Things we do for society

I had a work meeting across the border the other day, in the beautiful Netherlands city of Arnhem. On our way back, l decided to  take the train instead and let my boss drive back alone, seeing it was a more direct route to my house.

Unfortunately for me, Murphy´s Law is constantly at play. If anything can go wrong, it will. So there l was waiting for my 18:29 departure, when they suddenly informed us that a goods train had broken down on the rails and no trains could travel to Germany at that moment. The next train would depart at 19:29.

Two hours later we were still stuck in Arnhem Central Station with no other possibility to cross over the border. Finally at around 21:30 they arranged for a bus to take us to the Emmerich city of Germany and from there we could then proceed with the train.

It was at this point that my evening gained momentum and 5 hours later l would still be baffled and confused about society and its norms. A fellow passenger and l struck conversation as we headed out to the bus, giggling on how we both were calm while all around us others were losing their heads in anger. We both saw no point in agitating ourselves really for it was not anybody´s fault nor did we have any other choice but to wait. An alternative route would have meant another four hours of travelling.

By the time we reached the front entrance, another middle-aged man had joined us and we amused ourselves with his statistics of how often this had happened and how accurate the reason given to us was, seeing he was a regular traveler on this route and apparently had worked for a train company before. Our trio soon grew to five, and we  soon set sail through the conversation seas tackling everything and nothing and even my former President and future prospects of Zimbabwe.

Anyway, the bus finally arrived and we hopped on, and of course the friendly man sat next to me with the remark,

Na ja, wir haben uns ja sehr nett Unterhalten, darf ich…?”  (we just had a lovely conversation, may l?)

to which l offered the seat next to me with a smile !!! Little did l know.

The bus had hardly driven off and he had already picked up from where we left.  Soon enough he was on about how the bus was taking a longer route to the highway and how we would not make our connecting train, before l could respond he was on to the history of this lovely city filling me in on all the pre war and post war details, before l could respond he had switched on to NRW German region and how it is badly governed, before l could respond…

This was just the first five minutes.

When we hit the highway, my fellow passenger switched on to full mode and this time around he was unstoppable l tell you. We were now on his court case, and fervently he narrated the events of how he and his friend had started a project and and and… I tried to be attentive at first and follow the story, but gradually my occasional grunts were replaced with nods and eventually nothing. His voice soared above the still night sky and above the hum of the engine. His tone was so emotional like one possessed. He talked and talked and talked, now even oblivious of the people around him and indeed forgetting his bearings.

The over-the-shoulder stares started to attack us from all angles, but oh dear l was now slurped in my seat, totally drained of all energy and l could not even. Throats were cleared, false coughs initiated, the usual grumbled grunts, but my fellow passenger was already in the Cloud. Only Siri could get to him now. My head was spinning, the bus was full and l weighed my options, to speak out or not to? And l found myself having this conversation with myself while fellow P provided the background soundtrack.

It was okay for me to speak out and tell him l was tired right? But the way fellow P was going on, l began to envision him being one of those cat man, just glad to have an audience for once. I could hurt his feelings? Maybe he was sick? Something was definitely not okay because we all can read situations, body language etc. How would he respond? aggressively? In the end l decided to let him be and l endured the forty-five minute ride. At some point a woman called him out and fellow P just acknowledged the disturbance and rumbled on immediately after as if nothing had been said. When l stepped off that train, one lady gave me a pat and said “ du hast was gutes getan!” ( you did some good). But did l really? Did l have to put myself through that?

Recently l have noticed l am beginning to struggle with communication. In the times gone by l have always prided myself in my ability to be blunt and call a spade a spade. But experience has continuously shown me that people say they love a straight talker but in reality nobody likes being on the receiving end and as l have learned the hard way it hurts people’s feelings.

What troubles me the most is, what then is the perfect recipe? l have done trial and error and unfortunately messed up some of the most important relations l had with people l care for very much in the process. l lost someone who mattered to me only because l went with the bottling approach and instead of the situation improving the lava seeped out disguised as anger and bitter sarcasm. Before that l tried the honesty approach but rather than resolve the conflict it set up a wall instead. For years l went with the being me approach, but the history books between mother and l can tell you that didn’t work out smoothly as either.

so how then does this communication thing with society work?

Lord 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Psalm 121.

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The Lifestyle Choice of an immigrant

This week I am in Manchester, spending some much needed family time with my sister and  niece. Something happened though this afternoon and again i found myself perched in a corner zooming out and pondering on the topic that had been thrown at me.

The lifestyle choice of an immigrant.

