A Charmed Life


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are you woke?

When I die I want my epitaph to read ‘She cared.’ And when I look back on my life in my old age, if I am blessed to live that long, I want to be able to remember the moments in which I actively demonstrated that caring. This is in part why I could no longer sit on the periphery being depressed and stressed as we humans continue down this current socio-political path we are on. I felt called upon to be part of the solution.

In the last few years I have considered myself an activist, but on reflection it is not actually a new facet of me, I always was one. Activism is inbuilt in me. It was a part of my upbringing through both my immigrant grandfathers, they and my immigrant parents raised me to be politically and community minded so I always had this sense of being part of a larger world outside of my inner circle and I have always felt a responsibility to do my bit for others regardless of race and religion. And I always have.

I think the difference between then and now is choice. It was my choice to do my bit then and as such not something I felt needed galvanising. After all life is pretty much a Rorschach test in that each of us sees what we see and finds outcomes that are coherent with what we already believe and what we can accept. Now though, I do not feel there is choice it feels like a summons, and not just for me.

Because there is just one me. And this moment we are in. Its big. Its challenging. Its new. There is no historical reference we can learn from, we have never seen anything like this before. There is no ready solution. There is no one solution. We are navigating through uncharted territory. Scary sure. Confusing yes. But also something else – exciting. I know what you are thinking. What! Or perhaps WTF! This kiwi girl thinks it is exciting that more and more people are suffering through injustice and intolerance. And no, I never could, but what excites me about these times is the ‘we.’ The we who ask ourselves everyday what can I do to bring about substantive change.

The we humans who are connecting with each other to show our caring. The we who form the resistance. When I first heard this term ‘the resistance’ it conjured up memories of V the tele miniseries/show, does anyone else remember it? I quite fancy myself in a red spacey jumpsuit uniform weapon in hand ready to zap the bad guys; and in fact the resistance of today is not dissimilar to the resistance to the alien invasion in that series, it is just in this instance the aliens are actually humans not aliens who look like humans. Although on second thought; it could be argued that there are several world leaders whose actions may better be explained by a possible alien body abduction!

Anyways… the resistance of today is gathering momentum, people are coming together, and we are seeing evidence of this everywhere; with the Women’s March (Global), in the response to US withdrawal from the Paris Accord (Global), with Jeremy Corbyn/Labour in the recent election (UK), the response to Grenfell (UK), in the failure of the Senate to pass new healthcare legislation thus far (US), in the no confidence vote that comes next month to decide Zuma’s future (SA).

To use the word the kids are using these days – people are woke. People are woke to the fact that not only is this a difficult moment, it is a life threatening one for marginalised people in our communities and we will not stay silent and watch lives be destroyed. It is an exciting time to be alive, to be woke and on the right side of history; for despite the outcome when I do look back on my life I will never regret that I showed how much I cared.

Sat Nam

 

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this kiwi girl muses about… Easter

I went to Christian schools so I had it drummed into me from a young age that Easter was about Jesus sacrificing his life for my sins and then rising again from the dead on the third day so I would have eternal life. I remember being very confused about someone I never knew dying for me. It is a heady concept for a child to understand and I have to say as an adult it never felt much clearer; but then religion is all about the interpretation and interpretation is why I do not do religion.

Still I may not do religion but that has not stopped my brain working overtime all bank holiday contemplating on the meaning of Easter. It would have been more comfortable to muse over Easter eggs but I am not a chocolate eater so it holds no interest, or to talk about the Easter bunny but I am not American so have never taken part in any bunny activities; no instead my thinking has been all about Jesus and about these events that may or may not have occurred and this is kind of a big deal for me, for although I am happily content with my spiritual path, I remain vehemently anti religion. This means I choose not to veer towards religious dogma. I am the first to say ‘for one day would it not be nice to not have to read about some religious crap in the news.’ Before I come across all blasphemous, apathy aside, each to their own I just do not see why I have to know about it.

Anyway about Easter. In adulthood Easter has always been a welcome respite from hectic work life no further thought heeded, yet here I am fresh from this Easter break thinking what is the lesson of Easter.
And my takeaway is this – and I have to say I think it was a case of when the student is ready, the teacher will appear because I am surprised how easily it came to me, and it may be a little simplistic but here goes – you do not need to be Christian or religious to deduce that Easter is about love. I believe that the idea of someone giving their life for me is an act of kindness and the idea of that someone rising from the dead fills me with joy and gives me hope for the redemption for all of us. And I am rather happy to bask in that feeling for as long as I can.

