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Freaky Friday

The week-end begins on Friday here in Kuwait. Invariably we sleep late on Thursday nights and so Fridays are the days when we lie in a little longer. They are lazy days without pressure, except for the Friday prayers at noon. 

This particular Friday though was different. The first born, Daughter ‘Z’ courageously breaking with a quarter century (her entire life) of tradition, made plans with some friends to go running on the beach, around half past eight on Friday morning. Now 8 am on a Friday morning, would not be considered as an early morning by those who wake up early and exercise with religious zeal, but for us lotus eaters it was a revolutionary, in fact a most radical decision. 

Her enthusiasm was infectious and motivated me to shake off the layers of laziness that had collected upon me since October, like cobwebs and dust that covers places which have been neglected for a long time. 

We left home without pulling back the curtains to see what kind of day it was and were surprised to come out of the building and be greeted by a thick fog. Now fogs in Kuwait are just about as rare as early mornings on Fridays are for us, and so we could tell that it was going to be one of those days, with a surprise at every turn. Well we were up, we were awake, we were out and we were game for surprises and adventures. So off we went. I did expect the fog to dissipate in an hour or so but it seemed to be clinging to the atmosphere with a very determined grip and so we set off for a new experience, walking with the fog now clinging to us and droplets of water condensing on our hair. 

Daughter Z found her friends where they had planned to meet, near the fountain at Marina Crescent, which is exactly what its name conveys, a crescent shaped building besides a marina.
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The Crescent is linked to the main Marina Mall, which lies across the Gulf Road (Kuwait’s Corniche), by a covered pedestrian bridge. The Crescent itself has only restaurants, most of them with with outside seating and is a pleasant place to sit by the sea and eat. 

Food though was far away from our thoughts at this moment. As daughter Z joined her friends, I thought I would have a brisk walk along the promenade towards Scientific Centre and get some much needed exercise, which would dust away the cobwebs and my diabetes. We both were exuding zest and vigour and raring to go.

I did find it strange that the sea-side, despite its ghostly appearance, was vibrantly full of people. Perhaps they were following set routine, or then they had come out to experience the novelty of walking in a fog. I would not know, those who tend to hibernate know little of the habits of wakeful creatures. 

I began walking briskly along the promenade, avoiding cutting across the grass to take shortcuts and for a few minutes all went well, then I spied a group of date palms rising eerily out of the fog. I had left my camera behind but the trusty iphone faithfully recorded the sight. IMG_5787
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So I continued walking picking up pace and then slacking each time a new sight attracted me. The curve of the promenade,
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fishing rods waiting patiently,
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a fisherman
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The ghostly pyramid of Hard Rock Cafe looming up,
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Which normally looked liked this
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Some trees in their Halloween best
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bare trees which were sprouting new life,
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A pretty gazebo
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All seemed to attract and had to be documented.

I suddenly passed the group of my daughter’s friends, who were returning from their run. She was nowhere to be seen, not even panting in the distance as I had expected. The youngsters passed by quickly before I could decide to question them and I panicked for a moment wondering how I would find her. Turning back just a few paces away from my goal, I decided to go look for her. My battery was entering its death throes, I called my daughter but she did not answer.

I am a paranoid mom and within minutes get deluged by the scariest thoughts. As it turned out that there was no need to panic, the running group did not leave anyone alone once they had got together, till they all went their separate ways. She called back and said one of the group had stayed behind to train her and now she was living my mental image of panting but only by running in circles.

I reached a grove of date palms and was pleasantly surprised by a sweet but vociferous sparrow choir. The air was filled with their chirping. A solitary bulbul determined not to be left out, added her sweet tones to the music. Her tantalizing song seemed to come from a tree but she was well hidden and I could not spy her. I just drank in the glorious moment with all its beauty. Soon I continued walking and met up with my daughter and we walked back to the Crescent.

I decided enough was enough, we had broken with tradition we held dear for most of our life and it was now time to revert back to type and open our arms to re-embrace our hedonistic lifestyle. The restaurants with their inviting breakfasts were waiting in a row for us. Without a thought of undoing all the good done that day, we decided upon one and sat outside, enjoying both the people and the sea-side.
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In the middle of our breakfast we noticed a number of men and a couple of women wearing Harley jackets.
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By the time we had finished our breakfast, we heard a number of bikes revving up on the road close by. We hurried with the crowd that had now collected and saw the Kuwait Harley club all riding out in a row.
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It was quite a sight to see these magnificent machines in all their glory.
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Later they were exhibited by their owners. We walked around taking pictures.
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I took a picture of a Harley with roses, which was owned by a Kuwaiti lady.
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The world here is so small, I posted the picture on Facebook and one of my friends commented that she knew the lady very well and she had been riding for a very long time.

We were loathe to end the day and crossed the bridge to the mall to indulge ourselves further, with a spot of shopping. The first smell that greets a person who enters the malls from the bridge, is of cinnamon rolls, tempting hapless visitors to give in to their gooey sweetness. Fortunately I know the word ‘enough’ and resisting temptation, I let the sleeping dog called diabetes slumber on.

After more than an hour of shopping, we returned home, exhausted but happy and proceeded to fall into bed and sleep for hours.

The apt title ‘Freaky Friday’ was suggested by daughter Z.

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Choices

I had been feeling hurt and let down for the past few days. I think we all feel that for the most part of our lives people let us down, lie to us, do not give us what we feel is our due, of love or respect, or attention or fidelity or whatever it may be we feel we have been deprived of. After nursing the hurt in my heart for a few days, I woke up this morning with the thought that if life had a purpose and certainly it has a purpose, than that purpose was not to wallow in unhappiness but to rise above it. 

Choices lie in our hands, there is the choice to do something right or something wrong. Then there are the choices of a number of paths open to us but there is just one we can walk on. 

When there is a choice of right and wrong and one chooses the wrong, the result at some point is unhappiness, misery, grief, either to that person, their family, someone else, or even society. The actions are considered wrong because their end result is harm, to someone in some way. The person who brings pain due to their wrong choice, may shoulder the responsibility, feel guilty and remorseful, blame themselves or then they may not and they may make little of it. This however is not the case when their pain is the result of someone else’s actions or omissions. Then they are ready to blame the responsible person for a long time, holding grudges, hating, not forgiving. Most times even if the person who has wronged has done many good things, everything is forgotten in that hard “I hate you, I will never forgive you” stance.

When the choice of a number of paths opens up before us and we have the choice to take one path or another, all paths being right, then I believe that life is designed in such a way that each path will yield a similar degree of both rewards and difficulties. They may be totally dissimilar in how they appear but their degree will be the same. 

 

Therefore there is no point in regretting the results of one’s choice and thinking that “I should have chosen that instead”. For example if a person chooses marriage and kids over a higher education or a career, both will bring them rewards and heartache and pain. One may think that the pain a career can bring would not be as intense as say that a marriage might bring, but if the person has concentrated all his emotions and faculties on that career, then any pain resulting through that career choice would be intense. I know that people of pure logic would argue with me on this point, but I do believe in destiny and that whatever path we follow, destiny gives us our share of rewards and pain.

