Monday, January 31, 2011

Poetry Tournament

I thought I would take part in the Protagonize Seasonal Poetry Tournament. My poetry writing skills were quite rusty so I was not expecting much, just a whole load of fun and much practice. Funny thing is I made it to the penultimate round but did not make it to the final. Good enough for me and great fun too. Here are the poems I submitted as part of the challenges in the order they were submitted:

Title: Hunting the Hunter
Animal: Fox

I pricked up my ears and followed the scent,
With food aplenty, only fools would relent.

My nose twitched, excited, as my eyes scanned the field,
One prey then two, I counted, their fate would soon be sealed.

I charged and attacked, dug my teeth in but backtracked,
A loud bang resounded, then blood flowed from impact.

It seems that I, the hunter, was also the hunted,
By two legged mammals, I had been outsmarted.

An acrostic poem about my worst fear

Losing sense of those around,
Often I find I am pushing away,
Naked displays of ardour, to
easily find a way to downplay,
Longings, of many a face, those deep
images of grace and love but
Not here. I’m without a smile,
Elbowing away companionship and
Staying in exile,
Sailing away, a hundred and more a mile.

Title: Giving in and Giving out

Event: Famine

She’s slumped in despair trying hard to stop needing,
While her baby cries,
Her body crippled and deprived takes on another beating,
And she sighs.

Aching to find a thick slab of stone and around her waist she ties,
Still hunger lingers,
Her baby’s tears, streaming down a ghostly face, are food for the flies,
Fists enclose fingers.

A parched existence continues for today kept alive by singers,
in the camp,
it is a song that cuts through the endless pain, thirst, frailty and hinders,
a stomach clamp.

Thoughts of long gone days of nourishment invade leaving a stamp,
In her mind,
It does nothing but intensifies the destitute longing and she feels a cramp,
She is resigned.

Dizziness whirls her around and soon her vision is less defined,
Fighting on she tries,
But her baby has gone awfully quiet and in darkness she’s enshrined,
Slipping away she dies.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rally in Sydney

A crowd gathered for a rally today in Sydney's Hyde Park. Being so far away from all that is happening in Egypt was no deterrent for sharing the sentiments and showing support. But it was not only Egyptians who were there today. Other Arabs and non-Arabs looked past faiths and differences and stood together. Many were chanting in English and Arabic. Spirits were high. There was a minute of silence to remember those who died in the protests in Egypt. The Egyptian national anthem rang through the air as the crowd sang in unison. And a group prayer for those who died followed.

Here are some pictures and a video from the scene today:

"30 Years of Oppression are Enough" says one sign. "Give people the chance to have a voice" says another.

"We want you to leave NOW" says the sign.

"JUSTICE. Free Egypt. Liberty"

"Why cut off Internet / Mobile Network in Egypt?"

A group prayer (Salat Ghaa'ib) for those who died in the protests in Egypt.

A man draped in the Egyptian flag amidst the praying.

Here's a video of the crowd singing the Egyptian national anthem. The chanting after the singing says "Muslims and Christians - we are all Egyptians."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Being Egyptian

First it was Tunisia and now it is Egypt. It is bitter sweet in a sense. Sweet that a revolution might just be the answer to correct all that which is wrong. Bitter that it took the courage of one nation to drive another. More bitterness in that this might be haphazard and at the cost of Egypt's security and stability. No revolution is without costs and risks do have to be taken for the future of the country's children. They do have a right to live a good life in their country, to feel safe, secure and a part of a great nation.

Revolution is not new to Egypt. Its history is rich with it. The Egyptians as a people have always had resolve. They have always spoken out but they always acted out and set a direction for themselves and for their country at the same time. Egyptians are doers. So when the protests happened on January 25th it made me wonder. Why now? Was it Tunisia that motivated the streets to take shape and come alive? Egypt has a  huge square in the middle of Cairo called the Liberty Square. This was the place that witnessed yesterday's protests. But the square has always been there and it has been always been called the Liberty Square - a testament to what Cairo has endured throughout the years. Did it take another country for the Egyptians to see what they had and are capable of in their own backyard, to tap into their history and learn from the heroes of the past?

