Saturday, August 30, 2008

Prejudice is nothing to be proud of

Listening to: 'The Combine Harvester' by The Wurzels [Adge Cutler & The Wurzels]

You may remember I mentioned a while back that I was digging deep into my personality and doing a bit of springcleaning. I imagine if you've read more than a handful of my posts, this fact will probably be obvious to you, but I've found that one of my major peeves is being judged. So in the spirit of chucking out bits that I don't like about myself, and not doing unto others what I would not have done unto myself, I'm trying to rid my personality of prejudice.

I suppose I should clarify what I mean by getting rid of prejudice. I don't mean not having personal preference. I don't mean not having an opinion. The prejudice I'm talking about has its roots in intolerance and insecurity. There's nothing wholesome about it, and that's why it's gotta go.

Walk down the main street in your town at around noon on a Saturday. Look at everyone around you. Try to avoid forming an opinion about any of them. Maybe it's just me (although I highly doubt it), but it's a lot more difficult for me than it sounds. A myriad of thoughts can enter our minds, including the following - "OMG WHAT is she wearing?!", "Oh wow, he's massive!", "Hey she's skinnier than I am, awesome!" (or 'fatter', depending on whether you're trying to gain/lose weight), "Ooh he's fit, but look at the minger he's with!", "Oh god she looks like a right cow", "Ugh...people, get a room!" - and so on, so forth.

Would we say any of these things out loud to the people concerned? I know I wouldn't. So what's the point in thinking them? Are we subconsciously trying to make ourselves feel better by looking down on others? Do we actually think that we're so absolutely perfect in every way that we can afford to criticise other people for such superficial things as looks and fashion sense?

I've come to think that a lot of people make choices in their lives, and then look down on everyone that doesn't follow suit. If someone likes a genre of music that we dislike, we say they have bad/weird/some-other-suitably-negative-adjective taste. If someone's wearing something that we wouldn't like to wear ourselves, we say they have bad fashion sense. We label high street shops by the clientèle they cater to, using the words 'preppy', 'chavvy', 'mumsy'...none of which are meant in an affectionate manner. Why is it that if it's different, it's worse? If it's different, why can't it be just that...different?

I stress that I'm not criticising anyone who finds themselves unintentionally described in this post. I'm not trying to climb to some moral highground where I can preach about the virtues of not having prejudice. I have indulged in all of the above and more, so if at all, I'm criticising myself. It's just that since actually looking at the situation, I can't see any purpose. And if there's no purpose, then I might as well throw it out.

So that's what I'm doing. Every time something judgemental comes to my mind, I say "oooh being judgemental, are we?" to myself (not out loud, of course), and move on. It'll take some time, but hopefully I'll be able to condition myself so that I don't judge people on their appearance, the same way I wouldn't want them to judge me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm turning British, I think I'm turning British, I really think so

Listening to: 'Those Sweet Words' by Norah Jones [Feels Like Home]

I know, I know, it doesn't work as well without 'Japanese'...ah well.

So yeah. I'm feeling strangely patriotic towards Old Blighty. I realised it on Friday when talking to someone at work about Team GB's amazing performance in Beijing. I recall saying...
"Yeah I heard the 11.30 news and [...pause...] Britain's gold medal tally has gone up to 12!"
Why the pause? Well I was going to say "our"...but it felt weird. So I had to say "Britain's"...but that felt weird too. Nothing like it should've felt, because I am truly proud of Team GB. Not just happy for Britain like I'm happy for Jamaica that Usain Bolt is superhuman, but proud, complete with the warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.

It's been a weird Olympics for me. The Olympics just don't feel the same without my grandfather around...he used to be glued to the tv from start to finish (understandable, considering he was at the Munich Games in '72), with me by his side. So I wasn't expecting to be all that keen on this one. But then I read about Blake Aldridge's disgraceful post-dive comments, and I felt a pang of sympathy for Tom Daley. But then I thought maybe that's just 'cos he's a cute kid. But then the medals started coming in thick and fast, and I found myself grinning at my computer screen while reading the news (yeah, don't ask). Maybe it's because I think the UK lets itself down when it comes to sport. Maybe it's because I think the UK is too quick to criticise her sportsmen and women. Maybe it's just glory supporting. Or maybe it's because I'm starting to really think like a Briton.

I think Radio 1 has also had a lot to do with it. Listening to the radio every morning provides a brilliant insight into the life of the average British adult. The obsession with BB and X Factor, summer festivals and the weather...all part of British life, and I've come to appreciate it. I don't think I can ever bring myself to say 'cheers' when I want to say 'thank you', and you won't see me downing pints any time soon, but the rest, I can manage :-).

