Who to Avoid at Networking Events

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When you move to a new place and want to get the gist of how people tick, attending networking evenings is a great place to start. These evenings are centred around hobbies, business hacks, digital marketing trends, product launches or brainstorming activities for certain communities. I can personally vouch for the usefulness of such events, since I’ve had professional assignments come about as a result of networking. They can also help you build your own tribe, especially if you do your homework and pick a good field to graze on.

Networking events can revolve around insightful panel discussions or workshops. But on the flip side they could also be insidious sales pitches.

Regardless of what type of event it is, the meat to reckon with is the people who fill the room. The crowd determines whether the event was worth that $50 Uber ride which took you 2 hours swimming through thick traffic (in the worst case scenario). The key is finding the right strangers to spend your evening with. By avoiding those who fit the following profiles, you can pretty much guarantee a successful networking session:

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Bull Dozers

We love confident people who are enthusiastic and upfront enough to introduce themselves to everyone who enters a room. It’s great to get a full account of what they do, their interests, beliefs, opportunities they’re after…but then when it veers off into how successful they have been at every juncture of their life, what they like to do on weekends, how they like their coffees, where they went on their last holiday, the massage they got while being on holiday, what they ate…. it means that you’re entering the danger zone.

People who only want to talk about themselves and don’t leave you any room to contribute can be real hazards, especially if you meet them at the start of an event. They could mean well and come across as fascinating, but they’re uninterested in forging good relationships. In order to know if a someone is valuable to you (emotionally or professionally) you must seek their input. This is nothing but common sense. So, if you meet a person who doesn’t posses this basic nugget – nod, smile and go get a drink. Run away.

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Insecure Vultures

A sub category of the above, insecure vultures are those who seek out promising individuals and work tactically to crush their hopes and dreams. All it takes is for them to ask you what you wish to do in life – and this gives them enough fodder to begin their BS. They will tell you that the market is extremely competitive for people in your field, warn you about how difficult it is to even break through in the first place and then advise you to keep your expectations low. There is absolutely no truth in any of this. Sure, the world is a competitive place but there are always opportunities for skilled people. 

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Mindless Freaks

In a new city? Same here. Attending a networking event to see what’s happening? Awesome, me too. Don’t know what the hell is going? Okay. Don’t really want to talk about anything? This is awkward. Just feel like smiling and staring at others? Even more awkward.

You may ask yourself why people sign up for events when they don’t really want to be a part of it. This is a great question. I have no idea what drives such people. Strangely enough, I have often spotted them at multiple events. They’re like serial attendees who don’t give a crap about anything! Being in a crowd of wishy-washy thinkers will not help you grow in anyway. Sometimes it’s easy to hang out with such folks; their relaxed vibes and non-demanding demeanour can take the edge off. But why settle into your comfort zone at the cost of making dull connections?

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Sleaze Bags

Without sounding pompous, I must add this category of networkers simply because I’ve observed many and can easily sniff them out the moment I enter a room. They are women or men who are out to get their eye candy and do this in sneaky ways such as standing around well-presented people and picking out their ‘targets’.  When they secure their prey, they begin conversing with them while flooding them with ‘signals’. These usually include clinking of drink glasses (at this stage I get the game and walk away), winking, giving a playful pats on the arm while laughing and staring intensely at you without saying anything.

Even if you’re not the object of such people’s desires, you will recognise a Sleaze Bag by the way they pause during a conversation and scan someone from head to toe. Yes, these people exist. No, there isn’t any point in socialising with them. Nod, smile (actually don’t smile at all) and walk away.

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Usually Sleaze Bags depend on alcohol to fuel their tenacity, but there are also others who need that extra boozy encouragement during a networking event. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. It just sucks when a person you actually want to talk to, is off their face. This may happen towards the end of an evening, after you’ve sussed out the crowd or even heard them on a panel discussion. If the person is a speaker, make sure to get their attention immediately after they get off stage. On the other hand, they could be someone you’ve been hearing about from others all evening and finally get the opportunity to have a one-on-one. If they are tipsy and you doubt their ability to remember you, making them your LinkedIn connection should be your #1 goal.

