Sunday, December 19, 2010

Falling ...

I think, i'm falling for her,
i think, she might be the one.

I'm not perfect .. I don't quite no what to say or do,
sometimes; when i'm with her .. I stammer,
Like a blubbering idiot .. or babble on uncontrollably

I'm not quite sure what it is,
She's pretty - but not the prettiest
She's smart - but not the smartest
She's bubbly - but not frivolous
She's caring - but not the softest
She's stubborn - but not the worst
I'm still not quite sure what it is ..

But, I think she might be the one


My friend, the zen master of them all the inimitable Zubair Habib inspired me;

A child of the soil,

living, eating and breathing

the air, the minerals and the soil

Living in Jozi, the city of gold;

maybe that's why it's still Egoli,

Maybe that's why it's the city of dreams

the city that drives it's people

leaves the rest of the country wondering what's wrong with us.

We've got the goldbug,

specks of gold; tinged with cyanide coursing through our waterways

entering our bloodstreams, infecting our brains

I wonder what it would take to break free,

to be at ease; to be comfortable with "nothingness"

The concept is so strange, not doing anything

not being, not doing, not searching, not seeking,

Just being .. just sitting still and absorbing ..

One day,

I too would like to be Zen!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Life and the chase

What is it that pursues me, chases; consumes me. That leaves me feeling bereft and alone. I'm not this person, this angst ridden tortured soul; finding solace in the chase.

What does it mean, where does it take me. Why can't I face the truth, what happened to honesty; i'm totally bereft of it.

I wish I knew, wish I understood what tormented me. Why do I feel so alone even when i'm surrounded by people. I'm going no-where here ... that much I can realise!

Let me try to explain, a few weeks ago I was overcome with feelings of sadness; waves of depression almost. i wanted to curl up in a corner and cry.
I don't know why, no idea what caused it; although I have a hypothesis. The only thing that staved it off was that, I was at work; and there just wasn't enough time for me to go and sit in the corner.

I hope it's tiredness; just time catching up with my current frenetic lifestyle. I really pray that's all it is. That's easy to fix; a few days off and good as new!
But I really don't believe that, that it's that easy or simple. It's some form of cognitive dissonance; mind and heart not truly aligned.

There will be a heavy price to pay - soon enough. I just hope that I have a pillar to lean on by the time the wave breaks

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Of men and women

I seem to have rediscovered my need to express myself .. possibly inspired by Bb-Aisha .. her debate with Shak on the nature of relationships made me want to throw in my 2 cents worth.

I think I have a different perspective on marriage and relationships; on the roles and responsibilities of a married couple.
My perspective is mainly driven by having grown-up and experienced a household not entirely in-line with the mainstream Muslim experience.

I grew-up in a household where both my parents worked full-time from a very young age. My mum stopped working for two years after having me (the eldest) and then returned to work. When my brothers were born she stopped working for much shorter periods of time, 3 and 2 months respectively.

And to tell you the truth, I think we all turned out pretty fine :-)
The reason this worked was that there was a full-time commitment from both my parents to making this work, to sharing the responsibilities of parenthood and keeping a house as equally as possible.

Now, this is often a concept spoken about by couples, normally in a "we'll both participate .." but quite frankly most of the time one side falls down on their obligation, unfortunately normally the man!

So what does this mean for me, what does this non-traditional experience actually result in. How does this shape my thinking into a slightly less mainstream viewpoint - and what does that viewpoint look like in real life?

For me the concept is clear, that of a true union of equality between parties. In practice, one would expect both parties to be at the same level, both in terms of education, but also drive and desire to succeed.
I would strongly disagree therefore with the idea that a women would need to be "allowed to travel to conferences" indeed the very idea is non-negotiable; of course a women should do the travelling. It forms a part of her duty and responsibility as a breadwinner.
I even more strongly abhor the idea that "(Women) who have had freedom .. should want it post (marriage)". Perhaps my perspective is skewed and I should be appropriately lambasted but for me the idea of The Husband, the king /tyrant who rules over a relationship .. dictating freedoms as he sees fit is completely alien to me. I think it has very little if any place in a modern relationship.

So to be clear, I advocate freedom, absolute freedom for both parties. However, in line with freedoms must come responsibilities. And it is respect for these responsibilities that governs our freedoms and ensures we don't degenerate into anarchy.
In much the same way as an individual can not play loud music at night (disturbing the peace) nor can they sing "kill the Boer" (hate speech) so the freedoms of the couple to pursue their ambitions and objectives both individually and together must be balanced with the rights of others.
Allah says clearly in the Quran "you have right's over them and they have rights over you" (referring to men and women). So your right's or freedoms must be balanced by the rights of other's over you .. namely that of the spouse, the family and the household.

