It’s my Anniversary. Apparently.

Five years on here. Seven hundred (ish) sleepy followers. Twenty that I actually banter with. Five that I am still actually in touch with. If you are one of them; we made it boo, lol.

It seems like such a long time ago I started blog you know. It was such a promising time for me. I thought it was gonna be huge. And for a while it felt like it was, for me anyway, but it died down real quick. I’ve tried sort of closing blog a couple of times but I always end up missing the writing process and you know, interacting with the 3 people that read my mad rambles.

At the moment, blog is still open for technical reasons to do with the book I wrote, if you know, you know. And I guess as soon as those reasons work themselves out I can finally let go of this bugger. Hopefully permenantly this time. It will be hard and sad but I feel like I have outgrown this playground and new people have come out to play that I need to vacate the yard for. There just isn’t room for everyone to play anymore. Definitely a case of too many cooks going on here.

Anyway. If you read my last post then this is a part two-er of that one I suppose. Long story short, I’m a teacher, I hate teaching maths, but love teaching life.

The second lesson isn’t any easier

So, after the poetry lesson I taught the other day, I was placed in a class where the children were looking petrified as they were split up from last year’s friendship groups and put in a class with brand new people so no one knew anyone. So, I figured a game was in order to break the ice.

We decided to play that game “If I were this and that,” for example If I was a number I would be 8. We had a hat full of random topics and in no time we were all laughing at everyone’s choices and the ice was long melted and forgotten about. Oh and I may have forgotten all about the maths I was supposed to teach… oh well.

Here are some of my faves:

“If I was a boy, I would pee standing up just to see what it’s like.” – Love that this little girl voiced out what we are all thinking. She took one for the team.

“If I was a song I’d be humpty dumpty sat on a wall.” – Why though?

“If I were a poem I’d be roses are red, violets are blue, poems are stupid and so are you!” – Not a fan of poetry this one clearly, lol.

“If I was an emotion I would be that feeling when you stick your head out of the open window of a fast moving car.” – Remember that feeling ya’ll?

“If I was a colour I would be colourless.” I think this kid was trying to be awkward lol.

“If I was a month I’d be July August because no school init.” – Agreed.

They wanted me to play the game too but I feared my answers would not be PC. So I refrained but…

-If I was a clour, right now, I would probably be grey.

-If I was a month, I’d probably be October. I have a soft spot for December but October is Autumn, cool crisp mornings, hot chocolate, cozy socks and messy hair and oversized clothes and Hallmark movies infront of the fire whilst watching the burnt orange leaves dance their way onto the ground out the window. October is the one.

-If I was an emotion I’d be that feeling when you finally hit the sack at the end of a long ass day and tuck yourself in and stretch into a comfortable position and let your eyes drift shut and take a deep ass breath of complete and utter relaxation.

-If I were a poem I would probably be a rupi kaur one for sure;

-If I was a song I would probably be Naked by Ella Mai. Lyrical genius.

-If I was a boy, man. I would literally get away with murder.

But naturally, the bunch of 10 year olds I was teaching don’t need to know any of the above.

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The first lesson is always the hardest.

So I taught English today. I had to get the kids to write an “abstract poem” of sorts. We teach by modelling at the educational establishment that I frequent, ergo I had to model what a good one looked like for the kids. I could not have been a worse candidate for the job; I’m a little dense when it comes to poetry. Luckily a template for the poem was provided (the 5 senses and a dramatic end) and this made life easier for me.

Anyway the kids picked an emotion for me to write the poem about. I voted we write about anger (I know, healthy, right?) but they voted for love (boo!) so love it was.

Love is yellow,

It looks like my mother’s smile,

It sounds like a melodious tune,

It smells like freshly-baked donuts,

It tastes like hot hot chocolate!

It feels like a cool breeze running through my hair,

It should be shared and not kept a secret,

Love is yellow.

Naturally I got a standing ovation. Then it was their turn and God, I had so many good ones that cracked me up when I was marking,

Anger is red, it looks like fire. It smells like smoke. It tastes like pepper.

I also had;

Joy is pink, it looks like candy floss and tastes like fresh air.

