A New Year, A New Me

At the beginning of each year, I always wonder how my year will turn out. At the end of the year I assess whether the year has been overall good or bad. I am quite happy to say that I am kissing 2013 goodbye with no regrets or a backward glance. It was not a great year for me for many reasons; primarily health reasons colored my year to a dull gray. Do I see any light when I look backward through the tunnel of 2013 ? Not much. I did leave with some life lessons. Here are some that will hopefully make me a better person for the coming year ahead by making these changes:

1) I will try not to be judgmental. My honesty may be too hard on others. I have a tendency to lose friends by being too honest and too judgmental. They may not want advice even when they think they need it. So advice, warranted or unwarranted, will be doled out in very small doses in this year.

2) I have to learn to spot the jealous tendencies in people before it becomes dangerous and stay away from those who tend to have negative feelings about me. Negative energy from others is incredibly destructive and when I see it or spot it, I must run! Once again, telling those who are exhibiting certain negative emotions that will affect our relationship does not help. They will deny it and make me think I am hormonal. I have had this happen many times. Hormones have been made the scapegoat for many a problem between friends. It’s not their flaw necessarily, but my hormones.

3) I will channel my artistic creativity to the max. I want to paint, draw, go on photo adventures with my new camera and write write write until there are no words left (as if that could ever happen) !!!! Creativity is the one thing that takes me away from all the pain and struggle that comes into my life.

4) I want to keep learning as many things that will make my mind grow. I want to be a human sponge. I want to be the sponge that keeps soaking up information and be the go-to-girl for others about technology. I am proud to be a geek, an artistic geek, but a geek nevertheless.

5) I want to become a healthier person overall by improving my diet, exercising in a variety of ways and just making my body stronger. Continue reading A New Year, A New Me

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Serendipity – A Little Known Christmas Movie

A Favorite Christmas Movie of Mine – “Serendipity”

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Around holiday time, people eagerly follow traditions of watching some of their favorite holiday movies. To each person, there is a special favorite that calls to them and brings back memories of days gone by or just brings a smile of nostalgia. Some well known ones that many speak of are: “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “A Christmas Story”,”Santa Clause”,”Elf” and many more popular titles that are shown many times in reruns prior to Christmas Day. One of my favorites is a little known movie called “Serendipity”. Somehow, that word has always been my favorite. In its very simplified form it means “a fortunate accident”. Perhaps you need to see the movie to better understand exactly what the word means and that goes beyond the simplified meaning that I provided. They demonstrate the meaning of the word over the length of about 90 minutes rather than describe it in dictionary terms. I love everything about the movie and I do mean that I hang on every word and every event that occurs in the movie with fascination.

John Cusack is always wonderful. He gets better and better with age like fine wine. Not only has he aged gracefully since his 80s period of comedy movies, but he has moved onto doing diverse roles in movies today. In “Serendipity” he delivers humor effortlessly and remains incredibly sexy in a charming, boyish way. Kate Beckinsale is probably every man’s dream woman with her sultry, stunning looks and feminine ways and a beguiling, British accent that will draw men in to listen to her talk over and over. What makes it a very holiday movie for me is that the movie has been filmed in NY city during the Christmas season and spans not just one season but several years in a circular fashion. I will not give away anymore. This movie cleverly shows how certain fortuitous events lead us to our fate and destiny. To those who do not believe in the concepts of fate, destiny and the ideology that we are led to follow a certain chosen path, those skeptics will definitely see problems with this movie. However, those who are romantic enough to believe that we are part of an intricate plan woven throughout our lives like a tapestry that can only be seen at a certain point in time, this movie will make perfect sense and hold you mesmerized at every twist and turn. Continue reading Serendipity – A Little Known Christmas Movie

