Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weird Encounters

If you’re an avid reader of my other blog, you’ll know that I am no stranger to weird encounters. The very first time was that day I was accosted by the beggar with his message. It was a terrible time for me and life looked so bleak, I was at a point where I just about lost all hope and was about to lose my faith in The Almighty too. So when he said those words, it shocked me so much that it shook my reality.

I’ve had two other similar experiences since then and interestingly enough, both came at a time when I was questioning The Almighty and feeling utterly hopeless about my life.

The second time it occurred sometime after I returned to SA from my lengthy stay London. I was with a friend and we were driving on a lesser known empty road in the middle of no where. I happened to be unemployed at the time and it felt like Murphy was getting paid for all the overtime he put in because everything in my life that could go wrong, did. At that time, a potential budding relationship came to an abrupt end, I was absolutely broke, utterly depressed about being back in SA, felt like my life was going no where, wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with the ‘rents… I was just in a complete state of turmoil and the friend I was with wasn’t any better off, having just suffered a robbery the previous day, worrying about a sick parent in hospital and suffering from chronic family issues.

And so we drove in silence on that long, winding, seemingly abandoned road… each of us brooding over our own pathetic lives. And every now and then, the silence would be punctuated with a deep sigh. She sat in the passenger seat and stared blankly out of the window and with a heavy heart, I looked out onto the long road ahead, unconsciously conversing with God… wanting to know what I’d done to be in the position I was in. When I think back to that day, I can still feel the devastation that hung in the air, the anguish that clung to the leather seats as we desperately tried to cut through the thick darkness of desperation.

We drove through the lone street, the landscape shrouded with huge trees… mostly Yellow-wood or Pine trees and what looked like grand leafy Birches… dotted here and there with clusters of Weeping Willows. The trees seemed to echo our sentiments and we went through moments where they looked at us menacingly, accusingly… unforgiving. The Willows were as sad as we felt, weeping tears that we hadn’t yet shed. The sun, it seemed, peeped out playfully through the clouds and branches, laughing and mocking at us as we whizzed along, taunting us with memories of better days gone by. I remember the utter dejection… lost in a desert of hopelessness and my heart whispered a little prayer, desperately grasping for something to take me out of that situation.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere I saw a flash of pink. It was more fuchsia. Anyways, the bright colour caught my attention immediately and jolted me out of my pity-coma, and then I saw it again. It appeared to be a female arm flailing over-zealously in the wind, frantically wanting us to come to a halt.

I panicked briefly knowing that it wasn’t the safest of all roads to pull over but eventually and quite hesitantly, stopped the car in the middle of the road. It was indeed a woman, Caucasian and in her mid to late fifties standing on the side of the road waving frantically. I calmed down considerably seeing that she was female but still had my guard up because TIA (This Is Africa) after all and I wasn’t in the market to be fooled, and was certainly not in the right mood or frame of mind not to be suspicious.

So the pink lady called out to us, apologizing in a tizz, mumbling and saying that she needed help getting into her car while pointing to an ancient VW Fox parked inside a desolate church courtyard. For a minute, my conscious mind wrestled with my morals… feeling somewhat alarmed yet obligated, cautious but compelled to help her. My mind raced with all kinds of thoughts and possibilities and for a brief moment I envisioned her and her hidden accomplice pulling out their guns and demanding all our valuables, then finding out that all we had were cheap cell phones and some change, then deciding to shoot us both in our heads and leave us for dead. I mean, T.I.A and anything is possible. I could even see the headlines in the local newspaper “Two females shot dead in hijacking”.

Then the pink lady said “Please. Please. I’m not a criminal, I swear”, and I still wasn’t convinced because it’s not like a criminal is going to come up to you and say “Hi I’m a criminal, nice to meet you”. But there was something in the tone of her voice that caught me and my morals won out as I thought to myself, what’s the worst that could happen? Besides, my friend and I were both at a point where we would have welcomed death with both arms and a cup of tea. So I drove into the empty courtyard and switched off the engine about 2 meters away from her car, carefully leaving the key in the ignition just in case we had to jump back in and make a runner.

My friend immediately went to inspect the vehicle and we found that while the pink lady had a key, there must have been a fault somewhere because the door refused to unlock. She then decided to see if she could get into the car through the boot (trunk) while the pink lady rambled on about how she got to where she was. And I stood there the whole time, listening intently, waiting for her and her hidden accomplice to take out their guns and shoot us in our heads.

Then all of a sudden, I don’t quite know what happened but it was like Pandora’s Box had been pried open and out gushed a sea of emotion from the pink lady. She said that they (she & her husband) had bought the car two days earlier and paid R18 000 in cash for it… money that they didn’t have since their business went under the previous year after they were robbed at gunpoint (at this moment I was still waiting for her and her hidden accomplice to pull out their guns and shoot me in the head). They were forced to live off, and subsequently lost all their savings, since being white and in your late fifties / early sixties means that it’s impossible to get a job here.

