Monday, June 28, 2010

Strange Language - I

i thought it was time to share some of my 'other' kind of writing..that sometimes tries to record how my thoughts flow sometimes at night.

I can make some people laugh or scowl. The rest just stare. Whatever. If that’s okay with you, come on in. Leave your shoes at the door and open the windows. Walk barefoot, there’s dew on the grass that grows inside here. I need fresh air, even if its winter. I can tell whether a room is a prison or a porch just by feeling it when I enter.

Oh, and that scent is real. I don’t like synthetic experiences. I really don’t. 

I took the time to bake that pie just so we could smell apples and sugar caramelizing together with lemon juice. I won't skip the cream.Tart and sweet is my favorite combination of flavor always. It is also the most restrictive. My throat, I don’t know why, it’s always sore. Something about the voice cords. Controversial voice cords, faultless for the words they deliver. 

Well, Vocal cords if I must be correct. I’m done using correct English. There’s a language out there that we speak in our dreams and it was created so that those who never learned can understand, and even those whose tongues are destined to be rigid and faultless can utter. Every being in the Universe speaks this language in our dreams. Birds, walls, people, and more. It is heard by every human whatever their state of hearing, for the only soft and exciting place for our words to land is in the hearts and minds of another.

Too often have I flown through the proverbial ear canal route. Screamed through glass doors inside people harder and colder than rocks and steel. 

I don’t know how I speak it, it’s gone when I wake up, but somehow it’s there in our dreams and it moves our hearts, travels across welcoming distances sometimes and comes up against a human wall others so that I am a ghost tugging at you.
It uproots it and throws it reeling into a empty space full of possibility, with space and riches enough for every human being there is, and returning to me like a boomerang, sliced by the emptiness it found there and the things it saw and felt far away. Such is the perceived poverty of the heart. 

Such is the power of our 7th sense, this kind of communication that makes us fly in and out of our selves and time. That bridges humans with something other than just need and makes both togetherness and solitude an experience. Distance is never a matter, the heavens, the grave, the earth; all merge into one plane and eternity. 
Do you hear me now? Do you see me as I speak? I have turned into a shimmering, moving plight that seeks a soft place to land, only to rest before I fly onwards again. To your destination. And mine. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Refugee Day and Father's Day

I wish for those who long for home, home.

I wish for all refugees across the world and in my country, to soon be back in homes that are theirs, and full of love, happiness and peace with their families. Ameen.

Happy Father's Day as well. Fathers, a refuge in their own right.

Above: Gardening. Harvesting vegetables in a small patch at home is just the kind of thing for Dads.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Heartfelt prayers for someone

I am distracted today by the sudden striking of extreme testing on a small family I now know of and cannot stop thinking about.

A young man on his way to work had an accident that caused a head injury so serious, his chances of surviving are slim, and even if he does, his condition is uncertain. Too late to lament over anyones rash driving, or that he was not wearing a helmet, I pray God Will Have Mercy on him, his mother, a widow whose only child he is, and his wife - newly wed a few months ago, and that he survives and regains health, Ameen.

I post this to ask my readers and visitors to please pray for him and his family too with great hope - the God we pray to commands life and death and all there is in between and after, so that miracles for Him are no difficulty. 

A reminder to be grateful for the life and health we have, and must not take for granted. A reminder to always pray to Allah to Protect us from the striking of misfortune. 

Update: He passed away today, at the age of 25. I am so sad for his mother and wife, and that he will not see his child who will be born in a few months. I pray God gives his mother and wife the strength and peace they need.Please remember this family in your prayers.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

An important lesson to learn from the birds

Lately when distressed, I remind myself of the birds.
So happy outside my window, even in this searing heat they neither carry nor gather any water.
Somehow they begin and end each day with complete faith, and are fully rewarded.
Their Lord Provides for them, and they know it.

And so they set out each day, 
to search for food and as they do,
 they sing and soar and swoop and play 
and are as light as can be.

They teach me a lesson in trust. 
Surely their Lord can also take care of me and my troubles too.
 Surely He Will.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Create your own food memories!

