Monday, September 27

Video of the Day Click for more info

How tough can climbing a tower be?

From what I can tell there's no line or anything. Thrilling stuff. I wouldn't mind giving it a go actually...

Sunday, September 26

Some Music Statistics

I hate Apple. Or more precisely I hate the misplaced value so many place on Apple products. I won't go into a fully fledged rant right now, suffice to say most Apple fans are wrong for liking Apple products.

Which makes my love for my iPod quite ironic. I've only ever owned the one - a 1st generation nano, now over five years old, a length of time which kinda reinforces how much its changed the way I listen to music.

How so you ask? The sound quality? The size? Well in a nutshell it's all to do with the whole iPod/iTunes ecosystem I was forced to use, or more technically the meta data that is synchronised alongside the music its associated with. Ratings, artists and release dates are one thing, but when this iPod specific metadata is combined with smart or dynamic playlists, all sorts of conveniences become possible.

The three on which I particularly rely upon are Add Date, Last Played Date and Playcount. The first allows me to listen to my latest music, while the last two allow me to track the stuff I've not heard for a while, and what tracks I really like (as opposed to the ones I think I do via manual ratings). All these metrics come in handy when I'm listening to my collection on a device that can't hold it all.

Due to my hatred of Apple I have tried to move away, but the plain fact is that no other player keeps track of playcounts and playdates (and if they do, they aren't able to store them universally). I still don't understand how any real music listener can manage the whole process via Mass Storage "drag and drop"; sure you can just hit shuffle but I prefer my weighted and structured randomness. That said I have managed to move away from one half of the equation, having used MediaMonkey for a while as my exclusive music manager. This is able to talk to iPods, as well as making it super easy to figure out what meta data is missing from your collection, as well as allowing you to fill any gaps using Amazon or the like. As yet there is no replacement on the hardware side of things, but you can't have it all.

But anyway, this is where we come to the more interesting part of this post. Since I've got a relatively detailed account of my listening habits over the past five years I can figure out all sorts of statistics surrounding my music taste. For example, after some filtering (I tend to listen to new tracks a lot when I first add them), my top ten artists by number of tracks available are:

  1. Michael Jackson (25)
  2. Bon Jovi (12)
  3. Outlandish (10)
  4. Avenue Q (8)
  5. Alyssia (7)
  6. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (7)
  7. The Rishi Rich Project (6)
  8. Jay-Z (6)
  9. Savage Garden (6)
  10. High School Musical 3 (6)
Ah, HSM, the bane of my life. Anyway, my top ten artists by times played are:
  1. Bon Jovi (583)
  2. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (334)
  3. Savage Garden (322)
  4. Outlandish (268)
  5. Aaliyah (232)
  6. Kelly Clarkson (232)
  7. DJ Sanj (210)
  8. Stereophonics (196)
  9. The Rishi Rich Project (191)
  10. Maroon 5 (182)
So then to normalise this we get rid of those artists I have a single instance of and then divide by tracks available:
  1. Atif Aslam (58)
  2. Savage Garden (53.67)
  3. Salaam Namaste (53.5)
  4. DJ Sanj (52.5)
  5. Bunty Aur Babli (50.5)
  6. Hunterz (50.5)
  7. Spandau Ballet (50)
  8. Foxy Brown (49.5)
  9. Stereophonics (49)
  10. Allure (49)
  11. Bon Jovi (12)
I'm sure Bon Jovi should place higher than that, but hey. However if we look at things on a per-track basis a different picture emerges:
  1. Atif Aslam - Bheegi Yaadein (75)
  2. Yaraan Naal Baharaan - Le Mein Teri (69)
  3. Chocolate - Halka Halka Sa Yeh Sama (65)
  4. Jal - Lamhe (62)
  5. Mr. Big - To Be With You (62)
  6. Savage Garden - Affirmation (62)
  7. Ahmed Jahanzeb - Kaho Ek Din (61)
  8. Bon Jovi - Keep the Faith (60)
  9. Will Young - Your Game (60)
  10. Avril Lavigne - I'm With You (60)
  11. The Rishi Rich Project - Aj Kal (60)
Some super random picks there. But even this picture is a little skewed, since it doesn't take into account how long the tracks have, uh, been tracked for. So, finally, dividing by age gives the following:
  1. James Morrison - Broken Strings (feat. Nelly Furtado)
  2. Atif Aslam - Bheegi Yaadein
  3. Yaraan Naal Baharaan - Le Mein Teri
  4. Chocolate - Halka Halka Sa Yeh Sama
  5. Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - Sajna Aa Bhi Jaa
  6. Jal - Lamhe
  7. Savage Garden - Affirmation
  8. Mr. Big - To Be With You
  9. Ahmed Jahanzeb - Kaho Ek Din
  10. Will Young - Your Game
  11. The Rishi Rich Project - Aj Kal
Which is more like it. I had to include Aj Kal since it's such a tune.

