Friday, 29 January 2010

Just Disney ♥

I really wanted to see The Princess and the Frog, but alas, no one in my family felt the same so I missed it in cinemas. In the meantime, I’m rediscovering old favourites.


So, who is your favourite Disney princess? And who is most like you?


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A Not-So-Indian Problem

I was shocked and saddened to hear of more Indian student victims and deaths in Melbourne in recent weeks; the cruelty demonstrated in these instances is horrific and unfathomable, and has led various Indian entities recommending against study in Australia - not that I blame them.

However, I hesitate to make racism the reason here. Yes, it's undeniable these targets are all Indian, but that's not why they're being attacked; unfortunately it's a series of circumstances.

There is a definite problem with student housing available in Melbourne - there aren't enough college spaces, and living close to the city is ridiculously expensive. It's both local and international students who suffer. In order to support themselves, Indian students find themselves working late shifts for little pay and studying during the day. These night jobs put them in awkward situations, catching trains home late at night or walking alone in the city. They're easy targets; as the ugly phrase goes, "soft ATMs." Not that that's any excuse. But it only becomes racial when attackers add insult to inury, using phrases like "curry munchers."

The difference is the motivation, and it makes a difference; this is not only a problem for Indian students - it's a symptom of a wider issue: violence in the CBD, particularly late at night, coupled with a partying, binge-drinking culture.

I'm not trying to defend my city or my country by any means; we have some particularly vicious and deep-seated racial issues that are again coming to the fore - the Cronulla riots are an example of this, and just the tip of the ice burg.

Unfortunately these attitudes towards refugees, immigrants and Aboriginals are inherited: look at the way we colonized this country, our White Australia policies, our response to the boat people. These have led us to develop an overblown sense of entitlement and belonging, an arrogance and ownership we can afford because we've never had to fight for our land. You'd think because we have so much, we'd be more than willing to share, but we think it's our birthright and ours alone, leading to a "we grew here, you flew here" mentality.

This of course does not sum up the whole of Australia: just the dark underbelly. The true Australian spirit is on display at our very own Open; proudly supporting our players, and adopting others, such as Belgian Kim Clijsters; slow clapping to build the suspense before a challenge; giving the loser the biggest cheer as he walks off court. The nation goes tennis-crazy, and Melbourne most of all dons her tennis skirt and gets into the game. There's a reason we're the "friendliest" Open of them all. My brother doesn't think Melbourne ranks quite as high globally as Paris, NYC and London - that we're the odd one out, so to speak - but I like to think we're not so elitist about it, and not nearly as romantised (or old.) After, we are the second city of literature and one of the world's most liveable cities (which, as above, is not perfect.)

Nikki Gemmell - yes, author of the infamous The Bride Stripped Bare - has also reminded me of what I love about my country with her recent memoir/reflection Why You Are Australian. Sharan and I have agreed that the cultural grass is greener, but there are so many things I take for granted, which Gemmell (and Sharan) have helped me appreciate:

"Achingly I want you to know what it is to be Aussie kids. Where playing barefoot is a signifier of freedom not impoverishment. Where a backyard′s a given not a luxury. Where sunshine and fresh food grow children tall. Where you know what a rash shirt is and a nipper, a Paddle Pop and a Boogie Board."

My dad gave me this book for Christmas, and I devoured it (a freedom I love on holidays). However, I had a complex and challenging relationship with this book unlike any other. See, I had a very strong love/hate grapple with it. I enjoyed and rebelled in all that Nikki, as an expat, rediscovered and delighted in about her home; the pure sunlight, the infinite starry night, the awe-inspiring, soul-filling sense of space and freedom, that wry Aussie sense of humour, barefoot backyard cricket, beaches, barbies, and the incredible possibility available to anyone and everyone who dares to dream and tries to achieve.

And then there are the things we struggle to reconcile, like the narrow-mindedness discussed above. Tall poppy syndrome. Bludgers. Bogans (the kind you see on Today Tonight, trashing rented apartments.) Today Tonight - her husband teases her, saying "turn on the Ch 10 news, and you'll remember what you don't miss about Australia."

And this, Australia Day, what Aboriginals would like renamed Invasion Day, what do we really celebrate? Yes, our great Australian character, our love of a holiday and fireworks and a beer, but perhaps we should also acknowledge the somewhat questionable claim we have on this land.

All these quibbles I could relate to, and understand why she wanted her children to grow up here. It was fascinating to read about her comparions between the Motherland and her rogue colony, the ups and downs of an expat lifestyle, the consequences of living away from one's family. I also enjoyed her unusual phrases: "basted in sunshine" and so on, but soon you realise that she too is impressed with these images, so much so she sees no reason to extend her vocabulary but uses them over and over again until you want to baste in oblivion. Furthermore, she can be very repetitive about why life in Britain is so terrible and life down under is so wonderful, how she was never able to write in London, how she was stowing in motherhood. I guess I just wanted her to grow a pair and stop whining - we get it, you make sacrifices, you make it, it's a hard life - sometimes.

On the whole though, I would probably recommend this book for its sentiment, just not its writing.

Today, I am proud to be Australian; I am grateful for the wide open experiences of my childhood; and I live in hope that we can rise up above our petty differences and overcome our mistaken ideals.

