Write-up Published

Take a look at my write-up published at Allarsh, the stellar online magazine for women 😊

Click here to be transported to their website. 

Lemme know if the ideas to prep up healthy and delicious meals for your younger ones helped.

Your feedback is precious 💕

17 lessons I learnt in 2017

If I had written a blogpost on this topic, it would be similar to this one. Beautiful 💖

Fabulously Liberated

Alhamdulillah! We have come to the end of the year. 2017 was a lot of days and a lot of things happened. I had my ups and downs. As well as the way-up-there and the really-down-here. I felt joy, sadness, exhilarating out-of-this-world happiness, and why-me sadness, pain and love. I have grown and changed. I have learnt, lost and failed. I have succeeded, fallen and risen. Alhamdulillah!

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Refreshing Rapports

Unconditional friendship may seem a bit surreal to be true but I have been blessed with fond ties with some amazing women. Over the years I’ve had few but profoundly close friends, who have lingered with me since school and when I studied in college.

Of course, marriage alters everything. Bonds like friendship take a backseat and priorities are redefined. But that which you can reach out to even after a huge chasm of time is, to me, what explains the term ‘unconditional friendship’.

I may not be overly active on other social media scenes, but signing up to Instagram was perhaps the best decision I may have taken. I was unaware of a whole new world that exists across the clicks of my thumb. Not only have I met personalties that are in accord of my own but I’ve also rediscovered myself in light of a mom, a woman and a Muslimah. It is reassuring to know that I’m not alone in fighting my battles. That there are plenty out there who are in similar spots just like me or doing more.

Alhamdulilah for this platform, this view of a different but familiar world.

Do you also find it amazing to connect with other compatible minds? Does it also pull at the strings of your heart when you meet individuals who leave traces of goodness your way?

Sameena’s Objets d’art

My infatuation with art has always been existent even if amateurish to an extent. I feel that it must take chaos or some flurry inside one’s being to exhibit their creativity on a canvas or in the form of sculptures or probably as a designer who fashions clothes.

Growing up and as a child, I remember trying hard to draw, sketch and color. Although, I know well today that I am not gifted in a craft and art sort of way but I delight in people who are heartfelt artists. Sure, I can write. But as an artist, I can’t say I hold much sway.

Our walls are being graced by the impressive artwork that Sameena created for me and children. I don’t think I can do justice writing a review on them. For how can you find words for an earnest and profound artistry?

As someone famous said, “An artist cannot fail. It is a success just to be one.” 

I don’t consider myself proficient enough to appraise these stunning pieces of art.

And so, I’ll let the pictures speak to you.

Sameena is an established artist, who accepts orders for creating frameworks, even those that require being customised. Personally, I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on fashioning her artistry and I didn’t either. She brought her own game on the canvas and created splendid work, as one can see.

Thank you, Sameena for adorning my walls with your brilliant creativity. And for being extremely patient while I came up with this blog post.

Wishing you lots of luck and success in all your endeavours ❤

SAHM Blues

Now that Li’l Man and Wise Man have gotten into a regular routine of going to school, I’m left with more time on hands, except on weekends when I am deluged in demands of keeping them busy or giving into their constant requests for food. (They’re mostly bored so find excuses to eat when they aren’t creating a havoc around the house with their raucousness).

Thanks to our ever helpful maid, I am spared some of the chopping, cleaning and looking after Darling during the day time. She earnestly relieves me of my work so that I can have more time writing, sorting out stuff around the house, reading or just idly surfing through my phone. Alhamdulilah for this privilege which has come to me after years of doing it all on my own and more.

However, I am now left with wondering about how to spend my precious free time. I love making stories on Instagram and reviewing brands or writing content. But, that still leaves me with time that makes me feel like I’m taking it for granted.

I have lost touch with friends during the last nine years since I got married. And those that are close to my heart are not even in India. Also, I have so little contact with the world outside my home that it has left me feeling isolated. Sometimes, I’m so solitary that I drift away to sleep with the string of prayer beads in my hand after I get done with offering salah.

I am not much of a shopper and it feels unproductive to aimlessly roam the malls or buy things I don’t need. Instead,. I’d like to share, learn and be in touch (not just virtually) with like-minded women and moms. But, that seems far-fetched considering that I don’t leave the house without kids and I am not sure how I can connect without some sort of socialising.

All this has led me to ponder over whether I should take up learning yoga (🙈), join a library (there are none in the vicinity we reside in 🙄), go for strolls (I hate walking alone) or … I run out of ideas here.

My lifestyle is becoming increasingly sedentary and I’m left on my own almost all the time. I worry of the future when I’ll be even more alone as kids grow up into teens and would need me less to do their work.

How do mums keep themselves happily occupied when their children are grown enough to go to school, have their own friends and lifestyle?

