24 Things

1.  I come from Singapore. Although my parents are a mix of four different races, I am distinctly Singaporean, if not strongly Asian.

2. My ambitions as a child moved from being a maid (loved washing dishes), to a singer (age of Spice Girls), to social work and finally to a human rights/women’s rights lawyer.

3. I explored other religions and fell in love with Sufism.

4. My affiliation to Afghanistan began in 2000 when I stumbled across an article about a girl my age, a “stranger to freedom”. Following the years of U.S. invasion, I sponsored an Afghan girl, Sunbol. Over 5 years, we exchanged many gifts and drawings, one of which I framed in my room in Singapore.

5. I travelled alone to Afghanistan in 2005, when I was 17 years old (mostly dressed in pyjamas, with less than $100) to visit Sunbol. I lived with her for 3 months, on the foothill of a Kabul hill in 2009. We did everything together.

6. I prepared for my shift to England when I was 15, and moved there on a full scholarship to a 16th C. international college in a small village when I turned 16.

7. I married the most beautiful person, my super-flower husband Shoaib Sabri when I was 23. Our relationship developed over the short months I moved to Afghanistan. The theme of our life (and wedding), “Rainbow and Butterflies” originated from a poem I wrote and recited to him when we fell in love.

8. Our crazy thing is to turn up the radio and dance like synchronized idiots in front of the mirror until one of us gives up.

9. I crave chilli. Sometimes I eat, just to taste chilli. (my mouth is watering as I write this)

10. I am a voracious reader of issues concerning gender and law reform. It is important to me that my job entails reading and engaging with literature on subjects I care about.

11. My mind is often fraught with struggles of ethics of my work in international development.

12. The most special trip of my life was swimming in the Atlantic with wild dolphins.

13. My favourite author is Pico Iyer. Which is funny because I haven’t read any of his books, but only articles online.

14. My ultimate dream is to live a nomadic life, travelling with Shoaib and our children into the mountains.

15. But the most ultimate dream is to build and live in my own tree-house!

16. There is something meditative and calmingly exhilarating about Urdu and Persian poetry.

17. I am most proud of: the team at Femin Ijtihad, scattered in different parts of the world, all volunteering together for one cause.

18. My favorite colour is hot red.

19. I was a lyrical dancer, but I now dance mostly in my room.

20. What I really feel like doing: ….travelling to Burma.

21. When I wake up, I see Shoaib and the first thing that comes to my mind is, “Is it really trueee??”

22. I work as a Legal and Technical Advisor in Kabul and also run our transnational initiative, Femin Ijtihad, that is proudly managed by students and professionals in New York, London and various parts of India. Sometimes we have the odd German, Malaysian, Singaporean and Italian!

23. I can read (here-and-there), speak and understand Dari, the local language of Afghanistan. I have a love for its vibrance and melody and how it gives me an access to people’s thought processes 

24. I have a book where I write words unknown to build my vocabulary; not necessarily to speak better, but to expand my resources for writing. I also note sentences that string beautifully. It is a way of capturing a beautiful picture.


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