The sacred space of compassion

IMG20171004092818Having recently read different posts discussing the sacredness of spaces, and the equal access to these spaces, had me come to a few realisations.
We love to use religion to justify our actions. However, would our character, morality, compassion be otherwise, without the rules of our religion?
From my personal experiences within the last year, I discovered the most sacred of spaces (in my personal opinion).

A space which held the least judgement. A space which displayed compassion. A space at which emotions were heightened yet pain was shared. A space where a Superior Creator was present yet no war was created. A space where there was hope, faith, compassion, prayer, pain, and the rawness of humanity.
A hospital waiting room!
There is a difference between being in a hospital environment as a medical profession, as a patient and as someone in the waiting room. It amazes me to see the natural softening of hearts. To feel the energy of hope and prayer being sent to different parties. And of course, the sharing of food and a lot of tea!
Of course, these experiences differ based on hospital environments. But this is not an analysis of the comfort, or the cleanliness or the efficiency of staff. This is an observation of human interaction, when people allow their natural walls to come down. To feel and connect with others in different situations. Without imposing their own views, methods, religions, laws, morals or ideals on the people around them.IMG20171004092822
It is one of the only environments where people can easily agree to disagree without even a conversation. Where people are careful of the feelings of strangers. Where prayers are prayed by different beliefs to different ideas of Creators and no wars are triggered and no names are being called.
On one of my visits to Waterfall Hospital earlier this year, I met the daughter of a patient who shared a ward with us.

I knew her family from having shared their experience as they shared ours. And politely asking how her mum was coping I was directed to a women crying in the waiting room. As soon as she saw me she hugged me and cried. No words were said. Just a hug. A strange sight to the people there who knew I was not there for this family, but rather for my own. Staunch Christian lady being consoled by a Hijabed stranger.
As we sat down and I finally offered some consolation I noticed a few people staring. After a while those staring came to ask if she was alright. Three men, dressed in orthodox religious attire sat down and offered her words of comfort from their religious texts. Without harshness, without physical contact, with just words, prayers, and thoughts. They held her space.
This interaction reminded me of how vulnerable we are. Of how inherent kindness is within us. Of how we use laws, rules, religions to create barriers, walls and divisions. When our natural instinct is to be kind. To share our feelings without judgment. And to connect to people regardless of our differences.
I hope this serves as a reminder, the holiest and most sacred of grounds may be determined by a spirit instead of by being declared holy by a sign, symbol or religion.

To the De Costa Family, my condolences.

“To Him do we belong, and To Him do we return”



To Be Or Not To Be…..Or Who To Be?

The following post may contain explicit/disturbing/erotic imagery. Viewer Discretion is advised. R18 . Adult Content. 

It has taken me a while to put my latest experience into words.
Mainly, because initially I did not take it seriously. Only after I heard a friend talk to me about a similar experience did I realise, this needed to be discussed.
A little backstory: Growing up there are phases in which your self-esteem and confidence is low. Understandably, as there is a lot happening; physically, emotionally and spiritually.
However, I was rather fortunate, around 15 I attended a girl’s only pool party and noticed, girls are so conscious of their own flaws, that you actually are your own harshest judge. And since that day, my view of my SELF, my BODY and my IMAGE evolved.
A term a friend and I coined is “Mindy Confidence” (from the Mindy project: when your confidence levels are higher than the average). This outlook may start as a positive affirmation ie: I am beautiful, I am funny. But as it begins to rewire your brain, you actually believe it, your self-confidence adapts, and your vision of you improves.
Very early on I reached a level of contentment with myself, not trying to be thinner, or prettier or smarter or more, but just being content and grateful with what I have and what I am. I am enough!


side angle: it’s all about perception

However, recently I had a conversation with a stranger, which shook me to my core, but not because of a personal attack on anything physical. But due to the fact that it attacked my essence, my faith, my spirituality, my own image, who I am and the image I portray.
A boy/guy/male got my number from an “Aunty” and texted me. We did not know each other personally but had quite a few friends in common. He was very polite.
He then took the liberty to stalk me on Instagram (my profile was open, so I guess I asked to be stalked). And this conversation followed:
Him: You’re very pretty. But I don’t like the way you dress.
Me: That’s alright, it wouldn’t suit you anyway Him: What do you mean?  Me: My style wouldn’t look good on you. 