At this point she began to tremble and weep uncontrollably. I was quite surprised but I’ll never forget what she told me. She said: “I never thought I’d be here at this age, loaning money from the bank so that we can make a living, so that we can eat. I ask God why. Why is he doing this to us? I’m a good person. I try to help anyone I can. I go to church everyday. I pray everyday. But the Devil is everywhere, toying with me. Where is God?.”

It took everything in me not to weep with her and I found myself forgetting about her hidden accomplice and their guns while I wrapped my arms around her, trying to console and comfort her. I told her that sometimes God tests us in many ways… that it’s all just a test and that we shouldn’t give up hope… that we should have faith in Him even on our darkest days. I said that I would pray for her, that God makes it easy for them and that they succeed in whatever else they decide to pursue.

I saw my friend in the back seat, opening the door from inside when I realised that I had just gotten my answer. The pink lady was in a predicament a hundred times worse then mine. Her woes weighed heavily on her and her ailing husband, and her solutions were an even steeper uphill battle. I couldn’t help but feel grateful that I wasn’t worse off… that my problems were inconsequential compared to hers.

At the end, she was very grateful for our help and I waited until she drove off on her way, disappearing into the horizon while my heart said a little prayer for her too. And then it hit me. Everything the pink lady was telling me was what I had felt as I was driving down that long desolate road, and strangely enough in comforting her, I was consoling myself too. I found it even more amazing that the very words I needed to hear were coming from my own mouth.

The mountain I’d been carrying on my shoulders that entire day suddenly evaporated into the wind and the cool breeze rustled the leaves of the surrounding trees. They didn’t look so patronizing anymore and it seemed like the clouds had lifted and sun was smiling down on us as we continued our journey with renewed vigor and hope.

For more on my Weird Encounters, go here. If you're new and require access, pop me a mail.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Brothers In Humanity

You know things are bad when Zionist Jews are defending the Principles of Islam against derogatory remarks made by some very ignorant people.

Big ups to the three guys (two Zionist Jews and a Christian) who pushed aside their religious differences and political agendas and came to the defense of a Muslim girl when she was being questioned about being a terrorist by some daft people (who also happened to be Christian).

These men.... (and one of them is such an asshole; not because he's a Jew, but because he's your regular everyday asshole and ticks all the boxes on the assholiness criteria)... anyways, these men defended Islam and Islamic principles, highlighting the overwhelming similarities between Judaism and Islam and the parallel's between Islam and Christianity too. They chastised and condemned the ignorance of the antagonising group and even went as far as stating that they too believe in Islam, its principles and its legitimacy as one of God's chosen religions.

It's one of those things that warms the cockles of my heart... one of those things that gives me hope in a cold cynical world... one of those rare things that make me truly proud to be South African. The notion that at the end of the day, we can all put aside our agendas, prejudices and differences, and use our humanity to stand up for what is right, for no other reason than it being the right thing to do.

I also believe that if we do the right thing as Muslims, our passivity and spiritual strength will prevail and this oppressor-ship will not last. We won't have to fight any wars because those Christians and Jews etc. who possess solid consciences, who know right from wrong, who are witnesses to the victimisation, will stand up and fight on our behalf. And then we'll have Zionist Jews defending Islam and Christians fighting other Christians on behalf of Islam as well. It's already happening. Now isn't that Ironic. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SA's Version Of Lady Gaga's Meat Dress

My cousin forwarded this email to me yesterday, and it was too good not to share. So here we have haute couture, a Franc Fernandez original, made from beef I believe:

And here's the knock-off South African hout carnivore version. South African’s love their boerewors. I particularly like the small Tupperware on his head but can't make out what he's using as a purse... think it's a pigs leg:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bubbles Of Hope & Dreams Of Luck

A couple of days ago I was in my room and overheard Oprah talking to Simon Cowell on TV in the lounge, on one of her many repeated shows on SABC 3. There was one particular thing that she said that caught my attention. She said that she doesn’t believe in luck and that she believes that "luck" is simply preparation meeting the moment of "opportunity".

I immediately thought to myself that only someone living in the first-world could say something like that. That’s the difference between first-world and third-world living. See in the third-world, everyone knows that most of the time, that "opportunity" is in itself pure luck. And in countries like Zimbabwe, those "opportunities" are damn near-miracles.

And I think that’s why I loved London so much. I always felt like I could achieve anything I wanted to. There were always ample "opportunities" and options to fulfill whatever dream or aspiration I had. There was always the luxury of choice… a means. I always felt like I could accomplish anything… I had the world at my feet… I could be whoever I wanted to be.

But the unfortunate third-world truth is that the luxury of "opportunity" and choice is absent for most people around the world. For instance, for those living in rural villages in abject poverty, without running water and electricity, there is no recourse for them… for most there are no "opportunities" or choices to change their circumstances. Compared to their lives, the average person lives the life of a king.

And sometimes in the third-world, for the average and slightly more fortunate like myself, we can prepare all we like… we can be the embodiment of prepared-ness… but if that "opportunity" doesn’t come, it means nothing.

