06 September 2016

an ordinary life

Some days ago, I was thinking of book recommendations for my 16 year old niece.. I tried to remember what I was reading at her age, and although I came up with jane austen, nancy drew, little women, I am sure that I read much of this earlier. No one suggested stuff for me to read at that time, I just went into the school library and browsed for stuff.. and usually found lots of things to interest me. My niece does not have this option in India (libraries here are very different to what one would expect. Sigh). 

At the same time, I think everyone has their own book journey. Like people, I think that books come into your life at a time you need them.. for this reason, the books that I recommend may not appeal to my niece at all. Regardless, I will still insist that she at least try austen, judy blume, john green, paulo coelho.

The trip down memory lane also reminded me of one of the nicest, most meaningful compliments i had gotten: my passion and enthusiasm in discussing books inspired others to read too! I recall thinking that I lived a small, ordinary life, with no great feats. I was no role model material, but it was nice to know that I had inspired one person, at one time, to do something :) 

#microblog mondays

26 July 2016


I just finished Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, in a quick two day stretch. It was lovely! The book was light, but good. The characters and plot just made me want to immerse myself in their world and never get out. The main girl, Cath, she is a writer. And her descriptions of why she writes, how she feels when she is writing, is how I feel when I read! (why oh why doesn't someone want to pay me to read?!!)
Why do I write? Cath tried to come up with a profound answer… 
To be somewhere else… 
To get free of ourselves 
And it was doubly awesome, because I picked up Fangirl after three aborted books. After I finished sacred games by Vikram Chandra, I was totally off my game in knowing what to read. Then I had headaches and dizziness issues, which meant I couldn’t read much anyways. All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr is one of the most awesome books ever, a book that I will recommend to everyone, one of those oh-my-god-you-have-to-read-this-at-some-point-in-your-life books. So I thought I would try another one of his novels, amazing grace. But I just could not fathom it at all. The prose, the plot; none of it made sense. Then I tried human traces by Sebastian Faulks, which had been sitting dormant in my kindle for at least a couple of years. I like Faulks’ writing (a week in December and birdsong are my favourite novels of his), but I am not into the subject of human traces –psychiatry. So I gave up after a couple of chapters. Next was zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald, which all the reviews said was like an m m kaye novel –well, m m kaye was my absolute favourite for a few teenage years, so I thought why not. But I couldn’t get past the first few pages! (I am hoping that if I pick it up again in another frame of mind, I will enjoy it..) Finally, after much upset at not having something great on hand to read, I got fangirl. And it was exactly what I needed. It just sucked me in, whirled me around in its lovely world, and then threw me back out again :) 

I found the whole fanfiction thing interesting. I know it exists, but that is really all I know. I learnt of its existence during the harry potter era.. I found it weird-fascinating-cool that people were so into harry potter that they were writing up stuff themselves and having conventions and whatnot. I love harry potter, and I love discussing the books and movies, but that is really it. I may dream of going to Hogwarts, but no further. I didn’t want to read what other harry potter stuff people were writing –j k rowling’s work was enough for me. So I found cath and her addiction to the fictional characters of simon and baz fascinating. That she would rather write about them, then turn in something original for one of her classes –wow. But most of all, It was nice to be immersed. Why else do I read, if not to get caught up somewhere else? I will happily play host to cath, Reagan, levi and others in my head for the next few days :))

#microblog mondays

12 July 2016

these are the days

just a few days ago, i told my favourite aunt, reminiscing about all the summers i used to spend with her in bangkok, that 'those were the days'. i spent most of my teenage summers there, and i was lucky that my flights to egypt were always enroute bangkok, so even my uni summers were partly spent there. in those days i had no idea that later on (now) international travel would no longer be so easy, that exchange rates, the cost of four plane tickets and different school schedules would largely nix getting out of india and meeting up with family around the world. sigh. those were the days.

then yesterday, i read this article about parenting, and how an old man commented to his wife, 'those were the days', when he saw the author with her young kids and husband. i constantly tell myself that all this craziness and busyness and tiredness will pass as my toddler twins get older. i know that all too soon they will not plead for 'one more' story to be read, they will not jump so happily into my lap for the millionth kiss and cuddle. i look through their baby pictures and videos and already find myself yearning for the days gone by -i cannot imagine how much more poignant the feelings will be ten years down the line. 

so yes, these ARE the days. while i wait for getting some time to myself again, wait for being able to have a meal in peace, go and watch a movie, go shopping!, i am mindful of the blessings of today. my boys are kids and i will enjoy this phase with them :)

#microblog mondays

04 July 2016

i have a dream..