Do you take pictures of your baking in progress? My suggestion is to stop amidst the preparations for what will become happy memories, and take a picture. Later on, it serves as a joyful reminder of the pleasure of creating a winter dessert served to friends, even months later in the scorching summer.
This above, is my apple pie in the making.. sugar, butter, lemon juice, cinnamon and tart apples, tossed and mixed  and piled into a pastry crust - one of the best scents to waft enticingly through the home!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My take on old fashioned/vintage style floral photography

 Caught these flowers in spring.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to nearly scare yourself in an artistic way

I think possibly the only way you're justified if you're standing outside in the wind in complete darkness holding up a crystal to the moon, and then start spinning around slowly in the air, and doing slow scribbles in the air, is if you're with a camera.But I think I still nearly spooked myself out.

Presenting the rest of the Moon Scene Series I did just for fun. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blogger thinks I'm lasagna tonight. Actually I'm your cat

So this is really silly and I know it.
It's also supposed to be a picture of me.
I kind of freeze when it comes to putting up my own picture here.
I know its important for you to see me so that you know I'm not a terrorist, nor a cat, nor a plane, or your kitchen faucet secretly coming to life and having a blog of its own.
But it's also important for me to know you're not someone who looks at my picture and says
'I kille you!
So you see, for tonight I'm this lasagna I once made for some friends, and then after they left, I put a flower behind it and tried to make it look all like food does in glossy photos that makes you glaze over and say
'I adore you'
to food.

Anyway, if you happen to be all nice and have your own pic on your blog, and for some reason really think I may be your kitchen sink, or your cat, or  a terrorist, or all of these, send me a line. I'll know to keep the lasagna pic!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Am I the only Pakistani who's not a terrorist?

Lately I'm beginning to think I may be the only Pakistani who isnt a terrorist.
That's obviously not true, so simmer down patriots.
I'm just referring to the New York failed attack, and the frustration of us ordinary citizens who love peace.
I'd either like the State to disown those who commit acts of terrorism and strip them of their nationality, or declare all the rest of us as non-Pakistanis.
Instead of focusing on improving the lot of their own, they turn to trying to destroy others, themselves, and a religion that they disgrace and hijack.

The above is part of a series I did while playing with the moon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Multi Tasking is Over rated and These are images of Ronaldo's images and a polar bear too.

This is probably the closest to being the best example of the kind of multi tasking I can do, because I generally don't think I'm very good at it and I think multi tasking is way over rated. And since I'm probably the only one who thinks this in the current paradigm our corporate world is slavishly honoring, I think I could make myself an expert on the complete opposite belief - 'Multi Tasking is Over Rated and You Don't Need Dr Phil if You Think You Should Only Do the Work You're Doing While Doing the Work You're Doing'

Which is completely irrelevant to what this is.
Yes, this is Ronaldo.
Can you spot the double image?
There are two images here. I just recorded them, I didnt see him in person.
There I spoiled it. I tend to over explain things, like explaining my explanation only so that you will get it. I realized this when I was 16 and a teacher observed I REALLY explained things as if I felt the other person couldnt understand. I think I'm still doing it.

The above image should freak yoh out. Look for her.

Yes this is a polar bear. I dont know if its real. I think its animated. Somehow I feel like telling you I said to it before clicking ' Go Aaah. Nice bear.' But I didnt. I was watching a movie late at night, and decided to take pictures in slow exposure. Meaning I let the camera record for a couple of seconds and these are the resulting images. Interesting experiment but not one I am too interested in after the results. I also started missing out the dialogues in the movie I was watching, so theres my multi tasking for you.

Yes, Thats Ronaldo. He was in this Ad. I coloured it. :P

Friday, April 23, 2010

The little boy in blue. Can you relate?

I am not standing in this street, but looking out over a wrought iron fence down where there are people, lots of them.
he sees me.

Now that I have this picture to pore over, I see him too.
I related to him in a way I can't explain,
 except that I have felt like I have looked out at the world or life like this sometimes.

He is barefoot and the sun sets his hair aglow. I have no idea about him, except that he permeated my consciousness in a way, for a while.
There is a whole lot I discovered when looking at photos from this street. So many things I saw later, in the photos - objects, really, and people doing things. For another post, insha Allah.

 This is about this little boy in blue.

Who says you tire of red-pink walls?