Two of my favourites;

“Romanticness” is purple. It looks like two love birds singing on a tree branch.

“Kindness is see through. It should be sprinkled in the air like rainbow confetti.”

But the one that stole the show for me, and broke my heart a little bit was this one, by the quietest little girl whose name ironically means happiness. It was too good to be burried in her book for no one to see so I am sharing it here;

Sadness is blue.

It looks like a rainy cloud.

It sounds like a baby, crying.

It smells like a field of bluebells.

It tastes like melted ice cream.

It feels like the tears sliding down your cheek.

It lives inside of you.

Sadness is blue.

Her poem made mine look like a restaurant menu. To my lovely student I want to say;

B, this one’s for you my love.

From Miss A x

Pissed off musings on this rainy saturday

Warning: if swearing offends you, this post is not gonna float your boat. Feel free to go read another one. I won’t be offended.

-My feet are freezing, which means it’s that time of the year again.

-My day is going appalingly bad today which makes me sad actually. But meh. People are dying all over the world and I have a roof over my head. Alhamdulilah. Perspective is crucial and I will eventually get there. It always takes me a little longer than everyone else to find perspective.

-I’ve noticed that when someone upsets me, I generally tend to let it slide. I very rarely tell people they have offended me because I dont like the idea of making them feel awkward. I know its not healthy to bottle things up. But I hate being confrontational. So even if I am fuming, the worst thing I will do is keep away from you for a few days to cool off so I don’t bite your head off the next time we speak.

And yet…

I find that I am surrounded by pricks who have no qualms about telling me (in sinfully great detail) what it is that I have done to upset them.

Why don’t they ever extend the courtesy of letting things slide to me like I do to them? Because Lord knows you have pissed me off a gazillion and one times, Shagufta. So why is it so easy for you to ruin my day by telling me that something I did really pissed you off because your sorry ass interpreted it a certain way?

Ohhh, Because I have made you so comfortable in my unconfrontational presence that you know I’m easy to push over? Because you wanna get it off your chest by dumping the load on my shoulders and ruining my day?

Aye, I see how it is. You absolute wanker.

Welln as long as you feel better now its off your chest. Don’t worry bout ruining my day love. It’s all good. I’ll survive until your mood improves and you come back to me asking for a favour pretending that you didn’t rattle my cage that one time.

-I don’t actually know a Sahgufta. The name was used for the purposes of not naming anyone I know irl. And it’s a bit of a comical name. Lolage.

-Shit is that offensive to anyone who knows any Shagufta’s? I’m sorry.

-Taxi drivers are wonderful people. Especially ones that banter with you and hopefully don’t turn out to be stalkers who now know where you live…

-So, I’ve had a word with the lady that took the photo of chaiwala lads. It was a precious 5 seconds in which she informed me that chaiwala is not necessarily her best piece of work. Obviously, I respectfully disagree because hubba bubba.

-I should go pray maghreb I suppose. Ya’ll have a good night.

Peace.

Why aren’t we kinder to people on social media?

This rant is sponsored by a) a bad headache b) this chai I am drinking c) these pretzel m & m’s…

Seriously, why aren’t we kinder to people on social media? We tend to judge people’s pain and methods of expression quite a lot.

To give you an example, I know a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and has no one to confide in. Ergo she will once in a while post statuses about how marriage is the worst thing since unsliced bread etc etc. People have often come to me and (in reference to her facebook statuses) said, “wow, cringe much?”

I mean yeah maybe, because we all know those words aren’t general and are most likely aimed at her personal situation. But maybe throwing them up on social media is her way of crying for help, attention, company. Maybe it’s the alternative to having a fight with her spouse that night. Maybe its the difference between unloading words off her chest or unloading a gun onto her head. That’s not even a far fetched statement to make these days. How many suicides have there been this year alone?

But if we’re not compalining about tmi on social media. We are complaining about; long captions because we have the attention span of a gold fish, selfies because instagram is for travel photos, travel photos because they remind us we can’t afford to travel, polls because we can’t be bothered to vote, a million and one insta stories because why is this person so self obsessed?

