The longest 3 minutes …

It was a pretty hap-hazard and hectic morning. Sikander had a flight, I was leaving with him to go further after dropping him to the airport.. we were just rushing out of the home when I got a call from my neighbour.. she urgently needed some ground cumin. I hate saying no and I thought we’ll I will just take the lift up and drop the cumin to her house by the time Sikander keeps the bags in the boot.

I went it, took my cumin bottle, took the lift, pressed 6 and waited. The doors closed and the lift went down… down to the basement. I am already running late. So on reaching the basement, I quickly press 6 again but nothing happened. The doors opened for just about a cm and closed again.. I pressed 6. nothing happened. I pressed the open door button. The doors opened a cm and closed again. and then suddenly the lift panel started showing ’n’. I reached for my cell phone in my pocket only to realise, I left it at home. I said okay.. I looked for alarm, I pressed it.. it sounded really loud in my ears but I have no clue if it sounded like that outside because nobody came. I started shouting…

“Hello! Hello! Is there anybody there… I am stuck! Please help.. Hello! Hello! Please help”

And then panic struck. It felt like the whole lift had no air. Claustrophobic as I am, in just a few seconds I had started gasping for air. It’s amazing what all my brain processed in just about a few minutes. I remember telling myself …okay the door is at least opening a cm.. I will get air if only I calmed down. It was a saturday.. there is nobody working in the building so no one will be in the basement! I start shouting again.. I have the alarm pressed. And then what if Sikander tries calling and just leaves for the airport when I don’t respond. He will be mad for sure, but he will not realise I’m stuck until later in the day after he has reached his hotel. Oh my god! no one will realise I’m missing :(

And then I remembered my big long key! The first time I said thanks for having such a huge key for the little door of my apartment. And I pressed the door open button. The door again opened a cm, I slid the key in and then my one hand, pushed the door a little and then the other hand and pushed with both and then the door opened and I heard rushed footsteps of the guard coming down.. He entered the basement just as I jumped out of the lift!

It couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes but for me they were the longest 3 minutes of my life.

Categories: Gen | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

D-I-Y newspaper gift bags

Holiday season is coming up soon! The season for sharing and gifting. And what better than homemade gifts? There are some great activity ideas, on pinterest, to do with your kids at home during holidays.

Next week I am starting a new, once a week, project with children at the foundation where I volunteer -

“Christmas gift for my family”.

We got a donation of lots of beads from a girl who was leaving Angola and that is what started this idea. Over the next 4-5 weeks I’m planning to teach kids, how to:

  • make a gift bag using old newspapers
  • decorate the gift bag with colourful cutouts and make gift tags- we will try to reuse empty biscuit boxes, wrappers etc for this.
  • Make a Christmas card for their family. This would include writing a letter to their family as well. Telling them what it means to be together during the holidays :).
  • make bracelets or keychains or other small trinket using the beads we received.
  • make christmas ornaments for the tree at home.

Continue reading

Categories: go green, recycle, Volunteer | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

WWW – Wednesdays 20th August 2014

WWW Wednesday is a reading game started by MizB at Should Be Reading. A simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I recently finished…

A mighty heart, www wednesdayA Mighty Heart by Mariane Pearl. I picked up, read a little and put down this book twice. Both the times because I was just getting sadder and sadder with each page. Knowing that the ending of the book is sad every effort made by Marianne and people trying to find Danny seemed to be in vain to me right from the beginning and thinking about how heart breaking it would be in the end, I could not continue with it. So many time I had goosebumps while reading it. But this time (don’t they say the third time is a charm!) I could not keep it down. I don’t know what was different. And I am glad I did because now I can say the book does not have a sad ending. Yes Danny Pearl is killed but that is not the ending of the book, the ending of the book is the triumph of humanity in the face of terrorism. The ending of the book is the strength that talks to you from the pages. I loved the ending of the book:

“I swear I will not dishonor

my soul with hatred,

but offer myself humbly

as a guardian of nature,

as a healer of misery,

as a messenger of wander

as an architect of peace”

I am currently reading…

Boskys Panchatantra, www wednesdayBosky’s Panchatantra by Gulzar. Continuing with my love for fairly tales and folk tales, this is the one I picked up after I finished my Classic Fairy Tales book to read right before sleeping. It’s a collection of Panchatantra tales (Indian folk tales) written as a song. What makes it special is that these are the songs that Gulzar sang to his daughter Bosky (Meghna Gulzar) when she was little and so the name. By offering them in a book, Gulzar, gves us the gift of reciting/ singing panchatantra to all kids!

Next I will be reading..

