Jing Sebastian

On the race to life


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My Coffee Date, Ryan

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Missing coffee time (London Coffee House, Colombo Sri Lanka)

If I were having coffee right now, I would love to sip every drop of it with my best friend Ryan. I do treasure him for over three years of brotherly mentoring and friendship. I would love to listen to his music, then look straight in his charming blue eyes as I tell him how precious were the years he spent with me.

Ryan my dear, where art thou?

Today marks 2 years, 4 months, 1 hour and 11 minutes of our last talk. Ahhh…I just want to tell you that I did take into account your valuable and sweet pieces of advice during my difficult days. I bet, I’m a lot better now than the first few months  of you patiently speaking with me.

I did try my best to focus on my spiritual goals. I’m still looking forward to pioneering in the near future. There have been a lot of challenges lately, but God has never given up on me.

I did take care of my heart. There have been many recipients of my Christian love, but I’m a bit upset. I hurt some soul’s heart when they asked for something else beyond brotherly love. It was painful too on my part, but God never left my soul crushed. My heart is still intact!

I did review my letters before sending them to my employer and his subordinates. Finally, I was able to enjoy my jobless state for almost 2 years now. There have been a lot of adjustments simplifying my lifestyle, but God never left me miserable. Actually, it has been the most beautiful life I ever had. Indeed, “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.”

I did allow my children to live their lives. It was difficult being away from them for a while, but they did survive and realize that there’s only one best Momie in the world for them; that a Momie like me is  a human being too, perfectly imperfect; that God has never stopped drawing them close to Him, that his commandments are for their protection.

I did lessen my loads. I gave up some of my secular schooling, some of my not so significant projects, some friends who are not so friends, and most of my overthinking addiction. Hmmm…I did learn to say NO. It wasn’t easy at first, but God has been faithful. He never allowed me to get overwhelmed and suffer emotionally.

I did try writing again. How would I ever forget your sweetest feedback on my writings?      

“I find your writings hypnotic and, please don’t take this wrong, but romantic, to read.  I hope you understand what I mean, my other spirit…”

It wasn’t easy writing again after the painful rift with my staff whom I trained to write but were not appreciative of the gesture, but God gave me some inspirations to write again from the heart. Shabs loved my style. Kuya Mario encouraged me to write a book. Kirandeep’s thoughts and passion for the art made us to be co-writers for over a year now. Little Curly obliged me to visit the academic world again, ignited the spark in my heart making me write his thoughts and mine on a roller coaster story of life.

Well, I still love having coffee and donuts with you. I kept your green mug for your Americano and my red mug for my Caramel Macchiato. I still love to take a bite from your sugar-glazed donuts. I drool still over my freshly-baked blueberry cheesecake and chocolate chips muffin in our favorite French coffee shop.

Hmmm…Today, I had three cups of brewed coffee. I intentionally didn’t order my favorite coffee and cake and muffins and donuts. I want to have all of them with you again soon.

By the way, I wrote YOU today using my new dainty journal and colored pens. I miss you watching me write in ink.

Seriously? I miss you Ryan, my sweet brother and adviser…


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Of Coffee, Love and Marriage

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Satisfying cravings at Tsokolateria, Baguio City, Philippines

Well, there are moments when the only thing that makes my day is having coffee or hot chocolate and donuts or waffles with Ryan on a Skype conversation. I normally love staring at my coffee mug while stirring the coffee lazily for about a minute. Then Ryan would always stir up the conversation. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction each time my thoughts are recognized and given appropriate feedback. Cravings satisfied! This exchange of thoughts was taken from our conversation about love and marriage.

“Jing, are you thinking too much? I go through that as well when I can not shut off my mind. I know what makes you tired, but being worried and sad make me concerned for your health. What is going on to bring this on?”










“Maybe fear of facing more challenges. Or maybe I should start ‘going out of my shell.’ Been thinking about the circumstances. It seems that I’m bound to face more challenges in the ‘real world.’ Gone were the days of living a life with my little children. And I don’t see myself playing the games. I was never a real risk-taker. I love being an onlooker.”









