A Charmed Life


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my tribe; my heart my soul my people

‘Family is not necessarily your blood. We are raised to think that but sometimes our family lets us down and we end up creating a new family for ourselves. Family is all the people you can rely on, people who won’t judge you, people who have your back, people you can trust, people who are loyal. That’s family’

I love this quote, not least because it comes from my beloved Madonna but because it is true of my world. As I have gotten older I have learnt to be more discerning about the people I surround myself with. Not so long ago I even went so far as conducting a friend detox to free myself from those who no longer served me, and so to that end with very limited blood family interaction, over the past few years it is the tribe I have found and chosen for myself that I have come to consider family.

And even though we are scattered around the globe I live for our interactions. I love my Whatsapp blowing up with epic conversations of everything and nothing, the belly laughs that only they can induce, our FaceTime chats, hugs (both real and virtual), the style tips, precious moments we spend together in person making memories and the unwavering love and support we have for each other through the good, bad and in between times.

I am writing this at a time when I am witness to one of my tribe go through something truly awful, and in my role as her sister friend I am there on the other side of phone; to keep her calm, make her laugh, give advice where warranted, to ensure she knows she is supported but mostly all I do is listen – anytime day or night she knows I am there to listen. And its just my turn, she is there for me when I need her, its just my turn now to be there for her.

Therein lies the magic of a tribe you create for yourself… the knowing;  knowing there are people who always have your back, knowing there are people who will lift you up when you need a boost, knowing there are people who can reflect you back to yourself when you are lost, knowing there are people who support your dreams, who motivate and challenge you. Knowing there are people – my people who teach me soul things and heart math. I read somewhere you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and thinking about it right here right now the five people I have spent the most time with just this last month, I am like ‘Hell Yes! I should be so lucky.’ There is no one I would rather be on this insane world roller coaster with. My tribe; my heart my soul my people.

Sat Nam

And… so Saudi Arabia is finally allowing women into stadiums and granting them right to drive. This is no small feat but a rumbling war in Yemen, the Gulf row with neighbouring Qatar and the small matter of abhorrent human rights violations still make my blood boil, so yes a step in the right direction but there is too much still to fight for over there #freeAlial-Nimr  Twenty years ago this week I left everything and everyone I know in New Zealand to become a kiwi girl abroad. I left with only one real goal and that was to chase Madonna around the world and as serendipity would have it I well and truly succeeded in doing just that (33 times ten countries) with many many other adventures along the way. It has been one wild ride that’s for sure. Excited for what happens next. Bring on the next twenty #HappyAnniversaryToMe #RollOnNextChapter #PeaceLove

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always my princess

It was Sunday afternoon, I was stood with my mother in the carpark of Pak’nSave Johnsonville when I heard the news. I have no recollection of how I heard; might have been on the radio, or a fellow shopper but the words registered: Princess Diana was dead. All I remember after that is silence. The two of us loading the car with our groceries in silence, the wordless drive home, every now and then our eyes meeting in silent acknowledgement that it was true. The tears would come but for the next hour or so it was just silence. Shock in silence.

That was 20 years ago this week.
20 years! Looking back on my own life next month I hit my own 20 milestone, as it will be 20 years since I left New Zealand. I have lived a whole lifetime in that time, the world’s landscape has changed drastically and there is now an entire generation who know nothing about that Diana magic.

And she had that magic, there can be no doubt about that, she had IT whatever it is. She was my consummate princess from the moment I met her in February 1981 when she became engaged to her prince and for the next 16 years I was my mother’s willing accomplice in all things Diana. There are so many Diana moments throughout my life; from pouring over magazine articles, to collecting merchandise, watching the wedding (I was eight and it the first time I was ever allowed to stay up past midnight) to going to an exhibition in Sydney of her dresses, seeing Diana at Government House on the Royal tour of 1983 to paying my respects at the British High Commission in Wellington the day after she died and at Kensington Palace when I would later visit London.

She was worthy of it too – my love – our love. She was beautiful and she rocked a tiara, she was a people person and she cared deeply for humans especially the downtrodden, she loved her two boys and she brought them up to be compassionate AND she was as flawed as the rest of us and she never presented anything but, she was real and as such her death felt personal to millions of us, the global outpouring of grief we witnessed in the aftermath of her death is testament to that. And 20 years on her legacy continues on through her lovely dynamite boys William and Harry and the service they do particularly in their focus on difficult issues like AIDS and mental health.

That day at the British High Commission in the condolence book I wrote “I am heartbroken at this reality, gone way too soon beautiful Diana, you will be missed so very much, rest now angel” and as I am sat here writing these words thinking about her I am also reminded of the times we live in, and this thought crossed my mind – it isn’t so much that she is missed though she is, it is more that the world could do with more of her kind of caring right now.

Diana – the Queen of People’s Hearts, always my princess 1961-1997

Sat Nam

And… I am loving Twin Peaks, in my very bias opinion it is the BEST television to have graced our screens since… well since Twin Peaks screened 25 years ago but before this series started I was wary about how David Bowie’s character would be used if at all. I wanted Agent Phillip Jeffries to be included but casting another actor would have been a disservice to our beloved Starman, so bravo Mr Lynch for the dedication (S3 E14) and the inclusion of Phillip Jeffries  – superbly done in Twin Peaks style. Cannot believe its ending already, only two episodes left, oh my days!#andWhoistheDreamer  Okay so P!nk has always rocked but how awesome was that speech on Sunday.  If you haven’t heard it, please click here, we need to be hearing and speaking this kind of speak more and more for this is how love wins #WearetheChangeMakers And lastly sending prayers of blessing and protection for those in Mumbai and Texas. May all be guided to safety and may the rains be calmed by the hand of God #OneLove


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we’re all in this together

These words are directed at the predator-in-chief in the Oval Office.