Book: Al-Muhasibi's Treatise For The Seekers of Guidance, Zaid Shakir Click for more info

You know, it's always difficult reviewing a book about Islam. You see, a lot of them have a built in protection mechanism - criticise or reject what they say and be labelled an ignorant, blind and misled fool who has a hard heart, for whom there is no hope anyway. Still, seeing as I'm hardly the best of Muslims in the first place I don't think I have much to lose.

Despite the title of the book, what we actually have here is more of a commentary on a commentary, or an opinion of an opinion. Al-Muhasibi's treatise itself doesn't seem to be that long, but after translation and tasfir-like analysis can commentary by Zaid Shakir, we end up with a 200 page volume of moral guidance and advice, most of which is presented in a pretty dry manner. I would say that I only really comprehended 60-70% of the book, with the rest passing over my head (despite multiple attempts at re-reading the passages in question).

Aside from that, I did find the book to be a little too preachy for my liking. Of course, this could have been because I have a lot to correct about myself, but still there is something about the delivery of advice which may give it a greater power to it's recipients. A large deal of this advise is also presented in the form of metaphor (of the aforementioned "hard heart" type), no doubt evidence of the Sufi roots of the original author. Although very useful for many, I tend to be less receptive to the non-literal - but this is a personal preference more than a criticism of the book.

And so the biggest value I drew from the book was the more obvious and direct advice it had on offer. Snippets like suggesting we keep our anger in check, that we guard our tongues (and fingers?) from talking rubbish and bickering, and to continuously question your intent all served as excellent reminders to enable us to live our lives in a better way. I felt that most of this could also be seen as secular advice - and so useful for everyone, be they Muslim or even religious or not - which in my view increases its value even more as it reaches a more universal level.

And it's actually these bits which, ultimately, made the book a good read for me. Although sparse, the value I extracted was and will genuinely be useful in changing how I choose to live my life on a day to day basis, and that alone is enough for me to recommend this book to others.

Wednesday, September 22

Fall Season 2010

Is it sad that I'm more excited about the return of television than any long-lost friend? Having said that I seem to be less enthused about my serials now than I have been in past years. What's ironic is that I fully expect it to be my main source of entertainment once I'm married and having babies, so perhaps I should just archive everything for that?

But I digress. What's certain is that, yes, it's September and that means the return of the US television schedule. As usual, let's start with a review of the year gone by - a lot has happened actually.

First up, I'm still mourning the loss of the two great heavyweights of Lost and 24. Probably my most anticipated shows in recent times, I do think that the loss of both is one of the reasons why I'm not that hot about television this year. Also fallen by the wayside is Little Mosque, a show that was never the same past its Season 3. It was a crime to replace Magee. Still-born this year were 10 Things, Flash Forward (as they got axed) and V (as it was rubbish).

In place of all this loss is a whole bunch of sitcoms, most of which I've not even begun to catch up on. The full list includes Gavin & Stacey (which I did watch some of), Parks and Recreation (Aziz Ansari FTW), Modern Family ("Why the face?"), The Inbetweeners, Community, 30 Rock and Cougar Town. Phew. Oh, and I also intend on catching up on Scrubs at some point. And in terms of regular drama there is, of course, Glee, which although mediocre otherwise is a must see for the song and dance.

