My corset

Every time I wear my corset, I inevitably cause a discussions about women`s rights and women`d liberation. I have not forgotten what the corset represented in Victorian times, but others tend to forget that today, it represents something totally different. I feel good wearing it, even empowered in some way.

Book Recommendation: Sexual Politics in Iran (Janet Afary)

I found this book in a charity bookshop. I had a long journey ahead of me and nothing to read, so I walked in and grabbed this just because it was there.

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What a fascinating read!! It`s mainly a book about women. It talks about courtship and marriage, widowhood and divorce, temporary marriages and multiple wives, homosexuality (mainly in men), but it also touches on women`s rights in general, such as the right to work and education, the right to vote, about female political activists and about veiling, and how all of this has changed over times since the 19th century.

Packed with fascinating information and not to be read quickly, but I just could not put this down!

Temporary marriage fascinates me. The fact that men can get married for just a couple of hours to a prostitute so they can have legitimate sex with her; or women to their driving instructor so they can be alone with them in a car. It would also allow the driving instructor`s brother to chaperon her during travelling because they`re now related.

And apparently, Ayatollah Khomeini had a female employee who needed to learn to drive (in order to work for him), but he himself was generally not in favor of women driving, which the employee didn`t want to disrespect. Khomeini said to her you can seek advice from any cleric on any religious matters, and he gave her the name of a cleric who did support women driving. The female learnt to drive and was not considered disobedient because she sought advise from a cleric who allowed her to take driving lessons.

A crossroads anniversary

Sunday 17 October, a crossroads anniversary. You know what I mean? When you get the opportunity to change your path, or you get the choice between two paths, and you know, this decision will determine the course of the rest of your life… And on its anniversary, you still think about it and wonder what would have happened, if you had done the other thing…

Listening

I met one of my friends for lunch the other day, and all over sudden, I had this situation again where I could hear her speaking to me, but I couldn`t understand a word she said. It was as if she was speaking a foreign language, and this happens to me regularly if someone speaks to me but hasn`t got my full attention. If my mind is elsewhere, or if people speak about something I don`t know anything about or am just not interested in (God, that sounds awful, but it`s the truth!) I switch off and just cannot switch back on again if it`s one of those lengthy monologues.

I can`t even tell you what it was about this time. I think it had something to do with Pakistan. Probably politics or television, as she`s really into those but I am not. Groups are fine as someone will always say something, and then there`ll be a discussion, but on my own, I have nothing to contribute, so it inevitably becomes a monologue – and I switch off. Someone else has a habit of speaking in excruciating detail about someone else`s children. For my husband, it`s his speedway – technical issues, rider injuries, league tables. Eventually, I`ll be asked a question, and then I`ll have to admit that I haven`t been paying attention.

Am I on my own in that I really cannot listen and process information if others are talking about things that are so irrelevant to me? It seems so abstract that it really seems like a foreign language. I`m yet to find a better description.

My Feline`s Ashes

… is back. And now – what do we do with it? I have no idea.

Deep down, I would have preferred not receiving it back, but we`ve got the ashes of our two other cats, and it would have felt wrong not to ask for hers also.

When Emmy died, we were given the option of having her cremated together with other deceased pets, or on her own and then get the ashes back. The latter sounded comforting at the time and the former just heartless. There seemed to be just one right thing to do.

I however remember how I felt when the ashes returned. It was like losing her all over again. The little cardboard box seemed too tacky for its precious content, although I was touched by the printed condolescence card that accompanied it. It was my husband`s idea to open the little box and look inside it. The ashes was mainly white, but it had blue bits in it. Emmy was an Oriental Blue. I cried so hard, and I vowed never to look again. Because she never liked being in the garden, it did not feel appropriate to bury her there, so we kept her inside the house. When her beloved sister Saffy died a few years later, it felt natural to place her next to Emmy.

And now, there`s Kitti`s as well. She never really got on with Emmy and Saffy, and she loved being in the garden. I can`t however quite bring myself to bury her there, because I`d feel like we are favoring Emmy and Saffy for allowing them to stay inside the house.

A long time ago, I said when they are all gone, I`ll have a diamond ring made of all of their ashes, but I no longer feel the need. Jimmy suggested having them scattered together with ourselves, and I certainly don`t want to bequeathe them to anyone else.

Bottom line: Don`t start it. It may seem the right thing to do when you are first presented with the options, but it`ll just become a burden.

You may want to bury them in your garden, but even this can become a burden if you`re ever moving house. A friend of mine even asked her husband to dig up her cats and re-bury them in their humans` new home, but fortunately, she could be counselled out of this one.

Street Photography

Yesterday`s lecture was about photo composition, and we discussed a few photos of – beside others like Vivian Mayer, who I think did some amazing things – our tutor, who is a professional photographer.

My favorite photo was that of a musician who is frequently playing under Waverley Bridge. I was astonished when the photographer told us that this man wasn`t actually aware that he was being photographed, and a discussion ensued about the ethics of photographing (and publishing photos of) people without actually making them aware.

I think at parties, the best pictures are those where the subjects are not aware that a camera is pointed at them, and when you photograph in public, you can rarely avoid strangers walking through it (or think sports stadium!). I don`t share photos on social media if they have other people in it, if they can be recognised. I don`t, for example, want to show a man who has phoned in sick at work, or who is holding hands with a woman who is not his wife. At parties, there seems to be a general consensus that, if you don`t turn away if smartphone cameras come out, you agree to have your pictures taken and also published on social media.

Law is that it is not illegal to photograph people in public places and publish the photos, unless you are indoors, in which case you have to ask permission.

Ethics, I think, are a different matter, but I was glad to hear this, as street photography is something I could see myself happily getting into – I`d love, for example, to photograph locals sitting in mediterranean cafes smoking a cigar or old ladies sitting in front of their houses peeling potatoes, yet, I never dare to ask permission. There is also a woman in the Royal Mile who I`d love to photograph and blog her but… Wait for it. One day, I will take her picture.

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Lisbon, 2014. Smartphone photograph in sepia, with artificial motion blur added later on to anyone but my husband