Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Though my daughter is keen on approaching her thirteenth birthday, I am more keen on enjoying her time with me before she touches thirteen. I am sure that day is not far when she would not even get time to talk to me or anyone once she has her face book id. I wish I had half of facebooks' charm, specially needed to keep a growing kid happy.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Sultan's has a large family, and this book parallely describes members of his family and how they are affected by the changes in Afghanistan. This book provides an insight into changing lives of women under different regimes. I thouroughtly enjoyed reading, specially the way the author desribes wearing the burkha and how she feels the experience of wearing it.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I was walking religiously, then slowly added blogging and cooking new dishes to my schedule. Cooking has never been my forte. I stuck to my walking schedule for many months , but for the past one month tried to add variety to it. I still do an hour of physical activity every day during weekdays but do different ones each day. Coupled with this, I am trying to write few lines at least three to four times a week. Initially when I started my blog, I was more rigid in my approach to it and would constantly remind myself that I have to write. But now having attempted to write few articles, I am no more fixed in my attitude to write. I had started blogging to keep myself occupied, so now I write whenever feasible. I do get up early to write, but now I do not feel the pressurised by it.
Similarly for doing my physical activity, earlier I had to constantly remind myself that I had to do an hour of physical activity everyday. I would think over it , remind myself each day, but now I just get up and go for the activity. I have stopped thinking about these things, writing, exercising, cooking etc. I just go with the flow and I feel I am able to push myself now. In fact, since I am constantly doing one thing after another, I feel I am able to fit in more activities in my schedule.
For the past one month, I have been able to juggle myself well. Earlier, if I did an hour of physical activity, I would end up eating out. because my knee would ache a lot after the exercise. Even now my knee hurts, but I have still decided to go ahead with it and not stop my life. It still hurts like hell on some days, I cannot sleep some nights, but when I get up the next day morning and keep myself occupied in the kitchen, I completely forget about the pain. So previously if my knee hurt, I would avoid standing long hours in the kitchen to cook. We would just go out and eat. But now, I look forward to cook. It helps me to divert myself from the pain and I have realised that I do not think about the pain an more. Secondly, pushing myself definitely helps me feel good at the end of the day.
I do not know if it is too early to say that I will be motivated daily this way to manage my life this way, but one thing is for sure , I do feel much better if I go with the flow and not think about it. So my life is much simpler now, I get up write few lines on my blog, organise my morning cooking, do some physical activity, come back home, finish my writing, cook for the evening, try reading a book and my day is over. I feel more relaxed now with the present flow of my life.
I still have a long road ahead to travel, but I will take one step at a time and enjoy it now.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Some people do say that they are very happy in their lives and content, because being content is happiness to them. So does that mean that they do not want anything more in their lives. I am not sure what does contentment mean. Is it contentment in the job they are doing, contentment in the relationships they have, contentment in every aspect of life they are leading ? I have no answers, because when probed more, they again have a list of things they are unhappy with. I have not come across anyone who has ever said "I do not want anything." I wish to meet someone like that one day.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Kids would jump and hop from one house to the other, play hide and seek .Since there were four houses, everyones' veranda would always be bustling with activity. Since those days there was no concept of nuclear families, each family had children of all ages. In fact there were people of every age group. So we were never short of any companionship. If we ever wanted to get out, our cousins would walk us around the village. We loved walking through the fields plucking berries, groundnuts, mangoes straight from the tree. It was sheer fun. My cousins would just climb trees, dive into ponds and we would rave about their extra-ordinary talents. We as kids just loved being a part of it. The day would just pass by.
Sunrise to sunset was the most busy time in the village. The most amazing bit was the stillness after sunset as there was no power in those days.. The entire day, the womenfolk would be on their toes, busy with their daily tasks. Once the sun set, people would eat their dinner. Immediately, the entire veranda would be washed and thoroughly cleaned to make preparations for sleeping. They would lie down once it became dark. All these was very amusing to us, since we never slept so early back at our homes.
