Gita's Masala

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mum's still here

Those of you who know me personally, know that my Mum passed away 2 years ago. She was the single most important influence on my life, and her passing has been the greatest loss. What I miss most is just the constant, supportive presence of the one person in this world who knew me best and loved me unconditionally.

At this time of year, when the world is locked in the depths of winter's sleep, and the double anniversaries of her birth and her passing occur within 9 days of each other, she is on my mind. She is both achingly present, and painfully absent.

On the anniversary of her passing, I was able to spend some time with my dearest friend, who helped me over the hump, and gently guided me to peaceful thoughts of her love and care for me. And then, one week later, the two of us journeyed 4 hours north, to Mum's hometown, for her birthday. And the day was full of joy, beauty, and laughter - the way that Mum would have liked.

Thanks, Coach - you're a gem.

Today, while home with a bout of bronchitis (gotta love winter in the northeast), I decided to get in a bit of "spring cleaning". The sun is streaming in the windows, and it's just beautiful - so why not do a little tidying while I'm waiting around for my ginger chai to come to a simmer?

I came upon a shopping bag with a few old magazines, that I had picked up but never read. I tossed them, and then found a page from a magazine, which had been put into a plastic page protector. … Ah, Mum's been here… she used to do this all the time: find an article that she thought I'd like, and along with a few other little things, hang it on my front door and then be on her merry way.

The lyrics of this song remind me so much of my childhood. But of course, Mum knew that. She knew, better than anyone.

Don't Laugh at Me
by Allen Shamblin and Steve Seskin

I'm a little boy with glasses
The one they call the geek
A little girl who never smiles
'Cause I've got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels
To cry myself to sleep

I'm that kid on every playground
Who's always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin' to overcome my past
You don't have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me

I'm the cripple on the corner
You've passed me on the street
And I wouldn't be out here beggin'
If I had enough to eat
And don't think I don't notice
That our eyes never meet

I lost my wife and little boy
When someone crossed that yellow line
The day we laid them in the ground
Is the day I lost my mind
And right now I'm down to holdin'
This little cardboard sign, so…

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me

I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm short, I'm tall
I'm deaf, I'm blind,
Hey, aren't we all

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me

Oh yes, Mum knew me best. And she's still here, every step of the way - reminding me that every time I offer compassion to another hurting soul, I'm helping to heal the little girl who was always ridiculed, the one who was beaten up in the schoolyard, the one who was never accepted, no matter how hard she tried. The little girl who's still inside me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Holiday" vs Christmas


As someone who works with the public, I am sometimes able to observe certain shifts in behaviour and in our general cultural attitudes, here in the US (specifically New England). The one that sticks out the most right now, is people's insistence on replying "Merry Christmas," when I have wished them a "happy holiday".

I have begun replying, "Happy Chanukkah." Even though I'm not Jewish.

Why? Because - guess what? - not everyone is Christian, and not everyone celebrates Christmas.

The month of December is a month of celebrating for many different faiths and cultures. Christianity does not have a monopoly on December holidays. Buddhists have Bodhi Day, Judaism has its 8-day Chanukkah celebration, many Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati, Pagans and Wiccans observe Yule or Winter Solstice, many African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, and Muslims end the fast of the month of Ramadan with the feast of Eid ul-Fitr.

All of these observances are meaningful and valid, and deserve respect and acknowledgement.

So I continue to say to everyone, have a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate. I wish you blessings from the bottom of my heart.

All I would ever ask is just a bit of awareness and sensitivity. Not everyone is Christian.


** Here's a well-written essay on the subject (IMVHO).

More progress


Good stuff happening here. Fitness progress is right on track. It is especially encouraging that I can live a normal life, with the occasional normal binge, and it doesn't derail me. My weight is holding steady at a solid 75-pound weight loss, fluctuating up 5 pounds now and then. I am not depriving myself. I have chocolate cheesecake whenever I want (about once a week at a Starbuck's - yum), and have no problem having a handful of Hershey's Kisses sometimes (like right now, LOL!)

It has been my goal all along, to try to arrive at a lifestyle that is sustainable. Deprivation and harsh discipline do not interest me.

I am arriving at a point however, where I may be having to reassess my goals. After just 3 months of consistent working out (about 4 times a week, for 60-90 minutes), there is some beautiful muscle development and definition taking place. Pretty soon, I may be having to ask myself, how far do I want to take this?? Do I want to keep trying to better my performance in the gym, and see greater development, or do I want to just level off and go for maintenance?

