Its Day 5 of Ramadan fam


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Days 1-4 have passed in a flurry of acclimatizing to the new schedule (which makes all lunch meetings null and void); assimilating the true meaning and essence of the holy month and agonizing over reaching for the 4th samosa.

We’ve now fallen into some kind of a happy rhythm, without the tedious distraction of food – chiefly the mindless snacking and surplus cups of tea. Also, I find that I’m exonerated from arguments, fights, and other having the last word situations, thanks to the Holy Month represented in abject good taste with this meme (refer to OINTB).

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Picture taken from Instagram

 

To give you a quick backdrop to Ramadan –

  1. Majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are fasting this month, daily from dawn to dusk; not non-stop for 30 days – the only fast that would be, is unto death..!
  2. Ramadan is a time for sacrifice, discipline, generosity, charity, understanding and contemplating the Quran. Needless distractions like Facebook food videos (I mean who started those, it’s just hours gone in a shimmy), Panda videos, unnecessary google searches, memes and tweets can create a major diversion, but we need to stay strong.
  3. There is a LOT of food. (Praise God). Coming at you from all directions, post sun-set. By now the temptation factor (in the day) isn’t that high. You’re adulting, so someone at work eating a giant burrito bowl or shawarma isn’t going to throw you off. But when you do break fast with that one civil Tunisian date – all hell(o) can break loose. (Ps- there’s no swearing in Ramadan, I should do an alternative to swearing – swear words post. Not that I swear, #just saying). There is usually at the table -something fruity, something juicy, something fatty, something salty, something healthy, something carb-y, something fried, something baked, something protein-y, something sent over from the neighbours, something left over from the day before. This honestly is most exacting part of the fast. You will have to use some amount of will power and listening to your stomach. Good luck with that.IMG_20140528_134500
  4. On a serious note, please locate some local, nearby establishments that do accept cooked food where a part of the food that is being cooked at home is either sent there, shared with the domestic help, shared with your neighbours – let’s try and have a food-waste-free Ramadan. Sharing, consideration for other, curbing wastage falls squarely into the spirit of Ramadan.
  5. Fasting in Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars or articles of a Muslim’s faith – the others include the belief and testimony that God is one , praying 5 times a day, performing pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your lifetime (financial means and health permitting), giving zakat or charity. You are exempt from fasting if you are travelling, sick, pregnant.
  6. Ramadan ends with Eid -Al Fitr which is the “festival of breaking of the fast” celebrated at the end of 30 days of fasting. It is meant to mark your accomplishment on completing those 30 days of fasting and it is spent exchanging gifts, entertaining family and friends, dressing to the nines (sometimes tens and elevens too). Also a big part of Eid becomes reminding yourself that you can eat in the day now, Ramadan is over. Because by this point according to Dr. Maxwell Maltz it takes 21 days to form a habit. IRL we eat sheer korma on Eid and then that habit is well and truly broken.

What Ramadan is, is much more than these fun facts. What it is, an access point to reclaiming your own spirituality. The discipline, the focus on prayer, the sacrifice of food, the kind word for people around us, the increased sense of charity, is all cumulative to get us ready for the rest of the year. Fortified & whole.

The humanity that we all have underlies us, and reaching into it and making it a strong part of our nature is easier said than done. Ramadan can be considered a drill – in order to get there. But there has to be a conscientiousness that goes with our actions & Ramadan routine in order to really reap the benefits on our soul.

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you” ~ Ali, RA

 

 

 

Muhammad Ali is my Uncle


Or that is what I believed, growing up.

Coming from a large family, many of whom we didn’t get to see very often, or at all [more than a few having emigrated to the West]- but who were spoken about with much love and emphatic information of their goings-on and whereabouts. I assumed Muhammad Ali was one of my Chachas or Mamus or Phupas or Khalus (various permutations of paternal-maternal uncles as referred to in Urdu) living in America.

The Muhammad Ali stories were always invoked to inspire and motivate. Or his tales of his spirit and humanness were backtracked and rehashed over and over till one almost felt a personal thrill and achievement from the very experience of living through it. I think back in the 80’s everyone was just trying to distract themselves to fight the general bleakness and financial paucity and Indira Gandhi with the all consuming relief that comes from sports. It was more than what it is now, though now it’s bigger than ever. It was an escape, a sweet surrender. Back then everyone even learned to speak (English) mimicking the robust and electrifying-ly eloquent English of the great commentators.It was de rigueur.

At the time there were other greats we’d hear of (of course) like Pele, Jimmy Connors, Niki Lauda, Imran Khan, Sunil Gavaskar, Bjorn Borg – but when Muhammad Ali was in the conversation – there was an electric pride which could only come from the deepest love and respect. Over the years I was going to learn why and how it was so plausible to physically love someone, whom they hadn’t personally known or met, like I grew up seeing my (real) uncles and aunts do. I have memory of seeing a framed photograph of Muhammad Ali as well – but my mother deems it to my active imagination as a child.

Then, there was a fancy dress at school and obviously the toss up was between between Diego Maradona and Muhammad Ali (my fathers favourites) as my outfit of the day. I kinda fit the bill you see, I was a tough, chubby little girl with short hair and muscular mini legs. I must have been about 5. That was the day when it came crashing down on me that my uncle who “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee” was not anywhere in the vicinity even, of my family tree.

