The Hundred Foot Journey

Recently I went and saw The Hundred Foot Journey at the cinema. It was a very interesting film, actually. The problem was that it didn’t stay that way.

The movie follows the story of an Indian family that fled their home country following persecution, and the death of the mother. They find themselves travelling Europe, until their car breaks down in France. There, they find a rundown old restaurant building whose owners had been scared away by the classic French restaurant across the road, which has a Michelin star. Despite protests from his family, the father of the family (Om Puri) buys the building, eager to settle down.
The story follows mostly the son, Hasaan (played by Manish Dayal), as he finds himself in the middle of two cultures clashing. He experiences love (with Marguerite, played by Charlotte Le Bon), racism (by the chef of the opposing restaurant, Jean-Pierre, played by Clement Sibony), and new ways of cooking as he is mentored by the head chef across the road (Helen Mirren, playing Madame Mallory). He and his family spend the first half of the movie in hilarious battle with Le Saule Pleurer as their Maison Mumbai fights for attention and top billing.
For the first hour or so, it is a movie dedicated to family, love and cooking.

Then the movie tries a twist, and Hasaan ends up accepting an apprenticeship from the family’s rival. He learns to cook, and then ends up travelling France, working at new restaurants and earning a name for himself. Suddenly the movie loses its warmth and humour. It takes a lot longer than I felt it should for anything interesting to happen, to be honest. Hasaan wanders, feeling sorry for himself, and no longer are we informed about his family or his girlfriend, whom he just ups and leaves [it certainly loses a lot of the romance it has in the beginning, once he enters in a not-so-friendly-rivalry with Marguerite, who believes he was just using her. He does nearly nothing to dispute this, and turns hard against her].

During the last ten minutes, he reunites with his family, but they blend into the background. He meets up with Marguerite and it would appear their relationship is mended, but all we get is a quick kiss. He appears to want to return home but ends up taking ownership of Le Saule Pleurer, instead of the family restaurant, despite him having been their main cook. It doesn’t end the way it could have, and I found that very disappointing.

I think the movie was good, overall. The acting was superb and the storyline was interesting, although, at times, difficult to follow. I do wish it had gone a little differently, because I feel the ending left it lacking, and caused it to lose its morale, however, I would recommend watching it.

It’s a 3 out of 5.

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For and Against Make Up

There’s this constant debate in our society. It’s not a verbal one, and it’s usually not advertised, but, although a lot of people seem to be for “equality” and “being yourself”, the majority of women still wear makeup. You get advertisements- no, pages- dedicated to different make up products in your magazines, right next to the article that tells you to love the body you were given. There are so many different techniques and advancements. The topic was on television the other day- whether to get plastic surgery because summer’s coming up. I have a feeling our society’s confused.

For the past few thousand years, women have been altering their appearance with various paints and powders in order to give the illusion of features their culture finds attractive. Longer, thicker lashes, bigger, pinker lips, clearer, lighter/darker skin- the trends rarely change. Of course the term make up can also refer to more… extreme measures, such as plastic surgery, Botox, or, as the Edwardian’s used to do, putting leeches behind your ears for that oh so ladylike blush. My question is, what are we “making up” for?

The other day, I met a gentleman who was surprised I was only 16 [I’m only 16, by the way] and that this other lady was 26. He said, “It’s very hard to tell what age you all are because everyone from 15 to 30 is trying to look the same age”. It was very surprising, and very true. We may have a little bit of a laugh when we see little girls trying on their mum’s make up [or entering beauty pageants, although that’s another story for another day], but one day, it becomes a reality that they’re not just wearing it for fun anymore. They’ve got to wear it every day, and it should be perfect. Not just lip gloss anymore, teens- you need the full monty. Oh, and by the way, the good stuff will cost you upwards of about fifty bucks.

I think that make up is quite a bad idea to begin with- it’s sad that we have to change our features to measure up to society’s standards of beautiful. I did, however, promise that this would be a for and against, and admittedly, there are some perks.

Beauty is a hard thing to grasp. Roald Dahl once said that it could even come down to how often a person smiles. I think, though, that if we are stuck with makeup, then it could be used as a good thing. A friend of mine, who aspires to be a professional makeup artist, said that she’d like to do it so that people can look in the mirror and feel beautiful, be proud of how they look. It’s sad when people get so obsessed with that, and feel naked without any on, however, for special occasions, or, yes, even a little as part of your daily outfit, make up can be good if it makes you feel good. If you can look in the mirror, or catch the eye of someone special, because you look just that little bit better. Just try and make sure that you’re wearing it because you think you look good, I implore thee.

