Short Story: A Different Imagination

For as long as I can remember, there have always been two frames of photographs in our living room. The large one contains many different photos of many different relatives at many different times. (My parents believed that I should know the names and faces of my relatives, even though it is unlikely that I will ever meet most of them; as a little girl, held in my mother’s arms so that I could see the photographs, I could name the relatives pictured, while my father recorded the scene on a rented video camera.) The smaller frame contains a photograph of my mother’s grandmother. It hangs below the larger frame, as Belarusian superstition dictates that photographs of deceased individuals should be placed lowest. The palm-sized square photograph has flown with us across the oceans and the deserts to Australia. Every morning when I walk into the living room, it is there on the mantle piece, reminding me that somewhere, in a land I can only imagine, there lived a woman, whom I would have liked to have met before she passed away. Continue reading “Short Story: A Different Imagination”

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How Christianity Subconsciously Affects Your Western Secular Thinking

I grew up in a country, where the overwhelming majority of people are atheist. Of course we celebrated Christmas and Easter and we all knew the relevant Biblical stories by heart, but it had never occurred to me that an adult of sound mind could find any spiritual meaning in those fairytales. That is, until I was nineteen years olden and had lived in Australia for eight years.

As I dabbled with different religions and interacted with people from diverse cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds, I realised that not only could these fairytales of my childhood carry philosophical ideas that directly applied to my life, but the morals behind them had affected (and continue to affect) my worldview more than I had realised.  Continue reading “How Christianity Subconsciously Affects Your Western Secular Thinking”

On Social Media Or Why I Unfollowed Your Blog

The Internet as a whole, but especially social media allow us to create our own reality. This means that, for instance, we can physically emigrate, but mentally (and emotionally) we can remain attached to the reality of our original homeland by reading the same familiar newspapers, by watching the same familiar TV shows and gossiping about the same familiar people, but now in an online format. Perhaps in a less comprehensive example, Continue reading “On Social Media Or Why I Unfollowed Your Blog”

A Concise Summary Of The Political Situation In Ukraine

The following is a speech about the Crimean Crisis that was originally written in March 2014 for a VCE English Unit 1 Assessment Task. 

I have a question to you: how would you feel if the US troops arrived in Tasmania to claim the land as their own?

I don’t think you would feel very comfortable with that.

Yet, this is what seems to have happened in Crimea and as we talk is happening in many eastern regions of Ukraine.

Crimea is a small peninsula, but strategically very important, that is joined to the mainland Ukraine by a small strip of land and is easily accessible from Russia by ferry.

The Crimean Crisis of 2014 began with protests in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, in late November 2013. The people of Ukraine were protesting against the government’s decision not to go ahead with the Association Agreement with the European Union. To the people, the Agreement meant less corruption, better economic opportunities and, really, the kind of life we are used to in Australia and other developed countries.

The government attempted to violently suppress the protests, but this only made the protesters more determined. After more than two months of political turmoil, in late February 2014, the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovich, fled the country without resigning from his position. The parliament, where the opposition by then held a majority, installed an acting president and scheduled presidential elections for the 25th of May 2014. However, Russia does not recognize the current government of Ukraine. Consequently, it deployed its troops to the Crimean peninsula where it was renting a military base. A referendum was held and Crimea was proclaimed a part of Russia. Today I am going to explain to you why there is no justification Russia’s actions. Continue reading “A Concise Summary Of The Political Situation In Ukraine”

Thoughts on Jamala’s ‘1944’

It has been nearly five months since the 2016 edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest, so I do not blame you if the title of this post means nothing to you. The most important thing that you should know though is that it was won by Ukraine. (Ukraine is the country that you used to see on the news quite often and the one where the Malaysian airlines plane crashed, but whose political quagmire the world seems to be conveniently ignoring as of late). Ukraine was represented at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest by the singer Jamala who sang a song entitled 1944.

‘What’s the problem?’, you may ask. Allow me to tell you a few simple facts. Continue reading “Thoughts on Jamala’s ‘1944’”

#ranttime: “White people have a culture too.”

It has been three years since I sat in a classroom in an academically selective school where most students are of Southeast Asian descent and two Sri Lankan classmates attempted to convince me and an Afghani classmate that since we are both “white”, then we must by extension have the same culture (i.e. no culture at all).

And it has been five years since a Sri Lankan classmate expressed her surprise at the fact that I was studying for the end-of-year exams (“but your parents are white!”). My level of both English and social skills was rather poor back then, so unfortunately I cannot tell you whether the remark was genuine or sarcastic.

However, what I can tell you is that yes, I am “white” (although a decade or two ago you would have preferred to call me a “wog”), and yes, I do have a culture indeed.  Continue reading “#ranttime: “White people have a culture too.””

Why Does Islam Clash With Western Cultures?

First of all, let’s agree that yes, no matter how much the believers in multiculturalism among us try, Islam does indeed clash with the way of life in much of Europe and other prominent developed countries, such as Australia, Canada and the United States.

Most people in the West drink alcohol on a regular basis. Many European cultures have traditions associated with its consumption and it is viewed as unsociable (hostile, even) to refuse the offer of an alcoholic drink by your host. Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol.

The number of marriages has been steadily decreasing in much of the developed world over the last decade, with sexual activity among teenagers being viewed as the norm. Islam forbids premarital sex.

And of course there is always the issue of the handshake: if you are fortunate enough not to belong to a culture where hugging and kissing near-strangers (of either sex) as a greeting is customary, then it is unquestionable that you will shake hands as a greeting, especially if you are meeting someone for the first time. Islam forbids any form physical contact with the opposite sex. 

So, yes, Islam does indeed clash with Western cultures.

Or does it?  Continue reading “Why Does Islam Clash With Western Cultures?”