What I like to do on weekends

Sometimes I feel like the weekend flies by too soon. Then again, Saturday and Sunday tends to be kind of slow days too at times. It’s hard to really put a nail on it but oh well! It’s the weekend, Saturday is pretty much over for poor ol’ me in Sri Lanka and here comes Sunday.

Earl Grey, Mandarin and Honey iced tea
Earl Grey, Mandarin and Honey iced tea

I’ve realized that I love planning out my Saturdays. Usually I plan a lunch date with my friends or my husband because he doesn’t come home for lunch during the week. Lunch is usually at a favourite spot like the t-lounge by Dilmah or Coco Veranda. I have to almost always order an iced tea for myself because that has been my favourite drink for the past couple of months now. T-lounge actually introduces a bunch of new varieties every month so there’s always something new to try and it never gets old or boring for me. At Coco, it’s the quality of food and incomparable hospitality that I love and keeps me going back so often. Once lunch is over, I like doing a bit of shopping (mostly the window shopping kind). It allows me to ‘do something’ with my time between afternoon and evening and Colombo is swarming with so many new places and shopping outlets so there’s always some place new to check out. At the moment, the Arcade Independence Square is one of my favourite spots to spend a little time.

Other times, I LOVE going to Mondy because they always have clothes that fit me so perfectly and the choices are so chic. Another place I have been kind of loving is Cotton Collection. I got myself these oh so comfortable pants and I cannot seem to stop wearing them at home.

Independence Arcade
Independence Arcade

Since the weather has been a bit chilly for the past week or so, it’s lovely driving by Galle Face Green and also towards the Kotte side of the city. The sea breeze and calm blue ocean relaxes me as does lush greenery on the other side of Colombo. If the weather wasn’t so unpredictable, I’d actually enjoy a walk by Victoria Park or Independence Square. Unfortunately, Mother Earth is showing rain at random moments throughout the day so a walk is out of the question.

My husband tends to take an short nap after lunch, so I am to myself for a good hour or so by evening time. I love this time because it allows me to do a little bit of cleaning and tidying up in the room. I also make use of this time to catch up on some YouTube makeup video blogs. I’m so fascinated by how beautiful some women look but a bit disheartened by the ton of makeup products used on their face. How much makeup is too much? I personally do not use any foundation, concealer or BB cream so I honestly wouldn’t know how to answer this. My go-to makeup is a good kohl kajal or thick eyeliner and a good colour lip balm or soft matte lip cream. That’s just about it. Anything more than that for a casual day out is torture for me. I cannot for the life of me imagine applying a whole load of other makeup on my face, going out and then coming back home only to take hours to remove everything I had earlier applied on. No way is that happening!

At night, my husband and I love going out to dinner. When we come back, it’s movie night! This weekend we watched the Sex Tape which I kind of expected to be pretty funny and entertaining but was actually a bit of a let down. I guess I expected more but…. the screenplay and storyline could have been a lot better for sure.

As always, Sunday remains unplanned to some extent. I don’t always have good Sundays somehow. Something almost always goes wrong and puts me in a sour mood. Last weekend it was an awful tummy gas attack. The following weekend it was something else. Pfft! And as much as I love going out, I also love quality time at home and this is something my husband doesn’t always understand. He’s quite outgoing whereas I would take some time to settle down and be comfortable. So when I am in the mood for some home comfort, he finds me a little bit boring ๐Ÿ˜›

Sneaking a soft matte lip cream onto my personal collection :D
Sneaking a soft matte lip cream onto my personal collection ๐Ÿ˜€

I also run a little in-house business of my own where I get down makeup and cosmetics from the US and UK and sell them online to locals so I tend to have some customers come by to take a look at what I have in stock on Sundays. Mornings usually. I’ve been doing this for the past two years and I must say, I really enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚ I have had rough days doing this (some customers can be a bit demanding ha!) but overall, it does keep me happy. On both the plus and negative side of doing this, I get to shop online (yay) and bust a lot of cash (nay).

