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.
The flu, by far it has been the worst thing I have ever felt in my life. The fever, aches and pains, the coughing, it was quite unpleasant.
However, those three days at home did lead to some blinged out, henna inspired iPhone cases using metallic markers, nail polish, and rhinestones from Michaels. I now have four different cases to use, its like giving my iPhone a choice of what it wants to wear for the day!
There has been this persistent grey color to the sky, the ground, and the very air we breathe in New York City. The lack of sun and this endless winter has turned this city into a page out of a Dostoevsky novel, cold, snowy, miserable, and grey.
I was lucky enough to escape for a few days in January; we went to San Juan, Puerto Rico. When I felt that warm sun on my skin I completely understood why people used to worship this majestic, celestial body. It is rejuvenating and magnificent in its splendor; it is life.
Old San Juan was particularly inviting, a 500+ year old city surrounded by forts built by the Spanish in the 1500's. The two forts, El Morro and San Cristobal, were high and mighty and must have been quite a sight in the days of colonial trade routes in the Caribbean Sea.
San Juan was fantastic however the best things to do were outside of the city. El Yunque rainforest, a national rainforest about an hour away from the city, had fantastic trails and interesting plants to discover and kayaking at night in the bioluminescent bay was one of the best experiences of my life. I was frightened a bit by the dark and the water however once we reached the lagoon we saw nothing but the green lights of the phytoplankton in the water below us and the bright stars above. I lived the entire trip in that one moment.
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.
My mind is far ahead of where my body is at any given time. It is exhausting. Constantly I remind myself to slow down and rejoice in the present for it is transient; meanwhile the future remains unknown and unpredictable.
Several years ago on a cold day in February, I was lucky enough to spend a single day in Paris, France. While I hated the time constraints we had, in retrospect that single day left memories that have idealized the city for me. Everything I remember about Paris is beautiful because my time there was so short. That philosophy should be applied to life in general- it is short, therefore make it as beautiful as you possibly can.
I can go on and on and repeat what the world has said about Paris, about its beauty, the architecture, the monuments, the people, the river Seine and its idealism even in the cold, dead of winter; however, I will let my pictures reflect it.
That cold day in Paris is one that I will never forget.
I have a job that allows me to travel to some cool places from time to time. Back in October we went up to West Point in the town of HIghland Falls, NY. It was the best time of year to visit, autumn, and the leaves were just beginning to change.
Some of the most impressive and inspiring views of the Hudson River valley are in this area. This picture above really takes my breath away; I could hardly believe it when I was standing there to take the picture. It reminded me of the scene in the Fellowship of the Ring, where the companions are traveling by boat through the river with enormous mountains on either side of them. Just beautiful.
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.
Very rarely do I get enough time to sit in one place and complete a task without interruption. Doing henna, for me, is not a chore, rather, it is therapeutic.
I love getting before and after shots and comparing them. This henna (whichI bought in Pakistan) is very good, it does not stain the hand too fast and it lasts a couple of days without peeling off and making ones hand feel like sandpaper. I kept my hand (with the paste on) in a plastic bag for an hour to help retain some heat. It work and the color stained very well. Perfect day for practice for upcoming brides!
I have been visiting Pakistan once a year for three consecutive years now. My family is forever hospitable and hosts me as if I had never left the place. It is a blessing to be a part of an exclusive group of people that one can call one's own.
In the past three years, the currency of Pakistan (the rupee) has fallen considerably against the dollar. In 2011, $1 was equivalent to 80 rupees, in 2012 it was 92 rupees, and in 2013 it is not 105 rupees. Likewise that which cost 100 rupees in 2011 costs 150 rupees or more in 2013. Inflation is rampant and salaries have not increased. We see the same thing here in the United States, my salary has been frozen for the past two years yet the cost of rent, electricity, gas, water, heat, etc has gone up. Nevertheless, folks work very hard to make ends meet and to try to provide a better life for the next generation.
We took a trip to Thatta and Kheenjar Lake (about 3 hours from Karachi). Families were out and about, enjoying the break in the weather and the day off in the cool waters of the lake. On the way back from the lake we stopped over at the Jame Masjid built by Shah Jahan in Thatta and then headed over to see the historical cemetery at Makli.
The mosque was as beautiful as i remembered it to be two years ago. This year it was crowded; it made me happy to see Pakistani people enjoying their own history on the day of their Independence (we went out on August 14- Pakistan independence day). The front portion of the mosque, the mihrab (where the imam leads the prayer) was redone. My favorite parts were the different ceilings (above and below). The precision, the colors and the patterns all fit perfectly with the grandeur of the mosque.
Makli Cemetery lies in the outskirts of the city of Thatta. This cemetery is five centuries and is a testament to several styles of islamic art and architecture. There are over half a million graves here. The rise and fall of several islamic civilizations are shown through the architectural designs of the mausoleums that the rich built for themselves and their families. The sands of Makli are rich in the turbulent history of the region. If folks could be buried in such ostentatious displays of fortune, what must their normal lives have been like?