So I want to know from Oprah, while she’s sitting in her mansion and munching on her 5 course meal, or fueling her private jet, or flying Anastasia to Chicago to do her eyebrows for a couple grand every week… where are their "opportunities"?

There are no community colleges in the area… heck for most there aren’t even schools in their districts. And then there are those that are more concerned with erm, y'know pesky little things like surviving and finding ways to feed their families just once a day with a few potatoes or some maize meal sans any condiments (grits, I believe, is what you call it). They don’t even have salt or sugar to enhance the flavour of their paltry rations.

So where are their choices and opportunities Miss Oprah? And while the UK and US compete in their food wastage numbers (an average of 6.7 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK & the US throws away a staggering $43 Billion Dollars worth of food annually) I get the feeling that your experiences as a child, your version of impoverished (along with most of us average or privileged folk) cannot even begin grasp the real concept of what it means to be poor. So while you lounge and ponder on  all the "opportunities" you've had over the years here...
... spare a thought for those who live on hope and the dream of "luck", that they may eat tomorrow as well...
I will never negate the fact that anything worth having in life comes with a lot of hard work. But for most in the third-world, the chances of the "opportunity" arriving is 50/50. It’s a gamble and there are no guarantees. So for most, we rely a great deal on "luck" and hope and prayer because The Almighty always takes care of that which belongs to Him… and that's how we survive through our realities.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Queen & The Peasant Girl

Last year sometime, I was chatting to one of my aunts about her niece, Nazley, who was (at that time) seeing a guy that the entire family wasn’t particularly fond of. But it was something they’d become accustomed to because Nazley had a history of attracting the worst amongst men, the majority being complete assholes who were only interested in what they could get from her.

At that time it was a bit of a conundrum because Nazley was this beautiful, intelligent, educated, successful woman who just couldn’t seem to find a decent man to settle down with. Then Nazley met the asshole and suddenly they were talking about getting married. He was unemployed but insisted that he didn’t want to wait to get a job before they got married and even suggested that she take over all the financial obligations until he got a job. Her desperation made her acquiesce to this request but it soon became apparent that it was never his intention to get a job after it was revealed that he had actually turned down a few offers that came his way. Thankfully, a few weeks later Nazley saw the light and called it off.

Around that time my aunt asked me my thoughts on why Nazley always picked the wrong guys and why she wasn’t married yet, and my first response to the complex situation was that she was too desperate, too available… which was true because for as long as I’ve known her (since birth) her main aim and objective in life was to get married.

But being too willing or “desperate” wasn’t Nazley’s only problem and I found that for some reason, she never ever believed in herself and had no sense of self-worth. The direct result was that she was always settling for third or fourth or fifth best because she never ever felt like she deserved better. And every piece-of-shit-walking-on-two-legs who showed some interest in her got her affection because she was just too “grateful” that they were interested at all. The irony was that most of the guys she chose paled in comparison to her.

My aunt then asked me with a smirk, “What about you? Why aren’t you married? Don’t you believe in yourself?”. I told her back then that the problem with me was that I believed in myself too damn much. I said “maybe I should stop believing in myself so much and then I’ll get married”. We laughed for the rest of the day.

A few days ago I came across this theme once more whilst reading and commenting on Humayda’s blog. I know I’ve addressed issues surrounding low-self esteem before. The thing with confidence is that it has nothing to do with other people, it’s all about you… its your opinion and perception of yourself being the only one that counts. And that’s where confidence differs from arrogance. See, arrogance is all about other people... it's a façade intent on influencing their perceptions/ views/ opinions about you.

I’ve had people tell me in the past “You think you’re so wonderful” and I’d reply “No, YOU think that I’M wonderful, so you think that I think that I’m wonderful and then you resent me for it”.

My views and opinions and perceptions of who I am are not dictated by others and has nothing to do with anyone. Like I've said before, I'm not looking for acclaim or validation or approval. When it comes to confidence and knowing thyself… knowing your strengths and limitations… I find that many people are either confused or they’re more inclined to believe the negative. Then there are those insecure pricks with low self-esteem that feel threatened and intimidated by the more confident ones so they tend to pick on or slag those individuals in an attempt to shatter that confidence… because making someone else feel bad is the only way that they can feel good about themselves.

When I was younger, my Mother always told me to "reach for the stars, who knows you may just land on the moon"... and a dreamer was born. I always had the most elaborate dreams and fantasies about my life and always found myself at odds with my reality. I was delusional like that. But growing up and looking back, I find that most of those dreams and aspirations have been realised... so I guess dreaming big actually helped me and it built my confidence.

Sometimes I think that maybe I do think too damn much of myself. I'm like the Mule that’s convinced it's an Arabian Stallion. Worse even, I'm convinced that I deserve nothing less than the Arabian Stallion lifestyle and will settle for nothing less. And I’m aware that to some I come across as rude and arrogant. But firstly I value myself too much to actually care what others think (my sense of self and my self-worth is all about me and has nothing to do with others remember?) and secondly I know ME and I know that’s not who I am and their perceptions of me shouldn't influence MY perception of me.

