Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Song of Story Scarves

Come let's make a story scarf
Let the fabric be a piece of peace
Let the thread be unity of humanity
Let the color be all shades of love
Let the symbol be a logo of hope
Let the message be ubuntu for all

Come let's make a story scarf
Let's knit my story and yours
Let's knit this common yarn
Let's knit the beauty of diversity
Let's knit the power of our dreams
Let's knit the magical song

Come let's make a story scarf
Bring your inner dream maker,
story teller, creator and songwriter,
Bring a piece of your soul,
Bring me the new horizon,
Come join your hand with mine
Let's make a story scarf


The Song of Story Scarves is dedicated to Stacey and her girls at Story Scarves in South Africa (

Photo Credit: Story Scarves

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dil mein ek lehar si utthi hai

"These waves" by Neha
(watercolor , gouache and ink; contemporary madhubani)

Dil mein ek lehar si utthi hai abhi
A wave is rising in my heart this moment
Koi taaza hawa chali hai abhi
A fresh breeze is flowing this moment
Dil mein ek laher si utthi hai abhi

shor barpa hai khana-e-dil mein
There is sound of a new beat in the heart
koi deewar si giri hai abhi
A wall has fallen this moment
koi taza hawa chali hai abhi
A fresh breeze is flowing this moment
Dil mein ek laher si utthi hai abhi

kuchh to nazuk mizaaj hain hum bhi
I have a bit delicate nature also
aur ye chote bhi nayi hai abhi
And then this bruise is new
koi taza hawa chali hai abhi
Dil mein ek laher si utthi hai abhi

yaad ke be-nishaan jazeeron se(2)
From my memories
teri awaaz aa rahi hai abhi(2)
Your voice is coming this moment
koi taza hawa chali hai abhi
A fresh breeze is flowing this moment
Dil mein ek laher si utthi hai abhi
A wave is rising in my heart this moment

shehar ki be-charaagh galiyon mein(3)
in the light-less roads of the city
zindagi tujh ko dhoondti hai abhi
life looks for you this moment
koi taza hawa chali hai abhi
Dil mein ek laher si utthi hai abhi

so gaye log us haveli ke
people of that house have slept
ek khidkee magar khulee hai abhi
but one window is still open
koi taza hawa clahee hai abhi
dil mein ek lehar see uthi hai abhi

waqt accha bhi aaye ga
good time will also come
gham na kar zindagi pari hai abhi
don't lose a moment being sad, the whole life is ahead

Listen to this beautiful ghazal in the velvety voice of Ghulam Ali at:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to talk to anyone

There are two kinds of people in this life:

Those who walk into a room and say,

“Well, here I am!”

And those who walk in and say,

“Ahh, there you are!"

Have you seen the Season 5 Episode of "Two and a Half Men" where Jake struggles with a book report assignment by continuing to misplace the book, making Charlie and Alan revisit the bookstore? Charlie hesitantly goes to the self-help section trying to make sure no one he knows sees him there and finally ends up meeting a relationship self-help author Angie that he is totally enamored with. Does this self-help shyness ring a bell for you? It does for me as I have discovered ..well, read on! The first time I laid my eyes on " How to Talk to Anyone - 92 little tricks for big success in relationships" by communications expert Leil Lowndes in my brother's library , I couldn't stop laughing ( and making fun of him for having that title in his possession - especially given the smooth talker that he already is!) I think it was in part the stark yellow cover with in your face font, hard to ignore ( read indulging) title and in part my own hesitation for "how to anything" self-help books. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist borrowing the book from my brother (who I doubt ever read it ). For next four years, the book was eating dust in my library. I glanced at it every now and then but never quite picked to read it up. Really? I don't need tips on how to talk to "anyone"! I am sure the book must have felt very lonely and ignored as most of its neighbors got read, underlined ( with notes in margins) , quoted, misquoted and reviewed!

