Posts

On Being a Nice Lady

Image
Yesterday was a double-header writing group day: one at lunchtime (three of us -  in person !!  - over coffee, wine and croissants) and then my second group (two other women and me) over zoom in the evening. Before we got down to the nitty-gritty of discussing writing pieces, the lunchtime talk turned to…of course…words.  And the words being discussed were ‘nice’ and ‘ladies’.  None of us wanted to be called ‘nice’. And there were also objections to being called ‘ladies’.  ‘Nice’ was deemed too much of a, well, nice word. “It’s weak.” “It’s not interesting enough.” “What does it mean when you say someone is a ‘nice’ person?” Does that mean he/she/they is a public kind of nice, doing things that are expected of them? But maybe all the while, wearing a social mask and seething inside at having to do or say the right thing? Are they tucking away their own feelings and disappointments? Are they being nice because they want you to think well of them? Are they just being a people-pleaser? We

Who Doesn't Love Cheese?

Image
  While reaching for the almond milk in my fridge today, my mind skipped back a few decades to my childhood growing up in Bahrain. A lot of our food came in cans: evaporated milk, Kraft cheddar cheese (in round blue cans), corned beef, sardines.  My mother said that around the age of two, I refused to drink any more milk. Stubborn and obstinate even at that young age. Nothing she could say or do would entice me to drink any more of that vile stuff (I mean really? Evaporated milk in tiny cans? What the heck was that?) I thought I would look up what evaporated milk is, because I don’t really know. So, in case you also don’t know: it is milk that is heated to reduce 60% of the water. Condensed milk also has its water reduced but is sweetened with thick syrupy stuff. My mother used condensed milk in some of her sweet-making. My siblings would eat spoonfuls of it straight from the can. There’s no accounting for taste. To this day I cannot abide the taste of milk. I do however love all other

Reflections

Image
  A first post in a new year calls for deep thoughts and reflections. Alas, I feel I have very little to offer. There’s enough that’s been written about you-know-what and I have nothing to add. I read recently on a blog, and I can’t remember which one because I read so many good blogs that a medley of them seep into my mind, that we should remember we have an appointment with life. (I’m sorry I can’t provide the link here but some of the blogs I follow are on the left). I’m so glad that there are all these women out there (and maybe some men too?) who take the time to ponder deeply and share their thoughts, emotions and ideas with us. Like some of you, I have grown a tad weary of the quick hits, scrolling and superficiality of social media. It’s much too easy to be sucked into the algorithm. I prefer the wordier, slower, more thoughtful form of communication that goes beneath the surface. I haven’t given up entirely on social media because of course there are gems out there. I’ve n

Happy Accidents

Image
  “Every day’s a good day when you paint.”  —Bob Ross (1942–1995) Yesterday while searching around on You-Tube for painting tutorials, I stumbled across Bob Ross. I knew about him, vaguely, as an American painter who taught painting on PBS for years. I’d never watched the show (The Joy of Painting), as I had no interest in painting then. But now, as I watched one You-Tube tutorial after another, I was mesmerized by his soft voice and gentle encouragement, as if he was speaking directly to you, telling you that no matter how much of a beginner you were, you could do it, make something beautiful.  I was so curious about this man that I googled him, discovering that he has a huge following, even today. His paintings are mostly about nature (mountains, lakes, forests, Northern Lights) and he never claimed to be a fine museum-worthy artist. He simply painted for the joy of it. In his military career, tired of being barked at, he vowed never to raise his voice. If you watch his videos, you t

A Social Contract

Image
Well, another Covid Christmas has come and gone. And let’s hope that’s the last of them. Just when we thought there was a light glimmering at the end of the tunnel, turns out it was a freight train coming at us, full of a cargo of Omicron. Yes, I know that cargo is for ships and I’m spewing out clichés and mixed metaphors here. But that’s the thing with this pandemic: it twists and turns and mixes up your thoughts and emotions.  One minute you’re dreaming of a White Christmas at a big family gathering, the next you’re shaking your fist up at the skies. More clichés. Just when you thought: but most of us did everything right. In the early days of the pandemic, we grocery shopped just once a week to prevent putting a burden on grocery store clerks and healthcare workers. We got double-vaxxed. We kept our distance and changed our routines. We masked and double-masked. But the truth is – this virus finds the weakest link, the population where the majority are not vaxxed or don’t have acces

Christmases Past

Image
I am thinking of Christmases Past; very far in the past, in that two-bedroom apartment in Bahrain where I grew up. I am thinking of that tiny artificial Christmas tree that was hauled out each year. It was no more than three feet tall (if that) and stood in a small wooden block, but oh the grand festivities of decorating it. We lived in a desert; there were no real Christmas trees. Several weeks before Christmas, the sweet-making began. My mother made traditional Goan Christmas sweets and there was some friendly but unspoken rivalry amongst all the Goan households in our Arabian part of the world as to whose Goan Christmas sweets were the best. Christmas meant visiting the families of friends and tasting all the sweets. My siblings and I helped in this creation of Christmas goodies; sometimes the neighbors showed up to assist as well, or we went to their houses to pitch in and observe (and mostly taste) and maybe go home and tell my mother what they did differently. This is what my mot

Simple. Easy.

Image
The other day I was wondering about struggle and conflict, be it internal or external.  Struggle is pivotal to books and movies, drawing us in, keeping us reading or watching. And yet, when struggle or conflict happens in real life, we want it gone. Immediately. But it’s not that easy, to simply wave a magic wand and, within the hour, like in a movie, everything is resolved. It sits with us, hour after hour, day after day, asking to be included with everything else that may be going on in  our lives. But those were yesterday’s thoughts. Today I’m wondering about easy and how much simpler it is to sometimes take the easier route. Which doesn’t mean you don’t care, but simply that you save your efforts for things that matter more, things that align with how you want to live your life, and let go of what you think is expected of you or the need to ‘accomplish’. It’s been several years since I let go of Christmas must-do’s or must-haves. I take the easy route now, with minimal decorations: