Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Mutts and Dogs not allowed

A mutt’s encounter with racism...

For the sake of rude simplicity, I am using the word mutt to describe that I was born to parents from different communities/ having different physical appearances.

So...like Hermione Granger in her first few years at Hogwarts, not being a "pure blood" was tough. Being a mutt got me in trouble everywhere. My mixed parentage was a major disadvantage in my childhood life in Shillong (to the uninitiated, a beautiful hill station in North Eastern India).

From an early age, people thought it was their business to point out my stuff that I had no control over. My face, my awkward height and an equally awkward sounding family name became the butt of neighbourhood jokes. They called me "dkhar" (foreigner from the plains) and thought I wasn't Khasi (my mother's caste denomination) enough to enjoy the citizenship of the locality. I was seven when my dad (an Assamese Brahmin to whom I had greater resemblance) had to accompany me to the gate on my way to school and play, placing a rod in my hand to save myself from getting beaten by the Khasi sisters who were daughters of our "friendly" neighborhood fish mongers. Why? Because I looked so wrong in that "harmonious" milieu of local mundaneness.

Our immediate neighbors who, we were told were more well off in wealth and manners. Their preferred Sunday past time after church (God forgive them for they knew not what they did the moment they stepped out of the Church's gate!) was throwing sand on my baby sister’s head. My brother was called a "mik" boy, thanks to his unconventional mainland features.

My favorite task was to withdraw my "ugly" profile from that perfect neighbourhood and make friends with kids who had issues, but unlike mine. Some never went to school. Those who did, flunked many years, enough to make them outcasts .When my best friend from the ghetto died of tuberculosis, I was devastated. I decided to one day get out of that filth. I’ve long left that street that hated me for how I look .That girl from the ghetto remains one of my best friends ever. 

In school, the surname that I took from my dad, became such a pain, that I would sweat whenever the roll call happened. The sound of my name caused whispers, teasing and hushed comments demeaning my parentage. It got so bad, that in high school I had it changed to a more acceptable form, my mother’s Khasi family name. Shakespeare may well have said "what's in a name" but clearly there was! The hitherto hyper tension-ed mornings got more pleasant, but I was still isolated with intention. My teachers, a couple of friends and that ambition to do well and disappear formed a silver lining and a solid vision of the "rainbow" in all those school years. These days, whenever I visit home, I make it a point to visit the people I mentioned, so they know how dear they were and are to me.

The phase I love most in my educational life was college life @ St Edmund’s. I guess it was the Bengali majority (a bit closer in looks to me) ,that made up my honors class, that made it so pleasant. What a class we were! Except for a few who happen to be on my FB list of friends, I didn't quite get along with my classmates who were mostly local. It was the rest of the college who made my life superb.

Tezpur University was a mixed blessing. I initially saw it as my last hurdle, the final certificate to freedom from prescribed education. Honestly, it felt good, to be at some distance from a place that treated me like some queen’s mongrel. And it was only good fortune that the most students from Shillong were smart enough to feel the distance too. I made quick friends who saw no defect in my features and found familiarity in my Assamese surname (which I happily took back). They eventually became the best things I took away from the University.

The rest of the composition that made up an institution of higher education didn't have the same enthusiasm of having a "half this and a half that" in the community. During classes, I always saw their evil dissections on my parentage.  One of them, a foreigner to the North-Eastern culture, openly reduced all the NE girls to a bunch of promiscuous misses. Hearing that remark, I jerked. A serious case of bad breeding, I thought

They always had me wondering how they, a lot of creeping (and creepy as well) fungi , managed to take roles of cerebral beings. Now, I realized that they were not cerebral, but devastating bad news from wherever they came from. They just took advantage of the lack of certified members required to run a show, just a show.

My internship in Delhi was the best university education I got. My superiors at work were so impressed, they let me know of the confidential A+ I got for my efforts and resilience. It was an easy place to work in. No one poked fun at my North-Eastern profile. No racial slurs and abuse. It was only talent, hard work and lots of fun. We were a good team of matured, broadminded, smart individuals. My internship had a happy ending, with an excellent report card to go back home to. I was denied my A+ by the previously mentioned pseudo cerebrals, but I took it in my stride knowing it all along it was a ‘show’ and I had just four months to endure it.

Since the end of that last semester in the university, my life has been one A+ ride. I’ve been blessed, and somewhere the universe has been like an alchemist, turning all the bad stuff into gold.

