Flow

The sheen of white light from the sunrise alarm
The land of impossible reflections
The trace, just a haze of thoughts I might recall
Groggily I figure out what I said
Author to a mystery I only know

Life is such a joke

They say that your brain is problem sovling
This just adds another one to the plate
My list is definitely more than 99
Won’t stop me. Have to keep grinding
For what? I’m not sure, but life ain’t waiting

Stumbling around

I believe that I have the solution
Not just to my 99 plus problems..much more
The issue to the solution…what question now?
What is the point to resolve, without strife?
Are we not the result of constant failure?

Reincarnation

We know what a dead end job entails
Is a dead end life just the same outcome?
There is no escaping what we all face
We all face the demise of our soul’s limit
The only thing we control is our arrival

What to do with time?

Our reality is just God hiding
That is what the scripture says about life
In lucid dreams we can escape this illusion
Not about death, but that we are bound here
There is nothing to fear, as we all shall pass

Be unique. Be Free

Homecoming

My trip to Malawi, was based off my plan to go back to Umhlanga, where I grew up. I had grown tired that of having birthdays in the cold miserable weather of the UK. My childhood birthdays (4-13) had the minimum of one of the following: an ice-cream cake, a pool party or some form of trip around the beach. It was an idyllic childhood. I was in the 1% of South African residents, living by the sea, great friends, able to play all the sports I wanted to and watching my beloved Sharks. If anyone asks where I call home: I still say Umhlanga, even if I stopped living there over a decade ago. From all my travels, it’s still the place I want to retire. It’s still the place where I want my ashes to spread (well one of them). The last time I left Umhlanga, I was off back to varsity in the UK to finish my bachelor’s.

5 hours to kill.

My trip back in SA was via Malawi, which meant that my port of entry was OR Tambo. Now, it’s no secret, that I don’t care about Jozi or have any real interest in visiting there. I got to meet the entire Transvaal when they came to Umhlanga (and the rest of KZN) during the summer. The last time I spent time outside OR Tambo was in 2010 for the World Cup and even that was just a single day to see the final. I had messaged a couple of friends about meeting up during my layover and decided that there is no reason to ever just sit around in the airport. Especially when you get free visa on arrival. I am blessed as I always claim, because my childhood friend Nimesh was free to catch up. I’ve known Nimesh since I was roughly 4 years old and it’s quite funny to look at the very old home videos and you can see Nimesh walking right in front of the camera during my fifth birthday party in the garden. He picked me up at the Gautrain station in Sandton and we headed to Nelson Mandela Square to grab a drink. Seriously, when did Tasha’s become posh? After sharing some stories and a bit of chit-chat I was back on the Gautrain, rushing back to the airport. One thing I would like to note, is that security in Africa has been so relaxed (not lax). It’s nice not being randomly selected.

Seeing Mum (well another one)

Like Auntie Saira that I met in Malawi, I came back to South Africa and headed straight to Husmitha Auntie and family for dinner. You see, growing up in Umhlanga meant that my nearest member outside of my nuclear family was in Mumbai; a place that I wouldn’t visit for another seven years once we moved to SA. What was my family? It was the close family friends we had and out neighbours. Our little community became our family and thus we became close to everyone. Husmitha Auntie might always spell my name wrong, but that’s not important. First, she can say it correctly (looking at all people who struggle with my two-syllable name). What matters her words mean, how she treats me and our trust far outweighs the spelling of my made-up name. What I have realised in my extremely short time on this planet, life fucking sucks when you don’t have anyone you can trust or speak openly with. To have more than one is fantastic. To have one that treats you as an extension to the family, that’s blessed.

Now my bags in King Shaka were a bit delayed and I had to sort out my data package, I eventually got an Uber to head home. When I got to see Husmitha Auntie again, back home…mate it was special. That feeling of comfort that make any problem insignificant. I was treated to multiple meals. I got to eat the world-renowned masala baked beans, salad (with real avocados) and another shak that escapes right now. I was able to have it with some red wine and chatted to Pareen & Naresh Uncle. Until midnight, then Husmita Auntie poured me some tequila to celebrate my birthday. With plans to be up for sunrise in the morning, Pareen gets me home and I prepare for the day ahead.

Blurry Birthday photo

Sunrise

Sunrise

The moment had come, it’s 5am, light is creeping into my room and I must leg it to the beach to get there in time for sunrise. Now, there are two things that no place can compete with Africa. Those are African Sunset (as seen in Malawi) and an African Sunrise. It’s just spectacular. Nothing compares. My new years resolution for the 2019, was to make sure that I got back to SA for my birthday and see sunrise. I was able to do that and got to see the sun peak over the ocean and start its ascent. The one thing I noticed was the swaths of people out already. It was 5:20ish when I got to the promenade and it was busy! Loads of people walking, some running, a few fishermen and as I strolled to areas to swim: there were people swimming before the sun was up! That’s the thing about Umhlanga, people abuse the beach and thank goodness! It’s not a bunch of fitness freaks out, it’s old people, middle-aged comrade runners training, a few babies being carried and some people preparing their shops for the day. While the village sleeps relatively early on a weeknight (11ish it’s dead), the morning is alive and bustling.  I dipped my feet in the water and thought the ever-lasting truth about home: it’s paradise.

I decided to have a cuppa at the Oyster Box, because I’m a fancy wanker, plus it’s my birthday. I got to enjoy a monkey jump onto my table and nick the sugar. Bloody monkeys. Well, I was unable to pay as I left my wallet at home… but this being Africa, I explained to the manager what happened and told him that I would be back later in the day. After an exchange of details, I was free to get on with my day. This probably wouldn’t have gone down well in a fancy hotel in London.

I headed home, showered and got some bags ready to go shopping. I walked back into town and bumped into Nozipo (my maid) who spotted me in the distance and decided to sit down in the shade and wait for me. I love Nozi but this was something else! We had a quick hug and I told Nozi that I was doing the shopping and what she needed for the house. I headed to the Oyster Box to settle my debt and then had a quick browse around Pick n’ Pay before going to Woolies. I have to say that I’m a sucker for local SA produce and the fact that mangoes were still in season meant that I packed my shopping full of fruit and veg, local cheeses and my favourite protein bread. I don’t know what it exactly is, but I always prefer the taste of items from SA. Be it All Gold, white vinegar (seriously, South African white vinegar is amazing to make chutneys), honey and without a doubt: avocados. What is it with Europe and avocados? Just more expensive given their minuscule size and large pip? The milk taste fresh and I was so happy to be able to buy non-homogenised milk. That Ayrshire cow marketing rubbish…well let’s just say it worked for me. I miss that rubbish. Not as good as the milk in Malawi (from the cow), but it does have a nice taste to it. I needed to go to Food Lovers for the rest of groceries, but I knew that I was going to be out a lot. Thankfully, the £ does stretch well here.

