31 October 2011


no one is promised tomorrow. a family friend passed away yesterday, and it was a shock. inna lillahi we inna ilayhi raji’un. plans were being made and there was no inkling that he wouldn’t be around to take part. i cannot believe that he is no longer here, that he will not be around for so many milestones. i recall him telling me several times that he wanted to meet H, and i can only mourn that this never happened, that it will never happen. i could have tried a little harder to make it happen on my last visit home, but the thought that there would be ample opportunities in the future made me lax..

‘today is all you have’, ‘tomorrow never comes’ are words that fall like water off our backs. we all say them, we all know they are true, and yet, how many of us truly live as though today was all we had? i tell myself i will henceforth be more mindful of today, of doing important, meaningful things soon, rather than putting them off for some unforeseen future, but deep down, i am not sure how much my habits will change...

the worry that my parents will not always be there to cushion me, to parent me, is magnified by any such news. it is a worry that eats up at me, that can cause instantaneous tears and panic attacks. being so far away from them is made more painful at such times..

life is oh-so fragile. in a matter of moments, your world can shift 360 degrees. you can never be prepared for this, but perhaps certain characteristics and behaviours can be cultivated to make it easier to stay upright while your world is tumbling.

i pray for strength and forebearance for his family, and for sunshine to slowly return to their world.

27 October 2011

creative juices and boosted circulation

i made a card for H today, after not having done any hands-on artsy-craftsy stuff for awhile. it felt GOOD. let me just say, i am no artist. i do not have deft, nimble fingers, cannot draw a perfect circle or cut a straight line. i like colors and shapes and textures though, and i like to play, experiment. i like writing too. a lot. making and writing cards is thus a whole lot of fun, and i can feel the creative juices flowing in parts of my brain that are usually dormant.

making a card for H is doubly fun, because i am not overly concerned by the slightly crooked edge, or the millimeter of tape that can be seen, and so forth. (just to make clear, this is not because H deserves any less immaculateness, but because anything i make for him (i assume) would be taken in the spirit i made it in.) i would not make things for anyone else with so much enthusiasm. in fact, i don’t make cards for anyone else. i have friends who are pretty much professionals when it comes to such things. my 11-year-old niece is a much better artist than me. i would be embarrassed to show them my creations.

but i really enjoy making them. hmm, perhaps i should get back into snail mail, make small, fun stuff and send it along to my friends and family in various pockets of the globe!

i started working out again, after a year. i have a couple of exercise dvds that i used to play regularly, which i can do in the confines of my room. apart from anything else, i missed the adrenaline rush from working out, the feel good factor of an elevated heart rate, muscles in motion, and a boosted blood circulation. sure, i want the fitness that will come from regular work outs, but right now, my motivation is the feel good-ness that comes with it. it’s like quenching my thirst and soothing my throat with cool, delicious lemonade on a particularly hot day- yummm!

18 October 2011

burma: national reconciliation through hostage taking

the media has been happily reporting on burma’s release of detainees recently. most news stories are cautiously optimistic regarding the release, seen as being on the path to democratic reform and national reconciliation.

famous burmese comedian zarganar, however, likens the act to “putting makeup on a paralyzed elderly woman and taking her out on the town”, and says the detainees are like “hostages, being released at a trickle in exchange for deals being struck with various parties at home and abroad”.

read more here.


i’m currently reading i speak for myself: american women on being muslim. while enjoying the essays (which i’ll blog about later), i’m enjoying discussing my thoughts on them with a good friend via email even more. her last email made me grin and grin and grin (yes, i’m still grinning!). it is so wonderful to share something with someone, especially something close to your heart, something that interests you, that you are vested in. and to have feedback regarding that, to know that someone else is listening to you, is sharing your perspective, to connect with someone regarding that.. well, it just made me feel like this is why we are friends, why the world was so aligned..

and it brought to mind some awesome words by mel:
At the same time, it is our relationships that make the difference in this world, that heat this cold world. We notice those moments that people leave their bubble to enter our own because those moments are what makes the difference between people feeling supported and people feeling alone.

Humans are not meant to be alone.

Think about the emails you’ve saved because someone said something that meant the world for you to hear. Or the times when we’ve gushed about how someone took the time to converse with us or read our blog. We have such gratitude for human interactions — even the small ones.
read her entire post, it’s SO worth it.

i would love to join a book club. to read together, to discuss. hmm, how do i go about that..

12 October 2011

visited by genius

i came across this wonderful ted talk by elizabeth gilbert on creativity. (i need to check out more ted talks, really.) she shared some interesting history of greek and roman concepts of genius, where it was believed that individuals were visited by a ‘genius’, rather than being a genius themselves -like gilbert, i totally dig that!

surely, many people today (artists, writers, all creative people) must believe that to some extent anyways. how many could say that their creative work is 100 percent them, and not a product of circumstances, environment and some kind of divinity (including themselves)?

the talk brought to mind one of my favorite erica jong quotes: “the truth is no one knows where poems come from. especially not the poets.”

and reminded me of the following words by czeslaw milosz in ‘a book of luminous things’ (awesome international poetry anthology, you should definitely check it out if poetry is your thing): "Writing is a vocation but many writers experience it also as a curse and a burden. In a way, they feel as if they are serving as instruments to a force alien to them."

these were an intro to ‘in praise of my sister’ by wislawa szymborska, in which “the word ‘poems’ at the end of the lines serves to enhance the weirdness of that occupation”!!

