Tag Archives: opinion

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

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I’m Sorry …

… for being so absent lately.

Though it isn’t an excuse, I’ll fall back on that dismal aspect of human nature and attempt to absolve myself of any wrongdoings by providing you with an adequate 3 point resource on how it’s really not my fault.

Point 1 – I’ve been so busy that if I were a Troll protecting the make believe bridge to Narnia I just made up right now, well, Narnia would no longer be Narnia – it would be the next best holiday destination. I have been writing though, about an article a week but woe is me, much of my time is taken up in maintaining active social media accounts for work.

You need a Twitter, Facebook or Google + guru right now, don’t look at me. I’m fresh out of ideas.

Point 2 – I have seriously pissed karma off and I don’t even know what I did. The amount of minor mishaps I have had with my skeleton over the past month would be enough to fill up a small encyclopaedia. Seriously. From toe injuries to wrist massacring’s, it’s a wonder I still resemble a human body. Fine, maybe not an encyclopaedia but a good weekend read in a grubby motel off Highway 5. At least.

Point 3 – I blame Trump because well, why wouldn’t you?

I don’t think history has ever provided us with such an apt “he is the cause of everything that’s wrong in this world, my life and this entire solar system really” excuse, people. Ever.

I am not kidding. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves and I can’t even copyright this one. Take it. Run with it.

I’ve been busy because Trump exists.

With that being said, I make no promises except an absolute true declaration – I have missed all of you. Truly.

I’ll try and make it up for it and write some more, or at least be more present if my fingers remain from that biyatch injury infliction.

I hope you’re listening karma. I’m a Hindu and I ain’t going anywhere so let’s try and be friends, okay? Or at least civil.

See you soon my peeps xoxo

Child Peeping

You Peeping Tom, you …

Firstly, if you are a Peeping Tom, let me officially reprimand you. It’s not good.

Now that my civic duty has been adequately fulfilled the way all “civic” duties are in the 21st century (i.e. pretending to give a s#@t when I clearly couldn’t care less because it’s not affecting me – shameful I know, but another blog post regardless) , let me clear this title up for you a little. I can’t promise I’ll do anything of the sort but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

I got to thinking why Tom was such a sleazebag the other day. Was it his mother’s complacent rearing or his father’s lecherous late nights at the office. Could it be that poor little Tom had fallen in with the wrong crowd when still an innocent babe and had his mind welded into corrupt caricatures on how to pick up women? Or did Tom just happen to be lost in space, thinking about the ways he may escape Mr. Shufflebotham’s wrath when he admitted he had forgotten to complete his maths homework,  while peering into his next door neighbour’s bathroom when Mrs. Roly-Poly was you know, doing what people do in the bathroom.

I even got to thinking about whether it was actually Jack who had pulled a reluctant Tom onto the old Pears Soap Cardboard Box the local grocer had thrown away as he shifted himself onto his tiptoes to do his lewd work on Mrs. Roly-Poly instead. Poor Tom, if only he had been as quick to run as Jack had, perhaps we would have associated the lack of a suitable moral compass with Peeping Jack instead.

As you can appreciate (I’m sure), the endless possibilities were doing my head in so I brought up my trusted Google and set out to solve this complicated and pressing mystery. For once, I must admit, the actual literal version of how Tom came to be prefixed with Peeping is actually much more interesting than any of my versions. I know, it sux but such is the way of life.

Damn, I hate not being the most intelligent person in the Universe but I console myself by believing it’s someone else’s fault instead of mine, like many of my generation living in these times. But that again, is another blog post.

Why Writers shouldn’t end up with one another …

Okay, so we’re constantly being told about how it’s nice to end up with someone on the same page as you, you know, so you can share your trials and tribulations of a hard day’s work with that special someone.

If you’re a teacher, why wouldn’t you want to come back home and explain how you just received a letter from that student who you thought was your best one yet outlining twelve possible reasons why he wants to kill you slowly and meticulously? On the other hand, as a Doctor, what could possibly be better than coming back home after an arduous twelve hour shift and sharing why that patient you “accidentally” left a pair of scissors in after slicing them open is going to sue you for everything you got?

Hey, at least your partner’s got your back, right? Plus, as an added bonus in the Doctor’s case, your divorce hearing is going to be short and sweet.

