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Yoosk today! - Immigration

Immigration in Britain: the debate rages on. Join in to ask journalists Nick Ryan, Shelina Begum and UKIP MEP Gerard Batten what has to be done to ensure smoother integration?

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Posted by DesiGirl 12:16 pm 4 comments Links to this post  

My new home!

I have moved! Please follow this link to my new abode and don't forget to change your bookmarks!!

Chez Moi - my new home away from home.

Posted by DesiGirl 1:39 pm 1 comments Links to this post  

Celebrity Obsession

Media and its love of sensationalism is well known. Celebrities sell papers, as we are told repeatedly. But this week, British media took this statement to new levels.

The past week, parts of England have been buffeted by high winds and heavy rains and quite a lot of people have lost their homes, property and some, even their lives. When GMTV was reporting this dismal state of affairs in the Midlands, they cut short the report rather rudely to LA, where jailbird Paris Hilton was sprung early from the clink, thanks to good behavior. This, of course, made the good people of Britain splutter into their morning cuppa and lodge complaints against this behaviour in great numbers. The programme issued an apology in this morning's episode.

Radio station heart (106.2 FM) pulled a similar stunt yesterday as well. The news report ran somewhat like this '... today's top news: socialite Paris Hilton is freed from jail. Oh and by the way, three people lost their lives in Sheffield'. Outraged squawks could be heard across the South East.

Whilst I agree that no one wants to shell out good money to read everyday stories of your Average Joe, I still think the media should display a little more empathy and a little less TRP love. The flooding is going on in our own backyard, fellow Brits are suffering and why are we bothered about a spoiled brat of a rich American kid and when she's let out of the slammer ?

Posted by DesiGirl 7:24 pm 6 comments Links to this post  

Trumpeting My Own Greatness...

.... cos no one will do it for me! Nah, seriously, this is one of those 'feel good' tags, I'm told by the blessed being that tagged me. Some folks have loads of things to write home about. After reading Prems' impressive list, I can safely conclude I will not be one of them. So what the hell am I going to list in the '8 things I am proud of'? Good q!

1. Ok, let's see .... having a 'never say never' attitude that has seen me through the tough times; a Flubber-like mentality that refuses to be squashed or sat upon. There's a solution to every problem, that's my firm belief. Until you find it, there's always Plum and A R Rahman to take your mind off it!

2. My indomitable courage that saw me recently live in firang land with just little P for company. Though the pressure of being the sole being responsible for him was scary, it got easier. The same courage helped me deal with P's operation in India before he turned a year old and S's major car crash in the UK on the same day without folding.

3. My determination to see things to their bitter end, like, getting that blasted driving licence even after two years (on and off, not continuous!) of lessons and a few attempts. Refusing to throw in the towel though S has suggested I give it up.

4. Never bowing down to what's 'cool' and what's not. Not caring a hoot about being different.

5. My dreams. My impossibly grand dreams. Dreams of making it big, of setting up my family for life, of becoming someone of note, becoming a person P would say 'that's my mummy!'

6. Starting off in my job as a newbie, but learning the inner workings of it through sheer diligence and climbing a good many notches in a span of two years. And now, having the guts to change direction yet again and go into uni.

7. Never admitting a weakness as one, fully expecting to get out of it by blagging my way out of it. 'Ride a bike? Why when can have a better time letting someone else do it for me?' 'Housework? Why when I can immerse myself in my latest book and have a far better time?'

8. Above all, am proud of me for my beautiful boy - I know he is his own person and all that jazz but seeing him, listening to the way he processes things and the way he is, well, some of that should be from me, right?

Ok, I have to tag 8 people to carry on this torture - so, Apu, Ams,Dee, Kishmish, Suj, MM, Tharini and Dubukks - take it away, folks!

Remember the rules :

1. You have to say eight things about you that you are proud of yourself. Then write the rules at the end.

2. You have to tag eight others to follow tag. You have to let them know you have tagged them.

Posted by DesiGirl 6:06 pm 14 comments Links to this post  

Teen Performs C-Sec To Get Into The Record Books

The Hippocratic Oath, according to Wikipedia, " an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine." As even us non-medical professionals know, thanks to a decade of ER and such, upholding the Oath is of vital importance to a physician. Though segments of the original Greek words have been modified to suit the modern times, the essence of it remains the same. To do no harm to those who come in search of a cure.

