Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coz we need to hibernate...

There was a time, a few years ago in my pre-blogger days, where I went through a very tough period in my personal life between April and May of that year. I’ve found that every year since then, around this time of the year, I still feel an odd sense of uneasiness... kinda like some sick twisted post traumatic disorder.

It usually begins right after my birthday, when the air gets significantly cooler. Then one morning, when the cool air is suddenly cold, I feel that familiar sense of dread creeping up on me... an anxiety I cannot explain. The feeling is exacerbated by the onset of Easter celebrations where weeks seem to melt into each other right into the month of May. I hate everything about April, particularly the way my soul feels like it’s sprawled on the ground, dying amongst all the bronze and gold Autumn leaves.

Obviously, the wise thing to do would be to re-program my mind and build new, happier and pleasant memories that would substitute all those awful memories and in a way, reclaim that part of my life (and that part of my year)... but who wants to be wise when you can have chocolate. There are some days when dwelling in a state of despair seems mandatory, but then I remember all the public holidays (and boy do we go all out with the public holidays here in SA) and an all-you-can-eat chocolate feast to look forward to... and that gets me through.
All our public holidays here in SA

But the thing about holidays is that they make you lazy. Especially when those days are cold and blistery and all you want to do is sleep all day or sit wrapped up in your cosiest blanket watching movies and eating everything where the main ingredient is fat.

That’s exactly how I feel. LAZY. We’ve had a good dose of public holidays this year, with an added holiday on the 18th of May to accommodate elections because our Government are so intent on getting us to vote, that any such day is deemed a public holiday. Not that we’re complaining.

Yesterday we celebrated “Freedom Day”. Not that most of SA actually cares. I always maintain that we... our generation (and I'm on the old side of "our generation") will never really know or comprehend what our parents and grandparents went through during the Apartheid era. Sure, at my age I experienced some unpleasant scenarios like being denied access to an all-white public swimming pool... but that pales in comparison to endless rioting and being shot at and running for your life. And that’s why it irks the shit out of me when some non-white asshole born in 1993 tells me that "we suffered"... yeah dude, you suffered because you grew up in a four bedroom house in Houghton – never mind what your parents and grandparents went through; or all the other people who went for weeks without food and had to walk miles for water. It's for this reason I refuse to talk about Apartheid. It's over. Done. We can never forget, but we also cannot undo what happened or fully comprehend the atrocities that occurred.

Anyways... I do wish they had made tomorrow, the 29th of April, a public holiday too so that the 25% of the population that are actually at work can have the day off to watch William and Kate Catherine get married. And seeing as we are part of the Commonwealth and were colonised by the British all those years ago, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be afforded the privilege of watching the wedding in the comfort of our own homes.

It’s difficult to believe that there is so much foreign interest in the royal wedding... like it’s the event of the year that everyone has been waiting for. Personally, I couldn’t care less, but that could quickly change if they wanted to give me an invitation. And even then, I’d only attend if there was Halal food on the menu.

Of course I’d love to see how it all transpires... all that pomp and ceremony in these modern times inspire the same kind of awe and disgust one might get from watching a nuclear explosion detonate over a small defenceless city.

For now though, there's still some leftover chocolate Easter eggs and another long weekend to get through. Then gym-time resumes. Although, I suspect that I'm going to be completely useless in my personal and professional life until the end of May. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Coz we share...

By now, most people know how much I love writing letters. A few months ago I came across this site, Dear Blank Please Blank, and it had me chuckling for hours. I need a laugh today, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites:

Dear Twilight fans,
Please realize that because vampires are dead and have no blood pumping through them, they can never get an erection. Enjoy fantasizing about that.
Sincerely, Logic

Dear Icebergs,
Sorry to hear about the global warming. Karma's a bitch.
Sincerely, The Titanic

Dear J.K. Rowling,
Your books are entirely unrealistic. I mean, a ginger kid with two friends?
Sincerely, Anonymous

Dear America,
You produced Miley Cyrus. Bieber is your punishment.
Sincerely, Canada

Dear Boyfriend,
I can make your girlfriend scream louder than you can.
Sincerely, Spiders

Dear Voldemort,
So they screwed up your nose too?
Sincerely, Michael Jackson

Dear Yahoo,
I've never heard anyone say, "I don't know, let's Yahoo! it..." just saying...
Sincerely, Google

Dear girls who have been dumped,
There are plenty of fish in the sea... Just kidding! They're all dead.
Sincerely, BP

Dear 2010,
So I hear the best rapper is white and the president is black? WTF happened?!
Sincerely, 1985

Dear Justin Bieber,
Ariel would really love her voice back.
Sincerely, King Triton