Jinnah by Jaswant Singh, www wednesdayJinnah by Jaswant Singh. This is an ambitious book for me. For long I have been wanting to read more and more on India’s partition and about Jinnah. Jinnah was once called an ambassador of Hindu- Muslim unity. What drove him to demand a separate state for muslims? I have read/ seen on tv/ heard gory stories of partition. I have wondered at why did the partition happen? Was it necessary? This book is an attempt to add to the understanding of what the political scenario was during that time.

So what’s your WWW?

Categories: Books | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Being Palanca

This post was first published on Volunteer Weekly – a platform for celebrating volunteerism.

Palanca is an endangered species of the Angolan wildlife but it is more than just that. It’s a national symbol that represents – Peace, Tolerance, Unity, Self-esteem and preservation of biodiversity.

About a year ago, the foundation brought together 10 artists who gave a blank wooden palanca their expression of these values. The exhibition, called ‘Being Palanca’ ( ‘ser Palanca’ in Portuguese), served to raise awareness among the Angolan people about the importance of the values at hand: peace, unity, tolerance and self-esteem, and to the significance of the Palanca as an endangered species and as the national symbol of Angola.

Going through some of the old material, I found files of the “ser Palanca” or “Being Palanca” project and together Ana and I thought of doing this with our kids at the  foundation. We imagined it would be a great way to engage the children towards thinking about these values and give them an expression.

We started the day with a discussion on each of the five values — what it means, is it important and why? can we live with one without the other? The discussion went into talks of how somewhere lack of tolerance for the other is the cause of current conflicts all over the world. The children were also quick to explain by themselves how peace is the blanket under which each of the other values thrives and vice versa — that without unity, tolerance or self-esteem and a respect for our biodiversity, we cannot have peace.

being palanca, teaching values to children, volunteering with children, volunteering in Luanda, volunteering in Angola

I was intrigued by that. All the children were born in peace time but 30 years of civil war meant that each family had stories of loss and tragedy passed on from parents to children and it was clear how they valued peace more than anything.

After the discussions, each child chose one value that they most identified with and started to give expressions to their thoughts on paper. Each value was depicted by a single colour so each painting was only in one colour. In the end we brought them all together to create one big Palanca. The idea was that the density of each colour in the collage will clearly reflect which of the values the children most identified with.

Being Palanca, see palanca, teaching values to children, volunteering with children, volunteering in Luanda, Volunteering in Angola

Does it mean something that most works were on Peace and Unity?

I am Peace. I am Unity.

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WWW – Wednesdays – 16th July

It’s been more than a year since I last played along WWW Wednesdays. Of course there can be plenty of excuses given like all the traveling in India before packing up Baroda; volunteering in Uttarakhand after the floods and then the whole move to Africa and settling in. (See I just gave so many! :P )

WWW Wednesday is a reading game started by MizB at Should Be Reading. A simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

www wednesday, classic fairy talesFor me that time is now and every night before going to bed I have started reading one fairy tale. Currently I’m reading from Berlie Doherty’s Classic Fairy Tales.  I love the illustrations by Jane Ray and also the way Berlie has narrated the stories. Just yesterday I read the Beauty and the Beast. And I remembered the quote that “a thing must be loved before it is lovable!” I love fairy tales and how does it matter if I’m grown up… It’s still fun to go to sleep with some magic :)

www wednesday, a Christmas carolAlong with that I’m also reading a classic – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickines. Enjoying the visits with the Spirits and Scrooge but also enjoying the words and the archaic English!

“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

What did I recently finish

I recently finished I am Malala. I had picked it up at Delhi airport this time. Not that it was in my list of books to read but as I was browsing through the books, the photograph of Malala Yousafzai was almost staring from the cover and I couldn’t stop myself from picking it. Continue reading

Categories: Books | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tangling up

Almost a month back when I returned to Angola, after 2 months of lazying around and feasting on awesome food and love in India, I had made a promise to myself to do more art. Learn something new and gift. Actually I had many more plans :P as I wrote back then! I am so glad I wrote them down here, it at least keeps me from giving them a miss otherwise it would be too easy to fall back on my lazy ways.

One shelf in my cupboard has a lot of waste with which I feel I can do something. There are empty cereal boxes, biscuit boxes, kitchen paper rolls, cardbords, plastic bottles and other packaging material. One day I realised I’m just adding things to it and not really making anything from it. So I decided to take some action :).

I needed a mail and document holder so I took out one empty cereal box, covered it with a single colour paper and illustrated the front of it. I used a few pictures that I had to help with the illustration. Simple patterns that I didn’t think will really go well together looked like they were really thought out and planned out before :P.