I guess this is where the good doctors K Murugesan and his wife, M Gandhimathay slipped. In their eagerness to be the proud parents of a Guinness Records certified 'World's Youngest Surgeon', they veered off their Oath-sworn path and well into the path of controversy. By allowing their 15-year-old son, Dileepan Raj, to perform a c-section on one of their patients, they have caused moral and ethical outrage within the medical community and across the general populace. As doctors, their duty is towards the welfare of their patient - in this case, a pregnant mother and her unborn infant. How can they put that aside and entertain thoughts of world records and such at this stage?

Not stopping at operating on that poor woman, 27-year-old Neela, the doctorsparents decided to go further and let the whole world and its wife know what a pistol they have for a son. They filmed the operation (oh the ignominy of it!) and premiered it at the Indian Medical Association's meeting on May 6. When the assembled brethren didn't gasp in wonder but in dismay at this, Dr Murugesan quipped, and I quote, “If a 10-year-old can drive a car and a 15-year-old can become a doctor in the US, what is wrong if my son, though not qualified, performs a surgery?”

Let's see if we can tell the good doctor what is wrong. Googling for the Hippocratic Oath netted me the gems the doctors have forgotten:

1. To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority - Strike one - having an unskilled boy, perform a complex operation as a caesarean-section, thereby risking not one but two lives is a big no no. I cannot imagine anyone feeling better at the thought of having the proud parents hovering over their son's hands and guiding them.

2. Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else's interest - it wasn't in anyone else's interest but their own, so that they could see their son's name on the Guinness Book of World Records. That they didn't cause GBH to the mother or the baby is a blessing. So, strike two!

3. To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them - The mother of them all, 'for the good of my patients', has been wiped off the memory banks of the culprits. Strike three!

Three strikes, doc - you're out!

IMA's less than enthusiastic response and the resulting fallout possibly triggered a late reaction in his brain and Doc Murugesan back pedalled furiously to keep self and wife out of disbarment and further negative publicity. He has denied that the offspring actually took the scalpel in his own bare hands and cut open a woman's belly. Apparently, the boy just watched, while his dad did the deed. Maybe. But what about his claim to the Kumudam Reporter that his boy has been performing such operations from the time he was 12?

With the IMA urging disbarment and the local Health Minister promising 'tough action' if the whole incident could be proven, the future seems a bit sticky for the doctors. But no one can get their hands on a copy of the offending video - maybe the doctors came to their senses and burned the evidence. I, for one, hope that someone locks these offending individuals up and throw away the key. What sort of a doctor, what sort of a person does such a thing?

Growing ear hair to get your name on the record books is one thing; wilfully endangering a person's lives is a different kettle of fish. I say, punish these idiots and make an example out of them. Maybe that will deter other idiots from trying to create such vile records, like the nut who tried to make waves by performing 50 hernia operations in 24 hours.

I have an idea for a world record - the doctor who actually put the welfare of his patients above other vainglorious pursuits. How about that? Any takers?

Posted by DesiGirl 6:00 pm 5 comments Links to this post  

Vote for the Taj Mahal

The first and only time (so far!) I visited Taj Mahal was also the first and only family trip I took along with my parents and the sibling. I had just finished my Class X Board exams and was feeling like I had conquered K2. Wandering around the streets of Delhi in the mad May heat is something I wouldn't recommend to anybody but the madcaps that we were, we did it anyway! The day we landed in Agra was one of the hottest days of that summer and I could feel the leftover grey matter getting fried.

The first sight of the Taj Mahal was indescribable. I had goosebumps on my arm and felt the hair at the back of neck stand up. I couldn't believe that in front of me was the Taj Mahal, one of the Wonders of the World, a love icon, standing in that very same spot from the Mughal times.

