Friday, November 28, 2008

Taking A Stand

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I received the phone call from Andrea on Wednesday afternoon at 16:54pm. I was on my way home and she caught me just in time to tell me that she felt ill and would probably go to the doctor the next day…Thursday...and that she wanted to re-schedule my assessment for Friday instead. Moving from one department to another in any company is a bit daunting, even in a foreign country and especially as it was in a new location and I was going to work directly with members of the British Parliament and other Councilors. So I was a little relieved that I could put it off for one more day. I often wonder what would have happened had I missed that phone call. I was suppose to take the Piccadilly Line to King’s Cross Station at approximately the same time that the terrorist attacks occurred in a series of explosions and bomb blasts on the London Underground on the 7th of July 2005.

The morning of July 7th was the same as every morning and because work only began at 9am (as it does for most Londoners), I had time to catch re-runs of the syndicated Will and Grace series as well as Friends between 7:30am and 8:30am while munching on Warburton’s seeded bread toast at like ₤5 a slice…well it was more like ₤1.29 a loaf at the time. I left for work shortly thereafter, unaware of what the day had in store for me. A five minute bus ride, 12 minute train ride and a Starbucks Latté later, I was at work, 10 minutes early. I was chatting to Katie about a disastrous date she had the previous evening when at 09:10am, I got an anxious phone call from my Venezuelan friend Bea. She sounded confused and a little concerned and wanted to know if I was ok. I assured her that I was fine…maybe in need of a couple more hours of sleep, but ok. She then told me that it had been reported that there were possible power surges all over the city which had resulted in a few accidents on the Underground…but it had been unconfirmed and they were still waiting for more news.

About 20 minutes later, Bea called me again, a little more frantic this time because she couldn’t get through to Angie, another close friend of ours. Then came the report that Liverpool Street Station, where Angie happened to be working at that time, had been closed down because of suspected terrorist attacks on the Underground. We both frantically tried to get through to Angie several times over the next hour…confusion and bewilderment whirling around most Londoners.

The explosion of a bus in Tavistock Square at around 09:45am confirmed that the city was under attack and everyone in the office was glued to their computer monitors, watching the news on the Internet with a mixture of shock, awe, disgust and fear. It was SURREAL, and as the events unfolded before our eyes, the reality, ramifications and repercussions of the attacks began to dawn upon us. London’s entire public transport system was brought to a halt, every train, every bus immobilized…with the exception of a few buses in Greater London, zones 4 to 6. With over 10 million working people dependant on public transport as well as the thousands of tourists that utilise public transport during their visits to the city in the summer months, the situation soon became a living nightmare. All mobile telephone networks were down because of the high volumes of people using their cell phones to make calls at the same time. People were panicking, anxious and uncertain about what to expect. The entire city had come to a standstill, quite literally.

I tried to call my parents in South Africa to let them know I was fine, but the telephone lines were down. I tried sending emails, but there were problems with the connections as well. I later found out that they were desperately trying to phone me as well, to see if I was ok…I had my cousins, aunts and uncles try to phone and email me too. I received a message from Jo in Paris, she was worried and wanted to know if we were ok…the French always have a way around things, even when the power is out and all communication systems are down. I told her that I had heard from Bea who was camped out at her flat with popcorn, the TV and some of her Venezuelan flat-mates, but nothing from Angie. She said she would try to get into contact with her too.

I eventually got through to Angie, but not for long because we were cut off in mid-conversation. At least she was fine, but according to her, Liverpool Street Station was in a state of chaotic hysteria with masses of disorientated people being evacuated and police pouring into the station and patrolling the area fervently. The scenes played out like a war movie.

I remember the District Head calling an emergency meeting with everyone in the office at around 11:00am. It was decided that everyone had to go home as soon as possible. Those of us who were fit and able and lived within walking distance i.e. between 5km and 15km from the offices volunteered to walk home whilst transport arrangements were being made for those living out of central London in Croydon, Surrey and Hertfordshire…miles away. They say that humanity performs at its greatest in a crisis, and it’s true. There were those who owned cars, complete strangers who offered to take people home…people stood together in a camaraderie I don’t think I will ever experience again. I volunteered to come in to work the next day, as part of a skeleton staff to represent and offer support to the people of the London Borough of Camden in a challenging time.

I remember stepping out into the street on my way home, looking up at the thick black clouds that were promising heavy rainfall while trying to make my way home as quickly as possible. Emotions like terror and horror coupled with apprehension and anxiety flowed in the streets and seeped into the cracks of the buildings. The place reeked of fear and paranoia. I wondered to myself if this was how it felt to step out into a city under siege by intruders…was this how it felt to step out in a war-torn country…was this how the people of New York felt on the 11th of September 2001…was this how it felt to know that everything you once knew was about to change forever? I was lucky though, I got home an hour and a half later. From what I had heard, others weren’t so lucky, with some people walking for 9 or 11 hours to get home. Others had to make their way down to the river, and cross using the river taxi’s as well as any other vessel that floated on the Thames. People were urged to get out of central London immediately and most of the services that usually cost a fortune were running for free…people were accommodating and trying to help out in every way they could.

The days that followed the attack were amongst the darkest days I’ve ever experienced in my life. There was a cloud of paranoia, fear and anxiety in the air. Every hint of the vivaciousness and the vibrance that the city of London exuded had all but disappeared and was replaced with an eerie silence that enveloped the city…everyone was emotionally exhausted, vulnerable and disillusioned. I can recall the tension on the first bus I took after that dreadful day. Everyone was quiet, suspicious, paranoid, rattled and on edge. Every single person who carried a back pack was eyed suspiciously…as the terrorists reportedly carried their bombs in their back packs. There was no casual banter on the Silverlink train from Queens Park to West Hampstead as was usual. No laughter and no loud music resonating from someone’s earphones…there was just silence.

The weeks following the attacks were similar. There was a strong police presence…literally on every corner of every street in London and they were armed, British police are never armed. We were subjected to random searches on all modes of transport across London…so I’d be on my way to work, the bus would stop in the middle of nowhere and we were searched. The heavy police presence did nothing to pacify our fears, and for a while, every bus or train I took was done so in trepidation. Walking through the streets of London felt like marching to your certain death.

When the identities of the terrorists were revealed to the public, there was a sense of Islamaphobia everywhere. Personally, I couldn’t understand why these men would attack a city where 90% of the population was made up of foreigners. I will never forget what Rose, a British national told me a few days after the attacks. She said that most of the British public were vehemently opposed to Blair and some of his policies, and that they particularly abhorred and resented his allegiance with Bush…but the terrorist attacks have left them with no choice but to vote in his favour and support his policies…not because they wanted to, they hated him; but because they needed solidarity, security and assurance, and they were not going to get that from the terrorists.

What fails my comprehension is what were those fanatics hoping to achieve? They obviously wanted someone to recognize their cause, if we can call it a cause. They have done nothing for the religion they proclaim to love…for the religion that they were willing to die for. They have not helped any of their brothers and sisters in Islam who are suffering because of the injustices incurred upon them. Instead they are directly responsible for the increase of hate related crimes in the UK, and around the world...especially towards the Muslims.

I am no stranger to adversity and I bear testament to the atrocities that some of the Muslims have to endure for their religion. On a trip to Palestine, I witnessed the glorified concentration camps that they are forced to live in. I’ve been to Bethlehem and have seen the colossal structure built around the city – a wall well over 2 meters high and at least 1 meter thick which governs who is allowed to enter or leave the city. Any Muslim born in that city from the year 2000 onwards has not been allowed to leave. There are major check points at the entrance that close promptly at 17:00pm…so if you happen to be in the city after that time, then tough for you because you have to stay there until the next morning.
I’ve seen people suffer and fight for their lives, for noteworthy causes…for justice.

The recent spate of events occurring in Mumbai echo’s those terrorist attacks that have occurred in London and New York. I find it ironic that these so-called “mujahedeen” want to fight for their cause and protest the killing of other Muslims by slaughtering and butchering hundred’s of innocent people. There is nothing noble or Just about these horrendous acts. In fact they are cowardly and Un-Islamic because simply put, it is MURDER. I saw one of the gunmen on CCTV footage on the news last night, he was walking with a machine gun in his hands and a sick twisted smile on his face. There is no religious motivation behind his cause and that masochistic smile on his face proves it. It’s repulsive and disgusting how many militant groups are just too ready to accept responsibility for these vile acts…like it’s a notch on their belt of achievements…something to be proud of.

I’m no expert in Islamic war tactics, but I’m pretty sure that our beloved Prophet (SAW) would have condemned such acts. I know he was a Just man with integrity, and that he valued life and peace, which is why he ordered that women and children not be harmed in war. He always approached his opponent with respect and dignity. They fought fairly in those days. These days the definition of fighting fairly varies between greedy nations unleashing atomic or nuclear bombs on unsuspecting victims and gunmen terrorising cities and killing people like sheep.

I cannot imagine what those people in Mumbai have been going through…those who were dining in one of the hotel’s restaurants, those who are still holed up in their hotel rooms and the Jewish centre…each one of them is someone’s Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Daughter, Son. To be a target because of your nationality…it’s really no different from Zionism…two wrongs never make it right. I can’t imagine what the relatives of those people must be going through. Wondering and hoping that their loved ones are safe.

