My latest idea of how to end poverty

My latest idea for ending poverty.

A 1:1 initiative – For everyone 1 person who is not poor to truly help only 1 person who is.

Governments and leaders have shown over time they cannot help with this, no matter what their personal standpoint, country’s wealth and level of willingness. Politics just get in the way, as there is always another agenda operating below the surface of helping with this issue.

Religious beliefs seem to exact the price of conversion for the price of helping with poverty.

A simple 1:1 initiative will make this huge problem manageable and achievable, and hopefully price-free.

For those who are about to cynically spout words like naivety and other more acerbic adjectives my way, I simply quote Occam’s Razor to you.

‘Be kinder than necessary; everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.’

Similarly this 1:1 initiative could help with animal cruelty.

Comfort food

It comes to everyone.

The day when everything and anything you do goes to hell with a suitcase and shades.

The day that begins badly and gets progressively worse.

The thing happens that makes you want to scream ‘WHAT….THE …F….!’

Or that thing happens, that final straw, that drives you to do something you know you shouldn’t, you know it’s bad for you, but damn it, you’re going to do it anyway.


And so we do it.

We all do it.

We turn to comfort food.


It is generally assumed that chocolate is every woman’s “go to” for comfort.

It must be stated quite clearly that this is not the case.


Chocolate is sin.

It’s sheer delight.

It’s affordable naughtiness with no boundaries.

It’s a sugar rush that is over all too soon and leaves you spent when it’s done.

It leaves you wanting more.

Chocolate is many things, but certainly not comfort.


What is comforting about comfort food?

Is it a physical or emotional fulfilment we are looking for when we eat it?

Is it the release of endorphins or hormones it brings about via a chemical reaction?

Or is it the subconscious memories it stirs up?


What is it about chicken soup?

How many of you really had a Grandma who would feed it to you when you got sick?

What is it about mashed potatoes?

What is it about a huge plate of spaghetti, made just like your mother made it?


Do we associate it with a loved one?

Does it remind us of whoever took care of us when we were small?

Mommy, Daddy, aunty or grandparent?

Is it filling in the gap for someone who used to make the bad things go away?


Is it the taste?

Is it the smell?

Is it the texture?

Is it the way it looks?

Is it the sigh we give when we finally get to eat it?


The fascinating thing about comfort food is that it is different for everyone.

Comfort food comes in all guises and disguises, and it can be said that a lot of the time it bears a strong resemblance to bread, potatoes or pasta.

One thing you can be sure of, no matter what it looks like, it is fattening.

But the most interesting thing about it, is the birthplace and comfort origin for each one of us, and why we all head in different directions when we need it.


Drifting away

As she sat on the chair awaiting her turn, it occurred to her that life could be worse. She floated above the chatter, her eyes closed and her feet bare. Her mind did not board any particular train of thought, just barely paying attention to random images that surfaced for a fleeting moment of recognition only to sink slowly back from whence they came.

Delicious freedom from responsibility, even if for a short time, settled in and a distant ‘happy place’ image began to form behind her eyelids.

Hot, white, blue, swaying palms, and a scent of tangy salt laced with seaweed and tanning lotion coagulated from her memories to coalesce into a Kodak moment snapshot.

“Hey, you wan’ remove ded skin?” The thickly accented voice slingshotted her back to reality with a snap.

She eyed the skin razor thoughtfully and said, ‘Yes, please’.

The reality of the harsh fluorescent lights did much to chase away the daydream. Oh, well, there’s always a next time. She sat up and focused on the chatter.

A Chinese hot springs Spa, on a hot Saturday evening

They walked in, and were greeted by a sea of Chinese nakedness. The only non-naked people were the employees who uniformly wore unexciting black bra and panties. She looked down at the black bathing suit it had been suggested she wear, and decided to discard it, in case anyone mistook her for an employee. As if! She thought, smiling.

