Healing under the moonlight

“We’re going for a traditional full moon ceremony on the beach tomorrow night. It’s a big deal around here. Please make sure your knees and elbows are covered. And try to dress in shades of white,” announced Alex, experience leader at Unsettled.

Arguably one of the most famous villages in the tropics (Thanks Julia Roberts a la Eat Pray Love), Ubud has been a spiritual guide for over one million expats in the last few years. In a town full of self-titled healers, modern-day hippies and medicine men, finding your spiritual self can get very confusing. Exhausting, even. Especially if you’re not the kind who has a turmeric shot at dawn and bodes a mala bead necklace during an Ashtanga yoga class.

So when this full moon ceremony chatter started among the May Unsettled group, my only hope for our group was, please don’t give us a software-engineer-turned-healer from California who will lecture us about the energy of full moon.

Clad in questionable shades of white, our group of 22 gathered around the villa right after sunset, only to have three men wrap us in makeshift skirts using a patterned sarong. Packed in four cars, as we headed off to the Purnama beach, east of Ubud, our car made a pitstop to pick up our spiritual healer for the evening.

A phony Californian healer, she was not. A cute, 5-foot-something, elderly Balinese woman sat in the front seat of our vehicle.

“Wait, she’s coming in our car?” said one seriously unsettled passenger.

“Oh this is exciting! Maybe she can read all our energies and tell us our secrets,” said another with a beam.

“Do you think we can still talk in the car if she’s with us,” I murmured.

Considering we were in Bali where you can’t order a cup of coffee without the woman behind you tapping in on your aura, you can only imagine how nervous it made the six of us to have the healer sit in our car for the next hour. Her crisp white outfit, perfect chignon and shiny wooden cane spelled authority. Her smile was sincere. Her aura? Ambiguous.

Five minutes into our car journey, she started telling us about the significance of a full moon in Balinese culture.

“Purnama is the the day of the full moon in Bali and it’s a very special day for the Balinese people. It’s the day local people plant fruits in the garden in the hope for an abundant harvest. It’s also believed that on a full moon night, many Gods descent to Earth and give us their blessings,” she explained.

As she told us more about the alleged energy of this celestial body, I looked out of my car window to have a peep at the full moon, but it was sneakily hidden behind the clouds. Was he not ready for his big reveal, yet? Stage fright? He probably needed a few moments of solitude before he could bless us with his energy. Take your time, buddy. Leaving the creamy white moon to gather its courage, we arrived at Purnama beach. The soft black sand glistened in the dark with the howling sea providing the background score. The beach looked like the aftermath of a five-year-old’s glitter-themed party. Sprinkled with specks of gold and silver, this black sand beach was posing some serious competition to the white beaches of other tropical islands.

Within minutes of setting foot on the beach, there was a lull among all Unsettlers. The roar of the eight-foot high waves took centre stage and hushed down all the noises. There was no chatter, no giggles, no questions. And just like that, the creamy white moon came out of its candy floss shutters to say hello, only to instantly light up the surroundings.

As I felt the salty breeze caress my cheeks, I saw the healer stand on the edge of the shore, looking peacefully at the ocean. Like she was having a conversation with the waves. The breeze. The moon. The Gods of the sea. What was she saying to them? What were they saying to her?

The fragrance from hundreds of burning incense sticks created an olfactory cloud around us, marking the start of this special ceremony. There was no chanting, no narration, no rules for this meditation session. All we were asked to do was sit cross-legged on the sand and breathe.

On any normal day, I would have despised the idea of not being lead into my meditation practice. But tonight, it felt different. The crashing of the waves, the moon-lit beach, the presence of the healer; I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t feel the need for someone to guide me through meditation. I felt an energy. I felt goosebumps with every breath (which could have been because of the chilly breeze, now that I think of it). I felt like someone was watching over me.

Our lives are so busy and visual these days that finding this moment of just being and sitting still without any direction was a blessing. I didn’t feel the need to Instagram the moment, or to Whatsapp my mum and tell her what I was doing. It felt OK to switch off and let the mind wander without any judgement or intrigue.

