Sunday, January 27, 2008

The addiction

Everyone loves it - from grandmothers to hip young things, from schoolteachers to fashion designers. Anyone is in danger of falling prey to its perilous lure and addicts will tell you that once begun, its hold on you is nearly impossible to shake off.

It's not alcohol, drugs or gambling that I'm talking about but the often overlooked but highly addictive pastime we all love to indulge in - gossip. One of the irresistible attractions of gossip is that it’s forbidden - which only makes us love it more!

At some level, we all know gossiping is a bad idea. The information that gets passed around is usually only half true - at best. Often, it's not true at all.

What’s worse is that gossip, the really juicy kind, is NEVER positive. Let’s face it nobody wants to know how Ali overcame incredible odds to own his own business or how Rani put herself through law school while holding down three jobs. We’re all far more interested in discussing why so and so is such an insufferable snob or how someone else drinks cocktails before noon. People seem to have an instinctive need to ferret out 'dirt' about their friends and neighbours.

I think it’s because, even though we know it’s dangerous, gossiping is SUCH a delightful mode of passing the time! I admit that I often let my mouth run off before my mind can catch up and this appalling habit has led to broken friendships and broken hearts.

Everyone knows what goes around comes around and when it comes to talking about someone behind his/her back, what you said has a nasty way of getting back to the person you're talking about. It's instant karma - you don't have to wait for your next life before you face the consequences of your actions but this never used to stop me! I tried to assuage the guilt I felt by telling myself that others were just as guilty gossiping about me as I was of them - which was true.

I hardly ever heard someone say something like "hey we were all talking about how much you deserved the promotion you got, good for you!" I've been around for more than 3 decades now and that has never happened to me. I usually got wind of something down the lines of "eh, do you know Rani thinks you have thunder thighs?" or "Su Chin told me you're really childish"

Which means that Rani, Su Chin and all the rest had taken precious time out of their lives to discuss my shortcomings. How typical!

But deep down I knew that just because other people talked about me, it didn’t give me a ticket to talk about them. As my mother used to say “are you going to jump off a bridge just because other people decide to do it ?” If I’m honest, I have to admit that I was just scrambling for an excuse because I loved discussing other people's lives and analyzing their actions.

Despite my checkered past, I must say that I've been pretty good recently and resisted the gossip trap for a good, long while. The people I hang out with these days are - no joke- astonishingly impervious to the evil lure of gossip!

However, a couple of weeks ago, I was in a situation that put my newfound gossip-free self to the test. A friend was busy discussing the flaws of another person whom I happen to like and the more she talked, the more I felt the familiar pull to 'unearth' more information and join in with my own negative input. I think I must be getting old (and wise!) because for the first time, I managed to catch myself before I opened my big mouth. I remained silent and let my friend get her grievances off her chest.

Like an alcoholic fresh from an Alcoholics Anonymous stint, I felt like I had personally tussled with the devil and won! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the little gossip-monger inside me has been silenced...so far, so good!

During my gossip-mongering days, I used to wonder what people talked about if they weren't talking about other people. It turns out that you can talk about plenty of stuff like the US Presidential Race, how to bake a chocolate cake or even the way the wind blows.

I’m here to say that it's definitely not as appealing as discussing someone's scandalous behaviour at the pub last Friday or speculating if so and so's husband is having an affair but resisting gossip will give you a great reputation as a trusted friend.

Like a healthy diet, a get-together without gossip can seem bland and boring but like a healthy diet a life free of gossip is good for you and will eventually make you feel good about yourself. Trust me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The short end of the (ugly) stick

Everybody knows that in a man's world, a woman's place is, at best, a close second. This is why we have the feminist movement and various other movements advocating equal rights for women. Have you ever heard of a 'masculinist movement' advocating equal rights for the male of the species? They don't exist for a reason!

My point is, glass ceilings and lower pay for the same work are not the only glaring points in the battle for equality. I think the most obvious injustice is something that stares us right in the face and that is - the face. By this, I mean beauty - the superficial kind.

Have you ever wondered why there are far more couples made up of an ugly (for want of a better word) man with a beer gut and a beautiful woman with a rocking bod rather than the other way around? If you haven't noticed, pay attention the next time you walk down the street and you'll see what I mean.

There are, of course, couples who are equally good looking or ugly depending on how you perceive it but I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the ones who are vastly separated by the Great Divide in the Looks Department and I believe if that is the case, the woman is almost always better looking than the man.

In the early 90s when Roseanne was a hit show, her co-star, John Goodman, was reportedly featured in Playgirl because he was considered sexy. J-o-h-n G-o-o-d-m-a-n. If you don't know who I'm talking about here he is:



If everything were equal then Roseanne should have had a spread in Playboy but I think Hugh Hefner would sooner date just one woman at a time than allow Roseanne anywhere near Playboy!

Calling people ugly sounds cruel so I feel compelled to explain. I'm not referring to what an individual was blessed with when they were born…I'm talking about the effort that's put into appearing attractive. It's not what you have it's what you DO with what you have.

After all, - we women live in a world that not only values but rewards beauty so I don't see why men aren't subjected to the same rules. Women tweeze, pluck, wax, shave, botox, manicure, file, perm, straighten, mask, remove, glue on, polish, trim, diet, exercise and scrub ourselves into oblivion just to look presentable. Men tend to wake up in the morning, s**t, shower, shave and they're ready to go. What's worse is that the world in general finds this cosmic discrepancy between the sexes acceptable.

