Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keeping with the times

I know its not fair, and I know it hurts. But it got to be done. I didn't want to and I wished I didn't have to. But growing up is all about making hard decisions.

I never thought I would have to bid it farewell, but I need to keep with the times, not grow old and therefore I'm making this painful decision to say bye to blogger and hello to tumblr.

For all those who've been reading me, or interested in what's been up - is where you'll find it all. Its a lot more casual and I'm incredibly regular.

I'm sure I'll miss my blog here and I won't be surprised if I come back here to share with it... Yay :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A so-called summer in San Fran

Let me start with a short background. I am working in SF, in the ghetto to say the very least, where drug addicts roam and homeless people sleep. I live in a house in a predominantly residential area with a little nightclub nearby called "Tropi-Gala" that plays some sweet and challenging Latino beats. After a month in this queer place, where anything goes and nerdy is the new black, I have a few observations I thought would be fun to share.

1. The TV conundrum.

Last week, while looking desperately for parking for my car, I saw this guy drive up, take the spot I was vying for, get out of the car with a TV, leave it on the street and drive off. For fear of a bomb attack, I chose to not park my car in that spot and parked elsewhere. The next morning, I returned to the same street to find the TV still waiting there. Funnily enough, a week later I saw two TV sets just lying on the street, back to back, with no apparent purpose! I am not sure why this happens, or if its a common practice but apparently its a done deal!!

2. Street Cleaning

Those familiar with some parts of the city might remember this nightmare. Every street has a certain date and time when the street is cleaned. During this, generally 2-3 hour period, cars cannot be parked on the street. Since there is a perpetual dearth of parking spots after 6pm, the only streets that have any empty spots are the ones with street cleaning the next morning. So for a WHOLE WEEK, the only place I could park my car was streets like those. So every morning, I kicked my ass out of bed at 8.30am to find and re-park my car in a less tow-able area. It is brutal to have to have to wake up EVERY morning and waste fuel, battery and energy REPARKING your car!

3. Homeless People

They are a phenomenon. its a lifestyle. They wear their hair a certain way, flaunt their style with pride. There is an unsaid competition between the homeless people on who can come up with the most innovative money grabbing techniques. These guys will make posters, write cool notes, sing songs, dance, juggle balls. just about ANYTHING. There was this one lady on the sidewalk, who'd made a life-size poster with a lot of unusual comments written on it. She held it and sang and shook every single day from 9 am to 1am . She even had a chair, just in case she got tired. This is the modern day beggar. Innovative, with a chair!

4. Supersize me

Oh yes. I used to wonder, HOW does somebody eat 1500 calories in one meal from the comfort of my stingy singaporean portions, where you have to pay 50c for an extra grain of rice. These people really lay it on THICK. Weight Watchers says, "If you want to lose even a gram of fat, don't finish your meal. Carry a doggie bag wherever you go" Hell, yeah. If I ate more than a meal a day, i'd be consuming atleast 2500 calories. This is leaving out coffee, beer or cookies, the staple free food you get at events. No wonder Americans need to book 2 seats on an aeroplane. And alas, the healthiest meal costs the most. You can get a 1000 calorie meal for $4 but for a good 600 calorie pasta, you must pay atleast $15

5. Public Transport Hell

The caltrain be DAMNED. And I am serious. To get from a "city" that's 10 miles from another "city", there is ONE train that comes ONCE and hour. So yes, if you miss it. You wait. For an hour. At a Mcd. And consume a 600 calorie fries box. Hellz yeah. And to make things better, the cost of the ticket is by zone. To go from the last stop of zone 2 to first stop of zone 3 costs $4.50! So I have paid $4.50 for a 3 minute caltrain ride. I could have walked there!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Do feminists wear make-up?

For the longest time I believed that feminism was about being as gender neutral as possible. A true feminist would be strong, masculine and shed her stupid girly traits. It was demeaning to dress up, wear frills and put on make-up. I truly believed that the mark of a perfect feminist was one who wouldn't shed a tear, come what may.

And one day, it hit me. I beg an to think truly about what feminism really meant to me. Was it being equal to a man, being able to step into his shoes and carry your bags, open your doors and pay all your bills? But if awoman were to try so hard to be like a man was it not belittling her own self?

Women are made the way they are to serve their evolutionary purpose - nursing, child - rearing etc. To do these, carrying heavy objects was not a pre-requisite. Heavy lifting was left to the men, and rightfully so. After all, they were the ones hunting, bringing home the food. In this scenario, its more than fitting that women are more sensitive to their needs and the needs of others around them, more attuned to their emotions and that of others, more empathetic and a whole host of qualities that come with their role in society way back in the cavemen days.

Granted that today a lot of these functions are redundant - technology has stepped in and filled the shoes of both men and women in so many different ways! That said, somethings are better left to women and some to men.