Now, if they’re someone who isn’t influential and hasn’t been stable enough to tell you about themselves in a coherent fashion, walk away. This is someone you could avoid till fate brings you together in a place where getting drunk isn’t an option.

Lastly, Connection Hoarders

Alternatively, you should also steer clear (or expect nothing) of people who just want to add you on LinkedIn without any real introduction or conversation. You should avoid being this person too. Value social networks by using them for what they were destined to be.

For The Journey Ahead

Reading through this list may leave you feeling a little shaky about your networking ventures. Rest assure that these examples are rare, and that the majority of attendees are looking to mingle for noble reasons. If you spot certain signs of negativity in someone, don’t hesitate to smile and turn around for a fresh start. The time you get at networking events is too short to bear the weight of those who don’t add any value. You should focus your attention on like minded folks who will keep you in good spirits and fill you with hopes of collaborating or socialising with them in the future. For a checklist on the traits to see in people you should network with, stay tuned for my next article…

Travelogue: Veterans Day in America

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This was my first time being in America on Veterans Day – a public holiday shared with Australia and New Zealand, and I felt like capturing something commemorative. I did not expect to actually spend time with veterans and photograph them.

Living in the Santa Monica area means that you’re pretty close to the expansive Veterans Park, which houses a few hospitals, postal offices and a whole lot of abandoned buildings. I’ve been wanting to do a photowalk in this area for a while, and thought that today was the right occasion to do so. The park spans over 400 acres and is known to be quite lonely, so it was helpful to know that there were going to be many people around on this day.

Although I wasn’t too excited about photographing buildings, I thought that was all I was going to get, so I tried to survey the area in the best way possible – until something caught my attention.

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It was an old Barber’s Shop; the only colourful and happy looking thing in the entire vicinity. The longer I looked at it, the more multifaceted it became. It resembled a miniature farmhouse, a space that promised gaiety and a sense of community.

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While I was gawking at it, the door suddenly popped open. There stood a welcoming figure who behaved as if we had an appointment. I entered the RV and was bedazzled by an overwhelming array of iconography. The shop was more like a time capsule, filled with knick knacks of 60’s pop culture, military artefacts, modern slogans about gay marriage – as well as a magazine cut out of Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. My sense of focus almost went ballistic until the man started to introduce himself.

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Dreamer served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He set up the Barber’s Shop around 50 years ago, when he felt that it was time to give his fellow veterans some positivity in life. Everyday he is visited by people who are sad and have hit rock bottom. As he grooms them he heals them with his wisdom in spirituality – something that was passed down to him by his ancestors. Dreamer is a Native American of the Apache Tribe. He started cutting hair at the age of nine, when he was taken away from his family and sent to a boarding school.

He doesn’t subscribe to the idea of a ‘self’ and enjoys practicing the art of slipping into different realities, which he believes are all around us.

“We aren’t like animals. We’re more complex. We have the choice to be free, which means detaching ourselves from ideas, labels and a shared sense of ‘reality’. None of us know what reality really is. To be human is to have freedom.”

Upon noticing the pendant around my neck (which is shaped like the sun), he started telling me about ancient people who crossed many lands, following the movements of the sun and moon.

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He explained the history in such a detailed and enchanting manner, that it had an overpowering effect on me. I felt unusual and faint and haphazardly stepped outside for some air, interrupting him in a jarring manner. Dreamer was astonished and asked if I was entering another reality right then. In my uneasy state I just blurted out that it was my time of the month, and fanned myself with one of his old books. Although I completely ruined the moment of mysticism, Dreamer was empathetic and gave me a bottle of ice cold Yerba Mate that his customer just paid him with.

