Monday, November 30, 2009

NOVEMBER

I’ve always wanted to go on one of those Hot Air Balloon rides and decided to make it one of my challenges at some point in time. The perfect opportunity came earlier this month, when I was informed of a Fair offering Hot Air Balloon rides set deep in the country, about 35km's from Johannesburg.Never having been to a real Country Fair before, I thought it would be interesting and it was. There were stalls selling home-made cakes and other treats, as well as other stalls selling everything from snakes to bonsai trees and little trinkets.
Some of the activities on offer included horse-rides, camel-rides and even an electric bull. Fun times. Sadly though, on account of the erratic weather they decided not to operate the Hot Air Balloons and I was more than mildly disappointed. But there’s always a next time.

Then, this past weekend I was dragged off to watch the next installment of the Twilight series, New Moon. And boy, it has a large following. Not just teeny-bopper girls but women and men of all ages too. Tickets were sold out almost everywhere and I had to drive to three different Malls to see if I could make any bookings. We eventually got to see it with a rather boisterous and interactive audience. I’ve never laughed so much for a movie that’s supposed to be quite morbid and serious:

Jacob: Bella, do you like me?
Chick in Audience: Boy I’ll like you if she won’t

On-Jacob-removing-his-shirt:
Girls in audience moan, grunt & whistle saying things like “Hello baby Jake”

On-Edward-&-Jacob-confrontation
Another girl in audience: Huh-uh don’t fight boys, plenty to go around.

Needless to say, it was very very entertaining. I’m not a Twilight fan at all, but I can see the appeal. And according to most, the movie kept with most of the book’s references, unlike Twilight the movie. I wouldn’t know because I hadn’t read the books and I don’t intend to. Firstly, Edward Cullen has the cheesiest lines ever. And like I said on my Facebook status…it’s not even good cheese like Camembert or Edam or Chedder or Gouda…or even that stinky Brie. It’s more like Melrose cheese spread, or Laughing Cow processed cheese cubes, or even those cans of aerosol cheese. Maybe if I was 16 and not so cynical or tainted by the world, I’d have been one of those women swooning over Edward Cullen (although that Jasper is quite the looker too). It was still palatable though. And I’ll go and watch all the sequels. After all who can resist watching half naked men prancing around in their six-packs, promising to love you (& Bella) forever. Yeah, I like processed cheese. Especially on toast.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Heatwave

Oh, finally! I couldn’t get on this site for like a week! My computer was all wonky and stuff and I was at my wits end…but alas, this fairy princess came along sprinkling happiness dust and astounding wit all over the place and helped me out. Thanks to Hasina, everything seems to be fine on my side again. And in good timing, I was about to throw the damn thing out of the window.

So talk about climate change! Last week this time, I couldn’t get out of bed, it was bloody freezing because it was snowing on the Drakensberg mountains. I even sat around the house with a huge blanket. Then WHAM! Come this week and if it gets any hotter I’m sure I’m going to melt, literally.

To beat the heat, we went on a picnic yesterday. Actually we went swimming and just took snacks along. It was DIVINE. The swimming I mean. Did I ever mention how much I love swimming? First one in, last one out…that’s how it is, always has been. I could swim for hours, days even. Even all the cuts and bruises from climbing in and out of the 22 meter diving pool doesn’t bother me. I have to go back next week.

Anyway, this is just a short note wishing everyone who celebrates, a joyous and blessed Eid-Ul-Adha…and a Happy Thanksgiving to those observing too. I’ll be with my family and extended family, as usual, and there’s even talk of breaking the rules and swimming tomorrow afternoon, if the heat persists. Hope everyone has an awesome weekend, no matter where you are. And by all means, over-indulge ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stereotypes

So when I first saw this pic of Princess Jasmine at War from Part VI of Dina Goldstein’s Fallen Princesses series, on Desert Demon’s blog (Geez, I hope it was her site because I can’t remember which blog it was now), I thought wow, here’s the warrior version of me…at the front lines, always ready to battle the demons life throws at me. Then I happened to stumble across a critique of this picture, citing the negative stereotypical connotation that all Asian people are terrorists (or something of the sort) and it got me thinking.

I generally like stereotypes, especially when they’re funny and entertaining. But I draw the line when they become offensive. Like for example: One of my bestest friends, Lyn, and her family have been living in Chicago USA for the past 12 years. Lyn was born in Durban and bred in Johannesburg and her ancestors, like many here, are from some or other part of India. But Lyn isn’t a Muslim, she’s a Christian, Presbyterian in fact and her father is a Pastor in their church. But did this fact prevent the onslaught of racism and Islamaphobia they faced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks? No. Why? Because to most ignorant people, all brown people are Islamic fascists and terrorists and it’s just too bad for the millions of brown Hindu’s and Christians that have to suffer under that banner too.

