27 Apr 2013

Weightless

Em Cee is back again with another wonderful piece of work. Well, if you don’t know who I am talking about, please do click ---> here to see his previous post in my nibbles. When he texted me his poem yesterday, the first and immediate thing occurred to me was one of his one liners which I found quite apt to the theme - Adrift yet Sunken.

Without any delay, here comes the Em Cee's CornerHope you all like it. Thank you. J

Click the image for better resolution



Bushwhacking my way through the wilderness,

         Gliding past hordes and hordes of unfathomable hurdles,

Well aware of my impending doom,

          I seek and strive to meet the purpose of my birth,

For i am just a Dandelion, Afloat in the wind... 
 
                                                                                                                                                - Em Cee



25 Apr 2013

Abandoned

                                      
                             Thursday Challenge - Transportation




I found this bicycle standing alone in front of an old house in Bhatkal, Karnataka, like as if both were abandoned. 

This picture post was shared in Thursday Challenge - For Fun and Learning.

24 Apr 2013

My Umrah Journal - Mecca


My Umrah Journal - Madinah

Starting our journey from Madinah, after lunch, we reached Mecca little before midnight. On the way, we halted for an hour in a place called Zul Hulaifah. It is the Miqat point where we must enter into the state of Ihram before entering Mecca for the purpose of Umrah. Ihram means the state of purity one should follow with ablution and a dress code, before performing the Umrah or Haj ritual.

It was very late Sunday evening. Well, then it was our first night in Mecca. It was so hot and dry weather even in that late hour. Hot wind blowing on our faces, as we reached our hotel. Being in Ihram state, I was drowned in my own thoughts. I knew I can't wait to see Ka'bah, even though how very late and hot it was. I have seen Ka'bah pictures and the entire Masjid Al Haram and its rituals all live on TV but then being in Mecca and just a few minutes walk away from Ka'bah, I was very eager and excited for finally am going to get to see it directly. After having our dinner, we reached the mosque in some 15 minutes walk from our hotel. As we reached the lobby of Haram Shareef which was filled with people from various places of the world even at midnight, it was a delight to watch them doing their prayers. Before entering inside the mosque, our Alim gave us the basic idea of Umrah. He asked us to gaze down till we reach Ka'bah and recite holy verses. Then we all walked slowly lowering our sights, till we reached the place where we could see Ka'bah closer and clearer. This is especially for the first timers there. And it is among one of those moments and places where our prayers are answered. Inshaallah.

Ka'bah, Masjid Al Haram, Mecca

As we reached closer enough, we were asked to raise our heads. There I saw that black square building formed as a simple but attractive huge cube. Masha Allah! Magnificent view like it was welcoming us and trying to embrace us. It is the center of Muslim’s prayer around the world. I stopped there for a moment with my glistening eyes and raised my hands to ask dua and forgiveness. I felt the mixture of unexplainable feelings. I've been waiting for this moment so long and seeing in my dreams. The moment when I saw Ka'bah for the first time, my dream came true.


Courtesy - Google

We did our nafil prayers and then were ready to perform our first Umrah. Umrah is a journey consisting of Tawaf and Sa’ee.

Tawaf – there have been more religious histories to tell why we have to do this tawaf.  And I’ve been trying to understand the philosophy of Circumambulation. It actually means to go round something, like orbiting. Like the planets orbiting the central Sun in the solar system.

Its like when we love someone, we would be going around that person to express our love and affection to prove that we are ready to sacrifice everything for our loved one. Standing in front of Ka'aba, I knew it was my time to showcase my love and detach everything from this worldly things just to be around Allah. One tawaf means taking 7 rounds of the Ka'aba.

Sa'ee  – Walking for Sa’ee between Safa and Marwah hill, seven times to and fro, a long walk almost 3 kms. I was thinking how Hajira (rali) did manage to run in the exact place filled with rocks and hot sand then, without cooling air conditioners and all the facilities we are having now, to look for water for her son Ismail (as). This is where Zam Zam water sprang up on the spot where Prophet Ismail (as) kicked his feet and it never dried ever since. Drinking Zam Zam water heals any health related issues. Many people has witnessed this miracle. 

