Monday, December 29, 2014

2014

First of all, today is pretty awesome. Why? It's my fantastic mum's birthday, and while she may be a few thousand kilometres away, I still absolutely intend to celebrate! She's been such a constant source of support my whole life, and is probably the strongest person I know. I'll definitely take any opportunity I can to celebrate her!

I've never really done a year in review in such a public space, but since this is a personal blog, mainly read by people I know, I felt that it'd be an appropriate platform.

2014 was such a long, eventful year, that it's hard to believe that only a year has gone by. I started off January by comping. It sounds simple enough, but it's a comprehensive examination that every Sewanee student has to take in their major before graduating, and how well you do may determine whether or not you're eligible for honours. It covers basically everything you've done in your major over the past three and a half years, and once you're done, your friends show up to 'comp' you and this leads to a party of wicked fun proportions. (My friends decorated my door so I thought I'd share it).


After that, the semester went by really, really quickly as I dealt with thesis preparation, presentation, and then my honors presentation. I had a wonderful 22nd birthday celebration with my best friends in Sewanee and I was absolutely blown away by the lengths they went to to ensure I had a wonderful time (I'll say it again; thanks guys!).  Before we knew it, graduation was upon us, and that week went by in a whirlwind of parties, goodbyes, and generally epic moments shared with great people. 

Relaxation was out of the question since barely a week after graduation, my sister got married. Those of you who've never attended an Indian wedding must try do so at some point (do avoid gate-crashing though, that's a no-no in most cultures). There was so much colour, pomp, laughter and happiness shared, and it felt really good to be with most of the extended family after such a long time. 

Unfortunately, a few weeks after that, the family got some sad news as we lost our grandfather back home in Kenya. It was definitely difficult being away at that point, but like the close-knit family that we are, we all rallied together from different continents to celebrate his life. 

Soon enough, there was more good news; two of our sisters (cousins really, but we've always been really close and refer to each other as such) were expecting! Aunthood is something I've been looking forward to for years now, so 2015 will definitely be an exciting one. 

The last few months involved me relocating from New Jersey to Iowa for a bit, and I started working as a marketing consultant and a marketing and communications intern. I FINALLY started blogging regularly, and saw my readership grow exponentially. I got to go back to Sewanee for a few days to see some of my favourite people in the world, and now I get to usher in 2015 with family in New Jersey again. 

Like I said, 2014 was extremely eventful and taught me a lot. It hasn't been the easiest of years, but I'm grateful for all the experiences I had and the people I shared them with. 2015 is one I'm definitely looking forward to. Aside from the whole aunt thing, it looks like there'll be a move for me at some point; whether this'll be back home, within Iowa, or to another part of the US entirely remains to be seen at this point. It's the first year that I'm not spending as a student in about 20 years, which is crazy and scary but still cool. 

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks so much for being a part of my journey this year! 


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Saturday, December 27, 2014

25 Before 25

Nearing the end of the year seemed like a good time to create a broad bucket list, so to speak! I've seen lots of these on various other blogs and websites, and it seemed appropriate to make one of my own (that could also be used by others)! I'm 22, turning 23 in March, so I figure this gives me a good two(ish) years to get exploring. Of course, the list is general enough that it can be used by most adults at any stage in life!


1) Pick up more languages: Personally, I'd like to finally master French, and attempt to tackle Italian, and the dialect of Irish that my phone calls 'Irish'. For others who're interested in languages around the world, the digital age we live in has made it SO much easier to pick up new ones; whether this entails using apps like Duolingo, or actually immersing yourself in a culture that speaks another language. 

2) Travel more: While I have family all over the world, and have travelled often, I haven't necessarily travelled to many different places (yet). Having graduated, hopefully I can work on this! An uncle of mine who regularly travels around the world for work told me that now is the best time to go out and see the world, and I think he's absolutely right (thanks Amu Faiz)! I've been fascinated by Ireland for some time now, for no particular reason, and so I hope to at least see this soon enough! 

3) Expand your musical skills: If 'musically challenged' was a medical disorder, it would describe me perfectly. I appreciate music, and enjoy live shows once in a while, but lacked the patience and skill to pick up an instrument (much to the dismay of my mum and teachers). However, singing doesn't seem (that) difficult, and at the risk of breaking all the windows around me, I think now might be a time to improve my skills enough that I can sing to my soon to arrive niece(s) or niece and nephew without cause for tears (did I mention I'm about to become a double aunt?) :)

4) Learn to make your money work for you: Younger than 25 may seem to some 'too young' to start worrying about money, but take clues from the successful (and unsuccessful) people around you. Just learning about simple investments that can be made and how to control spending habits could go a long way in the future!

5) Try an adrenaline sport: Honestly, I want to do banzai skydiving at some point. It sounds crazy, but fun! It may take me a while to get good enough to be able to do this, though, so I may stick to skydiving at this point!

6) Pick up photography: Or in my case, pick it up again. Bob (my camera) has been complaining of late that I haven't paid him much attention. Those classes I took while still in uni gave me an excuse to explore this art, but recently I've reduced my photography to taking pictures of friends and family when we get together. Yes, it's fun, but not necessarily what a DSLR was built for!

7) Give back, give often: 'Charity' has become so much more than giving money to those who're 'less fortunate'. I've been lucky enough to be in an environment where people are mindful of those around them, and I hope to be able to continue this as I get older. 

8) Learn to let conflict go: Sometimes we hold on to anger because we're too dogmatic to give in. By the time we realise that the relationship at risk means more than the silly squabble, it could be too late. I think the younger we learn to let go of conflict and move on, the healthier we'll be as we get older. 