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According to Dreamer, women are incredibly powerful and are capable of superior magic, compared to men. He feels that lesbian shamans are the most potent of all, and really respects them.

It was time for his next customer.

People who get their hair cut by Dreamer are never in any sort of hurry. They don’t mind if he stops mid-snip to explain some theory or other, and they often linger till he finishes his stories. I definitely felt his talent for distracting one from life’s stresses. He speaks of unfamiliar things while boosting your spirit and giving advice about life. Although we didn’t talk about his family, it was evident that his heart had been broken very badly.

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The Veterans’ Park is full of people with tragic stories. Some suffer from trauma that manifest in unsettling ways. I experienced this at one point when Dreamer was busy cutting hair and a man from Brooklyn, who was ‘just passing by LA’, popped his head in. As he inquired about the shop’s hours he got a gist of Dreamer’s spiritual beliefs and at once became disgruntled. He started barking about how he grew up with Christianity and knew that his God was better than anyone else’s. He wanted to know whether Dreamer would try to cast some sort of spell on him, if he got a haircut. The moment made me feel uncomfortable. I hoped that the man’s aggression contained itself to only verbal insults, while I saw flashes of possible news headlines. The man left after Dreamer diverted his attention to Doctor Strange and have gave him a flier about the Veterans Day barbecue. I took a sigh of relief before learning that the area we were in was specifically dedicated to psychiatric hospitals.

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A calm customer who was getting the ‘flat top’ hairstyle was once a patient a the psychiatric hospital. He was a Korea and Gulf War veteran who met his wife during his first military service. He saw her at a local bar in Seoul, winning hand after hand in poker. It was love at first sight. They were married for 30 years until August, when he lost her to cancer. He recently enrolled himself in a technical trade school to study renewable energy, as a way of keeping his mind occupied.

As I left Dreamer’s shop, he gave me some tips on how to reverse my thinning hair, along with two parting requests; 1) that I should guard my soul at all times, and 2) that I should look at life as a linear, forward moving path rather than a cyclical progression.

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While walking out of the park I was surrounded by people I had nothing in common with, yet deeply respected. I am not in favour of war and do not know what inspires people to become soldiers – but I think it’s fair to be supportive of them. Spending time getting with veterans on Remembrance Day felt like the right way to commemorate people who’ve fought for their countries. Learning about Native American culture and getting to know Dreamer, was incredibly (if not more) important. It reminded me of the battles that native populations have had with outsiders, who’ve forced their way into lands they’ve decided to defend. We shouldn’t forget the men and women who have died for their countries; including those who weren’t soldiers of the American, Australian, New Zealand or British Armies.

Digital Detox

After thinking about the innovative changes in digital industries, I came across a wave of social media posts about the importance of a ‘digital detox’. There is a new movement that is gaining momentum right now… Digital marketing writers are publishing articles about the damaging effects of being addicted to digital content for their online publications, which are going viral. Digital is simply getting too digital at the moment, and we must all take a break.

So before my previous article on digital disruption is considered passe, I wanted to examine the non-digital ways in which I have experienced disruption in my life.

Here are some tech-free examples I could think of:

My Moka pot.

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Bialetti wanted the art of espresso making to be so simple, that people could do it at home.

There’s no need to get my butt out of the house for a grand cuppa of flat white anymore. Having espresso at home without the use of electricity or a queue to wait in, has made my life easier. It has also replaced the service of the local barista – he or she will not be earning $3.50 from me on a daily basis. Cheap, convenient and replacing old systems? The Moka Pot ticks all the boxes. Yet it falls short in one big way. You miss out on human interaction of the purest and most golden kind; the one which involves your over-enthusiasm and the barista’s nonchalance.

My friend’s anxiety about current affairs.

This person has a tough time with digesting the news. S/he just can’t do without absorbing every piece of information about an array of industries and upchucking it. It’s a way that s/he deals with the chaos we live in. Thanks to this person, I know what’s happening in the world and I don’t even bother seeking any confirmatory reports, because I get the real deal, for free.

