The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache

Friday, 11 April 2014

Spring ...

The Sabaa wind arrives; 
and in deep resonance, 
the flower passionately rips open its garments, 
thrusting itself from itself. 

 The Way of Truth, 
learn from the clarity of water, 

Learn freedom from the spreading grass. 
Pay close attention to the artistry of the Sabaa wind, 
that wafts in pollen from afar,
 And ripples the beautiful tresses of the fields of hyacinth flowers. 

 From the privacy of the harem, 
the virgin bud slips out, 
revealing herself under the morning star, 
branding your heart and your faith with beauty. 

 And frenzied bulbul flies madly out of the House of Sadness 
to unite with the flowers; 
its love-crazed cry like a thousand-trumpet blast.

 *Bulbul: Nightingale

Happy Easter


PM's Easter Reception and Message

Happy Sham El-Nesseim
Beads ...
... on learning

Sunday, 6 April 2014

7 a day? It's all in your hand!

Fruit and veg 7 a day? Easy! ... you want to do it but don't know what a portion is? This is the problem, and I didn't know either when the kids were young and it was a very nice person who taught me this rule; 

A portion of any food should be as big as the fist of the person eating 

So, it's an adult fist for an adult portion and a child's fist for a child portion ... and adjust according to the child's age

This biggish apple above therefore, is an adult portion. For, say, a child of 10 years old, half or a smaller apple is a portion ... this rule works for whatever you eat if you want to keep healthy and maintain your current weight - so for a healthy balanced meal, your plate should have a fist of any vegetable or mix of vegetables, another of starchy food like potatoes or rice and a third of protein, a leg or breast of chicken, fillet of fish or a burger - or three spoonfuls of cooked lentils, black eye beans, etc ... and that's a balanced plate good for a balanced diet 

Another rule of thumb is that a portion of any dried fruit; raisins, apricots, bananas, as well as dry nuts and pulses and the like is half that of a normal portion, or the equivalent of half a fist.

People get too fat or lose weight when not following this rule; too much rice and potatoes and you'll put on weight. Less than a portion of same and you will lose weight, simples

Fist is the rule, but train your eye too. Open your hand and half the length is one portion. Again, adjust to age
And again, this rule works for everything, so a small 1kg chicken breast or leg, two sausages, a piece of lamb or beef, etc, is an adult portion and less for a child, or half their hand for a portion ...

So there you go, a small plastic cupful of anything is a portion too since a cup is roughly equivalent to an adult fist. Those are 5 portions, add two spoons of nuts and two spoons of dried fruit and that's your 7 a day. Cook or eat raw as a snack or in salads. It works for liquids too so count a glass of unsweetened juice as a portion 

Those are three portions; a carrot, a pepper and a fist equivalent of broccoli - cook and add a piece of chicken and a portion of potatoes and that's a healthy dinner. Again, adjust for children

Not for him, the greedy so and so, or better say he's just ambitious! ... but that's the age you want to start children eating their seven a day if they are to keep the healthy habit, otherwise it will take more time and effort, but persevere, not only for a healthy diet but for a healthy weight, and well being too ...

I am not an expert on nutrition, but that how I did it for my family and it worked for us ... why am I fat then, cos I am 'ambitious' like him above, but with the wrong foods ... and I am working on it, yo yo me is now following the 'saucer' diet - and that means what it says on the tin - my dinner plate is now all I can eat providing it fits on a saucer ... and it is working!

... and how about some easy recipes? ... maybe another time ...

You should be eating 7 a day
7 simple ways to get your 7 a day
... and some recipes [but I want the family to notice so that they can form the habit]
Beans and pulses reduce bad cholesterol 
It's bananas!