9) Learn to let go of relationships: At the same time, sometimes it's important to recognise when some relationships have come to an end. These may be friendships that were very close to your heart, but may actually be detrimental to you. I read an interesting article recently on Elite Daily on 10 Toxic People You Shouldn't Bring With You Into The New Year , make sure to check it out!

10) Trust new people: I find that the older I get, the more comfortable I get with the comfort zones I create around myself. Being able to take a jump and try something new and meet new people does me wonders and I'm sure would benefit others too. 

11) Love yourself: I must have said this a thousand times before, but the best time to learn to spend time alone and be comfortable with yourself is now. No matter how old you are, no matter how many years you've spent with a negative self-image, with a little effort, this won't be hard to achieve at all. 

12) Make (and stick to) a fitness routine: Luckily, as of September, I've been pretty okay at this, but just hope that my streak continues! The benefits are definitely innumerable. I want to try accumulate at least 300 yoga hours in 2015, and be able to run at least a 5K so that when people learn I'm Kenyan, I can actually live up to the stereotype. 

13) Climb a mountain: This seems simple enough, right? The world has lots of variety you can pick from. Fortunately, Kenya does too, and I have lots of people around me who've already accomplished this. My best friend climbed Mount Kilimanjaro recently, and while I may not be ready to do this as soon as she was, maybe someday it'll happen. 

14) Learn to cook: Hurrah! I can almost check this one off, thanks to my sister who patiently showed me the basics. Six months ago, I'd never even broken an egg or cut an onion, but now I can safely say I would survive in a kitchen by myself. 

15) Learn to say no: I find this difficult to do, but am learning to do it more often. Sometimes, it's okay to think of yourself first and recognise that you have needs too. 

16) Say yes to things you would've previously turned down: You never know when a fun adventure may be right around the corner!

17) Read more, write more: Personally, I'm trying to switch from quantity to quality. I've got a few untouched-since-I-used-them-in-school Philosophy books that I've been meaning to explore but haven't quite gotten around to. 

18) Spend time with family: This one speaks for itself I think! I'm lucky enough to come from an extremely close family, and though we may be miles away, we speak almost everyday. Time together may not be as much as we'd like, but we make sure to use it well. 

19) Make time for friends: The older I get, the more it seems that I have friends spread out across the globe, from California to Australia. It can be hard to keep up with all of them, but I think it's important to try, especially so because it's these distances which remind you who values you in their lives too. 

20) Become a morning person: Those of you who know me well are probably doubled over laughing at this point. But hey, others have done this before me, so there may still be hope!

21) Go a significant period of time without TV and social media: Honestly, once you begin this, I don't think it's as hard as it seems. It's the initial step that's the hardest, but I think I'd really welcome being able to be Facebook free; not forever, but for a little bit. We've become so attached to our phones that interactions with real people leave much to be desired. 

22) Write with your non-dominant hand: This is a bit of an odd one, but I've always been fascinated with the fact that my dad can write with his left hand and it's actually legible (he's an eye surgeon so this makes sense). I'd love to be able to use mine too!

23) Talk to strangers: This is so much easier to do when you're in a closed environment like a university or workplace, but once you leave these, talking to strangers can seem daunting, at least to me! (Note to self (and others): Do not take this far enough to accept rides from strangers...)

24) Learn your way around a vehicle: My dad has always believed that if you want to drive a car, you should be able to look after it too. I remember the first time I polished one; it got dark while I was still working, and discovered some spots I'd missed the next day. Still, it was pretty exciting, and I've been meaning to learn more when I get a chance! 

25) Plan for the future, but learn to enjoy the present: This is such a big one, and such an important one! What's the point of planning for the future if you'll never enjoy the present? 

Happy holidays!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cognitive Shift

Life sucks. At least, it can if we allow it to. A strange sentiment, I'm sure, but please allow me to explain.

We face situations and people every single day that can give us cause to be unhappy and upset. We stress out over our lack of control, and can spiral down further, sometimes into deep depression. 

What can we do to be happy, you ask? It's really as simple as that; be happy. 

You see, life will always throw negatives our way. Focusing on them and giving them more importance than they're due will only harm yourself. Difficult as it may seem at first, choosing to see the positive in life will go a long way in helping you have a happy life. I certainly don't mean to preach, or imply that I'm perfect at this. Far from it! I've faced many situations in life, and continue to do so, where I've felt it would be easier to give up and let 'life happen'. Recently though, I refused to allow myself to think like this; to allow situations that could do so to put me in a 'down' state, and I'm so much happier for it. I'm not just happier with myself, but with the people around me! 

Sure, many people look at me and may wonder; what could be so difficult about my life? It's obviously easier for me to be happy because I've never had to deal with anything close to what they have. Remember, we all have our battles to fight, and just because some of us choose to smile does not mean that life is easy. Take a look around you; everyone you meet has their fair share of crap to deal with, but most of them do just fine. 

Training yourself to react to situations and triggers in healthy ways is not an easy task. Often, to be able to do so successfully may require the help of a professional, and there is nothing to be ashamed about if this is what you decide to do. Therapy has a sort of stigma attached to it that desperately needs to change. Honestly speaking, I'd recommend that everyone try therapy at least once in their life, and this isn't just the Psychology student in me speaking! Of course, that is not to say that this is impossible to accomplish by oneself. Many of us are locked into these patterns of thoughts and behaviours that have been a part of us for many years. Sometimes, we may fail to recognise them and how detrimental they can be. Having an outsider's perspective can definitely be helpful in such a situation. 

