Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Demystifying Girls' Bathrooms

Girls need not read this post. I would ask them to wait for me to find a resourceful male friend who can ‘demystify’ guys’ bathrooms to me in turn but we all know that nothing male-related is even remotely mystical. Guys, on the other hand, can learn a few actual facts. Thanks to Orange Is TheNew Black (OITNB), many a guy now think girls’ bathrooms are a lesbian fest. Boobs flailing all around the place, girls making out while making up each other’s faces; contemptuous looks being exchanged over that coveted toilet stall… Unfortunately, while that may be the situation in a Federal Women’s prison, it’s not usually the case in reality. So, no… should you sneak into the ladies, you’ll probably not see even a single boob… not even side-boob.  

Fortunately, I stay at a Girls’ Hostel when I am at school… and in a lot of respects, our bathrooms are a lot like a Federal Women’s prison’s.  For instance, on one rather unfortunate Monday morning I woke up earlier than usual so that I could shower in peace and not have to start my week by being confronted by various parts of the female anatomy that did not in any way resemble Beyoncé’s (and hence were not in any way sexually appealing to me). You can imagine my blurry eyed shock when I ran into a half-naked, middle aged woman who continued to undress before stepping into the shower. It didn’t help that she told me, “Don’t mind me…” while wearing a grin that very much resembled Crazy Eyes’. Gotta love Murphy’s Law!
Crazy Eyes from OITNB... 

Contemptuous looks are exchanged over coveted bathroom stalls. I try to stay above all this by showering earlier than the Muggles but sometimes I oversleep and get a front row seat to childish scuffles. Once, I stepped into the shower and was just about to turn the water on when someone nonchalantly drew my shower curtain and told me, “Could you get into the next shower? I really like the one you are in and I can’t use any other.” The rest of the conversation went something like:
          Me: Excuse me?
          Her: Please…
          Me: How old are you?
          Her: 20
         Me: Oh, ok… 20 year old who’s acting like someone took your favourite blankie, can I at least wrap myself with my towel before we can discuss this any further…

There is also the usual Muggle-like ignorance. I once overheard this conversation that would put many blonde jokes to shame.
            Girl X: Can foot diseases be transmitted. (I am assuming she had noticed something alarming on her  feet.)
             Girl Y: I’m not sure… I don’t think so… Maybe athlete’s foot. (Which she pronounced as ‘athletee’s foot’)  

(Long pause)
Or maybe Foot and Mouth.
Girl X: (Sounding quite alarmed) Foot and Mouth! That’s so scary!

The more I write, the more I discover that that there isn’t much of a mystery here. No secret of life will be unearthed by spending time at a girl’s bathroom. If anything, the silly theories you hear are bound to blow your mind. I blame it all on the pungent hand wash… I mean, why else would otherwise normal women behave so strangely in bathrooms?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Crush! Crush! Crush!

I have a new crush… like a real one. A real, live one! Not that the previous ones were dead or anything. They were very much alive. They were just not ‘in the flesh’. The likes of Wentworth Miller, who, it seems, didn’t think that the 20 year age difference between us made our relationship hard enough. He had to go ahead and rub his being gay in my face.
* Takes deep breathes and puts Ryan Lewis’ Same Love on repeat* 
There was also Ian Somerhalder… not so much Ian as the vampire he plays in The Vampire Diaries. He is hot but unfortunately he doesn’t meet criterion 2/2: ‘Being Alive’.

Unfortunately, I don't do 'undead'.

However, kuteseka ni kwa muda. Good things come to those who wait. Hope is that thing with wings… Okay, I don’t have the time to quote clichés. I have a new crush! You poor dear, you probably have no idea why I am this excited. You see, having a crush is not about the warm, fuzzy feelings and the sudden realization that every bad mushy love song was written with the two of you in mind. No, having a new crush is all about the thrill of having a new person to stalk. The less you know about the person, the more exhilarating the search will be.  It’s been a while and I know I’ve grown a little rusty but I’ll try to remember the basics so that I can break it down to you.

Personal Information. I don’t need to point out that the name, home and work address, phone number, KRA pin, blood type, BMI, police records, football team, web history, Facebook username, twitter handle and possibly kik username are the first things that you need to find out. No, unlike what the movies want to make you believe, you don’t need to hack into the police database for this stuff. You just need to infiltrate your crush’s inner circle. Work your way to the middle without causing any ripples. Should this fail to get you the desired information; you can always use death threats, blackmail and catnapping (no, we do not kidnap. What do you take me for? Some psycho?) as ammo.

