That time I jumped out of a plane…

I turned on 29 on Monday, and like any other normal person, I celebrated this act of “leveling up“; however, unlike normal people, I did so by jumping out of a plane.

The first seconds of the jump.

That’s actually what I told my tandem instructor – Nick – when he asked me why I’m attempting skydiving on that day – “Well, it’s my birthday today, and I thought – what better way to celebrate than to plunge to my death?” And he immediately took a step back and said, “Whoa, girl. That’s not going to happen today.”

To say I was terrified would be an understatement. As Nick and the accompanying photographer spoke to me and asked me questions, I could only offer one word answers and nod, tight-lipped at everything they said. Nothing against them, because they were just the sweetest, but I was SCARED AS HELL. Continue reading

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On Muslim Women’s Day, let’s just remember they’re human too.

So apparently today is the first Muslim Women’s Day ever. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that until I clicked on the trending hashtag on Twitter, and then I was promptly disgusted. There are so many misconceptions, so many views depicting Muslim women as beaten-down creatures that are basically slaves to men, so much sarcasm about how it’s sooooo great to be a Muslim woman on this day.

As a Muslim woman, I have a few things to say. This rant bubbling inside me just won’t die.

I’ve never spoken about my religion on this blog, mainly because I like to keep my religious and political views out of my writing and “public persona”, but here goes nothing.

There was never a time when I wasn’t a Muslim. My parents are devout Muslims, and I grew up in a conservative household. I wore my hijab at the age of 9, and I’ve never taken it off for 19 years now, even when it’s boiling hot outside. I’ve never missed a daily prayer. I fast for 30 days every year during Ramadan. I also refrain from physical contact with unrelated men, alcohol and gambling. Continue reading

Sweet Snapshot Sunday #6 – The Italian Edition

If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know there are temptations around every corner. All the restaurants and bistros look supremely inviting, and my friends and I had to resist stopping for a bite at each one. Of course, when it came to dessert… well, that’s a completely different story.

The one thing I wanted to try the most was a genuine, Italian tiramisu. And I did. Dragging our weary selves back from the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica, we came upon a lovely restaurant called Il Falchetto where we sat out on the terrace and had our first Italian dinner and I had my first tiramisu. With a twist. Did you know tiramisu could come in pistachio? I didn’t either. And I fell in love.

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In Defence of 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard some (or many) people complaining about the trainwreck that was 2016. Many famous people died, Brexit happened, Donald Trump got elected President, we’ve had a number of terrorist attacks and a coup in Turkey, etc. And yeah, sure, these are all bad things, but that doesn’t mean the year was any worse than any other.

2016

People forget that bad things happened in 2015, 2014 and every other year before that. Why, we’ve had a lot of famous people die before… Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lee in 2015, and Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014. Plenty of terrorist attacks occurred… in fact, I feel that 2016 has been calmer on that front than 2015.

On a personal level, I had an uncle pass away in 2016… compared to an aunt and uncle in 2015. I know it’s not a nice comparison to make, but I’ll still take the year with the one less tragedy.

But a lot of good things happened this year too. People simply choose to forget them.

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The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World

In October, I had the absolute pleasure of spending my birthday in Italy. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Como, Bellagio and Turin… and it was probably the best 11 days of my life, even though right now it almost feels like one beautiful dream.

Venice was my favourite. Words cannot describe how charming it is, from its water canals to its narrow cobblestone streets and old houses and gondolas… I was and still am absolutely in love. Our hotel was right on the Grand Canal, and we had the most amazing view from our balcony.

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The golden sunrise casting its rays on the rooftops and water.

We went off the “beaten path”, so to say. Though we explored the typical tourist sites like the Doge Palace and Piazza San Marco and most of the popular bridges, we found ourselves trudging through empty alleyways and stepping inside the loveliest shops, filled with carnival masks and calligraphy pens and inks and… sigh. Continue reading

What Translators Can and Can’t Do

posterfix-449x700I watched “Arrival” this weekend. For the uninitiated, it is a movie about aliens arriving on Earth and the world’s attempts at communicating with them. The main character, Louise Banks, is supposedly one of the best linguists in the world, a translator whose work has greatly helped the United States, and naturally she is recruited to translate the alien language. Whether I liked this movie or not is besides the point, what I want to address in this post is the portrayal of Loiuse.

While I’m absolutely thrilled that there’s a movie that paints us translators as the real MVPs (because let’s face it, we’re not the most exciting bunch around), and sheds light on the importance of languages… during run time, I was just thinking, “Um. That’s… not how translation works?” Now that some time has passed since I watched it, I think I can finally put my finger down on what was bothering me.

Translators can translate one language into the other, provided that they do know both languages before hand. 

Translators cannot translate a language that, until two days ago, had not existed and there is no record of it anywhere. They cannot be expected to translate anything that is given to them. They are not walking dictionaries, for goodness sake. I was absolutely baffled when the MC was approached with some voice recording and asked to translate it. Like… are you even for real?  Continue reading

Back to Ink and Paper

Inky hands, correction pen stains, crumpled up paper, doodles on the corners… that was more or less my perpetual state as a writer when I was younger. Then computers came along and I migrated to the digital forms of writing, leaving my notebooks behind to collect dust while I sang the praises of Microsoft Word, with its pristine fonts and formatting options and the ability to start over and delete words with the click of a button.

Lately, however, I have been having difficulty even coming up with words to delete.

To be fair, when I was younger, I never had to approach a computer screen with a work mentality – it was a tool for fun and procrastination, but now I mostly associate it with translation and proofreading. I was also not involved with the Internet as I am now, and knew only a handful of websites. Social media wasn’t rampant, and my attention wasn’t diverted every few seconds by new tweets, Instagram posts, blogs, videos and forum replies.

I knew I needed to take a step back if I were ever to pull myself out of this neverending loop of distraction, disconnect a bit from my laptop, build my focus… and so I decided to go back to the basics. I think I went too far back though, because I bought myself a typewriter.

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I cannot get over how beautiful it is.

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