Venezia, Italia.

Venice – Italy

“Every summer, Venice is a setting for the same scene: thousands of visitors arriving daily on cruise ships, drunk tourists diving off bridges and people peeing outside homes and exclusive hotels at 9AM. The legendary city is losing its character and gaining the nickname “Disneyland on the sea”.

Mass tourism is nothing new for Venice, but over the last few years it’s been getting out of hand. The numbers vary, but it’s said around 30 million tourists visit the small city every year. The impact of that is so damaging that the UN has threatened to put Venice on its list of endangered heritage sites if it can’t find a way to deal with the volume of tourists, particularly those coming from cruise ships.

Venetian authorities have taken measures in an attempt to reduce the nuisance for locals – like fining misbehaving tourists and limiting access to some monuments and squares. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for many locals, who are fleeing the city in large numbers. There are less than 55,000 people now living in the city, compared to 175,000 in the 1950s.

Mind you, a number of remaining Venetians are fighting back; earlier this year, 25,000 people voted to ban giant cruise ships from docking in the lagoon, though a similar effort in 2015 was ignored by the local government. A few months ago, 2,000 locals gathered on the streets to protest, in a march called “Mi no vado via” (I’m not leaving). Giampietro Gagliardi, a member of local action group Generazione ’90, told local press that there were plenty of Venetians still willing to stand up for their city. “We want to make it clear,” he said, “Venetians are here and fighting to stay. We want to re-appropriate our city, saving it from the mono-culture of tourism.”

– Leonardo Bianchi, News editor VICE Italy

Why are the wells are capped in Venice? It is because each well had its own water system underground and this was eroding the earth so the wells were capped and therefore Venice is now no longer sinking so fast, if at all.

People have been put off from going to Venice because their friends have remarked on the smell yet whilst we were there, there was no smell. Just a slight whiff upon leaving our hotel one morning.

If and when you do go, please give Venezia, my love.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Home, But Not At Home.

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Looks beware.

It took a lot out of me today, to remain calm and ignore this incredibly rude woman on the bus who refused to budge an inch for me and my pram, which carried my beautiful sleeping baby.

The bus was almost EMPTY but she was sitting right where the pram needs to be placed, safely. The priority seats for those with a pram or children. I was dumbfounded by her coldness and misery. Not one flicker of kindness or consideration to let me pass, her, to access the empty seat next to her so I could sit next to / with my baby.

I decided not to let her dictate the whole situation and submit to her evilness so I squeezed past her, between her and the pram and sat down. I felt her stony glare dig in and could see just how despicable she became, out of the corner of my eye. I focused on my baby who was my priority and smiled at her, reassuring her I was by her side so she could go back to sleep.

A sense of achievement overcame me, I had not allowed her to bully me based on her assumptions of me.

A kind stranger looked at me to see if I was okay because they too had noticed this woman’s attitude. I would have loved to vent right there and then with someone who witnessed it all, especially their dirty looks. Instead, a hint of a smile was managed.

Patience prevailed.

I was born in the United Kingdom and I have a British passport. I may not have pale white skin or “English” features but that does not give anyone the right to judge me or anyone else based on my / our looks or choice of clothing.

Who the hell do some people think they are? Piss off!

Words fail me, when I am made to feel like a foreigner in my own country. This may be my home country but I am most certainly, not at home.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

There’s No Place Like Home…

Oftentimes, I wonder where one’s home is because I have questioned myself if somewhere can really be ‘home’? As I was sent away to boarding school, ten going onto eleven years old, I lost that vital ‘homely’ and ‘family’ sense. Moreover, I do not really like to complain because…

Some people or children I dread to think do not even have a home. People here in the UK and elsewhere can be so ungrateful and inexplicably arrogant; they have a roof over their heads and free medical care. They concern themselves with having the best garment or the latest gadget when an older child overseas could be going without food for days at a time so their younger sibling does not – Their parents having passed away. It is children like them who you need to pay your respects to and be mindful of, not some sociopath looking to gain popularity to feed their ego and vanity.

Unfortunately, there is a level of such hypocrisy and ignorance amongst us also. There was a Polish family in the Valley and so there happened to be an Afghanistan family too. I scanned around me to gauge people’s reactions as I sensed an interesting moment. Most were happy to respect one another’s personal space and continue as they were yet the Polish adults clearly from their body language, facial expressions and directional glances did not want this Afghanistan family sharing the same albeit very public playground as their children or their space. One of them even tried his luck to take a photo of the women as they were in their full gear. He pretended he was looking at the menu on his camera but then he felt braver and so the camera was lifted higher and higher until he felt confident enough to brazenly photograph them.

I felt fury seething away at me yet my husband held me back from standing in front of his camera to obscure any further potential frames and to prevent him from being so disrespectful – making a point of his/their attitudes. How dare they take photos of another family and be racist about them when they are immigrants themselves?! The bloody cheek of them.

Once, someone from the very same vicinity told my husband, my children and I to go back where we came from… If only they knew that, I came from down the road to them. There was no way my family and I was going to keep quiet about these bullies so we complained to the local councillor and several others who at their next residents meeting had their voices heard on our behalf. They were rather embarrassed and somewhat apologised.

