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Saying whatever I like … whenever I like

I’d love to ‘avago’ at Melbourne

Warning: This blog post is going to feature a shameless dose of Aussie slang.

When I used to work at AOL, from 2007 to 2010, I was a producer for the Australia and New Zealand web portals AOL had in the respective markets. And while may no longer exist, during that time I learned quite a bit about Australia, its way of life, its natural beauty and what made it a popular country (for a variety of reasons). I even nearly had the chance to visit Sydney for work (AOL had an office there), even bought a new big suitcase and began getting my visa papers in order… only to be told the following week the recession meant all international travel plans have been put on hold.

_Insert sad face_

I was disappointed I never got the chance to visit Australia and had to say hooroo to that dream. Until this contest on Indiblogger came up!

How much do I know about Melbourne – the proclaimed “most livable city in the world”? Well, the first thing my AOL Sydney counterparts told me back then was there is this steadfast competition between Sydney and Melbourne as to which city is better. Then there are the sporting events like the Melbourne Cup, where we spent more time creating feature galleries on all the outrageous hats on display more than the actual horse race! Then there is the Melbourne F1, the first race on the calendar. Other than that, much of what I heard or know about Melbourne just comes from the fact it gets mentioned a lot in lists that rank “best places to live” in the world and is a city where quality of life ranks higher.

12 apostles Melbourne
The “12 apostles” rock formations. Bewdy-ful isn’t it?

For the uninitiated, Melbourne is the capital city of the coastal state of Victoria. Being close to the sea brings with it its fair share of pleasantries. The first being the amazing Great Ocean Road, considered to be the most scenic drives in the world. If I could go for a ride with an obvious stopover at the ’12 apostles’ limestone cliffs — this alone would make the Australia experience for me. Taking the Gibsons Steps down to the beach would definitely be an experience I would not want to miss out on.

I’d also love to witness the Penguin Parade on Philips island. Visitors to the nature reserve get to build wooden ‘homes’ for the penguins of Phillips island and later watch as the penguins make a return to the shore in the evening (although photography is prohibited disappointingly). Check out this video featuring Tamnay and… that other guy from the popular comedy troupe AIB.

(More videos featuring Tanmay & Rohan in Australia)

Back in Melbourne city, Royal Botanic Gardens seems like a place I’d go for a nice stroll post lunch. Close by is the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial, also a free attraction.

Being a foodie, I know I’ll enjoy Queen Victoria market. I mean, where else can I try out fresh kangaroo meat and an assortment of cheese and amazing seafood? For some nice laid back cafe experience, I would veg out at the narrow Degraves Street one morning before take a stroll down Collins Street, the premier street lined with high end shops where the cashed up spend their money. I, on the other, would much rather spend my money at Harbour Town and the many restaurants at Docklands. The area is also where visitors can find the Melbourne Star, a 120 metre high ferris wheel. Although I’d go even higher at the Eureka Skydeck 88, for a panoramic view of Melbourne’s skyline.

The Eureka Tower even offers an Edge experience, which is a platform that extends out 300 metres above ground

I know it’s a bit far out from the city, but if I had the time, I would definitely take a ride on the Puffing Billy train in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s the oldest steam train in Australia, and the journey takes passengers through the renowned mountainous landscape of Mt. Dandenong, which looking at the photos just comes up a cropper. (Not even sure I used that expression right)

The scenery looks classic, doesn’t it?

If I were to think about buying a special gift from Melbourne, it would have to be an opal pendant (for my mother). I came across Lightning Ridge Opal Mines when browsing Tripadvisor. Named after Lightening Ridge region in Black Opal county, north of Melbourne, the store offers a free educational tour on opal stones and at the end of it, there is no pressure to buy anything. Although I do wish I could experience the real outback, but Lightning Ridge seems really far from Melbourne city.

I’m not the biggest cricket fan out there but I guess I have to drop by the Melbourne Cricket Ground when in the city — because if I didn’t, friends back in India will act puzzled and ask why I didn’t. Ugh.

Sure I’ll ride the tram and drop by Block Arcade, but I’m a larrikin, so much of what I wish to experience on a personal visit to Melbourne is what I mentioned above. These are my top picks. Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why? Leave your answer in the comments below and you could win a shopping voucher worth Rs. 500!

Whisky sample glasses The Glasshouse

An afternoon with Amrut whisky, hosted by The Glass House

I was invited for a blogger gathering at the invitation of Amrut Distilleries, makers of the renowned Amrut Single Malt whisky. I had heard of the brand, but never knew much about it nor had I ever tasted it. It’s not easy to find it in liquor stores and I think I have seen their whiskys more at airport duty frees. Amrut XXX rum on the other hand, that’s far more common. None the less, we were asked to come for a tasting session to be held at The Glass House on Lavelle Road.

The Glasshouse Lavelle road Bangalore
There was a bit of space across from The Glass House to park my bike
The Glasshouse lounge restaurant Bangalore
This was my first time at The Glass House, and first impressions: “Wow!”

We were instructed to first go upstairs for the Amrut event. Continue reading “An afternoon with Amrut whisky, hosted by The Glass House” »

India’s youth needs to get laid, like seriously

This post is entry for an Indiblogger contest sponsored by Poonaam Uppal’s True Love – A Mystical True Love Story, for which the contest topic was “Yes or No to Pre-marital Sex?”

Short answer: Yes to pre-marital sex.

I could end the topic just like that, but then again, you’d probably want to hear an explanation from my perspective, right?

Well, here is my opinion. It’s the sexual frustration that — predominantly men — in this country have, that seems to cause all sorts of unnecessary societal problems. Yes, I do believe some potential rapists out there can be eliminated if such men had access to consensual sex to satisfy their cravings. Although, I stress that prostitution can only satisfy some men. After all, rape is ‘free’ — prostitution costs money. But I digress, that’s another topic.

