travel

Ladakh 2- Sangam Point

We hired a bike later in the morning and our first destination was Sangam point. “Sangam”, because Zanskar and Indus meet there. It is true that the journey is ALWAYS more beautiful than the destination. No sooner did we hit the highway NH1, the vastness of nature hit us.

Huge barren mountains like no where else in India. There’s beauty is barren as well. Quite unlike the lush green pine forested mountains of Kashmir. We could feel how small we were.

And the earth We spread out, and placed therein firm mountains” (Qur’an 15:19)

Verses like these keep coming in my mind. I was overwhelmed in minutes. The mind could not sink in the rate at which the eyes were absorbing the magnificence of what was around us.


Have We not made the earth as a bed And the mountains as pegs?”(Qur’an 78:6-7)

Confluence of Zanskar and Indus

The point was beautiful. Husband and I had a very nice time there. The water was serene, and the crowd was scarce. It was ages since I last sat on the bank of a river with my legs in water. My thoughts drifted to the river that runs through my grandmother’s village. A lot of childhood was spent enjoying the clear waters that is now shrunk and polluted.

While walking down, we came across two couples who wanted to go rafting and asked us whether we would want to join (there was shortage of 2 on their raft) . Whenever such adventurous opportunities knock our door, husband and I immediately look at each other and the conversation goes like:

Him: “Karna hai?” (Wanna do?)

I: Haan (yes)

Him: Chalo (Let’s go)

I: Chalo (Let’s go)

Whether it’s swimming under waterfalls and across rivers, crossing the mighty Brahmaputra, trekking across glaciers, climbing up mountains, jet skiing, horse riding, ferry rides, gondola trips, or skiing- each was an impromptu plan made with rushed adrenaline. We experienced these few “firsts” together.

Beautiful is an understatement. Being in that place is simply a blessing. Everyone on the raft kept staring at the hugeness of mountains on both sides and the Indus zig-zagging through it.

The raft was beyond our control. Screaming and hooting we finally hit the calm waters. One can never have enough of such places.

In hopes of a little adventure (and to make the most of the hired bike) we took the road to Phey from there. A tiny village, untouched and drenched with pure culture. The best thing about Leh was vegetarianism due to prevalence of Buddhism. So we really didn’t have to worry a lot about food. We stopped at a tiny eatery run by a lady single handedly and ordered Thukpa and Momos!

The last time I ever had Thukpa outside was during a family trip to Gangtok -Darjeeling with Mom dad and sister when I was in class 5. These were alien concepts for pan Indians that time. I remember a local seller handing us 10 momos on a leaf with the spicy condament at ₹1 per piece just before we embarked on our toy train journey.

Thukpa was a novelty for husband this time. Our hostess took her own sweet time to prepare and we weren’t in a hurry as well. We were the only customers there! I went blabbering about everything we did when we were in Gangtok and the lady soon joined our conversation. We learnt about their village and how the family functions there. The food – warm and soothing , was devoured amidst a very cherished conversation.

Kindness and warmth yet again, compelled me to embrace our hostess before departing. I am sad now for I am unable to remember her face, much as I am trying. I wish I had clicked a picture.

We left back to the city. Explored the market on the bike. The innermost lanes, figuring out everything about travelling to Nubra and Pangong our next destinations.

To be continued….

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travel

Ladakh

Our trip to Ladakh was in September 2017. This was the trip that changed our definition of travel. Our trip to Kashmir before that was immensely pleasurable, but it shook our budget for many a following months. Mostly because we entrusted the planning majorly to an agent and took no charge.

I don’t know when the idea of bagpacker travel entered my mind. And what place would be better to explore this new genre of travel than the mighty Ladakh!

Why Ladakh? Well, because it had ample content available online about it, the sites, homestays, bus stand and taxi stand locations, eateries, people , bike hire options, phone numbers and lot more. It was remote, yet after reading many many many blogs on it, it seemed familiar.