Sul-Tree Pose  

I had no doubt that this endeavor was a waste of my time, but it puzzled me that within an hour of chatting to a random stranger, he felt he could comment on my dressing. I was intrigued at the audacity. Consciously, I did not want to appear defensive, yet I became defensive as my faith became questioned (yet his was not).
He commented to say my yoga pictures “broke his wudu”, and that they should not be displayed on a public platform. As the entire shape of my body is revealed.

In what world is it appropriate for a stranger someone to text a stranger and comment on the appropriateness of the pictures they post? And apply a religious context to it?

He did not follow me, my outrageous erotic yoga pictures did not suddenly appear at the top of his newsfeed and taint his perfect vision. He sought them! And then reprimanded me for displaying them…. publically.

Whether it was his intention or not, I felt attacked. Never has my religious belief, religious standing ever been questioned. Yet his religious standing was never in question ….. why?
Perhaps, because he has a beard.
Words alone cannot express the irony of this situation and so I cannot elaborate further on the conversation. I remind you this entire conversation took approximately an hour.
As humorous as I initially found this, I started seeing my instagram account differently. As well as confused as to why it was acceptable to degrade a stranger on their being!

In today’s day and age our social media is used as a platform for us to be judged, we create it and allow this judgment to be passed. So have I been creating an account which shows complete disregard to myself, and I am largely my religion, so therefore my faith, my being?

So should I then adapt this to show all my followers and of course stalkers just how religious I am. I always thought I reflected it in my actions, in my words, in my personal being, for never have I been questioned about this in person.


That one time….yes I fell asleep

But if I do this, then surely I am merely doing this based on “what will people think?”
Prior to this incident I was completely comfortable with myself and my online persona. Yet now I am troubled.

After much deliberation I decided to leave it as it stands. For I created an image of exactly who I am. Pictures with friends, with family, with animals, with open hair, with make-up, without makeup, hugging elephants in dirty water and doing yoga in colourful pants at random location is a reflection of who I am. And that is the person that I share with you.


Sameera Kaftan ? 

I cannot apologise for that. I cannot fit into your stereotypical boxes :


“religious” “modern”, “spiritual” , “yogi” ,”Doctor” , “Dancing”, “praying”, “muslim”, “indian” , “South African”
I say this with much conviction, but I still face this internal struggle of how to balance this outwardly religious persona with an internal spiritual one.
I often ask, will the gates of heaven be lined with measuring tapes, to measure the lengths of beards, and amount of fringe sticking out, and ankles visible?

Let’s go and find flaws in others and how they display their faith, lets crack holes in the paintings of others, surely this will bring us closer to our God??
Does observing a 100% OUTWARD religious demeanour then give us this right?

PS: I could literally upload a picture of me standing upright and hashtag it yoga, and it could suddenly become erotic. Am I the problem?

Squeaky Clean


The first post on my India series  was done at 5am in the morning, and many of you have asked `why I was in need of a distraction at such an odd hour of the morning.

Before I explain, I would like to throwback to my first trip to India (2011-2012) , it is relevant, I swear.

From the first night in India, New Delhi to be precise, I knew it was going to be an interesting experience. As I was an extra person in the room, the hotel brought me a little bunk bed to sleep on, but as soon as I sat down on it, it completely folded in on me, just as it happens in the movies. And obviously my sisters watched and laughed.

