Saturday, February 6, 2016

Book review - Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East needs a sexual revolution

This book opens with a chapter that’s called “Why they hate us” and Eltahawy straight away argues that ‘We Arab women live in a culture that is fundamentally hostile to us, enforced by men’s contempt’. She proceeds to describe the sexual abuse that she has experienced during her Hajj pilgrimage as well as during the political unrest in Egypt.
Mona Elthahwy was born in Egypt to parents with PhDs in medicine and grew up in Saudi Arabia after spending time in the UK. Her experience in these countries shaped her outlook. Her time in Britain must have given her a critical eye to which to analyse the Saudi culture and attitude towards women.

She states ‘when I encountered this country aged fifteen, I was traumatized into feminism – there is no other way to describe it - because to be a female in Saudi Arabia is to be the walking embodiment of sin…The obsession with controlling women and our bodies often stem from the suspicion that, without restraints, women are a few degrees short of sexual instability.’ Women seem to be at the root of all problems. Women get raped or groped it is because ‘we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong thing’.

In many ways, this book is about the Arab Spring from a woman’s perspective. She writes about life as a woman in the Middle East during this period and, from a western perspective, it seems incredibly unfair. Women treated badly then accused of having asking for it.

She blames ‘a toxic mix of culture and religion. Whether our politics are tinged with religion or military rule, the common denominator is the oppression of women’.  While she is critical of this nexus between religion and culture, she does discuss the conundrum that she faced in speaking about this subject. It is hard to separate the culture and the religion which makes discussions around this subject difficult and especially sensitive.

What next?

She argues that this era of political turmoil would provide an ideal opportunity to create a shift in how women are treated and hand control back to women, not only in regards to their own lives and bodies but also allow them greater participation in society.

But this would be hard and it could take decades. As she says ‘men also struggled against a sexual guilt and a socialization that produced a warped and unhealthy attitude against women’. Such deep and ingrained attitudes  could not change overnight.  

This book is an interesting look at the body, religion and how culture influences how we view who we are in society. It’s powerful reading of the contemporary challenges in the middle east where women are no longer happy to be objects of sin by the cultural norms of their region or objects of pity by those in the west. 

Oh what a crumpet!

There is nothing like a good crumpet.

Great crumpet moments are those with a nice warm crumpet (plus a bit of honey on top) and a good cup of tea.

Despite my simple approach, the humble crumpet could provide the foundation for many interesting dishes.  

This morning was not a good crumpet moment.

Initially, I was excited to see a café dedicated to the consumption of my beloved crumpet as I thought you could have so much fun with it but maybe I was wrong.

Crumpet in East Vic Park reminded me of a 90s Australian suburban milk bar with it’s simple décor, laminated menus and straight forward dishes.

My eggs benedict wasn’t not bad. It was well presented but didn’t really have me raving especially with the eggs being slightly undercooked. 

The coffee was disappointing considering that the Crumpet shares the strip with cafés such as The Imp and Harvest, just to name a few. 

Having said all, it was a nice place to catch up with a friend and just chill. The good thing was that Crumpet was cheap and had aircon which you want during Perth's hot summer. It is also family friendly which you've got to love if you have kids.  

Better luck next time, I guess!

Crumpet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Back to Malaysia

Doing an Internship in Malaysia a couple of years ago, I fell in love with this country.

There is so much to love and to enjoy. The food is amazing, the people are friendly and its rich history make it a joy to visit again and again.

Its geographical location to Perth and the opportunity to their fly cheap using AirAsia makes it easy for me to visit regularly.

I managed to score a super sweet deal on a flight to Kuala Lumpur and so I convinced my dad to join me for a week’s holiday there.

We first visited Malacca which used to be a major trading post so it has substantial Portuguese, Dutch, chinese and British influence.   

Being history buffs we loved visiting the museums and the historical sights as well as catching up with friends.

Malaysia being a sort of shoppers’ paradise we couldn’t help to indulge a little when we got to KL. So in between doing the sights and eating way too much we did a spot of shopping in China Town and at KLCC.

Penang was our final stop and we loved every minute. We were particularly interested in this part of Malaysia since Papa’s sister has lived here in the 1950s. we thought of her often and how Georgetown much have changed since then.

We fell in love with the quaint architecture and the street art that was so pretty. We loved the history and we learnt so much. We enjoyed thinking of lives past while enjoying a cool drink at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel.           

All too soon it was time to go home but we got on the plane home we were exhausted but happy.

Thanks Malaysia, until next time.

What we ate!!

My Dad and I have just returned from a holiday in Malaysia and since the food is amazing as well as plays a large part of the consciousness of Malaysians, it is worth a blog post on the subject.

Since we love food we wanted to eat like a local and at a local price. Below are some of the amazing dishes that we tried often perched on plastic chairs at some street side eatery where we were the only foreigners. It was amazing!

We also had good drinks as well. Not only was there cheap beer but there was also Starbuck which I had an unnatural and strange obsession with. 

We were also lucky in finding a Swiss run bar as well as an Aussie run cafe in Penang both added good memories to our trip.

Wheeler's Cafe is down Love Lane and could easily be a cafe in any of Australian capital cities. The decor is clean, fresh and, more importantly, it is air conditioned.

The coffee is great and the cake was lovely. Wheeler's is somewhere I will return to on my next visit.     

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