Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There is no life before coffee

‘How is your research work going ?’
‘Nonexistent, I m finding it difficult to concentrate  …can we talk about something else please ! so .. I was listening to Tim Winter the other day and he mentioned the book of genesis, in it….Am I on speaker mom?’
‘What are you reading?!’
‘Hey dad …It’s quite interesting actually if you follow through till the end; I finally understood the divergence between Islam and Christianity when it comes to the story of Abraham. Unlike Quran , the book of genesis doesn’t look at Isaac and Ishmael the same way ….‘
‘Are you ok?’ he interrupted  , clearly not interested in my recent indulgence into inter-faith dialogues  ’ Listen I just want to tell you I wish I was your age ; I wish I m a student in London..GO OUT NOW ’ he shouted over the phone 

Maybe he thought I was getting suicidal  ‘Note to self ; spare the parents from any future theology stuff ..you will get a weird version of them otherwise‘   
Other than that ,being on speaker with the parents was quite entertaining actually, .....I could clearly hear my mom hushing my dad but he kept on talking/shouting enthusiastically probably as the phone was at a distance from him 
‘ I have a brilliant idea for you .. Why don't you check into a fancy hotel  on me ;  you’ll be definitely be inspired afterwards …’   

Inspired with what ! I didn’t know what to say to this … he sounded serious and was genuinely trying to help ''inspire'' me ..obviously to them , I needed a new source of  inspiration following the aftermath that they had caused me to go through ...Wait ...actually there should be an expiry date on blaming the parents for any adverse events happening in my life ..and I think I have passed that date long time ago  and ..I should really stop ranting ... ! just a thought !

 ‘Hmmm dad  ...that’s… the Ritz maybe… it will be ...interesting ‘
‘I have a better idea; why don’t you go to a fancy restaurant  ? No…. you don’t like that ..you love Starbucks …why don’t you go to zone one ..you know this lady writer ..I forgot her name ..she  wrote all her Harry Botter books  in a coffee shop !’
How did my mom come to know that ..She’d never read any of Harry Potter books and she absolutely dreaded all his films  ‘Its P-otter mom ; and I have boycotted Starbucks for 2 weeks now ‘
‘Oh dear me ; how are you living then ? ..why did you do that ?’
‘social responsibility , Child labor , mom , plus its openly supporting the war in the middle east ‘
‘But you can not live without Starbucks...!!’ 
That last statement is sadly true to a certain extent ! ‘ I don’t know mom its my third week and I'm telling you  its definitely not the best  timing to give up something  like coffee’  
‘Hmm try Costa then’  
Here we go, like this didn’t cross my mind !  ‘I don’t like Costa .. and the internet there is crap‘
‘Any other coffee shop?’
‘there are many , but ...I don't know.It just isn't the same '

‘Then don’t boycott Starbucks… your morning coffee will not start a war or aggravate the suffering of African children ‘ 
‘South Americans actually ….’   I started feeling guilty by then as she had obviously declared it her mission to find a solution to my coffee dilemma !
‘..tell you what ...buy only the small size coffee for now so you won't be supporting wars that much !  ‘ 
I found that real funny  ' No serious , boycott it next month  '
‘that's really funny ...' I love this woman  'you know mom , I shouldn’t have told you …’
‘hmm Why don’t you fly to Baghdad ?’
‘It was on my mind actually ..’ oops that was a trick question..’ I’ll go now mom…to Starbucks '

Monday, October 13, 2014

Flat mates drama

‘Oh No, woman! not me… I have been raised better than this ‘ I thought to myself. I would  never give this woman the satisfaction of going along with her gossiping about my new flat mate. 

And oh boy, she tried to get me to talk about him. I played as dumb as I could possibly muster. Finally, after a long 5 minutes she just gave up .

Just between you and me though, he is a bit of a creep .I mean if you sneak in somewhere you shouldn’t be, to see something you shouldn’t be seeing… you just shut up and pray that no one notices right!? Not him .My new flat mate would tell you .Proudly .Weirdly. I’m glad I’m not staying here for much longer. That all I’m saying.

To be honest, when I finally settled in that flat – after a period of homelessness ; I thought my issues with flatmates were over  as I had initially shared it with a writer and her boyfriend ; they were so annoyingly in love . But I liked them both so much that I shed few tears when they moved to their own house. 

Dealing with flat mates hasn’t always been easy, I must admit. I’ve come a long way since I have landed in this country a little less than 2 years now. I’ve changed address 6 times during that period and been in shared flats during most of it. My attitude towards my flat mates has evolved dramatically.

