Saturday, November 24, 2007

Solitude


Bit by bit the heart turns to stone
Steadily thrumming- life's constant drone
Drop by drop all feeling funnels into the abyss
Layer by layer I seal it tightly closed
No more fear
No longer any pain
Not even a need to blink
As I stare straight ahead
Into the eyes of fate...
I am aware.

The Brit in me!

My dear friend... aka anonymous!

I laughed so hard! And you got the IQ in me and the Brit in me all rolled into one! The essence of my conversations with IQ were all double entendres. And they were deliciously delightful- much like the little snippet you brought my attention to (see "when it comes to Brits" on my videos).

Speaking of short strokes and premature ignitions... LOL. Lets just say, hmmm... btdt!

There is something very satisfying about having an intellectually stimulating conversation with someone on the same mental wavelength who can understand the witty banter that is verbal sparring!

So here's to you new friend- love the snippets we trade.
Here's to IQ- for the double innuendos
Here's to X- for the exact same conversation I had with you on the plane (short strokes and ignitions!)
And last but not least- here's to Brits! Yup... even the Brit in me... (double innuendo intended)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tears...



Have you ever failed to give a name to what you feel? Have you felt so much that it is all choked up inside you.... so much so that now even if you tried, it could not be expressed. Have you ever just stopped feeling and still felt? Have you ever run out of tears?

Have you ever known that you cry right now as you read, as you write... but that no tears will come. No tears will come because if there were tears, you could not bear it. If there were tears, you may fall apart. If there were tears, how could you go on. But you do go on, because you must. And life goes on, because it does.

And through it all you feel and yet do not. You want to cry and cannot.... because you have run out.... Just run out of tears.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And I lost....




It didn't happen overnight. It took awhile I know. I didn't even realize I wanted- not until I lost....... you know.


I sit here today and think my thought. I ponder over my loss. I almost knew what I wanted, and then life happened and I was tossed in a whirlwind. As I whipped around in circles, somehow I lost my focus.... along the way I was distracted- sometimes impatient, sometimes chasing after sparkle.


That is how I lost. And the sad part is that I only realized it was exactly what I wanted only after the loss. Do we always want what is out of reach? When it is ours for the having we set it aside. But did I ever have it. Could I have had it had I only asked? Was I the one supposed to ask? Could you not have asked? You did... sort of... Did I not want then? And when I did ask you did not want... And now here you are and here I am...


And all is lost.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rape of Pakistan



When you violate someone, and have your way despite their refusal it is termed rape.


When you do the same to a nation, what is it? I call it RAPE too.


Please speak out....

Tell me what you think....

Banning the news and promulgating Martial law is wrong!

If the creators of our nation like the Quaid could speak up about injustice why won't we...

If we see wrong and cannot act against it, we must speak against it.


You may take away our freedom of democracy, you may ban the news, you may lock us behind your version of an iron curtain, but... Mr. Musharraf...


Can you stop us thinking?Can you stop us knowing what is right?

Can you stop us speaking up?

You may arrest us if we protest, you may threaten and by brute force, control.... but that still will not make you RIGHT!


All is takes is to refuse to be controlled.

And the controller has no control over you.

To thrive you need to be free.

Free the nation.

Restore democracy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The power of forgiving


People have often asked me how I can still smile and demonstrate kindness to those who have wronged me in such a convincing manner. My response is, "I am convinced that they are deserving of my kindness." Most times they will shrug and walk away. Some will give me a look that says yeah right, like you mean that... some will even thing that I am terribly sly and can act very well. Some however will look me in the eye, think for a moment and then ask what I mean.
You see, the thing is that when we refuse to forgive people we hold on to them. We carry them along like a heavy burden that poisons our soul and festers our spirit. Forgiving them on the other hand, requires that you embrace all of them- their flaws, faults, wrongs against you and all. Once you have done that you accept them. Then you forgive them. Then you let them go. Quite like blowing a feather into the air you just let them/it/anger/hate/vengeance go. Just like that.
You take a deep breath and suddenly the world seems brighter, the air is sweeter and you are no longer burdened. It does not mean that the wrong doing or the hurt is undone. It just means that you can happily coexist with that. The bad that the person did to you no longer has the power to poison your soul. Your soul has laid that beast to rest.
It is almost like coating the anger hurt and pain with a soothing, enveloping balm of forgiveness so that the bad no longer stings you. Imagine a thorny bush. You really cannot sit on it can you? Now imagine covering the bush with a nice thick blanket. It is a lot easier to sit on the bush now that it is covered. The blanket does not make the bush go away... it just makes it easier for you and the bush to coexist. The anger, hurt and pain that someone caused you do not have to be deleted as a product of forgiveness. The forgiveness is just the blanket that makes it softer, easier, more bearable to live with it all.
Go ahead, forgive today. Lay to rest one ghost who causes you pain and anguish. Blow out into the wind one feeling that festers in your soul. Take a deep breath and step out into your fresh new life a happier, lighter person.
Free yourself...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Crystallized...


Captured in silence
A longing so deep
Reflecting
Illuminating
Glittering
And still...
Frozen in time
A moment so sweet
Tender
Fragrant
Fleeting
But real...
Immortal in thought
A memory of you
Bitter
Sweet
Tethered
Yet free...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yeehaw!!!!!!!!! Part Deux



After dinner we played volleyball... in the very corral where you see me on the horse. My first night of being cell phone free was extremely anxiety provoking. It troubled me that I could be so dependant on an electronic convenience. I had a hard time putting my mind to rest about the calls I needed to have made and the ones I was expected to receive. Needless to say I slept not too well.


I awoke, however to the most breathtaking sunrise. Fresh, pink and serene. I felt my worries slip away.


The breakfast bell rang.... what is it about not being able to munch and getting meals only at meal times that makes you sooooo hungry. Josh, the charming cook, certainly fed us well. Every meal was delicious and the fact that one could get home style cooking without the work, just cinched this very agreeable deal.


After breakfast we all donned our riding gear and went for orientation. Imagine 98 degree weather, 7 very eager guests and one somewhat temperamental horse.... we "dudes" were exhausted after orientation alone. And then came the riding... and all worries melted away as you found yourself giving your undivided attention to your horse and your surroundings.


