Time

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It’s been 2 years.

2 years ago, I remember walking down this way, taking in the beauty of the Mandovi, the simplicity of the lighthouse and the greens, complimenting the cultural hub of Goa, Kala Academy, one of the masterpieces of the architect Charles Correa.

We were then, 2 years into being students of the vastness called Architecture, laughing our hearts away, clicking endlessly fake candids exploiting the beauty around us.

Who knew, 2 years later, I would stand at this very spot, in the very clothes, looking away into the Mandovi, miles away from those people, reminiscing about these moments?

This time, is a funny thing.
It takes you to places, puts you in situations, make you experience things that you never even dreamt of.

Maybe another two years down the lane, I may have something more interesting and intriguing to share. Well, who knows?

May I have the good fortune to do so. In Sha Allah.

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Just a little piece of cloth

This is something about which I have always wanted to write. Something that contributes so much to my identity and me as a person, yet, from the cover, it’s just a scarf. Just a piece of cloth.

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I don’t remember the exact day, but I do remember the time when I started wearing it for the first time. It was when I was in 7th, most of my classmates had started wearing a scarf and I chose to wear one because I wanted to be among them, fitting in sort of a thing. Since my family was not exactly orthodox, there was never a push or  an encouragement from that side. Gradually after some time, this piece of cloth on my head started becoming a part of me and my modesty. I started feeling uncomfortable about showing my hair anymore.  Back in my childhood, I was a stage performer. So this piece of cloth was incorporated in my stage attires, partially first with a little covering of my hair, then turning into a complete cover. There was so much resistance even from family first because apparently I was taking it ‘overboard’. But the little me stood my ground, because this was something that obviously tied me to my God. Something that made me feel good about myself.

Then it became an integral part of my dressing. I knew I could never go out without my scarf. Nor remove it for the sake of anythng. It just became a part of my life. What I didnt know about was, how this little piece of cloth on my head affected and bond in a much more deeper level. Till then, it was an external element. Something about how I chose my appearance.

Then came a phase in my life, in college, where inspite of being surrounded by Muslims, there was a constant struugle when it came to my religion, within myself. Everything was blank and I felt numb, I didn’t feel any emotion even when I prayed, that at times I would skip it, because of the guilt of doing injustice to it by not showing even an ounce of commitment or sincerity to it. Just darkness and everything felt so empty. I felt no guidance, no encouragement, nothing that told me to do more. Everyday I would wake up and just find myself doing everything mechanically, getting ready, going to college, coming back. But in those days, when I looked in the mirror, to put on my scarf, everyday, I would see a girl staring back at me, still holding on to that little piece of cloth on her head that she could never let go. And I had an epiphany. I remembered how I had fought to embrace it. How it became a part of my life. And that little piece of cloth that I wrapped daily on my head, was a flicker of hope. A hope that made my heart beat again. A hope that told me all was not lost. A hope that told me that I had miles to go.

You see, that little piece of cloth, held me together, unknowingly, when I was breaking down. That little piece of cloth, reminded me to realise who I was and who I want to be. That little piece of cloth, made me work to be myself again.

I am tired of those sympathetic looks I get, about how I am, being forced to cover my hair. And I have a hard time explaining the fact that it was infact the opposite, wherein I faced a lot of resistance to wear my hijab in the beginning from family. I am tired of explaining how this scarf is my choice, and just is a part of what I BELIEVE. My choice. My belief. And my religion. It is nothing of your concern.

I cannot even comprehend the pain that my Muslim sisters undergo, struggling with wearing hijab in the West. But I know I felt really bad when I was asked if I carried a bomb in my bag, by the security lady who judged me by my hijab, which is the identity of my religion when she let all my other friends pass without a fuss. What she failed to understand was, it was MY identity, my identity as a person.

You choose to tie your hair this or that way. You choose what to wear and what not to, and you have reasons for it.

And just like that, I choose to wear my hijab. And I have my own reasons.

 

Reasons of how it was this little piece of cloth, that held me together when I was breaking apart, struggling to find a ground.

It is never just a piece of cloth.

It is a part of my life.

A part of my heart.

