The Past

The Ultimate Life Lesson

Originally published on Medium.

Sh*tty Boyfriends: The Ultimate Life Lesson

It’s Tuesday noon, around 1.30 p.m, and I’m idling between tabs, giggling at a video of a monkey laughing at a party trick. Then, I stumbled upon this clip; The Ultimate Life Lesson. What an incredibly promising title, I immediately ignored the monkey, and rush into clicking the link.
Somehow the blue loading line under the tiny white box of link on my Safari moves so slow as if it teases my patience. Tap, tap, tap. I rest my chin on the palm of my left hand, while my fingers tapping the side of my cheek. What is it, I ask, as if the answer of my current lost-self hides in the link and it will save up years of my life trying to figure things out.

The clip is from a short web-series called Sh*tty Boyfriends. Sandra Oh played the smart-looking boss, sets in an all-white decorated, creative agency-like office. She begins the pep-talk like a wise old woman.
“I’m going to tell you the most liberating thing you’re ever going to hear in your life,” she held a momentarily pause, clasping both of her hands in front of her chest before dropping what seem to be the golden advice of life.
“No one is thinking of you,” the shot now shifts towards this twenty-something girl with pouting mouth, “which should be a relief, because it’s your life. Do whatever the fuck you want. Stop thinking and enjoy the moment, have real reactions to things!”

This isn’t the first time I have heard such an advice but strangely, it still does have the pinch to it.
Of course doing whatever the fuck we want at this age doesn’t mean vandalising school property, skipping class, be a bum, or drink till our throat burns, well maybe that occasionally, but things that have bigger meaning for the long run. Things that we have been wanting to do but haven’t done, things we often dismiss over something else that seems more immediate because it seems like it.

It’s almost like, it’s never been just our lives, it’s the life of others, too. The society or those ‘external factors’ often holds greater power in controlling our lives, stops us from unleashing this inner power to be whoever we want to be — or according to Pressfield, finding out who we already are and become it. So, we follow the stream and let whatever that is burning inside our chests to die in the chaos of conformity, what is socially accepted conventions, until one day we all stop questioning.

To me, that’s one of the scariest, most dangerous places to be. I don’t care, be elsewhere. Swim through against the current, be like salmon.

Often, those external factors affect the single most important variable in the equation, that is ourselves. The weight of “no one is thinking of you” is rather contradictory because at the end of the day, we live in the society where the currency of success, of worth, is through others; when we are noticed, which means someone is thinking about us. And then, we look at ourselves less than we are.

But other than that, perhaps along the line of wanting to prove ourselves, maybe others, too, we hurry ourselves into life, to be the hero of our generation, of our society. There has been an article shared all around social media recently, Stop Rushing Life. And I am surprised seeing how viral it went. Mostly shared, retweet-ed by most of my friends who are around the age of 20s.

Perhaps at this prime age, we’re all trying so hard to get everything right all at once. At life, at career, at relationship. We’re too eager on achieving something big as soon as possible, and forget maybe it’s not about getting it right at the first try. It’s not about pleasing everyone else but you. Because nothing good will come out of it. That way, we’ll never be enough to others, to ourselves. Maybe we can do whatever the fuck we want, and be great in time.

It goes without saying that this ultimate life lesson acts as a force, that tiny little push for us to do what we have always been wanting to do and stop slouching. Stop being the puppet of consumerism, capitalism, the external factor, whatever that is that holds you back from being all the pretty things you could ever be.

So, promise me that you will always stay curious. Be bigger than your fears.


This is the time to be like the salmon.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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2015: Favourite Ones



Marking the last week of 2015, I compiled "All of the Year" from the past entries and discoveries in the last 365 days. Hope these will make a good use in your life as I've heard great things are meant to be shared, so:


Top 5 Lessons From 2015






Favourite Track of the Year:


by Gleemers

Favourite Book of the Year:


(originally published in 2014)
by Marina Keegan

Favourite Album of the Year:


(originally released in 2014)
by From Indian Lakes
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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You're My Cup of Tea: A Collection of 2015

Charminster Road

Holdenhurst Road

Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth University

Victoria Train Station

District Line

Boscombe Beach

Smokin' Aces 

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Stay in Neverland

One yellow afternoon, Eddy popped by to the coffee shop where I freelance. He was wearing the wood-brown parka, even though it was thirty degree in Jakarta, and faded blue jeans. From the glass door, I could see his eyes were tired. I knew something was going on–

That was the kind of face when someone broke his heart. I knew because I was once did it to him. Eddy, the tallest boy in the class, happen to be my former lover, which now we often joke about as if it was all a failed tragic comedy but we managed to maintain a healthy, decent friendship afterwards.

Unlike everybody else, when in stress, Eddy became extremely talkative. Once he sat down and ordered a sugarless coffee, he quickly apologies he needed to finish an interview his boss assigned him, deadline tomorrow. I nodded, watching him scribbling list of questions on a wrinkled blank paper.

I waited after a mindless chit chat of my recent trip to Gili island, until he broke off the news: he just ran into the girl who recently just broke his heart. His eyes stared elsewhere but my eyes, trying to cover his pouting mouth by lighting a cigarette, but it was a non-smoking area so he hesitated.

The story was, he accidentally ran into her in campus for the first time after his fruitless confession weeks ago. The butterfly was still very much there, he said. Later that day, the girl's best friend gave him a pep talk, suggesting after all, he still might have a chance of winning her again. You know, someday, when she's sure and ready, which in other words it's only a bouquet of false hope and bull crap.

