And a partridge in a pear tree…

24 12 2010

These days, for most of us, Christmas is a festival of food, drink, glittery stuff and….presents! But how do you choose the gifts you give? How do you select from the dizzying range of gifties available in our shops, which go from sublime to kitsch to crap?

The JC Penney commercial linked here, is an advertiser’s guide to how not to approach the matter – for men at least. (The solution is –  jewellery!)

We found the whole thing disturbing in many ways….yet interesting as a view on what presses people’s buttons.

How do you buy gifts for the people you love and live with?

1.

When I go gift hunting I think quite carefully about the person I am buying it for. If they like Lady Gaga, that’s what they get, whatever my own opinion of the dreadful LG might be. Price is a factor too obviously, but I try hard to find something I can afford, that they will like too.

The other point I consider when buying gifts, (and this is why the man in JC Penney went into the doghouse) is to try and get something the giftee would not usually get for themselves, and certainly nothing – god forbid, useful. In other words, a little Luxury.

However, when buying gifts for one’s wealthier friends who have vast disposable incomes, this always becomes a major issue, because what the hell toys/treats/accessories can you get them that they haven’t already bought? This is when ingenuity has to be used, to pick out/ create and devise something no one else would think of, to bestow upon your unfortunately rich bud – a meal at Pilawoos or gift vouchers from one of those tiny shops in Pettah spring to mind…

2.

I have to say I am very bad about this gift giving business. I usually forget people’s birthdays, Christmas and New Year are upon me before I’ve remembered that I have to give gifts and sometimes, even after I buy the gift, I forget to give it till much later! Come to think of it, the only time I remember and make plans and buy gifts is when I come back from a trip abroad.

When I do buy gifts, though, I like to think about what would please the other person. There are times I’ve given useful gifts because at the time that I was buying it (usually in the middle of rushing around somewhere just before the event) I knew they needed and were looking for such a thing. Most times, I am boring and give books and chocolates – the easiest when you are surrounded by people who love reading and sweet things! Sometimes, I’ve given gifts that were useful but that others wouldn’t think of, like a little mortar and pestle as a housewarming gift. At other times, I just see things that make me remember a specific person, like random books and gizmos I pick up for my father or coffee for my coffee-loving friends. And at times, for people I love, I go looking endlessly for things that they will be amused and surprised by!

3.

When I buy a gift for someone I love, I try to think of what it is they need…you see, I am the practical sort. I bought my best friend a cutlery set when she moved into a new house, and this year was thinking of getting her a microwave but changed my mind! As for my partner, I usually buy her books. She loves books, particularly political books, so I guess I tend to buy her something I know she would enjoy. The same goes for friends. My friend who loves night clubs and is a DJ, will get a disco light; my sporty friend will get a sporty spray and my girlie friend will get another pair of earrings!

I generally try to avoid gift vouchers. Mainly because they have the value of the gift voucher displayed on them and somehow the gift becomes less personal. I have to admit that I have once or twice recycled gift vouchers I have received, i.e re given them to someone! Terrible I know! But so easy to do if you don’t know the person very well.  However, overall, I do love buying people gifts, wrapping them and sharing them. It makes me very happy!

for more partridge humour





Kingdom of Women

22 12 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italian photographer Luca Locatelli documents the lives of the Mosuo tribe, often described as one of the last matriarchal societies in the world.

Women from the Mosuo tribe do not marry, take as many lovers as they wish and have no word for “father” or “husband”.

The Mosuo people’s ancient history is identified with Lugu Lake and they are famous for their matriarchal traditions and “walking marriages,” where marriage is not sacrosanct as women exercise the right to choose and change their husbands at will. There are around 90,000 Mosuos, mostly concentrated around Lugu Lake. Azu marriage is the way of living of the Mosuo people, and Azu in the local Mosuo language (which does not have its own script) means “intimate sweet heart”. It is a convenient arrangement in which the partners come and go as they like. Three types of Azu marriages have been mentioned namely, the “travelling marriage,” which is marriage without cohabitation; and the second type is the marriage with cohabitation that have developed into deep feelings after living under “travelling marriage” practice; they then live together and raise children as a family.