At some point in time, as Muslims, we have to stand up for our religion. As the majority, we have to take the reigns and stand up against western deprecation and against the fanatical and Orientalist vermin that threaten the very fiber of what we believe in. We can no longer allow people to vandalise, sabotage, defame, desecrate and disparage Islam to further their own agenda’s. We can no longer sit back and watch helplessly while animals and hooligans reign by inciting terror in the hearts of others. We can no longer be voiceless to these atrocities, hiding in our beautifully decked out homes, thinking that we are exempt from being victims of such appauling acts...letting those fanatics believe that what they are doing is right as long as it in the name of God. We have to stand up together for the religion we treasure, cherish and value…the same religion our Prophet (SAW) endured many hardships for…the same religion whose foundation is embedded in Peace and Respect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Asshole Chronicles - The Blog Meister

Due to various special requests, I have decided to post this one separately:

The Blog-Meister

There are some men who have two homes, the one they grew up in and another one in cyber space...a planet knows as the Blogosphere. Their homes in the Blogosphere are Palaces, fitting for their titles as Blog Knights, Kings and Princes…even if no one really knows who they are. But the Blog Monarchy do harbour a few secrets of their own.
There are the BLOG KNIGHTS, who are somewhat theatrical…true exhibitionists and voyeurists they are. They enjoy putting themselves on display, and take an equal amount of pleasure in watching others perform. To them, blogging fosters a sense of kinship and is a playground where they can express themselves freely without fear, limitation or intimidation. They can engage with other like minded individuals in thought provoking and jovial discussions. They are usually honest and have no qualms about who they are.

The BLOG PRINCES are somewhat more reserved and conservative than the Knights. They usually blog under pseudonyms that reflect upon their personas or is significant to them. They also like to engage in intellectually stimulating discourse, but are less open about who they are. They usually use the blog as a means of escaping boredom and in some cases, loneliness. The blog allows them to interact with other people in a “safe” environment that does not leave them feeling vulnerable.

The BLOG KINGS on the other hand love controversy. They are also reserved and private when it comes to their personal lives but have no reservations when it comes to raising controversial issues and promoting debates. Some of them will even go as far as to express their favourable opinions about issues that they do not believe in…just to create hype and encourage a cyber bar-room brawl...a mêlée of sorts. They will hide behind their computers and keyboards, announcing the most contentious statements and they love the fact that they can’t be held directly responsible for their actions. Its not like they’re physically available and people can’t fight with their monitors. They are usually quite popular and have a large following. Secretly they are just insecure nerds who enjoy their popularity on the blog because it makes up for a lot of what they lacked in their adolescence.

Real-life Scenario: *names have been changed to protect identities.
Ismail is an artist of sorts...a real Blog Knight. He enjoys the company of people and has a lot of friends and acquaintances. Ismail has an active social life and is out and about on most weekends, often meeting friends for coffee, catching a movie or an exhibition at the museum…or he can be found being involved in various community projects and programs. Ismail is also quite popular with the ladies, and is often surrounded by females who find that he is incredibly attractive and has a personality to boot. Ismail carries his persona into cyber-space via his blog. He enjoys expressing his views and opinions on a variety of subjects and garners equal enjoyment from the popularity of his blog. People comment regularly, and he is not one to shy away from meeting new people…another activity he thoroughly enjoys. Ismail however, is secretly yearning for that one thing that he thinks will make him whole…and he keeps on searching, one person and one blog entry at a time.

Luqmaan is better known as Krawl, the Blog Prince…very few people know his true identity and he blogs out of curiosity and as a means of self-expression. He however, prefers to remain anonymous because it gives him the freedom to say what he wants to on his blog, without any inhibitions, intimidation or restrictions. As long as people don’t know who he really is, they can’t judge him. In a sense, he hides behind the Pseudonym, it’s a wall that he places between the real him and the blogger known as Krawl. His Pseudonym also grants him a freedom that makes him somewhat fearless and he finds it to be liberating. In reality, Luqmaan is just another guy, trying to find his place in the world...searching for something that brings some meaning to his life.

Hamza is a true Blog King. He is the drama queen of the Blogosphere. He loves the fact that his blog is so popular and attracts a rather large following and he actively looks for ways to make it more controversial, thereby increasing its popularity. He generally brings up issues in society that people are afraid to voice and uses his “innocent” banter as a platform to incite eruptive arguments and debates amongst his audience. They are puppets and he is the puppet master, gently guiding and provoking dramatic reactions from the unsuspecting crowd. He is sometimes two-minded about his blog, but loves the attention too much to ever stop the controversy. His popularity, large following and dramatic flair is encouraged and rewarded by various contracts from advertisers and the like who use his blog as a means to promote their products and services. So in essence, his blog is a commercial machine, generating income from little pieces of contentious information directed at an addicted audience who happen to love the drama because they obviously don’t have enough of it in their lives.

Something Weird

I’m quite accustomed to the extraordinary and the exceptional, the peculiar and the preposterous. In fact, my entire life has been is lived on a platform of eccentricity and absurdity, with bouts of wonky-ness and crazy episodes making their debut from time to time. That said, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.

I’ve been lazy…making my lunch is a laborious and time-consuming task that involves chopping and mixing and cooking and wrapping etc. etc.…well that’s if I don’t just throw last night’s leftovers into a lunchbox and go on my merry way. Lately, however, it’s been exhausting and sometimes as an alternative, I utilise the services of the KFC situated approximately 5 km’s down the road from where I’m currently stationed.

It began a couple of weeks ago, when I pulled into the drive-thru and ordered a mini-twister and two pieces of chicken. The staff seemed unusually friendly and everyone looked like they belonged in one of those 50’s musicals with either Gene Kelly busting a move on a Hollywood set made to look like your average street or Julie Andrews running down a lush green hill with arms embracing the air in front of her. It was amusing and I couldn’t help but smile. If only I could be so enthusiastic at work. I briefly thought that they must have either gotten free Zinger Wings or free Zinger Weed, which would explain their behaviour, and dismissed it as an extraordinary, one-time occurrence.

It was two weeks later, when I pulled up at the drive-thru and heard the staff - 5 of them in particular - serenade me from the window with Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”, that I began to realise that they had to be smoking some Zinger Weed. Just yesterday, I was enticed by a vocally challenged rendition of Joshua Kadison’s “Beautiful” from Mary and Jonas, two of the Cashier’s.
And for those of you wondering, they only sing when I make an appearance. Its business as usual once I depart and everything is generally silent when I initially walk in or drive by the site.

Now, I’ve seen and experienced some pretty whacked things in my life. I mean, this is the same girl who was once so desperate to swim that she, along with some equally outrageous siblings and cousins, scaled the wall of an uninhabited house and utilised their pool and all their facilities for the entire afternoon…running and hiding away at regular intervals at every suspicious noise that resembled a car or people arriving. But I’m not familiar with this particular brand of crazy, it’s weird and amusing at the same time. I always indulge them though, seeing as they go out of their way to impress me with lyrics and mini dance routines…but I honestly don’t think that my presence is that intoxicating. Must be that Zinger Weed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lemonade Queen

So picture this, it’s Friday afternoon around 2:30pm, almost 4 hours before the big event is scheduled to kick off and I decide to take a drive to the venue to look at the result. All those weeks of planning were about to pay off, or so I thought. I kept on picturing the venue, all decked out in white linen with silver and gun metal grey splashed in the decor, each table to have a round mirror placed in the centre with a white floral arrangement placed strategically in the middle… “to create depth and reflection”…as the co-ordinator said.

Now I paid said co-ordinator (who had insisted he wanted the money upfront) an estimated R20 000 for the décor which was to be simple yet elegant, keeping with the theme of Elegánce; and included the flowers and little gift bags for the guests. I arrived at the venue and was dismayed…the images in my head quickly evaporated and all that was left was the insipid mediocrity that stood before me. It was like nothing I had imagined and lacked the twinkle, glitter and “joie de vivre” that I had negotiated a couple of weeks earlier. Then like fuel to my raging fire, when I saw what he intended giving the guests as little party gifts I nearly flipped out. Our agreement was, “an organza bag filled with imported chocolates” for the women and a “little bottle of liquor” for the men. Being the only Muslim in the company, that didn’t bother me…but it did bother me that the incompetent bastard that calls himself a professional co-ordinator thought it appropriate to put an atrocious looking bottle that looked somewhat like food-colouring with a huge bug or beetle embossed on the cover. And if that was not enough, when I took a look at the contents of the organza bags they were filled with “Regal” sweets, the cheapest in the market…I nearly had an Aneurism!! That son-of-a-bitch was obviously walking around with R19 000 in his pocket. I hate…I repeat I HATE people who try to rip me off…

The notorious bottle:

At this point with only 3 hours left, I had to do some serious damage control. I must be the Lemonade Queen, because I’m brilliant like that. I can take the whole world’s lemons and make 13 varieties of Lemonade. Seriously. I always seem to solve the entire world’s problems…in any situation… except in my own personal life of course. As my mind raced with ideas, I rushed home at the speed of sound…did my hair, makeup and got dressed in record time…kidnapped Birdy and went to the Mall. I called Mandy on the way and told her to get her alcoholic friends to help me out by buying up all the little bottles of Nederberg Rosé and some other mini-bottles of wine in the vicinity, while Birdy and I went out to buy a Squajillion tea-light candles and a few packets of Quality Street chocolates. With the help of the venue’s staff, I managed to replace all the food-colouring with pretty bottles of the haraam stuff and Birdy took some of her precious matric-examination-study-time to help me set out the candles on the mirror centre pieces and stuff the organza bags with some decent chocolate. As we lit the candles, I realised that it’s amazing what the ambience of a candle or a couple hundred can do to a place. The venue’s head matron, Nicky then suggested that I take the petals from a white rose in each floral centerpiece and casually cascade them across the mirror between the candles. We did that and voila, instant glamour and crisis avoided…3 hours, 7 people and R1500-00 later.