Why Australia Shouldn’t Make Maths Compulsory

As somebody who dropped Maths as soon as I was given the form to do so [I may have mentioned this before], the suggestion of the subject being made compulsory in the HSC made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

I struggled with Mathematics. I still do- I was listening to the Maths class in the library today and I got a headache. I wasn’t even in the class. We got so many tests in year 10-my last year-and I failed every single one of them. I’m not ashamed of that, because I know I tried my hardest. I also know, however, that the rest of my class didn’t do so well. That feeling, though, of having studied so hard, and concentrated all year, and for it to amount to next to nothing, was crushing. I can’t help but think of the number of students that must go through that, each and every one of them with their own reasons. Thankfully, by the time you get to your senior years, you’re trusted [usually] to do the subjects you think you actually can do.

At this point, I’d like to remember that English is compulsory, yes, but that’s because it’s the language all of Australia speaks officially. Society functions with it, and there are so many different levels of it offered, so that no-one really has to struggle. You have to do it for two more years, but there is a lot of support provided. I don’t know if that would happen with Mathematics, but I do know that a lot of my friends couldn’t understand General [the easiest class you can get]. The English as a Second Language class doesn’t do Shakespeare and Yeats, but the General class does do Algebra.
A few people argue that Maths is also essential- you need it at the shopping till, and with your taxes. There are two main things wrong with this. First, that you’re meant to learn those essential skills in Primary, and certainly have them honed in years 7-10. If you can’t multiply, add and minus by the end of year 10, you’re probably not going to learn it by the end of year 12. Furthermore, how are we going to use all of that other stuff we learn? Trigonometry, Pythagoras’ theorem, algebra- all that crap is not used in everyday life. It should not be something everybody should be forced to learn, master and be tested on. Then, there is the minor fact that if you’re struggling [as I do], you can hire people to do things like your taxes, get a calculator or learn things online. The jobs that need maths come with it as a prerequisite. You will only get people doing those jobs that have done Maths in the HSC already.

I’m writing this post because I remember the feeling I got when I realised I didn’t have to do it anymore. I didn’t have to go to Maths, do the tests or struggle. I was free. I was free of the headaches, heartaches and tears. I never had to do it again if I didn’t want to. I could not imagine being forced to do it again. I would never want to go back to that. Besides, odds are my kids are going to struggle with it to. I do not want them to be forced to do it, and I do not want to watch that happen.

The Book Thief (review)

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I read it on the way to Wagga Wagga, and I stopped myself from crying because I was on a train. Otherwise, I would have bawled my eyes out.

The story follows a little girl named Liesel who gets adopted out to a family during the Second World War, or, to broaden the context a little, when Germany was beginning to police the amount and whereabouts of Jews in order to later eradicate them. The book is written mainly about Liesel and how she reacts to the different going’s on the story, but it is written from the perspective of Death, and that is where things begin to get interesting.

Death isn’t scary or rude or angry. He sounds like a middle aged man who is a stuck with a job that pays his mortgage. He is actually rather nice. It’d defintitely a different idea. He talks about Liesel, in my opinion, as if he’s her father or uncle- he’s interested in her because she’s that little bit different.

Anyway, the story continues so that a Jew named Max seeks shelter from the Regime with the people who are her new parents, as Liesel’s father owed Max’s father a favour from the war. They accept him and keep him a secret in their basement for the majority of the book. The novel then outlines how Liesel deals with keeping everything a secret from the outside world, including her best friend Rudy.

The story is a beautiful read. It’s not just what happens in it, but the way in which it is written, and the characters within it. You fall in love with everybody, and just go along with what is being said. It’s one of those books that surprise you when you find you have run out of pages to read. I would definitely recommend reading it.

P.S. You also get to learn a few German curse words
P.P.S. The movie is also great.

The Getting Of Wisdom (review)

This book is written by Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson under the pseudonym Henry Handel Richardson, but to be honest, I was happier when I thought it was written by a man. I’ve read many classics, but in this one, I do not see the appeal in it at all, and I honestly thought it was written by someone who didn’t understand the female gender at all. The blurb reads “Henry Handel Richardson’s the Getting of Wisdom is the coming of age story of a spontaneous heroine who finds herself ensconced in the rigidity of a turn-of –the-century boarding school. The clever and highly imaginative Laura has difficulty fitting in with her wealthy classmates and begins to compromise her ideals in her search for popularity and acceptance.”

This is putting it nicely.

