Category Archives: UAE

What Do You Practice?

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'How can you just lie there all day?' Read the rest of this entry

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The Bumpy Road to Happily Ever After

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A Wedding Day Promise.

Research has it that marriage may test one’s sanity, but living into old age with a partner also lowers the risk of dementia.

Since the institution of marriage does not come with a handy instruction booklet, after the hazy cloud of blind love faded into reality, we realised that ‘happily-ever-after’ included smoke alarms that cheered on my cooking expeditions, gifts that were meant to surprise became shocks due to misunderstandings of tastes and choices, weird habits that our rose-tinted vision had refused to take note of and normal conversations that snowballed into disagreements and very soon grew into full-blown arguments.

But the bumpy, sometimes steep and otherwise uphill road that we encountered helped strengthen our bond as did my culinary expeditions that strengthened the husband’s digestive system.

When I chanced upon a folded piece of paper that contained a hastily scribbled recipe of a dish that had once — by some strange stroke of luck — turned out as expected without any incidence of accidental burning or charring or meeting friendly neighbours after the smoke alarm raised pandemonium, I decided to surprise my family by pushing my luck yet again.

Luck was once again on my side as the dish turned out to be perfect in taste and appearance. I could almost hear the fanfare music as I placed the garnished masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the music was only audible to my ears as the husband failed to notice amid discussing worldly matters. Sid intently listened to his father’s words as he mindlessly chewed more than the recommended 32 times and forcefully swallowed them when he wished to throw in a question or two about the topic under discussion.

Little Princess was the only one who noticed and screamed her disapproval.

Half way through the meal and between the orations of worldly affairs, the husband took note of the screaming silence emanating from my side of the table and was quick to understand that something was amiss. He looked about for cues from the curtain to my hair. Since it was obvious that I was bound to show no interest in playing a game of 20 questions or throw in clues, he settled for something safer and went on to throw a few compliments about everything except the dish that had been painstakingly cooked and served with love.

Considering that this was an incident that took place more than a year back and that its details are vivid in my mind’s eye to be revived over the table every time I make the lucky dish that had once gone unnoticed, the husband is absolutely sure that living into old age with his partner is definitely going to keep dementia at bay.

He explains that the trick is in dividing the task between the two of us.

I could fill up every brain cell with important events (like the one mentioned above) that have taken place since the first time we met to be brought up as and when the occasion (read argument) demands, while he will keep track of the state of our finances and other less important factors of our life.

As of now, he only worries about keeping his sanity.

 

The above is an extract from an article published in the Gulf News. For the entire write-up you can check here.

Wishing all of you a very happy and relaxed Sunday.

 

Of Sunshine Vitamin and ‘la dolce vita’

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If there is anything worse than seeing your doctor when you are quite sure that something is not right, then it is the endless wait in stark waiting rooms with your mind galloping like an untrained horse into infinite conclusions about the undiagnosed state of your health.

I sat in the spotlessly clean waiting room twiddling my thumbs, crossing my fingers every time the mind paused at an irrational conclusion or possibility. I absently picked up a glossy magazine hoping to distract the direction of my thoughts. The picture of a perfectly happy lady with shining locks and skin glowing with health stared back at me only to add fuel to my racing thoughts. I went back to staring at the growing crowd of sick people in the waiting room reconciling to the fact that at least I was not the only one nursing my health woes.

It had all begun with a chance encounter with an old friend on social media. We were colleagues and later on became neighbours and good friends. After she moved out, we gradually lost touch with one another until she found me on social media through a mutual friend. A few phone calls later, we decided to meet up.

 

Our meeting was as warm as the sunny afternoon only marred by the revelation that the dreams and ambitions of this young woman had been hindered by multiple sclerosis. An acute deficiency of vitamin D had put her at a high risk and hastened the progress of the disease. We had a good time together reminiscing about old times, but the elephant in the room could not be ignored. Her parting advice to me was to listen to my body, trust my intuitions and take advantage of the sunny skies and cool mornings.

I took her advice and ensured that we spent our weekend mornings at beaches and in parks until we looked like a family who had just returned from a sun-kissed vacation in a hot tropical island. The exercise helped burn a month’s worth of every variety of food that had transformed into stubborn adipose tissue. The days that I could not make it, I sulked, until the husband suggested that I spend 15 minutes in the sunny balcony chewing on food. Research has it that chewing food thoroughly until it becomes absolutely free of lumps before it is swallowed can burn up to 2,000 extra calories every month if you keep at it.