The third type of marriage, which is linked to the history of Mongolian people occupying Lugu Lake who inculcated the practice of monogamous marriage among the Mosuo people, is called “One on one marriage.” However, in all the three types of marriages, women have the rightful ownership of land, houses and full rights to the children born to them. The children carry their mother’s family name and pay greatest respect to their mothers who in turn enjoy high social status. The male companions are known as “axias” and they work for the women.

Lugu Lake is located in the North West Yunnan plateau in China. The middle of the lake forms the border between the Ninglang County of Yunnan Province and the Yanqing County of Sichuan province. It is an alpine lake at an elevation of 2,685 metres (8,809 ft) and is the highest lake in the Yunnan Province, surrounded by mountains and it has five islands, four peninsulas, fourteen bays and seventeen beaches.

The lake’s shores are inhabited by many minority ethnic groups, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. The most numerous of them all are the Mosuo people, with an ancient family structure considered “a live fossil for researching the marital development history of Human beings” and “the last quaint Realm of Matriarchy.” The matriarchal and matrilineal society of the Mosuos is also termed the “Women’s World.”

(excerpts from Wikipedia)





The Moment

20 12 2010

We pinched this idea from one of our favourites – Smith Magazine: describing a Moment that transformed our lives. The Moment might be “a split-second decision, something you witnessed, a message sent or received, a literal or mental discovery. Moments can be serious or silly, as short as a tweet, as long as 750 words, told via a single image or illustration, series of photos, or a scanned letter or post-it note…” (Smith Magazine)

Here’s ours…

1.

I think my moment was when I said yes to adopting a kitten this year. I was sold the idea after some effort, involving pathetic descriptions of how pitifully she was found, sheltering from the pouring rain under a car until M picked her up and brought her home and now she needed to be adopted, poor thing. An innocent question about what colour she was, brought a hail of abuse upon my head, featuring the words ‘appearance based discrimination’ and ‘how cruel’. So I hastily accepted the tiny creature who has turned out to be a strong minded individual (more than most, and I should know, having had many) who never moves slower than a dash, usually speeding from place to forbidden place, who is oddly more interested in investigating exactly how the loo flushes than in her next meal, is voiceless, but still communicates her wishes perfectly, never answers to any name, doesn’t mind getting wet but hates being laughed at above all things.

My cat is a frequent troublemaker, constant entertainment and perfect companion, who has definitely transformed my days. Saying yes to adopting her was one of the best moments of my life.

2.

When I left Sri Lanka for the United States I knew I would come back. Gut feeling in the face of ‘you might want to stay’, ‘it’s the kind of study environment you will like’, ‘everyone says they will come back but when you go there and experience the comforts you will think differently’.  Even, ‘when you come back you will want to go back because it is so dirty and dusty and chaotic here’. So I went to the States, and I loved it there. The parks, the cafés, the hundreds of books, the people not staring, the freedom of walking back home alone at 3 in the morning without much fear. I immersed myself in that. But I was waiting to come back because I found out what it is like to not have a patch of garden to walk on, not talk to neighbours over your wall, not have friends who will flock to you whatever time of day or night if you are in trouble and not to be able to get to a hot beach in a couple of hours.

And I still remember the moment when I realised that the sunshine was an illusion – you can walk in it but it wouldn’t warm your skin. My entire two years there was one long Moment.

3.

My life changed completely – for the worse – last week.

I switched my mobile phone brand from a Nokia to a Blackberry. Ever since owning a mobile phone, I have embraced the easy to use and functional Nokia. Last week I got carried away by the messenger service of the Blackberry (BBM) as my family lives overseas and  I wanted to communicate with them more easily and for free, so I went out and bought the 9300 Curve 3G.