I’m glad to report that the evening went off without a hitch, and Bossman was quite impressed. I was mildly annoyed that he didn’t think I could pull it off but let it slide. The DJ was pretty good, playing the variety required by the crowd. Birdy and I were in stitches for most of the night…there is nothing funnier than middle-aged drunk white men trying to “hit” the dance-floor. We were crying, that's how much we were laughing. Everyone wanted to know why I wasn’t dancing. I told them my days of demonizing the dance-floor were over. They were either too happy, too drunk or a combination of both to proceed with any further questioning. Five red Grapetizers, 3 Appletizers, 2 Cokes, two trips to the toilet, some salad and vat of chocolate mousse later, Birdy and I went home. It was already 21:30pm and we had stayed an hour too late. I don’t like attending events where alcohol is served, and I always avoid such occasions. So after handing the reigns to Ava, we hit the road.

Now onto other orders of Business. First thing Monday morning, I have to put my bitch-cap on and ask that MOFO of a co-ordinator just what the fuck was he thinking putting some beetle juice on the table when the theme was clearly stipulated to be Classic and Elegant. Or maybe he just wasn't thinking at all...Fugly bastard. Then after I interrogate him for a couple of hours, I will tell him that he has no right masquerading as a professional in the event management field, because he sucks, big time. And then after I make him cry like a little girl who's candy was taken from her, with words that I cannot use here, I will call it a day.

PS. The Blog-Meister synopsis is now posted in the third installment of the Asshole series.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paper Cut

I’ve been so busy lately that its amazing that I've managed to take five minutes out of my increasingly hectic life to type this out while munching on a few Bakers “Gossips” chocolate wafers that promises to be Trans Fat free and the salad I should have been eating 2 hours ago (note to self, an extra 100 sit ups tonight). I really do hate this time of the year and November really is the worst month for me (aside from January, March, May and August – but for different reasons)…everyone is rushing about like they’re going to miss the train and I’m expected to rush about too, to keep up with the pace. I’m doing 7 million things at once, because I’m that good and capable. When I don’t feel like I’m drowning, I feel like digging a hole and hiding until December.

I’m literally swamped with the most inane things to do. Tomorrow night is the dreaded Year End Function…or the Christmas Party to some. Now since I’ve organized it, all eyes are on me… Literally…they even monitor what I wear these days and tell me that I look nice in my red and gold satin top today. But the weather has been up to shit, and considering that the event is taking place in a Lapa by the River…I’m on my last nerve. And like a cherry on my cake of misery, bossman is leaving next Friday, so I’ve once again been handed the task of party planner…like WTH? Since when did I become the company’s event co-ordinator? And if that is not enough, I have to entertain the Americans, the Britons and the Spanish again next week....I hate the corporate world.

The result of my pressurized circumstances, anxiety and apprehension is a paper cut…from one of the cardboard signs that has to be posted to direct the idiots I work with to the Year End Function. Dynamite really does come in small packages, because the pain right now is akin to a root canal without any anesthesia. But there is some light at the end of this tunnel. I’ve got tickets. I love tickets. Especially air tickets. I’ve booked a mini-holiday…more like a long weekend away in January aboard the Melody departing from Durban harbour to an uninhabited Portugese Island where I get to spend a full day basking in the sun and frolicking on white sandy beaches…the stuff dreams are made of. The last time I went on a similar cruise, it was to Barra Lodge in Mozambique and it was fantastic. It’s still two months away though, but I can’t wait. I’m sure that time will fly as quickly as this paper cut has managed to heal.

PS. Anyone who wants to join us can email me for details. But stalkers beware, there are 3 certified black-belts on board and a massive ocean at our disposal.

PPS. Nooj, MJ...my fellow Globe trotters, this mini-vaca means nothing. I'm still holding you two to the deal...by the way MJ will be carrying my bag...I'll cry if I have to :D

PPPS. The Blog-Meister synopsis will be up soon, for those who wanted to know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Whats in the Bag?




I've never been a huge “handbag” girl. I don’t actually like schlepping things around in an oversized sack made of leather or some other textile decorated with all sorts of trimmings and embellishments. But there are various aspects of adulthood that we just can’t avoid.

So I eventually became a participant of the whole burden-your-right-shoulder-movement and these days I find that I carry so much of my life in my bag that I’m sure it must be illegal. I’ve been rummaging through it the whole morning, having a few hours to spare because it’s my “pretend-to-work” day, and I can’t believe the shit I carry around with me on a daily basis. Here’s a summary of what lies in my treasure chest and my justifications behind them:

 My Purse (Must have item; to store 2 credit cards, bank card, garage card & anything that translates into cold hard cash with a 5 digit number and a smile).

 Two Cell Phone’s (Because one is not enough…1 is the designated radio, the other is Internet savvy).

 Two Cell Phone Chargers (Because there’d be no point in having 2 phones that I can’t use).

 My ID Book (An aid to get some more money…in case they need it at the bank).

 Bettaway Multivitamins for Women (No more fainting spells).

 Company Access Card (Because it provides easy access to my prison cell).

 Jab We Met on DVD (Because it’s my Salaam Namaste for this year).

 High Performance Duct Tape (Because I'm a Freak and who knows what or who you may need to tape down).

 A 2GB USB Flash Drive (Because I save every little thing I do on the Microsoft Suite).

 Biogen 5HTP Neuro (Because I have a depressive streak and there’s nothing like Serotonin on the go).

 One Fake Pair of Chanel Sunglasses (Because it’s as good as the real thing at a fraction of the price).

 A Tube of Pritt Superglue (Because it has magical powers and can glue anything together).

 Hermesetas Sweetner (Swiss made, no Cyclamates or Aspartame – Because I’m off sugar and I don’t need Cancer).

 Colgate Floss (Because I like clean teeth and I’m secretly addicted).

 8 Library Cards from 2 Different Libraries (Because I still read, don’t buy books and need variety).

 4 Med Lemon Sachets (Because its the ultimate virus buster...and I’m always 2 people away from catching a virus).

 Sinucon tablets (Because sinuses are a part of my everyday life).

 Debonairs Pizza Takeaway Menu (Because it’s on the way home and I can call and preorder and not wait an hour on collection).

 A packet of White Cheddar Jumping Jack Popcorn (Because it's a snack on the run and another addiction).

 One iPod (When I’m not in the mood to read or sit on the Internet).

 An Envelope filled with at least 30 ABSA deposit slips (Because Azra banks on the Internet and hates standing in queues for other people who have to fill out stupid forms first).

 One Bottle of Burberry London Weekend (Because it reminds me of London and I like the smell of the weekend mixed with excitement).

 1 Always Ultra Pad (Because PMS, like Murphy, is a Bitch that creeps up on you at the most inconvenient time and in the weirdest places).

 1 Pair of Phillips Earphones (Backup if anything happened to the iPod’s earphones).

 2 Blue/1 Black Pilot G-2 Pens (Because they glide on paper like a skater on ice and you can never have too many pens on hand).

 A half-pack of Mint Airways (Because sometimes the Sinucon takes a while to kick in and it’s a quick-fix).

 Personal Diary/Telephone book (Because all the information I could ever need still resides in a book…no device could ever compare).

 A Printed CV (Because you never know who you may bump into).

 1 Hair Clip (For emergencies only).

 My Vanity Case (Includes Mascara, Eyeliner, Eye Drops, Lip Gloss, Lipstick, Eye Shadow, Tweezer, Another hair clip & Mirror. Because you never know where life may take you to e.g. Gate-crashing a party on the spur of the moment, or deciding to attend mini-Saturday on Wednesday night in Sandton Square).

 Lunch box with Tuna, Ryvite, an Apple & Small Salad (Because a Girl needs to eat to have energy to type up shit on the blog).

So there you have it…all the crap that I have accumulated over the weeks, months and years… stuff that I have convinced myself that I cannot live without. I do occasionally leave the bag behind to rot in a corner, push a phone (the one with the Internet) into one bra-strap and a couple of folded monetary notes in the other and then go about enjoying my bag-less weekend …but I always end up needing something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

That Special Kind of Asshole PART 3

WARNING: THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG IS OF A DEROGATORY AND FACETIOUS NATURE. THE AUTHOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PATRONISE, GENERALISE & STEREOTYPE WHOMEVER SHE WANTS AS THIS IS HER BLOG.

Ah Men…can’t live with them, can’t kill them :D
Life without men would be so boring…so as much as they annoy the crap out of us, there is a reason they are still around. Here are more additions to my take on "men"...be warned, its a lengthy piece...

