No matter what, there is always an untold story…
I am blown away by how confident, kind and in control Nicole Noor always is. She will always help you out—whether it’s helping write a story better or offering to have her Uber driver drop you at the station when the neighborhood you are in is sketchy. And then you take a closer look and it all makes sense: she has struggled and survived. If you ever feel that your life is crappy (= me during my self-indulgent, self-pitying days), then you must take a leaf out of Nicole’s life to get some real-in-the-bones perspective.
Q1. How difficult was it growing up in your (war-torn) home country?
It wasn’t difficult at all because I don’t remember any of it. All I remember is what my parents told me. I was born when the bombs lit the sky like stars. I mean, I’m saying it way more poetically than how my parents told me. We were born and raised in poverty. At night we hid in a shed, and my parents had to cover our mouths with their hands while my sister and I screamed from the loud explosions. My dad even crammed Valium pills down our mouths to ease the immense fear. It’s funny how these parts of my life are ones I have no memory of, and yet they completely shaped me. Death, however sad this may sound, has been a true companion. It is an unrelenting aspect that I think of a lot.
Q2. Has working at a bookstore changed your perspective? What has been the best and most insightful interaction that you have had so far? And the cat!!!!
Working at a children’s bookstore is a dream. I don’t even know how to express the joy and love for this place. Mabel, the cat, is this little grounding force. She brings personality and life to the store. I see kids’ eyes light up when they see her. She wanders the stores pacing between these books that each contain their own enormous world and she’s so oblivious to it. It makes me laugh to think of it. How when I get so caught up in telling and hearing the perfect story, she’s just wandering by sensing the love and presence of people around her. Being here affirms my love for kids’ books. They are so imaginative, full of wonder, and to go back to the first question, I feel I had a lot of trauma in my own life that I was denied a childhood. This is my way to live it every single day.
Q3. Your most interesting travel story?
Traveling for me is about meeting new people. I love wandering the streets and just starting a conversation with someone randomly. When I went to Europe this summer, I did a lot of wandering and exploring with locals. In France, where I stayed in Paris and Marseille, I would just meet people and spend time with them. It was so fun! We’d go swimming together, walk the streets of Paris for hours and go to the park. That didn’t answer your question, did it? My most interesting travel experience is in France, where I witnessed an “exorcism” with the people I stayed with—long story short, I had my own fortune told and believed none of it.
Q4. Being in love and what does it mean to you at the moment?
Being in love means being vulnerable, and so it’s something I avoid. I feel my life is a cake with layers and layers of things, how’s that for a crappy metaphor? (I’m just really craving cake right now.) Anyways! Love. Love sucks, no I’m kidding. I’m sure to love is great. I love my dog even though he died. Romantic love is something I suck at, really bad. Beneath my charming exterior (ha!), is someone who’s really afraid of getting hurt. So, that’s where I’m at with it at the moment.
Q5. A published story that you had the most fun working on?
The story I have had the most fun working on is not necessarily the one that generated most attention. It was called ‘We Could be Heroes’ and it explores the nature of diversity in fantasy literature. I got to speak to a bunch of authors, scholars, and bookstore clerks (including one at the bookstore I work now!). It was a tremendous experience I originally got really fascinated with the concept of mythology, and the universal unconscious after some vivid dreams of my own. Specifically, the serpent and dragon images and how they are perceived.
So I started delving into my own research and examining how the perception of the reptilian-self, manifested through images of dragons, changes in patriarchal versus feminine-embracing societies and mindsets.
That’s the most fun I had, but again, the most impactful is one about a health condition called interstitial cystitis. I was one of the first people in Canada to write about this and it got published in The Globe and Mail. I continue to hear from a lot of women to this day about how that story brought tears to their eyes. Was it fun to work on? No. But it was definitely a raw and deeply gratifying experience, and I hope sufferers will one day find healing and peace in their bodies.
Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.