Sunday, November 16, 2014

Help, I need a wife!

Like most people, my life is super busy and so often I wish I could have a wife. Someone who does the domestic things while I go out and have a fulfilling life without the inconvenience of having to the mundane errands and waiting around!

What stuck a cord me while reading Annabel Crabb’s new book The Wife Drought was that it offered such a different angle on the gender and work debate. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fresh perspective on the women and work discussion.

She wrote this book to fill a gap in the discussion about gender and work. There is so much literature about how women are disadvantaged in the world of work and how the current paradigm favours men as well as how women should make the system work for them.

But there isn’t much written about men in the world of work and this book asks if men are happy with the current system. She writes ‘we focus our attention on who wins and who loses at work, but we don’t join it up with what is happening at home. As long as we assume that women are the only losers in this situation, nothing will change. Because the truth is that everyone loses in a system like this. Women feel hard done by, men who feel trapped at work, children who don’t see enough of their fathers.’     

So, why are wives so important?

According to Crabb, a wife (it doesn’t always have to be a female, there have been male “wives”) is someone who works a lot less in order to successfully manage the domestic sphere and handles all the things that pop up in everyday life such as visits from the plumber/electrician, goes shopping, chooses a new fridge, spend hours on the phone to the internet provider, and, not to mention looking after kids, elderly parents and associated pets.

Having such support allow men to focus on their careers, which includes staying back in the office, being available to travel (after all they have a wife and, as men, they are not primary responsible for their children) and attend out of hours networking functions.

You couldn’t do all is if you didn’t have a wife to manage your domestic life.

Different experiences and expectations       

While other books on this topic focus on the experiences of women, Crabb’s book includes a look at the role of men in family life and society attitude towards this role.

She rightly notices that while the role of women has changed dramatically over time, men’s role in society has remained stagnant. It is still assumed that they are the main bread winner and the mother of their children will be their primary carer.

Any deviation for that narrative creates huge burdens for everyone. Women feel like there are neglecting their children if they work while also being made to feel like they are not quite present in the workplace.

On the other hand, marriage grounds men – the bachelor lifestyle with its flamboyant is supposed to stop once a guy marries and has children.           

The highlight of Annabel’s discussion was around the lack of opportunity for men to access flexible working arrangements as well as the societal expectation that men won’t make much of a change to his working hours after he has children.
     
I thought it interesting when she quoted George Megalogenis who said ‘Women have trouble asking for pay rises, and men have trouble asking for time off’. The reason being that it is uncool for men to scale back for the sake of their family or ‘work-life balance’ and doing so makes them look like they are not serious about their career.   

What makes this book different?

While there are a plethora of books and articles on this topic, what Crabb’s book adds to the debate is a unique investigation of the effects of the gender roles and how ‘having a wife’ benefits men. It benefits them economically as well as in regards to their ability to participate in business and public life.

What I also like about Crabb’s book is that, unlike other books on this topic, there is a strong emphasis on men’s role in balancing work and family rather than just only on women and the problems that they face in this area.

You just have to switch on the TV or read the newspapers to notice that the individuals running the companies and in government are men and what often goes unnoticed is the level of support that they require to become captains of industry and government ministers.

Just so you know…..

This book isn’t so much about hating the patriarchy; it is about encouraging men to as for flexibility at work and participate equally in the lives of their family. As Annabel Crabb writes, ‘This is not a book of rage on the whole. And – on the whole – it is not a book about women. Because in all the research and argument and thought that’s been expended over the past five decades on the question of why women don’t succeed at work like men do there’ a great, gaping hole. It is a men shaped hole.

That’s why I liked this book (other than that it is super easy to read and is full of the usual Annabel Crabb charm, wit and grace) because it acknowledges that the problem not just one facing women that has to be solved by women or be dealt with by corporations for their female employees but that men are as much part of the solution as they are part of the problem. Allowing both men and women flexibility at work to have a life out of employment and look after children makes for a better society.     

Why read ‘The Wife Drought’?

I could go on and on about this book as well as quote every idea that I highlighted but I hope I gave you enough of an idea to give this book a try.


It is super easy to read, highly relevant and easily relatable.    


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Home town discoveries

If you live somewhere for long enough you develop certain ideas about where the cool places are and you want to spend your time off. As time goes by cities and suburbs change without you noticing unless something grabs your attention and changes your views.    

Until recently, Perth’s entertainment hub of Northbridge, with its seedy undertones, has inspired images in my mind of drunken teenagers and out of control Bogans and has put me off spending much time there.

This was before I went on a Foot Loose Tour which is essentially a long walk around Northbridge’s best restaurants. It is run by well known Perth blogger with years of industry experience and these tours are designed to be a snapshot giving you an opportunity to try several places in one night.