Few key aspects of bagpacker travel are:

  • We use public transportation a lot
  • We stay in reasonaby priced homestays or even hostels if required.
  • We do circle a few places to stay (if reviews are given online by travelers) , yet we almost never pre-book. A lot is left to hunting places last minute
  • Since there is no travel agent involved, we interact with locals and co-travelers (mostly in public transport) a LOT. This is key. We shove aside all hesitation in seeking opinion, reviews, and any other kind of help from their knowledge.
  • We always try to hire bike on rent if available to travel within the city
  • We eat less to keep fit and active , save money and travel more.
  • We walk A LOT to explore the city by foot. The deep alleys and market places have the best experiences in store. We learn a lot about the actual culture. Especially in evenings ,after site seeing.
  • Hotels/ homestays are merely to sleep and to get fresh in the mornings. Cleanliness is all that matters.
  • There is no fixed itinerary. Just an approximate subject to last moment changes

The benefit is that our travel costs a third and hence we can travel more. Secondly, while exploring the city and meeting the locals we get the taste of the culture deep within and actually map the city very closely as opposed to viewing just points. Thirdly, we meet travelers from all over the world, learn skills and sometimes make a friend.

I won’t share the travel itinerary in detail because that’s available everywhere for Ladakh. We stayed there for 5 days. It is a very very small city. Literally traceable by foot.

The abundance of kindness is a big relief for us in strange lands.

The first kind person we spoke to was the officer in tourist information centre. She handed us a map and an information booklet about the city. She was all smiles and very warm in going out of way to mark all the bus stops, taxi stands, fuel stations and other important points for us on the map.

The second kind person was a taxi driver whom we met in the permit office. He guided us to make the permits and by following him step by step we were done with it within an hour. It was a hassle free process as opposed to Dimapur! If you’re going to Nagaland ever, always get the inner line permit from Guwahati. Never pin it for Dimapur.

to be continued. . .


#travel #coronavirus #ladakh #muslim

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Islam

Unspoken Rules of Counseling a Friend- 2

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I spoke about this issue to a friend. It was difficult, but it was the most practical thing to do. We shouldn’t take more than what we can handle. It was a dilemma between moral servitude and self care (urgent!). Much as I started dreading sad tales, I loved the person. They were good women with troubled lives.

I learnt about Empaths. Compiled with introvertism, they tend to overthink a situation. Thus, solutions that they come up with as obvious and practical, turn out to be something new and untrodden by most. Thus, often they find themselves surrounded by those wanting to be heard.

The inability to set strong boundaries is a bad trait. It reflects lack of wisdom. Saying ‘No’ in the right time is a beneficial attribute one must have.

It went all hotch-potch. To some I stopped receiving calls, to some I stopped responding immediately to messages, to some I snapped at out of passion,and to some I could clearly speak my mind out. For a few, I did feel sorry for suddenly ghosting, but I didn’t dare to turn back. All this for not setting boundaries. What a big big shortcoming. But big lessons for the lifetime.

Here are some very important pointers I jotted for myself today, and for future.

For the Empath:

  • Do not neglect your goals and chores to lend a shoulder. Be polite and drop the message that you’re busy.
  • Know you can not change the world and solve the problems of all
  • If overwhelmed, even if heavyheartedly, convey. If not possible, avoid the person.
  • Say No early. Use your mind to find good excuses
  • Make positive people your companion. Take up activities, hobbies and courses to engage mind in productive things.
  • Address your Issues too. Do not dismiss yourself absolutely. This was a surprising feedback I got from some, that they thought I had no issues or I was super strong feeling no hurt. Why else was I counseling them if I couldn’t feel hurt?
  • Do not feel guilty for turning down or disappointing people. Its okay. One can only do as much
  • Analyse looking back whether your friend has benefited and progressed by your counseling. Are your conversations about individual development or random rants just because one can?
  • Guide your long term troubled friends to professional help. You really cannot help anyone who is depressed for over 1-2-3 years. They need better help.
  • Take counseling, courses or any other help for self to manage yourself and people around better.

To the Ones Struggling: I know it is tough time and that everyone needs a vent now and then. I understand, that it is so difficult to look beyond the burdens you carry. But please give this a read. People find it hard to tell you because they are scared to hurt you and leave you alone. But you wouldn’t want to be that dreaded friend right? You would want your friend to benefit from you, let alone be ever harmed by you.

