From Pauper to Princess

 

Money, money, money! There must be more synonyms in the Thesaurus for money than any other word. Time, love, happiness to mention a few. But hey! How did this happen–I have no money but time, love and happiness.

I always believed that love made the world go round. But unfortunately, I grew up, education ruined me and I realized it isn’t love; it is MONEY that makes this world that we live in go round and round and round! To quote my doctor mother, ‘Vitamin ‘M’ seems to be more crucial to everyone’s health these days than any other vitamin.’

Sad. A new haircut, a revamped wardrobe or a dozen self-help books can’t do what some crisp moolah, allegedly can, to boost your confidence, straighten your back, puff your chest out and hold your head high. And as this realization grew on me with every job and every pay cheque that came my way, what also became clear was that the rat race that all of us so desperately run, is against ourselves.  More often than not also against any basic principles that we may stand for. So, after years of making money and no love, I decided to up and quit! And I can tell you this–it never felt better! From a sweet thirty G’s a month to sweet nothings…it should have felt like falling off a cliff but it felt like I was being elevated to this place where angels sit and lay wagers on the rat racers below. Not a bad way to earn money and be on cloud nine, I say!

What helps is that my aim was and is to master the art of doing nothing. Or sometimes–something–for some time. Yes, you suffer from bank account blues and you think liquidity is better than still waters. But a reflection on still waters is far clearer than one on rippling ones. Most of us don’t even stop to catch a glimpse of ourselves, leave alone contemplate on our reflection.

Finally, I am living life queen-size and will continue to do so. Because of all the things that cost in this world, money often costs us the most.

Akhilesh Tomar shot this image of the legendary, eternally-blue river, aptly called Kishen Ganga in India and is the Neelam to our lovely neighbours, high up in Kashmir 

A HISTORY FORGOTTEN IS A FUTURE LOST

If someone had told me that any country in Africa resembled Europe or America, I would have laughed it off. Not because it can’t (so many of them are on their way to) but because it shouldn’t. This is Africa. The indomitable Sahara, the unbelievable safari, the eons of history and veritably, the cradle of civilization.

SA 1

I had time and joblessness on my side, so I decided that I would finally take the long overdue trip to Nigeria — my original desh. And two months later, when I landed at the OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa; I knew I was in for a surprise.

South Africa has heartbreaking history and it is palpable in every corner, every eye that you look into and on every street. Jo’burg or Jozi as Johannesburg is popularly known is the big throbbing heart of South Africa. As soon as we checked in, I was raring to go. A nice nip in the air, I set out to get to know this city that has been the stage on which the epic of this spectacular country has been played out. Busy streets, packed restaurants, construction in full swing to welcome the FIFA World Cup 2010, Jo’burg is a fascinating city. A multitude of restaurants to eat at, malls, China towns, parks, skyscrapers, Jozi tosses up quite the buffet. While one night we were clinking our glasses to ice cold South African wine, the next we were relishing an array of South African titbits; samosas, boerewors and bobotie spring rolls. The government was encouraging citizens to welcome visitors with characteristic South African hospitality; welcome them into your homes with some nice authentic curry bunny!

 

Hector Pieterson Memorial.

 

While the scars of 20th century South Africa are apparent in Johannesburg, it is obvious that the healing has begun. What hit me instantly were the stark inequalities but the amazing confidence in the South Africans. The trip to the Apartheid Museum was an eye opener as was visiting Hector Pieterson’s museum. At the entrance of the Apartheid Museum, we were given cards stating ‘Non-white’ or ‘White’. Walking around the museum, one feels like they are thrown back into the 70s and the 80s. Police bullets, teargas canisters, the marches, scores of school children, metal cafes, newspaper snippets, film footage; all tell you a traumatic story of what this nation has endured.

South African has come a long way from those days. The young are singing and dancing to groovy marabi beats and KFC is round the corner. The old are telling stories of a time that is gone and the corporates are banking their millions on the World Cups and such.

So you think! I am the African here

Da-dum da-dum..da-dum...hear him?

Throw away the camera and dance with her, boy!

Zulussima!

Hips never lie

Music. Raw. Only in Africa

Beauty (that's really her name) and Shruty

Ask an American about his/her heritage and they will say they are Irish, Swedish, German, Italian, Korean etc. Ask a South African, black or white notwithstanding, and they will simply state – Africa. And that is the difference.