I recently did an impromptu social study on Facebook, where I gave away ‘awards’ to most of the people I know or interact with on a daily basis. It was a lot of fun for me, especially since it was unpremeditated, unplanned and completely spontaneous. I made up categories laced with certain stereotypical implications, and matched them up with the people I felt fulfilled the requirements of those categories. And while, in my opinion, a lot of the awards went to the most appropriate people, I am aware that the entire process would be falsified as an empirical study for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I didn’t consider or include absolutely EVERYONE I know, just those people who came to mind. And secondly, while I believe that 95% of the individuals chosen fit in their categories to some degree, there were some that I just fabricated, to see what the public reaction would be like. I initially meant for the categories to be much more risqué, outrageous, hilarious and controversial than they were, but I didn’t want to risk a war – I don’t think some people would take too kindly being listed in the “Most likely to have an affair” or “Most likely to pinch a couple of your DVD’s on their way home” or “Most likely to be horribly selfish parents” or “Most likely to pee in the pool when no one’s watching” categories. I also deliberately avoided married men in some of the categories because I’m allergic to married and I feel all fought out this year, and don’t need or want to have to go out and bash a few insecure wives y’know.

Two things became apparent from my little experiment. One of them was that most of the time people want to be stereotyped and they want to fit in. I received dozens of messages after that asking me why I hadn’t chosen him/her or which category I’d put him/her in. But as much as people want to fit in and be stereotyped, they don’t want negative publicity, even if it’s the truth. Of course, I’m guessing that I wouldn’t much like it if I were told that I’m one of the people in the Top 5 of the most aggressive, most impatient, most opinionated, most crude, most likely border-line Obsessive Compulsive, most perfectionistic, most likely to resemble a Zebra-with-the-amount-of-stretchmarks-on-her-ass categories. People don’t mind being stereotyped, as long as it puts them in a positive or neutral light, and as long as it shows the world what they want them to see. Any negative insinuations are unwelcome, even if they are embedded in the truth.

A part of me would like to establish another privatised blog, accessible only by invitation, with all my uncensored ramblings, ruminations and opinions. But then I think, no one really wants to know what goes on in this sick and twisted mind, do they... :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mother Nature

At some point in time, every woman has this innate need to have a child. And it doesn’t matter if we hate kids, or they annoy the shit out of us, whatever – there’ll always come a day when you look at a Pampers commercial and drool “aaawww I want one of those”. Like I said, it’s innate. Blame it on the E-E-E-E-E-Estrogen (Jamie Fox eat your heart out) and Progesterone ok.

My recent bout of broodiness is quite disturbing, especially since I’ve taken to more erm... botanical elements to compensate for what I’m so obviously lacking. See, when some people get lonely or broody they get pets like Dogs, Cats, Parrots…you name it. But I’m completely averse to the animal kingdom and quite frankly anything that breathes and isn’t human freaks me out.

So I’ve taken to more ‘earthy’ alternatives and have begun adopting potted flowers and so far, I have two beautiful healthy kids. It began after Augusts’ challenge, when I invested some time and effort in the development of my little herb garden. Soon after the completion of my little project, I began to yearn for something more pretty. Red and pretty to be precise.

When I was an annoying kid myself, my Grandmother had a huge Hibiscus tree in her courtyard. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and every spring/summer, I’d wait for the tree to sprout its gorgeous red flowers and spent hours in complete awe of it. I’d always pick one of the flowers, and place it strategically, just behind my right ear, in the black ocean of curls that is my hair. I can remember that feeling of splendor, reveling in the notion that I was some tropical island princess every time.

Those are some of the best memories from my childhood and the beauty lies in its simplicity…the best things in life are indeed free, or they belong to someone else. Anyway, for years after my Grandmother passed away, I wanted a Hibiscus tree, but it just never happened. The red hibiscus eventually became my ‘favourite flower’ even making its debut as the National Flower of The Promised Land.

Then about a month ago, while I was casually strolling through the mall, I saw a tiny version of the tree at a Florist. It was embedded in a pot with a single red flower in bloom. I knew right then, that I had to have her no matter what. And what a pretty penny she cost too…but it was like love at first sight. I named her Arabella, took her home and had her planted in a nice little spot where I can see her. Hopefully, she’ll grow nice and strong and one day gives me hundreds of pretty flowers to gawk at.