The choice then is on handling it. One can drown in it or one can rise above it. One can show patience or fortitude or even pigheadedness and refuse to allow it to get to them. The second choice is extremely hard, for eg if someone is being constantly abused or belittled then how do they rise above it? That is where the realization that ‘one created for a purpose and that purpose was not to wallow in misery’ comes in.

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Changes

I had written once about change and promised to continue, I have been pondering on change since the past few days. what brings change and how much control do we have over it.
Change comes into our lives due to many things but there are two main categories of change, change brought about by God, nature, or what you will call it and change brought about by man.

Change that is brought about by God is for the most predictable, not because we can predict what God is going to do but because most of it is ruled by certain laws of nature that pre-date humanity. God’s laws are neither fickle nor capricious and they hold everything in balance. Most things are held in cycles, the cycle of birth growth and death, the cycle of erosion, weathering and subduction, the cycles of rotations and revolutions of the Earth giving us days and seasons, the same of the moon which gives us the phases of the moon. Most of the Natural Phenomena can be studied because it has set laws and patterns which are governed by knowledge and wisdom and which hold true over eons of time. If it had all come accidentally together like many like to think, would it not have all ended in chaos. Why would the seasons follow one another for example, or why would would all the planets revolve in their own orbits without crashing into each other. Why would trees flower in spring after they had withered in winter?

The cycle of birth, growth and death holds true for all species including plants. What is unfortunate is that we do not reflect upon the amazing powers of the governing body which controls not just the ever expanding universe, but the smallest thing like providing sustenance to even the minute unicellular organisms. The changes that the natural world around goes through are so set and regular that we take them for granted and do not spend a single moment in reflecting how miraculous they are. If water would have been evaporated by the heat of the sun just once and formed a cloud and then come down as rain or if on feeling that rain a single seed buried deep within the ground would have germinated and a single tiny stem would have forced its way through the hard earth and had stood small but straight and tall, the whole world would have come to a standstill to witness this miracle but the miracles take place around us day in and day out and we, so used to them fail to look at them with the open mouthed amazement they deserve, fail even to reflect upon the one who has made such perfect laws and subjected everything in creation to obey those laws so perfectly. The very fact that order and not chaos reigns in Nature is the proof of a unique and mighty authority that creates and rules everything.
The thing that amazes me most is the change from living to non living and back to living as gases like carbon dioxide, oxygen, water vapour and nitrogen go from the atmosphere to being part of living things and then escaping back into the atmosphere. How living things break down and mix back into the earth and atmosphere from which they came as non living materials and then once more become part of another life cycle.

There are of course those changes, terrible changes, which are brought about by the forces of Nature, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons. These too for the most can be predicted, followed, and people know the seasons when the disastrous winds will blow or the what areas of earth are prone to earthquakes or what mountains are dormant or existing volcanoes. It has taken man a long time and centuries of observation to be able to comprehend the effects of the Natural forces, that is true, but he has been able to do it only because nature follows its laws and patterns. There are those changes which might come with a warning, or which might catch one unawares. Like illness or death, or loss due to unexpected events one is not prepared for.

On the other hand, man follows no such laws and set patterns. Therefore they are subject to the nature of the man who brings them about. A man can be ruled by foresight, wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and bring about changes which will last for centuries. He can build buildings or bridges or places of worship or homes that will stand the test of time. He can respect the land and use it to grow food so that no one will starve. Man can bring about changes like discovering new places and settling down there in a way that respects both the land and any other people who have been previously occupying it. With respect for each other, the people old and new can teach each other what they know and become enriched in the process and enrich the land and protect it and its environment.

There are other changes too that man brings, these are unfortunately more common and as time goes on many parts of the Earth are paying huge prices for these. These are changes that directly affect people who are unknown strangers to the person responsible for bringing about the change. These are changes that destroy lives and land, pollute and destroy the environment, bankrupt people, bring civilizations to the edge of death and destruction. Changes which are brought about by greed and power seeking, by short sighted selfish goals, by fickleness and caprice. Changes that bring all kinds of pollution and diseases that result from that pollution. That destroy the environment by indiscriminate development for short term personal gain. That start wars and ethnic cleansing and make the world unsafe for people. There are people who, for their own power seeking, instigate and incite weak minded individuals, by using tools like nationalism, religion, casteism, tribal loyalties, etc, to spread war and terror. People blame religion for the spread of terror, but it is not religion that spreads hatred, but people who use it among other tools, to spread hatred to minds which cannot think for themselves, minds which may already be discontent with their lot and therefore are fertile soils for seeds of discord and destruction.

There are other harmful and destructive changes too that man brings about, changes which may affect smaller groups of people, changes which may send shock waves through a family, or a community, or even the world.
These changes can be a heartbreak that can shatter one life, or divorce that shatters a family, or something even more grievous like a person randomly shooting a group of strangers, or murder, kidnapping, rape, death or maiming as a result of accidents. Whether these things affect one person or a family or a community, the people who have been affected by it will never be the same again. Those who have read about it or watched it on television too, will be touched by its evil and will have its imprint on their consciousness forever.

There are those changes man brings though, which can also leave a permanent imprint on both the receiver and those who learn about it. These are the small and big kindnesses which people do for each other, either for those who they know or strangers. I never fail to be touched by the kindness of strangers and I try to be one of those strangers who spreads kindness and good will. This is one of the things that makes it possible for each one of us to wake up each day and go about our day with hope and a smile. it is in each of our hands to change someone’s life or just their day or even a few minutes with an act of caring and kindness, lets not stint from doing it

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Old Writings

I have some writings on another blog and I thought I would post here just to keep it in one place. A few lines may have been repeated.

1. How is it that something that came about by accident, without any application of fore planning, knowledge, intelligence or wisdom needs centuries of the application of human intelligence, wisdom and knowledge to be understood.

2. A sunset of molten gold, cool drizzle on the face, a flower blooming in the wilderness, a child’s innocent smile, a rainbow across the sky… so many wonderful events to which we are fortunate enough to receive an invitation.

3. Whatever you do there will be people who will object, deride or find fault, as long as your actions are ruled by your conscience don’t worry about them

4. Why can’t we enjoy moments just by themselves, moments suspended in time without past or future, why is every moment of beauty discoloured by fear of a future when it will not exist

5.Why do we think an inexhaustible Creation would limit itself only to elements we can see

6. Grievances are chains that shackle us to the past…only forgiveness can set us free… Forgive and move on, your future awaits..