It was actually one of the better hotels though. Later in the trip, in Mumbai we stayed at hotel on Linking Road. A busy area, well-known for the shopping experience. It was a lovely clean hotel and much better than the previous hotel  on Muhammed Ali Road, which was incredibly dodge, but served the best food and the best chai (at any time of the day or night), but the upgrade was much needed.
I once again shared a room with Rizwana and Ayesha, but this time had a bed, instead of a foldable “bunk”.
We settled into our new space comfortably. A few days later I found packets of nuts and biscuits in the room which appeared to have been ripped open, I was quite annoyed, but as we had many children with us it could be expected that they might have caused this.
The very same night at around 1am, I was rather restless and thought I had heard the slightest “squeak”. My sisters thought I was imagining it and went back to sleep. After a while I was convinced there was a sound coming from behind my head and reached over Ayesha to switch the light on. This is what followed.
Rizwana: “Ayesha! What are you doing ?”
Ayesha : (from a deep sleep)”I am sleeping….”
Fathima: “I think theres a mouse in the room” *switches lights on *
I moved a bag and chaos ensued, a mouse began shuffling around the room and the three of us began screaming and shuffling around an incredibly small space.
Ayesha made a call to reception and explained in broken Gujarati that there was a mouse in our room, the clerk, replied saying “Ma’am, there is no mouse”. An annoyed Ayesha, then went down to call him and came back with a helper, and a soft grass broom. The helper began hitting this poor mouse, which caused us to shriek even more. We asked him not to kill the mouse (again in broken Gujarati), just to remove it. We then lost sight of the mouse.
Ayesha decided she had had enough and locked herself in the bathroom, Rizwana found safety perched on a chair, on the lookout, and I intelligently remained on the bed.
All was silent, as the helper walked around moving things to locate our nemesis.
Silent, that is, until I felt the slightest furriest, softest sensation walking over my leg!
Yes, it was certainly the mouse! I began shrieking once again, and at that point ran out of the room ( still not sure why I had not done that to begin with).
All the noise and commotion had also disturbed our neighbour, a local gentleman who walked into the room, and viewed the situation. Without saying a word, put his hand in a packet he found, reached over, and picked the mouse up!
And then displayed this mouse in a packet for us all to see. Simple, one swift move, as compared to a broom smashing helper and three shrieking, jumping girls.
He was not at all annoyed and seemed not in the least bit phased.

As I am sure you can imagine, nobody got much sleep that night. And I will forever be traumatised at having a mouse run up my leg!



Staring is Caring

Most Indians are probably well aware of the Indian tendency to stare. And if an Indian happens to see more of their kind, the staring is even more intense.
In India it is no different. You would think it would be, given the population size, but it is not.

Being here, I have received quite a few comments regarding my Indian features, I have been asked if I have indian heritage, and one time I was mistaken as the Hospital staff by newly arrived foreign guests….. well, surprise surprise, I am Indian.

However explaining to everyone how this is possible, yet I do not speak the language which is Malayalum (not Hindi, which I can’t speak either), I can’t eat intensely spicy food, (here even Mild is spicy, even the Lays are spicy, even the fruit is spiced!!), I do not listen to Indian music, and I dress like a “westerner”.
So why would they believe me?
Explaining that I am fifth generation Indian, does not really help, because all they see is how lost my heritage is and the identity crisis I am apparently experiencing. That is true though, aside from the food much of our culture has been unfortunately lost.

Even the food is debatable, as we South African Indians are very proud of our Indian food. It is nothing like what is consumed here.
While dining at my host family, I was offered a spoon to eat biryani with. I was so offended! I politely declined and continued to eat using my hands. Eating biryani with a spoon…..never!(ok I admit sometimes I do use a spoon to eat biryani with……..).
At the same time they asked if the food is not too spicy for my South African taste buds, to which I replied “ no it’s perfectly fine”. Meanwhile, it was like a volcano erupted in my mouth!! I was dying! I drank the water next to me without thinking twice of it being tap water or filtered, either way, the effects would be the same.

The next morning I had a pre-breakfast meal of deep fried, battered bananas and chai which was absolutely divine. I was later called for an unexpected breakfast, which consisted of: livers and sheep brains. It is not my first encounter with the healthy organ meat, but it is not on my list of favourite foods. They insisted I try some and as I stood my ground, I heard two comments : “She eats like the Europeans…” and “ I think she’s vegetarian”.
Once again an epic Indian fail on my part.
The evening didn’t improve as they served me chopped up crab, and I almost fainted.
Apparently I am a fussy eater.