Which leaves us with the regulars. Both One Tree Hill and Smallville refuse to die, although we have been told that it really is the final season of the latter (I may throw a party if so). Doctor Who is weird post-Tennant. Family Guy is, believe it or not, becoming a little boring and staid. House is surprisingly enough pretty much the best show I watch now. Overall though, I've quite confident that I'll actually be able to watch all my shows on time this year. How refreshing.

So there you have it. 2010 seems to be the year I transition from engaging drama to not so distracting sitcom. Is this something that reflects a deeper change regarding a change in my own priorities? Don't be absurd; after all it's only television we're talking about here.

Video of the Day

Here's a cute one which I'm sure a few will relate to:

A while back I decided to stop talking myself out from doing stuff. I have had partial success, but am now known in some circles as the guy who doesn't think before he talks/emails/tweets/sings. I've not been in as much trouble as I should, although my current experiment of complimenting random people on the Tube isn't going as well as I thought it would.

Thanks to Humaira for the link.

Sunday, September 19

New Music

Wouldn't Change A Thing - Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam

The only decent song from the OST of a really dire Original Disney Movie sequel. I'd be ashamed to admit to having an opinion on this if I hadn't already given a similar one. Now, where's that cliff again?

Your Song - Elton John

It's good because it's so real, you know?

Saturday, September 18

Film: Devil Click for more info

I don't get M. Night Shyamalan. I mean I do understand his films (and that usually before the half way mark), I just don't get how he's become such a big brand. I don't think his films are bad, just not that great. I certainly don't think that The Sixth Sense's ending was the best thing to ever happen in film. Perhaps if his stuff wasn't all so long and dry I'd have a different opinion.

Anyway, Devil. I guess it's already quite clear what I think about this one - it's the same old Shyamalan, although perhaps one that is mercifully short this time around. Everything else is pretty derivative, from the acting to the plot, although I did feel a bit cheated by the unsubstantiated twist; although a lack of guess-ability is usually a good thing, it's not when it's random and as a result of an arbitrary event. But anyway.

Not bad, but not great, I guess I can mildly recommend Devil for those with nothing else better to do.

Wednesday, September 15

An Audience With Aamir Khan

True to my secret desire to be a girlie Bollywood groupie, I spent a couple of hours around noon in the audience of a live recording of Aamir Khan being interviewed by the Asian Network's Raj and Pablo. I almost didn't make it - between it being during work hours and friends and family not actually caring I was struggling to find someone to go with me, even resorting to asking random people I had just met at work (they were busy). But I didn't have to go alone after all and I finally managed to find someone sad enough (that is, as sad as me) to tag along.

Even though we arrived there early we were still pushed to the balcony; not a bad thing seeing as we has a clear and fine view of the intimate setting from which Aamir and the boys would do their thing. After the standard BBC boilerplate Rablo came out to waste more of our time before - finally - Aamir came out.

I'll say it straight up: I was impressed. He was grounded, well spoken and entertaining. Even when he was singing his own praises it was, paradoxically, with humility. He was always consistent, but funny, animated and serious when he had to be. To be honest he made his counterparts in Rablo look like total amateurs.

Ah, Raj and Pablo. Even though I do like these guys (I've been on their show a couple of times), I don't think they quite have what it takes to maximise an opportunity like the one they had today. If you contrast it with, I dunno, Sonia Deol's recent interview with Dev Anand, it becomes quite clear how lacking the AN is in raw radio interviewing talent. There was minimal chemistry and rapport built with Aamir, but luckily he was able to manage the flow of conversation better than his hosts were.

The audience itself wasn't as bad as it could have been. Yes, there were the swooning sycophants all declaring how honoured they were to be in the presence of someone they clearly thought came from heaven, followed by inane questions asking how he handled being so utterly awesome. And these were just the guys talking. Oh and although I knew I shouldn't have been, I was a little amused by the two pairs of topi'd and bearded guys with their hijabi wives. So cute. Everyone else was more or less split into girls-in-black, girls-in-shalwar-kameez and typical-Asian-bloke. As usual, there were no prizes for originality at an Asian event such as this one.

Still, there were a few good questions; the one I liked the most was from a girl asking who Aamir's favourite acting Khan was. After some to and fro-ing he eventually answered "Yusuf Khan" (aka Dilip Kumar). Very cool. Unfortunately all these questions were pre-fielded, which I always thought was a sucky way of holding a live interview; I wanted to ask him how his Eid was.

