Monday, February 28, 2011

Décor Ideas
1 2 3

1. Minimalism + vintage

2. Just paint the ceiling.

2. Pretty picture patches

Friday, February 25, 2011

Enchanteur Collage
guest of nature

Unusual and beautiful collages by Christina of Guest of Nature; I have been meaning to post them for a long time!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday
you aren't beautiful? it's okay!

I wanted to write a post about the entire "You Are Beautiful" thing for a while. I also found Franca's post on it and my opinion is also along the same lines. And finally, thanks to Katy Rose's this week's FBFF questions, I am prompted to write about this.

Many of you may think I am insensitive or something. Perhaps because I am not Caucasian and I may not be under much pressure to be skinny. But my body has been under scrutiny for a while and I have had body image issues during my early teen years. I am Indian and I'll tell you a little about Indian standards of beauty. Indians are basically obsessed with fairness. In advertisements, young dark women are shown to be losers who transform into overnight sensations after using a fairness cream. I have never understood this mania. And discrimination based on skin colour gets on my nerves. Just so you know, I am very fair. Besides this, the pressure to be thin also very much exists. So the scenario is not very different. India is catching up.

All I can say is, amidst such pressure to be physically attractive and ideally beautiful (re: unattainable beauty which doesn't exist), do you really need a "You Are Beautiful" campaign? Doesn't it reinforce the need to be beautiful and only beautiful? What does beauty mean, anyway? The fact is the term beauty is referred mostly with regards to person's physique. And let's face it. Every woman is not beautiful. Some are outwardly beautiful, some are inwardly beautiful, some are beautiful both inside and outside and some aren't beautiful in anyway or just selectively beautiful. I agree with Franca's definition of beauty: is something extraordinary. It's different from prettiness and attractiveness, or maybe its the pinnacle of prettiness and attractiveness. Different people and different cultures have different conceptions of what is beautiful, but to describe somebody as beautiful or as 'a beauty' highlights them as very special, and different from other, most, people. Not everyone can be beautiful, just as everyone cannot be top of the class. Beauty is, almost by definition, exclusive.
And you know what? Beauty is not important. Beauty is just an admirable, appreciated thing, that's all. Beauty doesn't define worth. And beauty isn't permanent. So why waste time fussing over it?

And that's about it. I hope people get this point. Now read my FBFF answers!

1. Since you started blogging has your image of yourself changed?
Certainly. I started blogging when I was 17. Well, my body image issues were pretty much gone by then. I was most insecure at the age of 13. I wasn't very attractive to the opposite sex back then and in high school a person's hot quotient pretty much defines his/her status. Maximum pressure is of course, on girls. I was also made fun of my looks. I was particularly ashamed of my fat nose. I'll admit, it affected me a lot. So much that if given an opportunity then, I might have undergone plastic surgery. But that was temporary. I was majorly a happy-go-lucky kid and I learnt to deal with it. Eventually, everything stopped affecting me. I didn't give a damn whether I got attention from boys or not. But I still kind of thought of myself as unattractive. The good thing was I accepted it. I just wanted to be that way. I didn't yearn for a fairy godmother anymore to shrink my nose. But when I discovered the internet and started writing, I gained a lot of knowledge. I mean, generally. I no longer think of myself as unattractive. But neither am I building castles in the air. I am not conceited or living under an impression that I possess goddess-like beauty and every man on earth should fancy me.

2. Are you self-conscious about any aspect of yourself? If so, do you go out of your way to avoid it or do you post it/talk about it anyway?
Haha..I have talked quite a lot of about my nose. And I make fun of it, myself. I give names like "capsicum nose" etc. But no, I am not self-conscious about it. I have learnt that the easiest way to stop people from laughing at you is to start laughing at yourself. That's why I ridicule the "You Are Beautiful" campaign. Why should beauty be taken so seriously? Why is beauty so compulsory that we have assure other women constantly that they are beautiful? I think people to strive to develop a fabulous personality. Anyone with a good personality is automatically attractive. It's a universal rule.

