Walking|Perfect

f5a3865c20f84e68c732268d5ed54e38 I love going for long walks. It makes me happy. My first taste of walking for fitness started in 2007. Decided to skip the train ride from work, walking home instead. It was a 6 km journey with some incline on the way. Took me a little over an hour.

Walking from the city centre across the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a sensational experience. Sydney harbour view is truly one of the best in the world – every day walking across, I would think how extremely lucky we are to live in this beautiful city. This walk-home-from-work routine continued for a few months until we moved further up and walking was no longer a conceivable option.

The walks restarted again by end of 2008, in summer, during my maternity leave. I teamed up with a Brazilian friend (also on maternity leave) and came up with an action plan. We had quite a few unnecessary kilos to lose. Both of us, on an unspoken, silently understood mission. If you’ve ever come across a woman from Brazil, you would know that nothing comes in between a Brazilian woman and skinny – I had the perfect partner.

We spent 2 months on our mission. Balmoral Beach and Cremorne Point would recognise the sound of our footsteps and prams in tow from miles away. We averaged around 14 km a day for 8 weeks. Rain, hail or shine, just kept on walking…The results, needless to say, were exceptional. However the 14 km a day was no longer sustainable once maternity  leave was over…

I tried on and off to continue my walks but its challenging without a walking partner motivating you each day. Although I enjoy my own walking company a lot, but fail miserably in the motivation department, especially in winter months. Having a dog forces me out the house mostly but my legs are so used to walking stretches at a time, that a 3 km dog paced walk around the block isn’t inspiring.

Recently discovered the enclosed loop harbour side 7 km Bay walk around the shores of Iron Cove Bay. Its a pretty popular walking track with views of the city skyline. Seems like a good track to get back into the rhythm and whilst I’m keen, I have teamed up with friends (whoever is willing to compromise sleep ins) to get walking (non dog paced) twice every weekend. It will do us a hell lot of good 🙂

The benefits of walking are widely known, but its worth another share serving as a reminder (mostly for me) courtesy of information from BUPA:

  1. 15 min a day of brisk walking can have significant health benefits, adding up to three years to life expectancy – and every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise reduced all-cause death rates by a further 4%
  2. Boost your immunity to limit your odds of catching colds and flu
  3. Build strong bones to help protect against osteoporosis
  4. Build strong muscles and support joints to help ease symptoms of arthritis
  5. Build endurance by boosting your heart and lung’s ability to get oxygen-rich blood to your muscles
  6. Weight loss: Walking for 30 minutes burns around 440 kJ for a woman (70kg) and 500kJ for a man (85kg)
  7. Increased life expectancy: Recent studies show an association between walking and a 19%-30% reduction in premature deaths
  8. Lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and bowel cancer
  9. Protect against dementia by improving blood flow to the brain
  10. Reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression

and of course the most important benefit…..

You can consume more Chocolates 🙂

© as|fa

Magic|Mummy

Magic Dust for the First Day Of School

My kids will return to school next week, after what has been, a ridiculously long 2 month break! Discussions around routine, plans for sports & curriculum are well under way. The kids are excited at the prospect of going back to reconnect with friends and share holiday diaries.

This is the first year that we are planning return to school for both the kids. My son has successfully completed Kindergarten and what a breeze that was! The fact that he had a very pretty and kind teacher helped too 🙂 My daughter also accomplished a pivotal milestone, her first year in high school – overcoming a big learning curve as she gets ready guns blazing for Year 8! Game On!

Both of them have come a long way and I can’t help but remember their first day of big school… I was mega anxious during the lead up. The thought of managing the daycare to school transition while working full time was a challenge. I was beside myself with stress, thinking of the endless pile of tasks to complete before school started, not to mention organising the after school routines and holiday care for those 12-weeks-a-year-off!