So, the pretty, primped girls end up getting the short end of the (ugly) stick because they're trailing around a man who looks like he's been hit with one.



Why is this so? Is it because of that popular theory (no doubt spread by a man) that men are superficial creatures and are therefore helpless souls who are slaves to their genetic attraction to outer beauty?

Anyone who is familiar with the Indian matchmaking process would tell you that a man who is darker than the bottom of a charcoal bin will inevitably demand that his family find him a bride who is whiter than bleached snow (hence the immense popularity of Fair and Lovely among Indian girls).

Let me make it abundantly clear that I do NOT in any way think that a dark complexion is ugly and a pale one beautiful but the truth of the matter is that many other people in the world do. This means that, once again, men insist on and get what they believe to be the better-looking option.

Women are said to be compassionate and deep-thinking creatures which means that we take the time and the trouble to get to know the man hidden beneath the pimply face and big belly. Well, all that is well and good but I've never understood why the pretty women don't just hold out for a man who is nice and also fairly easy on the eye. I'm not talking about someone who like Johnny Depp with a heart likeMother Theresa's but I'm talking about a nice guy who doesn't look like John Goodman's obese cousin.

Another prevailing argument is that women are basically gold-diggers and settle for someone who looks like a hyena's rear end because his pockets are deep and overflowing with the all powerful $$.

I don't buy this as a generic truth. Not all women are gold-diggers and not all gold-diggers are women. I think the ladies are just selling themselves short by tolerating unattractive men who are too lazy to lose their beer guts and apply pimple cream. Men almost never sell themselves short and the ones who do are exceptions that prove the rule.

Since we're always going on about equality between the sexes, let's take it all the way. Let's not put up with dirty fingernails, beer bellies and unkempt hair. Men certainly don't tolerate oily hair, pimply faces and big guts - well, not in women anyway!

All this might sound superficial but it's more significant than it seems. It would do us good to emulate what men seem to do effortlessly - hold ourselves in high esteem. Then we'll find that we're surrounded by what we truly want and deserve in our lives!

images courtesy of wikimedia.org and funnyphotos.net.au

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fighting the Flu

I cannot believe how annoying this stupid flu is! I've been fighting off this weird strain of what must only be an especially stubborn African flu virus (I dare not think of it being any other kind of virus *shudder*!)

I remember feeling slightly ill just before new year and it's the 11th today and I'm still feeling slightly ill.

The good news is, I get to lie around and feel sorry for myself with little to no guilt. The bad news is, I was all set to start the New Year with a fabulous diet so that I could unveil my fabulous new self the next time I was back in KL. Well...that's gone to pot now!

I have no appetite but have been forcing myself to eat just so I can get the medicine down. I tried sticking to low calorie foods ( drinking just fruit juices and that sort of thing) but soon discovered that it didn't seem to perk me up at all and only made me feel weak.

So, yesterday, I forced down this burger which I really didn't want to eat. It was some chicken thing with some kind of avocado sauce (I tried to take a stab at being healthy there) but it was AWFUL.

Quick question: what's worse than a zero nutrition/high calorie food?
Answer: A zero nutrition/high calorie food that you don't really want to eat!

In other words, I'm eating all this stuff and not even enjoying it! Sigh...I think I'm going to crawl under the blanket now....

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Eternal Struggle

The Eternal Struggle for me is not the struggle for liberation or truth and it doesn't have anything to do with finding myself and freeing my soul. Don't get me wrong.... I, like most thinking human beings, struggle with all these questions.

But my personal Eternal Struggle has been plaguing me for far longer. I didn't seriously contemplate questions like "who am I" and "the meaning of life" until I was in my 20s but my Eternal Struggle is something I've been grappling with since I was 12!

It is my war against my sweet tooth!

Ever since I was aware of myself as a girl (which happened when I was about 12), I've been conscious of my weight (sadly!) and I've always known that the one thing that truly stood between ordinary me and spectacularly svelte me is my darned sweet tooth!

I just can't seem to get rid of my sugar craving. Who needs drugs when there are perfectly legal sugar highs all around in the form of chocolate cakes, doughnuts, eclairs and other evil goodies?

I thought I finally wrestled the beast into submission last November when I became DETERMINED to lose 5kg and actually managed to get rid of 2.5kg. Through pure abstinence and power of will, I avoided the sweets for 4 whole weeks. A new record!

Unfortunately, I made the huge mistake of believing that since it was Christmas time and New Year, why not indulge in a few chocolates and a couple of brownies? The Engineer didn't help at all. One of his Christmas gifts to me was a large, beautiful tin of McVitie's chocolate covered biscuits, fittingly called Temptations...notice the tail and horns above the "O", I swear its the devil in the form of biscuits!


I took one look at the tin and thought, "what the heck, after all, 'tis the season to be jolly and all that." I'd forgotten the vital unwritten rule that the word jolly is usually preceded by the words "fat and...."

Just think about Santa! At lease being fat and jolly is part of his job description. What's my excuse? Whoever heard of a fat and jolly writer?

I just checked the scale on New Year's Day and discovered, to my horror, that I was back where I started. Holiday Hottie has transformed intoNew Year Fatty!

I need to lose 5kg all over again....I suppose I should just accept that it never ends!