Guest Blog – Finn McCool

Lex, my cool brother in law has written quite an  intro to this post so I will let him have the floor! “Anyway, the story behind this is that, when we visited Belfast, we took that coach tour that ended at the giant’s causeway, and on the way there the driver told one of the old stories about how it was formed by a giant making a bridge to Scotland. The Pea decided that it wasn’t a very good story, so suggested that I should write a better one. So here it is, with very little reference to any actual Celtic/Irish mythology except for featuring a giant called Finn McCool, my version of how the Giant’s Causeway was made.”

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway

Long ago the world was nothing more than an island, a small part of the Beginning World. The true size of the Beginning World is beyond imagination, and it is ruled by a race of proud giants. When our world was banished from the Beginning World the trees and animals, and even the people who were exiled upon the world grew smaller to match their cramped space. But the blood of the giants still flowed through their veins, and in some the legacy was stronger than in others.

The parents of Finn McCool were both blessed with an impressive stature, so it was no surprise to anyone that their first son was larger than either of his parents by the age of twelve, and by his twenty first birthday, Finn had reached the size of a true blooded giant. By this time, dimly remembering the strength and wisdom of their ancestors, the people of Finn McCool’s birthplace had already named him their king.

Finn McCool lived up to all of his people’s expectations, being a fair and noble ruler and having only one vice to speak of: he had a great love of drinking mead. Due to his great size, though, his subjects could never produce enough of it to quench his thirst. Despairing, they approached him and begged that he stopped drinking so that the beekeepers would not have to labour so hard only to send most of their honey to their thirsty king.

Finn McCool was moved by the trouble that he was causing his people, and resolved that he would take no more of their honey from them, for he knew that most of his subjects had a sweet tooth. Still, he did not wish to give up drinking the mead that he loved, and spent many days and night pondering what he could do.

One day, Finn McCool awoke from a dream of the Beginning World and was inspired. He approached one of the beekeepers and offered to buy a single queen bee from him for a very generous sum. The beekeeper quickly agreed, and selected the finest queen from among his hives to present to the king. Finn McCool took the queen bee home and released it in his own garden, having first pricked his finger with a knife and allowing the smallest drop of his own blood that he could draw fall on bee.

Several days later Finn McCool was approached by the same beekeeper from whom he had purchased the queen. The beekeper begged him to do something about the giant bees which were terrorising his own hives and ravenously draining every flower in the land of nectar, so that his own bees were beginning to starve.

Stepping out into his garden Finn McCool saw that, just as he had hoped, a beehive was taking shape of a size which had not been seen since this land had been rejected from the Beginning World. Just as the beekeeper had said, he saw that the hive was being built by bees as large as a cow, and he realised that these bees would need more nourishment than the world could currently provide for them if he were to enjoy the taste of mead again. So once more he pricked his finger, and allowed the blood of giants to fall over every plant in his garden. Then, he turned to the hive and at the top of his voice, he asked the queen to confine her workers to feed only from his flowers, in his garden, so that nobody else would be troubled by her hive.

Soon Finn McCool’s garden was overgrowing with flowers of a colour and size which could only have graced the Beginning World. He thought that the queen bee would be content with this, but still the beekeepers came to him with tales of the giant bees draining the land of nectar. Before long he was being visited by beekeepers from distant lands who had travelled across seas, begging for him to do something about the giant bees which plundered their lands, forcing their own hives to starve. So he went outside to stand before the hive, which had grown to fill much of his garden, and was beginning to push his house to one side with its weight.

“Queen of the giant bees!” Finn called out. “It is I, Finn McCool, who made you the great creature you are today. It is I who provided a splendid garden solely for you. Why do you defy my wishes and spread misery where I would have none?”

“Finn McCool, if king you be,” came the queen’s reply from within the hive “then why do you not act as one? Why do you content yourself to be king of one small island, when the whole world could bow before you? Once you have done that, if you could make the whole world yours, then why not the Beginning World as well? Then there would be giant flowers aplenty for my hive to grow yet larger. For that is my wish as your queen, and if I must show you how it is to be done, then so be it.”

