My Beloved Daughter….

My two elder children celebrate what we now call ‘milestone’ birthdays this year…my lovely daughter today! A very dear fellow blogger, after reading the post dedicated to my son’s milestone celebration, asked what constitutes a ‘milestone’ age….a very valid and relevant question in this age of quantifying days, events and emotions into Hallmark occasions…often relegating to the back burner the true essence of such celebrations…

For a mother, birthdays are special days of the heart…purely because looking out from the eyes and heart of a mother, whilst Traveling down memory lane…every child of hers’ birthday is a ‘milestone’ celebration! A celebration of awe…honor…joy…fun…comfort…strength…support…care…pride…consideration…above all, Love! A celebration of the varied and rich tapestry of life and living…of rich and joy filled moments shared together…culminating in a day such as this…as an appreciation of the fullness of human happiness in the security of our love! The journey of motherhood, with all it’s ups and downs…it’s highs and lows…the magic…the angst…the fun…the fears…the love…the laughter…all comes together with the peace of looking out and seeing them exactly where they are supposed to be…firmly ensconced in the space they have carved out for themselves! This is the ultimate joy and pride…the humility and thankfulness…yes…birthdays are poignant reminders of this…milestone birthdays perhaps a little more…

My daughter…my eldest…celebrates one such milestone age today…blessedly happy in the circle of love of her parents and  siblings…her own beautiful family….her extended family and her family of friends! In my  mind’s eye I can still vividly picture my serious little girl…she who has now blossomed into a  young woman of substance…her gentle vulnerability, humaneness and compassion being the cornerstone of this beauty, strength and independence…surrounded by the Good Lord’s blessings and grace…her gentle and winning ways…the strength and support of a loving life partner…understanding and giving due deference and balance to the blessings and power of the Divine has all helped her on this journey of hers…all of this whilst keeping pace with her own young ones on the threshold of adulthood…doing it all with an ease, energy and grace that leaves me in awe…

The pride at seeing you fulfill all your roles to such loving excellence makes my heart sing Saamia! This comes with the prayer that God draw you near Him…richly bless you always…and shelter you at all times in His loving care…help you conquer the many horizons still out there…live your dreams and achieve all your milestones and more! With a special prayer that your beautiful self and smile will continue to bring love and sunshine to all who love and surround you…and help radiate your life always with it’s unaffected goodness and love…amen!

Happy Birthday Saamia…

The Glory and Joy of Ramadan…

The glory and joy of finding oneself once again, in the blessed month of Ramadan starts well before the actual month…the anticipation and preparation of an internal and personal journey is a step by step trek, and then before you know it Ramadan has flown by and we are in the last ten days of this month…within which falls Laylut-ul-Qadr…The Night of Power/The Night of Destiny …the night when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad…a time of harnessing great blessings! We approach these last ten nights with an heightened awareness of the gates of the grace and mercy of Allah being flung wide open for those found on this path…a culmination of the vigils of worship…

Ramadan comes with a host of glories…above all, that of a personal search, and…relating the fasting, the abstinence of the outer and feeding the inner…to an ultimate form of worship and connection between the self and Allah, with the sole purpose of attaining His pleasure and grace!  Ramadan starts out in an anticipatory mode…filled with a hunger to find new meanings for the self and personal growth through a form of pruning the extra leaves of your life…almost, as someone said, a ‘personal  body and soul detox’…pushing the envelope of the inner self in this deeply spiritual time of year…with a sense of joy to recharge the battery of your spirit and soul! More specifically, this time of year has a direct co-relationship with the space you occupy at the present point of time in your own life and through it, to come to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the Divine…a journey of better understanding and experiencing the purpose of the connection of submission to Divine Will…

On another level it is also finding new meanings in the fellowship of the family…community and society at large…finding harmony in the bigger picture…consciously increasing justice, charity and compassion in the spheres of daily routine…a continuing search for equity…fairness…empathy…patience…brotherhood…mindfulness…and personal excellence! Definitive in this process is internalizing to understand and carrying this personal and spiritual discipline beyond this blessed month…to raise personal awareness and consciousness of the Divine to an heightened sense of being…

