Friday, September 24, 2010

Burqas and dickheads

I've been thinking about the whole burqa/niqab debate lately. And it seems that everyone has an opinion. Of course I have one....well, when forced to I do. My problem is apathy. I really don't care what people wear. And usually I don't care what their reasons are for wearing their stuff.

I care when people are forced to do something they don't want to.... if they're not a recalcitrant teen... or bolshie toddler.

One of my greatest annoyances is when people from western culture/religion who give up all manifestations of the culture they are born/bred in to and then adopt all the outward symbols of some mystical, alien, attention seeking culture.... not that the other culture is attention seeking... just that it becomes really important to some people that the whole world notice their difference-ness, their other-ness.... we all have to witness their internal change.

It shits me to tears. Western women in burkas, western men/women in monk/nun robes... they all look like dickheads with personality disorders trying to prove be more devout, more humane, more "at one" with the universe and less powerful populations.

The very premise they are trying to promote.... their one-ness with the "others" just makes them ignorant and laughable morons. By trying to blend, and be better and more devout followers than the natives, they appear to me to be ego-centric...bringing their insensitive, western, self-absorption is the antithesis of both these groups.

Even the H.H. the Dalai Lama tells people not to become ordained monks and nuns unless they are Tibetan. I suspect he thinks they're dickheads too. I'll never forget walking down the main street of a leafy, lower north shore suburb in Sydney... to see some anglo-saxon monk, in full robes with shaved head... .standing at the Westpac a.t.m. withdrawing money.

The whole burqa debate seems to, in part, be coming from a similar place. There are a whole bunch of ring-in women jumping on the already inflamed bandwagon trying to stir up the far right and hand-wringing feminists.... of which I am one. Not on the far right.... a bit of a hand-wringer.

So few women really want to wear the burqa, it's hard to see it as an issue in most societies. I've read reports in France that it's just a few hundred women. I suspect that in Australia there won't be so many hardcore neo-enthusiasts, the heat is just so foul here.

But the chicks who are the dinky-die, born and bread Muslims... if they want to wear Santa outfits, furry football mascot regalia or white wedding bridal veils... we've got no problem as a society.... but god help them if they want to wear something of their own choosing.

I just don't get it. We bang on about their free choice, and yet take away their choice by telling them that we know better than they do.... that they must not wear what we don't understand.

I have no doubt that there are some women who are forced to wear clothes by their menfolk.... both muslims and non-muslims. I"ve met women who won't wear a certain type of shirt or skirt because the boyfriend/husband doesn't like it.... others that have to wear specific clothing that their other halves have bought for them. As Eva Cox pointed out in the paper... why the fuck aren't we railing against all men who tell women what to wear/do? This is the point. Not what the bloody clothes are. The law should stop this happening. Society should stop this happening. Humanity should stop this happening.

So let women wear whatever the hell they want... I think we should legislate against dickheads who try and control them. We're never going to stop it, but we need to work towards that end. And in the mean time... not marginalise a potentially very small and vulnerable part of the population. If you really want to support women, banning the burqa is only going to make the women who are forced in to wearing them stay at home, away from health care and education...and if they're wearing them because they're Western converts... it's going to make them very boring, whiny martyrs. And I could do without that shit...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to arrange a marriage when the bride and groom have never met...

La's younger brother, Cho Cho rang last night. He rang La's phone and didn't ask to be rung straight back so I knew something was up. It's never good news when he pays for the phonecalls himself. To be fair, he's on a very small income and lives in a developing country.... but you get the idea.

After La gets off the phone he looks at me and frowns, smiles, sighs...and then sort of giggles. Of course I'm thinking, "How much money does he need this time?"... but say, "So, what's up with Cho Cho?"
It turns out that their mum  has been approached by a family friend of a friend to marry La's little sister, Tsomo to the other family's son. Hmmmm.....awkward.