My first shared flat was in London; I remember giving the warden a complaint letter on my second day about my flat mate even before meeting him. And oh how nice he turned out to be … I stayed there for few weeks only but we’re still in touch!

My next shared flat was in Hertfordshire – England and this time I shared the flat with an adorably loud Spanish student majoring in English. We bonded almost instantly no thanks to me. She used to knock on my door and let herself in to my room and in her broken English she would chat and chat until I could  take it nomore but being the exotic girl she was, she somehow got away with it every single time.
‘I m dating an Irani ‘  She once told me ‘What do you think about Iranian men?’
‘I don’t really know dear. I haven’t been to Iran and I don’t know any Iranis ‘
‘Well you should know something about Iran , you’re Iraqi ‘
After giving it a quick thought, I blurted ‘I know about the hot topic nowadays, the nuclear program in Iran’
‘Tell me more ‘ you must be kidding !
‘About the nuclear program  ...its all over the news …why don’t  you teach me a new Spanish dish?!’
‘No tell me about middle eastern men! ‘
‘ hmm … OK…!! ‘
‘Are they good ?’  I don’t remember the exact conversation but I still vividly remember that question
‘Are Spanish men good ?’ was my answer
She couldn’t answer and that was one of the rare occasions that I managed to break free from her late night chit chats ….but it was good ,we cooked Tortilla Espanola later that night -I meant she ;). She eventually dropped out of uni, hang around for abit then went back to Spain. I wouldn’t have chosen her as a flat mate tbh but she is another person I missed alot when we parted.

Then I shared my flat with a nurse ; same age as I am .Just came back from a year of ‘travelling around the world with mates ’ .Only her version wasn’t  exactly what I refer to as a spiritual experience but she later turned out to be one of most knowledgeable British people I’ve known when it comes to world’s cultures. Most of my colleagues are clueless to say the least.  I also used to share my cooking endeavours with her. Every time she finished her plate I can’t help to wonder whether my cooking was actually nice or she was just starving after a long shift .Probably the latter!

I spent the following six months in a resident hall in south Wales with four crazy university students. My room wasn’t too big but definitely the largest I’ve been since stepping  foot in the country and it was river facing, the view was so soothing. One problem.Our flat aka – party flat – was never short of banners. Birthday banners, party and Christmas banners...etc . Oh boy , my flat mates  loved partying . There were always random people in the lounge, sleep bags in the kitchen (with people sleeping in them!) and slumber parties every week (on week days). There were times when the music was so loud I would fret and just leave the place aimlessly.  I paid tickets for smoking and late night partying because it was ‘my’ flat after all! . It was a hopeless situation.  So hopeless I didn’t even bother addressing it. But like everything else in life it finally came to an end. sigh!

I needed to settle in for a life of quietness after south wales experience. I stayed in a hospital accommodation knowing that I would most probably encounter people who are a bit less into partying ... you’re not allowed any visitors in it and that was what I thought I was looking for...

‘I m sorry but you can’t come over...’   ‘why ?’ ‘One of my flat mates is a lunatic ‘

Was all too familiar conversation for the few weeks I spent in there ...On my last weekend I brought my sister to stay in with me..I thought heck with it ...I was leaving that weekend anyway...
My sister was having a shower when I heard the dreadful knock on my room door ... for a while I was too scared to answer the door ..but I knew this woman wasn’t going to leave and I was worried my sister would come out of the bathroom and say the wrong thing to my flat mate ; a British born Kenyan , won’t –take- no- bull -sh’t -from -no body kind of woman , probably had watched a bit too many black American movies , she fit very well into the stereotype of Hollywood depiction of black American women...Only she was not American and well...she was half black ‘her words not mine’! In all cases, you didn’t want to mess with her...
My other flatmates had managed a low profile ...there was another nurse from Nigeria; I like to call her Angel – partly because her name was so unfamiliar I couldn’t learn . I hardly saw her around.
And then there was another male nurse who was staying in our female only flat. I was puzzled a bit until I met him and his partner as for a while I thought they were one!  He was a source of confusion for me from all angles ... those people didn’t stay for long but Ms. America certainly did. Strangely enough, I sometimes remember those dramatic knocks on my door and break into a smile!  

