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Monthly Archives: June 2012

My 1st Song

Allow me to re-introduce myself! * In Jay-Z voice*. The Mad Scientist is no more. Not to worry, in his place, “Ladies and gentleman, please join me in welcoming to the Mic – the Accidental Rapper a.k.a Frankenstein … Can I get a Hip Hop Hooray?” I kid. I kid. The only place the Accidental Rapper will be dropping bars will be my shower.*Pause*. The Mad Scientist stays. Selfish, I know. The “My 1st Song” that I am referring to is the last song on the Black Album by Jay Z. The Black Album was supposed to be Jay-Z ‘s last album before going into what turned out to be just a brief retirement in 2003.

The song itself starts out with an excerpt of an interview of the Notorious B.I.G. “Biggie smalls”. In the interview Biggie Smalls repeats advice that he got from his producer/friend Puffy , now known as Diddy. Biggie  says “Puff told me, the key to this joint, the key to staying on top of things. Is treat everything like its your first project, Knahmsayin? Like its your day like back when you was an intern. Like, that’s how you try to treat things like, just stay hungry.”

This is the theme that Jay-Z carries into the song, picking up on that advice about treating every project as your first. As such jay Z supposed last song is aptly titled My 1st song. The song is very much autobiographical as Jay-Z explains his sustained success. He taunts “Y’all wanna know why he don’t stop? Y’all wanna know why he don’t flop?‘ His advice? If you treat every song like your first then you’ll never regret anything.

I like to think of myself as the quintessential Hip Hop nerd. My love for Hip Hop has its roots primarily in the lyricism and wordplay. How some of my favourite rappers are so gifted at playing such beautiful games with language. The vivid storytelling, the melodies, the thumping 808 bass-lines. I could carry on. A facet of Hip Hop I also love and that is embodied by this particular Jay Z song is its ability to educate. More than any other musical type Hip Hop has a strong entrepreneurial ethos that is deeply ingrained in the genre. It’s hard to listen to hip hop without hearing it’s entrepreneurial spirit. Its contagious, addictive and inspiring all at the same time.

So its no surprise then I often reach out to Hip Hop when I need to recalibrate, re-energize, and even more specifically with this particular song, when my ego starts aligning itself with complacency. In these moments, as cheesy as it might sound I like to go back to this song , as a reminder. To stay busy. To stay working. To keep clocking in the hours with the same determination, dedication and hunger that I started out with. To treat every single hour in my 10000hours to success last like my first. Its a great reminder. One I felt compelled to share today.

Hustle hard in any hustle that you pick ~ Shawn Corey Carter


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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Art of Love

When I first set out on my quest to detail how the principles detailed in Sun Tzu’s Art of War apply to love it was on a impulse. The only thing I had to work with were all the cliché’s about love and war and a very vague recollection of the actual principles themselves that Sun Tzu details in his text The Art of War. That and my ego.

Sun TzuThe Art of War is an ancient Chinese Military Service attributed to Sun Tzu a high ranking military general, strategist and tactician. The Art of War is divided into 13 chapters (or piān), and the collection is referred to as being one zhuàn (“whole” or alternatively “chronicle”)

By dissecting Sun Tzu’s original text, and extracting his core wisdom it is possible to apply these very principles of war to love. The Art of Love. After all Love is a battlefield right? Or is it ‘The battle of the sexes?”.

As I already pointed out in my previous blog Challenge Accepted, both Love and War involve capturing something the other is protecting. In war it’s the enemy’s flag or land or treasure. In dating, it’s the heart … and spoils of war. Something I found quite amusing is that in describing our dating lives,as The Usual Suspects we use terms like ‘Comrades’ ‘Target’, ‘wing-man’, ‘shot down’, ‘grenade’, ‘torpedo’, ‘in the field’, ‘taken hostage’,’reinforcements’ and ‘mission accomplished. All of these are part of war terminology.which makes me think that even subconsciously we have always assumed that war and dating are very similar. Now armed with the principles outlined in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War I can prove it.

1. Detail Assessment and Planning ( 始計,始计)

This is the first and most important principle detailed in the Art of War. Sun Tzu says “If you know yourself and the enemy, you will always win. If you know yourself but not the enemy, sometimes you will win and sometimes you may not. If you don’t know yourself or your enemy, you will probably be defeated.” This principle is really about making an effort to understand women, and how they think. Even more importantly as Sun Tzu points out its about also understanding yourself. That way you can be the guy the women you are attracted to actually want to date. More than just once.

