A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Posts tagged ‘lifestyle’

Read the book! Facepaint

lisa-eldridge-facepaint-photoSome books can be downloaded onto an electronic device. Some books cannot. The idea of reading an electronic version of this book scares me. I have never read an ebook. Yet, I am sure this book would lose half its magic if you could not hold it in your hand, move it around in your hand, watching the light catch the shifting mood of the pictures, running your fingers over the textured cover. This book is a visual feast. First and foremost.

Written for makeup lovers, it is a book with so much make up story crammed into its pages, it is sure to delight those who want to learn a little bit more about this fascinating art and industry.

It is pleasing that the focus remained on story telling, independent of any kind of brand focus, or subtle advertising. Lisa Eldridge has enough clout in the the makeup world that if she recommends one product, it will fly off the shelves. She has made no such recommendations, she has not stated a preference for one style of makeup over another. She has also not made any kind of reference to any kind of body image issues except as a historical commentary. No judgement. Whatsoever.

Instead we see a charming discussion of colour utilisation through the ages, the trends, the socio-political ramifications, the anecdotes. Who would have thought that the use of makeup through ages seemed to coincide with women’s rights, and freedom, even if only certain tiers in certain ages? Apparently courtesans and prostitutes not only wore obvious makeup through the ages, but also got accorded more rights than the genteel women. Mo’ makeup, did equate to mo’ fun!


The Eldridge Technique is widely known to be Lisa’s distinctive technique of making complexion appear flawless through makeup, while allowing the inner glow to shine through. I have just discovered another inimitable Eldridge Technique. The book is written in the same soft, often amused, always kind, voice that Lisa uses in her youtube instructional videos. A classic book from a classy lady.

Since this is such a vast subject, and this book had to be sketchy by necessity, I look forward to more books from Lisa.


This is one of the best gifts I have given myself on my birthday. My first book of 2016


The Golden Girl

I can see her through the kitchen window. She is flying higher and higher on her swing, chubby face split by an endless grin, flying hair bathed in a golden glow. The wind kisses her as she swings daringly higher each time, but her gurgling giggles fail to reach my ears. She has come to visit me, again, as she often does, soundless, and swathed in a golden light. I don’t really know her very well. I think I do, as she is me, at the age of three and a half, give or take. But she is really a phantom of those days, not the whole person that was me. Golden girl 1

I remember those halcyon days, and even later ones as I grew up. Every memory of those days has a warm golden glow to it. That little girl, growing up in that home, is always laughing, always running, with the shiny golden light setting her aglow. I know that my childhood, and youth, as every one else’s had moments of such bliss and moments not quite so blissful. But when I look out of windows, in my moments of peace, that is the girl I see.

This is the reason why, I am guessing, many wish to go back to those days. They wish to hold on to those moments of innocence, laughter and fear free joy. They say, in a voice languishing with memories and myths, “I wish I was a child again, I wish I was that free and innocent child, again, with no worries in the world, living that life, revisiting those events.” Yearning for that fleeting, probably (perish the thought) non existent, moment of perfection.

I look back at this girl with the golden smile, and I feel her freedom, and her carefree existence. I feel the sun again on my skin, and the certainty the world was just the way it should be, with a delicious dinner and a cosy bed at the end of the dreamy day. But does that mean that I wish to go back to those days? I don’t think so.

I think that what I miss is that girl’s outlook on life. Each moment of her existence is swathed in the present. She is playing, and laughing, in the moment. She does not have a care, not only because she is innocent, but because this moment is perfect, as it is. She may have fallen, or been chided for being “naughty”, or been made to drink warm smelly milk, but that is not in this moment. That is past, and the time for learning silly times tables or spellings is not yet, so this moment is free, golden and alight with laughter, and a bouncy sense of peace.