It didn’t end there. This past weekend, I was once again strolling along on my merry way, when I saw my second love. She was just sitting there on a shelf with her contemporaries, with three violet flowers in bloom, looking all forlorn and lonely and it just felt right. She is known as a Gloxinia and I had to adopt her too; had her wrapped up, named her Illyria, and brought her home with me. Her spot has been picked out and hopefully, she too will give me many years of botanical bliss.

So who needs whiny messy kids and pets that eat everything and shit it out later, when you can have two beautiful plants that demand nothing from you except your unconditional love and water. I think I’m good, for now anyway.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mail Order Bride, Anyone?

I received a very interesting piece of spam mail the other day – well it was in my inbox but it was spam nonetheless – so I thought I’d share. What is it about spam anyway? Like why send me an email about a Codeine and Vicodin sale in Alabama, USA? Surely if I wanted anything, from pills to a plumber, I won't be going all the way to Alabama. I find it hard to believe that anyone goes through their spam mail, reading through an endless stream of absolute shit. It would be like navigating the city’s dingy rat infested sewer line instead of the streets. I’m sure that 99.999% of people don’t even read that crap and the other 0.001% don’t check their email.

Anyways, back to this email. So the title in the subject box was “Confirmation: Your trip to New York” and I was like, huh? I’m going to New York? I don’t recall booking the ticket. Well maybe I did and forgot about it. Let me look in my planner, nope nothing there…and my bank statement…

And then I opened the mail and read on. Here it is, word for word, with my thoughts and comments added, because I’m a drama queen like that:

Dear Ms A

I've shown your picture to all my colleagues and friends and they are just as excited as I am (Wha? Who’s this? Shit don’t tell me it’s one of those people I met and can’t remember. Excited? They are? About what?). Oh my little Knuddel I can't wait (Bwahahahahaha, WTF? I have never, nor will I ever be anyone’s Knuddel). I've decided that, after our wedding, (Wedding? Did I miss something? Ok, so at least I know that I definitely didn’t meet you and forgot about it) there will be no need for a honeymoon (What? I don’t deserve a honeymoon? Who wants to marry a stingy ass like you anyway). I'll rather spend the money on renovating the kitchen, especially for you (Of course you would, why bother with a wife when you can get a real life slave).

I've booked your one-way ticket to New York and will be waiting for you at the airport on the 14th (Thanks, but no thanks. I’d like to think that I’d NEVER be this desperate).

Yours forever,
Gustav




I won’t slate the mail order bride system, because everyone has their views, opinions and preferences. But I will say that the idea of being sold off into slavery, in the 21st century, is definitely NOT for me. I would rather be the third wife of one of those old rich bastards…and even that is reaching. I love and respect myself too much :P

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Count Your Potatoes

So there’s this dude right, his name is Jim Rogers and apparently he’s some kind of Wall Street maverick. In December 2007, his uncanny foresight predicted the current economic crises. He even went as far as claiming that the US was in a recession and that the US Government was lying about it; that was in 2007. In an interview with Fortune Magazine that year, Mr. Rogers stated “You see 29 year old kids making US$10 million or US$20 million a year & you find yourself thinking ‘This is the way the world is. This is normal’. Well I don’t think it’s normal”.

Mr. Rogers is no stranger to the markets and judging from the merits of his Quantum Fund; which he founded together with another bird called George Soros in 1970; which also incidentally grew in value by 4200% whilst their competitors S&P only rose by 47% in the same decade; he’s probably right on the marker. It is perhaps disturbing then, that the same man told The Economic Times in June this year that the US Dollar is doomed and that the UK Pound is even worse off. He mentioned that the UK has been exporting oil for the past 26 years, that within a decade the UK will be importing oil again and that they will have nothing to sell the world once the money dries up. Mr. Rogers foresees stock markets rising to unprecedented heights, but “in worthless currencies”.

So what’s his solution? Farming. Yes you read it right. He said that fund managers should rather go into farming specifically cotton, sugar (aye you Durban-nites are lucky eh?) and silver. In Mr. Rogers’ opinion, the financial community is not the place to be for the next 30 odd years:

“We have many periods in history when financial people were in charge; and we had periods when people who produced real goods were in charge – miners, farmers etc. The world, in my view, is changing – shifting away from financial types to producers of real goods and this is going to last several decades, as it always has. This may sound strange but it always happens this way. Ten years from now it may be that Farmers will be driving Lamborghini’s and the stockbrokers catching Taxis at best”.

