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I almost didn’t survive my first day on my own in a foreign country

16 Apr

I didn’t think I would survive my first day on my own in a foreign country.

I woke up nauseous, dehydrated, and overwhelmed. My first thought was to get water, so I took a cold shower to try to shake my nerves off, and went downstairs to ask where I could buy some. The young girl at the front desk didn’t speak much English and pointed me in the direction I should head. I swallowed hard realizing that this was the first time I was in a country that I didn’t speak the language, and that I was alone. I mentally prepared myself to wander in the quest of water. The sun threatened to reign down past the overcast at any moment so I didn’t have much time. What if I fainted? Would I be robbed? Licked endlessly by the adorable but filthy stray puppies that littered the streets? Is this how people got rabies?

I headed down the unpaved road and found a small shop immediately adjacent to the hotel. I sighed in relief. I wasn’t going to die. Not like this.

The shop owner nodded and greeted me with a “Sawa dee”.

“Water?” I asked, wondering if I should have practised my miming skills.

He reached into a fridge and pulled out a water bottle. I inspected the label and the lid remembering that in Slumdog Millionaire foreigners were scammed by the locals who would refill old water bottles with tap water and reseal the lids. Sure, I found water with ease, but I didn’t want to end up with salmonella or e coli.

The bottle looked legitimate enough.

“How much?” I asked

“5 baht.”

I reached for my wallet, watching everyone from the corner of my eye. Not that I would know what to do if they actually pulled something. But I just wanted them to know I had my eye on them.

“I only have one thousand baht”. I pulled out the note. The storeowner starting laughing and peered into my wallet but all I had in there was American and Canadian currency and a coin from South Korea that I wasn’t sure he would take. He continued to laugh and spoke in Thai which made me uneasy. I wanted to tell him that when I got to the airport the exchange counter was closed and that I had to use an ATM. I didn’t know the machine would spit out a single 1000 baht bill. I didn’t even know those existed. But I didn’t know how to say that or how to mime that so he would understand.

A young boy came to me and took my note and disappeared into the back. I stood, unsure of what would happen next. Is that how easy it is to get robbed here? Someone comes to you, you give them your money, and they walk away with your money? He returned shortly after with change for me. I counted the change but had trouble because the bills were so new to me. I stuffed the foreign bills and coins into my wallet and ran back to my room with my water.

***

After I was hydrated enough I felt ready to search for food. Food under 995 baht, of course. I was still anxious about being in a new place and I didn’t entirely trust my sense of direction (how do you say “help I’m lost and sweaty and hungry” in Thai?) but I told myself I had to be brave and couldn’t live in the constrains of my room forever.

So I headed towards the main road and wandered yet again. I passed by some non-Thais (i.e. white people) and wanted to jump onto them and beg them to be my friend and save me but I restrained myself. I also stopped myself from running into the first Starbucks I saw and I think I deserve a lot of credit for that. I found a 24 hours café called Tom n Toms and headed inside. (I now realize that this café is the Thai equivalent of Starbucks because it was pretty pricey compared to other places).

I ordered a ham sandwich. I don’t like ham but it was the only thing I recognized on the menu and figured I was falling below my needs for protein after 22 hours of travelling. I took my first bite and wanted to vomit. I was still nauseous and uneasy. Is it too late to get on the next flight back home? I asked myself. I put the sandwich down and took a sip of my overly sweet iced tea which literally shook me.

Tom N Toms

Diabetes iced tea and untampered water

And then something remarkable happened.

Beyoncé’s Single Ladies came on the café radio and I felt a sudden sense of relief and calm. I knew that song! (and most of the dance moves from the music video, shhh) Beyoncé reminded me to be courageous and fierce -just like her alter ego Sasha Fierce– and that the world isn’t that scary of a place. She reminded me why came to Thailand in the first place.

Thank you, Beyoncé, for saving me. Is there anything you can’t do?

beyonce pad thai

Beyonce pad THAI! Get it, get it?!

 

 

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An Open Letter to Anyone that Ate my Cookies

30 Dec

Casa de Saaqshi presents:

White Chocolate & Raspberry Shortbread Pizza-Cookies.

I love pizza and I’ve never baked before so my brain got a little confused. BUT, like Pfizer discovered the unique side effects of a little hypertension drug named Viagra, I discovered this inventive masterpiece. Enjoy!

 

photo 2-2

 

Okay, so here’s what really happened:

My cookies are not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination.

