Young Eyes Watching

I logged into my personal facebook account to find a message request.  The message was from a young and very handsome man.  Before reading his message, I did what most introverts would do and did a little digging on his profile to see what kind of personality I could place on his essay-looking text.  Hmm…a footy player who loves good food and is very loyal to his squad.  From the looks of things, his squad could easily pass as fitness gurus. Yes, he does appear to have the perfect virtual personality.

I proceeded to read his message which was a gentle plea to date one of my younger sisters. What a gentleman he is, to be asking permission from big sister.  He already wins bonus points of approval, if you ask me.  Now, lets pause for just a second here.  If a guy makes contact with you to tell you that he is interested in one of your close friends or [in my case] sister without her knowledge, what would you have done?  I guess we all have different personality types and there is no one-size fits all answer to this question.  But just out of curiosity, it would be great to know your response.

So back to the message request. What did I do?  Simple. I told my sister point blank.  She read the intimate message and smiled.  “Of course I am flattered. He is a great guy. But, no thank you.”

I looked at her to see whether she was kidding.  “Are you seriously saying, that you are not interested in this good looking guy with VERY good online etiquette?”

My younger sister smiled.  “Sis, I know me very well. And I know this guy very well too. You only just learned about him a few seconds ago from reading his message and doing a bit of background digging online, but I grew up with this guy. And the answer is NO. So can we just drop this?”

The entire arena erupts with loud applause for my younger sister.

She was right. Instead of choosing PATH B of stringing this poor guy along in the hopes of eventuating a promise that would most likely never happen without my sister’s knowledge and approval, I opted for PATH A.  Path A was to let the sister know and get her response on the matter, point blank, before telling the guy immediately so he can move on or pursue and not be left out in the cold, second-guessing.  If the answer was affirmative, then by all means, go for it. If the answer was negative, then be upfront about it to the guy so that he does not waste his time on something that will never happen and move on. Lord knows, he deserves to be treated better.

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War Room

I will be turning the big 3-0 in a couple of months and to be honest I’m at a point in my life where I’m not sure as to whether or not I’m living up to my full potential. Sometimes I’m proud of myself beyond measure and it shows in how I carry myself. Other times I speculate the real purpose of my existence. There are so many things happening on this earth that as an individual you are tasked with the duty of devising a plan to either be sucked into the vortex that is life and be lost or stand upright and soldier on until all else makes sense. But does it ever make sense? Any of it?

Last night after so many months of not touching the television I finally saw fit to put on a movie and the list went from one movie to about 6 at the end of the night. The earlier movies are a haze, the only movie I remember is the final movie of the night “War Room” not all our readers are Christian and some may not even believe in God with all of that in mind, I feel I as a Christian and a believer in God I need to share my experience after watching that movie. I realized that as was portrayed in the movie, we are always trying to fight the battle on our own and we sometimes unconsciously rely on our human strength and abilities, when God is standing right by you encouraging you to let him carry that heavy load, that burdensome issue on your behalf and to fight the battle for you. You on the other hand need to just PRAY!!!

I must admit that during the recent 40 days of Lent where the rule of thumb for the season is Prayer, Fasting and alms giving I have failed miserably in all 3 areas. If I did one the other 2 would suffer, after watching the War Room I have identified that my problem was and is not that I do not wish to pray, I have just used my time up doing other unnecessary things. These things have taken up my time and therefore the time I should have been giving the Lord in prayer is given elsewhere. My time is given to watching TV Series, listening to my music on my playlist, constantly updating my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account. I realize with much embarrassment that I have become that person. the person who checks to see how many people liked her profile picture, how many people liked or commented on my status update. It’s atrocious and disgusting I know, but it is my reality. I think that had I not realized this earlier I would be spiraling down a road to a slow and agonizing demise. Kinda reminds me of the story of the frog, put that frog into a pot filled with water and turn on the heat, as the pot heats up the frog stays on unsuspecting of the end result until it is too late.

With so much noise and distraction around us in this day and age we need to take the time to reconnect with our inner core and also our spiritual links. We are of course more than just our physical selves, there are so many aspects to the human being that we so unconsciously close off because we allow ourselves to drown in the problems and issues of the world. I urge you call on God in prayer, let him fight and carry our battles and trials for us.