It’s not just sexual contact, but the lack of any form of contact with the opposite sex that makes men truly messed up — from harassment of women to totally not understanding the opposite sex at all. I speak from the guy’s point of view a lot because, a) I’m a guy myself, and b) men harass women far more than women harass men. The sad part is that this type of social conditioning manifests at an early age too.

In many of our schools (not the one I went to), the sexes are segregated at a very early age. Girls sit separate, boys sit separate. This continues all the way up to college. Yes, some colleges still practice such segregation! This distancing of the sexes manifests a sexual misunderstanding of the other sex. Women are shunned for getting close to men, and men have a lack of understanding of not only a woman’s biology, but even how to talk to them. So as they enter their teens, such men get all the wrong lessons about sex from pornography and mere hearsay about what they think is how women are. Women on the other hand are condemned if they lose their virginity before marriage — especially in our country. And then these two sexes meet, mostly through an arranged marriage.

Picture a typical Indian arranged marriage. You barely know your partner. Your parents filtered the selection process mostly to their liking, you meet your future partner a few times before marriage, and now you are told you have to spend the rest of your life with each other. How is a woman’s first night with a man she barely knows any different than a prostitute’s first night on the job? If that’s a harsh comparison, I’m sorry, it does feel that way for a lot of women who have yet to develop a true emotional connection with the man they were told to marry. And there are studies out there that prove young people who take abstinence pledges have trouble adjusting to sexual norms post marriage.

There’s nothing wrong if people who want to wait for marriage to have sex. It’s entirely up to them — even better if it is a mutual decision. But the other reason why I am “for” pre-marital sex is also to avoid the realization that many couples face waiting for marriage to experience sex. For some, it’s the disappointment after all that waiting and hopes they for an amazing sexual experience… it turned out to be a whimper the first few times. For the majority, it’s the notion of realizing sex is great, but now they have to contend with the fact they are stuck with one sexual partner for the rest of their lives. Regretting they could have done it others when they chance before marriage. This is one among the many reasons that drives infidelity in the future.

The other support for pre-marital sex, in my opinion, is to stop making a big deal about sex! We all have this amazing notion about sex, and it’s largely positive. When you really experience it — it can go either way. Reading the sex advice columns (some fake, many real concerns) you can get the impression that’s it’s not romantic or fantastical as it is portrayed in cinema, novels or even pornography. It’s not always a perfect experience, and this imperfection kills whatever notion about sex you may have previously had. This is where pre-marital sex can help: to set your expectations right.

I know, it’s a tough sell to convince many Indians (I’m talking outside of the cities and the liberal urban crowd) to even get them to talk about pre-marital sex, let alone consent to it. Even if someone wants to come out and be open about it, you have the “moral police” and dirty politics that will come down on you preaching morality and kulcha.

Nothing annoys me more than this hypocrisy, especially coming from men. I always reminded of an insensitive idiot who took to Twitter to blame rape on the way women dress, but a little digging up through his older tweets revealed how much this hot-blooded hypocrite loved Sunny Leone and Mallika Sherawat! It’s this male hypocrisy of pretending to be cultural and sanskaari that irritates me to no extent. Often times, these are the very men that crave sex so badly. Repressing anyone’s sexual cravings only has the opposite effect. It makes them desperate for it.

Even when Indiblogger announced this contest in partnership with Poonaam Uppal, the forum discussion on this topic brought about a few bloggers calling the topic of “pre-martial sex” offensive and unnecessary. “Think about the kids” was one guy’s pathetic excuse. My response to people like him is exactly that — “think about the kids”! It’s better that kids learn about safe sex and the use of condoms before they indulge in sex and get a girl pregnant. And if adults nowadays think that kids are clueless about sex, clearly they are so out of touch with how kids are these days. So if people, especially parents, aren’t going to talk about pre-marital sex, then you will just have entrust that responsibility to our ‘kids’ to do the talking themselves.

This is why I am pro pre-marital sex. Not just having pre-marital sex, but we should at least be talking about it. I mean, look at the sculptures on temples of Khajuraho…

Khajuraho sexual sculptures
… you think all this was inspired by a married couple’s honeymoon?!

If our ancestors could enjoy pre-marital sex, why are we — in this day and age — shunning even talking about pre-marital sex? In this country, buying condoms at a pharmacy is an embarrassing act for many men. Which gives them the excuse for unprotected sex, something many girls aren’t comfortable with prior to marriage. We’re a nation where the police ‘raid’ dance bars and treats prostitutes as criminals while doing nothing to stop the trafficking of women and children. Oh, Kareena Kapoor or Katrina Kaif can dance as bar girls to hugely popular item numbers that become so popular kids will dance to the very same songs on TV dance competitions, much to the adulation and support of the adults tuning in.

Enough with this Indian hypocrisy. India’s youth (especially) need to experience sex before marriage. Just so they can get the lust for sex out of the way and leave marriage for more meaningful and longterm responsibilities. The privacy and time required for sex becomes harder when you have children. More so if you live in a joint family household. Also, your body isn’t going to look any better as you cross your 30s, so why lose out on the chance to enjoy the most when you are young and more energetic?

Pre-marital sex isn’t just about satisfying a physical act, it’s also about shifting attitudes. All those critics of pre-marital sex seriously need to get ‘laid’ (an American expression to imply “having sex”). If they did, they would understand the joy, or disappointment, it brings and wouldn’t act so prudish henceforth about the topic. And that’s why I am “for” pre-marital sex. Not for the act itself, but the changes in attitude it brings towards the act of sex.

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