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Just a glimspe. Susan's Perspective.

Prepare for the worst and expect the best

When I struggle with the man in my life, a girlfriend of mine has always poignantly reminded me, “prepare for the worst and expect the best.” It’s a good motto to live life by, right? If you’re always prepared for the worst then you’ll never be blindsided and guarding your heart is the best way to avoid heartbreak, right? But, when does ‘preparing for the worst’ get in the way of believing in the full organic potential of a relationship and more so, of a person?

How many times have you prepared for the worst and expected the best, but the best just never happened? Since when have we become so pessimistic about relationships? Does being pessimistic mean we’re settling? Shouldn’t being with the ‘one,’ that’s if you believe in that stuff, always be the best thing that has ever happened to you? Hmm, perhaps that’s the answer right there – he’s just not the ‘one.’ Maybe?

In the recent article “Why do men go MIA?” it’s obvious that there are some real greasy tools out there that are simply out to take advantage of a good situation – you. And, there are those men out there that are simply just thoughtless, and for a lack of a better word, fools.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship with a thoughtless fool, obviously you’ve seen past his flaws, embraced them and look forward to fighting for the amazing potential that you believe both of you have as an item.

Photo Credits: Susan Wong © All rights reserved.

He loves like Shakespeare’s Romeo, cherishes family like your father, soft like a teddy bear but tough like a Trojan, ambitious, charming, great partner in bed, and listens well when he has time. Yes, when, he has time.

Did I say he was ambitious and extremely successful? The man receives 200 calls a day, and each call actually matters. He makes time for you, comes to Town even if it’s out of the way to have lunch with you, he always cares; most importantly, even if it’s only for a short 5 minute meeting that you’ve stolen from his day, nothing else matters during those precious minutes. The angels sing.

At the same time, after a year of dating, you’ve accepted a lot of flaws and vowed to work with them, such as: he ends calls abruptly because he has to take an incoming business call, forgets to call you back after he says he will, postpones your meet-ups because an important business meeting has come up…you get the drift? Business reigns supreme.

No, this man is not cheating on you. He is not tired of you. Contrary, he wants to eventually marry you. But, after a year of feeling neglected and tired of “preparing for the worst and expecting the best” every single time you’re suppose to spend some time with this man, you’re spent. Tired. Oh, so tired.

“Preparing for the worst and expecting the best” has allowed you to last this long, but honestly, you’re exhausted from being a pessimist. Every time your man suggests something, you say yes, but in your heart, you know he’ll be too busy to follow through.

I thank my girlfriend for always reminding me of what’s worked for her, but for myself, I think I’ll keep to what’s worked for me, “trusting someone until they give you a reason not to.”

I always give people a benefit of a doubt. And, as many friends have tried to educate me, perhaps I shouldn’t since I’m always the one that pains. Then again, what’s so bad about always being the one that seemingly looses out in a relationship and hurting for a while? Pain will pass, you will recover. What you cannot recover is lost time, and seeing that life is so finite, give yourself a pat on the back for trying and not losing that important quality that’s unique to mankind – belief.

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Filed under: Photography, Thoughts, , ,

Cheryl’s Children’s Home and Learning Centre: Help them fill their bookshelves!

 

 

Filed under: Africa, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, , , ,

RESCUE HOMES: Lessons from Murang’a

New to the country and eager to see and experience as much of Kenya as possible, when I was asked to visit Murang’a and more importantly, Rescue Homes, I jumped at the chance.

Murang’a and its infamous rolling green hills welcomed me with open arms.  Located in Central Province of Kenya, Murang’a is incredibly picturesque with varying altitudes and expansive farmlands including tea plantations.

Completely shielded by an overgrown garden, when our driver pulled up to the gate of the Rescue Homes’ pilot project, I didn’t know what to expect.

I wondered how many young pregnant girls found refuge at this property.  I wondered how they were finding their time in the rural side and completely secluded from city life.  I wondered if they would be willing to speak to a visitor like myself – someone from the media.  I wondered…

When I met the young mothers-to-be, I realized I had nothing to worry about.  Their smiles said it all: full of life and promise.

 

FETCHING WATER: A new appreciation

Fetching water in Murang’a, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong

 

During my visit to Rescue Homes, their water supply had unfortunately been disturbed due to nearby road construction.

The house mothers volunteered to go fetch water at the bottom of the property, me being the curious “muzungo” that I was, I followed suit.  I had no idea what a journey I was getting myself into…

Fetching water is hard work!  No joke.

Under the hot midday sun, the three of us grabbed some empty plastic containers and ripped pieces of textile down the steep and slippery hills of the tea plantation.