At the end of the day the battle isn’t exaclty ours to fight, it is ours to pass on to God to take care of for us. Take for instance a child trying to open a bottle of candy, the child does not possess the ability to open the bottle, the child will look for an adult (most of the time it is Mom or Dad) they will request the adult to open this bottle for them. We are the child and God is the adult (Mom or Dad), let us take our closed bottle of candy (our problems) and request God to open this bottle for us. Let us also pray for the ability to accept that also the answer may be”NO” because the cany might
disrupt your appetite since the dinner feast is close at hand 🙂

Presence

Bare feet on concrete slabs, underneath the blue, cloudless sky, I hear the roar of engines from the heavens. Tearing through air and space, the black, sharp-looking fighter jets following its trajectory toward the half-intoxicated yet curious crowd. The jets neared and zoomed past us within a mere few seconds; its engines roaring like a loud, angry lion, leaving people utterly terrified and yet in awe by its majestic beauty. Following a heavy round of applause from the extremely satisfied crowd, the Masters of Ceremony proudly listed down all the names of the fighter jet pilots who flew overhead.

Men.

They were all male fighter jet pilots.

Hair still standing at the back of my neck, with eyes wide open in mini-electrifying shocks.

I took a deep breath and sighed out loud.

‘Wow.’

I looked around and saw the reflection of my thoughts from the crowd. Most of them were just as amazed as I was at the air-entertainment showcased at this particular event. The fighter jets made a U-turn and flew back to show off more of its extremely dangerous fighter pilot skills.

One thing was very apparent. One thing I strongly felt at that event.

There was this strong presence of really scary, crazy dominant red-blooded male, adrenaline pumping, masculinity showcased in the air. And yet, from what was felt as an emotional chaos, there was this strong sense of order of execution of the event. How…mind-blowing. It was definitely a sensory overload experience for me.

To be honest, that particular event got me thinking a lot about masculinity. Nobody at that event had to spell it out. It was definitely felt. Or at least, I did.

How do I view masculinity?

Masculinity is; that mechanic guy with oil tainted overalls hard at work every night for three months straight bringing an old, hopeless, run-down truck roaring back to life. It’s those veins etched along the smoothness of the arms that handle heavy cargo boxes all day without complaint. It’s that “I got it” nod to the grateful Asian grandma who needed help carrying her trolley full of vegetable groceries down the stairs. It’s most, if not all, of Quentin Tarantino films (especially Django. Oh! And Inglorious Bastards. As well as The Hateful Eight, Kill Bill, I honestly could name a few more, but, you get it). It’s heavy duty construction work on a hot 38 degrees Celsius workday, deep sea fishing and bringing home massive King fishes, whale hunting, shark feeding, bush-hiking, adrenaline-seeking, artistically riveting, raw and powerful and yet such naturally executed – presence.

Masculinity is; that immediate strong grasp around my shirt collar pulling me back to shore when that strong wave current almost swept me out into the open sea at Natadola Beach. It’s those bruised fists that was more than willing to give another black eye to that ex-guy friend (not boyfriend. There’s a difference) who just didn’t understand that 1 AM was bedtime – not ‘Psst…I wanna tell you something, just come outside mada’ time. It’s the sweat gliding down from his forehead as he continues to drive the digging fork deeper into the earth with the weight of his right foot, planting and harvesting food crops enough to feed the whole neighborhood. The sound and sight of colorful sports cars speeding to the finish line. Of motorbikes flying into the air and through fire-rings. Of farm boys wearing cowboy hats mounting an angry stallion purely for entertainment purposes. Those fighter jet pilots skilled in taming the mechanical beasts of the air.