Almost everyone has people in their lives whose sole purpose seems to be lashing out at others and making them miserable. Almost everyone, at some point or the other, is capable of being such a person to others too! Remember, most of the time, these people are just reacting to their triggers, and lashing out is their preferred defense mechanism. Teaching yourself not to let such individuals get to you may not help them much at all; but I promise you, you'll be at peace.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rest

I didn't have time for a longer post this weekend, but I'll share something my best friend sent me. Something I needed to hear, and maybe you too! 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Red Jeep


Sometimes, a physical object can have a deeper meaning that is made all the more important by its shared history. The red jeep pictured above belonged to Caleb, a friend of mine who graduated with me. It was eccentric in character to say the least, and upon graduation, he passed it along to the next rugby captain who would take over from him. 

(One memory comes to mind regarding this jeep for me. It was fall break of my sophomore year, and I was on campus along with a few friends. I offered to make dinner for a few of them, and I remember the owner of the jeep at the time (Caleb) coming over with another friend of ours, Jill. We had a great time, and managed to avoid burning down the dorm while we took control of the kitchen. As Caleb and Jill were leaving, I remember the jeep (which seemed to have a personality of its own) had trouble starting. As it finally started off, I stood on the roadside visibly amused, and half expecting them to break down a few metres ahead. They didn't).

I got in touch with him, its previous owner, and the person he passed it down to, to ask what exactly this jeep represented. I'll let their words do the talking! 

Previous owner: 
Well, the jeep was my first car, and painted with my favorite color and from a good friend. Because I got it in Sewanee, it fit right in to our tradition of community. This signified strength and responsibility for me. As mentioned earlier, it was my first car so I had to maintain it with much love and care. I also drove the car to DC 3 times and it still drove anew as if some Angel was working under the hood; a Sewanee angel perhaps.

-B.R.

Second owner: 
I actually had my eye on that Jeep long before I knew Bexter was selling the thing. I used to see him (Bexter) cruising around campus in that noisy piece of awesome and I hoped to find a car like that someday for myself. There was something so unapologetically intense about the thing. Its presence was undeniable, albiet intrusive, and yet it emanated this overarching aura of strength and this sort of rugged friendliness.
When Bexter reached out to me about buying it I knew it was meant to be. I had always looked up to Bexter. He sort of took me under his wing my freshmen year and helped me assimilate to the "Sewanee Lifestyle". As a fellow African transplanted in the American South, he knew much of the culture-shock I was going through those first few semesters and he made everything seem alright. He is such a passionate person and you can really see this come out when he sings. I've never really told him this but I always knew something of his passionate soul found its way into that car, you could feel it.
Anyway, he sold it to me for a ridiculous price. Hell, he practically gave her to me. It was my first car. I was so stoked. I didn't even have an American license yet. My good friend Sam Dexter had to drive me down to the DMV to help me figure out how to pass the driver's test and get registered. So my first ride in the car was actually in the shotgun seat and you had to climb in through the window because the door was jammed.
After we got all the paperwork sorted out I began to drive that thing around like mad. It felt so damn good. I took it on a few road trips, got a few speeding tickets, and jam packed the thing with rugby players and did donuts in the gravel. I've always believed that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. In regards to the Jeep, that meant driving the hell out of her and taking meticulously good care of her at the same time. I made a point to get to know every corner of that greasy engine, it was a beautiful thing.
I quickly learned that the car was at its best when shared with as many people as possible. I honestly think the thing would work better when more people were riding in it, and to my knowledge, that is still the case today. She is so loud that you sort of have to yell at each other when you drive around. But I think it's good to raise your voice every now and then, it lets something out of you, something that needs to be let out.
That Jeep was so unprecedented, so disruptive, and yet so charming. Lodged in a community of primarily upperclass southerners, the Jeep had the effect of being like that eccentric aunt in the family who everyone is slightly embarrassed about but who still gets to show up for thanksgiving dinner because she's family dammit. She's so brash, so entitled, so unpredictable, and yet the happiest in the bunch, or at least the only one with nothing to lose. That is what this Jeep was. That is what it felt like to drive it.
It was an honor to drive that thing around for about 3.5 years. I'm grateful to Bexter and Lawrence for taking such good care of it before passing it along to me. I've always been uncomfortable with referring to it as "my jeep." I think there is an unfortunate impulse in human nature (or at least in my human nature) to want to 'possess' good things. But not all good things are meant to be possessed. And when these good things grace you with their presence and come into your life, it's always a good idea to never hold on too tight. That Jeep really belongs to no one. It's a symbol that embodies values of freedom, brotherhood, creativity, true love, and the irrational yet exquisite capacity to fight on and on and on. Everyone has a right to these things, and there is something about the Jeep that extends the invitation to partake in these things, these values, and nothing about that is exclusive!
How could I ever sell such a thing! Never, no, it would be disrespectful to her and an insult to her freedom. Instead I passed my duty as primary caretaker on to one of the greatest men I know. A man I trust and love and look up to. A man who has taught me a great deal about life and rugby and the nuances of flip-cup. I know the Jeep will serve him well and I know he will serve the Jeep well. The Sewanee rugby family will surround and protect that Jeep for years to come and something about that really puts my hear to rest.
I always wonder if perhaps the Jeep will die someday. Part of me thinks that it could only die if people stopped believing in what she represents. If that day ever comes however, I pray God gives us the grace to let the Jeep go with full hearts and peaceful souls...but until then, until its final mile, we will fight for her, and she will surely fight for us.
-C.B.S.

