Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am my own darkness

I heard this dialogue about how we should own up to our darknesses. But then I got to thinking... are we not our own darkness and our own light? I do want to own up to these facets of me. I cannot begrudge me having my highs if I cannot accept my lows.

I had a coworker tell me that she always knows when I'm in the office because I'm full of life and character. My desk is the one with postcards and bookmarks, papers and notes, books and magnets from my friends. It's messy, chaotic and full of the remains of a life being lived at its fullest.

But there are moments it all falls apart and the only light I see is through the cracks. These times are getting fewer because growing older seems to be bringing with it a sense of calmness. It also helps that I'm slowly achieving some of my life goals.

Travelling and writing both bring with it a sense of I'll-be-fineness that I've never had before. The more places I see make me realise how much more I want to see. When I'm travelling, I'm more ambitious and adventurous and push myself harder to get the most of my time there.

I have to see everything, experience everything because regrets would be an easy way for my depression to get in. And I cannot be the reason that the blackness gets to me again. I have owned up to my darkness but I know that my light will always be around too.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Luck, blessing or hard work?

There was a time when my life was just a series of dreams but lately I have memories of the times I made those dreams come true.

For example, I'm writing this post as I sit outside my room in a South African game reserve watching a herd of Zebra.

Is this me being incredibly lucky? Or is it a special blessing from my parents' gods? Or indeed an offshoot of my hard work?

It can't be mere coincidence that somehow things work out in my benefit. Is it because my mum prays to every god she knows? Or is it the universe balancing  out the good with the bad?

After all, I don't have many luxuries in my everyday life, I don't get to stay with my family and I don't have any savings. But I have a bank of experiences that I can draw from and I wonder if this can sustain me.

I haven't had a hard life but then it hasn't been easy being me. I've fought back through my share and I'm still not sure how I'll get my happy ever after.

I see people who work hard and save for a better day after tomorrow; and I see those who are content with comfort and the same everydayness of life. But my fear of missing out and losing out and not knowing when this luck/blessing might run out propels me towards the next travel dream.

So maybe it's a grand combination of it all, my hard work starts the foundation of a new travel dream and the luck/blessing combination ensures that every trip has a moment for which I need to step back and thank the world.

London - meeting Perina and the favours she did for me
Paris - Anita's company and Sainte Chappelle
Florence - the view from Santa Maria Majjore and the Latin vespers
Turkey - the boy
Cairo - the almost solitary visit to the pyramids
Beirut - Mansour taking me on a trip from the hills to the beach
Amsterdam - getting a ticket to Anne Frank's house without standing in a queue
Oslo - seeing the snow unexpectedly
Qatar - the Damien Hirst exhibition
South Africa - the lion getting up just as I was looking at him through the binoculars

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beirut blogging

I'm sitting here in my gorgeous Beirut hotel room which has the most amazing view of the city. I'm tired and can't deal with the idea of having dinner in the restaurant and having to deal with all those people. So I order room service, post on FB and settle in for some TV.

The Fault in our Stars comes on from the dinner scene, "I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."

This kind of timing when I'm in such a gorgeous room in such an amazing city blows my mind. This can't be just a coincidence. I can't just be this lucky. This life of mine feels like a series of random occurrences that never quite make sense. It reminds me of a giant puzzle that only makes sense from an aerial viewpoint.

Then this scene comes where they are listening to a classical music group busking at Rijksmuseum, and I suddenly realised I've stood there. I've stood there listening to music too. Me. The girl who grew up envious of everyone because all she had were dreams.

Dreams are hurtful to grow up with when you don't know how to make them come true. But then when you've given up on yourself and the world, somehow the world will find a way to surprise you. At least that's what keeps happening to me.

I'm surrounded by others who are travelling the world and they fuel my dreams. My passion to see the world is rivaled only by my love for my family. It is a strange balance but it is one that somehow sustains me. Now to see where my passion takes me next.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Learning to open a door

Why is it that the first thing a heartbreak does is to help you shut the world out? Shouldn't a broken heart try to heal by finding love elsewhere?

Maybe it's just me but I have been shut away from the world of love for a long time now. I have my lovely job and some amazing friends and have never really felt the need to have more just because I should. And my heartbreak has kept me unable to trust in anybody without them having to prove themselves to me.

Most men don't think I'm worth the effort they will have to take, especially after they see me. An acquaintance once told me my expectations were too high for someone who didn't have too much to offer. Maybe that's true but I don't see it that way...