La is the oldest son, has a university education and lives in a first world country. His father is dead. His mum is not educated and Cho Cho, who still lives over there... can be a bit... um, er... flighty. He's good people, but he's not the most practical guy. Case in point... he went to live in Russia for 6 months this year and when he got there got a bit of shock when it was cold. We had to send him money for a coat. He left the Himalayas to go there! He took t-shirts but nothing warm to wear..... anyway....

So after a quick conversation with La asking me what I think..."Derr! I think you should ask Tsomo what she bloody well wants!"... we decided to call their mum. Mum has lots of questions..."What do you and Taff think? What should we do? "  La, never one to avoid putting me on the spot, says loudly, without covering the phone, "What DO you think, Taff?"

And there you go. Suddenly the entire family is looking to this privileged, white chick with her sophisticated first world wisdom on arranged marriage. HOLY SHIT BATMAN! This was not in my brief when I married outside my culture.

Naturally the first thing I think is "YUCK, tell her to run like the wind.... arranged marriages are terrible"... But I take a deep breath and think about it. It turns out that Tsomo is not against the idea. She's 34 now and isn't sure. She thinks she wants to have a family.... and La and I are very aware that her time is running out.

I know that arranged marriages have lower divorce rates than love marriages and after 5 years the happiness levels are considered to be about equal. So I bite my feminist tongue and start thinking about it pragmatically.

If you were to arrange a marriage... what would the deal-breakers/clinchers be? I asked about his education, thoughts on having children, ideas about her working/independent income, health, alcoholism in the close family and living/travel plans.

We didn't get any answers last night. Nobody has met or spoken to the prospective groom. He's 29, working and studying and lives with his family in a pretty big town in the Himalayas. BUT he wants to get married quickly and Tsomo will have to give up her job and move to his town and live with his family.

That's the part that shits La to tears. He's not happy about her giving up her job at the Institute where she works as a trained another part of the Himalayas. I thought the same but then realised... if they marry, then someone is going to have to move. And that means giving up a job... and it's pretty usual for this culture to have the new bride or groom move in with the in-laws.

So now we're waiting for answers to these profound questions and the few extras I threw in... what are his teeth like, does he snore...  and does he do sock sock, shoe shoe.... or sock shoe, sock shoe?


Monday, September 13, 2010

So today I went shopping... and had a Pretty Woman moment.

So I bought La a fabulous, gorgeous shirt at our local Vinnies. Got it home, proudly showed him my five buck bargain only to notice why it was so damn cheap.... the ever so slightly frayed collar. BLOODY BUGGERY BUM!  So today I nicked off down to Sydney's best outlet mall-y thingo.

It's always dangerous to go shopping without a list. Food shopping without a list usually means I come home with a jar of anchovies, packets of shredded parmesan, lots of noodles and no toilet paper or toothpaste. I'm never focused on hygiene when I'm hungry. But I digress.

I turned up to the ever delightful Birkenhead Point with dreams of buying something expensive to make La's  cheap shirt fabulous and not cheap.... so I headed straight for Spotlight. It's a cheap and cheerful manchester-y kind of store... chaotic and hopeless, but always good at separating the list-less and gormless from their hard-earned.

So I leave with a handbag full of "stuff"... they now charge for bags, I read somewhere. And I usually try to not buy bags if I can avoid it. I also made the mistake of buying three big cushions for our lounges. Oops. Thank dawg the lovely checkout chick decided to have mercy for my clueless self and gave me the plastic equivalent of a Santa sack on steroids.

So I chuck the monster bag of cushions over Pickle's stroller, shove the curtain rod (of course I bought a curtain rod. How could I not?) in the bottom, threading it through the handbag in some fabulous Houdini knot.... and push off to look at other fabulous things that are not on the list I didn't write.

I enter a number of stores and set off their beepers.... and as I leave, I set off their beepers. Not one person asked me about it or stopped me or looked at me askance. ..... till.... THE UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON. Arseholes.

I walked in... noticing that they sell kid's clothes. I'm no supermodel but I do like my sprogs to be well groomed and impeccably dressed. Or rather, I never had a Barbie so I play dress ups with my real, live, human dolls.

