It is often difficult, especially when the story is “ugly”, to see that it was necessary.
It is very easy to say and believe that things were meant to be in this way when we have a beautiful path we have walked to reach the destination we have today. However, when for example: a child is pulled out from under the rubble of a collapsed bombed building only to find their entire family has been wiped out, it is very hard to say: “it’s okay it was a part of the journey they had to lead, it is a part of Allah’s plan, it was a necessary hard life they had to lead to become who they needed to become”. The mind and heart are not willing to accept these things as “okay” and “God’s plan” or even, dare I say, an important happening in the child’s life. But would Andy Murray be the man he is today had he not been in that fateful classroom the day that the massacre took place? Would Thomas Edison have become the man he did had he not had the teacher who kicked him out and the mother who then shaped up his learning. Although both above instances possibly still not as traumatic as the above mentioned example of the child, and perhaps not many famous examples of people exist who have ‘survived’ such a horrible experience, but that does not mean to say that despite it being so much more traumatic and despite it not having any famous “happy endings”, that it too is not a necessary happening; that it too has not forged out of a hellish fire a truly magnificent person.
Not every famous person is great and not every great person is famous.
I think back to my beloved English Teacher, may he rest in peace, when he died there was no “state” funeral, and yet he was a man (like many others I am sure) worth of such! He touched and changed the lives of so many children who then have in turn gone on and continued his legacy multi-fold into the fabric of this world. Truly the Chinese proverb holds such truth, if you plan for 100 years, teach! The impact a teacher has cannot be measured, and a really great teach weaves their essence and teachings into the fabric of society and moulds it from the inside. Some of the stories we heard on his funeral were truly mind blowing and yet only the people who met him know his name; his impact however, reaches far far beyond. His childhood although was not the rosiest; and again, for him to become the great man he was, he needed to have faced the ugly side of life.
So why am I saying these things.
I want to invite you to see past your scars (we all have our own battles we have fought and scars that they have left behind), to what their presence has enabled for you and your journey. I want to invite you towards acceptance of a different level.
I want to invite you towards Gratitude.
And before you think anything, I want you to hear me out first.
Life sometimes has to put us through difficult learning curves to shape us; to enable us; to forge us. Every metal ore needs to go into the furnace to come out stronger purer and more in its ‘element’.
I do not know your story, I do not know your scars, but the experiences you have had and the people you have met along the way, have each in their own way, helped you into becoming the you who you are today; from the ones that put you down to the ones that picked you up, each in their own way have been necessary in your story.
If we do not brave the storm we cannot cross the seas to find our island paradise.
If you did not take this exact journey you would not have found your ‘island paradise’ with its ‘golden sands’ and ‘cool sea breezes’. Sometimes we head out to sea thinking we need to go into a certain direction and end up in a certain location. But Allah has His own plan for us. He does not want us to go to the island in the East, He knows the island we truly need is in the South. So, He sends our way harsh winds and rough seas. We can try fight it for as long as we can and not make much progress; or we can learn to harness the wind, work with the wind and go in the direction that life is taking us, and also trust in the direction life is taking us is what we need today. And when we stumble upon our true ‘island paradise’ and rest in its golden sands, only then when we look back at the journey can we truly appreciate that we needed to take it so that it could lead us here. Yes, it may have been horrible and hard, and tested us beyond our imagination, but we are here. We learned to battle our storms; we learned to tie knots we didn’t know how; we learned to control our sails to best harness the winds; we discovered uncharted territory and found we could manage our way safely through; we discovered our resilience, our patience, our determination, our perseverance is much more than we could have perceived. Sure, there may have been days when brother wind got too rough and mother nature rained on us hard and threw us about on harsh seas, we even got thrown over-board a few times, but Allah sent us our “saviours” to help us back on our boat. And while there were rough days there were days of sunshine and calm too; where father sun smiled down upon us and embraced us in its warmth, giving us strength to go on and showed us the way to go forward. If we didn’t face harsh winds and seas, we would not need any saviours in our life, if we didn’t get drenched by stormy clouds we would not appreciate the warmth of the sunshine…
I don’t want you to just see the silver lining in the clouds, I want you to feel the importance of the rain too. If there was no rain, there would be no life.