Masculinity is; seeing his many sons behave like respectful yet diligent young men who respect, protect and look out for their sisters, mothers and grandmothers. Pouring my drink into my glass without me asking. It’s gently pulling me aside, away from everyone, to assertively remind me not to hurt my back lifting those chairs into the meeting room as he’s already organizing it himself. It’s willingly placing my safety and well being as a top priority before his own. Staying healthy and the neatly trimmed beard on his face. How beautifully well put together he is; and the handsome, rugged form of art when he isn’t. The thunder of his laughter uncovering even deeper laugh lines. That rugged scruff I feel against my smooth cheek when I lean in for a kiss hello, and that whiff of that subtle cologne beneath his neatly ironed shirt. That towering height, those wide shoulders, that calm confidence, that strong presence in the room. Those little mindless fidgets with straightening his neck tie, leaning in to discuss points of importance, or clearing his throat before speaking his mind assertively, unbeknownst to the group of eagerly attentive force of femininity slowly conglomerating nearby (and obviously triggered by his presence).

Masculinity is; a terrifying force against the weak, if it doesn’t mature well enough, or at all. It is definitely intimidating to the misunderstood. Yet, in the most common language of love, masculinity is protective, safe, and very warm.

Masculinity.

Masculinity is good.

The struggle is real #Lent2017

When you’ve lived with someone for, lets say, more than twenty years, you tend to predict much of their little lifestyle habits. You know their favorite list of television shows off by heart. You know their favorite drink to sip whilst scrolling through facebook to unwind after a long day at work. You know what they’re going to mumble to themselves before hanging up the phone on one of their close friends. Heck, you can even predict how long they’ll take in the shower. You would know the person inside out just from living together for more than twenty years, given there are a few exceptions of course.

Take for instance, my Dad. Right from age 7, I was well aware of the fact that he disliked sweets. He would lecture all of us kids – not about the dangers of eating too much sweets – but how much he despised sweets, period. He even gave longer lectures when he saw cream buns, chocolate cake, cakes with fancy decorated cream or any cake with cream that was served for afternoon tea. He just didn’t prefer the sweeter side of life. But what he did like, was plain, wholemeal bread. The more boring looking, the more appealing.

Ugh.

But something really weird happened today. Out of the blue, my Dad comes home from work with a plastic filled with blueberry muffins, (my favorite) French Brioche and (my-ultimate-favorite-food-I-swear-I-go-weak-if-I-don’t-have-it-when-it’s-just-sitting-there-on-the-table) Madeira cake (mouth-watering sweetness. ‘Nough said).

But the only problem is, this is unlike my Dad to buy something like sweet food out of the blue. He doesn’t even eat these kinds of sweet food.

So the question is, why did this have to happen today?

What is so special with today that got me scratching my head wondering whether or not Dad would go through all that trouble of spending his precious loose change to buy something he wouldn’t eat himself? Weird, isn’t it?

While no other answer seems legit enough, I do know for a fact that I’ve been looking forward to today since last week.

You see, today is Ash Wednesday.

The day when the Lent season begins. There will be a lot of Christians (including yours truly) across the nation and around the world recommitting themselves to God this season. A special season has commenced for Christians across the nation and around the world. A special season that commenced with the mark of The Cross by Holy Water to the forehead to reaffirm that I belong to God. A special season that commenced with the mark of The Cross traced in the symbolic black ashes. Since Lent is an intimate opportunity to draw closer to God and people with sincere intentions, ensuring that we stay strong against moments of temptation can be a struggle.

 

And once objectives have been established and words of deep reflection parted by the Reverend Dr. at tonight’s Ash Wednesday Service, I come home to my first temptation – sweet food – especially since I’ve always had a soft spot for Madeira cakes and Brioche for the longest time.

I swear, the struggle during Lent this year, is real.

Temptation is already here, sitting in that grey plastic from Woolies, absent-mindedly purchased by Father dearest. Of course I forgive my Dad when he’ll wake up tomorrow morning clearing up his throat to deliver yet another long lecture on how much he despises Brioche and Madeira cake, and possibly (and this is my personal favorite prediction), why didn’t anyone talk him out of it? “Obviously, I was busy talking on the phone and not knowing what I was putting in the trolley. You know how much I hate these kinds of food, why didn’t you say something!?” LOL

sliced-french-brioche-loaf

What do you do if you have only 15 minutes left for class?

What do you do if you have only 15 minutes left for class?

