Would you rather be the cookie cutter girl or the alpha female?

The following piece is published on Thought Catalog. This isn’t entirely a well written article. But, it was a fun frivolous piece written when I was inspired.


A giant, noisy, brightly-lit, gaudy carousel, whirling ever faster. People in the darkness beyond, watching and wondering.
Others at the edge, trying to climb aboard. Some who are clinging on precariously, trying not to fall off.
Those who are riding the horses and grinning giddily.
A few who sit in the still centre, sipping champagne.
The observer then looks at the controller’s booth and sees that it is – empty!  This is the modern world.

– Anonymous (A friend wrote this.)

You are the classic example of an Alpha female, often driven by insecurity and ruling by fear. Since young, you have focused on your achievements, in pursuit of perfection, that sense of satisfaction and achievement. All that gives you the adrenaline high, similar to what you get after a good run and consuming chocolates. People around you often see you as aloof, unemotional, and unsympathetic. You have grown accustomed to such views. You know you are not aloof, but you just find it hard to express your empathy towards others.

You are always planning ahead. In college, you take up additional coursework and attempt to finish your college degree in record time, while taking on internships and what have you that gets you ahead during the summer holidays, while others party on. Unfortunately, such adrenaline highs never last long enough for you to be satisfied with what you have. So, you are constantly on the move, constantly chasing after the next achievement, and the next big thing that gives you even more satisfaction. You never seem satisfied. At work, you find yourself always looking out for the next job, as soon as you land onto the current job. Your current job should always take you onto the next job. Otherwise, it is a no go.

With men, you never ask for their help. You are not of those girls that need help with moving from place to place or with their grocery/shopping bags. As painful and tiring as it may be, your pride and ego as an alpha female disallow you from asking for any help. You rather complete everything on your own, instead of asking for help. For that and many other things, men find you overly stubborn. At the movies, you constantly tell yourself that these teary movies are fiction and shedding tears would be silly.

After a few years at work, you find yourself having to deal with the increasing dissatisfaction with how things are  and with your own incompetency. You quit your job, convinced that you need further education. You take on another degree – be it the Masters, the MBA or the PhD. You find the need to constantly improve yourself, and to be the best in what you do. Your pursuit of perfection and excellence drives you insane at times. Getting into a prestigious postgraduate degree gives you the instant high. But, that adrenaline high yet again sinks soon after.

Sometimes, you find yourself wishing that you are in the darkness beyond, watching and wondering about the rest who try to hang onto the path that twirls and swirls one around. Sometimes, you catch yourself wondering if it is better to be a cookie cutter girl rather than an alpha female, and to be satisfied with settling down, accepting help from guys, being loved by someone and getting married. Then, there are other times, you wonder if you would ever get to the still centre, sipping champagne, and be totally satisfied and pacified by life, the way it is.

Would you rather be the cookie cutter girl or the alpha female?









“good riddance” to brick-and-mortar bookstores?

The following piece is the unedited piece published on Woroni.


Last Saturday, I found myself in the Borders store in Canberra Centre, browsing through the heavily discounted books. There were signs everywhere in the store, advertising the following “Administrators sale, everything on sale must go, all sales final, no returns”. Almost everything in the store, including the fixtures but excluding the posters, is on sale.

The administrators of parent company RedGroup Retail, who had already closed 17 Borders stores since taking control of the business in February, recently announced they would close the nine remaining stores (which include the store in Canberra Centre) in Australia by 17 July. At its peak, Australia had 26 Borders Stores. With the closures of the Angus & Robertson and Borders bookstores in Canberra Centre, we are pretty much left with Dymocks and The Smiths Alternative bookstore in Civic.

As a kid, I remembered the trips to the bookstores, spending hours in the stores flipping through books after books, pages after pages. Those trips to the bookstores have somewhat cultivated my lifelong interest in reading, with books by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl lining up my bookshelves when I was younger. While those books have since been tucked away, they remain my priced possessions. As an adult, browsing in bookstores remains one of my favourite things to do, arguably one of life’s sublime pleasures, which I am sure many would agree.

These days, the likes of the Kindle, iPad, other Ebook readers (e-readers), and Ebooks seem to have taken over the world of reading, and found its way into lecture theatres. A few years ago, it was novel to have students with laptops in lecture theatres. Today, it is increasingly common to find students scrolling through their lecture notes on their iPads or e-readers.  For the cost-conscious consumer, Ebooks have become a popular option, often much cheaper than physical books. For example, Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” generally has a list price of USD 16 and is currently discounted at USD 9.69. The Kindle’s edition is going for an even cheaper USD 8.32. Judging by the increasing number of Ebooks available, prices of Ebooks are definitely coming down over time. While elementary kids’ books generally aren’t available on e-readers yet, young adult books often are. Besides, it’s certainly unimaginable reading a “board book”, often one that requires the sense of “touch”, to a toddler on an e-reader. While unimaginable, it certainly isn’t impossible. In fact, reading a “board book” on an e-reader has been made possible by Barnes & Noble, which offer a range of “Read to me” Ebooks under their “Nook Book” range for the young readers. Besides, apart from Ebooks, much cheaper online options have also been made available to consumers these days. Book lovers would know what I am talking about. Books sold on The Book Depository and Amazon are often considerably cheaper than the ones sold in bookstores.

With the rising popularity of Ebooks over physical books, and online bookstores, it isn’t entirely unthinkable to see the brick-and-mortar bookstores nearing the end of its life-cycle. Are we bidding “good riddance” to the traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores? Yet, as I entertain that possibility, I find it hard to imagine the day when my kids ask me “What’s a bookstore?”