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Does this person know that s/he is offering me a convenient service? No. But it serves my purpose. See ya later Trending tab on Facebook. No need to buy a newspaper. I ain’t CNNything either.

Free monologue performances at Santa Monica Promenade.

Not too long ago, I veered out of a terrible blockbuster film that left me feeling quite heart broken. Where have all the interesting stories gone? When would I ever be entertained again? Little did I know that my doubts would be answered right away, on the corner of the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. A crazy dude was hanging around, overly-enthusiastic to share his tale about his daring teenage years, to the wide range of uninterested audiences who were trying to enjoy their evening stroll.

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While waiting for the pedestrian crossing, it was so fascinating to hear about the way the crazy dude’s parents were really mean to him and how his sister was great at stealing credit cards. Unfortunately, when it was time to cross the road, he got to the really meaty part of the narrative which concerned his day time job as a pill-pusher. The crux of the matter is that I got something so real and insightful in those two minutes, that it restored my trust in the world of storytelling. You don’t need to go to any movies. Cancel all your subscriptions and just take a trip to the coasts of SoCal, really.


Getting Back to the Tech World…


I must confess that I couldn’t think of too many examples which didn’t involve some modern technology. This example is actually one that I completely missed in my last article, and it is one that is changing the structure of South Asian entertainment. In other words – the Woods of Bolly is getting disrupted. 

The Indian People’s Secret Music Network.

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It’s not really a secret, but when you see an Indian person wearing headphones and enjoying some beats, s/he is most likely tuned into a music streaming app by the name of Saavn. Officially launched to users worldwide in 2009, the app has now become a portal of original content allowing listeners to tap into the largest repository of…

– South Asian music (both ancient and brand new)

– Serialised narrative content (with it’s This American Life style of podcasts)

– Chat-shows offering the latest celebrity gossip (too exciting, my goodness.)

– Original Saavn branded music (thanks to its artists in residence programs)

Forget installing those weird satellite dishes in odd places of your yard, and plug into the most current content that is customized for audiences from various South Asian regions.

What can we takeaway from this?

Life can be easily disrupted by clever, high-energy people who want to make themselves heard and wish to share their simple joys or discoveries with others. It sounds easy enough to put into practice ourselves. Who knows why and where the next disruption will come from?

The Behenji Disrupts ‘Disruption’


Two years ago, when I attended ADTECH ASEAN conference in Singapore, I was introduced to the phenomena of ‘disruptive technologies’. Uber, Apple, Twitter and Pinterest were the big names (I bet there were more, but these ones stuck to my brain) and proved to be game-changers in the face of traditional business models that were bursting at their seams.

Fast forward to September 2016. We are in-between seasons as well as decisions about staffing and political authority. The word disruptive is now taking on a different meaning; one that encompasses the way people feel (or want to feel) about the world. There is a strong desire for everyone to be disruptive. Writers must somehow hit the buzz word in their articles.

Let’s take a look at the common definitions of being ‘disruptive’. According to Clay Christensen, there are two modes of disruption. One answers a need that the current market has never been able to satisfy. The other offers a swifter and cheaper solution to a service or product that already exists.

Within the past week, I have seen these article headings which have made me question the nature of disruptive services or technology:

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I think these articles can be put on the back burner of our busy minds, because they don’t come close to what disruption is really about. They do successfully highlight innovative ideas, but for some reason ‘innovation’ is losing its steam today. Is it because we are being led to think that no one can really be innovative in this day and age? Or is it not a harsh enough term to use for our low attention spans?

Anyway, my favourite (and realistic) examples of disruptive brands are:

Uber, Spotify, AirBnB and TrunkClub.

Clear and simple, all of these companies have redefined how we commute, listen to music, holiday and dress ourselves.

