I am a ghostwriter, my own ghostwriter. So while this blog is indeed mine, it is that of the shadowed selves i sometimes fail to recognise as being me. If writing writes you, sometimes revealing those things that you hadn't intended for it to say,* then I write with the intention of exposing me to myself. sketching serendipity therefore depicts a series of thoughts and experiences in the hope of projecting a multidimensional self-portrait in the making.

* J.M Coetzee's theories on writing in Doubling The Point.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bridal Make-up and Hijaab Ideas

I was inspired by a makeupgeek tutorial on how to do Arabian/ Middle Eastern make-up. It resulted in a bit of retail therapy at the Inglot counter in Cavendish Square.

I tried to recreate the look on my cousin's eyes using the wrong brushes (not intentionally - I was away from home). Curiously, it worked. The look is a subtle one, with hues in gold, brown and (a less visible) plum.

And my tool-kit? Laughable but workable:

  • The Classic Brow Brush #12 by Smashbox
  • Eyeshadow foam brush by Avon
  • Custom-made eyeshadow pallet by Inglot (see picture below)

To check out the tutorial and many others of its kind on makeupgeek, visit the link below:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I once speculated the return of an art renaissance, reminiscent of 18th century France which bore art as a defiant discourse in the face of political power. Little did I expect that it would soon surface with as much gusto on my own continent. Further up north, amid the revolutions that sparked across the Islamic world, Tunisian artists wrestled for rights to freedom of speech through art, which had long been suppressed under ex-president Ben Ali. Refusing to submit to his dictatorship, they took to the streets to exhibit and craft their art on municipal buildings and walls, as a way of reclaiming ownership of the public domain. It was the penultimate expression of democratic freedom.

While art boundaries were flouted in the north, they were yet to be addressed in the south, where the ban on public graffiti had not been lifted.  On a recent visit to Cape Town the acclaimed Tunisian-Parisian graffiti artist, El Seed, addressed the issue of art, politics and freedom in South Africa. “We are not respected,” he said, saying that artists are neither acknowledged as professionals, nor as contributing members of society. And the graffiti ban is sufficient proof of this fact, failing to distinguish between aesthetics and vandalism.

Critiquing local art, El Seed said that he would have preferred to see graffiti written in an African language. He believes that artists needed to “break the hegemonic trends in art and express their culture”. El Seed’s own work embraces his linguistic roots, by combining Arabic calligraphy and graffiti. Hence it is called ‘calligraffiti’. He also incorporates ancient art into modern art forms, resulting in a hip-hop street style with a rather delightful Middle-Eastern twist. Unlike other artists, he chooses not to sign his name on any of his work. “It is not important,” he claims. “If you think about the seven Mu’allaqaat (acclaimed ancient Arabic poetry), people do not remember the names of the poets. All that remains is the message of the poets, and that is what I would like to leave behind.” His own messages vary, communicating ideas about education, politics, or love. “It’s all about the context,” he says, having exposed students from underprivileged areas in Cape Town how to harness their art skills and leave behind awe-inspiring messages such as ‘Read and Elevate Yourself’, and ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ Undoubtedly, his work attests to the fact that street art can be wielded as an intellectually stimulating tool with transformative power.

Art can sway politics. And South Africa, who has the art of photography to thank for awakening the world to its plight during Apartheid, should know this best. Rather than condemning its use, politicians should use the medium as a tool to reach the youth, otherwise face the consequence of perpetual anarchic expression painted onto the very places they wish to protect.

 Below:"Read to Elevate Yourself" is a collaborative work of   local high school students.
 Left: "It always seems impossible until it's done" 

*Photography: Riz.B Photography

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mothers' Day Madness: The Koeksister trial begins

Picture this: 
It's a kitchen from out of space - flying saucers and a whooping kettle clamour up a cacophony along with that vociferous Jamie Oliver voice... in my mind. Through the window, the moon passes to nod a greeting as the sun enters to warn me of the time, which is up. Already?!
I snap out of my dreaming and move towards the kitchen, unintentionally recreating the scene i create every year: a meaningful and chaotic Mothers' Day morning.

I don't know where and how the notion of South African Mothers' Day breakfasts came into being, except that it became an unfaltering yet evolving tradition in my home since nearly a decade ago. I hear many people argue about the correctness of the two internationally celebrated parent days:, asking why we should we want to dedicate only a single day of an entire year to loving our mothers. And, is not everyday a day to honour and shower them with love?
Quite true, i say. Except, Mothers' Day is not quite that in my home.  It isn't a day for mothers: it is a credible excuse for a cooking extravaganza, where the guest list and menus change along with the sibling cooks (my brothers hate to be dragged out of bed, and my 10 year old sister can't fathom the need for her to cook when she can be served in style instead - if my kindness permitted her that luxury, which it never does, not since she was 3 years old and cute enough to be spoiled).

