Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Contemplating contemplations...

10. Driving back home the other day was like participating in a GTA competition; with every schizo psychotic driver in the entire universe unleashed on the roads. Worse still, it seemed like the majority of them got their licenses with their Happy Meals at the McDonalds drive-thru – from Ronald McDonald himself no less. I inevitably found myself chastising¹ the driver in front of me and not in a very nice way. It got me thinking about a whole lot of things. I can’t say I’ve never committed any traffic offences; and I can’t say that I’ve never annoyed another driver by driving slower than the speed limit – especially when I’m taking my time or trying to find my way around. So why do I feel the need to decapitate the next person? How many times do we chastise² people in traffic for crimes that we are also guilty of?

9. Oh what I’d give to be in Marbella³ right now! I spend hours thinking about it. My left boob is always the first choice – because there’s two. Or maybe my baby toes, I don’t need them. An arm seems a bit extreme. I need my arms, how else am I going to hug David Gandy? I would gladly part with the remaining bum fat though.

8. Need a fake tan? Come and live in South Africa. You'll never ever end up looking like an Orang-utan. It's the African sun and all that.

7. Now that we’re into winter, every morning is an epic battle of Lord-of-the-Rings proportions. The bad part is that it’s not even that cold. In Johannesburg, we share the same weather forecast with Paris. And it’s summer in Paris. There are some mornings I don’t even want to get up at all. I wish I could sleep forever. Wake me up when September ends.

6."I actually go to a church where they don't blame God for all the bad choices people make". I overheard a woman say this to another woman one morning, just before one of my sporadic runs around the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. I thought it was funny, so I chuckled to myself silently before I went on my merry way. Funny coz it’s true.

5. One of my cousins is getting married in 3 weeks time and naturally, this only means one thing: War. There’s just something about a wedding that unleashes the Gremlin within. And so much of it is completely unnecessary. We live in the 21st century and people have yet to realise that their marriages are by no means an extension of the wedding day itself. Even if perfection is achieved, there is no guarantee or evidence that flawless decor and floral arrangements equate to flawless relationships and the coveted happily ever after.

4. Speaking of extensions of the follicular variety... I’ve decided to take a leap and colour my hair. Now I don’t usually colour my hair. I have dyed it black a few times because my natural hair colour is a significant red-brown and I hate it. But I don't just want to dye it any colour, I'm thinking radical change, a myriad of colour. Just for fun of course. This is what I’m going for, notice how the top is darker and then it tapers off into lighter hues:

3. Speaking of extensions of another kind. And I’m sure I’ve said this at some point before. I hate how some parents think their children are the centre of the universe and therefore exempt from any kind of responsibility or consequences, and that we should all bow down to them. As a parent, your children are not an extension of you. They are people in their own right with their own minds, priorities, needs and opinions. So essentially your children don’t come from you, they come through you. And it is NOT your job to give in to their every whim and fancy, breeding little future Dictators – midget Fascists in the making. It IS however, your job to educate them on how to mind their manners, and in the ways of the world so that they can be the best people they can possibly be, for the sake of the world... because it’s the rest of the world that has to live with a Cuntasaurus⁴ once your all-consuming-ego-inflated-ass is dead.

2. Why is it that when it comes to friends and even strangers, we find ourselves non-judgemental, accommodating and accepting of who they are and what they believe in without any question. But when it comes to our own families - the very people we claim to love more than anyone else in the whole world - we’re often highly judgemental, critical, harsh, condescending and unaccepting of their beliefs, opinions and who they claim to be? This is an observation I’ve made across the borders of race, ethnicity and every religious denomination.

1. Oh my, that David Gandy. What a beautiful man. It must be illegal to be that pretty. They should call him David Candy. There’s just something about him... him and all the other hundreds of guys in both my Male Appreciation Albums⁵.

Footnotes:
¹Instead of cursing him, his mother, his father, his grandmother and the rest of his family and then flipping him off.
²There's that nice word again.
³Just one more fabulous place on that endless bucket list.
⁴Think cunt, but on a huge dinosauria-like scale.
⁵Yep, there are two.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

That point between reflection and nostalgia...

We were on our way to Damascus. I had hardly slept the previous night - too busy being enthralled in the old  city of Jerusalem - and getting lost in the process. It also didn't help having excess adrenaline coursing through my veins in anticipation of being shot in the head by one of the many armed Israeli guards at the various checkpoints. I had never felt so alive. And so terrified at the same time.

I spent most of the following day staring out the window, watching the landscape change ever so slightly. Don McLean's Vincent echoed in the distance, with the earphones left abandoned on my shoulders... not something someone in my generation would usually listen to, I heard someone comment. I've always been an old soul - or so I've been told.

