RAMADAN KAREEM!

So it’s the beginning of Ramadan today and the entire community is on fasting mode. As we all know, UAE is implementing some strict rules on solemnity. No short skirts and revealing clothes. No eating on public places. No public display of affection – which Sam (I am now officially naming my fiance’) has specifically pointed out this morning during breakfast. “No PDA. We will high five at the bus station.” He instructed.

I respect the Muslim tradition and I have high regard with these practices. Most specially that it is a time for prayer and contemplation. So yesterday my Iranian boss approached my desk with his casual funky smirk and smooth morning lines. I told him. “You know you should dial down the flirting. Ramadan is coming.”

In which he responded. “Actually everything is heightened during Ramadan. Flirting. Appetite. Crispy Pata. Oh Crispy Pata!”

He always mentions Crispy Pata because he used to date a famous Filipina celebrity which I will of course not divulge ever in this blog. Anyway, he was probably kidding. Or maybe not. Deprivation can be lethal. And I am not even talking about food here. But that’s a whole different story. Let’s save my deprivation of shopping for later. I guess what my boss meant was that, fasting is one of the most scared sacrifice of the human body.

After waiting for 5 days and counting for our salary, accounts has finally funded the bank so I am expecting to get my pay any moment now. I lost the energy to complain about delays. Eventually you will get accustomed to the norms. I have embraced the fact that UAE standards are different from US, UK and Philippines. I have NEVER experienced any delay in pay day for my twelve years working in my country. NOT ONCE. If there was ever a time I was surprised, it was because it came too early with our 13th month pay included.

So when my  colleagues came to office to get their cheques looking deliriously happy, I said. “Good for you people! Go, enjoy and eat somewhere.”

Awkward silence.

I should’ve kept my stupid mouth shut.  Lucky me, these people are very forgiving.

My apology.

“Ramadan Kareem!”

Photo Credit: Fuckyeahjenaniston

COMMITTED

I am blessed with a partner who is always curious. Asking a lot questions in random moments which leaves me speechless or disoriented with words. As we all know I am more articulate in writing than in spoken words. He often asks questions like, “How was your life different from last year when you haven’t met me?” or “What was your regular days like before me?”

I couldn’t express how incredibly different life has been since I met him. I was certain that my intentions in coming to Dubai was never to find someone. That was the least of my priorities. Sure I was heartbroken. But there was no urgency of finding. When I landed to Dubai I only want one thing: A Career. But I got bored one day. I went online. We became friends. His place is across mine. Why not meet half-way? And so we did.

There are meetings that make you feel anxious on how you will behave or what you will say. Meetings that breaks your rib cage. Elation. Thrill. Explosion. It was nothing like that. It was pure composure and amusement. The excitement level is that of two friends meeting each other again after a long time. Like crossing the street and finding a familiar face that makes your heart swell of gladness. Like I have been there in his rooftop several times and we were just catching up for the lost time.

These moments are magical in a way that like any other moments, it passes by. So you have to capture it and make it grow. We tried our very best to grow that friendship. And I think more than me, he was more persistent in nourishing that friendship. He built that foundation firmly. Otherwise, having been inexperienced and being so timid in relationships, we would have not gotten this far. And because I saw that perseverance in him, it made me resilient to go against the odds of whatever or whoever it is that breaks us.

It was never easy of course. Many a times we tried to cut it because it felt suffocating or intoxicating or burdensome. Cultural differences, language barrier, communication problems, religion, standards, beliefs, norms, environment, families, our own idiosyncrasies and insecurities. The list is never ending.

And yet here we are about to embark on a different journey together. Why? It’s not just Love. It’s tenacity. It’s Choice. Our willingness to stay together even in days when we don’t feel like loving each other. Emotions fluctuate. And when that happens, you make a decision. You choose to stop or to go on. And I am choosing him everyday over my doubts, over my fears, over my pride, over my insecurities, over my hurts. And he does the same to me. We choose the people we love everyday over the million blaring, raging, resounding things that draws us apart. I don’t know how things will be like, a month or years from now. But one thing is for sure. I don’t want to be part of that dreadful statistics of separation and divorces.

I want us to be one of those old couples holding hands on the streets – still happy and grounded. I want us to make a great history together. Like a human illustration of hope that unfailing love exist. That God is not about race or religion. That despite differences of culture and color, rituals and traditions, faith and beliefs, couples like us are blessed the same way as others.

 

For a lot of generations, I don’t think people necessarily went out there in the world and looked for a soulmate.  I think they made one. I think you become soul mate for the person you live with over decades. All the experiences that you share together, the triumphs and the tragedies and the heartbreaks and disappointments and the endurance. All of these makes that person the other half of your apple. And I think the mistake that a lot of young women particularly is thinking that somebody should sort of just rise out of a clam shell fully formed and perfectly match you. And the more realistic version of marriage is that you build that together every time.