I was wearing running shoes and the other ladies were wearing frictionless flip-flops.  Now, how did I manage to slip and fall, whilst the other ladies walked on like soldiers is mind-boggling.

I’ll be the first to admit it – slipping and sliding down and then up the hill and then being asked if I needed help by ladies with 100lbs of water on their backs was downright embarrassing.

Be super sure that I’ve found a new appreciation for water!

That day, I vowed to never waste another drop of water again.

 

Susan Wong is a resident photographer, writer, radio presenter and full-time adventurer at Capital Group Ltd.

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , ,

Curbside Cuisine: Popcorn in Nairobi, Kenya

Tasty popcorn at Prestige in Nairobi, Kenya by Susan Wong

Photo Credits: Susan Wong

I often shop for my groceries at Prestige, not because the vegetables are fresher or that there’s more parking; but because of a man named Larry who coincidently makes the best popcorn I have ever tasted in my life.

Larry making popcorn at Prestige in Nairobi, Kenya by Susan Wong

Larry Makanzie, 25, is a sharp entrepreneur that has learned to capitalize on hungry shoppers, curious passers-by lured by the aromas of fresh popcorn, and chronic snackers (such as myself).

Formerly known as ‘Fresh Pops’, Makanzie’s popcorn empire is now known as ‘Bando International’.  With no signage or marketing material, I may be one of the first to know what his humble popcorn stand is actually called.  But, at the end of the day, who cares?  Makanzie’s popcorn is the tastiest curbside cuisine I’ve tasted in a long time and makes me look forward to stocking up on my kitchen supplies!

Makanzie has been serving his customers at Prestige for the last 4 years.  A consistent queue of a few hungry snackers makes this popcorn stand one of the most profitable even at 50 ksh per bag.

Partly due to the consistent flow of business and also to his stubborn mission to provide the freshest popcorn to his customers, Makanzie’s popcorn is consistently steaming hot, fluffy and golden.

With diverse flavours to choose from: salt & vinegar, celery salt, mixed chilli spices – just to name a few; Makanzie provides the customer with choices and room for customization.  My favourite is the “Special” with an extra dash of celery salt.

This is definitely the friendliest popcorn stand where not only can you buy the fluffiest flavoured popcorn anywhere, it’s also a spot to catch up on the word on the street or take a breather after shopping.

Whether you’re a popcorn connoisseur or just want to support a worthy young entrepreneur, next time you’re at Prestige, make sure you visit Makanzie for some popcorn!

Queue for popcorn at Prestige in Nairobi, Kenya by Susan Wong

Don’t forget to follow me on TWITTER @SusanLuckyWong (the author)

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Food, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , , ,

Guest Post: The Japanese Canadian

In the wake of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster; I think I speak for most of us when I say my heart goes out to those affected by the ongoing “controlled chaos”.

Today’s guest is not only a dear friend of mine, but also a brother whom I’ve grown up with in Toronto.  The author of ‘The Japanese Canadian’ relocated back to Tokyo a few years back, and yes, he survived the earthquake.  His firsthand accounts of the disaster are chilling and heart-wrenching.  Check out his blog for more real stories from a very real person.

Three weeks… is how long it has been since the earthquake hit the east coast of Japan.  It has been such a learning experience.

  • I learned that Japan could probably withstand the worst earthquakes, and still remain standing.
  • I learned that all the damage which comes to Japan with earthquakes, happens immediately after the earthquake.
  • I learned that Japanese people can still come together as a community, even at times of duress.
  • I learned that I have a hard time being a part of that community.
  • I learned that no matter how many years I am here, I am Japanese-Canadian, and not Japanese.

The damage in Japan has been colossal, with almost 30000 dead or missing.  The television broadcasts censored bits of information regarding the recovery efforts and the people who are coming together to help the community.  Indeed it’s a great scene to know that people are helping each other out, as that positive effort is what the community needs to see.

In Tokyo, I still see the daily affects that the earthquakes has on the city of Tokyo.  The shelves at the grocery store and convenience stores are empty.  In certain stores, soft drinks are still available, but in others, there is no water, no drinks and no alcohol.  The daily things such as toilet paper and tissue paper are still relatively scarce, and there are limitations on many things that people can purchase like water.  The land in certain areas which are man made, have buckled under the pressure of the shaking from the earthquake.  The shortage of power in the Greater Tokyo Area has caused many people and industries to go on stand-by for rolling black outs.  Although the everybody has playing a big role in helping to save energy, with so little lights, every night is a reminder that Tokyo is also on life support, still not fully recovered from the damage.

