Category Archives: Openmindedness/Diversity

diversity-in-books

This is why Diversity sucks

Though the concept is great – it still sucks for my kind.

It conjures up images of glitter and happiness with the glitz and glamour of a chocolate advertisement but tough luck if it makes up your very identity.

Though I don’t mean to sound cruel (even if it is) here’s a reality check for you – crickets will be getting more attention.

Diversity – such a great buzzword with the oomph of a derelict forgotten martyr even the history books couldn’t be bothered teaching us about. Everyone’s talking about it.

Diversity this, diversity that but that’s about all that’s happening.

Everyone’s saying it because it’s the cool thing to say, what the in crowd’s talking about but no one’s actually doing anything about it or even understands what the hell it’s all about.

Diversity sucks but only if it’s part of your core and more importantly, only if you revel in it, brandish in it with all the glory you can possibly muster.

I’m a writer – perhaps a self-declared one, but a writer nevertheless. Perhaps a mediocre one, but a writer regardless and I’m what many would term as a lucky struggling writer because it’s a great time for someone like me to be born apparently – a great time for a diverse writer.

But what does a diverse writer even mean?

That’s a great question because though most know what diverse writing means (as opposed to diverse authors) – very few actually bother about my type.

I’m not going to lie, it’s quite annoying existing in an age where there is so much hoo-hah about diverse characters (many of which are fictional dare I say) when no one really gives a crap about their very factual diverse creators.

This is mainly due to two reasons – one, authors are rarely as interesting as the characters they create (I can attest to this personally) and two, most diverse characters being created aren’t really being written about diverse authors in the first place.

Because let’s face it, who would know better about a brown girl coming to a foreign land and dealing with all the trials and tribulations of modern day western world attitudes and stereotypes against the backdrop of very real cultural boundaries than a white writer?

As a “diverse” author who has written a novel (or a poorly cloaked semi autobiography) about just that (hello people, welcome to my life), do I find it torturously disconcerting that many of the countless literary agents I have reached out to say that my story isn’t quite real enough?

Of course I do.

In fact, I find it so agonisingly painful I actually pondered on writing a thank you reply to the one literary agent who responded by saying that though the premise was good, it just wasn’t the right time for my “type” of tale when adult colouring books were all the rage in the literary world. I thought it would be presumptuous to send him the dictionary book definition of literature when I actually like colouring in.

Others said my book just didn’t strike a chord with them because my main character was too well, normal.

Of course a “normal” brown girl is just out of the question because who would want to read about a normal diverse character? Um – maybe diverse readers like me.

It’s unfortunate that during my teenage years I had to choose between a normal white girl to relate with or a crazy, brown one with a horrific juxtaposition of identity crisis’s that outnumbered the amount of times I change my underwear (which is regularly by the way).

Clearly there are no normal brown people on the planet because we all wear hijabs, struggle daily with radicalism and have a secret life our parents would commit suicide upon discovering exactly twenty two point five years later. And let’s not mention finally participating (while not in undercover) in romantic relationships after securing our parent’s reluctant consent upon finding out about our blatant “western influenced” unlocking of our chastity belts in our late teens. Please note, this is actually supposed to be sarcastic.

Being diverse and actually understanding what that truly meant for many of us diverse teenagers growing up in a world where no one really got us is what continues to make diversity so sucks.

“Normal” for us diverse, immigrant children meant tepidly tip-toeing the tightrope of immigrant versus adopted land issues every single day. It meant explaining why your parents had to meet your “friend” before they let you date him before he even asked you out. It meant you’d get tired of hearing your own voice every time you droned on about how “discovering” yourself after high school on that once in a lifetime gap year before you joined university was never going to happen if you wanted to live past eighteen.

You won’t find novels on how you spent the better part of every weekday morning airing your school uniform out of that undeniable, wicked curry smell that lingers like a bad memory days after you devoured it. Or why you can use your forehead to corkscrew even the mightiest Foster’s beer bottle thanks to the countless afternoons you spent rubbing the elusive bindi off after your weekly prayers. All this just so you could rush off to see the latest movie at the cinemas without having to explain the red dot on your forehead for the millionth time. You won’t even find stories on the absurdity of forgetting French kissing when your people came up with the manual on having sex.

Why would we forget the lips in the Kama Sutra people – really, why?

Why don’t you find common day stories on the very real, normal lives of brown people?
Because there’s no way that a white author has been cursed with our version of normality. Normal, non-brown people think this is comedic which is probably why Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project has done so well.

Poor Mindy had to fabricate a normal Indian girl’s life as a comedy when most of us brown chicks know that there’s nothing funny about Mindy’s life – it’s just our version of normal.

Maybe that’s what it is.

Perhaps my premise in Un-Belonging is too real for the mainstream. Maybe all I need to get a literary agent’s attention is to tag a “normal typical brown girl problem” joke at the end of each sentence so that the general public can make a parody of my protagonist instead.

Maybe that’ll get over her not wearing a hijab bit.