Well Mr. Rogers, I’ve always wanted to become a “Farmer” in Colombia…of the coca-tree-and-opium-poppy-kind. They make the most money. But Alkoids, Opiates and Barbiturates aside, judging from the current state that the world is in, he could very well be right. We have this phenomenon of mass consumerism right now. Ok, maybe it’s not a phenomenon, but safe to say that the world has never been this rich and this poor at the same time.

Most people, especially in first world countries, have never had as much as they do today. And with everything from houses, cars, appliances to even kid’s toys, there is the connotation that the more you have the better. It’s just MORE, all the time. The world has become like an overgrown kid weaned on nothing but candy, and after assessing the damage, it’s been determined that this kid has to go on a major diet and eat nothing but Greek salad and Broccoli to survive into adulthood. It’s not pretty and habits are difficult to overcome. The culture of consuming is difficult if not impossible to eradicate. And everything comes with a price innit?

With mass consumerism comes industrialization and mass production on a large magnitude, to cater for demand. And what has industrialisation given us? Ooh let’s see, there’s carbon emissions resulting in Global warming and climate change which has been wrecking havoc throughout the world in the form of tsunami’s, tornados, droughts, rising sea levels etc. And with these we have oh you know the usual famine, death, disease, incomprehensible destruction etc. And then there’s the rudimentary economic crises every few decades, because with industrialization comes all forms of bureaucratic red tape and concepts like Capitalism reign where the rich get richer and want more things, and the poor get poorer trying to keep up.
Then there’s mass production which has introduced a large number of chemicals into our everyday lives, which as it turns out, has introduced a variety of cancers and ailments to our bodies. It’s a vicious perpetual cycle. It’s funny in a way because we’re killing ourselves, quite literally, to look or feel better than the Joneses. Talk about cutting the nose to spite the face.

I often wonder when will it be enough. Granted, we all need money because this bandwidth does not pay for itself. But I'm talking about the colossal waste the world has become accustomed to. At which point will people take a step back and take note, or realize that having more is not necessarily better. You don’t need 10 cars; you can’t drive them all at the same time. Every single room in the house doesn’t need a TV. Having a huge mansion won’t battle your inner demons and remove your insecurities or make you better; it will just get you a huge bill from the municipality every time you shit.

So one day, when you’re drowning because all the Polar Caps have melted and the sea levels have risen enough to make Africa look like the Maldives, or you find that you have a tumour up your arse the size of a cat; you’ll have to ask yourself, that refined and processed supersized McDonalds Quarter Pounder, the 15 TV’s you have in your home, the 7 fuel guzzling cars in your garage, the numerous radio-active mobile phones in your drawer and all the useless unnecessary shit you store in your house that was bought through warped justifications, was it all worth it?

The path to true spiritual enlightenment, as noted by various leaders and visionaries including Aristotle, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and St. Augustine amongst others, is through controlling your desires and moderation. Spiritual enlightenment can only come when we stop wanting…and waste our lives in pursuit of these wants. The soul is bogged down by desire and the more you want, the more nothing is ever enough. Sounds like the Devils’ work to me. But on a grander scale, I can see how it’s necessary to get the world to this state. I mean The Day of Judgment or the Apocalypse won’t come when all is hunky dory now will it? How anti-climatic would that be?

If there was ever an age I would yearn for, it would be a time when the World was poor. There’ve been periods throughout history when most people, bar a few Kings, had nothing. Back then life was about surviving to feed families, not accumulating to feed egos. Dig in the earth, count your potatoes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear Diary

When I was 15, I had a diary. I decided to get one after watching ‘Now and Then’, the 1995 movie starring Demi Moore and Christina Ricci amongst others. The movie centers around four friends and vacillates between their past together and their lives in the present. I guess I was sufficiently intrigued by the narrative of the movie and it spurred me on to try the whole diary gig.

Anyways, so I remember writing in this diary every day; nothing prophetic…just teen angst-y stuff. It didn’t even last a couple of months. The problem was that every time I came across a previous entry, or re-read older entries, I would cringe and want to die. I hated reading my own words the way some actors hate watching their performances on screen. My words irritated me and I often thought, “Gosh, I’m a fucking idiot”. Worse still, I was terrified that someone was going to read my idiotic daily entries filled with juvenile secrets and I eventually ripped the whole thing to shreds and had it incinerated in the fireplace.