Thirty minutes into this deep meditation, I found myself dozing off and my back curling into a passive state. My skin felt moist, my tresses curled up from humidity and my pout… salty. As licked my lips, I felt two warm palms touch the top of my head. Awakened and alert, my mind came alive.

“Is this the healer? Am I being blessed? Can she hear me think? Maybe I need to not think? What shall I do?”

“Straighten your back, please,” whispered the authentic voice.

As her hand remained on my head, I felt a gush of energy hurry down my spine and come out of my palms. Maybe she pressed pause on my talkative mind with her healing powers. Or maybe she helped me go deeper into my meditation, but something changed and I sensed it. When I felt her withdraw her hands from my head and move on to the next person, I opened my eyes and wiped a tear down my left cheek.

“Why are you crying? This is ridiculous. The waves are so high. Wow, that was intense. Can she do that again? I think I’m hungry. I should have eaten that chicken satay before leaving Ubud. I wonder what the time is it?”

Maybe the power of this Balinese full moon ceremony lies in that intimate minute you share with your healer under the bright moonlight to the soundtrack of the angry ocean. Guess I’ll just have to come back next month to feel this all over again…

Until then, can my mind continue with its usual trivial talk?

Original post published on Unsettled.

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10 Things To Know Before Moving To Dubai

It’s shiny. It’s busy. It’s expensive. It’s ostentatious. It’s ridiculous.

Dubai is everything how imagined it to be. There is gold in drinks, there are flowers on food, and there is new season Prada strutting alongside you in a mall.

Dubai is where people come to forget about winter, take a selfie with a camel on the beach and spend money they don’t have.

Whether you’re moving here for a new job, or supporting your partner so they can restart their life, either way, you’re not going to leave Dubai with the same outlook that you first came with.

To help along the first few months (similar to what I did when I last moved countries (AUS to UK)) here are tips for those about to call Dubai ‘home’:

  1. Don’t drink tap water, and don’t buy Evian to make up for it: Yes, I was that pretentious one from London who didn’t understand which brand of local water was trustworthy, so instead consumed very, very expensive litres of Evian for the first two months. I still have a hole in my bank account. You don’t have to be ignorant like m… ahem, moving on.
  2. Public transport is questionable: The public transport system in the Sahara Desert is probably more accessible than what’s available in Dubai. If you’re travelling vertically down the city, you’re fine. For a destination that’s not on either side of Sheikh Zayed Road, add another hour to your travel time. Anyone who’s been in Dubai for even five minutes will throw stones at the public transport system here. Join us, won’t you?
  3. Brunch is a verb, not a noun: Anywhere normal, ‘brunch’ means anything you eat between the hours of breakfast and lunch. When you’re not in the mood for cornflakes, but want a sunny side-up with smoked salmon. When you’re trying to de-bloat by 6pm, so can eat only one meal. However in Dubai, brunching is a virus that takes over the city on Fridays. It’s like happy hour got a noon start with ‘passing out’ as its end time. When you sign up for a brunch in Dubai, it’s more about the prosecco and less about the pancakes. Also part of the contract is crashing by 6pm, unless your liver is stronger than Stranger Things‘ Eleven when she uses her power and gets that nose bleed. In which case, you badass you!
  4. The Dubai Stone exists: KFC, Burger King and McDonald’s do free home delivery in Dubai. And you’re about to get real fat in your initial months. Face, ass, thighs, stomach, arms… all of it!
  5. You will not save money: You know that vision of living a tax-free life with a wardrobe better than Harvey Specter’s, and a social life better than Don Draper’s? Yeah, that’s not happening. This city will give you the money, but you’re not going to save any of it. I just ate muesli for dinner for the fourth night in a row.
  6. You will be hungover for the first six months: Your decreased tolerance to hangovers is about to take a wheel. Women can drink for free every night of the week in some part of town here. Be prepared to wake up on top of your duvet, with a bowl of late-night pasta hugging you, in last night’s clothes, hair stinking of cigarette smoke and cringe texts judging you on your cellphone. Oh and it’s a Tuesday morning. And you have a meeting in 20 minutes.
  7. Learn to accessorise before landing here: Up your shoe, watch, belt, handbag, sunglasses, scarf and jewellery game. You don’t want to compete with a 16-year-old stylish Emirati girl who has a Givenchy Antigona duffel blinged out with a Fendi monster, while you’re walking around in your Michael Kors situation from 2013.
  8. If you’re not a couple, your social life is doomed: Being single in this city is worse than a slap on the face. If you’re without a partner in Dubai, firstly, you’re not going to find one here (trust me, I tried!), and secondly your conversations will revolve around loved-up assholes telling you: “awww, you’ll find someone when it’s the right time”. Dubai’s social structure (especially among the expat community) is thriving with lovers. If you have a plus one in life, other couples will invite you for Monopoly nights, marathon sessions of Game of Thrones, or a running club where all couples will discuss how great being a couple is and then braid each other’s hair. You might not be able to completely eradicate the overwhelming pit of loneliness, but you will soon start enjoying eating an entire block of cheese in bed. Dairy tastes better than forced small talk at a house party where everyone in a relationship is either discussing their ski trip, or telling you how they met a decade ago. Congratulations, you’re in love. So are monkeys!
  9. You’ll hear more “khallas”, “yalla” and “habibi” than you bargained for: And from people who still can’t pronounce GIF. These people still haven’t mastered the English lexicon, but their habibi-game is strong.
  10. If your eyebrows aren’t a product of a stencil, get out of here: Forcing your unibrow to break-up isn’t enough, the strips of hair above your eyes need to rival Kylie Jenner’s in this part of the world. According to every blogger ever, brows are a big deal. But in Dubai, this is escalated. You have to stencil those babies just how you stencilled that apple in primary school. You might scare the Sephora out of your reflection, but wear your art on your face and make Mrs Adams proud!

