Are you a primary care giver to an elderly parent or a relative? Are you a parent? Are you smack-in-the-middle of both generations where you find yourself as a primary care giver to a parent/s and your children? Are you a workaholic? Is your partner a workaholic? Do you hold a demanding professional position where you are devoting so much of yourself and your time to nurture the role, or the organisation?
Whichever role you play, it’s challenging to say the least, especially if you have not struck a balance between looking after them and looking after yourself.
You can get so caught up in the ‘importance’ of the role as a care giver and forget that you are yourprimary care giver as well.
Society and our respective cultures have conditioned us to believe that looking after oneself is being selfish. As individuals we all need looking after and by this I don’t mean financially or even physically. Our inner-self needs love, nurturing, development, spirituality, space, peace. However we tend to put ourselves in the back seat in this area as we feel that our sole responsibility is to give love, to nurture, to care, to assist another in their growth.
To be in a position to give unselfishly, unconditionally and with pure joy as opposed to performing a ‘duty’, you need to ensure that ‘YOU’ are being well looked after, that your cup is full and over-flowing. As a care-giver you never want to feel resentful of your role or stagnant no matter how pure it is, e.g. as a parent or as a child. But… it’s only natural to feel that way and by recognising that you are a person, an individual in a very, very important role, you also need to care for yourself. No-one but you can do this for you.
So what are the ways in which you can take care of yourself other than the obvious grooming (hair, nails, clothes, etc)? All these are great and the first things we go-to to feel better and up-lifted, but they have a temporary affect. My personal recommendations for long-term fulfillment and constant feeling of being abundant are:
Self-development: Is there something you desire to learn or be other than what you already know and do? e.g. a particular dance, an instrument, and book you’ve been wanting to read, a subject you are curious about but have no time to research and learn, an exhibition that will enhance you, visiting a new place to experience a new culture, a course. Making new friends, a new hobby, or a one-time experience of sorts. I love to listen to podcasts. There are many that are educational and/or uplifting. My current favourites are ‘So Money‘ by Farnoush, ‘Magic Lessons‘ by Elizabeth Gilbert and ‘Make it Happen’ by Swamini Supriyananda.
Keeping physically fit: not necessarily with a goal of loosing weight or gaining weight. Just staying active, healthy & fit. Challenge yourself and try a new activity, have a routine/regime that works for you. A 30 minute walk 2-3 times a week, a yoga session, zumba, weights, pilates, bootcamp…
Meditation: start with 5 minutes in a day, either in the morning or at night; at lunch time if you’re lucky. Try different meditation techniques to see what jives with you, that makes you want to spend that time in the day to do it. At the moment for me it’s just watching my breathing to see how deep I can breathe in to my core and let out then to breathe in to my 3rd eye. Meditation can sound very daunting, and I am still working on it myself. When you do sit still so many thoughts cross your mind and all the things you need to accomplish. Smile at these thoughts, people, tasks, etc and say – ‘I’ll come back to you’ and let them pass.
Spirituality: follow your heart and your instincts and let it lead you to a path that resonates with you.
Community Service: Okay – so now you think I’ve lost the plot. I’m asking you to ‘give’ again! Yes I am. I’m asking you to be a part of a community at large and be part of a bigger picture. Connect with other people around you and share in something beautiful together. Being a care-give can be quite lonely. Community service is a group effort.
So how do you find the time for any of this? How do you deal with the sense of ‘guilt’ that may arise?
Juggle your schedule and routine. Wake up a little earlier; assess your schedule to see if there is something you can let go off, or something that can be delegated.
Explain to your ‘dependents’ that you need some ‘you’ time and you will be back with more to give and with more positive energy to share. Children need to learn from example. They need to also learn that self-care is important so that they don’t grow up forgetting themselves as well.
Wishing you loads of guilt-less fun on this journey… 🙂
I burst with so much pride and joy while I introduce my dear friend Sarina Jain.
I have known Sarina since we were teenagers growing up in Los Angeles. Sarina then and now is the epitome of spunk, energy, zest and Bhangra! (Balle Balle!)
I watched her perform her arengetrum (solo debut in Bharat Natyam), participate in fashion shows, dance in competitions (and win then beating my group!) and then watched her through her journey creating ‘Masala Bhangra‘.
This was back in the day of Tai Bo videos. If you were cool and fit you owned two work out videos at home: Tai Bo and Masala Bhangra.
