Getting my Inca, on! – Daily Post Challenge

I loved getting into today’s Daily Post Challenge!

So, the Daily Prompt for today is:

Ready, Set, Done

Today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

Time: 1727hrs

Well about ten minutes ago, my colleague handed me some Organic Dried Incan Berries.

I am more familiar with the other name it goes by, Gooseberries. We have the “fresh” ones sold, here, in our supermarkets, or sometimes, they are commonly seen, as cake toppers. Yeap! Used as cake decorating!

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I must admit that they have a sort of other worldly looks to them. Eating them always starts off with, me imagining that I am eating some exotic berry, from a far far far away land. That thought will quickly float away, as the tangy sour taste, awakens your senses, and gets you into a shaking fit, as the taste hits you.

But, before I actually tasted these dried ones from my colleague, it was introduced to me as, Incan Berries.

Pile of Incan Berries(1)

With my fascination on all things ancient related, Mayan included, I reached out and took one of the raisins-like treat. I gingerly took a nibble, and what followed, can only be described as, out of this world “cracko-ness”.

Cracko-ness

/krak-oh- nəs/

adjective

Informal. unusual; crazy; bizarre;

Not only did I go into an uncontrollable shaking fit, my face scrunched up so badly, that I was almost afraid that it would freeze that way permanently!

But, I loved it! In fact, I am thinking about ordering more of these awesomeness! I read that it is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Anti-Oxidants and also demonstrated anti inflammatory, anti viral, anti histamine and all that other health things.

Any other, Inca Berries (READ: Gooseberries) enthusiasts out there? What do you use them for?

Time: 1737hrs

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Catching Happiness! – Daily Post Challenge

Alright, Day 2 doing the Daily Post Challenge and I almost forgot about doing it! I have a sinking feeling that I might fail at this! =D

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Happy Radars

Are you a good judge of other people’s happiness? Tell us about a time you were spot on despite external hints to the contrary (or, alternatively, about a time you were dead wrong).

I think I am absolutely awesome at judging other people’s happiness, or feelings in general.

Of course, I have been wrong on many occasions but for the most part, I have hit the mark.

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I remember, this one time where I was freakily correct about judging a person’s feeling.

It was a couple of years ago, when I was relief teaching at a neighbourhood high school. There was this particular student, who rarely shows her feelings. In fact, my first impression of her was that she was a very reserved person who keeps mostly to herself, and boy, was I right.

One lazy afternoon, while the other students were all over the place, engrossed in one of the many group activities I usually plan for them, she remained in her seat, quietly staring out of the classroom.

Somehow, I had this tingling feeling that she was happy about something. It was the presence of this light in her eyes. I assumed that she was thinking about this one thing that was bringing her such joy. And, although her face was reflecting otherwise, I was sure something beautiful had recently happened to her.

While all the other students were caught up in finding their own friends to be in their group (hah! Little did they know that I would be scrambling their groups up!), I walked over to this one student and pulled up a seat next to her.

“Would you like to share with me your happiness?”, I urged her.

“Ms T! How did you figure, that I was happy about something!?”, came her surprised reply. I smiled, a half knowing and half mysterious smile, and said, “there was the most beautiful twinkle in your eyes as you looked out the window. And, it made me curious to what could possibly bring such delight from you!”

She flashed me a rare smile and whispered, “My grandmother can come home from the hospital today!”

Upon my urging, she went on to explain how her maternal grandmother, who stays with her family, has been in the hospital the past month.

At home, she shares a room with her grandmother, and as a result, is very attached to the latter. The month long hospital stay had made her miss her grandmother terribly.

An hour before my class started, her mother had texted her with the good news. Hence, the slight blissful dreaminess in her gaze.

Although, over the weeks, she quickly went back to being the reserved girl I always knew her as, she has started confiding in me, more and more, about things she previously would not have shared.