We met under the big screen in the neighbourhood’s piazza and then, after a short introduction by our guide, we made a move.

First stop was Darlings Supper Club, one of Northbridge’s new kids on the block.  As we tried various dumpling we made a mental note to come back and explore more of their menu.




Next we got to try another new kid place called Lot Twenty,
although it was on a different block, but it was as cool. The vibe was great and somewhere I’d return to.


After a nice cider and a long chat with friend who came with me we moved on across Northbridge to Big Els Latin American Fusion. We hadn’t heard of this place before so it was good to give it a go and with its funky décor we would be back if we ever felt like South American food.    



When we seriously thought we couldn’t eat any more we shuffled over to a burger joint that I never new existed. Varsity Burgers is down a pedestrian side street and, given the name, had an American feel to it. Think deep fried, think burger after a night on the town. They seem different to the burgers that you get at other burger places but we loved our double cheese burger and fried peanut butter thing.

At this point we couldn’t eat anymore so we piked but I think the group went to visit more places.



On the whole, we had a great time and we discovered some great places to eat and look forward to going back to spend some more time at these places. It looks like Northbridge is changing for the better and making it somewhere that people would visit rather than avoid.

If you want more information regarding Food Loose Tours, go to www.foodloosetours.com.au

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dinner at Shilla’s Korean BBQ makes good discussion possible


  
I’m part of French Meet-up group and we do all sorts of stuff together and last night we met at Shilla’s Korean BBQ for dinner and conversation, in French of course.

As it turned out it was an ideal place for such an event because it wasn’t too noisy that we couldn’t hear each other and the food was great. We had a great table with a nice view of the river and we chatted away in French about all sorts of things, including how we were the only Anglos in the restaurant, which we thought was a good sign.





Some of the group ordered a banquet which I would recommend as it, especially if you’re dining with a posse. The round communal grill in the middle of the table aided good conversation and ended up being a bit of a hit with the Francophiles. 

They also enjoyed the nice entrée that were part of the banquet as well as the dessert of either a green tea or espresso pannacotta or green tea ice cream. It was well presented and everyone loved it.    


After much thought I chose menu number 42, I can’t remember what it was called but whatever the name was I loved it. It was so different (in a good way) and not what I expected. It came with entrée that that got you in the mood but didn’t fill you up.

The staff at Shilla’s BBQ Restaurant were attentive, polite and added to a great night out.  

Shilla Korean BBQ Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thank God it’s Friday at the Vic Park’s Hawkers Market



Being a bit of a traveller around South East Asia, I have always loved hawkers markets as it is where the locals go to eat.

They are also great value and cheap and while the food isn’t usually 5 stars, it’s honest, authentic, satisfying and genuine. 

Since markets are usually crowd pullers, they are great places for a good place for a relaxed night out with friends as well as a perfect spot for people watching. 

So when the Town of Victoria Park started its own Hawker’s Market on a Friday night (in the laneway off Albany Highway but will be moving to near the Victoria Park Library) I was super excited. I had these visions that it would be similar to the markets that I had visited in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

It took me a few months before finally making it to this lane way sandwiched between a supermarket and a restaurant. Immediately, I got taken in by the relaxed vibe. Just like the markets that I had visited overseas, the place was full of people celebrating the end of the working week; there were families with kids, guys on their way home from work in Perth and a every other demographic that you could think of. People just eating food and enjoying each other’s company in their local community!



The first thing to do when you get there is to wonder down the lane and decide what to eat as the choices are varied but not as wide as the bigger markets elsewhere.

The stalls range from Persian, Moroccan, and Japanese to Filipino, Italian and French. You can enjoy something substantial or go just for desert. The good thing about its location is that you can go to many of Vic Park’s cool cafes and bars after for a post dinner coffee or glass of wine.

My first time visiting the markets I had the Persian Kebab which was nice and the following time I had the Spanish meatballs with creamy parmesan polenta and salsa verde which was really nice but for the portion size a little too expensive.      




Take away Turkish desserts make for lovely treats at home 
This made me think and made a little disappointed. As someone who is obsessed with travel, I so wanted to be back overseas and I was kinda hoping that these Hawker’s Market were reminiscent of markets overseas where the portions were big, the food wasn’t made for a foreign taste buds and the price doesn’t seem inflated. But then again, this Perth where everything is inflated and everything is expensive.




Vic Park’s TGIF Hawker’s Market is a great thing to do on a Friday night, even if it is not as gritty, edgy or as cheap as overseas. I am just glad that’s it’s on.  