But yes, whenever I hear of racism and incidents that imply racism, my memory harks back to those younger days. A reminder that even in a small lane of a small city like Shillong in a relatively small North East region within the same "otherwise historically abused racially" country, people can and do discriminate among one another. My simplistic prescription to end this all and make everyone more tolerant.......have more inter racial marriages and more half-bloods!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Sunanda Pushkar : Pushed to the End.

Tempest Pushkar, who stormed the social circuit and media for 3 years fell to her death.  So tragic. Somebody who withstood and survived many a chant uttered by a wide spectrum of people from LaMo (IPL) to NaMo finally gave in to the foreign hand. Trar or Tharoor, she could have in so many other ways shown them the door. So sad. I was hoping she would come out of all that mess and move on, shed off all those layers of make-up and lies. But that was not to be. She died with a complicated status. Needless to say, interrogations, investigations will be complicated too. With witnesses wanting to be unnamed and selective email leaks, which seriously is so childish, the case looks like it’s going cold and Congvenient.

Something tells me though, if it wasn’t for Twitter, Pushkar probably would still be around, whining in that suite, waiting for the ‘painting of her house’ to be finished. Some people get caned for their tweets, Sunanda got (herself) killed for hers. Her feisty nature to get even should have been more mature, more calculated, more sly. How naïve to try to stop a flamboyant nature from going astray again. Can’t believe he was once a UN senior diplomat. Platonic seems to have taken on an entirely new meaning in today’s world! She could have told “them” that even cattle are more classy. How sad, she never learnt the ways of the Janus faced media. Media whose eyeball pursuing nature makes them believe that the plural of spouse is spice.

In the end, I hope it wasn’t just an overdose of Twitter and Alprax that killed her. For all that, big, beautiful, troubled life of hers, I hope its end will be justifiably dissected. RIP Sunanda.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Beating another round of haze..

The haze is (almost) back. It’s another helpless situation. I thought we got enough empathy to keep us good till next year. Benevolent Singapore needs to take serious actions if all this sums up to a regular, prescribed environmental dose of attacks that the other side is only too aware of.

You get a cold, you openly blow your nose and we get the residue. It’s not funny. Think of the ones with respiratory problems. It may not be life threatening but it certainly escalates the condition. And needless to say, it spoils a perfectly planned summer of swimming, garden picnics or just a simple evening walk.

Last month was a terror. But thanks to it, this time, we are sufficiently ready to lessen the effect of the haze. My top tips for a safe haze are...
  1. Keeping doors and windows shut. You can always air your house whenever you get a safe Pollutant Standards Index or PSI.
  2. People with respiratory issues should avoid outdoors and do not forget your orange puffs as preventive measures.
  3.  If you should go out, make sure you cover your mouth and nose with a mask. The N95 masks are most ideal.
  4.  Make honey a part of your before bed rituals. It’s one of the most powerful natural remedies for cough and cold. If you’re Indian add a little jaggery to the ritual.
  5. This one is really good for kids. Heat a little sesame or mustard oil and rub it with Vicks and   apply it on your child’s neck, chest and back. It really helps.
  6.   Make soups and steamed food your staple. Water, green tea are major redeemers.
  7.   Keep calm. This is the best way to contribute positively to the situation.

I’m praying the cloud seeding and water bombing goes well and we get no haze. But if we do, keep safe and enjoy being indoors. You never know,you may just be able to catch Starhub at its best!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Welcoming Ramadan 2013..

If there's any such thing as happy fasting, it is the Ramadan. All my Muslim friends look forward to this once in a year occasion. Fasting or sawn refrains Muslim not only from  eating during daylight but any ill deeds of gossiping, backbiting and best of all they can make peace with those who have wronged them (or those whom they have wronged) and strengthen ties .  They celebrate this sacred month which is observed with immense spiritual joy of getting closer to God. I'm not Muslim, but I have to admit I'm heavily influenced by this holy month.  

Last afternoon, I met this Malay elderly who works in our condo and he puts it best,” Besides everything else, fasting makes us realise how lucky we are. There are millions who starve every day. In a way, Ramadan gives an opportunity to celebrate their spirit.” With a mop in hand, his happy face showed no hint that he last ate at 5:30 in the morning. 

Here's the most beautiful picture I came across in the morning.:-)

Lots of love to all you, fasting or not. Love your God, don’t fear Him.

To all my Muslim friends who are fasting, have a blessed one.


Monday, 8 July 2013

Confession of a budding e-shopaholic

The new cool in my life is online shopping. I know I’m late on this one. But what the heck, I finally get the point of effortless shopping from the comfort of my bed and coffee table.