Photo Credit: Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

For Good to Exist, There Must be Bad …

This really hits home sometimes.

Like when I meet some people I’m really stumped about – specifically on how they exist. Forget the why bit …

Or I put the news on and I see what we do to our fellow human beings to protect the “invisible” borders people we don’t even know or remember put up …

Or when I look at a cheesecake and think about its calories. But whhhhyyyyy …

But then I think about the Nelson Mandela’s, Mahatma Gandhi’s and the Rosa Park’s of the world and I am reminded that nothing worthy comes easy so let the bad be because so many of us will keep fighting the good fight.

power-of-faith

The Power of Faith

As a writer, I’m ashamed to admit that I rarely allow others a glimpse into my psyche and though I will often joke about my warped brain, the fact is I have always been a thinker.

Some consider this a boon but in all honesty I find that thinking too much is more painful than peaceful and wisdom can sometimes be, well, overrated.

Why?

Because there is a certain type of profound solace in simplicity and when it comes down to it, when I reminisce about knowledge, I picture a calming, peaceful, bright hue.

Not many people know this but some years ago I hurt my back, not exactly in a debilitating way (at least from a scientific perspective) but one that nevertheless paralysed me in living a life full of happiness and positivity through my late teens and into my early twenties.

During the time, I had begun to read a book called Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama and Autobiography of a Yogi by Sri Paramahansa Yogananda.

Now, I am a Hindu but I have been very fortunate to have been reared by parents who always pressed the importance of spirituality over any religion on my sister and I and for this, I will always be grateful.

So I really do hope that you see that the faith I am talking about is not attached to any particular religion or version of “God” but rather as a testament to the supremacy of faith and belief and Creative Life Force (as Sri Yukteswar Giri defines it) that we all have within us.

I haven’t had back pain for many years now, strongly believing that I had received a miracle of my own after a kind-hearted, gentle swami of my father’s told me with complete assurance that it had been fixed. Viewing it as my own version of a miracle that mirrored an event in the Autobiography of a Yogi, my mind, heart and soul completely believed his words and soon my back pain became a thing of the past.

Late last year however, it returned. I had nagging thoughts on how I couldn’t possibly deal with the pain all over again and how maybe I hadn’t received my miracle. In one short phrase – I had been infected with doubt.

One of the worst possible human emotions and weaknesses that any of us can let creep into our lives – doubt.

My parents have my whole life really, been my very own personal “God” in many ways and even their words of reassurance had little effect on the virus of doubt that was infiltrating my pores.

About two weeks ago I got a CT scan and the results were, to me at least, devastating. The problem had gotten worst according to my radiologist, and my doctor (who can’t read x-rays) made it appear to be even worse than my radiologist’s report.

After days of depression and heart-wrenching panic, I was in pain, plagued with mental and physical agony so I did some soul searching and sifted through my Autobiography of a Yogi copy and just opened random pages to “see the light”.

By utter chance, I landed on an excerpt where a disciple of Sri Yukteswar was beside himself because all the doctors he had seen had declared that he had a maximum of three months to live. The disciple had ran to his guru to beg for help and Sri Yukteswar has laughingly chided him for believing doctors who knew nothing about the Creative Force of all Beings and had proclaimed that he would be healed regardless of what any medical practitioners or experts stated.

The disciple had asked if he should continue with the medication to which his guru had replied – it’s up to you, take them or throw them, they will have no consequence on your health. The disciple got worse and worse by every passing hour but his faith remained steadfast, after all, his Guru had said he would be fine. Just when it looked like he had no hope, the next morning the disciple was completely healed – as if a miracle had just occurred before everyone’s eyes!

Though I am not comparing my situation with the dire one of this disciple, I decided last week, after reading this passage, that I too would have complete faith on my own miracle.

I didn’t care how it would happen, but all I knew is that it would happen – regardless of what anyone said or anything I saw.

Today, I went to my physiotherapist and though I had some trepidation, my faith remained steadfast. My Creative Life Force is unbreakable, undefeatable – omnipresent.

My CT scan had been misread and misdiagnosed by the radiologist; in fact, my back has one of the most beautiful curves (my physio’s words, not mine!).

I have my miracle and it’s one of the most beautiful feelings ever.

I have learnt two lessons from this:

1 – Positive thinking is absolutely the BEST medicine out there and it’s completely free and you don’t need a prescription.

2 – If you believe, I mean, truly believe no matter what, you WILL have your miracle, I promise it!

I know this is a long piece but for those of you who are down and in despair please know you are your very own version of “God” or a superpower. It’s all you, you just have to realise, experience and celebrate it.

Once you embrace the power we all are, you will quickly come to realise that YOU are omnipresent in every way!

The Casual Racist

Know a Casual Racist?

You know who and what I’m talking about.

I think we’ve all probably had the misfortune of coming across one or two (if you’re lucky).
That person who isn’t racist but thinks that adding a smile at the end of a thinly veiled racially motivated comment makes it alright to just chuck one at you anyway.