Monday, October 20, 2014

Why travel as an identity thing isn’t so bad


While chatting to dad recently, it came up in conversation that he thought that my identity was somehow wrapped up in going epic adventures overseas.

Although I think he is right to some degree, as I often get asked where my next holiday is, he comments reminded me of the complex nature of identity politics and what leads people to do what they do.
 
This got me thinking on why I have this inherent need for travel but I can comfortably assure people that I don’t do it because it is preserved as cool or for the kudos. I do it because it is ingrained in deep within my soul.

Coming from an “Anglo-Swiss” heritage with a bit of  Dutch, Scandinavian and Indonesian (way back) thrown in as well as who just happened to be born in Australia, I had a global outlook pretty early on. Ever since I was little, I’ve been interested in what was happening in the wider world (I’ve got dad to thank for that) right from politics, food, books and to how people lived differently to me.


Moving to the world’s most isolated and boring city of Perth aged 14 (also, got Dad to thank for that) did nothing but inspire me in wanting to leave as soon as possible. Right from the get go I wanted to leave this dullsville town and be part of something bigger.

These experiences stayed with me for the rest of my life. International Relations (among things) was a major theme throughout university studies and I continued to travelled as much as possible. Backpacking around Europe, development projects in Thailand and Romania, internships in Malaysia and China as well as a journalism project in India, study programmes at the UN were all highlights of a life spent travelling.

There is so much about travelling that I love. It makes me feel so alive, it has opened my eyes and taught me so many things about the world and myself. I can’t help but see travelling as a positive experience.
   
But more recently when I have been in more of a financial position to go travelling is when that it has become more of my identity.

Of course you need money to travel so having a permanent job with paid holidays is a fundamental requirement but, more importantly, it is the job’s inherent mundane and repetitive nature of the position that inspires me to make sure that the time I spend away from work is full of things that I love and make me happy.

After all, everyone needs something to look forward to in order to survive the mundane.  

But wouldn’t you agree that you are more than the job that you do or even defined by the more negative challenges that you face in your life?

While I do a mind numbing job that is soul destroying at best and I refuse to be drawn by it as much as I refuse to de defined by my physical disability; there is just more to life.                   

But there is more to my life than my job-to-pay-the-rent and my well used passport. I’m an avid reader, political hack, a choir girl and, not to mention, a home owner. I guess it is just that travelling is the most extreme thing that I do.

Travel will always be a part of my life. It drives me to work multiple jobs so that I may meet my financial responsibilities and go on epic adventures overseas. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon and I am always planning my next adventure, trust me!     

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Singapore proves to be a great place for a weekend get away

Due to an over zealot Frequent Flyer flight booking blitz a few months ago, I ended up with a solo flight from Singapore to Perth.

For a while I regretted booking this flight as there were more direct and cheaper ways of returning to Perth but I knew that pushing it a few months would mean that I would another little trip to look forward to.

I even thought about cancelling this flight or even just letting it go because, with a mortgage, I couldn’t really justify going overseas again so soon after a big trip to Europe and the Middle East. 

With this City State being almost the same flight time from Perth as to one of Australia’s cooler cities on the east coast (not to mention cheaper thanks to the various budget airlines) paying a visit to Singapore is a great idea.

It is tropical, green, lush and a super clean metropolis with so much going on and a fascinating history, not to mention food that is to die for. The urban environment is a cross between the ultra new office towers and colonial buildings that look like big white wedding cakes.

There is shopping, there is food as well as art and culture.


After flying in from Perth on the “red-eye express” and easy trip on the MRT, I made a beeline for Little India where I was staying in an AirBnB accommodation. It was great to enjoy some local food and tea and soon I realised I would have to put my diet on hold as there was so much food to try and enjoy.   



Next visit was the Asian Civilisations Museum which was awesome. With its interesting and diverse collections, it has to be as good as any of the top museums in the world. The museum is well designed and laid out while not being too long. It is currently showing an exhibition of porcelain which is beyond beautiful.       

Over the next few days there were visits to Chinatown, Singapore Art Museum and National Museum of Singapore for a big history lesson.



A highlight was going to the Tiger Beer Brewery which is totally cool and great value! It is in the industrial part of Singapore so I opted for a tour that picked us up from a more central location and drove us back. It was great learn about the history of Tiger Beer as well as try the new beers on offer which is really why most of us were there. As per usual, 6 out of 8 people on the tour were from Perth – we seem to like beer a fair bit.



A trip to Singapore wouldn’t be the same without a shopping expedition and a visit to Starbucks.

The last item on the literary was a visit to Changi Prison. As with Tiger, it was a bit out of town so I again (I had my bag with me this time) opted for the organised tour option. While learning about the atrocities committed during WWII, it was good to be reminded of the strength of the human spirit and how good we have it in Australia.


