Monthly Archives: March 2014

Five husbands! That can’t be fun, God knows I have enough trouble with one!

“Five husbands! That can’t be fun, God knows I have enough trouble with one”. Kalki Koechlin writes a monologue on Women’s Day.

Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin wrote a strong monologue for a solo performance at the 13th Indian Today Conclave on International Women’s Day on March 8. The monologue, which she dubbed as ‘Just Another Rant’, is a frustrated ode to women everywhere chained and bound by traditional patriarchy.

Here’s the full text of her monologue:

You remember in the beginning?
In the beginning God made man.
God made man in his own image.
And then that’s was it. ‘Man’kind, hu’man’ity, wo’man.
Man, man, man.
What chance in Hell did we ever have?
We were sidelined from the Big Bang.
You remember Draupadi?
Draupadi married off to all five Pandavas.
She garlanded only Arjun
But they told her you got to marry all of us.
Five husbands! That can’t be fun.
God know I have enough trouble with one.
Or what about Eve and the apple?
Blaming one woman for all mankind’s evil?
Soorya and Kunti,
The Virgin Mary
Do you know Gaia?
The Goddess Mother Earth
She’s the one we all trample on.
And remember Aphrodite
Goddess of love and beauty
Lest we forget, she was also
The patron of prostituting.
Persephone,
She was less known
Raped by Hades
She became Queen of the underworld,
Not even goddesses were left alone.
You might not know A’isha,
She was one of the wives of Prophet Mohammad
She challenged a Califh for power
It created quite a ruckus,
It led to war in fact,
All because of one woman’s fuss,
And so was born the tradition Islamic
That women should not engage in anything politic.
But of course they did,
Thank god they did.
Women have their ways,
As somebody once put it.
The Queen of Sheba, Empress Theodora, Rabia al’ Basra,
Cleopatra, The Victorian Era, The Mona Lisa
The Suffragettes, Marilyn Monroe, The sixties and burning bras,
The unpopular Thatcher and our own Indira
Et cetra et cetra and now here we are.
Here we are,
We’ve survived this far,
Thanks to seduction, perhaps some manipulation,
But mostly thanks to Mother Nature and ovulation.
Now look at all the queens and goddesses of history,
No prince came to the rescue,
No king ever went down on one knee,
No deity was even that trustworthy,
Yet all we’ve be told since we were three,
Are fairytales, adverts, and pretty stories,
Telling us to pray, hope,
And wait to be saved.
Here we are today.
Here we are,
On International Women’s Day,
With some minor disappointments,
And a few little things to say.
The woman in red,
The girl in pink,
The widow in white,
The Burqa in black,
The colour of lipstick,
Viva Glam, Lady Danger, Fresh brew, Faux, Frenzy, Hot Gossip and Sweetie.
Ramblin, Siss, Crme cup, Paramount and Modesty
Fetish, Spice it up, Naked Paris, Honey love and Odyssey.
Apply, line, smack, seal, pout,
And you’re ready to go out.
Ugh!!!
Sometimes I just want an oversized T shirt, boxer shorts, unkempt hair and unibrows.
I want armpit hair long enough to plait,
I want a clean face without a trace of make up
I want to look the way I do when I wake up.
I want to scratch my head,
Dig my nose,
Lick my fingers,
Stretch my legs
And spread my toes.
I want to smile with my gums showing,
Bare my teeth and
Contort my pretty face into wrinkles.
I want my crow’s feet to look sexy,
Or my salt and pepper hair,
Or my sun burnt skin,
I want to be George Clooney basically,
But with breasts and a muffin.
Alas,
No…no…shhh…control, control!
Keep it down.
Stuff it up, bottle it in, switch it off,
Cross your legs, wear a bra,
Sit straight and smile sweetly for the camera.
I went to a party,
I went to a party where
I was looking for something real.
Glittering, flashing lights,
Sparkling clean glasses with something bubbly and expensive inside,
Stuck on smiles of painted lips and gorgeous, skinny, beautiful ladies all around,
I craved a touch, a caress,
But my senses were intimidated by cloned perfection.
I thought I could hear muffled wailing,
Nervous giggling,
Intoxicated complying.
I thought I could hear the buzz of millions, screaming out their instructions,
Sit down, stand up, stay,
This way, that way, go away
I can’t breathe, I’m choking.
This room is filled with smoke
From regrets and weak, nicely packaged cigarettes.
This room is filled with luxury and fame
And false dreams.
This room is full of fat sharks
With sharp teeth
Sliding through delicate skin
Like a hot knife through butter.
God I’m so hungry.
There’s nothing to eat.
No food except some frozen bits of fish
On a silver platter
I eat one. I’m still hungry.
I eat another and I’m stared at by the waiter.
No matter. I take the whole platter
Totter off to my little corner
Next to an old and and eat from my platter.
I’m stared at by the latter.
No matter. I continue to eat from my platter.
I wipe clean the crumbs from my platter.
I lick clean the whole platter.
What? What are you looking at?
Stop. Stop looking at me like that.
What? I was hungry.
Haven’t you ever seen somebody eat before.
Stop it. Seriously, stop staring at me.
Hey, I’m talking to you,
Are you deaf?
Stop staring at me!
Stop it. You’ll drive me crazy!
Oh god, I’m dizzy.
It’s that bubbly stuff they gave me
This is one hell of a party.
I have to leave.
I’m spinning and bumping into people and furniture,
I’m spinning and bumping into everything.
Bumping into shiny lies, through living ghosts,
Past sickness,
Ramming right into anger,
Into wastefulness, nothingness,
Bad times, endless sleepless nights,
Half dead daylights,
Violent bumps from losing loved ones,
Losing innocence,
