Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Resurrection... and sailing

Well I haven't been very good with this blog but hopefully I'll get better. Usually when I neglect a blog long enough I leave it to die in internet wilderness while I start a new one with an entirely new format... this is not what I am going to do here.

Will hopefully continue writing in this, regardless of who's reading... because I just changed jobs which means I don't get to put my thoughts to paper as much and it is incredibly frustrating.

I've moved from newspapers to TV and have discovered the realities of the job that I just can't seem to get my head around. More on this in the future. I may be judging TV a bit too harshly as I am in a news role rather than the sort of current affairs one I would have liked.

Anyway, I was compelled to write about the two young teenage sailors who had a dream to sail around the world unassisted - one made it, and one had here hopes literally smashed by a freak wave that pounded her boat.

The first was Jessica Watson, a Gold Coast teen who achieved the feat after much public criticism earlier this year.

She was greeted with a heros welcome on arriving at Sydney harbour... and if you have any doubts of her "heroics", see what our dear Prime Minister had to say:

"Jess welcome back to dry land. Welcome back home to Australia. You know something, you may feel a little wobbly on your feet just now, but in the eyes of all Australians you now stand tall as our newest Australian hero," Mr Rudd said.

"At sixteen years old you are a hero to all young Australians. You are also a hero to all young Australian women. You do our nation proud."

To her credit, Watson rebuked her new hero status, saying she was just an ordinary girl.

But this had made her anything than ordinary. She had the world at her feet, and reportedly may never have to work again as she lives off her achievement through sponsorships, talks, products etc. She has made her own personal brand at the tender age of 16.

Another girl in the US was not so lucky. Abby Sunderland had the same dream, but was forced to retreat after her boat was damaged in heavy storms of the WA coast and Australia had to send a airbus to find her.

Abby is coming under a lot of criticism at the moment. Today she said that people did not understand she wasn't like your ordinary teenager.

Sunderland acknowledged that her adventure "can look pretty crazy. But the thing is, those people don't know me. And if they did, they wouldn't be criticising my age".

She spoke by phone from the remote Kerguelen Islands, near Antarctica, where her rescue boat stopped briefly en route to Reunion Island and a true reunion with her family.

"I think that a lot of people are judging me by the standards they have for their teens and other teens that they know ... and thinking 'she's exactly like them'," Sunderland said.

"They don't understand that I've sailed my whole life and I do know what I'm doing out there."

All power to this girls but really, why are we worshipping them?

They may have sailed around the world but they had amazing support unit and a family who pushed them all the way. Jessica had a lot of endorsements and the backing of a media contigent watching her every move.

Although I do find their achievements admirable, they are not courageous when taken into the context of the millions of teens around the world who face hardship... and overcome it even though they did not actively seek it.

They also do it alone.

It is not courageous when I think of the teenagers who will take boat trips to Australia, only to face public condemnation and a detention centre, simply to get away from the crisises in their homealnds.

It is not courageous when I think of the teenagers who are stuck in war zones and are dodging bullets and bombs.

It is not courageous when I think of the teenagers who are drowning under poverty... even those in our own country who come from unstable homes and yet still manage to get by.

These girls should not be revered as heroes. They are embarking on plights completely for their own personal gain. If that money sending them on irresponsible adventures was tunnelled into more important campaigns maybe the world would be a bit better.

I'm sure these girls have a determination many would only dream about. But why not direct that determination into helping the less fortunate, instead of pursuing the pathway to fame?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Judgmental crusaders

Making top story on today was an opinion piece by an author who asks "WHY are we suddenly lavishing love on the larger ladies given that half of all Australians are overweight, and one-fifth of us are morbidly obese?"

She rails against a new trend to have bigger girls on catwalks and in magazines, saying that although having bigger, yet healthier models is ok, if they tip the scales too much, it only adds to an acceptance of obesity.

"So it just doesn't make any sense to also be sending the message that it's not only OK to be fat, it's a sign of self-empowerment.

Let's face it, Australians - like Americans - do not need any encouragement or permission from role models in the media to put on weight.

Alarmingly, a new Australian study of more than 30,000 people shows obese and morbidly obese men are less depressed and less suicidal than those of a normal weight."