I wish getting ready for school was as easy as following a list – its not. The gap between the information night to the actual first day was long enough for me to forget all the information that I should have retained. Does lunch need to be placed in clearly labelled brown bags or lunch boxes? What about morning tea? What the hell is ‘crunch & sip’? When do they have to wear their sports uniform? What day is news day? How do they remember to get to after school care? What about this? and What if that? The list of questions was endless and this very endlessness snowballed my stress even further as I kept thinking about how to eat this mega-freakin-elephant.

The only way to de-tangle myself out of this mess was to roll up my sleeves, make an action plan and execute it without a single whiny word. My first aim was to sort out Before & After School care. Being a working mum, it was important to organise this care and ensure it was signed and sealed months in advance. I wasn’t at peace until I got an email confirmation from after school care with the days I had requested 🙂 ✔

The class friendship list was emailed to us ahead of time, so I decided to keep that saved at arms length. Saved the school & after school care contact details on my phone. ✔

Both my kids are asthmatic, so I made a trip to the GP and organised their asthma action plan for school & after school care. Making sure to purchase the Spacer and Ventolin (clearly labelled) to hand over to school on Day One. ✔

The next task to attack was the stationary class list, uniform & shoes.  The uniform (a size up to last the entire year) was ordered ahead of time before the school closed for summer. ✔

Shoes were organised by a proper shoe fitter, Athletes Foot – I cannot stress how important it is to fit them with good quality, sturdy shoes, make sure there is sufficient room to grow. ✔

The stationary list was easily organised by one stop at Office Works. It was then I realised the need to label everything. Kids being kids, it was expected that they will lose a lunch box, hats etc. So I decided to order some colourful labels from Identity Direct, which took a few weeks to arrive. ✔ & ✔

Now with all the pre-work completed, I relaxed a little. Rest of the work was mental preparation for us all. My anxiety peaked on the first day of school for both the kids. My heart was skipping a beat or two as we completed the first day rituals. They look so adorable in their oversized uniforms ❤

There was a constant lump in my throat from the time we dropped off at the gates – till the early bell went off for the Kindy kids. I decided to take the first week off from work to settle them in. They had to get used to the school environment and become familiar with after school routine. I had a list of questions ready for the teacher and got plenty of opportunities to resolve my queries that week.

The kids were assigned an Year 6 ‘Buddy’ to help orientate them into new surroundings, school rules and be their lunchtime buddy for the month! A class parent was assigned (for the clueless parents) pretty much immediately. There was a constant flow of communication back & forth. After school care staff were amazing, they picked up the kids from class every single day for the first month, until kids were familiar with the routine. It really consoled my heart.

Both the kids were happy to go to school, no tears. They were exhausted after the first week. The drama’s kicked in after week 1 when they realised school is not free play, they actually have to work! But that faded away soon enough. I was satisfied that kids were settled and all of my endless spiralling-out-of-control questions were resolved.

As general advise, I would say, the learning trajectory is rapid in Kindy, by the end of term one the kids are reading & writing! Remember to set time aside for homework each day, there is definitely going to be readers, sight words & news…so get in the habit early on 🙂 Make sure to use reverse psychology to get updates from your kids about their day at school – expect that you will get one word responses. Its OK if you do 🙂

It all falls into place after the first term, even if you are a working mum, you can keep on top of everything. The more organised you are, the less stressed you will be, especially when you have to strike a balance between being a career woman & magic mummy.

So really, it is mostly the Mummy’s that need a sprinkle of ‘magic dust’ before school starts, more so than the kids. Just breathe, it will be OK.

For Emma, with Love & Magic Dust,

© as|fa

Roma|Italy – Part 2

BLOG 2: Diary of the Sisterhood Travels – Thursday, 10th April 14

We pretty much agreed on two things prior to visiting the smallest internationally recognised independent ecclesiastical state, 1) We need to beat the morning rush, so it had to be an early mark and 2) We will need most of the day, so no other specific plans.

