Archive | June 2015

Words are powerful

I guess nobody really knows this about me, because I’ve never actually done it to anybody or told anyone about it. I understand the power of words, a lot. I have an acute knowledge of words that can hurt people, and words that can lift someone’s spirits up high. I might not be able to articulate them properly, but I sure as hell can write them down. I choose to use words for the latter’s purpose, because nobody wishes to hear words that can plunge them into a well of despair or sadness, especially if spoken by someone else. You see, because words are even more powerful than brute force. I try my best to not offend anybody with my words, (believe me, I do), with what I say or with what I write. I’ve been thrown words that have hurt my confidence and that has dragged me into a hole of depression and hurt. And precisely because of that, I do not want to do the same to others. Because of that, I get how powerful words are.

I know words can kill, and in a very scary way, in a way that even I get frightened by myself sometimes, I know how to use words to cut people down. This is what you get if you read books/newspaper articles/columns. Words by itself are harmless, they are just alphabets strung together to create a meaning, so to convey your feelings/actions/thoughts for other people to relate to you. Without words, we would be empty creatures, void of any communication and relation. But words, combined with the emotions that are behind them, can be strung together to create something, like a human hand, that is perfectly capable of striking you, leaving you tumbling, leaving you with an emotional scar that can never quite heal, leaving your heart shattered. Words can be strung together to create something, like an encouraging or motherly hand, that is perfectly capable of bringing a smile to your face, leaving you encouraged, grateful, impressed, rejuvenated, reassured and just happy.

Precisely because I understand this acutely, if anybody ever drives me up the wall or hurts me, I am capable of hurting you back, not with physical brute but with words spouting from my mouth. And by words, I do not mean vulgarities please. And trust me, those words will leave a much bigger, emotional scar than any physical punch would. And that is terrifying to me.

Of frostbites, late night walks, street shots and squad goals.

Greetings fellow earthlings!

A couple of days back, I returned to Singapore, from touring Europe. I went to Europe from the 1st of June all the way to the 11th of June, where I actually visited 6 countries (talk about travelling). I visited Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Paris and finally London. Those 11 days were so damn amazing, up till the point that even after 9 days upon my return, I’m still suffering from post-Europe blues.

I went on this vacation with my sister only, so nope my parents did not actually accompany me. It’s the first time travelling without my parents and only my sister, so in the beginning, though I felt excited at the prospect of travelling without parental guidance (come on, INDEPENDENCE YEAH), I felt slightly skeptical and unsure of myself because I’ll have to rely on myself 24/7 to take care of my valuables such as my passport and my money. I remembered being especially afraid of my money coz I was carrying tons of cash, and that too in 3 currencies – Swiss Franc, Euro and London Pound. And let’s be honest, Europe isn’t exactly the safest place to be carrying wads of cash in your wallet, especially at night because robberies and theft and pickpockets are hugely common there. But I was like, “all right nevermind, it’s going to be an adventure of your lifetime.”

Also, before I went for this trip, I was also worried about the financial matters cause this tour was actually expensive. My dad was the one who sponsored me for this trip, in that he paid for my airline tickets and the tour package, and I felt (well, I’m still feeling it) a slight pang of guilt because he was spending so much on me on this trip, yet he’s not coming along. Same goes for my mum. Knowing that going to Europe meant spending a lot on shopping and food as the exchange rate there is quite high, she gave me some more money for my shopping expenses as well, and I felt bad as well for taking so much of my parents money. Of coz, I got a temporary job to bear the bulk of my shopping expenses (and this too I was worried because my part time job didn’t yield thousands of dollars each month and I do want to save for rainy days. *hashtags responsibility*)

But in the end, though the filial guilt still resides in my heart for making my parents spend so much on me, for which I promised myself to repay them back in the future when I have the financial means to, I decided to not let all these get to me and just enjoy this virgin independent trip that I’m going to have. It’s going to be one heck of an adventure!