His mercy and generosity spills over in a celebratory culmination of this month of devotional abstinence, search and worship…to the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr…a three day celebration of kith…kin…joy…sharing…color…food…love…laughter…manna for the heart and soul…the Good Lord be praised…

Today we also celebrate 65 years of my home counry…Pakistan! It was the month of Ramadan when we celebrated the establishing of this new homeland and identity all those years ago…the need of the hour is a collective will and consciousness to renew those vows of sincerity…honesty…determination and hard work and re-establish ourselves as stakeholders in this wonderful land of ours…

I have been away from the blogosphere and missing it…am now looking forward to reconnecting with my blogging family…stay blessed!

Good Times…

Extended travel trips, and I am in the midst of one, gives you the opportunity to see life in general, as well as your own life, from multi-faceted sides…it often leaves me reeling whilst trying to absorb…rethink…appreciate…understand…relate…reformat…to all the vistas one is privy to…be they of the visual or personal kind…this is a learning experience and process like no other…the exposure…perspective…consciousness…provided by this view is ‘non pareil’…given one is willing to accept and embrace the fact that “minds, like umbrellas, work best when open”…

A ‘first’ for me on this trip was a long…very long…non-stop flight from Dubai to Dallas…a ‘first’ I was really not happy about…long flights are just not a preferred mode of travel…frequent stops are the norm…and my all time favorite dream of the “Beam me up Scotty” scenario was all I could literally dream about! For someone who has been traveling right from the word go…I was born in Moscow when it was still the USSR…this comes as a surprise, but I think age is a contributory factor, as is the fact that travel, whilst it has gained from the levels of comfort and technology available, has lost the graciousness and charm of yore…

A  sixteen hour flight just sounded too daunting and I was being ostrich-like by neither thinking about it nor discussing it with anyone…luckily this reservation about long flights is well known to my family and friends! It seems to have worked…I willed myself to think that…”this too shall pass”…and it did…the saying that often we have nothing to fear but fear itself has made a valid point…

After a brief stay in Dallas with much loved family members…Vancouver, a city well known for its heightened ‘livability’ factors… was the next destination ! All the preambles to Vancouver and its environs were not only justified but well merited…the city has delightful overtones and undercurrents of British and European influences…is large hearted in its welcome to nationalities of all denominations…is comfortable in accepting international languages resonate in its metropolis …and is truly home to very many, whose passport country originally was not Canada! What it brings home…in homes very far from what often still remains ‘home’ in one’s heart…is a gracious and warm welcome…an unusual commodity these days! 

 The beauty of its surroundings is in turn soothing and breathtaking…quite idyllic…and ideal for walking! It nearly succeeded in turning this non-walker into one who actually enjoyed this activity…nearly! This trip also helped establish a more personal and much appreciated and heartwarming contact with a fellow blogger! Meeting with so many younger members of my family in this far away land from ours…brought home forcefully the extent to which our family alone is helping the TCK family’s burgeoning numbers! Above all…it was spending time with so many loved ones in this beautiful city…celebrating this togetherness with good times of love…laughter…gluttony…shared memories…that helped make it the blessing par excellence that it was…

Raising the Bar…

Particular days designated to celebrating days, moments in time and occasions…often unheard of till fairly recently, seem more like Hallmark days to me rather than anything else…but celebrating a special day for women internationally…this I feel for…not only to celebrate with my own but because, across the board globally, a huge number of women have and continue to, make their mark slowly but surely at great personal cost often to establish and have themselves acknowledged in areas of life that should not need this sort of validation! A great number of them are  unsung heros, their contribution irreplaceable in the magnitude of work they have done and inspired…some of them excel publicly and reach the very apex of success…raising the bar continuously for those who will follow…against all odds , obstacles and oppression..and who continue in this struggle on a daily basis. To celebrate such strength…courage…commitment…conviction…sung or unsung…globally, to acknowledge and celebrate such achievements in the face of regular uphill struggles…makes this day, dedicated to women , a celebratory matrix…