 Sat Nam

And…  Issues, Movements. I am feeling an exuberance for justice I have never felt in my lifetime, a wave of change upon us. Whether it is Mental Health Awareness or the fight for Equality or Black Lives Matter, whatever the issue it will not be ignored. And nor should it. Pepsi managed to balls this current feeling up royally, first by hiring Kendall Jenner, the idea that anyone from that family gives a damn about anyone other than themselves is an obvious fallacy. Then the ad itself is a WTF! There is a bit in the beginning of the ad of Kendall blithely handing a blond wig to a bemused African-American woman – that says it all #I’mNotInThePepsiGeneration BUT for incite and context look no further than I’m Not Your Negro, a documentary film, based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript. James Baldwin was one of the most important voices to document the civil rights movement and to hear the words of this man who knew Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr is a thrill for anyone interested in history but why I believe this documentary is required viewing is because it speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force. I watched it thinking ‘when will we ever learn!’  I am somewhat confused who is whom in the Syrian conflict. There’s Assad. There’s IS. There’s Iran. There’s Russia. There’s Saudi Arabia. There’s the US and somewhere there in the mix are Britain, France, Turkey and Qatar. I don’t understand what motivates Assad anymore; his country is in ruins, it has been six bloody intractable years. Assad has to go and so do IS but I have concerns about other countries being involved, you don’t just fire missile strikes on another country but more importantly you don’t just fire missile strikes on another country without a game plan. The strikes just feel like that thing at the White House thought to do on a whim and because he could. It doesn’t demonstrate a move to resolve the conflict and it certainly was not out of concern for the Syrian people. And speaking of airstrikes on what possible realm does it make sense to threaten North Korea, launch a MOAB on Afghanistan, and then go off for a golfing holiday. Every day it is like watching a James Bond movie but from the psycho villian’s point of view. You never know what is going to happen next but you know it will not make sense and you know it will not be any good. 


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i’ve never seen a rainbow i didn’t love

blogcolour

This past weekend was bookended by the very best and the very worst of humanity. It feels like all I have done this year is mourn. From 10 January (the day I lost my beloved Starman) through to today there has been a steady flow of tears… as I type this I am listening to Anderson Cooper list the names of those beautiful SOULS who lost their lives at Pulse nightclub, as his voice falters my tears have blinded me… I can’t. I’m just so tired of my heart breaking over and over and over again.

The vicious senseless act that transpired in the early hours of Sunday morning in Orlando has fuelled me with anger, remorse and deep deep sorrow. I have been a champion of the LGBT community for over thirty years (part and parcel being a Madonna lover). I have many friends in this community so I have always known the bigotry actually lets just call it what it is – HATE – I have always known the hate that has been endured. There have been times in my life when I have struggled and it was this community that helped me find my way so I will love, honour and protect this community till the day I die.

The US has a gun problem. The rest of the world sees it. Most Americans see it. But there are others NRA hardliners and extreme right wingers who don’t seem to and yet they hold the lives of their entire nation in their hands. I thought for sure after Sandy Hook there would be real change. The correct reaction to children being massacred would surely be to ensure it never happened again but no it wasn’t to be and mass shootings have increased in the time since. As someone who comes from New Zealand and who has lived in Australia it is hard to understand why the US cannot adopt some kind of variation of these countries’ gun control legislation; legislation that both countries amended back in the nineties when they each experienced a similar type of senseless act. Some twenty years later both countries are proof that robust gun control legislation works.

And yet, yes the US has a gun problem.
But the planet has a HATE problem.
And where there is hate, violence can always find a way. Guns or no Guns.
And we can put this atrocity under the umbrella of religion, terrorism, radicalisation but there is only one actual reason it happened – Bad Parenting.

Too many people think their job as a parent is done if they feed, clothe and school their children; but giving them the confidence to be themselves, teaching and showing children generosity and kindness and how to communicate effectively, to love, respect and tolerate ALL life regardless of race, creed, gender, shape, who one chooses to love – inclusive of all creatures and mother earth – this is good parenting. I am a child of Indian descent, I know the specific homophobia that exists for people of the diaspora, it is a hostility that is deeply rooted in the culture. I have friends who still today cannot be honest about who they are to their families. This will not change until we attack the root cause.