Current owner:
The jeep for me is not as much about tradition as it is about shared memories. It's a place to get to know someone and a place to feel young and invincible. My freshman year I lived in courts with Caleb and drove with him in that jeep to rugby practice every day. He was the first guy I got to know on the rugby team because of these drives. I remember sitting in the back seat (the front door was permanently sealed) on the way to practice, exploring all the paintings and scrawled quotes on the interior and talking to Caleb about where we came from and how beautiful rugby is. Then we'd pull up to the old EMS house and Sam Dex would run out and climb through the front passenger window and we'd be off to practice. 

I remember how much I looked up to Caleb and how he drove the jeep with a reckless abandon, while telling me about all its finicky little personality traits like how it runs better in the cold and when you drive it hard. Last year I remember sitting in the back seat in the Fiji parking lot one afternoon with a new rugby freshman for a full hour just talking about rugby and our lives and bonding. During our conversation we finger painted "HAZE" onto one side's seat with extra field lining paint found in the back seat. 

The jeep is all about inner beauty, resilience and tlc. It will run as long as it has someone to share itself with. I can't think of it as anything but Caleb's truck but it is the rugby club's truck now and I know it loves its job. It'll never leave the mountain.

-J.C.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

A Flawed Philosophy of Work



Many of us work eight or nine hours every weekday, and some of us also go in for about four or five hours every Saturday. This is a large proportion of our waking time spent at our workplaces. What do we work for? We work to make enough money to be able to afford nice houses that we barely get to spend time in, and to travel during the meagre vacation time we're given.

One would think that since so much of our lives and our waking hours are spent at our workplaces, we would strive to find jobs we enjoyed and would attempt to make the hours spent there more enjoyable, but strangely enough, this isn't the case at all. Come Monday, most, if not all of us, begin to whine about having to go back to work. We eagerly count down days to the weekend, and work in a state of disengagement that tells us that what we are doing shouldn't be enjoyed, but rather tolerated to be able to enjoy later.

We spend many hours with people who work around us, yet go back home at the end of the day virtually strangers, and complain about being 'lonely' and how hard it is to 'meet people'.

What fundamental flaw has arisen in our way of life that we have created lifestyles that make it easier and easier for people to be unhappy? Employees find themselves stuck in situations they don't enjoy just so that they can make money, employers fail to recognise the need these employees have for time off, and society creates a system that forces people to choose 'something' that they can do, before they even realise what it is that they would love to do.

Yes, I have met many people who absolutely love their work. They enjoy what they do, and find fulfillment in the same. These same people have meaningful relationships with the people they work with, and have employers who aren't stingy about time.

Personally, I'm terrified of getting stuck in the rat race; needing to work more and more for less and less, and unable to find meaning in what I do. Luckily for me, I have the support of many friends, family members and mentors, but I know that many others do not enjoy similar comfort. Is it time for change? I certainly think (and hope) so.

Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to comment, follow this blog, like my page on Facebook at The Kenyan Nomad or reach out to me on twitter @roshwalia !


Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Art of Being Obvious

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I look at a piece of art, listen to music, read something, or look at a photograph, I like to appreciate its beauty at face value. I think sometimes we get so lost in 'looking for the meaning' in something that it actually loses our attention and we can't appreciate it is much. Beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes things change meaning for us depending on our lens; the experiences that have shaped us, our emotions, our memories, our lives.

I honestly don't think that two people can look at the same thing the same way; our perception is shaped by our minds, which do a lot of filling in for us. We perceive the world as a beautiful reconstruction of what it really is, a reconstruction that our own brains make. 

I think part of the reason I appreciate various forms of art so much is that I am dismal at them. I was born with no talent, and failed to develop any over the years. So, while I sometimes enjoy hunting for meaning in things, looking at them again and again till they make sense or change before me, sometimes there is beauty in simplicity and being able to say things outright. A great example of this is the Humans of New York photo blog, which is honestly my favourite thing about the Internet. Many of the photos taken by Brandon can be appreciated at face value, many require looking deeper to find meaning, and most can be enjoyed both ways. 

I don't think I'll ever fully be one of those 'writers' (which I put in quotes because I don't fully believe I deserve the title) who relies heavily on subtlety. Most of the time, when I want to say something, I'll go ahead and say it, which anyone who has spent much time around me or read my blog can testify to! 

To part with, I'll leave you with two pictures that I took today; one of the corks I collect neatly in my cork cage, one of them out of it. Interpret them how you will! For me, they're a reminder of wonderful people and wonderful times shared with these people :)



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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Repressed: A Modern Love Story?


(I'll warn you in advance, this post isn't one of my happiest, but it's definitely one of my most important. Read no further if you hold the belief that women must surrender all parts of themselves and their identities to their husbands and in-laws after marriage.) 

I remain perpetually shocked by the fact that I STILL live in a society where wives and daughters-in-law don't have anywhere near the respect and freedom that husbands and sons do. Am I talking about Kenya, or Indians in Kenya, or Indians in general? I haven't quite figured that out yet. However, I am talking about a problem that is extremely real, extremely relevant, and happening even today. 

There are many families who insist that a daughter-in-law change her surname after marriage, and don't even leave her the option of keeping her old surname as a middle name. Our identities are so fundamentally tied to our names that it's hard to believe that this is still the case. Yes, I understand the fact that having a common last name is easier for family purposes, but what harm can there be in allowing a woman to keep her old identity intact? In fact, why is this even an issue that needs to be 'allowed'? Shouldn't someone have a say over something as basic as what their name changes to and what they name their children? 

Personally, I can't respect people who think like this, who hold onto their old-fashioned standards due to some deep rooted dogma that they absolutely refuse to let go of. It isn't that the world will end if they let go of these unflinching standards; I have met many, many rational people who do not force a woman to give up her old name just because she married their son. 