7. If only men and women would celebrate each others presence in their lives each day we might have a happier world

8. Life usually writes more between the lines than on them and we are usually in too much of a hurry to read everything.

9. So you think you are generous? When did you last give someone the benefit of the doubt???

10. To be strong you have to know and master all your weaknesses

11. How sweet and simple would life be if only it wasn’t so complicated

12. Would be wonderful if we could google our memory

13. One generations excesses lead to another generation’s deprivations.

14. How can there be peace in the world when there is so much conflict in the homes

15. The world should be full of ‘Happily Divorced People’ as divorce seems to be the alternative to an ‘Unhappy’ marriage

16. Between the breath we take and the breath we will never take lies death

17. A contented heart and smiling face are better at defying age than anything in a tube, bottle or jar.

18. If words will result in hurt feelings, it is better to refrain from speaking

19. Its not about what you look at but what you see, it is not about the object but our perception of it

20.Like we spring clean our homes, once in a while we should spring clean our lives and rid it of bad habits

21. Would we appreciate blue skies if it wasn’t for grey ones

22. Why should a hurdle in the path be a deterrent and not a reason to jump higher till finally we can find our wings and soar high

23. Difficulties, setbacks and adversities probably come to teach us patience, fortitude and forbearance and not to disappoint, disillusion and discourage.

24. Everything that happens to us is to equip us to find our place in the grand design of things and finally fit into it.

25. Through art, writing, photography and other creative mediums, we pass on our vision of our world to those in the future, as those in the past have left their vision for us and for the future generations.

26 No occupation, hobby, relationship, addiction or even pain should become such an obsession that it blinds us to the gifts that life is continuously offering.

27.The purpose of life lies not in attaining distant goals in some unforeseeable future, but in living each day to the fullest in a way that is enriching for us and for others, by loving, learning, teaching, giving, caring, sharing and laughing as much as we can.

28. How many world leaders actually choose to lead their country out of an honest desire to serve it and its people and to improve their lot in life. Lets face it most world leaders are power and wealth hungry individuals who think leadership is the best way to attain all their selfish goals.

T29. he purpose of life of those who achieve the unachievable, is not just their personal achievement but also the inspiration it gives others to reach out for their own seemingly unattainable goals.

30. Every so often take stock of life, remember where you were when you began and where you were going and then see how far you have come. You will realise a few things, either the destination you were heading towards has changed as you took a diversion for a while and forgot your way back , or then you passed it a long time back and you are moving on to bigger things, or that the goal is not one you wish to reach any more, or you were forced due to circumstances out of your hands to take another path. You will also realise that if you have not reached the destination you chose for yourself, the journey itself has been rewarding and you have managed to gather much treasure along the way; either in love, success, knowledge, enlightenment, friends or other things.

31. While taking stock of your life do not forget to take into account all the compensations that life and destiny have handed you for dreams left unfulfilled

32. Dream dreams, which are your own, which rise from your innermost being and its desires. Basing your dreams on the achievements of others will leave you feeling unfulfilled even after you realise them.

33. Everyone has some special gift,often we cannot see it as we are not looking for it

34.Injustice angers me, pain and agony I witness breaks my heart, environmental destruction does both

35. My heart breaks for wonderful people who are worth so much and yet think that money is the most important thing in life

36.Its time to stop wasting the resources of the earth and replace materialism with minimalism

37. Feed your need, not your greed

37. he capacity to love despite the faults of another is a great gift

38. Sometimes there is a defining moment in life that crystallizes the meaning of one’s entire existence

39. Life is so short, let’s ensure that we use it well, giving only happiness to others and are never responsible for another’s pain.

40. Nothing in life is more important than to cherish the moments spent with those we love

41. We can’t have everything, so we have to realise what is most important and aim for that. There is no perfect situation, so do not let go of any potential happiness waiting for things to be just right.

42. Art and Beauty need no language

43. People chase their dream of wealth and fame, spending not a single moment to reflect on the fact that if success, money and fame were the things we really needed, then why would so many performers die of overdose after reaching the zenith in their chosen field.

44. What wisdom’s lost when thoughts gallop with speed,
through the mind like untamed steeds.
Lasso your thoughts write them down,
or you may lose some wisdom profound

45. There is nothing I regret more than the missed chances of doing good

46. Don’t indulge the moment of pleasure that comes with a lifetime of regret

47. Movies, tv and computer games are insidious mind controlling devices

48. In a heart where rancour is kept alive, no joy or happiness can ever thrive

50. Loneliness is mankind’s greatest fear

51. If recognition of talent was left to families many a genius would die in anonymity

52. Those who thought the Spanish Inquisition was bad were never questioned by their teenagers

53. The world may think you’re an idol
but your teen will no doubt say
Yeah sure you are an idol
I can see your feet of clay

54. Peace based on harmony should be the goal of every society, which can be achieved by acceptance and respect of each other’s differences. Art, philosophy, literature, poetry, dance and music, reflect the zenith any civilization has reached. If any of these expressions are used to deride or mock another’s deepest beliefs under the guise of freedom of expression, it will only lead to total chaos.

55. how blind are we that we cant see
the anguished hearts within our midst
eyes full of barely veiled sorrow
that forced smiles can never reach
lonely souls appearing to draw
happy, contented fulfilled breaths
while in truth they are awaiting
grim yet liberating death

56. Cute is irresistible, so beware of cute things that may have a more devious design behind them

57. As fire engulfs and consumes whatever feeds it, so does anger engulf and consume the minds and heart it feeds upon.

58. True development would take into consideration the needs of every species we share the planet with and not just the increased profits of a few greedy and short-sighted individuals

59. Trees are the first casualty of any development

60. We do not desecrate the sanctity of Churches, temples and mosques that we build for God yet how easily and thoughtlessly we destroy, desecrate and defile the beauty and sanctity of the wonders that HE has built for us.
It is this World’s tragedy that voices of sense and reason have often been overpowered by sheer brute force

61.If we just pass or fill time then we invalidate the fact that there are a number of purposes for our existence. Find and fulfill the purposes for your being, to justify your presence here.

62. Our lives are not worth what we get but what we give and share, for that is all that remains behind, sometimes a long time after we are gone.

‎63. ‘Impossible’ is the result of the limitations of human knowledge, imagination and experience; for a God who says “Be” and It is, everything is in the realm of possibilities.

64. One of the reasons that unnecessarily complicates relationships is the false idea that if someone loves us they should sacrifice all their happiness, pleasure and even comfort to prove that love to us.

65. Observation at a shopping mall: “Constantly changing fashions are proof of the fickleness of the human race”.

66. People who think their worth is based solely on their purchasing power, grossly underrate themselves

67. We often bring about the very circumstances that realize our deepest fears.

68. We begin to identify ourselves with races, religions, ethnic groups, cultures, traditions as we grow and our perceptions and understanding of differences develop. At birth all of us are only human.

69. People may not understand each other’s language, even have differing interpretations of various gestures but no one can ever misunderstand the meaning of a genuine smile

70. This year began with the promise of great possibilities, which may not be realized, but it would be stupid to waste the beauty and happiness of the here and now, mourning over what could have been.