After finishing the Tawaf and Sa’ee, we need to cut our hair. Only then it means we are relieved from the state of Ihram and means the completion of our Umrah. After that, we have to drink the Zam Zam water. They are kept all around the mosque in numerous cold, hot and plain water cans.

No matter how sick we are, the moment we go there, all our illness will vanish and a new vibe of energy blossoms in our body and soul that makes us wonder where did all these energy and fitness come from - to do all our rituals without any hurdles and weaknesses. It is indeed a miracle that many people witness in this holy land and especially with the Zam Zam water.

On my second day, I was so happy and blessed that I managed to touch the Hajr-E-Aswadh, the black holy stone in that crowd, without any hassle with the help of my brother, which is fixed in one of the four corners of Ka'bah. That is where we had to start our Tawaf. Before this journey happened to me, I had a dream like I was going closer to this stone and talking to it. And just as I dreamt, it all happened there. Indeed I did have my moment to say my greetings to it. My dreams were coming true and this journey brought me and everyone the undefined joy. Alhamdulillah.

A View outside the mosque, Masjid Al Haram


A view inside

One evening, after my Umrah rituals, when I was reciting Quran, an African lady came and sat next to me and was keenly listening to my recital. I became so conscious and smiled at her. After few minutes of listening, she asked me to help read the verses from the beginners' Quran she brought. We both didn't understand each other's tongue but still I felt so glad that in Masjid al Haram, Allah gave me that opportunity to help someone recite Quran. After half an hour of that reading session, she blessed me  with a happy heart and left. One of the memories I will cherish for long.

For the 10 days we stayed there, I concentrated on focusing myself and dedicating towards Allah. Our only activity was to pray in the mosque and reciting holy verses through out the day. Sometimes, when I simply used to sit there watching the Ka'bah, I sensed as if it was trying to converse with me. It was a heavenly feel. Masjid Al Haram is always packed with people, but it is very clean and with beautiful fragrance all around, the entire mosque is just a bliss to watch. If we come little late for the prayer, we had to struggle finding our way to sit. Once my cousin and me, we both had to stand in a staircase and did our Salah since we arrived only couple of minutes late after the Azan -  the prayer calling.

I felt like I found myself once again and relate a lot of things that mentioned in Quran. Alhamdulillah, by God’s Grace, I memorized a chapter in  Quran and glad that I could get to see the places mentioned in the Holy Quran like Mount Uhad, Badr valley, Arafat, Mina. Arafat is the hill where the first reunion of Adam (as) and Hawwa (as) took place after coming down to this world. I also learnt that Masjid Al Nameera, an ancient large mosque in Arafat, can hold a million people inside during the prayer hour.


Arafat
Inflammable Tents at Mina

Masjid Nameera, Arafat

Umma and I along with one of our cousins who works there in Mecca, went to the wholesale fruit market to buy Dates. We witnessed variety of dates from low to high quality packed and unpacked, plus many other fruits imported from all over the world.

Date Market

While Madinah is a clean and peaceful city, I found Mecca blowing hot and sandy wind. Mainly because it is situated in between the rocky mountains. There we could see many buildings emerging out of those hills. And almost through out the year, construction work is going on, expanding the Haram Shareef, as to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims who are visiting the Holy land each year. So they say, even every year you go to Mecca, you will get to see a different city.

We also went on a day trip to Jeddah visiting the floating mosque over the sea and also to Ta'if, a hill station and the winter capital of Saudi Arabia.

On our last day there, we felt that the trip should never end. While I am typing down my journal here, I know no perfect words I found to express my true feelings or simply, I wonder will I ever get one? It was altogether a very beautiful experience for all of us. I wish I can go back there again and esp. to perform Haj soon, Inshaallah. May Allah bless us all with good tidings and grant us the opportunity to go to Mecca at least once in our life time to witness this beauty. Aameen.


All the pictures used here for my journal are from my personal album unless otherwise it is stated.

Thanks for reading my Umrah Journal.