Autobiography of a skirt

When she walked in to the store, I felt a tingle in my threads. This was different. I could feel…love? Maybe today is the day. Today is the day, I will leave this shelf in this dusty store, where I have been lying wasted for ages and move to an airy, stylish armoire in a villa on the French Riviera or a remote-controlled walk-in wardrobe on the Upper East Side. Today is THE day… Alas, it wasn’t the armoire or the walk-in but the wooden cupboard of an acne-free and bespectacled adolescent in Lagos, Nigeria.  There she was, browsing, flipping things around, tossing them out, mentally tsk-tsking  the ‘don’t-want-these’ nonchalantly (of course, the nonchalance stemmed from the fact that someone else was paying the bill for whatever she bought here). She sifted through the piles of clothes lying around until…UNTIL she laid her eyes, and then her hands, on me…

I am stunning, might I add here, lest you wonder what all the fuss is about. I mean, just look at me!  Don’t you think I am one of those skirts that you would sell your kidney for? I knew that thought crossed her mind just when she started to fall grossly in love with me.  I am a maxi pencil skirt with knee-high slits on both sides, a fringe hem and in linen, for crying out loud! I have an Egyptian pharaoh, his queen and their love (I am assuming) expressed in hieroglyphs for the world to see. AND here I am, being picked out by an obscure 18-year old. I was made to fit a waist that never saw the light of flab! I was made to be worn by Aladdin’s Jasmine! I was made to be famous! I was made to be eyed and coveted by everyone! What chance of fame did I have now? Little did I know that when she picked me up, that same thought crossed her mind. This skirt has to become famous. Someday.

But life makes you wait. I traveled with her from one place to another. She wore me with a charming black tulle top (I was the belle of the ball that night), she wore me with a scoop-necked breezy blouson, she wore me with a tribal neck-plate to an office party where I was vying for attention with that darned African noise-maker but suffice to say, I was (am still) her prized possession. She’s misplaced the African noise-maker but she’s still got me! AND then, all of a sudden, she wrapped me up and placed me in the back of her cupboard like most women do when they can’t let go of things and hope to fit into them soon. Turns out her waist did see the ‘light and lot of flab’.

Time passed me by. The ageless optimist that I am, I stayed put waiting my turn in the spotlight. She grew up, broke a heart, became a rat in the race, her heart broke, she flitted around, met someone, married him, moved to another city and FINALLY, at 33-years, lost enough flab for me to hope again! About time, I say! So, she pulls me out, tentatively, one morning. There’s this highly-publicised five-day event she has to go to – Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.  So, she wondered, pondered, permuted, combined and decided on me for the first day. A Peter Pan collar white shirt and a vintage neck-piece were my accompaniments.  I could feel it again. Today is the day. I was photographed. I was complimented incessantly. I blushed even.  And it happened – I was printed in the lifestyle section of a popular newspaper (HT City) – they said I had the style swag. I was spotted on a fashion blog, HeadTilt, in their style diary. Needless to say, this is just the beginning. The ageless optimist that I am.

Thank you, HeadTilt.

Thank you, HTCity.

My digital debut

An abandoned tune is beginning to sync with the beep, beep, boop, beep, beep, boop dancing on the screen. It feels like I am standing at the gates of a digital paradise OR what it would feel like if and when I find myself standing at the real one, being vetted for entry. Beeeeeep. WordPress (a.k.a. St. Peter) thinks the moment is ripe. Finally. On the other side of the pearly gates. I am curious to see what all the fuss has been about.

A Koh-Samui smile
A Koh-Samui smile

I’ve been chewing the cud, if you please, on being catapulted into Blogosphere for an eternity. Procrastination, unapologetic laziness, lack-of-a-blog-title and life in general got the better of me.  And now, it took all of a minute and half to get here. A few of my top choices for a blog title were ‘whatiwantisntavailable’, ‘wordpresskeepschecking’, ‘fashfotrabeaudeco’ and some more gibberish until ‘tokumbotales’ sneaked up on me. The tale behind Tokumbo is that it’s my Nigerian name. It means ‘imported’. Born there, the nurses thought it would be amusing to call me Tokumbo. My parents decided on Shruti instead. I try and keep both of them alive.

Hello, Blogosphere. Tokumbotales will orbit in – whims. fashion. fancies. words. travel. obsessions. books. food. musings. beauty. randomness. decor. whatyouwill. So, it’s a new world, it sure-as-hell (or heaven or whatever is in the middle) is a new start. It’s begun with the beating of solely my heart. It’s a new day, it’s a new plan. Here I am, this is me. Thank you, Bryan Adams.

Attraversiamo. (Oh, you know what it means. We’ve all read and pined for our own versions of Eat, Pray, Love)

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