Fast forward to a regular summer day not so long ago, when once again I gave the book a passing glance. Only this around, I decided well why not?! But wait, I wasn't quite over my self-help shyness. I read the book in the gym. I read it in the train. I read it in the bus - all the time quite cleverly hiding the cover page from my compatriots lest they might laugh at me as I did when I first saw the book in my brother's book shelf!( I didn't even have it on my "Now reading" list here on this blog!) Nevertheless, for the last few weeks, I couldn't stop devouring the pearls of wisdom by Lowndes. As promised, the book is filled with nice tips about making personal, professional or public speaking skills more effective. From the initial eye contact when you meet someone to the enticing smile to the great posture to learning to be a pea in any pod - there are so many subtle and not so subtle things which can be the difference between a deal or no deal, an I do or thanks, but no thanks. For example, how many times do you make the common mistake of blunt interrogation of a new acquaintance with "What do you do?". Do you know that the more gracious way of asking what a person does for a living is simply "how-do-you-spend-most-of-your-time?" If the person wishes to speak about their work life and office story, its their choice. If a spiritual soul would rather speak about their quest for inner beauty so be it. If a stay at home mother wishes to speak about her busy schedule with kids- so be it - Let "them" decide!

The writing style is very entertaining with tips like "comm-YOU-nication' to put the spotlight on your conversation partner ( instead of me-myself-I-reign syndrome), 'never the naked introduction' to pad your introductions with something more personalized than simple names of the people you are connecting, 'eyeball selling' to watch for body language while making a sales pitch and 'learn the jobbledygook' the language of professions different from yours . Read the book to learn more about these and many other tips. You'd be surprised what big difference small things can make!

As for me, here is a personal lesson I have learnt from how to talk to anyone ( apart from how to talk to anyone hopefully!) - that just as charity begins at home - help begins with self! There is nothing embarrassing about quest for self improvement and that no matter how good we might be in communication or any other field, there is always a room to improve. I am on my way to accept a good self help book with an open and ever inquisitive mind. What about you?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tippy Tippy Tap

Color of Joy by Neha

Woke up this morning
with flashes of
tippy tippy tap
what color you want

tippy tippy tap
what colors
do I want in my life?

I will take all shades of blue
give me blue of morning sky
give me ocean blue on long cruise
give me the soul stirring blue ballad
give me peacock feather's blue

give me black of silent night
give me some black eyed peas
give me black of those beautiful eyes
give me black of mystique silhouettes
give me black ink to write this song

tippy tippy tap
what color you want

I will take green field of my dreams
give me green summer grass kissing my feet
give me green light to break barriers of mind
give me green of world peace
give me green mile to boulevard of possibilities

give me red of my pretty evening dress
give me red of fire, ice and in betweens
give me red of horizon's cheek at dusk
give me red which doesn't ask me to stop

I will take the yellow stones
give me yellow of sunflower field
give me yellowbook guide to life
give me yellow cab to la la land
give me yellow aura of dawn and dusk

give me green of yellow and blue
give me rouge of red and white
give me grey of white and black
give me primary, secondary any color you want

Toss in the colorless if you like
give me color of joy
give me color of hope
give me color of salt and pepper
give me any color you want
Mix it, paint it, toss it as you like

Tippy Tippy Tap
Splash by splash
Colors of our lives
Taking all in stride
All of you I want!


This poem is inspired by the game "Tippy Tippy Tap" that I remember from my childhood. One kid would choose a color of his/her liking while all others would run to grab something of that color before the color picker catches any of them. Do you know what color you want?

