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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On The Meaning Of Home

Home is a peculiar concept.

(Especially to those of us who cannot associate it with a specific physical location.)

However, here is what I have learnt in my nineteen years of longing for it.

(OK, probably not nineteen, since a newborn does not have the cognitive abilities to comprehend the concept of a “home”, but you get the idea.)  Continue reading “On The Meaning Of Home”

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”

Short Story: The Veiled Girl Who Did Not Believe In God

“There is no God”, the girl said defiantly. Her hair was meticulously covered by a silky scarf tied in the style of Turkish actresses. Not a strand of hair could escape beneath the tight cap. Her face had been beautified with the aid of a range of cosmetics; her father and her teacher would argue that there had been too many. Underneath the short-sleeved, knee-length navy and white checkered school dress she wore a white long-sleeved t-shirt and several pairs of navy opaque stockings, all in spite of the summer heat. Overall, she adhered to the Islamic dress code.

“But how can you not believe?”, the other girl probed. Continue reading “Short Story: The Veiled Girl Who Did Not Believe In God”

#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?”

Cultural diversity: a new kind of racism?

First of all, let’s establish that there is a clear distinction between cultural diversity and multiculturalism.

Cultural diversity invloed the peaceful coexistence of various cultural, ethnic and religious communities within a particular society with minimal interaction between their members.

Multiculturalism, on the other hand, involves the peaceful coexistence of various cultural, ethnic and religious communities with voluntary interaction between their members.

In a multicultural society, individuals embrace various aspects of the numerous cultures, with no culture being perceived as superior.

In a culturally diverse society, individuals are expected to adhere to a single culture with migrants not being expected to assimilate. Continue reading “Cultural diversity: a new kind of racism?”