2. The Challenge ( 作戰,作战)

Here Sun Tzu advises that “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without even fighting” As such this piān explains how to understand the economy of warfare, and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.

3. Strategic Attack ( 謀攻,谋攻)

This piān defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, and Cities. In the case of dating this might encompass the deployment of ‘Wingmen’ to counter the inevitable ‘Grenade’. This is usually a friend of your ‘target‘, who, for whatever reason  is out to make sure they blows up your chances.

4.Tactical Dispositions/ Positioning (軍形,军形)

This piān explains the importance of defending existing positions until a commander is capable of advancing from those positions in safety. It teaches commanders the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.

5.Energy/Forces (兵勢,兵势)

This piān is about the use of creativity and timing in building an army’s momentum.

6.Illusion and Reality/Weaknesses and Strengths ( 虛實,虚实)

This piān explains how an army’s opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of the enemy in a given area

7.Engaging The Force/Maneuvering ( 軍爭,军争)

This piān explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon the commander.

8.Variation of Tactics/Variations and Adaptability ( 九變,九变)

In this piān Sun Tzu stresses the importance adaptability. He focuses on the need for flexibility in an army’s responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully. Again invaluable advice when it comes to matters of the heart.

9.Movement and Development of Troops ( 行軍,行军)

Here Sun Tzu describes the different situations in which an army finds itself as it moves through new enemy territories, and how to respond to these situations. Much of this section focuses on evaluating the intentions of others. This piān suggests how to deal ,obstacles, things going sideways and other problems you might encounter while you’re with a ‘target‘.

10.Situational Positioning/Terrain (Chinese: 地形)

This has its roots in the very first piān. It relies heavily on knowing yourself and what you want. Terrain in this instance would be where you “wage your battles”. Your battlefield of choice is determined by your ideal ‘target‘. Once you have established your ideal qualities and characteristics for the woman you want, you’ll have a much easier time deciding on the best places to meet those women. Whether its your local Bar or Bookstore.

11. The nine battle grounds (Chinese: 九地)

In the eleventh piān  Sun Tzu says: The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground: (1) Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed-in ground; (9) desperate ground. These nine detail different circumstances under which battle can occurs. It goes on further to best advise how to fight the battle in the different battle grounds. For example contentious ground is ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side and  serious ground is when an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear.

12. Attacking with Fire (Chinese: 火攻)

Sun Tzu says ‘Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts. Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared. Confidence is key. You have to believe in yourself. Need I say anymore. Moving along.

13.Intelligence and Espionage (Chinese: 用間,用间)

Sun Tzu advises that in battle ”It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used.” When I cam across this particular gem from Sun Tzu the first thing I thought was dude was clearly referring to the ‘grenades’ and the ‘cock blockers’. The girlfriends who usually sabotage your attempts to win the battle. This also can be viewed again was an expansion of the first principle i.e know your ‘enemy’. No better person to help you understand a woman than, you guessed it another woman. Recruiting a close female friend that can help you win the battle will help your cause.

There you have it. The Art of Love.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

‘When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce” – Sun Tzu.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Challenge Accepted

A permanent fixture on the social calender during the warm summer months is a good old catch up with the Usual Suspects. Friday after work drinks and are a welcome pit stop in the Rat race. During these gatherings the conversation weaves its way through the mundane, the trivial, lingering at banter, all the while getting louder. Reaching its climax in the form a heated exchange with with it’s genesis lying somewhere in our different sporting affiliations. Not to mention the braggadocio tales of our attempts to gain the favour of a fair maiden.

This is all before we retreat into hibernation during the cold winter months. A period when our gatherings are reduced to a plethora of excuses delivered via cyberspace courtesy of Whatsapp and Facebook comments.The conquerors amongst enjoying the spoils of war wrapped up in some human blanket. Only emerging from underneath the covers of these to deliver a a half hearted whinge. ‘Sorry fellas, I couldn’t get a VISA’. Before smugly returning to their warm comforts. But I digress.

