The Swiss Ban Minarets

(Many newspapers refused to print this poster…It was also banned in a few cities…)

Final results show that over 57 percent of voters backed the proposal in a referendum that was held today following an initiative by a right wing political party. Turnout was reported at about 55 percent.

Switzerland, home to some 400,000 Muslims, already has four minarets attached to mosques that will remain even after today’s referendum.

The Swiss government had urged voters to reject the proposed ban on new minarets, saying it would violate religious freedom and human rights, as well as potentially provoking Islamist radicalism and harming Switzerland’s image. But in a statement today, the government said it respects the decision of the voters.

“A majority of the Swiss people and the cantons have adopted the popular initiative against the construction of minarets. The Federal Council respects this decision,” the statement said.

The controversial proposal to ban minarets was brought up by the right wing Swiss People’s party,  which says minarets are symbols of rising Muslim political and religious power that could eventually turn Switzerland into an Islamic nation.

Lord, what next? A ban on Hindu temples, gurudwaras and synagogues? Oops! I forgot, synagogues were banned by a neighbouring country with disastrous consequences…If this is the Swiss way of tackling the real problem – the integration of Muslim immigrants – then, I’m sorry to say, the Swiss are idiots…The ban will only provoke religious hostility and intolerance and thereby further radicalize Swiss Muslims…Actually, I’m wrong here…After re-reading the article I’ve realized that this ban is not about integration but about getting rid of Muslims…

This referendum shows how deep rooted religious tolerance and liberty are in Europe…Long live the Swiss system of direct democracy! Long live cuckoo clocks and cuckoo laws!

P.S. The call to prayer is already banned…

Most of the comments on articles dealing with this issue support the ban…Examples:

  • “Since when do Muslims treat Christians FAIR in Muslim countries? We are TOO fair to muslims in this country, we need to show the same disrespect here as you do to us in your home countries.” (SKY)
  • “Oh, stop being so analytical! What a wonderful result, and may the rest of Europe follow as soon as possible! And not only with minarets as the target.” (Telegraph.co.uk)
  • “A sensible result from a sensible people in my view.” (Telegraph.co.uk)
  • “What is wrong with not wanting to be around muslims? They are dangerous and have a problem with the American way of life. Get rid of the minarets. Check. Get rid of the moslems. ????” (Telegraph.co.uk)

Advertisements

And The Nominees For…

…Bad Sex Writing in Fiction are:

  • Paul Theroux for A Dead Hand
  • Nick Cave for The Death of Bunny Munro
  • Philip Roth for The Humbling
  • Jonathan Littell for The Kindly Ones
  • Amos Oz for Rhyming Life and Death
  • John Banville for The Infinities
  • Anthony Quinn for The Rescue Man
  • Simon Van Booy for Love Begins in Winter
  • Sanjida O’Connell for The Naked Name of Love
  • Richard Milward for Ten Storey Love Song

Although there are ten finalists, the favourite to win is Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth for The Humbling in which the ageing actor Simon converts Pegeen, a lesbian, to heterosexuality…

The Literary Review singled out a scene in which Simon and Pegeen pick up a girl from a bar and convince her to take part in a threesome. Simon looks on as Pegeen uses her green dildo to great effect.

“This was not soft porn. This was no longer two unclothed women caressing and kissing on a bed. There was something primitive about it now, this woman-on-woman violence, as though in the room filled with shadows, Pegeen were a magical composite of shaman, acrobat, and animal. It was as if she were wearing a mask on her genitals, a weird totem mask, that made her into what she was not and was not supposed to be.”

Roth can comfort himself with the fact that a roll call of literary fiction’s great and good, from Booker winner John Banville to acclaimed Israeli novelist Amos Oz, Goncourt winner Jonathan Littell and Whitbread winner Paul Theroux, have made it into the line-up for this year’s bad sex prize, set up by Auberon Waugh to “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it”. [Link]

I’m no writer but I know what I like to read and the above passage is something I wouldn’t want to even skim through…One must note that this award is given for the quality of the writing, not the sexual act itself…I’m sure writing about sex is one of the hardest things to do and authors (even prize winning ones) often forget that readers are not interested in the specifics of the act but the reactions of the characters and the build up to the act…One of the problems of getting into too much detail is that what turns one reader on may turn another off, so why get into the hassle of writing specifics? Why did Roth write “This was not soft porn” if he knew it could be taken as such? Was he trying to gain literary respectability by inserting that sentence? I’m sure the book would have been just as good or just as bad without the nominated passage, but at least he wouldn’t have been made fun of…