For some reason, I didn’t learn the lesson and found the notion of a personal diary very romantic and appealing a few years later. And again, my words nearly gave me an aneurism and paranoia reigned, and eventually, it was ripped to shreds too and joined its sister in diary heaven. For some reason, I don’t mind verbalising things but I have issues with inscribing them on paper. There’s just something about seeing the words in print that’s so tangible and real, that it sends me off the deep end.

The only writing I won’t kill is letters, only because it’s sent off never to be seen again. Even my budget scrawled on a piece of paper has to be obliterated because I can’t stand the idea that someone may look at one of my doodles someday. It’s like a window to my soul and I feel exposed, naked in public. I would have made an awful cave-woman because I would have probably etched those figures of cattle on the rock and then removed any evidence with a hand-made chisel.

It is some kind of wonder then, that I manage to blog without giving in to the urge to delete everything every now and then. For me this blog has become the diary I never cremated. But I’m acutely aware, that it’s only because while I’m completely honest in my ramblings, I still manage to with-hold. So you’re only ever getting 90% of me, the other 10% is censored and rendered private – accessible only on those days I don't seem to give a fuck about the world or propriety, or to those that I deem trustworthy and choose to let into my life. A blog entry starts with an overwhelming urge to type...the words spill out like vomit, for real.

I was reading Shafinaaz’s post on writing. And being the beautiful generous ‘Butterfly’ soul that she is, she’s always encouraging me, and basically everyone else, to publish. Shafinaaz to me is like a rare gem, a testament to raw talent…talent that emanates without even really trying. But Shafinaaz isn’t the first to wave the writing wand; I’ve always been encouraged to write. Thing is, I don’t see myself as a writer – ever. At best, I could be a columnist and even then I’d have to resist the urge not to conclude every argument or piece of advice with fire. Arson, no matter how tempting, is never a solution (unless you catch 'him' cheating on you).

But if I ever wrote a book, it would be an Auto-biography because if there’s one thing that sets me apart from most people, it’s that I’ve had one fucking extraordinary life. I’ll be able to re-count the wackiest details of my life…like that time I was held up by 12 men from the Nigerian Mafia along with some of my colleagues and the SA swat team were called in to get us out, because they (the Mafia) thought that we were spying on them when we were actually spying on someone else connected to them. Or that time in 2002 when I had a real life stalker, a guy who followed me to work and class for months, who knew everything about me…my schedule, my route, what I wore every single day, what I ate etc. etc. And what about that time I went to have tea on the set of the movie ‘Breaking and Entering’ because I was allowed on set, and I got the entire crew including Juliet Binoche and Jude Law to stop mid-filming because they were in my way and I was running to catch my bus (and they were so nice about it too).

I’ve got thousands of real-life stories to tell, some of them weird, others hilarious…all of them sure to entertain. My sister asked me if I’d ever write fiction and I told her that I don’t think I could. Everything I write, I draw upon from my experiences. All the joy, pain, anxiety, frustration, insecurity, anger, you name it…every single emotion and experience I’ve ever had is immortalised when I narrate my escapades. These are experiences I’ve had to endure personally, and for some reason I don’t think I could write about experiences and emotions I don’t know. However, sometimes my stories will have fictional elements…maybe change a name or location or something of the sort.

Whatever my writing capabilities or inabilities, I cannot deny that there were specific people that have contributed to the literary evolution of Azra, people who have been instrumental and indirectly responsible for what you read today. They are (in ascending order):

1. My Father: I have yet to meet someone who can tell a story with as much animation, passion and vigor as my Dad. His theatrics and flair for drama can magically transform even the most boring details into the saga of the century.
2. My Mother: Instrumental in expanding my imagination with those infamous words “What shit is this? (on TV) Why don’t you do something constructive, here read this book”.
3. Mrs. Klonarides: My Greek English teacher in high school who, much to my embarrassment, used to photocopy my compositions from every exam and hand them out to everyone as an example of how they should aspire to write. She was an inspiration and always encouraged me to new heights.
4. Marian Keyes: The famous Irish fictional author whose books are so real, honest and hilarious because she draws on her real life experiences too.
5. T. S. Eliot: Because his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was shoved down my throat and nearly drove me fucking bonkers throughout my first year at University, to such an extent that it only intensified my detestation of poetry and made me swear that if I ever wrote anything, it would be so far removed from that shit.