Even if you can’t quite wrap your brainy tentacles around why anyone on earth would ever want to get with someone who is most likely to have had exactly the same day as you (unless you are truly aiming for the award for the most boring life ever, then please go ahead), there are some absolutely undeniable facts as to why writers should stay clear of one another – at least in the “relationship” field:

1. Every time your partner politely asks you to go shopping, frantic alarm bells ring uncontrollably in your head because you know the shopping list is going to read like a novel and the last 24 hour Walmart in your area has a restraining order out on you because you never leave the premises. Seriously. It’s not your fault; it just took you that long to get through the list, that’s all.

2. Your children end up falling asleep before you get through the first line of a bedtime story because you and your partner are too busy discussing the appropriateness of commencing a fable with “Once Upon a Time”. You’re still discussing how Snow White taking an apple from the Evil Queen (and anyway – who would fall for that pathetic disguise in the first place?) is not realistic enough considering all the “Stanger Danger” lectures out there when your kids wake up in the morning.

3. A surprise ending is always so predictable because you understand the way your partner’s mind works for a climatic end. They wine and dine you and it’s already playing out in your head because you’ve been editing their novels for as long as you can remember. The only move that may shock you – the “you’ve been served” rendition when the postman hands you your “out of the blue” divorce request. To top it all off, instead of being devastated, you’re proud of them and you ring them up to say that that elusive cliff-hanger ending they’ve been working so hard to achieve is in the bag, baby!

4. Your partner cooks you (or at least what you believe to be) a subliminal inducing dinner and you are unable to give them false criticism because you take your role as a critic very seriously but you still want to be encouraging about the devastation anyway and end up saying “It’s nice honey. I mean it’s no Pulitzer Prize but just keep at it, You know, practice does make perfect. No matter how impossible it may feel right now. To both of us”.

5. Wait though. There’s more. The most devastating result of ending up with another writer. Your children have been so severely traumatised by having to grow up in a household with two people who believe everything they do (including the act of breathing) should be penned down, when career day comes around, they finally build up the courage to tell you, wait for it – they want to be Doctors!

Now what could possibly be worse than that? It’s settled, you’ve officially failed as parents.

On the bright side though, you may finally have that tragedy you’ve been meaning to write for years but haven’t been buoyed adequately enough for by that gut wrenching experience you absolutely need to feel in order to do so. Nobel Laureate in literature – here I come!

Indian Allergies – Part Two

Firstly, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for my unusual, shocking ability to remember what I’d promised more than 60 seconds ago this one time when most of you probably wished I hadn’t!

I come armed with Part Two of My Indian Allergies Post secretly ecstatic that no tomato stains will inflict my pristine veneer when you smash them in desperate agony at your computer screen, because washing up more than twice a day is a serious bore for me. So here goes:

7. Indians are genetically allergic to anything below 100%. We like the look of a skinny “1” followed by two fat rounds “O’s”. You get 97% in anything in life; everyone around you is going to be disappointed. It’s as simple as that, which is probably why I am constantly struggling with my weight, unless it’s 100% fat free I’m not going to be un-Indian and ingest that “try hard”, “wannabe” fat free chip right there shamelessly celebrating its underachievement.

8. Indians are by nature allergic to any outdoor activities, which is why camping is such a BIG No-No for us. If I absolutely have to camp, like in the heat trodden majestic outdoors of Rajasthan’s Ranthambhore, my tent better be a five star accommodation like this. Complete with electricity, running water, a television and the absolute imperative power point to plug my laptop in. Indians and IT, we’re inseparable.

9. What the heck is a “DIY” apart from an absurd juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated letters? What in the World would possess anyone to do something themselves when there are clearly other options? Indians just don’t get it. If we can find someone (and we know we will) to remove that transformer toy car wedged between the kitchen counter and the wall with nothing more than a spatula that was designed (or at least reworked) for this very purpose and some used chewing gum, you know we will. We just need to find the one of many “LIT” (learnt it themselves) potentials on the street outside our home.

10. Indians are highly, toxically allergic to personal space and talking in what we consider to be inaudible soundwaves (by this, I mean saying anything that can’t be physically heard by everyone within a 50 metre radius). We’re the second largest population on the globe fast becoming the first. This is not a choice; it’s a survival mechanism that would put Charles Darwin to shame. Getting heard and a space to call your own, now that is near to impossible.

