Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Cabbage Patch Man

I'm in bed with a throat infection, all covered up, bowlfuls of hot soup at my side and constant attention. Aaah... I kinda sorta almost love being sick. Since I'm in no shape to blog but I'm also suffering blog-withdrawal, I'll write about a not-so-distant memory that always brings a smile to my face. Okay, not really a smile, more like a hide-behind-your-hand giggle.

Not too long ago, I'd gone hiking with a bunch of friends. A mighty mountain, a practice run for the great Kilimanjaro. Just as steep, nearly as high, almost as deadly.

Now you and I both know, if you're going down a steep incline and you're not careful about how fast you're moving, you're going to barrel down, tumbling over wildly, accelerating out of control. I know some law of physics goes here, but I don't want to bore you (and I can't for the life of me remember. I was never very good at physics). (Maybe now's the time to take the "geek" off of the "goddess").

(Oh my God that sounds so dodgy. I meant that in the cleanest, non-perverted way possible) (Or not).

So there we were, thrilled about having reached the peak, elated at seeing the misty view of the city below us through chilly, translucent clouds, (did you know clouds are chilly? I mean it's cold anyway up at such heights, but if a cloud passes you by you'll feel the chills - and not just from the excitement. It's really, really umm... chilly). So anyway back to my story; there we were climbing slowly down the treacherous slope single-file, carefully digging each foot in the soil before taking every next step forward when suddenly this guy, Shab I'll call him, yelled out in panic "OUTTA THE WAAAYYY! MOOOOVVVEEEE!" and all of us, without pausing to look back and see what was happening, leapt off the track and onto the cabbage patches on either side that mountain villagers had planted. Shab thundered past us, somersaulting down the narrow dirt path that led straight off the side of the mountain plunging into a massive chasm below.

Hearts beating wildly we watched as he rapidly rolled down the almost-vertical trail until he crashed heavily into a rock and stopped. Thankfully he was okay, just bruises on his limbs and head. He sat there, head in his hands, breathing erratically, almost in tears. We scrambled down and asked if he was alright.

"You guys go ahead" he said to us, "I don't think I can come down."

"That's ok" we told him, "you let us know when you're ready and we'll all go down together"

"No" he said quietly, on the verge of tears, "I'll never be able to do this. Leave me here. I'll live with the villagers on this mountain forever and eat cabbages."

Eventually, we got him to walk down with us. But for ever more, the story of the origin of his name has been passed down for generations. (Not really, but friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, and random strangers).

And that is the story of how he came to be known as Cabbage Shab.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Another year older (and not much wiser).

I love birthdays - and not just because they're the perfect excuse for extravagant parties filled with friends and loved ones (and I've only separated the two because well, some friends are just casual acquaintance-type-friends, and some friends are loved ones), or fabulous (or not) gifts and fancy dinners, but because it's the one time in the year people from far away places and far away times make an effort to get back in touch and call to wish you. I love anticipating which blast from the past I'll hear from next; the surprise and excitement of hearing from childhood friends half forgotten and old schoolmates long gone.

Not that it's such an effort to remember now, in the days of cellphone reminders (something I rely heavily on, due to my non existent memory - my secret of never forgetting a birthday - or other important things, like waking up) and birthday website alarms and whatnot. But it's still very special to hear old voices, all nostalgic, reminiscing bygone memories and wishing the best for the year ahead. (A lot of these wishes include my finding my Mr. Right... Come on guys, I'm only another year older, not wrinkly and toothless. There's hope yet.)

I got some nice presents too. The usual chocolates, earrings, jewellery boxes and clothing, movie/ lunch/ dinner treats, and with them, a much-loved bottle of perfume and a gorrrrrrrgeous pearl and diamond ring.

Yeah okay, so maybe I also love birthdays because it's the one time you get lovely free gifts.

[Rubbing hands in glee.] Bring 'em on.

Monday, November 20, 2006


This past weekend was fabulous, the whole beach weekend thing turned out to be a surprise birthday celebration even though my birthday isn't until tomorrow. So sunburnt, happy and well-fed on gooey chocolate cake, I will turn a still-nineteen-at-heart 26. In honour of that momentous occasion, it is my pleasure to present a list of 26 hitherto unknown facts about my favourite person. Me.

1. I consider myself lucky. Although I've never won anything, anywhere, in any sort of game.

2. I love high heels. The higher the better.

3. Im pretty health-conscious. I'll drink spinach juice from time to time. Sometimes I even think about cutting back on fizzy drinks. But then I think.... naaaah.

4. Blue is my favourite colour. But I can only write in black ink.

5. I like fancy four-wheel drives better than fancy convertibles and sports cars. And I like fancy motorcycles more than I like fancy four-wheel drives.

6. I love chewing gum.

7. I hate taking photos.

8. I am not a morning person. I'd like mornings better if they started later.

9. I'm a complete girl-y girl. But I love camping and trekking as much as the next guy. Camping in the wilderness with lionesses right outside the campsite? No hot showers for 5 days straight? Been there, done that.

