I see her Rise!

As I sit in my makeshift office drinking green tea, I look out from the mountain top view of the city, and I ponder the state of my nation.

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From where I sit I see green. Lots of it. And scattered amongst the greenery I see buildings.
And in those buildings I see people.
And amongst those people I see women. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins and aunts.
I see faces of every race, of every culture and of every age.
I see a swollen lip, puffy eye, and a bruised upper arm. I see the burn mark, the choke mark and the horrific bite mark.
I see the slap, the punch and the kick. I see the shove into the mirror, the push against the wall and the throw to the floor.
I see bruises, cuts and blood. I see fractured, I see broken and I see dead.
I see the heartache, the pain and the suffering.
I see the guilt, the shame and the blame.
I see fear.
Turn to anger. To outrage. To protest.
On the horizon from where I sit, I see a sea of blue sky and soft marshmallow clouds. I see birds and I see sun
And I see change.
I see her power, her body and her country
Re-claimed.
On the horizon from where I sit, I see her. Un-shamed. Un-blamed. Un-tamed.
I see her.
Rise.
I see her Rise!
I see her Rise!

If the statistic is true that a woman is raped every 4 minutes in South Africa, then in the time it has taken me to write this post, 60 woman have been raped. Are we angry yet?

It’s My Party

And I’ll cry if I want to. That’s how I feel about every birthday. It’s your day, your date, your cake, your chosen arrival into this world, your celebration, yours, yours, yours…. and it’s your time to own it.

For me it’s the best time to reflect. To look back on a year that’s past and take into account everything that’s happened: the beautiful, the average and the ugly.

More often than not, when you do this, you marvel at everything you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come (even in the failures) and it gives you that extra oomph to tackle the next year.

This morning while drinking my tea in bed I took some time to think about the last year and I reflected, I remembered and I let go.

In a year I’ve:

  • Lost some friends and made some new ones
  • Holidayed in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Beijing and New York
  • Knocked off an item on a childhood bucket list (the Great Wall)
  •  Re-discovered my passion for writing
  • Lived, a life of charm
  • Cried in buckets, laughed in buckets and puked in buckets (too many Long Island Ice Teas, it happens)
  • Evolved emotionally and spiritually through some heartache and heartbreak
  • Stayed the course on steering and manifesting a life of my choice, my liking and my responsibility

It’s easy to dwell on these things, to gloat in a sea of achievement and get stuck in an illusion of glory. But it’s also dangerous.

I’m proud of myself for the journey I’ve travelled thus far but I also realise that this list does not by any means reflect my biggest blessings for the year.

While I would say that receiving my father’s birthday gift in the post after 36 years of waiting, is right at the top of the list, it doesn’t quite top the list. Sorry Dad.

My biggest blessings this year are that I get to spend Christmas and New Year in my own country, that I get to celebrate it with my family, and that I get to do all this in summer.

In being away from home, I realised that we can climb the highest mountain, make the most money, drive the fanciest car, live in the biggest mansion and travel to the most exotic places but it all means nothing at the end of the year, at the end of your life and at the end of time.

The only things that really matter are those you love. And it was at this time of year, my birthday and Christmas that I really missed my family and friends. You know, the ones who put up with your bullshit and still offer a shoulder to cry on, the ones who give you everything when they have nothing and the ones who love you no matter what.

So after spending 2 summer’s away from home, from family, and from friends, I treasure all the calls and the messages I received today, I treasure the laughter and tears I’ve shared with all of you, I treasure the support but most importantly I treasure the love.

I hope that when you get to celebrate another year of your life, you reflect back on your list, give yourself a pat on the back and move on with a tidal wave of love and gratitude for the ones you love and who love you back.

Be blessed. Be thankful. Be love.

 

 

Dumped In Darkness

Downtown New York

Downtown New York (Photo credit: sreevishnu)

I was dumped. I was sad. I wallowed. I ate. I felt the disappointment.

I got up. I ate. I drank lots of coffee. I got dressed. I kept moving.

And I kept moving not because I’m some sort of saint-in-life, but because my survival depended on it.

The last I “spoke” to you I was falling in love with New York. I had questions about whether I could be vulnerable and questions about how far and how deep it could go. I was hopeful, I was glowing and I was very excited.

After a few weeks of that tingling feeling of living the New York life, almost overnight some bitch stormed in and whipped up her accomplices in a frenzy of jealous rage as if to say, “if I can’t have him no-one will”.

