Lady Luck Speaks

Desi dating and desires from the doctor of delight.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Five...

Five is not the loneliest number. One is, as Filter told us in their long-forgotten hit.

Five is the number of fiction books I've read this year. I've tried my level best to get myself a copy of Gautam Malkarni's 'Londonistani' but the Waterstones I went into had run out. A pity, since Malkarni seems like a nice guy - just like that Sathnam Sangera from the FT.

I have however, had the misfortune to have read this effort and the much-hyped 'Brick Lane' in the past - which makes me more than qualified to have an opinion on Sarfraz Mansoor's latest piece in today's Observer.

Mansoor's piece comments on what the reading public expects from an Asian fiction writer, with 'authenticity' being the bugbear of multiculturalism. Readers are supposedly fed-up of seeing writers credited with telling typically Asian stories coming from an 'atypical' background - think either Oxbridge-educated, mixed race, in mixed-race relationships or all of the above.

He considers the valid example of recently-lauded 'Foxy-T', written by an ethnic Englishman. Tony White's portrayal of Bengali immigrants is similar to Malkarni's portrayal of disaffected Hounslow boys. What makes White artistic and Malkarni 'inauthentic'? An atypical background doesn't stop you from a) having an imagination and b) writing well. I'm agreed with Sam Leith that 'middle-class people - mixed-race or otherwise - are more likely to get their books published', purely because class and education do make a difference.

If you've benefited from a good education, you'll have read a lot more, thought a lot more about literary technique, and be more likely in the first place to think that writing a novel is worth your while.

Aspirations aside, it's disappointing to see Asians who do well being held up for intense scrutiny. The triple burden of being either a historian, spokesperson or role-model shouldn't be imposed on people who don't set out wanting to be one.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Another week goes by...

Very little of note has happened this week. Former firm crush has decided not to reply to my textual inquisition, leading me to believe he has either a) given me a false phone number or b) gone off me. I'm not especially fussed (he's on the portly side) - I tend to find most men repulsive after a little while anyway!

I've also developed a new crush on an SPR colleague working for another team - his wrists are a spectacle to behold, attached to manly and capable hands. His wife is one *very* lucky woman!

Alas, as the sophistication and maturity of my crushes increases, I am disappointed to find this bears a direct proportion to their unavailability.

*sigh*

Maybe one day, I'll have the luck of my mutant exes and get myself a functional relationship; it's interesting to note the only ex I don't wish ill-will upon has himself tried and failed to do this!

Monday, April 24, 2006

LOVE HATE MUSIC RACISM

Hello to one and all!

I'm more than flattered to find myself syndicated on an RSS feed - big up to the guys at http://kottu.org!

Today has been spent moonlighting at the London Fertility Centre, assisting in egg donation and IVF procedures. A very rewarding experience, I might add, given the happiness a little cutie-pie can bring to your life :)

I received this email from the guys at LoveHateMusicRacism. It's written in response to the BNP's proposed popularity at the May 4th local elections.

It's slightly sensationalist, but hey - if we need music to get the anti-fascist message across, so be it. - "If we don't act now, not only can the BNP win seats, but everywhere they get publicity or win votes by stoking up racism, racist attacks against any non-white people or 'foreigners' will shoot up."

Their major London event is in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 29th April – a rally with music against racism. Through music from high profile artists such as Belle and Sebastian, Roll Deep, Babyshambles and Lethal Bizzle, and speeches from celebrities and political figures, the team hope to send out a nationwide message saying 'no' to racism.

The guys have already received considerable national press, radio and TV interest and we want to give the press a photocall with as many bands, MCs, singers, young people and music fans opposing the BNP from across London as possible so please push the boat out and tell everyone you know to come down to the press call on the 26th as well as the carnival itself.

Please contact Jody Mills 020 7420 8938/07768 693 956 or Lee Billingham 07838156052 for further details.

http://lovemusichateracism.com

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm so tired of being alone...

So I ditched revision and started procreastinating this weekend. Fittingly, (and thankfully), I might add, I didn't have to go too far for inspiration. I've had the fantastic Samuel Shem, teaching me about the 'House of God' and the unusually-active blogosphere to keep me occupied.

Come to think of it, I've actually got Margaret Hodge to thank for the turnaround for this lady has single-handedly got the left-wing blogosphere up in arms this week! In an attempt to appear 'in-touch' with her constituents (whom she allegedly chooses not to visit, preferring the sunnier climes of Islington), she observed that 'eight out of ten houses canvassed in Barking had considered voting for the BNP' in the upcoming local/European elections.

Cue the furore in the Times, AIM and the Indy - all of which and none of which can be witnessed here, sans the usual discussion of Iraq and Israel. Immortal Radical has examined the 'why' in the most comprehensive manner, putting demographics into the equation, ahead of racism and deprivation. I'm agreed it's a combination of the three factors, in addition to the complacence shown by Labour towards it's traditional support-base.