Perhaps that is what I yearn for. This strength to let the past be, and not worry about the future. My tendency to live in the moment survived for years, much later than some others around me. Then one day I realised that this characteristic in me was looked upon by people I respected, as being superficial. A child’s unconcern about the future or the past is loveable innocence, but to take this un-awareness into adulthood shows a lack of self analysis and self-awareness. I must have agreed with this view of life, so I trained myself to worry , and fret, and analyse my mistakes, and generally hold myself in low esteem because I was not perfect. I could never be perfect, so the constancy of my fretfulness was ensured. I trained myself to fret about things I could not change, and remember real and imagined downfalls for years, years and years. I learnt to fret about the future even if it was only 30 minutes away, and to worry that I had been wrong in the past, even if that past was five minutes ago. I learnt never to let go of the past, and never to be in the present. I learnt to try and change things, everything to fit a standard that now seems arbitrary. Since most things are not meant to be changed, I was caught in a constant vortex of mindful frustration.

Years later, even when I learned that those whom I had respected may have had their own imperfections to deal with, and demons to battle, I still continued on my harried and worried way. As a new age of awareness and acceptance slowly emerged and made itself felt worldwide, I began to see the sense of being in the present, though I still beat myself up about the not present at every opportunity. Even as I wised up to the fact that the little girl had probably been wiser than the big girl I now was, I still clung to my over analytic, hyper critical self. I had trained myself only too well.

But that little girl still lingers. She still pops in once in a while, and teaches me, that each moment is an adventure awash in golden light. That is all.


How bright is your dream?

Hello all


Here is the first post that made an impact on me today….



Good to start one’s day with such a thought.



Mundane matters: moments of house keeping

Drying clothes- ins and outs, thereof

I grew up in industrial towns in India. A step away from villages ,  a few away from the large cities. We lived in large homes with huge backyards chock-a-block with fruit trees and sunny clothes lines. In the absence of driers and in the abundance of hot sunshine, all our clothes were dried in the sun.

Each morning the clothes would be washed, hung out in the sun and in the afternoon they would be brought in, fragrant from the heat, crisp fresh, and oh-so dry. I loved sleeping in the fragrant sheets that had been dried in the sun.

When we moved to the large city of Kolkata, we lived in units and apartments for the first time in our life. Amongst all the adjustments we went through one thing that my mum carried on about was the prevalence of people drying their clothes out on their balconies. She decried the ugliness it imparted to the look of the high rises. She complained long and loud about people drying their clean linen in public. She went on and on about how “common” the world had become, how there was no “elegance” anywhere, anymore. People she talked to did not relate to her grievances. Even today, in Kolkata and Mumbai and other cities of India millions of people dry their clothes out on their tiny city balconies, most still do not have driers and even if they do, cannot really depend on the  power supply being strong and continuous enough to actually be used.

In India,as in the rest of Asia, even today there is no awareness that drying clothes where they can be seen from the street constitutes a social solecism. Most will even laugh at the idea that it is ugly. Ugly? In clean clothes drying out in the sun? Say what? 

When I first came to Australia and started living in units, I was a spitting image of my mother’s sentiments about drying clothes. We had a drier, and as I started using it, I learned how quickly dryers destroys clothes. They shrink, get all flaky, lose shape, and generally become unwearable very quickly. As we lived in apartments for a while I had an ongoing battle with myself, my balcony aesthetics, my need to be environmentally friendly, my need for clothes that hold on to their shape through more than a few washes. I started a life long strategising of how to dry my clothes and where. (There was no communal clothesline in that building.)

In Sydney,  one does not dry clothes on balconies. Well, many people do, but the strata management write you letters asking you to refrain from such practice. People complain if clothes drying on balconies can be seen from the street, or, common areas of strata complexes. At the same time, more and more multi level complexes are being built, with no outdoor clotheslines. One is meant to use a drier.