22 Apr 2013

My Umrah Journal - Madinah


Thinking of what to write for my 50th post, I wanted it to make very special to me. Hence I decided to type down something that is very close to my heart - my trip to Umrah, a smaller pilgrimage to Mecca and Madinah.

Masjid al Nabawi - Mosque in Madinah

Around this time last year, we were busy thinking of what to pack while I was giving my wise (?!) suggestions and helping my umma, ummama, my brother n my cousin, getting arranged for the trip to Saudi Arabia. They all wanted me to join the trip but for some personal reasons, I was not able to, at first. So I was already started planning in my mind to take care of home and the feast we had to prepare when they all get back from the holy trip, Umrah. Then one morning suddenly, I don't remember how but it all fell in place. And the day before issuing the visa, I gave my passport to the travel agency who were arranging our trip. Rest is. Alhamdulillah, God’s grace.

Here comes this very special moment in my life, visiting the holy land. Certainly, I believe it was the personal calling from Allah. He is the only one who makes it happen when we least expect it and bring us joy and satisfaction from every corner. I thank Allah for letting me to have this trip to salvation. (btw, a small fact I'd like to mention here... many people think that Allah is the name of God, we Muslim worship. Allah is not the name but the Arabic meaning/translation of singular God).

I was glad that I had been showed the best among the way to lead my life ever since I am born. But I am not going to exaggerate as if I were a true n down to earth person instead I am filled with this duniya entertainment and somebody who is materialistic and fall for her nafs. Well, we all do, isn't it?. But when this trip happened, I started analyzing about myself. Being a Muslimah all my life, have I done justice to it? I wonder and I was truly scared. May God bless me and you in every ways, and forgive our sins and grant us Jannah, The Heaven. Aameen.

In this package tour, including my family, we were a group of 15 people. Sharing the food and our experiences, it was like we were one big family. Our journey started from Chennai airport. My younger bros and my relatives came for the send off. It was a nice feel and also trembling inside when I was reminded about the purpose of the journey.

Our first stop was in Jeddah Airport. A hot summer day it was and we had to wait there for more than an hour. The organizers served us with chill refreshments. They arranged a small bus for all of us to travel to Madinah. That was uncomfortable for all we 15 to sit inside with our luggage. I don’t want to go into detail and complain cos that was the trip of pilgrimage. I know we all have to bear some troubles n ordeals during any pilgrimage. So that didn't burden us because the thought alone is intriguing to all of us - traveling to Madinah to see our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Inshaallah.

En route to Madinah, the history of Hijrah (migration) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) came to my mind again and again. That day we were traveling in comfort by a vehicle after a small hiatus though. So very different from the time when this journey was actually undertook on camels in the scorching heat of the desert some 1400 years ago. Thinking of that, our 7 hour journey became less tedious.

We reached Madinah in late hours. The illuminated City… The calm and peaceful atmosphere of Madinah was just beyond imagination, for surely this is the place of the dwellers who invited the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to be their guest, reciting welcoming song -  Thala-al-Badru Alaina. This was where our Nabi spent the last years of his blessed life and this is the place where Allah has chosen for him (pbuh) to rest until the Day of Judgment.

The Entrance

Writing of the feelings still brings goosebumps to me. We were glad that our hotel was just opposite to Masjid Al Nabawi, the mosque where our Prophet resides. We rested that night and next morning we woke up for Fajr - early morning prayer. It was Friday. We all got refreshed and walked to the mosque. Words will do no justice to the feelings of that particular moment. My first step on the mosque. I was completely thrilled. The Prophet’s mosque looks so beautiful, grand, illuminating and very welcoming. MashaAllah. I couldn't help my tears in this place. I felt so close with my Prophet (pbuh). Remembering that was the place where he used to walk, pray, spend with Sahabas - his friends. I felt the urge that I miss him so much and I wish I could see him again and again in my dreams and in real. We spent there praying and reciting Quran. During the Friday noon Jum'a prayer we already made friends with some sweet Jordanian girls who helped us translating the lecture that was going on in Arabic.