A New York Christmas

Christmas Traditions in NY

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As we find an anticlimactic end to the Christmas holidays, our family decided we’d postpone the end of a great celebration called “Christmas”. We went to see the holiday decor and lights AFTER Christmas on a sunny 50 degree warm Saturday, right after Christmas. The cheer and holiday feeling was no less special post holiday versus pre-holiday. Entering NY City is always nostalgic since I grew up there as a child of six and remember my childhood filled with street noises,yellow cabbies, vendors selling hot dogs and pretzels and chestnuts roasting (like Bing Crosby’s famous lyrics in “White Christmas”). The mix of heady NY smells is as distinctive, potent and familiar as the smell of Christmas pine trees and hot apple cider. When you step into NY you know you are there. You inhale and absorb NY into your body as if you were inhaling incense at a temple. The city has a throbbing, pulsating life like no other and you cannot fail to get caught up in the spirit. As we pass by the massive crowds that almost move us along like waves across Macy’s and Sak’s, we can barely manage to see the windows that are visual delights to our senses. We notice the throngs lined up to see the gargantuan tree lit up in Rockefeller Center. Amidst the folks, a lucky few are skating gracefully to holiday music and lights underneath the tree at Rockefeller Center. The throng moves by at a slow pace willed by other pedestrians. Our body and feet have no power to chart their course; they are set to move at the discretion of others in the packed streets of 5th Ave. We end up finally at about 58th Street and 5th Ave at Bergdorf Goodman where we can finally breathe. The crowds are less here, but the windows are phenomenal. These are my favorite windows of all time and each year they never fail to impress in their artistic flavor. The window dressings are as delicious as decadent desserts and are a feast for the eyes at Bergdorf Goodman’s.

Other New York traditions are the Rockettes’ Holiday spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall. They have been around since I have been a little child who came from India. They have been kicking up their shapely legs for as long as I can remember and are as part of the NY landscape as the Empire State Building. Along with this, lies the festive locale of Bryant Park. There are beautiful little outdoor stalls in the periphery of the park, a lively ice skating rink and a huge tree that sits prominently next to a glass circular restaurant. This park transforms around Christmas time to an European style Christmas village with unique little shops. The Nutcracker Ballet is always a popular show and Broadway is always available all year round for those wanting to see innovative and exciting theater productions.

There is nothing more magical than being in the midst of a New York enchanted evening around the holiday time to make your eyes glow with the spirit of youth and your cheeks turn pink with happiness.

Who will Fellowes Kill Off in Downton Abbey, Season 4?

With every Downton Abbey season we wait to see not only the plot developments, but wait with bated breath for the untimely demise of one principal character or another. Last season, Julian Fellowes killed off not one, but two of my favorite cast members. Feisty, strong willed, opinionated, unconventional Sybil reminded me most of myself and I felt so despondent about her death. It was tragic and unexpected. Although, a little spoiler told me of Matthew’s death, the delivery of it was heart wrenching. Fellowes has no mercy. Matthew was truly noble, filled with ethics and truly worthy of running Downton in a progressive manner, not to mention, incredibly dashing and handsome. My heart went out to Mary and the new baby. What a way to crush a happy, blooming family. Knowing that Julian Fellowe’s spares very little mercy on the audience, who do we anticipate will get the axe in season 4? The popular belief is that Mr. Bates is next in line to die. I think he ranks number one for throwing himself into the fire from the proverbial Downton frying pan and having a penchant for attracting trouble.

More than likely, Mary, Hughes, Carson, and most of the underlings are safe. They are characters that are essential either because they are too big or too small. We need arrogant, haughty, spoiled brat of a girl like Mary to attract suitors who will come and go on the show. We need Edith to trap unwittingly old and complicated men who leave her either at the altar or somewhere in between, so that the viewers can shake their heads at all her missed opportunities. We need the underlings to keep the house going. No one will cry or shed a tear if any of the nonentities fade away like Lady Isobel, Patmore, Branson(maybe a little since he has the baby now), Daisy or Ethel. Lady Rose is too new and too cute to do away right now. I think they need Thomas Barrow to cause trouble so they will probably keep him. I think Fellowes would be ridiculously stupid to get rid of the Dowager who is absolutely crucial to the wit and humor of the show. Martha Levinson, aka Shirley MacLaine is the only match for the Dowager in a tongue to tongue battle so she’ll be there in spot cameos. So, the most likely contenders may be Lady Cora, Bates, Lord Grantham, Anna and I am  throwing in Barrow into the mix for fun. My bet is on Anna (just a gut feeling) !!! Don’t let me sway you though. Give me your opinion.