Yeah, this blog is definitely as close as I’ll ever get to having a real diary.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Allergic To Work

I take my work seriously and always strive to go above and beyond. The only problem I have is that when it comes to work, I’m somewhat of a commitment-phobe and will prefer taking contracts and projects over becoming a permanent employee. In fact, in the last 7 years I’ve had 28 jobs at almost every major corporation; all of them contracts with the exception of my first job at the Private Investigator firm and my last stint at the Company. In all my jobs, I’ve managed to maintain good relationships with most of my bosses. I prefer open communication with management, a boss that I can talk to, someone that's accessible.

I worked with and reported to Antonio, who was the General Manager at the Company, before he abruptly left in December 2008. Together with the team, we ran 22 Plants in South Africa and in other Southern African countries. Antonio at the time was one of the big bosses. But unlike his contemporaries, he was a people’s person, always very approachable and we often had long discussions about the business. He would listen intently to my ideas and always gave me authority to implement them. He gave me a voice and carte blanche to do what was best for the company.

When Antonio announced that he was leaving the company in November 2008, we were all shocked and dismayed. He approached me a few days later and told me that he's started his own coal mining business with some Chinese investors and asked if I would like to join him. Taking the post meant that I would have had to re-locate and because I was just settling in at the time, I wasn’t keen on packing up and leaving again. I told him that I would join him, but not right then, I needed a couple of months first.

So on Bosses day, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give him a call and inform him about the situation with Goliath. He told me that he wasn’t surprised at all and told me that Goliath was ‘evil’. I relayed how angry I was and what I initially wanted to do and his response was “You know, when you act in God’s place, you tell God that you don’t need him. Forget it; God has something worse in store for him. I’ll see what I can do here”. I didn’t call him for a job, just to ask if I could use him as a reference. And even so, I’d still have to relocate and I’m in no hurry at the moment.

My conversation with Antonio left me smiling. I then thought of all the wonderful bosses I've had in my lifetime. There was Gary, the CEO at the Private Investigator firm, an ex-colleague and personal friend of my Mothers. A couple of months after I left and went to the UK, he had a kidnap case involving Interpol in London and his wife tagged along so I met them at the Hilton Hotel and we went for coffee. It was so nice to see them and he gave me one of his big bear hugs with a huge package filled with home goodies from my Mother. Because the company was small-ish when I worked there, we were like a family and he was like the Godfather.

There was David, the Technical Director of Coca-Cola, who’d sit and entertain the outrageous and elaborate ideas of a somewhat idealistic and over-ambitious 22 year old Azra.

There was Angela and Susan in London, who encouraged me every step of the way when I stepped into my most challenging role to date. I was working for the British Government at the time and thrown into the deep end. I had to mediate between members of parliament, councillors and their constituents as well as learn how to use several of the most complicated Databases in record time; and never having worked on a Database before then, it was a nightmare. To this day, I still get job offers from Susan who wants me to come back to London.

Speaking of nightmares, there was the notorious Bradley, the Financial Director. When I walked into that company, every single person that I passed in the building offered their condolences. The woman that previously occupied my position was in hospital with a nervous breakdown. No kidding, he had driven her over the edge. Almost everyone I came into contact with had a horror story concerning Bradley and granted the man was an asshole to most people, but he was also one of the most articulate, meticulous and brilliant men I’ve ever worked with.

I assured them that I don’t get intimidated easily. In my first week there, we had a confrontation. He had embarrassed me in front of his peers and was obviously mistaken in thinking that because he got away with it with everyone else, that I’d leave it there. When he returned to his office, I entered, closed the door and told him that if he EVER spoke to me that way again, I’d leave immediately and he’ll have a lawsuit on his hands. I told him that he had to earn my respect if he expected me to work with and respect him. Later that day just as he left the office, he looked at me from the corner of his eye with a sly smile and said “I respect you Azra”, goodbye and left. And that was it. For the rest of my time there we worked great together. People were mystified and wanted to know how I managed to get it right. I got to know his wife and kids and when my contract ended and he was leaving to go to another company, he asked me to consider going with him. Again, re-location was a problem and I declined. But to this day, we still keep in touch.

When I think back on my career, I’ve been through so much its unbelievable. At the same time, I still feel like the more that I get to know, the more I find that I really don’t know anything. There’s still so much to learn. But I’m tired and I wish Housewife-ness was an option. Can I retire now and sit on my beach please.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keep Your Friends Close, Enemies Closer

On a typical day, I’m quite jovial. In fact, the only time I’m not laughing is when someone pisses me off. Even then, I’ll find some way to make a joke of it. Laughter has always been my coping mechanism and I can laugh at just about anything, except rape and war. Even the big day before my hearing, I was cracking up…conjuring up images of what it would be like if I were to go totally insane in court and start foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog with a lazy eye. That night my sisters and I laughed until we cried.