71. The pleasures of the present evaporate unnoticed like cool dew on fresh green grass, when we are trying to recapture the fragrance of yesterdays faded roses or dream about an unknown tomorrow veiled in mystery.

72. If only one of a number of paths leads to the truth, the real seeker will examine each of them minutely; to be closed minded or to reject any as impossible or false without giving them their due attention and thought might lead to the truth never being discovered.

73. We humans may have a hundred different names for ‘WATER’ in a hundred different languages, but we all drink it to quench our thirst.

74. How blithely we say “and that’s the truth!” When in reality the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth can be affirmed only after it has been examined from all perspectives, all its facets have been looked at and everything known about it has been delved into; even then there is often spacious room for human error.

75. People who cheat, lie and take advantage of me think I am a loser and a fool but I feel that I will really be a loser if I lose my innocence that makes me believe deeply in the basic goodness of people and become a hard cynic.

76. History and archaeology have amply proved to us, if ever there was any doubt, that successive generations of humans are only caretakers and trustees on Earth; one may have a million land deeds or deeds to millions of acres but in truth nothing on the earth truly belongs to anyone one. So lets concentrate on preservation and conservation and not on willful destruction based on short term profit making.

77. Envy and jealousy are born with one’s discontent with one’s own possessions, talents, and achievements; those who are happy with their lot in life, however little it may be and confident of who they are, never care how much anyone else has or achieves.

78. Man puts any price he thinks fit on what he builds or creates yet he thoughtlessly destroys without a twinge of regret or scruples the priceless creations of nature

79. Ignorance gives rise to distrust which births fear and finally hatred. Only true knowledge and understanding lead to acceptance and respect.

80. Fleeting though the present may be, it continues to please for a long time, when woven in the rich tapestry of memories

81. True freedom is freedom from wants as wants shackle the mind with chains of desires

82. If only one of a number of paths leads to the truth, the real seeker will examine each of them minutely; to be closed minded or to reject any as impossible or false without giving them their due attention and thought might lead to the truth never being discovered.

83. We humans may have a hundred different names for ‘WATER’ in a hundred different languages, but we all drink it to quench our thirst.

84. How blithely we say “and that’s the truth!” When in reality the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, can be affirmed only after it has been examined from all perspectives, all its facets have been looked at and everything known about it has been delved into; even then there is often spacious room for human error.

85. Nothing on Creation is as arrogant as those whose ultimate earthly destiny is to be food for either worms or the fire.

86. good just for the sake of doing good, not for expectations of praise, gratitude or reciprocation, for those tarnish the act of doing good and if not met could spoil relations with the person who has been on the receiving end of your goodness.

87. If one good thing is coming to an end it doesn’t mean another is not waiting just around the corner to begin.

88. Walls, pillars and roofs house the body, while trees, rivers, mountains, lakes, valleys and all the wonders of nature house the soul. Lets be careful that in our quest for housing the bodies we do not make the souls homeless.

89. As man uses his limited foresight and imagination to reshape the Earth, replacing living green with dead greys, nature laughs because despite how strong and how high man builds a day comes when nature claims its own.

90. Don’t always seek company of others, sometimes seek the silence and solitude where you can listen to your inner voice, so you can get acquainted with your true self.

91. We are body and soul. The conflict that rages within us is the conflict between their different needs. The body is dazzled by what it can see and yearns for it, whereas the needs of the soul lie beyond the earth, in eternity and infinity. The body wishes to cram as much as it can into its limited existence, the soul knows all Eternity is waiting for it. Who should win, the perishable body or the immortal soul?

92. The kindness of friends, acquaintances and strangers, continues to touch me deeply and always reaffirms my faith in human nature when it is at its lowest.

93. The avarice I witness in the world, makes me appreciate even more deeply the millions of unknown people who upload books, lessons, advice, music, photographs, movies, etc, online, just for the satisfaction of sharing with others and for no expectations of any monetary consideration whatsoever

94. A good teacher knows that their true reward is the mind that blossoms and grows under their careful tutelage. Giving mercenary considerations priority, tarnishes and belittles their eminent calling.

95. For my many photographer friends: How fortunate the photographer, to spy moments of beauty and wonder and with a click be able to share them and preserve them forever, to see the smallest detail in their world ‘through the lens’ and to be able to share their perspective with the whole world.

96. A good friend will listen to your woes and sympathize a few times, but at one point they will wish you would let go and move on and they would be right, for life awaits to embrace us all with gifts we cannot begin to dream of, but we have to let go the pain, the disillusionment, the disappointments and move on to find them.

97. There are times in life when nothing of any great consequence is happening, either good or bad; These are the times of calm, times to rest and rejuvenate mind, body, heart and soul.

98. Time is not an enemy to be killed nor is it available to us in such great abundance that we pass it in frivolous pursuits. Time is valuable, because it is the most perishable and absolutely irreplaceable thing we know. it’s a wealth that cannot be saved and is running out moment by moment. The only way to utilise it to the best, is to make the maximum use of each moment.

99. Does anything make us realize the ephemeral nature of all things more than a flower that blooms briefly and dies.

100. In its short life a flower gives not just nectar but enriches our lives with its colour, fragrance and beauty,’
teaching us that it is not how long one lives that is important but how well.

101. When we enjoy the beauty of a newly blossomed flower we never give a thought to how soon it will fade and die, so
why can’t we enjoy each moment in life without the worry that it will pass.

102. The amounts the rich spend on self gratification could well feed, house, clothe and educate a million or more
poor.

103. Standard of living should only be improved till it is actually improving the quality of life anything beyond that
leads to decadence

104. Treat strangers well you have no idea what they may mean to you someday

105. Every interaction can be a learning and teaching experience

106. Each of us is a book, full of short stories, at least a couple of novels and some drama.

107. We are given friends so we can fly and relatives so we stay grounded

108. I would any day prefer to be the well thought out, perfectly planned and executed design of a Creator, with infinite oceans of knowledge and wisdom, rather than a chemical accident

109. Life takes us to places new, memories keep us pinned to the past.

110. If life is full of problems we have to be full of solutions.

111. When I was younger I wished I was a man, till I realised I was something so much better…. A Woman! Thank God!

112.In its short life the butterfly has drunk nectar from flowers, basked in the sunshine, flown free in the wind,glided on the soft breezes, pollinated flowers, added beauty to the world, and shown us that living and giving can all be done despite the shortness of life

113. Everyone has some special gift,often we cannot see it as we are not looking for it.

114. Injustice angers me, pain and agony I witness breaks my heart, environmental destruction does both.

115.My heart breaks for wonderful people who are worth so much and yet think that money is the most important thing in life

116. Its time to stop wasting the resources of the earth and replace materialism with minimalism

117. Feed your need, not your greed

118.The capacity to love despite the faults of another is a great gift

119. Sometimes there is a defining moment in life that crystallizes the meaning of one’s entire existence

120. Life is so short, let’s ensure that we use it well, giving only happiness to others and are never responsible for
another’s pain.