Hatred of any kind is a choice.
A child is taught to love.
A child is taught to hate.
The seed is planted at a young age.

If one lacks the appropriate parenting and does not know their own mind, lacks confidence, is disillusioned they are open to being brainwashed by religion, terrorism, radicalisation whatever you want to call it, and as this seed gets watered regularly it grows and the reality is you reap what you sow. Hate crimes will not stop until we grow a different seed.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this weekend for me began with seeing the very best of humanity – Muhammad Ali’s interfaith memorial. This colossus of a man wished for his passing  – as he had his life – to be a teaching moment. If you saw the service you will understand how magnificently he achieved this, if you haven’t I beseech you to watch it, listen to the words and let the sentiment wash all over you for this is how you plant a different seed.

To my brothers and sisters of the LGBT community you forever have my heart; to steal words said so eloquently on Sunday by Lin-Manuel Miranda “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. Cannot be killed or swept aside.” And nor shall it be.

Sat Nam

Also… Muhammad Ali – what a gift of a man – the one person on this planet who transcended race, religion, gender to unite all in their love and respect for him. There is no one left who comes close to achieving this. On a personal note, I owe him gratitude for because of him and his wondrous life I achieved my highest mark in all my academia when in college I did a History paper on his civil rights contribution. It was a joy to research him. It was a joy to listen to him riff. It was a joy to watch him in and out of the ring. Muhammad Ali – a masterclass in what it means to be human and so pretty too. To have lived in your time, how lucky am I #IamAli #G.O.A.T. #AliBomaye ♥ And so the BREXIT campaign enters into the last week, it’s been a minefield figuring out the right way to vote – you only have to look at Greece and Portugal to see that austerity has not worked and that the EU has completely failed to deal with the refugee reception crisis yet being in the EU is like being a part of a cosmopolitan club with trade, employment and travel benefits #ShouldBritainStayOrShouldBritainGo ♥ And my girl Hills – Whop Whop the FIRST WOMAN to be a major party’s nominee for President of the United States. Proving there is no ceiling too high to break. Next stop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue #I’mWithHer #Hillary2016


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hot tramp, i love you so!

bowie

David Bowie!
Now there’s an idea.
I have always believed the gods must have been on some serious peyote the day they created him.

So he’s gone then, my Starman is no longer of this Earth. The man I thought would live forever went and died.

And now here I am about to attempt to express how special this man is to me… where does one even begin, so fucken hard if it’s not the tears getting in the way, it’s the doubt as to whether I have it in me to do him justice. In therapy I am continually told to write my feelings down, but to write this hurts, hurts real bad. Too raw I suppose, still I will endeavour with my tribute of sorts to a man who blew me away time and time again. A man who still feels very present in my life; why just on Saturday I was engaged in a discussion about the meaning of After All, this coming after Friday on which as a fan I celebrated another year of him along with downloading the new album. Blackstar was all I played all weekend so I woke on Monday in such a lovely Bowie state of mind and then came the news.

Since then, every morning just before I wake fully I have this moment where I am smiling thinking all’s right with the world then I remember and I ask ‘Is it real?’ It is real isn’t it. He is really gone. A world without David Bowie. We live in that world now. I keep being asked how I feel, how does one feel when a great love dies – sad, in shock, heartbroken, rocked to my core – there are three thoughts that keep circling around in my head in amongst the grief: ‘People die, get over it’ and I know this, it is not my first loss but I suspect I will never fully recover from this one. There is only one other out there in the ether who could make me feel like this and she would not be where she is today if there hadn’t been a David Bowie. I have heard people talk about where they were when Lennon was shot, the grief they felt when Elvis died – I finally understand it; that sharp piercing pain in the heart, the dry retches, the shock I have experienced it all in the last few days.

