Not caring

Lulled by years of relative peace and prosperity we settle into micromanaging our lives with fancy technologies  and custom interest rates and eleven different kinds of milk, and this leads to a certain inwardness, an unchecked narrowing of perspective, the vague expectation that even if we don’t earn them and nurture them the truly essential amenities will endure forever as they are.

– Asymmetry, Lisa Halliday

The idea

The best idea isn’t the one that you bring in existence forcefully.

But the one that hits you,
 hit you once and 
never egress

The one that
 doesn’t let you sleep at night
wanders in your empty mind

You are forced to write
to liberate your life
you will have nothing
but a mere thought
that once crossed your mind

A dilemma

As I woke up on the first day of this warm month, strange thoughts approached me with a pint of melancholy. There was a desk full of work-to-do. There were things that we were still flowing in mind hoping to get a start. There were other worries too.
Picking the first book I reminisced on Martin Gardner quote,

‘ We all live slapsticks lives, under an inexplicable sentence of death…’

Is there something more truthful than this. Our whole life seems like an illusion. Our efforts to make something and push away the demon of death as far possible seem like negating the reality. Our worries, magnifying the little things and inflating our egos are the manifestations of folly.
Our fears that seem to hold us locked with the shackles with no door to escape — fabricated and foolish thoughts. We create walls and make ourselves prisoner in there.
We tend to admire a lot of things, think and obsess over them. A twelve-years-old who cries over her first crush. A teenager who weeps for not getting accepted in his dream school. A corrupt man trying to sweep money into his house. There is already enough, yet, there is greed. A woman desperately trying to get the attention just to make her existence valid.
Our beliefs suffocate as we become more and more homogenous; running behind the god of success and fame.
Is there only me who grieves facing this kind of dilemma?

Managing a student budget: surviving and thriving

I talked with the author of eishstudentbudget about the financial struggles of university students — and some tips for the newbies to thrive.

Credit: Shutterstock.com

Imagine you are a high school student thrilled to start a new phase of your life — moving out, meeting new people and tasting life as an adult. You went through the tedious process of applications and essays. Finally, your hard work during the school paid off and you got accepted in your dream college. Now, what’s next?

Most of the teenagers struggle to imagine or plan the future at this stage. When the excitement wore off and the worries start to crawl the spine, we reflect on the responsibilities that lie ahead. Checking the accommodation, commute, bills, insurance, tuition fee and the list goes on. A priority at this point must be to learn to budget your finances and keeping track of your money. A student must have some idea of how much he/she is going to spend and manage a living. Sorting out your budget thoroughly will help to have a better time focusing on the studies and evade the situation of owning a lot of money to the banks or estate agents.

In a recent talk, we briefly looked at these struggles and asked for some advice to plan better. We had an insight into the author’s life — inspiration to start this guide, future goals and much more.

Tell us about yourself?

Hi, everyone! I blog anonymously, therefore I go by the pseudonym, “Eish.”

I grew up in Johannesburg, Gauteng. My childhood was pretty normal; I was quite introverted and loved reading and learning. With that being said, I enjoyed going out with friends to the movies, mall, etc.

I am currently a university student at one of the higher education institutions in Johannesburg and I am studying towards my Accounting degree. If I was not doing an Accounting degree, I would probably be doing something in Finance or Economics. Commerce is interesting — I enjoy learning about money and how certain events have an impact on our personal finances.

Students in our course are fortunate in that our lecturers have “skin in the game.” They have worked in banking and finance (and other industries) and share their expertise with us.

How did you come up with the idea for this blog?

It was some time in 2015 that I began looking into minimalism. The premise of minimalism is to keep things simple. I was reading an article on a minimalist blog that spoke about how minimalism helps one save money. Reading that moved me and I thought, “Why not? I can share this information with others, particularly students.” I started the blog on WordPress in 2015 but did not publish much work there. It was mid-to-late 2018 that I started taking eishstudentbudget seriously. I deleted the WordPress blog and decided to set-up a new one on Blogger.

Where do you see your startup in 5 years?