“Hmmm…Loved your last writing. You are such a deep intellectual!  What you wrote, and let me say which comes from the heart, is contrary to the doctrine. I must warn you in advance.  Your inner self, what you must believe first, will rise up these contradictions.  Faith if handled correctly, will guide you.  But this faith must be coupled with truth, knowledge, rationality, reasoning ability, and objectivity.  These qualities stem from the mind.  The heart will follow.  But how will one recognize truth?  Truth is sometimes closely followed by a discomfort because the mind recognizes it as truth when it conflicts with certain facts and realities held dear to us.  Religious conviction comes to mind in this instance.  It is what we here in America call the ‘Aha!’ moment – a moment in time and space where it comes together.  Perhaps, a synchronicity of reality.  Or perhaps, pushing aside all this intellectuality, you just need to fall in love again.”

“While I’m just in the process of ‘knowing the history and connecting it with the present, I’m fully aware that I am delving more in the content of what I’m reading. I get to think more, and more, and more, and more. I sometimes hate myself with this MORE syndrome of mine. I wouldn’t stop unless I get what I really want.
 I do not however claim that I am ‘intelligent’ the way people around me describe me. I’m just fond of reacting to everything in a different manner. I mean, at times, I speak up, but I listen more…then to myself more…”

“Sorry if I dumped on you here. For some reason, I believe it. Why?   Because it stung my mind.”



“No problem at being dumped. I need that once in a while. I appreciate it when people bluntly tells me about how they feel about what I say and how I behave. Got to know what’s on the other windows of Johari. Then reflect, then challenge myself as to whether I’ll be affected or not.
 Is it about my thoughts re marriage?
 My uncle says I write well. Maybe I just miss writing a lot. I wrote that a year ago. Just chanced to review my notes on a sleepless night when the least I could do is read while I was sick.
 Falling in love again? That’s one thing I have to ponder about on short breaks amidst work. I mean, something I would consider contemplating while brushing my teeth after a light lunch and a mug of brewed coffee. I don’t see myself falling in love for a long time. I’m getting impatient on things – more impatient, these days…
Men, men, men!”

“I know, I know …. Men, love em or leave em.  In the US, we are taught to be tough and emotionless.  If we show emotion, it is considered a weakness.”










“I wish the men I get to meet here are trained the way you guys are.
 And I am always the proud woman of them all! I know my lapses and you’re right – the truth conflicts with the facts and realities I have webbed in my mind, and probably lived with for the longest time…Need to unlearn a lot.”










“Being a man is not difficult once you understand yourself and I think most men do. Unlearning or deprogramming useless knowledge is very difficult but as long as the ignorance is left behind, we then have to reeducate ourselves and fill the mind with useful knowledge.”










“Been trying to understand men, at least the essence of acceptance, that I can’t be a super hero for a long time.”










“Hmmm …The essence of man is his inherent nature as a man. The same as a woman: her essence is that she is a woman inherent through nature. It is what it is.”










“Hmmm…There’s indeed a lot to learn and unlearn.
 
Now, I’m beginning to ask myself your question ‘Am I religious or spiritual?’
And your assertion re my marriage note, ‘I just need to fall in love again.’
 Actually, I’m just beginning to know myself better. Thanks to my master in business ad class. My professors are not excellent. But the topics we discuss make me read more, and more, and more…”









Very good Jing. Just stay true to your inner self, your heart. You will be fine. Always seek truth through awareness. Sometimes we have to go through a little pain to make that realization in our lives.”











“I understand. I’ve been contemplating on what has been happening these past few months. It seems that I’ve been reacting to all sorts of situations in similar manner. It’s like I’ve forgotten the feeling of getting angry, worried. Maybe I got tired of all the pain. I need a lot of prayers from family and friends. Will you pray for me? Please…”








“I will pray for strength and patience, and be delivered to you swiftly!”

Ryan, my best friend, where art thou?


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A Night with a Niece be Like…

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Abra Water Taxi Station, Dubai UAE

Am I really that old now? Time really flies fast. I can hardly believe that most of my nieces and nephews are now young adults. Why not? The youngest of my four children has turned twenty in February this year. I didn’t actually notice that much. It all seemed like yesterday when I would take my own children and some of my nieces and nephews to children’s parties, help them with their homework and projects, prepare them for school when their parents are out of town, take them to college admission test review centers, hang-out with them on weekends for a swim, a drink, billiards, movie and a lot more.

