Roll Camera, Action, My Life!

Did the title pique your interest?  That’s what titles are for, right? Are you ready for some thrilling moments? Well, my story is not that of a celebrity. I am just an ordinary person who lived an extraordinary life.  I am Yasir Sulaiman….

Yasir Sulaiman

Take1:

My journey as a writer began in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). Except for two years, I did my entire schooling in that city as my father worked there. In fact, I started my life in Abu Dhabi at the age of 3 months (1984) though I was born in Palakkad of Kerala (India). As a family, we have origins in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala (states of India). There was almost nothing over there at that time and yet it was home to me. The roads were super-clean and there were no power-cuts (even at that time!) I lived in an air conditioned room (we couldn’t afford bigger apartments back then) and could order anything I wanted (ANYTHING) through a telephone call. We lived in a third-class apartment of an old building. But we had a large balcony from which I could directly see the Baynunah tower (Google it!).  It was (and still is) a union of three towers, structured around a cylindrical core with space for lifts and water tanks, and containing 25, 31 and 37 floors respectively. In the vicinity was the famous “Corniche” or beach-line of Abu Dhabi. Shah Rukh Khan had just debuted and I became his die-hard fan right from the age of 9. We didn’t have cable-television or internet connections (mobile phones were science-fiction) at that time.  Hence, I spent most of time creating imaginary characters through rough sketches or writing innocent poetry. I also began writing poetry; mainly for birthdays and on wishes my innocent mind had at that time. That was the birth of the writer in me.

By the time I was 12, MY FATHER DECIDED that I had to continue my studies in India. A home was built in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) and me as well my sister (four years younger to me) were sent t here to get admission.

Take2:

My maternal grandfather had just retired as a government servant and was looking for a place to settle down. He was from Pollachi in Tamil Nadu and my maternal grandmother from Palakkad in Kerala. By the way, my dad’s parents also were of mixed origins. They built the house together with their own money as well as some contribution from my father.  At that time, there were no roads in the vicinity, frequent power cuts, no shops nearby, and we had to walk nearly 2 kilometers to catch a bus. The school I got admitted on was and is still one of the premier schools in Coimbatore. Its owner was back then one of the richest people in the city. Though illegal yet openly practiced), they charged a hefty capitation fee. Despite all this hype, the school was a mess and the restrooms….readers of my blog will vomit! This was the place I was brought to from heavenly Abu Dhabi.  My only get-away from all this was the room allotted me for which my grandfather had installed a UPS (a generator of electricity) to escape the power cuts. Nevertheless, I made some good friends one of whom is still my friend until date. Ramesh is actually the only friend who stayed with me in the best and worst of my time. Also, I have to mention a fact her that most people who know me find it hard to believe. Because of my the manner I grew up until then, I was actually a shy person. I especially was shy of girls; couldn’t speak directly to them. Besides, I always had an inferiority complex.  Anyway, I was beginning to get used to my new way of life when I got called home from school one evening to receive shocking news; my grandfather had passed away while taking HIS mother to a hospital. Will cut the story short after that; everyone in the family was shocked and my grandmother was devastated. My parents came from Abu Dhabi and the whole household was in a state of remorse. I couldn’t stay like that. Hence, I started venturing out myself along with my new made friends. A few months passed like this. But there was tension in the air. Violent incidents were reported in Coimbatore.  Then then-home Minister L.K Advani had visited the city and extremist Muslim organizations triggered bombs in various spots. I was too young and had no idea of why was all this happening. In Abu Dhabi, Muslims like myself lived in total peace with people of different faiths and nationalities. Hey! Some of my classmates there were from Pakistan and we used to hang out together. Then why all these fights and hatred? I even asked the same questions in Coimbatore. I had a small circle of friends and the close friend named Ramesh I mentioned earlier in this blog is a Brahmin. We often ate out together, spent time in each other’s homes and were more like brothers. Ramesh, myself and others in our gang did not pay any attention to these incidents of violence. School was shut for a few days and we spent our days playing cricket in a locality that was 6 kilometers away from my home but close to that of Ramesh and the other guys. But I had no complaints; anything to get away from the wretched area in Coimbatore that I lived in. We played one such match in the attached graveyard of a mosque. This was located in an area named R.S Puram which is until now one of the trendiest spots of Coimbatore.  The match was going on smoothly. I was at the batting grease. One of my friends bowled and I swung my bat hitting the ball off to a boundary.  A guy who had joined us in the match went to pick up the ball. He crouched and….BOOM! A huge sound was heard and there was smoke all around. A bomb had exploded and until date I remember the sight I witnessed.  The guy who went to pick up the ball lay dead…with his head dislocated! The rest of the incidents were filled with commotion. There were attacks all around. The police stormed the area and started roughing up Muslims there mistaking them for terrorists. Ramesh silently led me out of the place and I stayed at his home for a week.  As my grandmother was alone, she too stayed in the house of a very close family friend who knew my mother since she was a kid; this person stands strong until today at an age of 85+. He is a Brahmin.