 

Mail holder from cereal box, recycle, illustrations,

Mail holder from cereal box for me

And when Carole saw this one, she said she wanted one too! And when I made for her, I decided to try out something new that Thakkar had told me about – zentangle. In many ways it is actually illustrations but I like the way it says to divide the area into multiple sections and illustrate each separately without thinking about the other and ultimately the whole picture will be beautiful! At least that’s what I understood it to be! And here’s the one I made for her.

mail holder from cereal box, reuse, recycle, zentangle, illustrations

Mail holder from cereal box for my friend

Zentangle is fun. I don’t think I’m any sort of illustrator but once I divide the whole area into smaller sections, it does become easier and pinterest has so many images from easy to difficult patterns to give a start!

Categories: go green, recycle | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

So much to learn!

Today I started my day thinking the first thing I have to work on is the Moved by Love newsletter. But little did I know there were other plans for in store :) I went out to water my plants. I had sown tomato and green beans about a week ago and every day I have been peeping into the seed pots to see if there is anything. Just like didi’s little scientists! To tell you the truth though I love to have plants, I don’t really have a green hand. I have never had a plant growing from a seed :( All my seeds till now have only resulted in weeds. All the plants that I have started with a sapling bought from a nursery or gifted from a friend like this mint.

apartment gardening

mint growing in my balcony! The plant was gifted by a neighbour when we moved in.

The now image of the mint would have been even more amazing but while I was away in India, all the people I had asked to water my plants somehow missed and it got water only for a week in those 4 weeks :( The plant dried up a little but then picked up again once rains started! I still wonder at the magic rain water has for plants. Continue reading

Categories: Family, go green | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Go chalking!

I love chalk :)

Here are pictures of the first few chalk messages…

chalk project, art with heart, window dressing

I didn’t think much before starting these everyday chalk messages but its become quite exciting! My neighbours say they now look forward to reading what’s new on my window everyday!

Categories: Family, Volunteer | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A new magic every day!

It’s already 9 days into the new month but for me the month practically starts today. The first week of June was just busy with packing and travelling and settling back. Finally this week life has returned to some normalcy. While I was in India, I made many plans for the things I want to do once I get back to Angola (don’t know how many will start :P!):

  • Learn how to make a website using wordpress
  • Get back to sketching and learn to paint
  • Experiment with food more. For some reason in Angola I had just fallen into regular cooking routine. It has been such a long time since I tried something new and in this trip my sister inspired me to do more with food and flavours! :) So hopefully My Weekend Kitchen will also get its activity back!
  • I want to do more art for gifting to strangers. I met Swara after a long time and she told me how our one day’s activity of writing letters to strangers had motivated her and she continues to do so even now. When she told me this I felt how I need to pick this one again. So I will be doing more art to gift. I even brought lots of handmade paper, colours and pens with me! :)

But one thing that I brought from home and I’m very excited to use is my box of coloured chalk and a small slate! I fell in love with chalk as a medium of art after seeing Lahar’s beautiful creations all over Sugad campus during Moved by Love retreats. Her hands would create magic on the floor and one thing which she said that stayed with me was the beauty of impermanence that chalk brings. Your creating is cleaned the next day and every day you start with a clean slate! Every day a different magic comes alive through your hands…

I was also inspired by the sidewalk chalk projects that many people have been doing all around the world and while I don’t think I will have enough chalk to do that; I plan to hang my slate on my window/ balcony with a beautiful quote every day and that would be my gift for each day for those who read it :)

I started yesterday, these are my first two!

art with heart, quotations in chalk on window

Categories: Family, Volunteer | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Back in Nani house…

… like it was 25 years ago!

Summer Vacations…. Brings back memories of all cousins getting together at nani house for 2 months;

 of sweet sweet watermelons and mangoes;

of silly and creative games that the 5 of us designed;

of nani finally pulling her hair and asking our mom’s to take us from there :D

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of those two months spent in nani house. And we (me and didi) keep telling stories of our mischiefs during those two months to Nandini. How nana used to put up a big swing in the quadrangle and all of us used to be on it at the same time! How Bittu mama and mummy used to make a boat of bedsheet and all three of us (me, sonu maasi and chinu maasi) used to sit inside it and cross the imaginary river running between rooms :). Ah! I wish those days, when imaginary tea served in toy cups tasted amazing, would never have ended!

And right now in Nandini’s childhood, we have the opportunity to recreate similar experiences for her and since there are no other kids, the chance to relive our childhood :).

We are back in nani house. Nani has made all the sweets to welcome the gang and nanu brings sweet sweet summer fruits everyday when all we want is a different ice cream for each day :P. But he still tries.

Nani house is so meant to be the big open place with lots of space to run around and create a new problem for nani every second J though this time maasi and mummy are keeping a little tab on them :P

Every day is a day for a new activity… Making doll house using empty cartons and paper shopping bags… learning gardening and planting new seeds; every day we take our picnic basket out in the park. Some days nanu takes us for excursions outside and also some trekking!

summer vacations fun

Fun times at nani house during summer vacations!

I’m loving it! :D

Categories: Family | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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