I have, since then, seen other Wonders like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower but none infused me with the same sense of awe like that first sight of the Taj. This majestic building, standing impressive and somehow lonely, standing all by itself amidst this vast expanse of land stirred something deep within me.

Having grown up reading about Shah Jahan and his testament to his love for his wife, how it took hundreds of men, years and years to complete it. And of course, we’ve also read about how he allegedly blinded the labourers so that they could never build anything half as grand elsewhere. All of which made for some fantastic build-up and the Taj lived up to every bit of the hype – and then some!

As the sun was blazing overhead by the time we reached the monument, the white marble was hot enough to fry eggs. So we didn’t get to do a gentle stroll around it, taking pictures hither and admiring the friezes thither. It was more of a mad dash from one shady spot to another, even as your feet tingled in the contrasting temperatures. And jostle twenty others as we fought for the vantage point to get that particular shot.

Once we came back into the gardens, sandal-ed feet and all, we were hailed by the special photographers milling around us. They promised to get that popular pic of the Taj, wherein you make it seem like you are lifting the impressive monument off its feet by holding to the tip of its dome. My momentary fascination with this vanished when I realised I had to stand there like an idiot, with my right arm sticking up top to complete the effect. Though I balked at this, many people stood so like lemons, though the resultant image made up for it, I suppose.

I have only seen the Taj in pictures and on the telly since and it is my dream to see the Taj at night, to see the marbled structure gleam in the moonlight. I keep telling myself that I’d do it one day, show my son the magic and hopefully see the same awe written on his face.

Living now, amidst the British, I have found that it is the first thing that pops into any firang’s head the minute they hear the word ‘India’. Though the country has a great many icons, the Taj Mahal is our biggest and brightest. Without it as the gateway, the myriad treasures of our country will be lost on the world’s population.

On 7.7.07, a brand new set of Seven Wonders of the World is going to be selected out of 21 worthies. The Sydney Opera House, Petra, the Pyramid at Chichen Itza are some of the icons shortlisted, apart from the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty etc. Not many Indians have heard of this because, as usual, our insipid government hasn’t jumped at the chance to promote this great icon, the one thing that put India on a world traveller’s map. Other countries are vying with one another to get the coveted ‘Wonder of the World’ tag for their treasure. Why isn’t our Tourism industry lifting a finger? As always, it is up to us, the aam junta, to show to the world what a treasure we have in the Taj Mahal. So please, fellow desi bloggers, pass the world – blog about your feelings about the Taj Mahal. And please vote for the Taj! Let the world know it fully deserves to be known as a Wonder of the World.

Posted by DesiGirl 9:45 pm 9 comments Links to this post  

Mind Your Language

Have you wondered where your English language is from? As in, the type of language you speak is it English, American, Australian or any other. I never questioned the source of mine till very recently. From school, I learnt the English left over from the colonial days. Spelt armour, valour, colour etc with a u, waTer with a ‘t’ and not a ‘d’ well, you get my drift. But thanks to STAR TV and Hollywood, I also learnt some Americanisms along the way I knew about Route 66, pronounced schedule as skedjool, route as rout and could generally follow the plot of an American movie without subtitles.

When I moved to UK, I did not feel out of place as after all, I have been learning English all my life! Till the day I blurted out loud at work ‘where’s the F in lieutenant?’ and caused a mini uproar (‘please don’t swear ….’, ‘I beg your pardon’) of sorts. After my team mates had stopped wetting themselves, they set up educating me in the ways of the world. So I learnt to say ‘leftinent’ and ‘shedule’ and words of similar ilk.

You would think, having grown up learning Colonial English, I would have no problems fitting in with the Brits. Right? Wrong! I was under that mistaken impression till I switched on the telly and sat through day-time TV. I did not understand a word and had to fumble along, aided by that marvellous invention called Teletext! I ended up begging people's pardons every other minute, asking them to repeat what they said. Of course, they couldn't understand what I was going on about, when in my eagerness to sound less desi, I tried mimicking the accent oft-heard on STAR TV and ended sounding like Buffy gone bad.

