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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Specimen of a Zit


Like every other Indian young lady, even I wage a daily war with pimples. I cannot indulge in some funky make-ups, my favourite desserts- gulab jamun, and cheese cake, stay out in the sun for long, shop in dusty/traffic areas, or skip a beauty routine, and I always need to stick to my diet and regime to keep my face spotless and sparkling.

So forget frequent partying, long drives, trekking into the wild and heights, those tempting make-up trends and all the fun things in the world. In short, I too can never live my life free and dauntless. But one incident that really had me in tears and cost me dear happened very recently.

It was my cousin's wedding last winter and I had a live interview for an airhostess' job just two day's later. I could miss neither as the bride-to-be was my favourite cousin, almost my soul sister; and I had put a lot of effort and dedication to reach this juncture work-wise too. It was only a matter of proper planning and time management and I was an expert in it. But one disaster turned it all topsy-turvy.

We all know how grand and gala big- fat-indian-weddings could get. This wedding was no different. Throughout the whole preparation and arrangements my diet went flying out of the window (though I swear I tried to keep it under check as much as I could). The shopping in heavy traffic, the quick-bits of street-foods, staying up late in the nights, the damp weather, the heavy make-up that went to hide all the stress and tiredness evident on my face, and hardly any time for all the beauty-care I usually pamper my skin with, were only biding their time to unleash their terror on me. Add to them all the oily, masala and irresistable platter of mughlai and indian cuisine on the menu everyday for every ceremony lined back to back. I was rendered defenceless.

When the first Big day arrived, I woke only to be greeted by these tiny tiny pink and proud zits mocking at me in the mirror. I could have screamed but the panic and gloom that hit me only had me eyes welling with tears and me hitting the shower to scrub them out and praying it was only a nightmare.

Half an hour later when I could dare look into the mirror again, I was spic and span like a fairy-tale princess, but with those nasty pimples still rooted strong and prominent to give me my reality-check.

My next prompt plan of action had me attacking each one of the tiny intruders by pinching them out and dabbing the spots with cotton buds dipped in rose-water. I felt I had won my battle and went back to enjoy the wedding for the relief seemed immediate and satisfactory. But it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. By noon, after my cousin was wed and we all had had our lunch and were preparing for her fare-well, my skin started itching really bad and people had even started for those dark red spots on my face. Those nasty pimples were back with a vengeance. They had now doubled in number, and taken a killer-red hue than the innocent pink that they were in the morning. Now there was nothing I could do, than surrender to become immortally pimple laden in the wedding footages, and earn the title "cousin with those big red pimples" by all the beauty queens and aunts on the groom's side.

I let my mother tackle the problem after that to atleast salvage my interview. The pimples reduced, but refused to disappear completely and those that complied left tell-tale scars behind. Of all my charms, my facial features could not impress the interview committee.

If you have learnt from my mistakes, visit these links below for some really amazing info and tips on zit-management: bit.ly/GPABlogLinkIndiBloggerActivity andbit.ly/GarnierPureActiveNeemWebsite

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Challenges For New Year

In July last year, I did a two-poem take on Being-Friendly Challenge. Those of you who can recall will probably also know my inspiration behind it. Those of you who haven't read them yet, you can easily locate them by clicking on the "being-friendly challenge" link in the labels section under this post.

And it is with great pleasure I present before you all today, the inspiration behind the whole idea- the candid, caring, compassionate, and lovely Cindy Ackley.

A cancer survivor, and a most-dedicated licensed Massage Therapist living in Mesquite, Texas, she shares her life, experiences, and warm thoughts with the world, in her web-page www.lifeisbeautifulandhealthy.com. I love her every post, but if I have to pick my favourites, they are
Don't Give Up! Dreams Do Come True! (for the sheer joy and magic it imparts).
and
A Blessing In Disguise (for all the interesting aspects I learnt about life across the globe).

Full of motherly instincts, and love, care, and concern for all, she is one of the most amazing and inspiring personage I was blessed to meet last year. She graces my page today, to share with us what she and 2015 have set out for each other.