That's it for me for now
You keep smiling loyal readers!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicken soup for the soul

I stood in the hotel room watching  the rare clear sunset  sky of London  as the orange and purple sunshine streamed through the curtains, giving the room an optimistic glow. I thought of the first time I laid eyes on this city .Life couldn’t have been any better ….I had just moved in to the UK, to glamorous London. In 4 weeks, I’d met more friends that than all people I got to call friends in the two years that followed my initially fab -turn-out- not- quite-so UK adventure.

Feeling monetarily inspired by 'Poisonwood Bible' , I put my KindleFire down and picked up the phone and dialed the number; I must be really crazy ; was all I was thinking to myself..
‘I need to ask you for some advice’  
‘I’m at work... ‘This must have been a sign; a sign from above to hung up ..but oh boy, as it turned out I’m useless at interpreting heavenly signs .
‘At work ..Hmm…at this hour? Do you work in a nightclub or something?’ I asked
‘No, dumb I’m in Miami not Malaysia remember?! ..Its morning time here. I really think you should check yourself out for Alzheimer or something...I m finishing in 2 hours can I call you back then?’
‘I don’t know why I called you in the first place  ...those 3 years have made you  ...so… American-ised ‘  I meant to say rude!

Two hours  later..
‘What’s up?’
‘World -class racism at work. I can’t take it anymore’ I exclaimed
‘then quit !’
‘I worked my ars#  for this job I can’t just quit ‘
‘Report  it then ,hon .it’s a free country .Fight for your rights’
‘I don’t want to fight ‘  I sighed
‘And I don’t know what you want ‘
‘I crashed my car today….’ I tried to be causal about it
‘Is all ok ?’
‘Yeah I am alright’
‘No I meant the car?’
‘hmmm..How thoughtful of you …I have abandoned the car in the hospital car park ..its a bit funny I somehow managed to end up  in a hospital even on my day off …Thanks to a complete stranger, she helped me take a bus to the rail station and I came down to London …’
‘London? what  for?’
‘Exactly ..I was asking myself the same question on the train ..Going to London was the plan before the crash . Between the hospital , the police and the car services ,I have missed what I supposed to be doing ,yet  still ended up here .. I don’t think there are any brain cells left in me ..I just wanted to forget about the whole car accident ’ 

‘I think your car is having a drink in the park trying to forget about you ‘
‘What a prick!’

‘Hey at least you ‘ve done 2 good things here ; calling me obviously is the first one ....and going to London is the second good thing … try shopping ..every woman’s painkiller …’

‘You’re annoying me now ‘

‘Listen seriously , I have tasted the bitterness of racism as well …But you have to give your boss a break ..See if I haven’t been to the middle east I would be feeling  , probably even behaving , the same as those people ; maybe even worse’

‘But  for weeks in a row , I’ve been punished for what ISIS is doing ...I was not going to blame a random British or American citizen for all the craziness happening  in Baghdad...My boss is living in their own bubble ‘

‘And you’re bursting it for them …there has to be a bang’ 

‘ and I can’t get him out of my head’ 

‘I thought we talked about that few weeks back .It was your decision , your choice, you know where I stand .There were 3 options in that scenario and you chose option 4’

‘hmm..I can’t afford to think about it anymore…. it’s just so draining. ‘ 

‘Then stop thinking …pick up the phone and fix it.’

‘It’s beyond fixable now. It’s awful and I feel guilty for some very good reasons   

‘Oh yeah?!  Here’s a thing for you, men and women are fundamentally different .I can’t be bothered to even remember girls' names … and we,men, all the same ..if you can't fix it then move on .. no guilt attached’

‘ ‘We’! I like how you talk with such authority about everybody else… I think you’re a je#k that's probably why …anyways , I took a leave from work to write my thesis and I haven’t written a single word...I m way too distracted and this’ move on’ business isn’t working so well with me ‘

‘Okay..chill D …forget about everything  ..try to focus on whats urgent. I know its hard….. ’ And then the flow of his words had just abruptly stopped , I know my friend has never been good at being nice so it wasn’t a surprise to hear him struggle with words then a long silence followed.   I wanted to fill the void myself but I didn’t know what to say and my body felt heavy as a stone .…
I thought that at the end of the day what I wanted was to let go of everything that’d happened  , but I also wanted to keep it  . I was torn like a child who has to throw away her favorite but worn-out rag doll.

No words coming from other people would help me , the voices had to come from within ,I thought. Its just too darn noisy in my head  right now.

‘You still there ? are you falling asleep ?’

‘I think I am ..I need to go now ..thank you ever so much for your time’
‘Anytime  ‘

Oceans of love best friends ..you keep smiling