10. I hate walking directly behind or directly in front of someone else. It irritates the hell out of me.

11. I believe in the supernatural. And I'm pretty spiritual. Could be the scorpio in me.

12. I climbed walls as a kid. We had a narrow hallway and I'd race up to the ceiling, one foot on one wall, another on the other. If you look up "ants in her pants" in the dictionary, you will find my photo as a child.

13. I sometimes think I walk around with a big flashing neon sign on my forehead that reads "I'm a moron." I've lost count of the liars/ stalkers/ con-men I've met. Dear people of the world, I am smarter than I look. I am not a dumb blonde. I'm a copper-red-brunette (salon bought), and I repeat, I am not dumb. Really.

14. I love the rains with a passion.

15. I'm extremely house proud. Even if that means dumping the mess into the nearest closet when we have unexpected guests.

16. I'd rather be too cold than too hot. I'd rather be too wet than too dry. I can't decide whether I'd like living by the ocean or in the mountains more.

17. I love Tabasco sauce. I'd eat cardboard if it had Tabasco on it.

18. I rarely use my ipod. Maybe once in a month, if I'm stuck in traffic. And only if I remember.

19. I have 6 stitches on my head. (Did a light bulb just go off? Aahaa..)

20. I love the taste of menthol cigarettes. In someone else's mouth.

21. I love to travel. I probably inherited that from my dad.

22. My dream job would be to host a travel show checking out the world's best hotels/ spas/ restaurants. (Would anyone like to hire me?) (Pretty please?).

23. I can speak five languages, I write only two.

24. I sing when I'm happy. The next time you see someone walking all by herself in the middle of town singing, stop and say Hi. I'll also be the one chuckling quietly to herself.

25. The oldest man to hit on me must have been in his eighties. He was oOold, shaky, and walked with a cane. He stood directly in front of me, looked at me lecherously and said, "helloooo beautiful." - He also wore the thickest glasses I have ever seen.

26. I love lists. As a result I'm super organised. I make to-do lists, shopping lists, reading lists, clothes lists, holiday lists and lists of things I need to make lists of.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sunbathing between a rock and hard place

[Health warning: Boring whiny post. This blogger takes no responsibility of injury or risk to reader arising from eye strain or mind numbing boredom.]

I am fed up. Completely and utterly sick of my job. Not the work itself which I enjoy, but the people I work with and their attitudes, and the ever growing politics that happens in offices everywhere but which I've only just experienced. I've been seriously thinking about quitting, but I'm stuck. If I leave now for a new job, I won't get a holiday until I've been at new-job for a year. And that, I desperately need. I can't wait until after my holiday before I quit present-job because I won't last that long. I might just take a running leap out of my very tall building and enjoy the breathtaking view on my way down to eternal work-stress-free peace.

The only other option I can think of right now is to find a hot, unsuspecting, foreign victim and dupe him into marriage, move abroad and get a fabulous job. Get out of this country with it's eternally frustrating annoyances, (electricity problems, water shortages, corruption, traffic police who I'm more afraid of than muggers, sucky jobs, and the friggin air-conditioning that won't work, and as a result of which my brain is melting into a puddle) and the only way I'll ever do that is to marry an overseas stranger and escape this place. I feel like Rapunzel locked in her tower. Only I get to leave at six.

But ofcourse, I can't do all that because I could never leave my mommy who I'm really close to and who I can't live without. Which is also one of the main reasons I did not go abroad to educate myself. Which I sometimes slightly regret, because by now I'd be living the good life, have a great job, enjoying my singledom in cities more suited to fun singles like myself. Not that I don't have a pretty great social life here, or a glam job - for now. Infact, most of my friends envy my work (if only they knew) and my freedom that some of them don't have because they're married with kids and responsibilities. But what's the point of all that if there's nowhere I haven't been before and no one I haven't already met, same old people at the same old places. Last weekend I watched a movie, attended a farewell party, a bridal shower and a house party with the exact. same. crowd. Not one more person, not one less. Dreary dull-dom.

What I'd really like right now is to meet someone fabulous and have a passionate, exciting romance. True love and all that. No chance of that happening though, because I don't see any nice, available boys. And I'm not being picky or anything, it's true. East Africa has a serious shortage of eligible men; somewhat like a man-drought, a testosterone famine. The only men around are old and married, or young and well... kindergarten age. And I'm only half joking. The one and only eligible is getting engaged very soon to an old school mate who I don't particularly like. Boo ya to them.

Anyhow, this weekend, if work and boss let me, I will break free from the grind of daily life and escape to sandy shores and endless horizons. A giggly gaggle of girls at a beach resort out of town, free from gossipy, spiteful stares. Sun, sand, saltwater and snacks. A weak ray of light filtering in through gloomy clouds.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole.

Last night, just as I was settling in to veg out in front of the television; cosy sheet and a bowl of home-made popcorn in hand, the electricity went off. Not such a hugely shocking event for us because it's become a daily part of life. Can't cook because the power went off just as you were putting your dinner in the oven? Can't go out 'coz all your clothes are too wrinkled and you didn't manage to iron?