(ps: you should all be impressed I typed this up on my iPhone.)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

JAG 2.0(10)

I don't make New Year's resolutions because if you don't make em, you can't break em. As it was, my NYE was a bust because my parents wouldn't let me spend the night with Gemini, causing major angst and basically ruining my life. I jest (but only with regard to the latter.) It was so frustrating not only because I'm 19 and responsible, but because their reason was that NYE is a family affair, which is ridiculous, because they think NYE is overrated and they went to bed at 10.30pm, leaving my brother and I to stay up to watch the fireworks on TV (and we were IN Sydney!!) Now, you may tell me NYE is NBD (no big deal), but I've never been out for NYE before. Sure, I'm still young, but this time next year I'll be in Hawaii (all factors allowing - my uncle's getting married!!!) and I won't be able to go out (not that I'm complaining, but you see my point.) It wasn't even inconvenient or unsafe - I spent the day in the city with Gem, and then could have stayed the night with her. NYE was only an event, though - it's also about the larger issue of my parents being over-protective and controlling.

But I do have some general aims, such as donating 3 times this year (which I hope to make a regular ambition), stop biting my fingernails, exercise weekly (as in once). I also need to save up some serious money if I want to take a year off next year to travel, work, volunteer, see the world, make a difference, find myself, figure out the meaning of life, etc. Therefore I need to find a job. 

Last year, I decided somewhat at the last minute to run (unopposed) for Vice President of my college student body and won! I didn't intend to be involved with the student club anymore, as this will likely be my final year (in college), and I wanted to take it easy. However, one of the presidential candidates convinced me she wanted me to be her VP, so I agreed. We've got a great exec, so it's going to be a terrific year, and I want to be part of meaningful discussions, collaborations and change in the college this year.

What I'd really like to do this year - more of an aspiration than a goal - is add some of you (the ones I can find!), my blogging friends, on Facebook. This probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most of you, but for me it's not only letting go of my anonymity (to an extent), which can be a very easy shield sometimes, it's getting to know you guys better. When I started writing this blog, I never thought I'd meet so many reliable, caring people I could count as my friends. Because one day, what I'd really like to do, is meet you. 

In the meantime, I've got an itch to write, so if you'd like some genuine Australian snail mail love sent your way, please leave your address in the comment box (if you don't want me to publish the comment, let me know) or email me ( 

Here's to a happy new year! 

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Apologies for being away (but not to you, jdl). Parentals have been severely limiting my internet time (ie moreso than usual) and have been away for Christmas and NYE as well as shortly after that. Going down to the Australian Open tomorrow, so will be back after that! Hope you've all be well. I very much miss being able to read all your blogs, so please let me know what you've been up to. I will update myself soon!

When Sara was in Miami, all alone over Christmas (I know: sadface, right?!) she asked me to suggest some happy songs to cheer her up. So I did: Build Me Up Buttercup and Here Comes the Sun. And ever since I’ve had the itch to create a happifying playlist, which I have, and it’s dedicated to you, m’dear:


Paper Planes, M.I.A

Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard, Simon and Garfunkel

Sweet Caroline, Puck - Glee

Catch My Disease (That’s the Way I Like it), Ben Lee

Fearless, Taylor Swift

Wouldn’t It Be Nice, The Beach Boys

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFemin

Hakuna Matata, Tamon and Pumba

All I Want is You, Barry Louis Polisar

Don’t Stop Believin’, Glee Cast

Forever, Chris Brown

Friday On My Mind, The Easybeats

Do You Love Me?, Dirty Dancing

What I Like About You, The Romantics

Hold the Line, Toto

Desire, U2

I’ll Be There For You, The Rembrants

When They Fight, They Fight, The Generationals

I Gotta Feeling, The Black Eyed Peas

Rehab, Glee Cast

Penny Lane, The Beatles

More Than a Feeling, Boston

I Get Up, INXS

Tubthumping, Chumbawamba

Untouched, The Veronicas


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Cindy Lauper

Think, Aretha Franklin

The Waitress, The Waifs

Scar, Missy Higgins

Something There, Beauty and the Beast

Tree Hugger, Kimya Dawson & Antsy Pants

Daydream Believer, The Monkees

You Can Call Me Al, Simon and Garfunkel

Walk of Life, Dire Straits

Break My Stride, Ace of Base

Halo/Walking on Sunshine, Glee Cast

Our Song, Taylor Swift

Put On Your Sunday Clothes, Barbra Streisand & Michael Crawford

Shake a Tail Feather, Ray Charles

Jump, Glee Cast

Stuck for the Summer, Two Hours Traffic

LDN, Lily Allen

No Sleep Tonight, The Faders

Fun, Fun, Fun, The Beach Boys

I Just Can’t Wait to be King, The Lion King

Beautiful Day, U2

Jai Ho, A. R. Rahman Feat. Sukhwinder Singh, Tanvi Shah & Mahalakshmi Iyer

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Bachman Turner Overdrive

U+Ur Hand, Pink

Mama Mia, ABBA

I’m Lucky, Joan Armatrading

You Looked So Good, Clare Bowditch

Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield

You Belong With Me, Taylor Swift

We’re All in This Together, Ben Lee

Dhan Te Naan, Sukhwinder Singh

What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong

So yes, there are several songs by the Glee cast, but you can choose the originals if you like – I just adore the Glee soundtrack, and happen to think their versions are generally more upbeat (the whole show is just fantastically peppy. Expect a gushing recommendation soon.)

Suggestions welcome!