I always see myself as both the Queen and the Peasant Girl. The Peasant Girl is grounded, hard working, honest and has been through some very tough times. And the Queen is more regal, erudite, composed and in control. The Queen in me never lets anyone treat the Peasant Girl in me like crap... and the Peasant Girl is always loyal to the Queen. It’s this dichotomy that drives me and keeps me balanced… makes me confident… and I need both parts to function equally. Too much "Queen" and I'd be an arrogant bitch and too much "Peasant" and I'd be a push-over. So once again, all things in moderation. As you were ;D

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Daddy Cool

It seems like Advertising Agencies in our Telecommunications Industry never fail to run out of ideas. Here's the latest offering from Vodacom:

The song is catchy and I find the concept outrageously hilarious. The sequel to this commercial is even funnier... the one where Daddy Cool is all morose & sad with the track "All By Myself" playing in the background... but I can't seem to find the link now... it's late and I'm tired. *yawn*

That said... this still has to be one of my FAVOURITE ads of all time. It aired in the UK around 2006 and I think the digital manipulation / mastery is brilliant. And of course, I absolutely LOVE the dancing ;)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Parents & Their Failures

A few weeks ago I heard a story that I can’t seem to get out of my mind. My aunt’s neighbour’s 18 year old self-obsessed empty shell daughter, Lamees, was at home one day supposedly babysitting her 4 year old brother while their mother was out shopping. Her brother had one of his pre-school friends, a 3 and a half year old boy, over for a play-date. So they were busy playing inside her room and she left them for a few seconds to answer the telephone, and when she returned, this 3 year old kid told her that he had to go home.

Not really paying any attention, she let him leave the house by himself. About an hour later, the 3 year old kid’s grandmother arrived at the house and asked to speak to her mother who had just returned from her shopping trip. When the Grandmother was alone with her mother, she handed her R500 in cash not saying anything other than it belonged to her. The Grandmother then left, and confused, the mother asked Lamees if she had any money missing from her purse. She went to check and found that the R500 that she had in her purse was missing. In a panic, she began looking for it in her bag, thinking that she may have misplaced it when her mother handed it to her and told her what happened.

Apparently this 3 year old kid stole the money from her purse and then went straight home to give it to his Grandmother. Furious, Lamees wanted to go over there and punish him but her mother convinced her not to.

When I heard this story, I wanted to go and bitch-slap this Lamees chick until she saw stars in broad daylight. I mean, lets use our heads here… this is a 3 year old kid who lives with his Grandmother because his parents can’t take care of him. If this kid was just being naughty and wanted the money for himself, he would have went straight to the shops and splurged on chocolate, coke and chips… or at the very least, a game or two… he wouldn’t have gone straight home and given it to his Grandmother.

Now can you imagine, just imagine, what must this kid be going through if he is worried about his Grandmother and her finances… worried to such an extent that he would take someone else’s money and give it to her. He is 3 years old! What does he know?! He should be allowed to be a kid and play with reckless abandon and not be worrying endlessly about his Grandmother’s well-being. And then on top of it, this 18 year old moron wants to go and beat him up. I seriously wanted to rip off her ears and shove them where the sun don’t shine, so that she can hear me kick her ass.

My heart broke for this little boy. And I was instantly reminded of an incident a few months back when I was a substitute teacher at the Primary School in Johannesburg. On one of the days, I was supervising 41 eight year old kids that were bored and restless, so to keep them busy I asked them each to write down or draw what they’d wish for if they had 3 wishes.
A couple of hours later and I sat there, reading each child’s wishes and I was broken! I could tell, from what each child wished for, what the current circumstances in their homes were like. It was quite apparent that only a third of the class were what we’d call “well adjusted”. They usually wished for trivial things like toys.

A staggering two thirds of the class was struggling emotionally or psychologically in some or other way. Here are just a few of the wishes that were made:

“I wish my mother could get money to pay my school fees”

“I wish to taste a burger”

“I wish I could get new shoes this year for Christmas”

“I wish that my sister never died”

“I wish that my father would come back to us”

“I wish I could win the Lotto and buy my mother her own house”

“I wish for a car to take my mother to work so she doesn’t have to take the taxi at 4 o’ clock (am)”

The number of heart breaking wishes were endless. Most of the kids were carrying their parent’s burdens, worrying about and taking on responsibilities that were not theirs to take. These were 8 year old kids! They should be out playing on the field and kicking stones, not worrying about their parent’s well-being and their finances.

Y’know, I don’t have kids and I will never profess to know how difficult it is to raise them, especially since they don’t come with instruction manuals etc. But if there is one thing I do know, it’s that when you’re a parent, you and your selfish needs are pushed aside and your kid is a priority. Yes, you should still take care of yourself before you go taking care of others, but check your ego at the door.

A lot of parents see their children as an extension of themselves, rather than as individual people in their own right that have their own choices, requirements and desires.

The kid whose sister passed away was obviously still grieving because he mentioned her several times in different areas of his school work… yet it felt like no one was paying attention. Did his parents even know he felt this way? Did they even stop to think for one minute how this loss affected him, or were they too absorbed in their own pain? The sad part is that any comfort or reassurance he needs, he can only get from his parents… no teacher or substitute will do.