Since moving here six years ago, I have not thrown a party for myself (or anyone else for that matter), or even just invited friends over (what friends?!). We have had family over on different occasions, but that is not really the same thing. I want to be able to decide who I invite and what food will be on the menu, and which cutlery will be used and how the sofa should be arranged. 

Every year on our birthday or anniversary, I dream up get togethers that I could theoretically have.. they all remain in my head though! I am the kind of person who is terrified of inviting people over –what if no one comes? What if the food I make is terrible? What if people come but no one talks? And so on.. 

In the midst of planning a joint family celebration for Eid and the twins’ lunar birthday, I find myself really wanting to invite some girls over for my birthday later in the year. And so the past two days I have been obsessing over who to ask and what to cook (limited options available for both!) and how to politely evict the other house occupants :P Inshallah, this time I will be brave and will make the dream real..

#microblog mondays


My babies are learning to write. For the past two years, I have watched them scribble and color and scribble. On paper, books, walls, doors. Ever since they held their first magic slates in their hands, they have been fascinated by being able to scribble. They learnt to hold a pencil/crayon early on, by themselves. I have spent countless hours drawing pictures for them to marvel over/colour in. And then suddenly, yesterday, A takes out one of his school books, and starts writing 1 in the empty boxes. He finished the page in a matter of minutes, and I only needed to erase two of the boxes for him to redo. I was stunned. When did he learn this? How did he get so responsible? 

Later in the evening I was playing Ruzzle on my phone. M took the phone from me, wanting to ‘play’ as well. And he started sounding out the letters to me. I spent a few frustrating months earlier trying to get them to read out the alphabet, but they never cooperated. Their nursery teacher assured me they knew their letters, so I just let it go. 

Suddenly, I find they know their numbers and letters, they are beginning to write, and they can finally color pictures without going out of the boundaries. Wow! I am thrilled and proud and grateful for all these milestones :))

20 June 2016

kinds of smart

Reading this post on different kinds of smart made me laugh. It reminded me of the first time I had to apply for a travel visa.. i was going to Egypt for undergrad, and I nearly went to the embassy without my passport, because never having made my own travel arrangements until then, i didn’t realize the visa application needed to be submitted TOGETHER with my passport :P

That incident raised a lot of laughter, especially from my dad. It was funny, and it did not make me not smart. I lived in Egypt for four years, did a whole lot of other stuff, and I never felt not smart. Until I moved to India. The first time I used an ATM here, I had no idea that I had to remove my card immediately after sliding it in the slot, in order for the machine to function. So I just stood there with my card inside, like I would in HK and all the other countries where I had used ATM machines. The situation did not incite laughter, but just comments on how I did not even know how to use an ATM machine. There were many other such incidents, all of which left me feeling quite low on self esteem. Even today, I think only my twins see me as an authority on anything, and their certainty is great soul balm :)

Alhumdolillah for the twins, and for the small online community (work, friends and family) that keeps me sane and my self esteem topped up!

Speaking of the twins, their smartness and the way their minds work totally fascinates me. My conversation with one of them yesterday-

M: Mumma, are you old? [old right now refers to people the age of his grandma]
Me: Not so old..
M: Will you become old?
Me: Yes, slowly, not right now..
M thinks for a minute, then suddenly gets a little panicked, and says: No, don't become old, if you become old, then who will be my mumma??! 

i love my boys :)

07 June 2016

ramadan kareem

Ramadan is one of my favourite months, and this year, i am setting a few goals for myself. Just three simple things that I need to work on generally; what better time to start than Ramadan, the month of blessings and mercy.

- I need to be more patient. With my kids, family, myself.  This whatsapp forward made me smile:

‘patience is not about how long you can wait, but how well you behave while waiting’. i can wait awhile, but am usually quite sullen about it! Also, some time ago, the church nearby had its quote as ‘patience is the best prayer’.

-I can be nicer. There are many times when I react too fast, when the moment would be served better by just smiling and remaining silent, by being nice. So, whenever I want to shout, I will try to smile instead :P
-Reading more Quran. I used to be so regular with this, and it is time to get back on track.

Three small things. Inshallah!

#microblog mondays

03 June 2016

thank you versus sorry


i love this cartoon! i came across it from a comment on a blog post about apologizing too much and found it lovely. a good way to be more positive and to impart some agency to others, instead of taking it all on yourself.

i use 'sorry' a lot, many times as a way to say 'excuse me' or 'if you don't mind'. in many of those instances, using 'thank you' would work just as well, and so i should try it. it would make me more assertive i think, which is sorely needed!