On that note… I’m outta here! 

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Open letter to flaky men

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Hey you,

How’s your day been? Good? Can we chat?

So here’s the thing – as a writer, I take it as my personal responsibility, on behalf of my girl gang, to pen this one for you. I’ll never become that feminist who wants to light a fire cracker under your arse and wish your handsome posse didn’t exist. There’s no fun in that. Somehow our generation finds joy in the stupid games that men and women play with each other. I can live with that; I like games and I’m very competitive.

However, let’s talk about conversations that start with ‘Why do guys’. I’ve found myself an audience to these, and a narrator more recently. Tell me, why do you guys flake away? You know when you text but don’t hang out, pen pal us after the third date, and make plans but don’t follow through? You’re hot, then cold again, then really hot, then ice cold again, before you fade into oblivion.

You know what’s good when flaky? A warm toasted croissant. You, my dear, don’t deserve the culinary satisfaction that comes with the French pastry.

There is a panoply of women out there who genuinely start to question their sanity and self-worth after being a victim of Episode Flaky #87 by Douchebag #39. How are we allowing this?

Your flakiness could be a direct respond to a ‘spark’ missing. An ex reappearing in your life, on your door, in tears, in nothing but a trench. Busy at work. You finding a better match on Tinder. About 78592 other girls on your phone who you’re having mindless no-strings-attached conversations with. Or you’re just not into us. We get it. The disposability of dating has a reputation to live up to, and by all means, you live that. But here’s the thing – when you’re in your prime moment of flakiness, women tend to create this drama, suspense, mystery, sauce, steam, doubt, questions, answers, scenarios etc in our heads. And coming out of that involves 20 bootcamp classes, some meditation sessions and two full moons.

In a personal narrative, I would like women to fall in love with themselves really, really hard first, then fall into a bowl of wine, and then, maybe, fall for someone else. Sadly, my agenda doesn’t bode well with what women usually do. Heck, I don’t follow my own rules. What do I know?

If I’ve learnt anything about men, it’s that you guys are simple creatures. You don’t go into hypothetical our-life-after-60 tales after the first date (jealous!). So it shouldn’t be so hard for you to straight up tell us: ‘Mate, soz. I’m not into you, this isn’t working out. I actually don’t think we should see each other again’.

Do this, gain 100 points, and climb up level 2 in your ridiculous game.

