‘Otm Shank’


The preceding clip is taken from an old episode of The Simpsons. Unbeknownst to many, I get a bit of my pop culture references from TV’s most famous family hehe. In this particular instalment, Homer and the gang head to the cinemas. Upon arriving, they are faced with a trivia question on the screen. Said query featured a celebrity’s silhouette with a question mark added for good measure, with the words ‘MOT HANKS’ written beside it. Lisa was unimpressed, saying the game was child’s play coz the answer was ‘obviously Tom Hanks’.

India’s answer

Apparently, the celebrity was NOT Tom Hanks, but an Indian actor named Otm Shank. Lisa asks, ‘who?’, before Apu says that he is ‘India’s answer to Brian Dennehy’. They then got on with the ads, which go on forever and leaves Homer irate.

I intended to ask my Indian ‘friend’ if he knew Otm, but I never got the chance. He had proved himself well informed as he was familiar with Michelle Jenneke and her warmup moves, ditto with The Beach. He was the only bugger I asked who actually knew of Garland’s debut effort, having read it many moons ago. When I posed this to another friend, he said, ‘who? Otto Spanks?’ When I clarified that it was Otm Shank, he probed, ‘who’s that?’

I remembered chatting with this Norwegian ‘chick’ way back. Upon knowing her nationality, I asked her if nudism was more tolerated in Norway. She disagreed. ‘Have you heard about it though?’ Yes, she said, probably from The Simpsons.


So what can we take away from these vignettes? Firstly, don’t be overconfident. At the same time, don’t underestimate Indians. Who would’ve thought that India has an answer to MOT HANKS? You can likewise expand a lot of stories and make riveting fiction with them in the middle. Secondly, we need a respite from the unnerving headlines in recent memory. We do not need another reminder of the tension in Korea, or the travesty of the last US presidential election. Thirdly, Homer’s wrath can be applied today, where cinema advertising drives patrons out of the movies. An average waiting time of 25 minutes is farcical. Lastly, The Simpsons is a great stop gap solution. If you’re totally out of ideas, just deconstruct that comedy. While the cartoon’s writers have The Itchy and Scratchy show, analysing The Simpsons never gets old.

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Just Jeans reviewed

Over the past few years or so, I’ve been stuffing my wardrobe with items from quite a few stores. For instance, I got my latest pair of shoes from Myer online. Last year, I purchased two jackets from H & M. I also bought a thing or two from David Jones. Cotton On denim, Jeanswest tops, a Gap sweater, even a Jag polo, …and a partridge in a pear tree. Out of all these shops though, my favourite is Just Jeans. They are always great value, and offer cool promotions. Throughout the year, they give further reductions, which mean even more savings.

They’ve toned it down a bit lately. Before, they always had free shipping with no minimum spend. This happened a few times a year and made for even sweeter value, hassle free. I’ve been lucky to order a bit from them online, making the most of their graciousness. Once I snagged two shorts for under 13 bucks each. Another time I bagged a merino sweater for $20. These days, free delivery is often over $75. Insert frog face here.

While I’ve scored various items from JJ, practically all my shorts are from them. It’s like dandelions, once I started I couldn’t stop buying. From one pinstripe cargo, I added chino and five pocket shorts (and another cargo). Only one short is not from JJ, a long, reversible pair from Esprit. With none of them above $25, the question should be, why not? My all time favourite item from JJ is a navy bomber jacket that’s perfect for those winters.

Some of you may never have heard of Just Jeans. After all, it’s not branded like Jag or Esprit. While they do sell Riders by Lee, Guess and Levi’s, they’re known more for their tough denim, with the Tagline, ‘made in denim’. With over forty years’ experience of crafting durable jeans, they know their denim. At the moment, they have hundreds of stores across Au, the UK, and Asia. Their parent company, Just Group, owns a thousand stores scattered over five brands.

With the arrival of retail giants such as H & M, Zara, Uniqlo and others, medium sized Aussie retailers have been hit hardest. Think Marcs, Pumpkin Patch and Jeanswest: certainly not budget labels, thus a bit more expensive. In the case of Marcs, the brand has gone into bankruptcy, with Myer subsequently purchasing it. This is mostly good news for JJ, as the continuing decline of rival Jeanswest translates to more sales for them. Indeed Jeanswest has closed down in several locations around Sydney, but Just Jeans has remained strong. If they maintain their super sales and model pricing, their presence will be a slam dunk for a while.

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“Easter is coming”

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I don’t watch Game of thrones, but I know their catch phrase (winter is coming). Easter is around the corner, so allow me to count down some Aussie traditions. Hot cross buns Bread with sultana (raisins). What’s so cool about … Continue reading

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It’s not his real name but it’s close enough. I met him at Saturday class years ago, where the teacher remarked that ‘he seems like a really cool guy’. He was one of the few whites taking this course. We finally shared a conversation in week 3, where I probed the baddest villain in the galaxy (a la Star Wars) hehe. 

Kylo saw my ham and cheese crossaint, bought from the cafeteria. Upon discerning the price, he told me it was a bargain as he sipped his latte. I found out that we had the same alma mater. Later, upon further research, I realised that he did two degrees. Kylo looked a little like Paul Rudd. 