121. Nothing in life is more important than to cherish the moments spent with those we love

122. We can’t have everything, so we have to realise what is most important and aim for that. There is no perfect
situation, so do not let go of any potential happiness waiting for things to be just right.

123. Art and Beauty need no language

124. People chase their dream of wealth and fame, spending not a single moment to reflect on the fact that if success,
money and fame were the things we really needed, then why would so many performers die of overdose after reaching
the zenith in their chosen field.

125. What wisdom’s lost when thoughts gallop with speed,
through the mind like untamed steeds.
Lasso your thoughts write them down,
or you may lose some wisdom profound

126. There is nothing I regret more than the missed chances of doing good

126. Don’t indulge the moment of pleasure that comes with a lifetime of regret

127. Movies, tv and computer games are insidious mind controlling devices

128. In a heart where rancour is kept alive, no joy or happiness can ever thrive

129. Loneliness is mankind’s greatest fear

130. If recognition of talent was left to families many a genius would die in anonymity

131. hose who thought the Spanish Inquisition was bad were never questioned by their teenagers

132.The world may think you’re an idol
but your teen will no doubt say
Yeah sure you are an idol
I can see your feet of clay

133. Peace based on harmony should be the goal of every society, which can be achieved by acceptance and respect of each other’s differences. Art, philosophy, literature, poetry, dance and music, reflect the zenith any civilization has reached. If any of these expressions are used to deride or mock another’s deepest beliefs under the guise of freedom of expression, it will only lead to total chaos.

134. Cute is irresistible, so beware of cute things that may have a more devious design behind them

135. As fire engulfs and consumes whatever feeds it, so does anger engulf and consume the minds and heart it feel
upon.

136. True development would take into consideration the needs of every species we share the planet with and not just
the increased profits of a few greedy and short-sighted individuals

137. Trees are the first casualty of any development

138. We do not desecrate the sanctity of Churches, temples and mosques that we build for God yet how easily and
thoughtlessly we destroy, desecrate and defile the beauty and sanctity of the wonders that HE has built for us.

139. It is this World’s tragedy that voices of sense and reason have often been overpowered by sheer brute force.

140. If we just pass or fill time then we invalidate the fact that there are a number of purposes for our existence.
Find and fulfill the purposes for your being, to justify your presence here.

141. Throughout history, tyrants have been able to not just perpetrate horrible crimes on humanity under the garb of righteousness, but also incite others who were blind to their hypocrisy, to follow, aid and abet them.

142. Only forgiveness frees the mind heart and soul from the fetters of pain inflicted by others.

143 Fears change with age.

145. Mother nature makes wonders
Human beings make blunders

146. Actions have more than reactions, they have chain reactions, they have repercussions which can reverberate
sometimes for centuries affecting generations.

147. if life has a purpose then that purpose is certainly not to wallow in the unhappiness of my circumstances but to
rise above them.

148. Few things are as dangerous as half truths.

149. Peer pressure exerted by youngsters, with limited exposure to the world outside their immediate world, which is
related to dress, books, music, television, behaviour and even who to choose as friends, has to be one of the
most dangerous and repressive elements of modern society.

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All day I peeped out from the corner of the window, which is now the last vantage point in our apartment, from where we can still catch a glimpse of the sea. The broad marine vista, that same window had afforded us fourteen years back, when we had first moved into this apartment, was now just a fading memory. All we could see now, when we looked directly out of it, was the parking lot and a row of buildings. My blues and greens, were now definitely greys and browns. There was however, one little grace still left; From my chair by the window, I could see diagonally to the left and catch an undisturbed view, of both trees and sea, and this is where I sat, especially on good days, and enjoyed the view.

Through the day I had admired its myriad shades of beautiful blues. But by the time we finally made it to its shore, it had lost its glorious promise of beauty and looked dull and listless, as the sun began descending. Nevertheless, we sat down in the spot we seem to have claimed now as our own, as no one ever comes there, though people do picnic nearby. But that particular bit of green, bordered by bougainvillea seems to have been left exclusively for us. We come here by unspoken agreement whenever we decide to go out at the week-end or sometimes even during the week-day, when it is especially beautiful.

It is a pretty spot; the ground is covered by a creeper that has begun to turn yellow in places, but whose verdure we have enjoyed for many months. People walk or ride cycles on the curving promenade that circles Green island right around, but few glance up, to where we sit. There is a wall above us that encloses a small piece of ground, which can be used for bar-be-cues or picnics, but rarely is. Tables and chairs are plentiful all over the island and we just have to pick a couple for ourselves and carry them here.

As we sit here while the evening grows, the setting sun turns the sea behind us to rich gold. Behind us is the city, with its skyline of monolithic sky scrapers; hungry to gobble up the sky greedily. Before us, touching the horizon, lies the sea, so often beautifully clad in regal blues, that we feel we can stare at it tirelessly, for hours. The promenade is lined by trees, and rows of trees grow everywhere, to justify the island’s name.

It is a quiet sea, that speaks often in hushed, respectful tones to the shore. It is a rare day when it rushes in blue green waves, to spill its excitement and exuberance upon the sand. We sit in the shade of a tree, the whisper of its leaves in the breeze, plays a soft, soothing note on our consciousness. Busy sparrows chirp in the boughs above. Once in a while, one of the numerous bulbuls, bursts suddenly into the sweetest song. The only other companions here are the cats, lying stretched out on the ground, or walking through the bougainvillea bushes, or mewling pitifully besides us, if we have brought food for that rare picnic.

Once in a while, the peace is disturbed, not unpleasantly by a jet ski or two, or by a motorboat going past, close to the Island. some times we smile as we hear laughter of unseen children playing close by somewhere. Huge container ships, sail gracefully in the distance. Sometimes we can spy a white sail of a boat, that is content to drift languidly, with the breeze. The gulls and cormorants fly past us, swooping down to the sea. No conversation is required, and we can sit here for hours in a companionable silence, that drains off completely the tensions of the work week.

The bougainvillea bushes that lie just a little ahead from where we sit, are almost bare now but just a month back they were a riot of pinks, reds, oranges and magenta, a rare and brilliant sight in a place that is mostly desert. The bulbuls like it here and many can be found inside them or sitting on the branches.

Beyond them is the tree with twisted arms yet a strange beauty. Another stands close to it. It is hidden from where we sit but when we walk down, we can spy it. It is always bare, empty arms outstretched towards the sky. Its brown branches, silhouetted against a deep blue sky, glow orange as the evening grows, and sometimes as night appears we can see the moon shining bright, through them. A stranger in this, all surrounding green beauty, it still holds a fascination all its own.

The idyll is so perfect, it is hard to tear ourselves away as the evening grows and the wind increases bringing with it an unwelcome chill.

Note: I have many pictures of this place but wished to paint the picture simply with words.