I absolutely hate stories like this. It’s an argument that constantly criticizes obese people, that treats them as anyone but human just because we can’t

Sure, it is not healthy to be obese. But I would think the majority of bigger people do not want to be in the situation they are in.

They should not be judged on it. They should not be made to feel as if they are hurting society somehow by being what some think is a blight on our international image (Australia is becoming the most obese nation etc etc).

We don’t judge people for their other unhealthy habits – the people who binge drink every weekend or smoke a pack a day. Occasionally we will warn that this isn’t healthy, but because it often doesn’t lead to such extreme changes in their body image (depending on how bad the habit), we refrain from the hurtful comments we direct towards bigger people.

When it comes to bigger people, suddenly its ok to judge them, calling them fatties, making them feel as if they were the scum of the earth. I detest it.

One of my best friends in high school used to make hurtful remarks about other people’s mothers, saying that they had put on weight, that they still looked pregnant.

I would always feel really embarrassed and ashamed that I didn’t have the conviction to actually stand up to her and disagree.

I was even more ashamed because my mother is bigger. I always loved her for it because she gives the best cuddles in the world. When I was little I told her I never wanted her to loose weight because I liked lying on her stomach.

It’s sad that adults don’t see these little rays of light that children do.

Another thing I hate is the disproportionate focus on women if they are bigger.

I was previously a size 12-14 in 2007 and after adopting a few lifestyle changes (going to gym because my close friend was doing it) dropped down to a size 10.

Immediately I saw the difference in how people perceived me, especially boys. It was as if I had developed some form of extra character trait that suddenly made people like me more. I was suddenly getting so many compliments, from many who didn’t seem to believe the “transformation”.

I felt more confident in my own skin, but that was only because I was finally fulfilling the societal conventions that were expected of me.

As a girl, I had to look a certain way and be a certain weight to be accepted (although I should note this is on university res, where girls tend to sleep in five beds a week and boys happily oblige).

In comparison, in 2006 I moved into a house that had no full-length mirrors. It was pretty much one of the happiest times of my life.

I ate what I wanted and I wore what I wanted.

When I went home, everyone called me fat. I was a size 14.

I was so distressed by the reaction I immediately went on a diet. I felt like everyone was looking at me and laughing at me. This doesn’t even come close to feeling how bigger people feel when they go out on the street.

Making them feel worse by opining against certain things that finally place them in a popular light in pop culture is despicable to me.

People shouldn’t be made to lose weight because of society’s poking and pestering, they should do it because they want to, out of cosmetic, health or any other reason.

It’s all about choice. We can spare the judgement.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Troubles in writer's land

I wrote this in a diary a few months ago and thought it adequately sums up what I'm feeling...

My favourite time at school was not recess, but when the teachers would utter those words "short story". Creative writing sparked a light in me and I could sit for the rest of the afternoon delving over a story. If one line particularly delighted me, I would read the whole story again just for the sheer pleasure of that sentence. I would try and place more in, some came naturally, some were more tortured. My second favourite activity was library time, when one afternoon a week we were allowed to change our books. Most of the time I had swapped them prior, indulged in them over night under the covers of my blanket. I took sanctuary in the feelings the books gave me. They were not literary masterpieces, but they washed me in their words, caressed me in their printed embrace. A blank paper was like my television, except instead of seeping creativity from my brain, it nurtured it.

When I started high school, my writing faltered, twittering out like a bird being silenced. I became obsessed with the petty politics of my circle, which went round and round and provided no ending. Occasionally we would be given creative writing tasks, but the feeling had changed. It was replaced with dread and laziness. No longer could I string beautiful sentences together so easily. Maybe children are the best writers, they care less about perfection and delight in the process. I abandoned writing for fun and saw it as a chore.

It is only now that I am picking it up again and my words have become burdens. They hinder me. They are the same over and over again; my sentences are so common and cliched. I'm trying to break out of it but it's taking longer than I thought. I want my fingers to fly over keyboards, think of metaphors that describe what I'm saying, that aren't just planted there like a red rose amongst yellow. The thing I am having trouble with is this: I can't distinguish good writing from bad. Ok, maybe I can. Maybe it is the fact I can't distinguish mediocre writing from the magnificent. How can you judge that? And how do you turn the tap on to make it flow? To foster the creativity I know could brim out of me?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where's our compassion?