“A reader on this blog once challenged me to say five nice things about you. I tried. I promise I really tried but there is nothing. There ought to be something. Everyone has a saving grace don’t they? Even the other deplorables I find as morally reprehensible as you – your fellow reality show alumni – that family that starts with a k, even they have their hustle, no other way to explain their journey from sex tape to world domination. But you do not even have that. You have never hustled for anything in your life. You wouldn’t know a hard day’s graft if it hit you on the head. You were born into privilege and you have been coasting ever since. Damn the consequences.

That is what has made these words spill out today – consequences. You see I spend far too much of my precious time thinking about you; about what motivates you to get out of bed every day, about how someone like you can be reasoned with. Often I fine myself constructing these missives to you in my head. Today’s missive needed to come out my head, you see you make me so angry. So angry that expletives leave my mouth, c*#t and motherf*@ker seem like they were created for you. But anger is not a good look on me. And I certainly do not like thinking about you. And yet there you are, always there stirring the pot, bullying, stoking fires, and oh how you love taking credit for everything. Today I found myself waiting for that tweet of you taking credit for New Zealand’s progress in the America’s Cup.

And now you have made the ultimate dumb arse move, in a long line of dumb arse moves since January 20th – pulling your country out of the Paris Climate Accord. I believe you have done this because the first word is Paris not Pittsburgh. I believe this because you might believe climate change is real, but your action demonstrates you have no understanding what climate change is. I have got to admit I took a while to get there too. I was rubbish at science at school, every year it was a miracle I managed to pass for I never learnt Newton’s Laws, I lacked patience to grow watercress, I skipped class anytime something was being dissected and I still do not know what is means to split an atom. No science never held my interest, that gene went to my brother who practically from the cradle had this innate grasp of how everything in the universe is interconnected and how vital it was to protect the lives of all creatures.

For me it was the green revolution, that picked up momentum during my last years at college, that got me thinking about my place on this planet of ours. It is now some twenty years hence and there is no escaping climate change is happening and we do not have the luxury of time to fix the consequences of stupid decisions. We all know the only person you care about is you, so as you think your vapid thoughts sitting in the Oval Office do you ever look out into the rose garden or up at the clear blue sky or how about when you are at Mar-a-Lago playing golf as you putt do you ever appreciate the verdant landscape. No of course you don’t. If you did you would understand that the rose garden, the clear blue sky, the green grass are not givens.

How about your children! Got to say I am not a fan. They just seem like five versions of you and anyway I will never be able to erase the image of your boys holding the dead cheetah they killed from my memory nor will I forgive it. You are a fan of your children yes? Do you want them to be healthy and live well? Rising temperatures due to climate change (known as global warming) will bring more disease which will affect, if not you, your progeny. Count on it. This is Fact. A Real Fact. So you see, you have made a stupid mistake by pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord – We’re All In This Together; Parisians, Pittsburghers, me, your family and the only person who matters to you  –  you.

I am not delusional I know you will not read this. But I also know this – as I vibrate love peace compassion respect everything you are not, you will feel my energy and the energy of the tsunami of stakeholders who have since stepped up. You see amazing things can happen when people come together, this is how rEVOLutions begin. One Planet. One People. Be careful donnie: When you stand for nothing. You get nothing.”

 Sat Nam

And... one human I am absolutely grateful exists in my orbit is David Lynch for he is the man who gave me Twin Peaks and Transcendental Meditation. April 1991 is when this brilliant man came into my life when his Twin Peaks aired on newbie channel tv3 in New Zealand. I am dreamer with an expansive imagination and before Twin Peaks the only other dreamer I could relate to was David Bowie so Twin Peaks was a moment for me. It was weird, freaky and brilliant And there had been nothing like it ever. Can you think of another show where a lady talks to a log and thinks it talks back! David Lynch manages to capture our dreams the way they actually happen in our minds. Dreams are weird. And David Lynch gets that. That mind of his – much like that of Bowie come to think of it – is a fertile marvel; so much so that looking for literal answers to anything he does defeats the point of his output entirely. I mean have you ever tried to describe something he has created, you can’t, his work requires you to be present. It is about the experience. So I am thick into the Twin Peaks experience once again after 25 years. It has been the longest wait of my life and its so damn fine to be back.Watching these new episodes, catching up with the old characters, getting my head around the newer ones, trying to make sense of where the plot is going – its all a completely damn fine mindfuck and I wouldn’t have it any other way ♥ So Thursday is the election and neither leader of the two main parties enthuses much confidence; Theresa May is one cold fish and Jeremy Corbyn has never felt like a leader to me. Oh well what will be will be I suppose. One thing is certain I do not envy them one bit, a rocky road lies ahead #RockYourVote  And finally it has been a shocking few weeks, so much senseless loss. There is no making sense to be done. As the one year anniversary of Orlando approaches this kiwi girl sends love and blessings to all those affected by that tragedy and by the recent atrocities that have occurred in Manchester, Portland, Kabul and London. May our tears deliver us to wisdom #OneLove #PeaceLove


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we could be heroes

I like the idea of a hero.
So I became one.
Not by plan exactly.
Nor by donning a cape and saving lives.
It was more like a series of events – known to you and I as living – that got me believing that I had in fact become a hero.

