Inspiration: Pablo Neruda

Words are delicious.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve devoured them with fervour. Back then, it was fiction that carried me to the edges of my imagination and beyond. My recent vice, however, is poetry. It’s far too easy for me to get lost amongst the overload of information. When I read a poem, I latch on to a few lines and find myself repeating them in my mind like affirmations. It brings me back to myself and centers me.

Pablo Neruda’s timeless words, I turn over and over in my palms like flower petals that never wilt from touch.

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Flaw-gust

360 degrees stalking - Irnin Khan

*image generated using Type to Design

I recently came across the term “Flawgust”, coined by columnist Caitlin Moran in this article, where she ties together the embracing of flaws with August or something? It’s actually a fun read offering a host of strange and hilarious month concepts. Whilst charities have not yet jumped on board with Flawgust, as in the case of Movember or Dry July, I think it’s definitely got potential, both from an angle of hilarity and one of wellness.

Feeling a bit inspired, I’ve decided to go ahead and publicly own a flaw of mine: incessant web-stalking. For a long time I’ve been hesitant to claim it as a flaw, as I have to admit I’m good enough at it to dually claim it in my top 5 of life skills. “It’s research!”, I’ve told myself, “I’m a thorough researcher just flexing the muscle and staying on top of research methodology”. How can research be a bad thing? Having recently reflected upon the negative impacts that social media stalking and general rabbit hole tunnelling can have (including anxiety, lack of productivity, low self-value and being in a state of constantly seeking the instant gratification to which we’ve become accustomed) I’m officially placing myself on a stalk-lite diet. I can’t make grandiose promises of quitting, because I’m a realist and know that one day I’ll surely be required to use my powers for the greater good. But so far, cutting back on my 360 degrees stalking has been calming, clarifying.

Who else is keen on owning some flaws for Flawgust?

Taking Chances (may get you attacked)

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A friend of mine recently warned me that by confining myself to Rapunzel’s tower (minus the tresses), I might miss out on finding love. I answered, “It’s hard to not be guarded. I watch a lot of SVU”.

My mother is the kind of person who is convinced that things like father-daughter incest and bestiality are signs of the end of days. So it’s no surprise to me that she has somewhat of a rape-news-story scanner in her head. Every few weeks, she warns me about the latest “danger-suburbs” and gives me some generic tip she has recently heard – “Don’t wear earphones whilst walking alone at night in desolate areas”. She’s not crazy, just really cautious. Apparently, this apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.

When I first started watching SVU as a (self-proclaimed) precocious young adult, I thought I was being really smart by studying up on precautionary tales. Back then I used to believe I might meet the love of my life by accidentally running into them around a library aisle corner… I would drop my books everywhere; he would pick them up and marvel that we happen to be reading the same book. It would be love at first sight. Years later, I now have a tendency to think that every stranger who smiles at me for no apparent reason must be some form of predatory rapist. Someone walks alongside me for more than two blocks: must be waiting for a witness-free area to shove me into and attack me. A middle-aged woman attempts friendliness by asking non-descript questions about my parents: must be the den mother of a pimp-house, trying to suss out if I have family who would look for me if I disappeared. I can’t seem to stop myself from turning everyday interactions into elaborate SVU storylines. At first, I thought it was the result of a hyperactive imagination and the over- exposure to television’s crime genre. But the more time that passes (with back-to-back SVU episodes), the more legitimate it all seems.

The dialogue of contemporary singletons seems to be filled a smothering amount of optimistic platitudes, like “you just have to be open to finding love” and “if you never try, you’ll never know”. They’re also a tad saccharine, let’s be real. Amongst this landscape, people tend to categorise my fear of something shitty happening (like rape or murder) as irrational and dramatic. But really, isn’t it just as irrational to buy into the other side that television sells, of life being constantly hilarious and filled with romance, coincidence and risks working out?

At least SVU has counteracted the hoards of fairytales that filled my younger self with naivety and unrealistic life expectations, and armed me with the security of preparedness and an arsenal of worst-case scenarios. I know that if you get raped by a masked man, the next guy to enter your life and comfort you, could be the rapist who orchestrated it all. Your sweet, nerdy IT guy can end up planting cameras all over your house to watch you showering, pooping and sleeping. Basically, you can’t trust anybody because it could lead to getting creeped on, raped or murdered. With this in mind, how can I really be open to finding love? My best idea so far is to never reveal my address until I’ve done a thorough background check, clandestinely followed them around a bit, maybe conducted some informal interviews with exes. In other words, suss out possible creepers by being the creeper.

originally published by Your Friends House

Moodboard: Karma has no deadline

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My friends will already know what a great believer I am in karma.

Karma never loses an address. What goes around comes around. Karma is a delightful bitch.

