Monday, July 31, 2006

Picturesque Monday ... colour the world!

Hearts of Colour - from Caco, with a heart of gold

Malawian Day Flower - from botanist extraordinaire, Cristóbal

see the bridge ...? see the colours of the rainbow ...? see the connection ...?:-)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Sunderings ... "getting to yes"

Critics say a root cause of the continued Middle East bloodshed conflict is that one side is given free reign to do as they need to "protect" and "defend" themselves ... while the other side is branded as terrorists. In my humble opinion, because I have the luxury of thought from an ocean away, under those terms and definition, there will never be any peace at all.

The best way to reach a sustainable argreement to truly understand the other viewpoint. The book, "Getting to Yes", postulates to this effect. Understanding the other perspective is not as selfless or as altruistic as you may think. When one party (A) tries to understand the viewpoint of the other party (B):

1. B will recognize and appreciate the efforts of A and will then be more open to understanding B's point of view
2. in recognizing and understanding B, A may have a renewed/ enlightened/ empathetic feeling towards the situation
3. now we have both sides who are open and willing to work towards a mutually beneficialy (and human) solution because each has a level of trust that they are both working towards a common and fair goal.

Currently there is obvious bias in the Middle East crisis and this only fuels the hatred and intolerance. Favouring one side, without concern for the massive loss of human lives, will never bring about "lasting peace". Instead it will rally the forces.

I am no diplomat and my dealings with Israelies and Arabs are minimal, but I simply refuse to see people as Israeli/Jewish or Arab/ Muslim. They are humans, just like me, and I grieve for any loss of innocent life - irrespective of the side - because the ground in which they are buried doesn't know the difference between black/ white or Muslim/ Jew/ Christian/ Sabian or man/ woman/ child. Truly I grieve.

(the pictures appear disturbing - but it is the inhumanity of the situation that is , in fact, disturbing)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fearless Friday ... and Fearless Tuesday too ...

It is hot and about to rain and thunderstorm here in the East Coast of the United States. This afternoon I was having lunch overlooking an open golf course and the wind was so strong it blew potato chips from my plate onto that of my colleague. I was not sure whether to aplogize since I actually have no control over the wind. Additionally, I thought it may be rude to take back the chips, which I did not want anyway, so I simply smiled and commented with studied nonchalence, on the state of world affairs.Now, if you recall, I mentioned that I only have one superstition; I do not wear red on Tuesdays. This terrible tradition began 10 years ago when I an awful day. I had been wearng red, my favourite colour. If I think about it carefully, it was actually a Monday, and not a Tuesday. So why develop a mad "no red Tuesday supersition"? Beats me. So this week, because I am "fearless" ;-), I decided to be brave and wear a red summer dress on Tuesday and free myself of this travesty! Yes I did! I waited all day, in my red summer dress - and other than the few compliments I received, nothing happened. So I am finally free! Yes I am free!

Al Qaeda and Madonna have something crucial in common. No, I don’t mean choice of odd outfits or love of media attention – though those similarities cannot be denied. They redefine themselves to suit their current cause. E.g. Al Qaeda exploits every opportunity to appear to take on the cause of the underdog Arab, redefining itself as the liberators of oppression. The current Israel/ Hezbollah offensive will be a cause for them. Do you disagree?

Purple is underrated. But what in the world does “purple rain” mean?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ... on the 4 Agreements

Cristiana! Parabens pelo seu aniversario! Happy Happy Birthday Beautiful Girl! All the best wishes in the world to you!

I watched Amelie as per the recommendation - it was simply delightful!

It's raining and thundering here. Delightful

Have been reading up on Feng Shui - according to their charts I am "fire" so there are certain things that bring harmony to my environment. In any case, while I was shopping for a table, I came across a vase of bamboo shoots. I do not know if they are harmonious to the fire of a gal like me, but they looked feisty enough. To complement them, I also bought pink and orange roses. Yes, and I did acquire the table too ;-)

A teenage sniper began to shoot randomly because he was angry - and an unlucky passerby was killed as a result. No, there are some things that just don't make sense. Some years ago, I read "The 4 Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, which postulates that you cannot take anything anyone else does personally at all. In that way, you are liberated.

Actually, talking of the 4 Agreements, they are as follows:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wonít be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

All simple, basic truths that fall under the category of "live your best life, on your own terms, be happy, take on the world that belongs to you and win it, be happy, be free, don't worry about the opinion of others, be accountable to your own conscience, be happy". Voila - the recipe for happiness. Now if only I could follow as simple recipe for making peach cobbler, life would be just peachy!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Sunderings ... on Miss Universe and Floyd Landis

Today is my favourite day of the year.