But poor Eddy, he did not seem to have a clue, or even if he had, he was too smitten to acknowledge. So, being what I thought the bigger, older, wiser person in the situation I stopped him in the middle of his sentence.

'Eddy,' I looked straight into his eyes, 'grow up.'

For a second, finally his eyes stared back at mine. His mouth curled and did not say a word.

I blabbered about the cold hard, what I assumed, truth. Things he might not need to hear yet.  I exactly became the person who broke my innocence. I was not saving him, I, for the second time, burn the remaining good part of his heart. And as much as life has to happen, he didn't deserve this now, or from me.

Indirectly, I just told him to fall in love with all the precaution and safety net. To never fall in love in the best kind of way, where it meant to be a giant leap of faith and free falling. Foolishly, like every young love should have.

The night ended alright. An hour later, we spoke about something else, like the upcoming theatre in town, anything else but the girl. Although, days later, when I come to think of it, I thought of taking my words back, aided with an apology. And said:

Don't. Don't grow up. Stay there for as long as you can. Because there is nothing more innocent and kind than loving someone so ridiculously blind, full of hope. Do not let life happened and take that away from you, like it did to mine. 

I was just recently reminded: growing up isn’t the problem, said the Little Prince, forgetting is.



A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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It's So Nice to be Alive at the Same Time as You

You know how sometimes people wonder about living in some other centuries or decades, and I could not help but think I wouldn't want to live in other period of time, or any other parallel universe. Because what if, what if there is no you, or our paths don’t cross like it is now — out of the chances attending the same high school or college, or being at the same music festival out of so many other events, places to go, and bands to see. Or you would be in different form of you, be better or worse than you are right now — charmingly funny, sometimes quiet and moody, so mysterious I want to shake the gold off your body. Because does it matter? I love you now, and I don’t wish for another version of you, even though maybe I would still love the other kind of you anyway.


Inspired by this.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Ever Present

“Depression actually happens to people as often as they get headaches,” said Aysha without taking her eyes off the road. We barely moved less than one feet for the past five minutes due to the road work ahead, narrowing the three lanes to one. “It isn’t something that is so rare. People just create this negative connotation to it.” Behind her cat eye-shaped glasses, I know she was trying her best to accommodate my outburst about depression, or whatever this is, that seemed arbitrary. I slouched on the passenger seat, fitting my tiny self underneath the seatbelt, trying to get into a fetus-like position, ready to crumble.
It has been weeks since my return to the homeland where the sun hangs right above your head and the people don't always say please and thank you. I spent most of my days writing, or trying to write, which often begins with the act of typing, typing and a little of deleting, then more of typing and then even more of deleting, and swearing, then to nothing but incredible self-loathe. The farthest hope I can have at the end of the day is to only see the end of the sentence, because even wanting to see the end of a paragraph seems too ambitious.
I did take some time off from the busy Capital by going on a trip to a small island in the northwest coast of Lombok named Gili. Having in mind that this would be the fresh air, I only came to find myself standing in front of the Wondrous Sea, watching it unravelled before me, so vast and hypnotising, and felt the void was still ever present. That was the night I lost for words– even though, it's actually pretty obvious my refusal of reality. My dirty MacBook and black-leathered watch I bought in one of the independent stores in London still faithfully shows GMT+1.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Maggie and the Mice

It's the place in the corner of Cherry Street, Margaret said. I know it’s there on the map, but I cannot seem to get around it. The Mice listen, its fur shine in bright grey. Both of its eyebrows wrinkled, trying to figure out Margaret’s problem. She is twenty five, in her little red riding hood coat, her petite posture often made people mistaken her as a high school student while actually she works at the American embassy in Malaysia as communication officer. Her pale skin outcast her from the rest of the people, while most of Malaysian have darker olive skin, which she envy ever since she knew the (wrong) impression of beauty when she turned fifteen. Her parents are expats, she was born in Malaysia, but originally from the good ol’ England. But I think in my past life, I was French. She told the Mice once, and it nodded. Maggie, that's how most of her coworkers called her, but her boss, Alex called her with full name Margaret. She liked Margaret better, of course she doesn’t tell anybody else but the Mice about this. Alex is her boss, and his blue eyes should not get into her way, it’s not just his blue eyes though it’s the way he says please and thank you and the smile that comes afterwards, she told Rebecca, but she rolled her eyes. Rebecca is her best friend, the one who booked her in advance to be her bride’s maid even though Becca is still single and her hobby is go on dates different dates, mind you, every weekend. Yes, Maggie has friends, too, just as every one else and the joggers around the park anybody would find on a Sunday morning. Although, she thought none of them is normal because who would give up three hours of sleeping for a run? In her case, she’s different. She is trying to find something, to get her head around.