For as long as my memory serves me (and with my elephant memory it serves me very very well), from all the way back to when I was a wee thing I have had heroes: From real figures like my grandfather who immigrated to New Zealand from Gujarat, India with nothing but hope to provide better for his family, to my selfless, educated aunt the first feminist I knew, to Madonna one of the first people I felt a kindred spirit, to my form two teacher Mr. Emmins the first person to truly see me; to those heroes who reached me through history books Elizabeth I, Frida Kahlo and Steve Biko; to the heroes who lived only in stories Anne Shirley, Jane Eyre and Anne Elliot. And so on and on it goes, this amassing of heroes as I travel through this thing called life.

As is the case with heroes, my heroes have been feted and referenced often but until recently I never questioned the need for them. It took for these divisive times for me to think about this notion of heroes, and listening to my inner dialogue I realised I had created this otherness where my heroes lived. This is I think not an uncommon thought as when we think of heroes – they are people who create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive. We human beings are not given to consider how we ourselves create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive in our everyday lives. But we do.

Many of my heroes have transitioned in recent years – some of whom are known Madiba, Maya Angelou, Wayne Dyer, David Bowie and Elie Wiesel and others who are known only to those of us who basked in their light –  and as I became aware of this I had this moment where fear grabbed me. The fear that there is no one to replace them. This fear led me to call a friend for perspective, she said ‘we see in a hero something we think is not in us, so what do you see in your heroes?’ And hearing this was an ‘eureka’ moment. I was so busy looking for people to emulate I overlooked why I needed heroes in the first place. What had been lacking in my childhood that made me seek out people? And why have I kept up this practice throughout my life?

Having been on a journey of self awareness the answer was plain as day. Not only did I hold my heroes in high regard, I paradoxically saw myself on a much lower shelf. And these heroes I was collecting, all these people have had just the one role to play in my life. Of his character Juan in the film Moonlight, Mahershala Ali said he was grateful he got to play ‘a gentleman who saw a young man (Chiron) folding into himself as a result of the persecution in his community and taking the opportunity to uplift him and tell him he mattered, that he was okay and accept him.’
Each of my heroes throughout my life exist to uplift me, tell me I matter, that I am okay, to accept all of unique, crazy, geeky, energetic, resilient, compassionate, wonderful me.
Each of my heroes by example of their lives wills me to use my voice to live my purpose.
Each of my heroes has pushed me to be my own hero.

So could I be my own hero! Sounds rather ridiculous and self serving but I do know that my journey of self discovery from hitting rock bottom to getting back up again has been long, hard and full of sacrifice but to my betterment I am not the same person I was five years ago. I also know when I talk to my tribe they see in me my miracle but I have never given myself any credit for it. Another girlfriend has this one line she habitually says when asked for advice, ‘what would you say if it was me telling you this story?’ And when I think about my story there is a hero in there for it takes courage to change your life as I have done especially when you are surrounded by people who do not understand and choose to not join you at the finish line; but if you are fortunate to reach that finish line having become the person you were meant to be like I have, well that sounds like a hero to me.

And if I needed further proof of my heroness I found it last month at The Women’s March. To be part of this massive global consciousness, feeding off the vibrational energy of my fellow sisters and brothers as we came together to be our own heroes was one of the most empowering moments of my life so far.

So here I am – a hero or as my beloved Ms. Maya would say a SHEro, you won’t read about me in the papers or see me on the news, nor am I likely to be referenced in history books (although there is still time) but as long as I create, save lives, inspire, achieve, thrive, survive I am my own SHEro and that is plenty good enough for me. The actress Viola Davis said it best ‘the fact that we breathe means we have a story.’

Sat Nam

 And… I am a week late but has to be said Superbowl51 was hands down the best game I have ever seen. Like everyone else going into the game I thought the Patriots had it, but then three touchdowns later I had swung the Falcons way. There was NO way the Patriots could win, to do so SO many records would have to be broken. They just couldn’t but holy mother of comebacks, they bloody did. They aren’t even my team but the Patriots have got me seriously rethinking my Green Bay allegiance #TomBradyYouLegendYou  The Women’s March, oh what we can create when we try. I’m always up for a universal love in and I see more of these moments to come as we try to make sense of this new order we exist in #IWasThere #Resist #Forward  I think I fell a bit more in love with Adele after her George Michael tribute at the Grammys, it takes balls to admit a fuck up but to have that fuck up broadcast live around the world is a whole different kettle of fuck up but I just know he was there willing her on. Bravo Adele you SO didn’t mess it up for him, he would have been chuffed to bits, and bravo on the 5/5 Grammy wins, love how you always keep it real. #GottaGetUpToGetDown  Still on the Grammys bravo to our Starman for Blackstar also winning 5/5, we love you and we miss you so ♥ And finally as we watch truth being murdered by the US predator-in-chief and his foot soldiers, can we all take a moment to say thank you to the immigrants in our families. My history at least four generations back is one of immigrants – my great grandparents, grandparents, parents all immigrants and I myself am an immigrant. Each generation has sought to better their life not weaken the lives of those in their new environments. TRUTH: Communities are built on the shoulders of immigrants and WE ARE ALL BETTER FOR IT #RefugeesWelcome #WeAreAllImmigrants #OneLove


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this pussy bites back

I am pissed.
I am royally pissed that Helen Clark was not elected the new UN Secretary-General.
A lifetime of exemplary service for her country and now as head of the UN Development Programme rendered her the perfect candidate plus the UN is meant to remain neutral at all times, how more neutral can you be than a New Zealander. And yes as I have said before here I am completely bias – she is my fellow country woman and a twitter friend (I even taught her what the word ‘slay’ means in today’s young peoples’ speak) – but it wasn’t all pie in the sky on my part, I was duped and that is the real reason I am pissed.

