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Ramble No. 7:

I’ve had an interesting life. Born in London, moving back to Yemen at a  very young age, travelling in between with mom home-schooling us half the year until it was time to learn Arabic grammar and algebra, that’s where she drew the line. Apparently we also adamantly insisted we have a more stable education so we can have time with regular friends. Also, I would tackle 6 months worth of homework within days. We settled in Yemen so we could attend regular schools and we would only visit England during the summers, some winters and any long holidays in between.

I remember not accepting it at first. It all seemed so backward compared to England. We lived in the capital, Sana’a in the North. Arguably, more backward than the rest of the country. The South was colonised by the British until about 30 years before I came into the world and when it was liberated, you could still see so many aspects of it remained. The north on the other hand was still somewhat tribal and traditional. I loved it nonetheless.

For one, Southerners tended to value education more and appreciated and respected women more. Over the years and being away from Yemen now, I do not agree with this. Out of my own experiences, I believe the North values women just the same, perhaps more than the South.

I wasn’t a conventional girl living in Yemen. I did not dress traditionally (or religiously) nor did I adhere to cultural norms. I was far too loud, I’ve always spoken my mind, most of my friends were boys (increasingly so as I grew up), I dated, I ventured where women did not do so and the list goes on. I was a rebel and I knew it, yet almost everyone I encountered showed me absolute respect. Sometimes they even voiced that they would not offend me due to my gender which seemed ironic to state as the reason but, obviously, irony is fine with me.

I loved Yemen, I still do and I know that even if the war doesn’t end during my life time, Yemen will always hold the biggest part of my heart. It shaped me into who I am today. It’s streets will always be the image I see in my head when I’m crossing any road. The hustle and bustle of Sana’a at midday is what I will yearn for no matter what city I’m in. Everytime I hear clanking metal I’ll flashback to the man banging a little wrench against the side of an empty gas canister, wheeling a barrow full them through neighbourhoods for anyone who needed to replace theirs because you needed one plugged into your stove to cook – no internal gas mains!


I spent countless days bored and staring at a wall while the electricity shut off. The length of time this happened shifted from day to day and when there was any political conflict or a plan to increase power charges on the public, these cuts seemed to last the entire day or days on end! Where there is no electricity, there is no hot water so we had to remember to keep the water heater on while we had power because the generators couldn’t power the heater and the rest of the house at the same time; TV or water heater, water pump or internet. We had to make little choices like these but in a house of more than 2 people, priorities seemed to conflict. After turning 15, priority was always Internet. Who needs a shower when you can troll online? Who needs the heater on when you can keep your laptop on your lap to keep you warm while you tweet absolute nonsense? It’s funny that no matter what part of the world you talk about, teenagers around 2006-2012 all have similar priorities.

But when the power was off for days at a time and diesel was a rarity; either no where to be found or too expensive for regular consumption, generators did not roar on throughout the day, instead, if you were lucky enough to get some diesel to run it then you switched it on to charge things up, maybe to get the water heater going or use the blender or shaver, etc. But you would spend the rest of the day with no power. Usually, this made the teens flock to cafes and restaurants because they could usually afford to keep their generators running, or they had two separate electricity lines running so that when the power went off on one grid, they switched to the other avoiding use of their generators until both grids are off which didn’t really happen until the recent political turmoil.

I still appreciate the times when the power went off and I’d spent all my allowance (or got grounded which I was quite often) so I’d have to stay home and figure out what to do. After a while, my mom would prefer us to have our friends over. She’d give us complete privacy to be stupid kids as we pleased and she did not limit the amount of people we could have over. If you’ve seen my social interactions post, you’ll know I wasn’t a loner, not at all. Even now when I speak with old friends, they’re surprised to hear I don’t go everywhere (or stay at home) with a bunch of people and I am instead often in my own company. After some time, my house became the hang out spot for very close friends (i.e. 20-40 people at any given time). We had fun, even if we did nothing but sit on the roof and watch the houses nearby, talk about ridiculous things, figure out each other’s lives, snack to no end and mostly, decide what to do when the power was back on!

I miss all these things but what I miss the most is the rainy season. Being a backward country, we didn’t really have a system to direct rainwater generally except through the old city. It was used as a road except when there was heavy rainfall which I absolutely loved. I understand a Westerner would describe such rainfall as a typhoon with the size of the raindrops and the temperature but it was just normal rain to us. I miss that. I miss actually getting drenched in that rain within seconds.