Soon enough it was time to head to the airport but not before some food and refection. I came to the conclusion that I have to visit Singapore again (for longer next time) soon as well as Malaysia, Vietnam and India because the Asian region is so amazing, vibrant and interesting.


Oh dear, I think I maybe addicted to travel.




Monday, September 15, 2014

Time is not equal


If you pay attention to anyone on the conservative side of politics in Australia recently, you will notice that one of their favourite topics of conversation is how much should people be paid if they have to work on the weekend. 

In their opinion, every day is the same and the weekend no longer exists in modern day society, so therefore any government regulation of private business is an infringement on their individual’s right to make a profit.

Paying people more during the weekends (plus times such as evenings and nights) is a millstone around the neck of business and this money should be reinvested into making a profit.

I’ve always found this idea that the whole conservative discussion around the weekend a little confusing.

To being with isn’t conservative supposed to be pro “traditional family values”, so what are they trying to do by not compensating people who work when they would traditionally spend with their families and friends?  

Also, many on the right of the political spectrum argue that Australian society has changed and that notions of the weekend is no longer what it was in the past. The majority of people no longer go to church on Sundays or spend it quietly with their friends hanging out at home.

People now expect shops to be open, restaurants and cafés be fully operational so that they are able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, or brunch before moving on to the popular “Sunday Session” at the local suburban pub. All these venues (not to mention movie cinemas, concert halls, swimming pools and gyms, etc) all need to be fully staffed in order to provide the level of service that we have come to expect in this country.

While what people might do on the weekend might be different in 2014, I don’t think it that it means that the concept of weekend has diminished. Australians still value Saturday and Sunday (plus any time outside work such as evenings) to be special and exclusively theirs to do what they want.     

Many conservatives would argue that because of the changing nature of the workforce and the rise of the “fly-in-fly-out” workforce, the idea of communal time off is no longer current.

Although they have a point, in that the working week is no longer constrained to 9-5 and Monday to Friday, I don’t think that Australian society is at the stage yet where Tuesday or Wednesday morning has the same value as the weekend.

If you have been out at all on Sunday mornings in your local area, you will know that they are quieter than a normal weekday morning. This is because it is the weekend and most people are enjoying a sleep in and a chance to get up slowly.

Those of you who use public transport, you will know it is a lot harder to get around on weekends. In all their wisdom, the people at the public transport department still believe that fewer buses and trains are needed on weekends (especially Sundays) because fewer people are out and about during this time of the week.


I will not believe that the weekend has equal value as the other 5 days of week until there are no separate public transport timetables for the weekend and those culturally important events happen on a Tuesday morning. Until then those who work unsocialable hours will continue to expect penalty rates as compensation for not spending time with our friends and family.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sixteen Ounces of a good time




I love Saturday morning breakfasts out, especially when a good café is involved and I get to spend time with an especially good friend.

Last Saturday was a lovely sunny spring day, a friend and I picked out a local café to enjoy breakfast, drink coffee and chat.

I’ve always wanted to try Sixteen Ounces, as I have heard lots of good things about this café and I’ve only been there to pick a takeaway coffee before work.

This café is a relatively new place but is as good as any of the more established cafés in the immediate area. Unlike the others, Sixteen Ounces has a defiant cooler vibe to it, thanks to its funky décor.

The staff were very friendly and efficient. They who soon took our order and before we knew it, our food came out.

I ordered an Avocado Smash which includes avocado on bread with a sprinkle of Feta and my friend had Hollandaise Bratwurst Toast.

We both like them and agreed that they were at the upper end of not bad; not that they was anything wrong with them, but they were a little ordinary and needed a little chutney or a bit of garlic and lemon to add a bit of zing and punch. They were well presented and just the right size.



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Our coffees were lovely and looked good. You are able to enjoy the house blend as well as the single origin blend but the HB is the one that they use in their default grinder. My latte was good but I liked my Long Mac more as it had more flavour but I am just a strong coffee kinda gal.  

They also have a wide range of snacks and cakes and would be perfect for afternoon tea but get in early because they shut at 4.30. 





This brings me to their opening hours. It would be great if 16 Ounces could open longer as its cool atmosphere would make it perfect for younger people to meet for dessert and coffee later in the day. The Imp Cafe (East Vic Park) does it and it would be great to have a cooler cafe closer where I could stop off for coffee on the way home after a late shift.   


This café is great. The vibe is great, the staff are great and the food is nice. What more could you possibly ask for in your local café? We will defiantly be back!  







Sixteen Ounces on Urbanspoon