My Love Affair ….. with words

October 28, 2008

So I have recently been engaging in some deeper reflection about who / what it is that REALLY “completes” me, and gives me a total ‘high’. And …halleluja (no disrespect to Christian folk whatsoever)… its liberating to realise that it’s not a fella (although one or two have come close), not even lindt chocolate pancake / brownies (comes damn close though), nor is it driving the stunning Audi A4, at breakneck speed  (hmm …. let me rethink that one).

You guessed it. ( its like in the blog title : ).

Words. Words have always been part of my world, as long as I can remember..and probably before I was born …through my dad…who was really articulate and prolific as an author. Words are the way in which I let the world know how i feel, what I’m thinking, and what I believe in. And words are the things that give me comfort when someone I love breaks my heart, or when I am angry, sad, and most especially when I am happy.

When I read a profound piece of writing there really is nothing more fulfilling, more beautiful and more enjoyable. And I have been blessed to have the luxury of words flow through every aspect of my life, in different languages and in different spaces.

Words. They will never let you down.


On Loss

October 27, 2008

I recieved some very sad news today. A very dear friend of mine, who was also my lecturer and a mentor, when I was an undergraduate student passed away this week. He was so young, only 55.

He was my philosophy lecturer and someone who shaped so much of my worldview, that I can’t imagine that he is actually gone. I had intended to contact him, as soon as my doctorate was done, and give him the good news, but now I won’t be able to.

Life just doesn’t make sense sometimes ! Hamba Kahle Ben, may you rest in peace.


October 26, 2008

Ok, so I’ve mentioned bulls before in this blog, but in a different capacity.

In this post, I want to reflect on the stuff that we normally refer to as bullsh*t, cr*p, horse-man*re, and the most eloquent one of them all (being South African) k*k. Ok, so you might wonder, why this fascination with bodily waste. Actually its not fecal matter per se, that I am referring to, but the atrocious way in which human beings behave sometimes, the things they say and the absolutely unacceptable way in which some people think. And the fact that many people believe they can get away with it, without being held accountable, is what makes it downright sh*tty.  

Bullsh*t exists in all aspects of our lives. Don’t get me wrong though. I think that human beings in general, are pretty ok creatures (I happen to be one, though not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination). But there are those types that are; selfish, inconsiderate, demeaning, racist, mean, unfeeling, pompous, delusional…geez, i could go on. And I’m not implying that I may not have some of these tendencies…(somebody please set me straight on this, if I do). But I think my parents raised me propah…err, I mean, properly : ) 

Of late I have been encountering folk that have made me want to break out into a fit of absolute rage. I see outrageous behaviour in my work space, sometimes in my social network, and often in the activist spaces I hang out in. I was raised to believe that people are not bad as such, it’s circumstances that make them bad, but I wonder if circumstances can be so bad, that they turn human beings into outright unprincipled, unethical, morally corrupt beasts. And geez, do they exist out there….not only by the bucketfull, but in swarms (notice the reference to bees, the kind that sting you).

There are people close to me, whose horror stories of how they have been treated recently, have made me livid. I myself have been a victim of corrupt and unethical behaviour…what one may politely refer to as being “scr*w*d over.”

I could relate these stories here, of what I and people I know have gone through, but I don’t want to repeat them, as they are so horrendous.

What does this all mean though? Is it a sign of the times ? Is it because we have as a society moved away from certain age-old value systems, and adopted high tech modes of existence, that we are losing our humanity (and at such a rapid pace).

Is it ok, for someone you have loved with all your heart, to one day just throw you away like a piece of crumpled candy wrapping? Is it ok to be disrespectful and demeaning to someone of a different race, religion, etc, just because you think you are better than them? Is it ok to use people, even those who are supposed to be your friends ? NO, most definitely not, but I see this happening all of the time. One of the most ugly faces of immoral behaviour was the xenophobic attacks we saw earlier this year in South Africa. How do we explain this, and make sense of it….frustrated and vulnerable people, turning on other vulnerable people? Does your own frustration give you enough justification to act horribly towards other people?

There is clearly a problem here, in our contemporary society, and I don’t know how we fix it, but something has to be done. What is reassuring though is that there are far more good and decent people than there are bad ones. Perhaps we need a groundswell of goodness, to overwhelm the evil that is out there. 

Ideas, anyone ?

On Reality Shows

October 25, 2008

So, click on any tv channel these days, and in all likelihood you will find a reality show that is currently on, has just finished, or is scheduled to start shortly. Whats the deal with reality shows anyways? Especially Big Brother ?  I could only bear to watch the first South Africa series, while it was still a novelty, before i went off the concept completely. I believe its big in the UK though.

