Monday, 16 September 2019

Pravda, or would YOU want to know?

I was browsing through Facebook this morning when I came across a wedding anniversary announcement from someone I knew a long, long time ago. 
25 years of bliss and happiness! it announced. I stared at the photo, memories flooding in. 
The truth is, I know for a fact that marriage is not quite as blissful as you’d expect a blissful marriage to be. I know for a fact because I know something about the husband. 
The funny thing about truth is that it hits people suddenly, uninvited, unexpected, from some unpredictable source. 
I was thinking, looking at the couple’s happy smiling faces, that maybe they are happy now. That is possible, right? So what that many years ago the husband, a very quiet skinny dude, hung out with a hooker in Baku, and accidentally, I just happened to know the girl. I had, you see, met her in a sauna literally few weeks before then, in a hotel spa, where I had commented, in my unorthodox style, how beautiful her breasts were. She liked that, we introduced ourselves, I then ran into her in a bar, we said hello…and just at that moment, imagine the luck, this skinny dude friend of mine came to the bar to buy a drink. She said hi and stuck her beautiful breasts at him. He pretended he didn’t notice and scurried off. She smiled and said to me, with simplicity and openness only hookers possess: this one was so generous
Whoa! I know, right? Imagine the chances of that. It happened so long ago, in Baku days, and I didn’t tell anyone in our circle of friends. And I guess, till now, the wife is blissfully unaware. 
As they say, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.
Do we actually want to know the truth, is what I am wondering? Would you want to know?
Years ago, I thought yes. Definitely yes. For me, I always preferred the truth. But as I grow older, I wonder if that’s such a good idea. Look at this couple. What if I had told someone?
A colleague of mine was chatting with me the other day when he suddenly announced that I looked different after my procedure. In what way, I asked. “Older” he happily replied. 
Go back to your effin' desk, I said, and stay there. Did I want to hear I looked older, or more tired, or whatever it was? No. Something so small, just a light-hearted comment, really upset me that day. I came home and didn’t even want to look in the mirror. 
Just imagine, I was thinking to myself, how depressing life would be, if we all knew the truth about what is going on around us? And if we only told the truth to each other? 
How many of those radiant Facebook smiles would fade! But here’s the thing… Most of the time, we do know, we would know, if we wanted to. We just don’t want to. 
I know that I don’t look my best right now. It is natural and expected after what happened. Trust me, I know because nobody knows better than me what's wrong with me
I also know when I put some weight on, or when my roots are starting to show and need touching up. I know! And don’t need you to tell me. 
If I am feeling down, I know I am. I don’t need you telling me I look miserable. If I have a badly behaving spoiled brat of a child, trust me, nobody else is more aware of that than me. If I have marital issues, I will be more aware of them than any of you, because I am a woman and I know these things. Every woman, however well she hides it, knows, with this gut instinct we all have, when she isn’t really in a blissful relationship. And if she chooses not to see things, it is because she chose not to. Not because she is blind or stupid. Maybe she is just very smart. Or maybe just weak. Whatever her reasons are, she chose not to know. 
You became very Western, an old friend told me recently when we were once again having a fight about something insensitive she had said to me. You just want me to say nice things you want to hear. And not the truth. And that’s what real friends do, tell the truth. I don’t know, I said, maybe. But why do you feel the need to tell me something unpleasant? And don’t you think I already probably know it?
As my friend, protect me. This life is already difficult and can be painful. Protect my feelings by saying I look pretty today. So what if I look like shit. Just lie. Support me with my diet by saying I look slimmer already, even if I had only skipped one toast at breakfast. Tell me I will be fine even if you think I probably won’t be. That’s what I want. More innocent lies. And as for truth….stick it where the sun don’t shine. 