Yes my packaging isn't great. But I'm a good person with a great heart and great brains. That counts for something right? Even in this appearance-driven world? That's what I tell myself every time an online friend disappears after meeting me.

But I do a good job of keeping my guard up too. I push everyone away as much as I can, almost like a defense mechanism to cope with the eventual pushing away they will do. I do wonder however if this behaviour forces away someone who could have been interested.

Am I expecting too much from a world where I don't give enough in return? People say no one gets everything and I've been very lucky in terms of my family, my friends and my job: so maybe this is one thing that I'm left wanting for...

Friday, September 4, 2015


No one believes me when I say I'm an introvert. I don't like most people I meet & am convinced that most people who meet me must not like me either. I have to make a conscious effort to show up for social engagements. I have to prepare myself for social interactions & feel incredibly surprised when people invite me to or involve me in events.

I try not to let the world see this side because my job requires me to be more than I am. There is so much to be done & standing by isn't part of the job description. It is a good indication of how much I love my job that I push through all my psychoses for it.

There are also just a handful of people who truly know this side of me and thankfully most of them don't judge me for it. However, some just don't understand. My parents, for example, don't understand my need to shun society. They don't get why I can't be like other girls who love family events and dressing up for said events.

On the other edge of this is my need to not completely be cut off from society. To that end, I will organise events with people I like and hope and pray that they will want to come. And then they do and all is good in the world. I have made some amazing friends as I've grown older and more comfortable with myself.

These friends have had varied lessons to teach me; some have shown me how to like myself while others have shown me that it's ok if everyone doesn't like me back. Yet others have shown me the importance of having values and passion while some others have helped me see the value of being single.

Having said that, now I feel that I'm getting to really like myself and understand what I want out of life. And I think the next step is to find someone who can hold on to me and make me want to let go of everything else. At least for a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Who are you?

People only see sides of us, 5 different people will see 5 different people in you. This is determined by either what they recognise of themselves in you or by how you have treated them. I am fascinated by the people we can be, the people we are and the degrees of separation between the two.

So who are you? How do you want to be seen? What's the story people make up when they see you walk by? Do you have a story you made up about someone? The girl sitting by the phone hoping for a message that never comes? She may seem desperate or maybe she's just addicted to her phone. The boy so hurt by the past that he shuns love completely? Is that the story you've given the chronic bachelor who's just busy living his drama-free life?

I love people watching... giving people back stories, giving them names, character profiles, reasons of behaviour. I'm convinced this is a normal activity that people do. If it isn't, just humour me here please. And that's why I wonder what impression do I give the world? What do you see when you see me? Do you see the pain of my past or the smile my present brings to my heart? Do you see my flashes of loneliness or do I give off a sense of happy singledom? Who am I to you? What am I to you?

But then comes the question of the people we can be. Can we truly change? Marriages around the world end because people get married to the version of their spouse they envision in their heads - whether that version exists or not. I don't think people can fundamentally change at all. At the most they can perhaps modify their behaviour; especially with a little Pavlovian conditioning. (It's a wonder what a bribe can achieve in relationships!)

I try to see the best in people, it works for about 5 minutes and then it all depends on how they've treated me. Being non-judgemental is the hardest, especially since I had a very sheltered upbringing that didn't really prepare me for the real world. So the emotional baggage I carry colours my perception of people. Dubai can force you to see the world differently, especially if you let the world in by making friends from everywhere - from Yemen to Australia.

That girl I see looking out the window? She's just came from Tanzania where she stays with her second-generation immigrant parents. She's got a job with a hotel consultancy and will be travelling around Africa as a part of her job. Now it's turn, who do you see? Make me a story... I'm waiting

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adieu mon amie, je t'aimais bien

Its not something anyone wants to do, but saying goodbyes is undeniable & inevitable.

Some goodbyes are final and come with varying kinds of grief (or relief), while some goodbyes are temporary with a chance (however fleeting) of turning into a hello somewhere, someday.
But what about the goodbyes that we stretch out, like goodbyes that signal end of relationships.

So many of us hang on to some slim hope that what we shared with someone else will survive. We hang on desperately in the hopes of recreating past highs together, while the ghosts of lows haunt us from the edge of memory.

We are addicts who are at the wrong end of the addiction - not riding high on a new buzz but trying every trick to get the buzz back.Love is an addiction at the best of times. This is true for the feeling itself or the idea of it & sometimes, the hope of the feeling is the high itself.