So how do I get to the Centre? She asked the Mice again. The Mice was holding a leftover apple from the bin, as good as pizza, or gin and tonic for Maggie, while thinking. Mice? It dropped the apple and raised its shoulder, Maggie and the Mice have no clue. I could probably go from there, she pointed the map. Do you think I should ask someone? The Mice nodded again. There was a lady in her late forties in her Nike running shoes and Adidas tight trousers walked by, excuse me, said Maggie and the lady stopped while mildly jogged without any intention to linger in the conversation longer, have you ever seen this part of the park? If yes, do you know how to get there? With a quiet panting breath, the lady shook her head and jogged away. Maybe she’s new, maybe she’s in a hurry or a tight schedule, she’s not rude, Mice. But it’s Sunday morning, no one should be in a rush on a Sunday morning. But you are, said the Mice. Yes, because I have been trying to find the centre of the park for over one month! Maggie raised her voice, and quickly apologies to the Mice, she hates being aggressive. The Mice said, it’s okay, people have done worse things. Maggie’s attention is back on the map, and she had a thought of giving up. But Mice could see the hint of her hesitation, and stopped her before it becomes a settled idea. Margaret? She looked up. Alex, her boss, suddenly showed up in front of her, instead in his shining armour, he was wearing his plain dark blue, the colour of the deepest ocean, t-shirt and basketball jersey knee-length short. What are the odds? He smiled. Some, she said and giggled. What are you doing? She immediately explain and said she’s trying to find Cherry Street. Alex squinting his eyes as if the bright sun piercing through his eyes. Maggie on the other hand feeling hopeful, maybe this could be the end of her search to get around her head, but sooner than sunrise, Alex said he doesn’t know. Maggie smiled, hoping in return maybe he could stay for a little while, with the Mice, but then Alex broke her thoughts. Do you know how many thoughts a human can have in one second? Perhaps up to thousands! I have to go, I got a date today! He said excitedly, I’ll see you tomorrow at work. She smiled, it was a bitter smile, but nobody could tell because she was good on making up smiles, and she’s afraid of that, afraid of herself.

She sat down again, the bench feels wet from morning dew. Tomorrow, said the Mice, let’s try again tomorrow. Maggie now nods, and close up her map.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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A View from the Library

'Oh boy.' I said under my breath as I immediately put down the book I am reading, A View from the Bed. The book is a collection of essays and articles by Jenny Diski. It begins with the story when she finds a frog staring at her in silence in the corner of her room when she is on her bed. Then, she starts to imagine that it could be his prince and all she needs to do to have her happily ever after is to kiss the frog.

The book is now upside down, it spreads on the last page I read while my eyes are fixated on the view I found outside the library window from the second floor. That's him, the guy who I would never understand yet dreading my pulse like crazy. The very concept of every could have been. The one who I thought would be easy because no label, no drama, right? No, it is not. Here I am, losing my mind.

For a second I tried to look away, the clock that hangs up on the grass-green wall shows ten to four PM on a Thursday. Maybe it's his day off, I thought. He works at a fancy Asian restaurant up the hill as bar supervisor. I remember the day he got the job, when my phone bleep brightly, "It's great. I love it here." As if I could see his eyes gleam and his finger danced as he typed. But that was one year ago. And I haven't seen him ever since, and I am leaving this town for good in twenty four hours.

I have the option of two: continue reading, which I tried and lasted less than two seconds because I read the same goddamn word for sixth times, and landed myself on the second option that is to look outside again.

He is getting closer to walk past the library in his black leathered boots and washed out jeans. His red checkered shirt looked very familiar as I remember one Sunday afternoon we went to Topshop he bought that with me. His hair looked darker under the English sunlight, and his beard was an inch thinner than the last time I saw him at the my favourite bar two months ago.

My feet are restless and before I know it, he starts to fade, disappearing from my sight like when the sun rests behind the horizon, slowly as he made his turn to the right, then vanished behind the old-Victorian building. This might be the last time I see him in years.  And my mind starts drifting away.



'I'd love to stop romanticising you,' My words were crisp unlike the sound of the rain hitting the window pane, I could see through the gap between the curtain. Other than that, the room was dark. Not pitch dark, but gloomy dark. He leaned back on the brown velvet couch, holding a glass of whisky as he rested his arm on the side.
'You're not going to.' he said immediately and sounded very certain. But his eyes fixed at the blank TV screen in front of the lined up vintage film posters taped on the wall.
'You sounded like my subconscious.'
He neither denied or confirmed. 'Look, I'd like to live up to your daydream and idolisation, but I can't.'
'Why?'
'It's just too much.' He still looked away, while his other hand shook up the ice inside his whisky as if it needed another stir. 'We're not even in love.'
I held tighter the neck of her wine glass and swirl it around in motion. Almost mimicking him, involuntarily while my eyes now were no longer at him, but on the floor.
'We just found comfort in each other's presence.' He continued.
'But that's it.' Her voice suddenly raised a tone higher, 'it could be love. We could fall in love if we want to! That might be the reason why we keep coming back to each other!'
'See, you're doing it again.'
'What?'
'Romanticising things.' He then finally looked at me with the gaze that looked like a soft plea. 'I'm an asshole.'
'Yes. But that's because you're running away on the first sign of danger. You can still turn around,'
'To be perfectly honest, Fiya.' I heard my name from his lips and I felt a mild shiver, as if a lightning had struck my sun-kissed skin. 'I don't think you would want me as much once you have me — you like the idea of me. Me, in your head isn't real.'
I went silent. As much as I wanted to argue it was not a matter of possession, have or not have, but I could not found words to argue. 
'Look, I promise you, life goes on whether you like it or not. Once you leave this town, you'll find someone less than an asshole like me, I'll probably find someone who doesn't just like the idea of me.'
'Again, you sounded like my subconscious.'
'Maybe I am.'
I gave up, and threw herself back towards the couch, and stared at the ceiling.
He downed the remaining whisky in his glass and put it back on the coffee table in front of him followed with the sound of tap as if it marked the end of our conversation.
'Damn you. I could've loved you, you know.' I said followed with a soft sigh.
He showed the faintest sign of smile about to cross his cheek, 'Oh, I know.' He sighed, too. 'I could've loved you, too.'


