Originally posted on :
When I first moved to Los Angeles it struck me, what people considered, “beautiful”. Everyone wanting to take away their own uniqueness, to become some universal sense of “beauty”. Always younger, bigger lips, bigger eyes, bigger breasts, smaller nose, straighter hair, thinner build, but these attributes that didn’t necessarily fit their own body; like playing Mr. Potato Head for adults. How odd it seemed, that in a town of dreams (that you’d be the one to stand out in millions of dreamers) you’d want to strip yourself of your unique look, gift, perspective and become someone else, conformed, to fit into a category. What is this really all about? Beauty to me lies in how pure your spirit is, how much you own your journey, who you are, all of it. We judge and fix with age, when we should embrace and become the best version of the potential of who we can be, with our own unique life story, put in this body, at this time in history, with the experiences that have shaped our perspective.
Life lessons to learn from youth and animals: there’s a true artist in every human, the ability to be truly present, unbridled emotion, uninhibited imagination and endless energy. There’s an art to the state of being present in the here and now, owning each moment and who you are- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Being grounded comes from embracing everything. There’s a universal connection to the humanity that is shown in tiny humans and mammals: why do people get plastic surgery, read books, watch movies; why does a youtube video of a cat hugging another cat get 44 million hits? It touches something so raw and universal; it recaptures the state of mind of when we were “young” and just inherently believed in the good in humanity and having not yet learned the concept of being accepted.
This shoot made my inner child want to dance. Always forewarned, almost comically, its been said ”Never work with children or animals”. How about both? Nothing can be more honest than the purity of spirit I got to soak up on this shoot. Welcome to Narnia, where magically, animals talk, beauty is effortless, joy is endless and imagination can run rampant. Aren’t they just a little vessel bottling in an explosion of possibility, love, curiosity and experience? Children at play are in a constant state of “yes”, an investment in observing with all of their senses. People go to acting school to reteach themselves to be that free again, be that honest and be truly in their own body. Here’s how I feel about the lessons learned from the timeless Joann, Lily, Ever, and Monty.
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As said in my earlier posts, I have lived in U.A.E. for many years, which means I had the privilege to meet people from various different nationalities.
Once I was with my friends at the DubaiCreekPark when we came across an elderly couple from U.K. They were tourists and since it was winter at that time they were loving the weather (because the winter in U.A.E. is like the summer in U.K.).
We talked about places in U.A.E. and some known places in U.K. which me and my friends knew from the stories we read at school (At that time I hadn’t been to U.K.).
Then our conversation went to the differences in our lifestyles. They said their son and daughter in law live in a house with one son, who’s very cute. But it’s not like it is in most Asian countries where after retirement, parents stay with their kids. They said it’s very unlikely that their daughter in law would tolerate them for more than a week. And they said, most of their time is spent in travelling. Their next stop being Thailand. They complained about the teenage girls being pregnant in U.K. and overall the lifestyle of the youngsters over there. I and my friends were a little shocked as we thought that the European people preferred this way of living. They preferred to stay on their own.
Anyways, when I went to DubaiPharmacyCollege after some years. There were teachers from Pakistan, India, U.K., France etc. We were sitting in the college’s cafe and again a similar debate started. But this time the teacher from U.K. got emotional, stood up and said: ‘I bet none of you people staying away from your parents call them everyday. Well, let me tell you, I call my mom every single day’.
Plus, the Indian teacher told us about how even in our countries we see numerous cases where the people tell their parents to get out of the house. Even here in Pakistan every once in a while there’s a case being shown on telly where they show parents living in Edhi.
So, I don’t really think we should pinpoint people from specific nation and say they don’t love their parents as much! The kids that do love their parents will show care towards them in their own way and those who don’t, won’t. (regardless of where they are from).
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Europe, family, feelings, France, India, love, Pakistan, Parent, parents, relationships, Thailand, U.A.E., united arab emirates | 2 Comments »
I read this poem some years ago written by Khalil Gibran from Lebanon. I liked it as it had something different to say. Here’ an extract from the poem:
Your thought urges you to marry wealth and notability. Mine commands self-reliance. Your thought advocates fame and show, mine cousels me and implores me to cast aside notoriety and treat it like a grain of sand cast upon the shore of etnernity. You thought instills in your heart arrogance and superiority. Mine plants within me love for peace and the desire for independence. Your thought begets dreams of palaces with furniture of sandalwood studded with jewels and beds made of twisted silk threads. My thoughts speak softly in my ears: ‘Be clean of body and spirit even if you have nowhere to lay your head.’ Your thought makes you aspire to tittles and offices. Mine exhorts me to humble services. You have your thought and I have mine.