Why don’t you vote to see who is most likely to leave next in season 4. You can also leave a comment as to your reasoning for choosing that character that you think will meet an untimely death from his/her maker, Julian Fellowes.

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An Afternoon Tea with Bapsi Sidhwa

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Often words and characters come to life and become our friends when we find that we lead a lonely life. Sometimes, words allow us to migrate from reality to fantasy and enable us to move from our corner of the earth in order to explore far off places, interesting people and different times. For Bapsi Sidhwa , renowned author of books such as “The Crow Eaters”, “Cracking India”, “Water” and “The American Brat”, surrounding herself with books was the only way to ease her loneliness during part of her childhood. She was born in Karachi and later moved to Lahore with her family. As a child, from the age of two, she suffered from polio and did not go to school as others did for a while. She never really had much of a chance to go out and do the things that other children found were commonplace. She surrounded herself with many books and found literature to be her solace. She made friends from the characters in her books. According to her, expressing herself through writing became her way of communicating to the world and creating characters that would be lifted from her world and times. At nine, during the 1947 Partition, she faced a difficult time and saw many harsh moments in history such as religious intolerance and genocide. Those events inspired her to write about Lenny, a character suffering from polio in her book, “Cracking India” which depicts the story of a girl caught in the midst of the Partition of 1947 that caused the separation of British India into the Republic of India and Islamic Pakistan.

I had the fortunate honor to meet with her in a Tamarind Society sponsored event in late fall. I found that she was inspirational in that she tackled subjects that were quite controversial during her time. Her books, interspersed with some humor were subtly juxtaposed with horrific events that were based on real, life altering incidents. Many people could associate with the harsh realities presented in her books, but often they rejected the books in their own country because of heart wrenching and sensitive topics that made them want to look away. The themes were heavy, but needed to be tackled head on and Bapsi Sidhwa did just that. For example, she described the life of a child widow in the book “Water” and the negative treatment of widows in India. The honest and open approach to this difficult subject did not bode well with many living in India. Bapsi Sidhwa told us that her first book was initially published in England and when it received praise and accolades abroad, only then did she find the doors opening up to her in other countries. She said that even her own country did not want to publish her books and she was initially struck by criticism for her handling of controversial topics.

Eventually her books made it to the big screen in collaboration with Deepa Mehta. The trilogy of movies ,“1947: Earth”, “Fire” and “Water”, were produced by Deepa Mehta and based on Bapsi Sidhwa’s novels. Some of these movies were banned in India due to the controversial nature of the subjects. Now, in her mid-seventies, Bapsi Sidhwa outwardly seems frail and delicate in nature, but possesses an inner strength. What I learned from my short afternoon tea with her is that you shouldn’t shy away from topics that may be difficult for others to hear while writing something of worth. She still possesses a strong voice, a powerful aura and speaks with much eloquence, but underneath it all she needed to spread her important messages. I have always wondered how a writer or an artist is born or created. Do the strong feelings of grief, struggle, sadness or loneliness constitute the makings of an artist? Is it that they need to communicate with written words or brushes or a different medium to survive? I believe Bapsi Sidhwa felt she needed to be heard in some way, that she needed to create characters that epitomized those around her and left a mark on her life, and ultimately she needed to make sense of the struggles around her. She had to speak through her craft. Her words have enriched our world with powerful messages that she left behind in her writings. She left me with a message of my own. She told me to “Just write”. No matter what opinions others may have, just write what’s inside. Face writing with courage and pen down the words circling around inside; words that need to be heard and write down what is deep within the heart. I spent about an hour just chatting with her about writing and trivial matters as well, but her thoughts on writing and her general personality has left a lasting impression on me. I was supremely thrilled to have been left with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. It was almost a whisper of a blessing as she left me with the two simple words, “just write” before she departed from the afternoon tea.