For Sunday Sunderings, I am keeping it light ... oh yes, I watched the
Miss Universe contest every year - for reasons only a girly girl could understand ;-). Predictably South Americas, India, USA make it to the top 15 most years and then after that I am not at all sure on what criteria the winner is chosen because most of the answers appear scripted and unbelievable but they all look incredibly beautiful. Miss Universe 2000 and Miss Universe 1997, Lara Dutt and Brooke Lee, respectively, were exceptional; articulate,dazzlling, confident, elegant and certainly beautiful.
The Miss USA contestant said her weakness was carrying her heart on her shoulders and caring too much about others ... The top 3 contestant were Switzerland, Japan, and Puerto Rico and I was convinced that Miss Japan would win since she was articulate, could speak several languages and was very confident. But Miss Puerto Rico won and I am losing no sleep over it. The best part of this year's Miss Universe competition were the musical performers: Vittorio Grigolo and Chelo.

Floyd Landis is the winner of Tour de France 2006. What a spectacular achievement! He hails from Eastern Pennsylvania and comes from a Menonite family - they have strict values and he broke from that at the age of 20 to be who he wanted to be. Read the SI article for further insight. A church member said of him: "We are disappointed with the lifestyle he lives, but I love him as a friend and care about him."

Disappointed??? Floyd Landis chose the lifestyle of a winner - he trained hard for half his life to be where he is today - on his own terms. He touches and inspires millions of people worldwide - so how exactly is he disappointing?

And my perspective on a question posed below: I have been absorbing BBC History magazine lately, and it appears that often it is blind religious fervour and undue self-righteousness, at the expense of doing the right thing, that renders a superpower, powerless. This is true of people on an indivual scale too, n'est pas?

Wishing you a winning week ahead!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Minor Things that Matter

When I was growing up in Zimababwe, there was a lovely tale that ladybirds are good luck and my little friends and I would run about the playground looking for them. This morning I was sitting upstairs and from nowhere I know, there was a ladybird on the carpet next to me. It is a minor thing - but it matters ... as do:

The Fanta advert - "wanna fanta, don't you wanna fanta"? - have you watched this advert? It's minor, but it matters because it makes me laugh

Amnesty International- it's "minor" but it matters majorly

This wish bracelet I am wearing - my friend bought it in Buffalo - when the bracelet falls off, my wish will come true. What did I wish for? ;-) Something minor, but it matters to me

10:00 PM Summer evening that feel like 6:00 PM - lifts my heart

Warmth in words from worlds away

Cotton summer dresses ... matching heels ... pretty earrings ... (I did say minor things that matter ;-))

Reading 'History Magazine' on the porch

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Illusion or Ignorance or Idiocy?

This is a poster I saw last week at Philadelphia International Airport and I apparently blocked traffic as I took the photo. "Excuse me ma'am, you are impeding passengers from reaching their gates".

Current iTunes Playlist includes:

"Extraordinary Ways": Conjure One - this song is about having an priceless gift ...
"Just Be": DJ Tiesto - the title says it all
"Olo Lipis": Despina Vandi - Greek superhit
"Promiscuous": Nelly Furtado & Timbaland - hey it's all in the beat!
"Bohemian Rhapsody": Queen - Galilleo, Figaro, Magnifico. Incomparable!
"Faith": George Michael - my friends and I used to sing along to this in high school and I had no idea what the words meant - sounded reasonable to me though - ' you gotta have faith', right ;-)

Current DVDs on sight:
"Love Actually" - atually I watched this when it was first released - and I loved it, actually
"The Libertine" - anything implying liberty is worth watching

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sunday Sunderings ... "into every life a little rain must fall"

It was oppressively hot today in the red car and I felt the sun sear through my skin. The air conditioner was of no use and the windows only allowed the heat wave to filter through me. I had a particular matter in mind. I try to keep my life very simple. I have worked very hard to be where I am today (like many of you), I am confident in who I am, I love whom I love, I pursue my ambitions with tenacity, and avoid all complications. But my easy going manner has given certain people the illusion that I am guillable. I don't mind being underestimated because my intelligence affords me that luxury. I am rarely ever angry because my joie de vivre affords me that luxury ... but today the anger makes my heart ache.

It took many years for me to get to this point. The reason I ignored the circumstances for so long was simply because blood is thicker than water. I knew that my retaliation would impair them - so I let it be - to allow them to save face. But I realize now that enduring these people who are so desperate that they would hurt me to further their own cause - makes me the biggest fool.

But on this hot day, with such heavy thoughts on my mind, I suddenly remembered that every life has problems. Some people are handicapped, some lose their mind, some lose the loves of their lives, some die never having lived - so if my greatest problem is a few people who are desperate enough to try to hurt me, then I am well off. And will you believe it, as I came to this realization, the rain fell - so hard. The air became fresh and cool and I caught my own smile on the rear-view mirror. Queen played on the radio, "into every life a little rain must fall." Do you know, I love the rain?