If one has to analyse our fascination with these shows and their various themes (beauty / house makeovers, singing / dancing / acting contests, romance. adventure, corporate dramas (remember the Trump and his HAIR?), it clearly is all about escapism. It surely can’t be about intelligent engagement with the subject matter…and maybe at best its about picking up some tips on how to survive the ruthless world that we live in…corporate reality shows and the survivor series, are particularly useful for that sort of thing.

I have to concede though…I am somewhat hooked on reality music shows, especially SA RE GA MA PA…mostly because I enjoy Indian Music, and I wish I could sing like Lata ji. But never mind, if I was not blessed with melodious vocal chords, I can still appreciate good music. So I won’t diss the concept of reality shows entirely…. but watching some folk, stuck in a tank with really slimy slippery thingamajigs (as in Fear Factor), is not my idea of fun viewing.

Oh well, to each their own.

Of Bulls, Sharks and Alien beings…

October 24, 2008

Imagine if an alien being happened to visit planet earth this weekend…sort of like on a routine trip to gather further information about the planet, before the grand “alien” invasion can take place. Alien Invasion ? Ok, so I digress. Anyways, imagine this alien “person” deciding that maybe visiting this place called Durban is a good idea….err…no that’s actually eThekwini…which may have a name change soon, so lets call it the east coast of South Africa..unless they decide to rename SA  to Azania. I’m getting distracted again. Hmmm….lets worrry about that when / if, it happens.

So our alien friend has decided that Durbs it is…. and then double checks a whole bunch of things, before leaving home, like any responsible traveller should do. Weather, check….probably will be sunny, gear, check, clothes, check, food…hmmm…well maybe our alien friend…lets call him Zee (due to a lack of suitable inter-galactic names), will throw caution to the winds, and try out the local delicacies…less stuff to carry.

Of course Zee has to also find out what local events are happening …just so he (lets make Zee a he : )…can go and check out the local customs, happenings and so on, and take the information back to his superiors. So he gets on to the web (out in space they have a supa dupa one, that doesn’t take ages to download pages), and finds out whats happening in this part of the world. Hmmm…there’s like some cultural thing called Diwali being celebrated, check, and some other cultural event called the Bulls vs the Sharks. Intriguing. Further exploration reveals that bulls are warm blooded creatures, who are usually unceremoniously slaughtered by the humans and turned into culinary delicacies such as steak, ribs, burgers, etc. Sharks it turns out, are predatory, sea residing mammals, who are also slaughtered on occasion, and sometimes part of their bodies are made into watery broths called soup. 

So Zee wonders about what this event could possibly be, where these two seemingly incompatible creatures will be competing. He marks it down on his calender of absolutely must do things. 

Hmmm…i reckon he will be “pleasantly’ surprised.

On Sami…

October 23, 2008

So everyone’s been buzzing about Sami Yusuf in South Africa, and if you don’t know who Sami Yusuf is…well, you clearly haven’t been following the latest craze around this talented Muslim musician and youth icon….and it helps that he’s good looking too. If there was ever such a thing as a Muslim rock star, he would qualify (but he would probably not want to describe himself in that way).

Accompanying his trip to SA, there’s also been a huge debate around whether music is haraam, and whether musical instruments are unIslamic (well its an old debate really, finding new life here). The debate rages on, and I am going to err on the side of arguing that melodious sounds that make people feel positive about themselves and creation in general, can’t be all that bad. But people respond to music in different ways… and perhaps it’s the responses (screaming girls…maybe ?), that are getting some religious folk worked up.  

Islam has always had some form of popular culture, and the kind of music that Sami performs, is reflective of the current form of popular culture, viz Nasheed music. Some of the religious leadership have a problem with a couple of things, like the playing of instruments, the idolizing of the musician, the responses to the music (swaying, dancing, screaming, etc, though this doesn’t always happen) and maybe the idea of anything being remotely appealing to Muslims, other than the Quranic recitations. 

My take is, if young Muslims are listening to Sami and other Muslim musicians, who are in some ways also remembering the Almighty through their music…err, why should that be a problem?

I reckon there’s lots more people who think like me.

Rising above it all…

October 22, 2008

Its a wonderful feeling when one realises that something that had been an unresolved issue in ones life for such a long time has now finally reached closure, and one can emerge out of it, able to breath freely again. Life is, as I have come to realise, a complex ebb and flow of events. Sometimes the tide is out, like that of an oceans expanse, as it flirts tentatively with sandy beaches, its waves lapping delicately at the shore, and you can play at the water’s edge to your hearts content, living life to its fullest. When the tide comes in, you have to move towards safety, to make sure you don’t get swallowed by its ominous depths. Sometimes however one may not get out of the way in time, and it consumes you.

But when we emerge from the rising tide, coughing and spluttering, we have actually learned to swim,  even if by default. The desire to not drown is a very strong instinct in all of us, and for most of us, this instinct kicks in, as we struggle to draw a breath, fighting against the elements.

The clarity of rising above it all. There is nothing like it.