I’ve seen many new-age parents who only ever care about themselves… their social lives and their love lives… often neglecting their children’s emotional needs. Others only ever care about money, making the child feel like he/she is a burden to the family.

I know a woman who’s not much older than I am and she has four kids. Her youngest one was born a few months ago and is positively one of the most pleasant and beautiful babies I’ve ever seen in my life. She never cries… NEVER. She’s always smiling, calm and passive. But for some reason, her mother is just not interested. This absolutely stunning baby is like an inconvenience to her. Now I understand that with her other kids, things can become a little hectic. But this woman doesn’t even work. She has a live-in nanny that takes care of all the kids because she doesn’t want to have to deal with them. As a joke, I suggested that she give me the baby and I’ll return her when she’s 4 years old and she was seriously thinking about it (her husband would never agree but this child is too gorgeous not to try my luck). And that’s her life… it takes two hours to do her hair and make-up every morning and that is more important to her than feeding her baby.

A lot of people wonder why the kids of today act like young adults, too big for their boots, aged beyond their years. It’s no wonder that they’re all little adults, because they’re all sitting with adult problems. Your problems should never be your kids’ problems. If you’re on a tight budget, then let them know there’ll be no luxuries for a while instead of burdening them with financial issues. Your finances is your problem… it’s your job as an adult to see to it, and has nothing to do with them. And similarly, your love life is not for you to share. It harms and scars them almost irreversibly.

I know another woman who got married young and divorced a decade later. She lives quite isolated, away from her family and she doesn’t have many reliable friends, so her support network isn’t as strong as it should be. The result is that she thinks it’s appropriate to share details of her love life with her 15 year old daughter and every time she fights with her new boyfriend, she goes to her daughter seeking comfort and emotional support. So now, her daughter sees her as more of a friend than a mother, has lost respect for her mother’s authority and thinks its ok to challenge or question her mother when she tries to push her boundaries. In her mind, they’re equals.

A long time ago, when I was around 12 or 13, I can remember someone telling me that my Mother should be my friend. I asked her what she meant by that. She said that my Mother should be someone I can talk to about anything. So I told her then, as my Mother has told me many times over the years, that she will NEVER be my friend even though I can and do tell her everything that’s going on in my life. Even today, my Mother flat out refuses to be my friend on Facebook. That is a line she will never cross because we are not equals and as my Mother there are certain boundaries of her authority that I have to respect. If she makes a rule that I don’t like, I should still adhere to it and not get angry because I feel betrayed by my “friend”.

I’m always talking about moderation here and it applies to parenting too. A staggering amount of people spoil their kids rotten and the result is that two decades later, the rest of the world has to sit with an asshole. My Grandfather always said that you don’t bring your kids up for yourself, you bring them up for the world. Children need and WANT to be disciplined (read disciplined NOT abused). They need boundaries because it’s what makes them feel safe. I know a man who’s too afraid that his kids won’t like him so he forces his wife to do all the chastising and punishing, so that he can look like a hero. What a spineless bastard. Newsflash: your kids are not going to like you all the time… it’s the law of nature. And they don’t have to like you, but they have to respect you.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have those that should have never spawned in the first place. There are so many people out there dying to have kids… dying to have what so many people take for granted and still those that were blessed do not see their blessings.

In one of the First Grade classes I taught in, there is a 6 year old boy named Kagiso. And ever since the school year began, Kagiso has been raising hell, driving his teacher and all the other teachers as well as the principal up the wall. They’ve taken him to specialists to establish whether or not he has ADHD or some other psychological problem, but he tested negative. He’s a bright kid, but rebellious to the core. And nothing fazes him… no shouting, no punishment, no kind of admonishment gets to him. He’s disruptive and destructive and often beats up his fellow class mates and steals their stationary, and he’ll destroy public property, or steal or break something belonging to one of the teachers etc. He loves being hated you know why? Because that’s the only time he feels loved. When he misbehaves and all the attention is on him, it’s the only time he feels like he matters because when he’s at home, nobody even acknowledges his existence. His parents are too caught up in their own lives and his siblings are much older than he is, so they don’t have time for him. He’s a chronic attention seeker… a trait that could be detrimental to him as he grows up.

It’s normal for kids to be naughty… naughty is normal. But children are not born rude and arrogant and entitled… those are traits that they are taught, traits that they cultivate.

And if there’s one thing I despise and do not tolerate, it’s a rude kid. It’s a direct reflection of the blatant parental failure in that kids life. I’ve said it before, I’m a disciplinarian by nature... ask Kagiso why he’ll NEVER misbehave in my presence again. So here’s a stern warning to all the parents and soon-to-be parents and future parents out there… if you can’t do your job as a parent and teach your children the right way because you're too obsessed with your own selfish needs, don’t mind if I do. And I will beat the manners into every rude little shit that comes my way. And if you have a problem with that, I will beat all those short-comings and parental failures out of you too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's A Girl Thing

Firstly, we don’t expect men to understand. Actually, we don’t expect men to get it at all.

