Monday, July 26, 2010

Avarice

This is dedicated to the Father who refuses to let his son live his dreams, because those dreams don’t include working his life away to acquire (and then boast about) his possessions (namely a BMW), all in an attempt to garner admiration, respect and status in society.

This is for the Mother who prohibited her daughter from marrying the love of her life because he “worked too hard and earned too little” and had no social standing in the community; and then goaded and intimidated said daughter into a marriage with a wealthy abusive man who almost killed her, resulting in the most expensive 3 month wedding in history and adultery all around.

This is for the Man who thinks that his possessions are a substitute for morals and character.

This is for the Woman who thinks that spending R5000 on a pair of shoes and R14000 on a bag means that she’ll be more attractive and worthy of love, because those emotional voids don’t fill themselves. (I love shoes as much as the next woman does, but I’d rather skin a crocodile myself then pay R1000 for a pair. I find the mere suggestion insulting and an affront to my intelligence. No self-respecting person will pay obscene amounts of cash to attract attention and admiration. That’s the ultimate form of self-deprecation. If you think you’re a worthless piece of shit, your behaviour & your Manolo Blahniks will ratify and confirm those beliefs).

This is for those who’s self-esteem issues and emotional voids come with hefty price tags and are generally expensive to maintain.

This is for the Guy who believes that he’s not enough and that being a Millionaire is the only thing he has to offer his family and the world.

This is for the Housewife who thinks that the more she acquires, owns and hoards in her home, the more her friends and peers will respect and admire her.

This is for those who believe that Quantity trumps Quality.

This is for the Greedy Moron on Facebook who bought World Cup Final Tickets for R2800 and re-sold them for R16000 each. (Dude, if I’m going to pay R16000 for a ticket, it better include a week in Spain and a GHD).

This is for those Assholes who actually coughed up R16000 for R2800 seats, thus perpetuating and enabling such gratuitous, gluttonous behaviour.

This is for the Acquaintances who have gone to extraordinary lengths, which include indulging in some unlawful activities, to afford their migration to the city of Medina. Because they believe that living in one of Islam’s holiest cities makes them better than the rest of Humanity and exempts them from all accountability for any future atrocious actions.

This is for those (guilty) members of a rather large South African Muslim Asian community who took offense when I pointed out that they cannot live without pomp and ceremony, and that their existences revolve around ‘presentation’ and how things look to the outside world, often incurring debts so that they can garner outside approval and feel good about themselves.

This is for everyone who let’s Hollywood and Bollywood dictate who they should be and how they should live their lives with their warped perceptions and unrealistic expectations.

This is for those who spend all their time, energy and money trying to convince themselves and each other that they’re good enough; and not enough time, energy and money actually BEING good enough.

This is dedicated to my aunt’s neighbour who recently passed away at the age of 42. It was a shocker because he never really had any health problems and spent his entire life working. About four years ago, he built a huge mansion on a hill but never moved in. He never got married or had any kids and was staying with his ailing mother while he “waited for the right time” to live his life. His plan was to get married to the woman he was seeing and move into their house-on-the-hill, with separate quarters for his mother, and live happily ever after. But alas, he never got the chance to because the clock waits for no one and we all have an expiration date. He died having owned a huge fully furnished house that he never lived in, with two brand new German cars in his garage that he never drove. 
Sometimes, there is no “right time”. The time is now. Money is not the root of all evil. Greed is.

And finally, this is for Me. A constant reminder that my time here on earth is like a drop of water in the ocean and that my connection to the world is nothing more than that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. ~ Oscar Wilde

Dunyā (دُنْيا) is a word in Arabic which means, in Islamic terminology, the temporal world—and its earthly concerns and possessions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dear Blog

To: The Promised Land                                    
Cnr. Heaven & My Imagination Blvds.        
Azrania,                                                                 
Celestia                                                                  
                                                                                
From: Miss Azra
Not Quite Dante's Inferno Str.
Johannesburg,
South Africa,
Africa,
Earth,
Milky Way,
Universe                                                                               
                                                      
Dear Blog

I like you.

You’re my little haven. The one place I can call home. You allow me to bitch and moan and whine and laugh at my leisure. Your world is the epitome of perfection.

There are no wars or injustices. There are no eggs.

In The Promised Land there are no insecure, greedy, hypocritical, transparent, pathological lying, ego-tripping, attention-seeking, power hungry scavengers lurking on every corner.

There is no need to iron our clothing. Ever.

There is no stress or sorrow. My hair is always nice and glossy and never goes home.

There are no queues, traffic or tax laws. And the stapler and printer ALWAYS work… no frustrating jams.

There are no Cultural, Social or Political divisions and constraints.

There are no scars or stretch marks. And no plumbing emergencies.

There are no hidden agendas.

Instead, there’s Peace. Comfort. Love. Hope.

Everyone is Equal. And Pretty.

There are Nutella waffles for breakfast. Laughter for Lunch.

There’s Fun and Adventure. And I don’t ever have to go to the gym.

There is Freedom. Freedom from oppressors, tyrants and dictators. Freedom from Evil. Freedom from Want.

There are endless possibilities. And unlimited bandwidth.

