Monday, April 10, 2017

"H for HakunaMatata"

Every one of us who watched The Lion King know this song-  Hakunamatata, where Elton John stole our heart by composing music for all those beautiful lines! Hakunamatata translates to "no problems" or "no worries". I remember the most favorite line - "Hakunamatata what a wonderful phrase . It means no worries, for the rest of your days!" In my growing years this song had a great influence on me. Such a scintillating and inspiring song this one is but once you grow and as you take a plunge in to your own life and experience the happenings around you, will you be able to sing Hakunamatata with out a second thought?

source: here

"Hakunamatata is for sure a wonderful phrase
But can you say Hakunamatata in every single phase?
To actually feel it, to rise and loudly sing,
we need continuous practice of not giving a shit about a thing!

With so much happening in the world around you

From loneliness and war, to hunger and deaths, is it easy to make Hakunamatata true?
A tragedy is not really a tragedy till it hits home
And when it hits, there is no time left to escape the storm

A young boy committing suicide in the neighboring city is a volatile news

When the same incident happens in the neighboring house it gives more blues
We get worried, we are careful , hope and wish it should not happen in our house
But do we even try to know, why for that seemingly normal kid, life had to louse!?

Watching the kids dying like fish out of the sea due to a chemical explosion

Makes me feel, hakunamatata is after all just my delusion
What or who is responsible for ending those innocent lives?
Is God vigilant and listening to those pleading cries?

If only fish could also fly in the air
If only a bird could also swim in the water

If only there was an escape for every victim facing a disaster
If only there was a punishment for every heinous monster!

If only there were no tears and gloom but only warmth and love

Then the earth could have been for you, me and all a treasure trove
If only every one had friends , a family and strength which eases the ache
We could have sang ,"Hakunamata" always and forever without a break!

Original song from The Lion King

PS: Started off the post on a happy note but ended up jotting these lines. May be my real subconscious mind lead to this

This is my day 8 post for A to Z Challenge 2017 #atozchallenge 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"G for Goa Travelogue - Day 1"

Goa is a state in India famous for its beaches, churches, portugal forts, freedom in air, happening pubs, casinos, high spirits and other spirits at reasonable prices ;-). Goa is the poor man's Las Vegas. I visited Goa in June 2016 and the travelogue has been pending since then. Myself, Imran and my brother planned to go Goa as we had a long  weekend. We boarded a morning flight in Hyderabad and reached Goa roughly in one and half hour. As and when I entered Goa I could feel the sultry atmosphere and started sweating bad. We reached around lunch time and checked in to our beautiful Estrela Do Mar resorts near the Calangute  beach. The name felt fancy to me. Estrela Do Mar is a portugal / Spanish word which means star fish as per google. Humidity was severe, june being the rainy season and as almost half day was over, we were not sure of where to go.
Resorts- Pathway to room. The beautiful night view

After having a delicious lunch at resort which included fried prawns, spicy chicken noodles and quenching my thirst with sweet  baadam milk (YES I dont consume alcohol :) ), we hired  a cab and started off to Agauda fort as per the cab driver Yogi's suggestion. Fort Agauda is a 17th century portugal fort which has a light house as well.  This fort is built as a guard by Portugese on the Sinquerim beach. After roaming around the fort at around 4:30 PM in the evening , it started getting very dark and cloudy. I loved the view from there and as it is closed for tourists after 5, I quickly clicked some information written near the light house to read later! I only opened it now to read.  :-P

Walking towards Agauda
About Goa forts

Agauda fort and light house
It started drizzling by the time we were leaving the fort. We stopped on our way back to resort at the Sinquerim fort . This felt the most scenic and dramatic spot to me with fort leading in to the beach and windows in the fort through which you can look at the endless sea. This spot is behind Taj Vivanta and attracts huge crowds due to its nearness to the sea. Huge waves crash across the walls of the fort and totally drench you if you stand near by. It was fun to watch everyone trying to drench themselves and freeze those moments in videos and pictures. The below picture is my favorite. I can stand there gazing at the sea for hours.
The beautiful Sinquerim fort

Sinquerim beach in the evening
We called it a day after spending a long time at the fort and came back to our resort. The housekeeping staff gave a pleasant surprise by arranging the towels in the shape of swans in our bed room which gave us quite a honey-mooney feel ;). After freshening up we went to Calangute beach. The resort practically opens up in to beach. It felt amazing to just walk on the resort pathway and realize that  the beach is in the backyard of the resorts. The day was quite refreshing and we retired finally after a long night stroll on the beach sand...
our room after beautiful arrangement of swans ;)
This is my day 7 post for A to Z Challenge 2017 #atozchallenge .Would be continuing the travelogue during the challenge or some other time.

