Friendly Friday Photo Challenge-Design

   I have been missing out on my  posts for the past two weeks as I feel a bit ‘all over the place’ at the moment but I knew I had to post for  the Friendly Friday prompt by Snow and Amanda.

   Here’s my interpretation for ‘Design’…some from Nature, some from my collection of sarees (I could not not post some of the handwoven designs on the sarees…I have always been fascinated by their intricacies and beauty) and some from everyday objects around the house. And the last one was a special birthday gift by my then two and a half year old that hangs above my study desk along with his other ‘art work’ 🙂 A few of the photos are in other posts too!

 

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Thanks for stopping by!

Monday Motivation

Monday is over in some parts of the world and it is close to being over where I live. But I still wanted to go ahead with this post as self motivation!

   When our loved ones suffer, it hurts us too. It also makes us feel helpless when there is nothing that we can do to ease their troubles.  At the moment, I am in a similar predicament  as some seemingly unending and unsolvable strain of difficulties is giving my family back in India sleepless nights and I don’t know how to help. While I have enormous faith in the scheme of things and that gives me hope in the face of adversities, at times it gets difficult to hold on to hope too. I started this post as something that would distract me, even if for a little bit, from the constant worry  and as a reason to help me to to keep pushing forward, holding on to that chalice of hope. And the main reason was to help one particular troubled soul find strength and believe that ‘this too shall pass’.

   Today, I am posting some sayings of the Buddha that might seem cliched (like all quotes or sayings tend to do) but have profound truth and power to help heal the troubled soul and carry forward with the journey.

 

The mind is everything. What you think you become.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.
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Have a happy week, folks!

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge-Illumination

   Another wonderful prompt from Amanda for this week’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge, hosted by her and Snow.  It gave me a chance to go through old photos and I smiled a lot today! Most of these photos are already in other posts here, but it felt good to put them all together in one:)

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Home, New Jersey

 

 

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Tokyo, 2008

 

 

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Walk through the park, New Jersey

 

 

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Good Times, Minneapolis

 

 

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Dusk, Miami

 

 

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Dawn, NJ

 

 

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Diwali, New Jersey

 

 

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A snowy evening, New Jersey

 

 

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Home, New Jersey

 

 

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Sunrise, Maryland

 

 

“Darkness cannot drive away darkness, only light can do that. Similarly hate cannot drive away hate. Only LOVE can do that”Martin Luther King Jr.

Chairs- Friendly Friday Photo Challenge

  I am late this time but I finally have some for last week’s prompt by Snow for the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge that she co-hosts with Amanda !

   I have never photographed chairs and so when I saw the prompt, I was a little bummed as I thought I would have to miss out participating this week too (I had already missed Amanda’s prompt of Alleys the week before). And then I dug into my archive and found a couple and decided to present a different angle…not just chairs (or seats) but view from seats that are some of my favorites and I am hoping this will be okay. I am also going to keep a lookout for chairs that I can photograph and have a nice collection of my own! Thanks Snow for the motivation:)

 

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Someone had thrown this chair which looked to be in pretty good condition in the recycle dumpster the morning of the prompt! It made me think of a time, not that long ago in the past, when we as students, would be on the lookout for furniture, like this one in recycle dumpsters, that could help our apartment look like a home where people lived, rather than just an empty space! Nostalgia is a good thing 🙂

 

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And these stacked chairs outside the local grocery store, along with many others of a similar type, seem to say- ‘It’s almost summer…buy me buy me!’

 

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My boy was too little at that time to climb the stool and I remember him asking for some help ‘climbing the piano stool’. With no one around, he played it in his own way, lost in a world he has come to love dearly…that of music.

 

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A couple of springs ago, at one of the parks in our neighborhood.

 

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Ocean City, Maryland

 

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Not a very good photo, this is still one of my favorites…because of the memories attached to that particular day and moment. It was dusk and we were on our way back to the mainland after a trip to Liberty Island and as we looked on at her, the PA system on the ferry reminded us of what the statue stood for and a beautiful message that spoke about humanity in the face of all odds. It was a humbling experience.