It was about then that I had begun to notice that strands of hair fell loose and formed an untidy mess whenever I let it loose. As if to add to tangled woes, I caught myself nodding off between telling ‘Little Princess’ a fairy tale that usually resulted in a muddled up and confused happily-ever-after ending of another fairy tale.

At first, I brushed it aside and tried to be in denial. When I found my thoughts going back to my friend’s words, I tried to convince myself of the varied possibilities that could be a convincing reason for the sudden and unexplained hair loss and lethargy. Finally, I found myself at the doctor’s doorstep.

A battery of tests ensued and the results showed a deficiency in iron and Vitamin B12 that was due to a lack of animal protein in my diet. Heeding my friend’s advice, the mornings spent on the sunny beach was worthwhile after all as a deficiency of the sunshine vitamin did not show up. It is ironic that we live in a country that is blessed with abundant sunshine and the primary source of vitamin D is just outside our door, up in the sky and yet in this life full of care, we find innumerable excuses not to get outdoors and exercise our way to health.

The 30-day Fitness Challenge was a great opportunity that had brought the couch potatoes, the health freaks, families and friends to bond and sweat over varied workouts and physical activities under the canopy of the bright sunny skies in parks and beaches all through the four weeks. With studies indicating that 30 days of physical activity stands a good chance of creating a permanent lifestyle change, the challenge has laid the foundation for every individual to beat the odds and aim on prioritising one’s health through the year.

While I hope that my dear friend challenges the odds and bounces back to an active life, I have myself made a few dietary and lifestyle changes that have shaken off the lethargy, although I am still working on looking like the glowing, perfect lady with her shiny locks and radiant skin in the glossy magazine.

For all the rest of you, just in case you have forgotten, here is a reminder — take care!

 

Good Morning Friends, Wishing you all a very happy Sunday.

Sharing a post that has been originally published in the Gulf News.  You can read it at :

http://gulfnews.com/opinion/off-cuff/that-sunshine-vitamin-and-la-dolce-vita-1.2133951

Counting my Blessings and Sharing Some

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On a recent day, a big plastic donation bag that had ‘Clothes for Compassion’ printed on it accompanied the day’s newspaper.

I embarked on the task of combing through the clothes that were put away.

Some were a delightful find as they tickled a long-lost memory, some were the privileged firsts and the others were a jab on my self esteem reminding me of the hopes that I harbored of fitting into them some day.

Suddenly, the sentiments attached to every piece of clothing superseded the need to warm a lesser fortunate person this winter.

A friend whom I visited recently had transformed her home into a museum dedicated to the many accolades and pieces of memory that celebrated her only daughter’s childhood – complete with the dates inscribed behind them.

Basking in the sun in her balcony was her daughter’s first potty chair with a tomato plant growing out of it.

It made me wonder if a harvest of tomatoes from the plant would relieve fond memories of the mornings that her daughter spent emptying her bowels on the sanitary throne.

So I politely took a rain check on her invitation to stay back for lunch.

As Mother considered her sole purpose on the Earth as cooking up delicacies for her family, decluttering was a hobby she picked up during our growing years when the many priced possessions that lay gathering dust exceeded the things that were actually in use.

Choosing a deserving owner from the maid, the watchman, the guy who exchanged a big bundle of clothes for a small steel vessel and the kabadiwala was a task she undertook during our absence.

Sharing is caring says Little Princess.

So, finding myself somewhere in between my friend and Mother, some precious memories and hopes have been (painstakingly) parted with, for these unused clothes will not only provide warmth to some less fortunate person this winter but may be a reason to light up someone’s face with a smile and create a beautiful memory once again!

 

 

Sun, Sand and a ‘Green’ Christmas

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Hope you all had a wonderful festive season with friends and family.I had the pleasure of spending this festive holiday season at The Al Aqah at Fujairah. Having had a wonderful time with the husband and kids amidst nature’s bounty, I thought it would wonderful to share with you all my ‘Green’ Christmas story.