The Spineless
These so-called “men” are the weakest bunch on the planet. They have absolutely no control over any aspect of their lives because they’ve relinquished all their authority (and their balls) to some woman who makes the decisions. They are pathetic, seriously whipped and are the inspiration behind the term “chicken shit”. They tend to be indecisive, because they go through life having all their choices made for them…so when faced with questions, they automatically look for someone to give them answers. In essence, they are lazy mofo’s who can’t be bothered, because they never had to before, so why start now. They can’t stand up for themselves and often hide behind a skirt.
Real-life Scenario: Buzz is getting married in January. Now he’s my cousin and I love him but he’s a jackass. He works in a bank (and that’s ok) but he earns a salary that is just above average. His fiancé however, thinks he’s the MD. Her list of demands is endless. She wants a R80 000 diamond and platinum wedding ring and a dowry fit for a Queen amongst some other very expensive things. Now what the hell is she going to do with a R80 000 ring? That’s like a whole car on her finger. And this is South Africa, she couldn’t wear it anywhere without getting her hand hacked off. The only way he could ever afford all her wants and desires is if he actually robbed the bank…but of course, he makes excuses and obliges...he also makes all these false promises that he can’t keep. He can’t stand up to her, or to any member of the family for that matter and the pressure is getting to him. He means well but it’s just a matter of time before disappointment sets in and she realises that he’s a broke liar and that she’ll just have to make do.
(Note to my future hubby where ever he may be: I’d be more than happy with one of those R300 silver / cubic rings that you can get from Forchini. It looks as good as the real thing…just make sure it sparkles…and if you want to spend R80k, then take me around the world. Thanx).

The Fox aka The Snake
Some men are sly, conniving, manipulative, cunning, two-faced bastards. They will parade around like they're the nicest guys in the world, regular charmers they are, but they ALWAYS have an agenda. For them, life is about compromise, a give and take…as long as you do all the giving and they do all the taking. They approach situations in a cool and calm manner, often plotting every step of the way. At the end of the day, it’s all about what THEY can get out of the deal. They will stab anyone in the back to get ahead in the game.
Real-life Scenario: Zakariya has always been mediocre throughout his life because he has no ambition and he’s another professional liar. He has a subtle arrogance about him and is as sincere as a light pole. He is a charmer and a socialite of sorts, he roams around in various social circles…he’s like Paris Hilton with a little more imagination. People either like him because he hasn’t tried to screw them over yet or they hate him, because they see him for who he really is. He forms elaborate plans to get what he wants…and disguises his true motives with that broad fake smile of his. He was seeing both Aadila and Shanaaz on a serious note, in the sly…trying to weigh the “pros and cons” between both women before deciding who was the “winner”. He played the game so well that neither suspected a thing. His shady dealings extended into the business sector when he undermined one of his superiors and used some damaging information that was revealed to him in confidence to “get ahead”. Unfortunately for him, Karma is a bitch and these things always have a way of coming back to kick you in the nuts…it’s just a matter of time.

The Whore /Player
These guys have only one thing on their minds, two points for guessing what that is. They will hump or shag anything that wears a skirt…correction, anything that walks…well, really anything that moves. These guys are different from "The Commitment-Phobe" in that they view women as mere objects and take promiscuity to the next level. They don’t ever think about anything, because their brains are located in their genitalia. They see life in pictures, pornographic pictures. Relationships still exist in the world of "The Commitment-Phobe" (albeit they may only last for a short period of time) whereas the concept of a solid relationship eludes "The Whore / Player". It’s their life’s work to be promiscuous and they enjoy the thrill of chasing after women…and having women chase after them too. The novelty wears off quickly though, their issues catch up with them and they are soon left feeling hollow and empty, the void only temporarily filled. They are like drug addicts, always in need of a fix. And their “fix” is never too far away, often just around the corner wearing a pink mini-skirt with patent leather heels and fishnet stockings.
Real-life Scenario: Riaz, “the Asshole” with the new BMW always manages to get every vulnerable females number (the one’s with no self-esteem) when they stop by the shop to get some Crockery or Tupperware. Since the shop doesn’t have that many male customers, he scores big time. He prefers married women, no commitment issues…no strings attached. He figures that they are bored and lonely, their husbands don’t pay enough attention to them, so he’s doing them a favour by spicing things up a bit. In between his shenanigans with the Mrs., he actively seeks out younger, more attractive girls using his weapon of mass destruction; the BMW. Women are suckers for nice cars and they all want a ride. He draws them in like a sadist alluring a kid with some candy laced with cocaine. Once they’re in his candy shop he hypnotises them with grand tales of his fights with the Durban guys. He always lies so that he can come out looking like the hero and after he gets what he wants, he moves on to his next victim. Pity he doesn’t know what AIDS is yet or how prevalent and fatal it is…stats show 3 out of 4 people are infected in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

The Possessive aka The Stalker
These guys usually evolve over time. They start out obsessed with some poor unsuspecting female and usually end up stalking her. He’ll follow her around town, take note of who her friends are, what she likes/prefers, ask everyone he knows about her, dig in her garbage to see what she ate last night, that kind of thing. He’ll become persistent especially after he decides to take the plunge and ask her out and is met with an emphatic “NO”. His persistence is driven by an indignant rebellion, he’s warped perception and refusal to believe that anyone could ever repudiate his advances. If he does succeed (because he’s studied all her habits and can tell her exactly what she wants to hear) he evolves into the jealous/possessive partner who is so insecure about who he is that he projects those insecurities onto his significant other. These men either have abandonment issues with a parent or they secretly believe that they are not “good enough” for their partners. They feed their delusions and eventually believe that their partners think so too. This pity party becomes a full scale war when they start becoming defensive and aggressive, mechanisms used as part of their war tactics. The only way they feel like they have any control in their lives, is by controlling others. They have a need to own or possess their partners, like objects because it gives them that sense of stability and authority that they so desperately need and it empowers their fragile egos.
Real-life Scenario: When Nazeer saw Khadija for the first time, he was smitten. He knew that she was “The One”. He called his cousin and asked him to find out about her. He got her number and found out where she lived. He would actively seek her out, taking note of what she drank, ate, wore etc. Then one night he went to talk to her and they became friends. She liked that he seemed to understand her...they had so much in common, he also liked the KFC Zinger Meal and they both loved Sprite and caramel pudding. He even told her that she looked her best in pink, her favourite colour. They were seeing each other for 18 months before they got married. Within the first three months of getting to know each other, Nazeer would subtly influence any decision she made by making suggestions and enforcing his opinion. It was a warning signal but Khadija refused to see it. She loved the attention, thought that it was endearing that someone cared so much about her and was just too happy to let him take control of every mundane detail in her life. Soon Nazeer was telling her what she could do and where she could go, he would spy on her… follow her to make sure that he was aware of her every move. He would go through all the calls she made on her cell phone and look for signs to make sure she wasn’t cheating on him. On her birthday he aggressively informed her family that they only had 2 hours to spend with her because he had made “plans”…they weren’t even married yet. After they got hitched, the situation deteriorated even further and Khadija came to resent and despise the same traits that she once adored and admired in Nazeer. She felt smothered and was stuck with an obsessive/compulsive/possessive stalker that really did follow her to the bathroom like TCQ suggested. And what was even worse is that he didn’t even like the KFC Zinger Meal, he lied! Now she has to eat Chicken Licken Slyders for the rest of her life.

The Don Juan / Casanova
These guys differ from “The Whore/Player” because they are more emotionally or romantically inclined. They are in love with the concept of being in love. To them those physical symptoms of “Love” is a drug that they cannot get enough of. They enjoy those initial responses that people have at the beginning stages of relationships so much (…those glazed eyes, that giddy feeling, the encapsulating euphoria, that stupid smile permanently fixated to the face…) that as soon as the infatuation wears off, they’re on their way to search for it again.
Real-life Scenario: I’ve known “R” for at least 16 years…he was my first infatuation and we were good friends for a couple of years. I always denied that I liked him, afraid of being rejected, but everyone around us could tell that he liked me too. We would sit around and talk for hours, about everything and nothing really, and he always looked at me with a certain glint in his eyes. We eventually grew apart as we grew up and got reacquainted about 2 years ago, after what seemed to be decades. He hasn’t changed much except that he’s devastatingly handsome and every girl wants a piece of him. But I can see it in his eyes. He yearns for something…its like he’s lost but he has no reason to be. Every few months when he meets a new girl, I can automatically tell from the expression on his face. He has that same glint in his eyes and is unusually happy. But it only ever lasts for a few weeks and then he’s back to being somber and melancholic…well until he meets someone else again.