It was mostly made up of cobblestones but led off onto tarmac roads. I remember driving down there when I first learned how to drive and I was told to be very careful because it had started to rain and it was getting very slippery. The nostalgia is sometimes paralysing because it was a place so full of life and the memories are intense. Anytime of day, if I close my eyes, I can imagine being in any part of the city and I can hear the same sounds, cars honking their horns in traffic, people yelling random words across the road at each other because somehow they all knew each other. In a city filled with some 2-3 million people, it was strange that everytime you met someone new, you found out they grew up around your cousin or best friend. The smells (except in areas that lacked proper drainage!).

I miss it all. I miss the parts I was lucky enough to see and the parts I never got to. I hope the war doesn’t destroy much more because it was all so beautiful before it was torn to shreds.


*****None of the pictures are mine, sorry don’t know the sources but most can be found through a simply google search of the country.*****

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The people in your life really mess you up 

Ramble No.6:

We don’t realise these things as they’re happening, we don’t realise how some events affect our lives but they do. 

I find it very difficult to trust a partner or even a friend. I am thankful that I’ve had and retained some priceless friendships. They decreased overtime, as they do for most people and having had to vacate my home myself as well as most of my friends, distance has played its role in weeding out the weaker friendships. I am beyond thankful for this clean out. It means I am left with the connections that are not affected by distance or intermittent communication. It is hard trying to stay in touch considering we are all adults now, we have our own lives, our jobs, families and the time distance only adds onto that.

Through life, I have been surrounded by so many different types of relationships, even if not directly connected to me, they have touched my life and the way that I perceive future connections.

My issues about relationships have been questioned and pointed out by many people over time. And over that time, I have come to understand myself more and more. It’s just a normal part of growing up. Distancing myself from people after having been constantly  surrounded by people has taught me to listen to myself more. What do I really want from life? What do I really want from myself? What do I want for myself? It’s a harsh realisation really digging into the darkest parts of your mind and the next morning, being able to accept who you are, what you have done, what you want to do, where you want to be and what you are willing to do to get to that place. It requires more strength than would be to accept others.

I know I have trust issues for several reasons. It is difficult to trust that people can be any type of constant in my life when so many different kinds of people have left. My brother and I watched one of the most influential relationships in our life unravel throughout our entire childhood, heard all the fights, watched all manner of abuse (and sustained some ourselves) and this has inevitably effected us.

Beyond this, I have watched as close relatives and friends went through their short-lived relationships (of all kinds) and watched as those relationships unravelled and destroyed them. Sometimes, I was there to help pick up the pieces. I watched some of my closest friends give up parts of them only to be discarded as if they never held any worth. The few aforementioned friends I still have, although I am not physically present to watch their relationships form and fall apart, I get to hear/read about it during our short conversations and it hurts just as much knowing they have once again been shattered. I’ve helped a friend through a very rough breakup. I’ve sat next to friends against a wall on the floor with their knees curled up to their chests, struggling to breathe, becoming dehydrated, not understanding how such pain was possible, not being able to form any words, sometimes struggling to make any sound at all. I’ve watched friends drink their young lives away and become reliant on drugs to get through their days, to get through conversations, to be able to sleep, to be able to stay awake, to be able to go to classes, get through assignments, go to work, get through meetings… I have watched their families fall apart bit by bit. I have picked up the phone to be asked to pick friends up when their houses no longer feel like home and I still watch as they attempt to find a replacement.

I have myself tried to escape to them on several occasions and every time, I felt more at home at other people’s houses, in the company of their parents, more than I ever did at home. Although we were young and these things happen when you’re young, it still affects your future outlook, reactions and even your expectations.

These things continue with you unless you learn to understand them, accept them and move past them. Learn to understand why you close yourself off from people; if you have been hurt in your life, you automatically put up a wall. You end up isolating yourself, you automatically assume you know how things will work out because you have gone through so many different situations, you have heard those words before, you know what comes after a certain action – or at least you think you do. It’s hard to push yourself to give a person the benefit of the doubt when pain has moulded your mind and taught you how to act, how to defend yourself and minimise the pain. It’s a struggle pushing past your automatic defence armour. However, sometimes you have to. You have to nurture some faith that may be a situation will turn out differently to what you have known. Even if it doesn’t end on a high note, it’ll teach you that things won’t always follow the template you have built up in your head.