Back to my original train of thought, if the case is that women and men are supposed to serve a different role in society even today, why is it that women strive so hard to be equal to men. Why do they need to be equal. Equivalent, yes. But not equal. By equivalent I mean "Equal Pay and Equal Respect for Equal Work." Something that even today is not

Think about every thing that is considered girly or feminine, and think about every big female leader : Margaret Thatcher - She was the epitome of stone-heartedness. Fondly called the IRON LADY, a name that screams all that is not feminine in the world. Indra Nooyi - sporting a short bob and manly suits, nobody recognizes an ounce of femininity in her demeanour. It is saddening that women have to shirk off all the qualities that make them female to be taken seriously at a male-dominated role.

There is a massive need in the world to embrace female qualities as potential strengths and for women to not be apologetic of themselves. Isn't that the height of un-feminism?

In my opinion, feminism is to be shamelessly female. To take 2 hours to get dressed, spend an hour on your hair, to cry when a movie's sad, to eject high-pitched sounds when excited and to be emo when something or somebody hurts you are part and parcel about being a women. These things do not define us, but they come with the territory. So why apologize, why shirk? Accept, embrace and just be yourself! That's what being a feminist is all about.

Starting Trouble

Major. Big Time. Plateau :(

21st Century Slavery

House. One Tree Hill. True Blood. Heroes.

It scares me how much of my life is influenced by the TV shows I watch. The undiscriminating watcher of mind-numbing shows that I am, I have one too many times allowed major life decisions to be dictated by the frame of mind that a TV show puts me into.

My perpetual craving for some form of drama, most often satisfied by subconsciously envisioning myself as the protagonist of the said show, has led to far too many mess-ups and hindsight regrets.

What really gets to me the most is the ease with these shows can alter my frame of mind and my philosophy and morals. It takes almost nothing to leave me more than mildly shaken about what I'm really all about.

Giving up is not an option. Try as I might, they find me + haunt me = I'm stuck again, slave to the show.

Monday, June 7, 2010

No we didn't table the chair !

One week of chair-dom at the SMUN United Nations Security Council was an interesting experience, to say the very least. Over and above the eternal cliche of standing on the other side of the table, the opportunity offered a plethora of lessons to the novice that I was a mere 10 days ago.

There were the added benefits of insulting the delegates and the chairs in parliamentary lingo, ticking them off for informalcy and non-usage of the personal pronoun. But the most beautiful and profound moment was watching the debate on a topic I had chosen evolve. From the early stages of the debate to the last tense moments, the most fascinating issues were addressed!

The topic : Responsibility to Protect. At what point is it OK for a country to breach the sovereignty of another?

Consider Myanmar, there were thousands starving, homeless and in the depths of a humanitarian crisis. But the junta had the audacity to RESIST aid being offered. The net death toll was over 138,000, blatant evidence to the severity of this natural disaster. It is not a logical move for Myanmar to resist the philanthropy of the international community. While they finally conceded and allowed India to offer aid, the initial move of the Burmese was appalling at the very least.

Had they continued to turn down the relief offered by the international community, it would have been tantamount to genocide. Would it have been acceptable for the international community, obviously led by the United States, to intervene - diplomatically or undiplomatically? This was discussed at length by the committee and a detailed measuring instrument was deviced through which the severity of crisis could be judged and accordingly action would be taken.

What was worthy of applause was the evident concurrence that sovereignty has to be reinterpret in the light of internal conditions and that it cannot be the zenith of authority. There evidently has to be some form of accountability to the international community and some responsibility and right that the latter enjoys by virtue of its membership to the UN.

Another vital point of debate was the result of natural disasters. In case of a severe natural disaster, as in the case of Cyclone Nargis, is military intervention necessary, mandated or even considerable? Some nations, such as France and Bosnia & Herzegovina fought strongly for the cause of inclusion of natural disasters to the mandate of the Responsibility to Protect, however that was struck down by the sovereignty safeguarders like China.

Issues like natural disasters fall largely under the purview of NGOs, however, it is worthwhile to ask if military troops might be capable of doing a more efficient job of reconstruction and rebuilding of disaster-torn areas.

It is certainly a grey area, and it was absolutely mind-boggling to see a group of 17 year olds attempt to solve this issue in a systematic fashion, evidence of their maturity far beyond their years!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ten Things I love about Taipei

1. In Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, the national monument of Taiwan, you find young dancers practicing in the MIDDLE of the national monument, children flying kites. To make it better, our hosts in Taipei managed to erect a DANCE FLOOR in the middle of Taiwan's NATIONAL MONUMENT. Beat that!

2. Even though they are not in the UN, they are AWESOME! And a full-fledged country. And they have everything you could ever want...

3. There is a QUEUE to ENTER the metro. Something even Singaporeans don't queue for!

4. Say you want to go to "Sun Yat Sen Memorial". You get it written down in Chinese from your Hotel and show the cab driver. He'll nod and say something TOTALLY different that sounds like "Chee Ling Waow" and take you to the right place! I don't get it!

5. Anytime I look mildly lost, a kind Taiwanese local who knows English and is miraculously going to the same place as me appears from nowhere to guide me to my destination!