The Health Nut / Neat Freak
There are a few men out there who really treasure the skin they’re in. Their bodies are their temples and they live to deprive themselves of every food product that has “fat” as one of the main ingredients. Most health nuts are usually neat freaks as well. Their healthy and highly organised lifestyles conceal deeper rooted issues of control. They need to control every aspect of their lives, from what they eat to the linear symmetry of their rooms. These control issues usually stem from a childhood incident or event where they were left feeling vulnerable and helpless, hence their need to compensate for that time by ensuring that they never have to experience those wretched emotions again.
Real-life Scenario: When Faisal was a little boy, his Dad walked out after a huge row with his Mom. Faisal can recall the horror of that evening. He had never felt so lost, terrified and anxious and it was a lot for a boy of his age to process. Now as a grown man, Faisal feels established in his career and confident that he’s “made it” even though his colleagues tease him about being anally retentive and continually urge him to loosen up. Faisal tells himself that there’s nothing wrong with a little structure in his life and enjoys the way he has managed to organize every aspect down to the most minute detail. He has a daily routine that involves a 2 hour gyming session as well as preparing a tofu dish from a vegan recipe book. His entire wardrobe, from his shirts to his socks are colour coded and labeled…and updated every six weeks to incorporate any new items that he may have purchased or acquired from that boutique on 5th Avenue where all his clothes are tailor made to sculpt his beautifully defined physique. Maybe one day he will meet the one that will inspire him enough to let go of those reigns…

The Outraged
These guys have chips on their shoulders the size of Everest. They are very angry at the world and find fault with everything in it. They are harsh, brutal, brazen, straight forward, audacious and sometimes cruel and ruthless in their words, demeanor and their general approach to life. They are also somewhat bitter, cold and cynical but are different from the “Crustaceans” because their chilly disposition is a result of hurt, pain and anguish caused by circumstances in their lives that were completely beyond their control. They are also different from the “Crustaceans” in that they are deeply affected, intrinsically, to the core of their souls…so they are openly harsh, hard and cold…whereas the “Crustacean” will tend to hide their emotions. They choose to become infuriated because it empowers them whereas sorrow makes them feel weak and defeated. They have homicidal tendencies and can become murderers if they do not channel their anger and rage in a positive manner.
Real-life Scenario: Rocky’s father passed away on a Tuesday when he was in Std 5 (Grade 7) and he has never been the same since that fatal day. He felt like an outcast amongst his friends, especially since being part of the local soccer team meant that he had to endure seeing them on a regular basis with their Dad’s at soccer practice, meetings and tournaments. Being the only son, he felt responsible for his family, although he knew there wasn’t much he could do for them without leaving school. He began to resent his circumstances, and the world around him. It didn’t help that they were somewhat ostracized by the prejudicial society they lived in. But he thought “Fuck them all”…he was determined to succeed…and he did, although for him it was a hollow victory. He still missed his Dad tremendously.

The Saint
These men are men of God. Or so they proclaim. They can give the most fiery sermons and bayaans you will ever hear. They are so passionate about their religious causes that they can make you cry like a friggin baby and you always leave their presence believing that you’re an eternal sinner with no hope of redemption, on a one-way road to Hell. But go to Gold Reef City Casino at 21:00pm on a Wednesday night and there, tucked away in the corner at one of the slot machines…guess who you’ll see. Of course, he’s not completely visible beneath the hood of his Drymac that’s zipped up to his lower lip and you’ll have to squint a little to identify him. They are the biggest hypocrites on earth. And what makes them hypocrites; apart from the fact that they don’t practice their religion in accordance to what they preach; is the fact that they will ridicule, insult and degrade all those who are not religiously perfect, while they are guilty of worse religious crimes and offenses. They walk around self-righteously with an air of prestige and they always think they know better than everyone else, they feel important and entitled because God “chose them” to fight His cause. If they only knew the voices they were hearing actually belonged to the Devil.
Real-life Scenario: As a young boy, Shuayb was brought up never to question Islam…especially since his father was a well known Moulana and he was provided with the best Islamic education they could afford. Shuayb always watched his father intently, and enjoyed the respect that his father commanded from the community. He noticed how his father was always nicer and more lenient to Uncle Solly…maybe it was because Uncle Solly donated R5000-00 to the charity fund that Shuayb’s father oversaw…and they always got a nice discount when they went to Uncle Solly’s shop to buy fish and chips, sometimes they didn’t even have to pay. And then there was Uncle Abu Baker…Shuayb’s father didn’t like him at all. He was a poor man and couldn’t donate much, so Shuayb’s father didn’t have much time for him.
As an adult Shuayb ensures that he practices his Islam. He is part of the Jamaat that gives Dawah to other communities and raises money for charity. He also makes his Salaah on time, Fasts regularly and has begun growing his beard. But Shuayb also likes Weed aka Cannabis aka Dagga...he says that its no different from smoking hooka. Shuayb also spends his Saturday nights partying up a storm at the Escort agency in that shady part of town. He loves women, and they love that he’s a regular and always pays up front. They also think that the beard is cute. Shuayb’s favourite one is Candy, a blonde 24 year old Med Student at Wits. She has to work to pay for her tuition…so he reckons he’s helping her get a decent education…that’s Shuayb reaction when justifying his actions. And he’ll emphatically tell you “SIES”…He’ll “NEVER drink or eat Pork” ...and it’s not like he’s gambling…not like his friend Sheikh Abdullah.


The Materialist
These guys are into brand names like its going out of fashion, literally. They will spend copious amounts of money for “names”. Its absurd…ludicrous really. They have to look their best, drive the best cars, live in the best houses etc.…because they have to prove to the world that they are not worthless. They are obsessed with status, because they lack it in spades and are desperate for attention and approval. They like wearing $700 Armani shirts imported from Milan because they think it automatically increases their face value. They are patronizing and condescending to those who cannot afford their aristocratic and bourgeois lifestyles. They often compete with other morons of their stature for points in a game that doesn’t exist. What they don’t realise is that no amount of money in the world can buy “Class”…you either have it or you don’t.
Real-life Scenario: Farhaad grew up in a home where image is everything. His father is rich, because he, like “Riaz The Asshole” is a thief and a criminal. They have a beautiful house which apparently cost R50 Million to build that is situated on a protruding hill, for the whole world to see. They also have numerous sports cars that they park in a massive Garage made with glass doors so that everyone can view their collection. They wear the latest trends in fashion and go shopping every week for new items. They have all the latest gadgets and technologies that they import directly from China. They are the envy of the entire community. Yet, Farhaad always feels like there’s something missing from his life, but his stunted brain won’t allow him to put his finger on exactly what that is. Being a criminal and thief will always come back to bite you in the ass, as Farhaad’s family eventually finds out when the Receiver of Revenue claims that they owe the South African Government R63 Million in outstanding taxes. And if that is not enough, torrential rains almost wiped the entire house off the map…so no amount of money in the world can guarantee your safety.

There are many more sterotypes I can think of...and as situations and personalities become more dynamic, some of the Characters will overlap and share traits or qualities with other Characters. But that concludes my list of “men” for now. Unfortunately, as women, we are genetically programmed to love them regardless of their imperfections, shortcomings and moronic idiosyncrasies...so Ladies, strap on your leather boots, go out there and find your Perfect asshole :D

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

That Special Kind of Asshole PART 2

WARNING: THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG IS OF A DEROGATORY AND FACETIOUS NATURE. THE AUTHOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PATRONISE, GENERALISE & STEREOTYPE WHOMEVER SHE WANTS AS THIS IS HER BLOG SPACE. ANY COMPLAINTS CAN BE FORWARDED TO OBAMA.

There is an amazing clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy...I’ve experienced an episode or two in my lifetime and while retrospection does nothing for my ego and self-esteem, we live and learn.

So I was stuck in a boring Executive meeting for a large part of the day…and in between listening to the projected maintenance costs for Plant E in 2009, sitting on MXit & checking my email, discussing the corporation’s current and potential obstacles in a global economical slump and daydreaming about chicken wings for lunch, I had an epiphany of sorts. I was running through the list of assholes that have been fortunate enough to feature in a paragraph or two of my life and then it hit me. I’m always attracted to the same kind of asshole. He’s always nice and friendly, intelligent and witty, humorous and quirky…but also as feisty as hell. I like feisty…correction…I LOVE feisty…I don’t know why. I think it appeals to the inner kid in me as I tend to be very playful most of the time. I’m not attracted to guys that are too nice…or guys who try too hard to impress me. Or guys that are egotistical, supercilious or asinine. I always like the guy who engages with me…but I mean like he really talks to ME and is candid, frank, honest, sincere and genuine…he indulges my whims…but he knows who he is and he isn’t trying to be someone else. I love a guy who is confident but not arrogant. I like subtle…cool. I like the excitement too…

I like romance…some candles and a homemade sandwich under the stars. I like shared dreams and pointless conversations. I like Cheshire smiles and butterflies. I like stupid little surprises, like coffee, a teeny weenie wildflower growing on the curb…or heart shaped stones…or the downright quirky and WHACKED…like a tube of toothpaste, a dual can-opener/iPod/Pencil-Sharpener thingy, some PVC…I’m really not hard to please…he just has to bring his true self and his mind and be open to possibilities. No Liars, Cheaters, Spongers/Leeches, Sons and whatnot :D

Which brings me to the sequel of yesterday’s “Asshole” tirade. Now before I continue, I would just like to state that firstly, I’m quite dynamic in nature. Remarkably I am a pessimist at the best of times, an optimist when it suits me and a realist/pragmatist when dealing with other people’s issues. In the Liqui Fruit range, I’d be the Breakfast Punch…an amalgamation of characters. Similarly, whilst some men can be labeled, ridiculed and boxed, there are the exceptions…the “others” that are less simply defined because they too have various degrees of assholiness to their repertoires. Hence you will get those men that encapsulate various characteristics to various extents…for example, he could have 30% of Cheater’s characteristics, 45% of Commitment-Phobe’s characteristics and 25% of the Indecisive-Contradictor’s characteristics etc. etc…you get the point.