This, my friend, is a polite alternative to ghosting. Because ghosting and flakiness is just rude. No one will tell you otherwise. Unless you speak to Casper, who for obvious reasons, is a big fan of ghosting. Join him, or listen to this plea that’s come from the multitude of single women in my life.

(By ‘multitude of single women’ I mean me).

Just don’t be an asshole.

Great chat.

ghosting

The real meaning of ‘Netflix and Chill’

Dear humans of the Internet,

I have some news, and it might result in instant facepalming.

You know the phrase “Netflix and Chill” that you find yourself hashtaging liberally every weekend? Yes, that doesn’t mean what you think it means.

In the innocent and modest days of 2009, “Netflix and chill” actually meant chilling on the couch while Orange Is The New Black played in the background. This slang started as a “I’ve had a tough day at work and all I want to do is roll up in child’s pose and re-watch Friends With Benefits,” but it has now become a euphemism.

A euphemism for something very R-rated.

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In April 2014, the phrase was added to the Urban Dictionary with the definition: “Code for two people going to each others houses and f–king or doing other sexual related acts.”

Enter a multitude of memes and selfies where people realised what “Netflix and Chill” really meant. This happened two years ago. The realisation.

But now, we’re in 2016. And people still don’t know what it means. I find myself an audience to Snapchats and Facebook updates of people sitting with their dogs/cats/pizza boxes and captioning “Netflix and Chilling.”

NO. You are not. You are sitting on your own, or with your pet, binge watching Making a Murderer. 

Even Netflix knows what it means.

So please, stop using that phrase unless you’re actually “Netflix and Chilling.” And if you are, don’t post anything at all, because really, no one wants in on what happens in your bedroom.

Alright. Great chat. Laters.

The Beauty Of Solo Wandering

Female-Solo-Traveler

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”

Words by the brilliant travel writer, Freya Stark in her 1932 book “Baghdad Sketches”. Words that I want to swallow and then spew them out so I can claim them to be my own.

Jumping into the unknown has become my favourite hobby. As ridiculously intimidating as it is, not knowing what the next morning will bring, it’s just as exciting to know that there is a next morning – full of adventure – staring right at you. You don’t have anyone to report to or no one to please with how you plan your days. And this drug-like feeling of the unknown is what I’m chasing for in 2016.

It started with a Christmas break to Bali, back in 2012. I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to stay, who I would share a cocktail with but I knew that I was going to be on my own for Christmas, and perhaps embark on a spiritual journey on a bicycle.

Today, that little bug has spread like wild fire in my life. Be it in south of Spain, the islands of Croatia, the windmills of Mykonos or the olive farms in Puglia. From going on a month-long European adventure on my own, to sun baking on a private luxury beach in Maldives, travelling alone has become my thing, just like strumming a base guitar or baking cookies might be yours. I have watched sunrise after a messy night with strangers in Hvar and sang Spanish songs on the streets of Seville at 3am after an intense session of tapas and flaminco. I’ve crashed a couple’s babymoon and gone snorkelling with manta rays and hiked with another couple on the hills of Santorini. I spent 2014’s Christmas Eve in Florence and attended a midnight mass where I became part of the ceremony and saw my first snow in Vienna the weekend after. These solo travels have given me stories worth a lifetime, and I know I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t find the courage to go on my own.

Have you ever dined alone in a fancy restaurant? Or watched a movie in the cinema on your own? That anxious moment when you can’t decide whether you’re being judged by others or you’re judging yourself is a very familiar feeling when you first embark on this solo journey.

What will I do? Who will I have breakfast with? Won’t I get bored? You might find yourself asking this genre of questions until you realise that, in fact, the luxury lies in not being able to answer any of these questions.

I have invested my life into the idea of travelling alone, and it’s so profusely prominent in my life now that I never find myself explaining to anyone as to why I booked a holiday just for me. Ticket for one, FTW.

It’s become my thing, and 2016 is going to be the best travel year of my 20s.

I need it to be.

Why Julia Roberts Was Right About Italy

I have been on a diet for as long as I can remember. You would think I’m kidding when I say this, but I have not stopped counting calories since I was 15-years old. How pathetic, you must be thinking. But hey, you weren’t the size of a baby elephant on a tiny human’s body!

