Tuesday, July 31, 2012

sleep in peace at work

Ever found yourself in that embarrassing position of being caught sleeping at work? Now you never have to worry about that again! Someone on my news feed posted this very old TechBlog article about eyelid stickers. Amazing! With a little initiative, you could easily make this on your own at home. Happy napping!

Monday, July 30, 2012

yoga, salat and unity

A few months ago, I started practicing yoga regularly and it has been transformative in many ways. Through yoga, I am learning to see myself as a soul, not a body. When I practice, I don't practice with my arms and legs but I practice from the part of myself that is unchanging, that is the the essence of who I am. My true nature is one of happiness, bliss and peace and that is where I try to practice from.

When we are in class, we are sometimes told to move as one. This is one of my favorite aspects of yoga. When we chant together, when we breathe together and when we take our postures together, I feel unified and part of something greater than myself.

Now that Ramadan is here, I have less opportunities to go to yoga but more opportunities to pray in jamat or congregational prayer. Like with yoga, I greatly value the connection and unification I feel when praying with others. In Islam, praying in congregation is highly revered. A prayer in congregation "is superior to prayer alone by twenty-seven degrees."(Bukhari) I notice that when I pray with someone, if I have had some tension with or anger at them, it quickly melts away.

I am starting to see the great parallels between my yoga practice and salat. The movements, the intentions, the place that we pray and practice from and so many other things are so closely aligned. I feel so lucky to have two such unique and beautiful ways to feel connected to my fellow human beings and God.

Check out these beautiful pictures of people praying in congregation. The full set of pictures at Boston.com is breathtaking.

Monday, July 23, 2012

mercy like the rain

I'm grateful for all the rain we've been getting in DC lately. Its been such a relief to not have hundred degree days on end, especially since Ramadan is here.

Last Friday, as we were headed to Jummah, we got caught in a downpour. We found shelter in Rose Park. Amidst all the sadness in the papers these days, its comforting to know there are still places of innocence.

After standing under a large tree, Feraz went to investigate if there were better shelter opportunities for us.
Come in here, Janee!
More shelter! Way too happy about it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Singham Clips aka the best five minutes of your week

I can't believe I haven't posted about Singham on my blog. Singham makes every Nick Cage movie ever made seem like a Shakespearean work of art. And that is the highest praise I could give Singham. Watch the clips below and spend the rest of your night thinking of ways to thank me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

bowling the night away

have you heard to the strike (and spare) sisters?
Feraz and I try to do a lot of cultural things becuase we want to take advantage of the time we have living in DC. We end up at a lot of plays at the Kennedy Center, shows at 9:30 or Black Cat and in museums all over town. All these things are fun and I'm glad that we do them, but every now and then, I am reminded how I acutally have the most fun at simple things like a $10 game of bowling. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.
good friends bring you socks in case you forget. great friends bring you owl socks.
great friend.
sisters bowling.
bulgarian bowling.
rockstar bowling.
serious bowler.
serious bowler #2.
we were the second string team.
british bowling.
action shot.
sisters bowling. 
sisters in waiting.

style points.
After being the only one who didn't bowl a strike all night, I said, "I'm going to do a side plank and then bowl a strike." It worked.
Final scores. We are not currently accepting invitations to join bowling leagues. Apologies.
The stuff of legends.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

for whom the bell tolls

Today I was reflecting on a part of John Donnes Meditation XVII. He wrote:

"No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...Each man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

There is an idea found in many religions and philosophies that everything we need for our own happiness and peace is already within us. We do not need others and the peace that we seek, we can find it if we look inside ourselves.

Donnes' Meditation makes the point that no man is an island but rather all men are connected to each other. We are so intertwined that what happens to any one person, in some way happens to us all. We are all impacted by the fortune and misfortune of each other.

I think I find myself more aligned with Donnes' view. We live complicated lives and it is difficult to navigate through them without the help of those around us. With a good support network we can get through the pitfalls of life, we can work through past pains and we have people to celebrate the victories with. 

I am convinced that we are all made of something fundamentally good and that we can find a great deal of happiness and peace within ourselves. But I think that much of the joy we experience comes from our relationships. Not just from what they give us but from what we are able to give to them. When we share this basic love that all of us have the capacity to give, then we enrich and better and are enriched and bettered. 

Donnes' Meditation inspired the title of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Here are some of my favorite quotes from that book.

“I loved you when I saw you today and I loved you always but I never saw you before.” 

“How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think than in all other time. I'd like to be an old man to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.” 

“For what are we born if not to aid one another?” 

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.” 

“I had an inheritance from my father,
It was the moon and the sun.
And though I roam all over the world,
The spending of it’s never done.” 

“Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond.” 

“But did thee feel the earth move?”  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

aie ho meri zindagi mein tum bahar ban kay

I love old desi songs. When I was little my mom used to always play this song in the car. I always thought he was singing, "You came into my life like a mountain." I always thought of the song meaning that someone came into his life like a mountain and was his strength. The word in the song is actually not bahr (mountain) but bahar (spring). Sometimes I like to listen to the song with my fake meaning and sometimes I like to think of the love coming in like springtime.