When this race began one of the criteria laid out was that a woman ‘should’ take charge for the first time. This then was hyped up by the media and thousands of supporters. The outgoing Ban Ki-moon himself said “my replacement should be a woman.” The mix of candidates themselves seemed fair in that it was an even five each. So you see why I can forgiven for believing that at least the gender was a foregone conclusion. Alas… it was all bollocks and it has been decided that we go into the New Year with yet another MALE UN Secretary-General, one António Guterres who as it turns out has the same credentials as Aunty Helen. Shame on the UN and the security council, a valuable opportunity missed.

And if that wasn’t enough of a blow for the sisterhood we have this tape to contend with. You know which one I mean, the one on which we can clearly hear the misogynist – the Republicans still claim as their nominee – referencing women saying “You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” My fellow sisters, how do you like that! And ‘pussy’ isn’t even the most deplorable word in this statement; although in the social media savvy world we live in today it is almost neigh impossible to protect the younger generation from learning this language, but then this election campaign has been dirty to the nth degree. No restrain no respect. Abraham Lincoln must be turning in his grave at the joke his party has disintegrated into. I truly believe that much like German history with Hitler, historians will look back at this time and conclude this guy is the lowest ebb in American history.

History aside and as deplorable as the usage of ‘pussy’ might be, for me the most offensive word in this statement is ‘grab.’ And I don’t accept this as locker room banter, the guys I know who use locker rooms are usually too busy trying not to look at other penises to have time to engage in the promotion of sexual assault. Because that is what this is, a clear incitement of sexual assault. And NO you orange anus you are not automatically entitled to grab what you want no matter how rich or famous you may be.

We are not property.
We do not seek to be objectified.
We are not some kind of second class citizens.
We do not deserve to be held to a higher standard than our male contemporaries.
Nor do we consider ourselves the superior gender.
What we are is your equal.
What we want, well we want a lot of things but we will start with being treated equally
…and taking the top job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sat Nam

PS: To my American sisters, let’s make sure pussy bites back come November 8 #RidetheHillaryTrain #ObamaOutHillaryIn #letsSmashthatGlassCeiling #WhoRuntheWorld #AChangeisGonnaCome #MadamePresident


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a love story

For those old enough – do you remember playing elastics at interval when you were at school? Do you remember the ditty that went along with it? ‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, inside, outside, puppy dogs tails.’ This is what went through my mind as I learned of the EU referendum result.

The possibility of this foursome splitting up saddens me.
The chaos that has ensued since the vote was counted saddens me.
Brexit saddens me.

I am a faux Brit. I am a kiwi but I am also a faux Brit, to know me is to know I love all things British. For tis the land where Charlotte Bronte wrote my favourite book, the land where two magnificent queens called Elizabeth have reigned, the land where buildings and bridges tell stories, the land where great plays were written, a land where history is made over and over and over again, the land where all the great Banks congregate to do big business, a land from whence came the likes of Shakespeare, Judi Dench, Malcolm McLaren, Captain James Cook, Alan Turing, David Attenborough, Christopher Hitchens, John Lennon, Margaret Thatcher and my beloved David Bowie, it is a land that likes to tea, it is the land where for a time I got to live in the same city as Madonna, a land of many accents none of which I can do faithfully and it is the land where I found the love of my life.

My sadness for the current discombobulation that has taken over my adopted country is about the themness of the Brits, this is what I fell in love with when I was a youngin in New Zealand singing ‘god save the Queen’ at school assembly or while watching Coronation Street with my grandma or when pouring over Mothercare catalogues my mother would have sent to her. That pulsating heartbeat that beats throughout the land. What I fear most with Brexit is the loss of this feeling – economies adapt, politicians come and go, Europe will survive – but this feeling once altered or lost can never be got back. The Brits must never lose the themness of them, take it from this faux Brit who knows she will never be able to capture it no matter how much she will keep on trying.

Sat Nam

Also… I don’t understand the brouhaha about the new Top Gear, I thought this was a show about cars, why then does it matter who is driving them! If you had the misfortune of interacting with Jeremy Clarkson like I did when we were stuck together receiving treatment by the same specialist you would find him an odious man who thinks a bit too much of himself, he is not a man to be admired #Joey TribbianiCanActuallyDrive ♥ 2016 the year of loss continues. Elie Wiesel has been described by President Obama as “the conscience of the world” which is apt as he helped to develop mine. I read his book Night when I was a teen, in all honestly it is an awful read, gut wrenching in the way a book about life in a concentration camp could only be but reading this seminal work planted the activist seed in me and it continues to burn bright. If you don’t know who Elie Wiesel is please take the time to give this Holocaust survivor the respect of reading his work or at least one of the many obituaries that have been written in recent days. This man mattered. Elie Wiesel you mattered to me. I will end with his words that seem very appropriate for this world we live in today ‘We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’


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i’ve never seen a rainbow i didn’t love

blogcolour

This past weekend was bookended by the very best and the very worst of humanity. It feels like all I have done this year is mourn. From 10 January (the day I lost my beloved Starman) through to today there has been a steady flow of tears… as I type this I am listening to Anderson Cooper list the names of those beautiful SOULS who lost their lives at Pulse nightclub, as his voice falters my tears have blinded me… I can’t. I’m just so tired of my heart breaking over and over and over again.

