Aida Zabidi
I used to be very bad tempered. Kaki gaduh. 

Every once in awhile this flares up, the familiar wrath, and the knee jerk reaction to return anger with even more anger. 

The thing is, anger takes you nowhere. 

Somewhere along the line I learnt that it wasn't worth it, that some things can never be taken back in those heated moments. Bridges can burn, relationships can break over words carelessly thrown out in a fit of fury, and once broken, can never be the same again. 

You will never know if things can be mended. I'm not saying it's easy. Sometimes it's easier to give in to the urge to punch someone than to actually mediate. Sometimes it feels like it might be more satisfying to slam someone's head against the wall then putting in the time to deescalate. 

It takes a lot of self control to reign anger in, especially when you're no longer thinking straight. 

Your reaction to your anger is a reflection of yourself, of who you are. 

And some things can never be taken back.
Aida Zabidi
When you're a legit doctor and have been in service for over five years but your family members still insist on bringing your grandmother to a specialist to adjust her blood pressure medications.
Aida Zabidi
It's been so long since I've been sick that I've forgotten how it feels like to not feel like 100% of yourself. The feeling of weakness to the point that you struggle to get out of bed, or the chest tightness, or the muscle pains. 

It reminds me of my patients, with their strokes and injuries, and their multiple problems and morbidities. With their spastic muscles and their struggle to undergo their daily activities, and the need to put in extra effort and energy just to overcome the weaknesses of their bodies, day in, day out. 

There is value in illness. 

It reminds me to be grateful to be blessed with health, for my usual endless energy. As a doctor, it is a reminder to empathize with my patients, in a situation where it's too easy for a possibility to become detached from the job. It's a stark reminder to take care of my health, for it is something that could easily be taken anytime.
Aida Zabidi
Linkin Park's music was such a significant part of my growing up years, and expressed so much emotion that I could not as a teenager. 

Reading about Chester's death left me shocked, but it is also a reminder how how common it is to have mental illness, and how much mental illness doesn't discriminate. It affects people across all spectrums; from young to old, across all economic states, from so many different backgrounds. 

Help is available, so don't hesitate to reach out. 

Don't isolate yourself, and find the ones in your life who will be there for you at your lowest points. 

We are all part of a community, and the first step to help is the awareness that mental illness is more common than you think, and don't be afraid to reach out to someone. 

"If you’re reading this, it means you’re still here. If you’re breathing, the air in your lungs declares that you’re alive. We can’t know how long we have here, but it seems we have today.

Please know you’re not the only one who hurts. You’re not the only one with questions and sadness and pain. If life feels nearly impossible, please know you’re not alone. Please know that it’s okay to be honest. You don’t have to fake it. You don’t have to play it cool. If you need help, please know you’re worth whatever help you need. If you need to talk to a counselor, if you need to call or text a hotline, if you need to step into treatment, it’s perfectly okay. You deserve whatever help you need.

Please stay alive, for every future joy. For the next album you’re going to love, for the best concert you haven’t been to yet, for your wedding or your husband or your wife, for the kids you have or dream of having. Please stay alive to be surprised, by love and hope and help.

If someone you care about is struggling, please reach out. Please break the silence. Please cross the distance. Remind them they are loved. Remind them they deserve better. Encourage them to get help." - Written by Jamie Tworkowksi for Chester Bennington, original article here.
Aida Zabidi
Halfway through Syawal, and I'm reminded of the first day of Eid where my sister called us from Kelantan - absolutely homesick for the raya atmosphere of Muar and our family. It was the first time in 27 years that she hadn't been with the family in Muar.

Our family has always been close-knit; out of my mother's six siblings - almost all the siblings spend the first day of Eid in Muar, Johor; in that traditional kampung house which somehow managed to house the thirty of us - the place we have always associated with laughter and family, and as all of us twenty odd cousins grew up, these moments became more precious.

We cousins spend the day before Eid re-learning how to weave ketupat (only to probably forget how to do it the year after); help out our parents with the Eid preparation. There's the 20kg curry chicken in the massive pot outside meant for the first day and the sambal sotong that Maksuaina now makes from home and brings back to Muar. There's the family prayers that night as Uncle Yut gives his yearly tazkirah on the night before Eid.

The first year I was in Australia for Eid, I was so horribly homesick that I refused to go out and celebrate; it wasn't the same feeling without the family. In my six years there, I eventually adjusted - but I can relate to how my sister feels this year being away from everyone.