The ending of the first chapter of the book, Diski decides that she does not want fairy tale, her happily ever after does not come from the prince, or the frog. And that's exactly what happen, I close the book and take out my lousy black notebook out of my canvas bag and wrote this.


  
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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All You Need is Love


Liverpool
 (From top to bottom: Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool Cathedral, Albert Docks and The Beatles Story)

Cardiff
(From top to bottom: Roald Dahl Plass, Wales Millennium Cenre, Cardiff Central Train Station, Doctor Who Experience)
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Things We Forget: Class of 2015

If I could get a penny for every picture of my friends' holding shiny gold and silver letter-shaped balloons of the abbreviation of their degrees, which now belong at the end of their names, uploaded in social media, I would be able to buy return tickets to Iceland by now. Those photographs marked the end of another chapter in their lives where everyone celebrates the joyous occasion after the struggle of long hours of studying and all nighters, as well as the culmination of cheap instant food and countless cups of caffeine to get the blood pumping in order to write that fifty-double spaced pages of thesis they love to hate. And now what?

Good question. For the lucky ones, who have got their future sorted out and happy about it, congratulations. For those who are still confused as a headless chicken, I would like to say you are not alone. The great thing about trying to figure it out is to see things in a bigger picture. Some of us are stuck with the idealism of having the right job just as we are looking for a life partner to spend the rest of our lives with. And it's okay. One thing I realised, as obvious as it sounds, the older I get, the more I am aware that I am not getting any younger. None of us are. Not our parents, grandparents, and friends. And at the end of the day, we all are on a ride that only goes to one direction: death. I'm sorry to break this blatant, and arguably ugly and horrifying, truth to you but just in case you forget, the only certain thing in life is that we all are going to die.

Therefore, the more I would like to make sure that none of us is going to spend another second of our times doing what we don't like or being pressured into doing what others deem to be right. If you are not sure yet of what you like, I suggest you to keep looking. Most of the times, you would find yourself finding the things that you don't like before getting to the best part of finding out things you actually cherish. So, I would like to say once again, it's okay. Knowing what you don't like is as good and essential as finding things that you like. Cross that off your list and carry on.

Since the phone call I had with my parents twenty hours flight away two months ago, which followed with an inevitable act of intense crying and sobbing – I was not sure whether it was tears of longing to be held close by them or the desperately confused part of me approaching the future, I have never been more determined in my life to spend every single day making sure I know what I want to do and what I don't like. What I realised soon after is that I tend to daydream that figuring it out is an over-night act. But it isn't, and if I could, I would like to be reminded everyday that it takes hard work and it surely does not happen over night.

Here is a clip of my favourite musician, Dallas Green, explaining it best, not in a condesending but motivational way, as he shared his experience when no one was listening to what he wanted to do in life. With blurred background of green landscape and under his suede caramel-coloured hat, he said, "I realised I had to work harder than I could ever worked at something in my life, to make it happen. And it was then, that things started working for me, when I started working for it."


In addition to that, I also read an interesting review of the book I am currently reading called "The Opposite of Loneliness". The book itself is a collection of honest essays and short stories written by twenty-two year old girl named Marina Keegan who sadly passed away five days after her graduation day from Yale University. Nevertheless, I truly believe that her lively and witty spirit lives forever in her great works. In the review I found one paragraph I am eagerly to share to my fellow twenty somethings year old friends out there. And here it goes:

"In the book, Marina mentions a few times that she wants to be a writer. But from what I can tell she already was one. It made me think that perhaps we are already what we want to be, but that in the real, non-university world of 9 to 5 and money and responsibility, we find ourselves forgetting. Re-reading The Opposite of Loneliness will be how I remember, I think."  Lydia Tewkesbury 

I could not agree more that Marina was a great writer. Her voice, or writing, was so smart, subtle yet endearing, almost to the point of it wakes up your secret thoughts that most of the time you won't likely to admit. What is more, what Lydia wrote in the review nudged me as I heard a soft whispers at the back of my head: It made me think that perhaps we are already what we want to be, but in the real... world of 9 to 5... we find ourselves forgetting.

The next chapter of our lives will involve higher, greater responsibilities and demands. I genuinely hope it does not matter whether you are lost or you already have promising jobs lined up, you would still remember this: don't let the 9 to 5 routine buries your aspiration. Because maybe without you realising it, or the world validates it, you already are what you want to be.

This concludes the congratulatory post for the class of 2015. You made it this far. Now go write your future as if it were written in the stars.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Great Scott


Great Scott! refers to an expression of disbelief or a pleasant surprise and popularised by Doc Brown from Back to the Future, according to Urban Dictionary. Which I believe, expresses my trip to two biggest cities in Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh (finally after four years living in Britain).


