Razeena Palekar

I met Razeena through my Social Impact Enterprise class.  We were one of the few undergrads in the class, and if I remember correctly, on the first day, the instructor kept forgetting her name.  He wasn’t getting it right.

She usually goes by “Rose”.

Actually, because I learned to call her “Razeena” first, I was calling her that for months.  But, I’ve successfully switched over now.

Rose, this picture is a little pixelated. Send me another one?

Anyway, on the first day of class, Rose and I chose to be in a group together.  We later found out that we were also in the same International Trade class, and it was the bond (or the pain) that brought us together.  She represented Canada, and we had a very chilled relationship.  She gave me some aid, and I amended a motion for her.  But mostly, we just complained to each other about how stressful and time-consuming the class was.  Especially since the other class we were taking together was also stressful and time-consuming and some of our group members were not pulling their fair share of weight.

Through all that, I’m also thankful to have gotten to know Rose personally.  I really admire her kindness and her authenticity.  She has really supported me throughout the semester, as a country in the simulation as well as a great friend.  She was an important piece of making me feel welcome and loved in a foreign country, and for that, I’m forever thankful.

Where are you from?
“I’m originally from England, where I lived for 12 years.  My mom is from SA [South Africa], and my dad is originally from Tanzania.  He moved to England, and they met on a holiday.”

Where were you born?

Where in the world have you lived?
“I’ve moved around back and forth between England and South Africa.”
Born in England (1995) > SA (2002) > England (2003) > SA (2006) > England (2008) > SA (2010)
Since there was a lot of migration throughout her life, she simplifies it to living in England for the first 12 years in her life, followed by 8 years in South Africa (5 years in Cape Town, 3 years in Johannesburg).

What languages do you speak (outside of English)?
Speaks Urdu and Hindi, some Spanish
Can read Arabic
Proficient in Afrikaans

What is your race?
Indian, but I consider myself “Coloured” for fun.
(She would be considered “Asian” under South Africa’s demographics.)

Do you have any siblings?
Younger brother (15) and sister (11).
These days, she’s getting closer to her brother, but it’s a little hard to relate to her sister due to the larger age gap.

What other family members/relatives are you close to?
My cousin in England; she’s like an older sister.  She’s doing law now, and I usually consult with her on big decisions.

What year are you and what are you currently studying?
[At the time of the interview:] Final year in B.Comm Management
She has now graduated (expected graduation date in June)

Why that?
I was meant to do a B.Comm Law, but I didn’t get accepted.  In [secondary] school, I had to drop Physics, which I regret.  …  I took [Biology] and liked it.  I discovered that I wanted to be a doctor, but it was too late, I needed to take Physics.  I took [Physiology], but my family didn’t approve.  At UCT, I applied to B.Comm Law [and] took 1 year of Commerce [courses].  To get into law, you must get a certain average and not fail any classes, but I had a bad first semester.
I applied to a 4-year LLB, but had already done a year of Commerce (and didn’t want to switch faculties)… It was a big mistake [to stick to B.Comm] because I didn’t like many courses, especially in [economics].

Courses she did enjoy:

  • International Trade & Finance
  • History of Economic Thought
  • Gender Studies
  • Intro into Marketing

But Rose expresses that she’s glad that she didn’t just earn a narrow degree, like just Finance.  She says that she is proud that she was able to get a well-rounded degree and get the most out of it.

What was your journey like to get to UCT?
I went to an all-girls feeder school near Rondebosch (which is the community UCT is located in).  I think UCT gives preference to neighboring schools.

What are your future plans after varsity?
Law, post-grad LLB. Then work, corporate law?
I am thinking about taking two years to teach English, getting some work experience, and then, getting an LLM (Master’s in Law).

If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?

What is a memorable moment in your life?
Every time I leave a chapter of my life, like school, it’s a time of reflection, and I learn not to be so meticulous about the future.  Because I’m a planner, and I’ve learned that not everything in life turns out the way you plan, and that’s okay.

Do you have any fears?
Spiders, big arachnophobe
Commitment-phobe, because I’m used to change.  It’s hard to imagine being at UCT for another 3 years because I went to like 10 schools!

What is your ultimate goal in life?
To be happy… by making other people happy.  I don’t see myself in South Africa forever, but I want to make an impact first.

If you could do anything in the world and be successful — qualifications, costs, and other people don’t matter — what would you do?
Travel all around the world.  Stay in 5-star hotels and also intimate bed & breakfasts

What are your favorite music artists, movies, books?  Who are the people you consider influential?
Music: “I listen to everything!” Disney: Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Jonas Brothers. Mainstream like Adele. Rock: Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy. Indian/Arabic music. “and I a German rap phase!”
Movies: “A Walk to Remember”, “Titanic”, “Harry Potter”
BooksHarry Potter series, The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho, The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini, 40 Rules of Love – Elif Şafak, The Book of Fate – Brad Meltzer, The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
People: Benazir Bhutto (female Pakistani president, who was assassinated), JK Rowling, Nelson Mandela

What do you want people to say at your funeral?
“Muslim funerals are different, but I get what you’re trying to ask.  I want people to be able to say that I did my best in all my roles – a mom, grandma, friend, sister.  That I was a good Muslim (because there’s always room for improvement when it comes to faith).  I was engaged in my faith and shared with everyone.”

What are the most important things in your life?
Faith / religion – “I will never make a big decision without praying to God.  My behavior, morals, and ethics come from religion, but people misunderstand Islam.  It doesn’t encourage extremist behavior; Islam has feminist teachings.”
Culture – in regards to food, clothing, and certain traditions

What kind of challenges have you faced?
Having to adapt every time I’ve moved, not only schools but countries. I wonder what I would have been like — what if I didn’t move [around so much]? But, I make myself believe that everything happens for a reason.

What advice do you give others?

Have patience and everything will be alright.

No matter what you’re going through, it’s not something you can’t handle.

What is one thing you wish to see changed in the world?
Racism and poverty.
“And education is important, in order to have the acumen and knowledge to come up with innovative ways to tackle poverty.”

What is some skill that you’ve always wanted to learn but never got the chance to?
Drawing, playing guitar

What are things you definitely want accomplished in your life?  In other words, what is on your bucket list?

  • I want to be able to say that I’ve seen most of the world” – travel to at least one country from every continent
  • Become fluent in a language [other than English]
  • Run a (half) marathon (she laughs as she says that a whole marathon may be too much)
  • Be a confident driver (driving manual is tough!)
  • Own a tea shop, where people can pay by how good their experience was
    + book “shop”, where people can use books while they stay, must contain a library of classics
  • Send parents on a holiday

What motivates you?
The future. I have hope for the future, which can only be fulfilled if we work hard today.

Who are you?

I am human, a complex but fragile human.

I am forever thankful for my friendship with Rose.  She’s was there for me through the good times and in the bad.  She explored Cape Town with me, and we’ve shared many memories together – from riding on top of a red double-decker bus to constant complaints about our classes to walks on the beach.  She’s taught me that humans are constantly in flux, and our external environments are often unpredictable, but believing in oneself and working hard can lead to positive outcomes.  She has shown resilience, strength, compassion, love, and generosity in all that she’s done.

Rose, when you’re ready to open that tea+book shop, please give me a shout.  I would be keen to endeavor on that journey with you.

Over and out.


Updated: 28 December 2017

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