It’s kicked my ass enough times to compel me to follow its rules. It’s also brought me mountains and valleys of peace in kicking the asses of those who’ve wronged me. A wise friend and sometimes-hero of mine back in Barcelona always instructed me to let karma finish it. It’s really the most apt advice for peace of mind.

Many place their faith in religion. I place mine in karma.

*image credits (clockwise from top left)
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Inspiration: Snaps of Kech

Moorish charm peeking out through the palms,
An air of art deco framing the occasional gecko,
Lily pads and succulents, cacti gardens that defy season, only sweeten Jacques’ rendition of Eden.

A few photos from the time I visited Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech.

Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan

Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan

Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan  Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan

Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan  Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan

Jardin Majorelle - photograph by Irnin Khan

Barcelona, You’ve Ruined Me.

They say you can never go home again.

When I left home for Barcelona nearly a year ago, I knew the tectonic plates in my life were shifting at a rapid pace, but what I couldn’t have foreseen is how homesick I would feel upon my return to Sydney.

The thing I miss now is the quiet. Here in Sydney, where I grew up and spent most of my formative years, my head is crowded. My mind and my heart are always a little on edge. For a city where travelling from one side to the other can take several hours, I can’t seem to sidestep minefields around every corner – that suburb where I had the awful job, that coffee shop where I traversed the most awkward date, the office building of that jerk I now wilfully avoid, the place where my heart broke for the first time.

I’m a realist. I know that everywhere I live, a new map of mines will surely follow in time. But still, it sure is refreshing to start anew and leave the minefield behind.

Since my return, I’ve felt more than a little uncomfortable trying to settle back into the life I’d adamantly left behind. My lack of comfort also probably stems from the drastic changes in my routine, social patterns and in the basic cultural atmosphere of Sydney.

Everyday habits have followed me back here, and unbeknownst to me; have infiltrated my most basic interactions. More than two months in now, I still keep making people uncomfortable when I’m greeting them, by going in for a second kiss on the cheek. When I rush to explain it’s a European habit, I know it sounds like the worst form of douchebaggery. I puzzle baristas by accidentally ordering in Spanish, and then quickly translating to ‘coffee with milk’ (leading to thinly veiled sniggering or eye-rolling, because coffee here comes with milk unless you specify otherwise). And maybe the most common of all, friends are constantly asking me what I’m asking them to “see” mid-conversation or in response to their questions.

They say you can never go home again. But they don’t tell you it’s because by the time you return, it no longer feels like your only home.

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona. Photo by Irnin KhanGaudi's House, Barcelona. Photo by Irnin KhanIK - Cathedral

Summer Camp

I am an overheated appliance as I step into the swimming pool and allow my body to be submerged in the heavenly, cool water. It’s a long minute before I can feel my body temperature slowly returning to a human level.

We had raced from the beach at the bottom of the valley, to our camp at the top. It was a steep climb in the scorching 40° turkish heat that I thought I had become accustomed to by now. When I come back up for air, I hear the owner of the camp singing out, “Giiirls, diiinner”. We sing back simultaneously, “Coooming”, as though we are young girls away at summer camp. We rush over to where our cosy log cabin is nestled within the trees, making ourselves presentable for the group dinner, as well as taking the necessary precautions against the hordes of mosquitoes we would certainly be facing off with as night fell. We’d learned that lesson the previous night.

We make our way through a curtain of vibrant tapestries, which I’ve spied the women of the camp sewing throughout the day. When we reach the dining area lined with several long tables, the kind that are typical for communal eating, we’re mesmerised by the enormous Mediterranean feast that has been laid out before us. Eastern hospitality never goes amiss here. Looking at each other, our eyes shine in disbelief that this is our life now; swim in the clearest and bluest parts of the Mediterranean Sea, sleep on the sand until our belly buttons fill with a pool of sweat and we’re ready to swim again, hike through the gorgeous greenery of the mountains forming the valley and be fed ridiculously mouth-watering meals. Repeat. As far as rough diamonds go, Kabak Valley has been the truest and realest of gems. We say “afiyet olsun” (enjoy your meal) to our fellow diners, and dig in.

By meal’s end, I am happily patting my full belly. We’ve made new friends, with whom we sit and chat with under the open night’s sky. It’s the kind of open dialogue you can only have with fleeting travel friends – almost uncomfortably intimate and revelatory. I look up and think to myself, ‘I’ve never been so close to the stars’.

Later that night, we sit on the small porch of our cabin, exchanging whispered childhood anecdotes and spotting shooting stars. We huddle together against the now chilly night, neither of us ready to head inside and let all of this dissipate into a memory of the past. We are drunk with a quiet content, giddy with the knowledge that we can never replicate this feeling. And in this moment, we are infinite.

Kabak. The most blissful place I've been    Our cabin. Kabak Valley