 

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With not many options in this land that we have now come to call home,  this is how we have been celebrating Diwali and Christmas:)

 

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This was taken way back in 2009 in Silver Bay, Minnesota near the Split Rock Lighthouse. One of the houses along the shore that used to be the cabin of the keeper, has been turned into a museum of sorts with everyday items from that age (the early 1900s) preserved beautifully.

 

Thanks Snow!

Tuesday Tales- The Pink Trash Can

   Many moons ago, I had the opportunity to live in Kobe, Japan as part of the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program and to say the least, it turned out to be an experience of a lifetime. Today’s Tuesday Tales is about how a little pink trash can from my first day in Kobe.

                                                       The little pink trash can 

   I was young and it was the first time I had traveled ‘overseas’ and I was hopeful, albeit a bit nervous. I had no idea about what to expect and in a country the language of which I neither spoke nor understood, planning to work there for a couple of years did not seem as daunting as it should have. I was running high on all things bright and beautiful and was honored to be a part of this pretty cool and at the same time, enriching, program.

   It was the month of August and it was hot and humid, a weather I was quite familiar with. After a couple of days of program orientation in Tokyo with probably around 5000 participants from more than 40 countries and mesmerized by all that was going on- from our stay in the wonderful Keio Plaza Hotel, to attending lectures to a beautiful milieu of what seemed like a cultural amalgamation, to making new friends-everything seemed to good to be true. After a three day period, I boarded the Shinkansen from Tokyo  and reached Kobe, along with my colleagues, some of who I became good friends with, that continues till today. We went to the Board of Education building of the city of Kobe where after some more briefing about the whats and what not-s of the program, my co-teacher from the school I was going to be teaching English at, took me to what was going to be my home for the period of my stay in that country, and the first place where I would be staying all by myself for the first time ever…too many firsts, one may say!

   We went up the stairs and opened the door to the place and it was then that reality hit me. I was looking at a tiny place that was just floors and walls, with the tiniest gas stove I had seen. Oh, there was a little futon too but it was all rolled up in a corner and had not caught my attention in the beginning. I dragged my big red suitcase inside, thanked my co-teacher, Ms. Takashima (who by the way, was surprised at the emptiness of the place), closed the door after she left and slumped on the floor in a pool of tears. I was exhausted and scared but the glitz and happy faces of Tokyo and the adrenaline from all the excitement had kept me from facing some realities that the sight of an empty place brought to the forefront in no time.

 I was alone for the first time ever. I had never lived without my parents and I was without friends. It felt claustrophobic in there and it was hurting bad. I went to the bathroom, turned the tap on and just sat in the bathtub, with my clothes till on. And I cried my heart out. I saw no reason to be there and just wanted to run back to the place and people who I left behind, waving through the murky glass doors at the airport.

   After I was almost done crying as I could not cry any more, I heard the door bell ring and someone saying something. I was drained out from all the crying, not to mention the soaking clothes. By the time I had changed into dry clothes, and thought of three excuses about what was wrong with my eyes ( an unhealthy duration of crying does strange things to the eyes obviously), whoever had rung the bell had gone away. When I opened the door, I found a little pink trash can with a pretty lid on it…it was definitely the cutest trash can I had ever seen, with a note on it that said- ‘I hope you will make this a part of your home-Ms. Takashima’. Also hanging on the door handle was a ‘welcome bag’ from the previous batch of JET participants, who were living in the same building as us and it had all the basic necessities to help us through the first few hours.  A dinner invitation for meet and greet was followed by a very teary Skype call home and the day ended with me passing out on that tiny futon.

    As I woke up the following morning and made tea (I had brought supplies from home), I realized I was calmer and less claustrophobic. The little pink trash can, with the note still stuck on the lid, was part of my ‘home’ now and I knew 20 more people than the previous afternoon and I had survived my first night away from my family. And at that moment I remembered something that my Baba always says ‘Din periye jaye. kalker din o eshei jaye‘ (loosely translated- time keeps on moving and, tomorrow always comes). I had never before paid much attention to this saying of his that he uses too much and I realized the truth of those words in that morning, sipping tea in my first home with the pink trash can.