The Golden Gate
Next day, the trip planners arranged a day trip to visit few historical mosques and to Mount Uhad. Also we visited Badr Valley, the place where the first battle of Islamic history took place, and the burial place of those martyrs.


Badr Valley
Mount Uhad

That night we went back to the Masjid al Nabawi. How many times I talk about this mosque, I always fall in love with it. The massive marble corridor under the huge electronic umbrellas, the ancient green Quba (dome) to identify where prophet (sal) resting under are awesome. The minarets and the golden gates welcome us grandly. The moment we enter there, we can feel the sense of tinge growing inside that reminds all are one and equal in front of God.


E-Umbrellas open during day time & close at the sunset
Lobby of the mosque - Closed Umbrellas look like Minarets


Talking about Nabawi mosque won't complete without mentioning Ar-Raudah Shareef. This is an area in the heart of the mosque which extends from the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) tomb to his pulpit. Its like a little piece of heaven, if you pray there and ask for anything, Inshaallah, your wishes are granted. Women have special schedules to enter. While my brother went inside through the Gent's section we were waiting for our turn. When the time came, people were sent in as batches according to their countries. As wheelchair users and one attendant can get the entry without much hassle, having my grandma in the wheel, I entered into the Raudah easily. It was a delight and mesmerizing. Umma and my cousin joined us with no much delay. So we all set inside. I squeezed in to the crowd and reached near the back gate which is the only Ziyarah sight from the ladies' section. People said it will be difficult to pray there because its packed all day, yes it was full, but Alhamdulillah, I managed to secure a place in front and prayed longer n nearer. I opened this Burdha Kithab, gifted by my another grandma from my home town, and started reciting it. Next to me was standing an Indonesian girl, and she too joined me in the recitals, glancing at my kithab. It was one unforgettable experience.


A glimpse inside the Mosque

Later we surfed through the shops outside the mosque and we bought some prayer rugs and abayas. Also a gold locket, since I have heard many people saying that buying gold (like an investment) from the Prophet’s land bring all the prosperity to us.

The Green Dome

The next day after lunch, we all set ready to travel to Mecca. I started feeling sad already for leaving Madinah while I just couldn't wait to see Ka'bah, the dream place to visit once in his/her life time of every Muslim.

Thanks for reading My Umrah Journal.

To be continued... My Umrah Journal - Mecca

17 Apr 2013

The Girl In The Red Cap


‘Go... Walk... Show your style... Create a wave in there. Not alone models and actresses need to look good. Everybody has their own way and everyone deserves to appear stylish. Not necessarily the prize matters but don’t forget to make your magic along with your friends!’

I was biting my nails just before my first ever fashion show, when my mom’s voice lingered inside my ears.

My mom is my stylist ever since I was born. She has a great dressing sense and also knows how to present it well. When I told her I enrolled for the fashion parade in my intercollegiate culturals, she got enthusiastic more than me and helped me picking the outfit and the accessory in no time at all. 

In the dressing room with friends, I was getting ready in the eleventh hour. I could hear the announcement of the participants' names when i secured the final drape of my saree with a broach. Honestly, I was numb struck while they called out my name to come to the backstage as I was there standing like this...


I thought I was going to be screwed. I had no time to do my hair properly. However best our hair can be, we all have our bad hair day, without an exception. And that was one such day to me. Since I had shampooed that very morning and blow dried in my hurry burry, unfortunately it looked rather frizz. But to my rescue came some Silky Hair Potion and my dry tresses settled in place for the time being.

My friend Faz saved me that moment and quickly did my hair with the simple yet pretty Twisted Hair Do secured it with bobby pins letting my hair loose. Finally I placed the only accessory, the matching red velvet cap that belonged to my brother who uses it for prayer, slightly tilted on my head. That’s it. I was done. Imagine a saree with a cap. You may even think it was funny like few of my friends thought, asking me to remove it just before the walk. I didn't want to but I was confused until Faz asked me not to as it uplifted my entire look. I felt relieved that someone approved my idea.