Overall it was good enough interview to have been in the audience of, and as I mentioned before I did come away impressed with Aamir, someone who potentially could have been a great fat let down in person. And in classic Shak style I expressed this sentiment by shouting "Aamir I love you!" toward the silent end of the interview.

Girlie Bollywood groupie I am then.

Tuesday, September 14

Link of the Day Click for more info

What stole happiness away from Chinese people?

Although I've recently been getting a lot of links and forwards apparently vindicating the attitude of life I've been preaching on my blog, I've found most of them to be quite long and boring (and so often missing the point). But this one is quite short and accessible, and refrains from getting out of hand by avoiding talking too much about metaphorical paths to enlightenment and all that jazz.

Thanks to Steve for the link.

Sunday, September 12

Film: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Click for more info

In many ways Scott Pilgrim is a couple of years too late - geek has been cool for a good while now. Still, that doesn't quite stop Scott Pilgrim to be a fair homage to pop culture (videogames in particular), and we do end up with a half decent movie as a result. I especially loved the No More Heroes references. I really must go back to that game at some point.

Yes there is a love story in there somewhere and perhaps even some moral lesson, but really this film is only about the specials and the imagery, the fan service and the geeky dialogue. That said, I reckon the film was more accessible than it could have been.

Michael Cera was brilliant as usual, this time flanked by a equally cool cast. Mary Elizabeth Winstead did well as the sassy yet down to Earth Ramona. Still I can't help but feel that Scott pilgrim wasn't as totally awesome as it could have been; it's nearly there, but desperately missing that extra something to have made it a venerable classic. Still as it stands I heartily give it a recommendation.

Video of the Day Click for more info

Even if you're not into hot women you might appreciate some of the geek references below. Or maybe just Seth Green.

Geek and Gamer Girls Song

Milynn's my favourite.

EDIT: If the video isn't working for you, try downloading it from here.

Saturday, September 11

Shak's Choice: Malaika Arora

Just two words really: Munni Badnaam.

It's just a crying shame that she's married to a Khan, and another example of how crazy this world can be.

As an aside, can you believe it's been ten months since my last Choice? I must be getting old.

New Music

Yup, it's the Post-Ramadhan binge!

Love The Way You Lie - Eminem feat. Rihanna

Classic Eminem at last; this duet with Rihanna just seems like a no-brainer. Yes, it's formulaic, but who cares?

So Much (Desi Remix) - Raghav feat. H-Dhami

And there I thought Raghav's music career was dead in the water. Tune.

Bin Tere (Reprise) - I Hate Luv Storys

I revisited this OST specifically for this song, which I think just about edges out the normal version (although both will make my playlist).

Bahara - I Hate Luv Storys

And I picked this up too. It's one of the fluffy songs I typically tend to enjoy and skip to.

Hard To Say I'm Sorry - Chicago

A classic 80's power ballad? Of course it belongs in my play list! Shame about the second half though.

Dafa Hoja - Foji feat. Miss Pooja

Yes, super super old, but essential to bolster the Bahgra resurgence I seem to be going through.

There You'll Be - Faith Hill

Picked up from my recently renewed subscription to Magic (and you blame Noreen Khan for that). Regular movie soundtrack ballady type.

Suno Aisha - Aisha

I actually hate this song. But regular play and exposure means I MUST HAVE IT. Yes, I'm weak and easily influenced. On the other hand I don't think it'll be around for long.

Tere Mast Mast Do Nain - Dabangg

This type of track seems to be becoming quite the regular occurrence now - I must have listed it at least five or six times this year (and one other time in this very post). Still, I guess I can't get enough of the man-singing-to-woman-in-a-husky-voice thing.

Munni Badnaam - Dabangg

Give me a second while I take a another look at the video for this. OMGMALAIKAARORA. Expect a new Shak's Choice coming along soon. But yes, the song is fun too.

F**k You - Cee Lo Green

I just had to get this after seeing the video. Predictably censored to "Forget You" for the masses, the original is still makes the only sense.