Firstly, it took a whole day for Dialog to activate the Blackberry service for me, and then I learned that it would cost me an additional 1,100 rupees per month on top of my current mobile bill.

Then I made the mistake of linking my personal Gmail account to my hand held device (after all that’s what its there for, right?) I now receive emails all day (and night) – on the device and on my computer. It hasn’t stopped making burping sounds since it was activated. Worse, I can’t tell the difference between an SMS, an MMS, an email alert, a Facebook update and the phone ringing. They have all merged into one big belch!

What really took the cake was when this afternoon my mother sent me a BBM message asking me what I had for lunch!

This is the beginning of my end…





Don’t ask…

19 12 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The US Senate voted yesterday to repeal the ban on gay people serving
openly in the military, paving the way for President Obama to sign a law
ending the policy this week….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/19/us-military-senate-vote

and…are we ready for a gay Commander In Chief?





The way they look at women…

14 12 2010

I’ve always thought that nothing can cause more teeth-grinding than men being lecherous about women. Staring hard at the line of hip of a woman in a sari. Leering at women in shorts. Commenting greedily on the way the woman who passed by ‘was wagging her bottom and asking for it’. Sharing pictures via blue tooth of women with their boobs out. When I finally met the phrase ‘male gaze’ I was delighted. An actual name for these demeaning actions!

And then, imagine my relief when I started spending more and more time with women, away from those lecherous eyes and comments. Imagine my delight when I started spending more and more time with women who desire women. Now I would be far away from the ‘I sent you that photo, the one with all tits out’, ‘check it out, check it out, the piece in the short skirt’, and ‘she’s like a bicycle machan, anyone can ride’.

But no. Obviously, some women look at other women the same way most men look at women, because I still hear these comments and I still see these looks and I am still invited to gather around and look at the bodies uncovered by the bikinis and advertisements with luscious women. What a way to find out another example of the use of the masculine as the universal third person pronoun. Male didn’t actually mean male. Only. Lesbians can also do the male gaze.





Christmas toys: a rethink on pink?

7 12 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/03/christmas-toymakers-rethinking-pink

Rejoice, feminists everywhere. Ding dong, the wicked pink princess is dead. Well, not quite. But almost. This week the campaign group Pink Stinks launched its conclusions a year on from its “anti-pink” crusade against the Early Learning Centre (ELC). It reports – with cautious optimism – that the pink tide seems to be receding in this year’s Christmas catalogue.





I’ve just bought a pink T-shirt

3 12 2010

I’ve just bought a pink T-shirt but I’m worried it might make me look a bit, ahem, gay and give off the wrong signals. What do you think?

(Name withheld)

You know, I really gotta hand it to homophobes: they sure do think they’re hot. The rest of us, I feel, go through life thinking that maybe we’ll catch a few friendly glances coming our way. Homophobes, on the other hand, seem to believe that they are so irresistibly attractive that every gay person of their gender wants to jump their bones, given half an opportunity and a public toilet for privacy. Maybe it’s because these homophobes get so few offers from the people they do want to attract that they assume theirs is a face that appeals more to the other side, so to speak.

There was a simply marvellous quote in a New York Times piece recently about whether gays should be allowed to be open about their sexuality in the military issue, or whether America should continue to deny a group of people a basic human right and instead make them feel ashamed of themselves by suggesting there is something perverted about them when they are giving up their lives to defend their country. But I digress. The reporter spoke to one soldier who said that no, he didn’t want gays in the military because he was worried about being “approached”. That this young man, as he conceded, had never been “approached” in his life – by a man or woman, one suspects – did not lessen his concern. After all, he was just so hot, despite his eyes being – one imagines – ever so slightly too close together.

Name withheld, I’m guessing these are the, ahem, signals you are, ahem, fearing. Well let me assure you: that you are even worrying about looking, ahem, gay, proves that you have neither the wit, nor intelligence, nor style to accomplish such a feat. Look gay? You wish.

Ask Hadley