3. Based on how you are feeling now, what do you think the future holds in the evolution of your body image?
I don't know what to answer. I think I'm pretty much evolved already! But we all, especially women are inherently quite insecure regarding their looks. For men, their worth in the world is conventionally judged by wealth and for women, by their physical attractiveness. So instinctively and without realising it, we may feel momentarily insecure about our looks. It happens with me too. And it will keep happening in the future. I won't take it seriously, that's all.

4. Do you photograph yourself for your blog? If so, how do you feel about the experience when you're having your picture taken? If you choose not to post pictures of yourself, what prompted that decision?
I have so far not posted any pictures of myself in any of my blogs. That's because I'm perennially lazy to take time and click pictures of myself for outfit posts. However, I do post my pictures on Facebook.

5. What would you want every person who struggles with body image to take to heart?
Being physically beautiful is not the be all and end all of life. It's just a phase, deal with it and forget about it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Tracks
oh, i'm in love!

I have quite a lot of love songs to share, maybe it's because of Valentine's Day or may be because I'm very much in love (*blush*). So, part one is here. I have 8 beautiful songs for you this week. These songs are special because I listened to them during the initial days of being in love. One thing I noticed about myself is that, I gravitated towards to Hindi and Tamil music rather than English during that time. I usually listen to English pop, R&B, hip hop and alternative more than anything, but I could relate to Indian songs more, perhaps it's because I'm Indian or because A. R. Rehman's music really gets you in the mood.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ginger Lime Margarita
and cupcakes!

The preparation of Ginger Lime Margarita by the lovely folks behind Enjoy Cupcakes illustrated with such tasty photos! Click here to view more.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Photography Friday

This is one complex, unusual shoot. It's difficult to like or dislike it. And equally difficult to ignore! I personally interpret this as gluttony. And Crystal Renn is made to look somewhat superhuman or perhaps not human. Look at the thick eyebrows and gaudy styling. On the whole, it's kind of brilliant, don't you think?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday Tracks
go girl, live your dream

Eight awesome inspiring songs which make you spring up and dance. Listen to this whenever you are feeling doubtful about yourself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Monday
the craft (1996)

The Craft is a typical high-school flick from a witchcraft point-of-view. We the New-Girl-in-Town Sarah. One queen bee or rather, queen witch Nancy. Not to mention she's gothic but Fairuza Balk makes the scariest mean girl ever! And two lame-ass minions Bonnie and Rochelle. We have a lame-ass jock Chris. Extra blonde mean girl Laura, wise metaphysical shop lady Lirio, random creepy guy, the usual out-of-the plot parents and a mom in a photo as supporting characters.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kimberly Gordon's sketchbook
and what's in her suitcase?

Kimberley Gordon of Wildfox couture gives us some inspiration. Click here to view more pictures.

Sunday Surf
interesting links this week

Valentine's Day stickers!

Affectionate street art, so kind. And some free encouragement.

Felt plushy dolls by the brilliant Audrey Kawasaki

Bec Winnel illustrates her favourite movie scenes.

Baby dolls in metallic colors - asuyeta spring/summer 2011

A Megan Fox quote:
We actors are kind of prostitutes. We get paid to feign attraction and love. Other people are paying to watch us kissing someone, touching someone, doing things people in a normal monogamous relationship would never do with anyone who's not their partner. It's really kind of gross.
You know you want to read more of what she said.

Jane does shocking pink. I think its obvious that she's my favourite style blogger.

Chinese mid-autumn festival

Golden Arrow

The Strand Book Stall is having an amazing fair {upto 80% off} and it ends today! I know, a little late but not too late. Click here to get the details and you can still make a trip, if you reside in Mumbai, of course. I went yesterday with my mother and I got The Element Encylopedia of 5000 spells, Vaginas and a book on parapsychology. You should know by now that I'm a certified weirdo. I also wanted to buy This Book is About Sex, a big set on Western Magick and some other books on sex, art nouveu illustrations and gothic art, but no could do mostly because of my mother's presence. There are some cute 15 buck books on love verses and haiku. Also, I was eyeing an erotic jigsaw puzzle set, but that would be going too far because who am I going to play  it with?