My eyes were half opened when my friends and I dropped our backpacks at the hostel across Glasgow's quiet river at the heart of the city. The weather was quite pleasant the sun shyly made its appearance behind the cloud, occasionally stepped out but every passing wind cast brief shiver, made me think my decision to wear only one layer checkered-print jacket was a little too optimistic for summer in Scotland.
The idea of white sheet-wrapped mattress sounded like a pot of gold then, but the check-in schedule was not due until three more hours. Hungry and exhausted from the early flight from London, we left only with the option to wander around the city, but less than fifty steps away, we found Wetherspoon pub and delighted eith the idea having a quick stop for cheap English breakfast.
The building reminded me of the Great Gatsby era where dozens of grand crystal chandeliers hung high at the wooden ceiling. At the back of the room, there was a presumably no longer used, iron-fenced elevator as I walked towards the bar, that was slightly too high for my height, where a dark haired man with beard and tattoos across his arms ready to serve.
"Can I have an English breakfast, please?" He smiled, and began his sentence with I'm afraid. Even though I had only been craving a set of English breakfast since I walked in, but my tired-self was too grumpy and unprepared for a bad news. "We don't have English breakfast herrre," His accent was Scottish-thick, with slight emphasise on the letter 'r'.
"What do you have then?"
"We do have Scottish breakfast," He handed me over the paper-printed menu with the picture of a plate of toast, beans, bacon, and some other additional on the side. "Basically, instead of fried sausage we have black pudding and flat sausage."
I forgot as I giggled to myself. It felt as if I called someone in front of their face with the wrong name, I'm in Scotland, I thought. Of course, it has to be Scottish! Although to me, those two were basically the same. Relieved and slightly embarrassed for forgetting England and Scotland are two different, well, countries. I apologised and settled with what he recommended.

***

I, myself, am a big fan of museums and art galleries, which is why I would like to recommend you two cultural spots you should visit: Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum and Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel. There was one room in the Riverside museum transformed into a 1920s-themed highstreet. If you walk around, it feels as though you have just time-traveled to the iconic era where carriage and dark horses were cars and it was just less than $1 to go to Canada from New York. As for the Kelvingrove Gallery and Museums, my favourite part was the great big hall with sculpture of heads of historical figures hangs high at the glass-ceiling above the stairs.
We then headed somewhere East to the Cathedral Street. Originally we intended to go to the Cathedral, which stood gracefully around historical buildings made out of grey brick stones, but I found another place that I incredibly infatuated with: Necropolis behind Glasgow's medieval Cathedral. Unfortunately the access gate was closed by the time we got there, thus I only got to admire from afar. With this, bear in mind most of museums and art galleries, even cathedral, close at 5 P.M, and often their last entry is at 4.30 P.M.

Edinburgh, on the other hand, won me at the first glance. The Victorian-like buildings and evergreen garden at the heart of the city were the firsts places in sight before our coach alight at full stop. Our first destination was Edinburgh Castle. The entrance fee was quite pricey but I must say it was worth it to see the history at the top of the hill. Besides, there would be a free half an hour guide tour at certain times scheduled on the day, which could save you few pounds from getting the audio tour (although it was only around £3/£4 for students), where a twenty-five years old ginger Scottish man with the bluest eyes and cutest accent told you the stories about the Stone of Destiny that was stolen from Westminster Abbey by four Scottish law students in 1950, and more of their version of the chamber of secrets within the castle. The tour was almost like a collective waltz through the Kings and Queens of lavish lives  and the pauper, too.
Make sure you go to Calton Hill as well. You can see Edinburgh in a bigger picture from the top of the hill. It is best when the weather is pretty as the sun is out to play, you can lay on the grass for hours and let the sunlight immerse in your skin and you, too, in the utmost peaceful experience Scotland has to offer.



 

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Dua Tahun

Dua hari yang lalu tepat dua tahun terakhir kali aku pulang ke Indonesia. Dua tahun. Aku tidak lagi tahu apakah dua tahun itu waktu yang lama atau biasa saja. Dua tahun aku tidak bisa membiarkan diriku untuk merasakan kangen yang berlebihan. Kangen sih kangen, tapi harus secukupnya. Jika tidak, aku akan jatuh, seperti vas bunga kristal milik nenek ku yang pernah tidak sengaja aku senggol dan jatuh ke lantai, pecah berkeping-keping.
Sebenarnya, aku bisa pulang sekarang, atau besok, atau dua bulan lagi. Masalahnya, ketika pilihan terbuka lebar, aku semakin bingung. Tidak ada yang alasan yang mendesak dari kedua sisi. Aku disini, dan aku disana. Terkadang aku berharap kalau ayah atau ibu ku tiba-tiba bilang kamu harus pulang. Namun, aku tahu, aku tidak sepenuhnya ingin kembali. Aku pergi dengan alasan, aku tidak pergi karena aku bisa. Aku menginginkan ini. Aku bermimpi akan ini. Tapi, hangatnya matahari dan bahasa ibu selalu mengusik lirih, dan terkadang rasanya bisikan itu mengikis perih.
Aku juga masih bisa tinggal. Kadang aku juga berharap dia memanggil nama ku dan memintaku untuk tinggal. Karena perbedaan waktu dan dua puluh jam penerbangan itu bukan pilihan untuk hubungan kita. Tapi hubungan kita terlalu sederhana, tidak terikat. Dia membebaskan aku untuk memilih. Aku bilang ini masalah visa. Namun, ada perasaan menggelitik di belakang kepalaku, kalau aku menggunakan itu hanya sebagai alasan. Mungkin, aku memang mau pulang. Adikku sudah terlalu lama ditinggal kakak perempuannya.
Ah, aku bingung.
Tuhan, aku benar-benar bingung.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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The Crooked Bookshop: Part I