I am just skipping the events from here. Two months later, I turned 14. I acquired my TC from the school in Coimbatore and my father took me along with my sister back to Abu Dhabi.

Take3:

I decided to start life afresh in Abu Dhabi; wanted so much to forget the horrible tales of the past two years.  My new school was a small one that featured mostly Malayalee (people from state of Kerala) students. There were others too.  I didn’t take life seriously for some time. Well, I was just recovering and just wished to layback for a while. It had its cons too. The sudden change in lifestyle made me lazy. From the power-cuts, messed-up roads (if you can call them roads) and lack of other facilities in Coimbatore; I was suddenly in a City with NO POWERCUTS, perfectly clean roads and anything you wanted at unbelievably low prices!! I always had loved fast food; but had to sacrifice them in Coimbatore owing to the shockingly high prices (even back then!) and lack of any good place close to my locality. Abu Dhabi was (and is) totally different. My new home was a flat with central-air conditioning and was located in the middle of the city.  Besides, there were two other things about Abu Dhabi that I adored. The city was so clean that you had practically lick the roads. There were garbage bins every 10 meters and municipality workers cleaned every part of the place (the outskirts) four times a day! Also, no loud horns or any kind of noise pollution were over there. Schools and colleges were kept distant from residential areas. After 10 pm (right now 12 pm I guess), silence was supposed to be maintained. Or else, you could be fined or even jailed.

Everything was here. I started devouring fast food such as burgers, pizzas and aerated drinks in the likes of Pepsi. Obviously I started putting on a lot of weight.

But things were about to change.  Incidentally, I became popular in this school as well. But I also have to mention that timings in the school were different for boys and girls. Hence we were a co-educational school but never met each other. This was the era of MSN messenger; remember those days? Somehow we received email addresses of our female counterparts in the school and started chatting with them. I soon found my first love.  Let me make this clear. I had several experiences “puppy love” much earlier in life. In fact, I thought I found the girl of my dreams right at the age of 10!

As I mentioned earlier, I had (my tastes kept changing after college) been a dire-hard fan of actor Shah Rukh Khan. Hence my whole life as well as mannerisms revolved around the characters in his movies. The first puppy love I mentioned in the earlier paragraph? I actually sang “Jadoo Teri Nazar” (Your eyes are magical) from the movie “Darr” to her! ☺. Things were beginning to change. I became very good friends with a girl in my school through chatting on MSN messenger. The irony and perhaps the reason why she liked me as a friend was because we never met those days;-. I do not wish to mention her name here as things turned sour between us later in life. So let us just call her “S”.