So with further reflection, the following are additions to the list:

The Jekyll and Hyde
These men have two distinctive faces. One for the world and one within the confines of their homes. To the world they are either charmers, distinguished gentlemen, suave cultivated guys that ooze sophistication and wit or they are one of those “nice” guys…the guy who is everything that every girl thinks she wants and is what every guy aspires to be. But behind closed doors, in the safety of their homes, surrounded by their families, they are different men. They are either abusers i.e. mental, physical, emotional abusers etc. or they are cognitively absent, checked out from their families ie. They don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. They are the Freddy Kruger’s of society, every family’s personal nightmare. They parade the “perfection” they call their lives for all and sundry to see, but as soon as they step off that stage, they are monsters. They lack any compassion and desperately need the worlds’ approval and attention to feel worthy and secure. They are cowards in every sense of the word, secretly know that they are worth squat and have to bully everyone around them to feel better about themselves and to prove that they are still “Men”.
Real-life Scenario: Uncle Zubair is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Or so it seems. He is very popular and has many friends. His colleagues call him the “Don”, because he is always on top of his game and has a special way with women. He’s always telling the funniest jokes and is always dressed to the nines. Every guy around him will agree that he’s got to be the coolest middle-aged guy around. If they only knew. Once Uncle Zubair gets home, everything changes like a caterpillar breaking out of its cocoon, but instead of becoming a butterfly, it’s a big fugly-ass dragon-fly. His wife and kids are terrified of him. Last night when he came home he reeked of cheap perfume and when his wife asked him about the lipstick on his collar, she got two slaps, one for asking and one for good measure. Little does he know or realise the damage and havoc he wreaks upon his children…the emotional issues and scars that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. But the poor wife is not an idiot...as the whole community will find out 5 years down the line when she shoots him in the head and makes it look like an accident.

The Best Friend
Some men are just more in touch with their feminine side than others. Now these men are NOT gay, not in the slightest. They just have more female friends than most guys and engage in metro-sexual forms of entertainment. They are true liberals and enjoy every bit of the contemporary world that allows a man to express his feelings and indulge in feminine activities like shopping and buying L’Oreal moisturizing lotion for “Men”. They are quite popular amongst the female population because there are no barriers to break down and they are physically and emotionally available. They are cool and can dispense their diplomatic opinions about everything from cars to bras.
Real-life Scenario: Danyaal’s favourite toy when he was a little boy was the vacuum cleaner. He loved that thing. He would play with it for hours, once even trying to vacuum his pipi to see if it would come off. As he grew, Danyaal found that he had more girl friends than guy friends. He just attracted them naturally; they didn’t judge him and were generally more fun to be with. He secretly liked his best friend, Rahima, but didn’t want to scare her away, so didn’t pursue the object of his affection. He was always the only guy invited to attend “all girl” parties and everyone, including all the parents in the neighbourhood thought that he was secretly gay and harmless. But what they didn’t know about Danyaal is that he is an avid subscriber to Playboy magazine since the age of 14, his stash conveniently located in a box titled “video games” under the stairwell with his mother’s subscription of “Living and Loving”. His emergency stash (the latest issue) is neatly tucked away under his mattress. He loves how the girls hang all over him, and he usually cops a feel without them even noticing. He also loves how they subliminally flirt with him, thinking that they are “safe” with him and from the prying eyes of other pervs.

The Crustacean
These men hide behind a solid exterior that cannot be penetrated, not without their permission. But they are usually all mush on the inside, incredibly sensitive creatures and they will never let you see it, they would rather die. They come across hard, cold, indifferent, detached…jaded by life’s experiences and somewhat disillusioned with some aspects of society. They may even come across self-assured and confident, but it’s all a front. They are slightly scared, wary (from life’s experiences) and indecisive but manage to hide it perfectly. They don’t dare express their feelings about anything and prefer to remain emotionally distant. If something tugs at the heart strings, they retreat to a corner to have a private moment, and will re-emerge some time later, composed and stoic, like nothing happened.
Real-life Scenario: Fareed saw the most beautiful girl last week. After arguing with himself for an hour, and then rehearsing what he would say for another half hour, he finally got the courage to approach her. Fatima smiled as he greeted her and they chatted for a while. But then he felt it, that familiar wall he puts up whenever he feels someone getting too close for comfort. He’s been careful since Zaynub broke his heart three years ago. He tells himself that he can’t go through that again…he won’t let another woman do that to him…not again. Fatima could tell that he was uneasy and seemed distracted and slightly withdrawn. She felt a little insecure and hoped she didn’t say anything to offend him because she liked him too. If he could only let her in…she wished…but only time will tell.

The Asshole
Everyone knows one of these. The “I’m-too-good-for-your-sorry-ass-and-the-world-owes-me-because-I’m-the-best-thing-since-sliced-bread” kinda guy. These guys are worse than “The Know-It-All”, because they have nothing to prove...no excuse, they are just assholes. They usually think they are better than the rest of society because their shit is not just Italian, it’s imported especially from the northern parts of Florence. They are usually rich, because they are thieves and criminals. Almost every asshole is involved in some or other kind of illegal activity, because that’s who they are. And I’m not talking “Mafia” style here…the mafia exudes a form of discipline, a respect that is unbeknownst to these morons. The mafia deals in cross-continental organized crime, these idiots only know how to bribe cops, smuggle drugs or diamonds that don’t even belong to them, or hijack Cigarette trucks to be sold on the black market...and most of the time they get caught. They are really juvenile and amatuers in comparison...they are wannabee’s of the most grandest kind. They usually start street fights with other groups of assholes (or sometimes just poor innocent victims) because they want the world to see that they have clout. Ironically, the asshole can’t really hold his own in a fight. His fight begins when he punches those digits into the keyboard of his cell phone, calling all the other assholes to back him up…because they can’t do shit on their own, all talk and no game.
Real-life Scenario: Riaz was a bully at school. He always thought that he was the shit, and would treat everyone else like crap, calling people derogatory names just to get attention and feel superior. As an adult, nothing has changed. He drives a brand new BMW, although he sells Tupperware and Crockery in a tiny shop on the corner of one of the quietest streets in town. He is notorious for starting fights, especially when he goes on holiday to Durban or Cape Town, because he can and its fun. He’ll show those MOFO’s a thing or two about JHB guys. He also has a habit of sleeping with all the married women in his community, because they are bored lonely housewives and he’s got nothing better to do. He carries his fathers gun and secretly wishes that he can use it one day, to scare someone, so that everyone can see that he is such “kwaai ou” (cool guy)…He is “the hond” (the Dawg). What he doesn’t realise is that he will eventually meet another “kwaai ou” that will probably put an end to his “kwaai-ness” before his time…its either that or he will become “The Commitment-Phobe”.

The Gossip Monger
You can find these guys outside any mosque after Magrieb…they are the ones chatting away about the latest stories in town…they offer personalised news bulletins. BBC could hire them, they would know more about the world then any of their current journalists. They are such fantastic investigative reporters that there is rarely a piece of information that goes unnoticed. They know more about the goings on in society and the world than any of the women engaging in idle gossip could ever know. They usually find their information from unsuspecting victims, by engaging in small talk in the name of kinship. They have an amazing ability to drag any story out of their prey…without the victim even suspecting that security has been breached. They could work as interrogators if they ever got tired of their shops, because no one else is better equipped at getting the story without lifting a single finger.
Real-life Scenario: Ismail knows everything about everyone…I mean EVERYTHING. You ever want to know any news or the latest marriage, divorce or death announcements, the latest economic indicators, who’s sleeping with who, what happened in Church Street last Saturday…just ask him. And if he doesn’t know, his best friend Yunus will know or he will find out tomorrow night after Magrieb, outside the mosque.

Again, these are just my stereotypes…if anyone else has something to add, just let me know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

That Special Kind of Asshole

Warning: The views expressed by this author are based on observations over a subscribed period of time and reflect the author’s opinion. Everyone else is entitled to their own opinions, even if their opinions are wrong :D

He once told me that I’ll never understand…maybe he’s right. Its easy to say that all men are dogs…rats…pigs…especially when we come across a special kind of asshole that confirms and verifies this kind of conjecture; which in turn perpetuates and encourages these patterns of thought. But I have yet to meet a man who can prove me wrong and to state my case, I’ve based my own opinions on my experiences and observations throughout the years. So I’m willing to go down for this one :D

This is definitely one of my favourite topics of conversation because it doesn’t matter which angle you approach it from, you just CANNOT find tangible, conclusive answers. Most men say that they’ll never understand women and most women will share the sentiment when it comes to men.

T, Birdy and I have spent hours analyzing and dissecting various cases…searching for plausible answers to the impossible question of “Man”. From what I’ve gathered over the years (and I have gathered a lot), these are my stereotypes and generalisations concerning men. Please note that these generalisations refer to roughly 99% of the male population. The other one percent are all either gay or overtly defy the norm.

