Monday, January 31, 2011

Coz I’m a month late & as politically incorrect as ever…

When I decided that I’d like a blog make-over, I didn’t intend on changing the URL. It just came to me one night while I was watching Vampire Diaries Season 2, positively drooling all over Damon Salvatore, hypnotised by his blue eyes under that intense gaze (Ok so he wasn't looking at me right, but a girl can dream. Go burst your own bubbles. And besides, I couldn’t help it, the man is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. but that’s a whole other story for another time).

I was very reluctant to have my name splashed out in URL-land all by its onesey savvy, the thought made me  uncomfortable. And so I decided to search for an alternative that would still have remnants of me in it, but would represent something different.

Azurah is derived from the word Azzurra, which is the feminine form of Azzurro – which means Blue in Italian (but all you Cannavarro stalkers knew that already). Now I love colour… lots of bright rich colours (my wardrobe will testify to that) but my absolutely favourite colour has to be Blue. And not just any kind of Blue. Eye-gougingly intense and enigmatic blues like Majorelle, Lapis Lazuli, Azure, Azurite (& all the other Az’s coz we capitalise & monopolise), Aqua, Turquoise, Cerulean etc. These colours truly feed my soul and give me a sense of peace and tranquility in this fucked up world.

Lapis Lazuli: it's pretty innit...
The Almighty's SWT Greatness is evident in this froggie called the Dendrobates Azureus. It's amazing how something so hideous can be so beautiful at the same time.

I briefly considered Azraq, the singular of Zurq which incidentally also means Blue (or to become Blue) in Arabic, but I quickly dismissed it for a number of reasons. Partially because I felt that the name Azraq still had too much of “me” in it and mostly because the name is used metaphorically for evildoers whose eyes are glazed with fear as mentioned in the Qur’an 20:102 (seriously, I'm not going down that road) and is generally associated with pessimistic characteristics and negative connotations in most cultures.

Then I initially wanted to register but knew that the domain would be taken and so I played around and had my heart set on – but some bitch person that hasn’t blogged since 2002 has already laid claim to that. So I had to become innovative.

And here you have it… welcome to the new face of Azra’s Adventures, now known as The content will be pretty much the same… if ludicrous, outrageous, sarcastic and satirical is your cup of tea. It’s been quite a long time coming, but I’ve been so busy lately (y’know, with life and stuffs) that I just couldn’t get down to doing everything at one time and eventually settled on making changes in stages. There’s still some tweaking that needs to be done here and there, but nothing drastic… we’ll live… and still eat cake.

Unfortunately though, during the transition I lost a whole lot of my links. I've managed to recover some of them but I cannot recall everything. So if I've missed your URL, give me a shout. Also I'd love to have the whole world on my blogroll/s (<--- ha see what I did there), but it's impossible. So every now and then I update my blog roll and usually remove links to blogs that have been dormant for more than 2 months. I can't be sitting with long lists of dormant blogs that haven't been updated in forever, it's nothing personal. I follow most of the blogs anyway, and when it becomes active again, I'll add it to the blog roll once again. Ciao for now bishes ;D

PS. I'd just like to send a shout out, and a big thank you to Irfaan and Trinity. Thanks for your votes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coz there are a million things you don't know about me & these are just some of them...

I was just reading about the earthquake in Pakistan on a news site and together with all the floods and other disasters world-wide, I wonder if this is the big catastrophic event that I was expecting or if the worst is yet to come.

Anyways, enough doom and gloom, at least for the next few minutes. I was sitting idly at my desk, using every procrastination tool I could find and thought of the things-you-don't-know-about-me hash tag that trended on Twitter a few months ago. And because I'm feeling so generous, I thought I'd share a few tidbits here. Now I could have very well mentioned one or two of these before but heck, I'm getting old now so how the hell am I supposed to know. And I can't be bovvered to waste my time trying to remember what I'd mentioned previously and what I didn't. It's not like I'm trying to impress anyone...

- I'm going to change the URL of this blog soon. I'm in the mood for something different. I will announce any changes on Twitter (@a2ra) for those who'd want to be in the know.

- I’m kinda OCD about public toilets and always walk around with sanitized wipes that kill germs, 2 ply toilet paper and an Istinja bottle no matter where I go in the world. And even if the toilet looks clean, I’ll clean it anyway. Think I'm gonna die when I go for Hajj.

- I don't resemble anyone in my family, I'm completely different compared to everyone else. I would have thought I was adopted but was told that I do bear some similarities with one of my ancestors.