I see eishstudentbudget being a successful blog and business. It does not generate revenue now, but I have plans to make it profitable in the future. I am still in the process of looking at ways to expand eishstudentbudget, but I am focusing on creating content and providing value. I definitely have considered an alliance or partnership. I am focusing on providing value and proving that I can create content and value first before I reach out.

What challenges do students normally face when handling their finances?

For the most part, I believe it is being responsible with money. Many students were not tasked with the responsibility of making purchasing decisions in their households; it was mostly their parents’ or guardian’s role. If the student received a regular allowance in high school, they did not know how to save and/or invest it. That is the first issue: that when one has not handled quite a bit of money, they do not know how to use it.

Secondly, when we do not know or fully understand how to save and/or invest money. This is a huge problem. If one does not know how to manage their finances as a student, how do we expect them to properly manage their finances when they enter the world of work? I know many working, middle-to-upper middle-class adults who do not manage their finances properly.

What are the struggles you face in your work and how you overcome these?

It would have to be keeping a realistic, yet positive, mindset as a student. I attended a vacation work program not too long ago and I remember one of the accountants saying, “It is all about mindset. Yes, it is a lot of work and it can be frustrating, but do the work and you will be fine.”

How would you define yourself in three words?

Kind; and

What is your dream place to visit?

Oh, wow. There are many places I would like to visit. I can not choose one. I would definitely like to visit a place where one, particularly a woman, can walk around safely at night.

What is your advice for the students who are planning to move out?

Pick a good roommate. I have been fortunate in the sense that I have never had a bad experience with a roommate, but I know people who were not so lucky. Choose someone who shares the same values as you.

(For more tips and advice check out the posts on eishstudentbudget blog. You can reach the author through these platforms- Instagram and email.)

Frida Kahlo’s stirring existence

I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.

Frida Kahlo is one of the most influential personalities of the last century that left her work behind to inspire and be admired. There is something extraordinary about this artist — the deepness and emotions that her work conveys are beyond words. Her creation reaches the heart of the audience and struck them to relish the moment.

Kahlo lived her life like art. As a young woman left bedridden, she developed her own style and taste. Leaving the world behind, she was creating honest art. As she said, ‘They thought I was a surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.’ Not only her work but her life in itself is an inspiration. Brimmed with desires, turmoil, and anguish, her paintings let the audience touches these emotions. A creator coinciding art and life.

The words, written for her lover speaks the passion and fondness. Kahlo married her lover Diego Riviera and the couple traveled the world together. Their love was mysterious and transcendent that brought pain with numerous infidelities as well as joy from deep yearning.

I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light, and your warmth.

She tried to grasp the love, understand it, and feel it. But the immensity was difficult to hold or to even see. She wanted to draw her love. Concretize her feelings.

Frida & Diego Riviera, 1931

I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors, because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love…

I notice that I’m with you. At that instant full of sensations, my hands are sink in oranges, and my body feels surrounded by your arms.

There is chaos in her soul. Emotions leading to confusion that makes everything rapid and electric. To understand the deepness, one often dives deep — amid the abyss, filth, and fear. This starts with spirit and courage. To understand love, there must be courage and willingness as she said,

Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain.

It wasn’t about love only. There is something else that characterizes humanity — struggles and suffering. She went through great physical and mental suffering throughout her life. And she poured the pain in her work,

My painting carries with it the message of pain.

Fighting with our inner demons is another struggle. Ruminating over secrets, regrets, guilt, weaknesses, and desires waves its own path to agony. To beat it up, we operate different tactics —oppressing, denying or giving up.

I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.

But she had the strength to go on. An ability that makes us marvel at ourselves; how can we take in so much and swallow. Being resilient, after all, helps us progress day by day.

At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.

Self-portrait with loose hair

Taking a step ahead, after learning to accept and see beyond our struggles, we drift toward noticing the struggles of humanity. There arises a desire to feel empathy and understand others’ emotions. Thinking about the poor and the unfortunate. We often forget that there exists greater pain, difficulties, different lives, and various perspectives.

Unfortunately, life is terrible for some people and a speck of thought and help can be the greatest deed to accomplish. Frida was conscious of this need and she perfectly summed up her feelings,

High society here turns me off and I feel a bit of rage against all these rich guys here, since I have seen thousands of people in the most terrible misery without anything to eat and with no place to sleep.
It is terrifying to see the rich having parties day and night while thousands and thousands of people are dying of hunger.