23 May 2016

water fun

over the weekend, we went to a small resort nearby that had pools and a few water slides. the twins had a ball, as did i! whooshing down the slides with one twin lying on top of me was such FUN :)) the last time i was on a water slide must have been when i was in school! it brought back fond memories of water world, hk's only water park that did well for a number of years, but eventually had to close down due to its seasonal operation unable to cover costs.

there were all kinds of people frolicking in the water, from teens, to parents to toddlers and grandparents. i was particularly pleased to see a couple of grandmas thoroughly enjoying themselves on the water slides in their salwar kameez. it made me want to bring my mom along the next time she is in india! the strict dress code that is the norm in pools elsewhere doesn't seem to apply everywhere in india, which is good. it is nice that people can enjoy the water without being restricted to wearing something they are not comfortable with. yay!

#microblog mondays

16 May 2016

book club

i have never been part of a book club, but i always thought it sounded like fun.. a group of people meeting up over coffee to talk books and whatever else, yay :)

over the years, i have had various friends i discussed books with. i never found a book twin; all these persons shared some of my book tastes, but not all. that was fine though, as just talking books was important. and variety and difference meant new books/authors to check out.

in the last few years though, the number of persons i talk books with has dwindled to ONE. how sad is that?! at the same time, my friends number has also been dwindling. when someone suggested a book club as a way to meet new friends, i randomly messaged my nursery moms group to ask if anyone was interested in a book club. two replies later, we set up a three member book club, and are now reading our first book, david mitchell's slade house! i am so impressed and excited. two new friends, two more people to talk books with, two other moms to talk kids with and have playdates with, woohooo :))) [fingers crossed that everything goes well, since now that i have blogged about this, what are the chances that the whole thing gets jinxed!??!]

the only problem that i foresee, is choosing books to read, as the three of us have quite different tastes.. 

#microblog mondays

10 May 2016


some things come with instructions. i really like instructions. i read them, and follow, and hey presto, something is working. i like recipes too, although i find that my end result does not always turn out the way it is supposed to/i expected it to.. but i still follow recipes, as i just don't think i could cook anything without a recipe at hand. i follow rules too. (which is quite a handicap living in india, the country where rules are only meant to be broken.)

is is thus very unfortunate that life, twins and relationships don't come along with their own detailed instructions. i know people who barely read through instruction manuals.. some of them just pass the task on to me. others read recipes for some background, and then proceed to create their own culinary wonder, without any hiccups or disasters. yet others seem to breeze through life, just knowing what to do in any given situation, how to deal with a particular set of circumstances.

given the lack of instructions, i read. i read on parenting, on twins, on marriage. i can't help but wonder though, how is it that i am so clueless, while other people are not?? 

#microblog mondays 

26 April 2016

the twins' first movie

we took the twins to the cinema to watch jungle book.. so far, i have been adamant about keeping them away from the cinema- in india, it is perfectly normal to bring newborn and older babies to watch movies, usually bollywood flicks. kids here are also generally allowed to watch whatever tv shows adults are watching at home.

our friends were taking their nearly 4-year-olds to watch jungle book, and without doing any research into the movie, we agreed to join them. sigh. my boys were not happy. the first movie that i saw as a kid in the cinema was 'home alone', when i was 9/10. i remember that being a wonderful experience, and i wanted the same for my kids! i didn't think i would wait until the boys were 9 to take them to the cinema, but this was definitely too early. and the movie itself was scary for them, although i am now asked to tell them about mowgli every dinner time!

what was your/your kids' first movie experience like? and what are your tv rules?

25 April 2016

wardrobe nostalgia

I was looking through old photos the other day, from before I got married and moved to India. Apart from all the other stuff, one thing that struck me was my total wardrobe change. I left most of my old ridas in hk before moving here (they were really quite old!). I am a keeper of things that I like –which includes clothes/ridas, shoes and bags. I still have one rida from nearly 15 years ago (is that even normal?!). so many of the ridas in the photos were with me in cairo, and then ahrc-hk. There were stories behind them, memories of outings and friends and places. 

Now I wish that I had kept a few more.. just to inhale all the memories and feelings of camaraderie and belonging and peace. Those ridas spanned two defining eras of my life –university and my first job. I will never have the same feelings about my clothes again.. moreover, the environment in India is not conducive to maintaining ridas for more than five years! (removing mud stains is practically impossible. And there is a lot of mud around, particularly during the monsoons, as well as traveling around. Same with grease.) 

#microblog mondays

04 April 2016

homemade costumes!

i made fancy dress costumes for the first time ever! it was fun! and not as difficult as i expected. of course, they would not have been possible without google, and other expert moms who had shared their crafty ideas online; thank you :))

the twins' summer break starts soon, so i should find more crafty things that they can help me with..