I took my ten year old daughter to the village an year back. I was surprised to see the way things have changed. Televisions, mobile phones, gas stoves, refrigerators etc have invaded the village. People have no time for chatting. Very few people are left in my aunt's house, as all kids have grown up and migrated to cities for education or better prospects. Only a handful are interested in farming. The verandas look empty.My aunt still stays in the village clinging to old memories. She does not want to join her kids who have moved to cities. She remains the only link to my childhood holiday memories.
A few months later I felt confident to invite people for dinner, not knowing what was in store. My husband was not very keen on the idea. Maybe he did not want to loose face before his friends. But he did not want to disappoint me either. So I went ahead confident of myself. I still vividly remember the day. I had invited two families for lunch. I did my needed shopping the previous evening. I got up early to ensure that the house was clean. As I had planned the menu, so I went around doing the preparations. I finally had prepared a couple of starters, cooked two varieties of vegetables, set chilled yogurt, made a chutney, cooked a lentil etc. I prepared the dessert and chilled in the refrigerator. I felt quite satisfied with my work. The only dish left was the cumin rice which was my main item. I had invited them around 12 in the afternoon, so wanted to prepare the rice an hour before for it to be hot. I freshened myself up as I had time so went ahead and laid the table.
Around 11, I went to prepare the rice. I has specially bought basmathi rice the previous evening. Basmathi is a variety of rice which enhances the flavour of fried rice, biryani or any other rice preparation. It is usually used during occasions. The most important criteria for cooking rice is to ensure that the water proportion has to be correct. Usually when ordinary rice at cooked at home, the standard proportion followed is two portions of water to one portion of rice. But for basmathi rice, the water quantity is reduced at least by half a cup. There are varieties of basmathi rice available in the market. Experienced hands can gauge the approximate water suitable to different varieties of basmathi rice.
The guests arrived and I was really worried when the guests were serving rice. But everything went on peacefully. It was a success, nobody noticed anything unusual about the rice. Had it not been for my friend, I would have had the first culinary mishap. She saved me a lot of embarrassment in my life.
I have had many such culinary mishaps in the kitchen, but not when I have invited people for lunch or dinner. The culinary mishaps have definitely improved my cooking over the years, and I can rate myself to be an average cook at the end of the day.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
It gives me lot of reassurance that I was a normal teen, as Mills and Boon romances were prized possessions then. The 'tall, dark handsome' guy swooning the lady would be the main topic of discussion for girls during school breaks. I still remember the desperation to hunt for more of these romances those days.
Slowly, Irving Wallace, Sidney Sheldon, Grisham, Robin Cook etc; got added to my repertoire. I infact got stuck to some of these authors for long time. I loved reading Grisham's and Wallace's a lot, Robin Cook was never a favourtie though. I would sometimes read reviews of some new authors and read their books. I did read books of Indian authors as, R.K. Narayan, Kushwanth Singh, Vikram Seth, V.S.Naipaul etc. Even then, I was not reading a wide range of books, specially non-fiction. The first biography I read was of Dalai Lama three years back. It was an absorbing read.
The book club meets here on the first Monday of every month and discusses a book. The range of books is varied. The book club has an in-charge, who makes a list of all suggested readings for the coming months. Sometimes it is an award -winning book, sometimes a biography, sometimes its a book suggested by members. Members take turns every month to lead a book. Generally the lady who takes the lead, prepares a questionnaire on the specific book, which is then discussed.The person who takes the lead also brings along something to nibble for the rest, which I do look forward to.
The past one and half year association with the book club has definitely impacted my reading habits. I have read authors whom I have never ever read or would have had the chance to read otherwise. Belinda Starling, Christopher Tsiolkas, Raimond Gaita to name a few. Some biographies will forever remain cherished in my memory specially the latest read 'Romulus, my father'. My favourite books have been 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' and 'The Book Thief'. Both provide a beautiful insight into some people strongly resorting to books for strength in times of war and hardship. Some books such as ' The last Chinese Chef, 'The Poisionwood Bible' etc have increased my knowledge on various cultures and life styles of countries such as Chine, Congo etc.