My love-hate, mostly hate, relationship with driers has continued. Unlike my yesteryears, I no longer see why we cannot dry our clothes on balconies. An eyesore? Perhaps, but how often do we spend time staring at other peoples balconies? I have seen houses with backyards, and hence, clotheslines, which are clearly visible from a road. A house opposite one in which I lived faced a corner, and their backyard was directly in front of my front gate. They dried their clothes in their backyard, which I felt, could be just as much of an eyesore, as far as I am concerned as drying clothes on a balcony. They had no fence, and no trees. So every weekend we would be treated to visions of triumphantly flapping clothes of a family with three growing children. But it was accepted because it was their backyard. So, it seemed to me, that the eyesore factor is not relevant, the location is.

I do not want to use a drier, for the sake of preserving my clothes in better condition. As well as helping keep the Earth in better condition. If the inevitable march of urbanisation means more high rise buildings with no communal clotheslines, (** ) perhaps we need to accept that it makes sense to revamp our notions of acceptability. Perhaps, then, balconies should be designed so that clothes can be dried there.

Am I alone in this rant? What do you feel when you catch sight of clothes drying on a balcony of a high rise?

(**) In Sydney, many modern houses in medium density housing areas have such pocket sized backyards that putting up a clothesline would require great ingenuity. So the problem begins to expand. An agent once told me, “Just use a drier ma’am, let me show you the laundry…”

Doggy Dos and Don’ts

Yawn! Stretch, y-a-w-n!!!!!!

I padded out of my room to the doorway of the Big Room. I scratched on the glass. I could see the Family moving around. Ma was talking away once in a while screaming out to Dada and Didi who were not visible yet. I could see that my food had been placed in my little bowl in front of the kitchen, but Ma never fed me. Didi or Dada did. Ah well, I was not that hungry anyway.

A  little point just beyond my reach behind my ear, felt itchy. I pondered and decided it was not bad enough to try and get to. I padded over to  the bowl of water in front of my room and drank thirstily. Sleeping can make a dog really thirsty. I turned and looked back at Ma, who was still thumping food on to the table and stomping back and forth from the kitchen. I knew that if I did my doo-doos here she would be unhappy. One does not make Ma unhappy. Regardless of who feeds me, it is she who is the boss of all things. I ran down the steps to the doo-doo corner.

When I came back, Baba was there and Dada and Didi had come down as well. I started jumping up and down and uttering little yelps. Didi always loves to see me excited. Sure enough, she was bringing the food over. She opened the glass door. I ran to sit at My Spot waiting for her to put it down for me. However much excited I get, Ma has ruled that I only get fed if I sit in My Spot.  Didi put the food down, gave me a squish, and went back indoors with a promise that today, after school, we would go biking. I like biking. Didi rides her bike and I run alongside. Much more my style than trying to slow down when she decides to run.

I finished the food, overturned the bowl to see if any morsels were clinging underneath, and padded back to the door. It was open. I was allowed to go in. Keeping a wary eye on Ma, I went and sat a little distance away from the dining table watching the comings and goings with interest. Baba was bringing toast to the table, Didi was finishing her smoothie and Dada tossed me a crumb.  I quickly caught it in my mouth, but Ma had noticed.

“Don’t feed The Dog indoors!” Why does she call me The Dog? I tried to look as sweet and innocent as possible. But she carried on, “If you don’t follow the rules, The Dog stays outside”. Dada winked at me.  I looked back seriously. I didn’t want to Stay Outside. But what can I do if someone tosses me food?

Ma went off upstairs to get changed and ready for work. Downstairs everyone was engaged in clearing up. I walked to the kitchen door.  On his way back out Baba stooped and scratched me behind my ear just where it was itchy. Aaah! He always knows.  Ruffling up my coat he said, “Don’t go in there! Ma will be mad.” I know, oh I know.

“The Dog can go here”.

“The Dog can’t go there”.

“Not there!!!”

“Take The Dog out and brush him down.” Okay, that’s a good one.

“Will someone clean The Dog’s Do-do???!!!!!!” Well, that’s a good one, too…. I don’t like do-dos to pile up.

This is the worst time of the day. They all go away and I am left to myself. I tell you, making sure that the cats next door don’t come into my garden can pall.

