Fibonacci Frenzy

I was thinking about how bizarre my family must look to “outsiders”. For one, I call my dad “Father” and he calls me “Daughter”. PeopleĀ assume we share a very formal relationship. The truth could be nothing but the opposite.

We have quirks that are absurd. If we want to sit down to a family movie, my dad’ll insist we play one of these four – Gladiator, Ben Hur, The Great Escape or The Dark Knight. My grammie only eats her food if we tell her it’s worms and drinks only if she thinks it’s acid.

Broseph spouts off facts about strange laws in other countries including random facts like how the most expensive coffee in the world is “elephant poop” coffee called Black Ivory, or something just as peculiar.

Okay, so the Pea might be the most normal one among us but she’s inherited my mum’s penchant for numbers. She can spout of a bunch
of numbers she heard someone call out at the Petrol bunk, a week after she’s heard it and my mother, she is a FREAK about patterns in numbers.

Growing up, she’d always find patterns in number plates, telephone numbers, birth dates and digital clocks. She figured out that the whole
family has a 9 day gap between our birth dates. I was born on the 11th, broseph on the 20th and the Pea on the 29th. Mum’s born on the
14th and dad was born on the 23rd. See, exactly 9 days apart.

Number sequences makes her happier than me on movie marathon day. We’d go on road trips as a family and she’d squeal “Look, look” and we’d all panic till she would point out to the car ahead us with the number plate “1234” or something a bit more complicated “1357”. At dinner we’d panic again with her “Look, Looook!” and the time would read something in sequence. We would make fun of her at the time but it’s something we’ve all picked up subconsciously.

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Last evening, broseph and I were lying down on the floor recovering from some circuit training and we both happened to look at the look and immediately started yelling “Mamma, Mamma, come here NOW! Quickly. Look, Look!”. My aunt and her rushed out of the kitchen, anxious – the time was 14:15:16. And around the clock, time stood still for a magical while, time enough for the broseph, mum and I to have a huge smile pasted on our face.

The look on my aunt’s face when she saw our reaction?

will

Priceless!

Who you gonna call? GHOST BUSTERS!

We decided to camp out because as warm nights usually go, this one was beautiful. The stars stretched infinitely above us like we were actually just in a planetarium – yes, I’m trying to compare the Tanzanian night sky to HD quality video. Sad, I know but you’d have to see it to believe it.

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We had a bonfire going where we were roasting strips of meat as was customary and while enjoying our bottles of Serengeti, the topic of local legends came up. And then stories of fairy-tales and magic turn to horror stories.

MK – This isn’t anything like your Mohini/Noorie story from the other week. Our ghost is not a ghost. It’s more like an evil spirit-creature called Popo Bawa that goes around sexually assaulting its victims

Me – Of course, nothing says horror like “Bat Wing“. You sure you aren’t basing your hero on the DC Comic?

MK – Shush, stop interrupting. Legend has it an angry sheikh once summoned a djinni to take vengeance on one of his neighbors. And as you know, djinns are not to be messed with cause they are so clever. This one, like all others, obviously learnt how to dupe his master and escaped.

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Me – Obviously. And then it proceeded to make home in a lamp?

MK – Ha. Ha. It wouldn’t be as funny when it comes looking for you.

Me – Not really a problem. All I have to do is keep a look out for bats. Right?

MK – Hilarious, because the Popo Bawa is a very proficient shapeshifter that attacks at night. It enters a house, sodomizes all the family members and then threatens the family that if they don’t tell everyone about it, it would come back whenever the fancy struck it.

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Me – Yikes, how do you keep it away?

MK – Apparently, a fresh trail would smell like sulphur. When that happens, the entire family huddles outside by the fire and stays awake all night. Some have said that reading a few lines of the Koran will banquish it the same way holy water does.

Me – You’re then going to tell me about staying inside salt circles and using silver bullets aren’t you?

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MK – Popo Bawa has been sighted only near the coast – don’t think salt will have any effect. It’s curious though because the creature only seems to strike during great political unrest. There were reports of it during all the major elections that threatned to get ugly. There are even doctors that are willing to testify that they have treated numerous alleged Popo Bawa victims. They all say they haven’t seen the creature but have seen giant bat wing type shadows fall on them before the attack.

Me – No one’s tried exorcisms? I’ve been threatned a number of times with it cause I’m so “weird”

MK – There are some tribes that place charms at the base of fig trees or sacrifice goats and use its blood to guard their doors. In one village, apparently it possessed a young girl called Fatuma and had a deep man’s voice as it spoke through her and they heard the sound of a car revving on a nearby roof.

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Batman, is that you?

Me – WHAT? This is obviously a very new legend. You sure you didn’t just make it up after watching The Dark Knight?

MK – Hmmm, I might have to take you to the mganga (socerer). Evil spawn of the Popo Bawa.

Me – (looking terrified) What was that?

MK – (Anxiety Attack) What, what, what?

Me – FOOL! šŸ˜€

Goodbye 2012.

Goodbye 2012.

Can’t wait to get up to all sorts of mischief in 2013

Baby Pea

When we were young, the little Pea didn’t want to go to university because all sorts of crazy shit happened there. For one, college made you clumsy – there you would be, walking without a care in the world, a couple of books in hand and before you know it, you’d trip. THIS HAD TO HAPPEN. That was the rule. You’d drop your books and when you bend down to pick it up, some other crazy guy would come and try to help you. Your hands would touch and you’d awkwardly apologize to each other and when all the books have been picked up, she’d have to look at his eyes to thank him. And then, and it’sĀ completelyĀ inevitable, you’d fall in love.