Because I have seen so much progress, that's been an enormously motivating factor. I want to keep going and do even better next time! The idea of "levelling off" and not trying to improve any more is not appealing to me. Am I simply enjoying competing with myself, or am I getting "addicted"? I guess the answer to that question will reveal itself in time, and all I can do is wait and see.

Health and Peace,

Saturday, November 12, 2005



The last few months have seen some great changes, and lots of growth.

Another 10 pounds/4.5 Kg have come off since the last time I wrote. The grand total so far, is 70 pounds/31.75 Kg. It's hard to believe that I once carried that much around! Equally hard to comprehend is how a negative self-image and mild depression can keep a person in a state of inertia. Since I had allowed myself to get into such an unhealthy state, I felt that perhaps I had gone too far… it's too much of a challenge… it's too late for me; the damage has been done… if I can't even climb a flight of stairs without "sucking wind", how in the world am I going to work out, lose weight and get healthy? … Let alone, going from a size 22 jeans, to a size 10 (which I just did yesterday - woo hoo!)! dancing

If you are in a similar mental and physical condition, I want to encourage you right now - there is nothing that you can't accomplish. You are stronger than you know. Your body is an incredible machine, capable of more than you can imagine. You just have to make the commitment to start, and then to keep plugging away. Whatever changes you make in your lifestyle, be steady and commit to them. The weight (and the habits which caused the pounds to creep up) didn't happen overnight. Positive, lasting change won't happen overnight either.

For the last couple of months, I have been coaching a couple of friends in their health and fitness habits. We work out together, discuss fitness and nutrition strategies, and keep track of our progress. So far, it's been a great experience. It's a real help to me as well as to them, because it keeps me extremely focused on my own fitness goals. It's very motivating to know that others look to me for guidance and inspiration in something. That's never happened before! big grin

There is also an online group where I have assumed the role of coach/cheerleader, and have enjoyed it tremendously: Free Online Fitness Training. The list is associated with HealthyGo Online Personal Trainers. Both resources provide solid, no-fad advice to help you reach your fitness goals (although the list is rather slow and quiet).

If you have any comments, questions, criticisms (be gentle!), or just want to discuss fitness or nutrition issues, please post at the above Google list, or post here at my blog. Do remember that you need a Blogger account in order to do this.

Will be posting here again soon, and I promise that it won't take me another 4 months to do it! blushing

Svasthya aur shanti,
(health and peace)


Friday, July 15, 2005

Catch up time!

Namaste, mere dosti,

It has been too long since I posted, and a lot has been going on! I will be using this space over the next few days to try to catch you up on everything that's been happening.

First and foremost has been my weight loss and fitness. Total weight loss is now 60 lbs, and the pounds keep coming off. The first 25 came off slowly, starting 4 years ago when I had to take a full-time job which keeps me on my feet and walking all day. The last 35 has been more of a concerted effort, starting with diet changes and later adding exercise to the mix.

For anyone who wants to know how I did it (and how I continue to do it), I will be posting regularly about this. I invite you to post your comments and fitness tips; please know that you must have a Blogger account in order to post.

Tonight is the Harry Potter party at the bookstore where I work. It should be fun; many of us will be dressing up (myself included!). My shift tonight will be 7 PM to 2.30 AM (arggh), but I prepared for that by staying up really late last night and then getting up reeealllly late this morning. I think I'll be all set!

I won't have my van until after I get out of work, though. Hubby's car died last week, and he's had no end of difficulty in in getting another (that he can afford, that is). Fortunately, he did find one a few days ago, and it is ready to be picked up tonight. Meanwhile, he has my van to get to work today and I'm stranded at home. Hubby and a friend will be dropping me off at work tonight and then going up to get the new car; then they'll bring my van back to me at work.

Weekend outings have been lovely lately. I will post a bit about them as time allows, and as I think of them.... I do something different just about every week, and it's hard to keep track of them all. They usually alternate between doing something active (hiking, swimming) and something really passive (like taking in a movie), and taking a daytrip of at least 1-1/2 hours away from home or finding some local "hidden treasure".

One thing which has been quite nice lately, is finding different places for going swimming. I haven't even owned a bathing suit in 20 years, and I just got one a couple of weeks ago. Yes! Now, I try to go at least once a week. What a pleasure, that I can get in a workout that's fun and beats the heat, all at the same time.

Guess that's about it for now.

Dil se,


Sunday, January 09, 2005


Namaste, dosti,

During the last couple of days, I have been assisting my dear dost,
Joydeep, in getting a blog set up here.