The vicious senseless act that transpired in the early hours of Sunday morning in Orlando has fuelled me with anger, remorse and deep deep sorrow. I have been a champion of the LGBT community for over thirty years (part and parcel being a Madonna lover). I have many friends in this community so I have always known the bigotry actually lets just call it what it is – HATE – I have always known the hate that has been endured. There have been times in my life when I have struggled and it was this community that helped me find my way so I will love, honour and protect this community till the day I die.

The US has a gun problem. The rest of the world sees it. Most Americans see it. But there are others NRA hardliners and extreme right wingers who don’t seem to and yet they hold the lives of their entire nation in their hands. I thought for sure after Sandy Hook there would be real change. The correct reaction to children being massacred would surely be to ensure it never happened again but no it wasn’t to be and mass shootings have increased in the time since. As someone who comes from New Zealand and who has lived in Australia it is hard to understand why the US cannot adopt some kind of variation of these countries’ gun control legislation; legislation that both countries amended back in the nineties when they each experienced a similar type of senseless act. Some twenty years later both countries are proof that robust gun control legislation works.

And yet, yes the US has a gun problem.
But the planet has a HATE problem.
And where there is hate, violence can always find a way. Guns or no Guns.
And we can put this atrocity under the umbrella of religion, terrorism, radicalisation but there is only one actual reason it happened – Bad Parenting.

Too many people think their job as a parent is done if they feed, clothe and school their children; but giving them the confidence to be themselves, teaching and showing children generosity and kindness and how to communicate effectively, to love, respect and tolerate ALL life regardless of race, creed, gender, shape, who one chooses to love – inclusive of all creatures and mother earth – this is good parenting. I am a child of Indian descent, I know the specific homophobia that exists for people of the diaspora, it is a hostility that is deeply rooted in the culture. I have friends who still today cannot be honest about who they are to their families. This will not change until we attack the root cause.

Hatred of any kind is a choice.
A child is taught to love.
A child is taught to hate.
The seed is planted at a young age.

If one lacks the appropriate parenting and does not know their own mind, lacks confidence, is disillusioned they are open to being brainwashed by religion, terrorism, radicalisation whatever you want to call it, and as this seed gets watered regularly it grows and the reality is you reap what you sow. Hate crimes will not stop until we grow a different seed.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this weekend for me began with seeing the very best of humanity – Muhammad Ali’s interfaith memorial. This colossus of a man wished for his passing  – as he had his life – to be a teaching moment. If you saw the service you will understand how magnificently he achieved this, if you haven’t I beseech you to watch it, listen to the words and let the sentiment wash all over you for this is how you plant a different seed.

To my brothers and sisters of the LGBT community you forever have my heart; to steal words said so eloquently on Sunday by Lin-Manuel Miranda “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. Cannot be killed or swept aside.” And nor shall it be.

Sat Nam

Also… Muhammad Ali – what a gift of a man – the one person on this planet who transcended race, religion, gender to unite all in their love and respect for him. There is no one left who comes close to achieving this. On a personal note, I owe him gratitude for because of him and his wondrous life I achieved my highest mark in all my academia when in college I did a History paper on his civil rights contribution. It was a joy to research him. It was a joy to listen to him riff. It was a joy to watch him in and out of the ring. Muhammad Ali – a masterclass in what it means to be human and so pretty too. To have lived in your time, how lucky am I #IamAli #G.O.A.T. #AliBomaye ♥ And so the BREXIT campaign enters into the last week, it’s been a minefield figuring out the right way to vote – you only have to look at Greece and Portugal to see that austerity has not worked and that the EU has completely failed to deal with the refugee reception crisis yet being in the EU is like being a part of a cosmopolitan club with trade, employment and travel benefits #ShouldBritainStayOrShouldBritainGo ♥ And my girl Hills – Whop Whop the FIRST WOMAN to be a major party’s nominee for President of the United States. Proving there is no ceiling too high to break. Next stop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue #I’mWithHer #Hillary2016


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this kiwi girl muses about… travelling

laters

I am currently sat amongst a pile of clothes preparing for my next trip wishing vehemently for a packing genie. Even though I have travelled a lot I have still not managed to learn the knack of packing and as such I find it the most laborious task. I do love to travel though, I risk sounding like a cliché but travelling – whether it be alone or with company, for work or pleasure – has bettered my experience of life and I have gained many valuable life skills while traipsing around the globe.

I am fortunate in that I have travelled practically from the moment I was born, that is par for the course when you are Indian with a South African mother and New Zealander for a father and a load of relatives and family friends scattered around the world. I learnt from an early age the need to be flexible and to adapt quickly when travelling; in my time I have endured an unplanned military enforced 48 hour layover (Addis Ababa), had snow cancelling flights (London to Toronto thrice), landed at the wrong airport due to an incorrect booking (Sandefjord instead of Oslo), been abandoned after missing the last train to my hotel after a Madonna concert and ended up spending the night in a railway station which locked its toilet doors through the night (Osaka), missed a flight due to the check in desk having the incorrect ESTA information (London to New York), ended up at the wrong wedding venue (Montreux) and in some very questionable situations (too many cities to mention). Its the nature of the beast with travel and all you can do is trust your gut and hopefully have a laugh about it.