And most of the journey was engaged in conversation with an adolescent - trying to use my acquired wisdom to extinguish the flames of his teenage angst. He was a close friend of the family and I was really trying to help him through some of his issues.

Damascus was incredible. Not particularly aesthetically pleasing, but absolutely ethereally beautiful and vibrant - in a way that words fail to describe. It left me perpetually breathless with delight. We walked through the city during the day and trawled through the market places at night.

I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that I was in one of the oldest cities in the world. I kept on trying to envision the city at it's peak - during a time when it flourished and was only second to the once great Babylon.    I had imaginary scenarios playing out in my mind of the people who lived there... the people they loved... the families they had... the lifestyles they led... and I couldn't help feeling envious, desperately wishing I could go back if only for a moment to see it for myself.

On my final evening in the city, days without sufficient sleep had finally caught up with me. After having savoured the midnight air, I retired to my room on the 4th floor without the knowledge that my young friend was in some trouble. He had been involved in a skirmish with a few of the other juvenile delinquents staying at the hotel, and subsequently became quite emotional.

It began on the 2nd floor, some time after midnight...

"Azra... AAZZZRRRAAA... I neeeeed yooouuu... AZRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!, I need youuuuuuuuuu"

Curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, he wailed streetcar-named-desire style for some time. It went on and on until everyone up on the 5th and 6th floors could hear him.

It is perhaps both a combination of my exhaustion, and a gift from God, that I didn't hear him that night. I was both somewhat mortified and hysterical with laughter when I heard a detailed account of the story as it unfolded, the following morning at breakfast. We still  laugh about it today. 

I'd like to thank the Pretzel Thief for her award. I am quite honoured. And I know that she can relate to this story :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How things have and haven't really changed...

For my last literature class I chose to do The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Set in the year 1482, I thought it would be a good way to introduce another subject - Medieval Europe - as the theme for their prepared speeches.
BIG mistake. Firstly, it is the most depressing book I have ever read. EVER. It is nothing like the animated movie. Everyone dies at the end - I wanted to die too. And secondly, it left the class so morose and melancholic that every subsequent conversation was quite disparaging and dismal.

The story itself centres around Esmeralda, a woman reviled by some folk for being a Gypsy. In some of our conversations we discussed the persecution of Gypsies or Romani people in Europe from the mid 1300's onwards, particularly in Spain. It was quite sad to note that some things haven't quite changed:
Trying to cheer up the class, I tried to change the subject. So running off on tangents - because that is what we do best - we somehow found ourselves on the touchy subject of Colonialism:
With a few Argentinean students in class, it didn't take too long to note that it was a BAD example:
I quickly regrouped and decided to pick a political situation that had a more positive outcome. I thought that the fall of the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Berlin for decades would be a great example. Third time's a charm innit?:
Not so. See, some walls may have come down, but others have gone up. And they're MUCH bigger.
Wall around the city of Bethlehem in Palestine.

And that was when I realised that there was no way I was going to win this one and decided to talk about food instead. As it is, most people love chicken.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Who said that I don't like poetry...

Sometime last week, one of my Facebook friends posted this as her status:

If love leaves you and goes away, can it ever find you again? Is it also like a nomadic wanderer in the desert of life, looking for an oasis and ending up seeing only mirages?

Thinking it quite poetic, I responded with my thoughts and had a semi-epiphany on the subject, which I subsequently discussed with my Man-friend this past weekend.

Having already discussed my views on the nature of REAL love, it has been established that real love is indeed selfless. As I've said many times before, it's not about you and how you feel. Real love is about wanting the best for the other person, regardless of how you feel or what's in it for you.

And so my thoughts evolved. Perhaps it's not a question of what real love is... because many people already know or have come to the realisation that real love doesn't accommodate adolescent infatuations and fantasies... perhaps it's in wanting or expecting that selfless Love to be reciprocated.

So in essence, we all know by now that real love is selfless (and if you don't get a clue), and maybe we're all hoping that we'll be loved selflessly in return. And maybe we think that we will be able to know or recognise that someone who will love us selflessly when we see them - when in actual fact people very rarely know when they're being loved selflessly.

I postulated this theory in one of my conversations with my Man-friend while we were having lunch outside, enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Me: Just think about it, how will you know if someone loves you selflessly? You won't - unless they tell you - but chances are they won't know it themselves.

Him: I get what you're saying...

Me: It's like, how would I know that you really enjoy being here, and that you really appreciate my company? Truth is, I won't.