This Ain't A Love Song - Scouting For Girls

Well what do you know? My second Scouting For Girls track. Cynical, painful and real... I just love their stuff.

Game: Metroid: Other M Click for more info

The SNES version of Metroid was a masterpiece. It was superbly balanced between action and exploration, and the way in which the 2d-side scrolling map folded in on itself is still an example of some unbeatable game design. And best of all, it was fun to play.

There were three Metroid games released on the Game Cube: Prime, Echoes and Corruption, only the first of which I played and enjoyed fully. The thing about Metroid games are they they require quite a bit of investment to play properly, and what with work and life the time just wasn't there, especially as the switch to a FPS view seemed to increase the chore:fun ratio.

Which brings us to Other M on the Wii, in many ways a rejection of the last three reimages, and something that is much more of a throwback to Super - in fact it actually picks up directly where the SNES left Samus.

Although the graphics are in 3D, the map and design seem faithful to 2D, and this manages to bring back the fun in exploring. Baddies are disposed of quite easily with Samaus's auto aim, while I only had to refer to a FAQ a couple of times before realising what I have to do to proceed (feeling like a fool each time I did so). Quite amusingly instead of powering up by collecting abilities, Samus is now politically stunted by her commanding officer Adam, who insists on her not using her full power till he says so. My kind of guy.

The biggest flaw (and unlike others, it is a bit of a game spoiler), are the controls. In many ways, Other M is a prime example of how horrid the control system on the Wii is - the horizontal remote's d-pad is an ugly beast and one of Nintendo's biggest shames, while your ability and necessity to switch to FPS mode by switching positions and pointing the remote seems to be the most ill-thought out gaming mechanism I've had the misfortune to play with. It's extremely clumsy and is one of those things that holds you back.

So yes, a brilliant game in theory that fails on a fundamental point. Still, it's a game I will play to completion seeing as how much fun making progress is. I guess I'll have to give it a reluctant recommendation for that.

Film: Salt Click for more info

Essentially Bourne with a bird, Salt follows a CIA agent after she is accused of being a bad guy, as she struggles to clear her name. As with most spy thrillers, there are plenty of twists and turns, mostly guessable in this case, but nevertheless enough to keep an audience going.

Jolie is still amazing despite looking like she's getting on a bit, while on the technical side the film seems well built, barring a few moments where real life physics seems to be thrown out of the window.

But overall Salt is an enjoyable, straightforward and easy going romp that made perfect fodder for a long Eid day. Recommended.

Friday, September 10

Link of the Day Click for more info

Ramadan 2010 - The Big Picture

As usual, represents with a collection of Ramadhan images from across the world, this time contributed by readers.

Thursday, September 9

Burn Baby Burn

I'm finding thi whole Quran burning thing quite amusing. However I'm not laughing at the irrelevant actions of some guy, but at the reaction us as Muslims are giving him. This tweet is a prime example of what I'm talking about. It's not the tweet itself - I found it funny enough to retweet - but more how everyone else also laughed at it and then in the same breath went on to chastise Rev. Terry Jones in the same breath. For me that totally misses the point (or at least what I understood to be the point) of what was being said.

This could be because of my formal education in Computing. There we were taught to look at information and data as completely abstract things, all of which are merely manifested in media using an alphabet placed in a particular order to represent these abstract things. In short, the physical wasn't important, it was the idea.

Expanding on this idea and you find that every idea can be represented in an infinite amount of ways. So the Quran can be printed, it can be recorded as audio, it can be memorised. The latter two don't contain any "script" or paper even if you can imagine that it does. And even some ink on some paper can be reduced to a bunch of atoms that happen to lie in a certain way. In this sense nothing physical is sacred.

Of course some orderings of arbitrary things have an intrinsic value. I'll still cleanse myself before touching a paper Quran for instance, since we've been told to do so. But nevertheless, this doesn't mean that this value is lost if the physical is destroyed, and neither does it mean it cannot be recreated. The exception is if what is being destroyed is unique, like art or something, but the Quran is in no way unique (in terms of copies), and even if you burned every single copy there'll be millions of people who have learned it by heart willing to regurgitate it.