Here you go folks… The journey of Sarina’s amazing dream becoming larger than reality!
Welcome Sarina – ‘India’s Jane Fonda’- to Colour Me Woman. Thank you for being one of my Colourful Women who I am so proud and happy to share with my readers.
What was ‘the dream’ back then?
SJ: THE DREAM BACK THEN WAS TO GET ALL MY AUNTIES AND UNCLES TO EXERCISE. EXERCISING WAS A HUGE PART OF MY LIFE, ESP AFTER MY FATHER PASSED AWAY. IT WAS LIKE I FOUND MY CALLING AND MY MISSION IN LIFE AND THAT WAS TO GET YOU UP AND EXERCISING TO LIVE A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE!
How old were you then?
SJ: VERY YOUNG! 🙂 I STARTED MY CAREER IN FITNESS AT A VERY YOUNG AGE AND I AM STILL YOUNG 🙂
Ha Ha! True. You’ve created your own fountain of youth with Masala Bhangra!
2. What is your educational background? and Professional?
SJ: I GRADUATED FROM CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY – FULLERTON WITH A DEGREE IN PUBLIC RELATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS. I DID PR FOR SOMETIME BEFORE I STARTED MY OWN BUSINESS IN 1998.
3. I remember you came to me one day announcing your first video with Sheila and Simi and how you needed a ‘funky’, cool outfit for it. Please share how that dream led you to Masala Bhangra’s 1st video.
SJ: I HAD BEEN TEACHING FITNESS FOR SOMETIME. AND THEN THIS IDEA OF MASALA BHANGRA CAME TO ME. I KNEW I WAS GOOD AT TEACHING FITNESS CLASSES AS I TAUGHT STEP, WEIGHT TRAINING, AEROBICS AND MUCH MORE. WHEN I CAME TO YOU, IT WAS FO
R MY 1ST WORKOUT VIDEO AS I WANTED TO BE THE FIRST TO BRING AN INDIAN DANCE WORKOUT VIDEO TO THE SCENE. NO ONE HAD EVER DONE THAT BEFORE! YOU CREATED A LOOK AND FEEL FOR ME THAT I USED THOSE FAMOUS MASALA BHANGRA PANTS FOR THE PHOTO SHOOT AND IT BECAME THE COVER OF THE FIRST MASALA BHANGRA WORKOUT VIDEO!
4. Then you moved to the Big Apple. Why?
SJ: I MOVED TO NYC IN 2001 BECAUSE I JUST KNEW THAT I COULD GO A LOT FURTHER WITH MASALA BHANGRA IN A CITY LIKE THE BIG APPLE. IT TOOK ME 2 WEEKS FOR PEOPLE TO GET HOOKED TO MB, WHICH TOOK ME 2 YEARS IN CA. WHILE IT WAS A HARD CHOICE TO LEAVE MY MOM AND SISTER, IT WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR ME AT THAT TIME.
5. How did you get started in New York?
SJ: IN 1999, I WAS INTERVIEWED BY A FEW MAGAZINES THAT BROUGHT ATTENTION TO MASALA BHANGRA. FROM THERE GYMS CONTACTED ME AND ASKED ME TO TEACH FULL TIME WITH 15 CLASSES READY TO GO IF I MOVED TO NYC. SO THAT WAS A NO-BRAINER. I TAUGHT ALL KINDS OF CLASSES, BUT THE ONE THAT I CREATED – MASALA BHANGRA. THIS WAS A DREAM COME TRUE. IF YOU MAKE IT IN NYC AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, I BELIEVE YOU WILL THEN HAVE A CHANCE TO GO GLOBAL, WHICH I HAVE DONE NOW.
6. What was/is your biggest motivation to spread Masala Bhangra?
SJ: MY FATHER ALWAYS TOLD ME TO BE PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN BEING BORN AND RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES. I WAS VERY CLOSE TO MY FATHER. HE IS THE REASON I PURSUED A FITNESS CAREER! WHEN HE PASSED AWAY, MY MOM WAS 40 YEARS OLD. THIS DEVASTATED ME. I JUST KNEW I HAD TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE FACT THAT HE WAS GONE ONE DAY AT 47 TO A MASSIVE CARDIAC ARREST. VERY UNFAIR. THIS HAS BEEN MY GROUNDING FACTOR EVEN TODAY. I OFTEN ASK MYSELF…WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO AND WHY DO I CONTINUE. BECAUSE I KNOW I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE IF YOU GIVE ME A CHANCE.