We had driven down to visit this older Zimbabwean lady, who has lived and worked in England for years now. She has a great home, spacious, modern and tasteful and she was unapologetically Zimbabwean. From the minute we walked in, she spoke our Mother language in its original tone, no alterations whatsoever. She handled herself in an original manner, like a woman still at home. In a nutshell she has not allowed her geographical location to change her, she has adapted yes, but she is who she is. It got me thinking.

While l was still in awe of such strength to be unapologetically you, they started to talk about the behaviour of fellow immigrants who choose to isolate themselves from everything Zimbabwean and of how those individuals tend to fall prey to drug addiction, depression and all that mess which is considered a white people’s thing in our culture. Even though I don’t share the same sentiments, it got me thinking. It got me thinking of where I stand as a person.

So basically there is two lifestyle choice extremes for most immigrants and everything in between. You either get to a foreign land, adapt and integrate into the society and have your “white friends” ” white habits” and bury everything and anything that links you to your roots. I will call this extreme end one. At extreme end one you will find those individuals that take it to the deep end and are embarrassed and nauseated by being linked to their background in any way. And then there is the other extreme end, extreme end two, the one with immigrants who get to a foreign land but stick to their own, speak only their language, buy only from their shops and basically live in a foreign land as if they are still in their own country.

Both extremes have their positives and negatives, and I try not to judge either although I have my strong feelings towards both. I believe you should maintain a balance, be open-minded enough to adapt and integrate into your new environment but at the same time not lose your identity and uphold your roots. Or maybe that’s just a libra trait, always wanting to keep the balance.

Today though as they spoke, I wondered, so where do we draw the line. Where is the cut off point of the perfect lifestyle choice of an immigrant.

I perused through my immigrant chapters. During my time in South Africa, I never hid my identity but people always assumed I was a local, and this meant no control stops from the police for me. This even played in my favor as a safety net during the xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans at the time.  So yea i noticed i was mistaken for something i was not and i let it be because it played out in my favor. And i am also aware of the hate speech given to individuals who act this way by my people and at that time i was willing to take the punch.

Fast forward to Germany… I would love to believe the years of dating my German ex were viewed as leaning more towards extreme end one. But yet again for me, the person in the situation, all I noticed was me adjusting my lifestyle to the compromise levels of a relationship needed to make it work. Everything had to be neutral enough for both of us not to be exposed to any dominant extreme. And after the breakup when I reverted to my habits at no compromise level, my connections from end one believed i had flipped to extreme end two. So it’s all a matter of perspective really.

So even though what people say is not relevant, because you live for yourself and not for people. For me, the question still stands, where does the perfect point lie on this curve?

How much of a foreign culture can I incorporate before diluting my own culture?

Up to what level do I mix in my indigenous flair?

Where is the perfect equilibrium? lf only there was an equation for this.

I havent found the answer yet, but hopefully one day I will strike the balance.

Blogversary

Exactly a year ago from today l started my Blog and it has been quite a journey.

Why blog?
1. Paper listens. Paper is patient. Paper is dynamic. Paper offers an escape. Hence l always pen my heart out on here.

2. As the very opinionated petty individual that l am, who is always lost in thought, l figured l should let the world into a figment of my mind.

3. Talking to paper is quite therapeutic for me, and if you know me then you know how eventful my life always is. Hence time and again l need to detox.

4. If you have grumpy for a nickname, sharing your opinions will mostly be painted with that brush. Paper on the other hand doesn't stick labels on you.

5. There is just something about words.

How has it been?
When l started l imagined l would write a blog every week. Fast forward to a year later, this will be entry number twenty. I have so much l want to talk about but believe me you l have deleted so many drafts. It is not easy putting yourself and your emotions out there like that. l am not as brave as l thought l am. Maybe l should have gone with ghost mode, but yet again maybe this keeps me human.

How will it be?
We pen on.
There is such power in words and
am proud to be actively part of a generation involved in a dynamic art of writing.

Above all else it is all about the other blogs l come across on a daily basis. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world and day by day l discover just how vast and magnificent this world is through the eyes of other bloggers.

…we pen on!

Schwarz sein in Deutschland (Being Black in Germany: German Version)

Rasse ist ein sehr sensibles Thema, welches die Menschen oft  vorsichtig und verunsichert reagieren lässt. Aber dennoch müssen wir unbedingt darüber reden!

Ganz oft habe ich versucht, meine Gefühle zu diesem Thema zu äußern, aber die Angst vor kontroversen Reaktionen der Menschen hat mich meist zurückgehalten.

Aber heute, nachdem ich mich im Zug auf einen freien Sitzplatz schräg gegenüber einer älteren Dame hinsetzte, und Sie unmittelbar aufstand, um sich für den Rest der 40min Fahrt lieber zu den Fahrrädern hockte, wurde wieder mal etwas in mir berührt.