Growing up (and even now), I was always told not to put the Quran on the floor. Although I respect this out of a sense of tradition, I can't quite say I understand it. This audio CD I have, can I put that on the floor? If I can, is that because it's not the Quran until I play it? If so, can a person for whom Arabic is a bunch of squiggles put a Quran on the floor while he's alone in his room? Can he rip it up, or even (gasp) burn it?

The fact is we disrespect the Quran as an idea much more each time we neglect or ignore it.

But I'm not being fair here. Perhaps our reaction isn't really about a book being burned, but more about the symbolic gesture of doing so. But if that's the case the wholly makes it our emotional problem, not his. And as it's our problem, we don't need anyone else to do anything on our behalf to solve it.

Link of the Day Click for more info

WARNING: Sankaku Complex may be a little rude for some.

Top 10 Types of Guy You’d Like to Date

So it seems that (Japanese) women mainly like Carnivorous guys and "would like to be hunted down and ravaged like lambs". And people keep telling me that stalking is a bad thing, when now it's obvious that women love the attention provided it's from someone they find attractive first. Which probably doesn't really help me after all.

Anyway, here's that chart in full:

  1. Carnivorous guys (5124 votes) (the opposite of a herbivorous man)
  2. Sporty guys (2398 votes)
  3. Bespectacled guys (1627 votes)
  4. Herbivorous guys (1377 votes) [a detailed description can be found here]
  5. “Iku-men” (1217 votes) [men who take an active and equal interest in childcare - the "iku" is a pun on the character for "rearing," "育" or "iku," and the long established slang "ikemen," meaning a handsome man]
  6. Science guys (1176 votes)
  7. Sweet-tooth guys (977 votes) [men with an enthusiastic liking for sweet things]
  8. Bento guys (968 votes)
  9. Other guys (913 votes)
  10. Otaku guys (381 votes)
Thanks to Steve for the link.

Oh and it may be worth checking out Top 10 Traits That’d Turn You Off a Girl too, although once again I'm going to have to WARN YOU of some possibly offensive images. To save you that embarrassment, again, here's the chart in full:
  1. She can’t cook
  2. She’s has a sharp tongue
  3. She’s timid
  4. She’s restrictive
  5. She’s loose with her time
  6. She’s negative
  7. She’s forgetful
  8. She’s bothersome
  9. She’s got bad dress sense
  10. She’s a miser
I guess I should be heading to Japan then.

Wednesday, September 8

If I Were A Girl

People often talk about wanting to find someone they share values with. I'm no different, and one of the thoughts I always walk away with when talking to someone is how different we must have each been brought up.

The trouble is that, as with many things, values are difficult to qualify. Everyone will claim to have A++ values and even if it turns out that they're not lying to themselves and they actually do, since values are so subjective theirs could still be vastly different to yours. So then, how does one determine someone else has had a similar upbringing to them?

I guess you could do what we're classically told to do - you know, look at respective families and all that. And sure that could work to some extent, but I don't really have any sisters to use as a point of reference, so I have no idea how a girl would have been raised in this family of mine. But if we take the thought experiment to the next logical step, I could go on by asking what I would be like if I was a girl. I mean hey, if Beyonce can do the equivalent for a song then it shouldn't be that difficult for me to do it in a blog post.

As an aside, this may not be that theoretical anyway. Due to some cross-wired international telephone call some in Pakistan did think I was a girl at some point, and I'm sure I've been told before how it was wished for me to have been born with two X chromosomes. Heck, that might even explain a whole bunch of things. But anyway. Oh and bear in mind that like I said above I'm not making a list of what I think are absolutely and universally good qualities for a girl to have, I'm just extrapolating from my own particular upbringing. So yeh, let's go on and meet Shakila shall we?

First the easy bits: I would still be practising in the traditional praying-fine-times-a-day sense. I'd also still be living at home, and most probably wouldn't have left for university or work or anything like that.

Vocationally I think I would have studied something creative and fun like Art, English or even Media instead of something practical or professional. I wouldn't have been looking to make a career out of it, and neither would I have been particularly interested in academic success. Oh and of course, I'd have known how to cook (but not very well if my overbearing mother had anything to do with it) and take care of a home.