BUT I NEED YOU TO HELP ME OUT AS I CAN’T DO IT FOR YOU.
7. Was it ever a challenge to go mainstream with an ethnic dance and title?
SJ: OF COURSE. AT FIRST WHEN I STARTED, I THOUGHT INDIANS WOULD DEFINITELY COME. THE SOUTH ASIAN MARKET WOULD DEF. TAKE TO MASALA BHANGRA, BUT THEY DIDN’T AND INSTEAD THEY LAUGHED SAYING ‘NO AMERICAN IS GOING TO TAKE TO THIS’. AT THAT TIME, IT WAS ONLY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED ME. 16 YEARS LATER, I CAN FINALLY SAY THAT IN 2010, WE BROKE THE MOLD OF SOUTH ASIANS COMING TO MASALA BHANGRA AS NOW MANY DO. BUT LOOK HOW LONG IT TOOK ME!!!?
8. Tell us about your first TV talk show performance ?
SJ: I WAS ON THE AINSLEY HARRIOT SHOW IN 2000 AND IT WAS JUST AMAZING! IT WAS MY FIRST TIME TO BE LIVE AND SHOWCASE MASALA BHANGRA AND AINSLEY HARRIOT ROCKED IT OUT WITH ME!
9. After the US which country did you first expand to?
SJ: I EXPANDED TO JAPAN! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!! JAPAN! THEY LOVE MASALA BHANGRA AND THEY LOVE SHOUTING “BALLE BALLE”!!!
10. Please share your international journey with us....
SJ: WOW…WHAT A JOURNEY IT HAS BEEN! I HAVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO BUILD MASALA BHANGRA IN 22 COUNTRIES NOW. THE MOST POPULAR COUNTRIES HAVE BEEN MALAYSIA, JAPAN, UK, USA AND SINGAPORE! WE ARE STILL GROWING SLOWLY BUT SURELY, BUT IT HAS BEEN EXTREMELY HUMBLING TO SEE PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WANTING TO TEACH MB.
11. What were your biggest challenges on this journey?
SJ: SOME OF MY BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN LIFE IS PROBABLY STILL – HAVING PEOPLE SEE THAT EXERCISING DOES MATTER! TAKING CARE OF YOUR HEALTH DOES MATTER! AND THE LONGER YOU TAKE CARE OF IT, THE LONGER THE BENEFITS ARE! ALSO, HAVING SOUTH ASIANS SEE THAT WHAT I DO MATTERS AND IT IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLES’ LIVES EVERY DAY. I GET MOCKED ALL THE TIME, BUT I KNOW WHAT I AM DOING IS SOMETHING THAT IS GOING TO BE A LIFE LONG JOURNEY FOR ME. EVEN YOUNG KIDS TODAY, YOUNG ADULTS, WHO ARE NOT IN THE BEST SHAPE WANT TO ‘SLASH MY THROAT’ SO I DON’T SAY “BALLE BALLE” ANYMORE. I FIND THIS SAD. AND CLEARLY UNHEALTHY! AND I TELL THEM TO EXERCISE AND TRY DOING WHAT I DO BEFORE THEY JUST EXERCISE THEIR MOUTH!
Oh yes! I forgot about that.
12. Did you ever feel like giving up at any time?
SJ: SURE. GIVING UP IS EASY TO DO! BUT THAT IS JUST IT. IT IS TOO EASY JUST TO GIVE UP, SO THE MINUTE I FIND MYSELF IN A STRESSED MOMENT, I JUST TAKE A DEEP BREATH IN AND SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE SO FAR AND I THINK OF MY DAD AND ALL THOSE PEOPLE THAT DIDN’T QUIT!
13. How did you come up with the name ‘Masala Bhangra’?
SJ: IN 1998, I CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF DOING AN INDIAN DANCE WORKOUT AS I KNEW IT WAS MY CALLING! I HAD EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT EXCEPT THE NAME. AT THAT TIME, I WAS TOLD TO QUICKLY COME UP WITH ONE SO THAT I CAN START TO SHOOT MY FIRST WORKOUT. AND SO “QUICKLY” I SAID MASALA BHANGRA! AND IT STUCK. SO NOW I AM NOT CHANGING IT. I CAME UP WITH A NEW PROGRAM ENTITLED ‘BAR BHANGRA’.