Nowadays, through a little harmless stalking of her Facebook page, I noticed that the quiet reserved girl that I once knew, has blossomed into a cheery passionate girl.

Absolute Beauty- Daily Post Challenge

I thought I should try to challenge my writing. Veer away from topics I choose myself, and so, I have decided to take the Daily Prompt challenge.

Today’s Question is:

Absolute Beauty

We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?

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Yes, beauty, indeed, is in the eye of the beholder, but the term “beauty” may mean differently for different people.

I am reminded of a quote from Khalil Gibran- Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.

To some, beauty in a person is, when they are able to engage in conversation with ease. A well read person is easily admired, pending that they do not end up being a pompous know-it-all.

For others, beauty may lie in the glistening rays of the sun reflecting on the clear blue surface of a calm river, bordered by majestic mountains.

Beauty may also lie in a persons mannerisms while he interacts with others. When a person has a helping hand readily available and are willing to go out of their way to help out a person, strangers or not, in times of need. Nothing says “GORGEOUS” like a man being polite and nice to the waiter, am I right?

At the end of the day, and I am sure many might agree, if you have a beautiful face, a banging body, long silky hair, but a down right ugly personality, then the latter cancels out everything else.

Outer beauty can only take you so far before your inner beauty shines through.

So, what is Absolute Beauty, for me?

It is when, a person who listens when the other party speaks, be able to carry on a conversation when the other is stumped, all that while having dreamy eyes that you can easily drown in.

Childhood

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence 

When do we lose our innocence? When does wonder and amazement cease to exist?

Remember those warm sunny Sundays spent frolicking in the green grass, without a care in the world?

Growing up, I would not say I was sheltered, but my parents provided an excellent environment for me to discover new things and grow. Yes, they were very strict parents, but they only reprimanded me for the things that I did, that may shape my future character in an unpleasing way.

I was a tomboyish girl in my younger years (still am to a certain extent). My first true play mate was my elder brother. Hence, that may explain the more boyish activities I was exposed to.

In Primary School, I found that the boys in my class were the ones who knew the games I was used to playing. Thus, it was only natural that I made friends with them and with that, spent my recess, gobbling down food as fast as I could, so that a game of “Rounders” could ensue.

Other times, the boys and I would sneak into the “Science Garden” and got ourselves a couple of tadpoles to keep, or spiders to “battle” with others’.

My Ummi would never get angry that I brought home those tadpoles or spiders. But, she would freak out when the tadpoles started turning into little frogs. She would demand that I release the frogs, but in those moments, the little girl in me would freak out and say “No!”, for as a girl, frogs will always be disgusting.

Since my family resides in the northeast of Singapore, while all my other relatives were in the southeast, my brother and I would rely on each other for games and company. Our imagination was admirable and would have been the envy of many children of the 90s (or naughties).

We were superheroes, long haul bus drivers, and GLADIATORS. We used to have “wars” between our rooms, all for territory sake, territory here, being the last chicken wing at dinner or control of the remote for a certain amount of time.

My brother also instilled a great sense of adventure in me. When we each got our first bicycles, the first thing we did was ride them to the furthest point away from home, which was permitted by Ummi.

Some 6 kilometres away from our home, we would set up a picnic of snacks and drinks to toast our adventure.

It was in these adventures with my brother that I discovered many things. I found out that rain water is okay to drink, when you are stranded in a thunderstorm, in a gazebo, in the middle of a park, 3 kilometres away from home, with nary a drop of water, to quench your ever growing thirst.

But the most valuable lesson I learnt from these adventures was, that my brother, although a typical elder brother that bullies his younger sister, would protect me from harm’s way should the need ever arise, no matter how minor the harm may be, in this case, a stray tabby cat.

Childhood is when simple pleasures and endless discoveries were bountiful. When life is made easy and love was free of judgements.

Why did we all have to grow up? Growing up means, leaving your childlike wonders and discoveries behind you.

