Sunday 12 June 2011

Do You Know How To Draw Camels?

The most significant step you can take to turn your life around is to learn how to draw camels.
- Phil, and Clyde the Camel

Finally, after weeks of waiting and watching, the skies have opened, and the rain is tumbling down. Sitting on the ledge beside the conservatory, I let the rain soak in. Outside, the birch and cherry are dancing and carousing, like Rafael yesterday, little arms and legs busting moves to hip hop beats and lullabies alike... chuckling, gurgling, squirming in the happy wet of bath time.

This morning marked the passing of the last of my father's brothers. On such a day, to the sound of rain, grief melts quietly away. On such a day, with the sound of rain, words stumble on the page.

Like my father, Uncle Mustafa spent many years in Zanzibar, East Africa, and recalled in great detail, and with pleasure, the names of places for my brother's recent pilgrimage there. Marriage proposals aside, Rizwan's work in Africa continues apace. His ability to inspire, motivate and challenge fellow beings is evident in this blog called How To Draw Camels, the premise of which is to teach the world how to draw camels while showcasing and supporting social enterprises and entrepreneurs in West Africa. I am quite fascinated by this blog, not least because of the high regard the author holds my brother in :) Here is what he wrote:
Someone you should know: Rizwan Tayabali
It is because of him that this site exists. Not only did he provide motivation, he offered invaluable guidance in developing the site and the project. He did not ask for anything in return. Rizwan travels around the world offering pro bono consulting to social enterprises. It is stunning how much ground he has covered. Most recently, he has been in Southern Africa. Before that, it was Southeast Asia. I encourage you to check out his work and spread his vision. He has been incredibly inspiring to me personally and I think a lot of people would benefit from seeing how he spends his days.

Well. Oh well, if someone writes such glowing words about my brother...!! In Bamako, Mali, a trickle of water emerges into basins which are dry by afternoon. So much rain bucketing down around me, while women walk miles, pumps are needed, new water solutions... you all know this story. So let's learn how to draw camels together! Let's buy an organic Bactrian Camel T-shirt! Watching my younger brother and sister teach little Rafi how to do everything while learning so much about trust and faith and practical parenting solutions themselves, I really understand the simple creativity of this idea. You may start with just a squiggle, a tadpole of a face that looks nothing like anything recognisable, or with this:
and, then, with a little bit of practice, move niftily on to this...
Or from this (who looks more anxious? Grandfather or grandson?):
to this :)


  1. Lovely.

    I drew a camel with words, does that count?


  2. I so love your posts, Shaista, always so reflective and full of love, and the doings of your amazing family. Beautifully reflective and informative. I love hearing about Rafael whose wise eyes look out at the world with ancient wisdom. Your uncle's journey sounds like it was a rich one, fully lived. And your brother is as amazing as you are. Wowzers. You will never run short of material to write about, with your family! I loved my visit with you this morning!

  3. oh honey.
    i love it all. these glimpses inside the window of your family.
    But your papa holding RZ....too much!

  4. OH oh! Loved this post! I'm mountain high (literally) and living half-unplugged this week.

    Enjoyed this immensely, especially the last picture of your dad and baby, his eyes (your dads) are smiling.

  5. Ruth - everything you do counts :)

  6. Sherry - have you heard of Nora Ephron? She is the author of 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'You've Got Mail' etc... she once said (quoting her parents, who themselves were screen writers), "Everything is copy"... her words have stuck with me, because they are so true! For a writer, everything is copy! And one's family more than anything else ;)