There was no departing without brekkie, the hearty omelette by Rumi which pretty much gave us the required energy for more than half the day. I loved the smell of the city early morning, it was chilly, but we didn’t feel the cold because of expending all that energy walking.

The walk from our studio to Vatican City was not long, it took us less than 30 minutes, the roads had not yet started buzzing with tourists, we imagined we would be the first ones in the Vatican Museum queue. Admiring the pretty bridges across Fiume Tevere, the second largest Italian river.  We crossed Fiume Tevere from the Ponte Umberto bridge, which landed us right in front of an astonishing limestone covered building called Palazzo Di Giustizia also nicknamed as the Bad Palace, seems there were corruption suspicions during the build of this palace and hence the nickname.

Palazzo Di Giustizia © as|fa

Palazzo Di Giustizia © as|fa

Just a few meters up the road was the cylindrical shaped, Castel Sant Angelo. it was one eerie piece of architecture, previously used as a fortress but now a museum. Something about that building gave me goosebumps! Strange.

Castel Sant Angelo © as|fa

Castel Sant Angelo © as|fa

The angels overlooking the river at the corner of Ponte Sant Angelo were remarkably beautiful, it seemed as though they were in conversation with each other, we admired them for a moment before continuing towards the Vatican. St Peter’s Square was already in sight!

Ponte Sant Angelo © as|fa

Ponte Sant Angelo © as|fa

Ponte Sant Angelo © as|fa

Ponte Sant Angelo © as|fa

I kept trying to conjure up the images I had created during my read of Angels & Demons (Dan Brown). I had imagined St Peter’s Square to be much bigger. Did the book say it can hold upto 300K people? We didn’t intend to find out, we deliberately avoided Easter time!

As soon as our feet edged on the boundary of St Peters Square, we were inundated with tour guide reps trying to convince us the need for a guide to beat the queue. We did not plan for this. The queue at St Peter’s was already about 500 meters, and it was 9.15am! Unanimously we decided not wasting time standing in queues.

St Peters Basilica © as|fa

St Peters Basilica © as|fa

The first tour guide representative trying his luck with us radiated that typical arrogant Italian demeanour, which pretty much decided his fate. He used the analogy (in an arrogant tone) that without a tour guide, the experience will be like watching a video without audio. In hindsight, he wasn’t wrong – but we were not going to give him our business because of his arrogance.

The next rep seemed very jubilant in contrast, as all Africans are – we tried our luck haggling the tour prices – he agreed that my sister and my daughter both were going on CHILD tickets and I had to pay as an ADULT for the guided tour of the museum and Sistine Chapel – go figure! I don’t know how Rumi got away with it, in fact come to think of it, she got a LOT of attention in Italy! Anyway, he handed us over to his equally jubilant sister. We all had to rush towards the gates of the museums before the tour started!

We knew we made the right decision as soon as we started walking towards the Vatican Museum to gather with our tour group – the entry line was endless!

Vatican Museum Tix © as|fa

Vatican Museum Tix © as|fa

Looking at the walled enclave of the Vatican for the first time was interesting. The security is very tight and I realised once we entered the museum the reason for the high walls and ridiculous security.

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Walled Enclave of Vatican City © as|fa

Our guide was a cute little Italian lady who constantly used the word ‘Allora’ throughout the tour – we had no idea what it meant, assuming she was suggesting we move on. She shared interesting bits of history as we went along with a surprisingly-for-an-italian hint of welcome humour. One of the first things she pointed at entry was the coloured statue of Augustus, the first Roman emperor.

Coloured statue of Augustus © as|fa

Coloured statue of Augustus © as|fa

It is certain that Augustus was originally painted and this particular one was restored and somewhat exaggerated – made us wonder whether Rome in fact was a colourful city all those centuries ago?

Vatican Couryard

Vatican Courtyard © as|fa

We walked through the perfectly manicured courtyards and stood at the balcony which overlooked entire Rome. Imagining the many historical figures, who stood at this exact spot contemplating the future of Rome and how the view had changed over centuries.