I notice something while preparing for class.

I let that something continue to distract me to the point where I find myself here, writing this blog post instead of packing up and making my way over to class which begins in about 12 minutes now.

So what is this distraction you might ask.

It’s a fellow student standing next to me. His eyes tightly closed behind his thin black rimmed glasses. His hands clasped together against his chest. His lips moving, uttering something as if in prayer.

He stoops to the floor. Kneels on both hands and knees. His head dives down. Right down. His forehead touches the floor. He gets back up again and repeats the whole thing three times or so.

I look around and notice groups of students studying, slurping down water and chatting about recent group work assessments before returning my attention at the student praying next to me.

What a sight to watch. All I see is commitment and real dedication to God.

A part of me is overwhelmed with guilt as I watch him return to his laptop and pile of papers on his desk next to me. I’m suddenly left asking myself, how is my current relationship with God?  Hmm…

 

101 Reasons to stay alive

Because I love and appreciate your existence, here are my 101 reasons to stay alive. Enjoy!

1. Sunrise
2. Sunsets
3. Cute puppies
4. The feeling you get when you tell a funny joke and they laugh
5. Christmas holidays
6. Movie-marathons
7. Strolling to the beach and feeling excited
8. Climbing mango trees
9. Potting mango with your gang after school or work
10. Mango achar, Mango skin, monkey’s ball, Chinese lolly, pawpaw skin
11. Winning random prizes in school, work or club gathering
12. Receiving a genuine compliment for making an effort
13. The feeling you get when you notice your crush staring at you from across the room
14. That wedding you’ve always planned in your head and shared to your gang just for fun
15. Nice flowers
16. Waterfall
17. Playing volleyball at the beach with random strangers who later want to add you on facebook
18. The rush of adrenaline you feel when you’re running towards the beach
19. Roasted chicken wings
20. Roasting marshmallows
21. Bonfires
22. Red velvet cake
23. That random moment when something or someone makes you laugh so hard and you just can’t stop laughing
24. That feeling you get when your favourite clothes fit you perfectly after you’ve worked your beautiful body so hard at the gym
25. Tropical fruit smoothies
26. Hash browns
27. “Catching up sessions” with the ladies or the girls over coffee or dinner
28. The free sauces from Hungry Jacks, Maccas, KFC that you like so much
29. Funny gifs
30. Funny YouTube videos
31. That feeling you get when you got the job and they want you to start immediately
32. There are inspiring and interesting people God has aligned in your life, that you are yet to meet
33. Dancing while making roti whilst listening to your favourite radio station
34. Your favourite song or music
35. That feeling of deep belonging you have when you’re hanging out with a group of Christians who you study the Bible together, pray for each other, attend concerts, camp in the middle of nowhere, drinks at the bar, dinner or National Christian Conferences together
36. Waking up on your cosy bed on a quiet, peaceful Sunday morning
37. Favourite collection of movies like Chocolat, Surfs Up, The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, Blood Diamond, A Walk to Remember etc.
38. French films, Bollywood movies, American rom coms
39. Favourite bands
40. Channing Tatum movies
41. There are ice-cream flavours you haven’t tried yet
42. Pretty cupcakes
43. Pretty shoes
44. Barbeques straight from the street and prepared with extra love
45. Nacho Libre
46. Cute babies
47. Free sweets from neighbours on Diwali
48. Wearing pretty sari’s during Diwali because you love getting all dolled up
49. Firecrackers at night during Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Shows
50. Merry-go-rounds and fun rides
51. Taking a selfie in the bathroom with your gang
52. The feeling you get when you facebook stalk people you find interesting
53. Using your favourite photo filter
54. Photoshop
55. There are lipsticks you haven’t tried yet
56. There are meals and exotic food you haven’t tried yet
57. There are pretty cars you haven’t seen yet
58. Your favourite authors and people who inspire you to be better
59. Your favourite Marvel comic superheroes
60. Mascara
61. Constantly new break-throughs: within the past 10 years, you’ve experienced free Wi-Fi, Apple computers, A Black President of the United States, Facebook, Nandos, Temple Run – and it’s only just the beginning of greater things to come
62. Athletics carnival, Cokes
63. Festivals!
64. The smell of lovo after church service on Sunday
65. Vaka lolo, Sivaro, Fakei
66. Lolo bun
67. Singing in the shower
68. Cold showers
69. Steamy hot showers before bed
70. The smell of coffee in the morning
71. Chilling in the bath tub with a good book on a Friday night
72. Barrack and Michelle Obama
73. Free Wi-Fi
74. Cover songs
75. X-Factor, American Idol (be inspired, disgusted or amused by performances)
76. Funny facebook confessions
77. Watching rugby live
78. Watching rugby over grog
79. When your best friend is happy
80. Warm hugs
81. Those funny moments of watching horror movies or telling scary stories at night and that one kid in the group asks you to escort them to the bathroom because they need to pee
82. Jamming sessions
83. Window shopping
84. There are still some things about your ancestors you haven’t learned yet
85. Seeing money in your bank account
86. Getting paid
87. Singing in the church choir
88. Singing ‘Ni Toro Mai Turaga’ to yourself
89. The feeling you get when you close your eyes to ask God for something
90. Miracles
91. Mozilla Firefox
92. Facebook notifications
93. Snapchat
94. The feeling you get when you finished your morning or afternoon run
95. The feeling you have when your crush sends you a friend request
96. The feeling you get when your crush likes your photos
97. When you can’t stop smiling because you know that somebody you like actually cares about you
98. Because people do care about you. I mean, blog post reference
99. Lifeline is free AND available 24/7. 13 11 14 if you want to talk.
100. The people at Headspace are young, share similar experiences and are willing to help you. You are NEVER alone. Google them, check out their activities on twitter and see how you can get involved.