And she didn’t fear death: the obvious inevitable end and nothingness.

I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.

Green Book: Controversy & legacy

The film that won the best picture award at Oscar’s in 2019 is the Green Book. The story takes us on a concert tour that Dr. Donald Shirley, a renowned classical and jazz pianist took in the Deep South during the segregated era of 1962.  

In this journey, he is accompanied by his Italian American driver, Tony Vallelonga aka Tony Lip who is a tough guy from the Bronx chosen particularly for this risky job of a temporary chauffeur and security guard. Tony was prejudiced against blacks before his trip; had stereotypical assumptions and occasionally used racial slurs. Still, he got this job because of his skill of passing through any kind of trouble, thanks to his ‘bullshit artistry’.  

Despite having quite opposite personalities, the two men were able to form a bond that overwhelms the audience heart with warmth. Dr. Shirley deliberately took on this journey to the hostile part of the country because it takes courage, as his band member said ‘to change people’s hearts’. 
Going through the difficult times together, both understood each other‘s struggles and form a friendship that will illuminate until their death.  

             Image result for green book pinterest                                        

However, this film has received criticisms for various reasons. It has been the center of controversy since its release. The filmmakers didn’t contact the family of the Shirley for any information and the family said that the portrait of the artist as depicted in this film is false. Shirley’s cousin said that the film is once again the depiction of a white man’s version of a black man’s life. 

 Critics accused this film of having racial cliches and hinting to have found the solution or rather ended the racial prejudices. People are even discussing the credibility of a white filmmaker to make films on black people.  

The son of Vallelonga addressed the controversy and said, ‘If you’re discussing the Don Shirley family thing, that falls on me; but Don Shirley himself told me not to speak to anyone.’ He told the journalists that the pianist insisted, ‘If you are going to tell the story, you tell it from your father, me. No one else.’ 

Despite the disputes, the film scored the top prize at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and at People’s Choice. The director, Peter Farrelly said at the acceptance speech, ‘the whole story is about love. It’s about loving each other despite our differences.’ 

Ode to women: Maya Angelou (I)

I’ve known some extraordinary women in my life. Known them through books, virtual or everyday life. Women who made me realize the beauty; the beauty of life and womanhood. I like to say that I have each part of these women, yet, they always inspire me to be authentic and original.

My mother, my favorite singer, my best friend, my teachers and favorite writers are my muses. Women who surround me and those who stir me. This is why when I read the verses of Maya Angelou, it feels like encountering a storm. A reality that shakes you up, a calamity that was bound to happen to revive you, to bring you back in existence. She comes to remind me of the value that love holds— love for yourself, trust and power that lies within a fragile body. The power that cannot be found at any other place and must not be given away.

She makes me believe that I don’t need anyone to appreciate me or to make me realize how capable or good I am. It is a lesson girl that you ought to learn by yourself. ‘You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody,’ she says.

When I feel crushed down by the standards of modern beauty; something that makes all of these pretty young women suffer. Suffer to the extreme point. But here she comes to whisper in the silent, dreary nights saying, ‘I’m not cute or built to fit a model size but I’m phenomenal.’ Waking us again from the dream of lies.

The magic lies in the eyes. She has the power, an absolute power, an inner potential that surpasses the world’s arrogance.

When I think about my first love; he with whom I never shared a word, yet he stays with me until the last breath of consciousness in the night. I feel bruised by my own feebleness, my own decisions, and my own emotions. I saw the enemy that doesn’t stand in front of me but stays inside of me. The greatest foe who can’t be beaten and can’t be a friend.

She appears again from the thick clouds of tangled thoughts. She came to console me; reminding the desires will change and dreams will fade away in the distant memory.

Men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.

She learned the lesson with a bitter experience. But she wrote it down to help us choose the right way. Saving us from the rough and tough path.

Not everything we desire is full of roses. Soft and delightful made just for us to walk. We can become blind to reality but only to the extent we want. But ‘life loves the liver of it.’ And you must think of living and learning from it.