May the best writer win…

[If you are interested in reading short listed passages from previous years, please visit the Literary Review website]

“No one ever thanked their mom in an acceptance speech for keeping the house clean”

I have a confession to make…I am anal about cleanliness…I spend my limited free time cleaning, mopping, scrubbing, polishing and tidying up because it is important to me…It makes me happy that my house is clean and my family lives in a tidy albeit bleach perfumed space…My obsession with cleanliness and the rules I’ve formulated to keep the house neat tend to irritate my husband and daughter, but what the hell, isn’t cleanliness next to godliness (whatever that means)?

My husband thinks I have OCD because I can’t sleep at night if something is not clean enough…He also thinks I spend too much on cleaning products and use them too liberally…Don’t get me wrong, he himself is tidy enough but can’t understand why he should have to take off his shoes near the front entrance…Although I have formulated rules, nobody thinks twice about ignoring them and this in turn drives me crazy…Why is it hard for people to pick up after themselves? Somebody once told me that my priorities were wrong and that nobody till date had ever thanked their mom in an acceptance speech for keeping the house clean…It’s not as if I don’t do other things or spend time with my daughter and anyway, isn’t a clean house integral to healthy living?

I have another confession to make…I judge people by how clean their house is especially their kitchen and bathroom…I don’t stop being their friend just because they are dirty but I do avoid going to their place…Does this make me a bad person? Maybe…

I have a friend whom I love to death but her house is ridiculously untidy and dirty…I’m talking dirty dishes all across the kitchen counter, sink and floor, over flowing garbage cans, dusty furniture, and clothes and other stuff thrown across the floor….She’s not working and has a school going kid and a daily helper, so as far as I see it, there’s no need for the filth…What really bothers me is her attitude to cleaning up herself…I once asked her why she didn’t wash the dirty dishes and utensils that piled up during the day and her reply was,”I’m not a servant and wasn’t raised as one…My parents educated me to do better things (she’s an ayurvedic doctor) than clean bathrooms and kitchens…The dishes will get done when the maid comes”…The mess doesn’t make me love her any less, but I feel less inclined to go over to her house because it’s filthy….I can excuse a reasonable amount of untidiness, but I just can’t deal with a whole amount of filth…

I know I have to let go and take things easy…Frankly, age is catching up and it’s getting harder to clean and pick up after my daughter and husband…I’ve stopped obsessing about my daughter’s play room and let it remain a bit messy (but never dirty)…I’ve also been trying to teach her to pick up after herself and the little darling that she is, obliges me at times, but the fact is, she is still young and it would be unkind of me to expect her to do more…

I wish somebody would thank their mom or dad in their acceptance speech for bringing them up in a clean environment…I promise you, Maa, that if I ever win anything, I’ll thank you publicly for keeping the house clean and teaching me the importance of healthy living…

Reading…

…to me is a drug, a narcotic that helps me escape and float into another world…

I became addicted to this drug when I was around 8 or 9 and was home for the summer from my boarding school in Dehra Dun…Whilst rifling through my sister’s belongings, I found a book about a boarding school called First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton…The experiences of Darrell, Felicity, Gwen and Sally enthralled me; I wished my school were like theirs…Why were they allowed tuck from home whilst we weren’t? Soon First Term at Malory Towers gave way to Second Form at Malory Towers which led me to the door steps of another school – St. Clare’s…Thus my reading journey had begun…Looking back, if the book hadn’t been about a boarding school, I would have probably tossed it aside and my reading journey would have been delayed…Since then, these bound leaves of written paper have been my constant companions – like true friends, they have always been there for me, helped me relax, entertained me, counselled me, and even taught me…

I’m not a book snob; I read anything and everything…From fiction to non-fiction, mysteries to love stories, crime to drama – anything will do, even trash…If I’m reading a mystery, I want to play detective and figure out the ending…If the book in my hand is a high paced thriller, I can’t help but feel the excitement…Good romantic books make me feel good…The only thing I’m not too fond of is excessive characterization although I admire the way talented authors manage to weave the dynamics between each character into the plot…

These days my mission in life is to get my daughter to learn how to read so that she can enjoy the drug I’m addicted to…I try to explain to her that reading books is a better hobby than watching TV because the stories come alive in the reader’s head the way he or she wants them to…Unfortunately, all my talk whizes past her 5 year old brain…I’m not discouraged though as age is on her side…

So here is my question: What does reading mean to you?