Thank you, Cindy for obiging to my request and adding this special touch to our first New Year together.

* * * * *

The guest blog by Cindy Ackley on the new changes and challenges 2015 brings along for her.

New Challenges For New Year

Every year on January 1st, we make resolutions or declare changes that we would like to accomplish. Sometimes these changes are self inflicted things like starting a new diet or healthy habit. More often than not, these changes are good for a few weeks or a couple of months, then we are back to our old ways.

This year my challenge is a bit different. I have found myself with an empty nest after my youngest daughter has decided to move in with a friend from work. My husband travels a lot for work and I am "home alone"! This year I will be discovering how to maintain my healthy eating habits and cooking for one. You may laugh, but this is really a challenge for me. I have always loved cooking and enjoy serving my family healthy dinners. I have always enjoyed the way that they rave about how delicious a meal that it was.

I am learning how to shop for one. I have already thrown out more produce than I actually consumed. Produce stands and Farmers Markets have things prebundled in baskets or bags and there is no way that I can use it all before it goes bad. I suppose I could if I ate the same thing everyday. That is way too boring! It is difficult to find a place that will sell you one handful of green beans, one handful of carrots, one half a bundle of asparagus and the list goes on.

On the other hand, this empty nest syndrome does have some positive advantages. There is much less laundry and house cleaning to do. There is more time for gardening. There is more time for just doing whatever I choose to do. Which may or may not get me into trouble! It could make me lazy or I just might write a novel. Time will tell.......

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Worth The Effort

I shall always remember 2014 as a very eventful year. For so many things (good and not so good) happened at once during the past year. It practically passed like a whirlwind, took me by a storm and transformed me into an entire new being. On the whole, I'm grateful to The Almighty for everything and carry no regrets, grudges or anything as such.

But one event that repeated itself twice, and honestly took even me by surprise, was rather pleasant in itself, and left me with gifts of a lifetime.

The event: Tapping my inner potentials.

Why so surprised?
Because on both the instances I did not have the least idea that I was capable of such feats.

The first of it occured around mid-year, one morning as I was discussing a point with Amrit Sinha, a wonderful author, poet, and friend of mine. He is amazing in creating english haiku, and I still wonder as to how or what made him so confident that even I had the talent. I had not even thought about it, and he asserted he could clearly see it in my writings.

Nonetheless, his confidence in me, and the challenge of writing haiku in itself, had me give it an earnest attempt. I did make mistakes, and he was also so good as to correct and guide me.

But what do you think! It was 'love at first attempt' for me. I may not be so good for now, but it's become my passion and one day even I may be awesome at it.

Here's a new haiku I made:

New Beginnings

a new dawn beckons
all those asleep, lone, and lost;
it's new year, my friend

(You can read the other haiku's I have written, by following the link "haiku" in the label section of this post.)

The second such instance happened to me just as 2014 was wrapping up.

The end of old year, also means the end of the season's holiday for kids. My 4 year old nephew too was no exception. Studying in lower kindergarten, he too had his lot of pending homework to complete, get ready to don the uniform and go back to school once back home. Being more as his friend and playmate, I felt it my moral duty to sit with him and help him complete the lot.

Now, as neither he nor my sister would let me write in his book, I sat with a book and pencil of my own, and competing with him to finish his hindi lessons by racing each other to self-set milestones of three times or four times the letter. Thus adding a bit of fun along the way.

And just like that, out of the blue this idea struck me as to why not try doing it with my right hand. As most of you ,my friends and who have read my Blog "The predicaments of being a left-handed", know I'm a left-hander, it was quite a herculean task for me. This is how it turned out:

(You can see the difference in both hand's writing by the wavering in the later written units.)

I was ecstatic with this discovery, and when I questioned my own mirth over it, the answer was prompt and clear in my mind:

"It is because I'm not abandoning my natural talent. I shall always pride myself as being a left-hander. But ambidexterity is a rare gift, and when I have the potential, why not master it!"