101. Because you are destined for greatness.

Peace and Love
~MVB~

Blessed Good Friday!

Blessed Good Friday, folks 🙂

The Easter recount begins with last night’s Maundy Thursday service at our home church. Maundy Thursday is also known as Holy Thursday, where we commemorate the intimate moment shared by Jesus and his disciples in the Last Supper and remember the night He was betrayed by one of his own. For the record, I was not present at Maundy Thursday as around about that time, I was in a conversation with one of the registrars of the Supreme Court, discussing gender rights issues in New Delhi (a fun thing to do on the eve of the long weekend, I know).

Maundy Thursday
The congregation were quietly ushered and seated into the church hall. Apart from the organized station at the church courtyard, the first few things one notices are the set of brightly lit candles in the front area of the hall, the soft music, the neatly organized seats and the soft ambience emanating from the dimly lit hall.

A Bible reader narrated the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. After the reading, the Reverend Doctor – who is our home church minister – and one of the elders (who happens to be a scientist by profession – and the most amazing scientist I have ever met!), promptly poured water into large basins with towels ready.

Our home church minister was going to wash our feet while our church elder had the duty to wash our hands. They called us to come forward and have the option of having our feet or hands washed in water and towel dried by our church leaders.

A few of the congregation members stepped forward. One of my brothers had his feet washed by the Reverend Doctor, while my other brother opted to have his hands washed by the church elder.

I find this practice of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples very confronting. But it is from these out-of-this-world acts that I can distinguish the way the world thinks and operates on certain worldviews. John 13:12b-17 encapsulate Jesus’ point:

Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

A confronting challenge, indeed.

After the mindful experience of having our feet and hands washed by our church leaders, one of the Bible readers narrated the story of Jesus sharing the last supper with his disciples. Soon after, the congregation were promptly served by caterers with a choice of pumpkin soup, miso soup or potato and mushroom soup before a basket of various kinds of bread (from wholemeal, to multi-grain to plain buns) were passed around.  The church ate as they quietly reflected on the meaningful experience the last supper could have meant to Jesus and his disciples.

As members of the congregation narrated each Bible reading one by one, each candle were steadily put out.  The hall room was now dark – somewhat taken to portray the betrayal that was to occur in the later stages of the narrative.

It was in this heartfelt darkness of silence that our Maundy Thursday church service concluded. Maundy Thursday was unlike anything my family had experienced before with Easter worship services in the past. So you can only imagine how enlivened they all were to share deep and meaningful reflections of Easter on the road back home.