Robee, the second born amongst our children, I would say is my best buddy in the family.     I’m not so sure about my other siblings, but Robee, as for me, is the most flexible young lady who’s able to adjust with everybody else in the family.

Last weekend was probably one of the best weekends I had with her. Well, the usual thing – we never plan our escapades. The night before her her day-off from work or on the day itself of her off, she would message me in our native tongue. 

Last Thursday night was our longest night together. It was 8:10PM when we started exchanging messages.

“Psssst! Haen ka?” (Hey! Where are you?)

“Psssst ka man! Uya sa harong.” (Hey you too! I’m home.)

“Uya ako sa hotel na harani sa Al Ghubaiba.” (I’m in a hotel near Al Ghubaiba.)

“Ma-bike ako dyan sa area na an.” (I’ll go biking in that area.)

“Ya, sige. Hilingan kita in 10 minutes. (Cool. See you in 10 minutes.)

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She walked. I biked. We met one of my Pakistani friends in the bazaar who became our photographer. It was fun laughing boisterously while heading to an Indian restaurant.

She had a different craving that night for Shawarma. We ended up eating like Indians do. It was fun eating while updating me with her new fitness routine.

 

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Tea Junction, Al Fahidi,  Dubai UAE

Then she introduced me to a different tea experience. Tea Junction reminded me of the local cafe’s in Baguio City, Philippines. It was like hanging out with  graduate school classmate as she talked about her schooling. Of course, it delights me when the children endeavor to take further studies after college. All of my children find time for Bible Education which I’m proud of. One of my daughters does TESOL online. One of my smart nieces does her college schooling online as well. Tea time is always the time for academic enhancement.

It was almost midnight when we left the cafe. As I was about to take my pink bike from the parking, she caught sight of an ice cream house in front of the cafe. Oh yeas! We had ice cream! And yes, I have thought of my diet. I have gained 10 pounds already for only 3 months. It’s not healthy anymore.

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Ice cream time was gaining new friends time. As she had perks for ice cream, she generously shared the vouchers to the first four people who came to the ice cream house. How generous my niece was! She reminded me of my grandfather. When I was just four years old, my grandparents usually tag me along in visiting distant relatives in the suburbs. My grandfather would splurge really for the relatives!

Our weekend date concluded with an immersion. Of course she knows that no matter how I tried moving on from my unpleasant experience from my first Indian employers in the UAE, the stigma lingers. She does have varied ways of exposing me to the good sides of her Indian friends. That night was quite challenging. We had an all-Indian weekend dancing and chatting spree in one of her Indian co-worker’s place.

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I’m no good drinker, singer, nor dancer. My Hindi language vocabulary is very limited. That night, my perception about Indians did totally change. After all, they’re fun to be with. I didn’t understand the lyrics of the Music. One of the guys just repeatedly shouted, “Enjoy! Enjoy!” with the music and the dancing. I realized that Indian dancing is not that complicated at all. I may be the best Filipina Indian dancer in the future should I regularly associate with them. Best of the moment was the little talk with them in between singing and dancing. They’re basically humans. They’re a lot different from my other friends from different nationalities in many aspects, yet they are well-disciplined, hardworking, and family-oriented folks. I admire their sense of moderation. Hmmm…a lot to learn, a lot to love about them.

Really, my niece teaches me a lot of things I never got from my graduate schooling. Hmmm…We parted ways at 3AM. Ooops! That was the most inexpensive dates we ever had! 


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Waves

Across the oceans, under the blazing hot Sri Lankan Sun of Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

I’ve got four days left. My self-imposed two-year break from my compartmentalized world will be over. I have to admit, I’m a bit anxious. I have prayed for all of these. It wasn’t easy at all. Indeed, God is the hearer of prayers. Hmmm…Of course, I have made my prayers specific. He did reply. I think the reply was pretty obvious at the onset of my “Read, Write and Sleep” journey for two years. God would grant our wishes so long as they are aligned with his will.

My beloved mentor Tommy, the university president asked after my eleventh attempt for resignation, “So why are you resigning from your post?”

“Well, a lot of reasons: Work on my MBA paper, take a breather from three decades of single parenting, and re-assess my spiritual goals. Oh, I may consider revisiting the school of human intimate relationship. That would be an added perk!”