You told me to come by tomorrow before noon, find a copy of George Orwell’s 1984, on the top shelf of the crooked bookshop. It’s my favourite, you said. Your tomorrow is today, and it is a pleasant day, I say. The sun hangs high in the sky, although it is a bit too windy for summer but perfect to read a book. I listened to you and decided to come round. I tried to look on the top shelf. The white paint looked worn out, as if too many hands were trying to reach the top. I cannot find the book, but a moment later, I found you entering the shop. I smiled. You have a bright smile, I noticed. You greeted the man on the counter, telling him what a nice day it was. You must have seen me, but you did not say anything. You sat on the table next to the window, the one with the red chair and cushion. The sun melt on your skin, and on your bronze-lit hair.
I approached you slowly, 'Hi, Tom.' I do not know why my voice sounded shaky.
'Hey.' You replied, it is polite but it sounds too light. Like, you have never seen me before.
'I couldn't find the book.' I said. You looked confused as you left a little pause before answered, 'What book?' It was just yesterday when you told me about the book I should definitely read, on the top shelf, I remember it clearly, '1984.'
'Oh it's my,' I interrupted and said at the same time, 'Favourite.'
We are both standing in silence. You looked at me as if I was a psychic.
'Yes!' You said enthusiastically, but you forgot about me. Not a slightest hint in your face show any recall of me, or anything you said. I wonder, but how could I remember you clearly. Everything about you – your face, your small lips hiding behind your well-shaved beard. The colour of your eyes, lightest shade of caramel-brown. Even your voice, you know when in books they usually describe soothing-like, mysterious kind of voice as husky, I couldn't really put my fingers on until I heard yours. I could listen to it on repeat.
The guy on the counter suddenly interrupted us, 'Is this the book you're looking for?' He flagged up 1984 by George Orwell book on his hand. I nodded. So, I left you alone in your seat, while I can still feel your eyes on me when I walked away,
He has a beach-blonde hair and thinner beard than yours, but just about enough to give him the look of masculinity in his tall posture. He then leaned forward towards me, and said in a low voice, 'He has a funny memory disorder.' Referring it to you. I was shocked, but then listened intently to what he got to say.
He told me, you have a suffered a rare memory syndrome from a car accident happened a year ago. There was a romantic movie about it where a guy had to go through 50 first dates with a girl with this kind of disorder, apparently it was not entirely fictional. You could not remember anything the next day after you fall asleep at night. Traumatic brain injury, he said.
I stared in blankness, well, at you, too. I glanced at you and thought how normal everything looked. The guy on the counter broke the silence, as if he could read my mind.
'You have a funny memory disorder, too.' He said it so casually, I almost forget to react. It is not a shock. I wonder. He carried on explaining. In my case, the disease is more unpredictable, the length of my memory can vary. Three days, two weeks. Three months, the longest. He said I was in a car crash twelve months ago, with you, on our way to Seattle. Apparently, you were someone I held dear. I did not remember. Neither the car crash nor our relationship. But it explained the tingling feeling when I see you, both today and yesterday, and why I remembered you clearly. Everybody has different last memory, and mine is you. The last memory I could remember was when the first time I met you, at the bookshop – but not this one. This crooked bookshop was not a bookshop; it was a rehabilitation centre for those who have funny brain disease, like us. The guy behind the counter is Matt Bowen, staff who works in the rehabilitation. I looked around. The world I thought I know seem so distant and strange now.

---
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Je Ne Parle pas Francais

After a long four hours of cramped flight with low-fare airline, Iqbal, Fino and I landed in Marrakech. We arrived midday, and we could hear our stomach growling. Thus after dropping off our luggages at the hotel, or what they called Riyadh, we headed to Jema El-Fna that was two minutes away. Jema El-Fna was the main square of Marrakech where street performers with snakes and flute, fruit stalls, and Moroccan house music CDs stalls were next to one another.
We then settled for a small restaurant by the busy street with grilling hot, saucy meat displayed on the window. Intrigued, or more like hungry and impatient, we looked on the menu and none of the names were in English. Poulet, frittes.
A man, big muscly with tanned skin, who stood nearby holding a pen and small notepad explained briefly before walked off to serve another customer at the terrace. We nodded satisfactorily, having a hint of what it meant. But as we reached the counter to order, the other waitresses responded in French. I probably pronounced the menu wrong, or they wanted to ask whether or not I wanted additional sides, but I had no clue and ended up pointing at the menu and raised my index finger, indicating one portion I wanted. That was the first time in a long while I experienced a language barrier.
Living in England had spoiled me by forgetting the complexity of languages. Foreign language, to be precise. We, human, live in the same world yet we speak different language when we are trying to convey the same meaning of word. It's crazy and beautiful at the same time.
The restaurant encounter was only the beginning. Our camel guide, an old man with the whitest teeth, could not speak proper English. He didn't give up though, his free spirit reflected through when he carried on explaining enthusiastically in French the palm trees and five star hotel around the faux-dessert we were in. I picked up few basic words, like hotel, tres bien. Nearing the end of one and a half hour tour, he said the only complete English sentence I ever heard from him, don't forget the tip for the guide, ended with an ear-to-ear smile across his face. I chuckled. We did end up giving him a good amount of tip just because he was so kind and friendly in the strangest way it could have been with language barrier between us.