Dear Rose,
There was definitely room on that raft for the both of us.
Sincerely, Jack

Dear Windshield Wipers,
Can't touch this.
Sincerely, That Little Triangle

Dear Taylor Swift,
If it is of any interest to you, Romeo and Juliet both kill themselves in the end.
Sincerely, Shakespeare

Dear Soccer Fans,
B B B B B B Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z
Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z!
Sincerely, Vuvuzelas

Dear Rubik's Cube,
Done!
Sincerely, Colorblind

Dear Santa,
Please tell me how you managed to stop at three Ho's.
Sincerely, Tiger Woods

Dear Martin Luther King Jr.,
I have a dream within a dream within a dream within another dream... What now?
Sincerely, Leonardo DiCaprio

Dear Sleeping Beauty,
I had to join the army, dress up like a man, defeat the hun army and totally save China for my man.
All you had to do was wake up.
Sincerely, Mulan

Dear Fox News,
So far, no news about foxes.
Sincerely, Unimpressed

Dear Toaster,
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?
Sincerely, Toast

Dear Edward,
I really hope that one day, I can find my way into your heart.
Sincerely, a stake

Dear 6,
Please stop spreading rumors about me eating 9. You shouldn't be talking. I hear you guys do some pretty nasty things.
Sincerely, 7

Dear Prince Charming,
You've got some explaining to do!
Sincerely, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coz I'm in mourning...

I’m devastated.

It turns out that Pietro Ferrero passed away this morning in Cape Town of all places... apparently from a heart attack while cycling in Camps Bay.

Who? Someone asked me. Sacrilege! How do you not know who Pietro Ferrero is!? Of Ferrero Rocher fame and more importantly, of NUTELLA fame. Ring any bells? Now most people know how much I LOVE Nutella. If you don’t, then let me tell you:

I. LOVE. NUTELLA!

It’s my favourite thing on this entire planet. It’s even better than Damon Salvatore (and let me tell you, there aren’t many things in this world that are better than Damon Salvatore unless you’re having Nutella with a side order of Damon Salvatore’s abs... but this blog is PG and that’s a whole other tale for another x-rated time).

I’m hoping those clauses and registered trademarks ensure that the Nutella recipe remains the same... and yeah I know it probably would remain the same seeing as he wasn’t the original Pietro Ferrero that actually created it and it’s a standard brand.... but one can’t be too sure innit. Two years ago, when the economic recession hit the world stage, I saw many of my favourite products being altered (to a lower quality) to keep production costs low and maintain some stability in their earnings (greedy bastards).

In any case, in order to commemorate his family’s legacy (note I’m talking about the brilliant mind that created God’s gift to mankind in the form of Nutella, and those who continue to make it), I’ve decided to don Chocolate brown clothes with Nutella painted across my face like a soldier in battle.

It’s sad though, because Pietro was still young and quite a looker too (and he has a brother named Giovanni, get out your stalker antennae ladies)... wonder if too much Nutella can be attributed to his heart attack. He should have learned how to share and then maybe he’d still be cycling around the Cape.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coz most of the time, our perceptions are responsible for our own deceptions...

I dislike winter for many reasons, but primarily because here in Johannesburg, our winter days are deceptive. They look sunny and beautiful while you're inside your home or office; making you want to go out and have a picnic or take a walk in the park. But the moment you step outside, you’re slapped with an arctic breeze, thereby freezing all your organs and rendering most of your senses completely useless.
The view from my office yesterday... it was a mild day, cold by SA standards

I often find that those things / places / people / concepts etc. that we find aesthetically pleasing are often laced with some kind of deception.

For instance, I’ve always liked butterflies. They remind me of Spring, the season of renewed hope. They also remind me of my childhood... those lazy Summer days and picnics by the river. Not many people dislike butterflies and if they do, no one comes right out and says it. It would be like admitting that you don’t like the sound of a baby laughing, or puppies.

But if one looks closely, there’s so much more to butterflies than meets the eye. Like Marian Keyes said, they’re kinda sneaky and manipulative. They play on whatever sympathy and emotion you have because what they really are, are moths in fantastically embroidered coats.

No one really likes moths... they’re peculiar little buggers that flap around sinisterly. Ever try catching a moth? Don’t bother. You’ll never catch one because they may linger about languorously but the minute you set your sights on them, they gain momentum and before you know it, they’re whizzing past you with those paper-ish wings faster than any demon mosquito ever could. And most of the time, they’re suicidal, like kamikaze pilots, often flying straight into flames like the little martyrs that they are. Not that you can blame them, when you’re constantly referred to as the fugly duckling of your clan, you’d fly straight into a flame too.