Good Friday
The road to church around 9 o’clock this morning had that calm, peaceful Sunday kind of vibe. The Greek Orthodox Church down town crowded the roadside with a street march accompanied by police supervision to re-enact Christ’s journey to the cross.

I peered out of the car window as we drove past them thinking, man, what an amazing feeling to show your faith in a densely populated metropolitan neighborhood filled with all sorts of people from rich and diverse backgrounds and beliefs.  It was such a spiritually enriching picture.

This led me to think about what our home church would be doing for our Good Friday service.

I get that it’s the long weekend which is the perfect time to pump up the volume and party like a rock-star, but the extended days off held a significant meaning to me. It was so personal that I took it upon myself to dress the appropriate attire. Turns out, wearing a black dress to the Good Friday service, was probably not a good idea. You’ll soon find out why.

When we arrived at church, two greeters each holding a small basket filled with nails, stood by the entrance with genuinely warm smiles of welcome as they politely motioned to us to pick a nail from their tiny basket. I was only met with even more wider smiles after probing the greeters with a questioning look.

I see how it is, I thought to myself.  They were not going to tell me the reason behind the nail. Well in hindsight, they only had one job to do: to give attendees a nail each. Nothing more, nothing less.

Curiosity beginning to peak, I deftly picked a nail from the basket and walked respectfully into the church before quietly slipping into one of the pews. The church was again, dimly lit – minus the romantic vibe – with the sombre atmosphere widely triggered by the soft music playing in the background by our home church musicians. Who knew you could play beautiful music from using only a piano and a clarinet? It was complementary musical duo in action.

Laying on a white linen covered table by the podium, was a massive, dark colored Cross with a purple cloth loosely draped across the arms. Purple and black are two of the gloomiest colors I know, which kind of blended in with the whole sombre vibe.

As I sat in the pew next to a brilliant youth leader (she is so brilliant, she delivered a powerful sermon last week on Palm Sunday emphasizing God’s commandment to love one another) I thought of God’s relationship with people like me – flaws and all.  I fidgeted around with the sharp, cold object in my hand whilst deep in thought.

You know, if you think about it, how can something so pure, so Holy, so awesome, offer a part of Himself to die, just so a mere mortal who is prone to weakness could live a life of joy, abundance and fruitfulness?  And I thought the lyrics to Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy in Love’ was obsessive enough, but this?

This is the only love story where the hero dies for the villain.

This was real crazy love. Nothing can top this one.

After the selected Bible readers narrated Jesus’ journey from the night he was betrayed to the Cross where He was to be crucified, it was now time for us to make our way up to the front where the cross lay.

At this point, any known sign of my serious composure was slowly ebbing away.

Apart from the subtle futile attempts to stop the torrent of tears escaping, I had to remind myself to get my shit together. I immediately regretted wearing my black dress. I should have worn something that would probably not add to the heavy sadness in the air and eventually betray my serious composure by opening the flood gates of ‘TearDom City’.

With the cold, sharp nail in my now sweaty hand, I got up and joined the long winding single file of people that solemnly made their way up to the podium where the Cross lay.

Stepping onto the podium, I stole a glimpse over my shoulder to capture the long line of people behind me with their heads hung and shoulders dropped in sadness.

It was now my turn.  Just me at the foot of the Cross.  It was such a powerful, symbolic moment for me to experience.

I lowered my gaze down to the Cross that lay before me, took a half-hearted step forward, and drove the cold, sharp nail into the styrofoam body of the Cross

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before momentarily stepping aside, giving way to others to have their moment.  The walk back to the pew somehow felt longer than usual.

As we silently left the church, the Reverend Doctor stood by the entrance, as all church ministers and church leaders do for handshakes. I asked him if I could skip the handshake as I had tears, mucous and sweat in my hands.

To my complete surprise, I was met instead, with a comforting embrace.

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Speaks volumes, doesn’t it? (Note to self, bring handkerchief next time)

Stay safe this Easter long weekend, folks 🙂

 

MVB