You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little.
If suddenly you forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots, remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land.
But if each day, each hour, you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness, if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me, ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine
Late for Tea at the Deer Palace is a hauntingly beautiful ode to Iraq. Told from the perspective of the Chalabi family, one of the most influential families in Iraq for most part of the 20th century, the novel recreates the country’s majestic past. It is also one of the few books that really brings this country alive for the rest of the world, much in the way that Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner brought pre-war-ravaged Afghanistan to life.
Starting in 1913, the book traces the history of the nation and the rise and fall of the Chalabi family, from the decline of the Ottomon empire to its destruction at the hands of Saddam Hussein and to Tamara Chalabi’s first look at her homeland.
As she traces her own roots, Chalabi take the reader along on a journey into the culture and psyche of Iraqi nationals and gives us a look at what the nation could have been if it wasn’t for Islamic clerics and Saddam Hussein, who brought its progress to a grinding halt. Chalabi’s vivid descriptions and the many pictures she uses in her narrative breathe life into the characters and bring Iraq alive.
He wore the typical attire of a sophisticated urbanite: a traditonal robe tailored in Baghdad from sayah, a delicate striped cotton material bought in Damascus, over white drawstring trousers. On his head he wore a fez, decreed by the Sultan in Istanbul to be the appropriate headgear of the modern Ottoman Empire. – Late for Tea at the Deer Palace, p 33
Reading this book was even more poignant for me because my mother often spoke longingly about Basra, where she spent her first few years of married life with my father. She would often tell me about the cobbled streets, the outdoor cafes and her life there. When Basra was bombed during the Iran-Iraq war she was grief stricken, because she had always wanted to return for another visit. Reading this book, I was better able to imagine what Basra, and Iraq, were like in their hey day.
As I read about Ahmad Chalabi’s struggle to get a hearing with world leaders on the story of Iraq, his fight to free Iraq from the clutches of Saddam Hussein and how he and the rest of the Iraqis who wanted to fight alongside US troops were ill-treated, I begin to understand their frustration with world politics. And as I read about Chalabi’s return to her homeland for the first time in 2003, I’m struck by recent news on how Iraq’s struggles are driving many refugees out of the country (read the article on NY Times). It makes me wonder when and how this nation’s suffering will end.
I’d willingly recommended this book to anybody — not only is beautifully written, it also gives readers a rare glimpse into the history, culture and psyche of Iraq — giving us a clue about why Iraqis are not satisfied with the help received from the US, why they might have not got closure to Saddam Hussein’s reign, and why the nation continues to be in strife.
Music is the soul of life. I typically listen to a wide variety of music – rock, jazz, instrumental, and everything in between. I’ve tended to stay away from Hindi music, though, because until recently, most of the songs were quite terrible. But since a couple of years, Bollywood’s been surprising me — not only have there been some excellent Hindi movies, the music has been great too! So here is my list of the 10 songs I totally loved this year, in no particular order. I’ve thrown in YouTube videos for the Hindi songs, so my non-Indian friends can listen in if they’d like.
As 2010 comes to an end, I look back and reflect on the year that’s gone by. There’s been so much joy, a few sorrows…so much hard work…a lot of partying…and so many things that I have learnt.
The top 10 things I’ve learnt….
To laugh out loud– Life’s too short to be constantly worried. Take every opportunity to catch life by the horns and L-I-V-E!
To stay calm– Shit happens, but how we deal with it is what matters most.
To prioritize– Family and friends and health come first. Work’s important, but it isn’t the be all and end all of life.
To constantly adapt – The only constant in life is change. We can’t stay in our comfort zone forever. To live fully (see point 1), we have to break out of our comfort zone…sure it’s hard at first, but like Nike says, Just do it!