After having some fruit, I opened the front door and locked the front gate. Went to the veranda and open the door and had the sea breeze come into the house. I was chatting to Nozi when in the corner of my eye I spotted a monkey in the kitchen! I realised that I need to put the shopping away, before taking my eyes off it!

Granola, berries/fruit and yoghurt was my daily breakfast

With the heat turning up I and with a lunchtime meeting. Yeah, it wasn’t even twelve at this point. I went for a quick rinse after racing back with 10 kilos of groceries of shopping in the heat for a couple of kms. The meeting was good and I didn’t mind that I had to work on birthday. I was just so happy to be home. I called a couple of friends and old neighbours and organised an impromptu birthday party. I was able to have a relaxed evening with friends and [pseudo]family. After dinner, went into the village and had few drinks with Rivaj and Pareen. I didn’t make it to the beach for sunrise the next morning, but I was up in the flat and a decent view from the couch.

A second of 4 cakes that day….
Might be why I’m on a diet right now
Yes, that is sparkling wine with jagermeister

Exploring Durban

Driving and Crashing Weddings

For the first time I’ve been back in Durban, I got my hands on the “holy-Mercedes” of the family. The old car, were I must remember to plug in the battery, pray that it turns on, feed that thirsty engine and then deal with all the electronics not working. The main problem I have with Durban is the total lack of public transport that’s safe to use. Note; I did take the bus as a young child with my first au pair. It wasn’t really that safe then, but we you just got on with it and I didn’t know any better. You need a car to get around. Luckily, I had access to a car and my sister had put in the old CDs that I grew up with in the deck. While I did listen to all of them, I kept my bootleg copy of the Bend it Like Beckham soundtrack running as my tunes of choice, when I didn’t want to listen to local radio. Windows down, sea to one side and driving along the deserted M4 was glorious.

The main reason I went along the M4 was to head to Zimbali to check on the house we have there…and to crash a wedding. After getting into Zimbali which was a mission and a half. Seriously got stuck because my fingers aren’t registered on the system, because they only implemented the system after the last time I left. Once inside I was able to head back to the house that I never got to live in and just imagine what life could have been. As much as I love the view and understand the safety aspect, because it’s a great place to be a young kid in. It’s just not for me. I love the village and the promenade.

Glad I brought a change of clothes with me

Now, there is a whole separate story about this wedding I went to crash at Zimbali. It’s starts prior to Malawi. While waiting in the lounge during my transit. I sat down had some breakfast and decided to use the bathroom before my next leg. I placed my bags down near an Indian couple, asked them to look after my bags so I could relieve myself. Before they answered, I was gone. I thanked them on my return and we got into a lovely conversation. Turns out they were Gujrati and they had been on long massive break. They were off to Mauritius, then Vic Falls and then off to Durban for a wedding. Just when I was back in Durban. I had met up with them earlier in the week for an hour and this massive family group had not been to Umhlanga beach yet. They had been to the Zululand and the valley of a thousand hills. However, staying on the ridge these guys told me that they didn’t have time for the beach! I lamented at the attitude and told them visiting anywhere in Durban not going to the seaside is a travesty! The audacity! If one of my friends came to Durban and didn’t go to the beach, I probably stop speaking to them.  Before I get too ranty, the family told me to come over to Zimbali where the wedding was being held there. So, I thought I would check it out. I mean, I’m Indian. In a room full of Indians, I can blend in (if it isn’t oblivious by now). These guys were not prepared for the humidity and to be honest the party was so kak that I left to head to Beach Bums in La Mercy and enjoyed the sunset. But seriously, who comes to Umhlanga and doesn’t go to see the lighthouse?

I would see it multiple times a day and still took a selfie with it! And they didn’t go!

Jolling around town

I also headed into town a couple of times. Once after a meeting Durban Country Club, I headed towards Essenwood for memory sake. I grew up going to the market on Saturdays after my swimming classes in Morningside and I just wanted to go through the area. I was a bit dishearten when I drove pass that playground didn’t have major new upgrades. Not for myself, but surely twenty years is enough of a life span on some of the items. I grabbed lunch at the Market Café Restaurant, where I had some fresh pasta and some five roses tea under a tree.

Another time, I headed to Florida Road to visit Minnie in Musgrave. It was quite warm at 33C and with parking right across Scoop, I got myself a scoop of ice-cream. Went into Cecile & Boyd and wished my house was full of their items and just went for a walk around the area. Got a mocktail and Dropkick Murphy’s and watched some cricket the screens. Outside in the warmth. Life was good. With Minnie being delayed, I headed to South Beach and went for a drive along the beach front. I must admit, for swimming it’s hard to beat South Beach, no matter how much I bias I have for Umhlanga. I drove round to Addington Hospital and then headed back to Musgrave. While I am sure that my mother would not approve of my driving around town, I would do it a hundred times over. If want to strive for social integration, we are going to have to get slightly uncomfortable. Though, the beach during the day is perfectly fine. Minnie and I grabbed some coffee at the Musgrave Centre. It was great to catch up with an old acquaintance. After I went up to see her cat and stare at the stunning view of the stadium and ocean. That’s something you don’t get tied of, the beautiful ocean view. 

T.I.A.

Talking about town, I went clubbing with some old family friends from Dubai. Sameeha was down to celebrate her birthday (a couple of days prior to mine) with a couple of friends and her brother came down during the week. One night I popped over, as we are living in the same block. They were all getting ready to go out and I was in my tee and jeans, thinking of my bed. With a bit of persuasion, plus their need for a car, I decided to join them. Why the hell not? We headed into Umgeni Road area and went to a student night (as these guys are that age range) and we had a blast. The first place we went, we were the only non-black people in the club and let me say this: it did not matter and it should not matter! We had a blast dancing our hearts at the club. However, there was one downside. No real space to stand. So, we headed to another club. We couldn’t get in, due to it being a private event. That’s not an issue for the Tickleys in Durban. A couple of phone calls later, while I chatted to the bouncers we were let in and had table set up for us. It is so nice to be able to enjoy these connections, which I don’t have in London. This club, we were also the only non-black people. These guys were partying like there was no tomorrow, putting the students to shame. I was having the time of my life. I was honestly disappointed with my crowd on how tame there were, but we were still having fun. Sameer reminded me of that ever-important phrase. TIA: This Is Africa! We partied till the early hours of the morning. My fondest memories of clubbing are from my undergraduate days and my trip to Spain for Felipe’s birthday, however I don’t think that clubs had anything on what went down in Durban. It was less diverse, the music was not as good, but that vibe. Nothing comes close to that vibe. This isn’t even peak party season nor the so-called best place to club in Durban, let alone SA. Next time I have longer trip in SA, I would definitely add trips to Cape Town and Jo’burg just to check out the scene. By the way, I made my sunrise morning walk after clubbing. It was glorious!