What women want: for you to want them; like Gala Darling said, what a mess! I do have a lot of thoughts about this, but they are random. All I can say is I hate this topic!

Keiko, pretty as always!

Smooth as honey - Flying Squirrel by Young & Restless

I want a sweettooth!

Interesting shower curtains

The Photodiarist captures the snow on the trees.

This is a love story. And it's not.

Love is like a rubber band. So true.

I like her style! So cool. For some reason, she reminds me of Emily Deschanel.

The adorable Mademoiselle Robot teaches you how stay rosy for a long time.

Stop looking at my mom! Says Astronomical Kid.

Bette Davis quotes

Love: 100 words on life

Björk came before Gaga, guys. So, who's guru?

Read 'n' roll!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mitake Oashin
cute little tokyo cafe

Check out this precious cozy Tokyo Cafe. So adorable. See more pictures at Hello Sandwich.

Saturday Seven
Indian Homemaker

Hey folks. This weekend, I have the phenomenal Indian Homemaker to answer my super-trivial questions.

What were you fearful of as a child?
A lot of things, I was a timid child. Darkness, insects, strict teachers etc.

Name one to three unusual things about you.
Not sure how unusual these are,
1. I am intolerant to intolerance.
2. Can't respect people who are cruel to animals or children, or anybody else they are on a position to hurt.
3. Can't see how somebody can fail to see that human rights include all humans.

What is your favourite quote and by whom?
1. 'Did you ever hear anyone say, "That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me?" '
- Joseph Henry Jackson
2. Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.
- Voltaire

What is your favourite dialogue?
By Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird.
'They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. '

A fictional character you relate to?
Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird

One personality characteristic that appeals to you most?
Compassion. Basic human decency, respect for all living things, including humans.

A teenage dream:
To start a magazine and write the sort of stuff I write in my blog.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Tracks

I love music. Duh, everyone does, right? Do you know anyone who doesn't like music? If there is one thing that I use to judge people, its their taste in music. Most importantly, I believe that everyone should and must have a taste, good or bad. And folks who hate music aren't even living in the true sense. They are, in my opinion, the worst kind of sociopaths imaginable. Even people who cannot hear can sense rhythm. Because music is something that is inside us. There was a man who hated music. So much that he wouldn't even let his wife sing. And she was a graduate in music and would sing so beautifully. Pity.

Anyway...this week, for you, I have put together eight sexy, sultry tracks you'd like swinging to. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday
tee, mag, tights and a book

Space cat tee by the amiable Mademoiselle Robot

GUP Magazine #024

Opaque Two Color Pantyhose {which isn't opaque at all! American Apparel likes its little jokes.}

N.E.E.T. the book

Pre-marital Intimacy
and the average indian parent

In my last post, I discussed how pre-marital pregnancy practically means life-long suffering and permanent disownment from family. Now, I will talk about pre-marital intimacy (a collective of kissing, necking, sexual intercourse and consequent pregnancy) with regards to the Indian woman. And what the average Indian parent thinks about it. Uber-cool super-progressive rockstar families will find this post very strange.

Indian Homemaker says that non-penetrative sex between kids should be left to parents to deal with. And person also commented saying that his parents where supportive and allowed him to get intimate with his girlfriend at home. All I can say is, WOW! India will be certainly a better place if more of such liberal and open-minded parents existed. But what if, what if parents do not deal with their children's raging hormones? Trust me there are many, many parents like that and that's why I say that this bill spells big trouble.

I will again talk about this from my point of view. I come from a pseudo-liberal/semi-conservative family. My family is not ultra-orthodox, but they are not very liberal, either. It is sort of in the middle. I remember one day when my mom called to have a "serious" chat. I sighed. I knew what that means. It means sex talk without talking about sex. Get it? Get it? It means talking about being pure and honourable and dignified. I don't remember the exactly conversation - no wait, it was more of a lecture: my mom speaking and me nodding. Because it is really awkward and weird to outrightly talk about sex and boys with her when she's talking the same thing in a conservative "honourable" way. This is what she said:
You shouldn't be getting involved with boys before marriage. Nothing should happen before marriage. You may ask if virginity is a virtue. Of course it is virtue! Losing your virginity after marriage is the right way of losing it, dear. And this is not just for girls. It's a virtue for boys too. 
To me that sounded like: No, it's not really a virtue for boys but I'm just telling you so for the heck of it. The terms "virgin" and "girl" go so hand in hand that the phenomenon of virginity in boys is non-existent. I have a lot of say about the topic of virginity and what it is, according to me and that will take another post, so I'll let it drop for now.