The trail rides were relaxing... Imagine letting your mind go free. One forgets that there is a world outside of the ranch. There is only you and that moment and that is all that matters. Of course after the trail ride came the cool down walk... where you walked your horse around the corral and back to the pasture! For those of you who have seen City Slickers.. (remember the bow-legged walk of Billy Crystal??? Well that is what many of us felt like!)
Now the stiffness was not too bad on me, (I am a yoga enthusiast... it helped) and the heat was forgotten in the shaded serenity during the trail rides... for me the troublesome issue was the hair. The freakin' horse hair..... Sunblock was a must, to prevent burn (and wrinkles!) and it acted like a glue for the horse hair. Every morning and afternoon I get all sun blocked up and every time when I groomed my horse the hair would go flying. Everywhere. It stuck to my arms and my face. A couple of times I even got it in my mouth! And was spitting around in a most unladylike manner!
And then Tonomae, my chestnut mare just loved to graze. The silly animal was capable of even more amazing feats of flexibility than my yogi self and could keep grazing while the rest of her body seemed to walk of without any use for her head.... of course eventually once or more than once to be precise the darn animal actually tripped and almost threw me. I am glad to report I survived with no bones broken... again good balance a la yoga!
Aside from the riding, other activities on the ranch included tubing down the French Broad river... (where my daughter demanded I find her a box turtle!I almost caught her one too only the things were very slippery and I landed in the water trying...) And white water rafting.
For evening entertainment, there was good old western style square dancing, line dancing and yes even clog dancing! And a Bluegrass band. On Bluegrass night, all the ladies ended up taking center stage and belting out melodies with aplomb. For those familiar with "Whose line is it anyway....?" Trust me we did one better. The ad libbing is what brought about the creation of the "Big Red Boots!" as I (with relish) gave my spin on the classic "Boots" sung by Nancy Sinatra... and improvised a parody of poor Shawn!
One of the other guests meanwhile sang Amazing Grace.... only instead of singing "that saved a "wretch" like me", she has apparently always been singing... "that saved a "wench!!!!" like me.... hee hee....
Our last morning at this incredibly beautiful, relaxing, and serene vacation destination.... we all planned a secret attack on the cell phone free facility. We set our phone alarms to go off synchronized a couple of minutes apart during our last meal there. When poor Shawn got up to the head of the table and rang his bell to deliver his fare thee well speech, the symphony started... much to his chagrin and surprise. It was a classic "well executed prank" moment.... the perfect backdrop for our return to our lives.
We all made great friends and had a spectacular time. To all you Dude Ranch folks... The Nancy Sinatra "Boots" is dedicated to US!
Do play it and enjoy... (Look on the right of the page)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yeehaw!!!!!!!!! Part I


"French Broad Dude Ranch"!!! To start of, I was tickled to death by the name of the place.... I mean how many people do you know who can say "French broad dude ranch" with a straight face. The broad notwithstanding, the idea of it being a dude ranch* (see footnote) at the same time led my mile long imagination on a VERY wild goose chase. There are far too many connotations and double innuendos that can be derived here.

My friend IQ (who is another master at the double entendre, like myself) and I, could've had a field day with this one.... but I am getting away from the main point.

The ranch is named after the "French Broad" river in Tennessee, (as I later learned while driving that a way) and has nothing whatsoever to do with a wench of French origins who capers around a ranch with her dude....or dudes.... (and I put my vivid imaginings to rest!) Speaking of "wenches" remind me and I'll add something to that particular thread in a little bit....

Now those of you who have had the privilege (or not) of travelling with me know the way I pack. You know the term "travel light"..... well that one doesn't exist in my travel vocabulary! And I have tried... believe me I have! (Let me put it this way... if I had to attend a wedding while on a trip, I am prepared!) I have gone down from three suitcases to only two (for a four day trip....) What?? One suitcase is for my shoes.... I mean gimme a break. Sheesh! A girl and her heels belong together.

But getting back to the point. I dress, well..... dressy. I like to be what one would call put together, as opposed to thrown together. Which calls for outfits. I have casual outfits... work outfits.... formal outfits and even workout outfits... ( I know... I know.... I need help!) I have been called prissy, well dressed and chic by intervals. Needless to say I own only two pairs of flat shoes. One is my pair of Botticelli ballerina flats, which I got in NYC, and the other is my beige and gold sneakers. Which BTW are not really "work out in" or "go hiking in" sneakers.... but just "look the part in" casual sneakers.

So a ranch trip demanded a shopping trip. Horses and western style riding... (I learned English style) that meant riding boots (Western cowboy kind and not the long, sleek, show ring style used in English) and a cowboy hat (instead of the riding helmet I am more accustomed to) I got riding gloves regardless of the fussy English, froo froo connotations. I will not get my hands grimy, dang it. Besides I have sweaty palms.... so it helps the err... grip!

Anyway... once my gigantic suitcase was packed (I decided that two suitcases raise eyebrows so now I go with one. Okay, it's a huge one... but when my friends tease me I can at least say I only took one bag... er... suitcase... er...) my daughter and I were off.

Being directionally challenged, I use my GPS system. My first mental panic alarm went off right after I made a turn in the general direction of the ranch (with 240 miles of uneventful driving behind me) and my sexy voiced GPS informed me that I was "entering unverified territory... please proceed with extreme caution". Yikes! The dirt road that split into two now posed a very serious problem for me. I love water so I proceeded to go with the left one that ran alongside the river. I went about half a mile, driving into increasingly more wooded brush and stopped. Next panic moment. I am lost. This is a one lane road.... forget lane. This is a dirt path barely wide enough for my car! Not to worry... take a deep breath.... you may be headed right.... call the ranch and double check... And double yikes!! Zero cell phone signal! Okay. Bless my parents for their excellent driving instruction. I am an excellent driver. I maneuvered that long, winding, very narrow- with the river a short fall away on one side dirt road and proceeded down the other road. This looked somewhat less menacing. So I followed it up to these railroad tracks. The sign said. "Stop. Look both ways. If no train approaching, cross". Hmmm.... no gates or anything. Just "look both ways". I can do that I thought. I crossed and lo and behold! There was a gate (a few planks nailed together) with a sign... "Ranch opens at 3pm". It was 3:30pm. Good. I drove through. Now the road split into three. Oh dear. I drove up half a mile one way.... backed out.... then half a mile the other way..... backed out then half a mile up the third..... And everywhere there were horses. And cows. But I saw no humans! Thank God it's not dark I thought! I would really be in some deep doo doo then. I think I stopped by one of the cabins. I banged on the door for a while. No one. Okay panic now.

Determined, I asked my daughter to eenie meenie mynie moe the roads (it's actually quite scientific... you know, process of elimination and probability and hogwash). She picked one and I started to drive. Almost a mile... no one. And then thank God! I saw Nadre! The angel Nadre. A Turkish exchange student working there for the summer. I stopped the car and pounced on her and hugged her. "Help me!" ( I think she chuckled....) She pointed out and gave directions and told me it would require backing out the mile I had driven... and then take that road..... "Oh please don't leave us here alone!" I blurted out in my shrill panicked voice. "You have to come with us and show me where to go"... You must not leave me alone".... I had been driving and backing for a good 30 minutes now and was quite understandably panicked! Oh heck... I'll admit it! I am a city gal! Dear, sweet Nadre now chuckled openly and good naturedly hopped in the front seat, squeezed between my Perrier sparkling water and Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses, and my laptop briefcase. We made it to the ranch!

It was a breathtaking lodge. Like something out of a western movie. I was thrilled. After checking in and releasing my panic of getting lost by telling everyone I encountered about my harrowing experience of being "lost" I finally lugged my, yes "HUGE" suitcase up the beautifully authentic (but in this particularly 'heavy-lugging' moment not so charming anymore...) stairs and proceeded to my room. I opened the door and instantly fell in love with my living quarters for the next few days. The furnishings were tastefully spare. A set of bunk beds built into the wall to the left. A log framed king size bed. An old fashioned sewing machine.... (my grandmother owned one just like it!) and on the walls were horse collars, and several antler trophies. Both my daughter and I gave a squeal of delight. We sat back in our rocking chairs and for a moment just took it all in. Then we got into our boots and cowboy hats and went exploring.

There was a dining room with family style seating.... a game room and lounge upstairs, and a gift shop downstairs which served fresh made milkshakes! Next to that was the wild-west style saloon complete with the swinging doors! It had a bar, and beautiful fireplace. More games and upstairs was the hotel and more rooms. Next to the saloon, at the lodge, was the hot tub! Sigh...... I think I died and went to heaven. Beyond that was the swimming pool, hitching post, corrals, pastures and beautiful views! Oh and horses..... lots of beautiful horses. The lodge was made entirely of timber, very authentic and beautifully decorated in an old west meets southern living meets very authentic cowboy/resort/grandmas home/real life ranch kinda way.....