I’ve forever lived with the guilt of ‘OMG! how dare I smell that buttery croissant!’ The voices in my head always said, ‘Shitika, how dare you even look at that cake?’ OK, that part is a lie – cake is one thing I eat (and a lot of) without any guilt. You’ll rarely ever catch me say no to a big, chunky piece of creamy, spongy chocolate cake, with perhaps some fluid ganache running through the middle. And a soft layer of airy mousse on top. Mmmmm!

What were we talking about?

…. Right, calories!

Picture dated of the 50's showing British violonis

I’ve been away from London for just over three weeks now. I have hiked in every country, told strangers my most intimate life details, ate fresh salad straight from farms, danced with Greek men on questionable house music, and for the Italian part of my adventure, I have eaten all the food available in the country. Yep, that’s correct.

Since the past 11 days, all I have done is eat. Eat and perve, but mainly eat. I know women who go on ‘bikini body’ diets before coming to the Italian coast, but me, nah, give me all the cheese and bread, dude! As for the perving, have you seen the men in this country? I cannot get enough of them – young, old, middle-aged, in a pram, on a bicycle – I’ll have them in all shapes and sizes. If you are one and reading this… call me! Chances are, i’ll ask you to make me some rustico filled with mozzarella and then jump you, and most definitely in that order.

Now without getting distracted by the irresistible sex appeal of the inhabitants of this country, I am here to tell you that if you’re planning on holidaying in Italy anytime soon, be prepared to not fit in your trousers on your return back home. This is why:

  1. Refills of bread at every meal: You wouldn’t even have to ask for it; the bread basket will be sitting on your table, even before you arrive and it will stare at you with its carb-filled, white eyes until you eat it all. Usually made with durum wheat (which is easier to digest; yeah keep telling yourself that, Shitika), the bread is soft, fluffy and incredibly airy in this country. You needn’t dip it in any oil or smother it with butter, it’s orgasmic just as it is. Multiple orgasms, might I add.
  2. The waiters and bartenders sex appeal: As I said earlier, the male species of this country is so damn sexy, you wouldn’t be able to resist from ordering that cheesy pizza or a chocolate-filled croissant. Another little bonus for solo female travellers, give these handsome men your best smile, say ‘ciao’ and see the extra magic that lands with your order – mainly in the form of another sweet, fat-laden treat.
  3. Blame the hotness around you: No, not the temperature, but the human hotness. Every male or female Italian who walks past you, will have the most enviable physique, that while inadvertently make you drool over your margherita pizza. So much so that you will not be able to come to terms with the fact that the cheese on your plate is one hundred percent capable of marrying your love handles. And when you go for your morning cappuccino, and see the girl in a bikini eat a very creamy puff pastry delight, all available courage in you body will commit suicide and force you to order the same whilst forgetting how disgraceful your metabolism is.
  4. The organic and fresh element: For about 5 seconds, you will feel really good about the fact that your plate is filled with all natural, handmade, organic and local produce. Everything in your gnocchi is grown on the farm behind the restaurant and there’s nothing that’s come out of a tin, packet or powdery bullshit of the Western world. Ooh la la, the joy of eating organic.
  5. You won’t waste anything: Everything is made with so much love and attention; sometimes restaurants will even use the grandmother card and allure you by saying that the recipe is a 100-year old family dish that’s made by the oldest lady in the house. Damn that bitch! How could you leave anything on the plate when the grandma is making it for you? To top it all, the bread basket we spoke of, yeah that’s just there so you can clean the sauce off your plate with the lusciously fluffy bread. You will literally want to leave nothing on your plate.
  6. Cheap wine: Even when you go and order house wine with your dinner, and pay about quarter the price you will pay in your respective countries, you will get the best of the best vino. Half a litre of vino russo will cost you about 3 EUR / 2 GBP / 4 AUD / 3 USD / 200 INR. Get the point? It’s bloody cheap; how can you resist from drinking 5L of wine with dinner? No, I didn’t do that. Of course not.
  7. Gelato. It’s illegal and rude to not have gelato every single day of your time spent here. Full Stop. You wouldn’t want to mess with the law.