Friday, April 7, 2017

"F stinks Fakeology"

Fake emotions are the flavor of the day. Fakeology is not a real word but I like this cool term which is widely used by many. Wherever you go, whatever you do you cannot escape fake people and fake feelings. In the long run you can do nothing but learn fakeness a bit, so as to tolerate them or to just get rid of them. Generally fake people are quite sweet and seem empathetic when you discuss your problems. When you discuss your success, progress or some positive result in life, the same people shun it. Other than those real close friends who wish your well-being, it is not advisable to share your immense happy moments with all. Happiness feels good when shared with selective few who do not have any vice towards you.

I had some strange conversations with few such people during my pregnancy revelation. I was trying to conceive from 2 plus years and when I became pregnant during the time, I was least expecting, it definitely felt like a big celebration to me but I was sensible enough to not make a fuss of it. However I thought sharing the news with people who know my struggle makes sense. But I was wrong. This is how conversation went with some X.

X : "I am so happy for you.  How many months pregnant are you?"

Me: "Entered 5th month."

X: "You don't seem so. Everything is fine?"

Me (feeling little surprised): "Ofcourse things are OK. Belly size is not same for all."

She: " Good. You told others?

Me: "Not yet. Will tell when belly shows may be after 6th month."

She: "Ya. Anyway it is better not to make a celebration out of it. We never know what may happen in first pregnancy."

I  was dumbstruck.Those words stung hard. I can't even imagine myself saying some such thing to even a person whom I dislike a lot. Here I am talking about a person who has an idea of the challenges I faced, was supportive at few junctures and seemed like actually sending positive vibes my way. I was not sure how to react. I told , "I am not eager to make a fuss of it. People react in a weird way." I managed to mumble those words and walk out but that irksome feeling stayed in my head for few days. I somehow felt the emotion in the above conversation reeked of reality and not fakeness. It is not easy to be fake always :)
Interesting quote: source- here
I was dead scared during my scans and appointments but by God's grace there were  no visible complications.

Whatever she told in the above conversation snippet may be true. Nothing is reliable in the first pregnancy. Nothing is ever reliable in life. It is all a matter of fortune and God's will in scenarios where we totally have no control. I revealed my news to her as I felt she of all will understand as she sailed in the same boat. But what she said needs complete insensitivity towards the listener or may be some real hardship she faced which made her utter such factual statement. May be for some saying things transparently on face feels better than just being happy for others! I am not sure what exactly it is but I cannot fake my emotions during peoples' hardships and then show an opposite state of mind when they are happy. If I really don't care about a person, I stay neutral from the very beginning. If I do care, I care no matter what

When you feel you are strong, smart and think of giving an extremely honest advice, do enter the other person's shoes and think of a situation when same things are said to you, then you may realise the gravity of it irrespective of your sensitivity range. Why show concern and emotion which almost seem real when in struggle and why to not show happiness in the same intensity when there is a positive outcome? --- This question always puzzles  me. After that day I didn't utter about pregnancy to any of the folks around or acquaintances. Only when it got too obvious I told to those who see me every day, just as an announcement with zero emotion!

Even if I try and think it is just the way few speak and there really are no bad intentions, I don't feel convinced! After delivery, till date I haven't heard from her :) !

You often come across fake smiles, fake concern and fake emotions and it is very easy to distinguish the reality from fakeness but at times it is a dead end and you just fall bait for it! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

E for "Estuary"

An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.  Source : wiki

The below shared image is of a  beautiful sangama point , where Gosthani River meets the Bheemili beach. This place, not much explored by tourists looks gorgeous and unused with clean , clear water !

We ended the year 2015 with our vizag trip and on the last day of the stay made an impromptu plan to travel to this sangama point in a boat which started at the river bank. It was great fun as it was totally isolated and I felt like I own the spot. I did not feel like leaving the place but we had to. As we reached the meeting point, there was no much water depth for the boat to keep rowing. It stopped as if brakes were applied, mid water and we had to hold the boat to not loose balance. It was dragged to the shore and the sight was so beautiful.