But the thing about moths is that at least they’re honest. They never pretend to be something other than what they are. They don’t seduce your senses and manipulate your emotions to make you believe that they’re these fragile little creatures that need to be saved. And there’s something noble in that.

In many ways, moths are similar to Dictators. The thing about Dictators is that while they’re amongst the vilest in the human race, at least they’re somewhat honest about it. Most of them are not out there, promising the world to their people. They don’t take oaths in the name of Democracy and Freedom. They’re not promising radical health, educational, financial or political reforms. They’re not pledging millions of homes for the homeless and destitute. They don’t sell hope and dreams of a better life.

They don’t claim that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law or state, or that people are entitled to democratic freedom, and then institute laws that discriminate and infringe on the rights of specific groups of people. They’re not painting beautiful elaborate pictures of an unattainable future filled with empty promises. They don’t even believe in democracy or freedom. They don’t care about you or me and they’re not afraid to show it. In fact, they’re not prejudicial and don’t discriminate in that regard, because they generally hate everyone equally and tend to hold their peers in contempt. They’re just regular assholes that need to be tortured all the way to Hell, where they should reside for eternity... but at least they’re honest about it... well most of them anyway.

Sometimes I wonder, how much of our disappointments in life are because of our assumptions and perceptions... our own doing? When your life resembles a tragedy, it's natural to want every Act to have a fairytale ending. It's that idealism that gets the better of us. And sometimes, it's just ignorance. Is it our fault for wanting to accept and believe in that which appeals to us, even when it turns out to be a lie? Are we victims of our own ever-changing beliefs? A paedophile in the form of a very beautiful and attractive man is still a paedophile. He’s not any more or less of what he is because of how he looks. And his looks don’t determine his behaviour, his character or what kind of person he should be in society.

Similarly, the sun never promised me a beautiful warm day. I should use whatever logic I've been blessed with and know that even if the sky is a brilliant blue and the sun is out in all its glory, it's still going to be cold when you're approaching the middle of winter. The same goes for the butterflies... they never proclaimed any superiority over moths; they never asked for our sympathies or adoration. And every dictator must have initially gotten the approval of the general public or the majority, that’s how he got to his position in the first place. And those keeping him in power clearly want him there for their own purposes and agendas... some sinister (monetary related) and others more innocently in that they genuinely want to believe that he is a good leader.

Speaking of leaders...

I sit on the fence with the banning of the Niqaab in France for many reasons. Firstly, I do believe that it’s every person’s human right to choose their attire. People everywhere have the right to choose how they want to present themselves... as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or infringes on anyone else’s human rights. I mean, some of us are subjected to sights that we’d rather not have the privilege to view... like the neighbour’s butt crack or that elderly woman on the beach who thinks she’s still sixteen years old... but ultimately, they have the right to wear and present themselves in whatever manner they like.

That said, I also believe that Islam explicitly states that one should respect and adhere to the laws of the country you choose to visit or reside in, provided that those laws do not contravene the laws of Islam. From what I understand, France did not ban the Hijab... women are still permitted to cover themselves and dress modestly... they did however ban the Niqaab / Purdah / Face-covering... which is essentially, in my belief, not compulsory in Islam. The Niqaab stems more from cultural practices in the Middle East region.

I still believe that women in France should have the choice to wear what they like though. I understand that with the proliferation of Terrorist groups and organisations, they may feel it necessary to institute the ban for security reasons. But in that case, why not issue a blanket ban on every form of dress code? I don’t doubt that amongst these same Bureaucrats that voted in favour of the ban, there are those that may think or believe that if a woman is wearing very revealing attire and is consequently raped, that it is her fault in some way. So why not issue a blanket ban where everyone in France is required to dress modestly, where certain groups aren’t allowed to wear the Niqaab, and other groups aren’t allowed to prance around half-naked. That way, no one group is singled out prejudicially.

At the same time, I can’t help but agree to this statement, tweeted earlier today by another female Muslim blogger and writer: “Moving to a secular, first world country, in order to reap the benefits, but demanding a theocracy as a minority? Why not go live in Saudi!”.

And the reason I’d agree to such sentiments is because when you’re in the Middle East, as a non-Muslim, you’re still required to respect their laws. So non-Muslims have to cover up substantially and dress modestly. In Ramadan, non-Muslims cannot eat in public because it’s considered rude and offensive and any public displays of affection between couples is severely punished, either through fines or jail time.

So why should non-Muslim visitors and residents be expected to respect and adhere to various laws in Islamic states, but Muslims can’t respect and adhere to the laws passed in secular states?

If we want to be fair, we have to exercise fairness on both sides, at all levels... throughout the spectrum. I can see both sides of this argument and I’m inclined to agree with both parties to a degree. Like I said, I sit on the fence.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coz it's as simple as this...