Now, if anyone needs me, even all you London-based Italian men (CIAO!), I will be living at the gym for the rest of my life to get rid of all the excess baggage I’ve piled on.

A crossfit date is sexy, right?

The Vegan Who Ate Cheese

It’s almost like the monk who sold his ferrari, except there are more calories involved in this scenario.

I’m going vegan for six weeks, and only kidnapping haloumi and camembert for the ride.

Here’s the deal, my best friend is getting married in six weeks, on a beach, and during Indian summer. There isn’t just a necessity for me to survive an Indian summer after eight years of not knowing what it entails, but I somehow have to make my body appropriate to wear rather revealing clothes for three days in a row. The agony doesn’t just end there, on top of all this, Netflix is single-handily ruining my life.

Enunciation to follow.

I have always imagined a wheel of camembert to be a living proof of heaven. That’s where after-life is, I’m certain of it… amidst the soft, creamy milkyway of this Normandy baby lies an ocean of enigma, spirituality and zen. I can feel it in every chewy bite of it, can’t you?

How great is cheese? And yoghurt? Oh yoghurt, with fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg – mmmm, sex in a bowl.

So why all this vegan talk?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all preachy on you with a pro-PETA talk – especially with some really questionable outfits hanging in my wardrobe, as I type this.

But just like you, I’d heard and read about why veganism is a thing: 70% of our antibiotics are fed to livestock so they can produce more to meet our demands; vegetarians are 40% less likely to develop cancer cells and 64% less likely to have their arteries blocked; factory farming is by far the most nasty and inhumane sight in the world; vegetarian girls will always stay single (truth!).

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I knew all of this. Despite being an animal lover, I never cringed at fur, ate dairy like my life dependent on it and devoured the life out of roasted chicken, literally. Until one lonesome Sunday afternoon, Netflix flashed the documentary ‘Vegucated’ at me: a guerilla-style documentary that follows the lives of three meat-loving, cheese-eating New Yorkers who take up the challenge to go vegan for six weeks.

Now, I’m a healthy girl. I might have been on a perpetual, self-implemented diet since the age of 15, but I take care of my body in a healthy manner, I try and eat organic when I can, I exercise pretty hardcore, and medically, I’m ‘healthy’. So when this documentary popped up on my ‘Suggestions For You‘ list, I felt like Netflix understood me. It was like he and I were ready to take our relationship to the next level. He wanted to see me healthier and happier without being too in-your-face. He subtly asked me to watch a documentary about obese Americans attempting veganism. Ha! So much fun.

And it was. Until I was a crying mess, writing down the statistics of poultry farms, carbon footprints and animal torture. The brutality of the ‘not-safe-for-children’ videos of farm animals being ripped apart made my brain and heart summersault into vegan land, instantaneously. I soon wiped my tears, FaceTimed my parents, narrated the horror movie to them and announced I was going vegan until the aforementioned wedding.

While this would have initially been a more verbal attempt to lose a few inches and tone up, but as of now, it’s about setting my conscious right and saving that one chicken from being tortured. Not saying that I’m going vegan set-in-stone, I might dream of my dad’s chicken curry and succumb tomorrow. But right now, I’m strong, real strong to stay vegan for the coming 42 days (starting only after I finish my current batch of organic, free-range eggs. Wastage is bad for landfill).

But you know what, you don’t have to go all PETA on yourself when trying a vegan lifestyle. This isn’t a competition. It’s not a celebrity trend (as much as Beyonce wants it to be; sorry Bey, not happening, yo!). And it’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change that you can make for whatever goddam reason you want it to be. Bey did it for a ‘spiritual cleanse’ and I’m doing it to save myself from the horrific nightmare of me not fitting into any wedding outfits in the middle of a 45C heatwave on a Goan beach.

*TOFU FOR PRESIDENT*

*And… Haloumi for VP and camembert for governor, because I love them more than I love my own self and CALCIUM, I need my bones to survive all the Body Pump classes*

Well, I suppose I’m telling you this because if by some bizarre coincidence, you and I were to have a drink tomorrow night, you wouldn’t dare ask me why I’m drinking tequila on the rocks (98% of tequila brands in the market are vegan – there is a God!), now would you?