AS I enter the spacious lobby at Le Meridien’s Al Aqah beach resort in Fujairah for my much-awaited staycation, I cannot wait to be amidst nature’s bounty. To unwind and get attuned to the melodious music of the waves from the vast Indian Ocean as they wash the shoreline, drink into the breathtaking sight of the majestic Hajar Mountains and take a dip in the blue waters of the large free-form swimming pool.

However, the air of festivity with colorful Christmas decorations adorning the walls and ceiling distract me from my holiday musings. It takes me less than a fraction of a second to notice that the stars have been cut out from empty cans, the snowman created using empty toilet paper rolls, empty tissue paper boxes and tissue rolls have been wrapped in colorful wrapping paper that double as pretty gifts and over-sized chocolates swaying from the ceiling. As for the Christmas tree – every branch is lined with an assortment of used green-colored wine bottles cut to perfection.

Why would a five-star hotel use ‘used’ leftovers to create a Christmas theme?

My curiosity leads me to a meeting with the Duty Manager, Mr. Sreekanth Cherukot. Amidst handling the innumerable challenges of managing a hotel that is running on full occupancy owing to the holiday season coupled with the more-than-pleasant weather, he gladly takes time out to answer my queries over a cup of coffee. Upon raising the sustainability initiatives that piqued my interests, he is quick to place a call and introduce me to the mastermind behind this ‘green’ initiative – Mr. Hari Sudhakar.

Mr. Hari explains that he and his team of three ‘green creators’ have painstakingly cut to size a three month’s worth collection of wine bottles with a glass cutter specially bought for this purpose. They have been then suspended after having the sharp edges tactfully taped in black insulation, in order to ensure the safety of excited children, Mr. Hari explains. The bottom half of these bottles have been saved up to be doubled as flower vases and candle holders that will soon add to the décor of the restaurant and common areas at the hotel.

Mr. Hari explains that Christmas 2015 had a Christmas tree that was made using empty water bottles. This ‘out-of-the-box’ green initiative has not only helped reuse waste that would otherwise add to the rapidly increasing mountain of non-biodegradable waste at the landfill but has helped effectively reduce the costs spent on ‘dressing up’ the property for Christmas.

From the optimum use of reusable hand towels instead of disposable paper tissues in all washrooms as well as ensuring that the all air conditioners in rooms have been preset to an optimum temperature that will automatically switch off upon opening windows to using a reverse-osmosis desalination plant to tap the abundant natural resources available – this  resort is striving to pave its long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability with a goal of achieving zero footprint as it proudly stands as the ‘Emerald on Fujairah’s Beautiful Crown’.

 

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Christmas Tree with Wine Bottles Cut to Perfection

 

 

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Snowman made assembling empty tissue rolls illuminated with lights

 

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Stars cut from empty cans

 

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Another creation made using empty bottles

 

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Empty Tissue Rolls and Tissue boxes have become wrapped gifts

Picture Courtesy Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort 

 

 

 

 

In the Spirit of the Holy Month

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Today, millions of Muslims around the world will mark the start of Ramadan, a month of prayer, fasting from dawn to dusk and a time for reflection, spiritual renewal and peace. The word ‘Ramadan’ derived from the Arabic word ‘Ramadaa’ means intense scorching heat and dryness. Ramadan is a month that is considered to burn away sins with prayer and fast. Fasting, in general, is a means to humble oneself and help increase one’s moral discipline as well as serve as a reminder of the plight of the needy and the lesser fortunate. The spirit of Ramadan encourages people to get the meal had after breaking the fast, Iftar, as a communal meal shared with family and friends.

Back in India, Ramadan went unnoticed with just a few of my Muslim classmates keeping the fast.

However, it is during my days working at a Government facility amongst the UAE locals who strictly adhered to the principles of the holy month continuing to function normally like they would on any other day, that the weight of their efforts and dedication came to my notice. Peace seems to surround the people and everyone is friendlier. They kept up their fast and functioned normally during days when the desert sun mercilessly scorched the land beneath, stretching the periods of fast from anywhere between twelve to fifteen hours.

Being non-Muslim, it was a delight to get invitations to ‘Iftars’ where friends from all communities were invited to share the spirit of the month with a sumptuous evening meal.

As serenity and calm take over during this month of fast and prayer, here is wishing the Muslims of the world, Ramadan Kareem.