Month: December 2012

Blood and Tears from Syria to India

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A friend of mine witnessed a massacre in Syria on Dec 29th, 2012 and this was her comment, “We witnessed a massacre today in Tal Refaat village in Northern Aleppo. A Russian fighter jet from the Assad army dropped a TNT barrel on a number of houses, just 500 meters away from us. The impact was so strong that our windows shattered. It was the most unreal, disturbing, and horrendous thing I’ve been through in my life. Taking the life of 18 civilians and wounding tens others took a matter of seconds. What killed me most, is how the people reacted, like it was so normal. While I broke down from shock, they were the ones comforting me. They continued with their lives, with children playing & laughing in the streets. After two years of hell, it has become nothing for them, picking body pieces from the streets, and burying entire families that were once part of life in this village.
This is just one story out of hundreds happening everyday in Syria, yet the world goes on, watching from afar, and caring less everyday. I am trying to express how I feel right now, but no words can do the job. What I know for sure is that God will not leave those people alone. Their amazing faith, smiles, and bravery will crush any army… and the whole world will owe us a huge apology someday, one which we will never, ever accept.
may the martyrs of Tal Refaat, & all Syria, RIP.”

It’s different when you hear about it on the news and when someone sees the actual thing and relates it to you, even though if you think about it, it shouldn’t be different, because the end result is the same; entire families are being eradicated and there are men, women and children buried underground as people around us are trying to find tickets for the biggest New Year’s Eve parties in town.

On another front, the rape victim in India had died in Singapore. Her story had triggered violent protests in India as people demanded greater protection for women from sexual violence. As the reporter in gulfnews stated, “The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, forcing them to keep quiet and discouraging them from reporting it to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule.”

But the sad truth is, this problem is not just in India. This reality is present in many Arab countries, where assaulted women are forced not to report the attacks so as not to bring shame to their family. Which brings us to Jordan’s Penal Code Article 308, the terrible law I learnt about upon reading @nuramer’s blog, which allows allows rape charges to be dropped if the perpetrator agrees to marry his victim for a period of at least three years. So not only are attackers allowed to walk free, they are even rewarded by taking a wife home, this is just preposterous!

Another question I’m wondering about is; is the woman’s consent taken even taken into consideration in such cases? Personally, I don’t know.

But article 308 totally takes the ‘post’ out of the ‘post-traumatic  stress disorder’ because the trauma will be continuous as rape victims would relive the attack day-in day-out. A story of a 14-year old rape victim who was being forced to marry her perpetrator caused outrage in Jordan six months ago, but I am left to wonder how the story had ended.

So yeah, as people are trying to figure out which of the 63 new year’s eve parties to attend in Dubai, maybe they need to take a second or two to think about humanity’s downward spiral and how to somehow stop it by bringing out the best in people, spreading kindness, doing good deeds, acknowledging the good being done to us and paying it forward.

Live Blogging from yet another wedding

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I am at a wedding so naturally I’m blogging since that’s what I do in weddings when I am not tweeting or whatsapping.
I had to come to this wedding “on behalf of” my mother because she couldn’t make it. The awkward part of it is when people walk up to me and say “hi” enthusiastically only for them to walk away and for me to wonder, “Who was that?” Usually my mom is around to tell me who it was, and she can be quite patient about it since I have a malfunctional face recognition system and I might ask the same question about the same person every single event.
But the interesting thing is to be surrounded by Swahili speakers in Dubai. Feels like I’m stranded in a mini-Mombasa island. Except that’s slightly inaccurate because the people around me might actually originate from Tanzania or Zanzibar for all I know.
But isn’t it cute when the young girls actually wear identical dresses without making a big deal about it? So what exactly happens to women when they grow up and suddenly they don’t want to be seen wearing the same thing as another attendee? Is it the need to stand out or to be the most talked about, hoping the uniqueness of the dress would become a useful factor?
As for me, I just search for the table at the corner and focus on my phone/food hoping nobody would embarrass me with “do you know who I am?” remembering the last time it happened in Kenya, the person was actually my dad’s half-sister. Yet another awkward moment.
P.S. Sadly my phone is running out of charge.

It’s OK to be Different

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So one of the things I liked about 2012 was discovering Susan Cain’s book,Quiet and Dr Martin Laney’s book, The Introvert Advantage; books that validate people like me are normal because as my friend puts it, “It’s good to know that we have a type.”
They claim that there are three extroverts to every introvert, and the world has come to value extroverts, outgoing people with charismatic personalities so that people like us are seen as just weird (at best) and psychologically ill (at worse). In reality, introverts are just different, not worse off than extroverts but different.
The idea they present is that extroverts recharge through external interactions- meeting with people, going to parties and doing all those extrovertish stuff -while the same things drain the energy out of introverts, leaving us feel overwhelmed, irritated as our brains become overstimulated.
And it is through no fault of our own, as our brains are wired differently. We can’t give quick answers because we’d rather think things through first so many of us are seen as quiet and maybe stupid, just because we delve deeper into the realms of our minds.
Our favorite pastimes don’t involve people as three becomes more than a crowd and we become overwhelmed. So we tend to recharge by sitting at home, making a hot cup of cocoa and reading. Extroverts find us boring but introverts totally understand our need for solitude.
And we communicate better in writing than through talking.
I’ve posted a couple of posts On Introverts but I felt like addressing the issue again because we still live in a society that finds it rude to turn down invitations to social gatherings not understanding that there is a limit to how many of these we can attend (I
personally limit myself to two per week-which my mother ends up organizing so don’t feel offended if I refuse an invitation, it’s just because usually my quota is already planned out for the week).
I really would like to raise awareness on the issue as I suffered a lot during my life with extrovert people trying to “mold” me into an extrovert when I cannot be one because it’s more a matter of neurological circuiting than social conditioning.
So I guess that’s it for today.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

#Bestof2012 Ahechoes Posts

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So the year is coming to an end, and I would like to take a few minutes to thank everybody who has been visiting this blog. With all the stuff online fighting for your attention, it is an honor that you’ve been spending some time here, so thank you very much. Thank you for your comments, likes, shares and retweets. I’ve been going through some of the comments that my friends have been sending me, and there seems to be a pattern, can you find it?

Person (A) on Facebook says, “long time no talk, but recently started reading more of ur writings and they are really good. i just want to thank you that some of ur writings i find them helpful esp to tough times in life. keep up writing and think of colletcting ur blog posts and put them in a book.

Person (B) shared my stuff on twitter, with the message, “write a book someday :-)”

Person (C) on Linkedin said, “Write something, like a novel or maybe a children’s book for starters (JK Rowling!)”

So until I get to that, I’m listing below some of the top posts for my compiled for new readers. Some of these were actually published in 2011 but they still made the “most read” list of 2012. Enjoy!

1) The Masks People Wear.

2) How to Stop Hurting Too Much.

3) Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish, Stay Curious. 

4) On Introverts. 

5) Sands of Time.

6) 9 Traits of Successful People

7) Dear Single Ladies

8) When Failure is a Success

9) The Road Less Traveled 

10) Losing Your Person