And this is just one fragment of what my mother thinks regarding pre-marital intimacy. She also believes that getting physical with the opposite sex should be limited to hand-shakes. I cannot take a picture with a guy with his hand around my shoulder. My sister did it and mom was very upset. "Why should you let them touch you?" she would ask. I'm not blaming her at all. She grew up in a small town in the 80s, brought up by my conservative grandmother and her grandmother. She has always attended an all-girls institution {though I don't think that is a major reason}. My mom is very open-minded when it comes to my career and my life otherwise. When I look at her, I see a strong, confident, independent woman who chose to marry the person she fell in love with {which by the way, worked out fine because my daddy belongs to the same caste}. And yet, she's so Puritanical regarding sex.

Now, will my mother be supportive of the new bill that has been passed? In case my sister had a boyfriend, would she be allowed to get intimate with him? Obviously not.

Once, there was a boy who liked me. I didn't reciprocate his feelings but I considered him a good friend. I was 15 and he was 17 then. He would send me mails during holidays and there was absolutely nothing romantic about them. They were all just friendly mails. But my father was simply furious that I was getting mails from a boy.
Today, he will send you mails. Tomorrow, he'll call you up. And the next day, you will run away with him.
I was 15 years old, for crying out loud and I wanted laugh at my father's declaration. My dad was temporarily affected with Over-protective Daddy Syndrome. What did I do? I cried and threw a tantrum and my dad eventually apologised for being so unnecessarily melodramatic.

My parents are awesome, but they simply cannot deal with our rapid sexual maturity and there so many parents like that. They cannot come in terms with the fact their babies are growing up. And this especially happens will girls. Even the most liberal family gets all over-protective and conservative when it comes to the sexual freedom of daughters. All this obviously boils down to patriarchy and male chauvinism, but let's not get into that now.

My question is, will the bill work if parents' mindsets don't change. Let's just say, if a 16 year old girl gets pregnant due to having sex with her boyfriend, will her conservative parents be supportive of her? They will either manage to get her married to her boyfriend {which is far-fetched} or make her undergo a lousy abortion with the help of quack kyunki naam badnaam ho jayega {because "name will get spoilt"} or get packed off to remote place where nobody can find her. The girl will not be given the choice to have the baby or get it aborted.You all saw what happened to Kalki Koechlin's character in Dev D. Well, she didn't get pregnant, it was an MMS scandal, but it's a related thing. Parents freak out under these circumstances. Or may be I should say, Indian girl children's parents freak out. In short, don't think of yourself as the Indian Juno if you ever get knocked up.

A friend of mine got raped by her boyfriend. That's what is called "date rape". I however, refuse to classify rape. Classifications lead to justifications. Rape is rape. Don't give adjectives to it. I told her, that he should be put behind bars. I will stand by you if you go to police. Of course, she didn't. The boy was filthy rich and the girl has family honour to protect. The Indian law is weak. He can very well get away with it. My friend will be left with pain and humiliation and no justice. My friend refused to even call it rape. I was the one who called it. She sort of convinced herself that nothing happened. She was so random about it that I am myself not sure what really happened. And he forced himself upon her again, a few months later. Again, she acted vague. I felt, maybe she's telling me that he forced her because she thinks I'll judge her for having sex before marriage. I was confused and she wouldn't talk about it. That too passed.

Parents find it ashamed to even say that their daughter was raped. They start wondering things like who will marry her etc. Hence, in a country consisting of such people, will a such a bill work? It may not or perhaps may prove to be miraculous. It may make the parents confront their conservative mindsets.

