These are uncertain times. The world is afraid and in absolute disarray. Innocent people are dying everywhere and it is especially hard in these times to have any sort of hope.
In these times, we cling to what is necessary, what is near; specifically, our faith and our friends.
Nothing calms my head more so than doing henna designs (on either myself of my friends). Two of my friends came over and I drew on their hands, we had an impromptu henna party. It was great to spend time with them and also to further perfect my craft. Sometimes doing henna on my own hands gets tiresome and it is so much more fun to photograph others hands after I finish my work. These designs were great and my subjects were, too!
Let us hope that devastation and despair is replaced by hope, everywhere. No more fear, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and let us fight to end oppression and injustice!
Henna cones from Pakistan are fresh; they smell different and leave a much longer lasting stain compared with any that I have found here.
I was lucky enough to visit Pakistan again and in the markets of Karachi I ordered some awesome mendhi cones. I used a cone and now await the color.
I keep practicing different patterns but these paisley style swans are my favorites. They look elegant and are simple enough to do.
Who says rainy days cannot be fun?
I would like to conduct an experiment. Once a week I will confess something and see what the results of the confession will be. There are no goals in this endeavor, I'm just bored. And therein lies my first confession: I get bored, a lot. I live most of my real life inside of my head, in a series of fantasy worlds. The tangible world and its day to day constructs bore me.
I did some freehand sketches with a pen and spent some time with the ducks and swans at the Prospect Park Lake. There is stunning beauty even on the most coldest of days.
Several years ago in 2011, Mayor Bloomberg said that the number of panhandlers in the subway had gone down drastically during his administration. I remember nearly choking on my water as I read the news. He obviously was not living in the same city as the rest of us. We encounter panhandlers and homeless people on a near daily basis- it is so normal that one does not even look up when these folks begin their tales of woe. The mayor obviously does not ride the A train or the 4-5 trains or the R trains (or any other train for that matter- I am the most familiar with these aforementioned lines). He does not see the hundreds of folks sleeping in Penn Station on a regular basis or the Roosevelt Avenue station, or the Jamaica stations or lining up outside train stations on Broadway near Wall Street.
I am ashamed to admit that I have become hard-hearted; I begin to make horrible assumptions about these people begging for money. What must it take for a person to become so desperate as to beg from folks who cannot even bother to look up from their phones or books? How difficult must it be to live from day to day, wondering where meals will come from or where one will sleep or if one will be warm for the night? May compassion never leave our hearts for those less fortunate!
There are several food pantries and organizations that are trying to combat hunger and organizations to help relieve homelessness. Can we, the city, the public and private institutions, open up more spaces for the homeless? For example - keeping public libraries open longer, especially in the winter. What else can we do to help? I try to give some money and pray for them. I am afraid that it is not enough. Any thoughts or suggestions?
If I seem angry or aggressive, it is because I am passionate and I care about something and it is not moving forward.
If I seem sad, it is because there is an injustice that hurts me and that I am struggling to find answers.
If I seem annoyed or irritated, it is because I am frustrated with myself for not having achieved enough or done enough (or possibly because I did not have coffee or because the MTA sucks).
If I seem withdrawn, it is because I am pensive and searching deeply within myself to rectify my faults.
If I seem happy, it is because I have learned how to balance everything above and accepted this range as a part of life.
I love Brooklyn, I have stated that several different times in this blog. What I love the most is that no matter how many times I am traveling through Prospect Park or Park Slope, I always seem to find something new to marvel at. There were really quiet places in Prospect Park- benches and bridges I had never known existed, where one could sit and be at one with nature with no sounds of humans for miles (so it seemed). The trees and foliage block out noise and the highways very well- the design of the park is fantastic. I noticed old structures in the park that no longer had any use yet were still kept there. I ended all the way up at Grand Army Plaza and the from the farmers market there, I bought some goodies for the lamb stew I prepared that evening.
I spent three hours wandering around the park and came back to try the henna pattern below. It originally ended on my wrist but I continued it further down. It kept looking more and more elegant. And of course how could i forget my circles? I kept that in my palm- it's my favorite design. It reminds me of a circus.
Seaside in Karachi, Pakistan
I have had the luxury of observing Ramadhan (the Muslim fasting month) in Pakistan with my extended family for the past two years. My employers have been very generous in giving me that time off and I luxuriated the holy month in an Islamic environment. Ramadhan has been in the summer and that meant long, hot days of no food and water and the thought of that was depressing and frightening to me here by myself in New York. So, I went to Karachi and my relatives accepted me with open arms and I loved every minute of it. This year, however, I chose to stay in New York during Ramadhan. I wanted to get over my trepidation of a summer Ramadhan in NYC and just do it. So far, I am glad that I did.