And an adventure it was. I went with an all Muslim tour group and though I wasn’t expecting to make any close friends and just stick to my sister 24/7, I met a bunch of lovely people who are around my age group (I call them the young bloods of our tour group) and who came with their families and we bonded really well in the course of 5 days. I still feel immensely lucky and blessed that I got to meet these youngsters and became close friends with them because they are such fun people to hang out with. I love how they are so game for anything. Let me elaborate.

On the first day after I arrived in Zurich, Switzerland, I went up to the Swiss Alps (Mount Titlis they call it) and I played with snow. It was my virgin experience with snow and I’ve got to say, that was one of my highlights of the trip. What made it even more memorable was that I didn’t actually had proper winter wear and it was freezing cold up there. I didn’t bring any gloves and my socks weren’t even the proper socks you would wear for winter so my hands and my feet were freezing to the point that they became painful. But idk, I guess the adrenaline from playing with the snow and being engulfed in the purest form of white just made me forget about my frostbite pains. I legit climbed up a snowy hill, only to roll/slide back down it again. I rode on a ski lift, I got snowballed by one of my friends, I made a snowball myself and held it with my bare hands. It was just a very memorable experience, one that I shared with my Europe friends. So it was even more special because I could share it with people who were genuinely excited, crazy and enthusiastic as I was.

Next, I went to Germany and visited the Cuckoo Clock factory and went to Heidelburg. Heidelburg was such a pretty place and the streets of Heidelburg were so beautiful I fell in love with them. Those cobblestoned pavements, the graffiti-clad walls, the vintage doors and gates and staircases, and the cars that lined the pavements on both sides. It’s so different from the streets in Singapore, and it was such a rejuvenating change. I was more obsessed with the streets of Europe than with the tourist attractions the tour leader brought all of us to visit LOL.

In Netherlands, we went to Amsterdam and in retrospect, Amsterdam wasn’t really as good as the previous two days. Granted, Amsterdam gave me one heck of an experience but it was really hot and sunny in the afternoon when we took the cruise, so all of us clearly did not enjoy the cruise at all. And then, we kinda wasted our time in some diamond factory coz where do I possibly get the money to buy authentic diamonds for myself you tell me?!?!?! I actually wanted to go to the Red Light District but ohkies nvm I had no guts to visit that place without male company so yeah LOL. The streets of Amsterdam were kind of messy because cars, cyclists, pedestrians and the rails all go through the same road so whilst walking on the streets, I was looking in all directions trying to not get myself run down by either one of these oncoming vehicles. Nevertheless, it was still very, very nice to explore Amsterdam and experience street life there.

I would definitely like to go back Brussels, Belgium again because we spent too little – and I really mean it when I say too little – time there. All we did was go to the shops selling the heavenly Belgium chocolates and ordered the famous Belgium waffles. I did not even have time to go to the Belgium lace shops and seeing all the pretty lace they had for sale. Time passed so quickly in Brussels and I didn’t get to see the whole of Belgium so pretty bummed up by that. So going to visit Brussels again. I WILL BE BACK.

Paris was another highlight of my trip. Remember the friends I told you about? Well, here’s the part where I reveal to you how they are so game for anything and everything. Initially, we only spend 20 minutes at the Eiffel Tower area and to be honest, I felt incredulous at how little time we were at the Eiffel Tower cause I did not just sit in the goddamn bus for 4 hours just to visit the famous attraction in Paris for 20 minutes?!!?!?! So I was complaining to my friend and I was like “I really want to climb up the Eiffel Tower?!? It’s in my bucket list!!!!” and he just listened and nodded. And then he added “you know if you want you can climb up you know, who’s stopping you? Just go.” So I urged my sis and the 2 guy friends I made to climb up the Eiffel with me after our group went shopping at Printemps. Instead of going back to the hotel to rest for the day, they were like “okay onz leggo climb up” Furthermore, it was just after spring so the days were long. The sun worked overtime everyday so it’s still pretty safe to be out and about after 7pm. WHY NOT CLIMB UP THE EIFFEL TOWER RIGHT NO HARM DONE??? And that was the best move I have ever done in my 19 years of existence. When we reached the top, the view was so breathtaking and I was filled with awe and wonder at the sight that greeted me downstairs. The architecture in Paris is too beautiful. Truly, each building is a work of art. From the top, you’ll see the bird’s eye view of Paris and it is such a wonderful sight. I was literally speechless from the beauty of it all. I just stood there and took it all in. When I was there, the sun was setting and in that moment, I simply felt alive. Something inside me just lit up. I felt like the luckiest girl alive, and all my problems just melted away, like they had never existed at all. It was a magical moment upstairs. And although I did not climb up with my husband or anything, I climbed up the Eiffel with a group of friends who were so fun to hang out with, and that to me is a perfect substitute for not being there with my partner. Truly speaking, no words can describe the kaleidoscope of colours that greeted my eyes when I reached the top and the feelings in me when I get to enjoy the view with the people who I actually liked hanging out with. When we finally willed ourselves to go back down, the lights of the Eiffel Tower lit up when we were below and that was another magical moment for me. Paris was such a dear. I literally did everything there is to be done at the Eiffel Tower. Climbed it up: CHECKED. Watch it light up: CHECKED.

