Back in July I spoke with a couple of Americans who were traumatised by Donald Trump’s presidency, Dan and Katie* and a couple of Trump supporters, Gautham and Jeevan* about what they thought about the upcoming United States (US) Presidential Election. The election is over and Democrat candidate Joe Biden is the President Elect, unless you are Donald Trump and his inner circle who refuse to accept the result, so let’s hear Dan, Katie, Gautham, and Jeevan’s views now it is all (allegedly) over.
For some of us, the worst days of our lives are spent in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) or cancer wards, there either for ourselves or our loved ones. There are some heroes who have chosen to spend their days making those experiences the best they possibly can be for those of us who find ourselves there. A number of my friends are nurses, and after my last post Pondering death and what it all means I contacted two of them to ask them, quite simply, how the hell do they do it?
I don’t know why, but for the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about writing this article pondering death. I think it is the flippancy around COVID19 deaths bandied around by some leaders in the media but for whatever reason it has been niggling away. This can be a traumatic subject, so please take care when reading.
Last night I went with three male friends, two of whom wish to remain anonymous but all in our 40s and 50s, to work out our daddy issues on a pole in a free, 30-minute pole dancing lesson in the outskirts of suburban Brisbane, Australia. How did this happen?
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For foreigners, food in India is a revelation. For Indians, THEIR food is an addiction; it is as necessary as the air they breathe to sustain their lives. Growing up in Australia we would occasionally go out to Indian restaurants. Back in the 90s and 00s it would appear the only Indians in Australia, and certainly Brisbane where I grew up, who opened restaurants were from the Punjab region. Their rogan joshes, kormas, butter chickens, and all of those lovely, rich ‘curries’ with naan breads were delicious, spicy treats. If we were feeling really adventurous (and my parents were not) we might go for a vidaloo. Your Mum might have some Madras curry powder in the spice cupboard which was rolled out occasionally for an ‘exotic’ dish. That was Indian food, wasn’t it?
I sat in a friend’s apartment discussing the logistics of apartment hunting, and a number of bizarre differences in the selection process came to light. In the West, usually the higher up in the building the apartment is, the more desirable and likely more expensive it is. These higher apartments usually offer a better view and hence more prestige. In Chennai, she told me, the ground floor is the more desirable and expensive. The reasoning? Firstly, it is very hot in Chennai for most of the year, so it is cooler towards the bottom of the building. Next, because things have a way of breaking down regularly, one can’t rely on the elevators to always be working, so being towards the bottom of the building means you are not faced with an arduous climb when that inevitably happens.
Privacy does not exist in India unless an extreme amount of money changes hands, and even then, you might be lucky. In Lesson 3 we discussed the collectivist nature of Indian culture, how your life is not your own, and the nation’s insatiable penchant for gossip. If you layer the high density population over those complete lack of personal boundaries, you start to see how there could be a nation where there is no chance of personal privacy ever.
In India, from the moment a baby pops their head out of their mother’s womb, the judgement starts. It begins with how fair or dark the baby is perceived to be. Of course their parents will fall in love regardless and likely think about it rather than verbalizing it, but inevitably there will be a grandmother, aunt, and/or family friend, on one or both sides of the family, who will make the proclamation on whether the shade, shape, and/or size of the baby measures up. This is something the parents and child will be told until they are no more, regardless of how the child’s features or skin colouring change as they grow up.
In the late 1990s I studied at University in Japan when the world was fascinated by Toyota’s low car defect rates compared to every other brand on the market. It was driving the proud American, car hungry consumer insane! Their efficiency and reliability was so inexplicable, intoxicating, and seemingly unobtainably magical, they termed it ‘X-Efficiency’ and people came from the world over to study this new manufacturing witchcraft. What does this have to do with India?