Pick me up at 8… with a wheel of Camembert. KThanksBye.

A Tale of Modern Poetry

He walked into the coffee shop, tortoise shell-rimmed glasses in one perfectly-manly hand and 600-pages of a Charles Dickens’ classic in his other. The cover of the book looked like an old library edition of ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’. He ordered a soy latte.

“Gosh! So perfect,” I thought. “I wonder if he’ll stay for another cuppa, if he does, I will ask him something that sounds intelligent about the book he’s reading; just to make conversation.”

He sat down by the window with the natural light making him look even more handsome. He rested his glasses on the rugged spine of Dickens and positioned the ivory mug precisely to its side. 

The sun, the steamy java enveloping his face, the thoughtful eyes sunken on his annoyingly perfect face, the generously calming smile; it was all too perfect to be true.

Then he took his iPhone out, framed the poetic setting, clicked, set a filter, posted to Instagram and left.

 

(… Thank you, technology for single-handedly ruining my prospective love life.)

The Boy Who Cried With Laughter

There once was a boy who loved to laugh.

He was a hard working guy with a good job, an enviable social life, a healthy family, but everyone knew him for his mirthfulness. He laughed when he was happy. He laughed when he was sad. The stressful times were dealt with a chuckle, as patronising as they may be, and so were those anxious days. A good belly laugh was the boy’s ironical version of crying ‘wolf’. People expected to see this chirpy side every time he set foot in public.

However, while they enjoyed his gleeful company, they questioned his joy: ‘How can you always be so happy?’

Was he playing a trick and fooling the ones around him with his selfless laughter, or was he really that happy? How can a laugh that pure and inundated not come straight-from-the-heart? Was he being dishonest to himself with this fake joy? Or was he just masking a deep, inferior pain?

Witnessing his chuckle was the kind you see in silent black and white movies from the ’50s, where you don’t understand why a fall down the stairs is funny, but you still join for a giggle. You do it with a sense of mystery and awe.

Was the boy really this happy all the time, was the pressing question…

He laughed when he got booted out of his job. The dream job that had him going swiftly on that ideal career path. He thought, jobs are part of your life, they are not the entirety of your life.

He smiled when he found out his mum had stage II blood cancer, because that was the only way he would be able to survive the emotional pain. Plus, his mother hated seeing him cry; he had to be strong, for her.

He had a falling out with two of his best friends, but he still kept laughing. He realised that it’s never easy to part ways with someone whose played such an important part in the majority of your life, but isn’t that what ‘growing up’ is about? After all, you can’t be young and stupid all your life. Someone always grows up, and the other one always moves on.

But then there was a day when all he wanted to do was be cynical, miserable, grumpy, whiney and everything the world didn’t expect him to be. He just wanted to be vulnerable, honest, raw and mask-free in front of the world, so they could stop taking advantage of his joyous personality. That was the day when he was tired of being a polished media version of what the world wanted him to be. He just wanted to express himself authentically, without any inhibitions. It was the day when he didn’t want to reach the peak of his happiness, instead he just wanted to crawl in a little cocoon of sadness and weep. Weep like a baby.

But it never happened.

Because, sometimes you just have to keep smiling, however unauthentic and fake it may be, because that alter ego version of you is what ultimately defines you.

It’s what ultimately defined the boy. He became known as the boy who cried with laughter, and never cried tears.

5 Lessons To Learn from Rom-Coms

Romantic-comedies is a genre in films that deserves to die in hell while sitting on a chair made of gold.

They are annoying, yet heart-warming. They make you believe in the universe’s ways of finding your soulmate while leaving you in a snotty, sniffling mess. They trick you into buying high-end designer clothes, while you continue live in your shoebox of an apartment. They teach you about the empowerment of having a vagina, while you’re still stuck on ‘why he didn’t call? Why doesn’t he like me?’.

See, absolute demons!

Rom-coms have the power to tap into our basic human desires to love and be loved; whether you’re a 15-year old teenager, a 40-year old single mum, or a man who watches the sap as a crash course to a woman’s crazy mind. You clever lot! 