Regarding boys, I know for a fact that I wouldn't have dated before marriage. I'd probably also keep my distance from them in general and most certainly not meet or talk with fellas in private. Regarding friends in general, I don't think I'd have a set of best friends as an aside to my family, but since I think I'd be somewhat friendly I'll admit that that's a tough call to make.

I'd avoid going to the gym and I doubt I'd be sporty; although perhaps I'd run instead to keep my slim figure. I'd probably be anal about what I eat to help with that. Oh and unlike most girls who like to think they can dance, I actually would, perhaps having had taken a class or something. I would have never been clubbing, drunk or smoked - no, not even shisha.

I don't think I'd be wearing a hijab, and that despite seeing my mum wear one from the age of 10 or so. On the other hand, I wouldn't have plucked my eyebrows either; no, not even subtly. I'd have steered clear of make-up too, choosing instead to accessorise to compensate. I'd have shopped at Primark rather than Gucci and worn flats over heels. Oh but I'd have definitely owned at least one LBD.

Personality wise: I'd be a bit of a girl really. Quiet rather than mouthy, and looking to be led rather than be opinionated. I don't think I'd have sworn or used bad language or been brash. I'd have choosen to be silent and let things go rather than let my ego get the better of me.

Perhaps really strikingly (and quite possibly the most useful bit of information here) I would have wanted to marry by 22 or so, and would have mainly stuck to the introduction (via parents or very trusted friends) route to do so.

Oh and I'd have totally been hot (and known that too).

It would be incorrect to describe this as a requirements list - I wouldn't care if my eventual partner could actually dance, was really brainy or wore a hijab for instance, and I gave up on the eyebrow thing a long time ago. I will admit that I would probably see these things as attractive in other people, but then that just goes back to the whole theory about the wanting someone with values that match.

So there you have it. Probably the most strangest post I've ever written here. And yes, I'm sure there's a specific name for thought experiments like these (and no, I don't mean virtual cross-dressing).

Monday, September 6

Live and Let Live

Despite the numerous rantings on my blog, I do tend to generally accept how others choose to live their lives. My opinions here are more abstract and generic rather than aimed at any person in particular, and I gave up trying to save the world one-person-at-a-time ages ago. However rather than this being a sign of my tremendous level of tolerance and understanding, the truth is I just stopped caring. If people wanted to burn then who was I to stop them? Why should I bother inciting change in others; and more to the point what gave me the right to anyway? I'd probably just make things worse.

Of course I will take action if their behaviour affects me directly, in which case family and close friends will feel the brunt of my well-intended self-righteousness. But even then I'll only say it once or twice before giving up and will instead change myself or our relationship so that they don't affect me on this particular issue any more. It's just easier that way.

So what's the marriage angle? Well rishta are no different, and so I'm quite easily able to dismiss someone if I see us having critically different ways of thinking. It's a less holistic and more brutal approach really, since it doesn't really look at the potential of a person or their willingness to change (be that driven by myself or my opposite), with this stance assuming that no changes are needed on my side either. But generally I find it much easier to simply let them get on with their lives than to even consider taking on the quite difficult job of tolerating them, essentially choosing to move on to find someone who I feel won't need fixing instead. And like with my friends above, I'm convinced that they're better off for it too.

The all kind of breaks down when people (mostly women) tell me how their sisters are actually highly adaptable and willing to change, even if they don't actually appear so at first (or second, or third) glance. Add to this that most are confused (again, these are my lady friends talking about their own here), and it seems that avoiding the change process is actually quite the silly thing for me to do.

I guess ultimately it comes down to finding someone you care about enough that you're willing to put in this effort with in order to change each other, and that as a unit; you know, that whole "marriage is hard work" jazz newlyweds talk about. For me though, it seems I'll only ever find those attractive who come ready made, those who won't require this initial and ongoing mutual effort.

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I do honestly hope that with the right person it should all just be easy and obvious.

Friday, September 3

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And again!

Cf. Women are encouraged to demand "ambition", which, let's face it, is essentially a euphemism for "someone to pay the bill once I get bored with work and want to have babies instead". The disparity would be funny if it wasn't so frustrating.

Thursday, September 2

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'Nuff said really:

Thanks to @FRVohra for the lead.