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Thanks to Uber, people have stopped relying on union-controlled taxicabs. These were unreliable in the first place anyway. I was once caught in the middle of no where in the area of Marina Del Rey two years ago. I walked 4kms till I reached a resort where I could use a phone to call a cab. Now all I need is a mobile network of some kind and the job is done. I’m safe in a car, being tracked by satellite, a remote team and even a friend whom I can notify when I’m on the go. Lately (and I’m really late on this one) I discovered how great Uber Pool is. You can be in a pool as the only passenger and get the biggest discount you can imagine. 

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With Spotify on the rise, I predict a total disestablishment of iTunes in the near future. If you get Spotify Premium, you pay a monthly average of AUD$12 or EUR 6 – and a family plan of 6 accounts for AUD$18 or EUR 9. What’s interesting is the app’s recent tie-up with Playstation, allowing users to seamlessly listen to their playlists as they game. You can add as many songs as you like, tap into different charts across the globe, have teams of people curating the right artists for you (and helping so many independent bands to gain recognition) all online and offline.

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We all know that AirBnB gives you the home-away-from-home experience. But think about how effective the system of personally communicating with your host is. You get to have a one-on-one with your concierge/housekeeper/hotel manager all for the purpose of making your short trip the most comfortable memory ever. You have more privacy than a hotel room and you get to put yourself in another person’s shoes for the duration of your stay. This is the best feature of AirBnB, really. We’ve heard amazing stories of people who traveled to some small village in Italy, where they were fed home-cooked cannoli and drank wine made from their hosts’ backyard. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to involve an exotic location. Staying in a suburb you’ve always admired, is equally riveting. 

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Lastly, the Trunk Club takes away the pains of parking at a busy mall and walking in circles till you submit to the first ill-fitting outfit you tried on. It’s an app that allows you to pick your general style and then sit back to await a trunk of clothes selected for you, by an in-house stylist/designer. Your wardrobe is always fresh and interesting with the best brands, avoiding any chance of having an overly-stuffed cupboard. It’s also less expensive than you think.

After pondering over all of this, I find it difficult to get the way restauranteurs, producers, filmmakers photographers, teachers and sales teams all want to hop on the disruptive bandwagon.

I’ll keep an eye on this, but in the meanwhile…

Here’s the Behenji’s List on Truly Disruptive Companies to Look Out for in 2017:

The Podo Bluetooth Camera

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A camera so small and agile, it can be stuck onto any surface to get that impossible shot of something spectacular. This camera will definitely replace selfie sticks and will make us less reliant on our iPhone cameras. Instagram celebrities will be jumping for joy. You don’t need anyone else to take your photo, simply use your phone to control the device and you could be a one person team tracking your own activities of each day.

The Vurb and Snapchat merger

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Vurb is a spectacular app made for mobile browsing – something which no other search engine company has been able to construct (strangely enough)! It allows you to save snippets of specific information that you not only searched for, but got results for. It ties in with your calendar and location, offering you a swipe-by feature of pieces of information, instead of pages or tabs of search results. Since being bought by Snap (formerly known as Snapchat), the entertainment and social networking app will allow users to share information with each other in a personalised way, or offer recommendations based on things you search for.

KeyMe Kiosks

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This is a little crazy, but in the near future you could get your own key cut by a machine that will have your data saved in the system. KeyMe operates without a human being working during office hours, behind a counter with a metallic contraption. This is a clear example of how an entire trade could possibly be eliminated from our existence in the near future. People will be replaced by a convenient photo-booth like device that gives you customised keys, within moments.

If you have any other examples of Disruptive technology or services, let me know – and we’ll keep the list going!

Influencer Addiction

A minute spent on channels like Instagram, snapchat and Pinterest is another minute into the lives of others I wish to emulate. I’m talking about those who sit outside my circle; the social media influencers I access all with the touch of the search symbol. These influencers are like celebrities who sit in the trending list and promise to fulfil our browsing time with endless snippets of their days, dinners and wardrobes.