When a lightning strikes a dry barren land and causes fire and “destruction”, that very fire and destruction makes way for new life to grow from that barren land. The lightning ‘supercharges’ life back into the barren lands.
But why am I saying all this to you.
I want to invite you to think of things in a different light. Because thinking is the key!
Our reality is not what it is, it is how we see it.
Yes, sure there are somethings that are facts, but in and around the facts we paint a picture of a reality that we see.
For example, when we stub our toe, it hurts! – Fact!
But we then paint this fact with our colours: “someone put that there maliciously so we could get hurt”; “someone put that there carelessly and we got hurt because of them”; “I am so clumsy, so careless, I am hopeless, I keep getting hurt everywhere by everything there must be something wrong with me”… and so and so forth, we can paint it in any way. But the truth is, we stubbed our toe, and that is it. The rest are our formations, shaping up a reality. We need to separate out the facts from the colours we are superimposing upon it. The truth is we stubbed our toe - now we can exclaim ouch, rub our toe and move on with daily happenings like nothing happened; OR we can exclaim ouch, rub our toe and sigh or get annoyed temporarily and think need to watch where we are going a bit more before we move on; OR we can become angry and vindictive and blame someone for maliciously trying to hurt us; OR we can be angry and annoyed and blame someone for being careless; Or let our low self-esteem cause us to become guilt ridden and spiral into self-pity and self-loathing… etc etc.
SO, it all comes down to our thoughts.
If our thoughts are shaping up our reality; then by changing how we see things, think about things, can ‘change’ our reality; aka reframing. Reframing does not change facts, yet it can change how reality shapes up around the facts. Reframing can and sometimes does help some people; it can, for some instances, help to step out and take a different look at the scene (NB, this is not to say that one should create false realities and live in denial. No. that is of course also not healthy).
However, I am not going to be asking you to reframe anything.
No, the contrary, when we understand that our thoughts shape up reality, then we do not need to get too caught up in the realities that our mind is shaping up.
So actually, we do not need to reframe anything, if anything what we need to do is unframing. We need to remove the colour and see truth as it is.
Our thoughts are like glasses, by changing the lenses we change the colour. We can change the lenses all we want and every time we will see the picture with a different colour. But if we understand that the colour is superimposed and actually we can take off the glasses and see the picture as it stands then we don’t need to worry about any colour we can or may see the picture in. The truth is the picture, that cannot be change. When we can understand that the colours we see in any picture is what then induces the feelings inside of us; then just like we can detach the picture from the colours, we can detach our feelings from the truths. Our feelings are personal, they are superimposed because of the reality that we shape up; they are not inherent of the experience, they are not exclusively in and of the experience. The experience, i.e. truth, is just that – an experience – it is there for you to gain something of and from. Experiences do not have colours (our thoughts) or flavours (our feelings). We attach the colours and flavours to them. So just like we can attach them on, we can detach them too.
Now what does that achieve?
You live a moment: a vey horrid, cruel and cold moment; where a perpetrator heartlessly abuses you, physically assaults you and verbally abuses you. You feel the cruelty of the moment in the moment, you feel the cruelty of the moment years on too. No matter what you do, you cannot escape the ‘truth’ of the moment as being horrid, cruel, cold and heartless. You cried then, you cry now.
Now one can try to reframe it by saying: well the person was ill in their minds, they were partly drunk, they did know any better, etc. but nothing can actually change the ‘truth’ – your truth of the experience – because how you experience something is still a truth! That is how you experienced it! And yes, the truth is: you did experience a horrid, cruel, cold-hearted physically and verbally abusive moment, which no doubt has been life changing…
Now when we look at it from the perspective of our superimposing of colour and flavour, we can pick apart the experience in a different way.
You feeling the moment was cruel, horrid, cold and heartless, is your feelings of the moment. Although true, because that is how you experienced the moment in the moment, they are YOUR feelings. They are not exclusively in and of the experience itself, rather how you experienced the experience (one person can and may experience an experience slightly differently to another). You experienced it in this way because you thought of those abusive acts as being: cold, heartless and cruel. And yes, where majority people today would hold the same or similar views of an abusive act as such as being: cold; heartless; and cruel, it still does not make it the truth. The truth is: a person hit you and said some words to you. That is it, that is the truth.