In our part of the world, primarily due to a confusion about religious and liberal thought and a huge lack of educational processes in the true sense of the word, this disconnect sometimes translates into horrifying aspects in a  woman’s life! One such horrifying aspect was documented by our very own…Sharmeen-Obaid-Chinoy , our first Oscar winner for her bold, honest, heartbreaking and inspiring documentary…Saving Face ! Women across the social strata in Pakistan have been rejoicing and basking in the glory, prestige and awareness she has brought us and the beautifully dignified and controlled manner in which she accepted this award…particularly in the way in which she dedicated her Oscar to…”all the women in Pakistan who are working for change. Do not give up for your dream!”

The quiet dignity…confidence…compassion…shown by Sharmeen at the glittering Oscars ceremony, with her grace , glamour and articulate acceptance speech was a treat to behold and brought a spontaneous burst of euphoria across our land, manifesting itself instantaneously and hugely in all the social medias! It does however leave one wondering if this may have interfered with the image of Pakistan in many minds across the world…for this she has our respect and gratitude! Sharmeen also chose to showcase working women of Pakistan in all aspects of her appearance and presence at the Oscars…from the resilience and bravery of the the women in her winning documentary to her quintessentially Pakistani attire given appropriate emphasis and fusion whilst retaining the essence of Pakistani couture…presenting a prefect picture of a sophisticated and contemporary Pakistani woman…a face often unknown to the rest of the world…

More than anything else that Sharmeen has managed to highlight with this one high profile appearance is, as a very wise and much admired columnist wrote, quoting the last line of her speech…Do not give up your dream…”This, finally is the heart of the matter. We must hold on to our dreams even when reality hits us in the face…like acid thrown on the faces of wronged women…

A Celebratory Finale…

The better part of the last month has been spent quite literally in a celebratory finale of 2011…an overflow of the magic of being surrounded by love and loved ones…as my elder son wrote in his last blog post of  the year…I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else at this moment in time…my heart sings at reading these words of his…words I totally empathize with and relate to…words that make me proud…

I  dream of hearing just such words from all the beloved children in my life…most of whom were with me in this celebratory finale, those that were not were sorely missed…I dream of having such reunions more frequently…I dream of this bonhomie and loving relationship being a constant in their lives when we are no longer with them…I dream of welcoming their spouses into this circle of ties of the heart…I dream of telling their children stories of these memories and their magical charisma as I do with the grandchildren I have. Our lives are ruled by constants that survive time and space…universal truths, the rest is pure fantasy…I dream of positive constants in their lives to give them strength…understanding…compassion…endless joys! As they all return to their lands of residence, I dream they realize that the ultimate constant is God…that the joys that come from Him must not be confused and overwhelmed  by trite commercialism that passes for measures of happiness…

I dream that the coming year will be one of positive change for my country…I dream of leadership in the realm of ideas…I dream they will realistically translate into a sustained journey to taking back ownership of the only place that many of us always want to call ‘home’…I dream that despots in garbs of freedom stop defending religious bigotry, marginalisation, intolerance and bias  in forked tongues and under the mantles of  feigned and insincere sounding stands…I dream of peace and compassion for people across the world…I dream we understand and embrace  that across borders and races we share a common human denominator…I am a dreamer as also an optimist…I dream of seeing my dreams bear fruition…

In this celebratory time of bidding adieu to the year past and ushering in the new, we also celebrated my youngest son’s birthday with a host of loved ones and friends from all over and blissfully, all three of my children present…his relaxed and laid back style does not reflect his inner determination but definitely adds to his very gentle, lovable, humorous and generous spirit…I dream that this much loved free spirit of mine will realize all his dreams and aspirations and continue to be a source of much joy and cheerfulness…the icing on the cake this time was the inclusion of my precious granddaughter in our celebrations…her wholesome ingenue innocence is a joy to be around and truly  adds to my dreams of unwavering belief for even better times in years to come…as always the Good Lord’s blessings make me reiterate very humbly and gratefully…truly my cup runneth over…

