Where does this road go?

10 Dec
Dream big....or should we?

Dream big….or should we?

I grew up dreaming.
Didn’t we all, you think.
We all did, indeed, each with our own “Castles in the air” as Louisa May Alcott so eloquently depicted in her novel.
But, what happens when that castle becomes your refugee?
When you hide inside it to save yourself from the present by conjuring up that better future?
But worse, what happens, when you are here in the future and that castle rests on your shoulders, heavier than the tallest skyscraper, wider than the Great wall of China. A whooping palace, that is as daunting now as it was appealing, due to the mere fact that you see the realities of the world around you now more clearly than you ever could before. Due to the fact that your handicaps are out here in the open for you to take notice of.
Due to the fact that you are running out of time and the noose around your neck is getting tighter.
What do I do now, when it all seems to be slipping away?
Do I change my dreams?
Do I fight harder or do I let them engulf me and take me down?
I put these questions to you as much as I do to myself. Because, when your dreams start feeling like an extra load, do they really remain dreams? Or do they become something worse? Something unfathomable?
If you begin to see no future without them, are they really worth it? Or are they worth more?

Dreams, can they one day become your worst nightmare but at the same time seem to be your only salvation?

Feminine Fridays

1 Aug

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God. This is so hard.

So, those of you who read my last post know what I have been trying to do. The plan was to accept my true roots and embrace them more than I have ever before. That is, to become more feminine.
Why? Along with all that I said in my last post, it might be that I feel that when I am championing the rights of women, I want to be someone who represents not just the core of them, but to let the world see the beauty we all hold inside us. All aspects of that beauty.

But. It’s hard. To be all….feminine? Then again, any challenge is, I believe. Still, it was only after a day of whining over having to keep my back “straight” and how it was hurting every part of me, that my sister quoted an article to me that finally shook me out of my childish squirming.

What the article said, you want to know now, I suppose. Simply this; ” We are meant to be angels, but to acquire our wings, we need to have a posture that can let us carry them justly.”

Don’t misconstrue the words, but try to attain their depth. To be perfect as people, to let the world know that we are attaining a polish, a strength, a goodness that can be revered, we need to form a basis that can make it all believable. A skeleton on which we can put it all on.

Long story short, my shoulders are still straining with the continuous effort to keep them in “place” and I still have to be reminded about it, but it’s becoming a tad easier, and the reminders have gone from maybe a hundred to ninety. Not a big achievement, but in one week, I wasn’t looking for a miracle.

However, as I keep working on this little bit, here is this week’s challenge.

Don’t jump around to look at someone who calls from behind you. Rather take your time, and put in grace and a slow flow, counting till five while you turn around, and the simple act of turning will never be the same.

Um. Thanks. For killing my life!! As in, who doesn’t jump around when called from behind/on hearing a hot voice behind them that could probably be Orlando Bloom himself?? As in, he would probably take insult from one’s

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and never talk to one again.
Ok. Yes, that’s not happening. But. Let’s get real. Something like that might!
Or not.
Either ways. I will take the poison here you guys. I will take the bullet. Catch the grenade. In short, I will give it a shot, for back down from a challenge, I will not, till they knight me as Sir Gull-the-challenge-winner!! (If anyone from the royal family is reading this-ANY royal family- feel free to give me any title with the knighthood. I don’t have any particular demands.)

Till I get my knighthood, I will try to keep up with you guys.
Or maybe even after.
Just kidding.
Not going anywhere. Except till next week when I will tell you how this challenge went.
You? May I suggest, you also join me in this effort of mine to bring feminity back? Just follow these “Feminine Friday” posts, and me on Instagram, and I will keep updating you on how to get a step closer.

Till next week,
Gull

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Feminine Fridays

26 Jul

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I think that’s one word I need more in my life.
In fact, that’s one word we all need more in our lives. All, as in, all of us women. Or anyone else who is overly interested, to be honest. I am not a hater judgmental or anything.