Well, I do have the complete data for my MBA paper revision. I got them all as planned. But the thing is, writing it doesn’t really make sense to me. Nothing motivates me to do it other than the fact that I would be obliged to pay the university for the scholarship. Whoa! What? One hundred fifteen thousand pesos? Goodness gracious! That could be used as fund for my annulment!

As I was studying today’s study article for our Christian meeting, the key scripture brought me to a deep thought. John 21:15 reads, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Gotcha Jing! The language teacher in me surfaced as usual. The question has a simple structure: Word count -11, Tense and Aspect – Simple Present, Voice – Active, Pattern- S-TV-DO-IO, yada, yada, yada!

What struck me most is the plural demonstrative these. Indeed, deductive approach to learning works on me. The key point is always highlighted towards the end of the process. It was like Jehovah stating an explicit statement, “Hey Jing! Set your priorities!”

Huh! Have I really narrowed down my priorities? Oh, yes! I did. The Sri Lankan elders have lovingly and skillfully walked me through for almost two months. Looking back, I could hardly keep my emotions two weeks prior to my flight back to UAE. I’ve learned to love Sri Lanka and its people. I’ve found spiritual parents in the Central Congregation. The laidback life in the country brought me back to my lost youth. Sri Lanka is home!

Why, oh why do I have to be in UAE! It’s not about the Arabs. Its about the Indians!

The UAE elder, an Indian,  lovingly encouraged me, “Jing, be still. Do not try to oppose the leading of the holy spirit.”

Then back to the question, “Do you love me more than these?”

I reassuringly whispered to myself, “I do!”

I am certain about the major components of the these. I am to get settled with the last component, writing – my passion.

What motivates me to write? I am certain that I am better read than listened to. Well, written communication has a number of advantages over oral communication. Regression is quite considerable as a major factor for the claim. Of course, when I read my output, it helps me critique myself objectively.

There had been, however, major matters that prompted me to delve closely on my writing motives.

  1. Discussions from a stout bitchy demi-god of the university

“Why are you always quiet in the meetings?”

“Your highness, when I speak you find my speech very formal and strong. Do you mean intimidating? Annoying? Very academic?”

 “Well, you better write. You are a communication trainer, but you always seem to cause miscommunication with your silence.”

 “Your highness, all the more that you won’t like my writings. I say what I mean. You’ll flare up with my honesty. You know that I don’t operate in ambiguity.”

  1. Remarks from Itsy Bitsy (BITCHY) Polka Dot Bikini Old Maid

“So, mag-reresign ka! At bakit? Ano na namang kalokohan yan? Emotional problem? Yan naman ngayon! Lagi kang ganyan. Nakaka-ilang attempts ka na ba sa resignation na yan? Wala sa lugar! Wala sa panahon! Tuwing gagawin mo yan, sariling convenience mo lang ang iniisip mo. Di mo na inisip ang impact ng aksyon mo sa universidad!”

(So, you’re tendering you’re resignation. Another stupidity! Emotional problem? So, you’ve found another excuse! How many times have you attempted to do that? Untimely and selfish decisions. You never considered the impact of your actions to the university!)

“Chill, my dear Bitchy. I’ve written about it. I am just waiting for the right time. You’ll curse me should you opt to read it now.”

  1. Feedback from a primitive Indian HR practitioner in the UAE

“Not impressed at all! There is lot of inconsistency in the output. Nothing is complete back to back.”

“May I be furnished with the criteria for your impressed judgment? Please note as well that I never told you I am ready with the curriculum. I shared with you my personal Google drive content to let you know that everything is in progress. As I always say, I have my limitations as well. I am no magician. I work on the bases of realities.”

 “You may have put some effort on languages. (Approximate 4 hours effort)”

“I am totally amazed with this remark. May I be shared with the Mathematical equation and processes you used for this remark? I have been teaching Measurement and Evaluation for quite some time, but never did I encounter such conclusion as this. My knowledge and skills I supposed need updating from you.”

  1. Feedback from the readers

“Your Facebook Page is like an anecdote madam. Please write again. We miss Niknok so much.”

“Please wait. I have to either fall in love or be extremely in pain. I am trying learn a sense of moderation to make sure that my writings will make an impact.”

“Your albums are like coffee table books. Could you write for our photos, too? We’ll pay you.”