Friday, 6 September 2019

About clogged arteries and surprises

Recently, I came across someone on Instagram whom I started following out of sick curiosity. Every time she posts a nude photo of herself, I go ewwwww!
I then send it to my friends who go ewwww!!! What the hell is wrong with you! why are you sending me this? 
But it is like looking at a sheep’s chopped off head during Eid celebrations. You don’t want to look and yet you still have to see
I am not sure, I think, this woman might also be an actress, but judging by her Instagram portfolio, her main claim to fame is being obese. She is naked in mostly all photos, looking- well, there is no nice way to describe her, so I will just share one cropped image for you here. I suspect they are meant to be cool, some romantic-with pretty flowers, one arty-with a flamingo…my favourite one is where she has another, average sized woman lying on top of her- for size comparison I guess, to make it more impressive. 
And of course, as you may easily imagine, she does occasionally get someone suggesting that she should try and eat more healthily, to which she, of course, understandably, suggests they go fuck themselves. Which I guess, is fair. Is her personal business how she looks, what she chooses to do to her body, and how she makes money from it. (the latest, lightly bronzed naked photo you can purchase as a postcard for $30) 
I personally don’t care what or who she is and what she is doing to her body. 
What does however, annoy me is that she is actively glorifying obesity. She is sending a message to other women, and most importantly, young girls, that it is, in fact, cool to be that fat. Be fat! She says. Be proud of it! 
I am not sure why, as soon as there is some issue in this world, trying to fix it, people tend go all the way into the opposite direction. Why can’t you people just, you know, stop somewhere in the middle?
I get it! Models were becoming anorexic, teenage girls were becoming obsessed with their weight and getting depressed, other women felt unsexy because they were a bit overweight…I get it. 
So, everybody started protesting. Beach body???? Who said beach body? What exactly is beach body? How dare you. My body is perfectly beachy, thanks very much. OK, I get it! But this??? 

This isn’t right. Come on. 
This?....Isn’t just about looks. It will actually kill you, being that obese. And I am now thinking that, going along with the new trend, more and more people are too afraid to say oh, come on, ffs! so that not to be called a fat-shaming asshole, and thus are sitting there silently, while people like this model becoming famous for…well for being obese and proud of it. There isn’t anything to be proud of there. 
And, as someone commented…she should watch those arteries getting clogged, having a heart attack and dying. 
Speaking of dying and clogged arteries, I had a pretty scary experience, as a result of which I ended up having two stents in my arteries just before my summer vacation. (and no, ironically, am not obese. Not yet, anyway, even though if I continued to eat like I did on this vacation in Singapore, that goal could be easily achieved)
What can I tell you. It was a scary experience. In hindsight, nothing particularly surprising, as I have had a lot of stress recently- who doesn’t? - and I smoked- occasionally, yet quite a few on those occasions…And drank- occasionally but quite A LOT on those occasions…And, I have family history of heart conditions… plus, my cholesterol was getting a little high. … Also, despite me staring in shock at the surgeon who told me I had a 100% and 80% blockages in one of the main arteries, having looked back at my whole life, I realised that even though in the last few years I was eating relatively healthily, it is the years and years of Azeri food (all those lamb chops, plovs and Russian salads layered with mayo) plus genetics that probably contributed to the crazy fucked-up situation I found myself in, as well as taking things too close to heart, as my Qatari colleague very correctly and quickly diagnosed. 
When my suspicious anxiety attacks would not go away, and what I thought was intercostal back muscle pain made it difficult to take a deep breath, I went to see the doctor who had to also treat this condition on my mother only recently here, in Doha. Thankfully, he scheduled a CT scan for me. I guess I was lucky that he took me seriously, as mostly all other doctors I had seen before him, and friends and family all suspected I was being hypochondriac, laughed at me and told me I probably had gas. 
It was a Thursday night, and having dropped my husband and the kids off at the airport (they were going on holiday a week before me), I was applying make-up to go out, when my doctor sent me a text asking if it was okay to call me. Shit, I thought. "Don’t worry" he said. "The CT scan tends to over-estimate. It will probably be a lot smaller of a blockage than it tells us." So…I went out and had a few cocktails that night. 
And, of course, I went to brunch with some friends the following Friday. It was summer in Doha! That’s when families and kids are away and those who stay behind, go out. So, I was enjoying my party time. However, I didn’t feel quite right. And so, even though I really didn’t fancy having an invasive angiogram while my family was away, I decided it was probably a good idea to just go for it, as going away on vacation not knowing just how bad things were seemed like maybe a less scary, but daft idea. 
I won’t bore you with details. What I found out during this scary time, is that people are actually amazing. Sometimes you think you would be alone and you find out you are not ever left alone- even when you actually want to be alone- to cry properly and excessively over your previous life, when you could eat as many chicken wings as you wanted, smoke if you wanted, and drink a bottle of prosecco…I needed time to mourn it all. But, help and emotional support came from everywhere- from the few friends who were still in Doha this summer to work colleagues who sent me flowers and wanted to visit. 