“YUCK, I don’t ever want that to happen. I don’t ever want to go to college” – said the little girl who grew up to fall in love with an amazing boy she met while at University in England.

This is the most realistic image of them as a couple. Lex – the stiff upper lipped English boy and the Pea who just can’t stop smiling!

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A few years later, we happened to be talking about soul-mates and relationships. I was being my usual, cynical – screw all romantic movie ideals – self. Ā And she was talking about how if she ever fell in love, it would be with just one person whom she’d eventually get married to and raise babies with. So naive. As if such a thing can actually exist. Real life doesn’t happen that way – you meet someone you get along with and eventually it’ll all flicker out until you meet someone else who’s fantastic. Marriage happens when you’re jaded and tired of sharing different parts of you with different people. So you compromise. Everyone knows it’s easier to share all your stories and feelings with one person rather than throw it around. When you grow older, it just gets harder to keep track of who knows what. Right?

“No, I know the universe can be cruel just as I know that when I fall in love, it’ll be for good” – said the little pea when she said yes to her best friend and the only man she has ever loved.

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There were nights when I would hear her cry herself to sleep. I’d just lay there and listen because I didn’t know what else to do. She was growing up to find that the world is cruel to people who are different. People are less understanding of people who aren’t skinny, who won’t compromise on their beliefs, who are too strong and opinionated. There were boys who she liked who could never take her seriously. There were girls who were condescending because she believed that you could be loved for whoever you were minus the makeup and skimpy clothes. From where I lay, I could hear the sound of her heart break at theĀ realizationĀ that packaging mattered no matter how much people denied it. As the elder sister, I wished I could’ve protected her from it. I did what I knew best – I held her tight as she cried, hoping that she’d eventually build walls Ā to protect herself from further hurt.

She didn’t.

When she loved, she loved deeply and completely. When she gave, she gave it her all. And I’ve watched her suffer for it and I’ve watched her dance at the thrill of it. She never abandoned the hope of magic.

One bad night, as I was holding her, she sobbed “I’m never going to find anyone, am I? You can tell me the truth. I can handle it”. For the first time, with all the conviction she instilled in me, I knew that she would find someone incredible. If there’s something I’ve learnt from her, despite all my crazy cynicism and pessimism, it’s that sometimes, the universe works for you. It really does.

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My phone beeped in the middle of Kilimanjaro – I hadn’t heard from my family in a while and finding a working signal meant I had to climb trees. Looking at the moon rise over Kili, IĀ receivedĀ the single most moving message of my life.

“I have a boyfriend :O”

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Two days ago, I had the most incredible chat

:O

:O

:O

:O

:O

:O

He

Asked

Me

To

Marry

Him

Just

Now

And

I

Said

Mhm

And

Yes!

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My baby sister is getting married in less than a year. I am in shock!

Don’t over-think it bro!

I had never been to a holiday for the sake of a holiday till I was 24. This shouldnā€™t be surprising considering Iā€™m born to self-realised Social Activists/AidWorkers who can never really draw the line between work and anything else and it would be hypocritical of me to complain because in this field, work is life. And I’m pretty much the same. Still, any holiday we took as children would be combined with a work detour. When we went to the beach, we also made a side visit to the fishing villages that were struck by tornados or a giant tsunami. If we went away elsewhere, there would be villages with a flood situation, with food scarcity and with sheep I could kidnap.

For every essay we had to submit on Shakespeare and the Skeletal System, we had a summer of adventure to look forward to, so much so that the idea of just getting away to do nothing seems preposterous even after all these years. I went backpacking across Europe to end up volunteering in a small village in France. I went to Africa to see the place but ended up working for 7 straight months ā€“ even in places where I went to take a break. You know where this is going right? Classic movie sequence of epiphany that hits because of something a stranger observes that youĀ hadn’tĀ evenĀ realizedĀ before? Yeah, that.

That was my first holiday, and like all firsts, you remember it fondly. I went to Zanzibar thinking Iā€™d spend one day looking around and the evening at the beach and the next day, volunteering at a Madarasa. I ended up staying a week and doing nothing but sipping gin cocktails, making friends with a cat that was older than the island and taking in sunrises and sunsets on the Indian Ocean. I had quite a bit of unlearning and letting go to do.

Stone Town – Zanzibar

Earlier this year when I realised I could go away again, I picked a place because my grandmother, who Iā€™ve come to know only through the stories Iā€™ve been told, was born there and came away to India by a treacherous ship journey that took months and months. I learnt that she used to be royalty in Malaysia and when they came to India, they lost everything. And she had her adventures- she was the first of her family to study in a British School when they opened up the schools to Indians (It was the same school my sister and I studied in) She fell in love and married an orphan boy and lived a life she never thought she could/would.

When I booked my tickets and got my visa, people asked me why I was going ā€“ I had a massive SmĆ©agol fit.

2 weeks on a holiday doing nothing but exploring? Not going near a volunteer project or a social cause? Not on any freelance travel writing project? An empty itinerary/list of things to do? Just going with the flow? And then I was finally able to say it.

Iā€™m going for me.