names: inspired by books!

Hello everyone! So after a long, long time… I am back.

My friend and I were talking about names during a Biology lecture, and I decided to do a thing where I would list names that I liked inspired by certain themes, like books or mythology or science. Just thought it would be fun, and maybe if you were looking for a name for a pet or something this post could help. I’m not gonna do girl and guy names separately; it’s gonna be a mishmash of names I suppose.

1) Sorrel (Sarah Rayne, A Dark Dividing)

A bit of a morbid one, I suppose, but in the book, Sorrel is one of a pair of conjoined twins born in 1900. She was named Sorrel after the plant woodsorrel, and I always thought it was a very lovely-sounding, unique name, and I associate it with images of the English countryside and clean air and bicycles.

2) Pip (Charles Dickens, Great Expectations)

While I wouldn’t necessarily name a child Pip, I think it’s an adorable name for a pet (a mouse/hamster/rat?) and a great nickname, especially for someone called Phillip (which is Pip’s actual name in the novel). Pip is an extremely flawed character- in fact, I found him hard to like, but through the novel, the reader kind of watches him grow and mature from an innocent child to misguided young adult to a sadder, but wiser man, and you end up loving him anyway. It’s an interesting journey. 

3) Daenerys (George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire)

Many people will probably be familiar with the name of Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons. She tames dragons. She’s amazing. Boom. Plus you can nickname someone with this name Dany which is really cute too.

4) Elinor and Marianne (Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility)

Two sisters, polar opposites, best friends. They go through a lot in the novel, and they go through it together. I think it would be nice for sisters, or even two pets who live together (for some reason, goldfish come to mind).

5) Kane (Rick Riordan, The Kane Chronicles)

Surname of the Kane siblings. They’re vessels for the Egyptian gods and goddesses, and their parents are Isis (kind of the queen goddess. Apparently the mother of every pharaoh) and Osiris (god of the dead/underworld). Cool stuff.

6) Nico (Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson)

Son of Hades. Need I say more?

6) Zosia (William Styron, Sophie’s Choice)

One of the main characters in the novel. She’s called Sophie, and her Polish nickname is Zosia. She’s a Polish concentration camp survivor, and is characterised as vivacious, sweet, funny and kind, but also extremely broken. It’s a highly interesting character.

7) Nemo (Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

No, this isn’t a Finding Nemo reference. Captain Nemo was the mysterious captain of the Nautlius, a gigantic submarine that sails all around the world. He is extremely knowledgeable about the ocean, and has renounced living on dry land in favour of living in the sea. 

8) Scout (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)

Inquisitive, tomboyish narrator of one of the best novels ever written. We see the world of racism in a small town in 1960s America through her eyes.

Starstruck

Nature. We hardly pay attention to it, yet it’s still there, relentlessly, unapologetically beautiful and blazing and bright. 
I think nature as a concept is very attractive to a lot of people. We like the pretty flowers, the idea of wide open green fields or groves of tall fir trees, dappled deer peeping shyly out from behind the moss-covered trunks. Rose petals, birdsong, softness, music. All associated with the idea of nature. The word itself is immediately evocative of whimsical little tableus worthy of any tumblr user’s blog. 

But, in loving the idealistic version of nature, we dye it with our own expectations and when it doesn’t live up to our idea of this perfect dream fantasy world, we stop appreciating it and look for another spot that does live up to our fantasies.

But nature is more than that. Nature is more than moss and flowers and idyll and butterflies. Nature is soil. Nature is warmth. Nature is the smell of humidity in our nostrils when we breathe in on a particularly warm summer night. Nature is the gentle breeze, but it is also the hurricane. Nature is gentle, foaming waves breaking on the shore, but it is also the tsunami. 
Nature is venomous snakes, blind mole rats, funnel-web spiders and gulper eels. Nature is all the animals we glossed over in school because they were too ugly to hold our interest for long. 

How captivated we can be by beauty, and yet, how blind we can become to all of its facets when we only focus on one.

