Category Archives: Reflections

Accelerated.

What is acceleration?

The rate of change of velocity. The amount by which velocity changes in a given period of time.

Suddenly ending up in your final year of high school and having no idea how you got there so fast.

Having to deal with university applications, reference letters, gap years, entrance exams, and four subjects at A2, all at once.

Sitting in class for an entire hour and a half and having the entire lesson just fly off the top of your head.

Seeing friends scatter towards their respective destinies and wondering how on earth they grew up so fast when they were immature little kiddies just a few weeks ago.

Saying goodbye to the city you never wanted to say hello to, then realizing just how painful saying the former has become over a very short time.

Thinking about leaving and farewells in general: packing suitcases and teary airport scenes.

Realizing that you’ll miss the stupidest little things that you never really appreciated until they whizzed away from you.

Standing in the midst of your life’s story not as its protagonist, but as some helpless object frozen in time.

But, most profoundly, acceleration is your perception of the passage of time, and how you choose to respond to it. The truth is, we all feel a little rushed and not in control at times. What makes the difference is how you deal with it.

I for one, am going to keep smiling, and even more so when the world wants me to frown.

I am going to avoid procrastination, and exploit every moment.

I am going to be grateful, and pray, and find my happiness by helping others find theirs.

Or, at the very least, I am going to try.

 

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The Treasure

Rtraja does it again! The girl is on a rooolll B)
Untouched, this time. You can read the original here

“A Treasure.

It was that one day I stepped in your class,
that one day I never realized you,
A question had I asked the teacher…about the mole ratio and mass,
And that’s when you came out of nowhere, totally out of the blue…
This world doesn’t lack faces,
they make you laugh, cry, anxious and peaceful,
they come from all of the world’s places,
but what are you, and what had made you so humble?
You’re the one who gripped my heart,
you’re the one to guide me through,
I don’t know how to thank you, from where am I supposed to start?
You’ve been there for me, whenever I needed you…
Ya Allah, thank You for sending her here,
thank You for making her a part of me!
Ya Rabbi, people like her are truly rare,
and the outcome of patience, now do I really see….
Indeed, I have found the long lost treasure,
I have found someone to pull me up and raise my self-esteem,
I appreciate you so much, a friend like you is a huge pleasure,
You are the real face, no mask, no background, no theme….
Thank you for all you’ve done for someone that had never deserved,
Your awesomeness is truly, one that shines in the night,
You’re the luminescence when darkness covers the world,
May Allah Make the bond between us ever so tight…
knowitall10-Monday, 27th May 2013-
Raweeha this is for you…  :)”

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Filed under FreshlyPressed, HandWritten, Reflections, Teenage Insecurity

Moving on.

Hello, world!

To answer an obvious question, yes, I’m alive. Not only alive, but rolling B-)

It’s been many, many months since A Million Reflections saw my pretty face and I’ve gone from active to not active to pretty much non-existent.

Yet here I am. Where was I, what brings me back?

Good question.

It’s a little difficult to put the whirlwind events from July 2012 through April 2013 into a few words, but I’ll try to do emotions and experiences justice and give it my best shot. Here goes.

To start us off, let history do the talking:

moving on.

And if you’re tut-tutting under your breath after reading the date, I’m truly sorry. This blog post should have been published ages ago. But I’ve been avoiding it for a reason.

Life’s flung me far in these few months. In the literal sense, I’ve been ‘flung’ from Abu Dhabi to Karachi to Riyadh, but metaphorically? I’ve moved emotional mountains, swam nostalgic oceans, trekked through the treacherously dark forests of the unknown.

It’s been painful. Scary. Bitter. Enduring nearly 3 months in Karachi was the worst part — a sad case of a non-citizen life-long UAE resident awaiting paperwork for a country she didn’t want to move to. And, Saudi Arabia being Saudi Arabia, the process that was supposedly two weeks long took more than a month. A month too many in Karachi.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the place. [and you should know if you’ve read any of my previous posts! ;)] But home is home. And I could only live as an alien to Pakistani culture for so long.

But with hardship comes ease. And oftentimes they come together.

In this case, what didn’t kill me certainly did make me stronger. Those weeks in Karachi taught me more than I’ve learnt in years. Patience. Perseverance. Gratefulness. Humility. Respect for people from all walks of life. Coming out of my comfort zone. Being organized with the paperwork — believe me, I learnt that the hard way! I could go on, but the crux of what I learnt began to change me. Bit by bit. Like pieces of a puzzle slowly coming together.