Ma came downstairs, “Has someone made sure that The Dog’s water has been filled up?” Baba replied from his study… “ I have”

“Okay. Bye everyone”

She had gone, waving at me as she went out the front door.

Dada and Didi clattered down the stairs, closed the toddler gate on the bottom of the stairs, and as Baba walked out of the front door, they left through the back door, unlocking the flap door that allowed me to go in if it got too hot during the day.

I walked out to the back gate with them, seeing them off as they ran to their bus stop down the little lane.  I sat down in the shade of the hedge, peering underneath  until the bus came, and they got in.

All around it was quietening down. The morning rush was over. A few birds were chirping from the top branches of the tree. Further away a couple of  toddlers were playing in their backyard, but for the most part the neighbourhood had departed for the day. An unaccustomed creak startled me. I turned to the gate, it was swinging slightly on its hinges.

Gingerly, I stepped out to the gate and pushed against the bottom rung with one paw. It swung outwards. It. Was. Not. Locked.

I  stood, trembling a little, just outside my yard. The path to the bus stop was on one side. On the other side I could see the blue of the ocean. That was where Didi would take me for my run later, along the cliffs next to the big blue, right up to the top, where I would see the sky meet the water and feel the balmy wind.  I stepped out a little bit more. No one yelled. I took a deep breath and had just decided to go for it, when suddenly I heard a distant deep bark.

I dived back in and made straight for the porch. The big ugly dog was out with his deaf owner. Not that I am scared of big ugly dogs. I just don’t like being mauled. I am fastidious like that. After a while I realised that the B.U.D. was going another way today. I quietly made my way across the garden to the gate again.

Step by tentative step, I started towards the ocean.  Soon I felt stronger,  and I was gambolling along the path, my ears flat against my shoulders and the wind streaming through my fur.

It was magnificent! The skies were blue, the birds were flying high, the path leading up from the beach had very few people on it. I met no one who knew me. I heard someone laughing as I streaked past, “Whoa! Boy!” But most of them ignored me, as I did them.

I wandered all day. It was warm, with the breeze just the right amount of cool. I went up and down the pathway on the cliffs till I tired of it, and went back down to the street and houses. This was surely the life! No silly cats peering at me over the fence. No fences holding me in. I slunk under the fence of one house and lapped up some water out of their swimming pool. I scared a tiny dog with a pink bow. I charmed a mother and toddler in the park. I ran around and around in circles with a couple of other wandering dogs.

As it started to get dark, I realised how hungry I was.  I suddenly remembered Didi. She must have come home long ago… It was late now, she would be doing her homework, and I would not get to go biking with her and listen to her sing at the top of her voice at the top of the cliff. I had missed “trick time” with Dada. All the silly little tricks I performed for him, and the treats he gave me. Ma would be getting dinner on the table. My dinner would be in my bowl…

The other dogs I had been playing with had long gone, and the cars were shining their lights as they whooshed past, blinding me.  It was really not that nice being out here all alone.

I turned and came back home.

Ma was the first one to come out. “There he is!” Didi came rushing out and hugged me tight. Dada danced around and Baba smiled at me and said “welcome back”.

Once I had been hugged and petted I walked over to My Spot. Ma was putting down my bowl of food herself. “Tell The Dog to eat properly. Make sure you lock the gate, children.” 

Radiating the definitions

It is my belief that mediation works wonders for the individual, and by extension, to the community at large. I do believe that an ever increasing number of people taking time out their day to meditate, can only benefit the whole circle of existence. In the course of sharing my progress and responding to comments on my posts, I was reminded that meditation can mean different things to different people, as well as be a slightly confusing idea, in itself.

So I thought I needed to answer the question “what is meditation, really?” The first step was just to get on to Google. “The action or practice of meditating”. Right. That then took care of that, but left me in a circle not of my choosing.