‘But you didn’t even know him,’ oh but I did, I so did. David Bowie came into my life during the Nile Rogers years, when I was still at an age where the only concerts I was interested in were of the puppet variety like the Sesame Street musical. Regardless when his Serious Moonlight tour came to New Zealand he was everywhere which in the era sans social media meant the newspapers, television and the radio. I would go from watching Rainbow one minute to dancing to Modern Love the next. I was discovering music and I loved to dance so the album Let’s Dance fed my impressionable soul BUT the moment I fell for him was when I saw Labyrinth. This film – I saw it recently after many many years – that moment when he makes his entrance gave me the same tingling feeling I got when I first saw it only back then I didn’t know it was him, in fact it has often been the way that I would discover someone and they would turn out to be David Bowie. It happened with Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, the Pierrot phase. As Jareth the goblin king with his mullet, in the makeup and codpiece, he terrified me and something else which I now know as being aroused. Yeap I was aroused by David Bowie and he would continue to do so over the years. The movie lent itself to the romance, because I identified with Sarah for I too lived in a fantasy world.

From then on David as Jareth would come visit me, we would lie in my bed discussing Delfinia the world I had created as well as my real life woes. My teen years were a confusing time for me (I know I know like every other teen right!) I was both popular and smart enough but deep down I felt like an outsider. Having this wild imagination didn’t help because at that age all you want is to be like everyone else. The only time I felt a freedom was during those conversations with David/Jareth. He did talk back bizarrely enough. He helped me name unicorns (Delfinia had a lot of unicorns), he named a flying pirate ship Mistral and he always encouraged my uniqueness. Those visits ended some time in the last few years of college but he came back one more time when I was 23, this time as Ziggy (by then I was more familiar with his body of work) – it was the night before I left New Zealand for good I was on an adrenaline rush happy to be leaving, but in an instant the enormity of leaving behind family and friends especially my grandma hit me and then just as sadness threatened to take over, there he was at my window waving me goodbye. I took it to mean I was on the right track and the sadness abated.

I have come to know his body of work intimately, I have theorised the different stages of his work, but never been able to decide if he was riding the zeitgeist over the years or if he was helping to create it over and over again. I have been to countless Bowie themed nights (I predict that there will more to come in the next few months) and he is always my specialised subject when I play Mastermind. I have admired David and Iman’s love story; it is very clear that each was the other’s great love and best friend. I still find myself attracted to him, he only got better with age and given half the chance I would so have gone there. I have even dated men because they had some semblance of him, but his attraction for me was not just aesthetic, his energy and intelligence were a complete turn on. To have translated the cacophony that was in his head so masterfully into the different personas, the music, videos and films he created is no small feat. What genius existed within him to do this. He is was such a man. I was happy to be lead by him. He always upped my game. A few years ago the Guardian published a top 100 reading list as recommended by him. I had only read eight books of said list and as a voracious reader I decided I was going to complete that list, I am still working my way through it. On last count I was at 16, only 84 to go, with titles like ‘On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious’ and ‘Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir’ they aren’t exactly easy reading. So you see David Bowie has a role in the story of my life.

I watched the video for Lazarus last week and it left me feeling cold. Later after I had listened to the song a few times and considered the lyrics (as is always the case with his music, I always search for the meaning) that coldness gave way to what in hindsight I see as foreboding: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now…’ David Bowie was saying goodbye. And in the most classiest way, through his work. Reminds me of the last two songs Queen released with Freddie. I love the idea of Freddie and David together again along with Lou, and Lennon and Jimi, oh yes the party just got better in heaven.

I always thought I would see him perform live, I always felt it was a matter of when not if and the dreamer in me believes in a parallel universe I will. If he ever graced me with another visit I would say to him ‘Thank you for being exactly you. You gave a girl who felt like an oddity permission to be exactly who she is and the confidence to make her own rules. You and you alone made her dare to be brave. You darling man, you remain forever my goblin king, my starman and my moonage daydream. Thank you. Thank You. Thank You.’

Generations from now will discover him; they will listen to the music, see the different incarnations, go to museum exhibits dedicated to him, watch the films and the television appearances but they will never capture the essence of him. I have tried to explain my feelings for him to people who don’t him well – yes these people actually exist – but the fact of the matter is if you don’t already feel it you will never understand. The era of David Bowie, they were the golden years – a one off experience, never can be repeated. I heard the term Generation Bowie today – that’s you and I – the lucky ones. Are you going to be okay? He may have transitioned taking a big piece of my heart with him but the point is he existed in the first place and there is something joyful in the knowledge of this. The sun will keep on rising and I will continue to be exactly me so yes I am going to be just fine… eventually. For now though I need to cry.

Sat Nam


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fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending, do they?