- Everything you’ll ever read on this blog is true. However, I always change names, places, locations and the nature of people’s relationships with me when narrating the “story” as both a precautionary measure to ensure everyone’s privacy is protected as well as for the simple fact that I’m not Gossip Girl and this is not a gossip site. I’m not interested in being God and I don’t give a shit about who’s done what (unless it directly involves me). Instead I like to reflect on every incident, event, occurence and try to take the lesson from it. And most times, the story is essential in order to learn the lesson.

- I was offered a job working for the Presidency in Tunisia about 2 months ago. It was a great offer that included accommodation in the Presidential Palace as well as my own personal driver. I was supposed to leave on the 27th of December 2010 but many things got in the way… and in the end, it didn’t work out. I was a little dismayed when it seemed that it wasn’t going to pan out. And then I found out that mass riots (that would eventually lead to a revolution of epic proportions)  had broken out in the capital on the 25th of December, 2 days before I was scheduled to leave. And even as I type this, there is social and political unrest in the country. So sometimes, things happen for a reason and I can testify that God Almighty works in wonderful inexplicable ways.

- I have a rare (non-fatal) blood disease that’s apparently quite common amongst people living in the Mediterranean region.

- I used to be able to speak Arabic as a kid, only conversationally, but fluently. It dissipated through the years (along with my patience) due to the lack of procedural formal and non-formal conversations in the vernacular. But I will get back to it one day soon InshaAllah. My late paternal grandfather was proficient in 9 languages and could further understand and communicate in a few others so I’m guessing it’s hereditary. I pick up languages like the plague, all I really need is to be in a supportive environment where the language is practiced or spoken regularly and the desire to learn.

- I’m a selective cheapskate. I’ll refuse to pay more than R150 for a pair of shoes but mention any overseas destination and I’d be willing to drop R100K without even blinking. I. FRIGGIN. LOVE. TRAVELLING. more than anything else in this entire world excluding my parents.

- I have the most eclectic taste in music. I love almost everything from Linkin Park to Celine Dion, Scissor Sisters, Madonna, Alejandro Sanz, Neyo, Micheal Jackson, Akon, Maroon5, The Commodores, The Stylistics, James Ingram, Eminem, Lady Gaga, NKOTB, The Gipsy Kings, Lenny Kravitz, Josh Groban, Britney Spears, Tiesto, Death Cab, Gorrillaz… you name it. Yes even one or two of Justin Biebers tracks. I can like any tune given enough air time and a dance floor.

- My absolute favourite dancing style has to be Flamenco. I also like Hip-Hop and Salsa too.

- I don't wear jeans. Ever. Initially it was because the fabric irritated my skin, had almost an allergic reaction to it which made it very uncomfortable. These days, its out of habit. I have instead unconsciously developed a very regal style. I say "unconscious" because it was not and is not intentional... its something I've gravitated to and cultivated over the years. If we were the Spice Girls, I'd be a slightly more casual Victoria Beckham. I hardly ever follow fashion trends and when everyone was GHD'ing their mops, I was tossing my long curly tresses spicing it up with a touch of L'Oréal Volumnizing hairgel.
Now excuse me, I actually have work to do...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coz we can't control everything now can we...

A very good friend of mine once told me that if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. And she was talking from a point of experience because a few years prior to that moment, she was admitted to hospital with a severe case of Malaria. She said that it was undoubtedly the most horribly excruciating thing that she ever went through and that it was one of the worst moments of her life.

But the good that came out of that experience was that she realised how valuable her life was, and she vowed never to take her health or anything else for granted again.

I can’t help but think how much we take for granted on a daily basis. The fact that I can walk, see and hear without any difficulty is a colossal blessing. And chances are anything I complain about in the next hour will be really trivial, minor and inconsequential. And for that right there, I have to be sincerely grateful.

There are many people going through tough times, suffering through circumstances that were / are way beyond their control. Last year, the world shook with a series of devastating earth quakes. This year, it’s flash floods and mud slides almost everywhere from Australia to Malaysia, South Africa and Brazil and who knows where else. And it seems that every day is a snow day in most parts of the northern hemisphere.

And through it all, I can’t help wondering if those people feel the same way my good friend did back then when she was suffering in hospital... vowing to never take anything for granted again. I’m always in awe of how vulnerable we are to certain elements like Mother Nature. It’s amazing how something so essential like rain, can become so devastating.