On the second day in our three-bed Moroccan hotel room, after mounted frustration pressing the remote control endlessly looking for an English-speaking channel, which after the 100th time pressing the button I found one but it was a white man who talks about bible in the strangest sense I couldn't fathom next to dozen of other channels preaching about something in Arabic, I decided to google French 101. There, in less than half an hour, I learned to say "Je ne parle pas Francais. Anglais?" fluently with the weirdest French accent I could pull as a lifejacket for the next language challenge. So, technically I mastered one sentence in French, for saying that I cannot speak French. Well, of course that, after ca va bien merci et toi and tres bien.
The following day, I understood from the friendliest hotel staff I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I also double checked with other tour guides we had, in Morocco their first two languages are Berber and Arabic, while their second or international language is French, then English. For some people, Spanish could go before English as geographically speaking, the country located in the northern part of Africa, right underneath Spain therefore more Spanish tourists come and visit.

Not that our trip was just a series of decoding foreign language, the culture and nature also fascinate me. The beauty lies in small things that might not seem so pretty but interesting. Like, crossing the main street that looked like an ocean of motorcycles and four-wheeled cars without warning signs. All you needed was confidence and the rests of the vehicles would follow your pace. Don't run or speed up your steps, just walk normally but with confidence. Every time I crossed the street, it got my heart racing.
The food, good God, all the unhealthy, greasy, full-fat ingredients were the best part of them all - Lamb Tajine with potatoes was my favourite. We had the chance to dine with the best kind of view of Ourika waterfall two hours away from Marrakech. It was one of the best lunches I have ever had. And next to the riverbed of Atlas Mountains, where all of us climbed all the way to the top of the rocky valley with a breath-taking view. This, to bear in mind, we weren't wearing proper clothing for climbing - I was using weary pair of faded-red converse I bought five years ago, and a hand bag. Nevertheless, we made it! We also had lunch next to the Essaouria beach, gorgeous city I must say. It looked like mini-greece, where wooden-window painted in blue and the walls were all cloud-white. If you walked further deep into the small alleys, it would led you to the traditional market. Last but not least, Marrakech wasn't less pretty than any other cities with its natural features, the salmon-pink colour that dominated the whole buildings in the city added the authenticity of local culture. It could get frustrating at some point, because almost every single of the corner was in salmon-pink, I swear.
Boy, not in a million years I would have thought of visiting Africa, but it was an utmost pleasure and privilege as the trip consisted of little triumphs: learning French, climbing a valley, met one of the kindest strangers, which I was eternally grateful for.









A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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The One With the Bike

They said that every writer has to get in touch with their darkest, and also happiest, part of them in order to produce a good writing. I found more fears in me than I anticipated, this time it's ample and louder, which I couldn't tell whether it was a good thing or the opposite. My right arm is hurting at the moment, because I tried to cycle with Marta's bike from my house to university despite the strange fear whispering at the back of my head that something would go wrong. I know, cycling. Simple thing, but I never realised how scared I was cycling in England, even though I have lived here for almost four years. The idea of the street was still strange and unfamiliar that I thought, this wasn't where I grew up, what about the cars, the pedal, the break, the saddle is too high. The first half of the way, I was alright until I got to the road, where I did not realise that it was downhill, and I tried to pull the break, too soon or too hard, I fell off the bike. It was a great fall, to be honest. I flew off the bike, landed knees first and then my arms. I could feel the mild burnt, still now, as soon as I got up. Luckily, my face did not hit the ground. There was a guy that saw me at the end of the road and asked whether or not I was okay, and all I could say with the rudest tone of voice, I'm fine, out of embarrassement and shock. Then he left. You see, all of the above are the result of me, trying to overcome that whispers, which eventually happened regardless. Although, I'd like to think that's not the point -- the point was I rode that bike; the point was I did go and try. For a good half, I was alright, it was just unfortunate that the voices were louder than my faith, or luck for that matter, that eventually I fell anyway.



A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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You Had Me at What's Your Name

When Spring comes, I like keep the curtain off on my bedroom window so I would wake up to the warm sunlight as the position of my bed and window are perfectly aligned for the sun to fall right on my pillow, my cheek.
As the sun sets later than winter time, the day feels longer. Marta and I would always try to find sometime on the weekend to go out for a drink. Yesterday, we decided to go to the pub in town that we had not been for a while.
After we bought ourselves a drink, we stood by the DJ booth and dance a little. She then tapped me on my shoulder and said, she might have recognised the guys that stood next to the bar from somewhere. I told her no, I have never seen those bunch.
While explaining, my eyes caught a glimpse of one of the guys in the group. He was the tallest one with muddy-blonde hair. His skin was beach-tanned as if he spends most of his times by the sea, just as the black surf-themed t-shit suit him well.
But I began to wonder, he looked like he must have had something more than just a beer. And suddenly, our eyes met as if he heard me. I immediately looked elsewhere, hiding behind my drink.

