Today I had the pleasure of being caught in a cross-fire between two sisters-in-law who could not stop gushing about each other! Yes, you heard me… gushing…
In the morning, on my journey in to work, I called one of my best friends to catch up as it had been awhile. Yesterday was her birthday and being the beautiful and popular girl that she is, I could barely just wish her ‘happy birthday’, so today was our catch up conversation. Her brother’s wife, also a beautiful soul, was en-route to London today and I was due to have lunch with her. The conversation was about how my friend’s sis-in-law spent the entire day organising my friend’s birthday along with some surprises all at her home while also preparing to catch a flight to London that night. She couldn’t stop praising her and all the beautiful things she does unselfishly.
Then I had lunch with the sister-in-law who couldn’t stop speaking about her husband’s sister in the highest of regard and how her birthday was so special because she is so special and how she gives so much of herself which was rewarded on her birthday by even the children she works with at a refugee camp.
Both girls have grown up with each other, and have been close through out. My friend was always told by her parents to learn to be like their daughter-in-law and today the daughter-in-law says how she is learning so much from the daughter. They are both on a spiritual path, both so giving of their time, so positive, unbelievably helpful and so unlike typical human nature, have no personal agenda or ulterior motive to benefit from their goodness. They spend their time and money generously towards many charitable organisations or people in need. They’re growing in leaps and bounds and are such amazing inspirations to all of us who are lucky to have them in our lives. You will never hear these two speak ill of anyone, and have this natural knack of bringing out the best in anyone, in any situation.
I have been and still am a recipient of their love, dedication, friendship and loyalty and am so blessed to call them my friends… my sisters. They make me want to be a better person. They make me want to see the good in everybody. They make me want to see all people as equal and worthy of love and respect.
Isn’t it just beautiful to see two women have continuous love and respect for each other and use each other as their guide to continue to climb the ladder of goodness, of duty, of love? It is so contagious.
To all my sisters: cousins, sisters-in-law, sisters from other mothers (my amazing friends), and all you beautiful women… here’s to being ‘sisters-in-love’. May we always stand united in being our best selves and to build a community of love, of respect, of being unselfish, and to keep this goodness going.
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…
For Christmas, I received a gift voucher from hubby for a massage and a facial at the Cowshed. Since then I have been waiting for a few spare hours to redeem them and surrender to some pampering.
I have had treatments at the Cowshed at Babington House, just outside Bath, and they are just amazing. I love the Cowshed products and have never been let down by their treatments. The Cowshed has since opened many spas around London and the closest one to me is in Primrose Hill. So here I am on a sunny afternoon at Primrose Hill with a close friend whom I convinced to come along for a massage.
I found the spa very welcoming and refreshing, as a spa should be but is not always. They have a lovely lounge just at the reception with Al Fresco seating which we just had to take advantage of. We were then met by our respective therapists who walked us in to the our treatment rooms.
I was first given the signature Cowshed massage followed by their facial. I had the choice of selecting a ‘relaxing oil’, ‘uplifting oil’ or a ‘balancing oil’ by smelling each one on cotton wool. I chose the balancing oil as it resonated with my current mood.
As we got started, I mentioned to ‘Eva’ my therapist that I had twin boys aged 3 and hence my shoulder blades were quite tight carrying them a lot. She immediately said that she was a mother of twin boys aged 5. Boom! Needless to say we had a connection, and we chatted some more as I needed to know how she found time to work full-time and give such an amazing massage and a facial when I get so exhausted all the time.
Eva then continued to tell me how she was a skin specialist and a beauty therapist prior to having the boys, and when they started nursery at age 3, she used those 3 hours studying to re-qualify and get back to work. I learned she was a single mother. I learned she could focus on her goal while bringing up 2 little babies. I learned she is now an entrepreneur running her own beauty business other than temping at the Cowshed. I learned that when you are focused and dedicated, you can do wonders for yourself and your family. I learned that even though life is challenging, one can still remain balanced and soft.
I had a relaxing, balancing, uplifting and inspiring massage and facial.
In support for a hard-working twins’ mum, I recommend Eva for your next facial in London. theEmpressofBeauty@gmail.com.