German music 

Hey guys! I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before but I actually study German. I live in Singapore, so I have little (if any) experience with the language. One of the ways I tried to expose myself to German, particularly in the earlier days, was through music. My absolute favourite band is an NDH band called Oomph! but I do want to do a separate post on them, probably on my music blog.

I recently came across some really good songs, and I thought I’d share them here because even if not all of us can speak the language we can all appreciate a good tune. 

1) Dann kommt die Musik – Flowrag

2) Aus Gold – Tagtraeumer

This is SO GOOD it’s such a typical teenager feel-good song. It makes me feel so free and happy. 

3) Ich bereue Nichts

There is no way to describe Stefanie Kloß’s voice other than… 👌

4) Musik sein – Wincent Weiss

5) Herz über Kopf – Joris

6) So schön kaputt – SDP

7) Fühlt sich wie fliegen an – Max Herre ft. Cro

This is the chillest song that ever chilled. It has the wear-a-big-shirt-lie-on-couch-eat-chips-and-bob-head-in-time-to-beat vibes.

8) Perfekt Unperfekt

The girl in the video is almost the most gorgeous female I have ever seen.

9) Fick ihn doch – Alligatoah

This is extremely vulgar but the video and lyrics are so hilarious. Alligatoah makes really funny songs. Also, I have actually found that listening to rap can exponentially improve one’s ability to understand spoken German.

street harassment and boys in my school

Honestly, I’m a very optimistic person most of the time, so I really didn’t want to write this sentence, but I’m gonna write it anyway.

I’m so disappointed in humanity.

I see loads of videos with titles like “30 minutes walking down the street as a woman in New York” or “woman responds to catcalling”. Where I come from, I don’t think street harassment or “catcalling” is that much of an issue, so to be honest, I kinda saw those videos more as clickbait than being indicative of any serious problem. At most, I saw it as something happening to people very far removed from me and my life, and I didn’t pay attention to it. Furthermore, I felt that the people in the videos often “overreacted” to their experiences- like, it’s just some guy being rude, ignore him.

This video, however, really changed my mindset. It starts off as a completely normal vlog, very aesthetically pleasing shots, super casual and relaxed vibes- then, suddenly, when Arabella (the YouTuber) and her friend sit down to some coffee and cake at a cute little picturesque cafe, we see some men in the background yelling and gesturing at them. Later, we find out that one of these men actually approached Arabella, then, when she tried to ignore him, went back to his buddies and started hurling verbal abuse and throwing objects at the two ladies.

I learnt three things from this video:

  1. Street harassment can happen to you anytime, anywhere. It was a totally normal day for Arabella- she just wanted to have a nice lunch with her girlfriend, and yet she has to deal with rowdy, drunken men at two in the afternoon trying to “get in” with a complete stranger who clearly was not comfortable with their advances.
  2. She was extremely calm and measured when discussing the issue, presenting it as it happened and acknowledging that as far as street harassment goes, it could have been worse and is worse for many people, but still refusing to take it as a joke or light-hearted incident, because it definitely was not.
  3. The women in the video were scared and couldn’t do anything because they didn’t want to antagonise the men, who, for all they knew, could have been carrying some weapon. I always used to wonder why the people being harassed never did anything, so this was a real lightbulb moment for me.

Before this, I never thought catcalling was a real problem because I was always of the opinion that people could, you know, just “brush it off”. But now I realise, after some reflection, that the real issue here is not the catcalling itself. It is the mentality behind the catcalling, the mentality that it is okay to harass someone like that on the streets and threaten someone like that on the streets. I definitely want to steer clear from saying that this is something that only happens to women and is only perpetuated by men, because I’m sure there are loads of horrible people of all sexes and races who have this horrendous mindset that it’s somehow okay to treat a human being in such a way. To me, the issue of catcalling is simply a manifestation of two deeper societal issues, which are:

  1. The inability of so many to see things from other people’s point of view.
  2. The lack of respect we have for each other as human beings.

After watching the video, I started thinking because I wanted to share my thoughts as well, but was worried that I didn’t have enough exposure to or understanding of this topic to treat it as it ought to be treated. After some consideration, however, I realised I (unfortunately) do have certain experiences that can help me relate.