I expected to feel a gamut of emotions when I read Go Set A Watchman. I suspected I would be more disappointed than satisfied, in much the same way I felt in the casting of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. When it comes to much loved characters you get an idea in your head about who they are don’t you? Their look, manner, nuances… so I didn’t hold much hope in actually ‘liking’ GSAW. I did consider not reading it for about a millisecond, I thought maybe I didn’t need to know what Scout did next, but by dint of her being the daughter of Atticus Finch would always make me want to know what Scout did next.

I’ve read it twice now, that is about the only good thing that comes out of being laid up with bronchitis, it renders one with little else to do but read. And yes I expected to feel this gamut but I don’t… I mostly feel sadness. Sadness for the crumbling of a fairy tale.

I first read To Kill A Mockingbird as a teenager on the plane from Harare to Mumbai and it was one of two books I had on me (the other being Lucky by Jackie Collins). For the ensuing 6 weeks as I toured India with my family, both books would provide a welcome escape when I needed a reprieve from nagging parents or an annoying brother. I read TKAM four times in total during this time, then it wasn’t picked up again until I was in my 20s living in Sydney. By this time I understood the cultural significance of the story, I had watched the Gregory Peck film, I knew the minutiae of Harper Lee’s life, heck I even knew the minutiae of Truman Capote’s life. I knew it all and the book – the story had found a special place in my heart.

But not for the obvious themes of courage and integrity.

For the little girl who found a hero in her father.

Because it was the same for me when I was little.

There is a line Jean Louise “Scout” Finch’s uncle Jack, a retired doctor says to her towards the end of GSAW “As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God.” I think that’s what little girls do. Daughters with their fathers. I know I did.

I had the luxury of having my father pretty much solely to myself until I hit double digits (baby brothers don’t count on account of them being too small to actually do anything with) and I was lucky because back then he was a very present father. Despite what the passage of time has brought about, I can still remember moments that were just ours; watching airplanes take off or reading at the library, drinking from his whisky glass, or sitting in his lap and steering the car while he was driving. It didn’t really matter what we did, it just always felt that we had our own secret thing that no one, not even my mother or brother could penetrate. Like Jean Louise recalls in GSAW “I can only say this – that everything I learned about human decency I learned here,” lessons I learnt from my father either by osmosis or by example remain with me today. And just like Jean Louise, I grew up, moved away and realised what a fallacy it all was. We see what we want to see.

I wasn’t surprised that the Atticus in GSAW is a flawed human. I mean quite literally I wasn’t surprised, social media makes it neigh impossible to keep anything a secret these days. This particular nugget became known to me before I had even read the second chapter but still…

I wasn’t surprised by the idea of it either; just open up a paper today and it is very clear, race is as big an issue now as it was over 55 years ago when GSAW was first written. This story is set in Alabama in the 50s before the civil rights movement properly gained momentum. I didn’t live in this time so I don’t know what hardships must have been endured but I do know regardless of the era you live, you do get conditioned by your environment; so that an aging white man of the South has racial attitudes is actually a realistic portrayal. That he is the same man who defended a black man wrongly accused of raping a white girl shows how we got swept up in the idea of Atticus being the ultimate icon of fatherhood and the law. Harper Lee obviously never intended it, GSAW was written before TKAM.

When Atticus revealed himself “Then let’s put this on a practical basis right now. Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?” I screamed ‘NOOOO!!!’ and I could feel my heart being crushed a little. Atticus as a reactionary racist, destroys forever the Atticus Finch I created in my head when I read TKAM, but I can accept this, in the same way I have accepted how my father, the hero of my childhood isn’t the romanticised ideal I imagined him to be. We see what we want to see but ultimately we are all flawed and men get old, set in their ways conditioned by their environment…

and little girls grow up and realise fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending.

Sat Nam

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee; beautiful in parts, long in others. while comparisons to TKAM are inevitable, they are not companion pieces and as such should stand alone. Having said that no one is reading GSAW having not already read TKAM. TKAM is a far superior read but I thought GSAW was a good read, and I was happy with the epiphany (of sorts) at the end for Scout, it balanced out the story of the two books to a nice natural resolution.


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this kiwi girl muses about… the words of others

lovewriting
What would Gwyneth do? Not sure how this turn of phrase came about but this is a ‘thing’ on social media; and while I think she certainly knows how to rock a frock and has some very cool friends, I’m not sure I see her as an aficionado of anything in particular, but then again these things do tend to take on a life of their own in these days of twitter, instagram and the ilk.