The Liar
They Lie. Face it, most men are pathological liars, which basically means that they lie so much, they eventually can’t differentiate between the lie from the truth; hence they begin to believe their own lies. Now the degree to which they lie may differ…as so will the reasons behind those lies. Some of them lie because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Other’s lie because it gets them out of trouble, and then there are those that lie because it becomes so ingrained in their DNA, that they don’t even know when they are doing it. I have yet to meet a man who can be honest, without being tortured by some or other kind of militant group and drugged with a dose of truth serum.
Real-life scenario: Junaid is a professional liar. He was caught lying several times by his fiancé Farhana and yet he continues to lie to cover those lies he already told. He lies so much that Farhana can’t even trust that he tells the truth about the most mundane details of his life, like the colour of his shirt (yes he lied about that too)…it has reached a point where it comes so naturally to him, that she is sure he doesn’t even realise when he’s lying to her. But she stays because she’s an emotional moron bound to him by invisible heart strings.


The Shallow
Most men want an Aishwarya Rai that can cook, or for those not familiar with the Bollywood scene; a member of the Pussycat Dolls. Image is important to guys, especially in the beginning stages, no matter what kind of psychotic persona is attached to that image. It doesn’t matter that she only has one brain cell, has no morals or values and is as shallow as a makeshift pond… as long as she is “beautiful”. Now I do believe a certain degree of chemistry or attraction is necessary and should exist between two individuals, but I’m not talking mammoth “Miss Universe” proportions here. And what I find particularly amusing about this requirement is that most men do not look like Brad Pitt or Wentworth Miller or even Saif Ali Khan, yet they feel entitled to “own” someone beautiful, like a freaking trophy. So in essence you’ll get something that looks like Homer Simpson on steroids making demands on what he expects from his future wife…and the poor woman has to be “grateful” that he chose her, like a sheep at a carnival, by smiling insincerely, swallowing the bile rising in her throat and fighting the urge to vomit all over him. I’m sure this is the only time in her life she seriously contemplates a shot of Uncle Jack (Daniels).
Real-life Scenario: Zaid is almost 30 years old. He’s spent the last 10 years looking for Mrs. Perfect, but to no avail. They were either too ugly, too fastidious or too independent for his liking. Now Zaid is no Don Juan or Casanova. He’s more like a mixture of Tinky-Winky, the gay telly-tubby and Ernie from the George Lopez show, with the personality of a mountain goat. What’s worse is that he can’t even trade off his bank balance, because it belongs to his mother. But he maintains that he is entitled to a super-model wife and he will settle for nothing less.

The Cheater
Some men love to play games…this includes stringing numerous girls along for fun…because he obviously has issues with one of his parents, so he needs to compensate for it by surrounding himself with women to make him feel “worthy”…because indeed, he is a worthless piece of shit. So he’ll call, then he won’t call…and he feels like he can do whatever he wants to in the relationship because “he’s the man” and he thinks everyone wants a piece of him…then when one of his girlfriends confronts him about his two-timing business and his lack of commitment, he usually twists the story in pure misogynistic form and blames her for his cheating ass.
Real-life Scenario: Riyaad and Sarah have been in a serious relationship for the past three years. Every two to three months, Sarah accuses Riyaad of cheating on her with a different woman, which he does (by his own admission) but he always manages to magically twist the story to such an extent that he inadvertently places the blame squarely on her. It’s her fault that he was with Vanessa last week because she didn’t pay enough attention to him and wasn’t there at his beck and call. Her insecurities are responsible for her begging him to “take her back”…every time.

The Hero
There are those men who really watch too many Bollywood movies and truly believe that they, like Shah Rukh Khan, can “save” the damsel in distress by singing love songs and running through fields of barley and wild flowers. They just try too hard. They say everything they think a woman wants to hear. They have no personalities of their own because they are too busy trying to impress the girl by impersonating the fictitious person they THINK she wants to be with. Unfortunately, life is not a Bollywood movie. His attempts are often mistaken for predatory tactics; are rarely welcomed by the recipient and are almost always met with disdain and contempt. No self-respecting person wants to be pitied, or saved. It epitomizes a pathetic and weak character worthy of the Guillotine.
Real-Life Scenario: When Ridwaan and Sameera met, they had both just gotten out of other serious relationships and were on the rebound. Sameera was depressed because her engagement with Shahid was called off and the situation was a big mess. Ridwaan saw this as an opportunity to get closer to her, preying on her emotional vulnerability. He would call her five or six times a day to see if she was ok. He would tell her everything he thought she wanted to hear. He would say he liked chocolate milkshake, because she liked chocolate milkshake, even though he secretly preferred strawberry. Essentially he became another liar by mimicking her and molding his character to encapsulate everything HE thought that SHE wanted in a man.

The Son
Some men want a substitute mother. One that will wait with arms wide open at the front door when he arrives from work, feed him like he’s two years old and pet him on the head when he got an A for some moronic achievement. They don’t want partners and friends or companions, they want a woman who’s going to tell them to pick up after themselves, or a woman who will actually pick up after them and treat them like babies. They want to crawl home and let their mother’s indulge their every need and the wife is supposed to follow suit. The only difference is that the wife has to sleep with him too because it is illegal, a grave sin and just plain ol’ disgusting for the mother to do so.
Real-life Scenario: Imtiaz loves his mother a little too much and even more since his father passed away. He usually crawls into bed with her if he has bouts of insomnia and spends every weekend hosting garden tea parties for her geriatric friends. The thought of his mother ever getting married again repulses and nauseates him to profound depths. When Imtiaz finally agrees to take the matrimonial plunge, his mother is devastated. He belonged to her, and now some strange woman was going to take her place. Ayesha initially had her reservations about marrying Imtiaz, she had heard that he was very attached to his mother, but she thought that maybe in time, she would come to love her mother-in-law with the same intensity and devotion too. It was to Ayesha’s shock and horror then, when the mother-in-law requested that she not be allowed to sit in her marital bedroom, at all. Since Imtiaz always agreed with everything his mother said, Ayesha was only allowed to sit in the lounge but not allowed to watch TV either. If she didn’t want to sit in the lounge her other option was to stand outside and turn the windmill-like laundry line until all the laundry was dry. This was not the life Ayesha had envisioned for herself. To add to her misery, it soon became apparent that Imtiaz would still retire to his mother’s bed chambers when those bouts of insomnia returned.

The Commitment-Phobe
Some men just enjoy the thrill of being single, to be free and unaccountable for their actions. They can come and go as they please, see whoever they want to and do whatever they want to, at their leisure, without reporting to anyone. They regard the sanctity of marriage as immoral, abnormal, and a transgression against the true nature of man. To them, marriage is a sick and twisted game invented by women to forever imprison the male species. They prefer to be single and go from one meaningless relationship to another, until they are repulsive old men that wear their shirts buttoned down to their hairy potbellies, gold chains strewn across their thick necks reprising the Mr. T look, three strands of hair desperately trying to cover the emerging mass of baldness and an annoying swagger accompanied with an arrogance that only a rich crack-whore can afford. They usually die from coronary heart disease from all the steaks they consume, under some 22 year old student who only bothers so that she can afford the latest Prada pumps. And if they ever do get married, they transform into The Cheater.
Real-life Scenario: Uncle Abu is a rich prominent businessman and a big-shot in his community. He carries himself with that false sense of authority so well, that people automatically believe that he has to be someone important wherever he goes. He is loud and obnoxious and his poor wife cringes every time he opens his mouth. He contributes generously to fundraisers and is an active participant in his daughter’s school for all the wrong reasons, namely 16 year old Naseema. They have been doing the nasty for some time now, she gets the latest Nokia and he carries another badge on his coat of “accomplishments”.

The Sponge aka The Leech
Life is a playground for some men. Why should they take any responsibility? This is the 21st century after all and women’s liberation is there for a reason. These men are allergic to that little minor inconvenience of every day life called work. They see no point in it. Why should they slog the day away, when there’s a perfectly good woman who is desperate enough to want to do it for him. He has goals and aspirations too. One of them is to watch the game he PVR’d last night (he hopes she pays the account on time this month - doesn’t want to have to go through another period of having to do without his favourite channels), and he has to make sure that there is enough meat so he can have a little braai with some of his mates later on in the afternoon. His afternoons are “stoep-time”, he can watch the whole world go by with his coke in hand. Maybe tomorrow he’ll get going on that business proposal he’s been trying to get off the ground for the past 6 months. But first, he has to make sure that he as enough money for the poker tournament tonight, where’s that damn woman?
Real-life Scenario: Dawood has been depressed ever since he lost his job all those months ago. He has lulled himself into a comfortable state of laziness and simply doesn’t have the energy to get back into the game. He relies completely on Hajira to keep them afloat financially. However, the problem is that with inflation, and the current global economic crises, prices have increased so dramatically that one income is no longer sufficient for their household. Hajira is frustrated and takes it out on Dawood every night after work. She hit him with a pot last week and adding to his depression and emotional slump, the emasculation does nothing for him. Yet he cannot seem to find the courage to go out there and make it happen…find a job and support his family. She can’t leave him, she has no where else to go.