As my grandmother gets older, and we among our cousins marry, things will change. We will have shared responsibilities to our spouses, and perhaps it will no longer be as easy for all of us to experience that carefree nostalgia with the family, and I think we're acutely aware of the impending change.

For what it's worth, I'm thankful for those moments spent. They're beautiful, and I have so much appreciation for my family and the extended family.

As things change, I can only hope that we manage to capture the same spirit of family, the same way my parents and my aunts and uncles tried so hard to make sure we really felt the spirit of Eid - the bonds between family and loved ones.
Aida Zabidi
I had such an amazing time in Morocco.

It really was an easy country to love, and such a beautiful one - filled with rugged landscapes and colour, and so much unexplored territory. The locals were so friendly, and we had good food everywhere.

We went from the desert to the mountains to the seaside, explored the bustling souks and haggled until we couldn't haggle anymore. We conversed to locals with sign language and broken English, and enjoyed the beautiful riads in the different parts of the country. We took photos in the Blue City, and the colourful markets.

Go in the months which are not quite as hot, and travel with locals. We chose to go with Mustafa from Morocco Cheap Travels and were very happy with their services, they were professional, friendly and very flexible.

You can walk most places, and transport in both Marrakech and Fez were reasonable, especially if travelling in a group of three. 

For photos, check out the hashtag #MarocRendezvouz on Instagram!

Moroccan Rendezvouz from Aida Zabidi on Vimeo.
Aida Zabidi
"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." -Gustave Flaubert

I'm having travel withdrawals.

I think I've left a part of myself in the desert.
Aida Zabidi
We decided to spend a night in the desert during our trip to Morocco, and it was breathtaking.

When I initially booked the trip and saw the option of camel trekking, I thought it would be an easy short camel ride (you know, those 'tourist rides') to the campsite. Little did I realize it was an actual trek, and we were on those camels for a good 90 minutes with our Berber guide, surrounded by nothing but sand.

Being on a camel isn't easy. They look cute, and they definitely look pretty graceful as they're gliding across the sand, but sitting on the saddle on one hump definitely isn't the most comfortable place to be. Add that to ascending and descending sand dunes and you have a pretty bumpy ride. That said, it was just part of the experience - and it really made me think about the nomads in the olden days who had to spend months trying to cross the desert. 

Meet my baby camel!

There's something primal about the desert.

Perhaps it's the aloneness, and the vastness of the place, and how deserted it seems. We were on our camels for a good hour between the hotel and our campsite, with no view of any other people. If our guide had a heart attack and died, we would have been stranded with no idea where to go. It also seems like the guides have a strange sense of humour, making jokes about the possibility of getting lost and ending up on the Algerian border (apparently Morocco and Algeria have some political disputes going on). 

But lose yourself in the ride, and experience the silence of the desert. Experience the amazing sunset across the red sands, and watch how the colours of the sands grow deeper the further in you go. While we all started the ride chatting to each other, we spent the latter half in silence, just absorbing the scenery.

Once we arrived to our campsite, we were greeted with the unfortunate news that the generators were down. To be honest, it wasn't too much of a big deal.

We still got fed, and the Berbers still got out their drums and played some rhythms for us, and we ended up dancing underneath the stars.

And the stars!

What can I say?

I've never seen so many stars in my life.

Our guide grabbed a blanket and brought us further away from camp for some stargazing, He made us a Berber pillow, essentially where they shape the sand like a pillow to lie on, and we just watched the Milky Way in all its glory, and perhaps, even saw a shooting star.

Would I recommend the trip?

It's an unmissable experience - a must do, even if it's just once in your life. There's something about the desert that's entirely captivating, that feeds your soul in a way I cannot explain with words. 

Don't take my word for it. Experience it for yourself.
Aida Zabidi
Traveling to Morocco was like being transported to an era many years ago.

We had dropped into the city of Fez, and the very first day we dove straight into the myriad tunnels of the Medina, moving along with the evening crowd into tunnels that seemed to get smaller and smaller as we went, with many different entry points and exits, and we walked until we were no longer certain where we were, surrounded by the bustle of people, donkeys and the scent of spices - and perhaps that was the charm of the Morocco.

It definitely wasn't for the claustrophic.

That said, there was a certain charm about it. 

Call it the books of adventure I used to read as a child, about exotic lands far away, but I loved hearing the mixture of French and Arabic being thrown about, loved the energy of the people and the place. 

There was so much colour, and so much personality.

Definitely a must visit, and a photographer's heaven. For photos, check out the hashtag #MarocRendezvouz on Instagram!