So there I was right, minding my own fucking business as usual (yes we’re back to the potty-mouthed *fucking* because it’s been that kinda week) when all of a sudden I get a whiff… no it was more like a stench from the Bakery around the corner. The aroma was like an intruder, a trespasser to my nasal cavity, a burgler to my olfactory receptors, ready to pillage its way to my brain. How. Dare. They?!?

For those who don’t know, I’ve been having some health issues… Endocrinal / Lymphatic and some other shit and have thus been instructed to stay away from the following for the next few weeks:
- Red meat (Lady Gaga’s haute couture has made this quite easy)
- Dairy (*sob*)
- Lentils and Legumes
- Various fruit and veggies like Citrus, Tomatoes, Pineapples etc.
- All kinds of fish and seafood
- All junk food
- All refined or complex carbohydrates like white bread, white flour, sugar, pasta etc. (*sob* *sob*)

Anyways, now I’m usually quite health conscious… have been for a while now… so all this shouldn’t have bothered me right? Wrong. Nothing like someone telling you that you CAN’T have something to get your knickers in three knots… even if you don’t want it.

Back to the fucking Bakery, toying with my emotions like a Raggedy Ann Voodoo Doll.

So there I was, trying my very best to pretend to work when in wafts these subtle variant aromas filled with hints of hot buttery melt-in-the-mouth goodness and chocolate sponges and baked cinnamon… making more promises than Obama to make this world a better place.

And at first I resisted. Then I resisted some more. Then I reached for the earphones and continued the resistance but somehow my feet had the urge to go for a walk and before I knew it, I was in Satan’s Lair. And just like that, all that resistance dissolved in front of the Pièce de résistance… an enchanting glowing glazed cinnamon donut. I shut my eyes and tried to imagine Diego Forlan’s torso winking at me. But sadly, even the Patron Saint of Abs couldn’t work his magic.

I suddenly had the distinct feeling that even if 100 naked Wentworth Miller’s stood before me, all I’d ever see were bread rolls and French loafs. I simply couldn’t help but stare lustfully at all the delights dressed in their immaculate presentations… fit for a King.

Now I know many people (especially men) would say, “why didn’t you just walk out of there?”. And this is the difference between men and women. See, you don’t just WALK OUT of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory now do you?!?

It didn’t help matters when André, my friend and the manager of the Bakery, came out looking all indignant and self-righteous, chastising in his French accent and waving his French finger in the most earnest of disapproving ways…

André : Non, ma chérie, not for you eh. Until the Doctor says it’s good. You’ve got to have patience eh, some dignity yes...
Me: Bish please. Is it ironic that Panache rhymes with Ganache? I. Want. That. Cake!
André: Non, non. Not today.

And so I was tortured and tormented by my desire… taunted endlessly by an array of little delicacies whispering my name until we reached a compromise. Actually, I threatened to take the Brownies hostage and ended up going home with a loaf of naan bread instead. “Is healthier”, he said. The fresh naan was slaughtered faster than you could say meat dress. I popped it into the toaster for a bit and then slathered on what initially looked like butter, but ended up as golden yellow goo and watched it seeping into the grainy texture of the hot slice… I don’t even like butter and don’t usually eat it but MAN that was DELICIOUS! I don’t know what is it… but I’m guessing it’s the hypnotic Aniseed that always has me going back for more.
I could easily devour this entire loaf by myself. And they say that men are hunters... they could learn from us women because no man can chase down Carbs like a woman, that I can assure you. And most likely, by the time you read this, this entire loaf would have pulled a Copperfield and disappeared and nothing would remain beside fond memories. So if by any chance I drop dead in the next 24 hours, know that I died a very happy woman. The ice-cream is next...
Fuck you PMS.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shalom. Salaam. Peace.

I can remember being a little kid looking for the moon the night before Eid. We’d sit in the lounge at the window, starring out into the pale sky at dusk, desperately looking for anything resembling a crescent. Most times we didn’t really see anything but we were always so excited and nervous. We’d wait at the front door, impatient and anticipating my Dad’s return from the Mosque to hear the news.

Most times it was announced that the next day would be Eid, although I remember the year we were told that we had to fast for one more day. We were gutted… heartbroken… our small minds unable to fathom and comprehend the insignificance of waiting for just one more day. I mean, it was going to be Eid eventually, all we had to do was wait a couple of hours. But our irrational disappointment didn’t last long and in a matter of hours we were all jubilant, bouncing off the walls, preparing for the big day’s festivities.

Sometimes I miss being that excited for Eid. I still love the day but nothing I feel now could ever compare to that pure unadulterated joy we experienced as children. I can remember taking out my Eid clothes the night before, and looking at my shoes and stockings and accessories in admiration and impatience. We were always bursting at the seams with excitement, restless and exhilarated… too awake to sleep and too tired not to.

