of suffering and watching your love interest hop from one bad relationship to another. Verb tense is "Friend-ed"

Does anyone else see an essential problem with this? I see loads.

1.     The word “friend zone” is often used in a negative way, meaning that men and women can’t be friends unless it’s a consolation prize.

2.     Um, so, THANKS, dudes, unless you can bang me, I’m a bitch?
3.     I’m sorry that I didn’t realize that every time you were funny or nice to me you were basically auditioning to be a love interest. 

4.     I’m sorry also that moaning about how you got “friend zoned” makes everyone say “poor you” a lot.
5.     Let’s get this clear: romantic love is great. Being attracted to someone is also great. You know what beats all those things? Friendship.

6.     It leads to a lot of problematic areas. What is “leading on”? How do you define someone being a “tease”?  These grey areas are the same ones that sometimes lead to sexual assault.

-->7.     So, let’s just assume unless someone actually says they like you with those many words coming out of their mouth, that they think of you as a friend.

PS:  TL;DR? To drive home the point better than I did, here’s a lovely comic on Friend Zone girl.
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