I find that these are the same people who put the burden of their care on their daughters-in-law, and none at all on their daughters 'because eventually they will go to their own homes'. Marriage does not mean she is disowned and not a part of your family any longer, and if you have expectations of your sons and their wives to help tend to you, there is no reason not to extend these expectations to your daughters and their husbands. If you have guests at home and berate your daughters for not tending to them while you say nothing to your sons as they do the same, you're definitely doing something wrong. 

I'm extremely lucky to have parents who do not differentiate between sons and daughters, and do not expect us to fulfill 'traditional Indian roles', but I know that there are many others who are not as fortunate. It saddens me that in 2014, this is still a relevant conversation that needs to be had, practically begging stubborn parents to give daughters and daughters-in-law the rights they deserve. Still, a conversation is a start, and I hope that by the time my nieces are of age, this will be an issue that they'll hear about only when they read their aunt's old blog posts. 

To conclude, I'll leave with two conveniently copy-and-pasted paragraphs I took from an article on www.mensxp.com. They kind of say it all, don't they? 

'It is not only unfair but extremely regressive of a man to expect his wife to change her second name after marriage. She can be as much a part of your family even with her original name retained. Her willingness to get her name changed is no measure of how dedicated a wife and how 'cultured' a woman she is, which is why it shouldn't be a concern at all. Moreover, she has a lot of emotions attached to her name - it has been a part of her identity all her life. Just because she is married now, doesn't mean she shall lose all individuality. If you're still not convinced, ask yourself if you'd ever be willing to change your name to hers after getting married.'

' It is strange how convenient it is for an Indian man to make his wife stay with his family without having to give anything up himself.  When a girl agrees to leave her home and live with you for the rest of her life, you owe her equal respect and love towards her family. Instead of making her distant from her family, promise to spend equal amount of time with her parents as she does with yours or be willing to move in with her parents. The society desperately needs an example of a truly equal marriage. Be that change!'

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Thank You, Too



Coincidentally, around Thanksgiving, I began to notice lots of little ways that the people in my life were appreciating me. It's like the universe is sending me little affirmations saying "Keep going, you're doing something right!". 

Many of them actually centred around this blog; I heard from a few people who I haven't heard from in ages giving me feedback on my writing. Some said they enjoyed reading what I wrote, some said that I inspired them to write, some asked me for tips on how to start writing themselves. I've gotten out-of-the-blue messages from old friends telling me that they're thankful for me, that they were thinking of me, that I inspired them somehow. 

Sure, on a day-to-day basis I'm sure many of us don't stop and make sure to reach out and appreciate the people in our lives. Luckily though, I just got a very important reminder from the people in mine about how great one feels when you do that, so I'm definitely going to make sure I appreciate them more often. Thank you, all of you. Happy Holidays!








Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wanderlust

Here's another blog post by Aniqah Khalid, my fantastic guest blogger and one of my oldest friends. She's full of life and inspiration, and I'm glad I get to share her work with you!



Some of you may or may not know that I lived in London for four years of my life. I lived within the heart of central London where a combination of cosmopolitan life, bad weather, sophistication, dearth, excitement, downheartedness, materialism, spiritualisation and much more lay. I simply loved it. I love it not only because of the excitement of living in a bourgeoisie city; however what London had the ability to offer in terms of growth and self-realisation was in itself unexplainable.

Sometimes you find yourself losing yourself within a book. You become acquainted with every character and find yourself sinking into the ink of every page with every word you read. That is what happened during my love affair with London. I lost myself in this foreign city and let it find all different the emotions, fears and strengths embedded deep within my subconsciousness.

You meet people who are so different from you only to give that bubble you live in a much needed pierce. Different assortments of people walk the streets of London. From the homeless drunk, half asleep and effortlessly reeking the tube carriage to the piercing parlour of a man with spikes in different shades of purple that once used to be his hair smoking in a corner of Camden Town. You will never cease to be surprised by the vibrant characters you will meet. So many stories they hold, so much they have seen and so many dreams that have been crushed and have manifested.

The beauty of London further lies within its past. Streets still haunted by what has passed many moons ago through its time-honoured architecture that stands just as it had within the Victorian era. The gothic architecture that shadows London gives it a mystical magic and its statues and gargoyles hold the secrets of Londoners that have passed and that are to come.

Fashion is not a choice; in London fashion becomes essential. You may learn to love it or become naively opposed to the materialistic world you are already a part of. I loved and hated how you always have to keep up with what was trending and how displays in stores would constantly change to newer electrifying things. The talent and sheer outrageousness of the fashion industry evolved from a general musing to an overall lifestyle I adopted. The creativity was enticing and the ability to pull it off became an addiction.

To get lost in London is in itself a way to find yourself. There’s something really awe-inspiring about losing yourself in a big city.  We all experience different places differently depending on where you are in life and what you want from life. We are all in some way or another seeking something, and when you find yourself out there, something changes and somehow you just know that you have fallen in love with not only where you are at that moment, but who you are in that moment. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

An Unofficial Homecoming

While this post is about three and a half weeks late, it's still extremely relevant. When I went down to Sewanee over the weekend of Halloween, I had an agenda; I was going to see friends, pick up my stuff, and visit a place I love dearly. However, I didn't think about the fact that I was, in a sense, going home. It wasn't until a good friend asked me how I felt about being home that it hit me; yes, this was a home, and would always be so. '

Sure, it was weird being back as an alumna. Walking around academic buildings, the library, the dining hall; it all felt familiar, but different in a way. I passed by so many old friends who would say hi and a quick "Hey Rosh!", then do a double take as they realised that I had in fact graduated and wasn't just walking around campus on a normal class day. If anything though, this visit made me love Sewanee and my people there even more.