I write this post after two years (yeah, I woke up a little late) of research on this particular topic-all aspects of it. Some of the observations I made were funny, but then, some of the articles that I came across were plain LOL-worthy amusing.
Most often, the words “lady like” and “feminine” get confused, which can be overlooked for one can’t go on without the other, but when people mix “femininity”
femininity” with “sexuality” it just gets downright HILARIOUS.
Again, though, let’s give them the benefit of doubt here, because maybe it’s logical that whatever is alluring is sexual and whatever is red is sensual. Pfft. (Google blood, people!)
Yes, femininity in women is attractive. And, research shows, that it’s so because that’s how women were in the more basic of times and when we own something that is such a deep part of us, we conform to our roots. And we become so in sync with ourselves, that confidence is inevitable. And nothing is sexier than self confidence, except maybe Chris Hemsworth a well baked molten lava cake.
For men? It’s again basic human instinct. For, woman is defined to them as being femininity itself in the DNA they inherited from their fore-fathers. Who probably used this as a measure to select their “most suitable” mate. Wow!

However, like always, I digress.

As I was saying, I need a little more of this word to become a part of me. Not that I walk like an ogre or eat like a monkey right now, but for I crave that “delicacy”, that “polish” which comes along with this adjective. Hence, from this Friday onwards, I will try to take up one good tip on being more “feminine” and incorporate it into my life. And, on the way, I will try to document it all here.

Here is this week’s mantra;

Stop slouching. If you can’t hold your own neck up, what respect can you expect from anyone else.

Well. When mommy said it, it didn’t work. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this time.

Catch you soon,
Gull.

Summer reading list

18 Jul

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What is it about summer vacations that inevitably makes one reach out for their novels? To crave for long hours of solitude with nothing more pressing on one’s mind than to finish that particular book?
Is it the fact that as kids we were taught to make reading a book before bed a habit? Or is it because it is much easier to stay in the comfort of the soothingly cold indoors in comparison to letting ourselves scorch under the sweltering sun?
Or maybe, it’s because in the silence of the summer nights, it is easier to get lost in the worlds of our favorite writers than to engage in world wars with the mosquitoes.

While I try to fathom the answer to why I once again find myself wandering down the aisles of our local bookstores, to ‘celebrate’ the start of my summer vactions with the “cha-ching” at their tills, and why I am again going through the yellow, fragile pages of those long cherished, too often read books of mine which I am afraid might literally ‘break’ in my hands, I will leave you with a list of some of my most recommended summer books. Whether you are heading out for a day at the beach, or traveling back home-these books are going to be perfect ‘partners’ for you.

The ones I am re-reading.

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1. A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini
No one can put heart breaking realities into enthralling words like Hosseini, and this book is no different.
It is a moving story about two women from different backgrounds, different generations, different ideologies brought together by chance and finding through each other the most unexpected of hope, friendship and love so pure and so powerful that it gives birth to the unlikeliest of heroes in a Taliban-run Afghanistan.
It’s heart wrenching, it’s unimaginably beautiful and it makes you hurt for Mariam as Laila would, and worry for the later as Mariam would. In this story of love, loss and the inevitable pain which comes with the both of them, Hosseini brings to life two women whose story you will never forget.

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2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Most know Tolstoy via Anna Karenina, but I personally believe this to be his better work. He is great at not just creating beautifully flawed characters, but he makes you appreciate the fact that nobody is perfect. And, above all, that no human is complete without the other.
This book highlights every flaw we humans are susceptible to, and how these flaws become more pronounced in the times of danger, of war. Placed in the time of French invasion of Russia, it shows through five aristocratic families (and their extensions) the impact of the war on the Tsarian society. When affairs ran torrid, sacred brotherhoods died protecting their secrets and young girls were for only to be flaunted to boys who wore their hearts on their sleeves, the book shows one how war can change everything and yet strengthen what was already strong. How nothing is inevitable when everything seems impossible. How gender doesn’t define heroism just as love is not infinite. A story about brothers, fathers, warriors and politics, lovers and affairs , murders and money-it has a bit of everything and, yet, just everything in perfection.