14. How does it feel to be known as the ‘Jane Fonda of India’?
SJ: IT FEELS GREAT. I AM HONORED. SHE REVOLUTIONIZED THE FITNESS INDUSTRY. SHE MADE LEGGINGS AND LEOTARDS POPULAR! AND HER WORKOUT VIDEOS WERE FANTASTIC AS SHE WAS THE FIRST. SO TO BE THE PIONEER TO BRING INDIAN DANCE TO THE FITNESS INDUSTRY IS AN HONOR.
15. Hind sight being 20/20, would you do anything differently?
SJ: AS CRAZY AS IT SOUNDS, BUT NO….I AM SURE THERE ARE THINGS TO BE DONE DIFFERENTLY, BUT THAT IS JUST IT. HOW DO YOU KNOW UNTIL YOU DO IT. ONLY NOW COULD I SAY AND CONSULT SOMEONE TO DO THIS AND NOT TO DO THIS. BUT I LOVE WHAT I DO AND LOVE WHAT I HAVE CREATED AND I LOVE THE FACT IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IS SO MANY LIVES. MASALA BHANGRA IS ALL ABOUT JOY, CELEBRATION AND COMMUNITY! IT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER IN MORE THAN ONE WAY!
16. What is the one thing you consider being your biggest achievement?
SJ: THERE ARE A FEW THINGS -BEING ON THE COVER OF A MAGAZINE THAT IS INDUSTRY RELATED! BEING ON THE COVER OF A CEREAL BOX THAT WAS DISTRIBUTED TO 2.6 MILLION BOXES
JUST HAVING A VISION AND GOING FOR IT NOT KNOWING WHAT THE OUTCOME WOULD BE.
17. Where to next Sarina?
SJ: I HAVE SOME EXCITING NEWS BUT CAN’T TELL THAT TO YOU TILL IT COMES OUT! 🙂
Hmmm….. now you’ve got my curiosity. I will have to probe off line! 🙂
18. On a personal level you must have faced a lot of challenges as well – would you like to share any or a specific one?
SJ: I FACED MANY CHALLENGES. PEOPLE SAID THIS WOULD NOT GO ANYWHERE. AND NOW I AM IN 22 COUNTRIES. PEOPLE SAID THAT NO ONE WILL TAKE TO MASALA BHANGRA. BUT TODAY IT HAS CHANGED SO MANY PEOPLES’ LIVES. HATERS CAME MY WAY AND SAID THIS IS NOT REAL BHANGRA AND WANTED TO ‘SLASH MY THROAT’. I NEVER SAID I WAS DOING HARD CORE BHANGRA (WHATEVER THAT IS TODAY) AS WHAT WE DO IS WHAT WE DO AT WEDDINGS. AND THIS IS MY OWN PEOPLE BORN AND RAISED IN NORTH AMERICA. I GUESS THESE THINGS WILL HAPPEN ONCE YOU GET POPULAR AND HATERS WILL BE HATERS, BUT THAT IS JUST IT….THEY ARE JUST HATERS. THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO DO BUT HATE SO YOU GOT TAKE THAT AND USE IT TO MY ADVANTAGE~
19. You recently tied the knot – congratulations to Rajat and you. I have still to meet this Prince Charming who swept you off your feet!
SJ: IT TOOK ME SOMETIME TO MEET THE ONE, BUT I DID. AND IT IS THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD TO WAIT FOR THE ONE. THERE WERE TIMES WHERE I DID GIVE UP BUT THEN THERE WERE TIMES WHERE I JUST HAD TO BELIEVE IT WILL HAPPEN. AND EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. OUR TIMINGS ARE SET BY THE ABOVE POWERS! BUT IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL MEET THE ONE..THEN YOU WILL. YOU JUST GOT TO KEEP BELIEVING. I AM HAPPY AND BLOWN AWAY AS TO HOW 99% OF WHAT HE HAS, IS WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR IN A MAN.
20. Being an Indian girl in America following such an unconventional dream AND being so successful – what effect did this have in your dating life?
SJ: IT MADE IT HARD TO MEET THE RIGHT MAN. MOST GUYS DIDN’T WANT TO TAKE A CHANCE ON THE UNCONVENTIONAL WOMAN! BUT I WAS NOT QUITTING JUST TO GET MARRIED.