Love yourself, love your food, and it will love you back, cos everything works both ways ... always! :-)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Praying to Ra, Shu, and Nut

Ancient Gods; Shu holding Nut up
Shu [Means 'Emptiness' or 'He who rises up']
Nut [Means Sky]

Starting with the oldest of civilisations in Ancient Egypt, the early history of man has always appreciated as well as feared what the weather will bring that it became perhaps the most essential part of all ancient pre Abraham religious belief  around the globe - and why it became essential very early on in history for all the  religious to pray and make offerings to the gods of the wind, the atmosphere and the weather to seek their acceptance and kindness in sparing them the occasional harshness and severity of the weather as well as celebrate the mild and plentiful periods that bring harvest, birth, happiness and joy. 

In the scene above, and as the myth goes [and this is my own interpretation, but other interpretations are on the net if interested. Mind you, they all have relevent meaning too due to the very infinite nature of that eternal scene], Geb, the Earth God is lying down in what looks to me like an uncomfortable position. He is surrounded by earthy stuff;  a man sitting down and a bird on one side and  a prayer and a pledge of offerings on the other. Geb looks as if he is prevented from getting up because of that slap above his head. But although it looks as if it is causing him considerable discomfort, it does not actually flatten or harm him - is that slap a metaphor for the forever changing climate Geb had to deal with and endure? But despite the discomfort, he forever remains resilient, youthful and beautiful

On top of the slap there are four snakes representing the God of protection Wadjet [needs a seperate post, maybe later] as well as Khnum, the ram head god making offerings with one hand and holding a shepherd's harvest flail with the other [flail for one ram only as there can only be one shepherd for one flock]. Then there in the middle stands Shu, the god of the wind, holding the nude Nut [because the sky can not have a cover] up with one hand on her womb the bearer of life and the other on her bosom that feeds and sustains that life. In her pose as protector and sustainer, Nut also has her toes and fingers pointing to the four cardinals; east, west, north and south. Nut is then topped by the ram head god depicted within the Ra disk - then you have one feather of Ma'at on the right and two huge winged Wadjets as well as prayers and offerings to  protect the whole scene on both sides ...

... and it's this relationship between the Earth, the sky and the universe they are all protecting, though Earth is looking down meaning he is somewhat oblivious to the rest due to his discomfort. But then, Nut is the Earth's mother and she is very aware of everything around her as mothers do despite her way more uncomfortable pose ... but for the mother of nature, she acknowledges her duty - and it's like she's forever pledging never to let go of that duty, and so far, she never did too ... and she's not about to do so either anytime soon, for she also acknowledges that this is her destiny, for infinity ... 

... but uncomfortable and looking down as he does, Geb the Earth, though beautiful despite his apparent  discomfort, he is not complaining but, instead, he knows that this eternal slap will forever be on top of him and will cause joy when it lightens up sometimes, and hurt when it it is so heavy it becomes a burden sometimes. That despite the intense heat of such emotion, it's Geb's destiny to remain beautiful forever, providing he pleases all the gods around of course, or those seen in the picture and those present but not seen too ... and Geb will 

... or can you imagine what would happen if Shu, tired as he holds the slender but still heavy Nut as he does, if he let his arms down to rest them, will everything then fall on Geb and he dies? Well, I hope not! For tiring as they becomes sometime, that those arms shake from that continuous lift of that heavy load every now and then - but Shu knows better than to rest and he won't let go ever because he too knows his duty, and that his destiny  is to forever hold Nut up ... and Wadjet will not go either nor will Khnum the ram ... all dutiful, all holding each other in place ... forever ... unless one day they burn by Ra's heat and then and only then there will be no scene ... 

Better start praying to Ra the Sun God to keep him happy then ...

Being an ancient Egyptian myself, I still remember the prayers and the offerings we used to make Holy Ra happy ... it's simply because the words have never changed since and why change if it works too, sooo ..

Below is a classic poem by a uniquely talented Egyptian poet. It is written in classic or Shakespearian like Arabic and is one of the more difficult pieces to understand.  It  also seems Shawqi,  though he wrote this as a man/woman love poem, he never forgot those prayers passed to him from one generation to the other for the influence is clear. Besides, this is exactly how I remember those prayers from those thousands of years ago since my DNA was immortalised ...