One aspect I love about travelling is immersing myself in the local culture; from a young age my father instilled in me an interest in countries around the world. I could recite the states of America and all the English counties by age 6 as well as being able to state cities and their location on a map of New Zealand. Still today I can list the provinces of Canada, the five great lakes, every country and most of their capitals and political regimes around the world – all remnants from my younger years so I am inherently curious to see how other cultures exist. I have learnt a smile goes a long way as does communication – often there is a lot of hand gesturing, sometimes broken local tongue and sometimes like in the US – you be like ‘I can see your mouth moving, I think you’re speaking English but I have no clue what you are saying,’ but it is always appreciated.

Travelling with the right companion can be a lot of fun but sometimes good friends can turn out to be the worst travel partners as I learnt when I once travelled with a friend to Borneo. Although we did have some fab moments the trip was marred for me by her lack of an opinion – her general attitude was ‘whatever you want to do,’ lack of cultural sensitivity and at times lack of common sense, one time she left our hotel room while I was in the shower taking the room key – the key which only powered the room – leaving me to continue my shower in the dark with cold water. Then there was the first time I went to Bali with uni friends, a trip my girlfriends and I spent months planning each of us looking forward to a relaxing time after an exhausting uni year. Turns out their idea of relaxing was not quite the same as mine for they proceeded to spend our entire holiday pursuing men leaving me to beach, eat, sightsee pretty much on my own.

It wasn’t the girls’ trip we had planned but it turned out to be alright actually for I have realised as much as I love people, I do love my own company and as such travelling alone can be quite fun. I have the freedom to do exactly what I want especially as I tend to not love what everyone else does; take the Mona Lisa for example it was only on my fifth maybe sixth trip to Paris that I ventured to the Louvre. Seeing the da Vinci painting has never been of interest to me, not when there is so much else to do in the City of Light… rambling through Père Lachaise, sitting in cafes people watching, taking in exhibits at the Pompidou Centre, or the street art everywhere or… oh I could go on and on, I mean come on its Paris! I also quite enjoy the confronting situations travelling solo can present as it puts me in the way of new adventures and meeting new people. One of my most memorable nights came about on a work trip to Toronto when I found myself at a sports bar on the night of the Super Bowl (the year the Saints won), by the end of said night – which may or may not have been aided by a lot of beer – I had eaten my first chilli dog, hit a bullseye, danced a top the bar Coyote Ugly-style, learnt how to change a keg, and befriended many patrons and we still keep in touch today. That is the other plus with travelling the best moments happen when you least expect them.

Although… having fallen ill in Moscow, Zanzibar and Toronto, I can faithfully say being sick when travelling is the absolute worst.

Whatever the experience travelling is always an adventure and yet I think the most important lesson I have learnt from my travels is that it doesn’t matter where I travel to or where I call home, I come from a pretty cool corner of the world. This girl may be an abysmal packer but she is most definitely a very proud kiwi.

Sat Nam

Also…   still on the travel theme, one part of the world I have never been interested in exploring is the Middle Eastern region. As beautiful and rich in history it is, as a woman I have only held contempt for that oppressive part of the world but the refugee crisis has opened my mind and my heart to these people. You may have noticed through my previous blog posts that I have no respect for the Saudi Arabian regime. Their treatment of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nim is abominable. For the life of me it does not compute why the powers that be continue to have so much freedom from western and neighbouring countries when freedom is so little afforded to their own people. Okay I’m not a complete eejit I know there is money, oil, arms deals, sales of other defence equipment, education and prison reform contracts and such like ilk that comes into play at least I am assuming that is why the world has turned a blind eye to the situation the Saudi-lead airstrikes has created in Yemen for the past year. But here’s the bit I do not understand, if you wouldn’t sell arms to Assad in Syria, why is it okay to sell arms to the Saudis? Is Yemen to suffer like Syria has? When does it end? #DutyOfCare #GlobalCitizen #TheyCouldBeUS #WeCouldBeThem ♥ So another Bridget Jones movie is about to be released. One question ‘WHY?’ The second one has the dubious distinction of being the first and so far only movie I have ever walked out of. So I’ll ask again ‘WHY?’ #WantonSexGoddess – pleeeaaassse, excuse me while I puck ♥ In the last few months I have been following The Anonymous Revolutionary a blog by remarkable sixteen year old Max Edwards. In his blog Max wrote on the themes of Marxism, communism, their significance and their relevance today and at times, all of the time actually it was hard to believe it was written by someone so young such was his incite. To think of all this gifted lad could have achieved is heartbreaking for Max died on 26 March of the cancer that had been eating away at him. Though he be gone, his words remain, and you can read them here #MaxEdwardsWasHere #FuckYouCancer ♥ When I heard of The People vs O.J. Simpson I thought ‘WTF!’ Everyone knows the story, we saw it play out for real back in the day. The evidence was clear – he absolutely did it. I even made a bet with a fellow uni friend that he would get convicted, that is how sure I was. Well as history tells us I was wrong. I hadn’t banked on factors like racism nor the manipulation of the law that the defence team were clearly masterful at. It was a sore bet to lose because it was so bittersweet. Two people were murdered. The killer walked free. Yet like a voyeur I did watch the serial and I particularly enjoyed all the wig action STILL it blows that there has been no justice for Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and their loved ones. While I am talking about television I want to give a big up to Black Sails, having just binge-watched all three seasons over Easter. I have always been a bit partial to a pirate tale but this show with its strong plotlines, epic battles, steamy sex scenes and hot pirates (Toby Stephens still yummy after all these years) well it had me at Ahoy, there matey.