Armed with this information, you can now find ways to strategically place yourself under your crush’s nose. Sit at their table at lunch; creep behind them in the book aisles in the library (that shit is romantic, trust me); acquire a sudden taste in his favourite football team (for God’s sake try to acquire some actual facts. Statements like ‘Ozil has such pretty, big eyes’ will get you booted. Try something like: ‘Ozil made two assists in their last game.’); show up at his favourite bar, ice cream parlour, coffee house, mutura outlet, grocery… the opportunities are infinite. 
With eyes like that who needs horoscopes?

Do NOT make initial contact. Look pretty and be constantly in his face and eventually he’ll get around to talking to you. (The talk may be in the form of a restriction order but let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that.) When he eventually does, make sure that you are armed with wit, sassiness and a great sense of humour… or a great pair of boobs. Make sure to casually bring his interests into the conversation. If possible, quote some of his tweets back to him. He will be taken aback at how similar the two of you are… how very soul-mate like… Keep initial contact short so as to build his anticipation.

At this point everything should pretty much fall into place if you’ve played your cards right. The lover will gradually turn to the beloved as the crush gets to know and consequently like you more and more. You’ll get into the habit of speaking 10 times a day. You’ll do all you favourite things together (in my case, this involves watching Juno 12 times). You’ll be happy. However, unless he’s the ONE, one of you will soon get bored. The exhilaration of the hunt will die down. You’ll fade into barely friends, acquaintances, and eventually… nothing.

So, about my tall, well built, light-skinned new crush who smells like sunshine after a gloomy morning…? I should get down to business. I don’t even know his name. I should, but I won’t. You see, I already know how the story will end. He’s not the ONE.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Sophie's Choice by William Styron: A Review

The worst game of 'Would you rather...'

“She was so chaotically in love with Nathan that it was like dementia, and it is more often than not the person one loves from whom one withholds the most searing truths about one’s self; if only out of the very human motive to spare groundless pain.”

This observation, made by Stingo, concerning Sophie was what led me to (mistakenly) conclude that Sophie and I were similar. That we were kindred souls, separated by time, distance and circumstances. Fellow psychos in love.  How wrong I was! Sophie is nothing like anyone I know, including me.

Through her confidante, Stingo, to whom she pours out her darkest secrets over the summer of ’47, Sophie takes us back to her youth in Cracow, Poland. She weaves us through her experiences during World War II that saw her lose everything that she held dear. In her faltering English, supplemented by French and German phrases, she takes Stingo and I through those difficult years of her life.

I can almost taste her defiance to break as she is forced to move to Warsaw to work in a tar factory after her father and husband are rounded up by the Gestapo. I take that daily walk to work with her, passing through the Jewish ghetto where Jews are rounded up like cattle and hurdled to concentration camps for labor and extermination; all this as part of  the Nazis twisted efforts to ‘solve’ the Jewish ‘problem’. I feel my stomach turn in fear when my Sophie is finally snared in a Nazi trap for the simple crime of smuggling meat to feed her ailing mother.

You can’t help but love her… this incredible Polish beauty. I can clearly see why nearly every man she meets wants her… including the eccentric Nathan. If you are a woman and do not live to meet your Nathan, then you won’t have truly lived.  He is that fatal love that sweeps you off your feet, changes your life and everything you believed in, tears your world apart like a tornado. That love that demands not only your heart but your whole being.

This incredible story will see you wear Sophie’s, Nathan’s and Stingo’s shoes all in turn. You will be plunged into the treacherous, dangerous Nazi camps where you’ll be confronted with human evil at its worst: boring, monotonous evil. You will gaily follow the trio as they live life like never before during that summer. You will shiver in fear  when you come face to face with Nathan’s demons and you will sigh as Stingo battles with heartbreak after heartbreak; dryspell after dryspell… But most importantly, you’ll struggle to understand Sophie and the choices she has to make.

I dare say that this book will tug at your heartstrings, at the very least.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Love... and Psychosis

We all have our demons, some darker than others.
Some easier to exorcise than others... to each their own.

We try to hide them from those we care about,
those that look up to us.... those whose opinions matter.

We try to hold them at arm's length,
to keep them from gazing into our eyes and seeing the demons trapped within.

But once in a while... once in a lifetime, perharps,
we run into that person who won't listen.
That one who won't stay at arm's length...
That one who holds your face and stares right into your eyes...
right at your demons...
and forces you to look at the demons hidden within their own eyes.

And when we find them... that one person,
then we finally realize that we are not alone...
that we need not hide anymore...
that finally someone understands us.

Some days the demons rage and roar... and it is hell.
But that person still remains there.

On other days we feel as if we can't stand their demons.
We allow ourselves to drift off.