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I think I’ve become an addict. I go through 15 minutes of a catch up whenever I get a moment’s break from work (which revolves around building social media strategies).

I call it ‘the absorption process’. I come across people who seem to be setting a great example either with their exercise/diet regimens, photography, hair – anything that reflects a healthy lifestyle which I would like to make my own, and then I follow them.

After this, life is never the same. I’m constantly riddled with questions about whether so-and-so would eat what I ordered, whether they would have as many rest days from the gym as me or  if they too have an endless number of Friday nights on the couch with the flix on…

It begins to feel as if the people on social media I know so much about (but have never met) are co-existing with me. And that’s practically the whole point. At least in the world of retailing and branding. 26% of purchasing behaviour around the world is influenced by social media influencers.

Following influencers is not a bad thing. People do go on about how you’re supposed to surround yourself with ‘wonderful’ people. But don’t you lose a sense of yourself?

In the pursuit of putting an end to this addiction, I have set up a social media challenge.

It revolves around the idea of using social media as a way of recording life for the sake of reflection – not for audiences of friends or random browsers. Idols shouldnt have to be collected, life doesn’t have to be projected differently to what it is.

This month I will record what I really eat, how I style my hair and what I actually wear on a Sunday morning.

My social feed will probably be quite uneventful….

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But maybe it will seem very interesting in the years to come.

Travelogue: What’s in a Face?

What really spurred me to take photographs was the way my camera gave me a ticket to converse with others and get an insight into their lives. Each exchange, albeit for a minute or two, presented me with a glimpse into my subjects’ past and present; I didn’t click them and move on, I took the time to know them and tell them about myself (but not too much, obviously…in fact I kept it vague to the point of lying). That in itself made every photowalk an adventure that went beyond the visual aspect, it was like a slice of life experience.

Having moved away from places where people were comfortable enough to allow me to be in their space and lives, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to be a silent observer. Not every moment out in public is about making friends (luckily, I learnt this really early in life…). More recently, after looking through folders of images I wasn’t too happy with, I realised something: people can still be fascinating even if you don’t interact with them.

Now here’s the slightly more interesting part… The photographs I’ve posted below are of people I accidentally clicked while testing my exposure levels. I usually do this while walking and I decided to select images where the ‘subjects’ happen to be in focus (fortunately).

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Travelogue: Seriously Coburg

After leaving India I find myself missing the seedy side of life sometimes. There are only a few places in Melbourne that allows you to be around people who aren’t caught up with being sophisticated too much.

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Sydney road (in the area of Coburg) is a very vibrant and practical place. It has shops filled with the things you actually need, restaurants cooking the food you really miss and outdoor sitting areas occupied by people who talk about problems or juicy bits of gossip that are really pressing them.

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It’s also a district with a concentrated population of people from the Middle East, Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan.

Sydney road can also be a little rough. I usually only carry my camera to click people, but after a few attempts I got yelled at, scolded and cursed pretty badly.

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One gentleman sitting outside this repair shop was decent enough to ditch the company of his old friend (who didn’t want to be photographed, which was a pity, since he was impeccably dressed) and came around to talk to me. He was really adamant that I didn’t get his face in the frame – I guess for reasons that I should be a little concerned about… Nevertheless he let me in on his life, which was charged with a tale of a great journey about hard work.

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Below is a sound byte of his story which you can hear if you have 5 minutes. In the middle of this a guy absolutely high on ‘ice’ (a drug that is consuming Melbourne by the hour) comes about and offers to get some ‘German cousins’ over for me to click, I would like to warn you about the crazy number of time he drops the F word; in any case it is a glimpse into what kind of people you bump into at Coburg.

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It was pretty nice talking with ‘Mr Venice’, who gave me some career advice as I walked away. He is a strong supporter of women in construction and this was a nice thing to hear as I went to treat myself at this amazingly scrumptious cake shop I don’t know the name of. The sign was in Greek and the lady behind the counter didn’t think I would remember it if she told me.

