Archives for posts with tag: pop culture

My little niece is off exploring Europe with her parents and its the end of semester rush rush rush time so its been harder lately to remind myself to notice the things that I <3. But after spending just a little time thinking I came up with four things that I <3ed in recent weeks, in no particular order here they are:


  1. The heart-breaking-ly spot on video of the wonderful, funny, smart Tracee Ellis Ross  ( making its rounds on social media) reminding  all of us that a woman is more than motherhood and marriage, that our lives are our own and that we don’t  need to apologize for our choices.  I can’t figure out how to link to the video but here is a link to the full transcript of her speech  and below is a particularly spot on chunk form the speech:

“So here I am sorting out what MY LIFE looks like when it’s fully mine. It takes a certain bravery to do that. It means risking being misunderstood, perceived as alone and broken, having no one to focus on, fall into or hide behind, having to be my own support and having to stretch and find family love and connection outside of the traditional places. But, I want to do it. I want to be the Brave Me, the real me, the one whose life is my own.”

2. Last month my boss nominated me for a teaching award, I almost definitely wouldn’t win it ( I would bet against me) but I work at the kind of place where they rarely tell you that you are doing a good job so this is maybe the closest I will get to a pat on the back and it made me really happy.   Any chance I had  were definitely hurt when the sample exam I turned in had a really obvious numbering error on it ( two number threes ya’ll!)


3. Lately ( in an effort to be less negative and whine-y) I have started to look for  (and then post on facebook)   mood-matching and/or mood soothing poems whenever I have strong negative feeling. I have really enjoyed looking for the poems, I have discovered so many new poem and poets.  And the poem themselves are often a real balm.   What has been a wonderful surprise is who else has enjoyed the poems– not always the people that I expect to be into poetry. And I love that maybe my little public attempt to say something nicer that I feel is actually working for other people too. Below are a few of my favorite responses to date  :

poem 2

poem 1


4.  When I moved back to Bhutan I had to give away and get rid of a lot of things, the only thing I really regret leaving behind were many of my books. So it made me so happy that my friend ( and fellow anthropology nerd) brought me a copy of a long-time favorite that I foolish gave away.  Its wonderful to have it back on my shelf.




While I did my undergraduate degree in Australia I learnt most of my Aussie slang from my friend Eliza.  Particularly mystifying to me as a foreigner was the Australian fondness for using  diminutives, so university was uni, football was footy and arvo meant afternoon. (Quick aside no surprise then that the word “selfie” was coined here). Most amusingly Eliza referred to those intense, late-night heart to hearts that is so typical  for college student as “D & Ms,” short for “deep and meaningful” she explained.

Later during my Arizona days Sarah picked up the term from me– equally amused by the thought of reducing something that felt profound to an abbreviation.  Needless to say Sarah and I had many a D & M during my Arizona days. Now we talk far less frequently BUT I love that our conversations retain the same level of depth and intensity. Its seems that no matter how long its been since we last talk we have no problem slipping back into familiarity and earnestness that I have yet to get to with any friends in Bhutan.

But even more than that I love that our  D &M have always swung from the profound to the absurd, the deeply felt to the almost frivolous. In some ways I love that our friendship and our conversations have always accommodated both ends of the spectrum.


So what I love this week is the long over-due D &M Sarah and I had this morning. We talked about stomach churning office politics, current anxieties and fear and then “The Real Housewives of Melbourne.”




Yes, you read that right, ” The Real Housewives of Melbourne.”  And as we always do, we treated the show we level of analysis and seriousness that we bring to everything else we  D&M-ed about.

And I love that. I love that so much.

My family thinks I talk too much but most other people tell me I am a good listener. Considering my line of work, I think that being a good listener is a skill I have had to hone and think about a lot.  Contrary to the idea that listening is a passive activity, I think the best listeners are really engaged and curious.  Good listener ask relevant and genuine questions, they empathize and react.

Recently I got a rather unusual opportunity to publicly demonstrate what a good listeners I can be.

Let me explain.

Every year Bhutan hosts the Mountain Echoes  literary festival which is intended to bring together Indian and Bhutanese literary and cultural figures. This year at the very last minute ( there was a cancellation of some kind) my mother recommended me to help out on a session with an Indian author called Amish Tripathi. Apparently both she and I live under a rock because we hadn’t heard of him or his Trilogy on the Hindu Shiva.  But I was promised a free book, so of course I was quick to agree. So I read the book, a fast-paced, well-plotted  re-imagining of the myth of Shiva.  It was an unexpectedly fun read and I felt there was a lot we could talk about, so far so good.

Now  this was the first literary festival I had ever been to and I wanted to do a  good job , so I did my  research  and much to my absolute horror discovered that the book was a runaway bestseller in India ( nearly 2 million copies in print) and the guy had been interviewed by every big name Indian publication in English– how on earth was I going to say anything new or different or fresh?

I was so nervous but after a reassuring chat with the organizer and meeting Amish the evening before our session, where he was refreshingly relaxed and down to earth ( despite being stopped every five mins for a photo or autograph), I figured I was at least as ready as I could be.

My decision going in was to tell myself: this is not about me. My job is to make the author look good and interesting and talented. I was careful to make all my questions simple and precise.  None of them showed me off.  None of them were designed to catch him off guard.

Long story short  our session went really well. He turned out to be charming, smart, articulate and just a really really engaging person to talk to.


( Here I am listening, while wearing FAR too much red)

Much to my ( and probably his surprise) I had managed to come up with a question  that was newish for him and that he was excited to answer.  And I think that question worked particularly well because it was my most genuine question. I told him how much I loved the  strong female characters ( doctors, warrior, leaders) in his book and asked if  this was deliberate.  And his response was very much about him getting on a soap box and talking about the need for gender equity in India and beyond. (You can read more about his response here )

Lots of people ( some of them related to me– so maybe they don’t count?) came up afterward to see how well they thought I did , but I have to admit this tweet ( which doesn’t really mention me)  was what made me really happy.


Barkha Dutt is one the best known Indian TV Journalists, she has several widely watched TV shows where she moderates panels discussing the hottest social and political topics of the day. I can’t even think of an American equivalent for her. She has the reputation for being opinionated, smart and tough.  She asks tough, fearless question.  The fact that she thought one of the questions I asked was a good one… well that I really really ❤



My sister and I have discovered ” Scandal”. We are watching it on the Indian cable channel Zee Cafe so we are a season behind ( No Spoilers please!) but because of the way they screen imported content we get a new episode EVERY week night. And considering the pace of the show (Fast! Fast! Fast!) this is seriously the best way to watch the crazy twist and turns the show takes.


Usually we watch together, its our 9:30 pm ritual but not this week.

This week my parents are out of town so I watch upstairs in their house which she watches just 10 meters away downstairs in our house.

But we are using the big girl tin can telephone ( ie texting)  to keep talking.

Tonight’s exchange is typical.

Me: You watching?

Her: Yup its crazeeee

Me: Poor Huck 😦

Her: I know. U like him?

Me: I think he is the least evil person on the show

Me: Did she just dump edison?

Her:  Yea. she realized she,s in love with harrison. What to do?

Me: Har har

Me: she still love fitz

Not exactly sizzling or smart but there is just the magical amount of sarcasm, teasing and silliness that only siblinsg can get away. And I just feel so lucky to be able to enjoy this frothy fun show with her.


This I really really <3.