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)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
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
"Did you see her in capri's the other day..."
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
Friday, July 6, 2007
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.
Full and majestic.
Glow…glow in the morning
Glow in the dark of night.
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.
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
Fantastic time....lovely pictures. Beauty and serenity. Truly amazing fun!!
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
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
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
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.
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!
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