11. Indians are allergic to most professions unless it has taken us at least seven years to complete them. If you’re not in Information Technology, Medicine, Engineering, Finance and a few choice others, we’re going to be looking at you sceptically if you tell us you’re an Indian because we’re not going to believe that your family gives a crap about your “achievements”.

12. We’re distrusting of any Indian family that doesn’t have a clear boundary that would put the Indo-Pak border to shame between their normal family stuff and those reserved for the guests that may or may not be worthy of bringing out the new stuff (namely bed linen and bath towels along with other toiletry essentials). The very thought of this ever occurring is enough to induce excited champagne popping dreams by all the kids in the family if this does in fact, ever happen. This dream, just so you know, is hardly ever realised and is instead passed down the many, many generations to come.

13. We do not understand the idea of different genres in movies?! Why would you ever restrict yourself to just one? An Indian cinema experience involves everything jam packed, Van Damme crammed into one movie – romance, fighting, tragedy, action, musical, dancing, singing and that’s just in the first five minutes. You want it, we’ve got it!

Because my computer has started steaming at the abhorrent, unjust onslaught I am pounding away on my keyboard at the moment, I’m going to stop. I promise that my intentions were noble and that I did think that this would be over by now, but it turns out that Indians are allergic to a lot more than I had previously thought. I know, poor us. All sympathy baskets and donations can be sent to the following address:

Indian Allergy Donations Headquarters:
The first Indian family you find (NOTE: Just mention these words in the following order “we’re sorry for the allergies inflicted upon you courtesy your DNA”) and they’ll know what you mean. They’ll probably invite you in with their “come, come” and force feed you till you’re on the verge of requiring an ambulance.

See you later my adorable peeps 🙂

You need to shut up sometimes

I am a big supporter of the age old adage of keeping your mouth shut if you have nothing worthwhile to say. Often, just because you can say something doesn’t necessarily mean you should go ahead and let it rip! I was never made more aware of this philosophy than in my first year of Journalism studies.

In the famous words of Stan Lee, “with great power there must also come great responsibility”, it is terrifyingly easy for those of us in journalism and the media to forget that we are in a very fortunate, but dangerous position of influencing a lot of people reading and/or listening to our work.

Our audiences are often poles apart – from the aged to the very informative young, those that blotch an entire spectrum of social status & class, and those who (though it may be a little disrespectful to admit, but how we journalists at times dissect our readership/listener base) vary in intelligence and simple, good old fashioned common sense (an increasing rarity in modern times unfortunately!).

Journalists wield a great amount of power that is directly correlated to the magazines, television stations, newspapers and other forms of media we work for. The freedom of speech act is a card pimped around a lot by journalists who often try to cover up what we write/say and as a human rights activist, I strongly agree with the ability to give a voice to those of us who are more often than not, ignored. But what about when that speech is treacherously bordering on inciting hate, discrimination, negativity and the blatant ability to bully an individual/organisation because they clearly aren’t in a position to provide a comeback?

I have been a part of very large Australian based publishing houses (as well as the number one arguably) and as much as I hate to admit it, I cringe at the “stories” that have been reported by some of the big guns I have written/worked for. It would seem that our media outlets are so brazenly deciding what is Gospel now, we no longer have to cloak our “opinions” as “newsworthy stories” for the greater good, because now what we say is what goes, similar to the common bullying antics repeated in the murky corners of the school playground of “it’s right because I say so”.

But it isn’t, is it? Journalism evolved from a noble concept, a strong belief that the people had the right to know, where events were presented as objectively and unbiasedly as humanely possible, where we trusted the integrity and intellect of our audience to shape their own perspectives and viewpoints. What changed? Why do we in the media feel the need to dictate what others think and who/what they should support in a world we pride ourselves on as democratic?

Are our viewers no longer knowledgeable enough to make up their own minds? I would strongly disagree. What I do believe however is that we in the media have, as all humans regretfully eventually do at the first sniff of it, become power crazy, hungry for more, devouring the possibility of ruling those who we can as much as we can.

History is testament to exploitation failing and that is the real reason I believe news is a dying phenomenon, not the reality television shows wrapping their tentacles over unsuspecting viewers’ minds the way some would have us believe.

The cancer attacking “real news” is the need to control, not the diminishing rationality of our potential audience. I would suggest that if we start presenting “real news” the way our virtuous profession set out to do when it started all those centuries ago, news will become cool again.

And until we can do that, could we please learn to think before we write/speak? There is no shame in shutting up sometimes.