There is beauty in everything.

Life is a game and we’re always winning…

Yes. I like you. And I think I shall reside here permanently.

So much going on at the moment. So much I need to do. So much I want to say... all in good time. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thin Line Between Love & Hate

From all the eye candy I had over the past month, and there have been LOADS of B-EAUUU-TI-FUL men on the green, I must say that this guy has captivated me the most.

It started off somewhat hostile. I hated him. No, I mean I HATED him from the very first time I saw him, which was even before Uruguay played against South Africa and Ghana. But this wasn’t the average run-of-the-mill kind of hatred where the antagonist usually proves his/her assholiness in time, thus verifying and warranting the negative emotion and justifying my feelings.


No, there was more to it than that because as much as I hated Diego Forlan, I was equally mesmerized by him. His drive, vigor, determination and passion on the field are all characteristics that I can strongly identify with; characteristics that I possess myself and hold in high esteem. It’s that fiery spirit that he possesses coupled with his skills and abilities, masked by that calm and composed exterior that initially intrigued me. He seemed so sure of himself, so focused, that he almost unnerved everyone else around him.

And so I hated him for no particular reason other than wanting to rip of that hideous headband and give him a bath. My hatred, compounded with my unnatural interest in him confused me. It was Mother who put the cards on the table and suggested that I was secretly attracted to him and that I didn’t want to be, because somewhere in the recesses of my twisted mind, I don’t believe that I should be attracted to someone like him. My subconscious expectations and the idea of who I should be attracted to conflicted with my reality causing inner conflict, and I didn’t want to admit it to myself or anyone else so it was easier to hate him for it.

Mother knows me a little too well for my liking and needless to say, this revelation shocked the shit out of me. At first I thought it was absolutely preposterous, ludicrous, absurd! And when it dawned on me that it could very well be true, I was stunned, slightly overwhelmed and appalled too.

Diego Forlan turned out to be the guy that I hated because I secretly wanted him. If this was a movie, I’d be Tamina and he’d be Dastan. I was floored! Utterly disgusted with myself. My family laughed for days, like it was the funniest thing they had ever heard of in their entire lives while I felt like my body had betrayed me – how was I ever going to trust myself again?! And the reason I was so shocked and surprised by this discovery is because from all the players out there, Diego Forlan is the one man who is seriously NOT my type... not physically anyway. Firstly, I don’t do blonde. EVER. Secondly, I can’t look at him for longer than a minute without wanting to shave his head. And thirdly, that self assurance that he has in spades and uses to unnerve his opponents has the same effect on me as well.

So why on earth would I fancy a guy that a) I don’t know and never heard of before the World Cup; b) would never ordinarily be interested in; and c) plays for a team demonized by an entire continent and wears an atrocious headband during these games?

I dug around to find out.

Behind the composed, seemingly calculating figure known as Diego Forlan there is a man whose character speaks volumes on and off the pitch. Coming from a family of Footballers, Forlan decided to pursue Tennis and began honing his skills when a car accident left his sister Alejandra, five years his senior, paralysed and in intensive care for 5 months. The accident was catastrophic and left the once middle-class family with medical bills mounting to over $250,000.

Diego Maradona, a friend of Forlan’s father Pablo who was a former Uruguay International footballer, then stepped in to help the family with fundraising, making a substantial contribution to the fund to ease their financial woes. As witness to their misfortune, a 12 year old Forlan then decided to dedicate his life to a career in football so that he could make enough money to make his sister’s life as easy as possible.

“The first thing he told me when I was lying in the hospital was that he would be a famous football player and make money to get me the best doctors in the world...” ~ Alejandra

Forlan then began honing his skills on the pitch and quickly became one of the most promising players in South America. Diego Maradona recognized the potential in the young player and through his network of contacts in Europe, Forlan began his career with Manchester United, putting an end to his family’s financial difficulties. Off the field, Diego Forlan set up an organization in his sister’s name to help others in a similar plight.

“She was an inspiration to me then and she has been ever since… she is a special person with a special spirit. She helps to spur me on and I represent her on the field.” ~ Diego Forlan on his sister Alejandra

“It gives me such joy to see him perform... I know how hard he worked to get to this point and he deserves every success in the world. When he runs, he is doing it for me too.” ~ Alejandra

Forlan, who is quite fond of children, also set up a soccer school with his father in Uruguay to teach youngsters about the game and ethics in the game of football.

What surprised me most was that during his time here in South Africa, he said that he felt nostalgic in Kimberley and that it reminded him of home. Lone, dusty, gritty middle-of-no-where Kimberley, of all places! So much so that the Uruguayan Football Association has signed an agreement with the local provincial government at their Kimberley base to develop a football program in the small mining city; a project that involves Uruguayan trainers and players coming to Kimberley to coach aspiring players, as well as coaching some players in Uruguay over the next five to six years:

"We have a moral obligation," said Uruguay Football Association president Sebastian Bauza. "Kimberley was a heavenly complex. It was our home."