 * Standing in water at the merging point , with the waves of the restless sea to my right and the calm and stable river to my left* was PURE bliss :-* 

Estuary. Sangama point at Bheemli

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D for "Diary page from Delhi"

Delhi , the capital city of India is impregnated with history. Every bend of the street, every nook and corner exude history. Too many kings, dynasties , invaders and their beautiful monuments have given Delhi a special status on the map of India. I am happy that I got a chance to stay for almost an year in Gurgaon which is a neighbor to Delhi. I got a chance to explore the rich food and culture the city can offer. 

Delhi is known for its tourism and also the extreme summers and winters. When I stayed there, in the  month of December the day used to be foggy till 12 noon. In the nights just after 8-9 P.M. we used to shiver and the fog used to drench the car's window panes. But the chilly weather is enjoyable and the joy of eating hot jalebi or samosas in Delhi winter is incomparable!

Delhi has tombs of many Mughal emperors. In December 2012 on one wintery evening we visited Humayun's tomb.  It is the tomb of emperor Humayun and is quite famous. The intricate designs and patterns are a delight to watch for any artist. We arrived late and it was almost the closing time in the evening by the time we went inside. The guards were politely asking the tourists to leave and whistling everywhere but we managed to sneak in to the tomb requesting them saying that our stay in Delhi is about to end, which was actually true. We clicked few pictures and then I went inside near the actual tomb and was lost in thoughts, thinking about the history and awing at the architecture. I suddenly turned around saying something to my husband Imran, but it was stark silent and could see no one in the vicinity. Thanks to my fetish for horror movies, I felt I saw some shadow behind me. I again turned around but could only see some shadow of tree and a lamp dancing on the wall in the evening shade of light.

Illusion can be the cruelest thing. I still was feeling presence of some one or  some thing near that tomb area. The age old belief that historical monuments for sure have spirits roaming around didn't help much and specially if it is a tomb then undoubtedly the spirit would be lingering there as per the stories we read and movies we watch! I gasped. My throat was suddenly dry. I kept calling Imran and quickly walked towards the entrance. In an attempt to immediately get out of there I stumbled on a cement block and almost broke my toe. I took the support of a near by pillar and was able to stop myself from falling flat on face. Some repair and renovation was happening and there were many paint buckets and wet cement patches here and there in the tomb. I successfully came out. Those few seconds felt like hours. I saw Imran some where, 20 feet away from me happily clicking the sunset. I ran towards him and bursted out, asking  him why he left me all alone inside the tomb! After hearing an earful he understood I was scared and started laughing loud. I joined the laugh too but trust me when fear grabs you, it can show you visions !
Tomb clicked from outside
Sunset from the tomb

We happily came out after clicking some satisfactory snaps of the tomb. The architecture is beautiful and mimics Tajmahal a bit. Many bollywood scenes and songs are shot in this place. One such famous song is shared below. It feels lovable and peaceful whenever I listen or watch this song!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Click Baby Photography Review"

Recently we got our baby photoshoot done by Suryakant Raut from who is a maternity and baby photo shoot expert. He covers variety of occasions of new borns and  also makes creative videos and potraits. The session started at about 11:45 A.M. at our own place and lasted till 3 P.M. in the evening. When he entered with a huge trolley bag full of props and frames, it felt like some magic show or a dance show was about to start and when he revealed all his props and plans we all were exuberant and it sure felt magical. Even if you have all the  equipment, props and every thing set up for the shoot, with out real enthusiasm, patience and passion a baby photo shoot is a bad idea and Suryakant seemed to be having loads of them which gave me an idea that the session is going to be extraordinary.

As it was scheduled on a hot summer day, I was worried that Zaara would get cranky and not co-operate at all but surprisingly she was enjoying the shoot and Suryakant was also wonderful in persuading her. The way he waited for each best shot and tried to calm her down patiently showed his experience with babies. We were super happy that she listened and was calm through out the shoot, posed for us in whatever way we wanted and the bonus was that she smiled a lot too! Luckily he captured most of  her smiling  shots.

Then came her feeding  time and we all took a break for about half hour till she again got in to good mood. All shots were  done in sync with our house environment. The props were carefully chosen so that they blend with the design of our  home and garden.

