Friday, 18 January 2013

Just a Thought

                                                                                                          Image ©: Ting Mee

These are troubled times where darkness rules and there is very little light. But amidst the hopelessness there remains a stubborn belief that goodness still resides and that not all is lost in the threshold of human misery.                                          

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Humanity Across Borders

                                                                  Image ©: Chris Loh

The very foundation of modern human rights activism and compassion was built on a simple principle that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and right. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” The lines noted in Article 1 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights became the inspiration for organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. However, history continues to stand a silent witness to the gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedom.

In many countries, people survive under deplorable living conditions and an estimated 250 million children around the world are working in various jobs, frequently under hazardous conditions. Religious persecution, repression and denied access to rule of law are all cumulatively violation of human rights in a small, medium or large scale. Our conscience infuriated by repugnant acts of merciless brutality committed by individuals and groups as the dark side of human nature continues to surfaces each time with greater wickedness and contempt. The gruesome tales of death and haunting images of frail bodies and pleading eyes of victims being starved, beaten and tortured makes one wonder does human rights really matter. Does anyone really care after all inhuman acts continue to be part of our history?

There is universal acknowledgement of Human Rights as a righteous vision. The paradox lies in that while it has inspired organizations and movements, it largely remains an unrealized reality. The continuous violations of its principles make it seem as an idealistic concept confined to international statutes. Take for instance the Holocaust that led to the death of almost 6 million Jewish people and left many more to live with the scars of human cruelty for life. The genocide of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 led to the death of over half a million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge. In 1994, the genocide in Rwanda led to approximately 800,000 people being brutally murdered as the international community deliberated and struggled to find consensus for an “intervention force” in Rwanda. But these are only few of the many cases of unfolding brutality and chaos.

However, the belief in ‘Human Rights’ as a conscientious obligation of all nations is upheld by international organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Free the Slaves to name a few. These global movements work tirelessly to keep alive the vision for a world where human dignity has a value and respect for human rights is not a choice but a necessity. The creation of The International Criminal Court is a promising step forward in bringing to justice war criminals and crimes against humanity. But from the English Bill of Rights in 1689 to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the struggle for dignity and civil liberties for all human beings continues.

The fact is striving for human rights and freedom in a world that is far from perfect and divided by changing times is difficult. However, Human Rights begin with each one of us ensuring that it means something more than just words in the pages of international law. There is an anonymous saying that best sums it up: “There is enough bad in people to make law necessary, and enough good in people to make it workable."

Friday, 19 October 2012

Discovering Weight-Loss Foods

                                                                                 Image ©: Subbotina Anna

The ancient Roman poet Virgil famously wrote: “The greatest wealth is health.’ Maintaining a balanced weight is an integral part of being healthy. However, for many of us losing weight can be quite a challenge as it is more than just eating less and burning the calories. It is a lifestyle change that incorporates a well planned workout program and a health plan that best suits your needs. The most difficult part is to overcome cravings and eat right. Here are some foods known to benefit weight loss –

z Start your day with a tablespoon of honey mixed in a cup of hot water. It is a simple 
       remedy but honey is known to activate the added fat deposits and convert it as energy 
       for normal functions of the body.  Honey is often recommended as one of the remedies
       to deal with obesity.

z Chilies are spicy and add a zest to any dish. But it is also a great fat burner. Chilies contain
       the thermogenic food Capsaicin which is known to boost your metabolism and burn

z Buttermilk is a healthy alternative to whole milk with only about 2.2 grams of fat.
       Containing several important nutrients, this sour liquid left from the churning of butter is
       a probiotic food that does not add the calories but helps in weight loss.

z Curry leaves add flavor and a wonderful aroma to curries. However, it also has many
       health benefits and a recommended food to be incorporated into your weight loss plan.
       Curry leaves are known to have a detox effect in cleansing out harmful toxins and fat
       from the body. It helps to decrease stored fat deposits and reduce the level of bad
       cholesterol.  Approximately 8 to 10 leaves a day in the food can go a long way to help in
       your weight loss plan.

z Allicin is a sulphur compound found in garlic making it a useful fat-burning food. Garlic is
       known to help in decreasing cholesterol levels and unhealthy fats. It also has anti-
       bacterial effects.

z Raw or cooked cabbage is another valuable weight loss food to consider. It slows down
       the process of sugar and other carbohydrates converting into fat.

z Green tea does not qualify as food but is a popular and often recommended remedy to
       lose weight. Abundant in antioxidants, green tea controls sugar and body temperature
       while facilitating smooth digestion. It also increases metabolism and fat oxidation. Green
       tea also contains the natural de-stressor theanine.