I was impressed by Australia's collective display of compassion in February, after bushfires swept through Victoria, devastating families.

Somewhere along the line this compassion has been lost. Sure, we would still show compassion to our fellow Australians. But when it comes to refugees, those who risk their lives to escape their plight back home, we turn a blind eye.

It makes my blood boil. Not all Australians are like this of course, but there are still many who can't seem to feel compassion or empathy for the plight of refugees.

I noticed after reading a story on an explosion on an asylum-seekers’ boat, which killed three people and injured dozens more.

According to media reports, the 31 boat people were from Afghanistan, a situation where Australian troops are currently involved.

Now I know taking blog comments as an indication of wider society is fraught with possible mistakes, but I just can't help but rebuke many of those who are saying, "why should we be treating them?" or those saying “Australia’s full”.

Here are just a few samples:

“They blew up the ship because they knew they would be taken onto another vessel, which increased there chances of being taken to the Australia mainland...This is going to be an increasing problem now due to Rudd's change in policy on Not using the detention centre on Xmas island..He's allowed the previous boaties access to housing on the island And paid them about $250 a Week to cover expenses!!!!!! Geeez, for some of these people thats about 3 months salary and they dont have to work for it... I can guarantee you that some of that money was spent calling home and booking their families on the next boat out!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s the new age of ocean cruising for the poor....
Posted by: ashley of Bunbury

"I agree with Scott from Perth fix them and send them back, when it comes to our naval personal being harmed through the act of sabotage I don't have sympathy – Joann Ahmat of darwin

"Meanwhile the good citizens of Australia have to wait in line for treatment while these queue jumping fakes get immediate and first class medical attention. Fix them up and send them back. - Dennis of Sydney

“Asylum seekers? Call it as it is, they are illegal immigrants! We do not know who they are, what crimes may have committed, what illness or dreaded disease they have. Two of our navel personnel have been injured in what looks to be a deliberate act, thus a deliberate attack on two Australians. - Greg of Sydney

“These illegals should be held responsible! If they want to burn their own boat down they should swim their way back to the war riddin country they came from! It is time to get serious about the illegal situation as all we seem to do is stand on our foreshore and welcome these people into our country with open arms. If only we treated our homeless people in the same manner we treated the illegals. Tell me.. Why do we have the Navy protecting our waters if we just let these people in? Time to get serious Mr Rudd and stop wasting the tax payer dollar. - Ex - Jack Tar of Darwin

“I think they blew up their own boat to get free access to Australia. Fix them up and send them home. How dare they come over here when our Defence Force men and women are over there fighting and dying trying to fix their country.
- Emma of Glenelg

Then has compiled some more disgusting comments from callers to talk-back radio…you can read that here.

I mean really? These people are escaping from Afghanistan – where there is a war coming from. Do you think they came over here to steal their way into Australia’s health system?

I just hate the way these refugees are immediately lumped into “they”, as if they are less than human. Where did the compassion go Australia? Compassion should be everlasting – we couldn’t possibly have used it all up on the Victorian bushfire victims. We just choose not to direct it to those who are different from us

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Orwell was rejected as well!

This will be of interest to all of you, my dear writer friends, especially you Miss Melissa, who I know loves Animal Farm and George Orwell.

Even he was rejected, and by famous poet T.S. Elliot because of the politics of his classic "Animal Farm".

When Orwell submitted his novel, an allegory on Stalin's dictatorship, Eliot praised its "good writing" and "fundamental integrity".

However, the book's politics, at a time when Britain was allied with the Soviet Union against Hitler, were another matter.

"We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time," wrote Eliot, adding that he thought its "view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing".

Eliot wrote: "After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm -- in fact, there couldn't have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs."

It shows that if you are rejected, don't give up. If you really believe in what you are doing, and are completely happy with the end product, keep trying.