Even more amazing is that for all our technological savoir-faire, we’re rendered absolutely useless at such times. The truth is that none of us are exempt from any kind of natural disaster, nor can we predict it. We are completely and utterly at the mercy of a much Higher Power.

And coupled with other strange occurrences... like all those birds that literally dropped dead from the sky and those fish that mysteriously washed up ashore, equally dead... one can’t help but wonder if it’s time to look out for the Anti-Christ and Jesus (Isa AS) or whether we should all start moving to the Drakensburg Mountains...

Let’s just make sure that whatever we do decide to do, that we:
1. Repent and say a prayer for all those afflicted with adversity; and
2. Ensure that we have enough Nutella stashed away for those rainy days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coz there are terrorist bitches in every religion & faction, not just Islam...

I found this article by Dan Gardner more than just a little insightful:

If someone mentioned terrorism in Europe, you would probably have an idea about the size of the threat and who's responsible.

It's big, you would think. And growing. As for who's responsible, that's obvious. It's Muslims. Or if you're a little more careful with your language, it's radical Muslims, or "Islamists."

After all, they were at it again just in the past month. On Dec. 11, a 28-year-old naturalized Swede -- originally from Iraq -- injured two people when he blew himself up on the way to a shopping district. And on Dec. 29, police in Denmark said they thwarted a plan by five Muslims to storm the office of a Danish newspaper and kill as many people as possible.

So the danger is big and growing, and Islamists are the source. Right?

Wrong, actually.

The European Union's Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 states that in 2009 there were "294 failed, foiled, or successfully executed attacks" in six European countries. This was down almost one-third from the total in 2008 and down by almost one-half from the total in 2007.

So in most of Europe, there was no terrorism. And where there was terrorism, the trend line pointed down.

As for who's responsible, forget Islamists. The overwhelming majority of the attacks -- 237 of 294 -- were carried out by separatist groups, such as the Basque ETA. A further 40 terrorists schemes were pinned on leftist and/or anarchist terrorists. Rightists were responsible for four attacks. Single-issue groups were behind two attacks, while responsibility for a further 10 was not clear.

Islamists? They were behind a grand total of one attack. Yes, one. Out of 294 attacks. In a population of half a billion people. To put that in perspective, the same number of attacks was committed by the Comite d'Action Viticole, a French group that wants to stop the importation of foreign wine.

Now, I don't want to overdo the point. Europe has major problems with the integration of its Muslim populations and the threat of Islamist terrorism is real. It's also important to note that the number of attacks does not indicate the full extent of the danger, since Islamists, unlike most terrorists, seek to commit indiscriminate slaughter.

But even with these caveats, the data clearly demonstrate that common perceptions about terrorism in Europe are wrong. To see why that matters, think back to 2005.

When rioting exploded in France's heavily immigrant suburbs, many conservative pundits dismissed claims that the violence had something to do with poverty, unemployment, and exclusion. No, what mattered is that the rioters were Muslim.

"This is an early skirmish in the Eurabian civil war," wrote Mark Steyn in the Daily Telegraph.

"If the insurgents emerge emboldened, what next? In five years' time, there will be even more of them, and even less resolve on the part of the French state. That, in turn, is likely to accelerate the demographic decline. Europe could face a continentwide version of the 'white flight' phenomenon seen in crime-ridden American cities during the 1970s, as Danes and Dutch scram to America, Australia, or anywhere else that will take them."

Steyn noted that his gloomy British readers often sent him emails that ended with the observation "fortunately I won't live to see it." Steyn snatched away even this cold comfort. "As France this past fortnight reminds us, the changes in Europe are happening far faster than most people thought," he wrote. "Unless you're planning on croaking immediately, you will live to see it."

In 2006, Steyn expanded his jeremiad into the book America Alone. It was a huge hit, a New York Times bestseller, and its influence among conservatives -- Americans in particular -- is hard to overstate. Even George W. Bush is a fan. In Republican and Tea Party circles, Steyn's vision of an enfeebled, infertile Europe overrun by fecund, violent Muslims is almost a truism.

But half a decade has passed since Steyn declared the outbreak of the "Eurabian civil war."

And yet, there are no waves of bombings. No armies of bug-eyed jihadis. No pale-faced boat people bobbing about the North Atlantic in rusty scows.

Oh, there are incidents. I cited two above. And for people like Steyn, that is more than enough. Tell a true story; treat it as typical; draw a scary conclusion: This is the standard operating procedure of alarmists.