View of Rome from Vatican Balcony

View of Rome from Vatican Balcony © as|fa

The collection of relics in the museum is amazing, the renaissance artists handiwork, the mosaics, every single piece is impeccably adorned on those high walls and floors. It is enchanting grandeur which we cannot describe in words. The paintings on the walls deceivingly seems like wallpaper. You can feel the wealth of the church pouring from each corner.

Earlier renaissance aretefacts © as|fa

Earlier renaissance artefacts © as|fa

Our guide gathers us in a shady corner of the courtyard next to two posts depicting the image of “The Last Judgment” and “The Ceiling” – both handiworks of Michelangelo inside the Sistine Chapel. She told us a story about Michelangelo and the paintings within the Sistine Chapel, leaving us wondering in amusement 🙂

Although Michelangelo’s copious talents earned him the regards in Italy, he had his share of detractors. He had a contentious personality and quick temper, which led to fractious relationships, often with his superiors.

Sistine Chapel - The Ceiling © as|fa

Sistine Chapel – The Ceiling

This ceiling was painted by Michelangelo when he was in his early thirties between 1508 to 1512, 4 years. He was hesitant to agree painting inside the chapel as his preference & love was sculpting, however he succumbed to the pressure from the Pope. Later in life, he documented tremendous physical strain that he endured by painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Sistine Chapel - The Last Judgment

Sistine Chapel – The Last Judgment

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel. But the story behind the painting ‘The Last Judgement’ is worth a hear. Below are words (taken without permission) from a post courtesy of my sister:

“The master of ceremonies of the Pope had issues with Michelangelo during the 6 years it took him to finish this Painting inside the Sistine Chapel, The artist could not be disrespectful verbally, but showed his annoyance in the painting by depicting Minos the king of Hell with the face of the Master of Ceremonies. When the Painting was unveiled the Master was horrified and complained to the Pope, who liked the painting so much, replied to the Master that if he was in purgatory maybe the Pope could have requested to Christ, but his Jurisdiction does not extend to hell. And so the face remained in the painting, and is still there.”

Our tour ended with the Sistine Chapel and we were free to explore St.Peters Basilica, one of the greatest churches of Christendom and the burial site of its namesake, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, Saint Peter.

Inside St.Peter's Basilica © as|fa

Inside St.Peter’s Basilica © as|fa

St. Peter's baldachin, by Bernini - St. Peter's Basilica. St. Peter's tomb lies directly below this structure. © as|fa

St. Peter’s baldachin by Bernini. St Peter’s tomb lies directly below this structure © as|fa

We noticed the pretty cast iron vents on the marble floors showing a lit room underneath us. We found a small circular stairway leading us down through a passage to the papal burial tombs. Very few people were around. As we walked past all these various tombs, I wondered where Constantine was eventually laid to rest. Sarcophagus of St Helena (Constantine’s Mother) we had seen earlier in the museum.

Pretty cast iron vents in St Peters Basilica © as|fa

Pretty cast iron vents in St Peters Basilica © as|fa

I had goosebumps entire time exploring the dimmed underground, slightly claustrophobic area, it felt like the walls were caving in on me. My sister mentioned in passing a few hours later about the constant flow of lovely yet eerie music that she heard while exploring the tombs. I heard no music at all. Neither did my daughter. We never solved that mystery.

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St Peter’s Square © as|fa

We decided to call it a day and started looking for the exit out of this dark underground repository of papal tombs. As soon as we saw day light, we were relieved and decided to take a picture of the square. It was then, a very unusually-tall-for-an-Italian good looking guard came up to us, looked into my sisters eyes and said ‘Prego’. I nudged my sister and said, ‘either he thinks you are pregnant or he wants to impregnate you. Both are viable possibilities’. It so happens that we had taken the wrong exit and he was directing us out of the square. We laughed our way out of the square, admiring the Swiss Guards 🙂

The Swiss Guard © as|fa

The Swiss Guard © as|fa

We were ravenous after all the walking and needed food urgently, we decided to eat right outside the square at Universal Bar, ignoring the advancements of a flirtatiously annoying waiter. I don’t understand the Italian men relentless pursuit of flirting. It doesn’t work on us, in fact it had the opposite of their desired effect. Gobbling up lunch, we considered taking the bus back as our legs were numb. Boldly we decided to walk it, taking the route through Piazza Navona.