Of course, it was nice to be able to visit there as a kind of tourist and see places I'd never been in about four years; like Ruby Falls. It was a long underground walk, but still cool.



This one will be kept short for Thanksgiving prep, but I'm sure I'll return to the topic of Sewanee and it's people sometime soon. Have a great holiday weekend! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Handshakes: An Elusive Art

The other day, I was introduced to someone by a mutual friend. Naturally, I reached forward to shake their hand, and was absolutely horrified. Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever encountered what I fondly call the limp-fish-grip? Because I have, an unfortunately high amount of times.

Needless to say, I wasn't very impressed by this person. Worry not, I didn't base my judgement solely on their poor handshake; subsequent conversation confirmed what the handshake had hinted at. This happens often enough that I would think most of us know by now that a good, strong handshake is a vital part of a good first impression (depending on circumstances of course, but true a lot of the time).

Of course, I've also experienced the opposite type of handshake; given my hand to someone only to have my bones crushed to dust. Well, almost, but you get my point.


Is it nervousness that leaves many of us unable to properly shake a hand? It very well could be, and thus it's very important to be able to calm your nerves if you know you'll be in a situation that will require a lot of handshaking, like a conference or a job interview. Yes, it definitely isn't fair to judge people on their ability to properly shake someone's hand. I've met lots of people who had limp-fish-grip, and who turned out to be absolutely fantastic people despite this. Heck, many people don't even know that handshakes are this important! I know that I never gave them much thought until a few years ago; they were just a social 'thing' that weren't really that important in the grand scheme of things. 

I'm by no means an expert, so I thought that I'd go ahead share an article (by Etiquette International, so hopefully the name means something) giving tips for a good handshake. Here you go! 6 Tips for a Good Handshake

May we all steer clear of limp-fish-grip this Thanksgiving. Have a great week!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why Can't I Want?



I'm two chapters into a book entitled "Appetites:Why Women Want". It's been lying on my bedside table untouched for a few weeks, but I figured if I'm trying to stop being lazy about my writing, I may as well stop being lazy about my reading too. I'll start it back up tomorrow as I'll have some time to kill in the city before a jazz concert in the evening, and I thought now would be as good a time as any to write about what I think. I'm addressing this topic as a woman in her early twenties, but I'm sure that the topic of appetite is a problem for many who do not fall under this category.

I've always (well, not as a kid, but more recently) had a healthy appetite. It does fluctuate, but more often than not, I can out-eat most of my friends (and occasionally my family too). See, the weird thing is that many times, I find myself needing to justify this appetite, needing to explain why I'm eating what I'm eating. "Oh, I had a light lunch". "Yeah I worked out today so I'm super hungry". And so on, and so forth. Later on, I'll ask myself why I needed to do so; is having an appetite really such a shameful thing? 

Luckily with food, I've never had others tell me that my appetite was wrong or somehow dirty. Maybe it's because I've always been otherwise healthy and (mildly) in shape. Recently though, I began to notice ways in which other appetites seemed to be too much for society, and I know that I've heard similar things from other women who attended Sewanee (my alma mater). While I wasn't always vocally so, I've always been ambitious. I want to do well, and I'm confident enough in myself to believe that I can do so. Confidence is never something that we should have to apologise for; if I don't believe in myself, why should I expect any of you to? Yet, this confidence and desire to do well has been misconstrued in many ways; as being cocky, as being arrogant, as being selfish. 

I guess personally, I've moved beyond struggling with wanting to achieve many things, to accepting that by believing in myself, I may be able to. I know many other people who're the same way; they know what they want, and they aren't afraid to go after it. So why is it that what I want is regulated by what society thinks is appropriate? Are we trying to create a culture where confidence and belief in oneself is stifled in favour of not seeming arrogant or selfish? We all have insecurities, true; they're part of what makes us human. But choosing not to show these insecurities is in no way wrong, and you should never have to apologise for wanting what you do and believing in yourself.


Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to comment, follow this blog, like my page on Facebook at The Kenyan Nomad or reach out to me on twitter @roshwalia !

(Image courtesy of SplitShire).

Monday, November 17, 2014

We're Back!

My scheduled vacation to Tennessee (which was amazing by the way) somehow unintentionally turned into a writing vacation from my blog. Coming back and getting into the swing of things with a new internship and crappy weather made me lazier than I thought I'd be, so today I thought I'd finally sit down and get some stuff out.

The new internship is going well, though I do have an awkward moment to share! Those of you who don't know me should be warned that I do have plenty of these, and I will never quite be the embodiment of grace and elegance. I was being introduced to one of the higher-ranking employees at the firm, and after a firm (thank goodness) handshake, for some reason, I found myself asking "How do you do?" Almost immediately, I mentally facepalmed myself. As the appropriate response for "How do you do?" is also "How do you do?", asking it usually precipitates a series of mumbles as people scramble for something to say. More often than not, there'll be some awkward silence, and this day was not too different. Luckily, we smoothed over it quickly, helped by the presence of my supervisor with us, and while leaving I made a mental note never to use that greeting again!

Anyway, before I forget to do it, I wanted to talk about a wonderful restaurant that I stumbled across in Nashville. Epice is a Lebanese bistro located in the city. Originally, I had planned to go elsewhere with two of my closest friends (the third being unfortunately absorbed in law school stuff), but after looking at the menu, I decided that nothing quite appealed to me. Epice was suggested as an alternate location, and the menu sounded interesting enough that I decided to check it out. I haven't had Lebanese food in YEARS... and have been craving it almost everyday since I left Epice.