Beautifully sung, both singers are not aware of that other dimension 'I found' in their singing of what to them was just a song based on part of a 100 or so years old poem - but to me, they both sing it just like a way more ancient song and prayer from thousands of years ago was sung ... so right, it's  just as I remember it myself when I sang it all those thousands of years ago, true too ... 

Exceptionally passionate prayers like these were used to seek kindness from Ra following a fearful event which perhaps caused that slap to press a bit harder on Geb's head and to avoid Geb any further discomfort - and of course, it's to please and encourage all the Gods present or not to let go and keep their duty of protecting Geb and those who depend on him to infinity as per their destiny, Ra willing, of course ...

Too optimistic and one or more might just get tired and let go? I think not, but only time will tell ...

It's also an exemplary sample of  prayer of deep adoration and passion as sung by both females and males nearly anywhere around the globe then - but here is a difference, and it's that soft helpless and victim like singing of the female as she depicts a stricken helpless victim seeking urgent help - while the male's seemingly adoring but perhaps hidden anger filled chants are more pronounced. But although he still prays for help his loud chants are so frustrated he even screams for mercy when describing his confused and tormented heart. He endures further suffering perhaps due to the feeling of stronger helplessness in his lacking the ability to do his own duty to protect his female/s and family in front of a strong unfavourable event. Stereotypical depiction fof male/female? Of course, prayers always return to basics, - but here, he is so pained, he omits pledging loyalty and dedication to the divine master as the female singer does [Highlighted below in blue] - instead, it sounds more like if given half a chance, he would land a fist, or ten, in the gods's not so pretty to his eyes at the moment faces ... and he would aim straight for their eyes too @_@

Ennnjoy! :-)

Nut at night, stars, boat on the Nile, beautiful breeze is back n all are out helping, caring and praying ...

The poet, and this is only a  part of this poem, tries to hide that it's him suffering, he [and it works for a she too] speaks as if it was someone else, but then he's overcome by his passion and painful emotions and can't hide anymore as he prays, adores and worships ... he then  tries to hide again ... and it repeats as his pain and confusion grows ... 

مضناك جفاه مرقده .. و بكاه و رحم عوده
Modnaka gafaho marqadaho .. wbakaho w rahama 'owadaho
Tormented, his bed resents him .. and he cries [with those visiting] as hope is being lost

حيران القلب معذبه .. مقروح الجفن مسهده
Hirano elqalbi mo'azabaho .. maqrouho algafni mossahadho
With a confused and tortured heart .. bleeding [from crying] and deprived of sleep eyelids
[Can't close them]  

 يستهوي الورق تأوهه .. و يذيب الصخر تنهده
Yasstahwi elworqa ta'aw'wohaho .. wa yozeepo essakhra tanahodaho
Pigeons[Symbol of peace] fall down on hearing his cryies .. stone melts feeling his pain

 و يناجي النجم و يتعبه .. و يقيم الليل و يقعده
Wyonagi enagma wa yot'ebaho ..wayoqimo el layla wa yoq'edaho
He speaks to the stars until they tire .. confuses the night, it can't decide if to rise or set
[Attributes of the sun, hence the day, and not the night - but such is the confusion he causes]

 الحسن حلفت بيوسفه .. و السورة أنك مفرده
Elhossno halafto beyossefahi .. wassorati anaka mofradoho
Beauty? let me swear by Josef .. that yours is more unique [Addressing Ra]
[Bible: Josef, Qura'an: Youssof or Youssef]
[Trivia:  Apparently, with his  exceptionally seductive beauty, he was the most beautiful man who ever walked the earth]

 وتمنت كل مقطعة .. يدها لو تبعث تشهده
Wtamanat kolo moqate'aten .. yadaha lo tob'atho tash-hadoho
Even those handless .. would give their all to lay their hands on the beloved
[Trivia: Women were punished by having their hands cut off for not resisting and instead allowing themselves to be seduced by Josef's beauty - but
nothing new here, it's always been the women's fault since the beginning of time anyway!]