I think too many international students pass through the UK without being able to appreciate the life here...especially in Cambridge, where you can go for days without seeing someone who qualifies as being 'British'.

Six years is a long time to settle into a place, but I think I've finally settled in enough to call Britain 'home'. And no, don't worry...I'm as Sri Lankan as I always have been, and nothing will change that. But I am feeling a lot of love for Great Britain right now. I could end with Hugh Grant's monologue from Love Actually, but that might be a bit too cheesy :-).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Any Dream Will Do (will it really?)

Listening to: Radio 1

So, the fifth series of X Factor has begun. I've always paid minimal attention to X Factor, catching up on youtube, reading the related articles on the beeb, and so on. This time though, I'm keen to follow it properly. There's something exciting about watching raw talent and realising that one of these people might be the next Leona Lewis (the first UK female solo artist to enter at #1 on the US charts).

But then, it's not always 'raw talent'...sometimes it's just raw pain. There's only been one episode and we've already seen some truly tragic performances (if you can dare to call them that). I admire these people for their guts, but who on earth told them they could sing?!?! Surely they've seen previous episodes of X Factor - did they actually think that they were as good, if not better, than previous contestants?

One of the auditions is being played to death on the radio, purely for its comedy value. Thanks to Annie Mac and Chris Moyles, I won't be able to get this deluded boy's 'rap' out of my head for the rest of the week! And so I figured, why should I suffer alone? Here are Ant and Seb, for your viewing and listening (dis)pleasure.


Can I also just say that Cheryl Cole looks lovely and she makes Dannii Minogue (the fourth judge, not in that video) look old and washed out.

I'm sure that Ant and Seb are not going to be the worst audition that we see this year. That said, the best, is also (thankfully) yet to come.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I have a thing for billionaire superheros...

Listening to: nothing

...'cos they are so. damn. fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

OK so I know I'm a little late in checking out The Dark Knight, but better late than never. The movie finished 25 mins ago and I'm still catching my breath. I think that has got to be the most engaging movie I have seen in a long time, if not ever. Call me psychopathic, but I found Heath Ledger's Joker scary, unpredictable, intriguing, and somewhat endearing. An amazing performance, to say the least. This film definitely lives up to the hype.

I'm not gonna mention any spoilers, but if you haven't seen it already, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?!?!?

I used to be a spidey-girl. I didn't like Batman 'cos he didn't have superhuman powers...he was just a regular guy with lotsa gadgets. But there's something about Christopher Nolan's Batman that I'm starting to like. Same with Iron Man, really...although that's a completely different type of movie to this.

Sigh, but at the end of the day, I think we all know why The Dark Knight scores high in my books...

Tony Stark, say hello to Mr Bruce Wayne. Yummmmmmmmm.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Introspection is a bitch...

Listening to: 'Come Dance With Me' by Diana Krall [From This Moment On]

I am 25, and I have been for over two months now. Usually, I get the pre-birthday blues and rant about it (see here and here). I thought it would be the same this year (there's something inauspicious about breaking with tradition, wouldn't you say?)...but surprisingly, I didn't have anything to say. Maybe it's because I was preoccupied with a well-timed weekend getaway to the Lake District (which was fantastic), or maybe it's because I had a lot on my mind that wasn't related to my birthday. Or maybe it was just the fact that there was nothing planned in terms of celebrations. I dunno. Doesn't really matter, I suppose.

What does matter, in my eyes, is the introspection that's begun since my birthday. I'm not sure if one of my previous posts was an adequate indication, but I've been thinking a lot. About myself. And I'm not sure if I necessarily like what I've found. It's not something I'm eloquent enough to explain...but I think anyone who looks deep enough into themselves will probably find bits they want to chuck out or change.

That said, introspection is a bitch, but then you grow. And hopefully, that's what I'm doing now. I'm spring-cleaning my personality: chucking out the rubbish bits, changing the bits I can, and learning to love the bits that are here to stay. There's something to be said for respect and acceptance - you can't expect to get it from others if you don't get it from yourself. That's not to say that it's ok for others to treat you like shit because they don't matter. And it's not a case of 'if you believe you are great, everyone else will believe it too', which seems to be in line with most of the advice I get. Instead, I think it's a case of realising that you're worthy of respect and acceptance even when they don't seem to be coming from those around you. It's realising that if someone you care about isn't nice to you, it's not your fault; that the fact that they don't appreciate you doesn't mean that you're not worthy of appreciation. It's realising that you are no more fallible, and no less worthy, than anyone and everyone around you.

It'll take time, I know. I've already slipped many times in the past two months. But I'm trying. Better late than never, I suppose.