Sunny boy has also got me busy on the sociological front - Gautam Malkarni, author of 'Londonistani', has written an interesting piece on the masculinasation of British Asian men. Props to making the FT funky - since when has Bombay Bronx ever had a foothold in there? Perhaps this guy is going to get a look-in soon - MIA isn't the only one to get the Lankan talent genes!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Obs and Gobs

The curse of year five has finally befell me; I've started the dreaded obs and gobs and believe me, I've never been more tired!

Two twelve-hour shifts on labour ward yielded three measly caesarian births, sufficient to fill the logbook requirement plus experience in using fetal monitoring and blood presssure machines. Our logbook confirms that we need to witness ten births, seven of which are normal and three of which are caesars. Not a single normal came in during the 24 hours I was present. There must be something in the NW-Thames water ;)

A number of observations were made. The first - that midwives like biscuits (and chocolate) and long tea breaks. They tried to hide their Ferrero Rocher stash from my accomplice and I and had no such luck!

The second is that many of the births are to practising muslims, who are primarily of African origin. This is all hunky dory (unfeasible demands for female-only operating teams aside) until FGM aka female circumcision/genital mutilation comes into the picture.

I feel very uncomfortable when a lady who's experienced this comes into the room. It's bad enough playing 'find the urethra' on our side - but the fact she'll never experience the pleasure/conveniences that who've been fortunate enough NOT to have this inflicted upon them is a very upsetting thing. Waris Dirie has helped to raise the profile of this barbaric practice in a significant way. Outlawing the practice in the UK hasn't helped - families choose to go abroad in order to put future generations through pain. It's a topic I'm going to be looking into given it's prevalence amongst our patient population.

I tried to discuss FGM with an atheist neo-con friend of mine - she brought up the valid point that people should judge a religion by it's practice, not it's scriptures. I'm not 100% convinced on this one - Islam (if you read the Koran) isn't inherently evil; if anything, there are messages of great practicality and compassion present in the scripture, considered apt at the time of writing. Many muslims DO lead peaceful lives, contributing significantly to the wellbeing of others. Whilst Western Feminism and the conservative Islam practised today may *not* see eye-to-eye (e.g. the imposition of the abaya on Iranian women), it's interesting to note Muslim women are liberated in ways we Westerners aren't. Witness the discussion on Bikini waxing here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Passing on the coconuts

‘This is Captain Peiris and his crew reporting. I’m pleased to report we shall be reaching our destination in advance of expected time. I’d like to inform you that we shall be changing our display moniker in near future. UL’ usually late’ is a thing of the past. I hope you have enjoyed your journey – thank you for flying Sri Lankan’.

Ten hours of agony on the non-stop express. The three year olds in front of me continue to trade the latest Lankan swearwords at each other and the sleazy Majestic City inhabitant sitting next to me has not given up the chase. I turn for respite from the snoring grandmother on my other side. I’m out of luck. She’s marking time, expanding to fill all space available and blocking my escape route to the aisle with pungent gotukola branches! I take a deep breath and sigh – I’m nowhere near racking up sufficient Skywards points to get myself out of the cattle class.

Half an hour later, I’ve traded a false Sri Lankan SIM card number with MC dude and got myself the view all Lankans know and love – the view where mother Lanka is finally in sight. Forests of coconut palms greet me with their enthusiastic waves, reminding me of their integrity to the country we all know and love.

With uses from the practical (read ‘jute’) to the edible and drinkable (does the term ‘arrack’ ring any bells?), the humble coconut is central to Sri Lankan life. Where better do we see this than on the New Year table, with kiribath, kavum and kokis, not to mention the oil for the pahana lit to bring light and hope for the coming year?

During the past weekend, Sri Lankans around the world have experienced the positive connotations of our national plant. I feel privileged to celebrate belonging to one of the most hardworking, enterprising and law-abiding communities in the UK today. Our high standard of literacy has helped considerably in our quest to integrate as the ‘model minority’. It’s a pleasure to see Lankans represented at the highest levels, most notably in the music industry (Jason Bavanandan, Som Wardner and Nihal Arthanayake from Radio One) and the professions. Even the whitest of institutions, 1930’s Hollywood, had a Lankan representing – Merle Oberon of ‘Wuthering Heights’ fame.

The comparable ease of putting on a sufficiently ‘palatable’ front to the majority comes with its pitfalls. This is where the ‘negative’ connotations of the ‘coconut’ plant come in.

Brown on the outside, white on the inside - superficial westernisation has seen UK Lankans abandon varying amounts of our rich heritage in the quest for acceptance. Whilst the overt post-colonial self-hate embodied by Oberon (she disguised her dark-skinned Sinhalese mother as a chambermaid when visitors came round) is thankfully on the decline, a significant minority of Lankans compete to be ‘whiter than thou’ in a marginally less embarrassing fashion than the Coopers from Goodness Gracious Me.