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3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
Who does not know Jane Austen? Everybody does. Still, somehow, this book goes unread by the most avid of readers. It’s no Pride and Prejudice, but it’s serene flow and uncomplicated core makes it a must for any summer reading list. Charming, simple, funny-it stages a heroine who, when we meet her, has lost all she thought she could gain, but yet is still in the process of development. And, develop Anne does, much to the happiness of her mother’s best friend and the one person who loved the real her before she knew who that was. There isn’t much drama in it, and the fact that the heroine’s metamorphosis is believable, just as the characters are, makes the book like a soothing lemonade on a hot summer evening.

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4. Me before you by Jojo Moyes
There is something sweetly enchanting about how Jojo writes which urges you to finish the book without putting it down. Funny, quirky, easy-flowing, this book deals with a sensitive topic so demurely that it touches your heart while at the same time showing you the day-to-day woes of quadriplegic patients. The book starts off with a dissatisfied Will Traynor, annoyed with the destruction an accident has left him with, till Lou comes in. Lou, a bundle of energy, is exactly what his bleak life required and she shows him, and us, why life needs to be not just loved but cherished. Poignant, sweet and reaffirming, it is a must-read, especially for a little holiday entertainment.

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5. One Day by David Nicholls
David Nicholls really did it with this romantic-comedy wonder. The sharp humor, the unexpected laugh-out-loud wit, the chemistry with the will they/won’t they question every-looming above Emma and Dexter over a span of twenty years would have been enough, but add to it the undercurrents of some deeper realities, the hilarious chance encounters, the shocking reunions and the bittersweet (and extremely moving) ending chapters of the book and you have not just a best seller, but a book that you want to turn to as often as you can. (Caution-Some readers shamelessly own up to the fact that they shed a tear or two during it, hence, read at your own risk.)

The ones I haven’t read before

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6. The Goldfinch
I just started reading this book, and, to say that it was hard for me to pull away from that and come write this, is an understatement. As I don’t know the whole story, I will leave you with Amazon’s summary of it and this; it won a Pulitzer for a reason, the book is perfectly, wonderfully written up till now.

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by a longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. And , his talisman, the painting, places him at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

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7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
This work of Green comes strongly recommended from at least half a dozen friends. This book is also based on teenagers, but, why shouldn’t it be, when John seems to know them better than they themselves do, this line bearing proof to that, β€œIn the dark beside me, she smelled of sweat and sunshine and vanilla and on that thin-mooned night I could see little more than her silhouette, but even in the dark, I could see her eyes – fierce emeralds. And not just beautiful, but hot too.”
Between Miles, who just moved to a new school, Martin, the friend who takes it upon himself to teach Miles how to do everything right, and Alaska, the gorgeous ‘cool’ girl who hides something behind her smiles, lies another eventful tale that draws the teenage life to perfection and shows you the harrowing reality of how precious life can be.

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8. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
If you love online shopping, you will love this Cinderella story about Nasty Gal co-founder and CEO, Sophia Amoruso. General consensus? Inspiring enough to make you want to build your own empire. My two cents? The strength and wit of this woman have always been attractive and I can’t wait to read this one. Besides, who does not love Nasty Gal?

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9. Paradise by Judith McNaught
For the romantics amongst you, there is nothing better than a McNaught novel. With characters you fall in love with in a second and dialogues that you will keep in your heart forever, it’s one of the best books to read to unwind yourself.

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10. Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
Not the breeziest of summer reads, but surely one of the most inspiring ones. I came across this woman wonder via Ted and a little research turned up this book. She is all about women empowerment, on an individual level as well as via helping others like us. And her tips on her Ted talk were amazing. So, if you want to improve any aspect of your persona (your presentation, speech, interpersonal skills) do give this book a read and learn how to take your career into your hands and succeed to your goals in leaps and bounds. After all, the tag line of the book says it all, Women, Work and the Will to lead.