Xiamen, China

I found out that he travelled extensively, even giving me advice on his ‘excursions’. He said Italy was overrated. ‘I know they have old buildings and stuff, but it’s hyped up. Their government is in tatters, just like the French.’ ‘So you’re anti Sarkozy?’

‘The skeletons are out,’ he said. Germany, he admitted, was nice. Good governance, welcoming people, nice atmosphere. I’ll later learn that he was of German descent. No surprises there. 

Suddenly, we bantered about South America.

He was against Colombia and the resurgent socialist movement across the continent. ‘Most former Spanish colonies are corrupt and going backward,’ I offered. ‘Well Chile is doing very well. Argentina is just out of control’, he confessed. 

So in short, they’re not progressive, I thought. One country out of twenty is not a good result.

The bus tragedy
‘The Philippines is getting better’, he opined.’They have the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank there, ay?’

‘I think so.’

‘In Mandaluyong’, he announced. ‘Remember the bus tragedy? I was in Hong Kong when it happened.’

‘Heard they were really pissed off.’

‘You can’t imagine. They were bloody incensed, especially at how the situation was handled. They believed the coppers should’ve shot the gunman, not just standing around there.’

‘Do you understand Cantonese?’ I almost interjected. ‘How’d you gauge what they were thinking. You’re not psychic are you?’

The ghost
There may be more to this conversation, but that was the last I saw of Kylo. After all, this chat was many moons ago, so you could forgive me for omitting some of it. I have a slim chance of ever running into him ‘in a galaxy far, far away’. Meanwhile, I’ve been updated. From his Facebook, I saw him enjoying a hot pot in Sichuan together with some buddies. Another time I saw him taking shots of the war zone outside Syria. I’ve learned that he’s taken up managerial and consultant positions for huge companies in mainland China. You could say he’s adapted to the culture quite well. 

Szechuan hot pot

And me? I hope to one day visit his current city, one of the most liveable in the world. He may not be there any more when I find the chance, but I’ll glean his reasons for bolting rather than billing hours at JP Morgan in downtown Sydney.

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It was a chance encounter with a chick. I went to Bunnings, the hardware store, to buy a flashlight. I’ve barely stepped out of Bunnings when it began drizzling. I used my brolly from Bunnings to the corner specialist, where a tall lady approached me. She was clearly avoiding the rain. 

I needed the torch for a DIY job at home. I settled for this simple light that had two AA batteries included. Other ones were more heavy duty but were twice the damage. Besides, I didn’t need it to have out of your mind features; it was only a simple project. 

Going straight

‘Are you going straight that way?’


‘Is it ok if I go with you? I just need to go that way too.’


So off we went. The lass was quite tall, almost my height. She had shoulder length hair, almond eyes, tanned skin and looked a little like the singer Lena (pictured below). She had an accent, but I couldn’t quite tell from where exactly. 

The walk’

Suddenly, as we were walking, she hooked her right arm onto my left. We traipsed the street like a couple on their wedding day lol. (In case you’re wondering, most of this story, including this part, wasn’t made up).

‘I’m Chris, by the way.’

‘Call me Jillian.’ (Well not her real name)

Upon hearing her speak, I was once again pressed to uncover the origins of this cutie.

‘Where are you from?’

‘Germany,’ she pronounced with a smile.

‘How bout you?’

‘I’m from the Philippines.’

‘Philippines…’ she echoed. I could sense the disappointment as her words trailed off…


‘We’re both wearing shorts,’ I observed.

‘Hot day, but bad weather.’ She retained that goofy smile. I almost smiled, since I wasn’t bringing a Mary Poppins like umbrella. We were only just shielded from the rain.

I could expand on this vaudeville, or save the lies for another day. I choose the former. Know this: most of what I said was accurate. I met a girl, we had a laugh, end of story. The purpose of the trip was simple: to buy the torch and give us peace of mind. Anything else was added gravy. 

Shot clock violation

I remember my friend many moons ago, as we were about to watch a rock concert. ‘What do they do before the show?’ 

‘Last time, I saw Justin Timberlake. They got some random to sing on the stage.’ Well at least the random didn’t ask for a duet ay.

Chances are, I will never see her again but I can rest knowing my kindness to a stranger may be repaid someday, somewhere, by someone else.

‘I’ll just turn this way to the bus stop.’ She jaywalked to the other side of the two lane road.

‘Take care Jill.’