21. What made it all come together with Rajat?
SJ: ANUPA, I THINK WE MAY NEED TO ASK HIM THAT 😉
Ha ha! Touche! Sure.. as I said.. I can’t wait to meet him!
22. What is your own fitness regime?
SJ: I WORKOUT 4 TIMES A WEEK. NOT TO HAVE THIS KILLER, SICK, TIGHT BODY, BUT TO HAVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. IT IS IN MY BLOOD TO WORKOUT. I ALWAYS BRING MY GEAR NO MATTER WHERE I AM TRAVELING TO SO I CAN GET IN A GOOD WEIGHT TRAINING SESSION AND A GOOD RUN ON THE TREADMILL.
I LOVE WEIGHT TRAINING AS IT MAKES MY BONES STRONGER! I LOVE TO DO CARDIO AS I FEEL 10 TIMES BETTER POST. I ALSO TEACH MY CLASSES BUT MOSTLY WORKOUT ON MY OWN AS WELL.
23. You’re no doubt a role model to many girls everywhere in the world that you have energised with your spunk and with Masala Bhangra. Please give our readers some advice on following your passion? (I would specify – Unconventional :))
SJ: IN TODAY’S WORLD, EVERYTHING CAN BE UNCONVENTIONAL ESP. WITH OUR THINKING. I WOULD SAY THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME A CHANCE TO SHARE WITH YOU MY TWO CENTS. AND I WOULD SAY THAT YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE. I KNOW THAT YOU MAY HEAR THIS ALL THE TIME, BUT IT IS TRUE. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WILL HAPPEN TOMORROW, SO IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA THAT YOU WANT TO PURSUE, DO IT AND IF YOU DON’T, SOMEONE ELSE WILL. AND THE ONLY WAY IT IS GOING TO EVEN GET OFF THE GROUND IS IF YOU BELIEVE IN IT, PUT THE HARD WORK IN AND SEE WHERE IT GOES. SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF TO HAVE RESULTS DONE. IF BY THEN, THE RESULTS ARE TO WHAT YOU WANTED, THEN YOU ARE GOOD TO GO AND CAN GO FOR MORE. IF THEY ARE NOT TO WHAT YOU ANTICIPATED, EITHER THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE, OR RE-EVALUATE WHERE YOU ARE AT. BUT YOU GOTTA TRY IT. THIS GOES WITH ANYTHING! FROM WORKING OUT TO COOKING TO YOUR JOB TO ANYTHING!
24. A few fitness tips please before you move on?
SJ: I BELIEVE AND WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT STAYING ACTIVE IS THE KEY TO LIFE. IT ADDS POSITIVITY TO YOUR LIFE. AND IN A WEIRD WAY, IT SUBCONSCIOUSLY ALLOWS YOU TO GO FURTHER!
BUT YOU GOTTA STAY ACTIVE NOT FOR ANYONE ELSE BUT YOURSELF. LIFT THEM WEIGHTS. I SEE TOO MANY WOMEN TODAY IN THEIR EARLY 40’S WHO ARE NOT ABLE TO LIFT EVEN 7 LBS. THAT IS SCARY! SO START TO BUILD A STRONG BODY AND START TO LIFT WEIGHTS. EVERYONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO A SQUAT, A LUNGE, A PUSH UP – THESE ARE JUST BASICS.
Phew! I’m glad I can at least do those 7lbs.
25. When do we see you and where can we experience a Masala Bhangra work out in London? (I would love to be your ambassador! Ouch!)
SJ: ANUPA, I THINK YOU WERE AN AMBASSADOR THE MINUTE I ASKED YOU TO HELP ME OUT! YOU HAVE BELIEVED IN ME SINCE THEN! AND I AM CELEBRATING 16 YEARS OF MY FIRST WORKOUT VIDEO COMING OUT. I HAVE 12 NOW AND 3 MORE ON IT’S WAY! 🙂
WE HAVE AN AMAZING MASALA BHANGRA AMBASSADOR NAMED RA’SHAWN LIVING IN HOUNSLOW. SHE IS ROCKING WITH HER CLASSES AND PASSIONATELY TEACHES AND EMBRACES THE CULTURE! ITS A JOY TO SEE HER SPREAD THE MASALA BHANGRA LOVE! FOR THOSE THAT CAN’T COME AND EXPERIENCE A LIVE CLASS, WE HAVE DVDS AND YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THEM AS WELL!
