Saturday, 14 June 2008

The One Where She Goes to Espanola...

There are some experiences you know you just have to have - and over the last few years, the 3HO Summer Solstice Celebration has had that pull on me. Come 2008, even Mataji starts itching to go..... and ta-da! A trip is planned and we'll be on our way in just a few hours :)
So while you wait for me to come back and tell you all about it, enjoy the pictures from my experience at the 2006 Yoga Festival in France – There aren’t that many pictures and admittedly they aren’t that good either… but I was too busy with my soul to worry about worldly things like cameras and the like :)
The Big Top, where all the group yoga and meditation sessions took place, including Tantric

Yoga in the Big Top

The most fascinating thing about sessions here was that everyone sat in their language groups. Since people come from all over Europe and English may not have been their first language, there were a few translators who would stand up in their little circles and explain what was being said. It was pretty neat to hear the Guru's word being translated into French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian...:)

Sunrise just after morning sadhana

There is nothing like doing sadhana to live music :)

The Gurdwara was packed on the day of the weddings - of course some were just waiting for the prashaad :)

During the lavaan

Getting ready for Tantric

Tessa and my Tantric neighbours during our second day

All Whites! Taking a break in between Tantric

All set for the Happy, Healthy, Holy experience :)
Love, Peace and Light to all,

Monday, 9 June 2008

Of Chocolate and Cinnamon… and Beautiful Cubes of Brown Sugar

Apparently, I am faced with one really big dilemma (amongst others, of course, but this one is a Biggie). Well I can’t say I’m alone in this, for millions others are also afflicted with this awkward reality.
Our predicament? We are Brown.

I was at the pharmacy today – arguably a place that should be retailing either items to restore my health, or those that make me feel good. Yet as I browsed along the shelves, I grew increasingly troubled at the frequency at which one word was repeated. From face cream to moisturiser to shower gel, apparently the quickest way to get products off the shelf was to slap on one defining word: ‘whitening’.

This is all the more concerning when you think about the racial make-up of my country, which is approximately 60% Malay, 30% Chinese and 8% Indian – which means that excluding the Chinese, who are already naturally fair, there is 68% of the population being told that they should be having sleepless nights at the thought that their skin isn’t comparable to the colour of chalk.

And I do, seriously, mean chalk. Because those ads are not referring to a healthy fair skin that the other half of the world’s population is blessed with. They are referring to… chalk.

This bugs me for two reasons – first, that I too now am the un-proud owner of whitening moisturiser – because even those of us who do not support such unashamedly confidence-bashing advertising are left with no choices. The ‘whitening’ stamp is now akin to a quality control certificate – if you don’t have it, your product won’t make it to the shelf. This maelstrom, however. will be short-lived – for on my next trip overseas I’m going to hunt down some plain Jane kind of lotion with no references to colour, and I’m going to stack up enough to last me the next 100 years or so. Sigh – the troubles and tribulations of being Brown…… don’t get me started on being left-handed :p

The second bug-me factor is not so easily healed – and here I’m referring to the so, so, so many women out there – especially Indian women, who look in the mirror everyday wishing for a snowfall that will wash away their colour. And naturally, as people are their own worst enemies, these women are not just battling effective advertising, but also pressure from their own families and communities, where the first thing anyone wants to know about someone’s girlfriend/daughter-in-law/newborn baby is: ‘Is she fair?’ And once that question is answered, the Writing is On the Wall dah-lin’, and fate is cast in stone.

This issue is something I can relate to, because when I was in my early teens, my skin colour bothered me too. Brown was nice and all, on someone else. But to be honest I wouldn’t have minded being a shade or two… or three…. Oh alright – the colour of chalk.

You wouldn’t think it if you knew me now though :p – today I am as proud and grateful and content as anything at the way my Creator made me. So I have my imperfections, but who doesn’t, eh? Thank God I grew out of that phase and discovered how much I loved being the colour of the earth and melted chocolate and curled cinnamon sticks!

But my point is that even for someone like me, who grew up in a family where the colour conversation never made it to the dinner table, who was encouraged to spend most of her time under the sun whilst having a non-existent relationship with sun block until recent years, who took no nonsense from anyone, and knew full well that advertising is a money-making sham where people are wheedled into wanting things they could in fact be quite happy without……… even that someone had her faith shaken as a little girl – all because some half-starved, malnourished, chalk-faced model on tellie insisted that she was the definition of beauty and the rest of us should be killing ourselves to look like her.

And so I worry for all those Beautiful Cubes of Brown Sugar scattered across the globe, those for whom colour is the only conversation at the dinner table, sunshine is sin, and fashion magazines the answer to all the world’s problems. For no matter how brightly their personality sparkles, it is simply not given the chance to shine through their dark skin.

And I want to say to them: Your Brownness is not a blemish, it’s a blessing – and no amount of slapping on that muck is going to change your complexion – unless you want to take it up with God directly. So let it rest and go lie in the sun instead! Don’t forget your sun block though – burns are no fun :)

Brown IS beautiful.

And for the record, so is White, Yellow, Black, Red, Beige……and whatever else I’ve missed out. I am being pro-colour, not pro-Brown – this post looks through the Brown glass because that’s what I can relate to, while I hope there are others out there fighting their own little battles for the right and beauty to be whatever colour they are.

Isn’t it ironic that while one end of the globe is obsessed with getting fairer, the other half sunbathes and visits tanning salons to get darker. Why can’t we all just be comfortable in our own skin, literally!

You know, in spite of the fact that God gave the world so much colour, when it comes to people, I hear that He is, in fact, colour blind.

I think it’d be pretty nice if we were too :)