Even had gtime to go to the stables market

Reconnecting

One of the best aspects of this trip was catching up with old friends and I spent most of my time with Rivaj. Rivaj and I go a long way back to when we were in first grade together. Unfortunately, for Rivaj we became good friends and he’s stuck with me. Though I’m really glad, because he is a fantastic friend and extremely chill to hang out with. The best time with Rivaj on this trip, was our lunch in Glenwood. Essentially, I had finished work earlier than expected and as there was load shedding due, I called Rivaj and said let’s go to Glenwood for lunch. Why Glenwood? I may have just googled best lunch in Durban and picked something from the list that tickled my fancy. Surprisingly, Rivaj was okay with me driving and off to town we went, with GPS on the phone telling us where we were going. We arrived at parc. (then name of the restaurant) after driving right passed it and having to loop around, with relative ease. What transpired on the drive, was that Glenwood was also going through load shedding at the same time. Thank you, Eskom! However, food was not to be deterred. Mate. Let tell you something. The food was banging! Not only did I get a great food, add a chia bowl with fruits for starters and then a salad for lunch. What I really enjoyed was the homemade cordial. I had rooibos cordial with a fresh cream soda. Does that sound weird? Yes. Yes, it does. Did it taste good? Hell yeah! That’s what really matters. Now after having a great meal, I thought it was warm in Durban, especially with no AC or fans. So, I looked up best ice-cream parlours, crossed out the ones I have been to and found one next to the Lion matchbox factory. After a quick drive through town, we got to the road and couldn’t find anything. I decided to park the car and thought let’s just do it on foot. We found Momenti, in a repurposed warehouse and got myself a granadilla (not the same as passion fruit) cheesecake ice-cream which was made fresh that day. Sat down in a succulent garden. In the shade and kept on chattering with Rivaj, who must of thought what on earth has happen to, as he described, “to the sweet little Indian boy I grew up?”. Well, I told Rivaj the answer, if you want to know? Get in touch. When I got into the car it was 42C on the dashboard! After fiving the car guard five Rand and saying sharp sharp once I left my spot, we zipped towards La Lucia. Windows down, sea breeze, stunning views and banging tunes. Didn’t give a damn! Just living. What this says, no matter how infrequently I’m in touch with my friends: we still love each other. We might not know everything about each other, but these lot are special. Couldn’t imagine life without them.

Speaking of such sentimental rubbish, I was also able to see Kunal for the first time in god knows how long! Now, this guy is a nightmare to get hold and no one knew anything about what was going on. I even rang his fax machine, which I know like the back of my hand as we used to speak over the phone via the fax numbers when other line was busy. With a bit of persistence and help via Husmitha I was able to get in touch with very good friend. The problem of not seeing each other in ages, means there is sooo much to catch up about. We caught up in the village and spotted each other from half a kilometre away. It was a bit weird, because we’ve changed so much, but our mannerisms and tone and style and all that jazz. That shit hasn’t really changed at all. It was good to reconnect and I encourage you all to do the same with your respective old friends. Chances you are stuck indoors anyway (at time of writing). Might as well spend it on the phone catching up.

Shopping

Now there a few more things I would like to say about my time in Durban. One thing I always look forward to is the shopping. I don’t get the big-name brands there, but rather I am able to get some items which are worth it. I have infatuation with Holmes Brothers and pretty much my entire t-shirt collection is becoming their catalogue. It’s a small way to help support a local business which gets as much of its material locally and made locally. I also cannot put into words on how much I love my swimming trunks with masala written all over them! You just cannot find anything close to that here in the UK.

In the village I even picked up a t-shirt with the lighthouse on it. How hipster? Very hipster. Wouldn’t trade it at all. That tee reminds me of home in the dreary weather of the UK. Plus, it’s it was R160, for something made locally. How can I say no with the exchange rates? The other thing was restocking my pyjamas, as nothing comes close to my woollies pjs. Sure, buying a top that says: “Hey good looking” and shorts covered in toucans, might be a bit much for the European market. Then again, apart from the Italians the ultra-wealthy, fashion is pretty tame in the men’s section this side of the world. It takes a lot of searching for stuff I consider cool.

My one true love

I must talk about the Sharks. I’ve mentioned this countless number of times, that cricket is my second religion and rugby is my number one sport. Why it’s my number one sport is my adoration of this rugby club and the KZN union. I’ve mentioned on my post about my love of rugby, that I didn’t miss a game for ten years when I lived in South Africa, so with a game on in Kings Park. I had to go. I knew I might drink, thus I grabbed an Uber home to the stadium. Now, there is no doubt that some things have gone in decline at Kings Park, when it comes to services. However, there is a club in the stadium now and a waterslide (not in the grounds, but inside the stadium next to the pitch). However, compared to the new Tottenham stadium.

We did lose power during halftime…

On the pitch, where it really matters. The Sharks are superb. If it wasn’t for this stupid corona virus, the Sharks could have won Super Rugby. We are the best team in Super Rugby. That’s regardless of my bias. We are on top of the log. Currently the best club team in the Southern Hemisphere. Whenever rugby gets back into gear, I am sure that the Sharks will be ready to go up a gear and keep pushing for our first Super Rugby title. This is a team that is over 50% non-white (the second team in South Africa) and not a single person can say it’s due to a quota system. Everyone one of these players are stars and fantastic rugby players who could all argue [on-current form] a place in the Boks squad. I have to say, that I did enjoy see Pat Lambie running around with the kicking tee, since he was such a fantastic player. It’s good to see the Sharks looking after an academy player. Watching them beat the Bulls, was fantastic. We are dynamite.

Thinking Ahead

One thing that I have come to realise is the lack of photos I took in Durban. I love South Africa, but I have to recognise that the reason that I am so comfortable, is how I handle myself. No flashy watch. Drive around in what is now a banger. Also, not carrying around a DSLR and putting a target on my back. While I have my travel insurance, it’s something to remember. Why is this an issue in SA? Partly Zuma, because fuck Zuma for everything. The other is being part of the born free generation and still seeing so much economic hardship and wealth disparity. It’s not the South Africa we were promised, nor is it the South Africa we want for the future. I see talk online of people wanting to “escape”. The reality is, if you have that ability, then you’re really privileged. Yeah, the government my seem in the way, but we can build a South Africa where anything is possible. Trust me, there are opportunities, even with these terrible unemployment numbers. We don’t need a five year plan or taking away land without compensation. A country blessed with resources, industry and better infrastructure than most other African countries. Sure, there’s load shedding, crime, fucking Zuma and his “fire pool” and constant strikes. However, talk to the people and it’s full of kindness. People wanting to become something, hustling and taking on the world. As you might tell, I want SA to be a better place.

When do I head back next? Honestly, I’m not sure when but I know I will. There is no chance that we’ll ever get rid of the flat in Umhlanga, it’s too nice. I did so much more in Umhlanga, from bunny chows at RKs, to forzen pineapple shakes at Daily Dose and catching the view along Umhlanga Rocks Drive, to name a few. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave. I love Umhlanga, Durban and the whole of KZN. It’s my home and it’s where I want to spend the last days of my life. I described Malawi as paradise lost, but Umhlanga is paradise. Why would want be anywhere else?

