31 January 2009


why is it that whenever i think things cannot possibly get any worse, they actually do? it is harder and harder to get back up. my thoughts get darker each time. and each time, a little bit of hope, a little bit of me, dies. i worry there will be nothing left soon, but an empty shell...

UPDATE: one day later, i dislocated and fractured my shoulder. someone has a strange sense of humour.

29 January 2009

the end of an era

when i came in to the office this morning, ksa's desktop was unnaturally tidy. the surrounding area was clutter-free. i thought i was prepared for this, but seeing the shiny surface of her desk (as opposed to piles of paper) was still a shock.

five years; i have spent more time with her than with my uni friends. we started at ahrc at around the same time. together, we learnt of torture, and forced disappearances and violence against women and caste discrimination and rule of law. we attended protests, wrote urgent appeals and talked to victims. we shared a room (two actually), argued, coaxed and laughed. we were in grad school together, complaining about our respective classes and sharing reading material. we grew together, albeit differently. i think of how we began, and i am so proud to see her now; a strong, articulate and dedicated human rights defender. it has been a long, eventful and fruitful journey. soon, she will begin a new journey, this time on her own.

i am envious. i want a new journey too. partly because after five years at one workplace, i am ready for a change. and partly because nearly everyone i started working with has left. first ap, then sl, then ps, then nc, and now ksa. these were the people i looked to, for inspiration, for courage, for knowledge. and for friendship. we grew together with the organization. the office moved from a tiny, box-filled space where we shared desks to occupying two floors with its own conference room. in turn, individual coordinators became more experienced and confident, resulting in the expansion of country and thematic programmes. the lines representing ahrc, work and life were always overlapping. so much of who i am and what i do has been shaped by these people doing what they do. without them, i feel adrift.

there is room for so much more growth here, i know. i feel a little tired though. but that is for another post perhaps..

19 January 2009

mombasa diary

i returned from mombasa, kenya early last week. now of course, it already seems like a long time ago and it's hard to recapture my thoughts and emotions in writing; this post will be briefer than i originally intended, malish.

temperature: i knew it was going to be hot, but i really didn't expect it to be as bad as it was. not only was it hot and sticky, but the super strong sun also zapped all my energy. i am still amazed that i managed to get so tan (at least five shades darker than my original skin tone) in the first few days, merely from the 15 minute journey from the drop off point to my seat during the waaz. it didn't help that the shed i was seated in had pretty bad ventilation. during power outages i had to meditate my way out of any claustrophobic fits.

people: being my third ashera, i was prepared for the various inanities and bizarreness of bohras from everywhere. i was pleasantly surprised however; the only memorable incidents were a lack of geographic awareness and being totally mystified at eating pumpkin. oh, wait. i heard one too many racist jokes about africans. sigh.

meeting up with friends and family from various places was definitely one of the highlights of this trip- i love you all :)

the adage that travelling and living with people is when you truly know them was quite forcefully brought home to me on this trip. i was staying with persons i've known since i was a kid, and i wasn't expecting any shockers, which took me a good few days to get over!

there were numerous stories of thefts and awful tuk-tuk drivers doing the rounds, but i was lucky enough to not have any first hand experience of this. in fact, i found the average kenyan on the street very helpful and friendly.

faith: before going to mombasa, my faith was riddled with more doubts than i cared for. much as i want to say this is no longer the case, i cannot.

also, for the thousands of people that were there, for the mass practice of religion and rituals, i felt very alone.

safari: the highlight of my one-day safari was definitely a beautiful black-spotted giraffe, whom birds would randomly rest on :)

while others in my car got bored after a few hours, i found myself thinking i could spend a week or so on a safari. i have always liked car/bus/train journeys, and this one had beautiful scenery and animals as well.

beach: moving into a hotel on the beach after ashera was another highlight. i spent a lot of time dozing in the shade of huge palm trees. it was surprisingly windy though, particularly after the stuffiness of the city.