Archive | July, 2014
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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, “In 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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