What does this mean practically?
That the couple should as they see fit, divide and delegate responsibilities and obligations in line with the strengths, interests and development goals of both parties. If the wife is a great cook then let her cook and the husband clean. And if the husband wants to learn how to cook, let them both cook together and both clean.
The concept is simple, one of total equity (not equality) between the parties in an attempt to create a relationship, a family and a society that is more just and fair

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Great Confusion

This is a story that begins somewhere in the mists of time, when early man roamed the Earth. A passing Neanderthal man saw a beautiful Neanderthal women and said "Ugha Ugha" ("I really like you") to which she replied "Grah urgh, gur, allar .. " ("I think I like you, but i'm not sure; my heart says yes, but my head says no. Tell you what, give me some time to think about it and get back to you"). He turned and started walking away, just as he disappeared out of sight she yelled out "ooom ugha ugha" ("I like you too, maybe!"). And so began the Great Confusion; the process whereby innocent men are completely befuddled by the great mystery that is womenkind.

This post is inspired by my recent receipt of a Dear John letter (an sms in this case).
Of course the sms was mindbogglingly stereotypical "You're a great person ... But I have commitment phobia"
I'm sorry, I missed the part where one enters into a relationship with the intention of committing?! And of course it must be my imagination running wild, when I recall the conversations about children and how bringing them up should never be a women's responsibility but rather a shared one.
One would imagine that these types of discussions, especially when initiated by the other party don't exude a sense of commitment phobia but rather almost the other extreme.

One or two friends suggested that the girl was crazy, another even offered up a clinical diagnosis. But I don't think that, it's that simple. Rather I believe it is symptomatic across much of womankind. It would be easy to dismiss if this was an isolated incident, but cast your mind's back gentle readers, and every single one of you will be able to recall something similar.

The most visible symptom of this disease that appears endemic in the female population, is the concept of "blowing hot and cold", erratic behaviour and a general unpredictability. As men I believe, that too often we attempt to treat these symptoms as if they are issues in an of themselves as opposed to having a single root cause. The root cause is the concept of "confusion".

One of the smarter male tweeters described best how most men view relationships "Guys are either we want you or we don't. No maybe". Sure, there are some men, who don't behave in this manner, and the general belief is that, one can not claim to be a "Man" and then behave in this manner.

In contrast, not only do most women behave in this manner, but in general they justify it with totally outlandish statements "It's a women's prerogative to change her mind". Perhaps a few members of the fairer sex would care to enlighten me, and explain how with that type of an attitude and the resultant behaviour it could possibly be men who are more confusing than women?

Thanks to Sofia Fatima for encouraging me to blog this and Bibi Aisha for reminding me :-)
Apologies for the quality of the post .. insomnia and a sense of guilt for not doing this earlier ..
It was therapeutic though.

Would love to hear what everyone thinks ..

Monday, March 1, 2010

English Experiences: Part 1 - York

So i've now been in the UK for 1 full month, which makes it an appropriate time to start writing my grossly overdue blog posts.

Instead of being about the experiences i've had for the entire month, i'd like to dedicate this post to my wonderful hosts Parasputin and ElusiveR and their wonderful kids, Abdul-Hamid and Shoaib.

So I went to York yesterday; on my way to Scarborough .. I messed up the train times, and Asif very generously offered to pick me up from York. Whilst I was waiting for him I took a walk around York; it's a really pretty city.
For example this is a photo of the city walls which are almost 600 years old.

I also checked out the ridiculously gorgeous York Minster or Cathedral .. it's amazing MJ you've gotta check it out .. could easily be a stand-in for the Lord of the Rings
There was also this crazy dude .. dressed up like a Harry Potter character .. in bright purple on his bicycle!

I really really liked York, there was a little something for everyone .. even Nabila would have loved the Beatrix Potter shop

It's really the most charming little city

Asif picked me up after a little while and took me to his home town of Scarborough, well actually the little village of Ailsley (I think that's the spelling); I had Rabia's fantastic akhni .. 4 helpings later and my belly was pleading with me to stop!

We took the boys down to the Scarborough beach front to have ice-cream at this really cool retro ice-cream parlour. The waitresses wore those little yellow skirts twas crazy ..