Many also tend to have one rule for themselves and another. I knew someone who did not want anything to do with anyone who was in a negative state of mind yet he did not practise what he preached “Be kind always for you never know what that person is going through”… What another hypocrite.

One of the things about being deaf is being able to relate to how a foreigner is made to feel, since we are made to feel like outcasts also. Social cleansing happens much more than people realise.

The difference between the people of the North and the south of England is clearly diversity and tolerance. In London, anything goes – everyone is different and easily tolerated whereas in the North, most people are spoilt and do not like change.

Nevertheless, I have come to sense a certain emotion being ‘at home’ in the North East of Yorkshire. Being out in the wide open, the rolling moors, and the golden beaches of which is the surfers’ paradise. Up above are birds cherishing their flight and the wind beneath their wings. Bags of Cinder Toffee testing the strength of one’s delicate teeth. The mouth-watering aroma of the traditional fish and chips, especially in Whitby… Forget Parmesan! Discovering an abundance of fossils here and there. My childhood becoming my children’s’.

The glistening in the sunlight and the relative unique sounds of the seashore reminds me how it feels to be at peace, to be in awe of Mother Nature and its designs. Trivial issues be it political or personal and wealth turn ever more meaningless. The meaning of Life is clear.

However, Italy and North Africa is also in my blood so it is only natural that I feel a certain connection to these places and their cultures. Ever since I was a child growing up in the UK, I have never felt at home or accepted, not even, for who I am. How could I ever feel “at home” amongst all the conflicting angst being imposed upon myself?

As the delight in my children’s faces matches that in my heart, I know that as long as we have one another, I determine that I will be ‘home’… For ‘home’ is where my heart is.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Welcome, To My World

Seeing clearly how people throughout the world tend to engineer and manipulate situations to best suit and benefit themselves has left me feeling dispirited so much so that I find myself walking alone to pastures new. This is ok by me because I have no desire whatsoever to follow the (m)asses!

In order for people to help identify who they are, they fulfil a need to belong so will settle wherever they feel most comfortable and accepted. Hearing people do not face the same issues concerning communication yet a foreign speaking (hearing) person could relate most closely to the experiences facing barriers in communication that a deaf person would encounter albeit almost daily.

Within the deaf community, there is the signing community who may prefer to use sign language and the oral community, those who may prefer to speak or never learnt to sign. Whenever I meet a signing person, they automatically assume I am from a hearing family from the way I conduct myself. Whenever I meet someone from the oral community, they too automatically make assumptions yet on the opposite end of the spectrum. In both cases, the minute they learn I have deaf parents they are always rather overly surprised.

Being able to sign, speak and lip-read has meant I unfortunately experience even more conflicting emotions and situations. There is no middle ground for those in the minority, like myself. I am only trying to be who I am yet it is they who choose to make assumptions and create categories thus divisions. Welcome to their world.

I am tired, of feeling disenchanted and disappointed. There is no need, for people in general to continue playing what seems to be a trivial game (out of jealousy and contempt) and it is one that will do them no favours by the way they allow themselves to behave. Yes, “allow” because they cannot foresee or think outside the box thus giving permission. If only they could see the consequences of such actions, questioning themselves or others objectively they then would not allow it. At least, I would hope so.

As always with most everything, there is a balance.

Today, a complete stranger showed me kindness and offered a helping hand. It was extremely humbling to remember there are still genuine people around who have no agendas and nothing but a good heart. I mustered up the biggest glow from within and a smile to accompany it to show my gratitude. They relatively beamed. That familiarity of trying to make other people smile felt so good. I may be rather different to everyone else but once I have managed to make someone smile, I am home once more.

Welcome to MY world 🙂

Keep on smiling, for it is free and does wonders xx

Hubba Hubba
Hubba Hubba

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Ciao Bella…

On February 28th 2015, a homeless woman who happened to be deaf was attacked outside Wanstead Tube station, London, UK. The British Transport Police appealed for help to catch her female attacker… Naturally, the deaf community shared said appeal. We were all relatively hoping the homeless person who was attacked was ok and in safe hands.

The very next morning, a private message stopped me in my tracks. It was about an old friend of mine who once upon a time became my best friend and so it turned out that this homeless woman was the very same person who was set upon. I could not believe it… She had been my best friend and I was in shock. Realising the extent of her current state, it was only then I started to understand why she may have been attacked and so could this be somewhat be a blessing in disguise – to get her the help she so badly needs? But perhaps most importantly, to those who knew her extremely well and oftentimes wondered how she was, she was more or less okay. Considering.

There was a time when she was very much loved by all and we all wanted the best for her yet when she fell in with the wrong crowd that contributed to her downfall and subsequently lost her way, we could not bear to watch any longer. The last straw for me came when her (then) boyfriend threatened to end my life.

As for anyone who resorts to threats and/or violence, there is no excuse for such despicable behaviour…

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about”

So my dear Naomi, if by any chance you are reading this, I hope one day very soon you will be guided your way back to being who you once were, making the most of life and living up to (the very special meaning of) your tattoo. 🙂 Your next tattoo should be that of the stars because it seems to have become so such a dark place for you with only the stars for some illuminating company.

Turning a negative into a positive, you should use these stars to your advantage and navigate your way back home, for home is where the heart is. Xx

~ SJ (Sara Jae)