Monday, September 1, 2014

The Drive

What drives us? I've often wondered how is it that some people are living and doing everything that they've ever wanted to do, while I'm so very often dreaming of a life that seems very far into the future.

Yes, sure i could go on about the opportunities they've had, that the rest of us may not have been presented it. Such is life; unfair. But at the same time, I SHOULD ask myself, have I given it all I've got? Have I tried, once then twice and FAILED? The answer to that would almost always be a resounding NO.

Motivation is something I think that most of us lack. If we are, then good for us. It's often that the motivated ones make it through this hard unfair life. If we were all equally motivated to achieve our dreams, this world would have no choice but to be a better place for all of us. We would be doing something we constantly love, how could life be bad?

It's hard though, sometimes to feel so motivated in this harsh cruel depressing world. It's a gift the way i look at it, to be able to see just a little ray of light amidst all the horror. I'm pretty sure everyone looks at this world with disgusting judgemental eyes and a part of them (no matter how small) hates it. But the problem is, we never seem to think that we would be able to change it. This world consists of us! Us; the disgruntled customer that beats the shit out of a grumpy KFC cashier. Us; the boy that no one gave a shit about that picked up a gun and shot kids to only kill himself. Us; the men the boys that chose to stick a rod into the vagina of a girl and brutally rape and murder a trangender girl because no one ever told them that that was wrong. We are to be blamed for sure for all the atrocities in this world.

If we looked into our sons and daughters eyes and told them that they could be anyone they wanted! That we encouraged them to live life everyday doing something absolutely beneficial either for them or for the people around them, we wouldnt have grumpy sales people. I've met some amazingly contented and happy and friends sales people who has made the whole shopping experience a really easy one for me. I've met some amazing doctors and some really crappy ones.

The point is, we all need a big wake up call. We need to start searching for that one thing that keeps us driving to achieve bigger better things. That one thing that makes us happy. And as long as that thing doesn't harm any other person, it's GREAT! And if you dont have that drive to get off your ass and do something that makes you happy, if you feel responsible to feel miserable in life and what is the point because life is as shitfaced as it is; then think about how you could be that kid holding that gun, that customer going ape shit on a grumpy sales person..or that grumpy person.

More than often, we all need an external driving force. We just do. The Beatles wrote amazing music when they were going through the hardest time in their career; as they were spiraling downwards. And the reason why their music was so exceptionally memorable as their career advanced, was because they decided to begin writing songs that made them individually happy and thus ...greatness! They of course broke up and kept making music that kept them happy till the very end of their lives. That is why The Beatles are such an inspiration because it's proof that you could be making all the money in the world, and it might seem like you have it all doing things that please everyone else but you, but until you realise your true potential and realise your dreams, you would just be like The Beatles; grumpy disgruntled people stuck around other amazing people losing hope and moving deeper into that black hole.

If it took Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney or the Maharishi to make each of the bealtes member step outside this great big perfect bubble, then that's what they needed. That is totally fine! If we needed a great movie, to make us pick up the phone and go for that interview that we always thought we dont deserve, if it took a girl or a boy for us to fall in love with to put things into a clear perspective of what we want to do with our lives , then fine.

The last sentence is a little tricky. Boys and girls and falling in love is all very nice, but as much as the only thing that would seem to matter is a life together to look forward to with a nice car and a nice house, it would never be complete without each person in the relationship having a sense of purpose of their lives, we would have a mother or a father with a fulfilled purpose in life who will pass these negativities to their children who very often don't stray away from their parents, not very much anyway. It is so important that we have that motivation in life, that someone or something drives us constantly to make bigger greater things of our lives, or the lives of the people around us.

First thing in the morning, I'm going downstairs to thank my family how much this has done for me. And I'm going to spend just a little more time to find for more DRIVE.