At first this made me feel like an utter failure. I went in guns-a-blazing and gung-ho on an idea that I thought was sure to kill it, so ya, I was disappointed in myself. I’ve never baked before (besides pizza), so some might even think I was overzealous and deluded to think I could reinvent the wheel. Did I share this sentiment when I saw my non-cookie shaped creation? Sure. Did I let the steam of the oven evaporate my tears and the exhaust fan muffle my sobs? I’ll never admit to that.

photo 1

This mess right here broke my heart

 

Should I have practised beforehand? Maybe. But if I did, maybe I would have been too cautious and too afraid to take a risk. Maybe I would have lost the initial excitement, that spark that leads to all great ideas. Maybe I would have convinced myself not to bake at all. That, my friends, would be a greater tragedy than my cookies. Cookies that are quite possibly still raw on the inside. (I’m sure they’re fine. You can’t get food poisoning from eating uncooked flour, right?).

So I will brazenly leave these cookies here. You are not obligated to eat them. But, just know that they have every right to be here. I made a choice. A choice to walk in with my head held high and leave my pizza-cookies with the ranks of yours.

It’s moments like these that define us. I went rogue. And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it cuz YOLO.

braveheart

Seriously though, I won’t be offended if you don’t eat them. I totally get it.

Confessions of a Ghost Writer

26 Nov
This pic has nothing to do with this post. It was just a cool show. A cool show about a ghost living in your computer that communicated via a word processor.

This pic has nothing to do with this post. It was just a cool show. A cool show about a ghost living in your computer that communicated via a word processor.

Ghost Writers are in high demand and ghost writing is a lucrative business.   Clients can ask for anything from blog posts, to essays, to full-blown novels. And people are willing to pay good money to take credit for your work.

I was a Ghost Writer for a brief period of time. Although I won’t divulge on whom I worked for or what I was asked to produce, I will say that I had a nice pocket of savings by the time I was done.

I never set out to be a Ghost Writer, it just kind of happened. People realized that I was good at writing, and that I could write about topics that I knew very little about with a little bit of research. And I could do it fast.

Eventually, conversations changed from “Hey can you help edit…” to “How much do you want to just do this for me?”. From there, the word spread and my evenings and weekends were booked.

I was on a high. I felt like I was finally winning in life and that I had a skill that was directly useable and valuable, and this was a foreign feeling for me. I was no longer that awkward Indian person that got picked last in gym class and people were surprised spoke English. I was climbing that ladder. I was a hustler and I was racking in the dough and the respect.

I was basically Jay-Z.

Basically.

Basically.

But gradually, I lost the thrill that came with hussling and being a badass. Although I felt like a genius whipping out piece after piece of stellar work, I felt a dullness in my chest. I tried to convince myself that I was not a bad person, and that all of this work was actually helping me by challenging me and making me a better writer.

BART: I thought I'd be jumping for joy the day Skinner left, but, now all I have is this weird hot feeling in the back of my head. LISA: That's guilt. You feel guilty because your stunt wound up costing a man his job. BART: Yeah, I guess it is guilt. (Close up of a spider biting the back of Bart's head.)

BART: I thought I’d be jumping for joy the day Skinner left, but, now all I have is this weird hot feeling in the back of my head.
LISA: That’s guilt. You feel guilty because your stunt wound up costing a man his job.
BART: Yeah, I guess it is guilt.
(Close up of a spider biting the back of Bart’s head.)

 

And then I got shot. Not for real, but metaphorically. I’m Jay-Z, remember? I got shot like in the 99 Problems video.

Right...there!

Right…there!

One of the first pieces I ever pimped out ended up getting published. The person I wrote it for was glowing with joy, and gave me a copy of the publication like I was Dexter and needed a trophy or something. Any millisecond of pride I felt was lost after reading my own words, months later. Reliving the flow those beautifully arranged words hurt me because it wasn’t my name under the title.

My excitement for my new found place in the world was gone and replaced with deep resentment. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs THIS IS MY WORK, I DESERVE THE CREDIT, NOT YOU! ME ME ME! SOMEBODY HIRE ME TO WRITE AS MYSELF AND SOMEBODY CARE ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!

After that, I tapered off the number of clients I was working for until there were none.

Ghost writing isn’t all-bad, I don’t think. Some people just don’t have the time to write, or just aren’t able to write, which is a shame because they may have something very important to say. It’s the people like this that you can really help out, if you’re looking at this business from an altruistic perspective. But then there are others who just don’t want to put in the work at all. The ones that never manage their time in order to meet a deadline, or think they can buy their way through life.

A successful Ghost Writer probably doesn’t care if their clients are in the first or second category. In the end, I just wasn’t cut out to be one of those types of people, my pride got in the way, and I was just too high up on my horse to look down.

I am an artist, damn it.