Einen Moment dachte ich, einfach weg zugehen. Dann überlegte ich Sie anzusprechen.

Hab ich Sie erschreckt?

Hab ich üblen Körpergeruch vom einen langenTag?

Mag Sie Ausländer nicht?

Oder vielleicht wollte Sie nur alleine Sitzen, warum auch immer.

Genau in diesem Moment, wusste ich, dass dieser Blog ist überfällig.

Schauen wir zurück in die Zeit wo ich mich entschieden habe nach Deutschland zu gehen. In meiner Heimat, verbindet man Deutschland unweigerlich mit der Nazi Geschichte. Umso erstaunter waren meine Mitmenschen über meinen Plan in dieses Land zu gehen.

Ganz ehrlich, mich hat diese Tatsache nicht davon abgehalten in Deutschland zu leben und tut es immer noch nicht. Von außen werden die Deutschen nach ihren ernsten Gesichtern und ihrer korrekten Arbeitsweise beurteilt. Sobald man Sie kennengelernt hat, sind Sie eigentlich auch ohne viel lächeln warmherzige Menschen.

Überall auf der Welt wird es immer  Rassismus, Vorurteile und Diskriminierung von Minderheiten geben, da es immer Fremdheit und Unverständnis geben wird.

Aber ich sehe auch, dass Rassismus gegenüber Farbigen hier in Deutschland anders ist als der Rassismus in Amerika, wo die Polizei uns mit Aufnahmen von Körper-Kameras oder Dashboard-Kameras ständig erschreckt und präsent ist. Hier in Deutschland  kommt mir Rassismus schleichend und unauffällig leiser entgegen.

Viele meiner deutschen Freunde sind ausdrücklich schockiert wenn ich so Etwas sage. Aber ich sag euch, egal ob Sie es glauben oder nicht, Rassismus ist überall.  Man muss erst diskriminiert werden, um es zu spüren und es zu verstehen:

Fahre im Bus oder  Zug und du wirst immer als Erste von der Polizei kontrolliert werden, egal wo du sitzt.

Erlebe eine Fahrkartenkontrolle und du wirst immer im Gesicht des Kontrolleurs die Erwartung sehen: Sie hat keine Fahrkarte.

Setz dich irgendwohin zu anderen Menschen und du wirst erleben wie Sie plötzlich aufstehen, dumme Äußerungen machen und durch ihre Körpersprache wie Beine kreuzen oder Rücken zuwenden deutlich machen, das du nicht willkommen bist.

Besuche ein angesehenes Geschäft und du kannst sicher sein plötzlich und ungefragt einen ständigen Begleiter aus dem Sicherheitsbereich neben dir zu haben.

Checke nach einer Reservierung in einem besseren Hotel ein, und du wirst mit ziemlicher Sicherheit wiederholt nach deiner tatsächlichen Identität gefragt werden.

Try it, try…. Try …..try….

Wir alle behandeln andere Menschen rassistisch- oft ohne es zu bemerken. Ich auch.

Mit dem was mir begegnet, habe ich meinen persönlichen Weg gefunden damit umzugehen. Ich versuche so unauffällig wie möglich aufzutreten und keine Aufmerksamkeit zu erregen. Trete ich aus dem Haus, nehme ich die Rolle einer Schauspielerin ein. Ich mache es Harry Potter nach, ziehe eine Decke über den Kopf und wandle unsichtbar wie ein Geist durch den Tag.

Deshalb ganz wichtig: mein Motto, wenn in Rom, tue wie die Römer.

Manchmal frage ich mich, ob der lautstarke Rassismus im Vergleich zu dieser subtilen stillen Art leichter zu ertragen ist. Aber das ist eine Frage für einen anderen Tag,  und einen anderen Blog,

Für Heute, soviel zu meinem Leben als Schwarze in Deutschland.

Life as a Coffeeholic

Hello, my name is Cleo and l am a coffeeholic.

Caffeine completes me l swear.

Today l experienced that Aha moment, not that l did not know this already, but today was just special.

Being a lover of my own company l spent half of the day in bed with my kindle. I only stood up once for a cup of tea and a sandwich. Around five however, l suddenly remembered the shops were about to close and l still needed extensions fr my hair. So in the shower l hopped, slipped on my comfy leggings a blouse and my all-weather sweater.

PS* you need one believe me if you live under the German weather. Mine is an olive-green, neutral all-rounder color, suitable for all seasons. Light enough fr me to cope when its warm and warm enough for when the going gets cold.