On a non food related note, the host family had a lot of guests who all came to greet me, due to the language barrier, it involved a lot of staring, being talked about while standing and smiling, and an occasional comment to fill the awkward silence like: “Alhamdulillah” or “I am fine” or”I love Kerala!”
The guests apparently liked this and commented on how polite, well mannered and quiet I am. (Yes,..Me ..quiet! But in all honesty with such a language barrier there isn’t really much to say or anyone to say it to).

A few days back, at the supermarket , I turned around to find a little girl yanking her sisters sleeve and pointing at me , they then both proceeded to stare, point and giggle. I smiled and said hello and they burst into more giggles and went to tell a third girl about me, who then also looked from a distance. I have grown accustomed to this, as puzzling as it is.

I also realised that the number 1 way to stand out as a foreigner is to wear sunglasses. I do not understand how everyone else deals, especially since there’s plenty of stores selling sunglasses, worn by nobody.
If you wear sunglasses, a backpack or crocs, then don’t even bother asking for a discount.

Last weekend after my morning cooking class (keralan cooking 101), I was offered to visit an orphanage. I was really excited. As we got to the venue which appeared to be large school, whereby a concert appeared to be taking place, we were greeted by an entourage of teachers who escorted us to a room with a buffet. We were incredibly confused as we were handed coffee (or sugar garnished with coffee), had our names taken and as nobody understood English just went along with it.


View from the stage

We then got ushered downstairs into the school and concert area and walked passed little girls dressed in traditional clothing preparing to perform. We asked if we could watch and they agreed but continued walking, we were then lead onto a stage and were seated in front of an audience. Based on the speeches we were able to make out, we were foreign doctors honouring the school’s prize giving ceremony. My only expression was complete puzzlement. They handed us roses, we had to say a few words and thereafter they placed chairs in the front row of the audience for us to watch the talent show and concert. It was absolutely brilliant, and it fascinated me how such young children remembered every move without a guide showing them what to do.

Now it was my turn to just stare in absolute awe!
There was even a yoga performance done by 8 year olds who were absolutely phenomenal, and it pleased me to see how these activities are integrated into the syllabus of the school. The students were delightful and instructed to take selfies with us as we were honorary guests.They also spoke perfect english.

Aside from being grossly underdressed, (yes I had a backpack and sunglasses with me on stage), the entire event was a lovely surprise. Upon leaving, my colleague still asked where the orphans were……we are still waiting to know.

What I’ve come to learn is this country is just full of surprises and incredibly bizarre.
Till next time……

Note: The next post will be on my two rodent experiences (from 2011 and most recently).
And one of the reasons the food here is so different for me is because we are generally accustomed to Northern Indian cooking, whereas Kerala has it’s own speciality, including the use of Coconut Oil as their main oil.

The South African made Indian


view from the school’s rooftop: Back waters of Kerala

Seeing as it is 5am and I will not be getting any more sleep for the night, (I will elaborate on this at a later stage), I thought let’s finally post about this unplanned trip to India and all the experiences which accompanies such a trip.

I am currently in the Northern part of South India, a province called Kerala which is well known for the beautiful beaches, delicious vegetarian cuisine and of course hospitable culture.
My previous visit to India in 2011 was a tour of the North, where I fell in love with this incredible place.

The South is a completely different experience . A very “well run state” (according to locals) extreme poverty appears scarce and the literacy rate is quite high. I landed at a tiny airport in Calicut/Khozikhode, which is so unknown even the travel agent had some difficulty finding it (airport code CCJ, if anyone is planning to visit). The reason I chose this remote part of the country is to enhance my studies with a short course in Ayurvedic Medicine at a training college, as well as a Yoga Teacher Training course.
My parents accompanied me to see that I am settled at a legit institute ( as I found it online and had no references to confirm the existence of this school). And because my sisters discouraged me going by myself in the event that I was kidnapped by a taxi driver, to make their point they used words like “Taken” and “Liam Neeson”. So naturally my Eat, Pray,Yoga journey was facilitated by the rents.