So I didn’t get a lot of time to cry and grieve over my party days. I cried a lot immediately after the procedure- well I had to, I had such a scare! And during the procedure, I was not allowed to cry. I had to stay calm, still and follow the instructions- breathe in, hold your breath, will you just STOP talking! And was mesmerised by an image of my beating heart on a huge screen next to me- pretty impressive, let me tell you. But straight after… I just couldn’t stop the tears. A Filipino nurse hovered over. She kept stroking my shoulder, repeating endlessly- "Why you cry? Don’t cry?..Just don’t eat fried food. Don’t cry. Just don’t eat fried food!" (Filipinos have this peculiar habit of repeating the same word or sentence quite a few times. Like my personal trainer who would not just ask if I liked George Clooney. He would ask “You like George Clooney? You like? You like? You like George?”) 
I really wanted to kill her, kill her...kill her. But I had needles sticking out of my hands and arms, my eyelash extensions were falling out, and I was feeling pretty scared and pretty…well, fucked. 
It is sad to realise you could have dropped dead without knowing it was coming. That’s a blinding flash of obvious. But it is also sad to realise you can’t be as carefree anymore and have to think before you pick up that glass, or eat a shawarma. My whole persona, my whole life, my cool sexy image I had created for myself in my head, all vanished in a puff of smoke. 
It also made me realize life can be full of surprises, some pleasant and some not so much. The nurse who sent me home from Emergency department having glanced over me quickly and making her mind up that I looked too fit to be having a heart emergency, was probably surprised to find out how wrong she was, and how, should I not have had my amazing doctor watching over me personally, I would maybe not be writing this blog right now. 
All my family and friends were surprised I could have had all that going on at my age, without any obesity, high blood pressure or any other obvious signs and problems…and realised life holds surprises for us all, at any unexpected time of our lives, in various ways. 
And, my personal surprise was that, while everybody’s first reaction to this story was OMG, you were alone? In Doha? in summer? Weren’t you scared to go through all that alone? The truth is- I was never alone, and did not feel alone, not for a minute. And that’s the bottom line of this long story. I had, bizarrely, despite all the shock and fear and unpleasant moments…quite a nice time. I got spoilt rotten, taken out, brought flowers and chocolates, showered with texts and offers of help…my lovely helper cooked healthy meals for me every day; and, on the first night I was home from the hospital, refused to go upstairs to her bed, and slept on the sofa, afraid to leave me alone. 
Usually I try and tie the ending of my posting to the beginning, you know, so it has a nice flow and reaches some kind of conclusion. This time there is no conclusion, really. It is just a story of my crazy summer, and a story about people around me, who surprised me, this whole expatriate life that always amazes me, and as for the obese lady…well, whether you think she is being cool doing what she is doing or not…I just wish you all to stay healthy, happy and loved. And don't ever ignore your body telling you something is wrong, even if you think it makes you sound uncool.