The Know-It-All
These men are the bane of my existence. They are true misogynists in every sense of the word and their arrogance knows no bounds. They tread the earth with a sense of entitlement reserved only for Greek mythical gods and US Presidential candidates and they have the uncanny ability to turn everything they touch into shit. They don’t know how to listen to reason or engage in normal debates because they always have to be right and possess a general lack of respect for the world at large. They are narcissistic creatures and are obsessed with little pieces of information, just so that they prove that they are superior in some way or form. In reality, they are ignorant assholes with low self-esteem that know absolutely nothing, and have to compensate for that by bullying their way to the top, often puffing out their chests like one of King Kong’s relatives.
Real-life Scenario: When Naeem married Yumna four years ago, he didn’t know that her family didn’t like him. They said that he was arrogant, self-centered, vain and a know-it-all. He is the kind of guy that will do physical research in terms of reading newspapers, journals etc., then form an elaborate plan to execute that knowledge in a carefully structured argument, where everything from the time to the venue in which the argument would take place is pre-determined. According to him, he’s ALWAYS right and always knows better. He will argue to his death if he could, about things he has no real knowledge of. He’s the kind of guy that will come across a slight reference to Pavlov’s theories in Psychology in a “Dear Aunt Beatty” self-help column and then attempt to argue his point with Professor X, the Head of the Psychology and Psychiatric Board of South Africa…and in such a manner, that he will throw his toys out of his cot like a 2 year old boy just to illustrate his ignorant and juvenile opinion on a subject he has no knowledge of.


The Indecisive Contradictor
Most men love bitches; it’s as simple as that. No matter WHAT the Man says, he’s looking for a wife that’s going to make him miserable. They will preach about what they want and expect out of a relationship, often citing their friends’ relationships as examples and learning curves, but at the end of the day, it means nothing. They almost always end up pining for the one that is exactly the opposite to their defined criteria and in some sadistic and masochistic way men enjoy this. They like to be treated like shit and they derive a sense of satisfaction from complaining about it.
Nothing is worse than a man who doesn’t know who he is or what he wants.
Real-Life Scenario: Ahmed and some of his friends say that ever since a few guys in their clique got hitched, it’s like all the wives have ruined their lives. But secretly Ahmed yearns for the same punishment. He wants to be whipped into shape. Malik can’t go fishing this weekend because his wife said No and she’ll bitch and moan until the cows come home. Shaheen can’t eat junk food anymore because his wife says it’s bad for his health and she insists on cooking for every meal, because Ghee laden kari-kitchri is so much healthier than Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I’m sure there are other stereotypes that I have forgotten to mention. But this is it for now. I’ll leave you with this…We are all imperfect, so there’d be no sense in expecting perfection from others. All we can do is work on perfecting our own characters, and hope that we find that special idiot…that special asshole whose faults we can tolerate...the one who can tolerate our faults as well. So yeah maybe he’ll be a Dog, but at least he’ll be MY Dog :D

Monday, November 10, 2008

Paternal Instincts

One of the things I hate most about being a single woman is that we tend to get ripped off in any male dominated industry. It was for this reason that I enlisted the help of my Father when deciding to repair/service my car, partly because I hadn’t paid any attention to the mass of steel in over 8 months and mostly because Daddy knows best and no one will fuck with him. I had to give him a call a few days earlier to make an appointment to see him, as we sometimes have to do because my Dad has a more active social life than all of us put together. He is a social butterfly, forever out and about.

So there we were, father and daughter traipsing around town for auto spares. A rare sight because my Dad always has company in the form of either a friend, his wife, 5 year old Peanut or a combination of any two permanently attached to his hip. Luckily my Dad had done his research and found a place where I could get value for my money. We walked into this dingy shop tucked into the corner of a quiet street and for a brief minute I actually wondered if my Dad knew what he was doing. Being the typical Indian alpha male, he knew almost everyone there or at least spoke to them as if he’d known them since childhood. My Dad did my bidding and as we waited for the clerk to bring the coveted auto parts, we chatted about everything from the US election to male stupidity.

As I chatted away, I realised that even though I haven’t lived with my dad in over 16 years, we still have a great bond. I was somewhat deprived as child…I never owned a Barbie doll because my parents refused and only ever bought me toys like Lego and puzzles to play with…and books to read. I use to fall asleep in front of the TV, on the couch, and my Dad use to carry me to my bed and tuck me in to keep me warm. Even when I wasn’t sleeping, I would close my eyes and pretend so that he could carry me…sheer laziness…and he always knew. He use to make tea and toast for breakfast on those mornings Mother had to work…and help in the kitchen by decorating biscuits for Eid.

Dad stopped in the midst of one of his sentences to ask me what perfume I was wearing, and said that it was nice…he reckons that he got all his senses back when he quit smoking.

There are other less pleasant childhood memories of him too. My Dad use to be mildly chauvinistic…a misogynist of sorts…highly critical of everyone, especially his daughters. We always felt like we could not live up to his expectations, that we couldn’t be who he wanted us to be, that we were not “good enough”…always vying for his approval. He was also not the most patient of people and always wanted everything to be done his way. Needless to say, much of my early adolescence was spent in conflict and rebellion.

Looking back, I guess I can understand Dad's behaviour and ways. He had lost his father at the age of 13 and had no real example or role model to follow in terms of being a father. He always did what he thought was right, and only ever wanted what was best for us.

In my late teens and early twenties, my relationship with my Dad changed dramatically. I don’t know exactly when or how it happened but he began to treat me like an adult. These days I can talk to him about almost anything and he isn’t judgmental. My Dad knows almost everything about me. He knows when I like a guy and often rolls his eyes when I’m swooning over some inane characteristic of the object of my affection. He knows my stance on everything from politics to religion. He even knows about my facebook profile and this blog. Just recently, after browsing through my blog he asked me “Azra, are you allowed to say such things?”…referring to the word whore on one of my posts. I laughed and told him to read it like he would an article.

Of course, I don't divulge EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of my life, that would be insane and somewhat disrespectful...some things are better left to the corners of my mind.

However, I do have the most technologically savvy parents I know so there’d be no point in trying to hide things. Being an electronic and technological whiz, my Dad is the type of person who can crack codes and hack into sites because he loves free downloads; everything from anti-viral software and music to e-books on how to give up smoking.
A lot of people, especially family members find my relationship with my Dad (& Mother) quite odd. They frown upon my policy of honesty and openness with my parents. I don’t really care because I refuse to live a double life. My parents know who I am as a person, flaws and all because I’ve made sure that they see the real me, and not who they want to see. They don’t have any false perceptions or opinions and thankfully they accept me for who I am. On one occasion I had the following conversation with them:

Azra: I just want you both to know that I swear…a lot. So don’t be surprised. But I’ll never swear in front of you of course.
Mother: You better not, I’ll burn that mouth.
Dad: (Laughs) It’s a bad habit.
Azra: Yeah I know it’s a bad habit and I’ll change when I get married :P …But considering that I’m 26 years old and that I DON’T have a boyfriend/fiancé/husband…that I’m NOT promiscuous…that I DON’T stay out at all hours even though I can…that I DON’T drink alcohol or do drugs …that I DON’T even smoke…that I DON’T involve myself with bad company…and that I DON’T sneak off to meet guys on street corners…swearing is quite miniscule don’t you think…and its my only vice, so don’t deny me this.
Mother: Well, everything you do or don’t do is for your own good; you’re not doing us any favours.
Azra: Yeah I know…just telling you so that you know…
Dad: You girls are so boring, if I were you I’d steal the car and go out.
Azra: I don’t need to, I have a car and I can come and go as I please…so there’s no fun in that.

To the outside world, my Dad is the nicest person you’ll ever come across. He’s very engaging and can hold a conversation with almost anyone.

No man will ever be able to drive me to tears the way my Father can. And all that is required is that look of disappointment or a rise in the tone of his voice. He has always encouraged us to be independent women but still has this innate need to take care of us. Even when we try to take him out as a treat for his birthday, he always pays, even if we put up a fight for the bill.

After what seemed to be hours, we finally received all the auto parts we requested and when I went to pay, the uncle behind the counter wanted to know if he was my husband. The mere implication left me revolted and disgusted…things like that gross me out to the max. I was quick to rectify him and then felt mildly insulted at the insinuation. I thought that a) I either look hideous and much older than what I am or b) Dad looks much younger than his years. The answer is probably “b” because Daddy is barely 47 years old and looks like he’s in his early 40’s with his tall slender-well-built frame and slight hint of graying hair. To my amusement, he’s also become very health conscious in recent years, and I often see him out walking with his friends on my evening run.

My Dad is a work of art. I often say that most partners are exactly alike and even though my parents have been divorced for the past 16 years, they are the exactly the same in their eccentricity and humour, although Mother gets points for her extraordinary wit and Daddy takes the whole chain of bakeries when it comes to sarcasm and dramatic flair. Nobody does drama like my Dad and I guess it’s genetic. If something upsets him, he will explode…he’s highly volatile like that but it’s usually over as quickly as it began. An hour and an explosive tirade after I crashed his car on his 40th birthday, he gave me the keys and told me to go to the shop…he doesn’t hold grudges and even when I didn’t want to go, he urged me to get back into the car and drive.

We were finally on our way to the mechanic, while Dad enthusiastically explained what they intended to do with the car. I listened and feigned interest…its amazing how a grown man can be so excited about such mundane things. Looking at him today, I can safely say that no matter what he may have done in the past…no matter how he may have hurt me, I still love him to death…and even when he’s driving me absolutely crazy, I wouldn’t give him up for the world.