The school/hospital is located on the Backwaters of Kerala, in the quaint town of Kannur (pronounced Kun-nooh). It is about 200kms from Calicut Airport and a three hour “drive”/ Rollercoaster ride/ adrenaline pumping drive from Calicut to Kannur.

During the journey in a comfortable taxi, many thoughts crossed my mind, in between the bouts of whiplash from the erratic braking, the constant hooting and the speed (60-80kms per hour at best); thoughts such as “what have you gotten yourself into?”, “is there such a thing as: overly ambitious?”, “is it too late to go back home?” and of course “what were you thinking?”. These thoughts do come back to haunt me on special days when I interact with creatures residing in crevices in my place of temporary residence.

However, upon arriving at the school : “PVA Multi Speciality Nursing Home/Hospital” I felt a little more at ease. The school/treatment centre is a large open building to allow ventilation from the rare but cool breeze and as it is situated away from the busy traffic, brings a beautiful tranquil and peaceful atmosphere.

My mum had been worried and expressed her concern during the flight by saying (in gujarati):
She won’t cope, it’s India”
“nevermind two weeks is enough”
“ okay, one month is enough, she won’t survive longer”
However seeing the school she felt more at ease and the phrases changed to:
“She loves it, she should just move here”
“ She will have to come back again perhaps for 6 months”
“ she should just register for the Year course”
that is until I encountered a giant cockroach and screamed blue murder for someone to save me. She then said “ I think a month is fine”

Thus so far, India has been warm (climate and friendliness) and pleasant, I haven’t encountered any foul smells, but often I get the scent of fresh spices, chopped coconuts and fresh juices.

I have made a few observations regarding kerala:
– The people appear to have their weight relatively controlled (yes Diabetes is a problem), but obesity and childhood obesity levels do not appear to be high.
-The absence of beggars and alcoholics wandering the streets
-Often the children and younger generations are fluent in English as they are in English schools.
-If India increased the number of bins in an area, wouldnt the litter perhaps decrease….? (just a thought)

Lastly, it amused me to see people in the streets wearing clothing which I would usually wear to a wedding, as their everyday attire. (This explains why you can never be over-dressed at an indian wedding).

Over all the start of my India experience was very positive yet unpredictable.
It isn’t what I expected but I look forward to what awaits


It has come to my attention, the lack of etiquette, politeness and manners prevalent in our society. As I have written a post on rudeness amongst people under the pretence of honesty, do not worry, I am not being redundant. This post is aimed at a more mature crowd. In fact I am speaking about mothers, grandmothers, aunts and middle-aged women who have reached a stage where they feel the rules of etiquette are no longer applicable. (Please refer to the definitions at the end of the post for further clarity)
Many would have started reading and immediately agreed, stating manners and etiquette are certainly lacking in the youth of today. As the youth are not my target for this post, all I will say is that if the youth lack manners, perhaps we should look at their direct role models and elders in the family before blaming them.

Recently, I have encountered many puzzling questions, statements and incidents, and in each case I shook it off as, “it’s okay, that’s just how inquisitive people are”. Until I realised, that I am allowing the rudeness prevalent in society to be seen as “normal”.
I realised that I would never ask such questions possibly because my mum would reprimand me and my dad would be disappointed with my rude character.

download (12)

I would really like to know: when has it become acceptable to be rude or inquisitive? When has it become acceptable to pry into other people’s business? When did tact fall away without any notice from society?
In fact, being offended is more of a social crime, than posing questions of offence.

Below I have listed the common rude questioners we come across in society. Please note these are all true stories.

1. The Cross- Examiner:
This individual basically plays a game of 20 questions with you, that you didn’t even know you had signed up for. Most often experienced in supermarkets, it warrants an occasion where there is a time constraint?. However, recently I visited people and felt interrogated before stepping into the house. The questioning took place immediately after I opened the garden gate before having set foot inside. The questioning is often done so quickly that you barely have time to respond, return the question or to think.
Eg: “Salaam, when you came?
With who you came?
How long you here for?
Where you staying while you here? How you came? You drove or flew? I heard your grandparents are sick, what’s wrong? You aren’t studying anymore, what are you doing? You don’t have a job? What did you study? How long are you here for? when are you leaving?