A few months ago during one of these gatherings we found ourselves discussing the merits and applications of the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The reverence for the book and its core message was undisputed. As is standard when the social lubricant that is alcohol is oiling the discussion it soon got pretty animated. There were suggestions that its underlying principles have been widely applied to business tactics and legal strategy. That some major cooperations and law firms used it as a manual of sorts. All which seemed reasonable and practical applications. But as is often the case at there is always someone who comes in from left field with outlandish proclamations. This was night was no different. One of the Usual Suspects was so enamoured by the principles in the book and their effectiveness that he rather ludicrously suggested.’If you understand them properly and embed them into your way life , you can get away with anything”. What followed I am pretty sure was an to counter attack to the condescending indulgence at this proclamation. He continued.’ Seriously guys, You can even get away with naked pictures on your phone’ Now he was playing to the braggadocio.That braggadocio that always hangs in the air after a few cold fermented ones. Looking around the room it was hard to argue that his ploy hadn’t worked.

Now, back then The Lawyer was the only one present who hadn’t read the book, and I dutifully volunteered to give him a copy of an audio file ‘I have it somewhere on my hard drive’ I said to him. To which he proceeded to offer up an unsolicited disclaimer that his interest had nothing to do with a desire to get away with naked pictures, but lay with its application to legal strategy. There was no way I was letting him off easy. I took the bait and we got stuck into the banter for the remainder of the night. That did not deter him though. He duly followed up and got the copy of me.

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Fast forward to the present day and the book came up again. This time it was just me and The Lawyer and couple of his lawyer colleagues. The other Usual Suspects? You guessed it. They couldn’t get ‘VISA’s.’ Something we drew childish amusement from, even making jibes about how our fellow comrades had become prisoners of war. Truth be told though during this cold winter months we would have happily traded places with them. Again I digress.

Like I was saying we found ourselves discussing its merits in regards to dating. A discussion that we were lost in the middle of before one of the female colleagues interjected ‘The Art of War is not a dating manual guys. Seriously talk to me I am here to help’. What happened next resembled a courtroom scene ( Well thats how I choose to remember it ) The Lawyer now having familiarised with the text now went on to channel Alan Shaw ( Boston Legal). Armed with cliche’s he defended the assertion. ‘All is fair and Love and War’.’ Love is a battlefield’.’The battle of the Sexes’ All he claimed was evidence that there are many parallels between love and war. Based on that an argument can be made that the same principles used in war could just as easily be applied to dating which is a precursor to love. His female colleague a lawyer as well did not give in easily and went on to declare ‘But guys a woman is not an enemy that you need conquer.’ His response ‘Both involve capturing something the other is protecting. In war it’s the enemy’s flag or land or treasure. In dating, it’s the heart. And well other desirable parts.The spoils of war if you like. So while a woman is not any enemy to be conquered, in applying the principles of dating she can be regarded as prize to win over.’ I made a mental note to myself if I ever needed representation this was my guy.

As this back and forth was playing itself out I was increasingly starting to feel marginalised. It was in an effort to get back on the conversation that I found myself channeling my inner Barney Stinson. Next thing I know I shouted ‘Challenge Accepted ”Huh?’ They both simultaneously responded. ‘Challenge Accepted’ I repeated. That still did nothing to remove the confused looks on their faces. So I went on to explain myself. That I accepted their challenge to prove that the Art of War can be used as a dating manual. Thats right I would write a blog about it I continued. I was pleased with myself. I had manoeuvred myself back into the centre of the conversation. The Barnicle would have been proud.

Having got their attention I carried on. ‘By dissecting Sun Tzu’s original text, extracting his core wisdom I would show its 13 core principles could be applied in the dating game’

So Ladies and Gentleman. That is the challenge before. Keep watching this space. I will accomplish my mission and you better believe it will be Lege …. Wait for it …ndary!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Peter’s Pen

Dear Blank Page

It’s just you, me and the rain now. Lets play. Better late than never right? Yeah I know ‘Never late is better’. You always like to smugly remind me.

I remember when we first met. You warned me. You said I would become a slave to the ink. The blank page the plantation. The pen the master’s whip. I was hesitant. You challenged me. ‘What are you waiting for?’ you asked me. ‘Dont you realise that you are both the slave and the master. The question and the answer’. With that I picked up Peter’s pen. You were pleased. Tafadzwa was unchained.

Winter is here. Days are shorter. Nights so much longer. It’s colder. It’s wetter. The lure of the cold amber coloured nectar of the gods has been replaced for me by the roar of the hot and fierce amber coloured flames of burning firewood. You on the other hand have always been drawn more to the soothing crackling sound of fire when its only light and flickering and the light illumination of its embers is reflected magnificently in your eyes. That relaxing ambience only a fireplace can provide. Your weakness.