Anyhoo....I walk in and set of their beeper thingo at the front door. The wench behind the counter tells me I've  got a tag on something and that I have set off her beeper. (Derr, you silly cow. I've ears, I heard it) so I say, "Yes, I know. Ï've been doing it in every shop as I enter and as I leave."

So I walk pretty much straight to the kids clothes, looking at things as I go past them and leave the Pickle within sight of the Benetton Bitch (in her stroller) as I walked behind a partition. So Benetton Bitch decides to come and fold clothes right near me. I keep looking at clothes and ignore her. She doesn't talk. Not sure that your average mouth-breathing clothes-folding shop person can fold clothes and talk at the same time...

So I'm looking, looking, looking... and another person comes in to the store. Benetton Bitch goes to see her and tell her all about the sales and what's on sale and what's not. WHAT THE FARK!???? She never mentioned any of that to me. That customer leaves so Benetton Bitch decides to come back and watch me.

I pick up a pair of tights... which are actually leggings, trying to decide how many pairs to get and if they're going to be too thick for Sydney's ever increasing temperatures.... and she starts eyeballing me and asks me what I want. I say, "I don't exactly know, I'm deciding how many I need"

She says, "If. you. would. just. tell. me. what. you. want. I. will. get. it. for. you." Like. a. stroppy. robot.
I say, "I. don't. know."
She says, "The. size. is written. on. the. front. If. you. would. just. tell. me. what. you.. want. I. would. get. it. for. you."

So I"m all like...."Look bitch, I'm not stealing your stuff. I'm picking it up and thinking and I'm about to buy four pairs IF I CAN GET FIVE FUCKING SECONDS ALONE IN MY HEAD!"

But she obviously had her hearing aids off because she thought she heard me say,"Oh thanks anyway, bye."

Deaf cow.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The smell of poo... unwanted milestones.

Probably far more information than you want to hear... but the funniest thing happened today. Pud ran off to the loo and yelled out, "I'VE DONE A POO AND YOU NEED TO COME AND WIPE MY BOTTON!"  Mais oui. (She's sooo got the whole Alain de Boton thing happening.. I don't have the heart to correct her pronunciation. If I were a better parent I would. But he's such a hot, post-modern philosopher.. it sounds so cool.)

So I finish abluting her botton and suddenly realise I've got a dire need to go myself. I make her wash her hands and shush her out the door to leave me in peace and I sit down and do my funky toilet thing... until I realise a dreadful odour has risen from below and is offending my nose.


Who would have thunk it? It's really hard to finish a poo when all you can smell is someone eles's poo. It was worse than a public toilet... where usually you hope the smell is a few stalls away and you can mouth-breathe till you get out.

It's weird, I eat all the same foods as Pud. Perhaps in different quantities... on a good day... and I like to drink the red bush-tea of Precious Ramotse from the The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (vanilla rooibos for the unconverted)  yet her poo smells every bit as feral as public-loo poo and mine is as sweet as when it was food.

I'm not sure when this happened. I never noticed the aroma particularly when I was changing her botton when she was a baby. Somewhere along the line my little Pud turned in to a big Pud and now her poo smells.

Aaaaah, another milestone I hadn't realised was coming, and am not happy to have reached.  Now... when will she start wiping her OWN botton?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don't go to the park when you're grumpy. Your friends won't want to play with you.

So I still breastfeed Pickle. And for some reason... that nobody knows, nor cares about... every once in a while, for a few months, it hurts like buggery. That sentence does not do justice to the agony. I have been split from gizzards to gills by clever surgeons numerous times, and this boob pain outclasses that easily. FARK, it hurts. Really hurts.

So I go to bed late because I'm making stupid, hippy, sugar-free banana muffins for my pals at the park... and my boob hurts and La got home late from a conference and I needed to sulk at him for making me spend alone time with my own children all day... breakfast and bed time!...