In the dining room were carrots to feed to the horses. That is what we did next. And in a true city people, fresh out in the woods, touristy, wearing the getup... cowboy hat included, kind of way I took pictures. I proceeded to take half a roll of film of the horses. Of the horses and the carrots. Of the carrots. Of the horses eating the carrots. Of the carrots on the ground and the horses eating them off the ground.... :P

In retrospect I realize that the other guests Terri and Jenna (Joe was in the room), who had arrived earlier than us just sat and watched, amused, from the pool. They had probably taken their pictures earlier.... ;)

After I finished unpacking, I saw Amy and the girls, also guests, but arrived a couple of days ago walk right past the horses and drag themselves upstairs without even glancing at them.... hmmmmm I wondered....

Next came Connie and Chelsea... They proceeded to flit from room to room (much like me earlier... :P) and then they went to the horses and took photos! :)

The dinner bell rang (yes they had a dinner bell!) Very excited we gathered in the dining room and chattered like magpies introducing ourselves and getting the names and faces to match much like a game of match the picture.... after several tries we had the names and the families, the people and the names belonged to, right. There were 10 of us altogether.

Aside from us guests, the ranch was home to Shawn and JoAnne Gannon (owners) Bob Gannon (dad to Shawn) the Wranglers: Andy, Paul, Ryan, Sarah, Ashley and Mayan, and an assortment of wait and housekeeping staff and cooks. Then there were several dogs, of whom Cubby Bear is the only one you need to remember as he will come into the story later...

After dinner was orientation. Shawn (owner of the big red boots... to come up a little later) rang his bell and proceeded to call out the rules.

1. Meals were served at mealtime. 8:00- Breakfast, 12:30- Lunch, 6:00 dinner. No exceptions! (you no make mealtime...you no get fed. and there be no food to be had. only apples and oranges, and the horses' carrots.) (me not kidding) (seriously)

2. Towels were not to be used to remove make-up, mascara, lipstick! Or to clean boots. For that purpose there was a "boot towel".

3. Be truthful about your riding capability.

4. No outside liquor allowed.

5. Plans for activities would be announced at meal times. It would be helpful to be present.

6. No cell phones allowed in the dining room, saloon, near horses, in the game rooms, in the hotel..... pretty much anywhere there were other guests. That is for those whose phones still worked. (Interesting FYI... every one's but mine worked. Hmmm.... Verizon, can you hear me now? may have something to it... I have At&T). If they rang at these locations they would be confiscated (seriously) for the duration of the stay!

(Stay tuned for part II...)

Footnotes :

*dude ranch- The concept of a "dude ranch" is that it allows city folk or folk from the East (know in the west as, you got it "dudes"! a chance to experience life in the wild, wild west in a not so wild environment. It grew in popularity after WWI, and after Western movies romanticized the concept of ranch life. Several ranches have recovered from financial trouble by taking in paying guests and others have sprung up just as vacation destinations. Dude ranches give to their "dude" city/Eastern visitors a flavor of cowboy life as a paying guest.... Most of the time students work on these ranches as wranglers, wait staff, housekeepers etc.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Goodbye...


I said, "don't call."
He said, "okay."
He held my hand the whole drive through...
I said, "goodbye."
He said, "you too."
I could not look away...
I could not leave without saying, "I love you."
I did.
He said, "I love you too."
But he would not ask me to stay...
He did not stop me,
He did not call out,
He let me walk away...

Life happens...


Life happens. Like a gust of wind it sometimes swoops down, unannounced and takes you by surprise. Love, loss, heartache, pain, happiness, suffering, highs, lows...... thy name is life.

It cannot be tamed, it cannot be controlled, some believe it has to be endured. But the art... the art of life, is living it. To simply be.

We all have a fair share of life, in all its flavors. Love, loss, happiness and suffering all are old friends. In elaborate performances we have tangoed away loss. In great depth have we commiserated with suffering. Like bubbles in air, we are enchanted by happiness. And such is the thing called life.

In my years, I have by turns battled, endured, shied away from and turned my back on life. It was exhausting. I was bruised and baffled. Defeated and brought down to my knees. And then one day as I sat outside and gazed at the trees I understood. I watched the branches simply swaying in the breeze. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and exhaled slowly. And just sat there. That was when I learned the art of living...

Like the wind passing through the trees, does life happen our way. Like the branches gently swaying along with the wind, should we just "be". If a branch were brittle and did not bend and did not sway, it simply snapped off in the wind. To fight life is futile. To shake one's fist at it is vain...

Life has to be accepted. Life has to be understood. Life has to simply be lived. It is not the enemy. It is not a friend. It is unexpected, it is magnificent. It is simply.... life.

Being no exception, I have blundered and made mistakes. I have jumped high, and reached for the sky. I have fallen, been beaten to the ground. I have won and I have lost. I have seen glimpses of heaven and once I even stood at the brink of my own hell and looked down into the maw that sought to engulf me.

Some days, like a sailor lost at sea, the winds of life have torn at me so that I hold on to my sanity by a bare thread. Some days life overwhelms me with a bounty I feel is more than my share.

I have sought to learn from my mistakes. I have made choices knowing the price that I pay. I have vices that I enjoy. I have regrets. I am imperfect. I am happy. I choose not to settle for less. I forget. I am vain. I choose to be selfish. I do good. I live life on my terms....

And then there are days.....
And yet there are days......

When life just happens. And then I sit down. I take a deep breath. I close my eyes. I exhale. I see the trees and how they sway gently in the breeze.....

Those are the days when all I can do..... is just Be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I have a song of Africa...(I recommend that you click the song links by the same title as background music)



































































































I was born in Uganda. And lived there for twelve years...
Africa is an entity unto itself. Especially East Africa... It is a part of me. It runs in my blood. I can feel it call out to me every now and then. I call that feeling a song of Africa. If you have ever been to East Africa you will understand instantly what I mean. If not, no words can do it justice. But I shall try to tell you... about my song of Africa.
Can you imagine freedom that is instinctive and primal... almost wild even... that fills your soul with a restlessness and peace at the same time... gives you wings to fly...
Imagine waking up to the music of the Serengeti, a soft rustle of the wind in the grasslands... the breath taking view of an orange and red flame tree in bloom... the sight of a zebra as it enters your field of vision...
It is a living thing, my song.... it speaks of breathtaking sunsets enjoyed while lying on my back in the warm, sun dried grass. It is like a glimpse of the sparkling beauty of Victoria falls...
It is a stolen look at the majesty of a lion in his element as king of the jungle... It is the slow loping stride of a herd of giraffe as they graze... or the mellow greenish/brown of the Nile as you paddle along in your canoe...
It is a moment of happy childhood gazing up at the stars around a warm and toasty campfire... a taste of stew made with rabbit that you have shot in the wild and then helped cook... It is the exhilarating feeling of feeding an elephant and giggling over the ticklish feeling of its trunk as it almost scoops up your fist!
It is the petrifying feeling that you get as you hang against a sheer cliff face (and hope to God that the knots your brother tied and the clasps that keep you secure will hold)... It is the joy of adventures had in an exotic and enchanting land...
It is the taste of "matoke and ground-nut sauce", of "nyama choma"... It is the dust storm raised by a thundering herd of wildebeest on the move... It is awe for the towering beauty of the snow capped peak of Kilimanjaro... It is lazy days at the beach at lake Victoria... and sipping "madafu" (raw coconut milk) by the ocean in Mombasa...
It is the lavish opulence of majestic homes... it is the humble beauty of thatched roof vacation cottages... it is waking up at dawn to see the sun rise over Tsavo... and holding your breath lest you make a sound and disturb the animals as they drink at the watering hole...
It is memories of fresh pineapple juice and passion fruit vines in my backyard... It is the comfort of a crackling fire in the living room as the temperature drops in the evening on the Kabale hills...
And the music... oh such music... the toe tapping sound of the Congo drums. The haunting melodies of the Masai and Kikuyu singers... the acapella tunes of the cook, Kasamajera belting out "malaika" as he blows into the "sigiri"(charcoal stove used to add smoke flavor)...
Yes.... only if you are truly African does your dad give you a leopard skin as a present! Only if you are truly African do you actually have a Crested Crane as a pet! Only if you are truly African have you done battle with a mugger on the street in broad daylight! (another tale entirely) But such is my song of Africa...