Yawn. So what else is new?

I have put on makeup by candle light, and gone across town to iron clothes I had to wear for a wedding. I have worn a top to work inside out. Okay fine, that wasn't because of a power cut, it was morning, and I was just really, really sleepy.

Going off track here, but having no power in a third world developing country is much easier than having no power in a developed one, because not only are we so used to it, we expect it. Developed countries are just not as prepared. I will never forget the time I was at my grandma's in London and the electricity went off (what? it goes out in England as well??) and we couldn't have tea as the electric kettle wouldn't work, we couldn't leave home since we were on the 8th floor and didn't fancy carrying heavy luggage down the stairs because the lifts wouldn't run, and we couldn't call anyone to let them know we'd be late 'coz the phone wouldn't work. Talk about going back to the stone ages!

Anyhow, back to sitting in the sudden pitch dark in front of a dying television and the hordes of mosquitoes who attack as soon as the lights go off. (Mosquitoes love me. I am their food-source. They fly miles and miles from all over the world targeted directly to my feet like little killer torpedoes.)

One by one, members of my small family trickled out, stumbling in the dark, towards the more airy living room. We sat together in the candle light, a light breeze wafting in through the open windows, and talked. Stories from my mother's childhood, discussions about my brother's future and heart-to-heart conversations we hadn't had in a long time because everyone was so occupied with their own busy lives.

We sat like that for four hours straight, talking and bonding, remembering good times and bad, laughing over childhood incidents, and when the electricity finally resumed we all got up reluctantly to go back to our technology-dependant lives. My brother back on his xbox, my mom back to her emails and me back to the Amazing Race Asia on TV, drooling over the curly haired, dimpled Indian boy. Helllloooo Sahil, I would SO make out with you.

I think I'll sneak into the fuse box every month, and turn the electricity off for a couple of hours. When there's nothing interesting playing on TV, or I don't need to check my email.

And if my mother hasn't gotten there first.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Shall I tell you?

Shall I tell you about how I know I'm finally getting over Ahmet (who I already thought I was over a year ago, and about which I was obviously. very. wrong) because I turned down a beach barbecue/ picnic with a whole big bunch of friends when I knew Ahmet would be there? Or how I didn't feel butterflies when I saw him later, someplace else, and didn't bother to wave or go over and say hi (and flirt) because I didn't want to? And about how I know I have to, no choice, because I found out he's moving out of the country and settling abroad, and oh, he's married.

Or should I tell you about how I think, yes Saddam Hussein is an evil man, but he's old and obviously senile, and maybe he should be spared the hanging, because honestly, no human should be put to death by another, and especially not in that way. But when I really think about it, if it were my family he'd so cold-bloodedly murdered, I'd test every form of torture on the planet on him before I left him to boil in oil.

Or shall I write about how, after all this time, so many miles and a marriage, Midas still writes to me? Stupid, foolish emails pretending that he's someone else? Emails that read:

Was going through the alumni website and saw ur Id, so am writing to u

As a normal routine, I know u must be tired of people saying, "hiii there, u r cute, u r pretty, i like ur smile, i like ur eyes and stuff"

and i can imagine how irritating it can be when someone out of no where jumps up and says "DO u wanna be my friend, or can i be ur friend" and u feel like, Man DO i KNow u .......... Hence i would definately not do the same, neither would i ask u to be my friend ... All i shall say is "WHy dont we start a conversation and let friendship develop on its on....."

Hope u would reply


Hello der
hows u doing
My name is Ali
originally from India
but sometimes in (GG's hometown)
sometimes in Dubai
sometimes India and so on

On mylast trip to (GG's hometown)
i saw u in Town
thought u could be a good friend
as ur nature was Quite Silent
and i belive Silent People can be a good Asset as a Friend

DOnt know much abt u
Except ur name and FOund out ur email add

so writing to u wid no bad intension
hope u will not mind and will reply to my email

like i said
no bad Intentions
Making Friends is my Hobby
so just trying to be friends
and i assure u
wont get any ambarrasing comments from me

Plz accept My Humble offer
and Kindly do reply

Or should I mourn about how my christmas-new year holiday that I have so eagerly been looking forward to, desperately, like a dying man reaching out for a sip of water, has been postponed to the middle of next year and I truly don't know how I'll survive until then.

Or shall I tell you about how I vividly dreamt of, of all people, Sunjay Dutt and now feel like I am on intimate terms with him? How in my dream, our hands linked together, we whispered sweet promises to one another? How when I woke up feeling warm and cosy, I looked around, surprised to find he wasn't there.

Then again, maybe I won't.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Limpid dreams

Have you ever said sweet dreams
on a cool, cloudless night,
switched off the lights,
thrown wide open the windows
and crawled into your cosy bed,
wrapping a sheet snugly around you,
then turned to gaze focus-edly at the curtains billowing in the breeze,
and, as you admired the crystal-clear skies,
the un-blurred view of brightly twinkling stars,
crisp silhouettes of neighbouring buildings
and the distinct contours of coconut trees bending in the wind,
realised you were still wearing your glasses?