I painted one of my walls a hot red-pink last year, a rather messy job I take a bit of pride in...Here are a couple of pictures. 
not only did it surprisingly pull together the look of my room,
but I am not sick of it.
At all.
In fact, I think I might like to paint the other walls
but right now I dont have the energy
to take on the experimenting style of a job I do
or get an allergy :)

An attitude of gratitude note:
That I had the means and resources to get the paint & paint the wall myself.. energy, a little bit of cash, was able to go to the paint shop,ideas,
a wall to paint, a room, the ability to see and paint and learn.
Sounds silly?
Actually, I find this game to be great to play to help me cultivate an attitude of gratitude sometimes. And we dont even realize so many blessings until we start counting!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goldfish Spin

I don't like fish as pets anymore although I happily used to tend to them as a child.
This picture I took turned out interesting in the end, even if it makes me think of a claustrophobic spin! Does it seem anything to you?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gold Toes in a Jaded Hand

she is so new
we can count the days
she wonders it seems
trying to get used to
being here
she is my niece
unknown to me still

even as I hold her feet
that are purer than gold
And more precious,
being of Life
They have not yet touched the earth
But I hope they tread lightly
with grace
when they do

and these hands of mine
May God Always Bless
and Fill with Ceaseless Blessings
and Loving Happy Miracles
and gratefulness to feel their weight

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cloaked memories of our souls

O clueless soul!
All you must do is remember.

Do me the favour,
and awake reliving an oath you once took

and remember the vivid reflection of yourself you must have seen

when I was not yet born
to cloak and mislead you.

nor wander with you
(you that were created in the heavens!)
in this world,
lost and astray.

Picture: Crows take off from winter branches in Jinnah Gardens, Lahore.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Today is a break between the customary three ceremonies celebrating a marriage. This vase sat on each side of the stage last night.

"All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.

The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.

I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry, I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all"

- Rumi, Shams of Tabriz

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Glimpses of a Mehndi- Part 1

Brief glimpses of a mehndi celebration -
an oft celebrated night of festivities
with music, the colour yellow, and mehndi of couse
The mehndi is an entirely unneccessary, but customart part of weddings that last three or four days here - one occasion for each night.
 Above is my friend, the bride going down the steps to her mehndi venue.

Would you like to wear a flower bracelet?
 They are offered for the guests.
These are with marigolds, and small white fragrant flowers called moti.. (pearls).
 My paternal grandmother would pick and wear these motiya flowers as earrings every day of the summer.
 I once met someone who intricately weaves herself large heavy earrings made from white motiya everyday - she said it only takes her a short while from years of practice,
 and they are her part of her signature style.

For their entrance:
The girls from the groom's side carried lit candles in henna/mehndi as they made their entrance.
 The largest one is held by a few people together.
 They used to come singing,
but now the DJ drowns them out with soppy bollywood songs.

Weddings here can really consume schedules, especially if you consider that while the actual time on the invite says 8:00 pm, guests arrive around 10, the groom and his family anywhere between 11PM to 1AM or even later in some cases.. and until they do, everyone is waiting.
 If you will believe, the government actually stepped in recently and announced that all weddings were to end by 11 PM in Lahore, else, lights off!!! I'm serious.

The bride and groom sat in the wooden swing. Some people have it in their houses, but its just too formal and heavy for my taste.


Betel leaves with decorated edges
collect the bits of mehndi the guests swipe onto the bride and grooms hands. Just a custom, no significance.

Also, give them a bite of sweet mithai here,
 in this case deep fried balls of dough from powdered milk dipped into syrup,
make Gulab Jamun, one of the tastiest and easiest mithai to make:

The groom's brother dancing - on this wedding, it was more bollywood than anything, complete with theatrical expressions and lipsynching to complicated choreographed Indian songs.

