Monday, November 28, 2011

Coz apparently I'm a woman. On a horse. With a sword...

I honestly believe that every person is exactly where they should be at any given moment in time. We are where we are supposed to be and every person we encounter and every situation we experience teaches us something new about the world and ourselves too. All we have to do is be open to learning the lessons and living consciously.

If I ever found myself doubting that or my place in my current vocation, my fears would have been laid firmly to rest over the past week. One of the things I like about working at the institute is the open door communication policy. I love to communicate. I'm a communicator.

Anyways, on this particular day I had a lot on my mind... ideas, some suggestions and recommendations... I'm full of them. I should have been a business analyst.

So I stepped into The Boss's office and all of these ideas, suggestions and recommendations just came pouring out of my mouth - like word vomit. And then we got talking. And before I knew it, I heard her say:

"I love these ideas. I believe that we can do this. You can do this. *eyes-squinting-contemplatively-in-crystal-ball-oracle-conjuring-way* 
I mean, with a name like Azra... I see a woman. A woman on a horse. With a sword."

And I thought to myself, "yep... this chick is exactly my kind of crazy". And that's when I knew. I knew that I may not be here forever, I may not even be here in the next year... but right now, this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Still, there are those moments when frustration sets in - days that everyone has as some point in time no matter how great your job is. Days when I'd rather be in bed the entire day than face the world. And the only thing that keeps me going is a sense of humour:

Pic courtesy Prixie :)

I often wonder how everyone else gets through their days...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coz I'm a soldier to my own emptiness, I am a winner...

Adele's "Someone like you" makes me want to dig out my cochleas with a spoon and donate them to the nearest implant centre. Not that it isn't a good song. I just have a minor problem with the whole wrist slitting sentiment it elicits.

I'd rather spend my time fantasizing about driving a car with the top down looking out at the ocean with the wind in my hair and a balmy breeze caressing my face, listening to Goodluck taking it easy or even listening to this:

Lady Gaga ~ Marry The Night (Live)

Anyways, if you've been living under a rock or if you're not from SA, we've had some major changes over the last few days which may inadvertently affect the future of this country on some level. Maybe if I cared more, I'd be bothered to go into detail but I've been disillusioned with life in SA for the longest time. I blame London and the UK for that - those bastards colonized my mind in the two years I was there. They just can't help themselves can they? So for now I'll copy and paste a friend's Facebook status:

October 19 1977 - South Africa's Apartheid government bans several local newspapers for publishing news articles about the beating and murder of Steve Biko at the hands of the police... the ANC protested this violently.

Fast Forward...

November 22 2011 - South Africa's ANC government passes the Protection of Information Bill allowing the incarceration (for up to 25 years) and banning of any journalist or entity that makes public information about the corrupt nature or actions of members of government.

Now everyone knows I'm not a huge fan of the media, especially those behind reckless and irresponsible reporting - but to have your notoriously corrupt government pull the plug on the open / transparent information act so that they can hide all the shit they get up to - well even I can see something heinously wrong with that.

It's just contributed to my belief that we're regressing as a nation. And it's become reason #37 to leave for good and never come back. Reason #3 is Eskom - the nation's infamous power supplier that sporadically plays spin-the-bottle with the country's power supply and conveniently runs out of money / capacity to supply the nation with power, while all its fat-cats sit with Millions in self-allocated bonuses firmly ensconced in their pockets. But that won't be our problem anymore... not if the Protection of Information Bill has anything to do with it.

On the brighter side, I don't know what's funnier - the fact that someone edited the ANC's Wikipedia page  under the Criticism banner (click on image for larger visual):

Or the fact that Nando's never fails to cash in on any piece of controversial news:

South African's can laugh at just about ANYTHING. That's the #1 reason to stay.

In other news... Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coz there were better times...

So a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the The Commons, a visual effort dedicated to showcasing hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives. The site offers a rare glimpse into ancient photographs from all over the world at varying points in time.

Now I've mentioned before, my utter fascination with history and old photographs. I love history for so many reasons but mostly because I believe that while life was very difficult for most people back then, there was a quality and a beauty in the simplicity of life that the world has lost forever and we are worse off for it. I love old photographs for a similar reason - those timeless moments captured forever in print.

I could quite literally get lost in a never ending reverie, so this site really kept me completely occupied for quite a while. I found the colour photos particularly intriguing. It's a weird thing we do when we imagine the past. The what-once-was of life often emerges our consciousness in hazy depictions, faded black and white images.