The main reason to pass through Piazza Navona was to check out the “Fountana Dei Quattro Fiume” popularly known as “The Fountain of Four Rivers”. This fountain made it on our list because of Dan Brown 🙂 You must now have figured out our love for Mr.Brown.

Fountain of the Four Rivers © as|fa

Fountain of the Four Rivers © as|fa

The four rivers this fountain represents the four continents where papal authority had spread. The rivers are the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing America.

Piazza Navona was buzzing with street artists and tourists, we really wanted to sit and relax, but our body wasn’t complying. My sister was attracted towards a painting of Venice by a local artist, it was a beauty. She deliberated for a long time on that painting, eventually decided to wait until we get to Venice to determine whether this painting was an accurate representation of the city..

It took a lot of will power to drag our feet back to the studio. We were exhausted and aching for a good nights sleep before our journey to Firenze!

Leaving you with a picture of our collective souvenir from the Vatican xoxoxo

Our Vatican Souvenir © as|fa

Our Vatican sounenier © as|fa

For those of you that want to read PART 1 of our Rome Adventure, it is here.

© as|fa

Boko|Haram

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What is the value of human life these days? Especially Nigerian human lives, those that survive one day at a time, in constant fear of being massacred.

Leo’s candor blog raises some fundamental questions about the reluctance of support from western countries to tackle the plague that is ‘Boko Haram’.

The media should be ashamed of their lack of interest and bias, broadcasting with deligence news that transpire in first world countries – what about air time to the improvised struggling nations. Is their plight not news worthy?

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Dauntless|Peshawar

Dauntless Students & Faculty members demonstrate their resilience this week, returning to Army Public School in Peshawar after last months heinous and cowardly attack. May they always stay protected & remain strong against terror, using knowledge as a powerful weapon to defeat all terrorists operating under the guise of religion.

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Human Brochure|Canberra

An image gallery of all amazing food & trinkets encountered during my Human Brochure weekend trip to Canberra, ACT in November 2014. I was invited to experience a Gastronomic 5 course degustation meal @ Sage Restaurant – incredibly Indulgent Food Coma and tour of the ever evolving & beautiful Canberra. Thank you for the invite, Mumchic and #HumanBrochure!

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Welcome presents from ‘Handmade’ Shop © as|fa

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Canberra doesn’t suck – Mints © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms – Thai Infused Oysters © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms – Yoghurt & Pea Soup © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms – Blueberry Sorbet with Caramelised Almonds © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms – Bloody Mary © as|fa

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Sage Dining Rooms © as|fa

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Sage – Mint Garden Bar © as|fa

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Sage – Mint Garden Bar © as|fa

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Sage – Mint Garden Bar © as|fa

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Sage – Mint Garden Bar © as|fa

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Brekkie @ Local Press © as|fa

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@ Mercure Canberra © as|fa

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@ Mercure Canberra © as|fa

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@ Mercure Canberra © as|fa

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@ Old Bus Depot Markets © as|fa

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@ Old Bus Depot Markets © as|fa

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@ Old Bus Depot Markets © as|fa

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@ Old Bus Depot Markets © as|fa

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@ Old Bus Depot Markets © as|fa

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@ Old Bus Depot Markets © as|fa

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@ Rose Gardens © as|fa

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Wedding|Fracas

Imran Khan married ex BBC Journalist Reham Khan this week. So what? What’s the big fuss? Don’t get why most Pakistani’s have got their knickers in a twist, especially the PTI supporters that blindly, in a state of trance, followed his camp. It seems those supporters have placed Imran Khan on an imaginary and ridiculously high pedestal without objectively understanding what he really stands for. Looks like a case of the supporters digging their own trench with expectations that greatly exceed what Imran Khan could ever deliver. Supporters need to decouple his private agenda from his political one, the two agendas are not the same. A leopard doesn’t change his spots. 