The simple solution of course being, skip, unfollow, delete, block and for god’s sake don’t comment telling someone to lose weight. I’ve unfollowed nuff vegans and super moms in the last month and not one of them has come up to me and demanded an explanation or that I return. Problem solved.

If you’re wondering why, because the vegan wouldn’t stop posting photos of elephants being tortured and I cannot stand looking at any form of violence. It makes me sick (no, vegan who is reading this not enough to give up meat yet). That’s actually why I don’t watch the news. And super mom made me feel useless to be honest and I have no kids so I can’t relate to anything she’s up to. I followed them for a reason at the time of following obviously but I guess we outgrew each other and that’s okay because this gives you room to get to know more friends whom you actually have stuff in common with.

So if we’re not using social media to cuss out one another what can we use it for? Displaying your art work for business, your photography skills, your family snaps, food pictures, your political opinions, a medium to meet new people…

That being said, someone I know who disapproves of online friendships told me recently that the reason they hate them (and always advise me against them) is because they are temporary. It starts off exciting and new. You talk to people for hours on end about all the topics in the world. But then the excitement fizzles to mundane familiarity and you move on to getting to know someone new to renew that excitement.

I personally think that’s a risk you have to take when talking to people online though. Real friendships are also arguably temporary to be fair. In fact, what in this life is permenant?

Long story short; be kind.

P.s. I used “we” as opposed to “you” throughout the post because this is a reminder to me as much as it is to you.

18 years ago…

I moved here. My plane landed at maghrib time and I saw the sun setting and wondered what life would be like from that point onwards. I was numb for a very long time after that day. Life was dark and my folks in their fight to keep us safe in England kind of forgot to check on our mental well being every now and then; a cultural hazard in our neck of the woods. Life became a sea of practicality and I was so thirsty of emotional nourishment. I always contemplate a hundred and one things on August 20th of every year. I wanted to document some of them on here but on the advice of a friend decided to just repost this letter I wrote to my 13 year old self…

Hey Kid,

I know that misery has become your best friend. I know that moving to another country and having to start all over again sucks. I know school is hard and teenagers are basically Satan’s minions. I know you are not telling anyone about school because you know it won’t change anything. I know you get bullied, I know some idiot covered your head with his beanie hat and suffocated you in an empty corridor with no witnesses, for absolutely no reason. I know you use the payphone at school to call your mum at lunch to hear a familiar voice when you’re sad and hang up so she doesnt suspect it was you. I know you want to go back home.

I wish I could tell you that you are going to visit home again soon like they told you. But you are not. You will have to wait nine whole years before you see your family and old home again but when you do, it will be glorious and it will be MORE than worth the wait, I promise. The good news is there will be more trips back home after that and each one will be more life changing than the last.

Soon, life is about to get real good for you and I want you to make the most of it. You will meet so many people that will make you feel so many things and from whom you will learn so many lessons. I want you, during this phase to make decisions using your mind and intelligence and not your heart. Maybe you will save us both some grief. Trust me.

I wish I could tell you that things are going great now. They are not the best. But, you are alive, and though you have no career you have work and though you are (still) not social you have a circle of close friends. And though you are in a dark place in your twenties (now thirties….! Tam you are actually thirty let that sink in) you still have little bursts of happiness now and then and an abundance of blessings to be thankful for.

I wish I could tell you that things are ok back home. But there will be a war, one that will drive your family out of their homes and into hiding. One that, believe it or not, will make you somewhat grateful for escaping home all those years ago. But, you WILL feel helpless and you will want nothing more than to rush back there and see the people you love, but it’s a waiting game for now.

I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you at school and I am sorry I wasn’t kinder to you. God knows you could have done with a cuddle and a chat. I am so so sorry.

Please enjoy life more. Please take happiness WHEREVER you find it. Do not begrudge yourself little moments of joy – life is too short for that crap…

Love from a much older if not wiser,

YOU x

If we were having tea

If we were having tea right now, I’d ask you if having last night’s Chinese for breakfast is normal…

And then smile as you nod along to spare my feelings, insisting on acting so formal.