Losing dignity,
Losing looks,
Losing, just losing.
I’m craving, I’m starving,
For something real,
Something breakable,
Something tangled,
Fragile, imperfect and free.
I am starving
To be me.
What am I complaining about?
What right do I have to complain?
I have money, friends and fame.
I’m not fifteen and married,
I’m not a little girl who’s been lied to that she’s a woman,
Who’s been told not to question
A stranger who shares her bed,
I’m not a little girl who’s been
Raped before she’s been kissed,
Who’s been made mother
Before she’s had time to play,
Does she even ask to be free?
Does she dream?
When her husband enters her
Is it Shah Rukh Khan she tries to see?
Does she feel sexy?
I don’t think so.
This is her job,
Twenty four hours,
Seven days a week,
Zero pay,
Just get through each day.
Do you think she cares freedom, rights, about politics or religion,
She’s fifteen.
She cares about food
And what her neighbors say.
Politics and religion are for the luckier,
The wealthier,
The stronger,
And in our country,
Politics and religion are enviable careers.
So your religion tells you to cover up,
Your religion tells you to shave your head,
Your religion tells you to be meek,
Keep your eyes lowered,
Keep having children,
Or keep your mouth closed.
What if your religion told you to hate the other,
What if your religion told you to burn alive on a funeralpyre,
What if your religion told you to do whatever you felt like,
Spit, scream, gossip, fight, lose control, make noise, pollute,
Marry a child, perform an honour killing,
Rape, torture, discriminate,
Keep breaking the law,
Keep locked up,
Keep uneducated,
Keep submissive,
Keep ignored,
Keep under control.
Does God have a say in your religion?
Has God become a politician?
Dear men,
Dear powerful men,
I know you care about women.
I know you care about her.
I know you want her to feel like a princess,
I know you want to put her up on a pedestal,
Make her a goddess,
And give her a special day
International women’s day.
You want to carry her so she can’t walk,
Hold her, so she can’t be free,
Tell her, so she can’t know any differently.
But NO!
No. That’s not how works equality.
It’s hard work
To change a nation’s mentality
It’s hard work to go unnoticed,
Change the roots and the minds
Of a people who have been too long deprived
Of education and basic rights
Who are steering towards intolerance and misanthropy
Because of shameless inequality.
Dear men,
In all this will you give me the power?
Will you let me stand in your place?
Will you let me laugh in your face.
Will you stop staring, judging and accusing me
Or will you arrest me for blasphemy?
Label me as sexy, slutty, lose or crazy?
Call me Basanti, Pinky, Sweetie and whistle at me?
And wait a minute!
Wait a minute!
Not just dear men,
Dear auntie,
Will you stop gawking at me?
Dear Didi,
Will you stop telling me to shut up?
Dear women,
Will you, at least, stand up for me?
Enough of a woman who has become viscous from her environment.
Enough of a woman who has to become a man to compete.
Who has to weaken where she is strong and strengthen where she is weak.
Enough of a woman that has to make space for child and lover,
That has to occupy what space is left over,
Enough of uninformed teenage girls
Bleeding after losing their virginity and keeping silent after,
Enough of having to deal all alone with the morning after,
Enough of the disposed foetus,
Enough of the unwanted daughter.
Enough of girls in fairy dresses,
With bulimia and major complexes,
Enough of parents in denial, gender gaps and dividing sexes.
I’m tired.
You’re tired.
We are all tired.
We’re tired of waxing, manicuring, excercising,
Aborting, procreating, trimming, posing,
Smiling, threading,shopping, fucking, water-bursting,
The pill, make up, high heels, stainless steels, tampons, covering up,
Nurturing, caring and crying.
Ahhhh.
Sometimes I just want to breathe,
Sometimes it’s hard to even just breathe.
Like when a man is pounding incessantly on top of you in a daily routine,
It’s hard to breathe
When he turns away to sleep
Leaving you completely I satisfied sexually,
It’s hard to breathe
When your clothes are too tight,
The underwire of your bra is poking into your ribs,
It’s too hot to be wearing all this,
And it’s hard to breathe
When you want to stop being stared at but everyone always is.
The watchman, the rickshaw wallah, your neighbour’shusband,
They’re all watching your chest heave,
Everytime you breathe.
Sometimes, as a woman, you feel guilty to just breathe.
Of course we are going to be hysterical
Of course we are going to scream,
Of course we’re going to be unreasonable.
You think it’s reasonable to restrain somebody’s breathing?
Hello. Namaste. Salaam.
I am a Hindu a Muslim a Christian a Buddhist and an atheist.
I am twenty, thirty, forty and fifty.
I am single, married, divorced and half the country.
I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and a prostitute.
I am a stereotype, a trophy and a prisoner or patriarchy.
I am a woman in Indian society and I am not yet free.
But forget about all that for a moment and just look at me.
Look beyond my body, really look at me.
I am not a hardcore feminist to be very honest.
I am not a rebel as some would like to believe.
I am not even such an impressive celebrity,
I am not always made up and dressed up perfectly.
And my therapist assures me that I’m not crazy.
So look beyond all that. Look at me.
Look at what you’re seeing.
You’re seeing another human being.
You’re seeing another you in me,
And really there is no difference between you and me.
That’s all we need to grow up understanding,
To make ours a better society.

