31 July 2011

ramadan kareem

and it's ramadan! last year i spent quite a bit of time wondering what this ramadan would be like, in a new city, amongst new people.. it is hard to believe that a year has passed and life is moving along so quickly.. having no 'memories' here yet, my mind simply returns to the ramadan rituals and routines it was familiar with..

my favourite part of ramadan is its simplicity and lack of baggage, physical and mental. not being preoccupied with food, and focusing my energy on quran, namaz and dua is refreshing and.. fulfilling.


the following is something i came across some time ago, and it seemed like a good set of principles to work with during this month of ibadat:

1. God is a matter of alignment, not belief. Faith in God is not enough, you have to align yourself with the message. Valuing the master without mastering the values will not take you anywhere. The greater your non-alignment from the laws of life, the greater your suffering. Suffering is feedback from life, telling you that you are not aligned.

2. Life follows enthusiasm. Being enthusiastic is your way of being in touch with God. If you have to do something, do it enthusiastically or don’t do it at all. Right action is that which generates the energy to perform the action by itself.

3. We are people who are busy in our lives, and ‘also’ seeking God. But we have to become those who are busy in our lives ‘only’ seeking God.

read the entire piece here.


i was recently gifted an awesome book of rasullalah (sa)'s hadith and moulana ali's kalam. the month of ramadan is a good time to study and reflect upon them.
"do good to the worthy and unworthy. if a person is worthy, then he is deserving of that good. if the person is unworthy, then you are the one who does good regardless."

28 July 2011


after much angst and frustration about a particular troubling thorn, I recently asked for some advice from a couple of close friends. after reading their responses, my immediate thought was, ‘that sounds so sensible. why didn’t I think of it/act upon it?’ for a few minutes, I began wondering how it was that these friends were so much smarter than me, and had better perspective. then I asked myself that if I had been asked the same question, what advice would I have given? lo and behold, it turns out I would have given similar advice. because of course, I would have been calm and rational and positive in viewing someone else’s life scenario. sigh.

so next time I’m in a sticky situation, before panicking and reacting adversely, I’ll ask myself how I would advise someone else to respond.

it’s not easy to curb those instinctive (and frequently negative) initial reactions though… I will try though!

"The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others." seriously!

"To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it." not sure if this makes me feel better, or worse..!

25 July 2011

kindness and pain

kindness. you would think that this was such a simple, universal concept. in fact, it is not. a big kindness for me may be nothing to you. or vice versa. or a small kindness on your part may rock my world. it all comes down to what someone needs at a particular moment, and what they see as important, courteous and what makes them happy.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just adding up wrong… if I’m just dealing with people who have a different currency. Whilst I complain that they never bake me stuff, they complain that I don’t hug enough, or whatever. We’re all trying, but using such different methods that the other person never sees the gift.

I too feel that I don’t get enough kindness sometimes (and what a relief to know there are others out there feeling the same), but the above comment (to the linked post) was a nice reminder that perhaps I’m just not looking closely enough. perhaps I’m focusing too much on instant gratification of my immediate needs, without seeing the other little things that could brighten my day.

this is particularly important in relationships –one of the first things I read as a newly wed was advice I try to follow consistently (but falteringly..): ‘love your spouse how they need you to love them, not how you want them to love you’. your acts of kindness and theirs may differ; learn to notice (and appreciate) the difference!


the above comment inspired me enough to check out a new blog, and the latest post reads thus:

To heal, first and foremost, you have to want to heal. It sounds trite, and more than a little dismissive, as if everyone hurting is doing it on purpose for the attention, or perhaps to annoy. The thing is, some of the time we are doing it on purpose, but usually for a different reason. We carry our grief, our anger, and our resentment for further than is necessary when we haven't yet decided what to do with it. We have, after all, paid dearly for our pain. It's not reasonable to expect us to part with it easily, even though it is ugly and burdensome. Tossing it aside - "letting go" or "moving on" - is not our goal. Instead, we seek a transformation; a suitably valuable exchange.

indeed. how lovely if everyone could find such an exchange, if everyone could transform their anger/hurt into something useful and gratifying.