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hot tramp, i love you so!

bowie

David Bowie!
Now there’s an idea.
I have always believed the gods must have been on some serious peyote the day they created him.

So he’s gone then, my Starman is no longer of this Earth. The man I thought would live forever went and died.

And now here I am about to attempt to express how special this man is to me… where does one even begin, so fucken hard if it’s not the tears getting in the way, it’s the doubt as to whether I have it in me to do him justice. In therapy I am continually told to write my feelings down, but to write this hurts, hurts real bad. Too raw I suppose, still I will endeavour with my tribute of sorts to a man who blew me away time and time again. A man who still feels very present in my life; why just on Saturday I was engaged in a discussion about the meaning of After All, this coming after Friday on which as a fan I celebrated another year of him along with downloading the new album. Blackstar was all I played all weekend so I woke on Monday in such a lovely Bowie state of mind and then came the news.

Since then, every morning just before I wake fully I have this moment where I am smiling thinking all’s right with the world then I remember and I ask ‘Is it real?’ It is real isn’t it. He is really gone. A world without David Bowie. We live in that world now. I keep being asked how I feel, how does one feel when a great love dies – sad, in shock, heartbroken, rocked to my core – there are three thoughts that keep circling around in my head in amongst the grief: ‘People die, get over it’ and I know this, it is not my first loss but I suspect I will never fully recover from this one. There is only one other out there in the ether who could make me feel like this and she would not be where she is today if there hadn’t been a David Bowie. I have heard people talk about where they were when Lennon was shot, the grief they felt when Elvis died – I finally understand it; that sharp piercing pain in the heart, the dry retches, the shock I have experienced it all in the last few days.

‘But you didn’t even know him,’ oh but I did, I so did. David Bowie came into my life during the Nile Rogers years, when I was still at an age where the only concerts I was interested in were of the puppet variety like the Sesame Street musical. Regardless when his Serious Moonlight tour came to New Zealand he was everywhere which in the era sans social media meant the newspapers, television and the radio. I would go from watching Rainbow one minute to dancing to Modern Love the next. I was discovering music and I loved to dance so the album Let’s Dance fed my impressionable soul BUT the moment I fell for him was when I saw Labyrinth. This film – I saw it recently after many many years – that moment when he makes his entrance gave me the same tingling feeling I got when I first saw it only back then I didn’t know it was him, in fact it has often been the way that I would discover someone and they would turn out to be David Bowie. It happened with Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, the Pierrot phase. As Jareth the goblin king with his mullet, in the makeup and codpiece, he terrified me and something else which I now know as being aroused. Yeap I was aroused by David Bowie and he would continue to do so over the years. The movie lent itself to the romance, because I identified with Sarah for I too lived in a fantasy world.

From then on David as Jareth would come visit me, we would lie in my bed discussing Delfinia the world I had created as well as my real life woes. My teen years were a confusing time for me (I know I know like every other teen right!) I was both popular and smart enough but deep down I felt like an outsider. Having this wild imagination didn’t help because at that age all you want is to be like everyone else. The only time I felt a freedom was during those conversations with David/Jareth. He did talk back bizarrely enough. He helped me name unicorns (Delfinia had a lot of unicorns), he named a flying pirate ship Mistral and he always encouraged my uniqueness. Those visits ended some time in the last few years of college but he came back one more time when I was 23, this time as Ziggy (by then I was more familiar with his body of work) – it was the night before I left New Zealand for good I was on an adrenaline rush happy to be leaving, but in an instant the enormity of leaving behind family and friends especially my grandma hit me and then just as sadness threatened to take over, there he was at my window waving me goodbye. I took it to mean I was on the right track and the sadness abated.

I have come to know his body of work intimately, I have theorised the different stages of his work, but never been able to decide if he was riding the zeitgeist over the years or if he was helping to create it over and over again. I have been to countless Bowie themed nights (I predict that there will more to come in the next few months) and he is always my specialised subject when I play Mastermind. I have admired David and Iman’s love story; it is very clear that each was the other’s great love and best friend. I still find myself attracted to him, he only got better with age and given half the chance I would so have gone there. I have even dated men because they had some semblance of him, but his attraction for me was not just aesthetic, his energy and intelligence were a complete turn on. To have translated the cacophony that was in his head so masterfully into the different personas, the music, videos and films he created is no small feat. What genius existed within him to do this. He is was such a man. I was happy to be lead by him. He always upped my game. A few years ago the Guardian published a top 100 reading list as recommended by him. I had only read eight books of said list and as a voracious reader I decided I was going to complete that list, I am still working my way through it. On last count I was at 16, only 84 to go, with titles like ‘On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious’ and ‘Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir’ they aren’t exactly easy reading. So you see David Bowie has a role in the story of my life.