Think about it, where would all the Katherine Heigls, Kate Hudsons, Jennifer Anistons and Drew Barrymores of Hollywood go, if we didn’t buy into the crap they sell about love, life, relationships and career.

They force us to get bikini waxes from incoherent Ukrainian women before the first date, just as much as they make us want to magically meet our versions of ‘the ones’ at the local coffee shop (trust me, I’ve been trying for this one; my baristas are cute Italians too. You’ll read about it here if I succeed).

From powerful careers, to perfect blow-dries, to a sassy gay bestie and a token dickhead; chick flicks have the power to make women around the world ooze out optimism, enough to make us sick to the stomach, laugh till the last breath and secretly cry, all at the same time.

Here are five lessons we must all learn from a rom-com… coming to a Netflix/theatre near you.

  1. Female writers/journalists/reporters first fail in love and then they fall in love.
    You have the job, you have the social life, you have the kick-arse wardrobe, but as per the rules, you have to fall in love with the biggest jerk of an asshat before you can meet your Prince Charming. And this offer is exclusively available for television reporters, newspaper columnists and magazine journalists. You cannot, absolutely cannot set sail on perfect shores right from the start because no other leading lady could do it, so how can you? Plus, you won’t be able to write about your unfortunate love life, if you don’t swim in the wrong end first. But once you’ve shed the tears and ‘learnt’ from the misfortunes of the break-up, you’re allowed to marry that dreamy bloke who, turns out, is your ridiculously good looking best guy friend from high school. Oh. 
    As seen in: Never Been Kissed, Bridget Jones Diary, Sleepless in Seattle, Going The Distance, The Devil Wears Prada, Morning Glory.
    Devil-wears-prada-gif
  2. Move to New York City if you’re serious about love.
    Despite the men to women ratio in NYC being completely against the favour of the ladies, chick flicks want us to believe that the Big Apple is the place where true, inconvenient, uncompromising and mad love can be found. Single and live anywhere else; you’re doomed! It could be the magic of the park or the optimistic bright hue of the cabs, but roms-coms see something in those five islands. Remember how Carrie finally found love after six season and two (awful) movies, and how Sally and Sara tested destiny with their serendipitous moments in Central Park. Apparently, this city narrates a better love story than what Paris, London, Los Angeles or Tokyo could ever tell. 
    As seen in:
    Serendipity, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, When Harry Met Sally, New Year’s Eve, 13 Going On 30, Bride Wars.
    SATC-NY-love
  3. Interrupting a wedding always works. Almost always.
    This is an easy one: be shameless, ruthless, heartless and stupid. Don’t stress if the love of your life is marrying someone else. Who cares about the wedding costs, presents, venue bookings and broken relationships to follow? Bring out your inner-Julia Roberts and kiss your goddam crush on the day of his wedding so he can toss his future family and marry you. Do check if you can borrow the ex-bride’s dress…
    As seen in: My Best Friend’s Wedding, Made Of Honor, The Sweetest Thing.
    Tom-Made-Honor
  4. The stud finishes last, the common man always win and the prostitutes are the nice guys.
    You won’t find love at the Christmas party because your dream man is actually that nerd from high school who always helped you with your homework. No, it’s not that bad boy with tattoos and piercings who your mum disapproved of, because he’s now serving time in jail. But say you’re in your 30s and still single, go for the tried-and-tested option, get yourself a prostitute or a gigolo, because roms-coms are proof that this breed of humans have a heart of gold and bodies of Greek Gods. Yes Channing, I am talking about you… say hi to your Tatum!
    As seen in: Pretty Woman, Magic Mike, Girl Next Door, Grease, A Walk To Remember, Legally Blonde, Love Actually.
    Pretty-woman-meme
  5. It’s time to farewell Matthew McConaughey’s pretty face from chick flicks.
    Ladies, let go, the man is gone. Our beloved Steve/Ben/Tripp/Finn ran for the hills when he got offered a role that didn’t just revolve around a wide-angle and a close-up of his washboard abs. Can you imagine the man getting an Academy Award for his pimp-tastic role and body in Magic Mike? Sigh! Adios, hottie.How-to-lose-a-guy-McC