© as|fa

Reflections|Burial Rites

Iceland-physical-map

As promised in my previous post, this is my second book reflection in less than 12 hours (yes I know, you can officially call me a book worm).

Iceland had never come across my mind as a travel destination, until, I read Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I realised that I’ve never explored much about this Nordic Island nation, the language, culture nor the socio economic demographics. This book is not a travelogue nor does it focus on describing the surrounding terrains in great detail, on the contrary, its a pretty seriously poignant book. My fascination came mainly from the northern Icelandic characters of the book as well as references to the Gaelic language. It has made it on my list of places to visit in Europe – even though the entire country is volcanically and geologically active today!  My mind can only imagine the marvellous glaciers & valleys that are waiting to be explored..

Coming back to the reason for this post, ‘Burial Rites’ is a début novel based on a true story by an Australian author Hannah Kent. Set in the 19th century, it follows the story of a convicted murderess, Agnes Magnúsdóttir, and that of a young reverend, Tóti, who is assigned as her spiritual guardian attempting to salvage her soul before her execution – by way of beheading. This was the last application of capital punishment in Iceland in January 1830.

What a beautifully written first novel this is. The prose shifts between third person and Agnes Magnúsdóttir thoughts. Time investment made by the author for the deep rooted historical investigation, is evident all the way through. Hannah Kent has magically weaved facts into fiction effortlessly, the story flows through from start until the very tragic end. I have to admit, I shed a few tears for Agnes. The book methodically takes us through the timeline from Agnes’s conviction to her execution. Carefully, it details her every thought, the memories from her past, the behaviours of the characters surrounding her during her serving time, the link between each of those characters with Agnes and finally the mark that she leaves behind.

As you read through the book, as each string of her memory is revealed, it makes you wonder what made her kill? Whether Agnes was truly guilty or not? Was her execution justified? The transformational journey of all the characters, right to the very end, is beautifully set. It is not a surprise that Agnes was eventually executed, that is a historical fact – but I encourage you to read the book to witness yourself how Hannah Kent has beautifully woven facts with fiction to tell us a tale of Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s plight, her personal history, her burial rites.

Closing with a line from the book:

‘I WAS WORST TO THE ONE I LOVED BEST’  – Laxdæla Saga

© as|fa

Reflections|Gone Girl

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My holidays will be concluding soon so I want to pen down my thoughts on two books before they become a distant memory. I have (unsurprisingly) managed to devour them both in a matter of days, both equally addictive but in totally different fictional themes. This post is about Gone Girl‘ by Gillian Flynn.

I’ve wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the trailer with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Generally my preference is to read the book prior to watching the movie – this time wasn’t an exception. Its been a while since I’ve read a good thriller. I picked the book up with no expectations, only the curiosity of resolving the mystery behind the disappearance of the protagonist, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike).

I can pretty much sum up this book in three letters – O.M.G. Gillian Flynn has contrived a seriously twisted tale of marriage that will leave your brains (and knickers) in a knot. No joke!

I remember reading pages at every single opportunity, in between chores, at traffic lights (crazy, I know), in the loo (dont gasp, you do this too), deferring my sleep to grab some extra pages. I was totally and utterly hooked until the very last page and then I reverted to trusty Google to read reviews and opinions and now desperately waiting for the DVD to compare and contrast this book and its movie release – I am expecting the movie to be true to the book since Gillian Flynn has written the screen play herself.