I loved the intricacy of the photography. My most favorite shot is shared below. She seemed like a blessing from heaven in mid of the plants as if she was given birth by the mother earth. I just can't stop appreciating this click. There were many more dreamy, dramatic, funky , funny snapshots which captured our happiness perfectly.
One of the many amazing shots
I also loved the shot shared  below where our baby is holidaying on a sunny morning. I can write a story for each photograph, such is the detailing of  the  photoshoot. I feel bad as I did not get my maternity shoot done by him. I  have seen his work on the website and it is fantastic. I am not sharing all the clicks here but you do get an idea of his work on looking at these pictures!
With Sunglasses
I thank Suryakant for enthusiastically finishing the photoshoot and I also want to thank his team who covered our cradle ceremony. Both the outcomes are  beautiful. I feel so elated on seeing the result of his hard work and wish him success and many more milestones! Happy that we bumped in to and decided on getting this shoot done!
Our beautifully decorated cradle from the ceremony captured aesthetically

If you are in or around Hyderabad you should opt for all your baby events. To know more contact him on facebook at Click Baby Photography!

This is also my third post for A to Z Challenge 2017 #atozchallenge

Monday, April 3, 2017

B for Becoming a Mother...

Being a mother is a role to which I am trying my best to get used to. Though it is a beautiful feeling It is not always a bed of roses. Roses have some spiky thorns too. It comes as a package with elements like sleeplessness, disorientation, being zombie mostly, anxiety, still having the after effects of pregnancy hormones, losing your cool, trying to get used to the entire idea of a person completely dependent on you, freaking out a bit-OK a lot, not being able to do the things you usually do and so on so forth. Postpartum is tough and I am still dealing with it. A mother learns on job forever and the learning never stops. A mother comes as a savior to a new mother. With out my mother my new motherhood would have been terrifying! The duties of mother start immediately on the hospital bed even before she is cleaned up. As soon as the baby was cleaned up, she was neatly wrapped in a soft blanket and  brought to me and  I was instructed that I should breastfeed her. I was like  "Excuse me! Didn't I just deliver? Can it not wait?" But it will not wait is what  I understood!

The first feed apparently is very important and I was taught, how to feed the baby, my first lesson even before all my senses started working. As and when she was kept on my chest, may be the warmth of  her body kick started the motherly instincts or may be it was just too much to take for that day but I cried, I actually wailed looking at her, who had already opened her eyes and was keenly staring at me. I felt that part, that small part of my life was Happiness :) It was just the tip of the iceberg. After all the bloody, gory environment was cleared, I felt like I was out of a murder scene where every one witnessed the crime :-)  ! I was shifted to my room but I couldn't rest for even a minute. I whatsapped my best friends, chatted for a while and kept staring at her cradle as it felt magical.

Multiple peoples' differing opinions and suggestions were mind boggling as I was already weared out. With Congrats messages in phone and visitors in the room flowing in and out and hospital staff repeatedly knocking the door, I barely got the privacy to be with her and sleep to my heart's content, but even in the mid of exhaustion I was enjoying this miracle by God. It was unbelievable to think that a tiny person came out of me and is already screaming, crying and gazing at me! Hospital staff was helpful but I was not discharged immediately as she had slight jaundice infection. Her photo light treatment started and she started screaming extremely loud due to inconvenience which broke my heart. A UV light was kept on top of her cradle, which helps in correcting the bilirubin levels. I came to know that years back people simply used to put the kids in sunlight and get the infection treated but now everything is monitored closely and is blown out of proportions. We couldn't deny the doctors and baby's safety was the most important thing at that point of time so our stay got extended and hospital bills doubled! It was a relief coming  back home and tasting the home made tea, food and even water after 5days. I stepped in to hospital at 3 A.M. on 10th Feb and stepped out in to day light on 15th Feb.

My entire family is supportive and my mom and husband are more than supportive. I cannot imagine my role as a mom with out them. I soon realized, this is not a job which I can do with perfection, single-handedly and need lot of training! Without my mom teaching me the basics of parenting and helping me out with each and every task I would definitely have felt handicapped. Without my husband burning the mid night oil along with me I would have been dead by now. I want to salute mothers, fathers and all those single parents who do all this with zero help! 
Feeding the baby, keeping her clean, maintaining hygiene, changing diapers, talking to her, calming her down and trying to understand different patterns of crying are the basic new parenting skills every one needs to have on their resume :) Even if we haven't excelled, we are doing a satisfactory job is what I feel. Having said that I did acquire few skills naturally. May be that is the  magic of parenting!
source: here
Being a mother comes with other miscellaneous challenges like being put on pedestal by every Tom Dick and Harry forever, people questioning your parenting style, X,Y, Z giving some advice which gets added to the endless list of advises. Advice keeps pouring in from all directions. Some are worth listening and some are tiresome and all of a sudden everyone seems to be having an opinion about your choices. The first question which every one poses after delivery is, Is the baby being fed enough breast milk or if it is the bottle feed? :) At times I feel like taking a break from all this and just be myself and enjoy the solitude. That is when my family comes to rescue. Being a parent is definitely a miracle but I don't want to fake it by saying that every minute of it feels magical. You are stressed out, worried and always lost, specially when you are a first time mom.
source: here
But ya when your baby smiles looking at you, then you ease a bit, when you see that your touch immediately calms her down you swell with pride and when you kiss her and feel energized you don't mind the stress you take!