When I was 7, I wanted to be a garbage collector. To hang by the side of that banged up truck that used t pass in front of my house and fling large black plastic bags filled with rubbish into a big heap of other garbage. To me, these men made our lives so much better, they were doing all the things no one else wanted to do. I used to run out every other evening to watch them at work. How noble and extremely styled they seemed doing it. Then at 8, I wanted to be a bus driver. Every morning I would see the lady driver turn the big huge wheel of the bus round and round and how easy she made it seem. She would pick us up all on time and deliver us back safely to our eager parents waiting every day at the end of the streets. For some time after that, I didn't quite know what I wanted to be. As i grew older, my ambitions changed many many times but there was always a similarity that existed between all of them. They were all driven by events that helped me or the people around me at the time;making it a lot easier for a lot of us to just live our daily lives.

So it's no surprise that as I grew up and watched more movies, and read more my ambition shifted from a human rights activist, to a rockstar to a genetic scientist then finally to a physiotherapist. These were all things that helped me throughout my life journey to be where i am here. And today, I am a physiotherapist helping people in my own way making their lives seem a little better every day.

I love my job no matter where i am, or who i'm treating but I have to admit that when I was in Zambia, Africa it was when i looked and touched the sexually abused kids that clinged to my baggy jeans that i felt an instant connection with. It was when I was in a rural clinic in Alor Setar, Kedah in Malaysia with hardly any physiotherapy equipment that I felt I finally belonged. These are the very little essential things that keep me going in this often cruel world.

It's hard to remain as optimistic for change as I would say I am reading what we all read in the papers, seeing all that we see everyday. But for some reason, probably out of sheer self motivation and by inspiring stories of the many individuals i live my life by , I've managed to salvage that optimism to want to bring some good to this world. To change what I think should be changed. Being a physiotherapist, I deal with too many "illnesses" that seem to be self inflicted either by lack of education, lack of motivation and the badly run systems in place governed by the state. Needless to say, I'm someone who wishes to achieve all that I possibly can! We need better policy makers, we need passionate people to put better systems in place.

I'm still always wanting to be something new, every day of my life and that's GREAT! I hope if everything else about me changes, that that does not.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zero points if you don't believe.

Lusaka has been great to me. People are friendly and nice and extremely hospitable and humble. Pollution has to be at a minimum being although I'm living in a capital city. The weather is awesome, I love it! There are nice places to visit too although I've been only been to a few due to the unbelievable cost! =C

Over the weekend, my colleague invited me for a poetry slam here in Lusaka called Bittersweet. I've been to a few open mics/poetry slams in Malaysia and I am all up for any artsy event, so I was quick to say yes! We arrived at the Mulungushi Conference Center (I've been here once before for a friend's friend's wedding) only to discover like a whole bunch of people who seemed to be regulars with "Bittersweet" and "Please Don't Snap" T-Shirts. It was a nice cozy room with really good acoustics. We didn't wait long for the event to start. When it finally did, I was BLOWN AWAY with the talent that was there , on stage that night. The precision in what they said, their expressions, the poetry and the passion! There were also amazing singers, so young and just the most amazing voices accompanied with no music...I enjoyed that more than anything else that night.

It's been almost a year I've been in Lusaka, so by now I was used to the Jesus/Christian themed everything wherever I went. I told myself I'll concentrate on the deliverance of it all and that was what I did for the first 5 people that spoke about Jesus, being reborn, being saved, being loved.

People gave them standing ovations! Everyone stood from their chairs and oh no one clapped, too mainstream I think?...everyone snapped (their fingers)!

I'm no poet. I'm not a writer either. The most passionate I've been writing are on my blog and on Facebook. As I sat there watching these amazing young people recite their poems, what got me thinking was the passion that oozed from every single one of them , from their poems. They felt this deep connection with their religion/Jesus, sooo deep , something which of course I can't possibly fathom. Before taking the plunge to a full non-faith life, I never was very religious to begin with. But hey, I was cool with this. In a country with such a high unemployment and poverty rate, where people come from backgrounds of having no hope, of in fact a worst culture of voodoo and "black magic"'s comforting that they have found hope, many have denounced such habits and feel loved and loved themselves. I was also happy to hear almost all of them condemn the churches for their greed in getting "donations" from the poor (If you want to open a church and make money, come to Africa. New churches sprout like mushrooms here). Almost all of them spoke about loving themselves too, which was awesome!