After I got hit with these questions (which are not rude), I began walking towards the entrance of the house and thought: “Well, now what are we going to spend the evening talking about, I think we covered everything”.

In a supermarket setting the style is the same, especially if the cross-examiner has not seen you in five years, which means more questions to ask. Remember that a conversation comprises of an exchange of information, thoughts and ideas.

2. The “Concerned Fertility Specialist”:
After you get married a common question that is asked is: “so when are you starting a family?”. This is not necessarily a rude question when asked in specific contexts. However, I find this to be a sensitive question because it delves into such a personal entity. Often it is asked as: “So when you having a baby?”
Firstly, the questioner might not know that the woman may have been trying to fall pregnant for years, or has had several miscarriages or cannot have children, or may just not want children. If you are close to the individual then I cannot dictate politeness amongst friends or “BFFs” but like I said, these questions are often posed by women whose business it isn’t. I find it to not just be rude, but insensitive as well. Some go as far as to ask “is the problem with you or your husband?”.
If you have fertility advice to offer then write an article, or perhaps approach the person alone and ask for permission. Sometimes the woman has been offered so much advice from so many “concerned” individuals that she is just frustrated and the whole experience is more exhausting.
It really isn’t okay to ask, but if you do, is your next question going to be on their contraception preference, or advice on more effective positions to enhance conception? NO!
It is not your business unless; however, you are a fertility specialist.

images (5)

I recently attended a Thikr (religious prayer session remembering God). As I was serving the savouries, I saw an older woman who I realised out of respect, I must definitely greet. This is the conversation that ensued:
Me: Assalamualaikom
Aunty: Walaikumsalam, you got one isn’t??
Me: (puzzled expression , one what? samoosa? boyfriend? car?) what ??
Aunty: oh no, that’s Ayesha, you not married.

Obviously, she was talking about a child. I walked away in absolute shock. The elders are the gems in society. These are our gems!
What I would have liked to say is that I just got back from five years at University and I am not married, you be glad I don’t “have one”.

This brings me to the next type; which I am sure many of you can relate to.

3. The Matchmaker: “No life, without wife”
“ so when you getting married?”
“ Why aren’t you married?”
“ Nevermind, shame you’ll find someone”
To be honest, I initially felt that I am at a stage in my life where these questions are normal and so getting offended by them is really silly.
I do feel that however normal they may seem, I wonder if they are in fact just rude or if people are over sensitive. I realised that before I enquired about an individual’s marital status, (which is less abnormal at my age), I search for signs during the course of the conversation, for instance a wedding ring. (Remember that word: “conversation”, the fluff we exchange to be friendly).
I also noticed that when given the chance, women mention their spouse or their in-laws or even their children. For some reason people prefer to skip the small talk and pry about the individual’s marital status, like it is a 911 call: “Do you have someone?? Are you alone??”
Recently I met distant relatives , the lady mentioned that her last born daughter Fatima, was not feeling well. My mum commented that her “baby” is also named Fathima, and it is funny how the babies of the family are often a Fatima. (yes, I am 23 and still the baby).
The lady having not spoken to us the entire evening then asked: “you’re the only one not married?”
I was not phased at first, but later realised that it was tactless especially since she knew absolutely nothing about me, yet the question was somehow relevant. Did she even know my last name?

download (10)
NOTE: A low IQ is no excuse for bad manners. Politeness has nothing to do with your intellect. I know of many intelligent people who are rude and uncouth.

However, on this story, the next day I met other distant family. The Uncle asked me if I was getting married anytime soon, and said he was hoping he would have a reason for a visit. He then proceeded to say that he would make duaa (pray) for me. He then raised his hands and started reciting a prayer for my health, for a spouse, my future, my education and my happiness. I was really touched. He did not pry, he asked sincerely then made an earnest prayer. Amazing!