But no matter how far we drift,
We still end up right where we started:
gazing right into each others eyes;
confronting the demons; and loving each other...
with or without the demons.

Imagine Dragons: Demons

Saturday, 15 June 2013

To my Little Lioness

I am a sucker for letters. I wish people still wrote them more often. Well, this here was inspired by this. 

Dear Aria,
First off, let’s be clear that your name is Aria… and not Beyoncé or Rihanna as your father may be deluded into thinking. Your name is as beautiful as music (it actually means ‘A long, accompanied song for a solo voice, typically one in an opera or oratorio’) but let’s pretend that I was deep and philosophical enough to come up with that on my own. If you aren’t the pretty, prima-donna type of little girl, then you can tell everyone that your name means ‘lioness’… because it does.

Aria, by now you must know that mommy loves words… reading them and writing them. That’s why we will take on adventures to solve mysteries with The Famous Five; we will get creeped out by the horrors of Goosebumps on many a night… and when you have been a really good girl, we’ll step out of this mundane muggle world and see what’s been happening in Hogwarts. Who knows, by the time you read this we may be well on our way to conquering Westeros with our favorite heroine of all time, Daenerys.   

Frankly, baby, I didn’t want to have any daughters. I wanted three sons instead. Not because there’s anything wrong with little girls… no, they are like little bundles of sugar, spice and everything nice. I didn’t want a daughter because the world is a harsh place, and especially so if you are female. But you are here, my little lioness, so I’ll do my best to see that life treats you kinder than anyone else. I could get a mask, leather jumpsuit and fight crime at night to keep you safe, but that field of expertise is a little flooded at the moment (not to mention cliché!)  Instead, I’ll do what I do best, write: 

Hair. You know how I quote India Arie when I am having a bad hair day and say that ‘I am not my hair’… Well, ignore that. The older you grow, the more you realize that you ARE your hair, and your body for that matter. Treat it like the temple it is. You are a like a perfect, little porcelain doll so this shouldn’t worry you much. Oh, yeah. Be nice to those other girls who aren’t as pretty as you are.

Be that girl who reads. Trust me; this is a fad that will not get outdated… ever. Read anything that makes you happy. Feed your creative juices with stories of worlds afar and times long past. Read about current issues, and fashion, and culture, and cooking. Question what you read and come up with your own silly theories. Share them with me, with your friends and with that special boy who will listen to you with all the seriousness and act as if you are Plato re-born. Read classics like Pride and Prejudice to see how sometimes the girl with the bigger brain wins over the girl with the bigger boobs. Read ‘The Great Gatsby’ to realize just how dangerously powerful love can be. Read Meg Cabot and dream of Prince Charming while you are at it. Let Stephen King bring all those monsters to life. 

Speaking of Prince Charming, do not wear your heart on your sleeve UNTIL you meet one who is worth it. I wish I could give you a clear cut formula or strategy… or even a probability distribution that describes men, but it doesn’t work that way. I know you think mommy is some genius (and she could be!) but this is one area of life that you will have to tumble through. Just listen to your heart alongside your head, don’t play with people’s feelings (that isht comes to bite you back on the bum eventually), and for God’s sake: Use Protection!!!

When in doubt, just be yourself. This always works. It’s the only way you’ll make true friends and live life to the fullest. However, on a first date, or a job interview you should probably try to be YOUR MOST CHARMING self rather than you in entirety.

I know that I said that the world is harsher when you are female, however, that doesn’t mean that you should compromise your femininity. You don’t need to ‘Think like a man and act like a lady’… think like a lady. We are the better strategists and improvisers around. Don’t feel like you have to pretend to like soccer or gaming just so that he can like you. It’s okay to love rom-coms and fashion instead.   

I feel as if I am going on and on as you always accuse me of. Well, I won’t go on anymore. We still have many more years for me to get all deep and philosophical on you. Just know that I love you more than you can ever imagine. In fact, I played you P!nk’s ‘Run’ so many times before you were born that I bet the lyrics are ingrained in your memory. You know you can always run back to my arms, no matter how cold it gets out there.

PS: I may have borrowed the nail polish you were asking about earlier.

