Hope not hate

You just need to turn on the television, or open a newspaper to feel the negative energy swamping our Planet.

Hate- the all encompassing word that sums up everything we see and encounter in the media and in real life every single day.

Terrorism, depravity, extremism in all forms. A terrorist blowing up innocent lives for an unknown cause in Pakistan, a deranged lunatic shooting down a camp of young children in Norway, a young woman being raped and killed in the most inhumane manner in Delhi, the list never ceases to amaze.

What do we learn from all this? Do we get desensitised? Do we learn to turn the other cheek and absorb it all but learn nothing or are the only lessons to learn that humans are evil, humanity doesnt exist, we are ill prepared for the future and our planet is in mortal peril

No.

I believe in hope not hate. I believe the lessons we ought to take away are lessons of peace and positivity in the face of the lowest low

For every suicide bomber, there is a nameless, faceless man who defends our religion with a simple act of human kindness. We have inspiration all around us, we should soak it up- rather than complain about how the media portrays Muslims. We should instead endeavour to be the best Muslims we can be and be kind to our neighbours and represent Islam the best way we know how- if it means one person goes away learning something new- we are fighting a winning battle.

For every deranged lunatic gunning down a camp of promising young leaders, we have a generation of young people who are getting out of their comfortable status quo to give something back to the planet. The sisters and brothers of those kids who were killed don’t grow up seething with blood rage wanting an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ with a dramatic to rival a Tarantino movie. No- instead they deal with the unbearable loss, they learn and they live on. They create charitable foundations, they feel for the plight of those who have been through similar or worse situations. 

For every young woman raped, pillaged and murdered; there are those who march all day and all night, who teach their sons, who give strength to their daughters, those who shout and scream and allow the memory to spur them to live on and demand change and re-write history.

The human spirit triumphs in adversity. Life goes on. Negativity gets more face time than the moderate and the temperate and the triumph.

You don’t hear enough about people stepping out of their circumstances and making the most of what they’ve got. You don’t hear enough about the other side of unspeakable violence; the sadness and the strength it gives.  You don’t hear enough about the social change we need and the lessons we put into practice.

Lest we forget, the road is perilous and treacherous but it is filled with invisible flowers that line the streets which we have to put on rose-coloured glasses to see.

My advice to you: be happy, be good, we can overcome this. Hope can overcome hate, one step at a time.

As always, I leave you with a quote:

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. “- Fyodor Dostoevsky

I don’t profess to see God’s will in poor children starving or innocent people being harmed, but I do see that for every life lost in vain, there is another born to greatness. We are living proof that the impossible is possible and that for every lot of sadness and hate and despair, there is more than enough happiness, hope and light to  counter it all and make the world we live in a better place. We just need to Hope. Hope always wins over Hate.

I wish you hope, and lots of it, to fill your life and lighten your burdens,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster

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It’s a Grace Van Cutsem sort of day…

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Grace Van Cutsem, the tiny frowning bridesmaid at The ol’ shindig Kate and Wills had back in April 2011.

She is one of my biggest heroes  and the archetypal poster girl for days when really, you just want to have a whine and a moan and really C.B.A to be nice.

As today is officially Grace Van Cutsem day, I present, my top five list of annoyances:

  1. The smell of fake tan- On a crowded train, at bitchy o’clock in the morning, there is nothing more gag-inducing than the wonderful smell of fake tan. A truly grotesque combination of smelly socks, month-old biscuits and rusty copper, why anybody would ever subject themselves and others to this wonderful scent is beyond me. People spend millions on this stuff, just look around at the pasty/orange faces around you. Why oh why have the cosmetic companies not found a way to make this vile stuff smell like blueberries yet?
  2. People who live their dramas through Facebook/Twitter- Social Media is a precarious platform that seems to invite the most self-indulgent members of society to air their dirty linens in public while hunched behind a computer screen in a dark room. It buggers my mind beyond belief when I log on and read statuses like “OMG Can’t believe some people in the world…whatevs im over it, lets go out and party girls” or tweets like “People are so hurtful sometimes wow today has been eye opening”. If I poked my eyeballs out with a fork (as I am often inclined to do) upon reading this garbage, I would be on my seventy fifth set of fake eyes by now. Firstly, buddy, the thinly veiled attempts at being “subtle” are not fooling anyone, we all know your scumbag boyfriend was a scumbag once again or that your love/hate relationship with your sister is more hate than love; who are you kidding, really? Also, and more importantly, WHO in the name of all that is noble and not full of shit GIVES a Fudge.Under.Cool.Knife? Keep your drama to yourself and post happy Instagram’d pictures of your cute puppy instead.
  3. Cheapskates- Right, this is probably my biggest gripe ever and a guaranteed sure-fire way to earn my utter disdain. I am by no means Miss Moneybags, and never have been, but miserly cheapskates turn me into a right mardy bum. I can’t stand people who drive Italian Supercars, wear snazzy custom-made suits and yet cough and guffaw when they have to fork out a fiver to contribute to the Office Cake Fund and yet scoff down the Krispy Kremes like the best of us. I know we’re in a recession, people should all be watching their pennies, but really, I hate people who are cheap. There I said it.
  4. Little bits of crap in between my keyboard- It is gross enough I have about four weeks of desk-chained lunch crumbs hiding and practically cackling with evil bacteria-filled laughter, what’s worse is no amount of scraping, squishing, squeezing, poking dislodges any of the tenacious buggers. Answers on a postcard on how to have a clean (and hygienic) workspace please, I’m convinced my keyboard is breaking me out in hives.
  5. Geographically superior Nonces- You know, I get it really. Dubai vs. Abu Dhabi, London vs. Up Norff, NYC vs. LA, Mumbai vs. Delhi, Yorkshire vs. Lancashire, , Jo’burg vs. Cape Town…geographical rivalries have existed since time immemorial. As a citizen of the world, and a proud resident of more places than fit on a small piece of paper, it truly disturbs me when people get all  superior  about where they live. I understand pride and joy in your home town or where you live, but I don’t get this new wave idea that to justify you live in the greatest city/country/town/village on Planet E, it must mean everywhere else is a shit hole. This jaunty put-others-down attitude pisses me right off.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but really the main things that are making me want to go renegade, Grace Van Cutsem style and just cover my chubby hands over my little ears and put on a proper moany face.

A quote that pretty much sums up life:

“Some people deserve a high five…in the face…with a chair.”- Anonymous

May stamping feet, smoke out of ears and wrinkly frowns always be with you,

If I had six minutes to live, I’d write a little faster xxx

As the wind kindles a fire…

I’ve been a naughty blogger again. I promised myself I would blog at least once a month but October passed in a haze of exam pain and November flew in an impromptu sunshine escape, so I do have my excuses, as well rehearsed as they may be. Cross my heart though, this blog post has been on my mind near constantly in the last 5 weeks.

It is a pretty delicious feeling when you are bubbling over to write about something, but just waiting for the perfect planetary alignment that will spare you a half hour to do so.

I know one universal truth in my long study of human behaviour; people really don’t dig long distance relationships. If I had a penny for every time I heard someone scoff and sneer and say “I don’t do Long Distance…it never works out” I would be a billionaire on the cover of Forbes magazine standing next to Oprah and The Queen (HRH).

In actual fact, for me at least, long distance relationships are all I have ever known. Rewind back a quarter of a century ago, as soon as I arrived into the world kicking and screaming, I stepped neatly into my parent’s world of long distance love. Not with each other of course, but as expatriates, they had left house and home and grandma and grandpas and dads and mums and sisters and brothers to set up shop in a shady Desert in the middle of nowhere. As a second-generation expat brat, I took on that long distance love from the moment I took my first breath.

Anecdotes of our babbling babyisms and coochie coo pictures of my sister and I sleeping, bathing, eating, frowning and giggling made it across the Arabian Sea in small blue airmail letters for grandparents and uncles and aunties and cousins to fawn over. A mere baby, I probably had no idea that this was the first of a very great many series of long distance love in my life.

The still point of my carefree turning world probably came when I was about eleven years old though, when my older sister got married and moved away. Not just a sea away, like my grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, but a whole couple of continents away. At the time I was thrilled to bits because, well I would finally get my own room. Subjugated to share in a neat and tidy lavender cocoon with matching carpets and curtains and very floral and pretty things, I was thrilled to bits about the possibilities of all the changes I would bring in once the older, responsible, mature, moody, regimental big sister was gone. I drew posters and made plans, blissfully unaware I was about to get a serious crash course in love, longing and distance.