6. The Mochis here are better than the ones in Japan :)

7. The concept of Night Markets, open at 6ish and rocking till midnight! That's what I call a happening town

8. Far-Eastern Style Food :)

a. The amazing noodles and curry. I have new-found but probably short-lived love for Chinese food!
b. Bubble TEA!Who knew bubble tea tasted good?! WHO KNEW!!

9. The contradictions!
On one hand : BLING BLING! There are so many lights . Every single billboard is digital and perpetually blinging! WHY? It is such poor use of electricity in the age of climate change, makes me wonder how developed Taiwanese really are.

On the other hand : Every single public dustbin has two flaps - one for recyclable material and one for trash. That is so wonderful to see! The really good ones have 4-5 flaps for different classes of recyclables! And this exists practically everywhere - in every single MRT station - it is great to see such environmentally friendly measures being adopted despite the digital billboards.

10. They have these things called Hot Springs, which are public sulphurous baths. There are many hotels where you can go just to use their public baths. Fortunately, there are separate baths for men and women. Unfortunately, these baths require full nudity - walking into the bath nude, taking public showers nude and being in the bath NUDE with other people of the same sex. I love that they are so open, however, I abstained from enjoying this attraction for personal reasons :)

11. An extra one for good luck. Luxy - I love you <3.

All in all, it was an AMAZING trip. As my friend Jamie said, Taipei is live-able!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When Population Growth was a GOOD thing...

It has been hammered into our brains ever since we were born that overpopulation was one of the fundamental reasons for the poverty and underdevelopment of nations. It holds an exalted position in the vicious cycle of poverty and has been a major thrust of the United Nations Development Program which has sponsored countless programmes to curb overpopulation in the least developing nations.

Many economists of the developed world have come out with papers and evidence to prove that overpopulation is directly correlated to low GDP.

However, Karl Marx, known to all the founding father of Communism, had a fascinating theory about the role of population in economic development of nations.

Marxian political economy theory talks extensively about the core and the periphery - the developed countries bossing over the developing countries, keeping them under their control economically and politically. The agents of control are MNCs, International Organizations and sometimes even NGOs. While this formed the main part of Marx’s theory and the consequent public policy adopted by Marxist governments, neo-Marxism took these assumptions a step further.

Marx stated that overpopulation is NOT a factor in economic growth and development. The neo-Marxists took it a level further by claiming that this agenda was perpetrated by the developed nations through international organizations and economic research agencies as a form of modern genocide. They believed that the developed nations took the developing nations to be inferior and by promoting population control as a feature of economic growth, the developing world would be outnumbered by the developed and soon the former would be eradicated completely.

I'm going to repeat this purely for effect. The neo-Marxists claim that ALL ADVOCATES OF POPULATION CONTROL ARE PERPETRATING GENOCIDE.

The audacity of the neo-Marxists’ claim was obviously met by unanimous opposition from the capitalist world. I am sure the reader of this article would experience similar emotions. Of course, all our textbooks, governments and everything we’ve ever heard has stressed on the primary importance of population control. China, today, stands living proof of the miracles that can be achieved through population control.

How then, does the neo- Marxists’ claim add up?

Marx believed that population growth was a problem in the capitalist world due to the gross inequities and inadequacies of the capitalist system. Inadequacies which the socialist economy endeavored to eradicate, to the extent where population growth was good. So good that the USSR implemented a tax on single child and childless couples and banned abortion.

Similarly, China was lauded for its massive rate of growth. Mao Zedong is quoted to have said that “A large population is a good thing. With a population increase of several folds we still have an adequate solution.”
Neo-Marxists took the cue from these sentiments and championed the cause of population growth. However, with the fall of Communism, their theories were unequivocally disproved by the capitalist world. China itself took a 180 degree turn from their existing policy and undertook the most stringent population control policy ever seen by the word.

The neo-Marxists were left out in the dark and their sole mode of self-defense was to call on dependency theory to explain this contradiction. They claimed quite shamelessly that any reference to population growth as a vice was a purely imperialist move, aimed at modern, hidden genocide and the developing world, including China had no alternative but to cooperate.

It is fascinating how such an unusual, unexpected line of thought has stayed alive long after its vehement disproval. No non-Marxist in the world today could, while in their senses, claim that population growth is an acceptable phenomenon. The world’s unanimous calls for population control in both the developing and developed world have been almost unchallenged, except for the lone voice of neo-Marxism that stands strong.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"Maybe you will always be... Just a little out of reach" - Guster

The sky and the stars have an unexpected effect on people. It can send them over the edge in a good or bad way. But few people leave an observatory unaffected. I wonder why that is.

In the book I'm reading now, "A Fraction of the Whole", a small observatory is built in a little town. Suddenly everybody started showing more love - fathers bought gifts for their sons, husbands took their wives out and children shared their chocolates.

Its nice to know that something so far away can have such a strong impact on people here on earth...