I'll keep going back to this example when I finally get around to penning my own novel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Coming back

Well I feel bad to have neglected my blog - but I am well surrounded by other blog neglecters (Hint hint: Melissa... Chris...) so I don't feel quite as bad. The only one to have kept up with her wonderful blog, despite her troubles, is Princess Jo. Nevertheless, I hope all my friends are going well... and forgive me for my belated entry.

So this is just going to be an update on what is happening in my life etc etc. Basically I have started university full time and am trying to juggle it with full time work. So far it seems to be going ok, as I have a routine with my dino. (I call you-know-who Dino Morea). Basically it goes like this:

7 am - drag myself out of bed, wash, brush etc etc.

8 am - stumble into work.

3:50 pm: leave work

4:10 pm - arrive ten minutes late for my Hindi class (thankfully my tutor is really relaxed)

5 pm - drive home and go to the uni library, do basic research or procrastinate on facebook

7 pm - go home, rest for a bit

8:30 pm - go to gym

9:30 - go home, eat

11 pm - go to labs - study

1 am - fall asleep on the chairs while Taimoor surfs the net

3:30 am - make it to my own bed

7 am - do it all again

So as you can imagine - it's become a busy life but I'm enjoying it immensely. It should be noted, however, that I have yet to finish my 3000 word international studies essay.

The sad thing is, I have basically no time for any interesting things. It is usually regulated to the weekends. But this Sunday I slept all day - waking up at 5 pm in the afternoon. It felt like such a waste of a day, and yet it completely revitalised me for the rest of the week.

I am currently writing for a student magazine on campus. It's about social justice and is coming out monthly.

God... I am such a boring person.

That is why I don't usually blog on my own life. I am too damn boring.

Please blogger friends - wake up! I need something to read at work :-P

Friday, February 20, 2009


I have joined the ever-growing legions of "Twitterers"... or more accurately, I think they call them "Tweets". Forgive me if I'm wrong, I'm still new to it.

Anyway, you can find me by clicking here.

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are both following me! It's a great tool for letting out small frustrations in the middle of the work day :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It makes me wonder...

I often wonder what compels people to conduct horrific acts, especially on children, and especially when they themselves are so young. Did they suffer similar abuse as children? Are the mentally sound? Are they driven by the mob? Whatever it is, I don't think I could ever understand.

Today I was watching on Sky News the sentencing of the five who abused the New Zealand toddler Nia Glassie. It's one of the most horrific stories you'll ever hear (that's not true, which makes the fact even more sad)

This is the abuse suffered by little Nia before she died, as catalogued by

Abuse suffered by Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie during her short but tortured life included:

* Kicked in the face, causing her nose to bleed;
* Hit, slapped, punched and jumped on;
* Objects such as shoes thrown at her;
* Verbal insults, for example continually being told she was ugly;
* Forced into a television cabinet drawer;
* Dragged through the sandpit half-naked;
* Shoved into piles of rubbish;
* Made to bathe in cold water in mid-winter;
* Folded into a sofa and sat on;
* Flung against the wall;
* Held high in the air and dropped to the floor;
* Used for adult wrestling moves copied from a Playstation game;
* Whirled rapidly on a rotary clothesline until flung off;
* Put into a tumble dryer and spun on high temperature;
* Had her head and feet dangled into the fireplace when the fire was lit;
* Kicked repeatedly in the head because she was crying;
* Left lying in a coma for 36 hours without medical attention.

Here's the story:

The four-week trial over the violent death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie ended today with murder convictions for brothers Wiremu and Michael Curtis.

Wiremu Curtis, 19, and Michael Curtis, 22, were found guilty in Rotorua High Court this afternoon over what the Crown described as horrific ongoing abuse and beatings which equated to torture and eventually led to the three-year-old's death.

Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, 35, was found guilty on two manslaughter charges relating to a lack of protection and failure to seek medical help for her critically injured daughter.

Kuka was Wiremu Curtis's partner at the time of the abuse.

Nia died of brain injuries in Auckland's Starship Hospital on August 3 last year, two weeks after suffering what the Crown said were fatal kicks to the head by the brothers.

...Nia's cousin Michael Pearson, 20, and Michael Curtis' partner Oriwa Kemp, 18, were found not guilty of manslaughter in relation to the death.