One of my sisters’ friends approached me this past weekend wanting to know if I’d be willing to counsel her through some of her issues before she gets married. She said that she didn’t want to approach any of her friends because she needed an objective point of view and thought that they'd be too biased; and that she valued my opinion and advice. I agreed.

I usually counsel people and couples, but it’s more of a community service then a profitable enterprise because I’m not a qualified Therapist and I don’t intend to be. However, I do not mind sharing my acquired knowledge of the world with anyone who asks and is willing to listen.

Our "session" wasn't deemed strictly confidential and there were no formalities... so we sat in my room while I packed my cupboard and listened to her keenly and intently. I heard about her personal woes as well as all her troubles with her significant other. And after I gave her some input and we agreed to meet again on another day, she left.

As she pulled out of our driveway, my youngest sister who is generally wise beyond her years, and who had no doubt overheard some of the conversation, approached me and said the most profound words that I had heard in a long time.

She said:
“It’s like men don’t know how to love anymore. They don’t know how to love women. And they don’t know how to love themselves”.

And with that, she shook her little head and walked away... obviously disillusioned by the picture of love painted by Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in a movie she’d seen the night before.

I couldn’t help agreeing with her.

That's not to say that women aren't at fault or that there aren't other mitigating circumstances that dictate each case. But in all my life, I’ve never come across anything as plain, simple and accurate as this:

“If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away.
And if a man doesn’t want you, nothing can make him stay.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Coz we just don't learn, do we...

My favourite subject at school, aside from English, was History. It’s the one subject I always aced effortlessly. I had the ability to recall dates and events like a story, and essentially that’s what History is, one long ever-changing story.

For me, the most fascinating thing about history is how it repeats itself. People don’t ever seem to learn from the mistakes made in the past. Just look at George Bush Senior and Junior... same office, same fuck ups. The similarities are undeniable.

Sometimes, I wonder if History and Karma are related to each other... long lost cousins intertwined with fate, carried by the winds.

I had similar sentiments a few months ago, when Hosni Mubarak was digging his claws into the state’s coffers and holding on for dear life, determined not to leave and step down as the President of Egypt. And back then, I thought to myself:

Dear Islamic Dictators of the World
Have you not read about Moses (AS)? Do you not know how this story is going to end?

"What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs." (Qur'an, 10: 91-92)
Ah, Moses (AS)... my all time favourite historical account remember.

What I find even more intriguing about History and its lessons is that it’s not only exclusive or reserved to a select elite few. Sometimes the lessons we have to learn do not appear in any Historical text book. Sometimes our lessons aren’t huge grand miraculous gestures. More often than not, our lessons are in the mundane monotonous details of life.

For instance, I’ve heard accounts from women who endured decades of torment from their vile-wicked-excuses-of-human-flesh called Mother-in-laws, yet they are no different in character to their own Daughter-in-laws and some are in fact, even worse. Sara is an example of such a woman. She even admitted to it one day while she was having a cup of tea with her neighbour. However, she doesn’t see the unnecessary pain and anguish she causes for her daughter-in-law and rather views it as a rite of passage. She suffered for three decades and she doesn’t see why another woman should get it easy.

Then, there are those people who had the misfortune of being raised by abominal parents, and eventually do or become the very thing that they hate without even realising it. Zena hated everything her mother was... she hated how her mother continuously insulted and degraded her. It made her feel insignificant, worthless and miserable for most of her life. And yet, she does the exact same thing to her daughter, because that is all she knows.

And what about those people who grew up poor and destitute, as is the case of most non-white South African’s , who now look down upon those who have not. Tahir grew up with absolutely nothing. There were nights when he went to bed hungry, gazing at the stars, dreaming of the day he’d make it big. That day came in his late twenties, when he’d made his first million and celebrated with a huge party where he held bragging rights for most of the night.

Then one day, upon exiting The Sheikh’s Palace parking lot in Rivonia, where he racked up a hefty bill comparable to the GDP of a small country, he met a beggar asking him for any leftover food. Still high from the evening’s soiree, Tahir was not only dismissive but rude and arrogant to the man, chastising him for his pitiful state. In less than a year, the world faced a global economic crisis and spiralled into an unforgiving recession bringing down hundreds of corporations and businesses. Almost overnight, Tahir had lost everything, including his house and 4 luxury cars. It was utterly devastating, and today he often recalls that man in the parking lot that night.

As people, we often become consumed with our own lives... victims of History repeating itself... sometimes knowingly but most times unwittingly. And most times, the Oppressed become the Oppressors until they’re oppressed again. A vicious perpetual cycle it is. And still, we don’t learn, do we.