Thank you Sarina! As I said… so energetic and so inspirational. I wish you luck with your ‘new’ venture and all you do. See you in London or NYC soon! Balle Balle!
The movie by Khadija al-Salami is based on the book I am Nojood, Aged 10 and Divorced, written by Nujood Ali & Delphine Minoui.
This is a true story about a young girl in Yemen who is married off to a man 3 times her age by her parents, who then gets subsequently raped by her husband before coming off age and how she seeks the help of local lawyers to divorce him.
Child marriages are still prevalent in rural areas of the Middle East, India and other developing nations. Although illegal in these countries, its confines are within the ‘cultural jurisdiction’ lead by the ‘head of the village’. These ‘cultural jurisdictions’ deem child marriages acceptable and a must to 1) protect one’s daughter from potential rape and molestation giving her the ‘protection’ of a husband or 2) to ‘receive’ a dowry if the girl’s family has fallen on bad times or 3) to lessen the financial burden on a family sooner than later. The latter two depending on the country and its customs.
I watched ‘I am Nojoom… ‘at the Asian Film Festival Premier last week at the Regents Cinema in London with two of my friends and was privileged to participate in the Q and A with the director Khadija al-Salami after the screening.
Scenes from the movie made us emotional and others made us sick in the stomach. This does have a happy and encouraging ending. Nojoom meets a very helpful lawyer whose wife takes her in after some hesitation that her own daughter would be in the company of another girl who has ‘had sex’. Once she met Nojoom she melted sErving that she was just a child.
The interrogation that followed in court of the father and husband left one baffled at the level of ignorance in these villages where they could not see how they were committing a crime and how it was a father’s right to ‘protect’ his daughter by getting her married especially when he needed money. The husband didn’t understand why he was imprisoned for ‘legally’ having sex with his wife. In their minds they honestly could not see how they were harming her.
This is pure testament that in this day there is still so much education and awareness required in many parts of the world.
The happy ending is that Nojoom wins and gets divorced and progresses to get an education and be ‘free’.
During the Q & A Khadija explained how she fought in a bid for the rights to the script against a French director as no one could do better justice to this story than her as not only was she from Yemen but Khadija herself was an abused child bride who rebelled and broke free, got an education and was here today as a film director.
She was asked about any obstacles that she faced during the funding stage, casting and filming of the movie and she related some really fascinating experiences that would have made anyone quit the project but her determination was so strong that 4 years later she had a successfully completed project.
I just had to ask her about herself. We now know Nujood/Nojoom/Nojood’s story but I wanted to know hers. How did she break away from her marriage and how did she become who she is today.
She escaped from her family and community at age 11 and went to school while simultaneously working at a local tv studio. She received a scholarship at age 16 to complete high school in America. She then went to Mount Vernon College for Women in Washington D.C. And is the first Yemeni female movie director. She ended saying that ‘anything is possible’ with a huge smile on her face.
Now that’s one phenomenal woman carrying herself with such poise and grace that one would never have guessed her past. I couldn’t hold myself back from giving her a hug and wanting some of her amazing energy.
3 Weeks of holidays for Easter, just few weeks after a 1 week ‘half-term’ break and just a few weeks before our next 1 week ‘half-term’ break. You’ve got to love the UK for all the holidays and breaks – lends to a great balanced family life… BUT also leads to huge breaks in routines for my boys who LOVE nursery and their nursery friends.
So, to minimise boredom, destruction, and madness on the double, these are the things we did to keep ourselves either out of trouble, and in some cases, ‘in trouble’! I also tried to follow the one-day-out, one-day-in rule so as not to exhaust them (and me!).
1. Cheti Chand. The break started off with our (Sindhi) ‘new-year’ festival, cheti chand, at our local temple. The boys enjoyed trying some our traditional food, watching a religious procession, bherano, that marks this particular occasion, getting their faces painted and listening to 2 slightly older boys with their teacher play the flute while messing around with one of their little girl friends. Y still asks to go back to the temple to get his ‘face painted’!.
2. Play dates with bum chums. We then had a series of play dates with their baby group & Sunday school friends either at a home, park or an indoor soft play area.