Derived from the Latin verb “Meditari” which means to think, to contemplate, to ponder, the word is used these days to describe the act of quietening one’s mind and focussing on an idea or a thought. Or as is also commonly practised, emptying ones mind…

I believe that this sort of trance or contemplative state of mind can be more readily achieved by sitting down in a regular quiet place. If one sits down at the same time, at the same place, with the same candle lit, it is easier to slip into the mode. Hence most mediation classes advocate such a habit.

Most classes teach breathing techniques and relaxation techniques and lead the student down a well practised path of visualisation. My mother taught me to stare at the flame of a candle in a dark room, breathe slow and deep, and then close my eyes and hold the picture of the candle in my mind, and  visualise it come to the centre of my forehead, where the third eye is. She was very insistent that the mind had to be a blank and the image of the flame was all one was allowed to see. Needless to say that at the age of ten, such a feat was completely beyond me, and I did not even try. I just sat with my eyes closed until she said I could open them again. Even then, I knew that what she was trying to teach me had value, I did not realise that I was not attuned to her process. I ended feeling that meditating was for special, wise people.

Through my on again off again yoga journey through the years, each teacher has taught a different way to meditate. Sitting in those classes amidst the calm, vibrant energy of a number of yoga students, I have found each method to be of value.

I have also read and heard about a number of people’s experience with meditation. Some people find their mediative state through some activity or the other, and some people swear by bodily stillness. Also, in monasteries, monks bring the meditative experience to their daily chores and if they are doing it, it must work!

So, it seems to me, that meditation is a process through which one experiences oneself.  To the lay person like me, its value lies in the effect of calm and peace it brings. The increased ability to concentrate, and the slowing down of the heartbeat fills me with an awareness of myself beyond the flesh I can see. It makes me feel, that, I might not be very wise, but I might be getting there!

Some more thoughts on meditation:

Deepak Chopra explains meditation:

What happens during meditation?




How would you define meditation? I am curious. As soon as I tried to define it, it became too broad a question for me.

Onwards and Anon!

It was my intention to lead the Bodhi Circle through my practice of meditation. Instead, others are more regular and steadfast. In the meantime,  I stand steadfast in my non-practice.

One person has shared their visualisations with me, another person has shared how their aching shoulder ache has improved. What do I have to share? Nothing much.

Most days I forget when I get up, and when I go to bed, I remember as I am dropping off. This results in, sometimes, hurried three to five minutes at night time and not at all during the day.

So my meditation practice has become like my start everyday “tomorrow is a new beginning” yoga practice. In the meantime the middle aged spread settles in more securely.

So. I now make a new commitment. Tonight onwards I commit to the meditation circle again. I will turn the times around. Ten minutes at night, and 5 minutes in the morning. I firmly believe I will report major progress next time.


Update: Last night I did meditate  – for about 4 minutes and 32 seconds… . 🙂 I can now follow my followers… into the Circle! Now that I have remembered, I will sit down right now and do my “morning” session! Blessings be!

Kookaburra Sits On The Old Gum Tree. Er… Palm Tree!

Across from our  balcony is a palm tree. I have no idea why, in Sydney, people plant palm trees! This is NOT a tropical paradise! But more of that, anon!

Where was I? yes… across from my balcony is a palm tree with a hollowed out trunk, abut three-quarters of the way above the ground. I would always look at it thinking that some birds would surely love to make their nests there. Sure enough, late this Winter, a pair of kookaburras swooped around checking the real estate out. What they saw must have appealed, because come Spring they were continuously coming and going. My son and I had a vantage point: we would spend time -peeking at first, then getting bolder and standing on the balcony quite loudly discussing the new neighbours. We watched as the baby kookaburras peeped and cheeped, observed their grey down, we saw them grow bigger.

Very soon, the adult couple took to resting on the railing on our balcony. They would take it in turns to sit there. They would swoop down into the hollow and get on with their little household chores and then fly back again. Sometimes one or the other would come, and at other times they would both come. My son got busy with his camera, and they would sit there unabashed, while he crept as close as he dared to photograph them. What I found eerie was that they never, ever, made a sound.