Finn McCool, in his wisdom, knew that this was no way to rule as a just king, and his pride was stung by the queen’s words. But even more so he was enraged by her presumption, for he was yet to choose a queen, but knew that, when he did, it would not be a greedy insect that he acknowledged as his equal. And so, with some regret, he grabbed the whole hive, lifting it above his head, and threw it towards the blue horizon. The hive sailed far through the air, and landed in the sea with a splash that sent waves washing up on far away shores. As soon as the hive touched the cold water, the honey inside grew colder and became hard, trapping the queen inside forever.

The rest of the bees fled, hoping to find their way to the Beginning world rather than face the ire of Finn McCool.

So the petrified honeycomb remained where it was forever more, where the waves breaking against it severed to hide the sound of angry buzzing from within. And Finn McCool never drank mead again.

The Odd Even Dilemma

I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a walking talking Indian stereotype. I am 27, unmarried and have a white boyfriend. However, I live with my parents, work in an IT job and love cricket. Whenever I have travelled in India or abroad, there’s always been a good long soul searching session to figure out how Indian I am. The verdict, maybe a 2.5 out of 10.

Streets of India

I truly felt the guilt of not knowing enough about my culture when I was in France as a teen and had to conduct a 2 hour workshop on India. I drew a blank and my peers took over. I had spent so much of my youth trying to get out of the country that I forgot to take a look around.

Shame on me!

I spent the next few years growing to love the quirks that make India who she is. All communities in India are usually divided by language they speak, geography next. The language you do speak is usually an indication of the culture you grow up in. Despite how we are typecast, India is not of homogenous language and culture. We don’t all speak ‘Indish’ or ‘Hindu’. Those are not even languages. It wasn’t till I was at a work lunch that I realised people identify which community/religion you belong to by your surname.

ROTFLMAO

Of course. I don’t have a surname.

And while most situations go like this –

“What are you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, Kannadiga, Tamilian, Malyali …”

“Erm, I don’t know”

“What language do you speak at home?”

“English”

“So you’re Anglo-Indian?”

“No. I don’t have a single British ancestor”

“What is your mother?”

“Erm, I don’t know”

“What did she speak at home?”

“Kannada”

“So she’s a Kannadiga? So that means you are a Kannadiga”

“No, she just grew up in Karnataka so they learnt to speak in the local language”

The conversation gets really, really confusing after that. If I were to sum up, we are a non-traditional family. Mum’s parents were from two different communities and spoke two different languages. But, they both grew up in the same state and so the local language of Kannada was their go to language. It’s the same with my parents. Their common denominator in terms of communication is English. So what does that make me? A cultural melting pot of South India with a hint of Malaysia? Or just plain old confused?

My despair at being a terrible Indian has gotten less intense after I started dating an Englishman. I notice everyday how some of our conversations start with me saying “In my culture …” and then I wax ad nauseum about things I’ve been told not to do (or do 3 times a day) because that’s the Indian way.

 The latest in this string of conversations was about the Indian gift giving etiquette. I am visiting the UK this month and I was starting to make lists of presents to take for everyone to the sound of the boy’s great confusion. Apparently, I’m a weirdo for wanting to buy everyone presents because the gifting culture among the youngsters has a motto – ‘meh!’

However, we have very specific rules here. Everyone we meet after ages gets a present. If this everyone stays in your city or country, it’s usually a box of sweets or dried fruit. If it’s someone abroad, it would be something that screams India. If you are just returning from a trip abroad, EVERYONE gets chocolates. Even your colleagues whose name you don’t know.

Raj Kootrapalli Gif

We have this odd rule about gifting in evens. If you don’t want to invoke a butterfly effect type disaster, you have to make sure to gift in pairs. You can’t take just one cushion or throw, it has to be two. I think that this comes from a wish that you won’t ever be alone and that you will always have someone to share it with. So gifting in even numbers is a blessing of sorts. This rule does not apply to money, if that’s what your preferred present is. At weddings, birthdays and any big event, we always add a Rs. 1 coin to make it an odd number. So you would gift Rs. 1001 instead of the boring old Rs. 1000. There is a feeling that odd numbers in finances are lucky and will lead to your wallet being quickly filled up till you reach the next 100 and then another 100.