#microblog mondays

28 March 2016

good old email

i miss email. whatsapp has replaced most of my personal email communication. so, i wrote three lengthy (okay, they were not lengthy compared to the three page letters i used to write friends and family before the existence of email, but they are definitely lengthy compared to the three sentence whatsapp messages that are now the norm!!!) emails this morning to recapture that lost era.

long emails from my best friends while at uni were what kept me going.. my courtship with H largely took place over email and text messages. while the texts have long disappeared, the emails are still there..

whatsapp is great. it's quick, and immediate. it's great for sharing pictures and even voice messages. but all the angst and feeling that i could put into an email, is not there in a whatsapp message. even with all the fancy emoticons! ;)

so, i resolve to write at least a couple of emails a week again. my inbox needs to have more than just work stuff in it!

#microblog mondays

08 March 2016


at lunch the other day, someone said they 'don't experiment when it comes to ridas, as colors other than blue or pink may not suit' them. i found this quite unusual- the idea of wearing only two colours, because others don't 'suit' you. i like colors. lots of colors. and i like ridas because they almost always have at least four colors in them. i have favourite colours sure, and a lot of time, by default, my wardrobe turns all green or blue. but i don't do this intentionally. i have never worn or not worn a color because of its suitability. i do this with make up (but again, do i not wear pink lipstick because i don't like pink, or because it really doesn't suit me?) but not anything else.. colors are there to make me feel better.. i wear my grey and pink rida when i am happy, when i want to be slightly dressed up, i wear my blue one when i have little energy to think about clothes, my red one is RED, and so forth.

on a separate note, i have heard this several times in india, that bright colours like yellow or red don't suit dark skinned complexions. similarly, white should also only be worn by the fairer complexioned. this is totally the opposite of what i grew up understanding about colours in hong kong -that fair skin looks good in darker shades, while darker skin is brightened by brighter colours. 

what's your take on colours?

#microblog mondays

01 March 2016

the importance of girlfriends

i have read several blog posts and essays about the importance of girlfriends in a woman's life, but this one made me cry. probably because of the story of emily and her husband joe. and the line, 'how many women had friends who could write their husband's obituary?'

the article also noted that 'having great friends is largely a matter of being a great friend'. true. i am failing there methinks. i used to be a good friend. but now, my friends are too far away for me to do anything for them. and i am too tired and bogged down in my small little world. (which leads me to wonder upon the reason i have not been able to make a lot of new friends here..)

sigh. i have awesome friends around the world though, for which i am very very thankful. that they are not right here, totally sucks. but i am still glad they are there. that at one point in time, we were together.

#microblog mondays

16 February 2016

when books don't fit

i finally started reading purple hibiscus by chimamanda adichie last night, after three days of waffling over what to read. i HATE it when that happens. it does not happen very often (alhumdolillah!), but when i can't figure out what i want to read, when no books appeal to me, when nothing seems to fit, then i am very very upset. upset for two reasons i guess -first, because i have nothing to read, and second, because nothing is speaking to me, everything is making me feel blah!

this is like when i cannot figure out what to wear -again, i don't have this problem very frequently, as i am quite a decisive person. or, maybe decisive is not the word. i just know what i like, and i know when i feel like wearing it. i don't keep clothes that i don't like, and the stuff i have, i've had for a while! but when those days come along, when no rida speaks to me, when they all seem blah and ugh, then i am a miserable person.

clearly, not wanting to read any book or wear any of my ridas is a symptom of my mood. it is not that there aren't awesome books and clothes available.. this can apply to food as well, although not much.. but how interesting that this occurs.. i should pay more attention to whether such moods leak into other areas of my life..

#microblog mondays

08 February 2016

great start to the year of the monkey

today is the first day of the lunar new year 2016, which is the year of the monkey. that's me! so, here's hoping for an awesome year, filled with love, health, prosperity and peace :)

i have three days off from work (working for a hk based ngo). that is awesome in itself, but what makes it truly awesome, is that these three days are only MINE -not being indian holidays, the twins have school, and hubby has work (can you imagine the enormous grin on my face?!). i have PLANS for these three days. some cleaning, baking, shopping and visiting. some time to breathe. ohhh :)

i'm off to start my holidays! 


my introduction to the circus as a child came with enid blyton's 'come to the circus' -fenella, aunt lou, bobo and pretty much all the characters were interesting/intriguing. the 'big top', the caravans, the animals and their trainers; it was a whole new world full of adventure and magic that i loved losing myself in.

then came the great moscow circus in hong kong, when i was slightly older (but i have no recollection of age to be honest). we went to see this awesome performance for several years, and i was in love. the trapeze artists were my absolute favorite (and still are). the gorgeous costumes, the glitter, the anticipation before each incredible act; i carry all these with me until today.