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Does Malaysia Airlines instill confidence in its handling of MH370 incident?

It is very easy for people to blame on Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysia Government in the wake of the missing flight MH370. As if it is not enough that the families and relatives of the 160 Chinese onboard the airlines are blaming Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia, now we suddenly have a country full of “armchair reporters” and “crisis experts” adding salt to the wound, thanks to internet, Wikipedia and Google.

As much as I would like to take an objective and neutral view on this situation, I am also patriotic for Malaysia is my country, and I am confident that Malaysia Airlines and the Government is doing its best to get to the bottom of the crisis. After reading this, I now have increased confidence in Malaysia Airlines.

I hope the article below, published by the Vulcan Post help you see where I am coming from:

Does Malaysia Airlines instill confidence in its handling of MH370 incident?

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When tragedy strikes, like it has with the disappearance of flight MH370, the company at the centre of it all comes under intense scrutiny. It must demonstrate that it knows what it is doing and has a difficult situation under control – or lose the confidence of the public and all other stakeholders.

If it loses control of the situation it will plunge itself into a deeper crisis as all the frustration and anger of missing loved ones come to bear full force on it.

Fortunately for the families and loved ones of MH370, however, Malaysia Airlines has so far has demonstrated its professionalism in handling this crisis-like situation. Their burden remains heavy, but they can at least take comfort that CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his team know what they are doing.

How can you tell if they are doing a good job?  There are several tell tale signs.

The first is that Ahmad and Malaysia Airlines’ willingness to share information. Perhaps a bit slow off the block Ahmad nevertheless addressed the issue in a Press Conference yesterday where he expressed sympathy for the friends and families of the victims, told the public what they did and did not know yet, and what they are doing. This is the Triple R of crisis communications – Regret, Reason and Remedy.