After we (finally!) came to Riyadh, realizations began to dawn upon me, one by one. First and foremost, Riyadh is a pretty cool place, seriously! I feel ashamed now to judge this city against stereotypes that were merely ignorant opinions. Sure, in the Abu Dhabi vs Riyadh battle the former wins hands down (ahem!) but living here is nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be. Karachi took care of that 😉

On a more serious note, I realized just how much I needed the change. Not wanting it. Needing it. You see, being born and raised in the same old, same old made me resistant to change. And I’d no idea just how healthy it would be for me. My initial reaction was to whinge and complain about everything. I missed my bedroom of nearly ten years. I missed my friends,  feeling the hurt a tiny bit more each time I’d say goodbye to any of them. I missed knowing my way around so well I could trawl Abu Dhabi in my sleep. I missed the multiculturalism. I missed my school. I missed, missed, missed my way through my pain, realizing too late, that, by being stuck in my past, I wasn’t even giving my future half a chance. How much longer could I be stuck in a time which no longer existed?

It was time to move on.

And I’m so glad I did. Here in Riyadh, I have a new bedroom (painted purple, woop! :D). I have new friends — amazing ones too, at that. And each new hello heals the pain of an old goodbye a tiny bit. I have a new city blueprint to learn, new streets to trawl. I have a new school, and though my options may be limited, my teachers are enviably good. And wouldn’t it be a such a shame missing out on all this, had I been home in Abu Dhabi?  My missing was replaced with embracing. I learnt to adapt, and to welcome change with open arms. I learnt to loosen up, and to allow myself to be carried by the swelling of the tide.

But, mostly, I learnt to be optimistic. Every tunnel has a light at its end, every mountain has its peak. I’m not saying that your tunnel is short — it may be winding and long. But it has an end, and it is beautifully bright. I’m not saying your mountain will be an easy climb — it may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. But it has a peak and the view is gorgeous. 

In essence, what I’m saying is this:

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My message goes out to all of you crawling you tunnels, climbing your mountains. Hang in there. Keep going. Take it from me — not only will you make it, you’ll make it as a better, stronger person. I certainly did.

As for avoiding my beloved blog, I present before you two excuses:

  • I’ve been insanely busy with AS Level! I sometimes don’t have the time to breathe! Even now I’m blogging at the expense of my statistics homework  😛
  • In many ways I felt that A Million Reflections was not really relevant anymore. That it’s now a part of my past, part of someone I no longer am.

Maybe this is is goodbye from me at A Million Reflections. Maybe I’ll start a new blog. Begin afresh. I don’t know. One thing is for sure, though. I’ll leave the question hanging until my AS end in June!

Keep on moving. May your journey be as rewarding as mine. ♥

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Filed under Abu Dhabi C'est Moi!, MemoryLane, Reflections

Karachi, the Dulhan, and other such Desi-ness (3)

Part Two here. Brace yourself; this is a heavy dose! 😉

Part three: The Blossomming of the Swan

By now, I am sleepy enough to drop just about anywhere and fall into blissful slumber, but the girls have other plans.  The twins and the sneaky younger sister hover around my suitcase — vultures vying to get a look at my well-guarded outfits. “Show us what you’re wearing tonight!”, the twins squeal. Today is the dholki, a bachelorette party where the Dulhan-to-be celebrates her ‘last days of singlehood’.

But I grin cheekily. I was loving the suspense and there was no way I was killing it so soon. After weeks of waiting, surely  a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt? But the twins press me still, so I bring out my outfit for the nikkah, the wedding reception.

It is a modern twist on the traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez: beige and magenta, embroidered with gold and silver motifs. The sight is met with ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s from the twins,and rightly so. It looks sparkingly gorgeous (if I may say so myself!)

But the show-stopper is still to come. My sneaky younger sister pulls The Yellow Bag from the depths of my suitcase (my dress is from Forever 21, by the way) and in no time at all I am wearing my outfit. I am dressed in a light cream-coloured dress, a black cropped jacket, a white belt and black heels. The twins are wide-eyed.”Raweeha, you look beautiful.” I smile, and this time it is from deep within me.

You know how, one day, your entire life flashes before you? This was my day. Within moments, I was a bubbling six-year-old; an ambitious ‘scientist’ making shampoo and baby powder ‘potions’ in the bathroom. Then I am a brooding ten-year-old, trying to think thoughts that are too big to fit into my small head. I am twelve and irritable, a nuisance to those around me, but inwardly questioning my identity. I am fourteen, mature but slightly oblivious to reality. And then I am back to my present self, at sixteen years, eight months and four days old. Who am I now?

I’ve had something of an ‘ugly duckling’ transition to adolescence. I have been annoying. Annoyed. Confusing. Confused. Disagreeable. Pitied upon. But today I was not. And I realise the self-indulgence of this, but I felt that, after years of hiding in the shadows, I had emerged in the limelight; an ugly duckling no more. The nikkah may be the Dulhan’s moment to shine, but the dholki was mine. The swan had blossomed, and today, she would take to the skies.

