In three weeks, two of my stories have seen the light of print in India. That makes me a happy person. I don't feel so useless after four months of lived treats - meeting people, dining, wining and travelling.

Another activity-filled weekend. Tomorrow, Lolo's dad celebrates his 80th bday and we are invited to cocktails and nibbles as the invite says. There will be people of all ages and a lot of drinking and fun. Quite a contrast to the cultural lunch party I have on Sunday. I realise now, cultural get-togethers are all about treading the fine line. There is so much of egos involved when people of the same community flock together. There is always the one or two odd one out whose egos are the size of a multiplex. The "I am bigger than you" syndrome is rife. So instead of letting the hair down, there is always the tension of doing what is appropriate in terms of manners and addressing the seniors. Despite being in foreign shores, they are still caught in the trappings of culture and correctness  that they overlook the hedonistic culture which the West so freely offers.

When I am with my Indian friends, the talk is about who has got the biggest house and earns the most $$$ or who has citizienship or PR, while gulping down rajma chawal and scotch or wine. Years of staying abroad has not changed their eating habbits. So, very unlikely that their mental outlook to a lot of other things would change. The wives cannot wear anything revealing as bold is not beautiful, definitely unmaidenly to show skin! And wine is a drink drunk by women. Of course, I have not yet taken a liking to wine, I love my beer, but I love it when the women drink wine, and then cry when they get drunk. Crying and wine is something I have come to associate Indian women with in Australia.

Sometimes I feel suffocated in the company of my own people. I think this is a country that believes in equality and freedom, where you can walk the street with next to nothing and yet people won't even look. Staring is BAD manners. There is so much openness. But instead of embracing the openness, we have gone one step backward and benchmark progress with materialism. Lolo says the fun of living is watching people from the rear and having a good laugh. I find it hard sometimes. Discovering all this is not funny, but in the width of life, we have to share space with one and all and I don't know which is more disposable - the static mindset or the people!

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