I have benefitted immensely as I have started reading books written by authors from various countries, such as Australia, Germany, Canada etc. Secondly each member views the same book from a completely different perspective. So my outlook has improved. Many a time,some books are just loved by one member while all the other members dislike the book, which is again an interesting aspect. Being a member of book club also has increased my visits to the library, hence exposing me to a beautiful world of a new range of books. I stumbled on some very good biographies. 'Three cups of tea', 'The Desert flower' ' 'Mao's last dancer' etc.
I am curently reading 'Written on the body', the next suggested book for discussion. I just look forward for the first Monday of every month to discuss a new book.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
But in the heart of hearts, I would always wonder when others can, why can't I ? I am also blessed with a brain that can imagine. Thanks to my parents who provided me education, I can speak and write grammatically correct English sentences without difficulty. I can read and comprehend any written literature with ease. I do stumble upon new words once a while, but I suppose that's all right.
One thing was certain that I definitely wanted to write.
So I made my first genuine attempt to jot down my ideas. This is twentieth posting on my blog. I am happy that it was not as difficult as I conceived it to be. It has indeed lasted more than a week. I am thoroughly enjoying doing it. Early mornings set the perfect mood. The structure, the layout of my blog, at the moment all seem unimportant to me. At this juncture, my only aim is to get up early and write. The top most priority is the immense pleasure I derive while writing. I do not have any pre-conceived thoughts. I write what comes to my mind. It is a nice journey of self discovery. It took me quite some time to arrive at this decision, but as the saying goes 'it's better late than never'.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Eighteen years have passed by, since my first memorable beach walk and my legs have walked a long way since then.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Hence the other day, when I listened to the song 'Satu Malaysia', I tried changing the channel, but later realised that it's my usual channel broadcasting a Malay song. So I continued to drive listening to the song. The channel would air this song regularly in the days to follow. I found myself humming this song often. It has got a very catchy tune, though I did not understand the lyrics when I first heard it.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The first instinct is always to search for people from their home country, results of which might not always be positive. Because even though one might meet people from their home country, it often is the case that one cannot relate to them for various reasons. Either they have left the home country many years ago and hence identify themselves more as an expat or sometimes wavelengths do not match. Sometimes one even meets people who are so occupied in their own lives that they do not have the time or the energy to keep make new friendships.
It is the initial months in a new place that is the toughest to handle. As a new person, one is not aware of the things available in the market, how to figure out the routes to navigate in the area. Every road, every shop, every person seems unfamiliar. So one is always looking for one familiar or helping hand for comfort or assurance. The feeling of homesickness gets worsened when that assurance does not come from anyone. Telephoning back home seems to be the only happy time in the day. But that is a very short- term glory as, one has to find ways and means to learn to adjust in the new place.
Slowly one starts stepping out to find out avenues, activities available to keep the mind occupied. Basically it is an attempt to explore what suits the person best. All activities might not appeal or last long but one has to try it out for few months to see what suits best. One comes across new people every day from different countries. Talking and sharing gives the realisation that every other expat is sailing in the same boat. So it gives an assurance that there are many out there facing similar teething problems. Gradually pieces fall in place and one learns to accept this new way of life in the new country.
Over a period of time, relationships strengthen, bonds develop and it gives a nice feeling. Just then one comes to know that one of the expats getting transferred to another country and it's time to bid adieu to them. Filling up leaving pages, shopping for parting gifts, organising farewell lunches suddenly fill up daily itenary. But it is not an easy task to bid farewell to friends. If that expat become one of your good friends one really feels sad. It's more difficult phase for the leaving expat because they would have forged some life -long friendships. The kids cry on leaving their friends at school.
It's another new place, another new country and another new story again for that expat. Every expat is always building home away from home in various destinations and ends up leaving footprints in the hearts of many. However, it is beyond doubt that every expat expands his or her horizon as every posting teaches new lessons and develops some ever -lasting friendships in this journey of life.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The present generation according to me is growing under tremendous pressure, which I never felt in my childhood. The last ten years have seen a boom in the digital revolution and the ones most affected are the kids born in this decade. The market is flooded everyday with the latest model of mobiles, laptops, palmtops and digital cameras.Today's kids are very smartly coping with the pressure of adapting to every gizmo that enters the market, be it the latest i-pod or the latest i-phone. My daughter is one among them and I empathise with today's kids.