Occasionally I like to pick up a good book. This I like to do when my husband isn’t around because he bullies and disturbs me constantly. Ha ha, he isn’t a bad husband, just one seeking a bit of attention ๐Ÿ˜› I like peace and quiet when I am reading so I do this when he’s off at work on a Saturday morning or when he’s taking a nap. The last book I read was over the last weekend and it was Gone Girl. No, I haven’t had the chance of watching the movie yet but I will soon. To those who have read and watched this, holy freaking hellllllll what in the world is the matter with that woman? And why in the world are they even together in the end? There’s a lot of things I don’t understand but it was a hell of an awesome read! Sorry for the spoiler to those who haven’t read it or watch it ๐Ÿ˜€

At this very moment, the weather is oh so lovely in the city of Colombo. My husband and I just drove around for a bit and got home – he straight to the bed for a nap, and me at my laptop and a book nearby. How have you been enjoying you’re weekend?

Xoxo

International Christmas Charity Bazaar!

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Colombo seems to be gearing up for Christmas way in advance but I don’t see anyone complaining hee hee! Here’s the poster of one charity event happening.

Stay tuned for more event updates throughout the coming days ๐Ÿ™‚

Xoxo

P.S Happy Thanksgiving!

Minnie

A girl like me can’t say no to a bit of surfing through Facebook jewellery pages, especially the ones that are home and hand made. I am always amazed at the creativity and uniqueness of the pieces created. Today’s post is about a page I came across earlier this week: Minnie.

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Minnie is a vivacious brand that offers items ranging from clothing to accessories and lots of other fun things in between.

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Every item is designed to make a bold statement and almost all designs will probably never be made again….Plus you’ll never know what’s coming next.

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Theyย try to be as sustainable and as ethical as possible by sourcing local fabrics, finding great local tailors, incorporating local crafts and sometimes,ย designing up-cycled goods with waste materials. Apart from the outsourcing of tailoring and fabrics, ‘Minnie’ is 99% homemade & handmade.

As of now, you can check out the available items, which are one of a kind, and make orders via their Facebook page.

Happy shopping!

Xoxo

 

Anjanam

Anup Vega. Exhibition 2014

“It means light watching,” he said. I sat there a little confused. I’m not always confused when it comes to art. The he further explained, “it’s about knowledge that seeps through light. A clear mind, enlightenment and new knowledge of things.” Yes, okay that made sense.

Anjanam is different. At first, all you’d notice are coloured strokes on a framed canvas. But then, as Anup Vega explained, the light shines through. There is a great deal that is unknown and in the dark, very much like the man himself until you question, probe and take a double look to get to know more and finally find the light. To be quite frank, he’s a humble soul. His work therefore is just as humble and honest.

Anup Vega. Exhibition 2014

“I find that although this is a hobby to me, it’s my safe escape and my passion. I believe that one should not do anything if they are not passionate about what they are doing. What is the point in that? There is no time and schedule for me to paint and find something inspirational to relate onto a canvas. When there is light inside of me, in my mind and in my heart, I paint. It keeps me happy. I am not always sure of what I want to do or what I want to paint but that’s really not important. It’s not important to think too much about something, even painting. It must comes from the heart and one must let it be at that,” he said.

Some of the paintings look like as if they are of landscapes. Scattered bits of grass perhaps, deep blue skies, what looks like water lilies floating, and beautiful sunsets. One painting in particular is painted on three sheets of paper. When questioned about why he did this, was this a concious choice (as in part of the idea of the painting) he replied, “unfortunately my answer has nothing to do with the idea behind the image. I wanted to paint something a bit large and didn’t have sizable paper. Paper that large would have cost me a lot but instead I painted on three sheets of paper because it’s much cheaper.”

Anup Vega. Exhibition 2014

The humble man. It rings in the head after a walk around the gallery and a light conversation with Vega. Then there are a series of painting that somewhat look like self-portraits, or are they? The artists himself cannot say. On some canvases, the images look disturbed and then on others they look more proportioned and clear. “It’s a clear reflection of the emotions I personally go through. I paint when I am sad, happy, feeling lost, have found light and even in hunger. Every little emotion changes the outcome of my work,” he said, and that is why I believe his paintings are different and truly one of a kind.

Anup Vega. Exhibition 2014

Vega uses a mix of mediums to paint. For this collection of paintings, he has primarily used water colours but on other occasions he likes to dab in oils, acrylics and whatever he has at hand at the moment he is personal driven to paint.

“Many would not see it as it is, but painting is a luxury to me. When people talk about freedom of expression, they often do not see it in the form of painting. But that is what it is to me. I have a great deal of freedom and I love that feeling. There are energies that surround you at all times and these energies translate onto my work. Sometimes I paint in black and white and then sometimes I use a great deal of colour. These can be easily understood through the paintings that have been picked out for my exhibition,” he added.