It's almost like we unconciously envisage and perceive the past to have existed on another plane or dimension - one completely alien and foreign to our own realities. So looking at the colour photos was a bit of a shock. The reality of the past was so real. Maybe we've watched too many Hollywood movies depicting a certain animated perfection that we've created these false realities in our minds. After all, not everyone's hair was perfectly slicked into place. The photos look like they could have been taken in the present and the people in them look like they were playing dress-up: 
Vermont State Fair, USA ~ 1939

A student at Polytechnic High School, Los Angeles, California ~ September 1942

Rockefeller Plaza, New York ~ March 1943

Karnak, Egypt ~ 1900

Perhaps our ideas of the past are more flawed than we ever cared to realise. Here are a few of my favourite photos - in that clichéd hazy, faded black and white veneer:
Painter in Dublin ~ June 1932

Chicago ~ 1893

Two Dillon sisters & one Crofton brother in the garden of Clonbrock House, Galway ~ 1 November 1864

Quinta de Manhufe, Amarante, Portugal ~ 1918

Workmen on a girder at the Rockefeller Centre ~ 1932

New York ~ 1927

Soldiers ~ 1941

People on the streets celebrated at the news of the end of World War 2, VJ Day ~ 14 August 1945

I often wonder, if they could see us now what would they think? Would the state that the world is currently in come as a tremendous shock to our ancestors? I'm sure every generation, at some point in time thought it was "The End" for them, so to speak. So I can just imagine the relief felt by all in the last pic... the announcement that the war (WWII) was over, that life could return to normal, that there was renewed hope and that better times awaited - after what was certainly a horrific time for most of the world. And I wonder if the world will ever feel that kind of relief and hope ever again...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coz I tread between nostalgia and indigestion...

So one of my chronic photo-taking stalker students is a twenty-something year old professional soccer player from Brazil who plays for a club in Europe, when he's not learning about Present Perfect Tense with me. What I find so strange about this guy is that he's NEVER on time because of his training schedule. He NEVER does any of the homework I give him. He NEVER pays attention in any lesson and when he' not taking photos of me, he's like a pseudo-pimp with girls constantly draped all over him... it's annoying. Most times, he's annoying.

And yet, this is the same guy that hates to see me upset and when I'm shouting him like a little kid, he will apologise until the cows come home and beg me to be happy. This is also the same guy that will attend my other classes - classes he's not registered for - in his spare time. It's the strangest thing. No one ever willingly attends classes that they're not registered for, particularly at the institute.

For some reason, I've been particularly nostalgic over the past week, reminiscing and cringing simultaneously. The journey to this particular point in my life has been somewhat surreal. A quick re-con:

There were all those years I spent working for Private Investigators as a student, paying my way through Varsity by delving into Industrial Sabotage, hiding in bushes taking photos of suspects, listening in and translating countless telephone conversations as well as taking Affidavits, handing out search warrants like sweets on Halloween and working with Interpol on numerous criminal cases.
Overall Work Rating: 8 out of 10. It would have been the ideal job if we didn't have to negotiate with twelve heavily armed men from the Nigerian Mafia as well as the SWAT team. Life should never imitate an action movie. Minus two points for the stress.

Perhaps, the most surprising of all the work I'd done over the years, was my stint in the world of acting. As an improv actress and professional extra, I SUCKED ass big time because I can't lie to save my life - which is a big part of an actor's job. But I didn't suck enough for the Director to tell me to fuck off. And then suddenly, I found myself having long conversations with actors while waiting behind the scenes and even today, I recognise, worked with or have spoken to almost every face on SA television at some point in time.
Overall Work Rating: 7 out of 10. Props for getting paid buckets for running around on set like a monkey. Minus 3 points for the countless takes and damn DB not remembering any of his lines!

Then there was a contract at the world's largest soft-drink company, along with the Germans. I've never met a German I didn't like, so we worked together fabulously. Plus we got free gourmet lunch every day... and unlimited soft-drinks and a private concert with The Black Eyed Peas as a present for all the hard work and hours put in.
Overall Work Rating: 9 out of 10. Best company to work for, EVER!

One of the worst would have to be a certain *ahem* reputable and very well known Financial Institution and Auditing Firm. Beneath the seemingly flawless porcelain veneer was all the cracks in the form of poor employer/employee communication, utter chaos, bigotry, nepotism, no cohesion and an organisational culture stuck in the 1800's.
Overall Work Rating: 2 out of 10. Bitches. At least I got to meet a wonderful friend at that horrid hell hole.

Working for Shirley at an Events Management company comes a close second on the suck-o-meter. Between Elton John's AIDS benefit ball and Jennifer Lopez's Thanksgiving Dinner, I was so stressed out I nearly went bald.
Overall Work Rating: 3 out of 10. Anal passive-aggressive people are the worst, especially if you have to work for them.

The British Council in London was by far one of the highlights of my career. As a Quality Control Officer, my job was to mediate between Members of Parliament, Councillors and their Constituents. It sure was something else and I loved going to work everyday. Even after the 7/7 bombings when one of the District Officials enquired if I'd be at work the next day, I was like Bitch please, I come from Johannesburg. This is nothing.
Overall Work Rating: 10 out of 10. 
The best part of the job was being granted access as an employee to every film location in London to ensure the regulation of certain processes. This was both the best and worst time of my life. It was the best because it was very interesting and I got to meet my favourite actress Juliette Binoche as well as attend several movie Premieres. It was the worst because of one particular person. Jude-freaking-Law. Living around the around the corner from the somewhat controversial actor meant that he was EVERYWHERE. I was subjected to his presence in the street, at the local Tescos, at the Lebanese restaurant around the corner, at work on the movie set... at one point I seriously wanted to tell him to stop following me. But I didn't because he wasn't. He was just being an emo actor with girlfriend issues. I ended up hating him. Sometimes I still do.