I’m talking about those Lankans who outwardly reject all connections with their heritage, the people who feel ashamed to learn, let alone speak a Sri Lankan language or be seen in the company of other Asian people. The decision of a competent adult to reject a culture they feel to be irrelevant is one thing, but preventing ones children from learning about their heritage and being perversely pleased when others ask ‘why’ is a ludicrous peculiarity common to Sri Lankans and Sri Lankans only.

Granted, we’ve not got a ‘pop culture’ with the commercial force of Bollywood to keep up with, but it’s a shame to carry the distinction of being the only Asian minority who feel the need to communicate in entirely in English when we meet others of our ilk! What’s even sillier is that it’s not second generation Lankans responsible for this decline – we’ve learnt by example since aunties and uncles do it too!

This writer is also mystified by the ‘allergic reaction’ being Lankan can provoke in when meeting one of these self-haters; the evil glances and stilted conversation aren’t an unwelcome feature in the experience of other minority groups. I am envious when seeing Jews and Arabs so welcoming towards another of their group let alone when watching them rejoice when they see another of the same ethnicity doing well. Established members of both the Indian and Pakistani communities take pleasure in assisting fledgling compatriots up the greasy pole to success, so why do the overwhelming majority of ours singularly distance themselves and refuse to give back what the community have put in? Professional advice, work experience placements and appearances at Sri Lankan events would not go amiss in developing the unity and sophistication our community needs to avoid being sidelined as the assimilated ‘petrol shop boy’ also-rans.

The topic of one-upmanship is a fitting note to end on since our cricketing heroes will be setting foot on British soil next month. I wish the very best of luck to our boys in their efforts in avoiding the dinner dance plague that coincided with their disastrous performance in 1999.

I’d like to point out that clogging up the tour schedule with unnecessary social invites to mediocre occasions in assorted inadequately-ventilated town halls is unfair on a team expected to win at competitive sport. Encouraging the team to have 4am bedtimes on match day is a ridiculous price to pay to get yourself and the team member of your choice on the front page of your social group’s photo album. Cricket is one of the few things Sri Lanka excels at and the hopes of an entire nation rest with our boys. I urge you to swallow your vanity in the name of national pride – it is indeed possible to send off for your signed photo (of a future test series and World Cup winner) at a later date.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Schooldaze

So I'm looking at a Pizza Hut leaflet, thinking of how Queen Margherita's dish has been transformed a heck of a lot since way back when. A comment a colleague went flew threw my brain.

'You went to one HELL of a fun school! We never got to make up our own cult OR do a pizza project!'

Good times, good times - I don't recall ever doing much homework 'til I got to 6th form. All hail the school dork!

Getting Older

I'm pleased to say this next entry isn't as rantastic as the last. A visit to the temple (to get birthday blessings for my brother), proved to be a lifesaver in dampening down the envy raging through my previous post.

Part of the envy stemmed from the fact said friend was extremely slim. Her slenderness stems from her vegetarianism (in addition to suspected anorexia). 'tis logical when you realise that eating less and moving more are the best ways to lose weight.

Since moving more isn't much of an option with the old ankles, swimming, cycling and isolated exercises aside, vegetarianism seems a safe (and compassionate) option.

Incidentally, my brother's birthday present was of this compassionate nature: £100 paid to save a Sri Lankan calf from slaughter. My family members who've done this in the past are all meat (not beef) and fish eaters. Wouldn't more animals be saved if we all laid off the flesh for a while? The obituary of Donald Wilson, founder of the vegan society and articles surrounding his beliefs tell of the suffering pigs and chickens endure on the way to our dinner plates. Thirteen billion animals are slaughtered worldwide for food consumption every year. Given the wastefulness of meat production and the logistics of supply and demand, it'd be rewarding to do our bit for the millions of chickens killed with broken bones and no anaesthetic.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Preliminary witterings...

My first week off since Xmas and I'm already worrying about the next thing. Stupid really, since Sri Lankan New Year was supposed to be about being thankful for what you have and resolving to be a nicer person in the coming year.

I've already been hit by my first bout of jealousy (a rare thing, mind you - I'm more often on t'other end of humanity's worst emotion!). One of my friends has been very lucky with her rotations. She got given the supernumerary one first (Obs & Gynae) and hasn't had to worry about it since. She's also not had setbacks in other areas of her life so hasn't had the chance to be depressed about them like I have.

One thing I would like to mention is extra-curricular activities. Everyone's so resigned to not doing them after they qualify (cue refrains of you won't get time!) , so what (stimulation and enjoyment aside) is the point of me doing them in the first place?

The MDAP form? I don't think so - you could LIE to high heaven on there and still get a job. Do they really have time to check up on everyone when they can't even be bothered to interview us?

Improving myself as a person? I think not. It's been proven you need a personality imbalance (read 'lack of' or 'disorder') to survive in medical school anyway. There are *really* few normal people around.