Sex and the Kids
the knowledge of sex in Indian children

The latest post over at Indian Homemaker provoked me to write this:

The scenario of sexual maturity in India is very vague. You can never really know which kid is sexually matured and which kid isn't. Which kid has had the right sex education and which kid hasn't. I will talk about this from my own point of view. A couple of months ago, during a chat with my partner, he told me what he thought sex was, as a kid. He thought that if a man and woman get married, God blesses them with children. I realised that I wasn't the only one who was under this assumption as a kid. Both of us, being 90s kids belonged to the same school of thought. This was clearly because of lack of proper sex education. I remember this instance when I was watching television with my mom. I was probably 11 or 12, I think. We were watching this soap where an unmarried girl is getting thrashed and locked up inside a room because she is pregnant. Now, please note that pre-marital sex and pregnancy is suicidal in India. It's something which is not done explicitly even by our film stars. If a girl gets pregnant before marriage, she has bought shame to her entire family. That may be some irrelevant, lower middle class family living under an asbestos roof. But still, every Indian family, rich or poor has a name, an honour and pride which should be protected by the women in it. It is actually quite ironic. While the males are said to bring name, pride and honour, the females are said to spoil them. Before I get sunk into the never-ending topic of misogyny, I will come back to our point. I turned and innocently asked my mother, "Why are they hitting the poor girl, maa? It's not her fault if God chose to give her kids before she got married." My mom pretended as if she didn't even hear the question.

I was pretty confused and had a lot of questions, but nobody to ask. Then I hit puberty and eventually started menstruating. I was certainly aware of menstruation. My mother did a good job of teaching me how it works with an illustrated book called "Woman". It's a wonderful book actually. She obviously didn't go to the "sex section", but I did. Truth is both me and my sister have been very curious about that book. I vaguely remember as a kid, I would stealthily take it and browse. But after looking at the first few pages, I would snap it shut and guiltily keep it back and make a vow to myself that I would never look through it again. But then curiosity made me go to the book. This happened a few times, but I never really went past the first few pages. Curiosity and guilt plagued me simultaneously. I know, so Freudian, right?!

At the age of 14, the year I hit menarche, I was sent to a boarding school. Now, boarding school is where all my informal sex education began, though without any practical classes {giggles}. Boarding school was a completely different place compared to the school was attending before. I was in a day school until 8th grade and we kids were completely asexual beings then. I know, that the hormones hit in full form usually during 9th grade, but still, in the day school we never had a boyfriend-girlfriend phenomenon or anything. So, I was completely sex illiterate. The boarding school was situated in a hill station in the middle of jungle and you can guess how cozy the atmosphere was. Hormones where flying furiously in all directions. This doesn't mean it was a sexually liberal atmosphere. The authorities segregated the sexes all the times. Boys and girls were not supposed to talk. So, obviously, like regular teens, we rebelled. We had secret meetings, formed "friendships" with sexual overtones etc. But we still were not properly sex-educated. We all were bunch of curious, excited kids. I remember this one night when one of my closest friends and then classmate got a text message from her then boyfriend. She was 14 and he was 15. Now, that guy was a jerk and inherent pervert for one thing but either way, his text (sext) message indicated how ignorant all of us were. I don't remember the entire message, but this line was a part of it: 
Guys get all the fun, girls get all the pain.
All of us reacted to it in unison, i.e., giggling shyly. We all were blissfully unaware that sex is tool for pleasure for both men and women. We girls were growing up to be masochists, practically {with n number of paraphilias}. We thought boys were the predators and we girls were the preys and for some reason, we liked the idea. I'm not saying that BDSM is wrong. But what we felt and thought was not bondage games. We didn't know that lovemaking, a conscious beautiful expression of love, even existed. We thought the act of sex itself is something like that; guys getting all the pleasure and girls getting all the pain. And we also knew that we were supposed to act as if we are deriving pleasure. We are conditioned to fake, naturally. I also remember how intrigued I used to be with rape scenes. In Indian movies, rape scenes are actually very funny. It used to be something like this:
A dirty middle-aged thug enters a room (place the situation anywhere you like) where a 20-something woman  is resting or simply sitting. He initially tries to build fear and she consequently begs him to leave her alone. However, he eventually pounces on her. They are in the missionary position. This usually happens on the bed, but sometimes on the floor too. Now, remember that both of them are fully clothed and to the viewer, it appears as if the man is trying to simply squash the woman while simultaneously attempting to kiss her on the lips (or at least it appears like that). The rest is left to the viewers' imagination as the screen gets blurred. Accompanied by a dangerous background sound, the screen flashes red and green (this is typical 80s Tamil film rape scenes, folks). It is all so ridiculous and random that you can never really imagine what happened. The next thing we see is the woman crying, her head buried in her hands and the villain zipping or adjusting his pants and giving a triumphant grin. And a while later, they show that the woman is now pregnant. Oh, then she ends up marrying her rapist because a vagina is entitled to one man only.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, what the hell actually happened? As a little girl, I never really knew. But for sometime, I really did think that kissing on the lips will make you preggo. Also, rape is not portrayed as seriously as it should be. To know the seriousness of rape, one should watch the 1988 Jodie Foster starrer The Accused. A rape scene is supposed to induce disgust and it should be disturb because rape is not a good thing. But Indian rape scenes are always awkward. They induce curiosity, rather. Women always get victimised. And they never rebel because of that invisible thing called honour. And because both rape and sex appeared to painful experiences for women to me, at that time, I thought both were one and the same. Girls were to endure pain and guys were to derive pleasure. For me, rape seemed like a make-believe thing where women pretended to suffer when they actually enjoying the pain. It was all very confusing and yet in way, exciting.