The last stop was London. From Paris, we took the Eurostar to London and oh boy the whole process was really tedious and hectic coz we were carrying our luggage and walking to the train station and we had to go through the customs which meant heaving our luggage to the luggage belt and taking it down and pulling them to the train platform. Nevertheless, it was still nice HAHAHAHA. London is such a happening place to be because it’s so rich with culture. There are theatres everywhere and there are posters about musicals and music festivals everywhere, including in the tube stations. We spent 3 days in London, and out of the 3 days, we had one free day to ourselves so I spent it with my sister and 3 other friends. It was such fun to be acting as locals and taking the tube to go to different places. London even has halal subway?!?!?! (step up your game Singapore’s subway) But truly, what made it enjoyable and memorable was the fact that I got to spend it with friends.

The culture in Europe is just so different from that of Singapore’s. In Europe, arts is appreciated. I could feel the love for the arts and culture amongst the locals. In Switzerland, walking on the streets meant listening to street players playing such wonderful music for the ordinary folk who would walk pass. Be it guitars, cellos, saxophones or even accordions, they would be performing for people who would stop by and listen and give them money. In Paris, there would be a pianist playing passionately on his piano in front of the steps of a theatre and people would just stop by, sit on the steps and just watch him play. I was filled with so much awe and wonder at how much passion and love there is in one person for music. It’s like a bottomless pit. In London, you would hear the occassional musicians playing on their instruments. For a person who loves fine arts and culture but doesn’t get enough of it here in Singapore, can you imagine how marvelous it was? To be hearing music being played as you walk on the streets and admire the streets and buildings?

Even though I went with a tour group, it felt like I was touring Europe with a group of friends who I genuinely like. I genuinely love being in their company and spending one whole day with them just walking around and exploring and taking in the sights of Europe and being lost together. We had late night walks in Germany, Amsterdam and London as well and those were amazing because it was the late night walks that made us bond with each other, because I got to know them on a more personal level and listen to their life stories in those 11pm to 12 midnight walks. We didn’t know each other before we went on this trip, and as I look back, I am so glad I went on this trip because if i didn’t, I wouldn’t have met them, and they are amazing people to be with. It was such a wonderful, amazing, memorable, awesome (you name it la huh) trip. I’ve always wanted to go travel with my friends, and this trip in one way fulfilled that dream of mine. It’s kinda weird because I actually went in a tour but I found friends within that tour group,and we just separate ourselves from the rest of the tour group and explored on our own. I guess that’s how my dream got fulfilled.

So to my Europe squad, thank you, for the wonderful memories we shared together. The places I’ve visited were so beautiful, such that the memories made were sweet, but you guys made those memories I have even sweeter. Thank you for seeing my crazy and enthusiastic side yet not shy away from it but instead embraced and entertained it. I was really lucky 🙂

(P.S: I have got no pictures to show the readers out there coz the pictures are still in my phone and not yet uploaded to my computer. I’ll see if I want to have a separate post with the pictures, then you’ll be able to see my Europe squad)

xoxo,

ShabiraBasheer 🙂