Dreaming of Paro

Bhutan Paro Bridge
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When you talk about serendipity or a premonition or a calling you would probably say this dream of mine would be the closest to that experience. I dreamed of a beautiful place surrounded by water all around the village. The water was swirling, powerful and fast, but oh so blue and beautiful. It called to me to cross. Then I saw the bridge, almost the kind you see in rainforests, not too sturdy, yet a bridge that would lead me to bounteous spiritual enlightenment and a journey that would have an ending that can only be coined a beginning. The bridge seemed so very treacherous for someone so very uncoordinated. Yet, I knew I had to cross it, since beyond the bridge I saw this incredible monastery sitting high up on a steep hill. The climb would be arduous, maybe even dangerous or long, but I knew that at the end I would be enveloped by a cloak of peace. I needed to get to the top and I needed to do it soon. It called to me like nothing ever did.

And then I woke up. The frustration took over. How would I ever find this beautiful place of my dreams? I had no idea how to even look for it. There may be hundreds of monasteries around the world situated on hilltops. I went about my day and I thought to myself like I always do, “if it’s meant to be it will happen and I will find this place. It may take me time, but I will find it”. Yet, I had nothing to work with, no names, no places, no clue as to where it could be.

Then I went on facebook and went to a friend’s page to view her pictures. This friend of mine is as spiritual as I am and as fond of traveling. I saw her profile picture and cover picture and saw something that vaguely reminded me of an image in my dream. I went to that particular album of Paro, Bhutan. And there it was. The monastery. High on a hilltop, stunning and glorious. I went and searched other pictures and I saw the bridge that I had envisioned, the donkeys I had seen crossing up the steep incline and slopes of the narrow mountain paths and I felt as if I had been validated. I realized, I had dreamed this dream for a reason. I needed to go there, make it my life’s goal to travel one day to this beautiful place. It called to me, like no other place has called to me before. So I must set upon myself to make this journey happen soon.

Soleil D’Or

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Soleil D’Or

Reverence

Crowned in that word.

The sun rises and sets where you sit,

Like Siddharth under the banyan tree,

Seeking enlightenment.

Have you found yours or do you pour yourself into indulgence?

Revelry. Feast. Drunken pleasures.

Does Bacchus knock on your door nightly,

And then possess you in heady oblivion?

Hedonism is your alter ego,

The siren song that draws you in,

Till you lose yourself.

Till you forget.

Home

It’s a well known cliché.

But where does love remain?

The heart is scattered,

As you roam like a nomad in the Sahara,

Picking up vestiges of that forgotten word,

Love

Does one need to find love to find home?

You long to be the phoenix,

That rises into the saffron sky,

Spreading those wings like fire,

You long to release the spirit,

The joie de vivre,

Muse

You are the mirror of my soul,

There’s no religion until you appear,

No soul, no heart, no words,

Godless, faithless, careless,

I am an empty vessel,

Till you fill me,

With your life source.

You are that shining orb of gold, mon soleil d’or,

One look of longing from you and I am,

Home.

I am Awake

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Once a student asked Buddha, ‘Are you the messiah?’
‘No’, answered Buddha.

‘Then are you a healer?’
‘No’
, Buddha replied.
‘Then are you a teacher?’
The student persisted.

‘No, I am not a teacher.’
‘Then what are you?’
asked the student, exasperated.
‘I am awake’, Buddha replied.

I am only Awake when I live life with the utmost passion. I am inspired by great writing, art, music, photography and all that awakens the senses in me.

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