It was too much to bear when I found out he wasn’t even going to be there, to see me! Dressed up as him! Because obviously I wasn’t even a figment of his imagination.

I became furiously ill that day. I didn’t go for the fancy dress. And I was annoyed, to a point that maybe I should go as something a little more ladylike. Maybe if I was a sweet little girl – with-sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice , I’d manage to conjure Muhammad Ali into my real uncle. Some level of identity crisis has remained since then. I’m quite sure of that.

The feeling associated with these earliest memories of Muhammad Ali have manifested themselves in other things over the years. Like when, at a Quiz competition many years later in High School – I picked Muhammad Ali as my choice for quiz questions. The clincher here is , that it’s not like I did very much to follow boxing or Ali’s life actively as one would imagine. Another generation of fanatical fans. In fact, there were two other options, I can’t seem to remember exactly, and I did remember feeling out of my depth. I was drawing a blank on those personalities. Ali would have to be my unsure, but best bet. And magically, embedded in my psyche were answers to all the four or five questions. Which honestly I had no clue I’d know. My team won the Quiz that day.

“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming” – I am telling this story today as a tribute to a man who was just pure and unflinchingly great. For his spirit, his values and his courage. That was his legacy. Just this knowledge can help mould us into more authentic versions of ourselves. I’m not writing a story about who he was or how he lived or of his achievements. That you just need to google. This is my story of my Uncle, Muhammad Ali.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi Rajiun
“Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return”.

Updated: Some links for your easy reference
Youtube: Why is Jesus White – Muhammad Ali
The Outsized Life of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali Dies at 74: Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century

 

Dusted in future fortunes


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in sudden cold icy showers,
stars bursting from my sky
the lightning streams through my veins smoothly
and i go on fists clenched in the wind

a thousand horsepower beating in my heart
in my heart the internal candle flame that never dies out

and you
your head holds all the mystery of a sweet abyss

your hair, like the night of willow trees
your face with that smile, dusted with future fortune
your gaze, its fruits

that holds still the hidden springs of rapture and life.

And then…

in my veins sing a thousand loving insects
and in your manifold caress a thousand petals that rain.

Chimamanda Adichie makes me want to write again


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Whether, bedtime is the best time to restart writing on my blog, I can’t tell. But I can say this, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stirs things up. I just finished her book, Americanah. Dragging it along, pathologically for meetings with friends, yoga sessions, freshly over IPL season and dental appointments.

Was is a wonderful book? Yes. Was it without flaws? No. Was it easy to relate to? Yes. Was it a feminist book?  Possibly.

When books decide for you that some emotions have been lacking from your current repertoire. Or, that it’s okay to fumble or be self righteous or insensitive when you’re just trying to get through the day. Making sense of things as they come to you. For instance, when I don’t realise that something can be good for me or bad. That’s when you realise, what you’ve been missing, been lazily buying books and not reading. It becomes an essential part of living fully. It becomes an essential part of feeling fully.

Somewhere in the book she observes that reading is an emotional activity. How can it not be. I for one feel like it’s a private affair or a double life I’m leading – that I’m somehow magically infused with everything that’s happening. And it does something, it lifts me up. Elevates me. Gives me another life experience. In the same breath, it can be emotionally exacting and squeeze  parts of your heart which were otherwise lying dormant and unmussed.

There was a study showing six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68% which apparently more than the sweet release of music or a cup of tea. I believe it has to do with some sort of exhilaration.  Some sort of easy/ harmless voyeurism which gets the endorphins going in all the right ways.

Was this post supposed to be about reading in general, Americanah or about me resurrecting my blog?

I do hope to do that review, or just things I discovered about the book. CNA inspires me. It could even be safe to say there’s a woman crush here which is going to be steeped to perfection.

In the picture, is my delicious post yoga cottage cheese, spinach, basil, almond sundried tomato sandwich at this sweet, serene spot called Yogisthaan.

There’s lots to write about and I’d love to deliver.

Sweet dreams. Good day.

Why we should travel


wpid-img_76531975452077.jpeg“If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars” – The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)

This message was so empowering and inspiring that I just had to share this. The picture is from a recent holiday to the hills in Himachal, with my family. Everytime you come back from a trip, there is this heady feeling of having learnt something new not just about the world but about yourself too, not to mention the other associate feelings of wellbeing, happiness and the thirst to plan the next vacation.

Also, this Ramadan has been a month where for the first time I have actually sat down to understand myself better. The grounding that would (could) comes from this, Inshallah – to then allow informed and self-aware decisions. This encompasses religion, roots, circumstances, your family and peers and the decisions that you have been making up until now.

The teachings of the Prophet Mohammed *Peace be upon him – called “Sunnah” and these form the guidelines for life and living and code of conduct for all Muslims alongside of the Quran. There are simple yet profound lessons that cover our day to day actions which have been documented on authority of his wives and his Companions called the Sahabas.

The teachings of all religion are quite simple and grounded in basics of humanity. Its the lack of perspective, general egos and numbing hatred that is giving all beliefs such a bad rap. Finding some grounding and spirituality in understanding where we come from, a part of which is the religion we all are individually born into is the step in the right direction. You don’t have to be a “religious” person to be doing this. For me, I feel it just means being a bit more open to the world around me. This may sound as two conflicting ideas, but honestly understanding the things that one feels one doesn’t believe in, and then making an informed decision is always a smarter way of doing things.

Signing off in Peace

:)