  • Have a close circle to share your feelings
  • Be vary of becoming toxic. Only 5% of negativity can be handled in any relationship. (1 in 20 conversations) If every third conversation becomes about just one person’s issues, he will enter the toxic friend zone very soon.
  • Do not rely heavily on just one person. Have a group. After all he is human too
  • If you find yourself upset over the same thing for a very long time, seek professional help. Pay a counselor or a doctor to hear you out.
  • Do not assume that someone is available simply because he was generous with time earlier. A free person would also love to spend it in something that makes him happier
  • Seek permission before venting always: Seek permission before calling to discuss problems. Especially, in odd hours
  • Appreciate when someone has given you their time and energy: Verbal gratitude is undervalued. Time and energy is the best gift someone can offer. If someone has done that for you, a sweet note expressing what it meant for you would offer some joy to the one who made your day better. Better even, an inexpensive gift to show you care as well. Do not make the person feel unappreciated.
  • Keep it mutual: Even if you are not the most sympathetic around, be there for the person who heard you so much. Call back if you became busy amidst his breakdown. Worse even, do not compete in problems with him by speaking about your bigger problems when he is venting. Sometimes allow the talk to be just about him as well.
  • Know when to take two steps back: Observe the hints when your friend is drained or not in a mood. Do not guilt him for not wanting to be your knight in armour. Do not pressurise or magnify your issues implying that he doesn’t understand. Remember all the times he was there. Be grateful, pray for him and let him go.
  • Seek someone in a similar boat: Yes, if all you want is to speak about your problems, having someone mutually suffering will help you mutually support each other, understand each other better and sail together for a long time without draining either.

Let us all help each other, be merciful and mutually kind. Let us be wary of every one’s mental health and boost every person we meet. Short rendezvous or long term relationships, require investment from both ends. Hold each others hand, support in despair and enjoy the good moments. That’s how life will pass.

Neither can we constantly hope for good times, nor can we afford to be constantly sad. Friendships are important. Let us value a good friend. Let us inculcate gratitude and let us express love more. Let us be friends who remind each other of Allah’s mercy that surpasses all love.

Have a good friend? Recall the goodnesses he has nurtured in your life. Drop a thanks (for the good times or the good words or generosity, anything!) and tell that friend you love him (or her).

So, who made you happy lately?

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Islam

Unspoken Rules of Counseling a Friend -1

With the death of a celebrity in India from suicide, I see innumerable posts, statuses and awareness about depression, the importance of hearing out your friend, to be caring of those around and the fight for mental health.

I appreciate those. However, I have been squeezing myself out in the reverse process from over a year now. As Muslims, we are told that this life is a test, and trials will come and the ummah is like a body, and we ought to see the ones with more problems than us to activate gratitude etc.

Throughout my journey, I have always felt that I am blessed by Allah with a good coping mechanism. Problems came and went, yet I was able to develop a mechanism to stick to the positives and ignore the negatives in the long run. The negatives got sorted one by one, and I realised the importance of good mental health. It is a combination of efforts, skills and Allah’s mercy to guard your happy space.

In all this, I constantly found myself surrounded by people with huge problems. Talking to them, counseling them, showing them the brighter side felt as a moral obligation that comes with the blessing I mentioned before. The reality of the society became clearer with each passing day.

I realised how everyone is upset with some aspect of life. It’s never perfect. Never. This also made me feel more and more grateful for having at least the bare minimum to be happy at all times. Many do not have bare minimum.

Happier women, motivated and wiser they turned out after every conversation. I tried being the shoulder for them to cry on, the listener and the companion. Needless to say, they kept coming back to find soothe. My pleasure. Felt like a small payback for my blessings

2 became 3, 3 became 4 , 4 became 15. The stories were starkly same. Social issues rooting from heavily patriarchal culture. Low self worth instilled in humans. It became my job to be the 2am friend!

However, things started taking a weird turn after five long years. I found myself snapping occasionally. I started dreading some of my friend’s calls and messages. The number of tormented souls around me felt overbearing. I started noting how most are in the same square, crying over the same issues for over 2-4 years! On a large scale, my counseling felt failed.

I started disliking my job! Came in with it lot of self doubt. Is it arrogance? Arrogance over having a comfortable space that others lack. Is it dismissing their problems or victim shaming?

