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Sunday, 10 March 2019

This world is sick


I think this world is sick.

Everyone is swiping away, instead of talking to one another.

It's all about the Ones and Zeros, and it's not cool to talk about our feelings anymore. 

Love thy neighbour as thyself, as long as it's on thy terms. 

We work our asses off so that our children can work their asses off; so that their children can work their asses off.

You can't talk too much - you're loud; you can't talk too little - you're "introverted". Just the right amount will do.

We are obsessed with that one thing that we don't have and forget to smile over the million other things that the world has to offer.

Life is too short to contemplate about its meaning.

I think this world is sick.

Or maybe, I'm the one that is sick.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Done with living a counterfeit life


1 January 2019, 1.30p.m.

Here I am, sitting at the corner of my bed, feeling slightly dazed, with the residual effect of last night's jäger, Corona, and I don't remember what.

The past year, or the past few months (to put it more accurately) have radically and irrevocably changed my life. And this, I have barely told anyone - though those who see me almost every day may have started to notice; to notice the c r a c k s in my beautifully curated life.

I am an idealist. Throughout my entire life, the decisions I've made, the words I've said, and the things I've invested in have always been the cautious strokes of a delicate portrait that I've been painting (of course with occasional slip ups). My family, my religion, my relationship, my friendships, my education, my career... And this includes the subconscious choice to keep most people at a distance so that they do not see through the cracks.

But coming back home from four years of studies in the UK, to a reality that is antipodal to my four years of bliss, has made it almost impossible to plaster the cracks from the outside. Not with the overwhelming expectations to be the same person that I was before I left the country, and the never-ending emotional and physical demands. My loved ones may find it shocking that I have become a very different person in a matter of months but I don't think that I have; from my point of view, I am finally coming to terms who I really am - and it is not that person that I've always deceived myself (and others) to be. It is not that patient yes (wo)man that I've always tried to be to the people that I love. It is not that saintly church girl that I've always been, growing up. It is not that good listener that I've always promised to be. I am not any of those.

I think that it takes courage to admit that you are a messed up piece of garbage. And of course, it takes greater courage to fight against the grain and be the best version of yourself in spite of that. So here I am today, on the first day of 2019, first declaring that I am so damn tired of living like everything is perfect. I am done with living this counterfeit life. Truth is, I am struggling to get by every day, stifled by expectations and compromising on my own happiness to put on a facade that I've got everything under control.

This will.. No, this is already changing. 2019 will be a year that I will be true to myself. I will bare my struggles to the world. I will say no to things that I frankly just don't want to do. I will not give any explanation to those that I am not accountable to. I will not try to pretend to be any kinder or saintlier than I actually am. Of course, I still strive to be the best version of myself as I always have; but this time round, it is on my own terms.

In the past few months, as I gradually came to terms with this reality, I have learned to be happy in spite of the pile of shit that I step on every day, and to embrace this broken, messed up, happy piece of garbage that is me.

And it. is. so. liberating. 💩

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Not living but surviving


The bus screeches to a stop. Its passengers momentarily lift their heads to check out what has just happened - nothing much; just a careless pedestrian who has just survived a potentially gruesome accident - and look right back down at the rectangular device that they all seem to have in their palms. The bus gradually moves off once again, as though nothing has happened.

I get off at my usual stop, put on my jockey cap and join the sea of uniformed men and women, marching (almost in perfect harmony) into the military camp.

0830. Everyone is seated, just in time for the daily morning brief. The same thing is being said every day, but it still has to be said. This is how things work - not just in here, but in the entire country. Any questions? No questions. We shake our heads in unison, signalling the start of another working day.

Phones ringing every couple of minutes. Officers typing away at their keyboards. Stacks of paper being thrown back and forth, and back and forth. Permission to carry on, sir! Carry on. Meetings after meetings. Canteen break. Officers typing away at their keyboards. Phones ringing every couple of minutes. Swear words flying across the ops floor.

The sun sets over the horizon as I glance out of the window, humming Wiz Khalifa's See You Again in my head. It is going to be a long ride home... but, my day is finally about to begin(!) Today, I will finally get down to writing something - anything - on my blog, to pursuing something that sets my heart on fire, once again. And perhaps, if times permits, I will resume that language course that I've put on hold for way too long. I look around me but no one in the bus seems to share my excitement - they are still glued to that rectangular device in their palms.

I unlock my house door - the only thing standing between me and my plans for the evening. I'm greeted by my cat, as she purrs at my feet. I pick her up and place her down gently beside me on the couch. I flip open my Macbook, ready to type away and let the inspiration flow. But... as soon as I type the first few words, my eyelids start getting heavier and heavier, as I come to realise that like yesterday, and the day before, I do not have the productive capacity to do anything else.

I open up yesterday's unfinished episode of Running Man, slouch to a comfortable position with my cat on my lap, and called it a day.

- Repeat story again, and again, and again until I retire. And then, (permanently) die. -

The End.

P.s. Let's hope that in Heaven, we can all finally start living, instead of just surviving.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

And the countdown begins


7.03p.m. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.