The ambience is nice enough, although I wish I could say more about it. Honestly, I was more absorbed in the food and the company I was with. I liked the service at Epice, in that it was tailored to what I needed that evening, and I'll explain what I mean by this. Occasionally, one goes out and is in a mood to socialise with anyone and everyone, including the staff at the restaurant. That evening however, I was rather tired, and not especially chatty, and I really appreciated that our waitress seemed to pick up on this. She gave me suggestions, answered my questions, but didn't hover longer than was necessary.


I ordered the Tawook, and it was absolutely AMAZING. The meat was flavourful and tender, the garlic paste on the side was great but not overpowering, and I absolutely loved what they did with the potatoes. The portion was an appropriate size, and I was hungry enough that I finished almost all of it. 


Doesn't it look amazing?!

One of my friends ordered the kafta, and I don't remember what the third got, but I'll post the pictures below nonetheless. 




Of course, being as tired as I was, I didn't pay much attention to what the prices were. You can imagine my surprise then, when I got the bill and thought I'd been severely undercharged. Nope, just great food at pretty affordable prices. I'd planned (and budgeted) for a fancy dinner that was going to be a tad bit expensive, so was quite delighted at having the fancy dinner but not having had to pay as much. Planning to visit Nashville sometime soon? Please visit Epice!!

Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to comment, follow this blog, like my page on Facebook at The Kenyan Nomad or reach out to me on twitter @roshwalia !





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Together

I took this about two years ago, and felt like sharing. On another note, I'll be travelling so no posts for about a week. But I'll be back! 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Platonic Friendship; Fact or Fiction?


"Oh, my God, you guys are so cute! How long have you been together?"
Cue awkward silence.

Unfortunately for many of us who have friends of the opposite gender, these are the kinds of questions we get regularly. Personally, I've been getting them for about eight or nine years now, and you'd think I'd be used to it by now; but I'm still prompted to launch into a speech explaining my life choices to people who don't really need to know.

Where does this pressure on a platonic friendship come from? Television sets an example, definitely. We've all seen plenty of movies where the guy and the girl have been friends for ages, and then suddenly realise that they're meant for each other. Not going to lie, I love those movies, as do many other people I know. Relationships born out of friendships are pretty awesome and (in most cases) end up working out pretty well. But then again, we've also seen movies where a charming next door neighbour suddenly sprouts serial-killer tendencies, and yet we don't walk around constantly afraid of those who live around us, do we?

Another thing that inevitably ends up happening is that the people around this pair end up doing a lot of questioning, and in some cases absolutely cannot comprehend how two people who get along so well haven't ended up 'together together'. Especially so when significant others of a slightly more insecure nature come along. Everyone has insecurities; you do, I do, we all do; but we're characterised by how we choose to deal with them. An insecure girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse who feels uncomfortable with their significant other having such friendships can inevitably end up becoming a source of tension within the friendship itself.

Yet, while I've heard some people remain absolutely convinced that a platonic friendship cannot remain so after one or both of the friends start a relationship with other people, I've personally witnessed friends who've stayed as close as they were even after these relationships start. In most of these friendships, the significant others were completely fine, and even encouraged these friendships. Like I said, everyone has insecurities, but being able to move on from them to a place of self-confidence and trust is a healthy step indeed.

See, it's not that platonic friends don't recognise that there is potential for something different in their relationship. Many friends do realise that their friendship could go in another direction, while some friends know that that'd never happen in a million years. But it's important for everyone involved to realise that just because potential exists doesn't make a situation inevitable. If that were so, everyone would be attracted to everyone else based on their sexuality, and no relationship would be completely monogamous because potential lies everywhere; it's how we choose to deal with it that defines us.

So, no, I'm definitely not saying that people should absolutely stop thinking that a platonic friendship could transition into a romantic relationship. It could, and it does quite often. I'm just saying that when someone says that they're 'just friends', you should trust them.

Have a great Monday everyone!




Saturday, October 25, 2014

It's Happening Now

Here's the second post from one of my guest bloggers, Aniqah Khalid. Enjoy!

I sometimes have the ability to be completely ungrateful for what life has to offer me at that particular moment in time. I have this disgusting habit of wanting a whole different personality, a different moment and a different life all together. Here I have spoken the raw truth that almost every other person feels. It is what makes us human, the mistakes we make consciously and subconsciously.

My journey in life is to live in the moment. Some people have big goals for themselves; end world poverty, travel the world, become a successful business mogul, yet we fully ignore the most important character in this story of life. Make you your goal. Have other goals too, of course, but in your journey to success, do not neglect yourself.

I have an inexplicable way of papering over cracks. I tend to try and stuff irrelevant things into empty spaces in my life. I have now made it my goal to feel the emptiness of those spaces. Life never promised us complete and absolute happiness, that is an unachievable utopia. It's okay to feel whatever life has to offer to you. It's moments like these that make us who we are. We are molded into the strongest version we have the ability to be.

Live in the moment, no matter what that moment has to offer. Fully embrace life and let life embrace you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What a Liberal Arts Education Taught Me

This was something that was compiled by a friend and myself earlier this year, and it needed sharing. A lot of these seem Sewanee specific (and are), but are definitely applicable to most! Feel free to comment if there's anything you'd like to add!

- Infinity comes in many sizes.

- Question EVERYTHING. (Every class, especially Philosophy, Psychology and surprisingly, Spanish).

- Some answers don’t exist: that’s not the point. The question is what matters.

- Things fit together in strange ways; look for patterns and overarching themes.

- School has taught you wrong before, but that’s ok. Relearning is good for you.

- If you don’t do it yourself, it’ll never mean anything.

- Some textbooks are worth holding on to.