At the time I would’ve laughed if I told you that I would miss her unbearable. In fact, I distinctly remember, on her wedding day, when everyone was emotional, I bawled like a baby and my sister laughed at me saying “Omg are you actually crying?!” She laughed as I wept. We have this on her Wedding video. She laughed because that’s what she does, she laughs at me, and I cried because I think it hit me; life was about to change big style.

Being eleven is pretty dumb to start with, but when your sister moves away and everything starts changing, it fast becomes very dumb. I discovered through lonely nights that being an (almost) only child is really not all it is cracked up to be. I longed to have her around, to laugh with, talk to, annoy, get mad at, beat up etc. I yearned to hear her (previously mean) voice and to have her tell me off, laugh at me or be her little slave girl who ran to buy her chocolate from the grocery store in a heart beat. I realised we wasted so much time fighting and that the lavender room really wasn’t that bad, going so far that I hesitated to change a single detail of it for a good five years. I forgot to ask her what her absolute favourite dream was or who she wanted to be when she grew up. A few years later as I started to grow up a bit and got a permanent internet connection, we emailed back and forth, maintaining and nurturing our long distance relationship between all the hundred things that fill up daily lives.

If that were my only foray into long distance relationships, maybe I would be a bit more cynical too, but moving on to high school I was lucky enough to meet some absolutely fantastic people and develop lasting relationships which to this day I count as my lifelines. When we all moved to different countries for University, the technology really came in handy and emails came in thick and fast, making the long distance relationships much easier.

Those emails were my life line through some pretty hard and incredibly fulfilling times. Through them I laughed, cried, and was as deeply engrossed in their daily lives as they were in mine. I remember the memorable ones, from forays into idealistic student activism to tales of vices and hedonism; from massive successes with work and careers to devastating fails with love. We grew together and maintained the love through careful cultivation and millions and millions of terabytes of emails. Though the emails took the edge off, the yearning never stopped.

By the time I met the Boy of my Dreams, I was almost a smiling Buddha when it came to long distance. It didn’t disturb us for one moment that from the very onset, we were a very long distance relationship. From the moment we met till the day we married , we maintained 2 years through distances from 70 miles to 7000.  No doubt being in a long distance relationship can be very difficult. No matter how many new means of communication, somehow typed words on a screen or a somewhat grainy image off a webcam do not make up for whispered sweet nothings and the power of actual human touch.

Yet, yes yet, I am a hardcore advocate of the long-distance love.

Till today, at this established and ripe old age of 25, I still conduct family gossip sessions with my mum on BBM, while simultaneously following my best friend’s wedding planning on a blog and when I’m lucky indulging in impromptu skype sessions with my two beautiful nephews who giggle, gurgle and smile almost close enough to cuddle from deep yonder of a 12.5″ screen.

The yearning never goes away, and it can sometimes be physically painful to know that all my best friends and much of my family are so far away and without possibility of when I can definitely see them next.  It is a precarious position to be in, to love so much but to be so far apart it actually hurts.

As I help one of my bestie’s in South Africa to decide over which wedding dress to go far and simultaneously keep my sister entertained with a good old chin-wag as she waits at the bus stop for my little nephew to come home (thank god for BBM) I can’t help but think the secret to long distance relationship is, as always, best summed up in a quote:

“L’absence diminue les médiocres passions, et augmente les grandes, comme le vent éteint les bougies et allume le feu*”- François de La Rochefoucald

*Loosely translated: Absence extinguishes the minor passions and increases the great ones, as the wind blows out a candle and kindles a fire.