I remember the beginning. I was a nervous wreck and came across as a rambling idiot you were patient with me. You held my hand. It was comforting. With time my resolve strengthened and my confidence grew. You gently nurtured and gave my transient thoughts a home. You allowed me to catalogue them unencumbered by the complexities of plot, narratives or dialogue. I thrived in the idiosyncratic self indulgence of it all. I let my innocent aggressive intuitiveness guide me. There were little epiphanies here, there and everywhere. I walked the fine line between profundity and bathos. Discovering along the way that the line between self-indulgence and universality can be perilously thin at times.You let me be.

When invited my friends over – its no secrect it didnt always go smoothly. You worried they would discourage me. Your fears were almost realised when they quizzed me ‘Why do you want to write?’ I stuttered and mumbled incoherently. What I wanted to answer with was that ‘I felt like my childlike creativity, purity and honesty was being crowded by all these grown thoughts’. Writing was ‘a custody battle for my inner child.’ I didnt say all that. Defiantly I just picked up Peter’s Pen and wrote. It was my safe space. A place I could go when I needed a peaceful detachment from the rest of the world. In the process flexing my poetic licence to give the mundane its beautiful due.

What have I learned since picking up Peter’s Pen? Well I am still on that roller-coaster of discovery. What I have come to realise though is that my inner child never left. He had just been a lost boy for a while. When you invited me to play, something beautiful happened. I found my way back to Neverland. Oh Tinker Bell, look what you done.

I will be waiting by the fireplace.

Love always

The Boy Who Wouldnt Grow Up

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Letters

 

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The 1st Scroll: Turkish Delight

Hi, my name is Taf and I am a nostalgia junkie. Sometimes when I get high off nostalgia I see hieroglyphs in my minds eye. On even rarer occasions lost in the midst of these hieroglyphs my fingertips start to write. In this dalliance with Thoth the ancient Egyptian God of writing. I am able to navigate around my way around my memory’s museum. On a good nostalgia high the fire of inspiration burns brightly and I can eloquently decipher these hieroglyphics onto the page and in turn share the many different artefacts my memory has curated.

Allow me to be your tour guide. If you don’t enjoy the tour. Oh well drumroll please. Ladies and gentleman. (Plays Afromen. ‘Because I was high’) Sue me.

I remember my very first job ever , which I got at the end of my first semester of my first year of uni. It was a job in a Turkish restaurant. Cafe Istanbul. It was a pretty hands on job. It covered everything from doing the dishes to waiting on tables to grilling the kebab meat. It was a job born out of necessity rather than any innate work ethic. If anything it was fueled by a desire to fund my burgeoning social life. It wasn’t my first choice either.

As it was I had my eye on a gig with the local music store which was part of a grand plan to build my CD collection. Mind you this was before the proliferation of iPods and iTunes and lets just say I considered myself a bit of a lime-wire snob. Fate had other plans though and it conspired to lead me into a friendship with a Turkish student, who in turn put me onto the job at Cafe Istanbul. Again this was before the days of LinkedIn. Sigh.The ‘good old days’. Damn you nostalgia. P.S. Has anyone ever got a real paying job through LinkedIn anyway? I digress.

As the first semester had drawn to a close I had also increasingly started to get more and more nauseated at the mere thought of two-minute noodles. Something that an upgrade from the standard supermarket issue to Nasi Goreng had not alleviated.The glamour of student life. So this job was a welcome reprieve. It was goodbye noodle diet. Hello gourmet Turkish food. Balling. Need I mention the extra cash it freed up to allow to fund my quest to become the ultimate brother to the night.

Little did I know that my my new employer would over the course of time often act as my surrogate Mum. She was a charming, unassuming and nurturing Turkish lady. Kader was her name, which actually means garden in heaven in Turkish.Seeing as my own mother was on another continent over 12000km away her role as my surrogate Mum during this transition into adulthood proved invaluable. Even though I was just an employee she fussed and hovered over me with a maternal sincerity I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. She made me feel part of the family.

Also being a full time student and only being able to work part time meant that I worked mostly nights often finishing late after the buses had stopped running without fail and even though it was out of her way she would always drive me home late at night after work. Then there was the coffee. Not just any coffee but the traditional turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi). She would always sit me down and make us a cup after we had shut shop right before she drove me home.