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year…

The Joyous Reruns of Life…

The joy in these has to be accredited in the main to the fact that recollection of these reruns now span six decades…a long time to be sure…but oftentimes when recollecting and recounting, the memories are so freshly on tap…that the heart nostalgically skips several beats! True, memories are kind on the recollection…but that is how it needs to be for the retelling…to try and pass on to the next generation a sense of joy…elation…excitement in the celebration of family, cultural and traditional occasions…

Last week saw us celebrate our Festival of Haj…Eid ul Azha…family from near and far had blessedly got together to spend these three days of festivities, which have a lead-in of ten days of personal effort to be part of the spirit of those performing the pilgrimage of Haj! This includes acts of faith…preparation of all sorts of traditional fare…shopping for traditional garb…specially beautifully colored clinking glass bangles that catch the suns rays in a myriad of hues, often a best-seller for women of all age groups…and my all time favorite…one my lovely sister and granddaughter share with me…henna, the exotic designs colorfully staining your palms to perfection leaving you wishing for more hands to put them on! The excitement is palpable even for those blasé enough to be discounting it! Eid day dawns very early as kitchens are busy with the preparation of traditional and aromatic delicacies to be consumed soon after the Eid congregational prayers! The children impatiently waiting to receive their Eidi…traditional gifts! The resounding of traditional  greetings…Eid Mubarak…throughout the day from family, friends, neighbors, old retainers…near and far! I can almost still feel the excitement of such occasions gone by with my parents and hope and pray that my children and theirs will continue to do so too in years to come. Eid day passes in a pleasurable blur of bonhomie…gluttony…laughter…shared memories…tales of those were the days and do-you-remember…trying to capture the essence of these magical moments in photographs…strengthening of family ties in endless and tiring visits…exhaustion…all this the order of these celebratory days…

Being together…being ‘home’ is reassuringly enough, still as that wonderful website TCK, Third Culture Kids describes…the passport country of our parents…so appropriate for those of us who fall into this category! For a few brief moments in time, this is still ‘home’…even for those it is not anymore…there is an almost undeniable and sometimes hard to acknowledge feeling of harmony with our collective DNA of history, culture and memories, before the return to chosen and adopted lands of residence…but that is subject for another post! The happiness of these celebrations bring back memories of our parents…memories of their love colors my life with a sense of being whole, secure in my sense of belonging…blissfully happy at the celebration that was…the Good Lord be praised…

Ramadan…

This last month seems to have have flown by and I realize that I have not written at all! The reason for this disappearance from the blogosphere is due in the most part to the fact that it has been the blessed month of Ramadan! Ramadan is celebrated across the world by 1.5 billion muslims…it is now universally acknowledged…accepted and respected as a month that is held in great awe, reverence and deference across the Muslim world…for many of us, it is a month of going underground as it were, in the search and effort for more understanding in our own personal and ongoing spiritual journeys!

This month is observed, celebrated and followed with due deference and reference to Quranic teachings…colored by cultural and social norms and practices depending on your geographical position. The outer form of this month is a universal one…the abstinence! The inner one with an emphasis on ‘more’ in terms of prayer…behavior…seeking guidance…mercy…charity, both of deed and kind…has it’s own individual need, hunger and pace! The prayer here is that the significance and blessings of this blessed and glorious month will help color our lives in a more definitive…compassionate…ethical…moral…virtuous…just and fair manner…above all, that this will be in a positive and progressive curve after experiencing each passing month of Ramadan in our lives!

The end of this holy month is celebrated with great gusto and festivities across the Muslim world…this sense of celebration comes from a feeling of praise and glory of the Good Lord and His blessings upon us…which are manifested in love and brotherhood of family and friends celebrated over three days…a time of much celebratory joy, happiness, gluttony and thanks!

It is also my lovely daughter’s birthday today…and so this comes with additional thanks and gratitude to the Lord for this special blessing as part of His countless and unending gifts of grace and generosity! With the prayer that her beautiful smile will continue to bring love and sunshine to all who love and surround her…and help radiate her life always with it’s unaffected goodness and love…amen!

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