And those are just the highlights folks. Here am I, a solid 10 years and 27 contracts later, and I'm stuck with a Lebanese guy who refuses to pass any of his English courses because he's simply too comfortable where he is at the moment and passing means that he would graduate and eventually leave. And he doesn't want to leave. Sometimes I wonder if I've regressed in my evolution.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Coz the only thing worse than public displays of affection are public displays of adoration...

So I have a teeny tiny problem with my students. It seems like they love taking photos. Specifically, they love taking photos of me while I'm teaching or when they think I'm not looking.

Thing is, camera's and mobile phones are not allowed during lessons at the institute. But people bring them anyway. The result is that every now and then I catch one or two sly bastards sneaking pics of me with their cellphone cameras. And when I reprimand them, they pretend to know nothing and then continue with their sneaky photography sessions.

Now, I'm the Queen of Kook, but even this is beyond me. I find it quite odd. Is this normal? This can't be normal. I get the whole being enamoured with your teacher thing... wondering what they're like as people, outside the class. I've been there, done that and got the stalker trail to prove it. But this is a whole new level of quirk. I don't think I have the user manual for this kind of freaky.

And forget about leaving my hair hanging loose or wearing earrings. It's like everyone wants to touch me or my hair - and being aware of the very stringent laws against flirting with students and vice versa, I ensure I have absolutely NO physical contact with any of them. Even the females. I don't even respond to any of the adoring "my teacher" comments.

I'm thinking if it continues like this, I may need to look for another job.

Anyways. So it must have been one hell of a party the other night because the following morning on the way to my car (to go to work), I found a note neatly folded and taped to the windscreen. It said "Please send me a message, if you don't mind. Just a message, nothing else. Here's my number:" I'm guessing it's one of the neighbours. I've been tempted to call the number but at the same time I don't want to open up a can of worms. To message/call or not to message/call... that is the question. WWYD?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coz I'm looking for the nearest exit...

It should be illegal to be this tired. I'm guessing there must be something wrong here - either a serious health issue or maybe it's just that time of the year. I'm guessing it could be a little of both.

I haven't had a decent break this year - it's been all work and no play all the way. It's very unlike me because  I'm usually all play and more play. My bank manager seems to agree, being the second person (in as many weeks) to suggest I have my own reality show. Twenty more requests and I may consider thinking about it.  That not grammatically correct? I don't give a shit. There are more important things to worry about then syntax. 

Like Facebook. Ever since they tweaked the site and had everyone from yonder exclaim how wonderful it was, all it's become is one big YAWN. Seriously. Never been so bored on FB before in my life EVER (actually, the last 5 years is more like it). Boring. Just talking about it makes me want to ZzZzZz...

And then this evening, I put on the telly hoping to escape into something funny and interesting (like our usual Monday night comedy line-up) and what do I see? Horses. Yes, a show about HORSES! It's not the first time, I saw it last week and thought it was a practical joke. But no, tonight again with the HORSES. That's the kind of viewing that's usually reserved for 5pm on Sunday afternoons, just before one of those National Geographic specials on the mating rituals of gecko's versus lizards or something like that. 

SABC is the WORST broadcaster in the ENTIRE universe and you can tell them I said so. They probably hire drunk gatte who play spin the bottle with our programming schedules. Whoever decided that Outsourced should be moved from Prime Time on Monday night to 06:30pm on Tuesday should be shot - execution style.

For some reason, I've been getting a lot of visitors over the past week who come here searching for "the end" or "the end is nigh". Yes I'm all apocalyptic sometimes because I cannot ignore the signs, but I find that very strange. Guess Greece and Oklahoma and all it's fellow occupied cities have people freaked out. No doubt about it (mainly due to the ever-increasing fuel price) the situation in Greece really bothers me. Probably more than global warming bothers me. But much less than a bad hair day bothers me. And significantly less than not being able to recall the name of the new posthumous Michael Jackson song that played on the radio two months ago bothers me. I'm almost positive the DJ said it's "who's loving you now" but alas it isn't or I can't find any record of it and I've been going bonkers over it ever since.

The neighbours are having a party tonight. Specifically those four guys next door, along with twelve other guys, so really it's like a guy's night in and therefore no invitation. But I did get a plate overflowing with lamb chops fresh off the grill. And it's well done, just how I like it. It's a good thing that it's just meat. I've been living la vida Gluten Free for the past month so that means NO bread, or bread products, or anything that looks like, smells like or even resembles wheat, yeast and any of it's derivatives. No bread since like forever... no wonder I'm so cranky.

I do need some sleep. A lot of sleep. Any sleep really. I feel mentally, emotionally and physically spent. I could do with a snooze on Iker's comfy bed. His duvet looks like a marshmallow. It calls my name. Ok, it doesn't really, lest someone be tempted to call the nutty police.
Spanish footballer Iker Casillas teases us with his snoozing skills.