Tiled

Drawing out options blind
Hoping for something better than kind
Solutions, you find
Gone without a sign
You look across and wonder how
You decide to take a vow:
To take revenge somehow
Even if it's not highbrow
You try and figure out your next move
Every new option you seem to disprove
Yet you have something prove
Suddenly you get into the groove
Two letter word
Q. I.
double word
22 points

Malawi

Returning to Africa

The number one phrase that I said in Malawi is: “I cannot believe that I’m in Malawi”. I doubt that photos that I have uploaded or the words to come, but this country is probably one of the most stunning places I have ever visited.

Just a typical sight on the raod

Bless the rains, down in Africa

For the uninitiated, this is the time of year is the rainy season in Malawi, as for the most of Southern Africa. This is the time when no one is going to the country as the rains make it difficult to travel, hides the wildlife, covers the night sky, destroys crops, flights are reduced and places will close for refurbishments & deep cleaning. Knowing this, I still went. Mainly because it suited my timetable. I’ve been blown away by the scenery that I have seen here, which is worth a visit alone. Everything is so green. The UK is green (but cold and miserable), Dubai is sand & concrete and Malawi… Malawi is wow.

African hospitality and warmth that I struggle to find in the West.

I have always said that I am lucky. A really lucky kid. I still believe that I’m blessed because of the hospitality that I received in Malawi. The real reason I came to Malawi, was to spend time with my family.

I don’t have actual family (well closely related in an Asian sense), but I do have the Chaudry family. How am I related? I’m related via Auntie Saira, aka Mum’s best friend from school in the UK. In a very long story short, Auntie Saira is a pseudo Mum of mine. A person’s whose opinion that I value above most others. She’ll give me food for thought, when I step out of line and is not afraid to draw boundaries on my actions. I always say that should call your Mums on Mother’s Day (your actual Mum, Nani, Dadi and pseudo Mums), so it should be no surprise that I try to call Auntie Saira every Mother’s Day. In the end, to spend time with people who genuinely care about you is, especially when it’s hard to visit them is something that I fine invaluable.

I have always said that I am lucky. A really lucky kid. I still believe that I’m blessed…

Mr Fancy Feet

Before coming to Malawi, I was told (well technically, asked) what on Earth I was going to do in Malawi, especially for 11 whole days? Let me say that I did not have enough time in this country. After one day of planning I ended up going on a mini tour of central and southern Malawi. The only person willing to join me on this trip, Auntie Saira.

Just look at it! The air is something else here

The Trip Begins

We headed out of Lilongwe towards the escarpment where we started to descend into the clouds. The road was quiet and in great conditions. The view? It was green everywhere we looked. Gibson (the driver) was tell us what was around us and the villages in the area where spread far apart, away from the road. The landscape had jutting mountains that were lush and had water trickling down them. The photos don’t do them justice.

The clouds continued to float pass as we went into the rift valley. With windows rolled down, Auntie Saira and I just breathed in the clean air. Pollution free, a total 180 from London, Dubai and Mumbai. Just pure fresh air, even with the elevation; there were no problems breathing. Trying to describe the air is difficult. Sweet, crisp, light, fresh, cool… whatever other words you associate with these. The air was simply delightful. The green landscape made wonder how this country has a food shortage issue.

Just a casual river in the mountains

I cannot believe that I’m in Malawi

My daily go to phrase

No sign of the lake, as we drove through the flood plains. We drive pass the villages until we reached Mangoshi; where we turned to Monkey Bay and Cape MacClear. We finally hit our first dirt road when we see signs for the beach area. We pass the Illovo camps to find Annie’s Lodge where we planned to have lunch and I picked up a Sobo. Sobo is the local cola company, which was surprisingly nice, given that I don’t even like soda in the first place. Auntie Saira negotiated a boat trip, no mzungu prices. I went for my first dip into the lake. Went to see the cichlids up close, which are small colourful fish in Lake Malawi. We were also able to spot some fish eagles as went around an island.

From Cape Maclear we headed to Club Makakolo (with its very own international airport!). Now I have to say that the rooms in Club Mak are stunning. The hotel is owned by an Italian family and the new rooms are nicer than nearly every single hotel I’ve ever stayed in. It’s better than any of the chic boutiques I’ve stayed in by the V&A Waterfront or 5-star hotels in Mumbai. I wish I was exaggerating. You just don’t expect this in one the world’s poorest countries. When you walk around the hotel and look at the seashore lakeshore you just are stunned by the natural beauty. I was asked not to swim in the area as they had recently spotted crocodiles in the water. This is Africa, what did I expect? A large storm came in that evening and there was a large amount of thunder and lighting. The gusts came through my open windows (I had the mosquito net on) and this helped me ease to my senses in the morning. I opened my curtains to see a rough lake and waves crashing in, giving concern to Auntie Saira about our boat ride to the Liwonde.

Just a infinity pool at club Mak
Here’s my beautiful mug at Club Mak

Aren’t the Hobbits from the Shire?

We left Club Mak and headed towards Hippo View Lodge, where we would grab our boat to head up the Shire (pronounced Shee-ray) River to Mvuvu Camp. The waters were calm as we entered the boat, though in all honestly that is a generous description of the boat. Essentially some sheet metal with a motor attached onto the back. I didn’t feel unsafe, but it was concerning at first glance. As we travelled up the river, we saw some bee-eaters, fish eagles, some elephants in the distant, waterbuck in the reeds and what can only be described as a ton of hippos. I was later informed that this part of the world has the greatest amount hippos per square kilometre. So, while I didn’t see as many as I did in Chobe (that was something else), the amount in this “little” area was quite something.

This is Africa, what did I expect?

The tent that I was staying looked onto a small tributary and with just some green sheet protecting me from the elements and the rest of the world, I felt completely at ease (apart from the hornets). With a quick induction of the camp over, we went for an afternoon drive and headed South as the roads dried up. We saw a pair of lions and a stunning saddle-billed stork. We also came across several varieties of buck, eagles, kingfishers (where one even dived onto the road, picked up an insect) and some swallows. We headed towards the river and saw a monitor lizard by the side of the road. We had our sundowners with the sunset across the river and sound of hippos in the background. My choice of poison was a gin and tonic. Something suitably English for the jungle. As we headed by to camp, our spotter Emmanuel spotted a tiny snake in the bush and I have honestly no idea how he saw it.

Nothing like an African sunset

At camp, we agreed to a morning walking safari, which I had never done before. However, upon returning to my tent after dinner, I had a massive gecko (about the length of my forearm) on the door handle for the bathroom area. Let me just say, that I decided that I no longer had the urge for the bathroom that evening. Another storm came that night, which gave me a cool breeze to sleep in and lightning flashes gave me a glimpse of across the river every now and again. I did sleep well to say that I required a wake call, which amounted to Emmanuel saying knock-knock outside my tent at 5:30am.