I can’t wait to get started on these.
Hope you love any and all of them too if you decide to read them.

Love,
Gull

11 things-We love about summer

5 Jul

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If you are a Pakistani, you know it’s not an easy job to love the summer season here in the planes.
In fact, most of you will say that that’s an understatement.
But, what is life if we aren’t optimists? So, to pursue that optimism and to take everyone along with me on that ride, I asked around a question that would force people to look for the positive in even this barely-liked season.
Here are 11 of my most favorite answers, all by parts funny, shocking and-above all-overflowing with positivity, to the question-

What do you love about the summer season?

“Longer days. More time to shop.” Zari, 29, HR consultant.

” Two words. Summer dresses-yup, Barns got that right.” SSK, student, 21. (Um. Sure.)

“Lizards. Kidding. This year? The World Cup. FIFA is the bomb.” UR, student, 23.

“Vacations!! Off to Europe, baby.” Gina, teacher, 31. (Take me with you!)

“All the pool parties. The days at the water park. Water fights…did I mention pool parties?” Reems, workaholic, 18.

“The summer break. Why?Cause, hello, brings everyone back in town.” H, amateur photographer/student, 23.

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“The tan, of course. Oh. Oh. And the bright colors-like, (they are) everywhere.” Sidu.

” ‘Hot boys’? Or…even better…getting to go back home. In fact, scratch that, mangoes have got to be what keeps me alive in the summers.” Reesh, aspiring philanthropist/student, 20.

“The laziness of it all. The slow mornings with the warm nights and the never ending hang outs all mixed together to give the best of cocktails.” GZ, Business Consultant, 33.

“Swimming. Mangoes. And the spirit of us Pakistanis to do it all despite the killing temperatures.” Dua, student, 21.

“A cool drink on a hot evening with gossip and some friends. Doesn’t get better (than that), not in the summers at least.” Rabail, 29.

The season isn’t so bad after all, or is it?

Enjoy it while it lasts,
Gull.

10 things-that turn off women.

4 Jul

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We all have quirks. We all love said quirks in different forms in others. However, there are certain things that result in the natural gag reflex from us within a second. Or, to put it delicately, that disgust us. We women have our own list of such remarkable attributes too, just like men do (yes, we all know about your obsession with white teeth and curvy tall girls) which we love…to avoid.
Astonishingly, when I asked around what would be a turn off for women, or what would be the deciding factor for them when it came to their attraction (or the end of it) towards the opposite sex, I found too many similarities in their answers, and yet too many differences.
So, rather than counting off each “unacceptable flaw” for you, I will give you a list of my ten favorite answers to, “what, in a man, would turn you off?”, from ten completely different women.

“That guy over there? One with the fake smile and crap fashion sense? Embodiment of what would make me run away.” Diju, student, 22.

“Over-ambition. They are the ones who never get anywhere. And too much chest hair.” Sara, fashion intern, 23.

“Too much hair (chest-or anywhere for that matter-except on their heads). Acne. The list goes on. Oh, and I hate boys wearing jewelry.” S, student, 21.

“Gossiping guys-worse than any ‘Mean Girl’ nightmare I tell you. And, lack of hygiene. Cringeworthy! “ Rabia, writer/single (that’s how she wanted it.)

“My answer puts all men off the acceptable list, maybe, but lack of gentlemanly manners. The ‘ladies first’, ‘will walk you to the car’, ‘will take care of you’ attitude that’s been missing, that’s a huge turn off. “ Zee, architect-to-be, 23.

“Short men. Fat men. Gay men (you know the type). Hairy men. Lazy men. Still, worst amongst them would be those who have the audacity to joke unfeelingly about my gender in front of me. Get a life guys. ” Noor, photography enthusiast, 23.