Him: Well, you ate half of my burrito. And I don't ever share my food. So what does that tell you? And how would I know the same?

Me: Exactly! You don't. And by the way, I gave you those Godiva truffles and that t-shirt I bought from London.

Him: So?

Me: So it was GODIVA, half of my Godiva stash. My own Mother doesn't get Godiva.

Him: Hmm, yeah you should have left the t-shirt and bought more Godiva.

(At this point we both laugh before falling silent)


Me: *sigh* What were we talking about again?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

#7

Curaçao. Think Amsterdam in the Caribbean. That's exactly what it is. Just off the coast of Venezuela, in the southern Caribbean, is where you'll find this little gem. Curaçao is one of the five island territories of the former Netherlands Antilles:

The Country of Curaçao includes the main island as well as the small uninhabited island known as Klein Curaçao (which is both Dutch and Afrikaans for Small Curaçao). It is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Willemstad is the capital and is in the shape of a star:

Curaçao's heritage is Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch but because of its history, the island's population comes from many ethnic backgrounds. There is an Afro-Caribbean majority from African descent as well as sizeable minorities of Dutch, Latin American, French, South Asian, East Asian, Portuguese and Levantine people.

The majority of the population are multilingual, speaking English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamentu. There are also Christians from almost every division as well as Muslims, Jews and Hindus living on the island. The country is also known for its exquisite beaches and with a warm tropical savanna climate all year round, what more could you ask for?
Piscadera Bay - Curaçao

My only concern is that once I'm there, I'd never want to leave.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The joy of randomness...

I was tagged by the lovely Señora from I heart Mondegreens in Spain. I like memes so I've taken Michi's questions and combined them with a few other memes / questions I received on email. And voila:

1. What is your favourite saying, or motto?
The mark of a brilliant mind is one that can entertain a thought without necessarily accepting it ~ Aristotle

2. What is your dream job?
I have a few, but it would depend on where I am situated. An ice-cream taster in Italy; a Shepherd in Austria; a Barista in Costa Rica; a tube-driver or a professional protester in London.

3. What part of the world do you have little interest in travelling to? And which part of the world is next on your “list”?
Well, I never ever wake up with the urge to go to Australia. Although I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. India is definitely last on my list. No offence to the Aussies or Indians!! Next on the list - Croatia (iA).

4. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Anywhere on the Mediterranean coast.

5. When you travel, do you prefer to go to the city or the countryside?
Both.

6. What is the last thing you think about before falling asleep?
Tahiti.

7. Are you a gardener, or a garden admirer? You can be both!
Admirer, I have no interest in getting into the earth until I’m dead.

8. Do you enjoy cooking? If so, what are some meals you like to prepare when you entertain?
Yes very much so. When entertaining, I like to make what the guest likes/prefers... anything from roast chicken with rice & vegetables to roast leg of lamb or grilled fish, a chicken curry or chicken Biryani. I also love making pasta and delicious quick & easy meals. Try this out:

1) 1 or 2 medium potatoes - washed and baked in an oven at 180⁰C/350⁰F (For the Baked / Jacket Potato)
2) 1 tin Tuna - drained from any liquid
3) 1 small onion - diced and pan fried lightly in olive oil until golden, then drained of oil
4) 1 or 2 eggs - boiled and diced
5) 1 green chilli (pepper pod) – de-seeded and chopped into tiny bits
6) Cheddar cheese - (quantity as preferred) diced into small cubes
7) A handful of coriander (cilantro) - chopped
8) 2 or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
9) Crushed black pepper and salt to taste
10) Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. You can add or omit ingredients according to your preferences. Makes 2 - 4 servings.
Lunch is served.

9. Do you parallel park or drive around the block?
Parallel Park.

10. If there were 7 people from any time period you could invite to dinner, who would they be?
Prophet Solomon (AS)
Aristotle
Niccolo Machiavelli
Cyrus The Great
Khidr the Guide
Frida Kahlo
Omar (RA) – Companion to the Prophet Muhammed (SAW)

11. Have you ever written or would you like to write a short story, memoir, or novel?
Have never written a book – but several short stories. I’d like to write an autobiography. And I have a novel or three located somewhere in my brain.

12. What kind of music helps you unwind?

Ben – Michael Jackson


Per TeJosh Groban


13. When was the last time you cried?
30th of March 1982 at 04:20am.

14. Which lyrics aptly describe your love life?
It might seem like a crush, but it doesn't mean that I'm serious. 'Cause to lose all my senses, that is just so typically me. Oh baby, baby...Oops! I did it again. I played with your heart, got lost in the game. Oh baby, baby... Oops! You think I'm in love, that I'm sent from above, I'm not that innocent.