The morning is cool and while there is some cloud cover, the ground was full of mud due to last nights rain. We walked into the fields with my camera, a gun and a keen sense of sight. While weren’t expecting to see any big game, the walk was a sensory experience where we were able to touch all the plants (or even step into the destroyed baobabs), look at birds up-close and spend some time dodging the low hanging branches. We did a quick game drive after where honestly; we didn’t see much. A small sabre buck heard and some buffalo at best. It was on our boat trip back to Hippo View Lodge, where we saw a fair number of elephants by the riverbank. Liwonde is a place where I want to return, though I would come in the dry season where more animals are forced to head towards the river. I would love to see a black a rhino again, but given their nature, I doubt that’ll venture away from any thicket.

We met up with Gibson and headed towards Zomba.

Haile Selassie

The Rastafarian God, Ruler of Ethopia and Summiteer of Zomba. Okay, so the last one isn’t as well known as the other two, but it’s just as true. Haile Selassie did go to the Zomba summit to have a look across the country, he came for no reason but to visit Malawi. In my mind: if it’s good enough for a God, it’s good enough for me. I told this to Gibson and it got to his head. We went up to the Sunbird hotel to check the condition of the road and with assurances that the road (it was a track) was in good nick we headed up the mountain. As we headed up the track, we had the windows rolled down and just breathed in the fresh air and started to catch up to the clouds that would later give us some grief. There were no other cars on the track, though someone had been up already (we could see their tracks) as we climbed the mountain. As we climbed, we passed a sign saying Emperor’s View, but Gibson said that was just a sign but not the truth. Plus, we could head to the highest peak which was constantly only 4km away. As we headed further along, the clouds came in and we started to be higher than some of them (they would be to our left in the valley while we continued to climb). This started to concern me, however Gibson was so sure that we were only 4kms away. Auntie Saira started to talk to me about my desire to continue. As we got closer to the peak, we started to see the wind pick up and streams rolling down the road.

Before the clouds came in

Even Gibson mentioned this, but still thought that we would be perfectly fine to head to the top. As we got to around 2,100m or there about, Auntie Saira decided to step into what was obviously futile trip to the top and told Gibson to turn around. I did jump out for a few photos of the car in this trip and we headed back to the Sunbird hotel for some tea and Auntie Saira gave me a quite talking to explaining that Gibson only really continued to make me happy and that I should have stepped in earlier to tell to go back, because she was leaving tomorrow back to Lilongwe and it would just be Gibson and myself. As the storm passed (luckily we were in the hotel during it) we headed to Blantyre the commercial heart of Malawi and saw a noticeable amount of traffic compared to the beginning of out trip. In Blantyre, the rain was pouring down. There was a large traffic jam, mainly because a road was closed that day. Which road? Haile Selassie! With me being the genius that I am, I had left my raincoat in Lilongwe and couldn’t find my jacket (which I have taken on every trip since it was given to me in the US), luckily the restaurant was across the road and the hotel gave me an umbrella for the trip.

The next morning at breakfast Auntie Saira gave me a warning about not being an idiot (not in these terms, but in essence) and I decided to cancel my plans for Mulanje due to reports of the weather being poor by the mountain. Instead I decided to head to Limbe to see Tillu and family, because of work and have something that isn’t in the rain.

That the summit, somewhere in the clouds
The view from the Sunbird once the clouds had passed

How to win family and be influenced

I’m not going to get into the details of the work I did with Tillu. When I decided to cancel my trip to Mulanje, I called Tillu and just asked if we could move things forward. Of course, I could. When your day starts at 6am, there is so much more time available. We dropped the car off at his house, I had chai with Dilpa Foi (she requested to be called Foi) and having chai with milk straight from the cow is just 100 times better than using homogenised milk from the store! Afterwards I spent the rest of the morning with Tillu and chatting about what was going on with the business in Malawi and what opportunities are available. We went back home for lunch and I honestly cannot remember everything we had for lunch. There was some fresh paneer which was heavenly and homemade gorkeri! After working in the afternoon, we headed to the Indian Club to have some Carlsberg. We headed back to the house and spent the evening chatting with the family over dinner and learning about life in Malawi. Which also coincided with some power cuts. After a bit of running around Limbe looking for some ESCOM tokens (thinking that might have been the problem) we returned home turned in for the night. I forgot to use the invertor and did not charge my phone or camera for the next day. Life went on…

Factoid: Carlsberg’s second largest factory is in Malawi and has a slightly different taste to the one you get elsewhere

The next day I decided to leave Limbe and head back to Lilongwe for night fall. It was a tough decision, not because of the work (I can imagine do some work in Malawi) but due to the instant bond I made with the family. It wasn’t due to anything, other than one of those ineffable feelings. Just felt right at home. That’s something that I do think that there is a something wonderful about the African hospitality and warmth that I struggle to find in the West.

Thyolo, Mulanje, Dedza and cheesecake.

A tea plantation in Thyolo

Lilongwe is in the central region, with Limbe in the South. With a brief call with Auntie Saira I headed South to see Thyolo (pronounced Ch0-lo) and check out the tea plantations and see Mulanje Massif before heading to Dedza and then heading back to Lilongwe. I still remember going throughout the Cape with the family while Mum wanted to go vineyards and seeing the rows of immaculate planted vines. These tree plantations were almost the same, with the minor difference being the landscape being far more rolling and just green green green. I did try and go into some of the plantations, but I was turned away each time. Shame, but I do want to visit Satemwa when I next return (I called ahead they were closed for the rainy season) because they apparently have an amazing afternoon tea.

We continued South towards Mulanje Massif is an amazing site. I was not going to climb it, as I didn’t have the time or the right clothes. It’s much colder up the mountain and the rains create streams that are impassable without a guide. Again, another reason to return. I was only able to stare at Mulanje and when we got close, I was able to see the water falling off the mountain and in a country already surrounded by mountains, to be in awe of a mountain here should tell you how spectacular this mountain is to see; I cannot wait to summit it.

Mulanje Massif

With all this happening I noticed that my phone was not charging in the car and my camera battery was slowly dying. I decided this was the time to head to Dedza and check out the pottery available there.  The road back from Mulanje was a bypass road and I just saw green mountains all the way back to Blantyre, before heading towards Dedza. We passed Blantyre and started to climb a bit more above the rift valley. After going over the Shire River (much further downstream) the site of clouds below you while you can see the floodplains further below is something else. I wish I had photo to show, but trust me; it’s like being on a plane and looking at the world below. The drive along to Dedza was full of these views and as we left the edge, we had Mozambique to our left. After a few hours we roll into Dedza and head towards the pottery café and I decided to get Mum a teapot and a couple of cups to go along with it. While they started to wrap that up for export (extra bubble wrap and so on), I went to grab lunch where I had some Chombe tea, a ploughman’s & a homemade cheesecake with a fresh jam and then topped off with fresh cream. While the food was decadent, the view was breath taking as one just enjoyed staring at the mountain surrounded by green hills. Not bad, if you ask me. After a quick tour of the factory, I was back on my way to Lilongwe. Home in time for tea and fresh mogo. It’s hard to beat this life.