Perhaps, it was because the room was small, I was running out of corner to see as after a while, I always found myself turning to his direction. And for the second time, our eyes met.
This happened four times, even though I tried to look away I always found his eyes on me. In time, he smiled and approached me slowly, and offered his hand. Not aggressively, but rather as a gentle and pleasant gesture.
I was unsure. I did not even know why I was unsure, I just thought I had too much thoughts that bothered me for the evening, thus I opted a safer option as I raised my glass to his with the sound of click, and said a silent cheers. He raised his shoulder, asking why.
He then leaned closer to the side of my ear, "What's your name?"
His voice was muddled with the loud music and I was slightly distracted how gorgeous he look close up.
I told him my name, and offered a formal handshake just for the hell of it. He said his name is Jack, before he asked me how to spell my name. I spelt it out twice, but I think he couldn't hear my voice in the loud song. But he did pick up my accent that definitely did not belong from this side of town.
When he asked where I am from, I did not tell him immediately. I'd like to test every stranger that I met, their geography knowledge and sometimes just to buy longer time to talk. He then suggested to go to the side of the room, next to the staircase that lead to the toilet upstairs, somewhere less loud so we could talked better. I said, alright.
Dodging the ball, he replied that I should guess where he's from. I said Bournemouth, but he shook his head. London? He chuckled, almost as if it sounded like an insult and reinstated that he's not from the country.
Interesting, I thought. Fellow foreigner. I took a wild guess and said Australia. And I was surprisingly right. I told him that I did not believe him and he was lying but then he took out his wallet and showed me his ID, that says on top with red heading, something South of Australia. He told me he's from a city between Adelaide and Melbourne.
I found it fascinating, both his thick Australian accent that I could now hear it clearly when he said those two cities and the strange feeling of, closeness, meeting someone from a country closer to where I'm from -- it made me feel closer to home.
He said he was on a sailing course. And he had been all around the world for the last five months and had not been home since then. He's staying in Bournemouth for the next two weeks, which he seemed very enthusiastic about how big the tidal here.


He began to question the colour of my eyes, I was wearing my blue contacts that night. I said it's fake, and went through the whole I usually wear glasses but. My real eyes are brown. He then said, I like brown eyes.
You see, I am terrible with compliments, thus I counter-argued it by saying well it's because you don't have brown eyes. Almost out of reflex, I leaned closer to see what's the colour of his eyes, and just as any coincidence he stood underneath the perfect lighting that cast enough brightness for me to get the best look into shades of his eyes. It was turquoise-green with a touch of brown. He had nice eyes.
And nose piercing, as well.
Damn it.
That was when it hit me again how scary and crazy instant attraction could be. We could have exchanged contact details but I did not know whether I've got too much on my plate at the moment or the fact that he's only here for another two weeks let me down because I know, if I'm going to let this happen, I'm going to want him to stay.
So, I said let's go back to the crowd. And I made myself disappear.

That night, I closed the curtain before I went to bed. 
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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The Day I Met Keaton

Do you know how fast the Tube travels? A close distant between Waterloo and Southwark station on Piccadilly line takes less than two minutes. I remember, I counted till eighty seven to distract myself from collapsing into tiny particles as if I was a skyscraper just got hit by a plane. In this case, the plane was Keaton.

I have admired Keaton Henson for quite some time, almost borderline obsessed. I couldn't remember how the first time I stumbled upon Keaton's Work but all I know one day somewhere in the infinite universe of World Wide Web, I found the music I would love to fall in love with. His songs had this remarkably raw and depressingly honest emotions locked in its lyrics and sound. Ultimately, I grow fond of the artist, too.


You would easily find him around me. I hang a black and white A4-sized poster of him above my mirror so I would not forget to write. I had one taped at the back of my folder case just in case I got stuck on writing. You would also find a picture of him on both home and lock screen of my iPhone when it brightens.





It was my favourite picture of him. Not just because there were not many picture of him smiling shyly behind the palm of his hand and cigarette hanging in between his fingers, but it was more to the mystery in the way his eyes looking away from the camera. It gave the sense of wonder of his eyes when he looks up.



Seconds before the Tube stopped at Waterloo, I caught a glimpse of rather empty station. I liked the idea knowing not many people would get on, so I would have the train all for myself. When the cream-coloured door opened, I was surprised when a man suddenly entered from the side of the platform.



He was cautiously minding the gap before his tall body stepped in and just as he looked up, his eyes met mine.

His eyes met mine.

His, mine.

That man was Keaton Henson and the world stopped for a second.

He had one of the saddest yet enticing pair of eyes I have ever seen.

He chose to stand on the right side of the door, two steps away from where I stood. Leaning on the yellow handlebar, with his tweeds grey coat made him look more mysterious than he ever was. He had his headphone on and his slightly hunched body suggested he was hiding from everybody else but himself.

Starstruck, I began to wonder what music he was listening to because if he ask mine, I would say his. Does he know that his song makes my head spin? He isn’t as tall as I thought he would be in person but boy, cross my heart, his beard is gorgeous. Should I say something? Hey, are you Keaton Henson? I just want to say your music is amazing. Does that sound too girly?

Just as I was busy constructing and editing the perfect script in my head, and secretly stealing glances at his reflection on the window in front of us, the train had approached my stop. Do it now, Fiya. Now. But I stood still, only my body slightly shook because of a minor jolt from the train tracks. Before I knew it, the door in front of me opened, and left me with the easiest option: to get off the Tube.

So I did and he was still on the train.

I had trouble breathing for the next ten minutes and processing the could have and should have been. But I also thought of my favourite picture of him, the one that he looked away and how I wonder if he looked up. Now, I did not have to wonder anymore.

I got off that Tube knowing the odds are telling me something.


I have to stay.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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