In Karachi, the awareness of Ramadhan begins a week in advance. Signs are up, lights are up, it’s equivalent to Christmas. It is a countrywide experience (since Pakistan is an Islamic republic), school/work days are shortened or timings are changed (I used to stay up all night and sleep a lot during the day), days off are accepted and charity is a given. People are incredibly kind to those who fast. I remember driving home with my cousins one day, it was close to sunset, and there was a lot of traffic. In the midst of the traffic, folks were going around to the cars and people on street, giving them food so that they may break their fast. Likewise in my family dinners, other people were thought of first, either in prayer or by handing out food in the community/mosque or by giving money to the less fortunate. It was the done thing - charity was a given. My Ramadhan experience in Karachi was an incredibly social one, I was constantly surrounded by people, family, friends, neighbors, etc, we dined together, talked and traveled, joined in happiness and sorrow, in remembrance and forgiveness. It was truly the wholesome family experience any person could ask for during a holiday.
This year in New York, I have faced a different sort of Ramadhan thus far, one of solitude and reflection. I live alone, my nights are spent eating, praying and figuring out a sleeping schedule so that my work is not affected. I do not attend the mosque here for I do not have enough time to travel back and forth and it is physically exhausting navigating the subways at nighttime in the heat. However, this Ramadhan is one of the best I have ever experienced. This struggle has helped me understand how much I have in my life and how imperative it is to help others who do not have the luxuries I enjoy. I find myself constantly reflecting on my life and my choices. There is no “New York” rush this month, I walk slowly, I talk slowly; there is no overexertion of any facet because there is a thought behind every action. The solitude in fasting is a joy; it’s a silent, daily journey for God and myself. There is a real chance to improve my character, to try and change for the better.
While these two cities have offered me entirely different Ramadhan experience, the lessons I learned are quite similar. There is an importance in constant reflection of ones character and there is equal importance in the establishment of charity. May the rest of Ramadhan be equally rewarding to everyone.
My customer searched for this design online and I covered it as best as I could. It took me about 4.5 hours to complete. i procured this mendhi from Pakistan almost two years ago and it is still going strong. The color stains quickly upon the palm however it fades as quickly as it stains. This set came out beautiful. Thanks for choosing me to do it!
One does not have to look far to find great style and inspiration. It's in the street art anywhere and everywhere. The letters, colors, names, stickers, all being used to convey some message, angst and hate-filled or against hate. It's all around us (and it can be an eyesore at times), a basic freedom of expression, even if it does get painted over. Look around.
I went to the MoMa in midtown for the first time in my life and it was a great and overwhelming experience. It was a free Friday and the place, like midtown Manhattan, was overflowing with tourists. It was difficult to navigate through the throngs (zillions of people with dslr's and strollers) so we didn't stay long. Note to self: Never go to a museum on a free Friday (or weekend for that matter)- check it out on an obscure day and time.
Nevertheless, I did get to see some classic works by Picasso, Munch, Van Gogh, and Monet, pieces that I had only ready about but never laid eyes in person. I was surprised by the sizes of some of the paintings. Picasso's work really stands out (two pictures above) and this painting below really represents melancholy and fear, in my opinion. The photo below is a work by Munch. I feel like I've seen that look in the mirror.
Now that I may get furloughed and have every Friday off, I can go museum hopping! I will definitely be back at the MoMa, so much to see and to get inspired by! Maybe I'll use abstract art in my future henna designs.
I love this city. But I hate it at the same time. Here is my list of annoying things about NYC and it's people. Feel free to add more!
1. People who take up more than one seat on the train. Or people who sit in the aisle seat and block you from the corner seat so you have to open your mouth and ask them to move so you can sit down.
2. Shopping in person. For anything.
3. People at work who are lazy, make twice as much as you do and do half the work you do.
4. Having to wait in line for practically everything!
5. Waiting a long time to pay for a coffee while foreign tourists who are on line in front of you are trying to differentiate between quarters, nickels, and dimes.
6. People who don't control their animals on the street and expect you to adhere to them.
7. People who walk slowly in groups and take up an entire sidewalk so not only can you not walk through them but you can't walk around them either.
8. The brown, slushy snow mess the day after a snow storm.
9. Waiting twenty minutes for a bus on a weekend, deciding to walk instead and two minutes into the walk, seeing the bus whiz by.
10. The constantly changing temperatures during the months of February, March, and April and the resulting sicknesses that ensue.
I can write much, much more!!
I'll be adding pictures and commentary of the things I love. I am an ordinary person in an extraordinary place. There is no special purpose to this blog other than to project what I am thinking of at any given moment.
All the photos are mine (unless stated otherwise). Please do not use without permission. To learn more about me, check out my linked in profile below.