Usually, i don't plan my menus. Multiple breakfast dishes are prepared simultaneously, all of which are imagined and concocted as i go along which, i guess, is just about the time that serendipity illuminates my world. This year though, I did something different, and baked koeksisters the evening before. The dough takes a lifetime to rise, you see. And my koeksister-baking grandmother, despite being bid to the kitchen to teach me her granny-food wisdom, refused to leave her game of tetris on the computer. Being forced to bake them myself, i finally learned just how. And so, as promised, I found and saved an old Cape recipe to share:

The results: Not a bad koeksister. It's actually quite tasty. But, it isn't the best I've tasted thus far. 1 recipe down. Two more to go :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

blogging sketchingserendipity and MISS(placed) ENGLISH

I have three blogs, two of which are currently available for viewing. Something tells me I should create a fourth - except that that would be too many to manage. The thing is, I need a blog that will allow me to write about all the vastly different issues that interest me. Thus far, one of them (titled Miss[placed] English) is dedicated to only my teaching experiences, yet somehow I  found myself struggling to commit to a single topic on one blog, and so included a completely unrelated subject: that concerning the politics and social consequences of Imperialism and Racialism in a modern context. I realise that blogs needn't be bogged down by monotonous topics, but at the same time, their readers need to be able to walk through them like they do in an aisle in a shopping mall; offering exciting, great varieties in relation to each other, and similar in purpose. So, may this one be dedicated to all things novel and piqued in discovery. 


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Teachers: unacknowledged experts in their fields...

Observing teachers who have 20+ years’ practice in teaching English language and literature is an overwhelming and intimidating experience. They teach literature as if they know the texts by heart (which I am beginning to think they do), and respond to students’ questions in ways that are indicative of their clear confidence before a classroom. Although I consider myself to be confident in my knowledge of literature at 3rd year level, I don't have the ability to confidently prattle off Shakespeare as if it were the chorus of a song. How do teachers remember random verses and their places within various texts with such precision? That’s my classroom observation ‘wow’ moment.

Indeed, there are as many literary texts in the world as there are people (which may be an exaggeration – or not) and it is a fact which bothers me. At present, I am reading through Othello, The Great Gatsby, notes on visual literacy, The Kite Runner, Macbeth, and poetry.  These texts are but drops in an ocean of literature, the majority of which I feel I ought to know and understand well enough to be qualified to teach. Nonetheless, all marvellous teachers were budding experts at one point in their lives. For me, that point is here, the Right Now of today.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Travel Ticket

The world's most truthful metaphor: Life's a journey... and we travel it even when we're in limbo. We often think that our worlds stop when we stop moving, but for as long as we are all thinking, our worlds are expanding to pave unchartered routes to understanding. It is a false perception that crossroads and dangerous bridges are the pausing places of a journey, when they are in fact opporunities for contemplation and implementing the wisdom we have gained. This is the real journey; the one that occurs in our minds and hearts, as we learn to think and feel more deeply about the same situations. Movement is like a trained camel - a vehicle for movement, and thoughts are their riders, steering them from oasis to danger and back.

And the true traveller is he whose thoughts unshackle him from his primitive being, causing him to soar across his mind's journey in search of that which we all seek - true knowledge for knowing, for being, in a temporary world.

This is my opinion, though others might disagree. I have included an old afrikaans song about travellers, some (or all) of whom you may find familiarity with.


Oh, you that wisdom's glory claim,
I ask that you the drifter name:
The one that parts without good bye,
Or she that stays at home to cry?
Which one?

Oh, which the life of drifter leads,
The one that travels, or that reads?
The one that wanders far on foot?
The one that longs while staying put?
Which one?

And which the life of drifter seems,
The one on foot, the one in dreams?
The one that roams to distant shores,
Or he that looks through smoggy doors?
Which one?

Oh, you that wisdom's glory claim,
I ask that you the drifter name.
The one with packs who roams about?
Or he whose dreams are not lived out?
Which one?

*Not my own translation. I can't find the author's name and so i have included  a link to his rendition of it instead:   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learn-afrikaans/message/2011?var=1

"Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path."
                                   -The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Bukhari


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wanted: a freckled Sunday-koeksister

I woke up this morning with the need to sink my teeth into the puff dough of a love-baked koeksister, syruped to perfection. It's the Cape tradition: Sunday Breakfasts begin with the coconut-sprinkled morning desert,  which is good enough whether homebaked or bought, served best nonetheless in a 2:1 ratio with a great cup of tea :)
I'm not sure of the history behind the Sunday-breakfast, although  a treasure hunt for the first-ever spicy koeksister recipe sounds like stomach-rewarding fun. Bo Kaap museum might provide a starting point... But we're drifting from the sore point: I didn't get to eat my Sunday koeksister! Bereft of the honour, my teeth are now going to bed unsatisfied. A great need for the sweet had me baking waffles in a snackwich-maker this evening instead... which, without the orange peel and aniseed ingredients, and buttery cinnamon-cardomon sugar syrup cannot ever compare (much less satisfy my insatiable need). With 50 minutes until midnight, and droopy eye-lids closing in on a dream, there's no way that i'm about to leave bed for a trial-run in the kitchen. But, in order to keep up the proud culture of Koeksister Sundays, I am doing my patriotic duty at least - by hoping that fairies will bring them to me in my sleep.

Sweet Dreams