(Check-out Rabia in the photo)

Then minor disaster struck and briefly threatened to ruin what had been a super great day for me, when I missed my train out of town .. Asif saved the day, my offering me a place for the night .. the result extra cuddle time with Abdul-Hamid, Yay!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A day for rememberance

A friend shared this poem on facebook, felt I had to share it with everyone else. One of the most powerful poems i have ever read:


Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join me
In a moment of silence
In honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon last September 11th.
I would also like to ask you
To offer up a moment of silence
For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned,
disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes,
For the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing...
A full day of silence
For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the
hands of U.S.-backed Israeli
forces over decades of occupation.
Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
mostly children, who have died of
malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S.
embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem,
Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,
Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.
Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of
concrete, steel, earth and skin
And the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam - a people,
not a war - for those who
know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their
relatives' bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of
a secret war ... ssssshhhhh....
Say nothing ... we don't want them to learn that they are dead.
Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,
Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have
piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem.
An hour of silence for El Salvador ...
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua ...
Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos ...
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found
their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could
poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of
sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west...

100 years of silence...
For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half
of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand
Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the
refrigerator of our consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust.

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be. Not like it always has

Because this is not a 9/11 poem.
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa,
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison,
New York, 1971.
This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and
Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit.

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window
of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the
Penthouses and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful
people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence
Then take it NOW,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
But take it all...Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing...For our dead.

EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stolen Meme's

So I first saw this nifty Q & A for 2009 on Nafisa's blog and thought it was pretty cool .. now that both Azra and Waseem have done it, i'd better jump on the bandwagon as well.
It's a bit late it's true .. but better late than never

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Got arrested ooh and had a real job

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't really have any resolutions last year, plenty this year though

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
A fun contrast to last year, spent it chilling out with friends in Umhlanga, playing on the beach in the rain

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope, not really, well MJ's gone .. and so i suppose pop is dead; but that's more of a thing than a person

5. What countries did you visit?
Went to the England in April, mainly to watch football

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
More adventure I guess, hopefully should be off to Nigeria pretty soon .. but also more adventure in life

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
1 Feb, the day I started working at my first real job

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Turning around my performance at work, something I didn't think was possible six months ago

9. What was your biggest failure?
Failing to maintain links, connections and relationships the way they deserved to be

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Right at the end of the year, I dislocated my shoulder (time number 15); thankfully 09 was free of any heart drama

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Tickets to watch Man Utd play Aston Villa at Old Trafford, what a fabulous time .. oh and perhaps the new apartment; but i'll still be thinking of that as 2010s purchase

12. Where did most of your money go?
Squandered i guess; in the words of the immortal George Best "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars, the rest I just squandered" .. although the fast car did account for a goodly chunk

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?
My sex is on fire - Kings of Leon

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Blogging, and just accepting and enjoying life

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stressing about things beyond my control

16. What was your favourite TV program?
Big Bang Theory

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Absolutely .. the Swiss Bitch who made my life such a misery in the first half of this year

18. What was the best book you read?
On the road - Jack Kerouac

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That I like deep house much more than I thought I did .. and that the Parlotones are really, truly fantastic

20. What was your favourite film of this year?
Avatar was amazing but I think Invictus wins because it tugged at the heart strings so much

21. What did you do on your birthday?
Can't remember the specifics, but it ended with riding a bus past the hospital I was born in in London

22. What kept you sane?
Work and the amazing friends i've made

23. Who did you miss?
Friends .. Kaajal in particular, although that was mainly my fault

24. Who was the best new person you met?
Maria who shares an office with me

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
That I can accomplish things I didn't really believe I could .. thought I could .. but never believed

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 in review - Chasing Cars

So the year in review, feels much like the title of the Snow Patrol song, "Chasing Cars", not actually like the lyrics of the song surprisingly, just the title. The lyrics are sorta relevant i suppose, a love story of sorts, but we'll come to that. The

So 2009, started off with more a whimper than a bang. I was partying up in Bellito at a 5Fm gig, which was pretty fun, but a whole lot less fun than the pre-planned alternative of partying in the Coliseum in Rome with a friend. The deviation from the plan was of course driven by my broken heart which ended with my doc barring me from flying. So there I was dancing in the New Year, opening up a new chapter in my life, the end of me the engineer and the beginning of me the management consultant.

Work didn't actually start for another month, 1 Feb was the big day, and what a ride that has been. I briefly mentioned what it was like, but to surmise it's been a crazy fun filled roller-coaster full of 18 hour days, tremendous excitement at actually driving change, and interspersed and mixed up between this some painful shocks to the system.