As of this day, I can write different languages, do simple chores, colour and draw designs with my right hand moderately.

Monday, January 12, 2015

To Become Ultra-Orthodox

Today I welcome a very precious friend of mine, who has grown really close to my heart in the few months that we've known each other.

Judy is a Pedagogical Artist (Pedagogy is the Art of Teaching) from Israel. She is one of the most amazing, and vibrant personalities I have ever met; who derives such deep wisdom from simple everyday experiences. Her daily posts -to teach and to delight - always leave us with lesson for life and a smile to brighten our day.

You have to read her posts on her own web page www.cutthecrapsolutions.com to actually know what I mean. Her posts
War is a Good thing (which deals with how minds and hearts can be manipulated with words),
and
Don't Take It Away From Me (a post I've read over and over again),
are closest to my heart.

Thank you, Judy for honouring my request and gifting us this wonderful blog to make our first New Year together more special.

* * * * *

Guest blog of Judy Yaron on what she plans for 2015

To Become Ultra-Orthodox

As fit for the time year, people around the world are making their New Year resolutions. I’m not into New Year celebrations, but I can’t help jumping on the NY Resolutions bandwagon. These are mine:

• Drink more water, starting my day with warm water and lemon. • Learn to cook Indian food. • To become more Ultra-Orthodox

The first two are pretty self-explanatory. Let me explain #3.

Many years ago, I worked as a teacher-trainer in a religious community in the south of Israel. My teachers and I came from opposite worlds. They were Ultra-Orthodox: extremely pious Jewish women, devoted to their faith, who live their lives according to strict laws and commandments. I, in turn, am what you might describe as culturally Jewish. I take deep pride in my heritage; holidays are a time for family celebrations; but other than that I conduct a purely secular lifestyle.

We differed in our dress, our food, and the way we spend our leisure time, but that never came between us. Even our dissimilar beliefs in a higher power, our personal relationships and how we raise our children were never an unsurmountable barrier. For many I was the only secular person they had ever had a real conversation with, and so I became a window to the world beyond their town and way of life. As women we loved to talk and share our lives. We would talk about anything and everything.

One day I had a question of a religious matter and approached the principal of one of the schools, where I worked. He happened to be a rabbi, and we too often spent time discussing the ways of the world. When I posed my question he gave me a curious look. “You realize I’m not religious,” I reminded him. He then turned to me and said,

“Perhaps between you and the Almighty, you are secular, but your kindness, compassion and acceptance of others are Ultra-Orthodox.”

To become Ultra-Orthodox

Today I welcome a very precious friend of mine, who has grown really close to my heart in the few months that we've known each other- Judy Yaron.





A pedagogical expert (pedagogy is the science of teaching) from Israel(though she prefers to call herself an artist instead), Judy is also one of the most amazing, and vibrant personalities I have met; who derives such  deep wisdom from simple  everyday experiences, its always leaves us with a lesson for life and a smile to brighten our day.

You have to read her posts on her own web page www.cutthecrapsolutions.com to actually know what I mean. Her posts
War is a Good thing (which deals with how minds and hearts can be manipulated with words),
and
Don't Take It Away From Me (a post I've read over and over again),
are closest to my heart.

Thank you, Judy for honouring my request and gifting us this wonderful blog to make our first New Year together more special.

* * * * *
Guest blog of Judy Yaron, on what she plans for 2015

To Become Ultra-Orthodox



As fit for the time year, people around the world are making their New Year resolutions. I’m not into New Year celebrations, but I can’t help jumping on the NY Resolutions bandwagon. These are mine:

• Drink more water, starting my day with warm water and lemon.

• Learn to cook Indian food.

• To become more Ultra-Orthodox

The first two are pretty self-explanatory. Let me explain #3.

Many years ago, I worked as a teacher-trainer in a religious community in the south of Israel. My teachers and I came from opposite worlds. They were Ultra-Orthodox: extremely pious Jewish women, devoted to their faith, who live their lives according to strict laws and commandments. I, in turn, am what you might describe as culturally Jewish. I take deep pride in my heritage; holidays are a time for family celebrations; but other than that I conduct a purely secular lifestyle.