I am not all pessimism. If this is the start of something good and worthy for Egypt then it is time to turn my attention there again. If this means a promise of change, positive change, a bright future then I am all eyes, ears and heart for Egypt. The land of the Nile, that mesmerises a thousand times over, day or night. A country that has witnessed more than humanity can imagine. A culture that runs deep in my veins and goes back through centuries and time, crosses religions and brings together faiths. If the true essence of what it means to be Egyptian shines through as a result of these protests then my heart will start beating to the rhythm of it again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rat Race

I started working again for the first time this week after a break for more than a year. Imagine your first day back at work after a long holiday then quadruple the feeling. Multiply the disorientation, given that this is the first time for me to work in this country and in a position that I am - so - not - used to.

This is day three of my renewed working life and already, I hate it. 

Everything feels alien and unwelcoming and the only plus point to the whole thing is that I am earning money again.

I sit on the train in the middle of the morning or late afternoon commute, thinking. What am I doing with my life? What was I thinking changing careers at this point in my life? Where is all this going? Will I get to where I want to be? Is all this worth it or will I suddenly find myself venturing towards the forties having done nothing but gone around in circles. I look at the people around me and see them accustomed to a life of wasting precious minutes away on the train. A lady was reading on her iPad today. Others just hold a book, newspaper or just listen on their various devices. I turn back into oblivion and sink deeper into my thoughts. I have now officially become a part of the rat race. But what for?

I have gathered degrees and certificates but that is all I seem to have done. I had a dream. It is slowly becoming invisible with age. It was to make a difference and distinguish myself. It was to sit on the edge of the nouveau and innovate. Work with the trend setters in industry and relish the feeling of success. Be a part of change until you become the change that makes people's lives better. Makes society better. Make life better. That was my dream. To breath a bit of life and touch people's lives. I am no where near my dream, or so it seems.

I have a little tip for those who do not want to end up in the rat race. Choose your career wisely. Choose something you love so much that you just cannot imagine doing anything else, ever. And if you just have not found that sort of passion yet, do not let yourself be socially conditioned into taking the easy way out by joining the rat race. It is so easy to get drawn into it because opportunities in it are all so readily available.

My job is a temporary position. Perhaps that is a good thing. It is certainly giving me a taste of what is to come. I realise that the most important thing I can do now is to keep the faith and grasp hope, not letting go of my dream. It will come true. I just have to be that more patient and a lot more resourceful to get where I want  to. Maybe some day I will touch people's lives.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Speck in a Storm

Tunisia is in the midst of a huge change. Riots resulted in its president being ousted. He fled the country silently but as of this moment, he has still not resigned, and the prime minister has taken temporary control. Politically, it is hard to say what will happen next. But what of the people?

The Tunisian people were the ones who started the revolution but already there has been talk of violence and looting happening. My thoughts go out to the ordinary  man on the street, to the mother sitting at home who worries about her children, to the child whose world revolves about nothing more than dreams and making their dreams come true. Just like the Tunisian people who for years dreamt of the day when they would be able to live freely. It was an innocent dream that reverberates the world over, regardless of  nation or creed. It is a simple but basic right. I think of the repercussions of this revolution for the Tunisian people. In order for this to work, there must be a plan and a strategy to turn things around and allow the people avenues to really make their dreams come true. 

Politics is a complex and nasty business. The area has its eyes on Tunisia now and everyone is waiting to see how things will turn out. Tunisia will either be a model for neighbouring countries or it will set a bad example. Only time will tell. In my heart, I pray that this is the start of something good for the Tunisian people and that Tunisia becomes a better place for them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Short prompts

Boarded up

The taxi drove down the long dirt track. I could feel the pebbles beneath the car’s tyres being crushed further into the ground, a testament to the fact that they were here to stay. I looked outside the window at the strip of land that used to be our old driveway. When we finally reached the location where our old house still stood, I could see that the windows were all boarded up. The taxi’s engine whirred silently as the driver pulled at the handbrake and waited. I stepped out of the car and tried to take a mental snapshot of the place where I grew up. The house had been deserted for years and this would be the last time that I would see our old house again. In a few days the house would be knocked down and the place would be part of the nearby nature reserve. That was my one and only true consolation as I said my final goodbye.


The system gave out its warnings,
That a tsunami would hit the shore,
But repeatedly calm, clear mornings,
Made its visitors choose to ignore.


A destination
To get to, keeps me going -
That’s motivation.


An awakening
of the senses gives a push -
fly with the feeling.