Anyway, this was how we 90s kids got sex-educated. Mostly, all knowledge was self-taught. I have always been a person who thought independently, not someone who follows the herd. But had I been like that and given my parents' negligence regarding my sex education, I might have grown up into a woman with a lot of misconceptions regarding sex. And there are so many people, even middle-aged and so-called well-educated folks who don't know even the basics. You just have to read the daily sex advice column by Dr Mahindra Vatsa in Mumbai Mirror to know how ignorant people are.

I wonder what do the prepubescents in this century have in mind regarding sex. My 14 year old sister has sex education in her curriculum but do they teach right? She seems to be aware of sex. She seems to know more than I did at that age. But I'm still doubtful. Is her awareness of right kind? I don't know. The media still influences the kids. Sometime ago, in an Indian village, a 11 year old boy raped a 9 year old girl or may be it was a 9 year old boy who raped and 6 year old girl. Either way, this shocking news was published in The Times of India and simply cannot find the exact article now. In such a scenario, is it appropriate if a bill lets 12 year olds to indulge in non-penetrative sex without facing any legal consequences? I personally think it would be disastrous, especially in a country where child marriage still exists. In UK, a 13 year old boy sets the record of being the youngest father in history. There are chances that non-penetrative sexual activity becomes sexual. There are chances that whatever sexual activity becomes violent. Do kids really know what to do and how to do it? This bill will be severely misused and the consequences will be disastrous, for girls especially because we live in a patriarchal society. What if a 12 year old boy watches hardcore porn and tries to implement on his equally young girlfriend? How many children actually pay attention and get proper sex education? How can the government ignore so many issues?

UPDATE: IHM responded to my post and may be, the new bill is not so disastrous after all. However, I still have doubts. Everything depends on the kids. The bill officially gives sexual freedom to kids. Of course they are not allowed to have sexual intercourse, but what if they do anyway. As a matter of fact, the typical middle-class urban kid is quite sexually free. The kids at my sister's school date and maybe they also get intimate, who knows. What if two 13 year olds end up having unprotected sex and the girl gets pregnant? It perfectly possible. I think that non-penetrative sex should just mean kissing. Because one thing may lead to another. It's possible. And what do they mean by non-penetrative sex? Just kissing and necking? All I can say is children should be given proper and adequate sex education. They should be told to wait at least till the age of 16 and only then have sex; to do it consciously and not due to peer pressure.