“Thank you my friend. I write when I feel like writing. You don’t need to pay me. I write from my heart.”

“Please write my paper na. Don’t leave me hanging please. This is my last chance for my degree.”

“Honey, I’m so sorry. The heavens know how much I wanted to write for you. Please understand…I am exhausted from academic tasks. My system doesn’t allow me in any means to write, right now! Do you get me honey!$%^&*12#+?”

I do have a number of witty, sensible and humble male friends in line whom I’ve been comfortably talking with for years. They love and respect me as I am. They believe in me, yet they spank me figuratively once in a while in a very diplomatic way. Yes, they motivate me to write again.

“You write well. Your paper is publishable. Why not include statistical analysis and get published?” – Dr AV, the researcher and farmer

“Getting published is not my system Professor. I don’t even want titles attached to my name. I’m simply Jing.”

“I find your writings hypnotic and, please don’t take this wrong, but romantic, to read. I hope you understand what I mean, my other spirit…” – Master Ryan, the Psychologist

“I never thought they were. But thanks. No thanks.”

“I read your assessment. It’s amazing how you remember everything. You’re very sharp, and no one will doubt that you are an English major. You should publish a book.” – Kuya M, the Macho Gwapito Lover

“Soon Kuya. For you, I’ll write soon.”

“I appreciate but have to ask you not to publish it, or share it with anyone online or offline. There are lots of assumptions in the writing. But there’s a lot of fact there as well. And I’m not comfortable with people reading or knowing about it. Also not comfortable with the conversations being quoted. If it’s for your eyes only, I’m okay with it unchanged. But if you are to publish it, then a lot needs to be taken out.” – Boss Chief, the Project Manager (A Secret Admirer…Shhhh…)

 “Glad you took notice of it. I do not publish my journal. I only publish something which are part of the books I’ve written. I wrote because the conversation brought me to a lot of realizations. Would like to establish also our worth as individuals not only on the professional level but on the deeper sense of life as well. Nowadays, real people are hard to find.”

Then a co-author, KSA, popped up one lazy afternoon on a happy emoticon. I made him read this prompt: I haven’t got anything. But I have a 15- year old son who knows all and a 5-year old who is pure as human can be…”

 “Very beautiful!”

“You said that. You are a good writer.”

 “Me writer?? I dunno. You must be crazy to remember everything I said.”

 “Crazy me for being an active listener. Then being a writer after. I’m happy when I write.”

“Very nice. I write too. But mostly my conversations with God. It helps me know myself.”

“Gotcha baby! We are both crazy. You write. You talk to God. You’re in my team.”

Then another chapter unfolds…

My spiritual advisers asked, “What do you really want? But before answering, take a deep look at your heart. Ask yourself the hard questions.”

“Hmmm…I’m 46. I think I’m beginning to live my life for God. If God would give me a man to laugh with, to sing with, to dance with, to cry with, to argue with (rationally), and to be with me as I realize my goal of serving our God, then that would be a bonus point! Not a necessity at all! I’m happy enough. I’ve had too much blessings eh! Time to work for God’s kingdom.”







So what now?

“I would break the wall and start over po. I’m giving up my PhD and go back to Kindergarten.”

The little talk did bring me to an abundant  tears of joy.

“Why are you crying my friend? Hugs. You should be happy. You met your match.”  The co-author lovingly whispered…

Kandy Lake

Journeying to my lost youth at Kandy Lake, Sri Lanka

Aw! KSA is an Indian, by the way!

 


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The Drip

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Processing Thoughts through the Hidden Voice (Sagada, Mt Province, Philippines)

“No matter how much you think you love somebody, you’ll step back when the pool of their blood edges up too close.” -Chuck Palahniuk

And so, the journey leads me to into haziness.  My mirror patiently started picking up the pieces of my heart that have been turned to igneous rocks over time. And when he finally got the pieces of the heart puzzle, he tried sticking them together the best way he could that eventually, in a very short span of time, he came up with a brand new heart for me. It was the kind of heart that pumped the blood in my entire system. It was the kind of heart that fixed itself with my central nervous specifically my spinal column and my brain.