‘poetry reading’ by anna swir also serves to capture the pressure put on poets to talk about all the mysteries of life, death and eternity.

linking etiquette

so i’m never sure what the etiquette for linking to other blogs is -do i need to tell them i’m linking to them? i’m not fishing for any reciprocal links or anything, but it just feels rude to be talking about someone without telling them! if i were talking to a friend about a topic that was inspired by xx, i’d go tell xx about the inspired conversation. doesn’t the same apply to the blogging world?

a quick google search says apparently not. (it makes the blogging endeavour sound a little lonely in fact..) on the other hand, if i were to leave a link to my post on their post/blog, that would seem like uncalled for advertising..

your thoughts?

10 October 2011

being happy AND right?

ever since coming across that women bloggers article (and the subsequent contemplation on women’s lives in general), i’ve been veering between two conflicting realities. i have never been a staunch fan of feminism, but i do believe in equality and non discrimination based on sex/gender.

in my current world, feminism seems to pose a huge obstacle to the notion of changing yourself in order to change your circumstances. ‘you can either be happy, or you can be right’. feminism tells me to be right, while life/relationship gurus tell me to be happy. dang it, i want to be happy. so how do i bridge the divide? how do you be a strong, independent woman, at home and in the world outside?

i read a beautiful essay two days ago, ‘the muslim feminist’ by hebah ahmed in the collection, i speak for myself, which spoke to my conflict. the author’s resolution of the conflict was internal however, and not really spelt out for me to follow.. perhaps this is one area where no amount of intellectual or other reflection can help me however; perhaps this is one of those struggles that i have to go through myself, and work out for myself, with no particular right or wrong..

a wise thought from a woman's search for god in the city: one of life’s lessons is to learn not only how to make choices, but also to learn to live with the consequence of these choices

03 October 2011

women and blogging

coming across this post on the topics favored by women bloggers in India (parenting, personal life, domesticity, cooking) was interesting, for several different reasons. firstly, I was surprised that there weren’t more women listed for writing about books, travel and current affairs, as I’m sure they’re out there. second, it was interesting to follow the comments regarding what constitutes ‘interesting’ topics, and I was reassured by most commenters noting that rather than women having to further diversify their interests (to ‘keep up’ with men), perhaps men should be encouraged to write more about parenting and domesticity. thirdly, it made me reflect upon the various blogs I read and their topics. a quick breakdown:

parenting: 3 women
Writing, books: 3 women, 2 group
Religion, spirituality: 1 woman, 4 men, 2 group
Life reflections: 11 women, 3 men
Poetry: 1 woman, 1 man
Travel: 1 woman
Current affairs: 3 men

while it is relatively easy to categorize the blogs in terms of gender, it was far more difficult to categorize them into various topics. not only do all the blogs fall into more than one category, but the categories themselves overlap: spirituality and life reflections for instance, or writing and travel. furthermore, how do I decide what is current affairs? should it be limited to the current debate on india’s poverty line, or is the southwest airlines’ policy on same sex kissing and its effects on a little girl included too? what about this and this ('this week'); are they current affairs, life reflections or parenting?

the majority of the blogs I read are not by Indian authors. (I have in fact been trying to increase my intake of Indian blogs, without success to date. recommendations are always welcome!) the three that I do read are on current affairs and politics, writing and life, and travel and life. two by women and one by a man. I read more blogs by women than men –this is something I only realized now, after this exercise. I read what interests me, what speaks to me, what makes me feel good. in other words, blogs about writing, faith, books, life, community, current affairs. and yes, I also read blogs written by people who interest me, who I care about.

fourth, a quick google search on the topic of women bloggers brought up an interesting book (that I hope to read someday), which indicated that while women bloggers are perhaps doing better in the west than in India, the same issues/stereotypes continue to plague them, albeit at a different level. some quote-worthy paras:
In an effort to counteract invisibility, many female bloggers have created gendered blog spaces on the Internet to support, promote and highlight each other’s work… Women bloggers use these blog spaces to identify good female blog content that is not being picked up in the popular or top lists…

Though women bloggers are often accused of avoiding political discussion, an analysis of blog postings… shows this assumption is erroneous. Quite the opposite, female bloggers shine a light on many neglected issues in the public sphere that relate to feminist politics… Much of the alternative news that is created in these networks addresses topics that are either routinely ignored by mass media news reports, or buried in such newspaper sections as the lifestyles or features.
I also came across the following article on Indian women bloggers, which noted that the advent of blogging in languages other than english gave more diverse women an opportunity for articulation than before. as a result,
In the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali blogospheres, the rise of female bloggers has been sharp in the past two or three years, especially in small-town and rural India. They discuss the joys and trials of more intimate but often more conservative communities, and the challenges of life within the extended family. Politics comes up, but with a focus on local issues usually missing from English-language discussions.

English-language female bloggers have tended to write about city life, dating and relationships, and workplace issues. The women who are coming online now from the small towns may have more circumscribed lives — fewer opportunities for work outside the home, a greater emphasis on marriage — but blog with confidence and self-awareness about changing social mores and their growing economic aspirations.

And whereas the women who dominate the English-language blogosphere tend to be urbanites in their teens and 20s, the Bengali, Hindi and Tamil blogs seem to have engaged the attention of older women.
so, to end, go women bloggers! anyone who thinks women blog about 'boring' or 'typical' topics simply needs to read more female blogs. on the other hand, if finance, IT and mainstream politics are their narrow world of 'interest', then their definition of boring needs to checked!