There’s a thin line between a sense of self-entitlement and knowing you can do better. Being a Ghost Writer made me see the distinction more clearly.

Yes, very much so.

Yes, very much so.

 

 

The Chronicles of Ageing: The Hipster Concert

9 May

I am clearly getting old.

It wasn’t until I got into my car on Tuesday at 4:35 pm that I realized what I had gotten myself into. As I buckled up and placed my bag down onto the passenger’s seat – excited to go home and nap in front of the television – I saw them. Two print-outs for concert tickets for that very night.

I cursed my past-self for thinking it was appropriate to go out on a weekday. I’m too old for this now. I’m so old that I actually print out tickets rather than using my smart phone to get into places (I’m sorry, but I aint paying for data!).

So I made my way downtown to meet my slightly-younger friend and concert-escort for the night. I hate having to commute downtown, it’s just the worst.

I got to Kipling Station at about 5 pm and thankfully had the sense to leave my giant mom-purse in the trunk of my car and swap my essentials – money, phone, hand sanitizer, Advil, chap stick (note that I did not say lip gloss. Lip gloss is sticky and impractical)- into my Emergency Travel Purse. And yes, I have an Emergency Travel Purse in my car.

Including the ‘prep time’ before getting on train, the minor subway delay, and travel time, I made it to Ossington Station at 5:25.

I met my friend, we had a moderately priced dinner, and I begged her to stop at Starbucks so I could 1) refuel and 2) sit for a little bit because we were doing a whole lot of walking.

We decided that although the doors to the Mod Club would open at 7, there was no way the action was going to start right away. Besides, 2 people were opening for main band. So we should totally be there for 8. That would be perfect.

At 8:02 we were I.D-ed and let into the practically empty venue.

There was a blonde on stage that was probably 17 years old. She would stop her singing and have conversations with the audience. And she giggled a lot, usually at her own jokes. Although I’m sure she’s very nice, and I could tell she had a wonderful voice, I found her to be incredibly annoying. Like c’mon, it’s already 8:45, do your set and get off the stage!

The empty spaces started filling in when the second performer went up with his guitar. He was a lot more direct with his act. However, I wasn’t very pleased with his appearance. When he first came up, I thought he was there to clean the stage. His had bed-head (I have now been informed that this is ‘cool’) and came out in a plain brown t-shirt and jeans. He kept scratching his head, thus further messing up his hair, and he just looked like the kind of guy that would smell and not wear shoes to public places. And he probably didn’t shower because he wanted to save the Rainforest or something, I don’t know. He sang a few songs about heartbreak, love, nature, and needing to find his spirit animal or something or other. Watching his face as he sang was painful, I thought he was going to pop a vein in his neck. He tensed his face so much it physically made me uncomfortable. Like this guy took himself waaay too seriously. And oh my God, the freaking fan girls in the front. “I love you!” “I want to have your babies!”. Calm down and think about your life choices for a minute, have some self-respect.

Realizing that I was clearly a misfit in the crowd and needing a break, I went over to the bar for a drink. A drink of water, that is, because it’s important to stay hydrated in unfamiliar and crowded places. I paid $4 for that bottle of water. Hello? Water should be free! Ugh.

On my way back from the bar took in my surroundings a little more. There was a girl wearing a blanket, a guy wearing a tan sweatshirt with a lion’s face paired with a multicoloured trucker’s hat, lots of oversized plastic framed glasses that may or may not have been prescribed by a optometrist, and the guy in front of me had a miniature bun in his hair. It was forced, and premature, and utterly frustrating to have to look at.

A group of girls near me spent 10 minutes taking selfies, constantly getting really close to me and making me feel super awkward. Ten minutes! All up in my space and completely unaware of their surroundings. I wanted to take their phone away, toss it in my bag and tell them that they could get it back when they learned some manners.

And the couple next to me! Oh my God! This is one of those “you had to be there” moments but I will try to explain it. The girl came with her girlfriends and the boyfriend seemed to have tagged along because he just loves his girlfriend so so much and can’t bear to be without her. She would be chatting with her girls and the whole time he would be rubbing her back in large circular motions. Like non-stop. I don’t know how his arm didn’t fall off from exhaustion. She would lean forward, he would lean into her. She would step aside and he would side-step with her, or reach out to her, even putting himself off balance, all while continuing that circle rub. Arg! It was so annoying, and once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop noticing it, kept seeing it from the corner of my eyes. It’s like he would die if he took his hand off of her for a second. I wanted to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get him two beers to hold so he would stop touching her.