I have reclined ‘neath trees
woven with yellow green leaves
or silhouetted bare and stark
against deep cerulaen skies
besides undecided waves
changing shades constantly

I have watched gulls dip and rise
and fly off into the distance
heard sparrows sing in harmony
with melodious bulbuls
in late afternoons
as the sun warmed our backs
and lavishly gilted dancing waves
so they chuckled with golden laughter

I have imbibed contentment
from slow crafts sailing lazily
from the whisper of the breeze
the soft answers of the leaves
the sage nodding of the boughs
the blushing of the blooms

I have heard I have seen I have felt
I have been content
I have been happy
I have lived

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There is nothing I regret more than the lost chances of doing good. I wrote this once but did not write about the event behind it.

Once I was travelling by myself from Mumbai to Kuwait, by Jazeera Airways. Now Jazeera Airways is a low cost airline and in those days used to be very particular about the weight of the luggage and if it exceeded even a little over 20 kilos, the passenger was asked to pay for overweight. That night, as usual I reached the airport just in time to make the flight, in fact I was the last passenger, all the others except one, had gone into immigration. The person before me looked like a labourer. Strangely there was a problem. Strangely because labourers and blue collar workers usually travel very light, many with just an airbag. This particular passenger though, was overweight by about 5 kilos and he would have to pay around Rupees 1000/- as extra baggage charges. The passenger did not have any money with him. The person at the check in counter refused point blank, to waive the charge.

I looked at the man; thin, badly dressed, uneducated, with poverty screaming out from his every pore. I had seen many like him in my own home country and the airport was full of them, making their way to the countries of the Arabian Gulf to seek their livelihood. So many of them mortgaged or even sold their lands for the coveted visa to the promised lands. They borrowed from friends and relatives to buy the visa and ticket that would enable them to take the flight, to what they thought was prosperity. So many of them were duped by unscrupulous recruiting agents who sold visas dearly. They travelled to the desert with dreams of making a fortune, which soon dissipated in the scorching summer heat. Though the dreams turned quickly to dust when they faced reality, they were tied to their incomes, due to a lack of a better alternative in their home country, compounded by the needs of their family and dependants.

As Jazeera at that time, did not serve meals, I was carrying a little money for a sandwich and some coffee and a little extra. Rupees 1000/- to be exact. I looked at the man and thought of paying for his extra baggage. The airline official was very adamant that he either paid or he could not board the flight. The man could barely understand what was going on. Even as the angel on my right shoulder was prodding me to pay for him, the miserable devil on my left shoulder was speaking in a voice of calm reason, as is his wont. I hesitated and was lost. The official turned the passenger away and the poor man began walking with his unnecessary luggage away from the counter and towards the exit, and even as I moved to the counter and handed over my passport and ticket, he was swallowed up by the crowd and I had lost that moment to help a fellow soul in need.

What was the result of my inaction on that life? Did he lose his job? He certainly lost the money for his ticket. Was the money borrowed? How did his family survive if he lost his job, for not being able to reach in time? Was he ever able to get to Kuwait again or to any other place where he could earn enough to support his dependants?

The questions tortured me. I was unable to buy the meal that had cost a man his livelihood. That would have been a very expensive meal, one I could not afford or even I could it would have been impossible to swallow. But it was more than just my own survival for the next few hours that had stopped me. Most of the time I appear to be brash and bold but can be being painfully shy. At that moment my shyness had held me back, I had not been able to act and that inaction had proved to be unaffordable.

I am not being completely honest here, there was another reason also to that had held me back. It was a reason I am hesitant to mention because many will find it utterly ridiculous and even scoff, which would only be right. I thought, what if he is not supposed to be on that plane, what if there is a crash and he dies only because I made it possible. I know it sounds really, really stupid, but when that miserable little devil speaks in his soft, convincing voice of reason, one can, for a moment believe it. Unfortunately, often that moment is all one has.

It has been a few years but I still regret it and berate myself, when I remember, and I remember very often. After all when one is asked a simple question, to save or not save a life, the answer should be quite easy. I cannot accept that for me, it was not.

Another thing is that I believe that we are put in a particular place at a particular time for a reason, and Providence had put me there, to help that man and I failed. I do believe though, that Providence is not just kind but also wise and it would not depend completely on one person who was prone to being shy or silly but would have prepared a backup. There is also the off chance that Providence may have had a better alternative lined up for him and so arranged it in a way that he would not be able to travel. The fact that the unknown man may now actually be in a better position, doesn’t really help me deal with my shame and guilt.

The only way I will be able to forgive myself is perhaps by helping someone else when the occasion arrives.

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Most of Kuwait woke up this morning either still in awe of the sights they had witnessed yesterday or then regretting not having reached the venue last evening, after watching it on television.

Every website and blog on Kuwait had been proclaiming for days that the fireworks were ‘not to be missed’, so of course they were on out list of must do things and we were debating on how we would reach the place as we were aware of the many hurdles we would have to face, when a friend called and offered to take us there. The fireworks were scheduled to begin at 7 pm, but it was almost that by the time we set off. We went on the Gulf Road that led straight to Kuwait Towers where the laser and firework show was to be held, only to find out it was closed due to the merry makers and traffic. We turned around and made our way to the express-way that runs parallel to the Gulf Road and found out that everyone else had the same idea.

Seeing the traffic we now gave up all hope of actually seeing the fireworks and decided as we were all stuck in this traffic anyway, we would just sit and enjoy the madness all around. There were cars not just from Kuwait but Saudi, Qatar, UAE, etc. Many boys were just dancing in their cars, or standing with heads through the sunroofs and dancing and clapping. There was a general atmosphere of fun and merriment. All the cars were heading to the firework show but by now most thought they would not reach there in time, but were still determined to go there anyways, and over and above the journey was fun so why care if they reached the destination or not.

Some of it was beyond madness and even frightening and dangerous though, for it seemed some kids were giving very little attention to any safety whatsoever. Two boys from Qatar, were sitting in the opposite windows of their SUV and every once in a while they would bend out completely, head towards the road, holding the car door by their knees. There were other kids who brought our hearts to our mouths, little kids half out of there cars through open windows.

At one time we heard a lot of police cars. The police cleared a way somehow to make a way for a convoy of VIP buses. Seeing the buses, which we knew were headed to the firework show, gave us some hope that maybe they had not begun yet

We managed to reach Bneid al Gar, where we had decided to park the car in one of the lanes and walk to the sea side right across, which would give us a good view of the show. It was 8 pm then, but as we were driving down we saw a glimpse of fireworks and so hurried to get to the other side. We were not too late after all.
A helicopter hovered overhead with the lit up flag of Kuwait. The fireworks were concentrated on Kuwait Towers it seemed and we crossed the road and climbed a small landscaped hillock, to get a closer view. My friend, her husband and my elder daughter with her camera, went right down to the sea side, I and my younger daughter stayed on the hillock without cameras, just drinking in with our eyes. Just then the grand spectacle began.