The other indication of what sort of a company Malaysia Airlines is when it comes to crisis management can be seen very evidently  from how it manages its digital assets because in this age of the super-connected public, they are the first points of contact for most people around the world who are interested in the developments of the search and rescue and recovery of MH370 and its passengers and crew. The digital assets are primarily its website, as well as its social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Companies trained in crisis management usually have a Dark Site prepared for incidents such as MH370. A Dark Site is a “dormant” website that is stripped of all promotion materials and designed to provide information and updates about the incident. It is activated only during crisis-like situations.

If you go to the Malaysian Airlines website you will see that they have stripped their website of all promotional materials, with a prominent “pointer” to the Dark Site.

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Click on that and you go directly to the Dark Site where you get the latest information that the company has on the incident.

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But Malaysian Airlines does not stop there. Go to their Facebook page and you will see the same messages being posted to amplify their message on the website. The Facebook page is also stripped of all colour and the airlines logo is grey together with a grey background, to prevent any inadvertent visuals that may not be appropriate for the mood.

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This same treatment is also applied to its Twitter account which is also used to amplify the message on its website.

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Such coordination and activation within hours of the incident suggests a company that takes crisis management seriously and has drilled its employees to be able to carry out such tasks under the pressure of public scrutiny. It should give confidence to the public that Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his Core Crisis Management Team at Malaysia Airlines are competent, professional and know what they are doing.

In difficult times like this, such professionalism should be a source of comfort for aggrieved families and friends of the passengers of MH370.

The article is originally written by Ong Hock Chuan, and was published by Vulcan Post.


To be right or to be happy?

If you reflect on every single moment of your life, you will realize that at any given situation, you always have the freedom to decide between two choices: to be right or to be happy.

Your decision will set the stage for your state of being, not just at the moment of making that choice but also in the shadows of those moments. Understand that every circumstances as happening for you instead of happening to you, and accept that you are given the chance to give the best of yourself when you receive that moment.

 Forget about being right, seize the day and be happy.


Where to Stay – For Free Around the World

A very big thanks to Erin of Never Ending Voyage for sharing these great insights on where to stay for free around the world. We have to work harder at finding free accommodation and these tips are a huge step to helping us make our future travels more affordable while having a great adventure. Enjoy!

We have saved thousands of dollars by seeking out free accommodation on our travels. These opportunities are easier to find than you’d think and have not only saved us money but led us off the beaten track, provided some of our most interesting travel experiences, enabled us to connect with local communities and been a refreshing break from the backpacker trail.

If you want to travel and think you can’t afford it; if you are feeling burnt out and tired of constant sightseeing; or if you are just looking for a unique travel adventure, then we recommend trying these opportunities for free accommodation around the world.

House Sitting

Jacksonville_housesit

People all over the world are looking for house sitters to look after their homes while they are away. You can stay in a whole house, often very comfortable or even luxurious, for absolutely nothing. Your role in exchange varies: you’ll need to keep the house in good condition and usually you’ll need to look after pets too.

House sitting has enabled us to visit places like Japan that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, and has led to us visiting cities we wouldn’t have thought of. We love staying in residential areas rather than the touristy parts of town, and getting to know a place by living like a local. It’s also a great way to enjoy some home comforts while travelling. After months on the road a comfy couch, hot shower and well equipped kitchen is just what we need.

House sitting isn’t just for long term travellers, as opportunities are available for a few days up to many months. Why not plan your vacation around a house sit for an interesting and very affordable trip away?

Our Experience

Simon_Housesitting_argentina

We have looked after a puppy and large house in the countryside of northern Argentina; a spacious condo overlooking the river, with a pool and four cats in Florida; and a traditional house and three cats in Kyoto, Japan. Each of these has been for 3-4 weeks and we have saved about $5000 in accommodation costs and had some wonderful experiences.

How to Find a House Sit

Register with a house sitting organisation such as HouseCarers, Mind My House, or Trusted Housesitters, pay a small annual fee, create a profile, and keep an eye on listings that come up. When you find one that suits you apply to the owner via the site.

Tips

  • Be flexible ñ you might have to go where the opportunities are.
  • Create a detailed profile and include any relevant experience and a link to your blog if you have one.
  • Sign up to daily emails from the house sitting website and apply quickly. House sits are competitive.
  • Provide references. If you are starting out maybe house sit for a friend.
  • Keep trying if you have no luck at first. You will be more successful choosing less popular destinations.
  • The most opportunities are in North America, Europe and Australia.