 جحدت عيناك ذكي دمي .. أكذلك خدك يجحده
Gahadat eynaka zaki dami .. akazaleka khdoka yaghadoho
He cries: "Thou eyes are obliviously cruel to my spilled blood, Would thou cheek deny it too?!"
[Meaning, hard as stone eyes, of Ra in this context,  that won't cry and wet his cheeks with emotion]

 قد عز شهودي اذ رمتا .. فأشرت لخدك أشهده
Qad azza shehoudi ez ramata .. fa asharto lekhadeka osh-hedoho
"My witnesses have departed vouching for me .. can I point at your cheek to be my witness"
[Begs for some tender feelings, from the gods]

 بيني في الحب و بينك ما .. لا يقدر واش يفسده
Beini felhob wa baynaka ma .. la yaqdro washen yofssedaho
The love that's between you and me .. can never be ruined by those envious deniers

 مابال العاذل يفتح لي .. باب السلوان و أوصده
Ma balo el'azeli yaftaho li .. baba elsolwani wa owssedaho
But though even the envious keep opening the doors of cure .. I wkeep shutting them

و يقول تكاد تجن به .. فأقول و أوشك أعبده
Wayaqoulo takado togano behi .. fa Aqoulo wa owsheko a'abodaho
They then say: "You're going insane with him" .. and I say: " and I am about to adore him"
[As in a condition way past insanity]

 مولاي و روحي في يده .. قد ضيعها ، سلمت يده
Mawlai warohi fi yadoho .. qad daya'ha salemat yadoho
"My master, he who held my soul in his hands .. then lost it, may God bless his hands"
[Cause of the calamity, Master lost his soul, but she still prays for him .. ever seen a bigger desperation?!]

 ناقوس القلب يدق له .. و حنايا الأضلع معبده
Naqoussa alqalbi yadoqo laho .. wahanaya el adlo' ma'abadaho
The bells of my heart strike for him .. And the folds of my ribs are his temple
[Ribs unable to expand properly and in near permanent state of contracting to keep and protect precious temple at heart]

 قسما بثنايا لؤلؤه .. قسم الياقوت منضده
Qassaman bethanaya lo'lo'ha .. qassama alyaqouti monadodhi
I swear by thy pearl like brightness .. with an emerald [precious] vow that I cherish
[In this context, pearl can be the sun and emerald the seas]

 ما خنت هواك ولا خطرت .. سلوى بالقلب تبرده
Ma khono hawaka wala khatarat .. salwa belqlbi tobarehado
I will never betray thy love .. nor seek absolution to cool down my flaming heart
[pledging total dedication to Ra, the sun God, father of all gods]

Can't understand the whole meaning of the poem because of all the he/me/she confusion and all the trivia I added in small font and which doesn't even relate to the poem sometimes? So what, neither can I, fully! ... but whole, this is one mighty powerful poem and a worthy offering to the mystical gods of ancient Egypt to keep their kindness! And I did say, it is a difficult one, sooo, make this part of here your own whichever way you like, then pray for kindness too ... and enjoy .... 


Egyptology, learning from distant history:
Ps: As I am a dedicated Muslim and an Egyptian proud of Egypt and her long history, please note that this is just a light hearted look, with  a bit of  imagining being one who lived at those ancient times as I am neither thousands of years old nor am I immortalised,  at the Ancient people of Egypt and their myth based gods and religious beliefs specifically as related to changes in their climate and how that was dealt with by those who inhabited Egypt in times way past - and how this may relate to the ongoing climate debate of today.  

Environmentalism has become a religion
Unlocking Lovelock

And look! Their adoration and the  prayers did work .. and order was back! Oh, the mystic and magic power of prayers, providing they prayed  predominantly to Ra, their supreme God, and not just to Shu and Nut!