We had been concentrating on the Towers to our left, but suddenly the fireworks that began over Kuwait Towers then continued like a chain, all the way down over the sea, in a show that left us gasping. Big globes of light that travelled up to the night sky and turned into great showers of red, green and gold that glowed in brilliant reflections in the sea, and finally dissolved into trembling shimmers before disappearing completely. The first one left us stunned and open mouthed, for though there are fireworks all over the world, we had never witnessed a show of this scale live.

Excitement welled in us, we held each other tight, exchanging hugs and smiles, every now and then, exhilarated and happy to be sharing the such a spectacular event together. We could not stop grinning and every expression of joy and delight passed over our faces at some time. We both at that moment were of the same age and perhaps would have even begun a small dance of glee. For once we were free of cameras but were recording everything in our minds and hearts, not just what we were witnessing but our own personal joy in it and our moment of closeness, sharing and love that enhanced the happiness of the moment, manifold.

The sky was lit by palm trees and stars and great big showers of silver woven with gold, then more red and more green and more gold. Fireworks and lasers worked together to make it utterly dazzling. They showers seemed to come closer and closer to us. The grand finale was at the Towers as the circumference of the globes of the Towers seemed to throw out zillions of sparks. This was the biggest and the best show ever in Kuwait and everyone who watched it was enthralled and enchanted and I am sure it will not be forgotten for a long time. It is one more moment of sharing with my daughters, especially the delight that we experienced together, that I will treasure.

No pictures of this one because but a professional video from the Tv channel is on youtube

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The celebrations for the 50th National Day of Kuwait began in earnest today. I find it hard to resist any celebration. I love the lively atmosphere celebrations create, the feeling of joy and happiness emanating from everywhere. Lights, crowds, palpable excitement, laughter, enjoyment on every face, the list is endless. I love shopping during festivals like Diwali and Christmas, or even just walking through the crowds, looking into brightly lit shops and just being part of the general atmosphere, back home in India. Therefore it is unthinkable that we would stay home, like many people prefer to, during the National Day celebrations here in Kuwait. especially as we have been looking forward to them all month.

Usually Kuwaitis would drive down Arabian Gulf Street in bumper to bumper traffic, waving flags, dancing on the streets, or through the sunroof, loud music blaring from most cars, and spraying each other with foam. I and my younger daughter would walk down the short distance to the Gulf Road and take pictures and just enjoy the general exhilaration. This year though the spray has been banned but the cars are all lined up. There are many events planned for the celebrations including an illusionist from Las Vegas , whom we hoped to see, but got the dates wrong and it seems it is now over. Other events are parades, fireworks, kite flying festival, etc.

This is also possibly the only time that one can take candid shots of life in Kuwait quite openly. Everyone has there cameras out and it is almost impossible to avoid getting into other people’s pictures. For me the cosmopolitan world that is Kuwait is very fascinating, and I love events where I can just capture people acting naturally.

Some kids even posed for me

They kicked off the celebrations today with the release of 5000 pigeons and doves at the Marina Crescent, in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record. The crowds began gathering quite early, we though reached at 3:30 pm, people were hurrying through the Marina to get a good place to view the event from.

Some had arrived early to book the gallery view from the verandah that runs along the outside of the Crescent.

some were squatting on the ground, some had brought small chairs to sit on

I was less interested in the release of pigeons and more in just being there and capturing the spirit of the crowds on camera. I was not disappointed. The fervour of patriotism permeated everywhere. The Kuwait flag was flying high held by hands from many nations. There was a group of American who stood by the beach holding the flags.

Kuwaitis and expats showed equal ingenuity in the many ways they wore the flag colours. The green, red, white and black colours of the Kuwait flag were worn as clothes, jewellery and headwear. Imagination was allowed to roam wild and free and it was quite an enjoyable sight. Loved this cute little kid

and this one had a fan

Others were equally interesting

Adorable little kids were everywhere, many dressed in flag colours, like this sweet little girl.

some perched on their fathers’ shoulders, for a better view

Some doing their own thing

Some having new experiences away from the crowds

When the pigeons were released they flew over head, landed on the beach, swooped down on the crowds, Young and old reached out to hold them in their hands.

That was today, tomorrow is another day!

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Woke up this morning wishing to just relax and take a break. A break from going out, from worries, from chores and from a 101 things in the day that take up time and energy. I feel like just sitting down on my chair by the window and reflecting, or reading, or writing, or exchanging random thoughts with my daughters, or then doing just nothing at all but sitting quite still. Today I will just flow with my thoughts, wherever they take me.

It is strange but often when one of my two daughters’ expresses something, it is something that I have been thinking of simultaneously or vice versa. We seem to be totally tuned for much of the time, so it is not really an exchange of thoughts but more like an affirmation or agreement. Just as I was typing the first paragraph, my daughter unknowing of what I was typing, said it is so nice to just sit at home and relax for a change, to which I burst out laughing and then read out to her what I had written.

My elder daughter is in her early twenties and single, so continues living with us, as is customary in Indian families. She has finished her MBA and is looking for a job. In the meantime she is maintaining a blog, doing a creative writing course and catching up with all the books, which she always wanted to read and just could not find the time to.

Our home is unlike most homes. More time is given to discussing ideas collected either by reflection, or reading, or watching some information or knowledge imparting programme on television or youtube, then to the daily chores of cleaning and cooking or to gossiping or mindless pleasure seeking. Often we sit in the living room, each engrossed in a book or reading from the net, and when we come across something strange or interesting we share it with the others and discuss it for a while, then go back to what we were doing.

None of us like to gossip. When we go out, it is usually for a walk on the beach or to some interesting event, or to the desert, or then to visit our few close friends. It is not that we don’t enjoy shopping or eating out. We do, the girls have thankfully outgrown burgers and pizzas, so with mature palates, we now march on boldly to savour global cuisines. The girls love to shop for clothes, shoes and accessories and take in the sales at the various malls. For me it is something that will enhance the beauty of my home; even if it is something small, for though I do not spend much time in cleaning, I do like order and cleanliness and beauty in my home.

Cooking is quick and basic, yet results in a table-spread of good food. I once used to be slow in the kitchen, but have over time developed my own system of quick meals, which taste good. We all love salads and fresh fruits. Recently though, I have a growing desire to try cooking new dishes from around the world, experiment in techniques, recipes, and hitherto unknown combinations of taste and flavours of vegetables, fruits, condiments and spices.

We do have maid from Sri Lanka, who takes care of the general cleaning. Both of us speak different languages, so we normally converse either by sign, or our limited Arabic, which sometimes leads to disasters or humourous situations. She is sweet and ever smiling and radiates a positive aura that is very pleasant to have around the house. I do believe strongly that ‘order in the house results in order in the mind’ and a disorderly home upsets me.

So there are days, when I go into my ‘clean the house mood’, when cupboards are turned out, all the unnecessary accumulated items are dispensed with, nooks and corners are thoroughly cleaned. Clothes are washed, ironed, sent to be dry cleaned or set in cupboards, or given away to the poor.