I thought back to another house I had lived in. All Spring and Summer, we would have Kookaburras sitting on a particular branch, just above the swimming pool, sometimes up to a dozen of them, cackling away, cutting up the quiet of an afternoon. They sounded like old women, making fun of us and being quite rude about it, I felt. But these two, never uttered a single screech.

One morning, I heard some unusual activity in the kitchen and went in to discover my husband and my son quietly excited. One of the birds had flown into the kitchen, and past, and was currently sitting in the laundry.

And as I went in towards the laundry saying that this was unacceptable, adorable as they were, they were not welcome, inside, he flew out and sat on the kitchen window sill. On the inside window sill. Being a very rational person, and not wanting to hurt his feelings, I said, “thank you for your visit, now please go outside and sit on the balcony railing, please do not stay indoors.”

My son, who was busily trying to photograph him, said, ”Shush, you will offend him”

But after a moment the grey bird with a flash of blue flew out and sat on the balcony railing. I thanked him, and closed the window reflecting how easy it had been to convince a bird, but the males in my household?……

I was, of course quite charmed that I had these visitors as long as they did not set up parties of raucous laughter, and made my balcony uncouth with their poop.  Also, of course, I told my sister about it. As I was telling her about it, suddenly, I heard one of them sitting on its perch, chortling. I was taken aback at how “human” it sounded. I narrated this back to her( we were on Skype).

My sister is a Tarot Card ReaderAs I was quite happily telling her this charming story, and expressing my (grateful) surprise at the quiet of these birds, she suddenly started talking about animal spirits and totems, and checked my flow of narrative. She pointed me to a web link, and peremptorily ordered me to read it. Would not take “later” for an answer. So I did.

What jumped out at me was the line “The kookaburra encourages us to use laughter as a form of healing.” Now, I am not sick, or convalescent. But I had over the last few months or, even a year,  noticed that I do not laugh as much as I used to. Nor do I smile as much. There was a time, when I was always irritated, and if anything occurred to make me smile, I would consciously turn away from it, perhaps, due to circumstances, feeling that to succumb to laughter right then would be a weakness. Perhaps, that had slowly gelled into a non smiling countenance, and an inability to recognise the ridiculous. I had acquired the dubious distinction of being able to read Oscar Wilde from end to end, without breaking a single smile. Recently, when I speak to people, I have had to train myself to say to myself, “ And now, smile” because I keep forgetting.

But, for most of my life, I have laughed a lot. Falling off my chair laughing was a common occurrence in my life. As I read the web page, I remembered how, growing up in India, a song that had lived within me had been “Laugh, Kookaburra laugh! Kookaburra gay your life must be!” And I remembered that I would sing the song out loud, when I felt upset, and would feel better in an instant. It was perhaps not my favourite song, but it was one I often hummed far beyond my nursery days.

So, I took my sister’s/the kookaburras’ advice. That afternoon, I spent a few hours watching videos on YouTube. She pointed me to: Rowan Atkinson 

Which took me on to more. :

And “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” and many others.

I pulled down a couple of Georgette Heyer novels and read them, and when I reached the funny bits I forced myself to laugh out loud. Pretty soon, I was chortling and sniggering away at the life like caricatures and I even guffawed out loud at the TV show “Modern Family”.

I remind myself each day to smile, unnecessarily, and unpunctually. I laugh out loud, even if the joke is small. Laughter, and a sense of the ridiculous is a big part of me, and denying it had, possibly, frozen that part. I hope, that if there is any darkness within me that needs healing, the laughter is working. It has only been a few days, but my smile muscles don’t feel rusty any more. Thank you, Kookaburra. Thank you, Sister.


The birds are not very visible any more. Instead of their almost constant presence on my balcony I have only seen them twice since. Both times only for a flash as they sat there quietly, and then quietly flew away. I hope wherever they are, others are taking notice and allowing laughter back into their lives.

Yes, Dear Ornithologist, I know there may be other, scientific explanations for their arrival and departure. This is the one that worked for me.

The psychology of laughter.

The health benefits of humour and laughter

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