From my friend's wedding, posting before the electricity goes as scheduled, but since its taking too long just now, here's just one of the traditional Bhangra dhol wallas /drummmers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I wonder if he wonders, or remembers. I wonder if he escapes here, or comes to get an answer.
Sometimes sightseeing experiences can vary from placidly absorbing and enjoying the day to sending us reeling into other places and times, other views and questions, other wishes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This huge painted exterior wall at the Lahore Fort is a reminder to get some inspirational art and text up on my own little wall. I've begun noticing some things about myself that have crept in like weeds and I must be careful about, certain attitudes or reactions, or a tongue close to getting a mind of its own.. Often, we must bring ourselves up - and though the feeling isn't enjoyable when I'm reflecting on my own behaviour or an annoyed moment, I feel it necessary to make conscious assessments of myself and my interaction with other people, so that I can keep striving to become the kind of person I would like to be, and remember to be 'good', as a child would put it simply.

Friday, January 29, 2010

This was my view as I stood on a certain balcony in Lahore Fort one late afternoon this winter.
That's the Badshahi Mosque at the back, or 'King's Mosque' built in the 16th Century by the Mughal Empire. The Mughals were obsessed with grandeur, I believe.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I got this candid shot above while visiting Lahore Fort this winter. An ancient, absolutely magnificent structure slowly crumbling spread over 20 hectares and estimated to be here as early as 1025 AD, but for the most part the parts we walked through were built in 1631 AD by a Mughal emperor.
A common lament I hear is that had it been anywhere else in the world, it would NOT have been taken for granted, and preserved. This I heard as we travelled a crowded road leading out of the city near the River Ravi (polluted) and the magnificent perimeter runs alongside, clearly in need of preservation!
I realize I didnt get many good pictures of the fort, rather I shot individual elements such as this little girl visiting with her family who I saw in a courtyard.

Monday, January 25, 2010

One of the two entrances to the haveli (Nano's ancestral home) in the village.. This is the one we would rush through to greet her when we arrived from Lahore.. It opens into a small dark room with a dirt floor, where once I found my cousin calmly observing two tiny scorpions. The room opens onto a corner of the main courtyard. The picture of this ancient beautiful door tugs my heart, for the same door may not let you walk through into the same time you now cherish.
All through life, we must walk through many doors - may each door be one for lasting blessings, peace and joy! Ameen

The above images kind of make up for me knocking my cheek very hard as I tried to spy in the same dark room on a special prayer for rain held just outside, it having been a dry winter and rain so important to the farmers' crops. My mom was there too, but I think she listened or prayed alongside.The old door does not open too silently... with a crack,rather, and with the sound of the camera too, I hope I am forgiven if I am the reason someone couldnt concentrate enough on their prayers!
That reminds me of an old story of my mom's relatives - so immersed in her prayer was she, that she didnt even notice when a goat knocked over a bowl of milk right next to her. I must ask my mom - I cant remember which relative would have been praying right near a goat, and I am afraid my faulty memory sometimes does a good job of imaginatively compensating for it's little storage space. If my mind made it up, I shall come back and erase it iA :)
Anyway, These children studying at the Madrassa in the mosque opposite were luckily right in view.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I love it when I get to relax with chai at my favourite temperature! It IS a blessing that evokes gratefulness in me.
Especially with a good read - magazine/blog, and warmth.
So here I am reminded of a certain chai I had at my grandmother's house last month - I missed the custom of drinking from these ceramic bowls, painfully cheap (each is handmade/hand painted or stamped, and they sell for literally a few rupees each, so my heart goes out to those who make and sell these for a living).
I insisted on drinking from this, and sat stubbornly sipping from my little bowl above while the villagers sipped from their cups and mugs around me.
I let my tea go cold, so I could have the pictures and memory to keep.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fly, soar. Or fall;
There seems no other choice dear soul.

Above Pic: My grandmother's ancestral home

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Soft cold, cold rain

The first rain, much awaited by the region, has just begun to fall softly closing in on a truly freezing day in Lahore at midnight.
As I drink my third cup of tea today for some warmth (I rarely do three) and cozy up with some great reading, I pray for all those with no choice but to be out there experiencing every element of winter,by necessity or by poverty, may God keep them safe and warm.
One of my vague dreams is to be able to construct a shelter in Lahore for those who have none... so they may have a choice to come in for a meal and blankets.. and be safe from the streets.


I found this so touching, I am copying here with a link to the source so I can keep it to reread:

An article in National Geographic several years ago told of this......
After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, Forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's Damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, The mother had remained steadfast...because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.

Just a thought.

Cease forever questioning, it obscures your answer.