27 August 2010

one month panic

and the countdown stands at one month. thirty days. ye gods.

panic has been eating away at me for the past couple of days, and i have shed more tears into my pillow than i care to admit. sleep comes later and later these days. in fact, i should be fast asleep right now, but instead was reading through my journal. the last time i felt this way was when i graduated and left cairo. after tossing and turning and tearing, reading through journal entries from that time was quite soothing. then too, i was upset, had a hard time letting go, and it took me quite some time after being back home to move on and make a new life. i spent a lot of time mourning my lost identity, lost friends.

if i could do it then, i can do it now. this is the only mantra i have, and who knows how many times i will need to repeat it until i am okay. as long as i know i will be okay, that there is a light at the end, i can inch my way across..

25 August 2010

hk tourists killed in philippines bus seige

-disgruntled ex-police officer takes tour bus hostage and demands to be reinstated

-ten things the manila police got wrong according to a security analyst, including lack of training, equipment, no element of surprise and not taking the opportunity of disarming the gunman

hk needs to remain calm and not take out its anger against filipino residents in the city

23 August 2010

don't sweat the small stuff

what better time to remember this useful adage than now, in the midst of wedding preps? because really, it's all small stuff. some time ago, i told H that in the worst scenario, i would see the wedding as an obstacle to get through before us being together (he wasn't overly impressed by this for some strange reason..)- perhaps i should print that out and stick it up somewhere for me to read daily! surely, in the grand scheme of things, the wedding will not matter so much. that being the case, the color of the invitations, the way gifts are wrapped, who is invited, will all also not matter...

i admit, i want a perfect wedding. whether such an event is possible, i don't know. i am quite sure however, that mine will not be that event. for if it were, i would be getting married where i want, i would be wearing clothes i had chosen, and only the people i wanted would be coming. none of these things are all that important though. what bothers me more, are the constant arguments and battle of wills over the smallest of decisions. it is simply not possible for everyone's opinion to be taken into account, and i wish everyone would just respect that. and i wish i was better at just doing my own thing regardless of other opinions.

i want to enjoy myself, from now until the wedding, during the wedding, afterwards. this seems like a momentous task from where i'm standing at the moment however. how nice if i could fast forward to mid november already!

21 August 2010

ramadan routine

after the first few days of ramadan, my body and mind quickly accustomed themselves to the new routine and i feel good, alhumdolillah. for the past few days i've even been gallivanting in the heat between namaz, trying to get things crossed from my numerous lists.

i enjoy the ramadan routine. there is something about the discipline and lack of choice (regarding food, entertainment, company) that is soothing, not to mention spiritually strengthening and refreshing. it makes me realize how much clutter there is in my life normally, how much unnecessary baggage is carried from one day to the next. ramadan is a welcome respite from it all. (if only i could continue like that after ramadan as well!)

my imminent departure makes this a more poignant ramadan as well, particularly with regard to 69. i find people there to be more friendly than usual -while nice, it's also a little disconcerting..

i cannot help but wonder how ramadan 2011 will play out- what will i be eating for sihori, where will i be sitting in markaz, who will my friends and neighbours be, and so many other things! fingers crossed that everything will be wonderful, inshallah :)

15 August 2010

the company you keep

"tell me who you're with, and i'll tell you who you are" -spanish proverb

i came across this proverb while reading an article on friendship, and i loved it! the company you keep truly does say a whole lot about you. since high school, i have been very lucky with my friends. i had a good group of friends throughout high school, an eclectic mix of close friends in cairo, and at work, i was blessed with colleagues who so easily became my friends and family.

when i think about these people, particularly those i call my friends today, i am proud to be associated with them, to be known as their friend, to be measured by them. they are bright, warm, open, funny and talented (among other things). i feel better when i am with them, when i speak to them. most importantly, they bring out the best in me, for which i am so very thankful.

you know who you are -i love you guys!

09 August 2010

love colored specs

by Ogden Nash

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

i love this poem! i came across it while surfing through wedding vows and poetry, which made it all the more poignant. there is so much stuff out there--sweet, cliched, funny, sentimental. since H, 'every aged phrase' truly is new and touching and true, and i feel like i've finally found my secret garden. (or shakespeare's dream!) alhumdolillah :)

ready for ramadan?

Ramadan is upon us, and i have spent the weekend trying to ready myself, spiritually and physically. i am usually excited about ramadan, about the fasting, the extra namaz, the community spirit and interaction at markaz. the past couple of days however, i have been slightly tense, apprehensive about the rigors of a 14 hour fast in this heat, about being extra kind and patient while suffering from a lack of sleep, water and chocolate, about concentrating on the spiritual while daily wedding dramas unfold at home.. perhaps, it being my last ramadan in hk, in 69, has also been preying on me..

while revisiting last year's ramadan post, i was happy to reread the following from poetry chaikhana:

"It took me a while to understand that fasting, even a mild fast, is a confrontation with death. It is the willingness to temporarily abandon that constant hunt to satisfy every desire by attempting to slough off the fundamental hunger for food. How do you just have a desire and sit with it, without attempting to immediately satisfy it? That’s a pretty frightening question, when you really ask it."

indeed. i have been battling (in failure) erratic food cravings the last month, which have left me feeling unhealthy and out of sorts, as well as with little energy for my usual work outs.

"We use food to control emotions. We use food to shift mood and change awareness. Think of the way we grab a pint of ice cream from the freezer after a terrible breakup. Everything, even a salad, affects consciousness in some way. The resulting psychic shift after eating something can be relatively positive or relatively negative. It can help you to feel solid and grounded or expanded and open. It can tantalize the senses and flood us with feelings of satiation or leave us frustrated. None of this is necessarily bad, but we must understand how profoundly food affects awareness, and utilize food wisely… and sometimes not consume food at all.

"A fascinating thing happens when you fast as part of a spiritual practice: After you ease past the initial psychic tension and your body moves through any detox discomforts — the mind naturally settles and grows quiet."

perhaps my food battles have stemmed from the roller coaster ride my life has become right now. and perhaps, inshallah, with an empty stomach and settled mind, everything else will fall into place as well!

05 August 2010

UNJUST, the documentary

There was silence at the end of the documentary. Silence. Sometime later, Basil noted that it was like “a very long poem”. Indeed. It reminded me of the following verse by Walt Whitman:

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

UNJUST was a beautiful production; from the stories, to the music, to the cinematography, to the heart behind it. This beauty does not take away the desolation, the crimes or the state indifference. Despite all this, it is beautiful. Perhaps this is due to the three women it documents, who remain strong and committed to their struggles against heavy odds. Perhaps it is due to the women involved in producing the documentary; first timers, but just as committed and compassionate. Perhaps it is due to the many people who walked together with the women in their struggle.

For me, the film mirrored a personal journey. It reminded me of all the people involved in these cases, all the discussions, meetings, protests we held, all the letters, petitions and reports we wrote, all the coffee we drank, prayers we shared. Through these cases I learnt of solidarity, witness intimidation, extrajudicial killings, disappearance, witness protection, court observation. Meeting these women taught me how energy and emotion can be channeled into a fight for justice, how despair and anger can be turned to determination and hope.

Like any story told after an event, the film captured so much more than I could see while walking that path. For that, I am ever thankful.

Moments I cannot forget:

Angkhana: “My husband fought for the rights of others. If his family cannot fight for him, I think that would be very sad.”

Padma: “I would ask my husband’s killers, why didn’t you kill us all?”

Thank you, Josefina.