for some years after, i forgot about the circus. while at university, i read john irving's 'a son of the circus', which was much darker than my childhood circus fantasies. i recently read sara gruen's 'water for elephants', which was less dark, and a great read. next on my list of circus novels is erin morgenstern's 'the night circus', which is meant to be some kind of fantasy novel, and sounds intriguing.

last week, there was a local circus showing nearby, which we took the twins to. they enjoyed some of the acts (those with animals), but were far from thrilled with the idea of the circus. it was a let down for me as well, after my awesome memories of the great moscow circus, as well as the circus books that i so enjoyed. next time i plan my trip to hong kong, i must look in to the moscow circus -they now have a 'circus on ice' show as well!

the circus world is one that surely draws in all children.. and many adults. i can't wait to introduce the kids to blyton's 'come to the circus', and other novels, and read more circus novels myself :)

#microblog mondays

02 February 2016

music, poetry, tv

i heard celine dion's 'my heart will go on' last night at the circus (no, it wasn't really fitting, but hey, 'this is mumbai my friend'!!) and i found myself automatically singing along. i cannot remember the last time i sung along to a song.. probably because i have totally stopped listening to english music here. hindi/bollywood songs just don't do anything for me, so i generally don't listen to any music anymore. which is quite sad. i enjoyed tracy chapman, dido, travis, beck, jason mraz.. i should make more of an effort to play this stuff here, even if it is not readily available on tv/radio.. i want my kids to be exposed to stuff other than bollywood 'item numbers'!

the lack of music in my life these days also reminds me that i have stopped reading poetry and watching tv shows (house, cis, the good wife, big bang theory).. there must be so many new shows out now, and i just don't have a clue! this will be harder to remedy than listening to music.. but i should try. the only reason i have given up on all this, is that they are not readily available here. i should just pick one show, and i am sure i can either find it on tv or online.. it all seems like such a headache, and i am happy to just read on my kindle.. but when i randomly hear some music, or listen to people talking about such and such show, i feel a pang for everything that i gave up..

#microblog mondays

27 January 2016

one amazing thing

i just finished reading 'one amazing thing' by chitra divakaruni, and i really enjoyed it. i was doubly happy as after 'mistress of spices', which i totally LOVED, i hadn't read anything of hers that matched up. while 'one amazing thing' is not in the same league as 'mistress of spices', it was good. and it made me think about which stories matter to me, which stories are the pivots of my life, upon which other stories are built..

before reading the novel, i read several reviews that questioned the stories shared by a motley group of persons stuck in a visa office during an earthquake. the reviewers apparently did not find anything 'amazing' about the stories shared by the characters. what is amazing is surely subjective.. and probably largely dependent upon circumstances, your mood at the moment, how you feel about the persons around you and what you are willing to share with strangers.

also, our stories, along with us, will change. what i might have shared as a pivotal event while at university, may not be the same story i will share today. the stories i discuss with fellow moms will differ to those i discuss with childhood friends. the embarrassing event i could share with a complete stranger may not make it to any other ears.

anyone who ever made up stories fellow train/bus passengers, who wondered about the lives of those sitting besides them in cafes/libraries or those shopping alongside them at the supermarket, will enjoy this book :)

#microblog mondays

11 January 2016

2015 in books

signing in to goodreads today, it showed me my year in books -i loved it! (the best part was probably seeing all the covers of the books i'd read, which i wasn't able to see on my kindle!!) they had stats like shortest/longest book, the most popular book on goodreads, the highest/lowest rated, and so forth. some of the books i had forgotten that i had read in 2015, and it was just a nice reminder.. each book brought back different feelings/thoughts..

goodreads is a great website to keep track of my books, and to come across new ones! yay :)

#microblog mondays

08 January 2016

*happy* new year!

my parents flew in on dec 31, which was the best new year gift ever :) i hope to continue seeing family throughout the year, inshallah. the end of 2015 saw much discrimination and antagonism globally, and i can only pray that 2016 will be a better, more peaceful year.

i saw a post about happiness jars by elizabeth gilbert on facebook, and i loved the idea. i haven't found an ideal jar/container yet, so i have stored my slips of paper in a cute pouch for the moment. just writing out the little moments/incidents that i am thankful for makes me happier. i imagine that looking through this collection on a blah/sad day will be the equivalent of chicken soup for the soul, or looking through precious photo albums from the past :)

happiness begets happiness, so recording these moments can only bring on more such moments. and this ties in well with me wanting to practice more gratitude and optimism with the twins. so..  let the happiness begin!