Not a bad view for lunch

With dinner, there were plans to spend more time travelling around Malawi, but I after some lengthy discussions (some about Haile Selassie), I decided that I could spend the last few days travelling, but then I wouldn’t have the time to spend with the family, which was the reason I came to Malawi.

Feet up or not

So now I decided that was staying every night in Lilongwe I should look at doing some day trips around Lilongwe, with the aim to visit the Lake at least one more time. With the limited amount of days, I decided that I would have a day at home, one back in Dedza to look at the rock paintings, visiting a local market and the other going to Salima to have a dip in the lake, before flying off.

Pygmies’ painted this?

Our first site

My first major trip was back to Dedza to see the rock paintings. Now there are some rock paintings that have been designated as UNESCO heritage sites and without a guide, honestly, I would have missed them. Also, they would make no sense. The first few sites are near a Livingstone Camp site and with the guide an insight to Chewa culture that I was not exposed to for the whole of my trip. Talking about the bull festivals, fertility rituals and how they would decorate their homes. As we moved to the next sites, we went past a church set up (and still in use) by Livingstone and it’s a reminder of the influence of this man. I mean, he is considered to be the main person end slavery in the region.

We got to the building where the UNESCO man is and told that next site is a 20min climb into the mountain. I said no problem, I always hiked as a kid in the Drakensburg. These look like nothing in comparison, plus we weren’t going to the top. The first ten minutes was totally fine, could have walked on that sort of terrain for a couple of hours. The second half was a different monster. Everyone step forward was two steps upwards. Also, the notion of a path, became less and less visible. When the entourage of children who joined me were struggling, then I knew that I might have been overconfident. We got there, after a couple of breaks and sharing water in the heat. The view from the top was worth it. Stunning. The site there is full of the different animals in the region around 2-3,000 years ago. As we headed back down, I was able to take in the breeze and fresh air. We went to the next few sites and got to a cave where you had these extremely tall red paintings which were made pygmies and all I could think was how the hell have these guys made it up 5 meters and not even have a ladder system? Then to think that these paintings are dated 10,000 years ago, how have they survived in such good condition is quite spectacular.

Life in Lilongwe

Now I was able to spend some time catching up with the rest of the family and saw some of the local restaurants in Lilongwe and trying the local food. Honestly, nothing outside was spectacular and nothing compared to the food at home (the burgers Hafsa made were outstanding for example), but it was still nice to go out and see more of the town. The main thing I noticed was the amount of times we sat outside. Nearly every meal I had there was outdoors and I realised that this was the same I had growing up in Durban. Surrounded by trees and flowers, adds to one’s meal. I was able to visit the monthly farmers market and while there was nothing spectacular there (I was able to pick up some presents) it was full of mzungus and I saw some monkeys for the first time (outside Liwonde). It’s a nice place, but I can see why people prefer the bustle of Blantyre.

Note to self, get a fountain in the wall

Salima

Salima was a day trip where Ali, Hafsa and I went on bullet trip to lake for lunch at the Sunbird. The scenery, as it has always been on this trip, was wow! Racing through the escarpment, we got to see these mountains full of greenery and clear sky. To think that this all disappears in the dry season, is a concern about deforestation in the region, but not in scope for this blog post. We got to Salima in a time far faster than estimated. However, the time it took the food to get to our table we probably could have gotten back to Lilongwe! I had some local veg and nsima which is essentially the Malawian version of pap. We had some monkeys wandering around and they did come onto the tables to nick some food. They did and after those shenanigans I headed for a dip in the lake. Unfortunately, the water was quite dirty here due to the rains (debris coming from rivers) and I wasn’t able to just jump into the lake. It was such a gradual decline I had to lie flat to be covered by water. After some photo’s I headed back to land and we raced back to Lilongwe. Salima was far warmer and if the dry season meant that there would be no debris in lake, I definitely see myself going back for a visit.

Homebound

My time in the warm heart of Africa is over for now, though I can definitely imagine myself visiting in the future. For such a poor nation, it was surprisingly developed and while I’m not sure if I could settle there, I do hope that might change in the future. If you are thinking of visiting somewhere new, I would recommend Malawi. It’s not cheap, but it’s beautiful. While it develops on at rapid rate, if you love seeing jaw dropping scenery then now is the time to go before the commercialisation.

I headed home. Back to Umhlanga, with a little faith, that my village now is still the paradise that I grew up in.

We Need to Talk India

Mumbai Calling

Smog

India, well Mumbai really, is becoming my favourite place to see and spend time in. To those who have know me for a very long time, that is probably surprising. I would go to the ends of the Earth to watch the cricket team, but the actual country has always been more of a distant land than anything else. When I was 21, I had spent less than a month in India. Now, at nearly 26, I’ve spent nearly 4 months in the last four years. I’m even thinking of going for a weekend trip, prior to returning to the UK. Mainly for food, but it’s not as though Dubai has bad Indian food (including chaat). Mumbai in particular has got a magnet on me at the moment. It’s meant that I have not gone to my beloved home of Umhlanga, which is paradise on Earth.

The most pointless sign in Mumbai

When I arrived in Mumbai, it was late and against my own suggestion, my parents decided to get a cool cab (aka, a pre-booked with AC) instead of just getting an Uber on an Auto. We were staying in BKC which does have really nice high-end restaurants such as Yauatcha, however at 10:15pm I didn’t feel like going to top end restaurant and wanted something that was quick, light and frankly delicious. I wanted pani-puri which meant that we had to head over to Bandra and go to Elco Market as we know what we were getting and the service is fast. Cue being stuck in traffic, for what was meant to be a 45min round trip, and realising that we were not going to make it in time before Elco Market shuts (at 23:30)! So, pulled out my phone and trusted Google maps, what was open? Hakkasan! From Elco Market to Hakkasan and sitting next to a party of everyone wearing Gucci. It’s not something that would exist in most cities, but it does in India. Mum and I both got a cocktail, some dim sum and mock duck salad to welcome in the festive period. This story encompasses everything that I love about this city, nothing is impossible in India. It can be a pain to sort out, but it will happen. The sealink bridge is a testament to that idea.

What shocked me was the amount of smog that was in the city this time, compared to last time I visited. I blame my friend for not taking care of the city, but that is part of the downside to Mumbai. Development does have a cost and to negate the pollution takes regulation that no one is going to enforce. The city had changed quite a bit since I had arrived and I still felt at home. The hustle and bustle, with god only knows how much noise, is something that at this age I love. Don’t get me wrong an escape to the country side is nice and all but give me people with good vibes and I can stay up till my body truly gets to 0%. Versus relaxing all the time in the countryside.