Anup Vega. Exhibition 2014

Anjanam is currently been exhibited at the Barefoot Gallery until 25 November.

Weekly Snap!

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Earl Grey, Mandarin and Honey Iced Tea

As you all know, I’m a huge tea fan. So here’s presenting my weekly snap – an Earl Grey, Mandarin and Honey iced tea. This fabulous beverage is available at the tlounge by Dilmah on Chatham Street as well as Arcade Independence Square.

Xoxo

7 Deadly Sins of Beauty Tag!

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It’s a lovely Saturday over here in Sri Lanka and I’ve got plenty of plans for the rest of the day, including lunch with my hubby and good friend back from Australia. I didn’t quite know what to post today but I thought perhaps some pictures of our lunch outing but then again I thought a beauty tag would be fun. I did have fun with the last one I did so hopefully this would be the same ๐Ÿ˜€

1. GREED: What is your most inexpensive beauty item? What is your most expensive?

Most inexpensive item would have to be one of the lip balms. It’s from an old range of NYX Cosmetics (they do not have it anymore sadly) and it is in the shade Grazie. I simply love it!

Most expensive….hmmm this is a tough one because I do not buy expensive beauty items…. Can I mention something I’ve been gifted? Yeah okie… that would have to be a set of four Elizabeth Arden lipsticks.

2. WRATH: What beauty products do you have a love/hate relationship with?

The Christian Dior eyeliner pencil. Sometimes I feel like it works super well on my waterline and then on some days I just hate it because it does not apply as great as I want it to. Pfft!

3. GLUTTONY: What are your most delicious beauty products?

OMG! This has to be the lip glosses by Bath and Body Works! The particular one I have is a bit of an old one but it still have a teeny bit of product left and has a bubblegum flavour. Name seems to have rubbed off so I can’t really say what the product name was. Sooo yummilicious!

4. SLOTH: What beauty product do you neglect, due to laziness?

Liquid eyeliner for sure!!!!

5. PRIDE: What beauty product gives you the most self confidence?

On some occasions it is my NYX Retractable Liner and on other days it is a good bold lip colour.

6. LUST: What attributes do you find most attractive in the opposite sex?

Hmmm this might not sound too ‘lusty’ but I find kindness and thoughtfulness very attractive ๐Ÿ˜€

7. ENVY: What items would you most like to receive as a gift?

Sighhhh too many to mention! I’d LOVE a super pricey gift card to shop at NYX Cosmetics online…. I’d also love a ton of yummy body scrubs and lotions from The Body Shop and Bath and Body Works…. perhaps some new clutch and cross body bags from Newlook and maybe a couple more stuff from Spa Ceylon Ayurveda ๐Ÿ˜€

 

Tagging each and everyone of you to give this tag a try if you already haven’t!

Have a great weekend xoxo!

 

My personal Hajj experience

As the fifth pillar of Islam, Hajj is a religious duty of each Muslim around the world. It is said in the Holy Qur’an that a Muslim must partake in Hajj at least once in a lifetime, unless unable to do so due to financial and other personal reasons.
To me, it was a scary thought. Hajj isn’t easy they say, Hajj tests you in all ways they say, Hajj is a sacrifice they say, Hajj is a blessing they say. I’d heard too many stories, possibly not much. Whatever I’d heard, I’d seen on the television and tried to imagine through photographs couldn’t do justice to the experience itself however.

I was scared, I was nervous and I was also just as excited.

Saudi Arabia is not as daunting as many would say it is. Yes, life becomes a little monotonous there but it is the spirit of Islamic brotherhood, the inner faith and undying love for religion that keep the people going and their lives moving ahead each day. For there is nothing else to offer in the city of Makkah except prayer, supplication and faith.
We reached there on a Monday. Ten kilometres away from Makkah (on flight) pilgrims are asked to enter a state of holiness (known as Ihram). Men’s outfits consist of two seamless clothes and for the women ordinary maxi-like dresses (often in white or a pale colour). In heart and mind, the intention to perform the pilgrimage is declared. The ideology behind entering into Ihram is to show equality amongst all pilgrims; there is no difference between one another.