This spa was not for the fainthearted or body-modest. The Chinese ladies partaking of the spa treatments displayed a graceful but nonchalant disregard for nakedness. She was comfortable with her own nakedness, but was prepared for some stares, as she was one of the few ‘luo wei’ (foreign devil) present. The fact that when she stood anywhere near a tiny Chinese woman she looked twice her real size did not help with the staring.

She sought out an appropriate spot and sank gratefully into the very hot spring spa pool, discovering quickly that the jets emitting the water into the pool were scalding hot. Cursing, she moved somewhere in between two jets, and sighing she let the heat and minerals of the water seep into her sore muscles and tired bones.

From here she was able to observe at leisure this pool of Chinese females doing what they do at a spa; the variety of ages represented were from very young to very old… all naked in their rolls, scars, bumps, lumps, and hanging lows. Even the doll-like Chinese women have tummy rolls, she thought, and immediately felt better about her self-image.

She was very interested in the differences and similarities between herself and the local women. There seemed to be a lot of C-section scars paraded around, just above a mostly uncurly thatch. Body hair was still en vogue in certain body areas, while enviably and naturally not present in most others. How fortunate not to have to worry about hairy arms and legs! And how good it felt to remember that she had seen fit to see to her own limbs just two days before.

As she looked around the room, looking for her friends, she noticed some rooms off to the side of the shower area. Through some opened glass-fronted doorways (begging the questions a- why the doors were transparent, and b- why they were there in the first place if you could see right through them) she could see ladies submitting to body scrubs and massages. Seeing she was there for a cultural experience, she decided to also have a go. She chose a twenty minute salt body scrub and a twenty minute milk massage.

The woman who was to administer the body scrub and massage ladled a good quantity of warm water over the wicker massage table, and then laid a long piece of thin plastic over it. She gestured to the luo wei to lie down on the table, and that she should drop her towel on the nearby table. The luo wei lay down as bidden and closed her eyes ready to enjoy the experience.

The woman donned a hand-mit that could have easily been made out of sandpaper, and poured a large amount of rough salt crystals on it. Then the scrubbing and the stinging began.

The ‘scrubber’ was taking no prisoners. For such a small woman she was remarkably strong. Her mission was to remove dead looking skin cells that had been hidden from view for six months by various layers of clothing, and by all lords, gods and minor deities she was going to do just that. With single minded determination she set about her task as if her very life depended on it.

The rough mit erased the dead skin cells, chafing as it went, and the salt stung like a bitch. The scrubber left no flap un-flapped, no roll unrolled, and no modesty un-blushed. A couple of squeaks were heard from the table, as some places were scrubbed that not even a lover would have thought to venture on a first meeting.

After the scrubbing came the milk massage. This involved a bag of UHT milk being slit open like gutted animal and emptied over her now pink body. A very quick rub down was executed in order to help the milk ease into the freshly chafed skin. The UHT milk dripped into her hair mingling with the minerals from the pool, and dried her hair into crunchy curls.

The massage was much quicker than the scrubbing, even thought both were to be twenty minutes each. A tear of plastic alerted her to a further treatment… a cloth face mask soaked in a facial treatment that no doubt had some whitening agent in it, to rid the face of imperfections. This was placed on the luo wei‘s face with a little more gentleness than the salt and milk. It was over.

The little scrubber made a big show of heaving the ‘luo wei’ off the table, and led her by the hand to a sauna, where an attendant slapped a piece of cling film on her ass like she was on an assembly line in a factory, and shoved her through a door, where she was met by a furnace heatwave, stillness, silence, and chocolate brown stares. She self-consciously picked her way to an empty spot, and managed to sit there for a whole five minutes, before deciding to go find a cooler spot, like the water jets in the Hot Spring Pool.