I do often use the expression though, only depending on my mood I replace the Gwyneth bit with one of the many writers who inspire me.
You see, I like to write.
I have never really given much thought to whether I am any good at it.
I just like to write.
And it is a privilege to be spurred on by so many greats.
 
Dr. Seuss taught me that just because a word is not in the dictionary does not mean it is not a word. The art of whimsy came to me by way of Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis, not that this was a happenstance for I was born a dreamer but reading their books stretched my imagination beyond the world I was growing up in.

Jane Austen instilled in me the premise of the sisterhood and the strength which came from within that bond. Through the steely yet passionate character of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte gave me a heroine of my own sex to admire; whilst the autobiographical storytelling by Maya Angelou taught me that the heroine or rather shero I should believe in was me.

A spiritual awakening of sorts came by way of The Alchemist and more poignantly By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. These works of Paulo Coelho along with much of his work throughout the 90s resonated in my soul, even though it would still be another decade before I would consciously walk my spiritual path.

Speaking of spiritual awakening, when I read this sentence ‘Davie brightened up as the insidious comfort of the plum jam stole into his soul’ written by Lucy Maud Montgomery (in the second book of the Anne of Green Gables series), I had my first epiphany about the power of words to evoke emotion for this one sentence stole into my soul and still remains there today.

The discovery in the importance of the structure of a sentence came from the journalistic stylings of Ernest Hemingway and Joan DidionBryce Courtenay’s stories interwoven against a historical backdrop ignited my interest in history. The poetry of Paolo Neruda versed me in romance in a way Keats and Byron had failed to ignite. F. Scott Fitzerald taught me to love a narrative, Kipling gave me my love of prose, from Tolstoy I learnt perseverance and from Wilde irony. On and on it goes for many great writers have lived and still do today.

In my wildest dreams I could never wish to be as good as them nor do I aspire to be, as I said I just like to write. Sometimes though when inspiration is not forthcoming and I suffer bouts of writer’s block I call upon these maestros and say to myself what would (insert here) do? If I feel melancholy I ask what would Dickens do? If I feel a want for romance I ask what would Neruda do? And eventually from no thought comes my muse and I know in no small part that it is down to invoking the spirit of the said writer. Got to love those winks from the universe.

Sat Nam

And lastly before I leave you, I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon, especially as it is my favourite magazine  – Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair… simply stunning #yougoGIRL #BeautifulMomentinHistory


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every day. is beautiful.

Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. Is beautiful.’ Every now and then you come across someone whose light shines so bright it touches your heart. These words are from Alice Herz-Sommer and to me, she is one such someone.

I was cooking when I heard these words, and they made me stop what I was doing and pay attention and so this is how I happened upon the documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life and by extension the life of Alice Herz-Sommer. At the time of filming she, at 109 was the oldest known holocaust survivor. The short documentary documents her life; as an accomplished concert pianist who grew up in Czechoslovakia, her time in Theresienstadt concentration camp (she survived because she could play the piano and the Nazis used this prison to fool the Red Cross into believing they were benevolent towards Jews and that this was a camp where music and the arts thrived), it goes on to describe briefly her life in Israel and then lastly London where she lived independently in Belsize Park. Throughout her life, it is music that has been her spiritual sustenance and this documentary focuses on the music not on the particular events that happened during her long life.

‘Music saved my life and music saves me still… I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion.’

I watched her thinking how did I know of her before this moment, she should be discussed in schools so I set about writing this piece to share her with you. What captivated me was her spirit. This was a woman who experienced unthinkable horrors including the loss of her mother and husband, horrors that you and I will never know or even really understand and yet she lived with optimism and a complete lack of rancour. No pity, no tragedy in her demeanour. This is forgiveness in true practice. And even at this advanced age she was still able to recall memories from her mentally sharp mind, which made watching her on screen an invigorating experience. Alice Herz-Sommer died age 110 a week before this documentary won an Oscar in 2014. She continued to play the piano every single day right to the end of her life. There is an expression used in Kundalini yoga, which has come to be the measure by which I hold all my thoughts and actions accountable – the grace of god. Alice Herz-Sommer was the grace of god. As you go about your day my hope is that you take the essence of her words with you. ‘Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. Is beautiful.’