I have spent the past five weeks traveling across India through Shimla, Delhi and Mumbai, completing my superb trip at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. In one word – amazing (sing that while you read it for added emphasis).

I must admit to spending some of my time dispelling stereotypes about the land down-under vehemently because you know, ignorance is never an excuse for sweeping generalisations that can come across as rude because they are, people, they are. Simple as that. No, no matter what ever angle or perspective you look at it.

What I didn’t expect was Pauline Hanson’s vigorously and scarily increasing popularity. As a side bar, what exactly is happening to the world and it’s dangerously increasing xenophobia? It takes two to tango in life for everything and the Trumps, Hanson’s and every other right wing party leader in Europe is where they are because of all of us (those of us who vote for them and those of us who can’t be bothered getting off our arses to put a stop to potential future genocide for the gazillion-th time).

I also managed to meet every racist Aussie I strongly believe exists in my vicinity in the week I got back. I know this is highly unlikely but like everything negative, the numbers seem to exponentially build inconceivably, like something out of a J.K. Rowling novel.
Comments like, “ugh Dehli, way too many people in your country” (adding a smile at the end of that sentence still pisses me off by the way), “must have been sweaty and hot in your country” (that’s rich coming from someone who is currently battling 42 degree Celsius weather), “did you take any photos of elephants and tigers while you were there?” (the next time you take a photo of a kangaroo jumping over the Harbour Bridge in Sydney city, please-let-me-know).

I could go on but why?

Why should I waste my time trying to educate casual racists on not so common etiquette and courtesy? If they haven’t learnt yet, they never will.

Just note please …

Sticking a flag in countries that were never yours and never will be was never and will never be right.

Full stop.

Just like adding a smile to the end of a sentence you may think is manipulatively cloaked but glaringly obvious to the people you have been attempting to “civilise” for centuries is not and will never be acceptable.

This may be offensive to some and I get it.

Because this entire piece has been written with a clear and complete absence of a smile.

For the rest of you who have managed to find this writing somewhat palatable, I’ll be posting pics of my amazing journey soon hopefully. I trust your open-mindedness will allow you to see through the stereotypes and generalisations towards the glorious similarities we all share against the backdrop of exciting cultural nuances.

See you soon xoxo

India - Busy Street

Are you from Slumdog Millionaire?

Honestly?

Seriously?

Um, no.

If I have to hear one more “innocent” remark on whether Slumdog Millionaire brings back bitter sweet memories, well let’s just say I cannot be held responsible for any ensuing actions.

It still baffles me why certain “developing nations” are only recalled for certain mundane, overly stereotyped versions of malnutrition, flies (every country has flies people, every country), painfully demonised diseases and generally poor human conditions when we have other stuff to offer, really we do.

When I say Africa, people conjure up skinny children. When I say India, people conjure up Slumdog Millionaire, when I say Middle East, people conjure up terrorism.

On the other side of the coin when I say Australia, people conjure up Blond bombshells on Bondi Beach. I say America, people conjure up glamorous Hollywood. I say England; people conjure up grand historical monuments.

My point? Every country has the good and the bad, it’s easy to forget that Africa has an amazing intricate royal system, India has wonderful examples of people from different parts of the world not just living, but rejoicing in one another (Taj Mahal people, Taj Mahal) and Middle East is breathtakingly beautiful in all its natural wonder.

Oh, and guess what? Poverty sux and it’s not just restricted to the “third world region” but I’m not here to air other people’s dirty laundry in public. So the next time you come to India and choose to take a photo of the beggar outside the Taj Mahal and forget about the amazing monument my country has to offer, just remember others could do the same and take a photo of the homeless dude in front of the Harbour Bridge too. Show the respect you expect please and if you’re having trouble coming up with what India has to offer, check this link out for some inspiration.

Rant officially over.

Thank you.

Why I Hate being an Immigrant (sometimes) …

In your Country of Adoption:

Adopted Country’s Passer-by: “Where are you from?”

Immigrant’s Answer: *sigh – “Country of Origin”.

In your Country of Origin:

Country of Origin’s Passer-by: “Where are you from?”

Immigrant’s Answer: *WTF?! – “Country of Adoption”.

I can only imagine the plight of poor surrogate babies “from” wherever down the line:

Everyone : “Where are you from?”

Surrogate person: “Well, I didn’t come from my mummy’s tummy … and I don’t really look like her … but then, I’m not really sure whose tummy I came from … or if I even look like her. Hang on, where was I again?”

And I think I’m confused.

If you can’t colour in, we don’t want you!

This is what one reputable Australian literary agent told me the other day, well not those exact words but pretty close.

I got a detailed email from a Literary Agent last week saying that although he loved my idea and thought the premise was breakthrough and needed to be written he had pretty much given up hope on writing getting the respect it deserves in the 21st century, at least in Australia.

The top best seller in Australia at the moment. Wait for it. Drumroll. Colouring books for adults! Haha!

I’m sorry, I can truly not compete. I give up 😀 😀 😀