Anyway, back to my coffee moment.

l made it to the city in thirty minutes max, got the extensions and fell victim as always to the Zara and H&M sale signs. Having spent a few bucks on some skinny jeans, one can never have enough of those now can they, l was ready to hit home.

It was at this moment that l spotted Backwerk across the street and remembered l had not had my coffee cut for the day. The minutes which then followed were bliss l swear.

Coffee in one hand, wind blowing through my hair, sun on my face. Gosh life has never been so perfect as that moment. Suddenly l swapped my resting bitch face with a big bright smile.  A spring came to my step and l was so happy.

This is the exact feeling l get when l sit at Starbucks, and take a sip on my coffee. Occasionally my eyes will close and l just linger on that high. l don’t mind the price, l am willing to fork out all my hard-earned cash for that Starbucks moment, and indeed l do.

Same feeling l get from that first cup at the train station while waiting for my connection. The world immediately goes still l swear, and for those few minutes l am at my happiest.

I don’t care if it is insane, l dont care if it is an addiction that has me licking out of the palms of its hands. I just know that l love my coffee.

When it hits close to home

It is now way after midday, but l am still in bed trying to find the strength to get up and face the day. It has been a rough night. Between my insomnia, upcoming exams and horrendous events of yesterday, l am totally drained.

  1. Yesterday night, a man randomly attacked people with an axe at Düsseldorf central station. Am always there, always. It is by the grace of God that my friends and l were not there yesterday.
  2. The 19-year-old who killed a 9 yr old on Monday evening, by stabbing him 40 times, finally apprehended himself to the police yesterday after having killed another 2 victims. The audio tape he released on the Darknet after killing the boy was on Facebook yesterday, and my gut went cold listening to it.

When it hits close to home, you cant help but ponder. It is different when you watch it on the news, when it happens on your turf, on the streets you know so well, on the platforms you walk on day in day out, it suddenly becomes real.

It is a crazy world we live in, it scares the s*** out of me when l think of the people you rub shoulders with on a daily basis out there. They could be anything. They could be the next victim me included.

Nonetheless the sun will always rise.

So, when it hits close to home, take cover, recoup, re- strategize and go after life twice as hard. For you cannot let them win.

Good will always triumph over evil.

 

 

 

Cries of a Daughter 

My dear African family, just because l am in the diaspora does not mean my life is the yellow of an egg, in fact if l knew what l know now, l would have chosen to pursue my life goals in Bulawayo, a place called home, surrounded by family and friends.
Stop judging my life through the lens of my profile picture, it is but just a picture, taken from the best angle possible with the best lighting possible brushed off with the best filter possible to give the best illusion possible. Did l mention the makeup? Or how about the fake smile or pout l quickly erase as soon as the camera is out of focus.
Lets talk about finance. Just because l currently live in an economically sound country does not necessarily mean that my finances are in order. As a matter of fact l have to work twice as hard to have half of what my peers have. So stop sending the money requests because quite frankly between my bills and l, l have none.
Dear family, when was the last time you genuinely inquired on my being? I can now sing our telephone conversation like a bad jingle, because they are always the same, always. The usual how am l question which l can hardly finish answering before you have fired your next questions. The when am l finally finishing Uni question, or the most loved am l now working alternative. And last but not least, the when are you coming home question which is usually followed up by your amazingly expensive wish list. For starters l do not work at the Santa factory, and if l ever do get employed in the North pole rest assured l will hand deliver your wish list to Santa personally, how about that?
How about a genuine how am l question for once? How about a simple conversation for once with you indulging me in the details of your new finger licking recipe, sharing details on that new dance sending the youngsters on a frenzy, why don´t you tell me about that plan of yours? About that upcoming trip of yours?
Where is the love?
Where is the care?
Where is the Compassion?
Nonetheless, when it’s all said and done, we are still family, l will always love you dearly and put your first.

Happiness in little things

Just the other day, someone expressed how there was such a tone of melancholy on my blog as compared to the person they see. To which somebody answered, yes that is also her. To which l will answer, yes that is also me. But mistake me not for sad.

My happiness is in the little things.

It is in that moment when l wake up and look out the window and behold the day unwinding with all its fresh things in store for me.

It is in that first sip of coffee as l stand on the platform waiting for my train.

It is in that morning train ride, kindle in one hand coffee in the other with all the familiar strangers in the train.

It is in that morning playlist that makes me start my morning closer to God.

My happiness is in the little things.

Those moments were l sit with my friends each engrossed in their own tasks but still sharing the same oxygen.

Those silent moments where the person l am with understands what l am saying without having to put it into words.

That one emoji my friends and l will see and be sent into spasms of laughter irregardless of time and space.