3. Body Painting. Y was slightly under the weather one day in the first week, so the boys decided to practice ‘body art’ with their felt pens all over their hands, legs, feet & nails. Rather proud of themselves saying, ‘mama, look, I’m an artist’. ‘Mama, can you draw me a tattoo like the one you have’. Great! I’m such a positive influence on the boys. I’m afraid of what they will ask for next!
4. Books & Puzzles. I opened a new box set of books and they have been enjoying being read to in the mornings, or doing puzzles with me. Since they recently had a birthday and I have hidden all the gifts, it was an opportunity for me to have them open a couple of them every few days.
5. Baking. A wanted to make a ‘banana cake’. So I hid a couple of bananas till they were really ripe and ready, and we set baking one morning making a wholemeal banana nut bread. The experience was fun as they enjoyed mashing, mixing and blending, and then singing ‘pat a cake, pat a cake……put it in the oven for baby and me’ while I put the tin loaf in the oven to bake!
6. Easter Egg Hunt. All this leading up to the ‘big’ day… Easter Sunday – for an Easter Egg Hunt. We planned this with another family whose son is the same age as Y & A. We went to the very well advertised EEH at the Kensington Roof Gardens. As this was free, you can imagine the queues and the number of families that showed up. As soon as the doors to the gardens opened, you could see the ‘chocolate eggs’ disappearing fast before our little ones could get to them. It was quite fun though and then came the Easter Bunny dancing and posing for photos with the children. The KRG is a must visit this summer for a drink or two. We were pleasantly surprised to see beautiful flamingos floating around.
7. Family Time. Some family time with my uncles, aunts and cousins who throughly indulge in Y & A with tons of attention and affection.
8. Paradise Wildlife Park. My aunt whom they refer to as ‘nani’ (maternal grandmother) treated us to a lovely day at Paradise Wildlife Park. It was a stunning day out and I have to admit feeling more like a child than the boys that day. I was so thrilled to see a white tiger, the zebras, the variety of tiny tamarins and species of the ape and monkey families, a snow leoopard, cheetah, red panda…. etc. The boys were distracted by the rides which I thought was a shame to have situated outside the wild life area but they too were quite impressed with the animals.
9. Four Seasons Hampshire. The 4 of us then went to the Four Seasons in Hampshire for a 4-day weekend. This was much desired by hubby and me as it was the perfect blend of retreat and entertaining the boys. Okay – so this is a real treat – a fair bit of indulgence but it had to be done, at least once. This particular property of the Four Seasons is very, very child friendly. The perks in short:
Kids Club: bright, spacious, has a variety of activities for toddlers up to ages 7/8 with 2 lovely playgrounds just outside. Ages 3+ can be dropped off in the hands of lovely Sitters. (who can also baby sit in your room at night). The kids club is included in the price.
Baby-Sitters: Qualified, experienced, and warm.
Kids Menu: Amazing variety of fresh food. Free for age 5 and under.
Kids Breakfast & Lunch Buffet: Also free for the above age group.
Pony riding: Ages 4+ (we did not do this for obvious reasons).
Chicken Shed: Just on the lawns. Children can also take the freshly laid eggs to be cooked by the chef for breakfast.
Indoor Swimming: You even get toddler sized robes and slippers to use!
And while you leave your children in the safety of the Kids Club… you can do just absolutely ANYTHING – like use the Spa, the Pool and Vitality Pool and the ‘Hot’ Rooms. The grounds are large and beautiful and great for a good hike which we did one morning.
10. Fun Fairs. We had one just around the corner so we took the boys on the bus and now A can’t stop saying, ‘mama, let’s go to the fun fair on the bus’.
11. Parks. We have been blessed with lots of sunny days and now even warmer ones. We are also blessed with a variety of well-equipped parks around us. It’s nice to go to a different one each time if you can.
As fun and beautiful as the 3 weeks have been… and now back to reality…
Do share your holiday experiences with us and any cool and fun activities you did with the kids this Easter.
When I was just a little girl my mother used to sing this song to me along with a few others like ‘You are my sunshine’.
Now I have children of my own and I started to sing ‘Que Sera Sera’ to them the other morning. ‘A’ loves languages and new songs so he was quite intrigued. When I got to ‘…will I be pretty…’ he said…’Mama, pretty like Katie!’.
I was taken back for a minute as I hadn’t met Katie and was surprised he made the association. ‘Pretty’ with ‘Katie’. :). (Katie is their friend in Mandarin class which hubby takes them too.)
