Graduation: Her perspective

The speech that never happened.
(Originally by my twin rtraja. I did tamper with it a tiny bit to ‘blogify’ it, but it remains,  for the most part, unaltered.) I’ll post my own perspective shortly. My readers will know how much I love series 😉

The Opening Address

The one aspect that truly shines like a beacon in the dark which I will carry with me wherever I go is the warmth, kindness and care that I have experienced throughout my years at Manarat — in short, the friendship that I have come to know.

As the friendship of a classmate has been focused on, I would like to draw attention to my teachers.
They have always been there for me, with a keen interest and a discerning eye to ensure not only my success, but that I would rise should I fall, and push forward with greater fervor and tenacity. These are but a few of the qualities which have forged the body that I can sincerely call friendship.

I will be ever grateful to all my teachers, especially those that I am privileged enough to call my friends.

Last but not least, we hail our mothers for their selfless role as our unfailing friends.

Finally, I wish to leave you with a thought:

Educate a man, you educate a man, but educate a woman and you educate a nation … nay, a generation.

This is what my teachers, and our mothers, are doing, and it is for this that I say thank you!


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Embracing our Grandmothers

A touching, relatable insight. ♥
Very moving if you also feel the generation gap.


Poh PohI did not know my maternal grandmother well. Come to think of it, I did not know any of my grandparents well. Both my grandfathers died when I was young, and language barriers kept me from conversing with my paternal grandmother, even though she was present throughout most of my life.

My mother’s mother, Poh Poh as I would call her, came into my life in the early 90s. She followed the path set by my two uncles as they both brought their families to Canada from Hong Kong. Until that point, I had no relationship with Poh Poh, and not much of one there after.

Again, language barriers did not help. I with my broken Cantonese could barely string together a sentence and she could hardly speak a word of English. But language was not the sole barrier. She treated my brothers and I like someone else’s…

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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:


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. ♥


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.


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

As we go about our big lives, step back and appreciate the little things that it is made of. This is beautiful.

Introspections During Quiet Time


I truly enjoy the small things in life. The other day one of these things (I call them “little wins”) happened and it got me to thinking about the little wins that we all get and about what mine are specifically. So, these are just the little things that somehow can turn a bad day around on a dime:

  • I can’t stress how excited I get when I grab a soda from one of the vending machines or coolers at a supermarket and I pop it open, only to find it is partially frozen! It’s like having built in ice cubes. I also love when a couple of pieces of ice come out when you are taking a drink and you have to crunch the ice as loud as possible. Why? because. That’s why!
  • I enjoy playing basketball and making shots from half court is sweet but when I am…

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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?


Filed under HandWritten, MemoryLane, Reflections, Shades of Green

Return of the over-studying blogger.

I’m back.
Alive, yes. AS Level is FINALLY done and over with and A Million Reflections can be saved from extinction. I’m tempted to fire away with a juicy blog post, but will refrain from doing so, primarily for two reasons:
1. I love to hand-write my longer blog posts, that way I’m usually in a more creative state of mind and the post turns out to be more emotionally charged. (I sound like an old professor, but I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to writing. Pardon me 😛 )
2. My space bar is broken and it’s a pain in the You Know What to type.

I’ll see you peeps very shortly, next up are an expose on the horrors of AS Level and the next of the Dulhan Series — I promise, this time!
Have a nice day and eat lots of peaches 😀
(Yes, I’m feeling a little weird)

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