I have a song of Africa...
(None of the photos are by me... all of mine are back home in Uganda.)
(My all time favorite Swahili song is Malaika... There is a link for it on the right. It is sung here by one of my favorite singers Angelique Kidjo)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Letting go...





I left... came home... my legs gave way.

I thought of you.

I sat... I breathed... my heart raced.

I thought of you.

I picked up the phone... dialed your number... hung up.

I thought of you.

I closed my eyes.

I thought of you.

Blissful sleep.

I thought of you.

I awoke.

I thought of you.

I cried.

I thought of you.

The sun shone.

I thought of you.

It rained.

I thought of you.

I ran... to be rid of the thought of you.

I stood still... so I would not think of you.

I hid within myself... but Alas!

I thought of you.

I look... and I see your eyes.

I breathe... and I smell your fragrance.

I talk... and I hear your voice.

I walk... and I feel your presence.

I close my eyes... and I feel your touch.

Such a torment, for ever after... to think of you.

I thought of you...


(Written by me)

(Photo by me. Location: Half Moon Bay CA at sunrise...)

(The photo is blurred because it was taken from a moving car, but I love that aspect of it. The past and present blend into one for a moment, as where we have just been... merges with where we are now... and time is fozen still. Sort of like the moment when I wrote this poem.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Smashed Mirrors!



I hurt a friend once..... and they told me it felt like a beautiful mirror hanging on their wall had fallen down and smashed into a zillion pieces. It was unintentional, and later they realized it was more a case of them hurting themselves, than me hurting them. It all evolved out of a gross misunderstanding.

It is interesting for me to realize how much we can influence our own selves... We believe we are powerless most of the time but it is quite the opposite that is true. We cannot change others but we can change ourselves....we can change how we will react to those out of control things, and in doing so we can actually change the world or "our" world at the very least.

This friend... (whose mirror broke), is someone very dear to my heart. After this incident occurred, my friend went from a place of certainty to complete chaos and confusion. But the point is that they did it all on their own, to themself, without any effort on my part. I was very annoyed at first, and hurt, and could not understand what had happened. We were estranged from each other, very painfully so, and it bewildered me that things could unravel so fast between us. And how a connection and a bond that seemed so strong could so easily come undone! I never understood...

Quite recently however, I psyched myself into a decision I had been avoiding making for several years. Very literally, I convinced myself of something, that in the past, I had analyzed and decided was not something I wanted to do. I did it all in less than a week! I was amazed at this blatant example of mind over matter. I had allowed myself to be convinced. I had cajoled and reasoned with myself until I came up with all the correct arguments to plead my case (to my own self).

After having convinced myself, I set out to act on my decision and pursue xyz. Alas! I failed... miserably. I took the plunge and fell flat on my face. It hurt. My pride was injured and I was thrown into the realm of confusion. What I could not fathom was the sense of loss. Why did I feel that way. I had, after all, taken several days to convince myself to want xyz. Therefore the failure to actually attain xyz should not affect me this much. It nonetheless did. I was perplexed.

Like anything that intimidates me, however, I decided to conquer and tame this beast too! I decided to experiment. If convincing myself that xyz was what I wanted and should have, took a few days.... the recovering over the failure of actually attaining xyz should take equal (if not less) time! I got to work and started unwanting xyz. Would you believe it it worked!

I was devasted one night and then got up in the morning and literally "thought" myself out of my connundrum and presto! It was done. I was fine. Unaffected. Slightly changed (normal wear and tear you see....) but overall fine. It was incredible. I was impressed. Very much so, especially with myself... It was a classic case of "mind over matter"....

Regarding my friend (with the broken mirror) it was the same. They were very fond of me. Then something happened which they completely blew out of proportion and convinced themselves to think a certain way. But that certain way was not necessarily the actual true to life way.... and so they ended up hurting themselves, bewildering me, and creating a "royal mess" of our relationship and things in general! But it all happened because they allowed it to happen, in their mind. Their mirror broke... not because I smashed it, but because they told themself that I did...

They did try (very hard) later on, to recapture what was lost between us. To this day they bounce back and forth unsure. Not quite ready to be here and yet not quite ready to let go. Sort of like Al Pacino said in "Scent of a woman" "did you ever get a feeling that you wanted to go and yet get a feeling that you wanted to stay..."

I now realize why what happened did happen. Why a mirror smashed. Why the peices of that mirror linger still. Why that mirror is put back together.... time and time again.... only to fall apart yet once more.... It is because the cracks still remain. It is because the reflection in it is blurred because of the cracks. It is because life is like a mirror. We think we live in life.... yet the truth is that life lives in us... inside our heads.... inside our perception of it.

Like Plato's cave, what we think is life is merely a reflection of life.... as if in a mirror.... it is merely "our" perception of life....in "our" mirror.... as we see it.... or choose to see it....

I now realize that we create our own heaven and our own hell....

I now realize that we are capable of making ourselves ecstatically happy or unbearably miserable... We are the ones who are responsible. Should we choose to, we can completely alter our life simply by altering they way we think about it. All it takes is the will to do so... and we can think our way into whatever frame of mind we want.

Like a neurologist friend once said to me your real heart lies in your brain! Go on... think your way into what you want. Make your life happier. Make it less complicated. Make it what you want it to be....

Make it mind over matter.

Au Revoir Folks! Until next time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Scary People...




I know some scary people. Now I am not talking about the zombie kind and nor do I "see dead people..."! I mean real life everyday normal folks who scare the bejeezus out of me and give me really bad heebie jeebies.....shudder......uhhh....! I avoid them like the plague. When I see them walking towards me I tend to cross the road and go the other way just to get away (figuratively speaking, of course, but I am convinced that if ever confronted with the situation I would be quite literal about that statement too!)


I am talking about the "holier than thou, dear lord in heaven what did I ever do to deserve their wrath, walking the streets and getting in your face, moral brigade"! Yes we have all seen them and met them... They sit in state at dinner parties and social gatherings and pass judgement on all sorts of life situations and all manner of people.
"Did you see her in capri's the other day..."

" I hear hear he is seeing a gori (white woman)..."

" The correct way to roast a chicken is..."

" If I were you I would really not invite them to my place..."

" Now the correct way to pray/eat/sit/think/live/die/talk/(and forgive my french!) but yes even shit is....."


Those are the scariest human creatures in my opinion. I have never had much tolerance for those who seek to control others, especially those who seek to control me in particular. And of that particular breed the moral brigade are the worst of the lot. They claim no relation to you (which though still out of line.... may perhaps justify the never ending stream of "advice") and yet believe themselves responsible for educating you in the ways of how to live your own life!