The Lady Who Creates Objets d’art

A sense of perturbance exists in those few gifted individuals, who, if abort pouring it on a canvas, discover a sort of unrest within their souls. How does their desire to express find a medium so strong that it beholds the world in fascination? As the prominent painter, Orhan Pamuk, once quoted, “Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight”.

Art flutters within a soul, making known its desire to be cast forth, to be exhibited. That is when the artist plucks her canvas and unfurls the avenue to compose her pièce de rèsistance.

Meet 28-year-old Rajivi Rao, a story-telling artist, brimming with mirth and verve! She gives us an account of her relationship with the aesthetic world of art.

Q: Who is Rajivi Rao and what does she do?

Rajivi: Hi! I am the creator of The Story Starters. I’ve worked in Germany as a copywriter before returning to Mumbai in 2016. I took up a job in an advertising firm here but quit in June this year. It was only after I resigned that the real idea for The Story Starters struck me as I gradually moved forth with pursuing my art. While I will always love advertising, The Story Starters is what feels good for my soul now.

It allows me to merge my three passions:

* Real life stories of people.

* The defining characters in their stories.

* And art.

Q: What art themes do you pursue?

Rajivi: It all depends on what I’m creating and for whom. And whether it’s about putting together a story about two individuals and their memories or a momento that somebody wishes to gift their loved ones. Basically, I make use of my trademark look of lined lettering, within lined bubbles and a lot of lining work outside them. It’s highly time consuming, but lends a fantastic overall effect. Adding personalized caricatures to the theme gives my art another level of dimension. One of the things that I love working on is getting acquainted to the person I’m sketching for. Even if that requires an hour of phone conversation. I feel that if I connect with them, I’ll be able to pour out their version of expected art or designs that are true to their personalities.

Like when I sketched for you, after comprehending the unique personalities of your three sons, I resolved to sketch their caricatures, depicting each child’s personality and trait.

Q. Yes, and you did a wonderful job! My kids couldnt have been more happy.

How do you see yourself as an artist in the society?

Rajivi: I relate to the term ‘Creative’ or even ‘Storyteller’ more. For me, art comes second. It is the stories that I’m interested in listening and adapting to. I design my art on themes like special memories that people wish to celebrate, certain funny moments that they want captured, or the sort of personalities that they possess. It’s these stories that I work towards bringing on paper.

Q. How do you spend your time of leisure?

Rajivi: By learning new skills. It disturbs me when there are times I goof up or don’t get my sketches right. (Ask my mom and she’ll emphatically describe the lenghty monologues I delve into about how unfair the world is. All because one line/letter did not come out the way it was supposed to!)

I’m a self-taught calligraphist. I practiced learning different caricature styles, different watercolor techniques, about different pens and how to use them, etc. I’m still learning and improving because there is always something to perfect. At the moment, I’m working on teaching myself brush-lettering and detailed doodling. And I’m having a blast doing it 🙂

5. What’s your favourite art work?

Rajivi: Honestly, I don’t have a favourite famous artist whose work I worship. I like browsing the Internet, going through as much art stuff as I can to build my art vocabulary. In my own assembly of work, though, I’d done a sketch for a friend’s fifth marriage anniversary that I love. Also, the cartoon caricatures with wordages I did for your kids (it’s been my first order for children), a big sketch I did in monochromes for a friend and recently, a cute doodle piece I did for my elder cousin. All my works take 7 to 8 hours of diligent detailing which makes them special for me.

Q. Your most embarrassing/scariest memory?

Rajivi: Scariest- Nights when I wake up to use the loo and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror with my hair sticking up. I swear to God, it scares the daylights out of me! Beside that, moving to Germany, unknown to the German language or anybody there, was unnerving. Launching The Story Starters was formidable too. I had no idea how would such an unusual concept be received.

Embarrassing- Now that’s gonna take several pages to answer!

Q. Why art? Do you have other interests besides art?

Rajivi: Art is what I earnestly turned to after I formed a clientele. Also, because art is so therapeutic and vast that anyone can dabble in it. Every person loves it in some form or the other since it is always open to interpretation. Having said that, I can’t skip mentioning that poetry is my first love. I’ve been writing poems since I was in school and feel that my style keeps evolving. I’m also a bookworm. I love reading.

Q. If you were granted a super power, what would you choose and why?

Rajivi: The ability to recognise and accept exactly who I am and erase all self-doubts. I apologise if my reply sounds clichéd, but that’s what I’d wish for. We are so conditioned to focus on other’s achievements. I learnt from my elder brother to not forget that success is something we should define for ourselves and must never doubt our own caliber. I’m still learning not to compare myself to anyone. It’s hard, but I try working on it.

