Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why I Love Mumbai's Taxis

So there was a taxi strike last Monday -- taxis were protesting the presence of Uber and other such 'aggregators'. I was surprised at the vitriol I saw on Twitter (hah), and threw in some tweets of my own, on why I'm firmly on the side of the taxis. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to tell you are in a PD James novel

Part 2 of this. 

You are a priest or a man in authority over children, and you have been convicted for abusing children. Everyone in the novel sympathizes with you (except, of course, the cold unfeeling person whom everyone dislikes).

You are not racist (so you think, and the author believes you) but you think anti-racism goes too far.  You are willing to stand up against political correctness, and everyone in the novel admires your bravery.

You are a woman who is good at her job. You are, of course, in love with your boss — or you are not, but want to marry him anyway.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

How to tell when you are in an Alexander McCall Smith novel

  1. Nothing very much happens, and it happens very slowly.
  2. You have long discussions (with yourself or with others) about intricate ethical dilemmas. You resolve the ones about simple matters, like colonialism and racism, fairly quickly and to your satisfaction. But it is much more difficult to decide on matters like whether you should spy on your boyfriend to make sure he’s not cheating on you, even though you have no reason to believe that he is.
  3. You are the most ethical person you know. Everyone is always telling you how ethical you are — after all, you spy on your boyfriend and sometimes complete strangers, all for their own good.
  4. If you don’t live in Scotland, you live in Botswana. Nothing very much happens here either.
  5. You are rich, but not one of the vulgar rich. You live comfortably but not luxuriously (by your standards) and you donate generously to charity and to people around you. You do not expect your generous “gifts” to be met with anything but grateful acceptance, even if they have to change their plans to accommodate them. 
  6. Everyone is lovely and polite, except for upwardly mobile, pushy women and men. They are the worst. (And pushy mothers are the absolute worst.)
  7. You are very interested in classical music, poetry, literature, and art, and of course (see #5), you have the money and time to indulge your tastes. 
  8. You are an intellectual person and not shallow at all — but the biggest reason you like your boyfriend is because he is so pretty.
  9. You are a very open-minded person. You are just a little concerned about other people’s promiscuous ways and frivolous pastimes. You are also perfectly okay with lower class people, you’re just surprised when someone in your circle wants to marry one.
  10. Even though your mother died when you were a child and you live in the twenty-first century, you are surprised at the idea that she may have had sex, and maybe even with someone other than your father.
  11. Everything always ends well. Anything unpleasant only happens to other people.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

So what happened is...

Hello, people. Did anyone miss me?

I was busy with work and travel and I sprained my ankle and I couldn't keep up the daily posts, so thought I'd take a total break from posting for a while. I'm back now, but won't be back to a daily schedule.

But I wrote my story of spraining my ankle to a friend and she liked what I wrote so I thought you might like it too.

So, I sprained my ankle while I was in Delhi. It's a funny story -- my colleague She and I were rushing from a lunch meeting to an agency's office, where I was going to train them. We were late and had to park on the opposite side of the street, so She had this bright idea of climbing over the divider (you can guess how this ends). It's a massive divider too, with iron railings on both sides and big plants -- trees, even, planted in the middle. I say no at first but she's already climbing over, so I'm like, what the hell? I climb over the railing and take a step right into the depression where a big plant is. And I twist my ankle.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 101 of Feminist Joys: Reading Havisham

Havisham is the second book by a man that I've read finished recently (the first, of course, was Funny Girl). It is a retelling -- a prequel -- of Great Expectations, focusing on (of course) Miss Havisham. Ronald Frame takes a character that was always somewhat of a caricature and gives her a backstory. He gives her a lonely childhood, and an adult life that's one disappointment after another, making her the bitter old woman in Dickens' novel. Yet she's never as bitter as Dickens portrayed her -- if she is abusive to Estella, keeping her isolated and teaching her to take revenge on men -- it's because the tragedy of her life has deranged her. She is still capable of compassion, even for her best friend who betrayed her, and of love for Estella.

But I found Havisham most satisfying when I wasn't reading it like a prequel to Great Expectations -- as a story of a young woman who has a difficult childhood and grows up to manage her father's alcohol business.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 100 of Feminist Joys: Being Undeterred

I'm quoted in this book--Undeterred, by Rania Anderson--on my experience on starting and failing at a business.

The book and Rania's website, the Way Women Work,  are filled with stories of women entrepreneurs and professionals, and explores how they find success.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Day 98 of Feminist Joys: Funny Girl

After trying valiantly to read an excruciatingly boring Murakami (which has long passages about the protagonist getting laid) and then finally putting it away and removing it from my Kindle because of some overt misogyny, I resolved (again) to stick to women's writing. But then I picked up two books by men, both with women protagonists, which made me realize that men can write too. (/sarcasm, for anti-feminists who just can't take a joke (looks like it wasn't / after all))

Anyway. One of those books is Nick Hornby's Funny Girl, about a comedy actress in England who makes it big in the 1960s. Unlike so many women characters created by men, Sophie Straw is a real person, with motivations and feelings I can relate to. She is too pretty to be taken seriously (by misogynists) but is intelligent, ethical, and most importantly, funny, running rings around her more established co-star and earning the respect of the show's creators. The book sags a little around the halfway point, though it picks up again towards the end -- but it's worth reading for its portrayal of Sophie's early days alone.

Day 99 of Feminist Joys: Walk Like a Woman

Check out these cool photos of men taking to the street wearing "women's" clothes, in my very own Mumbai. (This is a Facebook album, and it doesn't show up if you're not logged in, but you don't have to be friends with the poster to see it.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015