And if you are looking for that ‘special spa’ in London for all your pampering treatments in a lovely, cozy venue, then you have to book in at the Primrose Hill Cowshed.
Enjoy a bit of self-indulgence… with both of them… Eva at the Cowshed!
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.
A week long celebrations for our 3 year olds! I felt like I had planned an Indian wedding yesterday and literally just curled up for an afternoon nap while the boys were wondering what happened to me.
We have had 3 separate celebrations for them, and each one has been fun and special in their own way. The first one was with all their baby group friends and many of my friends’ children whom they know. We did this at GoKids, N20. I highly recommend this venue – on private hire – for a toddler’s birthday party. The team there know how to look after the hosts and the guests and we literally just had to show up.
Then on their actual birthday we had family over, which was very, very, intimate and special, and Y & A enjoyed all the attention, yes and the gifts, they each received. And wow! a 2nd birthday cake!
Yesterday we had their school friends over, who really are their ‘besties’ as they spend the entire week with them. This was a surprise party and boy they were so thrilled. I had SillyMillie, the entertainer, for them and all the kids really enjoyed her silliness!
All the celebrations aside, I wanted to share the sweet things they have said and done in the last week that actually signifies to me the transition from terrific two’s to even more terrific three’s!
1. While tucking A in to bed once night last week, I said, ‘Good night, God bless you, I love you,’ and right away he said, ‘I love you too!’. Unprompted. Just spontaneous.
2. Another night I tucked Y in and before I could wish him good night he said, ‘I love you’.
3. When the boys were younger, I used to sit on a folding stool and wash them in their tub and then gradually started to showered them. Now the stool is used to brush their teeth or do a wee. So last week while I was showering A, Y was on the stool brushing his teeth. As soon as he was done brushing his teeth he brought the stool over to me and said, ‘mama, here, I bring you the stool, sit on it’.
My two little charmers and surely turning in to little heart breakers. With all the craziness we go through…. NOTHING can make a mother’s heart feel so full and happy than these beautiful words and gestures. It makes everything so worth it!
The last few weeks have been an amazing and magical experience with the boys. They’ve properly embarked on the beautiful twin journey. Their bond is now so visible and their gestures and conversations with each other are sweet and hilarious at times.
When I have one or both of them in bed with me, when either one wakes up, he looks for the other and wants to wake this brother up. Whichever one it is, Y or A, he will say something that only they understand, in their twin code, and the other one just opens his eyes and smiles so wide and repeats the word…. and the day begins… with smiles, then giggles, and then later fights… 🙂
A couple of nights ago, Y went to sleep in the ‘island’ between the two beds, on the duvet that is considered ‘mama’s bed’. A wanted to sleep next to him and kept sliding in next to him and putting his arm around Y’s neck. Unfortunately for awhile it was too stimulating and so I had to separate them, but despite that, they still fell asleep next to each other with their arms around each other. So precious. Wish I had taken a photo.
Tonight, I had Y fall calm down while sleeping over me and then moved him to the ‘island’ while I went to A’s bed to settle him. When all 3 of us were silent, breathing softly in the dark, there was a soft voice:
Y: ‘A… where’s mama?’,
another soft voice responds….’Y… she’s here’
A: ‘With you A?’
Y: ‘Yes, mama’s here’
A: ‘With you? On top of you?’ (what he meant … are you sleeping on top of her?)
Y: ‘Yes, mama is here, up’ (mama is here on my bed)
A mellow excitement follows with Y, and then I threaten to leave the room.
A: ‘No wait mama…. I tell a story. There was a small boy at a bus stop… and he………………’
I was in a sweet shock and just stayed there listening to my almost 3-year-old make up a bed time story.
Just as he got done, I started to slip out of the room, and Y started…’and now I tell a story mama…. there was a boy…..’)
A sweet, sweet, blessed moment. May they keep continuing…. for me! and of course for each other….
Yes… this blog is intended to Celebrate Women… but Women just don’t happen. As much as an impact a mother has on a daughter, a father has equally the same in my opinion and experience. Here is how my Papa help shape me in to the girl/woman I am today…
Papa is a ‘No-bullshit’, ‘It’s all about tough-love’, ‘I know you’re my only daughter but don’t expect any special treatment’ kind of father. In my life as a wife, mother and an entrepreneur today, I call upon various teachings and incidences I have had with my father growing up, and realise how influenced I am by those experiences and how they impact me now.