- “It’s a required course, not in my major” is NO excuse. It’s an opportunity.

- Go to Career Services.

- You might not win, but you should have learned something at the very least.

- Network!

- You did not do all this work just to be a waitress.

- Celebrate with friends and ALWAYS have a token to remember it.

- Misery is a great equalizer. Bond over it, and suddenly the bad places are full of great memories.

- Make do (especially in dorm kitchens).

- Procrastinating and taking the easy way out is fine if it works for you, but don’t be surprised when it bites you in the ass. And DO NOT complain. It’s your fault.

- The friends you make freshmen year aren't necessarily going to be your best friends forever.

- Sometimes the previous statement is (THANKFULLY) false.

- Say hi to people in the halls and on the sidewalk and in line at Clurg (our dining hall). It’s actually LESS awkward than not saying hi (especially if it’s the same person multiple times a day for 4 years straight) and it can lead to some new friends.

- Knock on doors and come in if they say so, even if you don’t know them. It might end well.

- Everyone could be your friend. Just start with the assumption that they are, and act accordingly.

- If you plan to sell back your textbooks, do it ASAP. Not 3 years later.

- SAVE EVERYTHING. Constantly. On flash drives. And in the cloud. Not just papers, either! Pictures too! And save papers for longer than the semester. You might want those poems one day. And you never know when someone will want to see what you did while in college.

-Read the University’s emails.

- Empty your inbox!

- Spend at least one break on campus. Then appreciate every chance you get to go home even more.

- Take a break with friends!

- Use your summers wisely.

- Go on the SOP trips, try community service (even if you don’t have to).

-Seemingly random events usually have delicious food (that's free) and awesome people you may never meet otherwise.

- Do Homecoming stuff. Every year.

- The book store is a rip-off. But it’s always got your back.

- Get a lightweight, durable laptop that you can fit in your bag, carry around all day, and has a long enough battery to last through 3 classes.

- Make study guides.

- Make friends with Res Life, dorm staff, custodians, repairmen, etc.

- Throw out trash on thursdays so it doesn't sit in the hall from Friday to Monday, stinking the place up!

- Write notes in your textbooks and DIRECTLY onto the handouts teachers give you.

- Not all handouts are worth holding on to.

- Always have a liner in the trashcan. Trust me.

- It’s ok if midnight (or later) is your best time for getting homework done as long as you spend the rest of the day being equally productive.

- Cool names for classes can be deceiving.

- When you rip your pants, everyone will remember. Let's hope they’re friends.

-Don't be afraid to look for friendship within yourself.

-Wine is the best.

-Hold on to family and remember that they’re important.

-Rejoice over the friends who've stayed with you for years and years; but let go of those it’s time to move on from.

-Love is hard, and difficult to let go of.

-It IS possible to have a platonic male friend!!!!

-The most challenging courses will be the most rewarding.

-Sometimes, it’s okay to get a B.

-It’s absolutely worth it to help someone smile through their tears.

-When a friend is going through a hard time, you may not know what to do, but the important thing is them knowing that you love them.

-It’s amazing knowing that something that has the potential to turn into a huge fight can turn into something that makes friends closer.

-Sometimes, you can’t be mad at those you love even if you try.

-Go to events without your friends! You’ll be surprised at what you find.

-Stirling’s (a coffeehouse on the Sewanee campus), and all that happens there, will be a constant in everyone's memories for years to come.

-Sometimes, friends go crazy and splash in puddles. THAT’S OKAY! Just make sure to help them dry off later so they don’t fall sick.

-Sometimes, friends go crazy and take it out on you. THAT’S OKAY TOO! They wouldn’t show that side to you if they didn’t love you, and it’ll give both of you a healthier appreciation of yourself.

-You CAN actually cook!

-But often, your friends can cook better.

-Sometimes, the people you weren't as close to at the beginning will become your best of friends.

-And sometimes, the people you hit it off with at the beginning will be the best of friends too!

-Sometimes, it’s okay not to be friends with someone. Relationships need to be founded on genuinity, and it’s fine not to force it.

-Being the bigger person is definitely worth it.

-Certain schools of thought believe that we imagine the world…

-Don’t be lazy...really, don’t.

-Gift giving can be SO rewarding.

-Don’t stretch yourself thin….you’ll break down at the worst times possible.

-Everyone is beautiful in their own way.

-People will be creepers from time to time. 

-Just because people are crazy as heck doesn't mean that we can't love them.

-Senior year goes by really, really fast; make sure to enjoy every moment and take LOTS of pictures!

-Make sure to explore the area outside your campus; there are probably lots of cool places you might've never known existed!

-Don't be afraid to ask your professors for help. They're there to help, and will appreciate you making an effort.

-Push yourself out of your comfort zone. It'll be scary at first, but definitely worth it!

-Internships are more important than you'd ever imagine.

-Following your dreams is the best goal there is...but you have to learn practical skills to get there.

-If you tell your professor you're sick, don't offer to babysit for them the next day.

-Get to know the people who're in years above and below you. Friendship does not need to be restricted to the people in your year alone.


-Remember; you can't skip a class when the professor is your neighbour and always goes to the dining hall.


-Liberal arts applies to one's entire existence of the world and all of the accumulated, general knowledge leading up to your time. Do not scorn any class because someone had to discover and produce the knowledge you are learning!


-Also, just because you're a "college student" doesn't mean you're not a kid, or that you should take yourself too seriously. You have to learn to let the kid in yourself out, and be young, and occasionally not make the most responsible decisions. This coming from a fairly straight-laced person: you are a college student. Make a few bad (or at least, unforeseen) choices!


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