Gone are those days, when summer holidays meant just visiting nearby relatives or staying at home relaxing. I do not remember having seen so many places as my eleven year old daughter has today. Today every school vacation of hers means a new travel destination for us. And every holiday means clicking loads of pictures with digital cameras and sharing with everyone on social sites. I do not recollect whether I clicked so many pictures in my lifetime.
I and my sister who is a year elder to me would look forward for our vacation to do other activities. We would be very happy to stay at home to read our Archie's, Tin tins, Enid Blytons or some comic. We would look forward to play scrabble, snakes and ladders, carrom in holidays . And we were never bored. Today kids play all their games only on the computer. They aren't keen to visit friends staying nearby, but want to be a part of many social network sites as face book, orkut, hi-fi etc. My daughter always mentions as to which friend of hers has more friends on face book and how she needs to keep up momentum with them. Hence one sees present day teens at airports, shopping malls in their own world with some gizmo plugged to their ears or eyes strained on the laptop screen. Once they step inside the house, the first thing they do is switch on the computer to play a computer game or to catch up with friends on some chatting site.
Similarly shopping, eating out in restaurants were not a weekly affair as is now. My parents bought new clothes only for birthdays or festivals. We would eat out once a month when I was young. But we would be look forward to eat out and treasure our new clothes. But for present day kids, Starbucks, Bistros, pizza huts are normal affair . Similarly shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories is not an exciting trip as kids are shopping every other day. To shop for birthday gifts is so much of a nuisance today as all kids have everything today. Hence they do not have a smile when they open their presents. Watching a movie in a theater was a special treat in my childhood. Today my daughter downloads or watches every new movie or song thanks to you tube and other free downloading sites etc.
I remember treasuring my song book since I had written lyrics of all my favourite songs. Plus getting lyrics was not easy task. Today my daughter coolly stores all her latest downloads in her pen drive with least effort. With vast strides in storage space, life has presented a new definition for them. The present generation need not be bothered about storing anything in physical folders or writing in notebooks etc. One click and all information for their school project is available. Similarly, they need not buy albums to store all pictures clicked or buy tonnes of DVDs to watch movies. Any data they need can be downloaded and stored in the computer.
I thank my stars for my daughter at least mentioned water as an essential thing in life along with computer.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
My daughter, Deeksha had just turned eleven a month ago. This was January 2010. My parents had come on a visit to Miri. They were enjoying her company. She studies at the ‘Piasau School' in the Shell Camp. One day she came back excitedly handing out leaflets of boarding school. We as parents were surprised to see her bubbling with enthusiasm. But in the heart of hearts we did not then give a serious thought that day.
From then on every evening at home, the only topic she loved discussing was boarding schools. The kids in her class seem to be only conversing about roomies, independence etc. She was enjoying every bit of it and had decided about it.
One day at the school, the teachers had explained pros and cons of joining a boarding school to the class. All the kids including my daughter seem to have paid attention only to the pros. At the end of the session, kids were asked to inform verbally if they had decided about it. Deeksha confirmed to her teachers the same moment and told me that evening about it. We were speechless.
We as parents had not even taken a final decision on it. On enquiring she replied that she is the one who has to decide and not us. It is she who is joining a boarding school. I was aghast at her answers. I tried explaining, but all my efforts were futile. She was so determined about it. My parents also made an attempt to reason it out with her. But nothing worked. Her only reasoning was she wants to be independent, take her own decisions.
Seeing her so determined, my husband thought of giving her a try. We realized that our daughter was growing up. We started surfing for good international residential schools in India. We decided on India since we had our people back home. I already started having motherly pangs. I had left my parents house when I was twenty three years old to get married. My husband left for boarding when he was seventeen. She is just eleven. But her positive spirit ruled over us.
We visited India in April along with her and finally decided on a school of her choice. It’s the first week of June now and she is leaving us in August. Deeksha, influenced by the school and her classmates, has persuaded us to take the biggest decision of our lives.