PPS: It’s Super Sunday and your dad’s team will probably lose… again. It’s your turn to act like you care. I had to cover for you all through that time before you were born.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Notable Suicide Notes

I am not a whiner… not even when my weekend already looks bleak yet it’s barely begun. Tomorrow I have a lunch date with mom and her sisters which will definitely get out of hand… but not even that will make me whiny. Instead, I choose to count my blessings. Life could be MUCH worse. I mean, look at all the people to whom life has dealt such a hard blow that they see little point in moving on… look at Huddah.   
Suicidal people make me feel sad when I think of what they must have gone through to get to that point of their lives where they feel as if they have nothing left to live for, not even death. But it’s even sadder when they botch up the whole suicide thing… or worse yet botch up the suicide note/ famous last words bit. 
Some of these will make you sadder... but others will make your day. Here goes...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Great Gatsby

Like so many other girls my age, I avidly watch Pretty Little Liars for the fashion. Troian Bellisario (Spencer), Shay Mitchelle (Emily), Ashley Benson (Hanna) and  Lucy Hale (Aria) have better fashion sense than any other TV characters that I have ever seen. I especially love everything about Aria Montgomery... so it goes without saying that when she dressed up as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby for Halloween, I knew that I HAD to read The Great Gatsby. And last weekend, I finally did.
Aria, dressed as Daisy Buchanan
The Great Gatsby is a 20th Century classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald that centers around a certain Jay Gatsby and his love for one Daisy Buchanan. The story is told by Nick Carraway, Daisy's cousin, who moved East to forge a life as a bondsman ( a highly unflattering term to describe an investment analyst). He hopes to experience life in the East and all it has to offer so he rents a house on Long Island rather than living right in New York City. As fortune would have it, he finds himself neighboring one of the most eccentric characters ever, Jay Gatsby.

Nick is the perfect man to tell the story since he has cultivated in himself a laissez-faire attitude towards life. The least judgmental fellow ever. Through him, you learn of Gatsby's unparalleled love for Daisy. A love that pushed him to change all that he was and become The Great Gatsby. He made a large fortune by dealing into what he suspiciously and vaguely refers to as 'the drugstores business'. In his preposterously large and richly furnished mansion, he throws lavish parties every Saturday night hoping that one day Daisy will drop by. And she does... Not how he had planned it, though. She is married to Tom (a big bully, if I may say so) and has a 4 year old daughter. 

Gatsby has all the qualities of a tragic hero in a great romance. Like many of us, he loves too much. Life has a way of screwing over such people. He tries so hard to change who he was to capture the fleeting dream that was Daisy. When he finally gets her he then works so hard to hold on to that dream... that dream that finally ruined him. It is easy to hate Daisy, and all that she stands for. She represents all those "careless people who smash up things and creatures and then retreat back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever, and let other people clean up the mess they have made.” Those who walk around, leaving scars in their wake. But they are who they are...

I make the book sound too melancholic, which is not entirely true. Beyond the heartbreak and the futility of love, The Great Gatsby is about youth and life and fun and music. Its set in an era when "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession." Life was like an enchanting dream, full of wonder and promise. Even the wastefulness and disregard of the characters inspires awe. It is a book that every young person ought to read. It has the most beautiful ending:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Of Dreams Deferred... Withered, Dried up Dreams.

So I FINALLY got round to watching Nairobi Half Life... yes, yes I know... how unpatriotic of me. In my defense, I have been looking for the DVD for the longest time. Some of my friends had the movie in their laptops but tech not-so-savvy me can’t even begin to grapple with the intricacies of LAN cables and such. I finally got a version that was only 1.33 GB that I could transfer using my flash disk. That said, I am fully aware that my opinion of the movie is highly belated but all the same, here goes...

I fell in love with Mwas at first sight. How does one not fall for that boyish grin? I laughed at his wit; was angered by the injustice he faced... and when he was beyond hope, I wept silently. At the end of the movie I felt ‘soft’, for lack of a better word. This story, about how uncaring and cold the world is, touched a raw nerve somewhere within me. The saddest bit of the movie wasn’t the fact that almost all the characters that I had grown attached to died... the saddest part was the fact that these things are the reality. Nairobi alone is home to so many withered, dried up dreams, so many broken hearts and melancholic souls.

Nothing is as it seems. All these hobos, street children, prostitutes and robbers have a story behind their current state. They all have deferred dreams and hidden gems. It’s just such a shame that society has chosen to look away instead of looking closer. We prefer to jump into conclusions about the ‘bad people’ in society. When we hear that a criminal has been gunned down by the police we are nonchalant, forgetting that that is someone’s son, brother, lover... I am not advocating for crime, or justifying the acts of such people. All I am asking is that we take a moment to think, to be human. What separates us from animals if we do not take care of our own? If we show no compassion?

We may be light years from hobos and such... but we all know a thing or two about pain, and loss and heartbreak. Like it or not, we are all in this together. We need to stand together, and hold up those who can’t quite stand on their own. To be frank, I am not sure what I am urging you to do... I think I simply want you to remember that they too are human... that they too have their story. I want you to look closer, and let your conscience do the rest.