20 July 2011

friendship, part II

in the earlier post on friendship i said i had nothing to add -well, there is one thing i would like to add. that i am particularly grateful for having found friends to ease my journey at various times. these friends came into my life and fulfilled particular roles, helped me in particular ways, at particular times. then it just seemed oh-so-natural, but upon reflection i can see that they were like my guardian angels, guiding me, supporting me through certain paths. many of these friends i am either no longer in touch with, or not as close to as i once was. and yet, i always think of them with great fondness, for being with me through my tough times. there was my gcse physics partner, my a/s level english language pal, my bus buddy, my faith-spiritual guide in college, my polsci mentor, my dorm neighbor who was also getting over an intense crush, and so many others.

these awesome people befriended me, helped me through various roadblocks or just walked with me on an otherwise lonely road. our shared journeys resulted in intense connections. they also made me a firm believer in the ecstasy and comfort of true friendship, as well as its divinity -these people did not just happen across my life, but were surely placed there for a reason. (of course, i believe that all my friends are in my life for a reason, it's just that that reason is more visible with some than with others.)

for them, these lines have even greater meaning:
"no matter what person I become, there will always be in me the girl you knew, and no matter who I become, I would never have been that without knowing you"

18 July 2011

news and current affairs

i've come across some great/unusual/fascinating news stories/articles recently, all of which deserve individual blog posts. time and brain cells however, prohibit such a plethora of posts. instead, you'll have to make do with the links and some brief commentary!

delhi police solve mumbai blasts case
really, you should just read this short piece yourself. no commentary needed.

the u.s debt crisis
any debt crisis is complicated, and this gives a nice rundown of the various factors involved. my favorite lines: "We won't attempt to assign blame to one party or the other for the deficits. There is plenty of blame to go around, some of which rests with an American public that won't accept cuts in the largest categories of public spending, and also resists tax increases on anybody but "the rich.""

khan academy and doing homework in class
i began the article because of the reference to salman khan -no, this salman khan is not that of bollywood fame. the article is still (more so perhaps) deserving of a read, for info on khan's simple videos on maths and many other subjects that are being widely viewed by students and educators. one of the teachers making use of the videos in her class is 'flipping' the classroom, so that the video lectures are assigned to students to watch at home, while the homework and exercises are done in class, so that students get more, and more targeted, help. i could've done with that when i was in school for sure! maths homework sucked. really.

alice walker: why i'm sailing to gaza
"Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: What else would I do? I am in my sixty-seventh year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content. It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one's understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise?"

13 July 2011

ksa diary

as i mentioned previously, one of my best friends came to visit me last week from south korea. it was a wonderful eight days, filled with much chatting, laughter and exploration. of the three, i couldn't say which was more fun, or which took up more time. in reality, the three melded together so that we were just being us, together, whether thoroughly enjoying coffee, artwork, street food or silence!

everyday, for me, was happy and adventurous -i had a girlfriend to talk to again, a fellow coffee- harry potter-peanut butter-english cinema and theatre-chinese food-human rights aficionado to share interests and activities with, an ex-colleague to wax sentimental upon ahrc with and a foreigner to be 'foreign' with!!

the week spent with her was more social and busy than my past several months perhaps:
monday- mall, beach
tuesday- haji ali (tomb), chinese lunch, coffee, shopping, xmen
wednesday- art gallery, coffee (together with another friend from hk), heritage street
thursday-lunch, beach, dinner
saturday-lonavla, lavasa
sunday-harry potter, thai dinner
monday-shopping, coffee

amidst all this was of course going through lots of photos, reading, chatting and napping. oh, and getting wet in the rain too! ksa also spent considerable time trying to understand hindi tv dramas and music videos!

her visit left me rejuvenated, and with a renewed sense of wonder and possibility at living in this new city and making it my home. thank you ksa, and please come again soon!

12 July 2011


"She said no matter what person I become, there will always be in me the girl you knew, and no matter who I become, I would never have been that without knowing you."

"Dating is about figuring out what you want. Friendships — those are about figuring out who you are. What matters to you. How you see the world. And one day, hopefully if our female friendships have prepared us enough, we can take what we learn from them and make that man or woman we commit our lives to our best friend."
this is from an awesome post on friendship, female friendship in particular. it says everything that i would want to say, so i really have nothing to add here (except for my favorite spanish proverb: 'tell me who you're with, and i'll tell you who you are'!) i could write about my friends, but i won't.. at this moment, i do not feel the need to share those precious, private, wonderful moments. perhaps at some other time; for now, i am happy to relive them in my head, to know that they exist(ed).

one of my best friends, ksa, was just here visiting me. just by being her, by being here, she reminded me of everything that i wanted in life, of everything i held important, of everything i aspired to. it was not so much that i had forgotten, but that it had been buried beneath too much baggage.

i have been blessed with some truly amazing friends, alhumdolillah!