Then there’s everything else with political parties, elections and nuclear power plants, but honestly, everyone has a different stance on that, and everyone is entitled to their opinion about it.  It’s too serious and too touchy to discuss on here, so I will leave that debate for another time.

I felt strongly, that life is precious, and I shouldn’t plan for things that don’t matter to me.  Every single day of my life, I should be striving to be the best that I can be, and I should strive to make my surroundings feel that I am able to contribute to by being my best.  At the same time, if I am unable to gain understanding for my goals and aspirations, and be told be the image that someone believes me to be, then I have to make a choice of whether I should hold faith in the life that others promise me, or to take control of the path I feel that I should be going on.  There’s many uncertainties, and many will say, “you should be doing this” or “you shouldn’t be doing that”, but the only true answer is “what “I” want to do”.

“What I want to do”, and “where I am now” are the two answers that I will strive to have an answer for.  Everything in between is what I “should” be doing.

Filed under: Canada, Japan, Life, Photography, Quotes, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , ,

Mavuno

This past Sunday I joined a couple of friends and checked out Mavuno, a church based in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Mavuno”, which means “harvest” in Swahili is located on the grounds of an abandoned drive-in theatre.  How cool is that?!  And, where cars once parked; are now tents that house the growing Mavuno congregation, now in the thousands.

I enjoyed the animated Pastor.  Pastor Linda was just kick-starting April’s series of sermons: Sin City.  She’s absolutely hilarious, yet so on point.  The A/V crew was amazing.  Definitely will be back!

The setup of Mavuno was so inviting and homey.  You can’t visit and not feel welcomed.  I especially enjoyed the set up of tents large and small, which made the Sunday church experience feel more like an open-aired market.  What better way to spend Sunday morning than in God’s house under the expansive aqua blue African sky and comforted by the warm midday sun?

Mavuno Church in Nairobi, Kenya

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , ,

The Maasai Mara National Reserve: Unforgettable Memories

The hundreds of clunking cowbells rung harmoniously in the distant pastures and also immediately right next to me, “Clunk….clunk…Clunk…CLUNK”. The fresh manure smell was overwhelming but there was something peaceful and musical about the clunking, somewhat like giant ringing cast iron church bells in Europe. Except I wasn’t in Europe where beautiful cobblestone paths lined the laneways; I was somewhere in the Mara.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a place where tourists realize their legendary Kenyan safari dreams and where great memories are conceived.  And undoubtedly, at this very moment, a great memory was conceived.

Together with our team of visitors, I had been invited on a nature walk with some of the Maasai in the community. Mind you this was not just any “nature walk” like those in Canada where we look at rocks and enjoy the enclave of refreshing pine forests. No, a nature walk with the Maasai in the Mara means you’re roaming where the Lion King animals roam. Yes, Simba…Pumbaa…you name it, they were around.

The afternoon sun comforted my tired body with its warm rays. The gentle valleys and the green plains of the Mara were expansive and absolutely unforgettable. In the distance, I could see herds of zebras and a few giraffes grazing freely. The clunking continued to get louder and soon after, we ran into some cows owned by the Maasai.

That’s when it hit: the animals, Maasai and I were all roaming in the Mara!

Nature walk with Maasai by Susan Wong

Expansive green plains and gentle valleys of the Maasai Mara National Reserve by Susan Wong

A lion in the Maasai Mara National Reserve by Susan Wong

Pumbaa a warthog and family in the Maasai Mara National Reserve by Susan Wong

Pumbaa a warthog and family in the Maasai Mara National Reserve by Susan WongPumbaa a warthog and family in the Maasai Mara National Reserve by Susan Wong

Maasai on a nature walk in the Maasai Mara National Reserve by Susan Wong

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Girl In Town: Just Remember Everything Will Be SAWA

If you haven’t had a chance to read and be inspired by the incredible words that Michael Nigigi pens, take my word for it, check out his blog A Day In A Dog’s Life Michael asked me to contribute on his latest entry, so if you haven’t stumbled upon it yet, here it is.

Have you seen The Bigger Picture? Well it’s one of the blogs that have inspired me and given me pointers in writing my own. I am honored to know the owner of this blog and she happens to be a good friend. I have taken time to study her work especially in writing and photography. My conclusion? She is gifted. Meet Susan Wong, a Chinese Canadian who has travelled the world extensively. Wong is a traveller, writer, radio personality, photographer and fashion designer. When she told me she was on a flight on her way here, I didn’t waste the chance to request that she write me a blog note while on the plane. Today was her first day on radio (Capital Fm 98.4). She was good!