Sat Nam

ps speaking of la vita e bella, so happy for Ireland voting – by a huge majority – to legalise same-sex marriage, the revolution of love is in full force. #LoveWins #LoveisLove

pss please watch


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she’s all that

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It’s my favourite time of year again. No not my birthday or Christmas or even time for a summer holiday… hmm actually it’s not even Madonna’s birthday so okay… it’s maybe my fourth or fifth favourite time of year…. regardless I’m très excited because it’s Oscar time. This year is rare year for me in that I haven’t seen nearly enough movies to have clear favourites but that hasn’t stopped me from indulging in a little Meryl.

Meryl Streep is a bit of a crush of mine. If she is in something it will pique my interest but I didn’t realise how much I liked her until the other night when I watched Kramer vs Kramer and Its Complicated back to back. There is a reason she is the most nominated actor in Academy Award history; whether it is a support role (Kramer…) or a so-so movie (It’s…) or the lead, she rocks it. I first noticed her acting chops in the miniseries Angels in America in which she played a few characters and I remember thinking how versatile she was and also how seamless the transitions were, which was no small feat – it was a complicated drama with interwoven stories about a serious subject matter. With Meryl you can tell it’s all about the work and of course it helps she is bloody good at her craft; but what endears her to me is that as good as she is she doesn’t seem to take herself seriously, you cannot not love a woman who upon receiving her last Oscar for The Iron Lady exclaimed ‘When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, “oh, no! Oh, come on why – her! Again!”’ Emily Blunt who has acted with her a few times, recently described Meryl as ‘a real broad – great fun’ and I believe it.

 “Why are women… so much more interesting to men than men are to women?” Virginia Woolf

On the subject of girl crushes, for as long as I can remember I’ve had them, can you blame me? This planet is filled with fascinating women and it is not only the domain of the male species to admire them. Along with Meryl I’m currently also crushing on the following ladies:

Sgt. Olivia Benson (character on Law & Order SVU). No I haven’t suddenly regained any respect for the folk in blue but I do hold a soft spot for Benson. Okay she’s not a real person but considering my disdain for police in general, Benson is my dream of what a truer copper should be like, played by the gorgeous Mariska Hargity, Benson is a totally badass cop when it comes to solving ‘sexually based offenses which are considered especially heinous’ which she couples with a gentle empathy, a duty of care for the victims of sex crimes, something real life law enforcement seem to lack.

Christiane Amanpour. My favourite all time tv show which I have written about before is Gilmore Girls. In the opening scene of the very last episode the main characters Lorelei and Rory meet Christiane Amanpour who Rory has long admired. The first time I saw this I was like ‘that’s me in Rory’s shoes,’ the way she acted when she met her hero… talking a mile a minute, gushing over Christiane’s accolades, thanking her for being her – exactly what I would do. Christiane Amanpour CBE in case you don’t know is a journalist, known for extensively reporting from the front lines of war for over 25 years, as well as interviewing many key figures on the global stage; her strength lies in her sincerity and search for the truth AND she’s not afraid to ask the hard questions. I’ve always fancied myself as a journalist, so I guess you could say Christiane is the person I wish I had the courage to be.

Gigi Hadid. I first caught glimpses of this cherub when she came on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as her mother Yolanda Foster is on it and in the last two years I have found myself following her on social media watching her rise (and rise) in the modeling world. That she is stunning is a given but it is the vibrancy of her youth a joie de vivre that she oozes that I am especially attracted to. Her sister Bella (also a model) is pretty easy on the eye too.

There are so many women I could write about, ones I know, ones I would like to know… so many women so little time… it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside to know that I live in a world surrounded by strong, capable, beautiful women. And speaking of strong, capable, beautiful – Julianne Moore for Best Actress¹ please.

Have a great week,

Sat Nam

¹for Still Alice a beautifully made, poignant movie about the early-onset of Alzheimer’s disease with believable performances by all the cast.


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curiouser and curiouser

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It is with great anticipation I write this next line. The sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird is coming out this summer. Fifty five years after the first book – imagine that! Many reasons to gush about this, firstly for a book geek like moi this is the best kind of news. Secondly it is serendipity that this manuscript (Go Set a Watchman) was even found as it was thought long lost by its author. And lastly I do not come from the ‘let well enough alone’ school of thought, out of all the characters I have gotten to know from the books I have read – what Scout did next is often something I pondered over and now come July I actually get to find out.

