Baseket weaver in Cuba by Vic Briggs

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

About this image: An aged basket weaver in Trinidad, Cuba. A country on the threshold of a new age?

Trinidad is what I imagined Cuba to be before I crossed its border. Music and art, gorgeous architecture weathered by time and generous people. Yet there is something melancholy about Cuba. The past is ever present, while new generations are seeking change at an economic if not political level.

Whatever one’s politics, there are certain aspects of Cuban life that are deserving of being preserved, such as their universal access to a high standard of education and healthcare for example, as well as its flourishing art scene. There is too the matter of Cuba’s extremely low crime levels, especially when compared to the rest of its Caribbean neighbours. The old regime is unlikely to survive its leaders’ demise – or so at least has been reported in the media for a while now – yet I can’t help wonder what would “change” constitute?

PS: Apologies for the finger-invasion: they were a little too enthusiastic for their own good and I couldn’t keep them out of the frame.

You Are Not White Enough!

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Jezebel

“Good news, ladies! Society has discovered another new thing that’s wrong with you, which means another opportunity for you to make yourself more attractive for your man. Score! Turns out, the colour of your vagina is gross and everyone hates it. So bleach that motherf***er. Bleach it right now!”

I must’ve knocked my head and woke up in some parallel dimension universe where the world has been taken over by the Racist Vagina Police. This is a hoax, surely?!

Did you know about this? Not to worry. If you didn’t, you will now.

I’ve searched the blogosphere to see whether any of you have written about the latest in demented “fairness” trends.

The burden of guilt lies of course with the female population of this planet. Apparently, fair ladies, you have come short in one key area. Your privates are not white enough!

This is no joke. Serious stuff. It threatens the very survival of the human species. So take note and do something about it. Pronto.

Ever wonder why your boyfriend or hubby has been giving you a wide birth lately? Or perhaps it’s your “friend with benefits” who is a no show yet again? I’m certain that after the last half dozen “headache” excuses for a distinct lack of in-between-the-sheets action, you must have questioned it.

Experts to the rescue! It turns out it is not them. It is you. Or to put it bluntly, your vagina has lost its allure. If you are still in doubt, watch this video.

Disgusting, right? I really feel for the man. I mean, come on.

They sit down for their morning coffee. It’s another beautiful day in whiter-than-thou heart of India. But something is very very wrong.

You can cut the tension with a hatchet. The poor guy can’t even bear to look at her. It is all too much. The HORROR. After everything he’s had to put up with, and now THIS?

How could she let him down like that? Go and scrub that thing, girl! He looks like he’s about to retch. Can’t you see what you’re doing to his coffee? It’s all ruined. So brown. Just like your… Too much of a gentleman to bring up the subject, mind. Although he’s clearly all cut up about it.

But! She has a secret weapon. Lo and behold! Enters: Clean and Dry Intimate Wash. Can’t expect the sexy times to roll without putting in the effort.

Now look at him smile. Oh. Yeah. Result. She was only one wash away from being beautiful, sexy and confident. That’s what a light-reflecting labia will do for you.

Phew. Divorce papers shelved. Disaster averted. She’s definitely getting some tonight. Humanity lives to see another day.


I admit. I’ve known for a while that there is a hierarchy of skin tone within the Indian community. It seems insane to me that this should be the case, but then India, despite being the world’s largest democracy, also happens to be amongst the most unequal. It is not just about an inequality of wealth and social standing, it has to do with the cast system. And yes, skin colour is a big part of that.

Darker-skinned Indians are encouraged to avoid direct sunlight and bleach their skin with products like Fair & Lovely. Should we be troubled by this?

Consumer capitalism seems determined to make us question everything about our bodies, looks, scent, invading the most intimate parts of ourselves for one reason and one reason only: to sell us things we don’t need, at prices we can’t afford.

All I can say is this. Don’t go there. There’s no man in this world who will reject you because of your unbleached Bermuda Triangle, and if there is… Someone who expects you to change your body in order to be with them, is so not worth it. Honestly.

Just say no.

This article was inspired by whence comes the above pic too.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

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Back in the USSR

I never got the meaning of that song.

“You don’t know how lucky you are?” Whose luck was it? The Brits’ and the Americans’ because they weren’t born there?

I was born in the USSR. Trust me when I tell you this: luck did not come into it.

Have you ever been hungry? Really hungry? Hungry because all you had for breakfast that morning was a stale piece of bread smeared with margarine? You needed the margarine, even if you did not want it. You had to get some fat content into your system to resist the temptation to eat the other piece of stale bread that your parent had packed in your schoolbag for later. Margarine in the USSR smelt like soap. A far cry from the ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ margarine of today. It smelt like soap, and it tasted like it too.

We did feel lucky. We had parents who went without so that we wouldn’t.

Last year an English friend of mine did a ‘survive on one pound a day’ challenge for charity. I made my contribution and left it at that. What I did not tell him was this. At the age of fifteen I got a thirty dollar-a-month scholarship to go to boarding school. One dollar a month. It smelt of independence (and maybe a little of margarine). I had never been so rich! My mother’s salary as a teacher was half that at the time.

I did not ‘survive’ on a dollar a month: it was more money than I had ever seen in my life.

Remember the old cliché writers are warned about: do not write ‘More than I have ever seen, ever had, ever – anything?’ Well… It fits the bill here (he-he, here’s another one).

When Latin American telenovelas flooded our three-channel-USSR screens, we watched amazed life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and the slums of Sao Paulo. Obrigado Brazil! It was not shock at their living conditions that kept us glued to the screens. It was envy. The favelas of Rio were a few clouds up from our respectable Soviet homes. What the rich had in those dream-peddling machines was exactly that to us: a dream, an illusion. But we could aspire to favela-chique.

I suppose we were lucky. Luckier than some. We had a roof over out heads. And we had enough stale bread in our belies to dream.

Then came the trucks. The truckfuls of second-hand clothes from the West. They were supposed to be handed out for free, but it became a thriving black market trade in no time. And we felt lucky. Sometimes you found a bargain. It still cost an arm and a leg, but at least you got some clothes on your back. And that was something. Sometimes they allowed you to keep the limb: ‘Buy one get the other half price’-style.

How we showed off with our new oldies! Now I get it. Vintage. We were lucky after all.

The West won the Cold War. The USSR fell. We had to pay for a loaf of bread the sum that would have bought a studio apartment a few days before – if buying apartments had been an option in our glorious USSR. Mind you. We got our bread. Fresh this time. At least the first slice was. We couldn’t go buying studio-apartment-loafs every day. That’s the reality of recession. “You don’t know how lucky you are.”

But that’s not the worse of it. It was raining men. And women. Old men and women to be precise. People who had broken their backs to save a little money, live out with a little dignity the last years of their lives. They lost everything. They jumped in their hundreds off the rooftops: Soviet legacies splattered on the broken-up asphalt.

Were they the lucky ones?

At least they didn’t get to see their granddaughters ripped from their villages and prostituted in Yugoslavia’s warzones. Yes. They were lucky not to live through that.

Capitalism – the type of capitalism that at least begins to resolve the problem of scarcity – is yet to arrive ‘back in the USSR’. What we have now, defies description. I can at least label it: Raging Wild-East Capitalism.

“Back in the USSR.

You don’t know how lucky you are.”

Cheers, Macca. You are a legend. But next time, please stick to what you know. Writers are forever told this. Songwriters should try it sometimes.

Confessions of a disgruntled Ape-wo-Man