   That pink trash can made that empty space my home and the next two years went by in the blink of eye. I had some of the best times of my life there, I definitely learned much more than I had before, I made some very special memories and even more special friends and I reconnected with a lost friend who I am currently married to and who is a wonderful father to our two kids!

 

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This picture of the school playground was taken by a dear friend and colleague near the end of my stay in Kobe. It has remained a favorite.

Monday Motivation

Continuing with my ‘Monday Motivation’ post!

   It was ‘Mother’s Day’ yesterday, and I was determined not to write anything on that topic. I have had several conversations with close friends on the importance and validity of such a day and those discussions have had interesting outcomes…let’s just leave it at that! For me, motherhood has been and is a huge part of who I am. It defines me and I have no objection to people rolling their eyes at that thought. Because it is true. At this point in my life, that is who I am and I proudly embrace it. It is exhausting and endless and yes there are times when I feel overwhelmed but at the end, every drop of sweat is worth all the craziness and ask any mom and she will happily say the same.

   The importance of the role that mothers play in the lives of their child/children is undeniable and it nurtures and shapes the young mind. However, we all have women in our lives who have played/play an equally important role in guiding us through the ups and downs, who inspire and lift up people around them and without whose presence we would not be who we are. They are present as aunts, grandmothers, family friends, cousins, teachers, neighbors, nannies, friend’s moms and play a variety of roles as our confidants, our friends, our role models and at times who raise us. They too deserve as much love and appreciation on ‘Mother’s Day’ as sometimes their stories go unrecognized and they are left in the shadows while the world celebrates the mothers only.

   My mother was raised by her two of her aunts and uncles and the love that she has for them is just the same, if not more, as that for my grandmother. Her aunts never had children of their own and were unmarried and my mother was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that had a bunch of people who all played the role of equally devoted mothers and fathers. They nurtured my brother and me too and loved us with their whole hearts, celebrated our victories and wept in our sorrows. I was more close to them than I was to my grandmother and I know that’s true for my brother too. They loved just like a mother does and I know how much my mom misses them, now that they are no more.

   To women all around fighting their unique battles, however big or small, to women driving change, to women taking a stand, to women celebrating life, to women standing tall in the face of unfathomable sorrow, to women pausing a bit to take it all in- you are invincible.

 

And here are the two pictures I took today!

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The thought that I want to leave you with, this week-

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Have a happy week, folks!

Smile

   I am bad at many things… riding a bike,  drawing, writing a poem, small talk…the list can get pretty embarrassing! For me, people who can draw are superheroes of sorts. I can look at videos all day long of people creating magic through pencil or brush strokes. And people who can write poems belong to a different league altogether! And here I am not talking about the greats whose works of art have mesmerized generations…I am talking more about regular people who harbor such superpowers, while going about their lives in an unassuming manner.

   I am always mortified that someone, maybe my kids, someday will ask me to draw a picture of something. And I feel nervous just thinking about that! Same with writing poems. Ever since I have started blogging I often come across posts with beautiful poems that evoke so many emotions and then there are prompts that add the element of surprise and challenge too. And people write in response to those challenges making the act of writing poems seem so trivial while I stay as far as possible from such endeavors. Not my cup of tea!

   But the other day after a blog ‘conversation’ with Manja , I decided to make an attempt at trying to write a poem, of sorts. And I feel uneasy to say the least. I know I am probably making a fool of myself but as I have recently decided to put myself out there with respect to trying things previously unimaginable, I am going to go ahead and post this first ever ‘poem’! Thanks Manja for the encouragement!!

 

“Smile”

A smile can carry one a long way

Or so I have heard.

It masks the worrisome mind well

And helps heal a troubled heart, that is not yours.

Wear a smile, they often say

It is beautiful and it cares.

Smile at the person you just walked by

It may be all that she needs to turn around just another ordinary day.

Unspoken words that a smile brings

Can comfort the weary soul that has traveled far

Looking for that of which he is not sure.

When darkness comes and fear strikes a note

Smile through the fear and smile through the pain

Look around and hold on.

You will hear a tap, a gentle knock.

Who’s that, you may ask

It’s me, Hope, is the answer you will get.

Pause, to smile a bit

And through teary eyes and heaving heart,

Let her in.

 

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