No.

I was beginning to get overwhelmed now. The saturation had come. For me, Sabr always meant a combination of patience with action. It was a sad fact, but most lack the strength, opportunity or incentive to take actions and get over their issues. In all this, it is natural to pent up and want to vent.

I was in a loop now. In a position where despite the empathy I held for each one, I desired to be out of it. It was affecting my mental health now. Draining me out of energy and joy. Each time a woman walked out happy and motivated, I had another aggrieved in line. Thus, where they proceeded to having a better day after the counseling, I had to start over from the lowest square. All this, only to have the same person come back again a few days later.

Thus, began my research with the first question ‘why me’? These are the resulant keywords:

  • Empath
  • Introvert
  • Overthinking
  • Analysis
  • Better solution

Before I began the reverse spiralling, I wanted to analyse whether I was crowding any of my friends. Much to my embarrassment, the answer was positive. I was, to one of my closest friends. So, all my yada yada about space and manners had to be applied on myself first.

It was difficult! I was so used to having her around and being so eager to share even the tiniest detail of my day. She was always so reciprocating. Was in draining her? I decided to ask and the reply came in negative. Much to my pleasure but too generous of her. I went through my chat window with her and Subhanallah! I was that cringy friend I would have blocked decades ago. And here she was tolerating me from 7 years and on! 😑

I retraced my steps back, giving her space to breathe before her answer becomes “Yes Yes Yes !” the next time I ask.

TO BE CONTINUED. . .

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Islam

Garment of Leisure

It is amusing how despite knowing the loss laziness causes many of us are unable to shove it away. The older we get, the more it starts bothering us. Yet, the love of leisure, preference for idleness and the perceived difficulty of tasks is what forms a roadblock.

Indeed, treating oneself with leisure after a progressive session is desirable. But what if it becomes a way of life whose end is not visible? What when we have dreams and aspirations that require us to act?

An excellent book that discusses this aspect is “Disciplining the Soul” by Ibn Jawzi. In a very insightful manner, it reads that the cure for laziness lies in Motivating and Urging the endeavour by fearing that one may miss the goal, or be blamed, or fall into regret [lest one does not make effort]. The regret of a negligent person when he sees the reward of a hard-worker is the greatest punishment.

Read that again!

Remember your aspirations, the present and the ones you buried. Its never too late.

  • Take a few steps a day. Even if the tiniest. When you look back after a year, you’ll be way ahead than today.
  • Have faith. Do not despair at failure. Say, “it was what Allah had decreed for me”.
  • Keep inspirational company, and shy away from ones who pull you back. Lest, you become the one and the hard-worker leaves you to grow.
  • Remember, when the fruits of hardwork come , the hardships endured will feel good.
  • Remember, nobody was created in vain …..

Have you not noticed that when a worker starts working he wears his cheapest garment, when he is done, he takes a shower and puts on two clean garments” [Hilyah al-Awliya]

Let us not wear garment of leisure, before we even start working. (-Inspired from “Disciplining the Soul” by Ibn Jawzi. )

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Islam

A not so Righteous Friend



–  “I am certain you have been guided wrongly. I will confirm and tell you whether it is permissible or not.”

Sherry stared confused at Nassy. All she had mentioned was that she was looking forward to pursue her PhD and carry on with her career in Academics. She did not register the vehement insistence of Nassy to dissuade her from her goals.

Nassy was convinced it is prohibited for women to study in a co-educational institution, let alone having a career in the same. After all, Nassy herself gave up her glorious career, subscribing to a life of Zuhd. So what if she herself messaged Sherry to seek counselling over oncoming depression. The harsh remarks from relatives and the solitude after a decade long hostel life was getting on to her.

Sherry, a part-time counselor, tried to coax her friend to be easier on self. To not burden herself beyond what she can take. Mental health is important. A Believer is never depressed.

-“It’s never too late Nassy. If it’s really affecting your mental health you can always start small. Maybe something online, or a small clinic yourself. I am 37, and it is now that I decided to study higher. I got busy with my old father’s sickness. With him gone now, I felt lonely. I thought I could start. Juggle a bit yourself, I am sure you’ll find a midway as well.”