Q. What is your dream project?

Rajivi: When I was six, my dream project was to commence a chain of restaurants that sold 2467 flavours of ice-cream (a bit of Nutella in each of them!) and 400 types of chicken nuggets which I would share for free. Seriously, though, The Story Starters IS my dream project. Through TSS I now see how much compassion exists in the world. When people call me to create gifts for the ones they love, be it a parent, boyfriend, wife, best friend, they narrate awesome stories and unique memories that they share with them. I adore witnessing the love people have for each other. It is my favorite part of what I do.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Rajivi: There are three great ones that I’ve received so far:

1. “Don’t eat what you can’t pronounce.”

2. “No Rajivi, Pizza doesn’t count as a friend, so please, let it go, move on.”

3. “Just because you’re struggling, doesn’t mean you’re failing. Struggling means you’re trying. And things change when you try.”

Rajivi Rao may be a beginner in the field of commercial artistry, but her hardwork and quality style of craft promises to gain her a fair share of recognition and success. I wish her the best in all her endeavours and soon hope to see a well-established artist. Here’s to knowing a good-hearted soul and a beginning of a heartfelt friendship.

Thank you, Rajivi ❤

Book Review

Just a fortnight ago, I had placed an order for the book called ‘Tales from the Treasure Chest’ authored by Ayesha Marfani. I had promised her this review and so here it is 🙂
The book contains three stories that are remarkable in the lessons that they convey. I found the language to be slightly advanced for Lil Man (7 years) and Wise Man (6 years). So, I am hoping they will find the book lucid enough to read once they turn around 11 or 12 years old, in sha Allah. Meanwhile, I will preserve this treasure for them (pun intended ☺)

Having read the stories myself, it dawned on me that we could easily impart valuable lessons to kids by equipping them with these kind of stories. The first story is about two sisters who are unhappy with their blessings. One wants to be cleverer and the other desires to look more beautiful because her sister is. The tale continues to relate how both of them realise that it is only through contentment that they can achieve what they wish to and how being ungrateful can make them miserable.

The second tale is of an amusing story-telling session between some elders and kids where the children realise how tough it is to be a parent and why they do what they do. Vice-versa the parents also understand the minds of kids and how it is not easy to be small. I liked the concept and think it is a good way to empathise with the roles of both parents and children.

The third narrative talks about a boy who is adventurous and is thought to be a good-for-nothing fellow. But he moves on to become a successful businessman. Only to realise that money cannot buy us everything and the most important of all things is to first become a good human being.

The book is all of 48 pages and cost me ₹765 /- since it was imported from UK, I’m guessing. My favourite among the three fables is the first one about the twin sisters. I have yet to find out which ones my boys will grow fond of in sha Allah.

I like that Ayesha Marfani stresses upon God-consciousness in her stories. The morals are deeply meaningful and relevant to the problems that kids face in this consumerist age. The examples make you sit back and evaluate life goals and what kind of humans are we striving to become.

The illustrations are sort of hazy. It’s good that they kept away from exhibiting mouth and eyes, following the Islamic rulings. Albeit, the images could have been made a bit more discernible.

I wish good luck and success to Ayesha Marfani. It’s always a pleasure to see women following their passion and doing great at it 😊

(The stories are dotted with verses like these)

Do let me know when anyone of you purchases this book. I am also planning to leave a comment on Amazon as a brief review, in sha Allah.

Au revoir ⚘

Hijab by Tuba Naaz

Before I delay writing this review even further, I have decided to get this done today. There’s an avalanche of mail awaiting to unwrap and review and I’d start thinking less of myself if I postpone any further now 🙈

It is often a pleasure to review abayas, scarves and hijabs now that I have grown highly fond of them over the years. It was generous of Hijab by Tuba Naaz to send me a stunning abaya from their exquisite collection.

Their mail arrived quite swiftly and the packaging was impressive. The luxurious lace-work, the sheer softness of the material and the basic color tones of the maroon and black abaya had me besotted.

The abaya opens in the front with a long row of tic buttons under a thick border of maroon that laces the anterior of the cover-up.

The chunky borders of intricate maroon crochet on both the sleeves gives the abaya a ritzy look. The sleeves are large and bell-styled.

The fabrics used for the abaya and hijab are a combination of polyster and soft georgette.

What I found striking was that this abaya makes for both a party-wear and for casual outings.

If I was asked to change anything about the beautiful abaya, I’d mention the black scarf for hijab. I wish it was done in a shaded maroon-black hue or bordered with a simple piping or a patch-work at just one end of the scarf.

Hijab by Tuba Naaz also provides customization of hijabs and abayas to suit your requirements in terms of sizes and designs. They have recently launched a splendid new line of modest-wear collection, so do take a peek into their instagram page.

Signing off on a note of wisdom: Always hand-wash your scarves and abayas using a mild shampoo. That way your hijabs and jilbabs will never lose their sheen and will stand to be more durable ☺

Au revoir ⚘