Najma Aijaz, 25th April 2012
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Arab, dreams, heal, Khalil Gibran, Philosophy, positive, Prophet, self reliance, services, students, Thought | 1 Comment »
Originally posted on eimaan:
Perfumes are very popular in the Arab world. Back in 2009 my roomie, Sahar, was from Sudan. She was very fond of scents. She used to lit Oud in the evenings and I began liking it. It used to make me feel lighter.
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I recently attended dars (religious lecture) where the mentor was explaining about how important it is to not waste time and utilize it well.
There were once 2 men in Delhi (India) who were visiting a Muslim scholar to take an oath/pledge. While they were at the mosque they began comparing the size of their mosque’s wodhu tank (wash basin) with the wodhu tank at this mosque. They were not aware how the Muslim scholar looked like, so continued discussing that, while the Muslim scholar was nearby and heard them.
When they came to him to take the oath the scholar said to them to go and measure their mosque’s wodhu basin (wash basin) with this mosque’s wodhu tank before taking any oath!
The 2 men uncertain at first, realized that the scholar said this because they were wasting their time.
Clock tower in Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Just yesterday I heard this incident and today I got to know a colleague of mine, Saad, who’s senior to me was telling us about his article ship days (intern ships for chartered accountancy students) in KPMG company. He told his company he would not be able to work before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. and on the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). The reason was that he had a job in Hyderabad (2 hour drive from Karachi- the place he was in). He taught students accountancy in Hyderabad and used to go there on Fridays nights. There were times he used to reach Karachi on Monday mornings straight at the office! Plus after some time, during his article ship days, he opened his own institute under his dad’s name (because it’s not allowed for students doing article ship to open an institute). He spent time over there as well and still does. He teaches many commerce related subjects and I have attended his classes for one of my subjects, corporate reporting. I found him a really good teacher. That’s obvious as he has masha Allah worked so hard for where he is now.
Even at dars, the scholar said we can’t imagine the sawab we get from Allah (SWT) treasures when we recite Subhan Allah. So why not should we recite Alhumdulilah, Astaghfirulla and these beautiful words more often (while at the car, while sitting idle etc or even specifically taking time out to recite them.)
I read Railway Children by E. Nesbit during childhood and remember a part of it: When Peter’s at the bridge doing nothing he says that doing something in a place makes it much more beautiful and lively.
So let’s utilize our time and make our surroundings more beautiful and lively
Najma Aijaz, 15th April 2012
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Since I have studied in U.A.E. with the international students, I think culture shock is something students should be taught about.
Originally posted on On an e-Journey with Generation Y:
Having travelled a lot over the last 10 years, I have really enjoyed visiting many countries learning of their history, geography, cultures, religions and ideologies. However, for the first time, I suffered culture shock on two different occasions on our recent autumn break and now can fully understand what it implies.
As we were traveling through four different countries, mainly by public buses, I did not want to carry Easter eggs and thought I would just buy them close to Easter Sunday. To my dismay, I could not find any eggs anywhere. On Easter Saturday we were staying in Mostar, which is a predominantly muslim country. I tried the smaller shops and the supermarkets that were close to the old city, but to no avail. This caught me unawares and left me with a void that can only be described as culture shock.
Locked in a bathroom
Enjoying a great meal of local dishes at a restaurant in Mostar, I needed to go to the bathroom. I set the switch to lock the door, but when I went to leave, I could not open the door. After a minute of trying, I started to call for help through the locked door and the window that was slightly ajar. After 5 mins or so, I could hear a gentleman outside my door. Unfortunately, he could not speak English, but he appeared to understand my plight and tried to open the door. Then there was complete silence! Again I felt that feeling akin to culture shock – in a land where English may not be spoken well.
However, a few minutes later, our waitress was at the door. He could speak English and after another 4 minutes or so, was able to manouvre the lock to let me out.
As my passion is global education, I often think about what our students should be taught in regard to global competencies. Should we teach culture shock, help them to cope with this feeling, learn how to mimimize the feelings etc? I also remember taking one of my students to Mumbai, India for the Flat Classroom Conference, several years ago. To help aid the transition to a completely different country, we spent time talking about what Mumbai would be like etc and we also stopped over in Singapore for two nights. Here English is spoken widely, the city is reasonably similar to our capital cities, it is clean etc. However, Hannah missed so much from home whilst we were there – eg our Holden cars etc.
What do you think? Should our students learn about culture shock? Have you ever experienced culture shock? How did you overcome it?
We are now back in Croatia where Easter eggs and decorations are noticeable everywhere, and I feel far more comfortable again.
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