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And this was for $3. The chocolate was rich, cream – fresh and cold, bun – soft and spongey. I wanted this yoyo to adopt me.

The trip was eventful, overall. It’s not a swift ride if you travel by public transport from the east, but it’s a small distance to cover if you want a taste of a different world.

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Travelogue: Melbourne Alley Ways

A while ago, I had been experiencing little ‘phlump’. Nothing catastrophic, it was more like a cloudy Sunday… that lasted for three weeks. I was very relaxed, had (A LOT of) time to think and met some people I didn’t expect to shoot the breeze with. What also happened was that I kind of stopped thinking about the future. As in, no planning, no goal-setting and no cover letters. I was employed by a Social Research Centre, which got me doing what I love most; talking to strangers and asking them personal (read: intrusive) questions about the umpteen number of issues our present society is shoved with. In another post I will be generous enough to reveal some jaw-dropping comments I heard over the phones, but for now I will tell you what kind of person the phlump and research job turned me into….

An ‘Alley- Ambler’. The alley ways in Melbourne are cozy spots where people can quickly turn into and have a little breather. You don’t find drug peddlers here (yet)… (where the heck are they and do they think they’re too good for alleys now?) and they don’t smell like old urine. Obviously with these factors mentioned, alleys are practically the best places to hang out with cronies and chums.

Melbourne alley ways are pretty and serene. It’s as if the city has these little arms waiting to embrace you, when you need it.

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Review: It’s Not All About the Glamour This Season

Finally, after a year of hard hitting one hour drama shows, two pilots sealed the deal for me just when I thought there was no hope for the remainder of 2014. ‘House of Cards’ ended its second season with an overly dramatic table knocking from Frank (something which was more fiery than the 12 episodes that preceded it), True Detective left me feeling all dreary about the fact that there was no other thread to the story to obsess about (however I must admit that I too was swallowed up by the mayhem about who was going to be in the cast for the second season- not Brad Pitt, thank God) and Fargo spun me into an avalanche of a journey that was chilling (and a little idle at times, unfortunately).

But then it was silent.

I thought it was time to hit IMDB and look up some feature films I had shamefully missed out on. There were so many that I watched. So many, that I understood why the same type of film wins at the Oscars. EVERY YEAR.

Then, these happened:

The Honourable Woman Poster

Extant Poster

What.

Two highly riveting dramas lead by female characters. Thank you very much. And who would have seen this coming? For some reason I was under the notion that execs would block all chances of such a concept because it was against tradition and a bane for “sales” (which we all know is total BS).

So here we have two very different stories with strong leads who are tormented by their pasts, hope for a better future and are actively working towards it, have highly challenging professions and are- wait for it, because it made me raise my brows- extremely secretive.

Yes, they keep things from us and from those around them. The latter is fun to watch, but the former is really risky. Especially in the case of ‘The Honourable Woman’, Nessa Stein (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is plagued by her past- an event that took place which has caused terrible repercussions in her present life.

Maggie Gylenhaal

We spend every episode trying to uncover this and we learn more about her as a person in the process. It’s skillfully done, as writer Hugo Blick makes sure that we are with her, invested in this journey that gives us very little clues.

On the other hand, with Extant, we know what Molly (played by Halle Berry) is dealing with right from the beginning. The thrill is in watching her trying to hide her secret from her family and friends, some of whom are evil- therein lies another pit of secrets which we have no access to. The antagonists hold the veil over themselves and we want to find out about what they’re hiding.

Female characters can be more complex and fun to watch, especially when the drama is so carefully crafted to seem like a deep web of hidden truths and past experiences of characters that we yearn to untangle before us. I think this should spark off more shows (there have been perhaps a few here and there in the past) where female actors are deemed equally capable as male actors in carrying off gritty and thrilling stories for audiences to be a part of.