By Susan ‘Lucky’ Wong

My body ached and my head throbbed from exhaustion.  Coming up on 20 hours of travelling time, jetlag was definitely catching up to me.  As I flipped through my colourful Kenyan guidebook in a desperate last attempt to absorb as much information about my new home, the captain spoke over the intercom and informed us that we were descending into Nairobi, and moments later the flickering city lights welcomed us.

Mesmerized by the enchanting lights and the new adventures that awaited me, I reluctantly closed myguide book and put it away.  I realized that no amount of homework could really prepare me for my relocation to Nairobi.  I suppose the best preparation was to put aside all expectations and just humbly enjoy every moment, adventure and opportunity that crosses my path.  And with that mindset, I penned this journal entry to myself just before the plane touched down…

Dear Self,

Young Lady, you are no stranger to Africa, Kenya, Nairobi or the challenging task of relocation.  With that said, ignore those butterflies in your stomach; stop thinking about the ‘what ifs’ if you had made another choice; and tell your Mom’s chanting of “Nairobbery….” In your mind to hush!

Undoubtedly there will be a lot of challenges ahead.  You will face challenges that seem impossible to prevail.  You will meet people that will challenge who you are and the core of what you’re made of.  You can do this.  Remember that you’ve been blessed with this opportunity to follow your passion and perhaps answer a call.  There are amazing people that are waiting to support you.  Be bold. Just be you.

Don’t forget about the lessons you’ve learned in the past.  And yes, you’ve learned so much in Ethiopiafrom the past few years.  Take everything with a grain of salt.  Trust people until they give you a reason to not trust them.

Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to explore the diverse restaurants in town!

Don’t fret.  Chin up Girl because everything will just be Sawa.

Voice over the intercom: “Welcome to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.  The temperature outside is 18 degrees and expect a light drizzle …. Thanks for choosing….and we hope you have enjoyed your flight.”

Filed under: Africa, Kenya, Life, Music, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , ,

Revolutions Are Bittersweet: Travels From Yemen

With the recent developments in Northern Africa and the Middle East, I cannot but feel inspired by the unity and courage that the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain etc. are showing. However, I worry for those that will end up sacrificing their lives in the name of a revolution. Why must revolutions always come at the cost of so many lives? No one will ever know.

I visited Yemen in 2009 and for lack of a better excuse, at the time I was “too busy” to blog or share my images from my experiences with the country and its hospitable people.

So here are some memorable moments from one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, a UNESCO site – Sana’a (pre-demonstrations).

Food for thought: Yemen has been battling water shortages for years. Experts say the capital, Sana’a, could run dry in 14 years. Check out http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6883051.ece

Curious Yemeni boys come out to welcome me as I explore the narrow streets of Sana'a photographed by Susan Wong

My Yemeni friends and their families were so hospitable!  During their lunch breaks they’d meet me somewhere in the city to show me around!  Here are some curious boys that greeted me while we explored.
A man waits to be seated inside a restaurant during the busiest times of the day at the market in Sana'a, Yemen photographed by Susan Wong

No one can turn down the fragrant smells of Yemeni spices during lunch time.  Here’s a man waiting to enter a crowded restaurant.
Yemeni wearing black robes, bourga’a and balto, while in pubic in Sana'a, Yemen photographed by Susan Wong

Most Yemeni women wear black cloaks and veils, better known as balto and bourga’a.  I met some expats (women) working in the country and they told me that it was imperative to wear one in order to gain trust from colleagues etc.

Skyline view of old Sana'a, Yemen photographed by Susan Wong

The distinct skyline of Old Sana’a which is a UNESCO site and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world!

Merchant selling dates in Sana'a.  Dates are an integral part of the livelihoods of the Yemeni.  Photographed by Susan Wong

Dates are loved by everyone!  You can even have your fortune read through date pits.  So don’t just trash them.

Yemeni sweets photographed by Susan Wong

Yemeni sweets fresh out of the fryer!  I swear everyone had a sweet tooth to the Nth degree!  Dentists in the country must make a lot of money!

Kebabs are essential to the diet of the Yemeni photographed by Susan Wong

All sorts of kebabs and the seafood was sooooo fresh from the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea!

Once a moat surrounding the Old City of Sana'a, it is now a modern highway that divides the old from the new photographed by Susan Wong

What use to be a moat protecting the Old City now is a crowded essential highway for commuters.

Saturday morning market in Sana'a, Yemen photographed by Susan Wong

Busy market day on the weekends.  Yes, this picture only features men.

Have a great week!

P.S. Remember the wise words of MLK: “Injustice anywhere, is a risk for injustice everywhere!”

Filed under: Life, Photography, Quotes, Thoughts, Travel, Yemen, , , , , , , , , ,

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