It was 9:45 and I was getting even more agitated. My feet hurt from standing in one spot and my ears hurt from the music. And the band still wasn’t up yet. I had to keep moving my legs and semi-squat to get the blood flowing. My friend was getting annoyed too and yelled out “Some of us have work tomorrow, you know!”.

I was so over it.

The band came on at 10:15 which would have been an acceptable time for me if it wasn’t a weekday, I wasn’t just standing for 2 hours, and I didn’t have a long commute home. We listened to a few songs, said goodbye to the Hipsters and headed home.

I got home at 12 am and woke up with lower back pain and a leg cramp. I was cranky all day at work.

I’m such a grandma. I’m going to the movies next time. At least I get to sit down.

 

I don’t want to be sick

19 Mar

I don’t want to be sick die

I often fear getting old, becoming weak and vulnerable; or even dying young from the dreaded C word with nothing to show for my meager existence. Over the years I’ve noticed the wrinkles on my parents hands and have realized that they are slower and more tired than they were before, and it only draws more attention to my own sore back and the laugh lines that peer from below the surface of my skin. They’re becoming less and less bashful and remind me that I am in fact an adult and can no longer, for practical reasons, be careless and carefree.

So with panic in my throat, and denial in the back of my head, I moisturize, hydrate, and update myself on the latest antioxidants and Superfoods. Yet despite these cautions, I still put myself in less-than-ideal situations for my survival.

I struggle to breathe sometimes.

Not because this fear and responsibility overwhelms and consumes me, but because my body physically doesn’t allow me to breathe. It’s too protective, and even more neurotic than my mind, and thinks harmless things – dust, cats, cold, humidity – are out to get me. So my bronchioles overreact and tighten, hiding from the imminent danger that isn’t there.

I’ve had asthma all my life, but that hasn’t kept me from hanging out with the cool smokers and playing with the sassy feline that very well could send me to the emergency room again. I pretend I’m ok and that the cough is just a cold that is coming on, and I’ll be able to sleep it off. I skip my medication because I ‘don’t need it’, and sit in the backyard in the summer rather than in the air-conditioned safety of the indoors because vitamin D will combat any ill effects of ragweed.

The magnitude of my condition didn’t hit me until recently when a chest X-ray came back showing what looked like fibrosis in my lungs.

My lungs are scarred. Lung tissue that’s been scarred won’t regenerate. I’ve reduced my already limited capacity to breathe by being stupid. What exactly this means for me, I don’t know. But a few fears may materialize.

I will never have a dog.

I won’t be able to go outside if it’s too hot, too cold, too dry, or too wet.

I will have to hold my breath every time I leave a bar or restaurant until I pass the congregation of smokers that hang out by the doors.

I won’t be able to exercise or be active spontaneously because I need to time my inhaler dosing.

I am going to create a super sterile living environment to protect myself from asthma which will end up promoting asthma in my children.

There will be an apocalypse and I will fail epically at Survival of the Fittest when my nemesis blows dust in my face and kicks my inhaler out of the reach of my extended arm after I collapse to the floor grasping my chest.

I am not healthy.

reaching-hand

I understand that there are far worse things that could have been said to me in that waiting room that day, and I understand that there are far worse things that people need to live with and die from. Maybe I just feel that this is just the beginning of the dark road of invincibility, for myself and for my parents, and I’m not ready to accept that yet. I’m not ready to give up control.

But I know that panic and dread will only make things worse and take away from the quality of my life. The last time I had to go to the emergency room with shortness of breath, the intern who saw me wore a “Keep Breathing, Keep Loving” sweatshirt. My fears consume me and the most appropriate thing to do is to in fact breathe.

The irony of that is not lost on me; I just don’t know whether to feel enlightened or enraged by this.

I am a quiet alien genius. (And I may be a robot too, I’m not sure.)

29 Sep
It would be pretty cool to be Kickpuncher

It would be pretty cool to be Kickpuncher

Stop trying to change me.

I don’t want to party or eat out at a restaurant every weekend. I want to stay home and write, and brown bag my lunch to work. I want to eat raw cucumbers without dressing. And drink water. I enjoy these things.

Is that so wrong?

Why can’t it be acceptable to want to be away from people every now and then, to be away from all the noise?

People call me anti-social a lot (even though I think I’m loads of fun). But what they should be calling me instead is “quiet genius”. And they should understand that geniuses need time to rest so that they can continue being geniuses and awesome, and that’s not going to happen when you’re yapping away about your life and bombarding them with continuous stimuli.