Which brings me to the title of this post "Chasing Cars", it's been the theme of my year, well "Chasing" at any rate. Chasing, was to use some Chessic jargon the leitmotif, for me. The year began with me chasing a girl, and ended in a similar fashion, chasing girls. Sandwiched in between, was me chasing the rest of life, chasing work.

I suppose on some level that's what life's about .. chasing .. perhaps just in my corporatised existence? I spent the work year chasing. Chasing after clients, after data (you'd think clients would want to share, considering they hired us, but you'd be wrong). Chasing after projects, the plum ones, in fabulous locations like Madagascar; and most importantly perhaps, chasing after good performance reviews. It's odd that, when 2 weeks, 6 months, an entire year is compressed down into a single page memo, a 10 minute meeting to discuss your performance rating and what that means going forward. It worked out all right in the end, i'll spare you most of the messy bits and pieces in between; but in retrospect it seems so bizarre.

There was plenty of other chasing throughout the year, including some actual "Chasing Cars", that was back in April; it was late one Friday night, after dinner with friends in Joburg. I'd promised a friend i'd drop off some stuff in Pretoria that night, but I needed to be back in Joburg by 7 the next morning. It was 1 in the morning, and the M1 North was pretty empty as I put my foot down, the next thing I knew there was a bright flash and a posse of cop cars chasing me down the highway and violently gesticulating at me to pull over. Less than 10 minutes later I was sitting in Midrand police station, having been flashed doing 178 km/h. Flashing through my mind on the way to the station was everything i'd ever heard about South African jails, anal rape by career criminals, brutal prison gangs and callous policeman. It took almost an hour for the cops to process my paperwork, by which time my folks had arrived at the station (I'd called them in my panic). The swearing and yelling I got from them as I was arraigned ended up being worse than the rest of the jail experience.

I was locked up with 30 other well off men, all arrested for driving in excess of 160 km/h. We laughed at our fears, and swapped speed stories. Unsurprisingly all 30 of us were driving German cars! There were 4 other men in the cell, 3 had been arrested for drinking in public and the fourth for drunk driving. So much then for the scary SA jails; I hired a lawyer before my court appearance who got me off scott-free on some technicality or the other; but i've certainly learnt my lesson. I will never drive at more than 160 on the M1 North!

So what else did I chase this year, life i suppose - that old cliche about working hard and playing/partying harder. Did my very best to live up to that for much of the year. 'Twas a tad schizophrenic i suppose, clubbing versus halqa's; hiking and the outdoors versus marathon PS3 sessions. I think it was a rebellion, a reaction perhaps to 4 years of the regimented life of an engineering student, of living at home, to my new found freedom; the ability to do anything without reprimand or even much of a word of caution. At some point point, burnout threatened to become an issue, but I was fortunate in the timing of projects; they allowed me just enough time to regain my breath, before plunging headlong into another packed calendar.

And so the final thing I chased this year, to return this post to where it started, 'Chasing Cars", and it's slightly too sickly sweet and sentimental lyrics. I chased women this year, far too many for my own good. To the point where as a friend put it, it was becoming bad for my soul!
The year started with me chasing the love of my life, who had decided in her infinite wisdom that we weren't actually cut out to be together for all eternity. It took a few months of hard chasing, wining and dining, for me to realise that the moment had been lost, things had changed and there was no going back.
Next on the list was an almost innocent flirtation then ended in a slightly seedy meeting of hands and lips, that may unfortunately have ruined a budding friendship. I don't think I was really chasing that, perhaps the anxiety and frustrations of the last few months had just sort of boiled over.
Most of the rest of the year was too consumed with my quest for a better performance review to afford much chasing time, but I think I easily compressed more than enough into the final 2 months of the year.
Another budding friendship inexorably altered by an accidental slip of the tongue (really bad pun I know), it left a sour aftertaste in my mouth and hers, here's hoping that can friendship can be resurrected sooner rather than later.
Which leads me to this last month, a tale of three beauties each with their own flaws and saving graces, pretty faces and slightly darker souls:
  • The ravishing medical student from Cape Town
  • The razor sharp investment banking belle
  • And the cutie-pie old family friend, who seems to be hinting at something
The Good Lord alone knows how all this will end up, but here's hoping that 2010 is less about chasing and more about catching. Less about anxiety and insecurity and more about certainty and confidence.

Here's to a 2010 filled with Bafana magic, and the euphoria of the World Cup, and perhaps to finding the one beside whom I can just lie "And Just Forget the World"

PS: And hopefully a lot more blogging :-)