Gone Girl is written in first person alternating between Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) in the present and Amy Dunne by means of diary entries of the past. Both Nick and Amy’s account of their marriage is so conflicting, its shocking. Since the disappearance of Amy on the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary all clues seem to be incriminating Nick and his introvert-ism doesn’t seem to help his case. Prior to her disappearance, Amy has managed to set up a treasure hunt (its been a ritual ever since they married) with clues that will lead Nick to his 5th Anniversary present, symbolising wood. The drama that unfolds with each passing clue and insights slowly being released by the antagonist and protagonist will leave you baffled. I couldn’t really decide who the villain was in this book.

We all know marriages are hard, we evolve over time and are rarely ever the same person we used to be when we first got married. This book has taken that evolution to the next level. Gillian Flynn has royally screwed with my mind. Hats off.

© as|fa

 

 

Reflections|Forty Rules Of Love

Damask

My first encounter with Elif Shafak’s work was back in 2012. I got my hands on the book ‘Forty Rules of Love’ as it came highly recommended by a few. My initial thoughts assessed this to be another soppy love story, well, it is and isn’t at the same time.

I will reserve sharing any spoilers or crucial plot details in this Blog, this is purely my personal reflection of the book, serving the purpose of repository for my favourite of the Forty Rules – right at my fingertips. Note: The book is true to its name, it does contain the Forty Rules, in case you were wondering 🙂

Contrary to the perception of many (especially the male species), this book is not going to unleash the demands of strict adherence to 40 rules of love from your better half, nor it is designed to get anyone in relationship troubles – statements like ‘you must follow the 40 Rules if you love me’ or ‘you just broke rule # 6 of love’ will not transpire, so relax.

The book develops two storyline, one set in recent times, following an American housewife, Ella, and the other takes us back to the 13th Century in the times of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī  practising as an Islamic scholar & juror, prior to his journey as a brilliant poet and Sufi mystic. I was vaguely aware of Rumi and had stumbled across some of his poems on and off over the years, it was intriguing to read some of his history (even though it was in a semi-fictional setting), but, the character that rattled my brain waves was not Rumi but in fact the dervish Shams-i-Tabrīzī – I had never heard his name before reading about him in this book – he was Rumi’s spiritual instructor, transforming him from a scholar to the greatest poet and emblem of Sufism.

Back in 2012, I was in a poignant state of mind, reading this book made my heart ache and flutter all at once as it resonated deeply on many levels. In my mind & heart, I was trying to comprehend the circle of life and death, questioning our existence, purpose, the complex web of our relationships and the value of friendships. This book couldn’t have landed at a better time. It didn’t give me solutions, what it did was open the door to mindfulness. It validated my gut instincts on many issues that were clouded around my head at the time and therefore my engagement or connection with the book, whatever you want to call it, was at a personal level, especially forty rules delicately articulated by Shams-i-Tabrīzī (or should I say the author) throughout the book.

By the time I was done with this book, I was affected to the extent that I felt a desire to learn more about this dervish, in fact even investigated visiting Konya, but it did not materialise. A few weeks back, I questioned whether I would feel the same way about the book as I did nearly 3 years ago, so I re-read it, this time, with a pleasant frame of mind. The impact was lower on the profoundness scale, but there nonetheless.

Of course, I still loved the book and continue to recommend it to my friends, it was refreshing review of wise words, eloquently spoken by Shams.

I’m certain that anyone reading Forty Rules of Love will most definitely be influenced in their own positive way – as there are philosophical lessons to learn and food for thought in the forty rules of Shams.

I’ve taken the liberty to list a few (11 out of 40) of the rules that resonated with me – I’d like to share these with you:

1. Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.

2. Most of problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.

3. Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to look at the end of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

4. East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.

5. Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

6. The whole universe is contained within a single human being-you. Everything that you see around, including the things that you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you set to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness.

7. Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone we tumble straight into the fires of hell.

8. The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.

9. While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.

10. This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. For not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does it beautifully.

Saving my favourite rule for last:

11. God is a meticulous clock maker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.

© as|fa