Photo Credit: The Mind Unleashed

Bullies

Thank God I have this adorable fiancé who stood by me when I was feeling all gloomy and cranky that Tuesday afternoon after my dreadful interview at Mashreq. I was feeling really bummed about several things even before that incident. No biggies. I’m just being ME – a variety of mood stitched in motion. I still don’t know how he manages to pacify me every now and then.

So we were walking inside Union Metro, just a few blocks away from our flat discussing some serious relevant topic about our relationship – future plans, getting married, business, babies and whatnot when a 6 ft. tall police officer suddenly approached my fiancé and asked for his Emirates ID. Police officer examined the ID and wasn’t satisfied so he asked for my Emirates ID too. My fiancé and I stood there stupefied in the middle of a busy metro station wondering what offense we could’ve possible done. We have been law abiding residents of Dubai except of course those inevitable jaywalking moments here and there. But other than that we try as much as we can to make Dubai the best place to live in. Duh.

And maybe because he doesn’t speak English well he just shoved us both away when he couldn’t give any rationale for attempting to confiscate our identification cards. Until now I’m still puzzled and my fiancé is beginning to question his good looks. Does he look like a terrorist? But he just shaved and cut his hair short. How’s that possible? He looked like someone who wouldn’t even snap a mosquito even if it drains his blood to death.

Or is it because we’re Asians? Because from where I am standing I believe that Police Officer wouldn’t have the guts to approach any western couple and be skeptic about they’re whereabouts.

Photo Credit: Devianart

The Daily Post: Angry

MASHREQ

So Mashreq called Monday afternoon and I went ballistic!

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I got an interview from Mashreq? The Mashreq Bank? The oldest privately owned bank and one of the biggest companies in UAE. A corporate giant wants me in his office? Are you kidding? I got chills all over my spine when the Relationship Manager confirmed my time slot. I know you’re rolling your eyes with all your classy fancy eyelashes and first class abayas. It’s probably not a big deal to you people. But for someone who submits a minimum of thirty applications a week in seven or eight different job portals and gets the same number of rejection emails in return, it is a big deal.

So Tuesday afternoon I sat there along with a local girl who was busy fumbling on her mobile and waited for a good few minutes. Out of curiosity and fear that this local girl obviously must have more edge than me- language wise, I asked.  “What position are you applying for?”

And I wouldn’t say flabbergasted is the right reaction that came out of me but it was something close to it. She replied. “I don’t know what position. I will decide if I like their offer.”

I don’t know if I will ever get used this blistering reality that some people gets to decide their post in the company. They get to decide what time they have to come to work and what time they have to leave. They get to choose which company is deserving of their royalty and they get to choose the benefits they should receive. Wow. I’m just. Okay I don’t have a better word for it at the moment. Flabbergasted.

By the time the officer realized she has an appointment with me it was already running 5 PM.  She was forty five minutes late. I sat there in her office with all hopes in the world combined (world peace, global warming and world hunger put together). Like I could really nail this thing! But when she started talking and flipping the pages of my resume, that’s when it hit me. Having been involved with Recruitment for the past few months, I can now tell how this screening of applicants work. I know that even before she could throw some questions at me, she already have placed me at the bottom of the ranking. People have biases and they have the right to. And I have no right to question her judgment. She was paid to do that.

In the middle of that shortened interview I wanted to interrupt her and ask, “Are you in a hurry? Cause if you have some more important things to do I can totally understand.”  She was feeding words in my mouth which was totally a cue for me to shut up and let her finish. It’s faster that way. Just pull off the band aid and get over it as John Green would put it.

For a brief moment after that interview I thought maybe I have contributed something to my own catastrophy. She didn’t like the way I dress. I was not articulate enough. I said something stupid that turned her off. I might have sounded so desperate about the job. I am a Filipino. I can formulate more reasons why she was only doing it for formality.

She doesn’t like me. I’m just trying to put some logic behind my bitterness. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are or how presentable you are. They need to like you based on their own standards. And standards are bias. This is why Miranda Priestly hired Andrea. She likes her. With all her external remorse on this outrageous looking girl, there was something she liked about her and that is enough to reward her the title she’s been so desperate to snag.

“People get hired because, somehow, they get hired. In my case I did something which these days would be easy to check, and would get me into trouble, and when I started out, in those pre-internet days, seemed like a sensible career strategy: when I was asked by editors who I’d worked for, I lied. I listed a handful of magazines that sounded likely, and I sounded confident, and I got jobs. I then made it a point of honour to have written something for each of the magazines I’d listed to get that first job, so that I hadn’t actually lied, I’d just been chronologically challenged… You get work however you get work.”Neil Gaiman on his Keynote Speech

Photo Credit: Vestiaire Collective, Daily Mail, Moonandtrees

BRAVE

Isn’t it ironic that I experience an avalanche of stories when I am not in front of the monitor? I mean, does it happen to you too? You surprise yourself on how brilliant your are? Ideas just flow unstoppable? You’re a creator of something remarkable? For a few hours you become too impress with yourself, almost close to complete arrogance? It always happen to me. Words just wash over me like tsunami phenomenon when I’m at the metro or in the shower or just walking home passing by small Arabic chocolate stores and carpet shops – which are abundant here by the way. Persian carpet. Baroque style rugs. Bollywood style flooring. Name it.They have it. By the time I reach my office desk to process all these hurricane ideas, they are all gone. They just poof! Lost. Now I am left with only debris of those pouring minutes. Glorious minutes of wild narrations.