Steyn hates to be called an alarmist, as he made clear in the preface to a later edition of America Alone. He is merely a realist, he says. But then he goes on to write this: "In 2007, some larky lads were arrested in Germany. Another terrorist plot." What set this one apart were the terrorists' names. They weren't Mohammed, or Muhammad, or Mahmoud. They were "Fritz" and "Daniel." Why, they were ... deep breath ... native-born Muslim converts!

"All over the world, there are young men raised in the 'Multi-Kulti-Haus' of the West who decide their highest ambition is to convert to Islam, become a jihadist, and self-detonate."

That year happened to be a particularly bad one for Islamist terrorism in Europe.

There were four Islamist attacks. Four. Out of a total of 583.

The following year there were zero. In 2009, as we have seen, there was one.

Mark Steyn has a new book in the works, apparently. Something to do with the end of civilization. Given his track record, this is grounds for optimism.

You can read more here.

Coz I am the oyster & the world is my pearl...

I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions for a number of reasons. For one, the 1st of January is just another day... the fact that most people put so much weight on a day that has no real significance other than the earth completing its orbit around the sun is kinda ludicrous. And secondly, it provides a magnificent platform that inevitably sets you up for spectacular failure.

But hey, I’m not knocking it, New Year resolutions do work for some. And I guess the advent of a New Year brings some much needed hope to many and on some level we’d all like to believe that this year will be better than the last.

I do however believe in setting goals... both long and short term ones. And for good measure, I only execute those plans and procedures that will help me attain those goals in the second week of January because realistically speaking, nothing of substance can be achieved on New Years’ Day. One year, my cousin decided to give up chocolate as one of her resolutions and we found her head buried in a box of Lindt, stuffing her face with whatever she could find at a New Years’ Day family picnic.

So in many ways, beginning in the second week of January gives me enough time to physically and psychologically prepare for whatever task I have before me. And believe it or not, it helps to have realistic goals too. Like for instance aspiring to save a little money every month will invariably be more accomplish-able than hoping to land a lead role in a movie opposite Cameron Diaz – especially when you’re a 30 something year old parent with absolutely no acting experience or talent whatsoever.

Sometimes, you’ll find you’re doing great with your goals and objectives, and other times – due to changing circumstances and requirements - it won’t pan out as well as you had hoped but that doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to the drawing board to reassess the situation and institute new goals and objectives. Coz some of us don’t fail... we simply explore, experiment and re-evaluate.

But bottom line, it would be folly to become prisoners within the imaginary constraints and boundaries of time. There’s no reason that we can’t accomplish whatever resolutions, goals, ambitions and objectives we set out to achieve on New Years’ eve, on the 2nd or 3rd of January... or even on the 15th of March. All we really need are the cahoona’s... balls of steel, drive and determination... and the willingness to make certain sacrifices, and we could do whatever the hell we wanted to :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Coz sometimes we look for meaning where there is none...

So I went out to this restaurant last night where after a lovely meal, I defied a couple million New Years’ Resolutions and ordered a decadent chocolate dessert - y'know that cake thingy that’s all chocolate and gooey inside? Yeah that one.

Anyways, it was d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s... smooth and creamy and all shades of decadent indeed... until I found something unsually crunchy between my teeth.

I spat it out viciously, suddenly nauseated, trying not to scream like a banshee. At first I thought it was a termite and I was tempted to ask the waiter for some bleach or arsenic to wash out my mouth. Then, upon closer inspection, we saw that it was in fact, a bee and for some reason, this revelation made me feel slightly less grossed out.

The manager came over apologising furiously and I joked around saying that they should call an ambulance. I don’t like making a scene or being rude (unless it’s absolutely necessary) so I told him not to worry about it. It clearly wasn’t their fault. I could just imagine that the dessert must have been so delicious that the bee thought “hey, let’s make some chocolate honey” and dove right in before being shoved into the oven.

It was during the drive home that I began to think about it. Why me? Why the bee? What did this mean? Why is it that on the day I decide to have dessert, something like that happens? Was it God’s way of helping me through the no junk food policy? Was it some kind of a good luck sign – like when a bird shits on your head? Did this mean that something great was going to happen (because symbolically bees are generally associated with good omens in various cultures)? Was my life going to change by this single arbitrary incident and be everything that I’ve ever dreamt of it being and more?

And while watching the clouds gather and the sun set on the horizon, I came to the conclusion that sometimes, we think too damn much about a whole lot of shit. It was just dessert. It was just a bee. And better a bee than a fly innit. I think next time I’ll just order one of these cakes instead ;P