Being an eighteen-year-old student who has been in a girls’ school for almost her entire academic life and only entered a mixed school last year, it was a culture shock for me to see how much the environment differed in terms of behaviour (of both boys and girls) as well as mindsets and opinions.

To be fair, a huge amount of my school’s student population comes from single-gender schools as well, so perhaps the environment in single-gender schools simply tends to breed a certain ignorance about the other sex. But honestly, some of the things I heard and brushed aside until now are just so shocking that I’m surprised I haven’t started some kind of feminist uprising in the middle of the canteen yet.

One thing that really, really shocked me was something that happened far too many times. I was, on several separate occasions, talking with some of my close guy friends, and they all asked me something that was so horrendous I had a physical reaction to it. The gist of what they all said was, “why are girls so traumatised by being raped?”

I literally cannot tell you enough how floored I was by the question. I was actually, genuinely, incredibly shocked that they even asked this question. I started explaining to them the psychological trauma it could cause, the physical pain, etc., but from what I could tell, they weren’t really willing to take me seriously and one even joked about how males wouldn’t be affected by being raped at all. One guy even disagreed with me on the grounds that he wouldn’t mind being raped by a woman. I honestly had so many problems with his response, not only because he had a fundamental misunderstanding of rape and the situations in which it occurred, but also because he somehow thought that his personal opinion allowed him to disagree with a legion of psychological and medical evidence as well as personal testimonies from victims that rape was hugely damaging to a person, no matter their sex. I also had a problem with the way that some of the guys made light of the situation, devaluing the experiences of the people traumatised by rape. One guy seemed faintly irritated that I was trying to explain to him the gravity of rape and told me to change the subject.

Another incident occurred fairly recently. My class was on our way to PE (or gym, as I believe they call it in America), and we were discussing how my friend’s (let’s call her Friend A) cousin-in-law wouldn’t let his wife (my friend’s cousin) work, and how her cousin was okay with it because she said he was “treating me like a queen”. I was exclaiming over this with my friend when one of my other female friends, Friend B, cut in with a “what’s so bad about that? He’s treating her like a queen.” Friend A and I literally spun around with WHAT did you just say??? written all over our faces. Friend B genuinely did not see any problem with the situation, and we tried our best to explain to her why it was problematic even if the cousin didn’t see it as such. I think (I hope) she understood, because that’s such a dangerous mindset to have.

The problem wasn’t that Friend A’s cousin was not working. The problem was that her husband did not allow her to work. If she had chosen not to work and her husband had agreed to this, that would have been fine. This was, however, a case of her husband not letting her work. It turned out okay for her in this specific situation because she didn’t want to work anyway, but there are so many things wrong with this kind of mindset in the husband. He may think he’s “treating her like a princess”, but all he’s doing is taking away her power of choice, her autonomy, and potentially, her financial freedom, which she as a human being has a right to. Just because his choice happens to coincide with her personal wishes does not make it the correct one.

There are so many women in the world who are trapped in a marriage because of the lack of education and opportunities for women in countries that still see women as second-class citizens. In some places, girls are still all too often seen either as financial burdens, a means of reproduction, and sex objects. This is all because of the “alpha male” mentality of how guys are the ones who provide for the household, and therefore the ones who are higher up in the social hierarchy than mere women. By not allowing his wife to work, the man is perpetuating this mindset, and will more than likely pass it on to his children, who will pass it on to theirs and so on. It’s not fair to, firstly, the woman, for obvious reasons, secondly (especially in this day and age where the cost of living is so high), the men, who will always feel pressured to be the sole provider for the family and cannot accept that his wife could be able to lighten his financial burden, and thirdly, any children they might have.

Plus, there are so many guys in my school who just have the most disgusting attitude towards females, and loads of them are from all-boys schools. One of my friends, who is extremely pretty, is basically being stalked by this guy who thinks its somehow okay to show up at her house at all hours of the day, literally sit and wait for hours with a friend on the pavement next to her house for her to show up and invite him in or even go to the field behind her house and play loud music to attract her attention when she doesn’t respond. Another guy, whom she has outright rejected, still thinks it’s okay to literally follow her around even when she’s totally ignoring him, hug herand lie to his “bros” that he’s dating her to impress them.