As adults, we pretend our way through life. Although it is perfectly acceptable for a child to say that he does not know something, the same does not apply for an adult. As we age, we become more ashamed if we were not to understand something.

Plus, our perception of life changes as we grow up. Life experiences, education and circumstances cloud our judgements and hinder us from exploring new paths and ideals. It is in growing up that we realise, the simplest of an act, is made more complicated by the games that we, adults, play.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

My two cents. What is yours?

P.S My love for the works of great romantics is rooted from being a romantic myself. Expect quotes from works by Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron, amongst others, from time to time. Weren’t they brilliant?

Starry, Starry Night

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2009

It was a still winter night. Nothing was stirring outside, except for the passing of the odd car, every hour or so.

She sits, alone, in the dim kitchen of her apartment, her hands wrapped around her coffee cup, while her eyes were fixed on the sparkling stars in the night sky.

Her thoughts took her back to the year before.

Her life, then, was a stark difference from the one she was living, today. The once sunny disposition that she was always complimented on has since been replaced by that of a recluse. And, she had no one to blame except herself.

2008

Their big city dream was soon to be realised. She was starting her stint in an advertising house, pitching ideas to the big corporations that want to stay relevant, while he was going to embark on his lucrative legal career as a Junior Partner, in one of the more prominent firms.

They were set to move in to their new apartment in the city. The hired movers were already on their way with the stuff, that both she and he have deemed important, for the big move.

Things were at their best and she could not have asked for anything more.

They settled quickly into their new lives. Each making friends at their respective work and soon they were falling into the patterned steps of every twenty something in the big city.

Breakfast. Commute. Work. Lunch Meetings. Clock out. Dinner and Drinks with Friends. Repeat.

Weekends were for sleeping in and meeting friends for lunch. After a quick day out in the city, it was home before regrouping for a night on the town. Repeat.

Before long, weeks were quickly turning into months and they were finding themselves engulfed in plans within their own respective circles.

She would attend work events until late and he would be cooped in the office with his team, preparing for the big case. Both coming home, too tired to strike a conversation with the other. Take Outs and Microwaveable dinners. Repeat.

It was around their ninth month in the city that she began to really feel the distance in their relationship. His usually happy face was slowly being replaced by a perpetual frown, and nothing she said, or did, could get him to crack a smile.

The once loving embrace that he used to greet her with, after a long day at work, was being replaced with a barely audible “hello”, followed by a quick shuffle into the bedroom they shared.

This has been the case for weeks now. But, he was not entirely to be blamed. She was partly at fault, as well.

When she had to deal with a haughty client at work, she would take her pent up frustrations back with her, unfairly taking it out on him. She felt guilty over it, always, and vowed silently to make it up to him over the weekend. However, things started building up. She became drowned in the rat race, as did he. Before long, those supposed “make up” weekends, were nothing but a distant thought.

Over time, the unconditional love that they once shared was slowly dissipating and, although, both realises it, neither was doing anything to fix it. The strain in their relationship was becoming irreparable.

He, in turn, sought comfort with a fellow junior partner in his firm. She understood exactly what he was going through, in the firm, and how it was affecting his personal life. She gave him sound advice, where he needed them the most.

She was his refuge and the relationship began to take on a more serious form. Yet, he knew deep inside that he could not act on his feelings for her, as he knew that he had made a promise, long ago. A promise that he will stay, no matter how challenging the city life was going to be, he would stay for them.

But, she changed! How dare she change!? How can she forget their promise to stick it out until the end? Their promise of staying together, no matter what challenges the city life throws at them? She changed. Why did she have to change?

It frustrates him that he was still bound to his small town love, bound by a promise. He blames his inner small town boy for feeling guilty at even the thought of breaking things off with her.

Even if he was doing relatively well in his career, he tried to not let it take over his personality. He left the Lawyer in him at the office. At least he tried to, in the beginning. Until he started to notice that she was not making a conscious effort, anymore. He tried talking to her about it on numerous occasions, only to be dismissed abruptly by her curt response every time.