15. What do you most enjoy about blogging, and what advice would you give new bloggers?
I love the global interaction... the blogger ethnogenesis, the blurring of geographical boundaries, the interweaving of various ethnicities and cultures... and the knowledge that despite the distances and differences, we are more alike than we are different. Our bonds are threads etched in the fabric of humankind.

My advice to all “new” bloggers is to just be yourself because everybody else is taken. Use your mind, but let the words flow from your heart and soul.

I tag everyone who wants to do this, but RCB, Prixie, Angie, Juliette, Jaya and Deidre in particular.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

London called and wanted its weather back...

So, I've just returned from an extended weekend in London. When I left here, it was cold and rainy... like a fore-warning of what was to come. The trip was kinda unplanned and unscheduled but I had to tend to an important matter at Inland Revenue before the end of May. And due to a recent unfortunate incident, I had to officially close my bank account in the UK, which I decided to do in person.

And so I stepped off the plane on Friday morning and got down to business. And once that was done, I had time to visit old friends and do some shopping. Here are some highlights, my thoughts and conclusions from the past few days:

1. I don’t know what it is with British females and hotpants / shorts in winter. I mean it’s like FREEZING and they’re barely wearing anything. I on the other hand, was dressed like an Eskimo, sporting thermal underwear, four jerseys, tights and a tracksuit pants under my usual clothing... topped off with a huge coat and a scarf on the first two days. But by the third day I had acclimatised and went back to donning the normal one layer of clothing.

2. The first thing I buy when I’m in the UK is St. Ives Blemish Control Face Scrub. Since this isn’t available in South Africa, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona or Switzerland – and I know because I had Mother, an aunt and an uncle traipse up and down Europe looking for it – it makes it the most expensive face scrub in the world and the most expensive thing I own:

3. One of the friends I met up with was my good old friend slash ex-landlord Donovan, who is now married with two kids. He spent most of the time complaining about domestic bliss*, before adding that he wouldn’t give it up for the world, hence confirming my belief that most guys genuinely enjoy being miserable.

4. I've heard the term European Debt Crisis thrown around a lot on the news in the last year. All I have to say is: what crisis? It seemed like the entire Europe (Spain and Italy in particular) was on holiday in London this past weekend.

5. Speaking of tourists, there’s something annoying about how none of them follow rules. For instance, keep left doesn’t mean please stand in the middle of the pathway and have a long conversation with your friends while 15 000 other people wait to pass through.

6. I've found that it doesn't hurt to have a beverage named after you. Britain, I am honoured:

7. It must be awesome to be a Tube (train) Driver. I can’t imagine it being physically, mentally or emotionally taxing to tell everyone to stand clear of the doors or to mind that gap. And it looks a little like riding your own roller-coaster. I wonder why I never thought of that before.

8. Speaking of the tube - and this is why I love London - I had this guy in pink tights and a pink tutu come and sit next to me one evening. It was obviously either his stag or a dare, but great fun to witness anyway:

9. There are some people in London who make their living by being Professional Protesters. I reckon they’ve got nothing on South African protesters who usually come fully prepared with vendors amongst the masses selling everything from hot food to ice cream as well as trucks loaded with mega sound systems with various soundtracks to aid their war cries and spectacular dance routines to boot. It's like Rio's Carnival with placards. But South African protesters aren't paid for their troubles and I can’t help but envy London's Professional Protesters in their vocations.

10. Big ups to the staff at British Airways who damn near molested me at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 with their manhandling and frisking tactics and then handed me not one, but TWO stainless steel knives while serving dinner onboard.

11. After going through all the trouble of acclimatising and walking around like a penguin, I returned to a very warm 28⁰ Degree Celsius Johannesburg, and proceeded to melt in my clothes. Ah global warming...

12. And in all seriousness... I have an O2 Sim Card that’s worth ₤10 to give away. It has ₤7.50 airtime credit on it remaining and I’d honestly rather give it away to someone who could use it than have it rot away in my cupboard. So if you are in the UK or if you are going to the UK, or if you know anyone going to the UK anytime soon and would like this freebie worth ₤17.50, please email me your details and I’ll mail it to you free of charge, absolutely gratis:

Many other things happened and many other observations made... like noticing that Notting Hill Gate is the only station that has absolutely no advertising... a chance meeting with a lonely, lovely Lithuanian girl who obviously felt comfortable enough to tell me her whole life story in the 30 minutes we spent together... meeting old friends and colleagues... eating at all my favourite spots... and walking for 12 hours a day on every single day...

*Donovan’s story used with his permission.