To make time for me – My day for myself is Saturday – I have the weekends off, but the husband has only Sundays off. Instead of moaning and groaning about it, I use that one day to have fun…go out with girlfriends or even alone (see the next point), clean up the house (if I feel like it), do some bloggy work…
To be comfortable in my own skin – Next time you’re out in the market or mall, really notice people around you — they are almost always with their families or friends. Even the movies would have you believe that one is a lonely number. But you know what, it isn’t! It takes great confidence and oodles of self love to be out there in the crowd alone, doing your own thing, even *gasp!* eating at a restaurant alone. This may be an Indian thing, but it’s one of the most important lessons I learnt this year.
To try and try again – If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have started working out again. I’ve lost count of the number of crash diets I’ve gone on, of how many times I joined the gym and gave up. But this year, I was determined I would do it, and stick to it. And I’ve succeeded. The weight hasn’t come off as fast as I had hoped, and there are days when I stumble, but I get up and get back on!
To draw the line, work-wise – Sure work’s important – it’s what helps us put food on the table and clothes on our back. But if work overtakes the rest of your life what purpose is it serving? If you have no time for family, for friends, to enjoy your hard earned money, is it really worth it? There’s only that much stress I can take over work, beyond a point, I refuse to compromise on my personal time.
To speak out – The husband’s not a mind reader. Unless I tell him what’s bothering me, he ain’t gonna know. So instead of stewing or going silent, I realized it’s best to let it rip from time to time. Keeps him on his best behavior too 😉
To take a break– I used to take time off from work only if I was sick or traveling. But there are days when you just want to laze around, and I realized that if I just took the day off, I went to work the next day feeling like a million bucks!
Life is always teaching us lessons, either by experience or by sharing. I’ve shared what I’ve learnt this year, won’t you share your lessons with me in the comments section?
Christmas isn’t a major festival here in India, and for most of us, the frenzied search for that perfect gift happens during Diwali. But I can’t pass up any excuse to demand a gift from the husband now, can I? 😉
Sometimes it gets difficult to find that perfect gift…something that is unique and beautiful…that will leave a lasting impression and bring constant pleasure.
Like a Wish tree, for example. Hindus believe that if you tie a sacred thread around the trunk of a banyan tree, your wish will come true. How about gifting a loved this pretty wish tree from RedEnvelope? It comes with 100 paper tags with a pink cherry blossom background tied with string. Just write your wish and hang it on the tree!
(Click on images to go to the product’s website.)
Women love jewelry, so how about surprising your special someone with this gorgeous Tree of life pendant from Uncommon Goods?
Or with a beautiful, one-of-a-kind Murano pendant from Glass of Venice?
Patagonia Gifts has an excellent range of Celtic cross jewelry, like these unique cuff links for men.
Do you want something to dress up your walls instead? Why not gift someone this pretty wall mounted aquarium?
Or how about getting your photographs converted into Warhol style paintings and displaying them on your wall? It takes a while, because the paintings are handcrafted, but it’s sure to make your walls pop!
There you have it, an assortment of unique gift ideas that are guaranteed to be a hit!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of the boy wizard with a lightning scar on his forehead — Harry Potter. For quite a while, I used Potterisms on my blog sidebars. So Archives was Into the pensive, Categories was as Portkeys…you get the drift, right?
With the first installment of the last Harry Potter book in theaters, and with my love for cats, I thought I’d pull on my surfing boots and trek across the net for a few funny Potter images.
This first one captures Pottermania pretty well…
…although of course, a lot of people over 40 would also, I suspect, see that kitty as Harry! 😉
Now, when I read, I tend to get lost in the book. But when I read the HP series, I want to do what this kitty is doing…
…and I’m pretty sure this kitty sums up the husband’s emotions pretty well 😉
Of all the minor charectors in the book, Dobby was one of the cutest. My heart just went out to this wee lil house elf who was always looking out for Harry.
By the way, I really didn’t like the Frodo-like depiction of Dobby in the movies — in my imagination he was just so much cuter!
And would you believe just how cute these little kitties are? They just make me go awww…
While we’re on the subject of Harry Potter, any of you seen the latest movie?
I thought it was pretty good, though a bit slow…maybe because they’re splitting the book into two movies. The pace picked up in the second half of the film, which makes me think the second part is going to be breathtakingly quick!