It is our social dictates, which shape up our belief systems; these belief systems then go on to make us think that an act is: “negative”, “wrong” and “hurtful”. Undoubtedly the act of getting hit physically hurts our physical body, but so does falling out of a tree; so does over working our arm muscles in the gym; so does menstrual pain, or better yet labour pain. So why is one pain branded as “good” and one pain brand as “bad”; pain is just pain is it not? Does all pain still not equally cause us discomfort? Our morality does the branding; but where does morality come from?
As humans we have created certain codes, orders, systems, acceptable norms and behaviours, but even in that we have variations throughout different generations and cultures. It is these belief systems that control our thinking, that shape our thinking – that shapes our realities and our truths; but if we can take a step back and remove these parameters and then look at a situation we will find the situation to be neutral. Because that is all it is – a situation; an experience; an event. Without which future events, situations and happening cannot follow and unfold. A situation is just a domino in a line of dominos. The dominos are all just neutral, no one domino more important, or bigger, or smaller, than the other and yet each domino vital in its own right; even if one domino is missing the show cannot go on.
So with that said, it does not matter how you experience the domino. There is neither anything wrong with how you experienced it, nor is there any need to rethink of: how where or why the domino was as it was. It just was, and that is it. It was necessary because it was elemental for the show to go on.
When we can understand this, then we can let go of the colours and flavours that we have attached to the experiences, because although that is how we experienced them and it was vital for us to experience them how we did for the next domino to fall, at the end of the day all those experiences are just dominos in a line. Whether we have tagged an experience as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is just our superimpositions and in a way ‘irrelevant’; how we may or may not have tagged them actually bares no relevance in the grand scheme of things, they are all just dominos in a line – each the same and each just as vital.
When we can view our past experiences as dominos and allow the colours and flavours to ‘fall off’, then we can free ourselves of the hold these feelings have had upon us; allowing us to fully embrace and carry on in our life without being weighed down by the weight of a heavy heart (because that is where all our feelings live on unless we can let them go). Whether an experience was ‘good’ or ‘bad’; hurtful or beautiful; made us sad or happy; angry or worried, it does not matter now. The experience is gone, it served its purpose which was to tip the next domino in line. It was a lesson, not a life sentence, you can let go of it. Whether someone’s behaviour was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, does not matter, the branding is superimposed by our belief systems. How someone should or should not behave is based on parameters that we have imposed. When a mother leaves her baby and goes to work it is bad, but when a father does it, it is right; when a shark eats its young, its ok, but when a human beats their young, its wrong; when parents throw out there 18 year old, it’s good, but when a 50 year old throws out their 80 year old parents, it’s not. The human condition is full of contradictions and nuances, morality skewed to favour one or another; the social dictates work for some and not for others, some fit it some don’t. The more one attempts to micromanage and understand, the more life eludes us and leaves one bewildered.
The key is to let go.
The experiences brought to you in life are by the Will of Allah. They are necessary. Experience them as you do, true to yourself and the moment, but then let it go. The experience is here to shape you and your life; don’t cling on to them, don’t judge yourself or others on the bases of the experience, that is Allah’s job. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, let go of the feelings you have attached to the experiences, they served their purpose in the moment, but they are of no use to you anymore; they will just keep you anchored in the past. Even clinging on to happy memories keeps us anchored in the past, preventing us from seeing what is spreading its arms for us today. Sure, visit memory lane from time to time; but remember you are just a visitor, not a permanent resident!
You can rise above your feelings.
Yes, life may have hit some really rough ones your way, but each pitch was necessary. The behaviours of some people around you, although ugly and uncalled for, has nothing to do with you. It does not define you, it does not represent anything of and about you. They were hoops and hurdles you had to jump on your journey to here, where you are at today, to enable your journey to come this way. Like the rungs on a ladder they have fulfilled the purpose they had in your life and now you can move on from the fact that you tripped up and got hurt on them, you have climbed up much further ahead from that time, it was a lesson you had to learn from, not your legacy.