I've always been a big fan of cheap shopping. From chunky heels to cool accessories and casual apparels, they make every day dressing up sensible and yet versatile and confident. I always thought Forever 21 was cheap and good till I stumbled upon Dress and Such, an online site for everything that’s cool on me and my pockets.  You can get anything from $ 7 to anything under $ 30.I especially like their shoes and bags. In the next few posts, I’m going to share with you the stuff I got from this local site. Hopefully you may just find it useful.

To start with, I’m posting pics of this lovely orange clutch item that I got for only $ 11.10. But I have to warn you about the shipping time. Bags and shoes are back ordered  so they take time, between 10-14 days. And yes, Dress and Such delivers to India too. The shipping cost equals to the two way taxi fare to Atria mall from your suburbs, exclusive of the cost of gastronomic indulgence that  accompanies shopping.

You can only imagine how happy my wardrobe looks with this dash of orange!

So ladies, grab your cuppa of Starbucks and get browsing.Don't be surprised if you stumble upon something that you'll absolutely love and doesn't cost more  than that cuppa of coffee!

Cheers !

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Blogger Part 2....

Hello everyone!:-)! It's been one long break from the blog.Here I am, after four months of traveling and sorting out domestic chores in the background with some serious time spent in trying out some new stuff in the Lion city.

Trying out new stuff happened as result of my just-turned-four daughter’s recent packed school schedule. I realised that she will only get busier.  So, I decided to expand my comfort zone which is essentially made up of my family, my books and writing of course.. Online diggings led to workshops. Workshops for jobs, courses, volunteer work and meet ups. I attended most of them, one by one.  I was already enjoying my afternoons. Though I’m yet to decide what to do, I know that I've found ways to engage my afternoons in more productive ways than just scrutinising my plants and listening to KISS 92.

Domestic chores. They will never end. Fortunately there’s help and I will still do my part of washing my daughter’s and my own clothes and cleaning my own room. The occasionally cooking will happen. But most of my day, without my daughter and husband, I plan to fill it with purpose and make sure it ends with a good sense of achievement.

My new beginning seems to be a little daunting, with only my natural PR skills to boast about and that too overshadowed by 5 years of no employment. But I face the world with guiltless confidence. Confidence defined by the time I spent with my daughter, a happy family I so lovingly nurture. I can also declare a great sense of local awareness I got from my Singaporean friends, the little corners with local flavours and stories and of course reading the Straits times every morning. Almost every morning.

I’m trying to get my foot back on things I know best. As much as I would love to get on a part time telemarketing job as an excuse to hone my PR skills, I know very well I’m not fast enough to make a few hundred calls in 6 hours and feed them with all the feedback and complaints in an excel sheet, that too in a jiffy. I was never good at selling anything else but stories, features and articles. I may also not allow myself to get bashed up by someone at the other end of the line without bashing him or her back. I don't know how these guys do it.Seeing myself sacked within a few days of work, I restrain myself, but with hope that one day I will triumph and get through this haze of afternoon un-settlements.

For all my friends who are in the same plight. Yes, we do look like silly expats, jumping from breakfast to lunch to make sure we did well before picking up our kids from school. Let us console ourselves that we pale in comparison to the ones who start from River Valley for coffee and head off to Taka to not just check on LV and Prada. And then get back to their café in the Valley with shopping bags and looks that said, “we just don’t know  where the money came from” We, the more sensible wives of our husbands go back to check our mails to see if someone, at least one of those 15 jobs we wrote to in the morning has reverted.

I’m guessing we will all be eventually doing what we love. We just have to keep trying to find opportunities and possibilities that fit our capabilities.  It’s only then that we can excel and not only engage our afternoons but enjoy them. Almost like when we had our kids around. Till then, let’s keep reading and writing, talk to our plants, feed our fish, change the interiors of our room and listen to KISS 92.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Infinity Pool, Marina Bay Sands.

The Infinity Pool at Marina Bay  Sands is probably the most photographed pool in Asia. Opened in 2010, it roofs the three 55 storey-ed Marina Bay Sands. I was lucky enough to get a view of the pool before the public pool visits were banned last year. Theses days, you need to be a guest of the really posh hotel to get this near to the pool at random timings.

I can only imagine the thrill the gentleman on the pool edge experienced ! And the spectacular view  he got of Singapore from there. 

The straddle is where the Infinity Pool is.