That smile you get when you look into the innocent eyes of a child.

It is all in the little things.

That heartfelt note left on your desk.

Those fresh flowers on a table.

That simple greeting or thank you.

The rays of the sun on your face.

The sound of your lover’s voice.

That compliment from your mother.

Every day, l find something to smile about, mostly in the little things.

So slow down, take a moment, look around you, and take it all in.

For happiness is in all the little things.

Emotional Bullies

Somebody stole my joy recently.

And if it were not for my great friends l would still be wallowing down that dark tunnel that person left me in.

I felt so robbed,so betrayed. How could somebody you trust and whom you have opened your doors to, take that trust and use it against you.

I let them into my home out of the goodness of my heart, but they took that as a stepping stone to quench their selfish wants. 

There is nothing as painful as being emotionally bullied. When somebody purposely invades your space knowing very well you can do nothing about it. Knowing very well they have the upper hand. The audacity of it all. Am appalled. It makes me sick to the core.

I am still angry, very angry. But then l am grateful l only have to deal with the anger now. Before l reached out for help l was a scared mess. I felt threatened and l coiled into my shell a vulnerable mess. Flashbacks took me back to a few years back when l had to deal with someone like this. For almost three years l dated somebody emotionally abusive, and to this day l carry the scars.

That person who told me am nothing without them. That person who told me they were all l had. That person who told me l can do nothing on my own. That person who preached how lazy l was and even nicknamed me a sloth. That person who even went to the point of calling my family monkeys. A person who knows me would be shocked to learn that l even believed this of myself back then, after it had been sung and imbedded deep into my soul on a daily basis. But guess what he was wrong. I am none of those things.

And guess what, new devil. No more. You can not take my joy anymore. I refuse to go down this road again. You will not abuse my trust ever again. That window has closed.

Stand up to emotional abusers. They must know the world is not their playing field.

Stand up!!!

Life at 27

At 27

I don’t feel entitled 

But l refuse to settle 

It’s either the highway or no way

If l be left empty-handed 

So be it!

Recently l have written about five posts and deleted them without even publishing them. But then today l decided to be true to this blog. The initial reason for “the girl from Bulawayo” was to pen my heart out. So why then am l holding back now that only dark ink is oozing. I refuse to run my blog like my social media painting life with filters and fake smiles.

Anyway back to the topic at hand. Life at 27 is brutal. Its one of those crucial stages basically shaping what direction your life will take. Personally am feeling the pressure from all angles. Having pitched up late to the university race, l only started my Masters recently. Something l don’t regret though. I believe the mature me was better equipped for my university life than the younger me, and all those moments that leveled me to zero, would surely have carried me to the grave yard.

My career ambitions are not the only boulder pushing in at 27, but the expectations my family has of me. At 27 back home in Zimbabwe you are married with a kid or two, and with a life expectancy of 62 for women, at this stage you have almost lived half of your life. So basically technically all the conversations with my family start with,”When are you coming home?”, followed by “When are you getting married?”. And thereafter a long lecture on how am not getting any younger blah blah blah. Family please l know the clock is ticking, and no one is better qualified to remind me of my own ovaries than me myself and l. That’s why am really avoiding most of them now by the way. If only they read my blog, maybe the would give me a break.

And while we are still here can we talk about the dating game at 27. Another extremely brutal playing field. A friend of mine explained it beautiful for me, he said its like walking blindfolded in a field of landmines. Better still you are relentlessly pursued by the ones that don’t matter and the ones you care for are aloof and basically the worst as***. Toying with your emotions and not even realizing it.

Life at 27, means am basically a b*** especially when it comes to friendships. Am done with everything and anything that has drama attached to it. It means my circle is limited to five people, and l really can not handle more. Good friendships are about giving and taking and l do not have the capacity to give and take beyond this.

Life at 27 means weekends spent in bed, sipping on my tea reading or watching my favorite series. Or partying three nights in a row.

Life at 27 means me living healthy and indulging in all things healthy. Little 10 minute workouts, cooking healthy, drinking enough water and motivational exercises are all part of my routine. I am more aware of how quickly those fast food burgers head to my waist. My cereal diet days are now a thing of the past.

Life at 27 means knowing me and the things that make me happy. And believe me its all in the little things. Life at 27 means me knowing not to compare or gauge myself according to my peers, because each one of us has their own path.

Life at 27 also means dealing with and sorting all of these emotions. Hence the dark days tend to be frequent . Days where l just refuse to get out of bed and battle feelings of being overwhelmed. 

But as long as l am fighting on, taking every day as it comes. The road will finally smoothen out, it wont stay on this sharp edge forever.

I refuse to settle 27.