The city of Thatta was once a flourishing place as one can see from the remnants of grandeur left behind. Now, it has fallen into decay and with the huge city of Karachi near by it seems as if there is no interest left to preserve it. There is a rise and a fall for everything and every place.
I traveled to Peru with some friends three years ago; It was my first venture into South America and I did not know what to expect. I knew of the Incas from school and the amazing feats of construction and engineering that they were known for but generally, the trip was to be completely and utterly new.
We traveled to Lima, Cusco, and Puno. Upon arriving in Lima and during our taxi ride to the hostel, we passed by several malls, highways, McDonald's and other fast food places. For a minute it seemed as though I had not left New York. Nevertheless we ventured out to eat at a sushi place and explored the city as best we could in the one day that we were there.
The next day, we departed for Cusco and when we landed in that airport, in that rugged valley between mountains, I felt as though I had escaped any reality I had ever known and entered a new dominion. As we roamed through the city streets, I was reminded of Che Guevera's quote from his infamous motorcycle diaries. He wrote about the city of Cusco, "The word that most perfectly describes the city of Cuzco is evocative. Intangible dust of another era settles on its streets, rising like the disturbed sediment of a muddy lake when you touch its bottom."
In Cusco we adjusted to the altitude by drinking plenty of mate de coca, a special tea, and exploring the neighborhood. The city center was populous and geared towards tourists- however we had the pleasure to go up horseback riding in the mountains and to visit some ancient sites away from the touristy places. History in Cusco was everywhere, in the buildings, in gravesites, and even in the people; I watched as a Quechua woman bound her baby in her garments and fastened it to her back with ease, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The children were exceptionally beautiful. I would be transfixed in watching them with their parents and friends. Family was important to them.
Our journey to Macchu Picchu took roughly 6 hours from Cusco. A train ride through a mesmerizing landscape took us into the village of Aguas Calientes (hot water). The mountains and trees around this place were green and flourishing, completely in contrast with the brown dirt in Cusco. Aguas Calientes probably started off as a small village but soon expanded after Macchu Picchu was discovered. One has to journey there and stay the night (the village is filled with many hotels), with buses leaving in the morning for Macchu Picchu. The bus ride up was scary, it took us to such heights that looking out the window frightened me. Nevertheless, the excitement I felt upon seeing those mountains, upon those clouds that we were going up into, that excitement was boundless. By the time we reached Macchu Picchu I thought nothing could make me happier. And was I wrong.
After roughly a 20 minute hike up some steep stairs, one gets the glimpse of the entire city. It was unbelievable, for lack of a better word. So many questions were going through my mind about this place, it's purpose, it's inhabitants, how it was so precisely created and engineered, that I barely listened to the guide who took us through the city. We sat for a while, surrounded by its stone walls, and I tried to understand the place. I could not and I had to leave it at that. It was beautiful, it had a quiet strength and dignity, and though the questions in my mind remained unanswered, they were pushed back. I let myself sit and enjoy the solitude and peace this city in the mountains brought to my heart and thanked the Lord Almighty that I had been privileged enough to visit this place.
My only hope is that I one day get to see it again. Che Guevera said it best, "How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?"
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.
So what if it rained today? New York City has seen it fair share of hazardous weather and the city has overcome it. The cancellation of the GoogaMooga festival today really annoyed me. It's just water, really. And guess what? It dries and evaporates once one is back indoors!
Luckily the Fifth Avenue Street Fair still went on, despite the dreariness. There was music and food and all sorts of artwork and antiques. People were out with their umbrellas and plastic ponchos. That's the spirit of Brooklyn that I know and love.
The festivities on Friday in Prospect Park were inherent of the spirit of Brooklyn as well. I had the opportunity to volunteer at the GoogaMooga festival on Friday (see the pictures below). It's a great festival celebrating mostly local food and music. There were young and old mingling in the park eating gourmet hot dogs ($12 a pop), sampling the different kinds of food and enjoying the music. It's really a shame that it was cancelled today. I am sure if it had been based on a vote, the show would still have gone on.
With malice toward none, with charity for all...a mural dedicated to Lincoln in Philadelphia
Art, literature, and history are the biggest inspirations in my life. This week, Jack Kerouac's On The Road has helped rekindle my love for an adventure and it has reminded me of the importance of compassion. The monotony of the daily grind takes its toll in the worst possible way. Fatigue leads to indifference and the worst thing of all, complacency. I refuse to settle for that.
So began an impromptu road trip to Philadelphia. In less than three hours from Brooklyn we made it to the city where the colonists declared their independence from Britain, where the universities, churches and museums are rich in their exhibits and history, where open space was planned hundreds of years in advance, and where Rocky (a fictional character) is a celebrated hero.
There were many, many homeless and struggling people. It's hard to see someone struggle and not even offer a smile for support or a handful of change. May poverty be alleviated in all nations, may we strive for a better, more humane society.
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.