Friday, 17 October 2014

The language we speak deep inside.




Today, admiring one more utterly idiotic, overly enthusiastic posting from someone I know on Facebook, I once again felt my eternal gratitude for this fantastic social networking invention. Besides letting us quickly share jokes and photos and spy on our ex’s; Facebook can, in one quick stroke, paint a clear, fast picture of someone you might be just getting to know, and save you a lot of wasted time. Just something very simple that a person, unprovoked and unasked, shares online can give you a clear glimpse into their mind and, more often than not, warn you not to ever go there.

So many people, who seem completely normal face to face, suddenly become pretty weird on Facebook.  It truly is fascinating, don’t you find?

Anyway, what was I actually trying to talk about? Oh yes. About music.

The other afternoon, on the way from school, I tried to share my new favourite song with my big daughter. In my obsession with Aspire, I got into it at one of the classes, where we all, no matter where from, enjoy the stretching to this French tune. My child was not enthusiastic. ‘Nuh, I don’t like it’, she said before I even switched the song on. ‘I don’t like songs in other languages’, she added. ‘I don’t understand anything they are saying’.

‘Just try!’ I begged her. I explained to her that with music, it is simply magical. Listen to the singer’s voice, listen to the emotions, and you will enjoy it, I promise, I said. Don’t worry about the actual words, or what they mean.

And, despite being pretty determined against foreign songs, and for some peculiar reason, French ones in particular, as soon as the music stopped, she paused and said, reluctantly: ‘Again.’

It got me thinking about the amazing power the music has on all of us, no matter where we are right now, or where we come from. Just look at all those women in Aspire, I thought, from Arabic to Eastern European and Chinese, all of us affected by this one French song, asking the trainer at the end of the class to play ‘that song’. Again. Just like my 9 year old asked me. (I know you all are dying to hear it now, so here it is).

Not only has music always been my best coping mechanism for many situations in life, including long journeys- from the delayed tube commuting in London to traffic nightmares of Doha-it is also a useful tool, just like Facebook, in quickly determining whether you have anything in common with someone. Sitting in a hot Doha garden with my Spanish friend, sipping rum and coke on a Monday night- as you do…- I shared my French song with her. ‘Ver-ry nice!’ She exclaimed in her exquisite accent.

‘Have you heard of this Kizomba? Very big in Spain now!’ And she proceeded to show me a video that only a few days ago a Russian friend had sent me.


And at a party last night, admittedly drunk, she and I had a (probably rather pathetic) go at our Kizomba moves. One more amazing musical phenomenon, originated in Angola, taking Spain by storm, bringing my Russian friend and her American boyfriend together, and even making me and my Spanish friend stand up and embarrass ourselves in front of more sensible people. 

Because whatever language we all communicate in, music will always be the language we speak deep inside. The language of our emotions, the language of what we really are.  And a useful tool that helps us tune in and find those who are on the same wavelength (even if it is not so apparent at first, because of the cultural and language differences) and those who are….well, on an entirely different planet altogether. 


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

50 Shades of Aspire Ladies Club, or about my addiction.






This, of course, isn't me. I borrowed this lovely picture from Husband's favorite Facebook page- Fit Girls. 


I wanted freedom
Bound and restricted
I tried to give you up
But I'm addicted


(from Time is Running Out by Muse, who, by the way, are still and always will be, the best.)


OK. I have a confession to make. I am an addict.

I never really have been a type who is easily addicted. I used to smoke…well, quite a lot actually, but then decided to quit and I did, pretty easily. Nowadays, I can have an occasional cigarette with a glass of wine and move on without another one for months. You see what I mean? Easy!

So I did not really even see it coming.

And, as addictions often happen, it started pretty innocently. After almost a year of trying to convince me to join Aspire, the local ladies' sports club, my friend finally managed to drag me there.

At first, I could not see the point. Why would I wait for ages to register and then pay and drive somewhere early in the mornings, when I had a free gym in the compound? It seemed too much of an effort. Isn't it too busy? I did not like the idea of too many sweaty women jumping around too close to me. Just give it a try, the friend responded. You will love it.

At first, I went to one class a week. I enjoyed it. I went to two or three, and thought I was doing pretty well. I look back at that previous life of mine as the life of a free person. Someone who was allowed to do nothing if she wanted to. Sleep... Or read a book perhaps? Or blog, for that matter. Or even get a job!!

In those days, I had no idea what would become of me. There were women of all sorts of shapes, ages and level of fitness. I would look at some hardcore ones who would emerge out of one particularly exhausting class, staggering, dripping with sweat and barely breathing and go straight into another, and would think to myself secretly What lunatics, seriously!? What are they like? Have they no lives besides this place? Why are they killing themselves?

And I used to stand at the back, attempting to catch up on the routines, embarrassed of how silly and awkward I must look…and getting annoyed by the fanatics in the front row. They would stretch and jump at the start of the class, shouting out in ecstasy as the instructors took to the stage.

How little did I know.

Now, I am one of them. And I can't stop. I am not sure when or how it happened. It has been a journey. At some point I realized that my previous goal, which was to lose some weight was no longer adequate.  I wanted to get fitter.  I wanted to be able to follow and do what the trainers were showing us. From going three times a week, I moved on to four and then five.

And then you suddenly feel that you don't want to miss out on the weights class just because you did a cardio…and the addiction kicks in. Your worst nightmare is to fall sick and not be able to attend a class.

Your gym buddies become your best friends and you cancel coffee dates with everyone else, as those people don't understand why you absolutely, under no circumstances, could not meet them before 11 am. Everything else becomes secondary. No time for anyone else. Not much different to one old friend of mine's obsession with marihuana. Only mine is healthier. Unless, of course, it kills me. Which looks more and more possible as the addiction grows stronger.  I cannot stop.

And then…there are the instructors. They are not just instructors. They are Goddesses. 

Each with her own unique style but all beautiful; of different nationalities, but equally cool and funny, they are making us work harder than I ever remember working in any gym or class in my entire (admittedly, lazy) life. We are in love with them. We watch their every move, we follow every word. We pray that they never leave us. We love them and admire them.

Clearly, I must enjoy pain. Because, pushing my body this far feels great. And, as endorphins get released, I am not as stressed - even as I maneuver in the crazy Doha traffic. I used to want to kill other drivers really badly, by ripping their stupid throats out, but now? Now I just smile and wave.

It makes me happy. I know it is because I am drugged with the endless exercise, delirious and not able to think straight. Because, surely, I should be aspiring to achieve something in my life?

Yet, listening to a couple of mums at the school pick up discuss how desperate they were to find a job so they would not be so bored…I felt happy. I am not bored. I have no time or energy  to feel bored or dissatisfied with my life.

So, okay, you are probably thinking, this is all great, but what's the catch? Well, I wish I could be more relaxed about it. On the morning of my baby girl's first day at big school, I was not going to take her. I figured it was okay for daddy to take her. So I could attend my classes, you see?

And it was only when a friend of mine said to me 'I love you, but you have shit for brains! You ARE going to your daughter's first day at school!!! ' that I realized just how crazy my obsession became. I had to tell myself that some (not many) things still matter more than my new drug.

Life, I thought to myself melancholically, always gets in the way of a good addiction, doesn't it.