Being Human

I wonder if the sun debates dawn
some mornings
not wanting to rise
out of bed
from under the down-feather horizon

If the sky grows tired
of being everywhere at once
adapting to the mood swings of the weather

If the clouds drift off
trying to hold themselves together
make deals with gravity
to loiter a little longer

I wonder if rain is scared
of falling
if it has trouble letting go

If snow flakes get sick
of being perfect all the time
each one trying to be one-of-a-kind

I wonder if stars wish
upon themselves before the die
if they need to teach their young to shine

I wonder if shadows long
to once feel the sun
if they get lost in the shuffle
not knowing where they’re from

I wonder if sunrise and sunset
respect each other
even though they’ve never met

If volcanoes get stressed
If storms have regrets
If compost believes in life after death

I wonder if breath ever thinks
about suicide
I wonder if the wind just wants to sit
still sometimes
and watch the world pass by

If smoke was born knowing how to rise
If rainbows get shy back stage
not sure if their colors match right

I wonder if lightning sets an alarm clock
to know when to crack
If rivers ever stop
and think of turning back

If streams meet the wrong sea
and their whole lives run off-track
I wonder if the snow wants to be black

If the soil thinks she’s too dark
If butterflies want to cover up their marks
If rocks are self-conscious of their weight
If mountains are insecure of their strength

I wonder if waves get discouraged
crawling up the sand
only to be pulled back again
to where they began

I wonder if land feels stepped upon
If sand feels insignificant
If trees need to question their lovers
to know where they stand

If branches waver in the crossroads
unsure of which way to grow
If the leaves understand they’re replaceable
and still dance when the wind blows

I wonder where the moon goes
when she is hiding
I want to find her there
and watch the ocean
spin from a distance
Listen to her
stir in her sleep

effort give way to existence

- Naima, Climbingpoetree

See the incredible and moving work by the powerful women duo of art activists Alixa and Naima of Climbingpoetree at'm in love with the beautiful spirits of these soul sisters!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

What I Have Lived For

"Fire" by Neha

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness--that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

- The Prologue to Bertrand Russell's Autobiography

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Kya kya hai

"The Flight" by Neha

Gulaab, khwab, dawa, zeher, jaam, kya kya hai
Mai aa gaya hoon bata intezaam kya kya hai

Faqeer, shah, qalandar, imaam kya kya hai
tujhe pata nahee tera ghulam kya kya hai

Naye safar ka naya intzaam keh dengey
Hawa ko dhoop chirago ko shaam keh dengey

Kisee se haath bhee chupkar mila-e-ye
Varna isey bhee maulwi sahab haram keh dengey

Loo bhee chaltee thee to woh badey saba kehtey they
Pao phailaye andhero ko ziya kehtey they

Unka anjaam tujhe yaad nahee hai shayad
Aur bhee log they jo khud ko khuda kehtey they

Sooraj, sitarey, chaand merey saath mein rahey
Jab tak tumharey haath merey haath mein rahey

Shakhaon se toot jaayein woh pattey nahee hain hum
aandhee se koi keh de ke auwkat mein rahey

Kabhee mehek kee tarah hum gulo se udtey hain
Kabhee dhooye kee tarah parvat se udtey

Ye kaincheeyan humein udney se khaak rokengee
kee hum paro se nahee hoslon se udtey hain

kee humein labey deeyo kee hawa mein uchaltey rehna
gulo ke rang pe tezaab daaltey rehnaa

Mai noor bankey zamaney mein pher jaaoonga
Tum aftab mein keedey nikaltey rehna

- Rahat Indori

Notes: What a lovely poem....hear Rahat Indori's awesome , funny and moving recital here:

[Key to Urdu words: Ziya = Light, Qalandar = Sufi, Aftab = Sun]

Hum Qalandar Hain

"Road sign" by Neha

kaam sab ghair zaruuri haiN jo sab karte haiN
aur hum kuchh nahiiN karte haiN ghazab karte haiN

hum pe haakim kaa koii hukm nahiiN chaltaa hai
hum qalandar haiN, shahanshaah laqab karte haiN

aap kii nazroN meN suuraj kii hai jitnii azmat
hum chiraaGoN kaa bhii utnaa hii adab karte haiN

dekhiye jisko use dhun hai masiihaaii kii
aajkal shahroN ke biimar matab karte haiN

-Rahat Indori

Deepak Raag Hai Chahat Apni

"Story" by Neha

Deepak Raag Hai Chahat Apni Kahe Sunayen Tumhein
Hum To Sulagte Hee Rehte Hain Kyun Sulgaien Tumhein

Tark-e-Muhabbat Tark-e-Tammana Kar Chukne K Baad
Hum Pay Yeh Mushkil Aan ParRI Hai Kaisey Bhulaien Tumhein

Deepak Raag Hai Chahat Apni..