May all your long distance relationships be akin to the wind kindling a great, passionate and full of love fire

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster xxx

If the shoe fits…

It all started one unsuspecting Thursday night at Barasti, enjoying some cocktails under the stars and engaging in some blatant people-watching. An attractive girl in her 20s walks past in a dress I spotted earlier in a high street store. Another cocktail, meet an old friend, grimace over the DJ’s choice of muzak, some more people-watching, oh! What do I spot? Another attractive girl wearing the exact same dress. Shock! Horror! If this was the Oscar’s there would be a cat-fight right about now. As the night progressed into the early hours, friends were made and more people were watched, I counted six girls wearing the incriminating dress from the affordable high-street store. Six! And lest the dear reader wonder if perhaps I was suffering from double-vision thanks to those cocktails, let it be known, the strongest ingredient in there was some sharp Pineapple juice. Six young attractive girls wearing a block-printed, slinky jersey dress from High Street Store du jour. I was appalled! Don’t think I’m a high-street snob either, I found it equally infuriating when a couple of seasons ago a certain identical version of the Louis Vuitton speedy was spotted on multiple arms of fashionistas all over Mall of the Emirates. Where has all the creativity gone?

It made me think about fashion in Dubai on a deeper level. Cities like London, Milan, Paris and Tokyo are heralded as much for their designer togs as they are for the avant-garde individualism represented by young people in their ‘street’ togs. The advent and unbridled popularity of blogs like ‘The cool Hunter’ have represented that the fashion-conscious aren’t just interested with what the couturiers are creating. Fashion is intensely and increasingly influenced in a down-up manner. With the Punk and Mod movement in the 60s hitting London, designers like Vivienne Westwood claimed with great authority that Punk was all about the people. Her collections were as much about young fashion students ripping their jeans and wearing knuckle-dusters as jewellery as her mind’s own creative ministrations. With it’s newly launched fashion week, multitudes of designer boutiques and fast-fashion troves where does Dubai’s burgeoning fashion scene stand in terms of a defined street style?

If the episode at Barasti is anything to go by, Dubai’s street style may have a long way to go. Asking several fashion friends in the know they all lament over Dubai’s lack of originality. “Everywhere I go I see people following trends, I hardly ever see anyone starting a trend or following a path less beaten to inspire a trend”, says Natalie Robehmed, “When I visit London I may see many girls wearing exactly what style.com says is ‘in’ for the season, but I also get to experience some innovation and creativity, people stepping outside the box”

From the ornate Harajuku girls of Tokyo, to the ethnic beauties of Mumbai, the well-coiffed Parisians to the eclectic East Londoners, the beachy keen babes of Miami to the head-to-toe black New Yorkers, every city has their signature style that doesn’t just take its inspiration from trends but also works of practicality and circumstantial conveniences. Taking inspiration from history, culture and making sure to keep the weatherman’s warnings in mind, a street style is derived by a need to experiment with one’s look, be creative and not worry about breaking or making fashion rules. Taking the plunge into the unknown can be intimidating but it sure beats having the same dress and the same pair of shoes and the same handbag as your equally fashionable friend.

Though perhaps we fashion-cynics are being a little harsh. Dubai is a pretty young Emirate and it does show some evidence of having particular aspects to its fashion personality that can be deemed quintessentially Dubai. Stalk a neighbourhood mall and aside from the perfectly trendy, you’ll soon notice a few quirks that make Dubai’s street style an emerging persona. O.T.T Swarovski crystals, glitzy stilettos, a little bit of leopard skin here, a few beachy-keen summer dresses there, lots of sheer black Abayas, the most bling version of designer Sunglasses one can lay their hands on, super-sized leather totes in loud colours…you may have to squint and look hard, but a gleaming street style is just waiting to emerge. Perhaps it’s a beacon of hope for those waiting patiently for a fashion revolution here in Dubai, but there is hope.

So it all rests on you. Stop going for the tried-and-tested, take a chance! If your heart tells you you’d love to wear a pair of wellingtons under an abaya, go crazy! Feel like ditching your trustworthy little black dress combo? Wear your mum’s old wedding dress and accessorize with a smile- you could well be the mascot for Dubai’s street style revolution.

A very important person once told me he believed every city was a shoe. If East London is a pair of re-issued patent leather Doctor Martens, Paris is a pair of smart, Prada loafers and Mumbai is a pair of Kohlapuri ‘Chapals’, what would Dubai’s shoe alter-ego be? The truth is the shoe would probably be a particularly glitzy pair of heels, decadent, luxurious, hella expensive and just a little bit too much.

As is trend around these neighbourhoods, a quote:

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” – Oscar Wilde

May the Doc Martens, Prada loafers and Kohlapuri chapals be with you,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster xxx

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