During the World Cup, unlike other teams, Forlan and his team mates opened up their training sessions to the people of Kimberley, who had adopted and welcomed them with open arms, so that youngsters and aspiring footballers could watch them play. Forlan spent most of his time taking photos and video clips with his cellphone, one of him cuddling a lion cub and others relaxing with his team mates and posted them on Facebook & Twitter.

This is a man that is so humble, that he even refused to take any sole credit when FIFA declared him the best player of the tournament, rightly so, and honoured him with the Golden Ball Award. He has repeatedly insisted that the Award belongs to all his team-mates, for he is nothing without them even though he is the driving force behind them.

And just like that, I see the beauty in Diego Forlan. It’s his spirit, his human-ness that makes him just as, or even more beautiful than most of the other players in the tournament. He is the ultimate Alpha-Male... every woman wants a man who's not controlling but in control. And how can we not love that?

And this doesn’t hurt either:

From all the teams, the Uruguayans first priority was to enjoy South Africa and their time here, to enjoy the tournament, mingle with the people and enjoy they did judging from the little excursions they took in between their games. They took a genuine interest in South Africa.

Upon their return home, the team was treated to a parade where despite the cold weather 150,000 people gathered to congratulate them on coming fourth in the tournament. Their success in the World Cup, after 40 years, brought renewed hope to a nation that has been struggling to find its place in the world. "Managing to unite the whole country is incredible. This was unthinkable," ~ Diego Forlan
Hope. Thats what everyone strives for at the end of the day innit.

PS. I still want to shave his head though.
PPS. And I still want to kick Suarez :P

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Fortnight In Pictures: Johannesburg World Cup 2010

It's taken me two days to put this post together, seeing that Seacom has been experiencing problems and it's been hell uploading everything with a permanently wonky connection. But I was patient. So far, I’ve taken over 4000 photographs using a digital camera and three cell phone camera’s. Here are just a few random ones I’ve taken in and around Johannesburg over the last two weeks. Some were taken in haste or on the go… so the quality of the photos (especially the ones taken with the cell phone cameras) differ. click on images to enlarge

OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, Johannesburg is bustling early in the morning. Resturants were packed and it is estimated that over 1 million people entered the country in the last few weeks.

The roads leading to and from the airport are lined with national flags from all the participating countries, welcoming foreigners.

Another early morning in Braamfontein which is mostly a business district although it's also home to a few locals and immigrants and is an extention (of sorts) of Johannesburg City.

Watching the game at Melrose Arch which has become a popular venue for locals and visitors alike.

A few Spanish and Honduran supporters are united in song... singing the same songs together in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton.

Algerian tourists and supporters sit back and relax with a cup of tea. Both are associates of a well known SA actor.

Representing Ghana (along with millions of other people), these two supporters were quite amusing.

Never to be left out, Brazil supporters made their allegiances known, in 3D.

When you have a bunch of girls out and about having a great time, hunger is bound to strike and only a Chicken Triple Decker Pizza from Debonairs will do.

Fast-food chain Nando's and their notorious cheeky ads always turn heads at every outlet. This effigy says "I'll do anything to make our foreign visitors happy" and several people have taken pics here, placing their faces strategically on the woman's neck.

These kids are pro's at blowing their Vuvuzelas outsite Grand Central Café in Melrose Arch.


An epic Japanese and Spanish showdown. The crowds loved it. It was hilarious and these are some of the nicest people I've ever met. I spent a significant amount of time talking to them and getting their views on the World Cup and South Africa.

When they walked into the Square, someone actually said "Don't these guys know they lost the game?". Well they did and were there to sell their tickets for Paraguay's Quarterfinal against Spain, Category 3 at face value which was USD$150. This guy is actually a Comedian back in his home country. Love the arrow going through his head.

The Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg overlooking Johannesburg City. The Plaza is made up of a number of shops and kiosks owned mostly by Asian businessmen.

One can find almost anything here, from clothing to spices, curtains, crockery, the latest trends from all over the world and oriental flair at bargain prices.

People came out in their numbers, despite the cold, to say goodbye to Ghana's Black Stars in a parade starting in Vilakazi Street, Soweto and ending at Melrose Arch's Kia Emporium.

Being the only African team in the Quarter Final meant that Ghana managed to unite the entire continent of Africa as most put their support behind the team. Even Nelson Mandela voiced his support in a letter to the team wishing them good luck before the game.

Even though the team lost to Uruguay, Africa is still proud of them.

I saw these two kids while driving through Western, one of the less affluent areas in Johannesburg. They were so cute I had to whip out my cellphone and take this pic before driving off.

At sunset, a lone man walks down the street in Newclare, on his way to the Mosque. This Mosque is one of the few in SA that has facilities for both men and women.

When I had initially heard about this, I couldn't believe it. Our President, Jacob Zuma was to head a star studded team in the Special Olympics Cup at Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town ahead of the Quarter Final kickoff. When I actually saw footage of him "training" and running on the field like a Teletubby, I couldn't help but laugh in admiration. This is why I like this man and even though I may not always agree with him, I can respect that he's socially invested.  (photo courtesy news24.com)

Everytime I look at this pic, Soccer City with Johannesburg City in the background from National Geographic, it takes my breath away. Yeah, I no longer think that the stadium looks like a dirty spaceship. :)