I didn’t like this book at all. Its “heroine” is the snobby little Laura, who gets sent off to boarding school. She refuses to make friends or change in order to adapt to her surroundings. The introduction in the beginning of my book says that you’ll feel sympathy for her- I just believed she needed a good slap across the face. Unlike other books dedicated to stuck-up little ladies, this one doesn’t outline her discovery to self-discovery or any such thing, but rather how she overcomes the odds and stays with her personality. Unfortunately, her personality is not one that you’d like her to stay with.

I guess that it’d be worth reading if you’d like to make up your own mind, but it’s a no from me.

What It’s Like Having A Chicken

One of the best pets I’ve ever had was a chicken. I’ve actually had quite a few at a time, and they’re the cutest things you could possibly have in your backyard- they’re certainly better than goldfish [R.I.P. Goldie].

For a long time, I had just the three Bantams [which are probably the best to get as a child, as the more mainstream ones- the huge ones you see on the television- can get quite aggro]- Moh (because she had a mohawk), Chookie (because I wasn’t very inventive) and this very fast one I can’t remember the name of. Then I got Blackie and Brownie (once again, I was young). They used to just hang out with each other, and eat all the grass so my dad didn’t have to mow it (although the first three and the second two didn’t really like each other, and we ended up giving Blackie and Brownie to a Vietnamese vegetarian chef. Go figure.) Furthermore, their poo is really great for the garden- no joke.

I have quite a few amazing memories that include chickens, such as when we cut off the branches of our mandarin tree that the chickens liked to fall asleep on and they tried to find other places to sleep, including the washing line. When we got a guinea pig, our remaining chicken used to sleep on his cage and they became very good friends with each other. There was also a time I got some bugs on me that had been hiding in my chicken’s feathers and she started eating them off me, as if partially because she was happy to have a snack and also to say sorry for infesting me.

They eat your cockroaches, they eat your weeds and they eat your bugs.  They sometimes crow when the sun comes up, and the hens do lay [the best] eggs. Those were the things I’d been expecting.

It was weird when I realised that they’re not always like they are on tv. When we first got our hens, we used to have cats that would prowl through our garden and my parents were slightly worried they’d get attacked. In the first week, a cat jumped over our garden fence and one chicken chased after it until it ran away. It was the funniest thing ever.
They also respond to cuddles. Whenever Moh used to get worried, she’d start clucking and I’d just sit on the back step reassuring her. She’d then waddle over and sit on my lap while I stroked her back and chatted to her as she clucked happily. Then she’d fall asleep [by the way, hens have tiny feathers on their eyelids].

I loved having hens, and I’d definitely do it again- my dad’s always saying how he’d prefer those chooks back instead of Enzo J I would recommend them, even to people with a small backyard because all they need is a bit of grass and some bird seed, as well as water. Low maintenance and a lot of fun.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Recently I broke up with my two best friends. It was a very surreal experience- the time itself was painful, but after it, I found myself in a situation I’d never been in before. I had a lot more time, and I was sitting alone at lunch. I had to find different places to sit in class, and I moved my locker because I used to share with one of them. Even some of my teachers noticed.

I don’t want to write about the sad bits because I have a feeling that everyone goes through this at some point or another- having someone you’re so close to that suddenly isn’t there anymore but is everywhere- so I thought I’d take a different perspective on it- the perks of being a wallflower.

It may not seem as if there are many. It’s definitely a scary time as you step onto unknown territory, but, looking back over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed some positives.

The biggest one for me was the new friends you make. I started looking for other places to sit, but in some classes I couldn’t find a place to sit completely in solitary and I enjoy sitting towards the front of the class, so I found myself sitting next to people I’d never met before. I’ve struck up so many different conversations with people I’d never considered talking to before because I always had someone to talk to. I found new people to sit with at lunch, in class, after school. I’ve met so many people, and it’s been, in a weird way, fun broadening my horizons. I definitely wasn’t keen in the beginning, but being a wallflower, it just sort of happened. People approach you when they notice you’re alone, usually, and apart from having my faith in humanity renewed a thousand times over, I’ve also found it rather flattering, actually, that people want to talk to me. It’s the craziest feeling.

Then, you find out who your friends are. The amount of support I’ve received is crazy, but I’ve also lost more than just two friends. Suddenly, people who were their friends don’t talk to me, but people who I didn’t expect to notice, such as some of my teachers and other people in the class have asked me what is going on and if I’m okay. I cannot express my gratitude towards them in enough words, but it brightens up your day when support comes from somewhere you weren’t looking for it.