“Lack of self respect. That doesn’t mean narcism is attractive either. Both are equally repulsive. Fattee, engineer, 27.

“Short height. ‘Nuff said. ” Nash, interior design internee, 19.

“The wannabe fashionistas. I mean, are you kidding me? Just suit up, bro.” Rida, lawyer (in the making), 22.

“Food falling out of their mouths when they eat.” M, student, 21.

And here is one extra, because I just couldn’t keep it to ten and because I personally agree with it completely.

“Guys that curse too much.” Anz, student, 21.

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Impact

27 Jun

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In life you meet all sorts of people. And they all end up having a different meaning to everyone, depending not solely on who they are as an individual, but rather what kind of an impact they have had on those around them.
Hence, it would be fair to say, that despite there being a need to develop ourselves as our own people, as distinct individuals, we can not go on to be any one till we have that human interaction, till we judge and are judged in return. Till we get a chance to be a person. In short, we aren’t “we” till we have others to help us be so.

However, I digress. For this post isn’t on how we develop into who we are. Nor how,without impacting others in a million ways,we couldn’t exist (for that has to be one of the main criteria of our own existence and to be aware of others’).
Rather, this post is dedicated to all those people who in one way or another, influence our lives.
In a small way, in a billion ways-almost they all do, but at the end it sums down to three main kinds of them-at least three main kinds of those for whom I am writing this post, those which I would like to commemorate this with or those, who for a second, I want to remember.

First up, there are those, who come to be there. To last. Maybe they don’t cause enough of a stir in us, maybe they don’t cause that eye opening change in us, in our lives-but they are there, to stay. And the warmth of their presence in itself has such a continuous effect on us, that we are changed, little by little, forever. Yet never to realize how. Or why. The glow of their presence is just enough to let us shine through life. To be our best, our strongest.

On the other hand, there are those, who walk in and out of our lives, without leaving any imprint on us. Without being able to extract anything more than a tiny smile from us as they come to the threshold of our memories, once in a blue moon or two. We could have known them for days or months, or years. But they are to us but like plain bread. Nice, sweet, but unimpressive. Boring. Forgettable.

Finally, there are those, who make us question every step of our lives before them, and change us on so many levels that we realize we are no more the same person. That we never will be, and we are fine with that. Nay, we are happy with it being so. For this change, into a different person, a new human being, they make it anything but smooth yet extremely exciting. They help us find an ‘us’ we were not even aware of. They charm us, they entice us. They come like hurricanes, wreak havoc in our lives, and then they help us put it back together in a way completely unforeseen. And, mostly, in a way that makes us ask ourselves why we hadn’t been so before. But, we won’t stay that way either. A new stimulus will come for sure, our body-our core-would respond to it in a new way. And again we will alter, but yet build up on all that was there before.

I love this third category of people. And am constantly on the look out for them. They have this energy, which the others can’t feel, but its completely in sync with yours. This aura that you feel they borrowed from you, yet it’s somehow different. This pull, which makes you feel like there is an invisible thread joining your souls, which begs you to think if that connection was always there just waiting to be discovered and felt. If that person was always supposed to be your storm and your support, your salvation at the same time.

You might be thinking why I write this. Just two reasons; one, this is my way of honoring and thanking all the people that came, especially those that effected me in any way. And for pushing you to look around yourself, find out any such people in your life, and thank them.
And, two, I had a recent brush with one such person. That’s all it came down to. And though every part of my soul begs me to try a little harder to get that person in my life, to let them impact me, be my storm-I won’t. My instincts might be right but if it has to be forced, then it isn’t worth it.
My best friend disagrees, for she believes that this kind of a connection is too rarely felt to be let go of this easily.
But what are best friends for if not for arguing over…almost everything?

The point is not if I will get that person, the point is if you do get that person, let them flow over you like the Tsunami, for what would be left of you would be so much more.

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