There are hundreds of civilians who have died needlessly in Lebanon and Israel in the last week. The "official" number of Iraqis killed this year is 14,000. Children in Africa die of Aids by the minute, people in Asia die of floods every month, people are killed in the line of fire everywhere. Yet I have everything - my life, my health, my intelligence, the ability to defend myself and to fight back fearlessly, the options in living. I am lucky that I am not the desperate one - because surely it is absolute desperation that made their blood thinner than water. My problems are nothing compared to the world - and I know this heartache that I feel today will only make me even more fearless, more ambitious, more bold!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

it’s independence day, I’m free

July 4

All American Day. The flight was late, so I spent an hour reading through the history of the American flag – simply fascinating.

From the gates I could see a 12 seater propeller plane. There was a family of 4 nearby, the mother was very afraid to walk into the small plane and was causing a small commotion – it turns out that the 12 seater was not her plane; hers was a 8 seater propeller plane behind it.

Buffalo is an all American kind of town. Old, established in its ways but cognizant of inevitable changes.

Independence Day Party – too much fun – hours of fireworks. I met artist Margaret Harte. She is 85, feisty, has, “proud to be a Democrat” sticker on her car, and had lots of truths to espouse. Bought a first original painting from her.

July 5

Niagara Falls. Maid of the Mist (boat trip to the edge of the Falls)! Simply spectacular! We had to wear hooded blue raincoats - very fashnionable but I opted for the wet hair look - it's the water off the Niagara Falls after all!

July 6

Boating on Lake Erie/ Niagara River. And yes, yours truly captained the boat over waves, through the International Bridge, Peace Bridge, and Grand Island Bridges. Had the best time! Oh and given that we were next to the Canadian border, someone made the ‘joke’ to the effect, “Oh Nazli, they are looking out for terrorists/ illegal immigrants”. Mmmmhh, I am still deciding on whether or not to find that funny.

Nonetheless, in the evening we went to the Blue Room Bar – a local Buffalo joint. I was warned that the locals were not very open-minded, but actually it was a lovely place; I was with my good friends, made new friends, and felt welcome as a local myself. I would describe the place as the "Cheers" of Buffalo where everybody knows your name ;-)

Can’t wait to visit the second largest city in NY state again.

July 7

Drove up for the university reunion with my best pal, singing to a mixed tape made 10 years ago (“i gotta a man”, “rhythm of love”, “all cried out”, spanish version of "i'm too sexy" …). Laughably out of tune but priceless!

Thousand Islands, New York. There is an island called Heart Island on which is the unfinished Boldt Castle. George Boldt was having it built for his wife, Louise. But she died and he had all construction stopped, heart broken. Personally, I will settle for emeralds for now ;-).

Class picnic next to the building where I had senior Engineering lab with people I had known when they had been as green as me (ok, I was the greenest of the bunch).

And then downtown – acquainting, reacquainting – I’ll leave it at that

July 8
Oh Zizou, we still love you! Campus, downtown, bicentennial fair celebration by the river, bubble tea, stocked up on alumni gear. Too much fun.

While at a store I saw a lady with 3 small children. She looked familiar. She left the store and then came back to exchange her purchase while I was waiting at the register.

“You look so familiar”, I started
“I know, so do you. I know you. I cut your hair while you were at school”, she responded
“Oh – 11 years ago! I am so excited to see you! How are you? I remember you were just married then”, exclaimed I in excitement
“Yes! I recognized your voice and I knew I knew you. I am good! These are my kids”, the lovely lady offered

My heart was so touched. We took pictures and her 10 year old daughter and I are now pen pals.

Downtown for another night out. There was a girl with a particular Arabic tattoo. I asked her if she knew what it meant and was curious as to why she had it marked on her neck. Her response; "yes and because it's cool". I would have settled for, "it's my prerogative to have a bulls eye on my neck".

July 9

Back to sunny Buffalo. Went boating again on Lake Erie/ Niagara River again, captained through waves while listening to sirius and turned 2 shades tanner. Great company and a host with the most.

Birthday party in the evening, old friends, chatted with the best pal till 2:30 AM and up at 5:00 AM for 8:00 AM flight.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lions and Cheetahs and Giraffes ...

Back from the reunion and lovely holiday
Old friends, new friends, happily my way
Best friends & amazing Independence Day
Too much fun, lots to say ...

... but have to unpack, look through the mail, feed the lions and cheetahs and giraffes - so see you soon and thanks much for dropping in - will be responding to your comments and blogging shortly with pictures! So excited :-)