Share

“We Want Respect”: Fathers

According to a New York Times article by Laurie Tarkan featuring research done at Smith College, Princeton and Berkely, fathers should start demanding a little more respect from their wives because even though they want to be involved in their children’s lives, they are discouraged by the attitude of their wives and society in general…

As much as mothers want their partners to be involved with their children, experts say they often unintentionally discourage men from doing so. Because mothering is their realm, some women micromanage fathers and expect them to do things their way…Yet a mother’s support of the father turns out to be a critical factor in his involvement with their children, experts say — even when a couple is divorced.

OK, I admit that I do try to micromanage and want my husband to do things my way as far as child rearing is concerned, but for a father to blame a lack of motivation to get involved in his child’s life to this is really silly…I know disapproval is terrifying and disappointing, but instead of making silly excuses, why don’t men try talking to their wives? Solutions can only be found if they are looked for…

Tarkan states that “Uninvolved fathers have long been accused of lacking motivation. But research shows that many societal obstacles conspire against them.” The obstacles she is referring to are the pink walls and women’s magazines in doctor’s offices and day care centres which leave fathers secluded and discouraged…WOW! I would feel secluded and discouraged if I had a son who wore only brown and blue clothes and played with cars and Ben 10 toys…I have a question for the researchers of the study, Philip A. Cowan and Carolyn Pape Cowan: Was this study conducted so that men could freely blame their wives and interior decoration for making them uninvolved fathers?

Tarkan does redeem herself by explaining that studies show that children are better off when both parents are equally involved…I couldn’t agree more…Fatherhood is just as valid as motherhood and couples (especially mothers) who get divorced should remember this…Children can only grow up to be good parents if they are shown how…

Yes, men do face some subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination when doing traditional “mommy stuff”, but I feel that fathers who really want to be involved in their children’s lives will find ways to overcome these obstacles…A father who really cares about his children will not notice the colour of the wallpaper unless he’s insecure about his own masculinity, and if sitting in a room with pink walls is enough to qualify as gender discrimination, then I am discriminated against whenever I walk into a room that is not decorated to my personal liking and should therefore be able to sue the owners for millions of dollars…Anyway, up until the 1920s, pink was considered a manly colour because it was close to red (flashy and aggressive), and blue was considered a womanly colour because it was more soothing and tranquil, so who knows what the doctor’s waiting rooms of the future will look like!  And people, if a man wants to be a hands on father, please don’t snigger…Don’t reinforce out dated societal prejudices…Just as women want society to view them differently, men do too…

My unsolicited advice to fathers: If you make a mistake or don’t know how to do something, please admit the fact, take criticism from your wife with a smiling face and ask her for help…I can guarantee that your wife won’t lose respect for you if you show your vulnerability…

Share

Twittering With Twitter

As some of you may know, I’ve recently started Twittering…

twitter_logo_header : What are you doing?

Me: I’m not doing anything

twitter_logo_header : What are you doing?

Me: I’m trying to Twitter, you twit.

twitter_logo_header: What are you doing?!

Me: Why are you yelling at me?!

twitter_logo_header : Just messing with you. What are you doing?

twitter_logo_header: I know you are still there. What are you doing?

Me: Trying to come up with an update, you dimwit

twitter_logo_header: What are you doing?

Me: Stop! I’m trying to read!

twitter_logo_header : Can you keep up? BTW, You have good bladder control. What are you doing?

Me: uh. Are you my doctor now?

twitter_logo_header : No. You haven’t left your computer for 5 hours. What are you doing?

twitter_logo_header: Hey, where did you go? What are you doing?

twitter_logo_header: What are you doing?

twitter_logo_header: What are you doing?

 

Suddenly, there’s a sound of something breaking and the computer screen goes off…