I do not like clutter and accumulation, my husband on the other hand adores both, and out of sheer need for maintaining my sanity I’ve trained my vision and mind, to block out all the ugly bags and boxes and focus only on the pretty and neat parts of the house. Through the years, my clean and neat parts have slowly encroached on his clutter, and my vision has the space to grow broader. The best times I have found are during my husbands’ frequent trips abroad, when I have the time to bring about changes. Sometimes though it is a constant battle to maintain the ground I have conquered, for no sooner an empty space appears, than he finds more things to put in or on it. Sometimes I think he is a conjurer and can conjure things out of nowhere. For some reason these things are always packed in the most disreputable packages and make me think that he has chanced upon a tramp’s treasure house and is borrowing freely from it.

It is in recent years that that I have begun to notice many of my relatives have a cleanliness fetish, which explains my own desire for order as genetic. I also like classic furniture, carved wood, etc, which sometimes tends to be space taking and heavy, (inherited no doubt, from a long gone great grand-father, who owned a furniture business) yet another part of me likes empty spaces and minimalistic look, (the source of which is yet to be discovered as we certainly don’t have any Japanese genes), so I do have to compromise with one need, as both seem unachievable. One day though, I am sure that the minimalist me will appear the victor and I will hold a garage sale for all the rest.

Which reminds me: Yesterday, taking advantage of the dear one’s latest trip, I bravely delved into a corner piled high with shoe boxes. Now he is not all disreputable packages, he also loves to collect shoes; expensive, pure leather, Italian shoes. We already had one shoe cupboard filled to the brim with 20 pairs and when we moved back to Kuwait a couple of months back, I immediately acquired another one, which could easily accommodate another 20 pairs of shoes. Ten of these are ours (mine and the girls’), the rest are all his. These have been worn a few times. The ones I removed from the corner were untouched. I counted at least another twenty pairs and found cupboard space for them, the new vacuum cleaner and two older ones, (of course we cannot throw them away, there is always a chance that one morning we will wake up and find them miraculously restored) easily fit into the emptied space and so did some odds and ends.

Now I live in fear of what he is going to find to fill the space that was taken by the vacuum cleaners and odds and ends, which are presently, cosily ensconced in the place, previously utilised by the untidy and badly balanced pile of shoe boxes. A bit convoluted but I am sure you get my drift.

The piles of untouched, beautiful, leather shoes in the meantime are tempting me to hold a sale. Any takers????

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It began as a cloudy day, the colours were dull and we were on our way to Wafra, about 100 km from our home.
My daughter had applied as a volunteer to an animal shelter and we were going there for her orientation. It was already late and we didn’t have much chance of making it, but we had planned the day’s outing so we decided to go anyway. The road to Wafra goes via the highway to Saudi. Many seas-side resorts and holiday chalets lie close to this road and it is often taken during holidays and the week-ends. We stopped at a fuel station to fill up, at the exit to the station stood a vanette and three men, selling kites. Some tied up kites were flying gaily in the sky, among them there was a black shark. I suddenly got an urge to go into the desert and fly a shark, sadly the idea was scoffed at, a sad fate many of my more exciting ideas meet.

One of the men selling the kites was an old, bearded bedouin, sitting on a chair, smoking a sheesha. He was perfect portrait material, the kind of portrait that one can always be proud of. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity and now I carry his picture in my head and hope to see him again in the same position. After we left the petrol station, the back seat voices started singing “Lets go fly a kite, up to the high of heights, lets go fly a kite and send it soaring, up to the atmosphere, up where the air is clear….” Mary Poppins had always been a great favourite with us as the kids were growing up, not just Mary Poppins but Disney as a whole and even now my elder daughter can quote from a Disney movie to suit many an occasion.

Soon we took the right turn off the highway, to Wafra. Once Wafra must have been all desert, unending plains that touched the horizon. Even now many part of it are just stretches of sand. The acacia trees, which had been planted at the side of the road a few years back, had grown. Parts of the desert was covered with tents, as the Kuwaiti’s revive their traditions of living in the desert during the winter, when on week ends many families live in tents in the desert. Camping is very popular here. Far in the desert to the right, I spotted the lone tree that I had claimed as mine a long time ago. It is too far off to photograph and going closer would take away some of its mystic, so there it stands undisturbed, a proud and solitary testimony of survival under harsh conditions.

Further down the tents thinned out, then disappeared completely and the desert was dotted in some parts by grazing camels and sheep. After we turned left, we came upon triangular pigeon coops standing like remnants of some ancient Inca civilisation.

Some time back, farms were developed artificially in this area, and each farm is bordered by tall Casuarina or Florida Buttonwood trees, which act as a windbreak as well as provide privacy. Normally the Casuarinas turn dull grey green, due to the many dust and sand storms but the Florida buttonwoods continue to gleam. Thousands of sparrows and other birds live in these trees and in the early mornings and late evening one can be entertained by their sweet choir.

Rains usually begin in November and go on till late April. The rains bring the desert alive with wildflowers and grasses and there is little brown and much yellow and green to be seen.

The landscape is dotted with grazing sheep, goats and camels. The vast skies are a riot of colours during sunset and the trees have a washed clean look.

This year though it has been different. It is February now, yet the rains have not really made their presence felt. We have had a number of dull cloudy days but the clouds seem reluctant to lose any of their moisture, and roll away with all the precipitation contained in them, intact. The trees in Wafra were showing signs of the lack of rain. Many were stark, even the gleaming buttonwoods looked bare in places, while in others they continued to thrive only due to artificial irrigation. The sheep and camels were still there but they were given feed as there was barely any grass.

The trees bore a look of neglect but the farms were green and lush, many with fresh vegetables, which are supplied to the many markets from here, including the Central Vegetable market and also the small local farmers market in Wafra itself. The farms assure a constant supply of fresh local vegetables at unbelievably cheap prices. I found an old picture of the farmer’s market.

We visited a spot we usually visit. It has a long column of trees growing close together and had once inspired me to write a poem. Now many of the trees had fallen down but two long rows of trees intertwined together still held a charm

This spot is a microcosm of Wafra, for it has a stretch of desert,

tall casuarinas, and beyond them the lush verdure of a farm. Vegetables growing, date palms and farmhands from Bangla Desh working in the fields

and goats and sheep grazing

and Arab boys on a week-end stay in their thick brown winter wear, out exploring with their friends and their dog

On the way back we stopped at the side of a road opposite a farm with a green farmhouse and a red gate. Once there were two ponds with grasses and reeds growing on the side of the short drive to the gate. the lamp post at the gate used to glow honey in the evenings. It was another favourite spot. I had taken many pictures of the ponds and the gate and house, which were now only on webshots.

The changes were stark but though the ponds have dried up and it all had a rather neglected and desolate look, the gate still held fascination for my daughters as it had for me once, and they immediately took pictures of it.

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