The Haram and the Kaa'ba
The Haram and the Kaa’ba

Tawaf and Sa’ay
Upon entering Makkah (after waiting in the airport and struggling with personal luggage, travelling a couple of miles to get to the hotel, taking a small nap and once again getting ready to leave – still in the state of Ihram) pilgrims perform a welcoming Tawaf. Tawaf means walking seven times counter clockwise around the Kaa’ba. To those who don’t know what the Kaa’ba is, it is a cube-like building covered in a black cloth. Known as the House of Allah, it is located within the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah and is the most sacred location in Islam as during all prayers conducted around the world, Muslims face the Kaa’ba direction. I should add that this is not to be associated with idol worship for the Kaa’ba is representative of the House of Allah in the heavens. The direction of which all Muslims pray towards is what is most significant in this act.

Our Tawaf was conducted in the heat of the afternoon. This was a test of strength and faith. One can do this at one’s own pace but as Hajj is most often conducted in groups, it is best to stick with the group and perform each ritual together. Once Tawaf is completed, pilgrims are asked to conduct two rakaat prayers by Makam Ibrahim. This is another important site within the Masjid Al-Haram. Prayers are followed by drinking holy water known as Zam-Zam. The original well was located in close proximity to the Kaa’ba but today the well is closed up and the water is available in multiple locations around the entire Haram.

The next step is known as Sa’ay. This is the act of running or walking between the two hills, Safa and Marwah seven times. Before the expansion of the Haram, this was conducted in open air and on bare ground. Today Sa’ay can be performed inside the Haram, in a cool air-conditioned space and on three separate levels. On either side of this pathway are remains of the two hills. After Sa’ay the men shave their heads and the women clip a portion of their hair. Once this is complete, the state of Ihram can be removed.
We were given a day’s rest before we moved to Mina.

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Mina

 

Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah
Mina is where Hajj begins. Mina would be our home for the next three to five days. We had to pack light and also ensure the bags were small for we would also be travelling to Arafat for a day and Muzdalifah for a night.

Before heading to Mina, we had to once again enter into a state of Ihram. This must be kept until we returned to Mina, which used to be bare land. Those who partook in the pilgrimage decades ago would tell you they had to sleep under the starry skies on the bare ground. Today, it is filled with thousands of tents and cushioned sofa beds for added comfort. The Hajj pilgrim in today’s world does not truly in that sense experience Mina. We spent a single day there and then headed to Arafat on Thursday night.
Arafat is quite similar to Mina but there are no comforts in terms of cushioned sofas here. Pilgrims often come prepared with floor mats and bedding instead. The group scholar delivers a sermon firstly. The significance of doing this is because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his last sermon on this very ground. It is here, that pilgrims then offer supplication, repent and atone for their sins and seek forgiveness. One can do so from noon onwards and this is known as ‘standing before God’ (Wukuf). Hajj is incomplete if this is not performed.

By evening, pilgrims leave for Muzdalifah. Here, there are no tents. We slept under the starry skies after gathering small pebbles for the next part of Hajj. On Saturday morning we returned to Mina. This was the day of Eid ul-Adha, Hajj festival. It is also the first of three days where pilgrims walk to Jamaraat and demonstrate the stoning of the devil. Three large stone pillars exist in Jamaraat. These pillars signify the devil. Each pillar can be stoned on each of the three days.
Once this is complete, a few more rituals such as an animal sacrifice and trimming of the hair follow. On the same or following day (Monday) we returned to Makkah and performed a final Tawaf in completing Hajj around the Kaa’ba on Tuesday.

Inside the first floor of the Haram
Inside the first floor of the Haram

A change
On a personal note, there are no true ‘difficulties’ during Hajj except for having to deal with large crowds of people, the blazing heat of the desert land and perhaps having to use a common washroom at all times. Even though the crowd can get overwhelming, even though the heat can dehydrate you (it did!) and even though the washrooms are not all that clean at all times, you somehow pull through it all. That I find is the most amazing thing about going through this enlightening experience. On a normal occasion, I would never have survived and made a huge fuss about everything but over there, on holy ground, it’s different. You are different. You find that you are stronger, patient and more determined than you think. Strong enough to walk miles from place to place, deal with the heat, be patient enough to face trying ordeals and determined enough to finish what you came to do.

People are right when they say that Hajj changes you. Maybe not drastically but in some ways at least. There’s an inner part of you that is completely satisfied, a part of you that is amazed, a part of you that is also a little sad that it’s all over, and a part of you that longs to go back once more.

 

**As published in the Ceylon Today newspapers**