4. The Disability Privilege
These are people who are given a social pardon and allowed to be rude and not adhere to general manners and rules that apply to the rest of society. This is for no other reason than: because they are consistently rude. I once complained to a friend saying that an individual was rather unexpectedly offensive and my friend replied by saying: “but you know her the longest, you know how she is, she’s always been this way, we should understand”. In that moment I realised, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. That being said, your social stature, pride, wealth or qualification does not excuse you from social etiquette. Although there is no book of law, there is such a thing as common (11)


These are the four main types, in my opinion. However, after speaking to other people, I would like to add some general questions that should be avoided. I noticed people can be rather straightforward when asking about Indian heritage ie, “Are you Memon?”.
Furthermore, do not ask traumatised people “What happened” after a traumatic event or when you go over to sympathise. Instead offer words of comfort and wisdom. if you don’t have any, pray or Google some words to use.
When asking career related questions, do not ask them how much they paid for their seat into medicine (I found this funny because I could not believe this was asked). Then don’t get offended when they say they didn’t pay anything.
Lastly, don’t assume that an individual’s sole purpose is to find a husband. I mentioned to a friend that I was going overseas for a holiday and her response was: “Shame, maybe you’ll find a husband there”. I responded by saying: “Yes, seeing as I have dated every single eligible bachelor in this entire country, my only option now is to find a suitor overseas” (I am not sure if my sarcasm was well received).

download (9)

I would like to end by sharing some important lessons I learnt from a book I am reading (When you hear hoofbeats think of a zebra, by Shems Friedlander).
When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was asked: “What can I do to improve myself?” he responded by saying: “Hold your tongue”.
Another useful lesson is to remember that the manner in which you carry yourself is reflected on your children and for that you will have to answer to your Lord: “That child is going to imitate not only your actions but the subtlety of your feelings”.
Finally remember that the tongue is the sweetest of objects in this world, it has the ability to give comfort, heal hearts, ease souls, and bring happiness. At the same time it has the ability to create irreparable wounds, break hearts and destroy lives. So be weary of what you choose to say using your most powerful tool

download (7)

Please share with your relatives especially those you know it applies to. However, let us begin by setting a better example.

Note: It was suggested that the post is a reflection of my progressive “millennial” modernised thought processes. However, the essential theme is not based on the insipid questions being asked but on the social etiquette and manners lacking within those insipid questions. If anything, my views are based on out-dated, old-fashioned principles.


Etiquette: conventional requirements as to social behaviour; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
Rude: discourteous or impolite, especially in a deliberate way, without culture, learning, or refinement. Rough in manners or behaviour, unmannerly; rough, harsh, or ungentle, harsh to the ear.

Trip to Tanzania – HAKUNA MATATA

I recently traveled  to Tanzania, this may seem like an odd destination, but the country certainly does have a lot to offer. I visited the beautiful island of Zanzibar, and thereafter spent a few days in the capital Dar es Salaam, which is a lot like India, but on mute.

I found myself constantly comparing Tanzania to India, as I visited India a few years back in 2012. Here is an extract ( with some comments) from my travel diary :

1) A collapseable bed closed in on me (Delhi)
– yes this actually happened, it snapped shut with me in it and my sisters laughed at me
2) Twisted my knee (Ajmer, goodbye beautiful heels, looking at surgery ASAP)
– I had knee surgery since then… and dislocated the other knee since ..
3) Got bumped by a motorbike (Mumbai, it was bound to happen)
4) Walked into a taxi door (got a huge blue and purple bruise… it’s pretttyyy)
5) Bumped into a stationery tuk tuk (I was avoiding moving traffic)
6) Got run over by a mouse( Mumbai, soooooooo traumatic)
– Of course there was a mouse in the room, It is India after all
7) Oh and had a minor minor surgery nothing to stress about
– I can see clearly now….
The Journey is very spiritual , I think about death everyday usually when I’m crossing the road because I think “this is it ….I’ma die ….”