IKEA in Beijing

How does one describe the Beijing IKEA experience to someone who has never gone through it? Let me try in bullet points:-

  • Half of Beijing crammed into one building – CHECK
  • Peripheral vision challenged masses – CHECK
  • People who walk at half a mile a fortnight (two weeks for my non-UK friends) – CHECK
  • People who allow their screaming kids to run riot through slow-moving clientele – CHECK
  • Annoying kids who you’d swear have never been taken out in public before – CHECK
  • People who don’t understand IKEA is a furniture store – CHECK
  • People who think IKEA is where you can go and take a nap – CHECK
  • People who stop and pose for the (non-existent) camera, and run their fingers through their hair as if anyone else gave a damn – CHECK
  • People who bang their carts into the back of your heels – CHECK
  • People who load up their carts with literally a whole consignment of apple corers – CHECK
  • People who drop off their aged parents in the bedroom department, tuck them into a display bed, and leave them to snore away while they do all of the above things at their leisure – CHECK (Follow this link for various pieces of photographic evidence!)
  • People who do all of the above things, and then buy 1 item – CHECK
  • Disgruntled luo wei (foreign devil) who could have hurt a few people for doing all of the above, but to her credit didn’t – CHECK
  • Fake IKEA people trying to get you to hire them to deliver your goods to your house, and then get chased out by security – CHECK
  • Real IKEA security looking at said foreign devil as if it was her fault they had to run after some miscreants – CHECK
  • Taxi drivers trying to charge three times the amount for a very short taxi ride – CHECK

Ask me why I don’t go to IKEA very often.

Netti Pot

The only reason I am alive today is because I refused to have tomorrow’s headlines read “Woman’s accidental drowning by netti pot hits top five all time weird reasons for accidental drownings.”

It is a testament to my tenacity, stubbornness, and ability to act under stress that I did not choke as I poured saline solution up my nostrils in an effort to clear them, and spluttered and gasped as it went down the back of my throat.

The amount of sneezing and coughing that ensued was enough to take revenge upon my noisy neighbour (who did not come to my aid, by the way… he was too busy yelling and shouting as he normally does).


1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS – All of them! No skipping ahead to see how it ends.
2. LEAN FORWARD – Do not tilt your head back!
3. Make sure that the person who gives it to you as a gift is not due to receive any financial compensation from your life insurance in case of your untimely demise


Alarm Cat

It was peaceful. The room was filled with the gentle sounds of the night, and the whisper of a breeze drifted over her bare legs and arms. Readjusting the position of her laptop, she looked down from the bed where she was reading and drinking tea, to see her beloved alarm cat going off.

Joey The Cat was pointing to attention. He had his back to her, his tail rigid and straight out behind him, and his nose inches away from the floor of the open closet. He was making occasional ‘HMM!’ noises, punctuated by stamping and slashing movements with his left front claw. Although his whole body betrayed tension, there was no indication that whatever he was presently dominating was of any great consequence. More like entertainment.

She silently slid off the bed and peered over his head to see a UCT (Unidentified Crawling Thing) wildly wiggling its many legs in an effort to try to escape. Joey looked over his shoulder at her, and gently miaowed to her. “I got this,” he seemed to say, before returning his attention to the desperately fleeing creature. She went and gingerly sat back on the edge of the bed, toes well away from the floor.

In a way that only hunting felines can, Joey toyed with the UCT, lifting it with his razor sharp claws, and tossing it around the Ikea rug, dominating and showing the UCT exactly the fatal mistake it had made by crossing the “NO UCT ZONE” boundaries.

After not very long, Joey jumped up on the bed, padded over to her knee and rubbed his cheek against it. After having received a congratulatory rub of the ears, he smiled and flopped down by her feet, feeling satisfied with a job well done.

She looked down at the carnage on the rug. The carcass was so dismembered that identification would have to be done via dental records. Not really caring enough to begin the process, she scooped up the remains with a tissue – in the absence of a body bag, and commended the dismembered carcass to a watery grave. She lay back down again, feeling safe in the knowledge that her alarm cat would take care of any UCT business while she slept.