All this to say that I’m really confused – my Indianess dictates that I buy presents. I am in no doubt though that I am going to viewed as a total weirdo. So just in case, I’m looking up YouTube videos so I can blend in the rest of the time.

Oooh look. Already found one about pub lunches!

Summer 2014 – Top 5 Kids Movies To Look Forward To

For long term readers of this blog, you know how much I love my animated features and movies made for kids. I feel that sometimes they have more meaning and depth than some of the movies that come out of Hollywood. It is my honour to host Corinne, a mom and homeschooler, with her take on movies to watch out for this summer. 

The countdown to summer has already begun and the movie world has promised us a slew of cinematic treats to celebrate. In order of date of release, here are the top 5 most anticipated family friendly movies of the summer of 2014.

LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN – MAY 9TH

Following the story line from where it left off in Wizard of Oz, Dorothy returns to Kansas to witness the aftermath of the tornado that first transported her to Oz. To her surprise, the minute she arrives home, she is whisked away to Oz again. Oz is in trouble – her friends are missing and the people need her help. Her quest leads her to make more friends and indulge in even more adventures.

MALEFICENT – MAY 28

You may remember Maleficent as the wicked witch in the kids’ classic movie, Sleeping Beauty. This live action remake delves into why a once good fairy becomes evil. She curses little princess Aurora only to find that she is the key to peace in the human and forest kingdom. The movie will take us through the drastic actions Maleficent will then take to restore balance.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – JUNE 13

Easily the most anticipated movie this summer, How to Train your Dragon 2 takes place 5 years after Hiccup unites dragons and Vikings. In Berk, dragon races and exploring uncharted territory seems to be everyone’s new favorite sport. The story will show us a grown up Hiccup and Toothless who discover a cave full of undiscovered dragons and a dragon rider whose skill is levels above Hiccup. If the stir on the internet about the first 5 minutes of the movie (released by DreamWorks) is anything to go by, this will be summer’s favorite.

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE – JULY 18

Everyone loves stories of underdogs who emerge victorious after fighting for their impossible dreams. The endearing hero, Dusty, is back to his never-give-up ways in this sequel to Planes. After learning that his engine is damaged and that he may never be able to race again, Dusty joins the world of aerial firefighting and together with his friends battles a massive wildfire. The movie takes the characters on a journey to discover what it is that truly makes someone a hero.

THE BOXTROLLS – SEPTEMBER 26

Legend has it that beneath the cobblestone streets of the city live a bunch of vicious, child and cheese stealing boxtrolls. The truth, however, is that the Boxtrolls are a bunch of quirky and loveable boxes who have adopted an orphan human boy who they call Eggs. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator, Eggs has to go out of his way to save his family. This movie is to be released a little later in the year and from the trailers, seems the best way to wrap up Summer 2014.

About the author: Corinne Jacob is a professional writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.

The casual racism of the 21st century

It pains me that as our borders blend into each other and we become one global nation, there are still old ways of thinking that dictate so many things that we do today. My nephew, the other day, was telling me about his school driver.

“He’s so funny. He speaks butler English”.

I asked him what this butler English meant. He had no idea. I remember when I first learnt the phrase. I was 11 and my English teacher told us how, in the South, people from Tamil Nadu were hired as butlers and clerks because of their immense ability to pick up new things and their reputation of being hard working. However, while speaking English, they often translated how they would say something in their native tongue. They developed unique phrases that they came to be known by.

Butler English.

And their ‘kind’ were called ‘Anglo Indians

That phrase was used as an insult. And 55 years after our freedom, still used but no one has any idea what it means.

Then there are job ads like these that really offend me.

Job Description

Qualifications -

MUST have native level English BUT should be born in an English speaking country like Canada etc etc.

Aren’t we in an era where a job should go to the one most qualified for it and not to someone just because they were lucky to be born in one country? I don’t even understand why this is not a bigger issue and why no one is making any noise about it. What happens to the idea of ‘equal opportunity’ if an employee rejects you even before it meets you because you just carry the wrong passport, have the wrong accent, are the wrong skin colour?

Oh the casual racism of modern day!