However, I do credit her for bringing about a big transformation in life.  Things were getting brighter in my life now. This girl along with several others in our school as well as a few in other schools became fans of my poetry. Can you guess who one of them was? Have you heard of billionaire Yoosuf Ali of EMKE group?  His daughters studied in the same school and the elder one Shafeena Yoosuf Ali was one of the friends I made with the impact of my poetry.  Some of them even wanted to meet me directly. Yet I felt uncomfortable as I indicated earlier; I was extremely shy of the opposite gender.

The first girl I spoke about then encouraged me to change myself. The first I had to do according to her was to lose weight. In her words; ‘Didn’t I want to look more like the Shah Rukh Khan I adored?’ Those words were enough to set my wings on fire. This was close to the end of public examinations for the 10th standard. By the way, I studied in a CBSE affiliated school in Abu Dhabi. Once the exams were over; I started my transformation.

Read a lot of articles on the internet and even read books on weight-loss. I discovered that white rice (a common food item for South Indians) had a lot of starch and an excessive contribution of carbohydrates in it. This was my usual lunch. I must admit I was an obsessive eater and when I used to love mutton. Biriyani (a dish cooked with rice). Hence I completely avoided rice and even cut down on my beloved fast food for a few weeks. Joined the gym; went for Karate classes; took part in several sporting activities; and went started jogging long distances. The result? I lost 25 kilos in two months (Beat that!).

I then regularly did facials and straightened my hair. Though I used to watch them earlier too, my fascination with Hollywood movies was nurtured at this age; especially the ones with action and graphics.  My next choice was Hindi movies though I hardly watched any Tamil or Malayalam movie. Absent mindedly, I was shaping my personality on the character “Rahul” from the film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (played by Shah Rukh Khan). Shah Rukh Khan was known as the King of Romance and I would naturally follow that, right? Soon, love was in the air; the first innocently true love of my life. Let us call her “R”. She was in my school and incidentally lived in the same apartment as I did. This was around the time the Tamil film Minnale (Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein in Hindi) released.

Don’t worry; I am not taking the readers through my romantic moments in this blog. The point is I wrote my first story and this was my beginning in writing fiction (The story will be re-launched by end of 2019). She loved it and I also got many female fans! Life was changing and I was changing. I took part in dance programs and won them!  I was not the “shyster” anymore. People didn’t mock my obesity and everyone wanted to be with me.

Also, I started meeting several entrepreneurs and VIP’s across Abu Dhabi.  Yoosuf Ali had even assured me of a job if I continued in Abu Dhabi. To earn some pocket money, I have even worked as an intern in one of his departmental stores (a fact I hadn’t told my family then) One of the guys who studied in my school was a relation of the Royal family in Abu Dhabi. Hence I had even visited the Royal Palace in Abu Dhabi (one of the most revered places in the world) after completing my 12th board exams. Life was great, but…..my dad was going to shock me again.

Take4:

My dad told me on my birthday (just a week after my 12th standard Board Examinations); I had to go to India to continue my higher education. I begged with him but he argued that Abu Dhabi was of no use for us Indians we couldn’t gain much out of education there. Wish he could see the Abu Dhabi today. Anyway, I was once again sent off to India by force.

Intermission

{To the readers, the events I mentioned in this blog until now were only a build-up for the several challenges that waited for me in the next 17 years. Several factors contributed to me being a writer today and it is necessary to know the background behind it. Pardon me if I am elongating it much. The main portion is yet to come}

See I did a lot of treasures,

Meet I did a lot of friends,

Enjoy I did a lot in paradise….

Journeying through the roads of life,

Walk I did through a lot of flames,

Fight I did a lot of enemies,

Suffer I did a lot in hell….

Journeying through the roads of life,

Learn I did what wasn’t taught to me,

Become I did what I never dreamt I could be,

Live I did a lot in life….

I have seen, felt and touched a lot in life,

Yet I am still studying it….

The show will go on…

YASIR SULAIMAN

https://www.amazon.com/author/yasirsulaiman

https://notionpress.com/author/YasirSulaiman

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