She was his small town love. They mapped out their future perfectly; he did not want to believe that things have changed. His small town love had changed so drastically. She was no longer the sweet innocent girl who shared in his happiness and sorrows.

She was turning to be like all the other big city women. The ones who chased their dreams (of which was perfectly fine by him), at the expense of hurting the ones close to them (which was his actual gripe), without having a second thought at the results of their actions.

He had to leave.

One afternoon, while she was at work, he packed his stuffs and had them moved to a friend’s. The apartment was bare of his belongings; the only things left were the things they owned as a couple. He did not want those. He wanted her to have them.

He left his suitcase by the door, and sat on the worn armchair that held so many memories for them. He waited for her to come home.
An hour later, she came in, with that look of defeat he was all too familiar with, now.

He talked, she cried. He kept silent, stood up and fought the urge to run to her and comfort her cries. She screamed, ran up to him and began banging her fist on his chest, before collapsing on the floor in a sobbing mess.

“I’m Sorry”

The last thing he said before picking his suitcase up and leaving.

2009

She looked back on that night, a month ago.

She had just gotten news that an advertising campaign she headed was ill received. As a result, many influential companies were pulling out from signing with the firm she was working with, causing a substantial loss.

She was told to leave.

It was the worst day in her career. She rushed home to seek comfort in him, only to be dealt with a heavier blow, when she did.

He was tired of their charade and wanted out. He fell out of love with her and had sought comfort with another.

She never felt so alone. She had no one in the big city who was truly a friend. All her colleagues, that she had thought were her friends, abandoned her the moment she was dismissed.

She spent the past weeks in a stupor. Unsure of what was reality and what was a dream. The only time she went out of their apartment, was to buy more alcohol to help numb the crippling pain, inside of her.

At times, her heart felt so heavy, that she could not even begin to take a deep breath. Her painful weeping was muffled only by the pillow that once had his scent.

It was on that still winter night where nothing was stirring outside, except for the passing of the odd car, every hour or so, that she decided to slit her wrist.

For she could not bear a life, alone, in the big city. Her last words to the world simply read, “I’m Sorry”.

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Well, that was a short I did in 2009… Never really showed it to anyone before. Although at that time, I was battling with some demons within myself, the story is in no way a reflection of the me in 2009 =) Maybe…

Do let me know how I can improve this story… I would love to hear what all of you think… Yes, to my two readers! =D One of which could possibly just be me. Looking forward to hearing from you guys! =)

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Swimming to the Deep End

Let us talk a little about my background. Maybe with this, it will somewhat help you understand the tone and style that I write with.

Firstly, my heritage:

I was born and bred in a small sunny little island city, Singapore, an island city that boasts harmony among her people, who come from different races and religions. It was not always harmonious, but over the years, the people learned to live together, happily.

My family are, racially, Arabs. Hadhrami Arabs, to be precise. My maternal grandparents came over to Singapore in the late 20s, early 30s, to build a family in a new land, while my paternal grandparents were already 3rd generation Singaporeans (although, that term did not exist as yet, then). It really is far more complicated than this, but I am trying to simplify it by providing general information.

Arabs, they are proud people. Lineage was a big thing, then, especially so after the “great” migration back in the day.  The elders were afraid that moving out of their motherland, their children may lose touch of their heritage. Hence, my parents were match made, to keep the blood lines as strong as if we were back in Hadhramaut, and not in a little South East Asian island. They both share the same surname, hence, making my blood, pure BenTalib.

The Growing Up Years:

I was raised as any other Singaporean child. My parents adhered to the “Stop at Two” propaganda of the 80s, to curb over population (the irony today!). Plus, they were blessed with me, a daughter, after the birth of their crown prince, my brother. This, undeniably, made us the perfect family during the turn of the century.