My 3 year old boy knows ‘pretty’ and can already appropriately use the adjective! He’s already a little charmer… Sorry mums….look out for some innocent flirting from my little boy! Que Sera Sera…
And now from my head to yours….here’s Que Sera Sera…
There are some really fun and diverse activities in London to experience with children. Not all are exclusive to Easter, but there are some Spring launches and then there are the ever greens. See what catches yours or your child’s fancy.
I was reading The Week and came across an interesting fact: apparently one in four British women go clubbing with their mothers, according to a Usurv survey; 36% invite their mothers to social events with their friends.
Reading this made me smile at first. I then had this bizarre mental image of being invited by my “best friend forever”, my daughter, to a pub, agreeing to go and then finding myself sitting around a table with a bunch of young girls, chatting about their boyfriends or something and feeling incredibly out of place. Why would I want to feel that way?
Call me a cynic but I think survey statistics are sometimes begging to be challenged. One in four British women may go clubbing with their mothers but perhaps not because they want to! Also, 36% may invite their mothers to social events with their friends but what percentage actually goes?
These facts were written to suggest that the generation gap is closing fast in Britain. Indeed, our digital age has brought us closer together with regards to information access and social media; my “Baby Boomer” mum loves WhatsApp and uses it happily to share photos and jokes with me, as I do with my “millennial” daughter. And yes, I have invited my mother in the past to come out with my “Generation X” friends and myself, but only when I knew she really didn’t have anything else to do. But on occasion, she did also express a concern that it might be “awkward”, not for us but for her as a minority older person in a younger crowd.
I guess the question I am asking is: “why is it necessary for the generation gap to close?”. One answer can be found in the workplace. We still find that when multi-generational employees work in teams, different work ethics, motivational tactics and capabilities can prohibit working towards that common goal. However, I think it is important to recognise the different supporting roles that we play to our older and younger generations; we can celebrate the strengths of older generations with their stronger work ethic and whilst still acknowledging that younger generations will generally learn and adapt faster in our evolving technological environment.
When I was younger and struggled to make friends, my mother always reminded me that she would always be my best friend, no matter what. I repeat the same to my daughter today, when she needs to hear it. In our family, we have BFFs across different generations, and maybe over time, the gap will close as our relationships evolve. In the meantime, my mother, my daughter and I will continue to enjoy learning about one another; striving to develop a common language peppered by our multi-generational experiences.
The Festival of Colours – Holi – is the day following ‘Holika’ – the bonfire night celebrating the victory of Good over Evil.
Holi also marks the advent of Spring. It is a fun festival where colour ‘gulaal’ is smeared on everyone you see whether you know them or not. It’s the day all barriers are let down and all you see are the beautiful colours being sprayed or smeared all around.
I have only experienced Holi once in India and it was definitely a crazy day that I have great memories of.
One wears white on Holi as a blank canvas for all the colours to come during the day. Water guns, buckets, water balloons, and even dry powder are sprayed and dropped on people. If you’re walking on the streets, you’re sure to have a bucket of coloured water chucked on you or water balloons thrown at you. There are parties and parties galore starting very early in the day going through the day in to the evening, many are even pool parties…
Holi is the one day where everyone is merry celebrating, and the one day that everyone let’s go of their inhibitions, discriminations & barriers, and ‘play’ Holi with anyone that they encounter.
Holi signifies many things starting from the scriptures with religious meaning through to social significances and customs we follow today. These help people follow good conduct and virtues in their lives primarily the virtues of being truthful and honest which leads to the victory of good over evil. Holi brings society together and strengthen the secular fabric of our country. For, the festival is celebrated by non-Hindus also as everybody like to be a part of such a colourful and joyous festival. (www.holifestival.org)
There is also a very subtle romantic aura that surrounds this festival, which leads back to the story of Radha & Krishna. It is believed that Lord Krishna was sad over his dark complexion and thought he would never have the love of the fair Radha. One day, his mother Yashoda playfully suggested that he can smear colour on Radha’s face and change her complexion to any colour he wanted. Intrigued by this, Krishna proceeded to do so and thus, introduced the festival of colours.
In Los Angeles, we celebrate Holi at the beaches or the parks, where the whole community gets together and enjoys the colourful mahem. In London, I have only experienced it in a milder form at the temples. I have some work cut out for me so that the boys get to experience the madness AND the beauty of Holi next year!
Happy Holi my lovely people. Stay happy, stay colourful!