They were, however, found guilty along with the Curtis brothers on various other charges.

Here's the composite picture of the five that abused or neglected Nia from

Looking at them, I just can't understand what was going through their brains while they watched Nia. It's hard for me to demonize them because you obviously have had to be seriously disturbed to have done this. And yet I am very angry, I just don't know who to direct it towards.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Random happenings in my life

I'm feeling a bit jealous at the moment. All those grade 12 graduates who now have the world at their feet. And then there is me, who is utterly stuck it seems. Well, I'm not entirely jealous. I'm happy for them. My sister has just landed a brilliant job in an economic downturn where employers are slashing and employees are wallowing. She'll have a whole year to come to terms with what she wants to do. And I couldn't be more happier for her.

But now I feel like I am stilted. This year is going to bring a whole new lot of amazing opportunities for me journalism-wise - the opportunity to write more features, write for a television current affairs show and continue what I am doing. But I just keep backtracking and wondering. I guess you can't have your career all stitched up at 20. It doesn't work that way. I know one day I may change direction, and I have to prepare myself for that.

On a lighter note, my last blog post was my 69th :-P That one is for you Christopher!

So what has been happening with me? I have taken a significant break from the blogosphere of late. Some days I just couldn't be bothered and other days I want to keep writing and writing and writing :-) I'm in the waiting room right now - just biding my time, taking it slow, until university starts again. I can't wait to be busy, a bit worn out. Right now I feel abit lazy. All I do is go to work and come home and talk and laugh and eat.

Yesterday I started my gym for the year and I hope to keep going and getting in a routine. I'm going to Vanuatu in July and they have a bad habit of telling it like it is - if I put on weight they'll greet me and say "you've gotten fat!" So in order to salvage my self-esteem I am going to have to work a bit harder.

I have applied for cross-institutional studies to learn Hindi. Hopefully that works because this could be my second language. I love Hindi and Urdu and I hope I get to the point where I can speak it fluently. It'll be deadly awesome.

I plan to write more short stories this year and begin the draft for my debut novel. I have decided what it will be and it will give me the opportunity to stir up a bit of controversy, in a good way of course. I'm not out to win the Booker, but I want to produce something I am proud of.

I'm trying to figure out what makes a piece of writing great. I have been trying to read a host of award-winning literature, and to be honest, the award-winning stuff often makes me entirely bored. That's because I have been reading short story compilations. I don't know, I think short story writing is completely out of my arena of interest. It really bores me. But I've begun reading the pieces that make it into The New Yorker (my new favourite website) and trying to consider why they have been selected.

Am also now addicted to The Economist. Great magazine.

I can't wait to start Broadcast Journalism this semester. It's gonna be so good learning a different medium.

Anyway, I better go, this entry is getting more boring as it progresses!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Bollywood is so successful

As a die-hard devotee to Bollywood, I have carefully constructed my arguments as to why the movies are filmed the way they are. They are superficial, they are full of cheap humour, they have singing and dancing and impossibly beautiful people.

- From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

They aren't "real" is the criticism I receive. But what is forgotten is the whole point of cinema and entertainment is to forget. To enjoy life for at least three hours before stepping out into the real world. In a country like India, where the extreme rich and the extreme poor live side by side, i believe movies act as a form of letting go. They also have to appeal to a broad cross-section, and be family friendly at the same time, thus the g-rated themes (although if you see some of the newer movies, they are not always g-rated ;-) )

Anyway, nothing more summed up my theory than this article about the new Indian movie Slumdog Millionaire:

LIFE in the alleyways of Mumbai's sprawling Juhu slum is revealed in the Golden Globe-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. But when Juhu locals were asked if they would like to watch the film, they were not very interested.

"We don't want to watch the film, we live the life it shows," 19-year-old Surajit Pal told The Times of India. He would prefer to see the Bollywood action blockbuster Ghajini, based on the western thriller Memento and doing big business in India.

Another Juhu resident, 21-year-old Vikas Mishra, said he could not understand why people would find a film of their slum interesting. "I don't like it here. It's not a nice place to stay," he said.

The hit movie about an impoverished orphan who wins the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? has not even been released here yet.