28 February 2011

monday grace

1. horoscope:
If you have been waiting for a time when things would free up a bit in your life, congratulations -- it is here! The rough road you have been traveling on is going to get decidedly smoother and sunnier. Take a deep breath and enjoy the fact that no one is looking over your shoulder anymore and no one is tapping his or her feet waiting for you. The strings that were attached to you have been clipped, and you are now free to roam on your own. Enjoy yourself!
i needed to read that. really.

2. 'my awkward moments in muslim prayer': this made me laugh out loud while reading. it is still making me grin. i need more such material!!

27 February 2011

reclaiming my faith

my faith and religious practice have been something that i have been able to take for granted for most of my life. i grew up in an environment where both were a given. i share this given with both my siblings and the majority of my bohra friends.

as i have noted before, it is easier to have faith when the sun is shining and things are going my way. similarly, i find it easier to practice my faith when it is shared by others, when i am surrounded by fellow practitioners.

with a change in my environment, i find myself floundering a little. there are suddenly many excuses for my lapses in namaz and other deeds. yes, there are more obstacles now than before. yes, the road to good practice is no longer paved concrete. however, i am realizing that only i can reclaim my faith and practice. i will have to forge a new road for myself, and i will use the memory of the old one to help me. when my day of reckoning comes, i won't have to say that it was too hard, that my environment was not conducive. i will, inshallah, return to that road i grew up on, and will meet my fellow companions there (and perhaps take some new ones with me!).

23 February 2011

inspired people and writing

i meant to write this post some days ago, during the protests against hosni mubarak/just after he stepped down, but that didn't happen. no matter, now i have more links to share (see below).

during the protests, i was truly awed and ecstatic by the number of fellow aucians/egyptians/arabs who were involved, no matter in what way- out on the streets, praying in another country, organizing protests in another continent, sharing information, checking up on their friends and family through cyberspace, and whatever else. i was proud to have known these people, to have shared a class, a coffee, a campus with them. i was even more proud to see how far they had come, how responsible, decent, courageous and passionate they were now being. ten years ago, discussing revolutions and reform and democracy in lectures and coffee shops had now come to fruition for them in a way that none of us had ever imagined i'm sure..

i have been lucky enough to work in a field related to my passion and my studies for the past many years. democracy, human rights, governance and accountability are part of my daily bread and butter. not so for many of my fellow aucians. this made their passion and contribution all the more profound.

the tiny sparks of inspiration i was able to glean from them, from so far away, has been seen by many others, around the world. the ongoing wave of protests in the region is but one indication of this.

i came across much inspired and insightful writing at this time, which i wanted to share:

'what next for the 'mad dog' of libya' -the awakening of the arab world, without foreign intervention, and the sad fact that the "western governments seem as opposed to freedom and democracy as the despots who have ruled the Arab world for decades".

'now gaddafi makes the same mistake'- analysis on how regime violence merely emphasizes its lack of legitimacy and lessens public support

'call me if there's a revolution' - a journalist lists why there won't be a similar revolution in china

'uprising has revealed the real egypt' - the political awareness of egyptians and their legitimate demands

writer ahdaf soueif on egyptians finally 'reclaiming the spirit of egypt'

if you have other links to share, i'm always happy to hear from you!

22 February 2011

monday grace

1. the weather. i cannot tell you how much i have been dreading the mumbai heat. not being in hk, i missed winter this year, and now have no idea when i will get the chance again to be cold, to wear warm clothes, to snuggle up in my comforter! mumbai's idea of winter is about 18 degrees celcius, and that too generally at night, for only a few days/nights. surprisingly, this year the nights continue to be 19-20 degrees, and the days while sunny, are free from humidity, thus still bearable. i will enjoy however much of this pleasant weather is left before the heat kicks in..

2. z's book project is finally happening, and i am SO proud and happy for her. check it out: http://www.ispeakformyself.com/

3. blogs. i've started following a couple of new desi blogs lately, which are good: http://thecompulsiveconfessor.blogspot.com/

4. furniture. i am now typing this at my desk, sitting on a chair; bliss! my cute work corner is now set up next to the window, from which trees and a long winding road keep me company. we've got some other furniture made as well, so our home is no longer as bare as it once was.. sure, there's a long way to go yet, but that's okay!

14 February 2011

monday grace

1. rida. yesterday, i was invited to a mitishitabi, for young women. it was fun. one of the topics (unsurprisingly) was rida. as i listened to one woman share her experience of being complimented and respected for her rida in a foreign country, it reminded me that some of the nicest, most profound compliments i've ever been given, have all related to me wearing the rida. from friends and professors at uni, to strangers at seminars, to fellow muslims and colleagues, i've been showered with sincere and soul lifting remarks. it was wonderful to remember these, which i had forgotten in the daily grind of life, and amidst family suggestions that i may sometimes like to consider wearing something else. the comment that stays uppermost in mind, and was very much needed at the time it was uttered, was, "you wear your rida so naturally I don't even notice".

alhumdolillah, i've been wearing the rida for over ten years now, without faltering. there have been moments of doubt and confusion, but those were minor and passed. and yes, i've had to deal with strange looks, whispered conversations, asinine comments and even rejections from suitors, but nothing huge, nothing obstructive or menacing (at that time though, I might have thought the world was falling apart!). i've travelled the world, i've hiked and swum and played badminton, i've been to carnivals and concerts and the theatre, and I can now say I am proud and thankful that I did it all in my rida.