I was born with a bad temper and impatience. It usually takes a while for me to lose my temper, but when I do, I become fearless. A raging fire and nothing and no one can stand in my way. My impatience means that I’m naturally inclined to want everything done yesterday. Aside from those two character traits, I’m a fairly easy-going person. I’m not picky and don’t have demands or expectations from my friends. I’m also not judgmental or petty, and I’m the kind of person that will always try to make my friend feel more comfortable. It doesn’t take much to please me and the only thing I require from any and all my relationships is honesty.

Now my past is littered with all kinds of horrible, good and great friendships. I’ve had friends that fit in every category of the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as the spaces in between them and my experiences with them have been one hell-of-a learning curve. For this reason, I’m generally very wary of certain people. And it doesn’t help that I can read people really well since my bullshit radar is always working overtime, sorting the genuine people from the fraudsters.

However, I’ve found that knowing too much can sometimes be a curse. It can be detrimental to any budding relationship because it leaves no room for pretty rose-coloured illusions or ego-puffing fabrications. It hasn’t helped my love life at all because I’m always seeing the other person for who he really is, and not who he’s pretending to be with me. Sometimes I may even like who he really is, but the fact that he doesn’t like who he is puts a damper on things.

That said, I’ve taken the expertise I’ve gained through my interactions with people and compiled a little list. In the friendship chain, there are several types of species that live in co-habitation. Some of the characteristics displayed by these species are determined by the genetic marker, whilst others are purely intrinsic manifestations of what we like to call our ‘personalities’. The friendship chain can be structured and determined in two ways namely;

1. The Nature Chain: which include the categories of Parasite, Grazer and Predator; and
2. Symbiosis: featuring the categories of Commensalism, Mutualism, Parasitism and their derivatives.

The Butterflies
Category: Grazer
Relationship type: Mutualism
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet my fair share of butterflies, flitting about making their way through the world, doing their own thing. They are great friends because they are naturally good natured people who are pure of heart and have a positive and pleasant outlook on life. They are friendly and accept people for who they are. They rarely judge and are happy to just be, without wanting anything from the friendship in return. You can have great conversations with Butterflies because they’re open and accessible and give freely of themselves, their souls. They’re not too inhibited or opinionated and if they are, they keep their opinions to themselves. Naturally respectful creatures, you’ll rarely find a Butterfly in a dark or somber mood because they take life in their stride. However, their good nature may be taken advantage of by those with more sinister intentions because of their passivity. They are trustworthy and loyal friends and both parties will benefit from the friendship.

The Deer
Category: Grazer
Relationship type: Mutualism/Commensalism
The Deer are those nonchalant creatures that don’t give two fucks about the world. They’re less sociable and colder then The Butterflies. They also tend to be emotionally vacant, and graze their way through life ‘just chilling’. They are good friends because they cannot summon enough energy to care about petty things. Deer are the kind of friends that will engage in conversations or issues without getting too involved. They also can’t be bothered to gossip about it later on because frankly, they don’t care. The Deer’s loyalties lie with no one and they’re always the neutral party. They’re also the least passionate from all the classifications. They’re less outspoken and blunt then The Dogs, but more frank and candid then The Butterflies. Either one party is likely to benefit from the friendship with the other remaining indifferent, or in some cases, both parties will benefit from the friendship.

The Dogs
Category: Grazer/Predator
Relationship type: Mutualism/Commensalism
Fiercely loyal in nature, Dogs are great friends because they are honest. You will always know where you stand with a Bitch, they don't beat around the bush and have no qualms with telling it like it is. But for what Dogs lack in terms of tact and diplomacy, they more than make up for in love and friendship. They can be passive one moment, and aggressive the next, marking their territory, protecting their loved ones. Bitches are friends you have for life, the kind you can count on in any situation. Just call on them, and they’ll be there, ready and waiting to either give you a shoulder to cry on or bite the head off the transgressor. Not one to be taken for granted, Bitches like reciprocity. Both parties will benefit if the relationship is based on reciprocity, or if it is clear that there are no expectations in the relationship. They are usually hilarious company, a little hot headed and filled with passion, but if you can handle the heat, then the kitchen is your pearl baby!