I had occasion to be exposed to one such heebie jeebie inducing character today. The said cretin chose to respond to a favor I obliged them with, by calling to "thank" me for said favor. Oozing disdain from every pore the cretin, chose to ramble on and on about the correctness of this and that and such and so forth.....yawn.... and rambled and droned on.... Yikes!


Now let me just rethink something for a moment... ummm..... we each have one life that is our very own - correct; we are, each and every one of us, completely deserving of our own autonomy- again, correct; we are each going to be answerable for our own actions - true; as long as we are not usurping another's right or causing another any harm we may do pretty much what we want (within legal limits) - I am pretty sure of it... Then where do these ......(picture me sputtering in fury) cretins get off telling everyone what to do and passing judgement on all and sundry like it is their inherent right?


Aforementioned cretin criticized Jane Doe today for doing xyz. Then, continued on to inform me that they personally do not really know how to do xyz. However, whatever way that Jane Doe was doing it, cretin was pretty much sure, it was the wrong way for it to be done!


I was flabbergasted, floored, speechless. And then I was scared! I could feel a terrible case of the heebie jeebies come over me... I mean it is one thing to be critical of something you are actually good at, or even at least, know how to do. But this was a whole new dimension of
cretin.moral.brigade-dom! To sit and pass judgement on something you are completely clueless about. Wow!


I was in awe of the situation that I was witnessing. I could sense the indignant protest on the tip of my tongue start to do battle with the bejeezus that was fast running scared out of me. Instead of my honest-to-God, "who the hell do you think you are" retort being "bit down" by the bejeezus (which by this time was definitely scared out of me!) I choked on my words... literally! I ended up having a major coughing fit. Hacking and rasping for air, turning nearly blue at my end (due in part to rage, fear and yes... the spit, a result of the sputtering BTW, that went down my windpipe instead of my esophagus!) while cretin on the other end grew quickly bored with the battle my lungs waged (after all a choking person is really not a very good audience for holier.than.thou-ness). She quickly excused herself and hung up... not even waiting to see if I lived to tell the tale.


See..... I told you. Scariest people ever!

Transcending language...transcending worldliness...








Ever heard the song "peera ho..." by Khalid Anum?

It has the most incredibly haunting melody to it. I was completely entranced by the tune and the lyrics from the first moment I heard it some ten or so years ago. I have no idea what the lyrics mean. They are, I believe, sung in punjabi.

Remarkably, I understand the song. I'm not quite sure how, though. It is almost as if the concept and the melody transcend language itself. Like a communion of souls in which no language is necessary or relevant.

To me the song is about God. The finding of Him quite unexpectedly. It is not about religion, though. It transcends the pettiness of religion itself.

It is a song about a race to own and conquer the world. And when you have done that, it is still all meaningless. You are still unfulfilled, still lost, still unhappy... Despite all you have, and all you have achieved you still have nothing at all. It is a song about a struggle to find inner peace. A quest for belonging. A search for the self. It is about an elevated plane of understanding, where your link to the supreme being is actually about knowing yourself. And in knowing yourself you know Him. Once you have known Him, you cease to be. All ceases to be. Then there is just Him. The love for Him. The search for Him....

At this plane of existence one has no earthly desire or understanding left. There is no recognition of child or parent, love or loss, food or cold. There is merely a sense of urgency. A frenzy. A trance in which one is in ultimate communion with the One. Your living, breathing moments weld into one everlasting second of existence. Momentary and endless at the same time. There is nothing of value left to tempt you in this world. You exist simply to praise and exalt Him. You "are" simply so you can "know" Him.

The malangs* I feel, exist on such a plane mentally. They have ceased to live for this world. They are beyond what the common man may understand. They have found peace. They have found God...

*( a dervish of sorts.... someone who has left worldly pleasures for God)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Being in sync...


Ever lost something?

Loss is an inevitable part of life. We are bound to lose, at some point in time, something or even everything. It is just the nature of loss that varies.... By nature I mean something like this:- We can lose something we actually have, or something we never had and then there is that ironic one... something you almost had before you lost it.

From where I am right now and coming from where I have been, loss appears to be a matter of timing. All loss stems from a miscalculation of something or other. We either over or under estimate something. It is simply a matter of being in sync with the object of loss... be that person, place, time or thing. When we misplace keys we are distracted (overestimation of our capacity for attention) when we lose at a sport we underestimate our opponent or overestimate our capability.

Loss in relationships, especially, is absolutely a matter of timing. Whenever we are over zealous (or under zealous) as the situation may be, we stand to destroy everything. Rush it and you could stand to spook the person, wait too long and you stand to lose them to someone else. What then, is one to do? How does one avoid the inevitable disaster?

An interesting thing happened yesterday....I was on the phone with a friend and we were watching videos on youtube. We wanted to be able to watch the same video together but due to our lack of coordination one video would nonetheless start a split second before the other. We were out of sync! My friend then hit the pause button for just an instant and it corrected the time difference. That is when it occurred me. All that was needed for us to be in sync was to pause for a moment.

I mulled over the concept in my mind and came to a realization. For the most part, the reason many of us blunder in our relationships is because we are not really in sync! We are each, so busy, following our own plan of action that we seldom see what the other person is up to or how they are reacting to our plan. We miscalculate... We over or under estimate the affection and commitment of our significant others. Sometimes we are so blinded by the intensity of our emotions that we don't even see the other person. We are merely floating along on cloud nine enjoying the high of being in love. And then we wonder what happened when we fall off that cloud unexpectedly. Then there are those, who are too scared to ever make a move and own up to the intensity of their affection... ever fearful of being made vulnerable. They hang back and would rather be friends than express that they want more.

Perhaps all that is needed in every case is to to simply allow ourselves a chance to get in sync. To simply pause for a while.... to really see the situation... as if from above. It gives one better perspective. Any outsider can assess a situation better than two emotionally involved parties. Be that outsider in your own case. Completely remove yourself from the picture and truly see the situation, as your significant other sees it. And get in sync with their rhythm! It will allow for a better outcome.

Oh and one more thing.... by all means, always be unafraid. Always take a chance. Always gamble. You could stand to lose it all.... but then you could also win all. When given an option always take the plunge... come what may. At least you will have no regret... for a move never made, for words left unsaid, for a chance never taken, for a life lived in fear.

For something you have - never take it for granted
For something you don't - never be afraid to go after it
For something you almost have - never wait too long ... make your move ...
Or you could stand to lose it..... in all three cases.

Get in sync.


What's in a name?


Ever wonder what's in a name? And more interestingly, how do some people carry their name, with a name like this....read on and see...


I met some charming new people at a party today. A Hunsucker in particular! I know....
When she told me her name, my response was, "Are you serious?" The tale did not end there. Another one of the young ladies at the same event divulged the information that the said Hunsucker has a great aunt by the name Bloise (pronounced blows...) Bloise Hunsucker! Ahem....and that is not all. Apparently in the Hunsucker household is a framed wedding announcement that appeared in the paper once, announcing.... "to wed, 'Hunsucker - Cox' ". (I am not making this up trust me!) And I did get the charming lady's permission to use this information in my blog BTW....

Once we had all laughed out loud over the mortification that ensues from such monikers (and then giggled some more..) we got to talking about other "hard to live with" names.
Top of the list were Shithead, (pronounced Shuh- Teed) (there are several to be found in Kinston NC ..... my new friend tells me) and my favorite one ... Butt! Now the only reason a Butt is funny is because of the English connotation. That aside, Butt is a very highly regarded Kashmiri name. And again, for my purely English speaking readers, I am not making this up!