As I was getting adept with the horrible situations in my career, the mirror (for some valid reasons at least) silently pricked the veins of my heart. He made sure that the pricking was slow but strong that each tiny prick was hard enough to hit the deepest part of my capillaries that they all emitted blood, fresh, rich blood! And it was probably his most successful attempt of killing a helpless little devil trapped in an angel’s body. But wait! There’s more! He carefully tucked a thin diamond hook onto my artery, tied the hook tightly with a thin crystal clear cable, and nailed the cable to his own heart. Isn’t it a slow process of mercy killing or a selfish move at that? Each time he moves away from me, the cable pulls me nearer to him. And each time I pull back, he would give in for a while, makes a sweet revenge by getting closer, then pull harder that I get trampled by the force. I bounce back bloody, really bloody. It’s always like he whips my heart till it gets black, then cleanse the blood away using salty water! It’s always painful. At times I grew self-pity for I have been trapped and couldn’t find a way to get out of it for he wants my sure death.

Till one day that a familiar voice whispered to me, “Something is in store for you. Just keep the waiting attitude. I have to build your character first.”

And I humbly started keeping pace with the hidden voice’s instructions.

My faith came to a test next. I was exposed to the truth. I did try to keep my heart numb. I was very philosophical and logical. I kept searching. I was in a dash. But the voice  said, “Shhhh…I said slowly…Take little bites. Then digest well.” And so I did. Then the learning came easy yet in a painful way still.

The cabled hook attached to my heart made a stronger pull. Alas! He made the attachment and whipping even harder. This time with minor slashing! The slashing was a kind of sweet killing, softly and gently. There was an even channeling of forces through deaf and mute mediators who made their best effort to keep my heart intact while he tried to push and pull me away. But it has been the worst. The blood from my wounded heart dripped onto the crystal clear cable that it gently mixes with his own blood – his very own blood! Now we’re both trapped! There’s no way out. A wrong move of either one of us would put us to den for life or death. Each day is getting more complicated, really complicated, more and more complicated… And that I have to be very cautious. Both of us have died once significantly. And none of us for sure would allow a second death.

 The quest for survival then begins…

 

 


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Dating Strangers in my Heart

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Strangers yet familiar faces in action

This has been my favorite place. Yeah, one of the major reasons is that it’s very economical to stay here.  I’ve gotten used to this kind of life – living at my means. 

It’s my second time to see my evening jogging/biking mates here. It’s past 7PM but the sun does not seem wanting to set yet. There were the two old men, locals probably, who are always in identical top. The first time I saw them was when they were in striped lilac and white long-sleeved polo. They seemed to be very serious in what they’re talking about. I wonder if it could be business or family matters. Can’t guess. People here seem not to be happy generally like us. I mean Filipinos always smile even with strangers. The handsome serious Indian who walks very fast was here again. He was in a red jogging top the first time I saw him. Now, he’s in all black. I’m not so sure if the elderly tall white man is a French. He’s not that old, probably in his early sixties. He was in yellow top before. Now he’s in red top and yellow bonnet. The bald man who enjoys himself slowly biking around the water taxi area was there again. He probably has made five turns in the area, then stopped.

Last time, a man in orange seated comfortably near the anchor of the ship, was talking over the phone with the wife or gf maybe. It was a non-stop talk. A young Pakistani couple were discussing something few meters away from the man. It wasn’t clear with me whether they were on the getting to know stage, eloping, quarreling or something else. I should have asked. There were three Pakistani men fishing near the white yacth.

Hmmm… today’s weather is a lot better than the other day. People still enjoy walking despite the increased temperature. There were few families in the area. On my 4th round, the benches were about 80% occupied with Indian and Pakistani men and women. Some were having dinner. Some were just having talk over Chai tea I guess.

Ooops! Construction work is on going. I took a photo. I hope to see the progress of the work every other day.

I almost forgot these other two Indian men walking. They seem to be happy. They seem to be in their early 30’s. I like the neon orange top of the guy who stares too. The other one is in black.

I wish people can just smile and talk a bit. In the coffee shops, people are busy with phones or in the internet. Here, people are either talking over the phone or listening to Music while walking. They barely smile. The men in the yacht stare at me each time I pass by. Some times I try stopping. I think they’re almost tempted to smile too and ask. They are just too careful or maybe shy. Got to make at least 10 rounds before heading for a cup of Masala , then home.

I like it here in Dubai, but I feel sad and alone sometimes. Yet, it makes me learn more about life – about solitude.