And that, as they say was that.

Pure darkness followed. Cut-off and cut-out, with no explanations.

All I can say is that these things happen in relationships and happen in life. Sometimes things fail, sometimes we fail and sometimes we don’t know why.

Storms come and they go. Sometimes big, sometimes small.

Storm Approaching Paradise - Coral Island, Phu...

Storm Approaching Paradise – Coral Island, Phuket, Thailand (Photo credit: Captain Kimo)

I wish I could assure you that by living a certain way or in a certain place would guarantee a life free of struggles and free of storms. I wish I could assure you that these storms would pass you by unscathed and untouched by heartbreak and destruction. And I wish I could assure you that when you do get knocked down it’s easy to get straight back up.

All I can assure you of is that life is all about getting back up. It doesn’t really matter how or when, but it does matter that you do.

When I woke up every morning ready to complain about the electricity or the bucket bath I remembered that there are those who go everyday without this ‘luxury’. I remembered that there were those who lost their lives, lost their home and lost their dreams in this storm.

New York also reminded me that with the loss or frustration or heartbreak that these storms bring, they also bring hope. The spirit of people, of communities, and of those who choose a profession that puts them in the front line of danger in order to protect and serve, restores faith.

And it was those people who choose everyday to protect and serve that got straight back up. And on the weight of their backs we all got back up.

It’s in these storms of life that we realise that as fragile as we are as humans, we are also resilient. And in being resilient we realise the depth of our inner strength. And in realising the depth of our inner strength we realise our capacity to love.

And it is in realising my capacity to love that I have come full circle. I got dumped, I felt the full gambit of emotions but I came back to a place of love. New York remains in my heart.

It’s given me a new sense of freedom, a new sense of hope and a new sense of attitude.

With these feelings I’ve come back home to South Africa to celebrate another year of my life, to embrace the love of my family over Christmas, to usher in a new year and move on.

I’m still groping in the dark with regards to my future, something a lot of people don’t understand, but that’s ok, because I know, whatever may come, I’ll always get straight back up. And I know you will too.

L&LtakeNYC: Curry snobs, chasing the flavor

Thank God for pistachio, cardamom and chillies. Thank God for the waiter getting the order wrong. And thank God for Halloween.

And I suppose I should say thank God for laughter too because this is all we could do. This is all a curry snob can do when they decide to listen to reviews.

The Place

We, the 2L’s, found ourselves in the heart of Curry Hill on Lexington Ave, in a restaurant called Dhaba. A pretty decent looking place, cosy in size and of course with tons of great reviews.

After a bit of indecisiveness we eventually ordered up the same. 2 vegetable samosas, 2 shrimp curries, 1 tadka dal, 1 rice portion and 1 garlic naan. And intuitively, 2 masala teas too.

Now if you were born and raised in Durban like we were, you’ll know that curry and rice is standard fare. Eating and cooking curry is a ritual that goes back at least 3 generations in our family.

So the general expectation is that if you are going to do Indian eat out/take out it better be good. Damn good. It’s pointless getting a curry that tastes worse than your own. Isn’t it?

The service

Now I suppose we should have known something was up when we asked for the wi-fi password and were firstly ignored and then later told no.

A few more questions and requests to the waiters and we realised we were facing a zombie infiltration. Blank stares and unintelligible sounds coming out of their mouths. Early Halloween perhaps?

The food

The samosas came and went, bleh.

When the rest of the food arrived we immediately realised that we were 1 shrimp curry short. Given the zombie situation we decided on silence. And a good thing at that.

L1 dipped straight into the garlic naan and shrimp curry. L2, attacked the rice and tadka dal. The look on L1’s face told L2 something was desperately wrong. Quick switch.

L2 summons the zombie. Now if L2, the quieter of the 2L’s, calls on the zombie then something must be seriously wrong.

Zombie 1 arrives with a resulting apocalyptic breakdown in communication. Cue to the arrival of zombie 2. The removal of the bowl of shrimp curry a vague indication that some form of understanding was reached.

To put it simply the shrimp curry was not really a curry. Not in our world anyways. It was bland, bland and blander. No spice, no flavour, no heat . Temperature wise or spice wise.

L2 sent it back because it was luke warm and asked for some chillies to be added.

Well, it came back, as watered down as ever with another small bowl of whole green chillies. A first for us. I mean, just imagine sitting at a restaurant table and chopping up your own green chillies to add to the curry.