We have millions of songs, books and poems about the grief, loss and sometimes joy & freedom that goodbyes are often accompanied by. There is a bittersweet release in the act of letting go; whether welcome or otherwise. This is an universal phenomenon, wholly complete in its humanity.

But I am letting go of myself, the versions of myself that lived in the past. The girl who couldn't grow up fast enough, the girl who was bullied and abused. That is not to say I didn't have a happy childhood, my parents loved me as best they could, my sister gave me everything she could. But I was just not capable of being the person I wanted to be -- like many tweens and teens both before & after me. I have been many versions of that person, many I didn't like, many I am ashamed of. I guess they are right when they say that childhood is wasted on the young.

It is today as I look back on my mistakes, I am trying to let go of the person I used to be in order to really be what I can be. I am saying goodbye to the small infinities that made up my past and looking forward to the infinite infinities ahead.

I am doing it in part with the help of my job that I love, understanding how I feel about how I look & surrounding myself with people who accept me without judgement. I am also trying to feel less like an impostor who is waiting to get caught. I am learning to like myself and accept my drawbacks and grow on my strengths. Love is still elusive but I am hopeful that if I am lucky to find it, I will be ready for it.

So this is both a goodbye & a hello, a goodbye to the neurosis of the past and a hello to the insanity of the future. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Miss Misunderstood

I am often criticised for wearing my heart on my sleeve; for being vocal about my beliefs and thoughts. I feel strongly about a lot of things and have a lot of opinions. I am open & honest and don't have much of a censor either.

All of these things & more cause me to ruffle a few feathers. Today was the day people got shot down for having satirical views that made fun of a certain organised religion. What can you make of that? Do we blame religion or just someone's perception of it?

We're living in a world where we start the day not knowing if we're coming back home. People are getting murdered in schools, offices, homes, getting coffee and while travelling. Nowhere is safe and fundamentalists are twisting around in their seats to find ways & reasons to destroy the world's collective sanity.

I have often been asked to delete my status messages, posts & comments because people think I'm crossing the line. But just as often, I get messages from people who agree with what I am posting but don't want to support my views publicly. They don't want to start an argument but also don't want to be seen to have firm opinions.

Who is in the wrong then? Me for having an opinion, the hidden supporters for not being open, those who want me to be calmer about what I say or the people who get offended by a few words online? This is a very complicated world we live in; fueled by greed, money & religion. Out of those three, two are human constructs that were established to bring people together & help humanity. They are now what corrupts the world & are at the core of all that is wrong in the world.

Religion was just a tool to show people the right way to do things, which was then embellished by god who had the power to make things happen and the promise of a happily-ever-after. Now it supersedes anything else on what divides humanity. If following religion is supposed to save our souls, does that mean we've now lost all chance of redemption?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Words in Motion

I went to the litfest last year and was surrounded by authors. They all have stories they want to tell. So many of them know what they want to write next and the ones that will come after. I wonder that's how I know I am not going to a good writer, or is that just another excuse I've found to not be all that I can be.

I like so many different kinds of writing, but I think the trait I admire most is the ability to weave a story. Being able to construct a story about fictional strangers that makes real strangers feel like you know their hearts. I tried writing a story once but got lost in the myriad ways I could treat my character. What would I have her do? What anguish would I make her go through?

I could base the heroine on me but how much? There are many small stories in my history, things that only I know, scars I have given & received -- would they make for an interesting yarn? There are small infinities in my life I haven't yet gone back to, they are just there, in the background, waiting for me to call on them and bring them back to life. But these infinities bring with them the pain of ghosts past, the mistakes I've made, the persons I was trying to be by lying to myself. So maybe they're better off where they are.

Then I could base the heroine in a situation I research about, bring a world to life in the only way I can. But then I have read so much, I keep fearing that I can never be good enough to write the way I would like to. More & more of the books I read lately are books that are derivative and want me to put a lot of work in to follow a story & I'm just not intelligent for that.

All I want to do is write a simple story that is all me & there is a part of me that wouldn't mind it if no one read it (somewhat like this blog). Which brings me back to the crux of this post, what would make for a good story? They say you should write what you know -- that cuts out so many genres or maybe I'm just making excuses for not being creative enough.

Maybe I maxed out my creativity making up the very many lies I told incessantly as a kid. Do liars grow up to be fiction writers? Or are fiction-writers just liars who are being paid for lying?