She is the first child in our entire family to leave home at such a young age. When I moved to Miri two years ago, I had never even once imagined once that she would leave us so soon. Her peers and the school had such a lasting impact on her.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Curious to know, I surfed the net. There is evidence of Indian traders travelling to Malaysia before 15th century and settling down. Since Sanskrit was the spoken language in those days in India, it has its influence on the Malay language. In fact the old Malay cannot be understood now by many as it was richly laced with Sanskrit. Sanskrit is no more spoken in India now and it has been replaced by Hindi now. But it is considered one of the classical languages and root of many Indian languages.
It was after the 15th century that the first Muslim rulers came to Malaysia and major changes too place, with Arabic replacing Sanskrit. Hence Malay later own adopted many Arabic words. The British occupation of Malaysia in the nineteenth and twentieth century’s influenced the script. Malay language later added many English words to its fold.
But influence of Sanskrit did not wean away completely and even today there is evidence of some Sanskrit which is found in everyday usage. I am citing few such common words which have originated from Sanskrit I have come across.
Malay Sanskrit Meaning
Bumi Bhumi Earth
Duka Dhukha Sadness
Guru Guru Teacher
Hina Heen Inferior
Kepal Kapal Head
Roti Rutti Bread
Singa Sing Lion
Topi Tuppi Hat
Warna Varna Colour
Manusia Manushya Human
Nama Naam Name
Neraka Naraka Hell
Pahala Phala Reward
Putera Putra Prince
Puraba Purva Past
Maha Maha Great
Raja Raja King
Sengsara Sansara Suffering
Sukha Suka Happiness
Suria Surya Sun
Tali Talli String
Utara Uttar North
Dobi Dhobi Laundry
Monday, June 7, 2010
One thousand people living in a small radius of few kilometers, close to the jungle, where whole community implements the principle of three ‘R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) in their daily lives. Surprising, this is not a new policy that they are learning now like the city dwellers. It’s a way of life for them from ages.
This might seem a story of olden times, but it isn’t. This is what I saw on my recent trip to a real Bidayuh long house in Kuching. The Bidayuh are one of the indigenous tribes of the state of Sarawak in Malaysia and live in longhouses. I spent few hours there and was touched by their simplicity and their enormous respect for nature.
The entire longhouse is a series of houses attached to each other. These houses are built on raised bamboo poles to protect them against predators and from any natural calamities. Each house lies adjacent to the next house and consists of one big room. More than five –six members and is some cases ten members stay in one house. But they are not jostling for space and are all living in perfect harmony. Their houses are built of bamboo. Once the bamboo gets old it is not discarded by the people. It is used as a fuel for cooking.
Cooking is done outside in front of the house. The rice and meat are cooked in bamboo.I have clicked a picture of chicken and rice being cooked in bamboo. The other items are cooked in earthen pots. People here do not visit supermarkets to buy their groceries, but grow their rice, pepper, rubber and palm oil. They pluck fruits and vegetables from the jungle and cook. They make baskets of rattan grown in the jungles. These baskets are used for storage purposes and also to carry anything plucked from the jungles. So there are no plastic covers anywhere. Since the Bidayuh drink water from the flowing river, there are no plastic bottles anywhere. It was amazing for a city –dweller like me to see an entire community practicing these principles so easily.
Large dry leaves are tied and used as brooms to clean their houses. We saw women using large leaves to protect them against heat. They collected fish from the river and had their own chicken farms.
Electricity entered their lives only in early 2000. In the past when they had no power, they utilized the entire daylight to walk to the jungle, collect their daily food, fuel and keep themselves completely occupied. They would relax only after darkness set in. Even today many houses do not have a single fan. It was a hot and humid day when we had gone on our longhouse tour. But they were happily pounding rice, cooking in the hot sun or knitting baskets. They were too busy in their activities to be bothered about the heat.
It was then I realized how quickly we all have adapted to materialistic comforts in life but have forgotten to care for our own environment. Their simple lives taught me and my family the most important lesson of life, to respect our environment.