One can go around with ‘sands of time’ cupped in open palms to their perpetrators to show to them: ‘look how you have wronged me’, ‘please apologise and change your ways’. One can go to these people bleeding from the cut on their finger in hope for a sticky plaster, yet not get one. One often has to tend to their bleeding wounds theirrselves, applying pressure till the bleeding finally stopped on its own and eventually scarred over. Over time one learns they are not going to get a “sticky plaster” from them and have to find their own; so they turned away from them, but they do not let go of those grains of sand. No, instead they clinch on to them in their fist(s) in hope to one day still show to them these grains of sand to make them see and realise something from them. One can try to get on with their life, but with a clinched fist(s) no doubt it is hard to do things ‘normally’.
I am here to tell you: let go of those sands of time, there is no point in clinching your fist. When you open your fist you will find there is nothing left in there; those grains of time have long slipped out from your hand. No point in trying to clinch on, it won’t achieve anything, instead it is just preventing you from living your life comfortably now.
Even if you went to them and got them to admit that they have sharp edges you cut yourself on; them admitting is not going to make any difference to your life today, you have already realised that on your own and taken precautions not to get too close as to cut yourself off of them again. Them owning up to their sharp edges and offering you that sticky plaster now is not going to help you, you cannot go back in time and give yourself that sticky plaster it’s pointless for you now; you don’t have a time machine and if you did, you would go back in time and stop yourself from getting cut in the first place – not give yourself their sticky plaster.
So let go of your clenched fist, there is no point in keeping it clenched when there is nothing left in it and nothing to come of it. Let go and relieve yourself of the energy you are having to put into clenching your fist; open your fist and relax your hand, then see how much more easier it is to live your life without clench fists…
I don’t want one to have to reframe, rebrand, rethink their way out of anything.
Like the teaching of the Japanese Art of Kintsugi, I want for one to be able to stand tall and be ok to wear all their scars out, because every scar is proof of one’s strength and what they have overcome. We should not need to pretend or gloss over any aspect of our life, they have all made us the people we are today…
Life, is the experience of discovering ourselves.
I wish for one to be able to let go of the hold their past has upon them so that they can truly arrive in the present.
One does not need to meditate to find inner peace and presence of mind, all we have to do is let go of the past to arrive in the present (btw I have nothing against mediation, I think it is a fantastic tool as an intermediatory to help us process and let go of the past). When we arrive in the present that is when we find gratitude, true gratitude, for our life’s existence – inner peace, thus wellness comes as a side effect.
We do not need to be or become grateful when we discover gratitude, it lives inside of us in the form of humility.
True inner peace, gratitude, beauty and joy are not cloaks that one can wear, they are states of being. We cannot force our way to them, like a mirage the more you chase after them the further away they get. We will not be able to find and stay there when it is force, we have to arrive at them as a side effect to better living. They are not a destination, rather a way of living.
Let’s live well and let the rest take care of itself.
Well the truth really is...
They say there are always two sides to a story, what they don't say is that both sides have an agenda. They would not be telling you their side of the story if they didn't want you to see things from their perspective, if they didn't want you to "approve" of their actions.
Always be mindful of these agendas.
The truth is always somewhere in-between both sides, our job is to sift away the agendas and always seek the truth in every story.
The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know; the more you see, the more you realize how little you see; the more you live, the more you realize how little your living really is.
No matter how wide you open your gaze you can absorb only a finite amount. What I see, may not be what you see; but equally what you see, is not what I see.
There will always be something that the other person knows not, that I know; but equally there will always be something that the other knows, that I do not. So what is with this imaginary egotistical arrogance and superiority over another? It is all in your head! Come out of your head and see how little it is that you truly know! Everyone is an expert in the knowledge that they hold; mocking one for knowledge that another does not seem to possess which you have been lucky to stumble upon, shows not their ignorance and lacking, but shows your small mindedness!
If you can count to 1000 in both English and French it makes you not superior to one who can count to a million in Swahili, only different.
Hypothetically, if you are currently in class 12 and you know more than a Human who is currently in grade 2, does that make you superior? The fact that you compare yourself to one in grade 2 reflects a lacking in yourself.