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The mountain people

They do not live here are out of this world

You see them pictured as you sit quietly in your own cave

To you they just might be from another planet

They are the Other don’t fit with your ecosystem

While your brethren dress in dapper clothes sip lemonade

Have lunch at Macca’s watch Modern Family

Blast aliens through computer screens and

Read Stephen King when they feel like it

Sadly for you they are more prevalent than you’d tolerate

They confront you like static that refuses to budge

You behold those images from a world that

Seem light years away

They come from all corners India Colombia Makoko Manila

All the same from their ragged clothes to their crestfallen faces

Those faces the countenance that begs you to act

The resilient charity mugger you pass by

Wants a share of your ill-gotten wealth

The same annoying fly that you brush away

Saying you’ve got a runny tummy

Never mind that a deserving child skips a meal or wilts under the sun


After the mad dash to work Jeez where does this end

Your workplace has kindly allowed an extortionist to enter the building

Gold coin donation shouts the racketeer

Any funds are welcome to help save the dying children

Most of them are moved; they have a heart

You begrudgingly give four bucks, and no more

It was like school all over again

Pretentious College ran a donation drive for one whole month

By the end of it all you felt sick rather than guilty

So there was work, monotonous but necessary to pay off the mortgage

Send the kids to private school and repay the Jet Ski  

After day’s hard yakka following chaos fighting through Sydney traffic

You’re home beer in hand turn on the TV guess what’s there?

Who else but the mountain people you flick through channels

Hoping to flee from the mountainous assault

It’s Chernobyl! An environmental hazard! A catastrophe!

There is no end in sight, as the canopy keeps hitting your face


You don’t want this to continue, but what chance have you got?

The words go tumbling on you like some inescapable tsunami

The mountains of rubbish another pack of teens killed too young to die

The Mountains! They caved in, falling onto

The scavengers like a sack of potatoes

Manila: boys die while rummaging for food scraps hit by

An avalanche of rubbish you see the humbling conditions

But at the same time just as the camera cuts to a scene

Where the hoi polio digs up thrash right beside their underfed dogs

You tire of this poverty porn so you switch channels

Where boy you were wrong as the BBC has haunting images of Makoko

You’d have laughed at the Lagos slum if you weren’t feeling so annoyed

It showed a thriving Venice of Africa, only way more crowded

And much less affluent indeed the pictures were so dramatic

You were so glad your kids would never study at a floating school

Beside all that refuse you saw enough then watched the footy

Makoko, Nigeria: ‘the Venice of Africa’

‘This must be what it must feel like to walk in full sunlight’

To go out with no inhibitions to LIVE

Sadly though our lives are oceans apart

Remember that celebrity what she said about them?

How are you any different from her, living the life, basking in your sunlight?

When will we ever learn? This is no job for the next generation

It starts now! It starts within

You have no choice if they can’t accept what’s happening in Syria

If they continue to malign the Other

Or persecute the traditional owners of the land

Or get swamped by whomever

You must take a step you with your power your job your worth

DO something for a change

Believe me you’ll sleep tighter


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The cold war 

I would’ve titled this post as ‘the flu game’, but thought better of it. In this instalment, I will offer some handy tips for people under the weather. Over the past week I have been battling a cold. While it might not be flu season yet, the sudden changes in temperature have ensured many people coughing and sneezing like there’s no tomorrow. To make matters better, they conveniently forget to cover their mouths. Climate change is upon us, with more extreme weather meaning more sickies. Given I’ve been sidelined for the whole week, allow me to introduce some home remedies, my personal War on Colds.

  1. Survey the landscape. My cold started out as a bothersome sore throat. I thought it would subside in a few days, so I tried some Strepsils. However, the sting was there till Monday, and by then I was feeling sluggish. I did some web based research and self diagnosed my ailment as a cold, considering the symptoms found online. As per the net, colds start out as sore throats, which are gone after a couple of days. There is generally no fever in adults, as opposed to children. The cough is out more or less after the fifth day. Stuffy noses are also a classic sign of the illness.
  2. Take some over the counter meds. I tried strepsils, but it didn’t work, so I tried something else. I noticed I was having a dry cough and my throat was rather scratchy. I tried these dry cough lozenges, which gave me temporary relief.
  3. Soothe your throats with hot lemonade. This helped me heaps. Squeeze some lemons, pour some warm water then add honey. I already do this on breakfasts, even when I’m not contending with a cold. If you’re serious about getting well, then try drinking that steaming mug of lemonade even more often.
  4. Use a neti pot. This is an ancient Indian invention that does wonders to your sinuses. I bought mine for thirty bucks at this health store years ago. Initially, I did this to relieve my nasal passages since I haven’t sneezed in ages. My left eye was watering all the time, but believe me when I say it went a long way in aiding me. The neti pot gave my eye much needed relief. On this occasion, it helped relieve the stuffy nose. Add half a teaspoon of sea salt to about a cup of FILTERED water to make the saltine solution, which you use on your nostrils. I cannot stress the FILTERED aspect enough, as reported cases had tap water causing brain complications.
  5. Attempt to minimise transmission by covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing. Even though no one does this on the train, don’t let them be your role models. 
  6. Try some hot soup, like pho, beef or chicken soup. Most of us would be familiar with this, but don’t try it when the weather’s downright boiling, or you’ll risk getting a hot head.
  7. Rest, rest, rest. Forget all your worries and best stay at home. The last thing you’d want is a relapse and more down time. Get better sleep, don’t answer calls, and use sign language. I mean, try as little speech as possible. Your voice, like your body, needs some good old r & r.

Now that you’re well versed on the do’s and don’t’s of cold management, sit back, relax and enjoy. Take advantage of your sick or annual leave; you deserve it. 

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