The atmosphere suddenly sulked. A piercing look darting from Nassy. The conversation was no more about Nassy’s ease. It was now focused on stopping Sherry. Advices not sought over decisions finalised, imposition of thoughts, demotivating ambition and reminders of ascetism were showered.

-“But Nassy, I have thought well over it. I myself spoke to three renowned scholars of this age before concluding.”

-“I am certain you’ve been guided wrongly.”

With this Nassy took it upon herself to find a correct ruling.

It was uncomfortable. The insistence to find a ruling just because the ones present did not align to her understanding.

The pressure on another to follow the path she chose by believing that to be more pious, though it was emotionally damaging. Complete lack of empathy towards another’s situation.

They finished the rest of their tea in grave silence. There was nothing left say. Sherry heaved a deep sigh as she watched Nassy leave.

The next few days Nassy’s Status messages were lined with reminders of Zuhd, simplicity of life and the best of women.

-“Perhaps I am over-imagining”, Sherry muted the status’.

A few days were left for her entrance examination. Age was a huge bar for Sherry. She knew she was already a decade behind.

That night, her Quran Study circle group was flooded with 158 messages! It seemed like an innocent conversation between Nassy and Sihar. Nassy wanted to know how stay at home wives cope with being at home and how helpful it is to know the immense reward Allah has for their sacrifices. Thus, followed a long conversation of how women compromise on modesty by pursuing careers in co-educational organisations. How both of them sacrificed hugely and feel very good about it. The key to best mental health it was.

A conversation drenched in self amazement, in a group full of qualified women practising as doctors, academicians, lawyers, social workers and other professionals. Nobody said a word.


“This is Religious Bullying” , a fine new terminology made place in Sherry’s vocabulary.

A sense of dejection sunk. The humiliation, the “thou art lowly” sentiment that was pushed within.



Subtle, sly and below the belt statements to arouse guilt or inferiority over your Religious practice. It might be layered within the garbs of Reminder. But if observed, it is not tough to spot.



-“Oh! You don’t wear the hijab”
-“You are overdoing your hijab”
-” Is this what your deen is about?”
-” So this is the real you behind all the drama of piety”
– “Is this how you keep your spouse?”
-“You act so religious and you can’t even manage your kids?”
-“Why don’t you see Lara apa, she manages kids, home and job so well. Here you’re tired with just salah and kids”
-” Astaghfirullah! Threaded eyebrows”
– ” In laws unhappy! Hellfire is your abode”
– “What’s the need of a maid, household chores is jihad”
– “Forgive your mahr. Forgive your inheritance. Forgive your privacy. Sabr sabr”.
– “Brother in law hasn’t seen you! Extremist”
– “Subhanallah, house so messy! Cleanliness is half deen”
– “Subhanallah, you want to have ease in wordly life, here’s 101 fatwas to prove that’s haram”

Reminders are gentle. Reminders soothe your heart. The intentions are pure to bring you close to Allah. The roots are love and it’s warmth comforts you. There’s no ego there, no competition to prove oneself right beyond the established truth.

So my friend, be observant. Be wise. The goal is to embrace and practice this beautiful religion. Forgive the bullies but do not forget. Remember, a believer isn’t bitten twice from the same hole.

Sherry blocked Nassy.
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Excerpts from my life

Ease your path to Joy in Hardships!

Does it feel absurd the way you keep coming across new struggles every time you feel you’ve dealt well with the last one? There are times when we are blessed with happiness. Then many a times we face despair. However, an important skill which I learnt with the help of some good companionship, is to find ease in hardship. The promise of Allah cannot be false.



So, there are two options we have when we are in despair. Either, we drown in anxiety and regrets. Or, we count the blessings we have and make the most out of it. To bask in the joys of things we have like health, family, good friends, wealth, a good book, leisure time, literacy, being blessed with Iman which itself opens the first door towards connecting to Allah etc.

Is it not a form of ingratitude when we engross so much in complaining how tough our lives are, thereby completely neglecting the blessings? In such situations, enjoying them to the fullest becomes a remote concept.
Practising gratitude is an art perfected by practise itself. As we read this, sinking  the fact many at this moment are struggling for essentials, toiling in hard labour or losing family to poverty. A sense of embarrassment when we complain how tough fasting was this summer, when there are workers die of malnourishment- endearing hunger and thirst for days waiting for death. These are traumas that the likes of us perhaps never had to worry about.