Lastly, being a wallflower makes you notice things. I keep seeing things that I’d always been too busy to look at- I go places I’ve never been before. Shopping by myself for the first time was interesting, and I kept talking to the people who run the stores, and spending more time at the places I wanted to go, but my friends were never interested in. I notice more often if someone else is by themselves, and, knowing how it feels, I go over to them. I find myself hanging out with a lot more people, instead of just a select few, and having more confidence to do things by myself.

In conclusion, I do wish I still had those friends at times. I still miss being able to call someone up or knowing what I was going to do on the weekend. Being alone at a party, or walking past somewhere you always used to hang out can be very, very hard, but I can assure you, as someone on the other side, it does get easier, and there are silver linings to the cloud. More spontaneity, more friends [if, in less depth], different conversations and a different perspective. You can learn from the experience, and you can figure out what fits you. You learn that you can stand on your own two feet [even if it is nice to have someone there to lean on]. You find out who you are as just you.

Things I Learned From Play School

Play-School

There are a lot of things that we’re not grateful enough for as we grow up. I saw an ad for a television show that explains what babies see as they’re growing up- after all, those years are imperative to our learning,yet we don’t remember what happens during them. It made me think- what did I learn when I was a kid?

Things I learned from the show Playschool, which I reckon deserves a lot of gratitude for teaching me the stuff I know today, include the following. By the way, I grew up in Australia, so for me it’s play school.

Anyway, firstly that you don’t need expensive toys. The two best segments on Play school for me were the story time, where a story was re-enacted with the toys [Jemima, Little Ted, Big Ted and Morris]. So many kids’ cartoons are so fancy- animated on computers in someone’s lab instead of classic cloth or that play doughy stuff, like Wallace and Grommit or Bananas in Pyjamas [which, by the way, is now animated! The horror.] Play school taught me that I could use what I had in front of me to have fun, and make my own stories.large_size_18375000001-640x360

Then there was that deaf woman. I’ve already mentioned on here my appreciation for sign language- I actually learned the alphabet and my friend and I use it to talk in church [when it’s too loud to actually hear each other]. There was this lady- I’m not sure if she’s still on there- but she used to spell out everything she was saying with her hands. Not only was it cool to watch- like she was acting out her stories with her hands- but it made me that bit more tolerant as a kid, I think. As a child, sometimes you look at disabled people, or anyone who’s different, and it’s a bit confusing or fascinating, but I think she made it easier to go out into the world and accept people.

signbaby2

Speaking of appreciation, Play school made me appreciate the little things in life. When I looked through the window, I learned about the jobs that made my world work- that things didn’t just happen, but that people worked hard to make them happen. I still remember one of the songs- “bags, bags, bags; they’re very useful things; if we didn’t have bags, what would we use to put our little things in?” Play school taught me to look around and recognise things, and try and make them valuable.

Anyway, I think there’s no shame in going back and watching those shows. If you’re at home one afternoon, and they’re on, why don’t you try taking a trip back down memory lane?

The Shark

Something that was in the news recently is the shark attack that was on a lonely beach in New South Wales. A man in his fifties was swimming about and got attacked. Unfortunately he was soon pronounced dead. The news chopper, however, spotted a shark swimming nearby. They did not actually have any way of confirming that it was the shark that had bitten the man- that needs to be made clear. It was just a shark. They killed it.

It is news like this that makes me angry. Not just angry, but ashamed of my own race. How arrogant does a species have to be, quoting a man who suffered a shark bite himself [and lost both his arm and leg], to kill animals for fun? My question is one step further- how arrogant and infantile does your mentality have to be to say “it hurt me, I’ll hurt it- an eye for an eye, a life for a life.” It is within the human nature as well to say, you’re in my territory, I don’t want you here, I’ll use whatever is within my power. For us it’s guns, for them it’s teeth.

I’m sorry the man lost his life. I’m sure he was not doing anything wrong, and that he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m sorry to his family who miss him and I’m sorry that he lost his life for practically no reason, but I am also sorry for that shark, and all the other sharks that people kill every year because that animal killed a human. The circumstances are rarely explained to us- we just know that there are people out there “keeping us safe”. Did the shark swim up onto the beach and kill more people? No, it swam away. It did what it is naturally programmed to do and it kept on living, until it was “culled” [the politically correct word we use for “killed”].

And why was it killed anyway? They closed off the beaches- they could have just waited for it to leave. It is not fair. It is not fair at all.

I hope both rest in peace.