Bravery is one of those many debris which I am now trying to pick up to make whole again. I had it spinning in my mind a few days ago like whirlwind heroes. I knew I got to start writing again and the best way to start is to write about writing. Now here it goes.

I lacked sleep and drunk plenty of coffee a few weeks ago which resulted to a brief throwing-up moment in the metro. I decided to divert my mind to my newly born wordpress account and how I want it to be. I want it to be bold, daring, provocative, raw and honest. It is not rude nor timid. It is serious but playful. It’s a combination of pure guts and authentic narrative.

I’m just amazed how brave other writers are, story tellers in particular, to speak their minds publicly without filter. I always have to screen the things I say, not just because I find some issues sensitive in nature but because I always feel like I am borrowing someone else’s life story or that I am breaching some privacy. I am tress passing someone else’s life. And the funny thing is that I still feel guilty even after having used the aliases. I feel like I am exposing them naked in public that even I take a huge portion of that nakedness, I still feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel like wearing someone else’s underwear and strutting along JLT.

To be honest, I’ve always had a problem expressing myself verbally. Like maybe sure, If I try really hard I can fire some nasty stuff in writing. But verbally? My brain was not trained to speak bullets. Take for instance my constant arguments with my boyfriend who by the way has a law degree. I couldn’t counter attack him with some well crafted machine gun that will blow his mind like crazy. No, it’s not like I want to knock his brains out or anything like that. I just want a fair play (or fore – ?). Wait I got confused.

I never had the guts to say anything against someone or to stand up on what I think is right. I would leave my opinion open and hanging, leave alone the spectators to like or dislike the idea. Secretly though, the introverts who can relate to me would always fantasize of climbing an old building or a broken statue with flags up to speak up their mind and start a world class writing revolution. It doesn’t have to be world changing. We don’t need that. We just want to articulate ourselves fearlessly and be heard.

Just to make it clear, I used to reason out and speak my mind – good enough to catch the attention of an entire board room. It’s not like I’m a a total pushover or a word-wreck. I know how to deliver the right words and with conviction. Most of the time, I know what I am saying.  At least, most. Right? (Dry smile.) I don’t stutter or space out. I present myself well which was the reason I nailed a promising job in Dubai on my first attempt. But excellence is a habit and not a one time thing. Over the course of time, I have learned that you become what you are constantly doing. And the sad thing about my stay here in the gulf is that, I was doing back office job that to some point hurt my professional skills without me knowing it. I started slacking and stopped improving myself. The process therefore has reduced myself in the size of a receptionist.  No offense.

So before I go home and pass by these Shawarma stands and Gents salon – (oh you’ve no idea how many Gents Salon are scattered in each corner of UAE. In fact I think there are more Gents than Ladies’ Salon), I would have to declare the END OF FILTER & JUST BE BOLD advocacy in writing.

And not just in writing but in any field of expertise. Let us start embracing what we are, what we love to do, what we aim to be.

BE BRAVE. BE WILD. BE FREE.

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Photo Credit: Flickr

SNOOZE

I have been putting my life on hold for some time now. There has always been voices in my head that drags me out of bed every morning. They always make an effort to jump start my  lazy bones. In fact they work for a good few hours and then I will lose them again. And it scares the hell out of me that I will end up like this for the rest of my life. Bumming. Snoozing. Procastinating. Contemplating. None of this makes me a better person. If I don’t get my act together I will stay in this corporate world forever. And it’s an apocalypse out here. I need a way out.

Procrastinating is a bitch. It looks good on the outside and a monster in the inside. The moment you feel like it’s crawling towards you, run! Move forward. Always move forward. Create a game plan. A device. A strategy. Be creative. You’ve got to knock it dead before it devours you. I know. It’s never easy. It’s always easier to allow something to eat your brains. Television. Social Media. Clubs. Video games. Food. Sleep.

I want productivity. I want self-fulfillment. I want independence and financial freedom. I want progress in my career. I want good money, good health and good life. I want businesses all over the place and enormous investments. I want a money making machine.  I want an empire.

And I take responsibility to this evolving decay that has been plaguing me. I shouldn’t be putting my life on hold. I should be doing something different. Something drastic. Something that scares me. Something big. Something that works.

Maybe I am not fighting a good fight that’s why I end up in the dumps, losing. It’s not about bringing your game face and some attitude. You have got to be bold and brave with your dreams. Most importantly you need to be dedicated. Strength comes naturally with practice. Work on your footwork and grow some muscles. Punches must be accurate. It’s mixed martial arts all together to get where you want to be.

Great opportunities, astounding possibilities and that stroke of luck which remains a mystery to the majority, it’s out there.

And it only comes to people who has a game plan.

People who make the right choices as early as 7 am.

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