This week’s post is about books so Harper Lee has provided a most appropriate segue way.

Via this blog I get all kinds of requests. Requests to take part in surveys; to attend events like a tantric sexuality workshop (which I was unable to attend) or wine tasting (which I did attend); to trial products, skin whitening pills anyone? And occasionally I get a request for my guidance which is why I am writing today. Recently I was contacted by an expectant mother for my advice on how to build a library for her baby. This is the best kind of request for me, anything to do with books and I’m there. And no she didn’t actually mean a hammer and nails type of build (I did check just to make sure).

 “The best candy shop a child can be left alone in, is the library.” Maya Angelou

It is not as easy as it seems, think about it – there are a plethora of books out there in any genre and the only direction I had was that the mum-to-be wanted to make sure her child read all the classics. I’ve taken my time compiling this list, even then I know there are plenty more gems out there I’ve forgotten or not had the good fortune to read; but in any case I see this list as a start, for the best part of growing up is discovering and a library, school or a book store are the perfect settings to be curiouser and curiouser.

So here’s the list(for under tens specifically but also for the inner child that lives in you): Barbar MEG AND MOG Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass THE GRUFFALO Matilda PUSS IN BOOTS The Little Prince HARRY POTTER Charlotte’s Webb THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS Winnie the Pooh CURIOUS GEORGE WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE The Tiger who came to tea THE SECRET GARDEN Are you my mother? A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON The little Engine that could FANTASTIC MR FOX Famous Five THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLER Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go THE VELVETEEN RABBIT Asterix MILLY MOLLY MANDY Guess How Much I Love You RAMONA THE BRAVE Chronicles of Narnia THE SILVER SWORD Five Children and It BLACK BEAUTY Secret Seven TREASURE ISLAND The Swiss Family Robinson MARY POPPINS The Wizard of Oz HEIDI The Jungle Book POLLYANNA Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales WHAT KATY DID Just So Stories PETER PAN The Prince and The Pauper Grimm’s Fairytales TINTIN The Story of Doctor Doolittle Pippi Longstocking BALLET SHOES The Borrowers WATERSHIP DOWN The English Roses THE BERENSTEIN BEARS The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear THE RAILWAY CHILDREN

And my absolute favourites:
oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss First of all anything by Dr. Seuss is golden, I love the playful and lyrical way his books are written, they leave me filled with wonderment and a smiling face.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

This book was published 1990 so it wasn’t a childhood book for me, instead I was gifted it when I first moved to London but I find myself referring to it every now and then when I’m feeling blue and in need of a smile.

“I’m afraid that some times, You’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win, ‘cause you’ll play against you.”

It is a book for children and yet is filled with an insight that is completely relevant for grown ups we become. By the by it makes for a great graduation or leaving present.

 ♠

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton The books of Enid Blyton (and Roald Dahl) spoke to the dreamer in me then and they still speak to the dreamer in me now. Some of their books might not be considered pc¹ anymore but I find a flaw in that line of thinking. Words only become good or bad by people making them so. These books fueled my imagination that’s it plain and simple.

“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”

Even as recently as two weeks ago I was talking about this book with a dear friend, we shared our love for Fanny, Dick, Bessie & Jo, Moon-face, Silky, Saucepan Man, Dame Wash-a-lot and the Angry Pixie and we talked of our favourite lands (she was curious about Topsy Turvy, I quite fancied Do-As-You-Please). She related how it was her wish that her daughter read it some day. That to me makes a classic, something that holds fond memories, something you want to share with others.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery After Jane Eyre this book and the series that follow are my absolute favourite books. I have been asked why on many occasions and my answer is the same every time, ‘because they are delicious.’

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?” 

My attraction to books comes from a love of words (I’m the type of girl who has favourite words but that is a whole other post) so the way L.M. Montgomery weaves a sentence is sheer magic for me, I truly believe when people talk about richness in language they must be referring to her work.

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”

Anne and I have friends since I was ten years old… that’s over thir well it’s been a very long time and as such it is not easy to describe my love for Anne so I will simply say Anne and I are kindred spirits and these books are filled with delicious sentences that make you fall in love with the English language.

And so ends what has been a labour of love for me but this is by no means a definitive list and I’m sure you readers will have your favourites (please continue the discussion in comments).

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” Dr Seuss

Sat Nam

 ¹ politically correct