Allah says in Surah Ibrahim,

وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُووَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ  :


And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – (an extreme ingrate, denies Allah’s Blessings by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah).



Despite all this, gratitude does not imply dismissing our problems. A common confusion. To say that we are unnecessarily feeling hurt or upset over our issues because people are dying, is impractical. Times are tough now. With the ongoing pandemic, the rise of racial crimes, restricted freedom and for youth, a huge number of Fitan (tests) available at hand’s reach.

Wisdom calls that we juggle to develop skills to deal with hard times. One underestimated trait is working on the phrase, “Fake it till you make it”. Fake happiness, spread joy, giggle randomly and create fun alone as well as with people at home, until your body releases Endorphins (happy hormones) to actually make you happy.

Remember, there is not going to be a single materialistic thing or person whose coming will bring a kind of joy that won’t fade. If we do not learn the art to remain happy on our own, we will only have to settle for temporary short-lived phases of joy.

We need to keep juggling till we figure out what works for us to cope with the hardships- Religion, reading, exercising, meditation, psychological help, psychiatry, art of ignoring, socialising, developing negotiating skills or  Saam daam dand bhed .

Of course, we may supplicate and wait for Allah’s miracle. Our belief is that all ease comes to us by Allah’s will. But our Prophet (may peace be upon him) told us to tie our camel and then leave the rest to Allah. We must actively work at solving our problems if we can do anything about it and next work on our coping mechanisms in addition to above.

Allah wouldn’t burden us more than what we can bear. Have faith. Seek solace in His company. Be strong. Is it possible for you to keep aside your problems for a while and enjoy the objects of ease? So, what is your greatest blessing? Do let me know down in comments below.
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Excerpts from my life

One More Beginning

When I started this blog in 2014, it was with completely different aspirations. I had newly come out as a Muslim. The religious bubble was fresh. Drenched in the sweetness of Imaan and motivated to share my journey. I was under the assumption that I was the only person in India who had converted to Islam 🙂 . Wrongly so. Practising Muslims, or those seeking knowledge were rare.

Six years and till this day I always gasp with disbelief at how the days passed. The loneliness, struggles, uncertainties and fear gradually got sorted.

This blog became therapy. Untangling my jumbled thoughts, knowing there are more like me within India and beyond, and knowing how with every hardship there will always be ease. Just as Allah has promised.

I’ve been trying to write on and off, but haven’t been able to pen down a lot of what I feel to my satisfaction. As a result, my drafts folder is full of half baked articles. I always thought what change of mine stopped that flow of words from my fingers.

I guess, all of me has changed. My circumstances, the people around me, my age and my aspirations. I couldn’t relate to the theme of the blog. My life is no more distinct as a Revert to Islam.

Marriage, entering into Muslim circles, various hopes rising and crashing and new hopes rising has taught me growing with life. A constant evolution.

Also, (laughable) , I did become a bit conscious with few known people reading my blog. I felt watched. As if my privacy was invaded. The freedom of being anonymous (or selectively known) was missing. I had to tell myself it doesn’t matter. The blog was a source of goodness for me. I could write as long as I wanted. 🙂 I might be a misfit, but not a criminal nevertheless. Watchers might have to accept this side of my thought process as well.

I also had to tell myself, that its okay if what I write does not stick to the theme of the blog. It is also okay to not be able to create content as satisfying as it was back then. The idea was to unwind my thoughts.

My thoughts now of the tough times the world is facing, how the profoundness of Islam touches me in the happiest , gravest and sober moments, and how so many in humanity are deprived of the intricacies of this beautiful religion. Besides the external struggles, within the four walls of homes, humans face setbacks unable to cope with isolation, family and their own selves as well.

Trying once again, a fresh start like every time since the last 3 years. May Allah bless me and make this blog beneficial for me and you. May my words reach ones who need it.

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Excerpts from my life

Miracle Morning

I have a relationship with waking up early in the morning. A bad one. Its that man I am crushing and trying to have since I was very very young. It then comes to me for a few days, then it acts hard to get and then concluding that its not worth the struggle, I give up. This loop repeats itself after every few months.