I sit by my window and bathe in the full glory of the evening sun. Summer Solstice. It is the longest day of the year. Sun rays pierce through the window panes, lighting up the corner of my room with a golden hue.

I take a sip of my iced coffee and watch the water droplets fall down the surface of the plastic cup. I close my eyes and meditate on the lyrics of the song that is playing: Beautiful Birds by Passenger (feat. Birdy). When I open them again, I see the trees in the garden dancing gently to the rhythm of the song. I see an airplane flying past in the distance, leaving a white trial across the baby blue sky. I hear the birds chirping; and the children from next door playing hoops.

Five more weeks. Five more weeks till I return to the place where the sun sets at about this time of the day, every single day. To the place where the sweltering heat might leave me slightly light-headed. To the place where I will be greeted with the sound of cars swooshing through the streets and angsty drivers honking at each other every morning. To the place where my annoying yet endearing siblings are. To the place I call home.

The yearning to be home and the reluctance to leave this place - does it make sense to feel them all at once?

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Reflections of a passerby in Cambridge


The skies are blue and the sun is out today, as it has been the past few days. Unlike Manchester, Cambridge is blessed with clear skies most of the time.

It is exactly one more month till I submit my dissertation. I should be working on it right now but I've decided to pause, take a walk to the Midsummer Commons and breathe in the fresh Cambridge air instead. Because, it is also exactly one more month till I leave Cambridge for good.

I never felt like a stranger in Manchester - it was my second home. Walking to Lidl to do my grocery, hopping on and off the Magic Bus, and getting takeaway from Curry Mile were all so intuitive to me. I went back to Manchester last week and things were pretty much the same - except that it is no longer a quid but a pound fifty to take the Magic Bus. As usual, Manchester did not fill me with wonder. It was the same old and dull city - not particularly pretty - but somehow, it gave me a sense of familiarity and belonging. It was just. so. different. from Cambridge.

Perhaps it's because I've only been in Cambridge for less than a year, or perhaps it is because I am truly different from the Cantabrigians; but unlike Manchester, I've always felt like a stranger, a visitor, in Cambridge. Cambridge is beautiful - far more beautiful than Manchester will ever be. A three minute walk from home is where the boathouses are. Every evening, you will see the rowers diligently training for the boat race. Further down, across the bridge, is the Midsummer Commons, where cows roam and families spend the evening when the sun is up. Across the road is Jesus Green, where students play football, slackline, have picnics, or simply read a book. The trees in there are lined up so perfectly on each side of the pathway that it amuses me to cycle through them every day. They are especially beautiful in autumn, when the leaves take on various shades of red, orange and yellow. I don't think I will ever forget that mesmerising sight.

Yet, in spite of all its beauty, Cambridge somehow makes me feel lonelier, more foreign, and harder to fit in. I took my Japanese exam yesterday and as we were saying our farewells, our sensei complimented us, saying, "Cambridge students are truly different. If it was elsewhere, they probably wouldn't have been able to learn as quickly." Even though I am a Cambridge student, I felt slightly offended. I suppose it is because I identify myself more as a student of Manchester.

And this is how, I've noticed, Cambridge is so different from Manchester. Well, at least in university. In Manchester, I remember debating, a lot, about our political views in seminars. It was fun. Even though we did not agree on everything, and even though it wasn't always objective, it was fun to see everyone passionately defending their own views. In Cambridge, we rarely did such things. It was always about the readings. Always about being objective, intellectual, and having the correct answers. It made me very cautious to share my two cents worth. And perhaps, that is always why I feel that I am gradually losing my interest in Politics.

Manchester is a safe haven for refugees and I met a handful of them in church. Listening to them recount their times of distress back at home and how they barely managed to escape always put things into perspective. It made all my problems look so trivial in the light of what they had been through. It made me treasure my life, no matter what situation I am in, and never feel the need to be stressed. In Cambridge, all I see is people overreacting over the smallest of things. All I hear is students whining about how difficult university life is. And it is. The undergraduates have it really tough in Cambridge. And while I know that we ought not to trivialise anyone's situation, I can't help but think - really?! I feel too laid-back and nonchalant in this university town where everyone seems on the edge.

But... before I make it seem like Cambridge is a cold and heartless place, I have to say that there were many times when it surprised me. While the people here appear to be more detached and uptight, they are very warm-hearted and exceptionally kind. And unlike in Manchester, I have never been pick pocketed, catcalled or received a racist comment - not once. I remember falling off my bike with my groceries flying all over the place during one of my first few cycles back home. It was an utter mess; but at that moment, a female student came up to me, got her hands dirty while helping me clean up my mess, took her books out of her cotton bag and gave it to me to put the groceries that survived. I also remember falling off a route at the climbing gym, as I pulled the tendon in my left ring finger. I was distraught. But just then, a staff at the gym came up to me and said, "That route there...it's yours." Those five words brought me comfort. These are just a few of the many beautiful encounters that I had in Cambridge.

Next month, when I leave this place, I will probably leave with a heavy heart. When I am back in the grind of working life, I will probably think of Cambridge much more than Manchester - of its luscious fields, the River Cam and its earnest punters. But I will miss both places dearly - for very very different reasons.
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