2. being wanted. I came across this post more than a year ago, and it resonated deeply:
Dear God, Ya Rabbul Alamin
I wonder what it is like to be wanted by someone? I imagine it must be a great feeling. In my life so far, as You know too well more than anyone, I have always done the wanting, never been wanted by anyone.

Hope I am still not saying that closer to my death. I guess life carries on and time will not wait and for some people, some things will not be a reality, but it would be nice to experience this just once in my life, even if it is for a short while. Please.
some time later, I was no longer alone, I was in love, and loved in return. being wanted, being loved are indeed amazing feelings, and I pray that everyone experiences such joy. on that note, happy valentine's day! (i received my first ever valentine gift yesterday!!)

08 February 2011

a day in the life of india

prior to moving, i had thought that living here would give me lots to write about.. this has clearly not been the case. perhaps i have been too distracted by other aspects of my new life.. i came across this times of india project today however, which seems like fun, and brought to mind my lack of india writing/observing:
Cows sunbathing on expressways. Bare-bodied sadhus on cellphones. Chappal combats in Parliament. Spitting and urinating in public places. Chaos, golmaal, jugaad... all pieces of a vast multi-cultural mosaic called India.

The Times of India invites the entire nation to come together to help create this mosaic, with A Day in the Life of India. All you need to do is to shoot a photo or video , draw a cartoon or just tell us a joke , on anything you feel makes India, India.
the contest is open till march 15, 2011 and you can visit www.day.in to enter. some of the suggested themes are:
Chalta Hai India: Don't we all know the infamous "I don't care" attitude. Dumping garbage on roads, playing cards at work, cops sleeping on duty... the list is endless!

Pushy India: We love pushing and shoving, be it in a bank queue, on a public transport or at ticket counters.

Overloaded India: Typical scenes of over-usage of capacity of all kinds... remember the famous Fevicol ad?

Bizarre India: We inherit the strangest of customs, rituals and superstitions and pass it on generations after generations, like idols drinking milk, walking barefoot on fire, etc.

Golmaal India: Bribery, underhand nexus, cutting corners, phoney red lights, touts and fake brands.

Jugaad India: We invented this phenomenon. It is all about bending and bypassing rules to get a job done.

Chaotic India: We live in complete disarray, no lane driving, chaotic parking, queues for procuring ration and temples on Thursdays...

Technicolour India: A medley of colours that India is... ghagra cholis, kitschy trucks, Holi ke rang, etc.

Incredible India: The beauty and heritage of India, the monuments, wildlife, beaches and the resplendence of festivals.

Sign of the Times: The happy-go-lucky use of English in India. Remember all the times you have seen signs saying "child beer" or heard people entering a building from the "backside".
i'm sure i won't enter the contest, but it'd be nice to begin my own 'a day in the life of india'..

07 February 2011

monday grace

1. family. the unconditional love and acceptance of family is something that i am only now appreciating. no matter my tantrums, my shortfalls, my peeves, they are there, solid and unwavering in their support and shelter. none of us are perfect, and my relationship with various family members may be complicated and fraught with various tensions. but at the end of the day, i can count on the cushion of their love and familiarity to comfort my weary spirit.

with this realization comes yet another: even now, i cannot truly comprehend the depth of parental love. as a child, i used to mock and shrug off my mom's comment that i would understand when i became a parent myself. how long it took me to begin seeing the wealth of emotion, patience and angst behind that statement.

2. being in the same country, the same city as raudat tahera. i recall a long ago comment made by someone in cairo, of that land being hard on people, filling their path with difficulties. my immediate thought was that any hardships were surely mitigated by the presence of rasul husain. despite the various evolutions of my faith since then, i know that i would rather be in the presence of raudat tahera than not. i have unfortunately not made the most of this blessing so far, but i intend to remedy this from today, inshallah.

02 February 2011

monday grace

if i could hold on to a moment of bliss
if i could use it as a charm,
a light in the dark

if i could collect those moments,
weave them into a blanket
so i would always be warm,
always surrounded by joy

my plan to collect such moments is through writing them down here. for a long time, i've thought about doing something similar to a 'three beautiful things thursday' but just never got around to it. this is the perfect time to start, i believe. i KNOW that while everyday is not great, there is something good in every day, but it is so easy to lose track of that, to not see the forest for the trees. this will not only help me to take stock of my week, it will also give me beauty to collect, and it will take me farther on z's 'fake it till you make it' mantra!

so here goes!

1. my work and colleagues. i am SO thankful to be doing work that fulfils and engages me, that i am good at, that makes me feel productive and allows me to participate in creating a better world. and i am just as awed to have colleagues who are my friends, who are dedicated to their cause, who are good, decent people.

2. internet. i cannot imagine my life without the internet. i wouldn't be able to work from home (or in another country for that matter!) for one, i would have to rely on expensive phone calls and snail mail to communicate with my family and friends (not at all the same as email, chat and facebook) and i would miss out on all the wonderful blogs and websites i daily consume.

3. chocolate. really, that stuff is awesome. even better with nuts, biscuits and rice crispies. never fails to make me feel better, and it even works as a mild pain reliever. (my eyes are now straying to the 5 star bar on the dressing table, which i don't want to open because H got it for me, and it reminds me of the first chocolate bar he gave me, which i didn't open for at least a month, and then consumed over another month :)

4. following the events in egypt over the past week have been inspiring. it is wonderful to see the unity and spirit of the people there, and it brings back many fond memories of my four years there. i have so many friends who are either from there, living there or have a vested interest there.. it is way past time for mubarak to leave and for egypt to move forwards. i would love to go back there one day soon, and for the country to be in a much better state than when i had left, inshallah!