House Sitting Pros: Saves money, you have a whole house to yourself, privacy.
House Sitting Cons: Have to look after pets (may be a pro!), commitment to a certain period of time.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is an organisation that connects people around the world. A huge network of hosts offer their couches or spare rooms to travellers for absolutely free. It’s about more than just free accommodation though, it’s a way to meet interesting people and tap into their local knowledge. It’s a much more sociable experience than house sitting and is best for short term stays. Couchsurfing isn’t just for young travellers ñ we know families who regularly couchsurf.

Our Experience

couchsurfing_canada

We have stayed in spare rooms in Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Canada. All our experiences have been excellent, we’ve made some great friends and seen a different side to places that we wouldn’t have seen staying in hostels.

How to Find A Couchsurfing Host

Sign up to the couchsurfing website, create a detailed profile, search for a host using certain criteria (location, number of people etc.), and send the host a couch request with your dates.

Tips

  • Host couchsurfers before you travel to get a feel for how it works and build up some references.
  • If you are worried about staying with strangers choose hosts who are vouched for and have lots of references.
  • Send a personalised couch request, saying why you think you’ll get on with the host.
  • Start with two nights and see how it goes. We usually extend our stay if it suits the host.
  • Help out around the house and cook meals for your host.
  • You don’t have to stay with someone. You could just meet for a coffee or attend a meetup that many couchsurfing groups organise (search for groups for the city you are in).

Couchsurfing Pros: Meet local people, no time commitment, saves money, access to local knowledge.

Couchsurfing Cons: Less privacy, may not be a comfortable sleeping area, might not get on with host.

Work in Exchange For Food And Accommodation

By working in exchange for your room and board you can save a lot of money on the road and have some really interesting experiences. Many opportunities are on farms but you can also work in hostels and even private homes. Usually you’ll work for four hours a day so you’ll have time to explore the area too, but make sure you agree the terms before you sign up.

Our Experience

simon_wwoof_australia

In Australia we used the WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) programme to find an opportunity in the Northern Territory. We stayed with a family and helped in their large garden in exchange for meals and our own private room, bathroom and wonderful outdoor lounge. We got on really well with the family and loved our experience.

workexchange_stables_costarica

In Costa Rica we use the HelpX website to find a placement at a riding stables in a remote, untouristy part of the countryside. We had to pay $20 a day but we only worked two hours a day and got to ride horses twice a day. It was tiring but an amazing experience getting to know the horses and family, and I even got to ride with local cowboys in a traditional cabalgata (group ride).

How To Find A Work Exchange

erin_jumping_workexchange_costarica

Erin Horse Jumping in Work Exchange, Costa Rica

There are a number of websites where you can find placements. WWOOF is the most well known, focusing on organic farms and you have to join the programme for each country you’ll be visiting. HelpX and Workaway have a range of different opportunities all over the world. After paying a small membership fee you’ll have access to listings that you can apply for.

You can also find opportunities informally, maybe by asking at hostels. We arranged to stay at a lodge in the Peruvian Andes for three weeks in exchange for creating their NGO’s website.

Tips

  • There are more opportunities in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In developing countries they sometimes charge a fee and accommodation standards are lower as they can get cheap labour locally so your services aren’t as needed.
  • Agree your working hours, days off, included meals and type of accommodation in advance.

Work Exchange Pros: Interesting experiences, spend very little money in rural areas, could add it to your CV, provides a sense of purpose, meet people.
Work Exchange Cons: Living conditions could be basic or shared, you have to work!

These opportunities for free accommodation are a great way to travel inexpensively but they are much more than that. They have taken us off the beaten track, introduced us to new friends, taught us about local cultures, and left us with some of our best travel memories.

For more advice on travelling cheaply don’t miss Dave and Deb’s helpful post on how to travel on a budget. <awe, thanks guys :-o

Erin_Simon_neverendingvoyage_small (125x125)Erin McNeaney and her partner Simon sold everything they owned and left the UK in March 2010 to travel the world forever. They run a WordPress web design business on the road and have travelled to Latin America, North America and are currently in Asia. You can follow their adventures at Never Ending Voyage, on Twitter and on Facebook.