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 "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 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


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


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


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!)'s to you... best of luck!'s to you... amazing pic!'s to you...keep on gallivanting!
ME!'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.

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....


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 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 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


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


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 of many "all in a day's work in life a la Shahnaz"....

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


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 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: cup is always overflowing