Any knowledge that has been brought to you is not for you to gloat, but rather entrusted upon you to share. Don't be a miser with your knowledge, share it, for with sharing it can only ever grow! And I say share it (and not arrogantly flaunt it!), because with sharing comes the concomitant act of compassion, which is humbling and cannot be achieved without love!
The Joy is in the Playing...
Life is like a game of Cricket, Allah has set up the game for us to cater exactly for our style of playing, where we can be challenged and stretched, but not strained beyond our capacity. It’s now up to us if we hit a sixer on every possible ball, or if we let them go by as a dot ball. You can live life like you’re in the power overs of a twenty20, or you can play it slow like you are in a long slog of a test match, whatever it maybe, but you have come to play; so play!
If we live life afraid of getting out then we risk not putting up any runs on the board. Yes, upon some ball our wicket will fall, but will it be a: run out, catch out, bold, lbw, caught behind etc, no one knows; but we can’t let our fear of getting out stop us from playing and enjoying the game, otherwise what’s the point of coming out on the field in the first place.
Trust in yourself, read the balls being bowled to you and take your best shots at them. You can have perfect timing, effortlessly hitting the balls for boundary all around the park if you trust in yourself. Even if you don’t have perfect timing, you can still work hard and smart, doing calculated shots still pull up a handsome score. Or you can even tune into your Afridi instincts and go savage whacking ‘em all out the park. Or maybe you like a more quick quiet singles approach, ticking the score board over quietly. Whatever your style, pick up your bat and give it a fair fight! Be in it to win it, don’t shy away from the fight! You were not brought here to be the 12th man, standing in to give others their break! You are the captain of your team, its time you stepped up and took the lead!
Colour The Moment...
I want to colour my moment, put my stamp on it, claim it to be...
Thank you dear friend who has painted this piece, I know you not, but know that your painting called out to me in a group of many.
Thank you for painting an expression of your moment, it calls out to me expressing something to me, and at the same time expressing something for me, my moment...
when words are not enough, colour can tell your story...
tell me what you see, tell me what you want me to see...
tell me your story, come I'll tell you my story...
let's come together and let colour be the story...
O My beloved Bihari family, help me bring Bihar back to me…
It's been lost along our journeys it's been hidden away behind the glossed over Englishes…
But deny it all one wants, it lives and breathes within our soul...
It shines through our every dish
It laughs with our every story…
Please help me preserve it for our future generations… our ancestral stories are getting lost with every passing of our elders..
Our oh so proudly flashed around eclectic taste buds are losing out on culinary treats once our grandmas used to slave away in kitchens to make…
Our lifestyle maybe different now, our fancy gadgetry may save us from the painstaking ways of our ancestral cuisine, but if we don't save it now, dishes which we have once tasted in our childhood or sadly have now only heard names of, will be lost forever….
For our future gens, let's come together and document our heritage together...
Any stories any recipes please help me preserve them and make them accessible for all our children to read, enjoy, use and be proud of….
I wish to take no credit for anyone else's work I will accredit each piece with its rightful authors… my dream is to only preserve and spread…
I thank you all in advance, even if you have nothing to share on the site itself, please share and enjoy this space with all your families, this legacy belongs to us all it yearns to be shared!
It's time we brought Bihar into the limelight it deserves….
Lost in time...
No matter where I may roam there is only one place that my heart calls home… Jeddah
Jeddah is dil ki jaan tu hi hai,
Jeddah you are the soul of my heart!
It's not perfect but no place ever is or will be, I grew up in this city it's my “hometown”!
There are so many memories people who grew up here can relate to, only they can understand. I can't even begin to pen down my memoirs without getting all choked up with nostalgia.
Where do I start with, do I start with my most awesome school experience I had, or do I start with all my amazing like minded family friend's circle, or maybe the food.