We differed in our dress, our food, and the way we spend our leisure time, but that never came between us. Even our dissimilar beliefs in a higher power, our personal relationships and how we raise our children were never an unsurmountable barrier. For many I was the only secular person they had ever had a real conversation with, and so I became a window to the world beyond their town and way of life. As women we loved to talk and share our lives. We would talk about anything and everything.

One day I had a question of a religious matter and approached the principal of one of the schools, where I worked. He happened to be a rabbi, and we too often spent time discussing the ways of the world. When I posed my question he gave me a curious look. “You realize I’m not religious,” I reminded him. He then turned to me and said,

“Perhaps between you and the Almighty, you are secular, but your kindness, compassion and acceptance of others are Ultra-Orthodox.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015: A Brand Spanking New Year

Joining The Ultimate Blog Challenge forum is one of the best things to happen to me. It not only gave my writing a new platform, but also some wonderful people as friends. One of them is Elly Stornebrink.

Our friendship clicked almost instantly and on a spur, yet she is so special to me, like warm sunshine on a cold winter day. She's so full of life, energy, ideas, and love for everyone.

A resident of North Vancouver, British Columbia; a social activist , and a blogger by choice, Elly is also a visionary of a co-creative children choir. You will be amazed by her interest on various topics such as world traditions, sufism, vedic chants, music, dance forms, human psychology, philosophy, life, celebrations, nature, and so on.

Here are some of her amazing posts I have read in her own blog page, www.xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca:

World Suicide Prevention Day and Suicide Prevention Week (which has one of her most favourite photos that she took).

In Honour of National Tree Day (where she hugs a tree with a heart shape in it. She considers herself to be a tree lover and treehugger!)

She's been so wonderful as to agree to guest blog for me here today, to make our first new year together more memorable. I welcome my dear friend to my humble blog page and thank her for the honour.

* * * * *

The guest blog by Elly Stornebrink on what New Year means to her:



2015: A Brand Spanking New Year

Image courtesy: www.gettyimages.com, photo by Julie Fairman

Imagine a picture of a newborn baby being spanked as initially happens when a child is born (to ensure they are breathing of course, denoted by their crying).

2015 is a brand new year, a clean slate, a time for fresh beginnings.

What would you make of it? Rather, what would you like to make of it, this year, this coming year? How would you like it to be? What do you foresee or like to foresee?

As I write this, this comes to mind: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This is how Charles Dickens starts his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

From (t)his most famous passage and first lines (paragraph) of this book, we read:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

There are always “best” and “worst” or “good” and “bad” times, though all are man-named adjectives.

Considering the passage above however, we can contemplate and imagine what we envision for ourselves, if not for the world. For after all, aren’t we like the domino effect: - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domino_effect - affecting each other with our thoughts, words, and actions? The penguins in the movie, Penguins of Madagascar – what can I say, I love animated children’s movies! – illustrate this well near the beginning of the movie. Sometimes, perhaps many times, we may tend to forget this.

Not the exact scene I am thinking of in this movie trailer, though at the :13 time mark you will see a mini-version of what I am speaking about with three of the penguins: https://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=BjfID263ViI. Now imagine this with all the penguins (which does occur in the movie by the way)! That is what I am referring to, on a larger, grander scale.

About five to 10 years ago, I came to realize that resolutions do not make sense as they don’t generally work. See my post regarding this and similar words that we commonly associate with and utilize near the beginning of a new year: http://xpressyouressence. blogspot.ca/2014/12/out-with-old-in-with-new_31.html

I have come to learn that possibilities, like a vision, hold a lot of weight. That is, in having a sense of hope, for example, as a possibility is powerful.

As you may know, words do matter. What we think and say have a profound and deep impact upon not only our lives, but also on others.