Then there is Gaylord, (made immensely popular ever since the movie "Meet the Parents!) Hehehe...Gaylord Focker! But there really are people called Gaylord...seriously. A Vietnamese friend of a friend is named Vu Long. Now that is exceptionally funny only because the said gentleman, Mr. Long that is, is all of 5 feet and 2 inches tall!

Then there is Marci Bich! Ahhhh....and that Marci sure is quite some Bich from what I hear... :P.
And while in Munich, a friend had occasion to work with a Doris Schitt (I am truly not making this up!) The German pronunciation of it, was of course, quite different. But just think. How would you and I pronounce it?

Ever heard of the party game, MadGab? In which it is not what you say but what you hear that matters.....for example...." ask rude arrive her" now say it fast, several times...... got it??? (A screwdriver...) Now let us MadGab "Mike Sweeney".....really fast..... hehehe... (!!!!! :P)

Makes you wonder... In that Austin Powers movie, all those names.... you know.... Allota Fagina, and Ivana Humpalot! Maybe there is something to that after all.... hunh?

;)

Au Revoir dear readers...for now!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Life

I wrote this one about 11 to 12 years ago...yet it is still one of my favorites.



Life…

Little rosebud,
Beautiful and fragrant,
Bloom…bloom in the sunshine,
Bloom in the twilight.
At dawn, capture the dewdrops
On your cheeks.
Nature’s camouflage for bitter tears.
Always charming, always sweet…
Hiding all your pain in that lovely splash of color.
Bravely facing both
The scorching sun and the storm.
Standing proudly erect, despite the thorns.
Speak little angel…your silence
Lasts too long.

Blooming rose,
Full and majestic.
Glow…glow in the morning
Glow in the dark of night.
Day breaks,
Another jewel adorns your cheek.
A cold harsh prison of all your emotions,
Beautiful, glittering, mesmerizing, passionate and yet…
Silenced into that shell of unfeeling.
Scattering your fragrance
Into the evening air,
Dedicating yourself to the beauty of the night
Yet receiving nothing in return.
Weep my little beauty
Ease the hurt in your heart.

Wilted remnant,
Of past glory.
Broken and bent with bowed body.
Defeated. Betrayed by time.
By fate tricked. Abandoned by hope.
Robbed of color,
Of fragrance stripped.
Anointing your cheek a single drop…
The essence of all your life
On a gnarled, grotesque and gruesome shadow.
Possessed of infinite beauty even in ugliness…
To them that can see.

By Yours Truly...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Fame!


This picture is such a classic example of serendipity. Taken by Moz (who was merely after the bottle of ketchup!) it captures the essence of a scene perfectly.
Center stage is my multi talented friend.
Here in New York for a film-making class, he is steadily on the rise to fame and fortune. The caption on the ketchup bottle, "Hungry for fame?" and the expressions on the face of my friend are absolutely priceless!
What makes the picture even more interesting is the "Top This!" There is no way this shot can ever be topped in significance, composition, representation, timing and memorability.
When my friend makes it big, and he most certainly will... I can't wait to pull this shot out, enlarge it, get it framed and give it to him as a congratulatory present.
We are all on our hunt for fame, renown and accomplishment. I am a big admirer of those who will actually chase after their dreams. Who will follow their passion blindly. I have always made a point to grab life by the horns and live it on my terms and on mine alone. Anyone who displays a similar zest for life makes me chuckle to myself in recognition of a cherished trait.
So to all of us out there in our quest for fame and fortune, on the lookout for one more way to "top this"... I wish us well. Speedy success. See you at the top! (And to those chuckling at this expression in particular I know who you are....ahem!)
Dude...here's to you... best of luck!
Moz...here's to you... amazing pic!
Kz...here's to you...keep on gallivanting!
ME!....here's to me...for never compromising about being on top!
Fun Times...
NYC '06/2007

Santa Cruz.... April 2007

The photography and captions are my handiwork.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=13028&l=1dc1f&id=546850443

Fantastic time....lovely pictures. Beauty and serenity. Truly amazing fun!!

"Rishtas... " (eek!!)


The term loosely translated from Urdu (the language of Pakistan), means "prospective spouse". It is a term that holds a lot of connotations and power. Dread...(envision a loud tada da daaaaan....a la Beethoven!) for those happily single souls gallivanting their way through life enjoying their unfettered freedom. A flutter of hope and excitement... for those who wish to embrace the shackles of matrimonial bliss. A mission in life...for the untiring and often disgusted with their kids (due to the lack of cooperation regarding the issue!) parents of the said uncooperative brood...(tongue in cheek...hehehe).


The phenomenon has come to be the beast that snaps at my heels as I sprint away, ever mindful that any day now I will be brought down and the headlines will read "......And another one bites the dust!...." My darling mother, a most charming, talented, highly educated, open minded and broad thinking gem of a person, has determined that it is time.............eeekk!


I was cajoled to visit Pakistan last November, and unbeknown-est to me, the trip had one purpose only. The dreaded "set up". Now for all of you out there, nodding their heads in understanding, stop. No seriously....stop! You have no idea. I mean, I am sure you believe you do....but trust me you do not know my mom! I was in Pakistan for nine days....which included the day I landed and the ninth day was the morning I flew out. I was set up. With fifteen guys!


See.....I told you, you had no clue! The chowkidar (gate keeper) at her place must have thought me quite a belle.... for I rode out in style every day, twice a day, in a vast array of BMWs and Mercedes, on my way to lunches and dinners in the company of my prospective beaus. and I say again......eeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkk! I had no clue that this awaited me.


It started off slow. I would be taken to parties, and would find myself nudged in the direction of one particular person, a male of course, of quite decent proportions and eligibility....and then amazingly enough, quite by accident everyone would excuse themselves from "our" little corner and move on to other conversations. Leaving the two of us, very practically, alone.


I am very gullible I must admit. I did not catch on the first time. The second time however, it seemed a little odd and I smelled (a very big) something funny. The third time I was indignant and livid but it made not one whit of a difference. I confronted my mom. Big mistake! She admitted to the whole thing and went about it very openly and in earnest now.


I recall one instance in particular.....I was visiting a friends mom, we shall call her Auntie! Auntie and mom started discussing me. Auntie glanced in my general direction, gave me a once over and said, "She would be perfect for so and so's son.... He lives in America too. Is taller than her. They'd look good together. He would absolutely love her. We have to get them to meet...." (This entire exchange took place not two feet away from me). Completely flabbergasted I retorted with,

"You guys do realize that I am sitting right here...!!! Right???"

They paused briefly, and glanced my way, then without breaking step continued,

"He gets into Islamabad tomorrow"

"Oh good"

"We should have everyone over for dinner"

"Let me host it"

"I'll send Abdul Khansama (my mom's cook) over here to help out.........."

I got up and left. They did not even notice!


I have no clue how I returned from that trip still single and unbetrothed. Miracles do happen! (phew..). Anyway, the point being, I was supposed to be in Pakistan this summer. I had several work related projects lined up that required my presence. Mom called to confirm the dates of my "intended" trip.

"Uh..oh!" thought I......I immediately bought tickets to San Francisco and New York! Back to back trips!

"Ummm mom...I will be in SF and NY for the next two weeks!"

(Lots of annoyance at mom's end.....)

The two weeks pass.... mom calls again.....