If you have ever drunk Turkish coffee you will know that its served usually in very tiny cups with no handles so have to handle it with your fingertips. It is very thick and syrupy, very different from your regular cappuccino. Turkish coffee is normally prepared using a narrow-topped small boiling pot called an cevze (basically a tiny ewer), a teaspoon and a heating apparatus. The ingredients are very finely ground coffee, sometimes cardamom, cold water and sugar .

It wasn’t so much the taste but the sentiment this after work coffee ritual facilitated. For during this time she would drop the whole boss act and put on her surrogate Mum hat. Then go on to inquire about how I was doing with uni.How was I coping with the homesickness. Always tempering the incquistions with light hearted jibes about the girls she always claimed came in to just flirt with me to which I would feign ignorance. Which would often result in her actively trying to embarrass me and if she was feeling quite chirpy pimp me out. Fun times.

But my favourite part of the whole thing was the fortune telling part. Every time you drink Turkish coffee, when you are done , because of its syrupy nature there is always some residue which is a thick layer of sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup. Kader would proceed to make me turn over my cup (with the left over coffee ground) over into the saucer to cool.It is this residue she would proceed to diligently analyse the unique pattern of the coffee grounds that resulted and with it read my fortune.

I know what you are thinking. “Fortune telling. Really Taf?”. I know. “But you are a man of science.” I know. When you done rolling your eyes allow me to explain. Her particular brand of fortune telling never really was about making predictions per se , more like subtle suggestion, gentle nudges of guidance and often practical advice or affirmation of things I was going through all disguised as fortune telling. As a consequence I indulged her. There was a quite comfort in the whole process. For which I am still grateful. In a way now equipped with the power of hindsight I realise that the whole experience was very much a nostalgia hit for her as well. We were both foreigners in a strange land as and she would often reminisce about her younger days back in Turkey.

I later discovered much later on that as well as being an ‘every day’ beverage, Turkish coffee is also a part of the Turkish wedding custom. As a prologue to marriage, the groom’s family must visit the bride’s family to ask permission for and blessings upon the upcoming marriage. During this meeting, the bride must prepare and serve Turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi) to the guests. For the groom’s coffee, the bride uses salt instead of sugar to gauge his character. If the groom drinks his coffee without any sign of displeasure, the bride to be assumes that the groom is good tempered and patient. This just might explain her attempts at ‘pimping me’. Maybe.

Anyway it was with this need for a nostalgia hit that earlier in the week i set set about hunting down a Turkish restaurant in the Mother City. The Culture vulture was on the prowl.

As soon as I walked into Anatoli just about every one of my senses were assaulted. I was enveloped in ts warm and seductive ambiance. The familiar smell of donor kebab meat blended with the aroma of the freshly baked flat breads.The laid out meze trays of assorted hummus, cous cous . eggplant, tabule.The coffee would seal the deal.

No sooner had I settled into my Türk kahvesi, the most angelic voice interrupted me. A voice that perfectly mirrored her striking face. “Is this seat taken?” Mesmerised my voice betrayed me and embarrisngly gestured for her to take the vacant seat. Her eyes gleamed softly with life. She smiled. A beautiful enigmatic smile as wide as fields of jasmine and glover. As she sat, the heavens opened up outside and the rain poured outside. The next thing I know. She said one thing, I said another. My voice allied with me this time. It was the perfect storm. Our conversation meandered and flowed through our different narratives on how we had met Türk kahvesi. Bliss. It felt like we were dancing in the rain. Effortlessly. I didn’t want the rain to stop I wanted to stay soaked in that torrential downpour.

Lost in that rain dance we had lost all sense of time. Minutes had turned into hours and the restaurant was closing up. So rather reluctantly we got ready to make our leave. It was now or never. “Will I see you again?” Before she could answer I stopped her “No don’t answer that.”I said then channeling my inner Love Jones. I continued “Because rather than deal with the fallacy of this dry ass reality I would rather romance and dance with you in a wet dream.”

Well that’s what I wanted to say and should have said. Instead I just helped her with her coat. Then I chuckled to myself. What would Kader make of this little encounter. I could use her fortune telling skills right now.

I grabbed my dogie bag with my Turkish delight and proceeded to walk her out. We get along really well for a couple of virtual strangers I thought.

To be continued

Written by Tafadzwa Tichawangana

 
 

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