We actually enrolled to have fun with friends but ever since I signed up, I was dreaming about walking in that very stage. The moment they announced my name, some 100 butterflies started to flying inside my stomach. I nervously stepped out from the backstage and set my foot in the ramp. Taking a deep breath I stood there hesitantly for few seconds before my first step. I can never forget walking up there like it was me living a dream. The lights were all over and my eyes filled with amusement as I looked at the crowd. That was the moment. No matter I win or not, I felt like I already created the wave. I finished my little walk with twists and turn I practiced, hiding all those butterflies inside, I stood there patiently waiting for others to finish. I was wondering how magical it all really could be and how luckily I did it without tripping down with my heels on. I was lost in my own world when the lights were spotting unto me as they announced the result. The magic, it did work. It has already been quite sometime I am done with my college life. But even now when I visit there, the lecturers from other departments as well can remember me as ‘the girl in the red cap’.

Then and there I learnt, not necessarily, we need to go to a salon to look like a Diva. Stay in the luxury of your home. There you - Sit. Relax. Listen to soothing music. Stress free. Watch your favorite program on TV. But still you get pampered from head to toe.

No matter how well we are dressed, with not good hair, it is a spoilt occasion. That leaves with no choice but to have perfect hair to dictate our own style. But remember good hair don’t show up just by accident. They result with the careful hair care regime. And to get that silky tangle free hair with no frizz, that too without leaving home. Well, if you want to achieve the hair perfection, it is important to wash your hair regularly while it is more important to know the right method of washing it. No one wants our coif to become oily and flat or dry and frizzy, ain’t it?

Well, as you know, washing our hair is a very simple job. It’s because we wash it at least twice or thrice a week. But how many of us act tenderly on our locks? First we must learn the right method of washing our hair. You may think, what’s there to learn in it? But there is - a lot.

Remember the idea of shampooing is not to just wash our hair, but to clean our scalp and remove the dirt, sebum, oil and dust. But wait - are you sure you are using the right shampoo? For choosing the right one, we should know the type of our hair. Either it can be normal, oily, dry or even combinational. With the range of TRESemmé collection, the solution is quite easy and the problem already solved.

For my straight and normal hair type, this is the choice of shampoo arrived to me in the package. And of course, it left me with silky tangle free hair even long after my wash and finger combed as well. To mention, I like the smell of it too.


Though I always tie my hair up and wear scarf when I go out, with my feathered hair cut I leave my hair loose almost all the time when I am with my family and friends. But with this sweaty summer heat, I have to secure it with a top pony or an updo with a croc clip, which always end up a messy look. Messy Up Do that suits me naturally which is way too stylish. And can be done in no time at all. Pin a hair accessory or a fresh flower to make it prettier. It is best suitable for any occasion.


Ponytails can always come handy but also make our life rather practical yet so boring. But this Butterfly Ponytail gives me another nostalgic feeling. Young memories when I first started to try out new different hairstyles during my school days. One of my uncles from Hong Kong gifted me a little plastic hoop which helped me to master many interesting hairstyles. And I am still having it with me. I remember well how I used to flaunt it among my friends. It was like anyone who can tie a ponytail, can do this ‘topsy tail’. To achieve this Topsy Tail, first gather your hair into a lower pony and secure it with the rubber band. Then shove the handle of the hoop through the top of the ponytail, put the hair through the loop and pulled the hoop with pony through. Topsy Pony..! Voila..! Butterfly effect made...!


Braid the ponytail and secure it with an elastic or a lace for an innovative Braided Butterfly.


Another variation, is to insert the hoop again and pull your hair down to give a cool Topsy Updo. Accessorize it with a hair clip or a pretty hair comb or simply leave it at that. This is best suitable for all age and for any occasion as well.


Talking about ponytails, we can achieve lots of effects with little bit of imagination and creativity. Here this Twisted Ponytail, simple yet very pretty. Be it for college or work or for party or even to walk in the ramp, this one is apt to change your boring hairstyle day.


Having TRESemmé in my pouch, I am saved from my bad hair days. Their DIYs saved my time to look stunning in not more than two minutes. C'mon.. We don't even have to go to the salon any more to treat our hair. That means our earnings are saved too. ;-) 


Now with my beautiful tresses, I am ready and confident to walk in the ramp again. Are you ready to join me?