"I'm broke mom!" ..... "spent all my travel money."

(Mom calls her travel agent in Pakistan.....and mine in the US!) (I have sitting on my computer, three itineraries! One had me flying out on the 3rd of July, one on the 4th of July, and one has me flying out on the 6th!)

And I say again....

EEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just bought a ticket to San Francisco! I am headed out again. After all..... a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.... Right?


More to come.....

Stay tuned!

:)

Fireworks!


Fireworks always seem to fascinate us, no matter what our age.
I never met a person who was too preoccupied to stop and enjoy fireworks. Fourth of July....Disney.....anniversaries....parties.....any and all occasions and situations that give rise to a little sparkle in life are always welcomed by all and sundry.
In fact we look for sparks in more situations than we care to ponder on. When it comes to life, how many of us want sparkle and excitement? I'd say each and everyone of us.
And what about love....??? Aren't we all looking for that someone who creates fireworks in our hearts. But what if you find that perfect match, that one amazing soul mate who fulfills you in every way and yet there are no fireworks! On the other hand, you have this person....who is the epitome of the grand finale of fireworks in every way but is so wrong for you. What a conundrum!
Is it a classic case of a "love vs lust" situation? And then again, can familiarity and understanding lead us to a point where we actually pass the fireworks stage. If so, can fireworks be ignited and a flame of passion be kindled or is that not at all possible if they do not occur automatically? Conversely, in the other case, can the fireworks alone make it in the long run? Will passion alone keep you going or is it likely at some point in time to fizzle out?
Attraction is a powerful thing. And chemistry definitely a must. Some people do possess enough chemistry to actually create sparks! How delightful....but then, they also end up getting burned. Not a good situation. Then there are those who have some chemistry, not the lightening and sparks kind...just enough, you know, for there to be some level attraction. Nothing to write home about....but there nonetheless. They lead the more solid and stoic lives.
What is the one to go after? The wild passion and lust that gives you wings to fly and takes you along on a whirlwind of confusion and breathless fun. It is great while it lasts. A terrific rush...an incomparable high... But while it packs a terrific punch (pun intended) the drop is crippling. Devastating even. Some never recover from such a wound to one's heart.
The other one seldom provides the energy and verve. There are no delightful peaks. But there is stability. There is constancy. There is predictability and even longevity. There are few highs...that is true...but then, there are few lows too.
It brings me back to my favorite question....given a choice, which would you have...
One moment of pure life.....or.....A lifetime of mundane....
???????
Happy Fourth!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Eyes...

Windows to our soul? They speak a language all their own....and give away more than we would like them to. Often they bare to the world what we would like to keep hidden. They are, however, one of the first things I notice in a person.

You can capture a person through their eyes. Cruelty, passion, hate, love, lies, truth.... it is always there in their eyes. I happen to love eyes and the reading of them. There is this waiter at my favorite lunch place and he has these cold flinty blue eyes, like the mercurial metal man from Terminator II (I forget his name). I am always mesmerized by his eyes. That eye color is always a little hard to read. I have noticed that people with eyes like that tend to have a mercurial personality also. Very unpredictable. (this BTW is all hogwash...simply one of my socially hypothetical musings!)

People have often complimented my eyes as being unforgettable. Some have even called them pretty and there have been one or two who used the word gorgeous! Then there is this one friend Tina, who says I have "Bhaanse ki ankhe" (Urdu...translated means eyes of a buffalo!). I get my eyes from my dad, (who in my opinion has stunning eyes...hehehe.....) and therefore I take no credit either for the "buffalo ness or the beauty, whichever one chooses to go with.

I am, however, cursed with the phenomenon of being incapable of keeping anything disguised in them. It has been the bane of my existence to never have been able to keep a lie, a crush, or even a prank successfully concealed in my ever frank and truthfully revealing eyes. To those who interact with me it is a delightful thing. To those who have tried to ask for my help in a lie, I have always let them down not by choice I might add. The darn eyes always gave the lie away!

I have in the course of my life become quite adept at reading eyes as a result of my own lack of guile with them. I may not be able to derive concrete judgements of individual instances, but the general trustworthiness, honesty and malice are very easily detectable to me in a pair of eyes.
Many other people seem to agree with the concept.

Then there is the case of being able to have an entire conversation with eyes alone. Very recently, a friend was most irritated because another friend and I had communicated an entire idea without uttering a single syllable and had a good giggle over the said communication without any trouble at all. The annoyed friend whom we shall call "nameless" felt very left out and demanded to be included. Now I don't know about you, but that kind of communication requires a ton of familiarity and similar mindset as well as several shared experiences. I don't think, try as we might, that nameless would ever have been able to pick up on our shared little joke.

What say you? Can we communicate through our eyes with anyone at will... Sure we can convey hints and gestures and even be suggestive, but to truly exchange an idea at length, now that takes rapport. Don't you agree...?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Jaded...???



Has human society as a whole become jaded or is it a western or in particular a New York City phenomenon?

I was in New York last week and acted in a music video a friend was working on as part of a film making class. My costume for the shoot included in addition to a modern outfit, a Victorian era turquoise, silk taffeta dress. It was a very elaborate ensemble, replete with flounces, a bustle, ribbons and lace, and quite elaborate as can be seen in the picture....

I was required to walk up and down the streets in Union Square ( a very busy thoroughfare...BTW) while being filmed by a camera that captured the shot from quite a distance at times. The point is, for anyone who saw me in this get up, it was not immediately clear that I was in costume being filmed.

What struck me as odd was how calmly people went about their own business without even blinking as if nothing was amiss in the picture I painted walking down New York City streets in 2007 dressed in something that was representative of a era two centuries prior! I am a pretty extroverted person and when I glance at someone I seldom avert my eyes and definitely make eye contact, however brief. It was interesting for me therefore, to see no curiosity in the gazes that met mine. I tried to imagine how I must appear to them...

  • I could be a complete kook dressing up because my mind was beginning to unravel at the seams and I believed I was in a different time/era...
  • I was a street performer and was hoping to earn a quick dollar or two...
  • I was in the middle of a film/photo shoot...

All of the above would warrant a change in expression, however subtle. Some curiosity, a roll of the eyes even, or just a self conscious averting of the gaze to avoid making eye contact with the "crazy"... you know the normal human emotions and gestures at play in an unexpected or out of place situation. The strange thing is, in the seven hours that I was busy doing this shoot, only three or four people actually asked me what was going on. A few more actually complimented my get up, two took my picture using their cell phones (one of whom was in a car), and several just smiled at me. But the majority took it in stride! Like nothing whatsoever was amiss... And there were several hundred people on those streets in that seven hour period.

Now I don't know about you, and I may have been born in Uganda....but I have lived in the US for ten years now, and I must admit....I would have been very curious to try and find out what was going on. I would at least have gawked, with open curiosity! Being a psychologist and mental health professional in the making and a social psychology researcher at heart, I was in my element throughout the shoot just observing the completely unexpected reaction/or lack thereof, that was in evidence before me.

It got me thinking...have we Americans, as a society in general, been exposed to such a level of sensory stimuli on the whole that we have become jaded...desensitized even? It was a startling revelation. Sad even in a poignant sort of way.

What a loss. To lose the wonder and charm for the little things in life. To have no curiosity left. To be forever in search of a bigger high, a greater rush, than what is commonly accessible and available in daily life. It would explain why drugs are such a big problem...we are not easily excited anymore. A joint or two is needed to make us sit up and take notice. A "bump" here or there to make life more interesting...