 

 

The Bambolim Anganwadi

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The innocent smiles, the curious eyes, the instant friendliness and the connection. The Bambolim Anganwadi, sits in the shade of a tree, alone, transforming the whole space, with its red walls, and solid form. The air is thick with laughter and happiness, warming your heart to no extent. The children running and playing around, reading out from the walls full of charts, tending to their little backyard garden, or just looking at you with those curious eyes, and then the lips blossom into a sweet smile, accepting you.

The warmth of their smile, I felt like I had already achieved enough for the day.

It’s beautiful how they accept everything so easily, without any apprehension, with all its innocence.

I felt so welcome.

In a land, foreign to me.

Ghost of a Past, Glamour of a Present

I was watching Dubai on TV today. Dubai, is a 2001 Malayalam movie, starring our very own Mammooty in its title role.

Well, that film was filmed in dubai for its three quarter portion, but the Dubai in the background is unrecognizable. Its surrounded by clear mountains, buildings not even a quarter of The Khalifa’s size, being given a prominence of picturing the ‘big city’. That Dubai, 15 years younger, was just emerging, with its purity still in place, just like any other Middle Eastern city. But then, the face of Dubai changed. Glittering skyscrapers, posh cars, glamorous lifestyle equals Dubai now. It had successfully taken its name on the list of the world cities, until it lost its lusture. There used to be a time, when I always bugged my father to take us to Dubai for a family vacation. I used to religiously follow the TV programmes featuring the Dubai Shopping Festival to take my share of the colourful cities. In those programs, I saw expat families like mine, enjoying their life in a colorful world, in contrast to my mundane restricted life in a country next to UAE. My innocent eyes saw the glitter in their eyes, the love in the togetherness, bits and pieces of the whole world in a small city. I remember I would tell myself, that some day, I would go for the festival and buy a little something from every country’s stall. Well, that dream is still unfulfilled. My eyes has never witnessed the wonders of Dubai from land. Witnessing it from the sky, everytime you fly in Emirates airlines, with a connection in the Dubai Intl Airport doesn’t count.

So I was just wondering, how much that little city called Dubai transformed within a span of a few years. At times I wonder, if my little city, which I so dearly call home, would transform one day, to one that I would never be able to recognize someday. The thought scares me. The congestion in Batha and Hara, with its buzzing streets full of expats, small residential buildings and shopping complexes that are food to many. The roads that sell various things and sellers who run at the very sound of the Baladiya. The yellow trucks with yellow uniformed men, who clean the city when its residents are still waking up from their slumbers and going back home to rest after another day. Olaya, our developed part, which houses our dearest 2 towers – The Faisaliyyah (The Needle Tower) and Kingdom Tower (The Necklace Tower), the posh hotels and restaurants, that seemed to exist in another world, so different from mine. Malaz, another semi developed area. Deerah, with its traditional markets and mud structures and the court, majestically standing amidst the mud structures. Naseem, with our schools and quite residential villas and vehicle showrooms. And many other smaller parts unique in their own way. The malls, with its splendid infrastructure, bringing the world to us. The masjids, around every corner offering moments of peace. The main cross bridge in the Road, its been a part of my life since the day I started understanding things. We crossed it, daily twice, during our commute to and fro the school. That croos bridge with its swirling road, used to take my little mind wo the world beyond the worls infront of me.The parks with its date palms, lining the lanes, kids fearless, the bullies in the slides and swings waiting to push us around or scare us away. The 20 riyal pizzas, Qubs, Shawarmas, Broasteds, Kabsas and Mandi, that became the taste of our tongues, warming our plates, filling our stomachs. Everywhere you look, you can see people who has embraced the land odf deserts, put their faith into the blessed land of the two Great Mosques, to fill their stomachs and save their families back in their homeland.

 

The Riyadh that I knew and lived in was never the glamorous one filled with malls and brands and posh lifestyles. It was the Riyadh of the parched hearts, struggling to stand on their two feet to support their families, home for kids like us, whose parents hated the dryness and lack of the greenness, that they so closely held dear. For them, this was a place of livelihood because of no other choice, and for us, home. That shaped us to what we are, that consists of little bits and pieces of our being and memories.

That was the Riyadh, where the yellow uniformed street cleaners were underpaid, the cleaners of the two Great Mosques considered blessed, where you see expats, working their life away.