It is difficult to understand what you want when all you know is that something in your life is missing. If every time you think of it as an empty place inside you, it remains an empty place that can only be filled by something that you have not yet come across. Try not to fill that place with a person – people leave – unless that person is you. Sometimes you have to find little things, you have to find out what makes you tick, what excites you, what makes you feel whole and do that. Just keep doing the things that make life more bearable, more fun, more worthwhile and that will slowly fill up that hole. You will slowly realise you no longer feel that same void anymore, even if it takes a while. It makes sense that something so important, something as valuable as feeling complete will take time and effort so go and dedicate time to yourself.

Every time you feel positive energy, every time something puts you in a good place, realise what it is, realise why it makes you feel good. That might just be one of that things that you put on that list of things that will fill you up with happiness and peace. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for and we have to appreciate and care for ourselves.

 

 

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Always feel free to share your thoughts/stories/ideas here. I hope everyone is having a good weekend!

A place

Ramble No. 5:

Sometimes it’s a place that already exists, some void that needs filling. A place in your life that’s already there and simply needs to be occupied by caring for another person. For others, a place is created, specifically moulded to fit a specific person. 

We all experience pain in different ways. We are human and we fall in love. We can’t help it. More often than not, a person will experience love more than once, more than one type of love and in most cases, that relationship will not end well. In every such case, that will leave a scar and a gap if not several. Also in most cases, we will try to heal the scar and fill in the gap(s). This in itself can lead to the formation is further gaps, creating a sense of emptiness. The more that we try to understand the emptiness, the more we try to name it, the harder it becomes to rid ourselves of it.

We are human and for most of us, we feel incomplete by our lonesome because we feel incomplete even with others. This will push us to find meaning in everything that we do, meaning in life. But if we’re so stuck in our heads trying to figure out our ever-evolving selves, trying to figure out our ever changing lives, won’t we forget to live? By the time we start to understand these, won’t we have missed so much of our lives? So much of how amazingly changed we have become?

How much time do we spend trying to figure things out only to reach a point where we understand that we aren’t meant to understand every single action we decide to take. Or, every single event that takes place.

I was wondering earlier this week whether there was a magical button most of my friends have pushed to sort out their lives. How they seem to have figured their lives out but, really, I think almost all of us are in the same rut. We overcome one challenge only to be presented with another. Yet, we are stuck in procrastination for the majority of our days. We do this even though we are being productive in our lives; trying to figure something out during the commute to work, trying to understand what prompted you to take a certain action whilst on hold during a work call, trying to figure out how to respond to a text/email while doing the laundry and the list goes on.

When we can’t understand our own actions, why do we spend so much time trying to understand the actions of others? When it takes so long to untangle the web of our own thoughts, what makes us think that if we spend enough time, we can understand what someone else is thinking? Human curiosity is such a wonderful thing. We believe we can accomplish something so extremely difficult and knock the idea of accomplishing little things. Would it not be easier to take a problem-solving approach – an event has taken place due to certain actions, what is the solution now? Instead of spending ages trying to figure out how, what and why the actions that caused the event happened in the first place?

You have been hurt. There is a gap for each hurt that’s been inflicted upon you. Instead of thinking about the what, the why, the how, why not think of what you want now? What is in your life now? Who is in your life now? How is your life changing now?

We spend so much time in our heads that sometime in the near, or indeed the distant future, we will wish we had paid attention to now. This is because what happens now will not become part of our future unless we want it to, unless we choose for it to.

Don’t miss your present stuck in your past or your future. If you don’t pay attention to your present and play an active part in how it goes, your future is highly unlikely to be what you want it to. What do you want those gaps to be filled with? What kind of person do you want in your life? What is it about your present that you would like to continue into your future?

This approach will not solve all your life problems. You are most likely going to continue wondering and procrastinating and spending an inordinate amount of time over thinking things but at least life, people, events won’t pass you by whilst you are stuck in your own head. Make it yours.

Take the time to enjoy the little things happening now. Usually, they don’t remain for long.

These are things I always bang on about, mostly because changing the way I approach life has helped lessen the stress I feel, it has made life so much more enjoyable. It doesn’t take much to slowly change the way you see things, to change the way you react. This does take some time and effort and it can be a slow process but you can feel the change quite quickly once you’ve started to make those changes. It feels like taking a step in the right direction to finally arriving at your inner peace so I believe this is worth some effort.

I hope that this is as helpful for others as it has been for me.