Oh, yeah, let’s not forget about the time this guy said that the patriarchy exists because girls all have the innate knowledge that they are inferior to males.

There are really just so many instances of irritating, misogynistic males in my school that I could easily write a 5,000 word essay about it, but I don’t have the inclination nor the time.

Summary of this post: a female is not an “item” your boast about having. There’s a difference between “suppressing” your partner and “pampering” your partner. Rape is never okay. Objectifying another human being is never okay. Respect all. Try to understand other people’s views. You are not the only person in the world whose opinion matters. 

This is why education is so important. The school environment plays a huge role in shaping people’s perceptions and opinions, and if we shy away from addressing such issues, we are basically going to perpetuate ignorance on a huge scale.

Note: this is in no way meant to target any specific sex or group of people at all. These are simply my observations and thoughts. If you have anything to say about this topic, whether you disagree or agree with anything I’m saying, please do leave a comment so we can perhaps exchange views and have a mini discussion!

Thanks for wading through this whole thing, guys. Y’all rock, seriously.

be kind.

Guys so something tiny happened like one day ago but I’m still thinking about it, so I thought I’d share. 

I was just having a group sharing session with some church mates and all of a sudden, one of them (a close Friend of mine- we’ll call him Jake) mentions that I was the first girl who ever talked to him in church. 

We all laughed it off and I made a joke about it, but what he said really stuck with me and this is why: I had absolutely no recollection of this. We’d been friends for so long that I had kind of forgotten the “origin story”, if you will, of our friendship. And he went on to say that this friendship he formed with me was one of the reasons he was now able to feel comfortable in the church environment. 

This sounds like such a tiny little thing, but it made a big impact on me because I suddenly realised: 

Everything you do in life affects the people around you in some way. A smile, a “good morning”, a conversation started, a laugh shared- small, simple gestures, but to someone else it might mean a whole lot. I started to talk to Jake not for any particular reason: we were both in the same camp, I was looking for a friend, and I suppose Jake was just there. Like I said, I have no recollection of this, but to Jake, it was significant as I was the first female friend (and one of the first friends) he made in church. 

To me, one of the most underrated roles is that of the supporting character. It is often he or she that starts the action in the play, while the main character merely experiences the effects of it. Scene: main character walks down the street. Stranger runs up to them to return them their wallet they’d unknowingly dropped some time back. Main character bursts into tears, having narrowly escaped losing the money to buy an engagement ring in the form of a cheque which was stored in his wallet. Scene: main character sneezes and finds himself out of tissue. Stranger hands him handkerchief. Main character wipes nose and is saved from looking like an idiot holding his nose for the entire train ride.

It’s a really important role, if you think about it. The ability to affect the story of someone else’s life. Everything we do matters, even if we don’t realise it. So be kind. Be generous. Know that you live not only as the protagonist but also the random passer-by whose presence rather than character is crucial to the development of an ongoing plot. 

Might write more about this later but am way too lazy right now.

project shanah update!

Hi guys! If you remember this post, I talked about a small project my friend and I were starting called Project Shanah. 

We just posted our second installment of our #fiveminutekindnesses. 

Again, it’s only been like two weeks, but if you’re interested in participating we’ll be posting weekly “kindness challenges” on our instagram @projectshanah

Thanks to anyone who’s shown support so far! It’s lovely when people can work together for the better. 

I said in my previous post that this project was meant as a reminder to:


Cynicism
, that youthful exuberance and optimism are not always misguided, and that change is possible and necessary.


Ourselves
, that every little thing we do for the good of others matters.


The world
, that everything has a beginning, no matter how small that beginning may be.

I still believe strongly in this. 

By the way! You don’t even need to be following the instagram to support the project, you can simply check in on it every week to get the latest updates. We’re not looking for followers, just like-minded people with a heart for change 🌱

If anyone is interested in being added to a whatsapp/telegram group where you can partcipate in planning/publicising/designing things for the project, do drop us a DM or email me at mlruiqi@gmail.com 😊