This story encompasses everything that I love about this city, nothing is impossible in India.

The one thing I was unable to get good photos were the Christmas Lights of Bandra. That’s something I may write about more in the future, but the growing polarisation in Indian politics and how it felt as though religious minorities are becoming more active in showing themselves. The lights themselves are different form the ones in the UK. In the UK, they are large and over the top. In Bandra, it was more Bollywood. Trees had lights hanging off them over the roads, except all along the road. It was magical!

The only way to get around (apart from Uber)

Let’s just say that I ate a shit ton of street food while I was in Mumbai, which is slight understatement. There were only two possible outcomes of this idea of mine, putting on some weight over the trip by eating everything in sight or lose a ton of weight due to food poisoning. I did the only respectable thing and not care, ended not changing in weight and missing the great food as soon as I left. I’m just going to leave a montage here.

I do think of myself as Indian, just an NRI (Not Really Indian).

Goa

I was able to explore part of Goa next, which surprisingly was more expensive that Mumbai. Seriously 300 rupees for a 10-minute drive! Ended taking the bus instead for 10 rupees. You can take the man out of Gujarat, but you can’t take the Gujju out of the man! Now Panjim is not exactly what I would call a city, more a town. It would be like calling Chelmsford a city. I don’t care that both are, but there’s no way that either have a real city vibe to them. I say this as kid who grew up in a village surrounded by sugar cane, which has more hustle and bustle than these places.

What I did in Goa, apart from going to great restaurants (shout out to Black Sheep Bistro and Mum’s Kitchen), is learnt a surprising amount of history about the Portuguese rule in Goa. I spent a day with Dad going to the various forts nearby and apart from taking a ton of photos of Dad and posing for some myself. Though there was a great comedic moment that happened on this day. For some reason my father forgot that English is a lingua franca in India and after setting up a photo someone stood in front of the camera took out their phone and started to take a photo. My father turned to me and said: “What a dipshit! Is he blind?!?” Like a flash the guy turn around and I was crying with laughter thinking what dipshit my father can be!

Coloursim

Apart from galivanting around forts, I was on the beach getting a nice town to become dark and beautiful. I have talked about colourism on the blog before, but briefly there’s a real issue with people wanting to appear lighter. I’ve never understood the obsession. Personally, I want to have a tan and prefer to hang out with people who looks as though they aren’t afraid of the sun, which may seem counter intuitive to an anti-colourism claim. However, it’s true and secondly there is so little out there being for darker skin. Just remember to wear sunscreen, none of us are stronger than the sun. Back to the beach, the water was lovely. It was quite funny to see the life guard calling people back towards shore and I was there thinking that the water was so safe compared to Umhlanga. It was so calm, that I even just walked into the water in my shorts and carried my camera. Might have soaked my shorts a couple of times, but what’s the point of being on holiday if you’re going to act up tight: especially when I could buy a new pair for a couple of hundred rupees.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair for the Kotecha as the rest of the family were going early in the morning to catch their flights, while I was on the last flight out. We ended going to the south and seeing our friends (and former neighbours) for an afternoon at the beach, glass of champagne and getting our feet (and my shorts) wet while we watched the sun set. Not a bad way to see out the year.

The final day in Goa, was New Year’s Day. As I was alone, I ended up going around Goa. I spent time looking for baked goods, hired a private tour guide to see a Christian Relic, went to a spice farm where I got see an elephant lounging around, went to the beach and hired a photographer to take some photographs of myself and then got completely bored in the airport while I waited for my flight. Going back to the elephant. When I first saw the elephant, I saw it lying on its side I thought it was dead. Let a loud “oh shit” in front of some kids. Luckily, they were more interested in seeing an elephant, even if they referred to it a Dumbo when everyone knows that Nelly & Bazar are the far superior names to call elephants. I blame the parents…

Someone has the right idea

I like Goa, I just don’t imagine that I’ll go back anytime soon. It’s not a terrible place, just there was no…magnet for me. My heart doesn’t yearn to return.

Back to Mumbai

A pretty nice view. Now that fog has lifted

I headed back to Mumbai to spend some time with the friends from South Africa and to see some family. Let’s not forget about the enormous amount of street food.  I spent the last few days running around Mumbai. I’m not going to give a play-by-play of everything I did. However, I will talk about paan. Now paan traditionally was thought to be a digestion aid. The paan that you get outside of India (well Asia), is shit. Luckily, I was able to get magai (not Maggi noodles) in Mumbai, which is made from young and tender leaves. Dipped in in coconut and rose syrup. As my Mom said: “They’re like tequila shots. You don’t have one. You have one after the other!” As you may tell, I can from a party family. We didn’t go to the side of the street for the paan, instead we went to the racecourse at 11pm. At Gallops we were presented with an array of paan platters, tins to prepare all the flavours. It was unusual, but something that doesn’t seem out of place in Mumbai.

On the last day in Mumbai, I do what I always try and do by the end of the trip. Go for a facial treatment, haircut and massage. I did and left with glowing skin and a new trim. Then I headed to Santa Cruz market, where we (Mum and I) met a woman called Nisha (same name as Mum) and her sister’s name who escape me. The sister called out: “Oi, Nisha! What do you think of this?” in a thick British action. Mum and turned around looking bemused thinking who is this person? Quite funny that there were two Nisha’s in the shop. After a bit of chatting, we found out the other Nisha was from Kenya and now living in Saudi. Talk about being eerily similar to my own Mother.

I got onto the plane heading back to Dubai with a feeling as though my time in India has only really just begun. The country has something special. I do need to visit Bengal and head further south, but time is unfortunately short. This trip has cemented the idea that I will get my OCI when I decide to return to the UK. I do think of myself as Indian, just as an NRI (Not Really Indian). Obviously, my identity is a bit complicated, but someone else’s problem, not mine.

Finally got the pose correct

I don’t escape the winter, I embrace the summer

Hanik P Kotecha

Shu Thayu

Those Bollywood nights
Where memories old helped form the new
We both cut shapes on the floor
Walking out of the bar into the crisp autumn air

Across the river is the train home
We pause, not because we can’t turn back
Rather we fear what happens if we board
Do we turn our lives upside-down to chase the dream of us?

The reality reminds us of our fragility
The success could just lead to more baggage
Where it is not in our nature to be savage
To be civil we cut ties before they are woven

No betrayal to the other
Just ourselves
We deny ourselves the opportunity to fail
We imagine that our future may contain more pain

We go our separate ways
To shed a few tears
Knowing why
But still not how it happened

We get asked the same question when we get home:

Shu thayu? (What happened?)
Mari jaan kem atli dukhi che? (Why is my darling upset?)