The Paradox of a Friend

Sometimes life just fails to make sense. And trying to make sense of life often results in a big fail. 

Was that a paradox? Or was that just a twist of words and semantics? A mirror image of the same words rearranged to just mean something different.

Friends. A concept that can boggle and confuse. Gone are the days when the concept of a friend was clear and simple. Was it ever clear and simple? Now, a friend can be one thing but then turns around and appears to be another. Has the concept of a friend changed or is it just me who just never grasped the concept in the first place?

I know of what it means to drift apart. I know how it is when life takes you through its twists and turns, consuming you fully so that you lose track of what is important. Usually, though, there is a moment of clarity when you reach out for those who once meant something to you. Usually, it is those whom you reach out to, who are the ones who turn out to be the true ones. That first category, that all-important category. And anyone else who did not make it just falls short of the meaning of a friend. So what happens when you realise that you yourself did not make it to your friends' all-important category? That you were not, to them, a true friend.

Relationships are complex. There are old friends whom you met at school and university. There are friends whom you met through work. And there are those whom you met through others friends, through your travels and by any other means. There does not seem to be a set rule to what defines a friend or when one starts becoming a friend. Yet I have found that old friends are really the true ones. You may have lost touch for years, decades even, but once you are in touch again it is almost like old times, picking up where you left off. Friends from school and university, from the years that shaped both of you and allowed you to share in those defining moments, those friends can never be replaced. The friends that come after that are what I like to think of as cosmetic friends. The ones who decorate your life and add meaning and value to it but did not play an all-important life defining role, although some do. 

It seems that time is another important factor. Add time to a relationship and it becomes mature and golden, something that you start to cherish and appreciate. That is probably why old friends are the truest, purest and most cherished.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Writing Prompts - first week of 2011


The fireworks lit up the sky in splendour and a thousand faces turned their attention to the drama above their heads. I, on the other hand, was too busy fiddling with my camera, which had decided to stop working, just at that moment when the first big bang resounded.

We had arrived at the harbour early afternoon looking for the perfect spot. The place was already swarming with keen firework hunters who had taken up refuge from the scorching sun under all the shady oaks and eucalyptuses in the area. Luckily I had predicted as much and had brought along the necessary gear in the form of an umbrella. The tripod and camera had been set up to cover the entire panorama. I had put the camera to test with a few clicks and minor adjustments that would guarantee the once in a year snapshots of the awaited new years celebrations. I would capture the harbour, water, sky as well as capricious passers-by in a timely manner and we would licence the copyrights from this extraordinary device and become rich and famous. There had been no doubt about it. Well, that had been the plan anyway.

The fireworks were meant to last for a full twenty minutes. Ten had already been wasted. A smoky sky continued to be set ablaze and other professional photographers were engaged in filming the scene, much to my growing ire. The harbour shot up streams of fire, creating a semi-halo effect. I drew my attention back to the camera and thought how this was not meant to happen. Another five minutes passed and frantic as I was to fix the darn thing, I knew that I could either battle with an aged yet familiar predicament further or give in. I decided to give in.

Only five more minutes remained and I knew that the finale would be spectacular so I walked up to where my husband stood and watched. Cheers and screams of awe filled the air around us with explosions of colour raining down. The sound of a thousand rumbles of thunder in one tore through the place until finally a sudden calm rang in our ears. The smell of burning filled the air along with the claps, pounding music and continued cheers. It was all over for us.

“Woah!! Did you get all that?”

I turned toward my husband who was holding his brand new camcorder now filming the crowds around us, and shook my head.

“The darn thing conked out. Here.”

I handed over my grandfather’s old camera which I had promised we would finally get rid of if it broke down one more time. At least one of us had caught the new year’s festivities on film despite my silent blameworthy glances which I kept casting on my old, inherited camera.


When the lights went out, he was suddenly aware of everything around him. Staring at the ceiling, wide-eyed, the ticking sound of the clock and, of course, the whooshing sounds that kept coming from the room at the end of the hall kept playing at him. They had warned him about the night-time visitors - ghosts was the name they had whispered cautiously - but he was not prepared to submit to their paranoia. It was, however, quite a difficult feat given that the whooshing sound kept getting louder with every tick-tock of the clock.

New beginnings

I tore up the deed and a took long stroll,
The last one, they said, before my proverbial fall,
But the winds of change gave me full control,
And led me anew to rejuvenate my soul.