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Welcome to the Dispatch

Welcome to the Dispatch
By Al Ibrahim • Issue #1 • View online
The other night, I was talking with Kat about starting a second newsletter – this newsletter, in fact – and she asked why I started a newsletter in the first place.
“Honestly,” I told her, “I don’t remember.”

View from my apartment, which I haven't left in over a week now.
View from my apartment, which I haven't left in over a week now.
I watched Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman over the weekend, and one of the things that stood out to me – apart from the digital de-ageing which is as impressive as it is confusing – is the fact that a lot of the characters in the film (which are all based on real people) died by homicide. 
But then again, it’s a mob movie. And if culture is the unspoken agreement that “people like us do things like this”, then whacking (and being whacked) is just mob culture.
I don’t remember which of my friends was the first to start a newsletter, but a significant number of people I know – a lot of you currently reading this – have newsletters.
Because people like us, do things like this.
I’m sure I knew of newsletters before the first of my friends started sending out one, but it never occurred to me to send out one myself. For me, a newsletter was something other people did.
Until all of a sudden, it wasn’t.
One of the oldest sayings in personal development circles is You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s one of those things that’s been around for so long that you can find a version of it in almost every culture.
Zama da madaukin kanwa shi ke kawo farin kai essentially means the same thing in Hausa.
One of my strong identities right now is Runner. Another – which is less known, but I’d argue just as strong – is Hummus-maker.
But I never would’ve started making hummus if I hadn’t seen Dani make it. And even though I was running before I met Elvira, it was only after meeting her that I actually became a runner.
And you don’t even need to have a personal relationship with someone in order for you to get that farin kai.
This newsletter, for example, is modelled after Ali Abdaal’s – a Youtuber I don’t personally know, but feel like I do because of the relationship I have with his videos. Not incidentally, he was also the person who inspired me to start my Youtube channel.
My first newsletter – the one I didn’t know why I started – has now essentially just turned into an End-of-Year Review Newsletter (something I learned from Liy and modelled after Syar’s). I send it out once a year, and because it’s super long – this year’s being the longest at 10,000 words – only about half the people who receive it read it. But they reply or message me personally to tell me how much they love it. They add new goals to their lives. They discover podcasts and books and films. They get inspired to start working on things they care about.
And really, that’s why I do it. To be of service.
So for this new newsletter, the plan is have it be more frequent, but keep it short. Only about 850 words per dispatch so hopefully more people will read it. Twelve times a year, instead of one. And in each of the categories – Books, TV, Films, Podcast, and Music – I’ll only recommend one thing.
I’ll also be promoting one Youtube video I made, and one post from my blog.
You’re getting this because I copied your e-mail over from that first newsletter. But if what this newsletter is about doesn’t interest you, please unsubscribe. Or just hit reply and tell me, and I’ll unsubscribe you myself. No questions asked.
Because for me, the newsletter isn’t about numbers. It’s about service. It’s about providing value. It’s about making a connection. So if what I’m creating isn’t for you, let’s free ourselves from each other and go find our people. 
But if this is for you, and you know someone else who it’s for, please forward it to them.
Things I Make
On Youtube
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Daily Journal
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Daily Journal
If you already have a journaling habit on paper, I talk about why you might want to start using an app instead (or as well).
And while this newsletter is not about numbers, my youtube channel definitely is. At least at this stage. So help a brother out. Like and Subscribe!
On the Blog
I have a brand new blog (but with the same old address), and I just posted something new on there!
Suna Linzami
Things I Like
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
One of the things that this made me consider is whether, we – as a people – are capable of imagining an afterlife that does not at some point turn into hell.
If you’ve read the book – or end up reading it after this – let me know which of the afterlives is your favourite. 
‎Pretend It's a City (2021) directed by Martin Scorsese • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd
The episode where Fran talked about her aversion to money was hilarious, deeply heartbreaking, and so very relatable. Three words that could also describe pretty much any episode from the series.
‎The White Tiger (2021) directed by Ramin Bahrani • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd
I would recommend watching this if you haven’t read the book. I would also recommend it if you have. In the places where it succeeds, it elevates the book.
I’ve seen people compare this to Parasite, which I think is a bit short-sighted. While both films involve some sort of servitude, Parasite is primarily a heist film, while The White Tiger is a slave rebellion.
Transcript: Ezra Klein Interviews George Saunders - The New York Times
I didn’t even wait for the episode to finish before adding A Swim in a Pond in the Rain to my to-read list.
Nine recommended this to me a couple of weeks ago when I asked for new music on Instagram, and now all I want is to get back into Lindy Hop just so I can swingout to this.
And that’s all from this dispatch.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Al Ibrahim

I'm a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and an all-around creative enthusiast based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the first Monday of every month (more or less, but more and more less these days), I send out a dispatch of some of the best things I've read, made, watched, learned, and listened to in the previous month.

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Sent with love, from KL.