Well, this time…in Tanzania

1)I fell of a hammock
2)got kissed by a dog,
3)got clawed by the same dog that kissed me the previous day,
4)Had an octopus sit on me
5)had fish nibble at my arms
6)had a starfish crawl up my arm.
7)held an albino sea-urchin

The roads are not as hazardous as in India, although they are just as busy and the markets are overflowing with either seafood or spices.
I also tasted the best chicken tikka ever in Dar es Salaam!
I am quite tired off seafood at the moment, and I don’t think I want to see another octopus again. The market places often displayed dried octopus which we assumed was their version of biltong. I have never been a fan of fish markets but in order to get to the spice market, I was forced to walk through it.

To get to Zanzibar, we took the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Stonetown. It was a lovely ride, however, on the return journey, the choppy ocean had me experience the worst sea sickness ever. This came as a surprise as I am not generally prone to being sea sick. I spent most of the ride back on the balcony section at the back of the ferry
which seemed to be occupied with passengers I suspect may not have purchased tickets…

As lovely as the island is, a simple walk in the village revealed a striking contrast to the luxurious holiday resorts separated by walls and palm trees. People live simply with the bare minimum and appear contented with what they have. Zanzibar has a large Muslim population and it was lovely to see the spirit in which they practiced Islam.



The women were dressed in bright, colourful hijabs, floral skirts and burqas on children of all ages. Often the tourists would also dress modestly, or cover their hair in respect. Although, there are a lot of con-artists and bargaining is essential when shopping, my mum reminded us that the difference in prices is just to feed their families and part of earning a living. Which of course made us feel guilty for  bargaining.

I thought I would share An amusing conversation I had with my mum with regards to my dressing:

Mum: I find your dressing inappropriate! It is a breach of islamic ethics!
Me: *shocked* but its a t-shirt, the neckline is high, it has sleeves, its long, everything is covered.
Mum: those depictions on the t-shirt are terrible!
Me: Oh… right, you don’t like the Nightmare before Christmas…

The highlight of my trip was definitely snorkeling along the reefs, although I would advise you to carry your own snorkeling gear as sharing is not always caring.




I gained most of my knowledge in preparation for Tanzania from two important sources:


For instance:
Me: what is “Thank you” in Swahili ?
Ayesha : Asanti
Me: As in .. Asanti sana squash banana ????
Ayesha : yes ! and Rafiki means friend!




Ayesha : remember to stay away from the anemones, you know that they sting!
Me: yesss I know!…..wait, how do I know that they sting?
Ayesha: Finding nemo!
My mum knew what she was doing when I was growing up. A time when google was not my primary source of information.
It was also amusing to note how we call every clown fish we see “Nemo”, and every Royal blue Tang fish “Dory” (Yes I googled that).


Before returning to Stonetown we made a stop at a spice farm for a tour. I love spices and got to see vanilla, turmeric and cinnamon among other favourites of mine.
The cloves from Zanzibar are said to be the best . I also tasted the best lemongrass tea and the worst ginger tea. I would have loved to bring home a vanilla plant, but airport security is so strict!

One of the main attractions in Stonetown is the Forodhani Gardens which is a food fair that takes place every evening. My parents saw it on the food channel (Reza Mohamed), and so we had to see what the fuss was about. I loved their pizza/pancakes with nutella, coconut and banana,as well as fresh sugar cane juice and amazing pistachio ice cream.
Before purchasing the ice cream the owner had an argument with my sister and after she left he asked: “your sister.. Why she so hungry??” to which I replied:” She isn’t hungry, she just ate.” He looked rather puzzled.
Later, I realised, he meant angry..

Lastly , was our stay in Dar es Salaam, which we used to explore the city and a few more markets.

I got to buy a few more boxes of Kilimanjaro tea and try their chicken “sekela” ( Chicken Tikka).

Overall I had an interesting time and would love to go back and visit a country rich in culture, friendliness, free Wi-fi , hospitality and amazing tea!
I would recommend you all to visit this amazing country, but not during the summer months, as we went in Winter and had warm weather with a fair amount of mosquitos.



Previous Older Entries