If you would be so kind, please drop by every now and then and say hello. I'm sure he'd enjoy that very much!

An interesting, multi-cultural day

Namaste, dosti,

Today was the first real "day off" that I've been able to enjoy since before Yule (Christmas), when I was really ill with bronchitis, strep throat, and a nasty fever... yeah, great holiday, hai naa?

My daughter, a friend and I had planned a day to go north and visit the Mount Kearsage Indian Museum (Native American, not South Asian), located about 45 minutes from our area. Before departing, I checked the museum's website and discovered that it is not open this time of year, so we had to go to a Plan B.

We decided to try to find a special place for lunch, then maybe go to a local art museum. I mentioned that I had seen a Nepalese restaurant in the city of Manchester, the Cafe Momo. I have passed by this restaurant several times, and since Nepal is a neighbour of India, I have been intrigued and wanted to have the opportunity to try the cuisine. We drove there, and found that they are closed on Sundays. So, we sat in their parking lot and discussed Plan C.

This was a tried-and-true alternative: India Palace, in Manchester. The lunch buffet is great, and the people who work there are lovely, always making us feel very welcome - and, they are open on Sundays! :-D This idea met with a unanimous vote, so we headed over there, where we had a fabulous lunch and a nice visit.

From there, we headed back to the friend's flat, where we made Native American dream catchers, listened to some great music, and just generally caught up on each other's lives.

So, today we got to enjoy two different cultures. Soon, we hope to get back to Café Momo and enjoy Nepalese food for the first time.

We'd love some suggestions about what Nepalese delicacies to try when we visit the Café Momo. Ideas and opinions about other cuisines are very welcome as well.

Dil se,

Monday, January 03, 2005

Tsunami relief

Namaste, dosti,

As the world is well aware by now, on 26 December 2004, an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of Indonesia. This caused a tsunami which has unleashed suffering and devastation on the coasts of India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. The worst-hit areas, in terms of loss of human life, are Indonesia (80,000+), Sri Lanka (29,000, India (9500), and Thailand (4900). Also affected were Somalia, Burma, Maldives, Malaysia, Tanzania, Seychelles, Bangladesh, and Kenya.

As of today, the total death toll has reached 144,000. This number will almost certainly rise, as seawater flooding has contaminated the ground water, and the waves have destroyed the water and sewage systems, leaving people with little choice but to use unclean surface water. Cholera, malaria, typhoid, and other diseases are the new enemy; sanitation and safe, potable water are desperately needed.

The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has warned that recovery in these areas could take as long as a decade.

The world's response to this tragedy has been swift and generous. Help is needed desperately, not only now, but in years to come. Gradually, this tragedy will move out of its "number one" position in television world news reports, and the world's focus will turn to other matters. But for those who live in the affected areas, disease, devastation, and death will be a daily fact of life.

Please give generously to relief efforts, both now and in the future. Suggested organisations include:

Action Against Hunger
American Red Cross
American Jewish World Service
BAPS Care International
Direct Relief International
Habitat for Humanity International
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent

Islamic Relief Worldwide
Karuna Trust
Network for Good
Oxfam International
(US page)
Save the Children
(US page)
World Food Programme (UN)

Other relief organizations (via USAID)
Official Government of Sri Lanka website
Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (India)

Many thanks, and blessings to you.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

First post

Greetings, all,

This is the first time I have ever set up a blog (welcome to the 21st century, eh?). I am hoping to use this in order to keep up with my current dosti, as well as making new ones.

About me, very briefly: I am American, of French/Scottish/other UK heritage, but have always loved and been intrigued by other cultures around the world, especially India.

I am married, with a teenage daughter, and live in the northeast US. Hobbies and interests include genealogy, reading, hiking, camping (and just being out in nature whenever I can), spiritual pursuits, foot reflexology, web design, and..... oh, lots of things.

My daily passion is keeping up with my Indian e-dosti, and learning about Indian culture. I am trying to teach myself Hindi, and doing OK with it, considering I don't have anyone here in New Hampshire with whom I can practise (yet). I also enjoy Bollywood films. I have a rather large collection - about 40 films collected over the last 2 years - and rent others every week. Not only is it great fun, it helps me with the language.

My sincere hope is to make it to India in the fall of 2006, so that I might have the great pleasure of visiting with the people who have come to mean so much to me. Communicating through emails and IMs is not enough - I want to give them all a big hug!

Thanks for checking out my blog today. Hope to see you again soon!

Dil se,