That was the Riyadh, which was hell, for the thieves who were punished severely, people beheaded publicly due to which crimes were less, for people who were wrongly jailed and punished with no money to pay the government to free them, no people to fend for in a foreign country, no love to be showered, treated like dirt by some Saudi, years and youth wasted away, bearing the harshness of the sun, toiling.

Like any other city, it is filled with secrets and pretenses. Secrets, of expats, royals and the common men. So deeply concealed.

It’s a land of tears, of lives lost in the face of fate, souls shattered in the name of livelihood.

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That’s the purity of it, this multi-facetedness, this mix of people, culture withing the strong realm of the traditional culture and I am sure, you will see this in every major cities in the Middle East. Even beyond the glittering city of Dubai. This might have been the face and soul of Dubai once, before another face of glamour came into the forefront as its tag. And I wonder  ,  10 years down the lane, if Riyadh would be the same place that I lived in. That I grew up in. Will it lose its purity, its real face?

Only time will tell.

The mundane little things

In a distant memory, like the vagueness of a dream, I see my mother in the kitchen, making dinner since my dad never preferred rice at night. I see her rolling out the chapattis, perfectly, asking me to cook them. I see her lightly admonishing me, while I burnt some of her prefect chapattis. I see her ladling the batter on the large tawa, dripping in drops of ghee, to make the most delicious dosa which she gently served hot into our plates with the potato masala that I was so fond of. I see her, content, battling her fights, yet with a smile. I see my father cribbing about how our clothes are never in the shelves and how we would never put them away even if we had enough storage. I see him controlling his laughter when we crack a joke and he tries to be all serious. I see his tears, hear his wavering broken voice, while he narrated his childhood to us. I see the wistfulness in his eyes, the little boy, who was recounting the last memory of his father. I see the pride in his eyes, after he came to know that I topped in 10th. I see the disappointment in his eyes, in my decision to opt for architecture. I see the subtle happiness and acceptance in his eyes, after three years, when he sees how well I am doing my course. I see him, a reserved soul, battling the world, providing for us all the comforts, yet with a determination.

In a distant memory, like the vagueness of a dream, I see us all sitting in together with a plate of food in our hands, watching TV and commenting on various things. I see us all, travelling together, in our car for grocery shopping. I see us waiting for my dad in his office, for him to be free, so we could go out somewhere. I see him paying the money for a new dress that I bought. I see us all eating a packet of qubbus and yogurt for dinner, together.

And now when I pay my bills, I miss his presence. When I travel alone, I miss the time when I had to bug my father to take me out. When I drive a car, I miss the rash driving of my father. When I eat my food, I miss the taste of my mother’s cooking. When I see my siblings, I miss the time when we were pulling each other’s hairs for the most silliest of reasons. When I see a loving home, I miss the togetherness of a family.

Family is a different feeling. Each moment, each fight, each tear and each smile that we share as a family can never value up to anything. Savor it all. Be it your mom’s cooking, a dress washed by your mom, ironed by your dad. Anything and everything that they do. Because when each day ends, you grow a little bigger, a little more responsible.

It is only when you go away from the cocoon, will you realize that these mundane little things were some of the greatest things that you could be blessed with.

The mundane little things are the most special.

 

 

 

 

I am back.

And  I am back, hopefully, with a bang!

I know its been really long since I disappeared. But the past few months had been kind of a rollercoaster ride for me. These months saw a 180 degree turn in my life. From the cocooned life of a school girl, I have become an (almost there) independent college girl. 😀 Yay!

Though life had been quite difficult, and depressive at times in these few months, the sun has finely shone. I am back.

 

So. Where am I? And what exactly am I doing?

I have at last ended up in India. Joined an Architecture college in Kerala after a Kargil war at home. But, I succeeded in following my heart. Going against wishes of all loved ones, standing up for what you want and patience has given me a new outlook on life. These few months have matured me, but I am still that fun-loving, goofy little girl!

And yeah! Am finally 18! Though I don’t feel like it.

I have a variety of topics to write about in my head, hopefully I will be able to transfer it into words too. I totally love my Architecture course, though its taking up most of my time, energy, sleep and attention. Right now, I have my internals coming up. SO, hopefully, I will be back by 2 weeks, iA!

 

Till then, stay blessed peeps and pray for me!

Adios!