And, of course, I have this sore boob... it didn't like being put to bed and then Pickle woke up this morning  AT FIVE and I thought.... "Bah, why not give it a bit of a go and whack her on for a few minutes just to keep the supply up?"  Jesus, Mary and Joseph. FIVE hours later the pain had somewhat settled. It's now almost 10 hours later and I can bear to do my bra up. I tell ya, breastfeeding is an extreme sport... not for the faint of heart or the hypo of chondria.

So down late last night, up early this morning and I turn up to the park to hang with my homies... and every. single. sentence.  that comes from my mouth is obnoxious, thoughtless and annoying.  My park homies are good people so I leave feeling a little confused. How did such a lovely day, that we all look forward to, end up so crappy?

I came home andm like a prune, I stewed, and stewed and stewed... put Pickle to bed and yelled at Pud... and realised.. I'm just tired. I'm not naturally a very nice person... but seriously, I'm not usually as bad as I was today. I feel like a farking idiot. Took me over 40 years to work out that I can get grumpy when I'm tired. This is insane. Of course I should have realised this about 35 years ago...I think I just thought it was an excuse for bad behaviour. And it is really. But I'm tired.

A friend of mine who does drug and alcohol counseling also helped me realise, about 10 years ago, that I'm grumpy when I'm hungry. Actually, now that I think of it... I'm always bloody grumpy.

And now the Pickle has awoken and I haven't finished my fabulous post.... crappity, crap, crap, crap. I shall have to sign of leaving you hanging for more of my scintillating prose...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where do all the un-dirty, not-clean clothes go?

So here's the thing... I re-wear clothes. I've got small kids so it's not possible to wear them lots of times before it's obvious... but I do get a few wears out of most clothes. Well, at least in winter... summer... not so much.

I just don't know where to put the clothes that I'm "resting". They obviously need to go somewhere. I haven't got the heart to put them back in the drawers/wardrobe with the clean-clean stuff.... that kind of seems like cheating the Gods of Housework, and the ghost of my o.c.d. mother. So where should I put them?

I've never seen piles of clothes in the bedrooms of my friends... I wonder if they even do it. Surely they don't tidy up before someone like me arrives! Or do they? I may have just had an epiphany. I've always thought that surely someone wouldn't tidy up before I came around. Would they...? But maybe all these years I've just had friends who have wanted to impress me. Bastards! they depressed me instead! I really thought I was the only grub re-wearing clothes, until recently. Now I realise that many people do it and that they HIDE IT FROM OTHER PEOPLE. I feel quite cheated.

But then the question arises... where do you store these in-between clothes? The end of the bed gets full and looks a tad what should I do? Won't someone confess their solution? C'mon ya dirty buggers. Tell me!

(I just wish someone come and sort this pressing problem out for me. That and my linen closet..oh, and my pantry.... and perhaps my fridge.... and the toyboxes would be cool too. )

It's quiet and that's always a bad thing

There's always a moment when you look up from what you are doing and realise that the house is quiet. Too quiet. It's happening now. Pud and Pickle have disappeared off up the hallway and I've been sitting in the loungeroom Facebook-stalking. I think I can hear some quiet singing but I know it's not going to be good.

I could casually saunter up to their room and cop a squiz at them... or I could sit happily in front of the heater and imagine they're playing nicely and that those flying pigs won't crap all over me. Hmmmm, choices....

Yup, I'm going to stay here and hope for the best. Probably the worst thing they can do is dress themselves. And of course that's disastrous for someone like me. Although Pud, from time to time, does tell me that she can wear a particular pair of trousers with a specific shirt because they share a common colour. So long as it's not fricken' pink, I don't care. I've told her that if she touches pink things she'll get a rash. I don't think it's worked.... she doesn't know what a rash is.

Oops, gotta go... Pickle has arrived saying "Mama, Mama, Mama"... and that usually means she wants to dob on her big sister. You've got to love a dobber.... actually, that's not it... it's a stinky nappy that's brought her here. Bloody hell. Perhaps the mung bean stew wasn't such a good idea.... no naked flames, folks.