The sound of you tapping your foot the forceful smell of your perfume and shampoo the sight of your loud pink shirt the heat of your breath when you talk the pitch of your voice the way you always hum off key your repetition of the same phrases over and over and over and over and over…

That was a long sentence that was probably hard to read, especially because I cheaped out on the punctuation. You probably had to mentally break. that. down.

How do you think my brain feels when it actually happens to me?

How are quiet geniuses supposed to sort through all the information, all that noise, without a break, without a semi colon? Just leave them alone, at least for a little bit. And don’t hate them or resent them for it. Just be a little aware of yourself so they don’t need to be aware for you, because honestly, they are always aware and it’s exhausting.

And because we need to sort and process this information, a couple things might happen. Firstly, we may exhibit resting bitch face/asshole face. We may also respond to you in mechanical and rational way because that’s just how our brain works. Yes, we can be highly creative and have strong emotional intelligence, but that doesn’t mean we can apply it with you when you’re crying about how you feel fat. We understand it, yes, we feel fat sometimes too, but we deal with it on our own, in our own logical way. We are good at perceiving and understanding, but not so good on the approach for fixing when you can’t fix it yourself.

And sometimes we don’t want to fix it because we’re tired.

And selfish.

At least I am. I want ‘me time’.

And I don’t want to be responsible for making you feel better about yourself. It’s not fair for me, because trying to make you feel better makes me feel worse about myself because I’m bad at this whole ‘connecting-with-people-on-an-emotional-level’ thing. I know it should come natural and it’s what makes us human, but for some of us, it’s really hard to execute convincingly.

So I’d rather stay home and ignore your calls. It’s just easier. And it makes me feel less shitty about myself. Although I might very well be a robot, I do have feelings, and sometimes they are intense and confusing.

Sometimes I feel like my lack of willingness to be social and selfless is going to turn me into a horrible excuse of a person that will never genuinely care for another. And as a result, I should never bear children. In fact, this is a legitimate fear of mine because I can imagine myself telling my five year old, with a straight face, that there’s no reason for him to be afraid of monsters under the bed and that he’s stupid for thinking that monsters exist in the first place.

Then I turn off the light and leave them in the dark and ignore his calls for help.

I’m a cold-hearted, rational bitch.

Reason-For-Sheldon-Cry_o_93515

It pains me to be this way, but at the same time, I don’t want to change. Because it feels like no matter how much I do, it’s not enough. I see changes as huge progress but others only see a person who does not smile every waking minute of her day. They only see someone chooses to live what they presume to be a bland life, skipping the salad dressing like some sort of freak.

And that’s when I go back to the comfort of my solitude, away from your judgment. The judgment you think I can’t see because you’re not aware of how blatant it is. But we went over this already: I’m aware of a lot.

I see you

I see you

So the next time you see me, do me favour, bite your tongue, and don’t tell me to smile. And don’t give me the speech about frowning using more muscles than smiling.

Because I’m fucking exercising.

I hate being a grown up

15 Aug

grown up

What is this searing headache from? And why does my body hurt? Did I drink last night?

No, that’s just how waking up feels now.

Oh, I think I have something in my hair. What is that?

That is your hair. It has decided to be grey now.

Why does my face look like this?

Because you’re ugly this early in the morning. Put on more concealer to hide your ugliness.

What should I have for breakfast?

Breakfast? No time for breakfast. Maybe you can wait 10 minutes in the Tim’s drive thru with the rest of the city and get yourself a coffee. No sugar!

I’ve been working non-stop forever! Can I go home now?

No, it’s only 11:47 and you have to work until 5.

Fine, can I at least have pizza and Coke for lunch?

No, you’re gonna get diabetes. Eat your lettuce.

image

You don’t win friends with salad

Can I go home now?

It’s only five o’clock, nobody actually leaves at 5. Haha, you’re funny.

Okay, finally I can go home! Wait, why am I in my car, but not moving?

Welcome to traffic.

Why am I in my car, but not moving now?

Because you need to stop for gas. Idling burns a lot of fuel, you know.

When I get home, can I watch Simpsons?

No, you have to go to the gym because you didn’t wake up in time to go this morning.

D'oh

D’oh!

Now that I’ve gone to the gym, can I watch some T.V.?

No, go shower, you nasty. Then eat something that isn’t pizza.

Ok, I’ve showered and eaten. It’s really late now, and I’m tired. Can I go to sleep?

No, you have to make your lunch for tomorrow. And it has to be healthy so you don’t get diabetes.

Ok, I’ve made my lunch. Now can I go to bed? I have to get up early to go to the gym.

Yeah, sure, you deserve it.

Nah, I’m gonna stream movies for 4 hours.

You had me at “1 Month Free Trial”

You had me at “1 Month Free Trial”