Sadly, I haven’t attained the level of peace that I wanted to this Ramadan… it seems that there’s just too much hate going on. Hate from non-Muslims, hate from Muslims… everyone is just obsessed with hating. It’s exhausting and disheartening. And so pointless. Hating never got anyone anywhere.

This is how I feel regarding current issues…

The ground zero mosque issue… I believe that we should be sensitive to people’s feelings and even though the Mosque and Islam as a whole has NOTHING to do with the terrorist atrocities committed on September 11th, as a Muslim I think that they shouldn’t go ahead with it or find another spot…because when the people of Makkah revolted against our Prophet (SAW) and didn’t want him in their city, he moved hundreds of miles away to avoid antagonizing them further.

But I have to add… America calls themselves a “Democratic” nation. I want to know if that Democracy is only reserved for Christians because apparently, it’s ok for Reverend WhatsHisFace to burn the Qur’an if he wants to… that’s his democratic right… but it’s not ok for Muslims to pray where they want to.

And this is just one of the hundreds of issues I have with the concept of “Democracy”, a concept which I believe contradicts itself and is a fallacy. It’s the single biggest lie sold to mankind (next to the concept of the “Brand”) … but that’s a whole other post on its own.

I still believe though, that as Muslims, we should be the better people. Yes we shouldn’t be doormats, but we should pick our battles.

As for Reverend WhatsHisFace, my stance on him and his whole Qur’an burning debacle is that I don’t care. He can go and burn 100 000 Qur’ans, it means nothing to me y’know why? Because I know who I am as a Muslim… nothing he can do will take that away from me. And I don’t believe in indulging idiots. I don’t agree with what he intends to do, but I also know that The Almighty will deal with him accordingly. Why should we waste our energies and give him the attention that he so desperately wants, attention he’s getting. Why should we attempt to punish the man when The Almighty will obviously do a much better job… because no matter what we do in retaliation, it would never come close to the power and might behind God’s justice.

And so I would urge Muslims across the globe to calm the f@#$ down. Choose your battles. There is no place for fundamentalism and terrorism in Islam… at the end of the day, that’s what they want. They’ve named us, and they’re waiting for us to live up to that name by provoking and prodding in our directions, waiting for us to act like the animals that they clearly are.

But I refuse to. Islam is a religion of peace. A time will come when we have to defend ourselves, but until then, we should not offend. It’s not right.

How I wish that every fundamentalist and terrorist in every religion and culture and nation would just curl up and f@#$ing die already. They’re ruining this world for the rest of us. Hello, some of us are trying to live here...

That said, I want to wish everyone a blessed Eid Mubarak and remember that even though it’s a day for celebration and feasting… it’s still a holy day. No need to go out and act like f@#$ing animals ok.

And for my Jewish friends L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem. May the year bring about peace and joy for you and your families.

Shalom. Salaam. Peace. Now there’s a word I could live with.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Harnessing The Light

Enlightenment means nothing if there is no subsequent action. Like, for example, knowing that having a negative attitude is detrimental to your reality doesn’t automatically make you more positive… that positivity requires some action, some sort of effort on your part. Similarly, knowing or realizing that consuming healthier food is better for you doesn’t automatically make you healthier… you’d actually have to do the work and munch on that steamed broccoli and get your 10000 steps daily. It applies to any scenario.

Point is, everyone is craving for some sort of enlightenment. But what do they do once they’ve received it? Sitting here, hoping for things to change without taking any measures to facilitate that change won’t get anyone anywhere. Too many people refuse to take responsibility for their own lives, out of fear or laziness.

Thing is, nothing worth having in life comes easily… no one promised us that it would be easy. We are the masters of our own destinies with the choices we make. That’s not to say that fate doesn’t play its part in the grander scheme of things… but someone has to put the hand-brake down before the car starts rolling down the hill all by its onesy savvy?
Here’s to embracing enlightenment and owning our choices. I believe that The Almighty speaks to every one of us, and that most times we don’t listen. Harness your light; fear is just an illusion.

We have already sent down to you verses making things clear, an illustration from (the story of) people who passed away before you, and an admonition for those who fear (Allah). Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things. (Lit is such a Light) in houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honour; for the celebration in them, of His name: In them is He glorified in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again), By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new), That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for Allah doth provide for those whom He will, without measure. But the Unbelievers, their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: But he finds Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is swift in taking account. Or (the Unbelievers state) is like the depths of darkness in a vast ocean, overwhelmed with billow topped by billow, topped by (dark) clouds: depths of darkness, one above another: if a man stretches out his hands, he can hardly see it! for any to whom Allah giveth not light, there is no light! (Qur’an: Surah Nur: 34 – 40)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Soul Mates: A Love Story

I've been browsing around, scanning old photographs. Back in the day my Grandfather, Mother's dad, was quite a looker and a ladies man. He was charming, bold, eccentric and charismatic... a James Dean of his time minus the whole gay-foray-having-sex-with-Marlon-Brando-thing.

Anyways, legend has it that almost every woman in a 20 mile radius was in love with him... and he was a bit of a player-player.