Do visit TRESemmé Style Album and be ramp ready always.

Thank you, TRESemmé. J

12 Apr 2013

My Food Journey in Bangalore - Part 1


I have been enjoying my days in Bangalore last month in my brother’s home and just returned to Chennai. With the scorching sun here, I wish I go back there again. Nice place it is, though right then it was bit humid climate and stuffy. It is indeed my good available choice of place to escape from this Chennai’s hot hot summer.

During my stay there, my cousin and I had some good times exploring some interesting restaurants. Of very late, it occurred to me that I could share it here with the pictures and my little funny experience of gobbling good food n gulping tasty drinks. J

My Date With Apple Grape Sangria

One day after our yoga lessons, we were looking for some place to quench our thirst. We usually catch an auto come straight to our neighborhood, where we have tasty tasty sugarcane juice. But that day, my cousin was telling about this tea shop and it was in a walk-able distance, where she went quite a long time back with one of her friends. Okay I said, happily looking forward, we set our journey searching for Chai Patty - Tea Cafe - Teafe.


‘A small and a nice road side kinda tea shop’, she said, ‘you will love it’. I was very excited and couldn't wait any longer to have some freshly brewed Chai to regain my lost energy. Since she said it was somewhere nearby, we decided to take a walk. In 100 feet road, we were walking... walking... walking... straight ahead, looking for this Teafe but couldn't find it anywhere nearby. Little more than 45 minutes of walk from our yoga class, we passed by 3 bus stops in that main road, already, surfing every shops out there. ‘It was here. It was here. I remember, but have they shifted elsewhere? oops’, she was mumbling all the way. We both were very tired and badly needed to sit. Finally, ‘there it is’, she exclaimed.  It was an under construction building. We were breathless and climbed 2 stories, since no lift available. And yeah they seemed to have moved from the ground floor to the second, recently.

As we entered, I found it was a lovely place to hangout with friends. With bamboo chairs and mats and short tables n stools, the ambiance and the drawings all over the walls, I liked it immediately. The crowd was decent as well. We sat down and glanced through the menu, my cousin ordered for lemon tea, without much thought. And since I was quite sweaty after power yoga and of course, my long tiring walk, made my mind to change for something cold to quench my thirst at that time. There I caught an interesting name, Apple Grape Sangria. Sounds like an interesting name, isn't it? We placed our orders and waiting for them to serve us.






We were relaxing and chit chatting till they serve and taking pictures of each other. We kinda sat opposite to the fridge, and then my cousin pointed at the waiter who was holding my drink’s ingredients in hand. I was like (:o)

In a few minutes time, he served us the drinks. I was so thirsty, whatever the ingredient was, I gulped already half the glass of my chilled drink. Do I have to say it was good? Well, at that time, even plain cold water would have tasted better in my tongue. I tasted my cousin's Lemon Tea and it was good n refreshing. But we found the quantity was little less or that’s what we thought.

We were little bit of disappointed... idhukka ivlo dhooram nadanthu vandhom? :-/ Have we walked all the way to spend on ‘this’ drink?? L


There was this accessory shop inside Chai Patty. My cousin bought a shoe there. At the end, we both were happy for that she got a new shoe, which indeed made our walk worth it. A walk to remember in a long time.





Still, yeah, we could have stopped by a supermarket to have my very drink. Never mind. We enjoyed laughing at it now. Oh wait, I will of course let you know the recipe of it. It is indeed a perfect one to serve when you have a guest at home or to drink and relish yourself this summer.

Half a glass of Tropicana Apple + Half a glass of Tropicana Grape + few Apple pieces to float = Apple Grape Sangria, cost me 60 bucks and leg pain that night.


Well, it was not my perfect date then but now i got a story to share here and of course smiling at it.

And yeah, I told you that we saw that waiter standing near the fridge, with the ingredient in hand, right? Now I bet you can guess what he was holding then. ;-)

Moral of the story... Drink tea in a tea shop and coffee in a coffee shop, rather than buying a juice. :p

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