I was relieved however, to see in the children, a sense of wonder still. They stared with a naked expression of awe, curiosity and amazement in their faces, followed by a self conscious and bashful embarrassment when I smiled at them. And the kids were the only ones to glance back over their shoulders as they walked away, as if to carry with them an image from a childhood of unadulterated wonder that would alas, not last for very long in this ever increasingly jaded and cynical time...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The art of conversation.

We talk...everyday in fact, and we also speak a lot, on various topics and about several events. How often do we however communicate? And how many of us know the art of connecting through speech or otherwise. A life lived without truly connecting and communicating with other humans is a life only skimmed through, like watching a movie in mute or watching it in fast forward motion.

Ever felt the sand beneath your feet and sensed the earth speak to you? Ever looked into someones eyes and understood the language of their soul? Ever been in a place where time and space stood still? Ever felt like you were in complete harmony with the motion of the trees in the wind, the earth in orbit, the stars and heavenly bodies in their timeless dance?

I spent a lovely evening with a friend at the edge of a lake. I felt the gravel under my feet. I feasted on a glorious sunset and lulled my spirit into a trance. I saw the ripples on a lake set on fire by a setting sun. I felt the gentle breeze caress my face and whisper in my ear.

We talked, my friend and I... it wasn't much that we said. I never had my questions answered but the point was that we connected. We communicated. And though queries went unanswered, an understanding was reached at. It did not matter what did or did not come to light. A person was understood by another and that was all that mattered.

I had a good conversation this day. I lived my life this day. I felt at peace this day. I understood a friend this day. It was a wonderful evening spent with a great person. It was a memorable moment... one with many flavors. I was surrounded in peace and harmony, beauty and companionship. It was a good day!

Thank you friend...
For being...on this day.

Only in New York...!!!


Only in New York...

Ever a firm believer in the numerous possibilities associated with that phrase, even I was surprised on a recent trip, by what happened in a cab ride in that magnificent city. A friend and I hailed a cab to head back to our place of residence after a rather long night. On that ride we were entertained (quite unusually) by our very creative cabbie. The said gentleman (A sikh "sardar gee"!) broke the ice the minute the door to cab was shut and we were settled, by accosting my dear friend JB with the question,
"What is your relationship with the lady please?"
Needless to mention it was an unusual question and my first reaction was one of amusement and I was concocting in my head an image of a Pakistan like request from our cabbie to produce a "nikahnama" when JB responded with,
"she's just a friend..."
"Okay, ask her to close her eyes please..." requested the cabbie
At this point both JB and I were at a loss and exchanging rather helpless glances and not sure how to proceed, but since no threatening gesture had yet been made by the cabbie we played along. I shut my eyes and the cabbie then proceeded to produce a set of lovely red bangles that matched my top and presented them to JB saying ,
"Put these on her wrist please..."
(he finished every sentence with please...whoever said New Yorkers are rude has not a clue about anything!)
Very bemused and a little sheepish by now (because of our nightmare slasher/murderer cabbie stereotype imaginings of a few moments earlier) we giggled and accepted the bangles and whispered about the tip amount appropriate for such chivalry when our ever charming cabbi piped up again with,
"Now you sir close your eyes please... and put this around your neck..."
And he passed back an orange silk scarf.
We obliged and felt again a state of helplessness since being presented with bangles is one thing but now we had no clue where this was headed. We exchanged several more glances that conveyed a myriad of, I have no clue either....glances when the cabbie asked,
"What is the dear name of your lady friend?"
"Kiki!" I piped up, not wanting to give away my ethnicity by giving my real name.
The multi talented sardargee then proceeded to belt out extemporaneously, a sonnet of love devotion and courtship (that would make Shakespeare bow his head in awe...) in my honor!
JB and I were floored at this point and very worried by now due to our lack of cash to reward such attentions let alone pay for the cab ride.
"Okay close your eyes now..." continued the master of ceremonies,
Giggling hysterically I obliged, and sardargee proceeded to hand JB a ring!
"Please repeat after me" he demanded, "Will you marry me?" "Now ask the lady please!"
After exchanging very bemused and now bordering on flabbergasted glances JB proceeded (in his playacting often used in conjunction with Zuleikha, high pitched, I have no control over this situation voice)
"Dude! Will you marry me?"
Between fits of suppressed laughter and with tears running down my face I heard Sardargee continue to direct this series of events with,
"Now you please miss, say yes please.."
"Yes please!??!!...." I managed to mumble in a choke so as not to offend the sensibilities of our very revered cabbie, as well as convey a complete and utter loss of control or understanding but absolute enjoyment of this oh so WEIRD state of affairs to JB!
Both JB and I were at this point near hysterical with laughter, surprise, exhaustion, giggles and needless to say considering the events of the evening we were returning from quite a pair of shall we call it "creatures"! Sardargee continued with many tirades and more poetry and sonnets in our honor and in the New York cabbie equivalent of "by the power vested in me I now pronounce you man and wife" monologue.
"You must return the scarf to me now please so other people must use it also you see..." he apologetically admitted, "But you must keep the ring and the bangles for the happy couple!"
We asked him to take us to an ATM machine and I insisted on getting out of the cab and going with JB to get some cash (charm notwithstanding, this was after all New York and much as I admired his talent for improv weddings I trusted that cabbie not one bit!).
Anyway we got the cash, got back home, paid the cabbie a very hefty tip, returned the scarf, kept the ring and bangles and proceeded up to the second floor of the apartment building to announce our engagement? wedding? to our other friends! (How they reacted is another hysterical tale....one of many "all in a day's work in life a la Shahnaz"....

Stay posted to hear more of them!
Many giggles...
meaoooooow....

Happiness...

Ever wonder why so many people are unhappy...?

Being a happy person generally, I am amazed at the lack of it in other people. On deeper investigation, however, it becomes apparent that it is not that people lack happiness. It is simply that they are unable to recognize happiness in their lives. They are so busy focusing on what is wrong with their lives, what is lacking, what they do not have...that they completely miss all that is actually there!

It is simply a matter of perspective. If one were to stop mid-thought in an unhappy situation, and focus instead on a positive... a have instead of a have not for example, happiness would be instantly achievable. It is an experiment I challenge everyone to try.

Another fail proof way of being happy is to believe that you are responsible for your own happiness. Many of us believe that we need to rely on others to provide happiness for us. But that is too much of a burden to place on another human. It is too great an expectation. Only we can make ourselves happy. All we need to do is be proactive about it. If something makes you happy go out and get it/do it. Don't wait for someone to make it happen for you. You are every bit as capable of making it happen on your own.

Expectations are a happiness killer. If you expect too much you are very likely to feel dejected when you fall short. Be ambitious by all means, but don't set your heart on the moon. Definitely strive for it, give it your all, but do not "expect" anything. If you get to the moon fantastic! If not you never expected to anyway, but you made an attempt at it and that in itself should be enough to give you happiness.

Savor the small pleasures, the everyday happenstances we take for granted. In a traffic jam, take a second to enjoy the colors of the sky, or mull over a pleasant memory. Fussing over the inconvenience of the delay will not make the delay go away...it will only make it more unbearable. On the other hand, however, focusing on a positive like a pleasant memory, or a lovely sky, something....anything, small and insignificant even, but positive will make it more pleasant, more bearable, insignificant even. Perhaps you may find complete and total happiness for just a second, while stuck in a traffic jam, however unbelievable that sounds!

Give it a try...

My guaranteed moments of pure happiness:
Sunsets...my cup is always overflowing