Maybe I should start with the one thing that is lost. The one thing I use to enjoy and boast about… the one thing I miss most from my childhood when I think about Jeddah when I visit it now, something that would identify it. That one thing was it's array of roundabouts. At every cross roads there would be roundabouts, now someone living in the UK would think "and your point is, London is the city of roundabouts you shouldn't miss it", but these weren't just painted on the ground like UK. There was a unique feature on each and every one. Something that was so Jeddah something that we would identify as us and us as it. You knew where you were exactly looking at the roundabout in front of you. Directions would be given with the reference of these monuments on these roundabouts. All that is now lost. I can no longer say I live near “taiyaara chowk”. Newcomers to the city would look at me thinking I'm coo coo, they just don't know. Bar “cycle chowk” and a few others dotted near the coast, all the rest have been slowly but surely gone. How I miss driving by them! Or rather being driven by them, because yes soon the next generation will never know days of male only drivers. A New era is at its dawn, the dawn of the female drivers in Saudi. A thought which once was the joke of the town, people in the west would say “when pigs will fly… “ people in Saudi would say “when women will drive…” it was considered that impossible an ask, but here we stand at the doorway to the world of impossible. A new age for women in Saudi.
2020-A new hope
New year's Eve is a day like every day, but one that makes us stop and reflect. New year's day, a day that makes us stop and think; dream, hope and wish. A mer moment separates the two, but turns a day of reflection to a day of hope and reinvigoration.
As the clocks struck 12 bringing upon us the new year and decade, new hope and excitement filled the air. There is definitely something about this new decade that just feels oh so right…
I feel a bit like I am in a Marry Poppin’s movie, thinking and talking in song, quite likely to break out in dance too...
#I can’t quite put my finger on it, don’t know what it is just yet, but I know there is something there, that hasn’t quite shown itself to us just yet!#
...reminds me of when Bert talks about the winds changing and something going to happen thats all happened before…
Let’s hope that this magic that can be sensed can fill our lives to come with all the right ingredients to make the future just as magical as we can imagine it to be.
As we charge forward towards the new horizon, I thought I should just shed a little light on the weeks just gone before they become but a distant memory. Amidst all the socialising and fun, as always, sat the meals of the day as the focal points of both the gatherings and the day. I normally don’t like to talk much about food that I sample, although I know it to be quite a popular practice, but due to several reasons I tend to refrain from such indulgences. But in the hustle bustle of what is the winter holidays, there was one thing that I was fortunate enough to have been acquainted with amongst many other exquisite dishes. It really caught my eye and shone out to me as something new and different and quite like nothing I had had before that I thought, for this, I must break my rule and give a shout out about it.
Believe it or not but the thing to make me stop in my tracks was a humble peanut butter! Yes you heard me, of all the things that I indulged in, the thing that made me break my rule and write was a humble peanut butter (no it is not the first time I have had peanut butter, if that is what you are thinking).
On New Years day I was out celebrating with my family and although the food was quite, well what one would call, epic on all counts, the complimentary peanut butter is what stole the show. I mean don’t get me wrong, every bite, of the entire evening, was just as scrumptious as I could have hoped for, but peanut butter, ahh!! I mean it’s peanut butter, how different can it be, how can that be the lasting memory from a meal of delectables. Well I will tell you how.
Never in my life have I tasted such a light peanut butter. It was beautiful ivory coloured, silky and light, like whipped butter, with little notes of sweetness in all the right ways. It was not sweet like it has any added sweetness, just a hint of the natural sugars already present in the peanut. It was definitely something on another level! I never thought I could enjoy it so much! Although I must say, it could not be eaten on its own ( yes I did try!) it had to be eaten with the complimentary bread that came with it, fresh hot out the oven these little pillows of delight were definitely the right partner for this condiment to tango with.
Definitely did not see that coming! If you are ever passing through the area, something definitely worth stopping by for!
So enough of my past weeks of indulgent holiday time, back to the present. With school life back in full swing, along with swinging trees in heavy winds, hope you have something nice to look forward to towards the still foggy future, hope that the new decade has got you secretly excited about something. Its an uncertain future for us still in the UK, but I hope if any one thing is certain, it’s hope! Hope for the future, hope for yourself and hope for being blissful yet!
This space features my reflections, opinions, ponderings and from time to time announcements of what I am up to. It literally is me in my corner on my soapbox.
Seeking some direction or motivation for your thoughts or life then look no further!
OTHER BLOG SPACES:
Cooking Is The Season
Finding The Way
Hire A Chef
Lifeline Adult Mentoring
Story Train Series