A few minutes later, with the Dulhan-to-be out sight, I usher her twin into the room and explain my surprise present to her. I bring out a bag of Quality Street, a ceramic replica of an ice cream sundae and a plastic envelope of paper hearts. The idea: to give people a piece of chocolate and a heart, ask them to write a message and then wrap the folded message in the remaining cellophane. The ‘ice cream sundae’ would then be filled with ‘candy’. In my excitement though, I unwrap the bubble wrap, and … The lid slips from my hand, lands on the floor and cracks into six pieces. I want to slap myself. “We’ll improvise”, the twin reassures me, but that seed of regret has been planted and remains within me for the next three days.

The preparations begin. Balloons are brought out and we blow, blow, blow. Just before tying them we pop in a little piece of folded paper. Dozens of balloons are given this treatment, and, lo and behold, we have created a balloon Pass the Parcel cum Truth or Dare.

The hours pass like seconds. I have finally managed to get some sleep, showered, dressed, done make up and failed, yet again, to curl my hair. It’s party time.

The first guests arrive and  the Dulhan-to-be is taking her sweet time getting dressed. I ampushed into the living room and soon a whole group of us is sitting on the floor in awkward silence. Who drums the dhol, and worse still, who sings? We had a tambourine and no willing singer. The problem is soon solved when a cousin comes along with a wooden sewing machine lid. Pretty soon, we are singing and dancing along with the hilarious air of amateurs pretending to be Shah Rukh Khans. The Dulhan-to-be then stands up and summons us into a circle. It is time for the balloons.

The shock on people’s faces when the balloon pops areirreplaceable, the dares even more so. One contestant is asked to do two laps of the corridor — hopping on one foot. Another is asked to apply lipstick on some one else’s lips — blindfolded. Most people most people choose to pop their balloons using their finger nails, others sit on them, a few brave ones use their teeth. Pretty soon the music stops, and what do you know, I have a balloon in my hands.

I pop mine using the back of my earring. My dare: Drink two glasses of 7up in one minute. I ambitiously gulp down my first glass and, it is FREEZING! Eyes watering, I loosen my belt and begin my second glass! Somehow even colder than the first. As someone begins the countdown I nearly give in, but …. I finish my second glass in just under a minute, spilling half of it down the front of my dress and taking my belt off entirely. Phew. How embarrassing. 

I then manage to put my baby nephew to sleep (walking around in heels, yes!), eat some, pose for pictures and make a call to my ‘stylist’. All while chasing confused (and rather uncooperative) guests with their paper hearts. PLUS hiding this from the Dulhan-to-be! It is not long before all has wound down and I have collapsed into bed.

What a night.

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Filed under HandWritten, MemoryLane, Reflections, Shades of Green, Teenage Insecurity

Karachi, the Dulhan and other such Desi-ness (2)

Forgive the extremely long delay, but the obstacles of exams, procrastination and laziness have finally been overcome and this piece may be written and read in peace. I take it that you may need a refresher of Part One; you will find it here. Polish your armor and sharpen your swords. The battle is about to begin. (And thank you, Tsani, for the idea).

Part Two: Welcome to the City

And so our plane landed in Karachi after a descent that was particularly unkind to my ears. I’m sure that my eardrums were courageously defending themselves against the falling air pressure, but all I could feel was a deafening, pounding pain: two imaginary hands squeezing the sides of my head.

I felt a lot clearer as we walked into the  Arrivals at Jinnah International Airport. I switched on my phone while standing in the Passport Control queue,  and  lo and behold, it is bombarded with a fleet of text messages. The first one goes something like this: “etisalat wishes you a safe stay in Pakistan. The following roaming charges shall be applied ….”. It goes to list just how horrendously expensive it is for you to call and text.  My mind then drifts towards the  Pakistani Ufone SIM card in my wallet, currently running on negative credit, and I smile. It  felt good to so good to be in Karachi that I couldn’t care less.

I send out one message, saying that I had landed safely and was waiting for my passport to be stamped. Concerned family are quick to respond, and by the time I have reassured my parents that I’m fine, told my waiting uncle that I’ll be done soon and asked a cousin for cricket scores, my credit is dead: a valiant martyr in the merciless battlefield of hefty roaming charges. Suitcase (remember the armoury?) and younger sister in tow, I walk out of the airport and into Karachi.

The contrast between the two is inexplicably beautiful. From the cool lounges to the warm urban air. From the quiet hum of security to the vibrant buzz of the streets. And from the subdued overhead tube lights to the bright lights and city skies that called my name.