Here is at translation that I found online and modified somewhat but unfortunately it does not capture the poetry of the original by a long shot.

aaye ho meri zindagi mein tum bahaar banke 
You came into my life disguised as the spring

mere dil mein yuun hi rahana, tum pyaar pyaar ban ke
Stay in my heart just like this forever, having become love, love itself!

aankhon mein tum base ho sapne hazaar banke

You are fixed in my eyes, the answer to a thousand dreams

mere dil mein yuun hi rahana tum pyaar pyaar banke
Stay in my heart just like this forever, having become love, love itself!

ghuunghat mein har kali thi, rangon mein na dali thi
Each flower bud was veiled, it had yet to blossom

na shokh thi havaaein, na khushbu man chali thi
And the winds did not have any life, nor were they fragrant

aaya hai ab ke mausam kaisa khumar banke
Now what an intoxicating season has come upon us!

mere dil mein yuun hi rahana tum pyaar pyaar banke
Stay in my heart just like this forever, having become love, love itself!

aaye ho mere zindagi mein tum bahaar banke
You came into my life disguised as the spring

man ka nagar tha khaali, suukhi padi thi dali
The city of my spirit was empty: the branches lay dry and withered,

holi ke rang phike, benuur thi diwaali
The colors of Holi faded, Diwali was lightless

rimjhim baras pade ho tum to phuhaar ban ke
You became the rain, and pattered down...

mere dil mein yuun hi rahana tum pyaar pyaar banke
Stay in my heart just like this forever, having become love, love itself!

aaye ho mere zindagi mein tum bahaar banke
You came into my life disguised as the spring

aankhon mein tum base ho sapne hazaar banke 
You are fixed in my eyes, the answer to a thousand dreams

mere dil mein yuun hi rahana tum pyaar pyaar banke
Stay in my heart just like this forever, having become love, love itself!

Monday, July 9, 2012

a day at the lavender farm

When someone asks you if you want to go to a lavender farm, you just say yes. Last week, my friend Zahra picked me up and we went on an adventure to pick some lavender at Seven Oaks Lavender Farm. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

It felt so quaint to pull up to this charmer. 
These girls are ready to pick some lavender in the 100 degree weather. 
This guy was only $10. It was so hard not to bring him home.

I love how I feel a world away in VA.
Can you smell it?
Making some progress.
Butterflies come rest on you at the lavender farm.
Queen Anne's Lace.

A hard day's work well rewarded. 
We ended the trip to the lavender farm with a good old run through the sprinklers. Life on the farm is so good.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Real patriotism is eating these guys today.
When I was quite young, I would often go to Pakistan. I remember standing in airports and begging my mom to let me hold my own passport. The times that she did, I would hold it with both hands with the face side up so everyone could see that I was from America. Even though I didn't understand everything it meant, I knew that it was something special because I always heard people in Pakistan talking about how they wanted to move there. They would have looks of fascination on their faces as they asked me about how the roads were, what kinds of food I ate and what I did in school.

When I started college, it was the fall of 2001. Soon into my undergraduate education, our country changed forever. My friends ranted about American foreign policy, In our name, Bush invaded Afghanistan and soon thereafter we were in Iraq. In those years, I learned to dissent. I no longer held my passport with pride and rather than flash it in airports, I kept it tucked away until the moment I was at the customs desk. Although I didn't go as far as telling people I was Canadian, the only time I spoke up about my country was to speak against the actions of my government.

 It was years later that I was able to appreciate that the blind outrage some have for our country is as destructive as the blind patriotism I have always been quick to despise. Our country is struggling because it is involved in unjust foreign policy, it doesn't provide a living wage and it denies basic civil liberties to so many of its citizens. Our country is beautiful because we have freedom to dissent, because it allows for social mobility, it is full of opportunity, it is diverse and it is aspiring. Adali Stevenson said, "Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." I love America and because I love it, I want it to be something better than we could have ever dreamed for it to be. It has come a long way and now it is the work of our generation to find some way in which each of us can, in our own tranquil and steady way, help make it something even more beautiful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

are you too busy? part II

via NYT.
A while ago, I wrote about how people think they are too busyToday, my friend sent me this great article from the NY Times that does a great job of talking about the issue in more depth.

Two of my favorite passages:

"They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence."

"(She once ruefully summarized dating in New York: “Everyone’s too busy and everyone thinks they can do better.”) What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment."

I am fortunate because I know some really happy people and some really unhappy people and these people transcend all spheres of life. Some live in cities, some live in the suburbs, some are single and some are in relationships. These people teach me how to be happy and unhappy. I think its easy to say that happiness is a choice that we make each day. While I believe that is true, the choice is not just to be happy. The choice is to decide what our priorities are and to live a life that honors that or to do the things that will make us happy. When we are sincere to ourselves and those around us, then our life can expand infinitely. We must be brave to be happy.

Nietzshe wore, "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." 

I think our lives are so busy because we have bought into this idea that happiness comes from traditional notions of success. Having a certain job, having a certain relationship, having a certain home or car. And all these things come with the pressure of a time stamp. Have a degree(s), get a prestigious scholarship, earn a high paying job, own an extravagant home, have a blissful marriage, maybe a baby on the way and all before you are 30! Because when you turn 30, its all over.

The business problem bothers me so much because it is married to all these other archaic notions and ideologies of happiness and success that my peer group has so blindly accepted without questioning whether these things are right from them. 
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