The chillies helped make a shitty shrimp curry less shitty but still shitty, if you know what I mean. And where the shrimp curry was tasteless, the garlic naan was too tasty. As in the garlic overpowered everything else.

Perhaps sensing our displeasure the manager arrived with two complimentary desserts. Rasmalai which is cheese balls in reduced sweet milk and pistachios and the other, Tawle Ka Gulab Jamun, fried milk balls in cardamom flavoured sugar syrup.

The Rasmalai was really good but not good enough to save the entire meal. When you’re a curry snob and you’re chasing the flavor of a curry you can call damn good, the extras don’t count.

Now usually we would not do reviews .We would simply not return. But let’s just say for Halloween sake here is our first restaurant review:

Above par :

  • Masala tea
  • Tadka dal
  • Rasmalai

Below par:

  • Shrimp curry
  • Garlic naan
  • Samosa

Being the snobs that we are, we should have just taken the 50 dollars, bought all the ingredients PLUS a bottle of wine, gone home and cooked up a storm a la Floyd.

Curry snob tip: In Manhattan, go fine dining for Indian especially if you are familiar with Indian food.

#L&Ltake NYC: The Truth

“Here’s the truth”. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. And usually it’s been followed by fall on the floor laughter. Mostly because I’ve just reached a point in my life where there’s no keeping it in. Not for shocked looks, nasty whispers or unwanted judgements.

So here it is. I’ve been dating and making out all over the show. That’s right. From park benches and cosy restaurants to arty theatres and long piers. From Belgian, American and French to Mexican, Japanese and Italian.

And I see you giving me the side-eye now. Yes you.

Don’t pull out the good book yet, I haven’t dropped my panties but I’m not holding back either.

Simply because there’s no reason to.

I’m love-struck. Love-struck over the freedom I feel in the arms of my future potential lover. Let’s be clear, they’re not safe or warm or cuddly, but they are completely uninhibited. They feel like they’re saying, “God bless you girl, you do you, any way, any how, any want.”

Be expressive. Be unique. Be purple in the face of green.

And you see this in the ancient fossil wearing her black leathers or the peacock prancing in his platform heels or even the ‘girl-next-door’ with her bright orange hair.

And you hear this in the boom box conversation on the bus or in the New Yorker stories from the neighbour or in the cussing of the pissed off cyclist.

And you smell it in the aroma of old dog’s pee on the streets.

For this is not a traditional love story. This is a Gotham city kinda love story.

And at the heart of this story is freedom… this is ‘New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of and where there’s nothing you can’t do’.

But like any great love it can suck you in, get you naked, love you up and spit you out.

This is for the brave, the crazy and the resilient.

This is for the ‘all in’ otherwise you’ll find yourself ‘all out’. This is for those who want to take a gulp out of a life and not a sip.

This is for those who know when to put on the blinkers, the ear phones and the protection and when to be like Eve.

Because when you fall prey to the seduction: the bright lights, flashy bulbs and limelight; the flattery and the false promises; the casual rather than the committed, the fall is long, hollow and hard.

It’ll leave you broke and broken.

This is the hard-knock kind of love. The kind that takes most of your time and energy and requires intense work.

It’s also the kind that needs you to dig deeper for the softer parts. For the downtime and for the quiet.

Whether it’s a walk on the Highline, kayaking on the Hudson, a nap in Prospect Park or a visit to the Met, there’s another side to be found and experienced, just like all great lovers.

And don’t we all want to say that we’ve had at least one great lover in our lives?

I’m 35, never been married and have no kids. I’m single and no, not desperate. I’m at a point in my life where most people are wondering when I’m gonna settle down. They don’t even have to say it, I can sense it.

But I don’t want to settle.

I want to be purple in the face of green.

I want to rock my black leathers and red lipstick. I want to prance in my platforms and I want bright orange hair.

Heck, I want to rip all my clothes off and skinny dip under the moonlight. I want to have mad, passionate sex. And, if we gonna be honest I want to have an orgasm too.

I want to fall madly in love.

Madly. In. Love

The only way to do that is to take a risk and allow myself to be vulnerable.

Maybe I’ve been infected by the madness of this city already. But who cares? I’m love struck. I’m talking crazy and I love it.

I’ve already proven in my choices that I’m not afraid to take risks. Can I be vulnerable though?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve been sucked in.

How far or for how long? Mmm, only time will tell.

P.S For more on #L&LtakeNYC visit LeanneTee