Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Who am I?

I carry the burden of introspection. I carry the cultures and lives I have been a part of. We are constantly looking to identify our ethnicity and acknowledgement of belonging.

When I was growing up in the middle east, I was awkwardly attempting to learn more about India, my ‘motherland’. I went to an Indian syllabus based school, hung out with the most popular girls who seemed to have it all and binge watched Indian movies to see and learn as much as I could. To get it right, somehow.

But I was a coconut; white on the inside and brown on the outside. The casual statement ‘how would you know, you are not a REAL Indian’ will haunt the aftermath of my continuous path to self realisation.

Recently upon reading ‘The Good Immigrant’, I got thinking. Here we all are, questioning who are we and where are we going.

But we stand together, as a group of people who have been hurt or lost, in one way or another.
This year, I had to renew my UK permit. And it hurt. It hurt a lot, to answer questions and suppress the desire to constantly apologise to everyone in charge of the visa application. I heard it in their voices and I saw it in their eyes. I had to apologise.

I do not blame or accuse people for their ignorance of what it is like to feel like an immigrant, but I am jealous because it is truly bliss. Coming to a country and stealing jobs from the other deserving native people is apparently what we do. I apologise.

And yet you run into an odd person who would like to share their views on how difficult it is for people from countries like India and Pakistan, to get a visa. Thank you. Again, I apologise. I see an elderly white man shout out ‘muslim shoplifter’ to an asian woman wearing a headscarf cause she is walking out of Zara, carrying a shopping bag. I am so sorry.

The sorrow and guilt we carry binds us together, that is what makes us feel alive and empathetic. I wish I had answers for where we are going, but I can tell you who we are; We are Immigrants.   

A writer who had the most impact on me and whose words I remember, is Warsan Shire.
Here’s an excerpt from a poem called ‘What they did yesterday afternoon’.

‘I’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
I come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night

I held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?
it answered

Sunday, 5 February 2017

For the love of food..

I have always loved food, the good food which is either familiar to you and feels like a warm hug or the kind that tickles the curiosity of the palate and mind.

One of the recent additions to my repertoire of things-I-make-cause-Im-in-the-mood is mint tea. I started out making Moroccan mint tea but it kinda transformed as I went along.

I was looking for gunpowder green tea, but I found some lovely Oolong tea leaves in a quaint store in Oxford. Armed with my dried mint leaves from the Old Spice Souq of Dubai, I was ready to start mint tea-ing.

The tea has now become one of my favourites and a bit of honey makes it perfect for the cold rainy days of England.

Friday night is usually pizza night, especially from a pizza van around Oxford called Soleluna Pizza. they have a wood fired oven inside the food truck and have a selection of hand made lovely pizzas and foccacia. And the people who run it are the nicest folks, who give you a bit of advice, a bit of chatter and some incredible food :)

And lastly, a special mention about The Pickled Walnut in Cowley, Oxford. It is a syrian restuarant with good service and a great crowd. The food is delicious and every dish has a life of its own. Three friends, a rainy night and a couple of mojitos, what else can you ask for?

 I had the baby chicken marinated with spices and herbs with a salad and garlic dip. It was by far the most tender and well barbecued chicken I have had the pleasure of having in a long time!

And the watermelon mojito washed it down very well.

We had baklava with icecream for desert and I can tell you honestly that after Dubai and Istanbul, it was the best baklava I have had in the UK.

After our great night, we rolled home due to sheer exhaustion of the work week. But for a good night out I would recommend Cafe Baba in Cowley, especially when they have a live band.

That's all I got for my first food post folks (#foodcoma), see you anon!

Sunday, 29 January 2017


If you have found this page, glad you dropped by, make yourself at home :)

My main purpose of this blog, except sharing my travels, love of food and random thoughts, was to share my experiences dealing with CVS for the past 10 years. CVS or cyclic vomiting syndrome or disorder is a mitochondria associated genetic disorder. After looking around for support groups or people who live with this disorder, I just wanted to have a space where I could be as negative or positive as I wanted. Im not here to tell you how everything will be alright eventually (I hope it will be), I am here to tell you what it feels like today.

It's a lovely rainy day today in England. It makes my heart yearn for samosas and chai and the scent of the earth after a monsoon shower.
It doesn't happen often, but I am reminded of my years as a young undergrad student, leaving Dubai to try and figure out who I am. To be honest, I thought it would be easier, leaving my home in the middle east to go to India, my presumed homeland for a bachelor's degree.
But somehow I was lost, my identity that I cultivated and built up from being in a school with an Indian syllabus and surrounding myself with the India that was brought over to Dubai by Indian expats, seemed to dwindle as I started all over. I had so much to learn and so much to understand.

However, as fate would have it, I acquired a group of friends who were more family than friends and they just moved into my life. We were all misfits, as society would term us. All from different countries or cities but drawn to this little town in India culturally or familially. And we built our own world, which now I understand was a big bubble, where we loved & lost and made our own rules.

I have made it a long term rule to never regret anything. But after those 3 years of being violently ill, from being misdiagnosed with food poisoning or gastroenteritis by a number of physicians and specialists, to being accused of being a hypochondriac, to being told not to be an attention seeker, to being admitted in the emergency room 26 times, watching relationships break down, watching myself spiral out of control as the fear and desperation kicked in, it was a challenge to call it anything but a struggle.

Don't get me wrong. The freedom of being able to actually say you understand what madness is, is exhilarating. But I left India in 2010 with a tremendous sense of guilt. The pain of holding in all the self-inflicted blame and responsibility for what I thought was the shambles of my what-could-have-been life, was accompanied by a tremendous sense of loss.
Recently, I had a consultation with a homeopathy practitioner to try and dampen and control the symptoms and effects of CVS. She asked me various questions about my life, my food habits and my relationships with people. And I surprised myself (and probably her) with the sheer amount of memories and thoughts I had carried over the years. What was a 90 minute appointment turned into a 180 minute session of me pouring my heart out to a virtual stranger.

It took me a long long time to reach this point, a place where I can talk about it. And I learnt that acceptance, as difficult a journey to persist on, along with forgiveness, be it for yourself or for someone who hurt you, can maybe..just maybe be enough to bring a smile on your lips before you fall asleep at night.

A special shout out to Angie ( whose blog gave me courage I did not know I have :)