I do wonder how life would be to wake up by 5am each day and not go back to sleep. I have tried sleeping early, but even after my Fajr prayers the mind is not bright and awake. I do snuggle back into the blanket for some more time until work calls. Then begins the hustling for the day.

I remember having read Robin Sharma’s ‘Who will Cry when You Die’  at 20. It did motivate me to get up and run before the sun even rose. Now it was The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. You know, I have figured out one thing about myself. I shy away from self help books because it is going to show me the mirror on things I lack. But reading them per se tells me how to go about it. It is difficult for me to stick to this genre though.

So, taking the lead from this book, I researched about meditation and tried it for the first time today. It was an interesting experience for me. I remember having meditated when I was 12, as a part of a Scouts and Guides activity. I set an alarm of five minutes, wondering whether it was too less and I should set it for ten but decided to not overdo it the first day itself.

It was THE longest five minutes ever! The first few minutes (or seconds) it was nice. I was focused on my breathing. Then a few thoughts came but I had read the instructions that this will happen and I should let it pass. The thoughts went and I was back to  focusing on my breathing. Then new thoughts came and I let it pass. Minutes passed and at one point later it was as if the dam of thoughts broke and there was flash flood! So many thoughts and one thought behind it saying “stop it! I want to just breathe”

I managed to shove it aside and again focused on breathing. However, I had begun to get impatient. I wondered whether the battery of alarm had died and I continued breathing. Finally, I could not wait. I opened my eyes but thankfully just as I did that the alarm rung.

A few things I learnt about myself- I think more than needed, I think when I should not and my mind could do with some efforts of being calmer. It is only when I tried to not think, I could see how much I actually do!

This post is the scribbling part of miracle morning- So you meditate, affirm, visualise, exercise, read and scribble. Quite an interesting start of the day!

 

And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants –

Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,”

The patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah ], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.

[Quran, 3:15-17]

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Excerpts from my life

How are you?

I was recovering from a minor illness last week. It is not how it used to be when you were a child. The world no more revolves around you. Sickness is just another episode- you know you are going to be alright. Gulp in the tablets, rest a bit and be patient. One does not expect anyone to set aside all chores and watch over you.

Yet, there is joy when someone drops in a word of concern. The joy my heart felt when my nice friend Remaa asked whether I am doing alright. Even reading that made me go emotional at that point. Who does that these days? A time when even parents do not call kids up, here she spent a few seconds to care whether I am better than before.

I thanked her and let her know that it meant a lot. The heart was soothed by her words and it was a small reminder to myself to do this more often. I am sure each of us know at least one person having a hard time. There is not much we have to do really. Just ask and express that we care.

I couldn’t help remembering this one time when I was in the eight standard. I must have been thirteen. My father was very sick. High fever, difficulty in breathing and he was mostly resting. I am not able to recall where mother was. But late at night he called me and wrote down on a notepad (unable to speak) that in case his health deteriorates, I must call XYZ uncle and do as instructed. And he gave me some instructions so that I do not panic. That scene is etched in my mind. His blood shot eyes, heavy breathing, hot skin and the dimly lit room.

Next morning thankfully his health was better. I went to give him medicines time to time. This time however he passed a very hurtful comment, “Your father is lying sick and not a single soul (including you) would even bother to inquire.”. The thirteen year old took it very personally to the heart. As a personal attack. That I am the only one even around, what else could I do except giving medicine, food and water I knew not.

We were a very formal family. So loving and soothing words does not come out easily. The love is rarely expressed in words. It stays within. I still would not know what else could be done then.

But thinking of that moment again, I feel it wasn’t about me. It was about everyone else. Family who was not there and the family who never called. It was the thoughts of a sick man who lay on the bed for days and days with nobody to talk to.

But, I also realise that it is a two way lane.

A lesson for me. You do not want to be sick alone, then make people feel you care. You want family to speak words that soothe, then show it to them how you express your emotions.

I do not believe that only actions express love. Words are important too. Yes, visible expressions of love soothe the heart. It takes effort but it is worth it when it comes back to you.

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