My life is a puzzle of weird phases. There was the Chinese phase when I was around 8 to11 years old. Bruce Lee movies had hit my household hard and I thought he was the most wonderful man to ever draw breath. I fell in love utterly. I became obsessed with anything remotely Chinese. I wanted Chinese lamps in my room, my mom had to make me a traditional Chinese outfit and I read anything I could get on this mysterious country that gifted the planet Bruce Lee.

It was only much later in life – when I started my academic career – when I managed to travel overseas. My mom chuckled when she heard my first destination, the first place I’d ever visit as an international traveler, would be Beijing, China.

I credit Bruce Lee and my mom for my early lessons on cultural awareness. Bruce didn’t look like us and that might have perturbed the neighbours but my mom said it was fantastic. Chinese culture was welcomed in my room like Barbie and Care Bears were welcomed in my friends’.

What a magical time…

Then late high school something happened to me, I don’t know what to tell you. From then up until my mid-twenties, I became obsessed with elite military special forces units. The Delta Phase.

Let me repeat: I don’t know what to tell you.

My mom rolled her eyes and stepped back from this one. But my dad found my new interest kind of cool. I’d buy every book I could get my hands on and by then the internet had hit the planet like a whale’s flukes hitting the surface of the ocean, so I had an bottomless feed of information about the SAS, Delta Force, GROM, GIGN, GIS, the Indian and Phillipino special forces units…you name it, I read about it…

What I was most fascinated by is the recruitment process. And the traning. I found it awe-inspiring that there are humans out there who volunteer to do what normal humans retreat from…that they would willingly apply to have their bodies and minds bent to breaking-point…

As I grew older and started to understand certain things about the world, I lost interest in this phase. I still admire the people, but the phase that followed made me a little ‘battle weary’ I guess…

The Bending & Breaking phase. Bombardments of violence done upon innocent people in the forensic lab and later in the courtroom. Losing someone I loved. Losing a good friend. Then losing my dad…and four months later receiving my mom’s diagnosis: stage 4 ovarian cancer… That’s the stuff that breaks your bones to have it realigned…

Caring for my mother through her cancer journey was the most difficult thing I’d ever done. It was even harder than burrying her a year after her diagnosis. You care and comfort and feed and clean. Then you go to your room and cry all the cries you wouldn’t dare cry in front of her. That’s what you do. Ask anyone who cares for a cancer patient.

All those books on special forces soldiers provided unexpected assistance. Work…keep your head down…honor…a pure heart…willingness to do the right thing… I found myself at times reaching back to the lessons in all those books about people without fragility. And I convinced myself I can mount the task ahead of me.

Of course, now I cry when I watch Italians sing to each other in quarantined Italy…

After my mom’s death I entered the Grief phase which lasted a smidge more than 4 years. I won’t bore you with the details, you are likely to understand anyway…

But now I revel in the Whatever-The-F**-I-Want phase. I read whatever I want. I watch whatever I want. If I want to change my research focus, I’ll do it. If I don’t want to attend a friend’s 6 year-old’s birthday party with 22 other screaming 6 year-olds, I don’t. (Don’t judge me harshly, not even his mother wanted to be there…)

If I want to write a book, I’ll do it. If I write it and I decide I don’t want it published, who’s gonna force me? If I want doughnuts for breakfast, I’ll have three…

Okay fine, maybe not three. It’s not like lockdown has been great for keeping a figure. I’ll have one. And I’ll have it for desert after a good meal…maybe with some good coffee…while I wait for the next weird phase to hit…


  1. Loved your candour, and I like your writing voice. Sorry to hear about your losses too. I too lost my mum to cancer.

    Anyway, like you, I too have always been intrigued about the special forces and what their recruits go through, as well as the driving force behind the people who pursue that path. Anyway, here’s to celebrating life’s phases and continual growth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Stuart! I’m deeply sorry for your loss as well…
      Yes, it’s the phases that make us! I just hope I have phases to look forward to and that age doesn’t stretch out the highs and lows into one dull, downhill road…
      Keep well!


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