For starters, there was the accents - hundreds of them. Geoff Boycott's 'crickeet' and 'wickeet' had me in splits when I used to watch the game but now, when I had a lady asking me if the boos would be along soon, it took me a long time to get her. Even after six years, I still get thrown by the odd word: had an interviewer on the phone today (I work for a social research firm) asking me for what sounded like 'used diaries' and I was perplexed at the request. Used diaries? Whatever for, went I, till the bulb went on in my brain a good few minutes later, when I realised he was asking me for some 'youth diaries'!

That is when I came to realise what a minefield the varied British accent is. Most Eastenders seemed to have lost or misplaced the hard 't' that is found in almost every word. If it comes at the end of the word, well that's easy enough to understand but when faced with a request to get someone some 'wa-er', what can one do but blink? Most people in Essex also seem to forget to pronounce 'th' as it must, choosing instead to go with the wildly popular 'f'. Thereby, one sees blokes answering to Arfur or wish someone a 'happy birfday'. P almost killed us the time he sang about the three Kings and assorted junta who went to Beflehem to see the baby Jesus. We also get a 'fank you' for a good deed, even when it is 'nuffink'.

The English, much like the Australians, have this habit of shortening things into something that bears no resemblance to the original word. Thus, sandwiches become sarnies, potato patties become tatties, pinafore is a pinny, the list is positively endless. This is before we even venture into the murky waters of Cockney rhyming slang. 'Don't you tell porkies', admonishes a character in EastEnders. It was a while before I twigged (porky pie ~ lie; hence porkies = lies) - phew! Thus, I have found that I was taking the Michael, Bob was my uncle and on one memorable occasion, urged to ask for the William (the bill!). Who says the Brits have no sense of humour?

All in all, I have often felt the language I was taught all my life in India bears not much resemblance to the one I have been learning the past six years. The advantage is, I can truly say I learn new things every day!

Posted by DesiGirl 9:56 pm 3 comments Links to this post  

The Apprentice: Was Katie's Exit Staged?

Was anyone shocked with the outcome of last night's episode of The Apprentice? I was! I thought it would be an all-girl final like last year, between Kristina and Katie. Whilst I was hoping that Tre might get a look in, I never thought Scatterbrain Simon would make it. I most certainly did not even dream that Katie would get chosen for the final but would step down. With such a flimsy excuse too.

I mean, to say she cannot make the decision to move her family from Exeter to London without consulting her parents, who help look after her children smacks of something unprintable. Which parent takes up or goes for a job without thinking about things like childcare, schools etc? Conversely, which parent expects their child, shortlisted for the final, to check with them first before signing her life away? Give me a break!

Even before I went for my job interview (which, ironically, took place at Amstrad House - where the winning Apprentice would work!) I checked out the local daycare facilities for P and he had started the nursery three weeks before I joined my company, to give us both decent lead time to get used to the new state of things. And this 'man-eater', this 'go getter' who is in it to win it wants us all to believe that she cannot offer that sort of commitment? Who is she trying to kid?

The whole show smacked of something straight out of a cartoon. The interviews were all horribly edited. Poor Tre kept trying to assert the credibility of his organisation but the Western mind could not comprehend the meaning of a 'family business' in an Asian setting and the interviewer kept mocking him. When he gave his report to Sir Alan, claiming Tre was 'running an international conglomerate from his bedroom', I thought it was a cheap shot.

Likewise, the whole charade of Sir Alan giving Katie the benefit of the doubt and allowing her to go through, even though all of his advisers said there was something about her they don't trust, only to come back to her and dig the reason why she wasn't whooping with joy... the scenario just didn't cut the mustard, unfortunately. I think some serious editing has happened for it to come across the way it did.

Whatever it was, the Apprentice is becoming more and more a reality game show, more along the lines of Big Brother, rather than a credible, grey cells worthy programme. Sound bytes are given prominence, in place of truth and I, for one, am fast losing interest. What's more, I would not be the least bit surprised if Katie wound up in next year's Celebrity Big Brother or I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! lineup.

Posted by DesiGirl 10:14 pm 5 comments Links to this post