Month: February 2012


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When we were children, my  parents put us in private school even though it was really difficult for my father to bear the financial cost. But he did it for two reasons; a) because he wanted us to have the best, b)he wanted us to have an education in English in case one day we packed our bags and went back to Kenya. Reason (b) was a sorta clever plan because we know people who were put through public schools in Saudi Arabia and then they had to move to Kenya and go back several classes because they couldn’t speak in English.

One disadvantage of being put through the private system of education is more often than not, our classmates were children of rich families when we were in the middle-lower class at the time. They had better toys, brand clothes, higher allowances, went for better vacations…and in the mind of a child, you really can’t pretend that all those things did not matter because all those things did matter. I went through that complex in high school, and my younger brother carried it over even through university. Once I was telling him, “Don’t look at the people above you but at the people below you,” and he answered, “What if everybody around you is above you?”

I remember this particular incident that happened when I was a kid. But I went to my friend’s house and I saw her barbie collection and I remember wishing I had all that. To romantacize a bit, my mother had made me a rag doll out of left-over materials during one of the summers. And it didn’t look anything close to Barbie. I also saw a picture of her and her family in Disney world and boy was I envious. But then a few years later, she lost her younger brother, and I no longer wished I had her life. Today’s question is, if you’re wishing for somebody else’s life, are you ready to take the bad things with the good?

The answer is, both ways you can’t have somebody else’s life so might as well be satisfied with your own.

They Told Us To Neglect Friction

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It’s funny how the world works. We spend 14+ years in the academic system, studying for one exam after another, solving one homework after another, submitting one essay after another. Teachers fill us with information, pythagoras’ theorem, solving for “x,y, and z” and most importantly, if we try to solve questions in physics, they tell us to neglect friction.

Seriously, how many times did you see that term in your academic career, “Neglect friction”?

Yet, the first thing that you’ll learn once you enter the real world is that friction is the one thing that you cannot neglect. Detailed studies are conducted taking into account nothing but that thing that we spent half of our lives ignoring, “friction.” It’s like the school system tries to make us live in a bubble, telling us that everything is all right, life is beautiful (personally I felt that in AUS, MI is another story which I’m not planning to get into). But then you go to the real world and the bubble bursts. I clearly remember my undergrad advisor telling me that to be marketable I need to learn foreign languages, so I started teaching myself languages like Spanish until the day I entered the real world and found out that I was mislead, to find out why, read this note.

The point I’m trying to make is that you can think of the world as being made of so many different onion layers. On the inside, you’re protected in a world that permits you to have three months holiday, and gives you minimal responsibility because you only worry about schoolwork and where to hang out over the weekend, then as you grow older, the layer of the world that you see is totally different with the introduction of responsibilities and of course, “Friction”. Looking at friction in another sense, think about friendships and how they meant so much more in the inner side of the world’s onion layers [i.e. in your childhood]. Then one grows up and suddenly pure, innocent friendships are taken over by ma9ale7, social status, peer pressure to join the coolest group and of course, “Friction.”Funny how the onion analogy works well, because both ways, whether you’re on the inside of the layer or on the outside, the world will still make you cry.

So to conclude, just remember that just because they told you to neglect friction doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.And you can quote me here!

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Or shall I say, Allah Hafiz

Airport Announcement-updated

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So the other day, I heard the Dubai Airport Announcement on a Mombasa street, and it turned out to be someone’s phone ringtone. I found it quite fascinating why anyone would put that as their ringtone, so I sat speculating; Maybe the guy has never traveled abroad and had it in his wishlist to do so, so it was his way of visualizing his dream in order to achieve it. Maybe the guy had gone abroad – to Dubai specifically – and this was his souvenir, his way of remembering the trip. Or maybe it was his way of reminding himself that we are just travelers in this Dunya and that life is not permanent so make the use of everyday. Or maybe…

He just liked the way it sounded.

So now when you hear the woman announcing a plane’s departure in Dubai International Airport, what would you be thinking? 😉

After posting this, I got an email from one of my readers that says the following;

I used to have this ringtone few years ago when I was living in Africa.  It was the announcement of Emirates flight to London Heathrow.  This is might sound stupid, but it used to give me the hope that life is full of opportunities and I just have to wait for my turn to come. I used to believe that this is going to be my flight one day. When I look back to this , at that time I had no clue how it is going to be my flight, I didn’t  have the money , I didn’t have the reason to go there and I’m not smart to secure a scholarship or anything.  I never wanted to go there for vacation or anything like it, but for a reason, maybe work, conference, whatever.  You can say that I put it in my mind as benchmark for my own success.

Sub7an Allah, yesterday I was checking for my London Heathrow flight.  I have to go there for 10 days to study an extensive course as part of my master’s degree .  Although Lufthansa is around 1000 AED cheaper than emirates, I will go for emirates insha’ allah just to hear the announcement for real.

Comparing the two pictures in my head now I cannot say more than sub7an Allah. 

ما بين غمضة عين وانتباهتها يغير الله من حال الى حال”

Hadeeth of the Day;

عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما قال : أخذ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بمنكبيّ فقال : ( كن في الدنيا كأنك غريب ، أو عابر سبيل )

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them both), he relates that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) once held my shoulders and said: “Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer or a stranger.” [Bukhari]

Put a Ding In The Universe (Or Maybe Not)

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One of Steve Jobs’ famous quotes is, “I want to put a ding in the Universe.” He talked about contributing to the world around him, and if you’re reading this on your iPhone or iPad then you know that he had succeeded in entering your life.

However when you read that phrase, “put a ding in the universe” it makes you think of something massive, something colossal, or to be more exact, something astronomical. Just the thought of it might be overwhelming. It might make you think, “I can’t do that, start a company to compete with Apple.” So why don’t we choose to not put a ding in the universe and start instead by doing something small; like a small dent in the society around us? Or maybe set the boundaries even smaller and focus on family only; make a change in their lives somehow?

We never know, we might start with a small step, and the butterfly effect might somehow amplify it to touch more lives. Then one day we might look back and think that it started with this  note…

Or maybe not.