The Maggots
Category: Grazer/Parasite
Relationship type: Commensalism/Parasitic
Maggots are the suckers and hypocrites of society. The ones who eat their friend’s shit because they are too insecure about who they are to actually stand up and defend themselves; then at the same time gossip about said friend. They’d be great friends if they weren’t ass creepers. They build their identities around the host friend, the leader of the pack because they don’t have enough personality to stand out independently and individually in a crowd. Sometimes they are so insecure, that they even adopt the host friends characteristics and traits, likes and dislikes. Their unhealthy association with the dominant host friend stunts their emotional and psychological growth. This association however, also benefits the Maggot in terms of social class and status. They are not the most reliable of people due to their fragile emotional states and the duality of their nature. Either one party is likely to benefit from the friendship with the other remaining indifferent, or one of the parties will be getting the short end of the stick.

The Rats
Category: Grazer/Parasite
Relationship type: Commensalism/Parasitic/Metabiotic
The Rats differ from the Maggots in that they are conniving assholes even though, at the core, they have good intentions. Rats are always looking after their own…their families or the little groups they’re associated with. So they will commit heinous acts, but it’s always in aid of ‘a greater purpose’. Think of the Mafia and the lengths they’ll go to, to provide for their families. Most Rats usually have some sort of gripe with the world at large, often believing that they’re superior and entitled to that which they claim unlawfully. They operate Metabiotically and have no qualms about claiming rights on things that are not their own. Rats are not the greatest friends on earth, unless you’re in the clique. They are unreliable, selfish, fickle, materialistic, overambitious bastards and don’t care who they have to step on to get to the top. Either one party is likely to benefit from the friendship with the other remaining indifferent, or one party will benefit from the friendship while the other pays the price.

The Snakes
Category: Predator/Parasite
Relationship type: Parasitic
Unfortunately, I know waaay too many Snakes and they are the bane of my existence. The worst of the lot. They’re those people who pretend to be your friend, or are on friendly terms in your face, but behind your back it’s a different story. They usually want to know everything about you, all the latest news and gossip, but aren’t willing to divulge any information about themselves because they’ll most likely use the acquired information against you to get what they want. They are evasive, secretive and pathological liars. Snakes are also pure takers in the friendship, and even when they give, they expect something in return. They will never do anything for anyone, not without looking to benefit in some way themselves. They’re also the most narcissistic and selfish of all the classifications and are usually attracted to people they can manipulate. These people are usually self-destructive and poisonous to everyone they come into contact with and are front-runners in the category of most likely to be murdered. The Snake will always benefit from the relationship, at the expense of their prey, I mean friend.

The Leeches
Category: Parasite
Relationship type: Parasitic/Phoretic/Inquilinitic
What do you get when you cross a Maggot and a Snake? Why, a Leech of course. These so-called friends will latch onto anything and anyone they can to get ahead. To them, its all about the Benjamins and every other currency you have. Phoretic friends are those friends that only ever want to be around you when you have a car or can drive them around. Inquilinitic friends are those friends that pitch up for an overnight stay and end up staying years or worse still, come to ‘depend’ on you out of sheer laziness. They are both pathetic and cunning creatures and love to play the ‘victim’ so that they can get their targets to help them out of pity. They play on the emotions of the naïve and are always scheming their way through life. Their friends are never really their friends, just people that are willing to give them what they want, thereby enabling their parasitic behavior. They will suck the life out of you, literally.

The Vultures
Category: Predator/Parasite
Relationship type: Metabiotic/Parasitic
Vultures are what you get when you cross between Rats and Snakes. They are also takers, hunters, but unlike The Rats, there’s no ‘greater purpose’ and every act is purely egocentric. They have no conscience and are not loyal to anyone but themselves. Vultures are not happy with having the first prize and will screw over everyone they come into contact with for the second, third and every other consolation prize as well. They will think nothing of stealing ideas and passing them off as their own, or just using people to get what they want. They are better than Snakes in that they won’t even bother to pretend to be your friend. Vultures are the assholes of the bunch mostly because they are so insecure and need to prove themselves to the world. But it’s not approval from others they seek. They seek a sense of superiority…status and power. They usually die with millions in the bank, hundreds of regrets and no friends.

There are so many more classifications I can think of…and cross classifications, because like I’ve said before, people are dynamic in nature and often encompass many different traits that’s difficult to ‘box’ or classify in one single category. And for some it’s not enough to just be fucking Snakes, they have to be Swine’s too. But this is all I have for now.

Remember, be the type of friend that you would want in your life.