Hun prem karava dari guuy chu (I’m scared to be in love)

Why I am Jealous of Brown Girls on Instagram

The rise of positive brown girls on social media is a phenomenon that I am not just in awe of, but as desi guy something that I envy. The global desi community in the past and present is a patriarchal society. As we slowly shift away from this misogynist way of life, the role of what it means to be a desi man is changing. However, role models for young desis are few and far between. I understand that there are big names like Hasan Minhaj or Riz Ahmed who are influencing the desi community in a positive sense, but it’s a top down approach. This is not the same as the brown girl’s movement of reclaiming our culture from previous generations, which is what the boys are completely lacking. To understand what the desi boys’ community needs to be, we first need to understand what the brown girl online movement is, why I think it’s commendable, my thoughts on the current role models, what I want the desi boys’ movement to be and how I’m trying to play a part in the process.

#browngirls

The brown girl movement online is simply a part of the fourth wave of feminism, with sections of third wave feminism (in a South Asian sense). Where brown women are standing for their rights & appropriating our culture for the better. You can go online and see the works of Simmi Patel with her page Paper Samosa or Maria Qamar’s hatecopy page (whose pop art features as my laptop’s background). There are several Facebook groups that my friends have made me aware of the solely exist to provide a support network for brown women in various cities across the world. Essentially this community is not only taking control on how they wished to be perceived but an actual community to help out in the “real” world. Just look at current Indian soaps or most films, to see that women still have a mountain to climb to be perceived as equals. A community to deal with the uncles and aunties of this world, is something that doesn’t exist in any sense for guys, outside a close few friends. This sense of control of the community’s own destiny, that being a brown boy I envy the most.

Role models

The two most famous male desi role models in/from the West would have to be Hasan Minhaj & Riz Ahmed. Hasan has his hit show Patriot Act talking about politics to doing AMAs (ask me anything) on Subtle Asian Traits. Riz Ahmed is an actor who was in Wired, Rogue One, Jason Bourne and Venom (though personally Four Lions is my favourite). Riz is also a musician and has spoken in the UK parliament about Islamophobia and the lack of portrayal of non-stereotype Muslims in the media.

The brown girl movement online is simply a part of the fourth wave of feminism

What I mean by Brown Girls on Instagram

Both guys have been breaking barriers for desi representation and helping to redefine what is it to be a desi guy. However, it’s not a community or a movement. It is an approach that relies on the few that breakout. Not a sense of togetherness or vulnerability that is controlled by us.

Our Cultural. Our Revolution.

Jameela Jamil is right, that the biggest failure is not to try. What should this online desi/brown boy community try and be, in this online world? My number one issue is that we need to be a feminist community. To the unengaged, this may seem counter intuitive for a male focused community. However, if we are to forge a future of equality then we have the same aims as the desi/brown girl gang. A movement that is progressive and wants us (this generation) to be in control. It is important to recognise that these are somethings that we all want for the future and thus we need to work together.

This sense of control of the community’s own destiny, that being a brown boy I envy the most

The second is a space for brown boys to start reclaiming our culture from the “men” in society. I suggest that guys start with the simple rebellion as being engaged when it comes to tidying up at family events. A place where I see aunties harassing girls to help clean up, but never seen an uncle do anything more than lifting a glass of whiskey. Nor do I see many guys my age helping or even making a real attempt to not become a spectator. It’s not right that our sisters are cleaning up and we just sit & chat. Yeah, it’s nice Now, I fight and argue that I should be allowed to help and just do it regardless of the protests. While this makes me the bau diyo child of the family, it really shouldn’t be that special (even if I am the bau diyo child of the family). Other things that can be done is wearing more traditional garments instead of shirts and jeans during festivals such as Eid/Diwali/Xmas. It’s not as though we can’t rock them at other events, I do try and wear Indo-Western to more functions, but I have no concern to go full Trudeau and wear it everywhere.

Thirdly, there is need to find an environment to talk to each other in a more open and loving environment. Not one that’s immune from criticism, but one where we can express ourselves knowing that the community is there to get to a better version of the past. One that’s more inclusive than before. Can a group of individual nobodies make this change if no major star can? Yes. Of we can. To be more than a flash in the pan, we will need a bunch of nobody’s talking to each other having this dialogue.

I have no concern to go full Trudeau

When it comes to wearing more traditional clothes

No point just talking.

Personally, I host a podcast with about being Brown in the West and through the show, I want people to know what it is meant to be a normal brown boy. No Instagram filters, or just highlight reels. The flawed human beings that we both were and continue to be, even as we strive to be better. We are bringing on guests to share more ideas and provide perspectives that we couldn’t imagine, because sometimes it’s better to have someone to empathise with instead of us just sympathise. This openness is what will drive the community forward. Where would this community be? I would love if people started using the blog to start having these conversations (there is a comment section after all). My blog is great for me, but honestly it doesn’t have the same reach as single hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. It probably needs to blow up on a social media site. Do I need to up my social media game then? Yes, but I’m still figuring how to do it, without sounding like a dick.

What I think will happen?

Personally, I don’t hold out that there will be an equivalent brown boys’ movement, at least in my age group. We haven’t been raised to challenge the world in the same way as our sisters. Instead we still have the same tropes and expectations that our fathers had been raised with, which will take more than a blog to overcome. Should we not bother then? Fuck no. Small movements will be needed to challenge what it is to be a brown boy in the future and if we want the future to better than we must raise the next generation differently. To be desi with pride no matter where they are from. Not one where there is no brown girl/boy movement in the future, the next generation will always try to better (whatever they think that is) than the previous. I just want a future where every brown kid is there own movement to change the world.

Mumbai

The city that never sleeps
Full of mystic, lights, billionaires & beggars
The playground of Indian’s elite
And kids play cricket on every street

How I miss this city
It may have the Gateway of India
But it has the gateway to azadi 
Even if the smog blocks the light

Walk down the streets as the autos and kallipilli wizz past
Dodge the gaays and guys while you follow the delightful smells
No one wears a mask as everyone looks for that suitable boy or girl
Yet all are scared of their auntie ji going chi-chi-chi when they find out that you spent the night with Sanchi

I cringe when I call my Mumbai Bomb(bae)
However I’m utterly in love
This city represents the best & the worst of my life and my desires
I feel at home in this constant chaos

Stuttering

There is no shortness breath
Say some words take heft
I look out for patience
As my thoughts are stuck in the station

My mind needs to be active
My mouth is protracted
There is intellectual theft
Even if I am not bereft

The chief culprit is me
I feel like an amputee
My knowledge dispossessed
As though I’m not even the best of the rest

Though I have no reason to want this
My ideas are just disappearing into the abyss
I know I’m lucky to have my thoughts
I just wished the ones I shared weren’t so short

This is my constant battle
While I take on the world this still causes me to rattle
I wish it was confidence
but I don’t have that evidence