It was great till it neared the ending and a few people came up on stage and by now the atmosphere was getting more tense. People were fired up. The next act started off with condemnation of politicians, and I thought to myself, YES! I am going to love this. Then it slowly changed, they started condemning the women liberation movement. They called them "ungrateful". They questioned women who seek equality because they claim we were not made to be equal and that we should "shut up" and not be "stupid". The level of snaps around the room grew louder! Then they moved on to homophobia (of course this only seemed logical, Lusaka is way more homophobic than KL I think) calling homosexuals "fags" and asking why God would have made a man's seed full of life if it were to be wasted. MORE SNAPS! Then the final slash to my already beaten down consciousness, evolution. Scientists were filling our heads with lies they said, that there is no way we could have "come from monkeys" while still having monkeys around and that science had no explanation of how everything began. This was the final bit, everyone rose from their seats and snapped their fingers so hard and loud and were screaming in support!

Here we are again: from love and hope, to ending with hate. This was it. I wanted to go home. It was the end, thankfully for me. But at that moment, I felt completely alone. I looked around me and everyone was hugging each other patting each other on the back for the good job they've done. My colleague left with more hatred, more conviction for his hatred of the "gay kind" and the "believers of evolution"... I guess that included me.

I woke up the next morning to yet another whatsapp message he sent me on all the famous people who spoke openly about their atheism or made some joke about Jesus and then all died painful deaths. This has become almost routine for me, messages saying I'll be going to hell for sure. I take no offence to someone having so much faith in a God, I do however take offence when your faith promotes hatred towards others and you finding the need to condemn me and other people every chance you get. I might now need to  search for the holiest people who all died horrible deaths too , I'll probably include a message like "How you die has nothing to do with how religious/unreligous you are. Now let's spend some time and think about how we have trivialised and used people's horrible deaths (which must have left plenty of people around them sad and devastated) to prove a ridiculous point. "

My closest friends here are my colleagues. I spend the most time with them and share the most with them. Obviously I did not tell anyone I was an atheist when they asked me, but this grew harder and harder to conceal. While it was easy to say I'm Hindu when people asked me (which they always do within 5 minutes of meeting me; What are you?) It was impossible to support someone, or be in agreement with someone who openly condemned homosexuals or supported the very common act here of spying into houses with more than one male resident so they could report them to the police if they were up to "no good". It was also impossible to stand by and listen as people spoke about women and their duties in societies and in families that must be given priority before education or any other choice a woman makes. Also, the crazy support of tearing "skimpy" clothes off of women to teach them a lesson.

So some time back, my colleague and I had the talk...of religion, women and gay-ism. I was honest about my opinions and he seemed respectful of it. He ended it by saying "The greatest gift I can offer a friend, someone I love is the gift of Christ, so here *he handed me a glass of water* take this if you want to be saved because it's inevitable that you won't go to heaven if you don't believe in Christ." I was disappointed that he chose to say this even after knowing me and the goodness within and although I was pretty thirsty, I chuckled and said "No Thanks!" but since then, his quest of showing me the light has not ceased. I am constantly invited to go to church although I've said I have no interest in going to one (unless they had an authentic African choir singing) and the "righteous" whatsapp messages and then the constant comments of something chauvinistic and absurd every now and then just to see me react.

In the past year, I've learnt to conceal my true self. Well, re-learnt. It feels like being back in school: when saying you supported women's rights and were an atheist was taboo. I spent a few years breaking out of that and finally found great people (regardless of gender/religion) to surround myself with and I got to be who I was.

Being in Lusaka has taken me back to THAT time, so many years ago. It must be hard for the non-religious people who live here, more so if you're alone.  I never thought I'd say this but I especially miss being the atheist/feminist person I was/am in Malaysia, also not being hounded/provoked every other day just for a reaction.