Sannata Jab Tanhai Key Zehar Mein Bhujhta Hai,
Woh Ghariyaan Kyoon Kar Kat' ti Hain Kaise Bataien Tumhein

Deepak Raag Hai Chahat Apni Kahe Sunayen Tumhein

Jin Baaton Ne Pyaar Tumhara Nafrat Mein Badla
Darr Lagta Hai Woh Baatien Bhee Bhool Naa Jayen Tumhien

Deepak Raag Hai Chahat Apni Kahe Sunayen Tumhein
Hum To Sulagte Hee Rehte Hain Kion Sulagaien Tumhien...

- Zahoor Nazar

Here's the Hindi version !

दीपक राग है चाहत अपनी काहे सुनाएँ तुम्हें
हम तो सुलगते ही रहते हैं क्यूँ सुलगाएं तुम्हें

तर्क -ए -मुहब्बत तर्क -ए -तम्मना कर चुकने के बाद
हम पे यह मुश्किल आन पडी है कैसे भुलाएँ तुम्हें

दीपक राग है चाहत अपनी ..

सन्नाटा जब तन्हाई के ज़हर में भुझता है ,
वोह गहराइयाँ क्यूं कर कट ' टी हैं कैसे बतैएँ तुम्हें

दीपक राग है चाहत अपनी काहे सुनाएँ तुम्हें

जिन बातों ने प्यार तुम्हारा नफरत में बदला
डर लगता है वोह बातें भी  भूल ना जाएँ तुम्हे

दीपक राग है चाहत अपनी काहे सुनाएँ तुम्हें
हम तो सुलगते ही रहते हैं क्यूँ सुलगाएं तुम्हे ...

- ज़हूर नजर


1) Listen to this beautiful ghazal sung by Pakistani singer Shahida Parveen

2) I love the version sung by this YouTube singer as well

Friday, July 02, 2010

Phir mujhe deeda-e-tar yaad aaya

"Splash" by Neha

Phir Mujhe Deeda-e-Tar Yaad Aaya
Dil Jigar Tishna-e-Fariyaad Aaya

[ Deeda-e-Tar =Tearful eyes , Tishna-e-Fariyaad - Desperate to appeal/Thirsty ]

Dum Liya Tha Na Qayamat Ne Hanoz
Phir Tera Waqt-e-Safar Yaad Aaya

[Hanoz= yet/still ]

Saadagii Haaye Tamannaa Yaanii
Phir Wo Nai_Rang-e-Nazar Yaad Ayaa

[Nai_rang=fascinating ]

Zindagi Yu Bhee Guzar hee Jatee
Kyoon Tera Raah Guzar Yaad Aaya

Koi Veerani Si Veerani Hai
Dasht Ko Dekh Ke Ghar Yaad Aaya

[Dasht - Wilderness/Desert ]

Phir terey kuchey ko jaata hai khayal
Dil-e gum gush tha magar yaad aaya

[ Kuchey = narrow street, khayal = thoughts, gush= filled with]

Main Ne Majnu Pe Ladakpan Mein 'Asad'
Sang Uthaya Tha Ke Sar Yaad Aaya

[Asad - Mirza Ghalib's earlier 'Takhallus' i.e. Pen Name, Sang - Stone]

- Mirza Ghalib


1) Listen to this ghazal by Lata Mangeshkar at

2) I also love these recitals by Rajni Pallavi : and the one by Shahida Parveen :