I never could concentrate for long periods of time. But, I did survive education in Singapore. The end of my high school life, I realised, if I were to do well in life, my education must not be limited to Singapore. My creative mind, my rebellious trains of thoughts, were all far from the desired cookie cutter mind set that we were equipped with in school, here.

I knew.

I knew for certain, I had to leave my little island, my home, and, as cliché as it is, I had to spread my wings.

My Own Great Migration:

It was not the fairy tale I was lead to believe. Thanks to shows like Felicity, I thought living away from home, was going to be all rainbows and butterflies. One word,

F-R-E-E-D-O-M!

No one ever really talks about the perils of living on your own. No one tells you that when you are sick, sometimes all you need, is to just know that Ummi (READ: Mother) is within a 5 metre radius away from you, at all times.

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I lived in Wellington, New Zealand, 6 years of my adult life.

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Yes, it was not all rainbows and butterflies, but by God! It was 6 years of learning about what I am truly capable of. It was 6 years of finding out, what will truly break me.

Things changed. I changed.

I left New Zealand, with a stronger sense of knowing what I wanted in this life. I also learned what my “Kryptonite” was. This, inevitably, made me a stronger person, too.

Oh, and I also got my Bachelors there.

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Cut!

Well, that is the gist of my being. It still borders on being a tad too long (You Don’t Say!) but I feel that it is sufficient enough to equip you, as my reader, to understand my writing.

With that, it ties up my two part introduction. I know, I am abrupt like that.

I guess, the blogging will start now. I must admit, I am a little nervous. This would be the first time that I will be baring my inner most thoughts, on such a public platform.

But, I am hoping that my future readers, would be forgiving on my writing. I am all up for constructive criticisms, but be nice, ok?

Till the next time.

A Warm Welcome

.أهلا وسهلا

Ahlan Wa Sahlan.

That is the Arabic welcome greeting. Derived from an old Arab saying, it depicts our cultural penchant for showing hospitality to strangers.

In literal terms, it essentially means, “You are welcome, as family, to my personal space.”

This is a very warm welcome, indeed.

At the risk of you, thinking that I am utterly full of myself, I will be making a two part introduction. This post is the first and another one will be posted, hopefully, tomorrow.

For a small number of you, you would be all too familiar with my previous (now defunct) blog of the same title, hosted on a different platform. And, you may wonder why I am starting on a whole new adventure here, where I can quite simply pick up from where I last left off in the previous blog.

Well, for one, my last blog reflected a shallower, younger self. Although it was not my intention at all, it was being perceived as such by prospective employers (yikes!), then. I was mighty gutted that years of sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings, along with some personal highs and lows, were quickly dismissed as “shallow”. “Childish”, I can understand, as that space was started twelve (12!!!) years ago. Wow!

 

*pause for sudden realisation to sink in*

 

Oh well, water under the bridge now. This blog is a representation of the “adult” me. The one that may not be too concerned over the menial things. Hopefully.

Moving on to the second reason why I decided to pick up blogging, again. Well, for the simple reason that, I love writing. I love expressing myself through the use of words. I consider myself blessed that my current job allows me to write, for hours on end.

Setback to my job?

My writing veers towards a more corporate tone and, sometimes, when I do not realise it, it seeps into casual Whatsapp® conversations with my family and/or friends.

But, I still love my job. On most days. Except Mondays. Cliché. I know. Shut up.

Oh, word to the wise, expect me to digress off topic many times within a blog post. A million things run through my mind at any one time and I usually address them, before coming back to the right track (unless I forgot it! I apologise in advance).

So, the reason I picked up blogging again?

I would like to dedicate a small portion of my days to writing about the things that matter to me, to document my life at times, but most importantly, all I want is to pen a short story, or a poem, that may subconsciously mirror these thoughts in my head.

Whatever it is that I publish; I promise you that it will be one hell of an,

 

Adventure.