My baby recently started smiling a lot, specially in the wee hours of morning and we all compete to hold her, just to look at those pure smiles free of the worldly stuff! Now I gotta go as it is the feeding time. My posts will just be anecdotes from tomorrow as I want to survive the challenge !

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A calls for "Announcement" and "A new beginning"

July 9th 2016 is  a date I will always remember. I had a gut feeling that there was something different going on inside me from few weeks. I  randomly did a home pregnancy test, like I used to do in the past months hoping to see those magical two lines. But this time I casually did the test, like a routine act to rule out the possibility but ... voila it came positive. I couldn't believe my eyes. As I was still sleepy at 3:30 A.M. in the  morning, I rubbed my groggy eyes and looked at the test result, startled. I didn't know how to react, though I felt a jolt in stomach and performed a mental jig. More than excitement, I  was worried because I heard home pregnancy tests are not always absolutely correct.

I woke up my husband and it was not really an announcement but a doubt I expressed, "This thing here, it came positive!"
image source: here

I still remember the way I told him  and  it feels quite funny now. He too was startled and I immediately questioned him, "What next?" He asked me to relax and that we will go to doctor for confirmation. I kept the tested device carefully in bag but did not talk to any one else other than my mom. She couldn't control her excitement but I asked her to be calm till we are sure about this. Morning 5 A.M, itself I whatsapped my doctor, silently thanking the boon called technology and networking, and sent images of the two pink lines! She was more elated than me but she also seemed to compose herself and told us to meet her, the first thing in the morning. Immediately after scan when she confirmed the pregnancy, I was super excited. I asked her 100 times, 100 questions, Are you sure ? Can we tell others ? Is every thing OK ? What should I do now?

First thing she told is, RELAX and that it just is the beginning and there is a long way to go. She told I might be 5-6 weeks pregnant and asked me to come for further scheduled scans and appointments and WARNED me to not reveal it to any, just yet. I was worried. The conversation with her was already stressing me out ! I just nodded , hoped and prayed that God should not play any cruel joke. I wished that everything should go smooth. As my family was facing some personal challenges and stress, I kept my fingers crossed and hoped that this tiny sparkle of happiness should enter our lives, brighten it and divert us for good. When she said, "Afshan, it is going to be a long journey," little did I know that it indeed is!

Initial excitement of pregnancy turned to a day to day challenge, as weeks and months grew. I was totally under the control of my changing body , hormones and mindset. There were weird thoughts, fears , dreams, vulnerabilities, tears and what not! All in all it indeed was and still is a roller coaster ride. When I came back home and announced it to mom-dad, my brother and in-laws I had the initial set of tears. I don't know if they were tears of happiness or if I was just overwhelmed and troubled but I was feeling a mix of so many things. I was really not feeling pregnant other than some odd queasiness, which you feel when you enter the examination hall a half hour late during your board exams or when you just have to face an interview which you really want to crack!

I sat down, letting it sink in, calmed my self and cooled down. As I was new at work place and not much conversational, I was not sure with whom I should share the news, so I did not. Some of my friends were elated and were jumping in joy which doubled my bliss but I later understood that folks around you will not necessarily be part of your happiness and high spirits, even if they seem quite friendly :).

 I would be talking about other pregnancy challenges , some funny stories, about people, their opinions, unsolicited advice and miscellaneous stuff which happened in these 9 months, during my A to Z challenge. In between I may talk other random things too! 

I am happy to announce on my blog that I gave birth to an angel on Feb 10th 2017 at 11:07 P.M. after a long eventful day. The contractions , the ordeal of pushing and the lingering feeling that I may die lasted for almost an entire evening :)  I want to introduce my princess, "Zaara Parizaad Khan" to the blogging world and the muggle world too (I mean the non-writers;-)) in the below video:)

Thank You!

This video is made as part of her cradle ceremony invitation!

Introducing Baby Zaara

This is my first post for A to Z Challenge 2017 #atozchallenge

To be continued ... 

"When God Spoke to Me!"

Is it for the love of God, you do what you do? Or is it your hunger to wake up something sleeping within you? What do you mean to do with th...