I watched the video for Lazarus last week and it left me feeling cold. Later after I had listened to the song a few times and considered the lyrics (as is always the case with his music, I always search for the meaning) that coldness gave way to what in hindsight I see as foreboding: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now…’ David Bowie was saying goodbye. And in the most classiest way, through his work. Reminds me of the last two songs Queen released with Freddie. I love the idea of Freddie and David together again along with Lou, and Lennon and Jimi, oh yes the party just got better in heaven.

I always thought I would see him perform live, I always felt it was a matter of when not if and the dreamer in me believes in a parallel universe I will. If he ever graced me with another visit I would say to him ‘Thank you for being exactly you. You gave a girl who felt like an oddity permission to be exactly who she is and the confidence to make her own rules. You and you alone made her dare to be brave. You darling man, you remain forever my goblin king, my starman and my moonage daydream. Thank you. Thank You. Thank You.’

Generations from now will discover him; they will listen to the music, see the different incarnations, go to museum exhibits dedicated to him, watch the films and the television appearances but they will never capture the essence of him. I have tried to explain my feelings for him to people who don’t him well – yes these people actually exist – but the fact of the matter is if you don’t already feel it you will never understand. The era of David Bowie, they were the golden years – a one off experience, never can be repeated. I heard the term Generation Bowie today – that’s you and I – the lucky ones. Are you going to be okay? He may have transitioned taking a big piece of my heart with him but the point is he existed in the first place and there is something joyful in the knowledge of this. The sun will keep on rising and I will continue to be exactly me so yes I am going to be just fine… eventually. For now though I need to cry.

Sat Nam


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it takes all sorts

toxic

This topic was born out of my frustration with an individual in present day, but the more I think about it and write I find myself taking a trip down memory lane.

You know when you think about a person and there is generally one word that can sum them up like lovable aunt or graceful friend or in my case a nutcase (I’m kidding… well I hope I am). When I was little we had(have?) this family friend and the word that immediately comes to mind for this auntie, based on my interaction with her, is toxic. To my young mind every word that came out of her mouth was mean spirited, she was a proper mean girl.

To me personally she never missed an opportunity to knock my private school education, and to deride me for not being a real New Zealander for not learning Maori – the native language of New Zealand (both are kind of ironic as I explain later on) and I was always too skinny. It wasn’t so much what she said – because I always look back at my school days with delight and I am appreciative that my parents ensured I learnt Gujarati which is the language of my Indian heritage, and I like that I was skinny – but it was in her delivery, open hostility and it wasn’t only directed at me. She would throw her negativity out to everyone from what I remember and like a dog senses danger, as a child I knew to keep clear of her.

As an adult I have learnt you never know what a person is going through until you have walked in their shoes so it is not my intention to slight this person’s character. Besides she wasn’t all bad, one year after I had complained that Indians don’t celebrate Christmas properly, she threw me a Christmas party (with her husband as Father Christmas) and my Christmas present from them, a comprehensive atlas, was most treasured right into my late teens.

I use this auntie by way of illustration for toxic people are everywhere; they are family members, people we work with, people we socialise with and sometimes toxic people are us. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive pleasure from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. I know for a fact the toxic individual who inspired this post will read this and instead of recognising their toxicity, point to others who are.

A person is never all bad; a toxic person or a person who exhibits toxic behaviour is unhappy and when they are being toxic, they are in fight or flight mode. This unhappiness makes them lash out because they lack the awareness to say ‘I’m unhappy,’ ‘something’s not right here,’ or ‘help!’ It is my experience toxic people in addition to being deeply unhappy, live in fear and most likely lack emotional intelligence –  the toxicity that emanates from them is always about them. Even though being on the receiving end can be hurtful, it’s never personal. You will never change the toxic person, that they must do themselves, but you have a choice how you show up in any situation:

‘Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out.’

Limit the interaction. Actively limiting your physical distance from the individual is the easiest and most effective way to keep yourself from being directly affected. In recent years I’ve had to walk away from a longstanding friendship because I found the other party’s toxicity was pervading into my energy, making me feel all kinds of negative. It wasn’t that I hated her, it was that I loved me more. I chose me and I feel better for it. BUT when this is not an option:

Practice self awareness. Falling into their drama is fruitless but when you pay attention to your own emotional state, you can better equip yourself with the tools to deal with toxic people. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening and because toxic behaviour tends to be predictable, once you are able to maintain an emotional distance it becomes easier to see the patterns and manage the situation. You might need to stop and regroup or you might be fine to proceed, either way you will be in control. It’s tough not to react because it’s a human thing to do, but being self aware is key to keeping your sanity so it’s worth it.

Rise above the negativity. Toxic people defy logic, there is no reasoning with their crazy so there is no point getting caught up in the mix. Getting back to my auntie and those two examples I gave – me not speaking Maori and going to private school – well she herself was not born and bred in New Zealand and to my knowledge did not speak Maori AND imagine my surprise years later when I discovered she had sent her youngest child to private school. Seriously ignore the crazy and respond only to the facts.

Establish boundaries. Toxic people try to consume you and make you swim deep into their problems, but you have a choice to not join their pity party. If you set boundaries and decide when and how you will engage a toxic person, you can control much of the crazy. The trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will. Know when to engage. Know when to walk away.

Surround yourself with the right others. You don’t have to go it alone. Build your tribe, of people who support what you value and who support you in creating what it is you want.

It takes all sorts to make this planet of ours go round, every person teaches us something and toxic people are actually our greatest teachers, even if it is only to make us look at our own behaviour and understand better how we can raise our vibration.

Sat Nam