I’d also tell you, while we’re at it, that poetry really isn’t my game and ask you to bear with my rhymes especially the ones that are really lame.

We’d cover a variety of topics in this little rendevouz, some quizzes, some puzzles and perhaps a riddle or two.

For instance is it true what they say, that elephants never forget? And can you actually love someone that you’ve never even met?

If we were having tea right now, I’d thank you for my coffee the other week and thoroughly apologise for not giving you a chance to speak.

You see I get carried away talking when we finally get together, I bleed all topics dry, not even sparing the weather.

I’d ask you why you’re a mere figment of my imagination, the fact that you’re here but not quite there being pure abomination.

Life’s cruel joke is not wasted on me, she gave me a companion who fits me perfectly.

But the catch is of course they aren’t mine to keep and in order to spend some time with them, I must go back to sleep.

This is a reasonable price to see a loved one and sounds so easy, but for somone with insomnia this task isn’t so breezy.

If we were having tea right now I’d tell you I look forward to the day we finally meet, we’d shuffle our feet awkwardly as the other hesitates to greet.

Contrary to what we actually think the air would be filled with silence. But here’s hoping you won’t scar me with your topics of choice; politics, war and violence.

Even if that was actually the case I’d go where the conversation takes us and smile, tea and any time spent with you will always be worth my while.

Someone once told me

That being famous on instagram is like being rich in Monopoly. In other words; it’s pointless. You get instant gratification from it and a major ego boost that you are winning for a few minutes then boom, the game’s over, the money’s back in the box and everyone is bitter that you won.

I had a conversation with someone who admires my “photography skills” recently. They saw a sample of my photos in a book I had made for them (hashtag modest) and they started telling me how I should close my current instagram account because, to use her words, “it’s dead,” and open a fresh one where I showcase all this “amazing work” that no one gets to see, or only gets to see briefly before I take it down in panic worrying that it is not good enough. She said I needed to become insta famous because she loved my photos.

Tempting, I thought. The closing my instagram account part anyway.

But then, I remembered the comparison about the instagram fame being a fleeting Monopoly dream and I thought meh, I don’t want to be someone who finds this so called fame, get all the likes and talk to no one. I am first and foremost a conversation junkie. So a photo and a comment is worth more than a thousand “likes.”

(Speaking of likes, I am still trying to find a way of disabling that button on here. It does my head in honestly.)

I have recently said time and time again that I am going through a major photography block which is reminiscent of that writing block I went through when I was working on my book two years ago; a reference for those of you who have been with me that long. Remember my book ya’ll? Still can’t publish it. Ugh.

I do look at my old photos fondly though and hope that I will get back into the swing of things. Here’s my absolute favourite photo that I have ever taken (that isn’t of my sister);

It happens to be one of the first images I ever posted on blog too actually. So some of you have definitely seen this one before. If you want the back story here it is;

I was on a hill top in San’aa (Yemen) visiting the epic monument Dar Al Hajjar when I encountered this little boy who had the most striking green eyes mashallah. I was so eager to take his photo but was also hesitant because I live in England, where taking photos of a child that isn’t yours is essentially asking for a lot of trouble. But Yemen was a country where an act such as this is seen as incredibly flattering. Only to kids though, not women, ever. Ever!

Anyway, I somehow gathered the courage and took the photo. I hoped I was smooth enough that no one noticed but of course his dad did and excitedly yelled, “ohhh, are you taking a photo of him?” I awkwardly answered that he had beautiful eyes. Dad was EXTREMELY flattered and grabbed the boy by his very formal attire and made him properly face the camera. Hence the little boys dishevelled coat bless him. Dad, a simple and modest fellow, had heard me speak English to the rest of my party which I think contributed to his levels of excitement but here’s hoping he didn’t think that I worked for Nat Geo. and that his son was now famous or something.

The boy didn’t say a word throughout all this and looked very alarmed at his dad’s animated behaviour . I wanted to know something personal about him to attach to this beautiful image to make it more real, for me, more than anyone. Maybe it was the guilt I felt of having invaded his space… I don’t know.

“What’s his name?” I asked Dad, my eyes not leaving his ocean greens.

“Haatem.”