What do you (fore)see as possibilities for 2015? What would you hope for yourself and mankind in a heartfelt, compassionate way?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

An epitome of humanity

On this day (12th of the islamic month Rabbi-ul-Awwal) as the first burst of dawn hid behind the dark veil of last moments of night, a widowed young mother gave birth to a son- her only child, who was named Mohammed, and who was destined and prophecised to change the course of humanity and bring light of knowledge and wisdom in a time when darkness of ignorance, arrogance, hypocrisy and dominance was widespread.

Islamic world celebrate the birth anniversary of this great legend as Milaad-un-Nabi on this day every year (which falls on 4th of january, this year).

Prophet Mohammed was born at a time and in a soceity where a perpetual war of supremacy and dominance raged betwixt the local tribes of Arabia; the teachings of the preceding prophets were manipulated, abandoned or forgotten under the lures of money, power and self-indulgence; the weak and helpless were abused, ill-treated and oppressed; women were reduced to mere domestic objects, female-infanticide and slave-torture was rampant; and atrocity was the way of life of the strong and influential.

He grew up to earn the titles like the Truthful One, the Honest One, The friend of all and The Respectful one, even before his prophethood was revelled upon all. And when his prophethood was revealed, he did earn enemity from the oppressors and way-laid (many from his own kith and kin), he faced en-masse hostility and heart-breaking ridicules, and even lost many of his beloved ones.

But he had a divine duty to perform and never faltered even for once. He reciprocated stones, swords and swearings with a smile, forbearance and forgiveness. He answered every challenge and tests of his opposers and doubtsters with alacrity and precision. He sacrificed willingly, endeavoured relentlessly and taught with utmost love and patience.

When he did go to war it was as a last resort, in compliance of the Divine commandment and to safeguard human values and the lives of those who trusted him. And he never ill treated the war survivors who surrendered to him.

The Treaty of Hudaiwiya and The conquest of mecca are classic paradigms of human-rights and how to treat even our enemies with leniency and respect. He taught the virtues of patience, love, mutual co-existence and kindness.

He even set examples of secularism by often accepting invites and himself inviting people of other religions, passing unbiased judgments in any dispute that was brought to him, visiting and helping the poor, sick and needy, maintaining friendly contacts with all he could and appreciating his followers who did the same.

He lived a very ordinary lay-man life void of any luxury or indulgence, but his life is a treasure-trove of inspiration and wisdom. He fulfilled his divine obligation and- as The almighty Allah states in the Holy Quran that those who live to fulfill his divine will (prophets, martyrs and saints) never die, they only bid adieu to worldly existence; They remain alive even in their tombs- even Prophet Mohammed lives in Medina and reaches out to those who call unto his guidance and aid.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The newness of New year

The English calendar has taken another roll and it is new year across the globe wherever the gregorian calendar is observed.

I remember as a child New year was no less than our birthday for us. It was all about new clothes,  new accessories, lots of sweets and candies, the last day of school vacations and lots of fun, games and wishes.

A few years yonder as little girls and boys, it gained more priority. What with all the new year plans and resolutions, and heedings from teachers and parents to make this occasion an opportunity to excel, improvise or change for better. Lots of resolutions were made and broken, lots of goals were set and accomplished/abandoned, and lots of promises were made and kept.

As we grew into teenagers and our avenues and dimensions expanded, group resolutions and plans were made, diaries and notes kept, memories were captured in words and images and greeting cards and gifts exchanged. New year became a time to let bygones be bygones, reconcile differences among friends and mend broken hearts.

image courtesy: www.gettyimages.com

This ritual continued more or less unaltered through our college years, and then suddenly, stealthily all definitions changed as life changed gears, and new year plans, resolutions, exchanges and all seemed childish.

But the joy and hope of new beginning remains and my wishes on new year are more heart-felt and sincere. New year means new endeavours, new interests and renewed hope and confidence to me.

And I have planned a whole month dedicated to bring in the new year, connect the past with the future and glorify the gifts given to us and the inspirations that enlighten us. There would be a very special dedication to a wonderful legend, few expression of talents, and a very unique series of guest-blogs spread across the month from some really wonderful friends I met last year.