1. Till the age of 7 I used to come home from school and change out of my uniform dumping it in my parents’ room for my mother to figure out the next step – iron or wash, when she got home from work. One day, after doing so, my father walked up to me and asked me what my uniform was doing on the floor. I said, ‘that’s where I always leave it, and mama does what she does with it’. Papa said, ‘well, when are you going to figure it out? Mama is not supposed to do everything for you. Fold your clothes and put them away neatly.’ I burst out crying as I didn’t know how to button and fold a shirt. All Papa had to say was, ‘work at it, you’ll get it.’
2. At 8, papa taught me how to make his and mum’s afternoon tea, to be ready for them after their siesta.
3. At 10, I was told off for being arrogant with his staff at his shop when I answered, ‘It’s my father’s shop, I’ll do as I please’. I was made to apologise to everyone.
4. At 16, while my mother was on a business trip, my father asked me one day what was for dinner. I just looked blank at him… if mum didn’t cook and freeze, then dad cooked, or my older brothers dabbled in the kitchen and conjured up some yummy food. If all that failed, then we got a take out. But me cook? Sure, an omelette or a scramble egg and toast, or a toastie? I had a strange feeling that none of that was going to work that day. So I asked papa what he would like and he said call Aunty …. and ask her how to make kababs, and I will show you how to make hummus and tabouleh. Well if any of you know what tabouleh entails…. we spent a couple of hours in the kitchen with papa showing me how to ‘finely‘ chop ALL the ingredients of the salad just like we had it in Kuwait! Needless to say, the kababs turned out not too bad and all the boys were pleased with the dinner. Those experiences carried on and soon I was calling all our relatives and friends for recipes of dishes papa wanted to have!
5. At 18 Papa accompanied me to the orientation day at FIDM and when we decided on my course, he encouraged me to take a student loan to complement the fee he would pay, so that I would learn the value of work, money and education when it was time to get a job and pay my loan back.
6. At 19 Papa took me on my first buying trip for his business. I was already at the Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Marketing and studying Merchandise Marketing. Papa took me to India for my first hand experience in ‘purchasing with the customer in mind’, and taught me (tried to at least) negotiate, and also calculate the landed price, and then working out the selling prices and the ROI of the trip.
7. I left the business at 21 to work in the garment industry for many years, then at 26 while on a holiday in India, I received a ‘fax’ with one of his customer’s requirements and that the trend in LA was changing, so while I was in India, I needed to travel and find new merchandise for the shop… and upon my return, I was handed the business and asked to change it… from name, to look, to merchandise, to customer.
8. All through my late teenage years and my twenties while still at home, Papa showed me how to care for the garden, the grass in the hot & blazing summers and how to prune the fruit trees.
9. In the same years during courting and dating, Papa met all the young men and would charm them instead of the other way around. We would then discuss the men, whether arranged or not, and we usually shared the same opinions or thoughts about them. We liked the same ones and not so like the same ones! Papa held on and would not give me away until he was totally convinced by one of them to be the right one for me. Turned out he was more smitten by my hubby’s intro and request for my hand than I was!
10. For some years after getting married and moving to London and seeing my parents age long distance, I offered to do some of the buying trips for them being that London is far more closer to India than LA is and that jet lag on me was far easier than jet lag on Papa in his late 60’s, early 70’s. The response I got from him was typical of what a traditional father would say to his married daughter. My responsibility now is towards my new home and my new family and I need to look forward.
11. At 41, after trying a new venture in London, when I took some samples to Papa to see, he sat me down and we had a good educational chat once again on how to purchase, who my client was, how to price the items and how to market them.
12. We still discuss business, I am still Papa’s sous-chef when I visit, we still exchange recipes, and we still enjoy his beautiful garden, and Papa still talks about what our ‘dharma’ (duties) in life are while relating his entire life experiences to us.
Wishing you a VERY HAPPY 76TH BIRTHDAY PAPA! May you always be blessed with your strength and sound health. Thank you for being such an amazing guide and role model.
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!