My Grandmother on the other hand was a beautiful non-conformist. Independent and incredibly feisty, she had decided in the early 1950's, at the age of 21, that she wasn't going to sit around and wait for better days and subsequently left her parent's home in the suburbs and moved to the city where she found a job as a seamstress at a clothing factory.

Grandpa always said that when he saw my Grandmother, it was love at first sight. Every other woman, all of his mistresses (and there were quite a few) ceased to exist as he set his sights on Grandma and set out to win her heart.

But he found it incredibly difficult at first to woo the object of his affection. Every word was met with a sarcastic rebuttal and every act was brutally rebuffed. And every woman in the 20 mile radius could not fathom what he saw in her, especially since most of them were practically throwing themselves at him and Grandma wouldn't give him the time of day.

But he must have done something right because in less than a year, they were married and Grandpa paraded around the neighbourhood with his new bride, beaming with pride. Their years together were filled with love and drama, fueled by passion and ardor. They had their ups and downs along with the best of them.

It was often said that they were soul mates... when my Grandpa's right arm hurt, Grandma's right arm would hurt too in the same spot, at the same time. When one of them felt sad or angry, the other would reciprocate unconsciously, even when they were apart. Each knew when something wasn't right and each knew exactly how the other felt.

The very moment that my Grandpa passed away in hospital, Grandma was busy with one of her garments at home when she stopped suddenly, sewing needle in mid-air. A part of her felt hollow and empty and immediately she knew he was gone.

They were married for a few decades and a few years later, Grandma passed too. In the years after my Grandfather passed on, Grandmother lived a full happy life, traveled and took many extended holidays with her friends. But she never looked at another man again and passed away one Thursday afternoon, 8-odd years after her beloved had left this earth.

I'd like to think that they will be together forever... where ever they are.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Visa Required... Yet!

I’m in a psychological tizz… so much to do and I can’t seem to stop for a moment to figure out what to do first. It doesn’t help that in my current frame of mind, I’ve developed what can only be described as a serious lapse in judgment. Let’s put it to you this way… if my mind was an iPhone, then I just downloaded the be-dazzling application… a premium A-grade procrastination tool.

So added to my current list of addictions, I suddenly want to light up my life with enough crystals and sequins and sparkles to rival the freaking Universe. Good thing to have Mother waiting in the wings, right arm on standby at a 40˚ angle, ready to bitch-slap me into next Tuesday whenever I decide to harness that creativity and entertain ideas like be-dazzling the microwave or fridge (come-on who doesn’t want a sparkly Edwardian-Cullinian fridge?!?).

Twinkling tendencies aside, I recently found myself on a most adventurous trip outside of Johannesburg… to… wait for it… Pretoria!!

Now if you’re anything like me and only venture outside of Johannesburg to places like Durban, Cape Town or various destinations overseas, you’ll find Pretoria a spectacle to marvel at. A mere 50-odd-km’s away from Johannesburg, hardcore Jo’burgers like myself rarely give Pretoria (one of our 3 capital cities) a second thought unless *yawn* we’re suffering from insomnia and counting sheep doesn’t work.

So I found myself driving merrily off into yonder all by my lonesome, with no one beside me except the She-Male Garmin as my guide (She-Male because it’s all sexy looking like a male, until an authoritative female voice tells you to “draai links” [turn left] and you feel compelled to obey).

I’ve been to Pretoria about 4 times in my entire life (not counting the 3 times that we went to the zoo) and it’s always to the City or to some or other Consulate situated in the immediate areas around the City, so I’ve never really seen Pretoria. This time, however, I had to go to Pretoria East and my psychic hermaphrodite friend Garmin, sensing some mayhem on the N1 Highway, decided to take me on the scenic route.

I must say, that it was one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had this year. At one point I’d been driving for a long period of time and found myself in such odd surroundings that I briefly thought I’d driven all the way to Morocco (those thoughts were quickly put to rest when I encountered one of our notorious taxi’s playing dice, trying to run me off the road while competing with one of it’s rivals for passengers). And when I arrived, I found the place to be extraordinarily quiet.

There’s a sense of peace and contentment in Pretoria East that I haven’t found anywhere else in Gauteng. It’s pleasant yet unassuming. In fact, the stark contrast sets the place so far apart from just-about-everywhere-else-in-Gauteng that you’d think you’re in another bloody country. It's so different that I wouldn't be surprised if they told us that we'd have to start applying for Visa's to enter the district. I’d even go so far as to recommend relocating there to anyone who wants to immigrate but cannot afford to… it’s that different. So surprisingly Pretoria East (along with Latin America during the Soccer World Cup) has been somewhat of a revelation.

In other news, I managed to put my glue gun down long enough to realise that it’s officially Spring. Could’ve fooled me because it looks (and feels) like we’ve skipped right into Summer. This is my favourite time of year… a season of new beginnings (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. *somewhere*. I think).

Oh and speaking of realizations, I’ve finally decided that my friend Garmin must be a chick… one of those butch-kick-ass-Lara-Croft-Charlie’s-Angels-type-chicks, because no man can be that sexy and still take you exactly where you want to go without getting lost or asking for directions ;)