Bad times may take away our food, petrol, electricity and even Prime Minister, but they will never suck the life and spirit out of Karachi.

Arriving home was sweet relief to my sore ears. I dumped my suitcase in a room, and, following the obligatory ritual of hugs, kisses and “how was your flight”s, dragged my tired but happy self upstairs. My jet-lagged biological clock does not realize that it is 5 a.m. I was falling asleep as the rest of the world was waking up.

At that moment, a sleep Dulhan-to-be walks out of her room, rubbing her eyes. She blinks, bewildered, and for a terrifying moment I think she doesn’t recognize me. But then she gives me a loose, drowsy hug. “I’m so glad you’re here”. The feeling is mutual, dear Dulhan.

The Dulhan-to-be’s twin, on the other hand, is less discrete. She lets out a loud, shrill scream: “Eeeee, Raweehaaa!”. Ouch, my ears. As I am engulfed in a second, much tighter hug, a heavy masculine voice is heard from the next room. “Would you girls shut up? I’m tryna sleep.”

Ah, home. Did I mention how good it felt to be back?

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Karachi, the Dulhan and other such Desi-ness (1)

Post by post I’ll be blogging about my trip to Karachi — I decided to make it a series because just one post would have been waaay too long, plus with compromises on detail. And, for a writer like me, the more I can write the better!

Part One: The Countdown

Trips to Karachi come once, or if I’m extremely lucky, twice a year, lasting for only a finite number of days. They are full of ice-cream, load shedding, breezy evenings, rickshaws, cousins, shopping, all-nighters, texting and most importantly, unlimited fun. Each trip is unique and memorable in its own right. Summer trips are long and lethargic, winter ones are short breathers, and ‘wedding’ ones are so rare that I never, ever take them for granted.

Precisely like this one.

The best thing about this trip (okay, one of the best) was that it began long before I even left Abu Dhabi. For me, dad’s unexpected ‘yes’ was where it all started. My cousin (who also happened to be one of my closest friends) was getting married, and I was actually going to Karachi! With 714 hours to my mock exams, 1002  hours to my flight and 1056 hours to the wedding, the countdown began.

From that point on, it was just shopping, shopping and more shopping! Along the way I made a few enlightening discoveries: that my younger sister was a surprisingly mature person who was actually fun to hang out with, that my dad was all awesomeness on the inside despite acting all stiff and sullen, that a scenario can happen even if you obsessively plan and organise everything (Murphy’s Law!) and, finally, that going dress-hunting independently and paying for an expensive(ish) one out of your own hard-earned allowance was probably the most fulfilling feeling in the world.

I remember the past two months as knots of tangled memory. The month of February was long, emotional emails (When are you coming to Karachi?), the painful art of patience and half-hearted attempts at ‘studying’.  The month of March, in sharp contrast, was hurried, excited emails (I’m coming in 192 hours!), the exhilarating thrill of rushing and desperately sincere attempts at cramming three weeks of studying into nine days.

And so after nine exams and innumerable shopping trips, my younger sister and I boarded our flight to Karachi. In our armory (aka a suitcase) was presents, AS Level textbooks, chocolate and a whole lot of borrowed makeup and clothes. We sat in our seats, sent last-minute goodbye texts and fastened our belts, bubbling with  excitement.

And so the adventure began.

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What Makes You Beautiful … ♥

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
Audrey Hepburn

The definition of beauty is not a territory uncharted; hundreds, if not thousands, have tried (and failed) to define, to capture, to explain this subliminally powerful entity. From One Direction’s childishly simple What Makes You Beautiful, to Zadie Smith’s sadistically disturbing On Beauty, the idea of beauty has been explored and exploited for centuries past, and will probably continue to do so for centuries to come. There will be, of course, ones that stand out more than others, and this is one such example, which I got from a sweet (and anonymous) person on Facebook. Enjoy reading 🙂

Showing off your body to men doesn’t make you beautiful …
The more you hide the more they’ll want to chase after you.

Keep them guessing, don’t just give them what they ask for.
Don’t let today’s society poison your mind with things that aren’t even true.

Beauty does not come from your face, or your hair, or your body.
It comes from your heart. Having a kind, selfless, caring, heart is what makes a girl beautiful.

Just because you see underweight models on magazines,
Doesn’t mean you should take them as an example of how you want to be.

These girls would probably love to have a burger every now and then.
But they can’t because they would hate to lose their job.

You may think they are happy, but you never know what truely hides behind a smile.
And if you think that showing off your skin is the only way you’ll find love
You’re wrong.

Men, especially men who treat a women right, love those who are modest.
Who protect their body from the eyes of men.
These are the women men are looking for.

So stop trying to be like everyone else.
Just be yourself because You Are Beautiful ♥

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