Consult a professional to provide necessary guidance and support to creating a healthy eating and exercise plan.  While there are no short cuts to a healthy lifestyle, discovering weight loss food does make it easier to stay on course to a healthier you.

Article written for Women Wishnet:

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Perfume Tales

The famous Christian Dior once said: “A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.”  However, with the cosmetic counters crowded with an array of fragrances to choose from, buying the right perfume can at times seem quite confusing and overwhelming.  Here is a brief guide to buying the right perfume.

*  The first essential thing to keep in mind is that a perfume is not just about sweet      
    fragrances and brands. It is a very personalized item. You might like a particular fragrance 
    on another person, but when you spray it on yourself, the smell is quite different. This is
    because acids and natural oils on our skin differ and therefore you need to choose a
    perfume that suits you. 

Smell is the main component of a perfume. There are eight traditional classifications of  
    perfumes from flowery scents of the floral to strong herby scents of the fougere that can 
    make buying a perfume quite overwhelming.  Therefore, think about the different smells
    you like. It makes it easier to single out the perfume family you would like to

When choosing a perfume you need to consider your personality and lifestyle. For instance,
    if you are part of the corporate world, you would consider something light and floral that
    brings sophistication to the boardroom. However, you can choose a stronger oriental scent
    that can be exciting for an evening out. Therefore, before buying a perfume think about
    where you are most likely to wear it.

When we think of perfume, age appropriateness is the least of our concerns. However, it is
    one of the most important elements to keep in mind when buying the right fragrance. 
    Oriental and woody fragrances are strong and not appropriate for teenage girls while
    perfumes such as Paris Hilton may not necessarily suit a more mature woman.

Buying the right perfume needs patience as each bottle has its own unique smell. So, while it
    can be tempting to pick up the first perfume bottle that has a wonderful fragrance, take
    your time before making a choice.

*  It may be worthwhile to try a sample of a perfume before purchasing it.  When you spray a 
    perfume, wait about 10 minutes for the smell to settle in and decide if you like it.

Buy a lighter fragrance to wear during the sweltering heat of the summers as smell is more
    intensified and choose a stronger one for the winters.

One of the most common mistakes we make when trying a perfume is to spray more than
    two perfumes on our wrist at one time. The distinct smells get mixed up to leave us

Shopping for the right perfume can be simple and fun with a little patience and clarity. At the end it is an invaluable effort as a perfume is the invisible accessory that adds to a woman’s charm and personality. 

Article written for WomenWish
Image ©:Inga Ivanova

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Stylish Diva

The word “Diva” is said to have originated in the 19th century and is a derivation from the Italian word ‘dive’ which literally means Goddess. Therefore, in an age where presentation is everything and making the right style statement never easy, being a style diva is more than just a label. It is an aspiration to be seen as beautiful.  Here are a few tips to help discover the style diva in you:

R     Coco Channel had famously said: “Fashion fades, only style remains.” It is essential to wear what suits you and not simply because it is the fashion of the month or something that looks amazing on the ramp.  For instance a mini dress is not for everyone. If you are shy and conscious the discomfort will be quite evident as you tug the edges or constantly shift in your seat.

R      Wear colors that suit your complexion and reflects your mood and personality. It is not so much about light or dark colours but certain shades bring a glow and youthfulness to your overall appearance. Do not choose colours simply because they happen to be your favourite or look pretty to the eyes.  A good example is the colour peach. It can either give you a romanticized softness or simply look loud.

R     Everyone has a style statement that is unique to them. Try and find your style that not  only looks good on you but is also comfortable. It does not necessarily have to be high on fashion and can even be a jean and top that makes you feel and look beautiful.

R     Accessories are as important as clothes as it adds charm. It is important to accessorize without being over the top. If you are wearing a nice chandelier earring then try and avoid a heavy neck piece. Rings are always stylish and elegant with bracelet and bangles.

R      Shoes complete an overall appearance. Therefore, it must be given as much significance as the outfit and accessories. There are so many designs and colours to choose from that it could seem overwhelming.  However, the first criteria for stylish shoes are comfort followed by colour and style.

R     High heels have a flamboyance and charm that is irresistible to most women as it adds height and confidence. Heels come in many sizes and shapes so you do not necessarily have to choose pencil high when small block heels can look equally pretty.

Style at the end in the end is all about how you define it. Therefore, being a style diva is as much about how you feel inside as you look on the outside.

Article written for WomenWish

Image ©: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich

Friday, 28 September 2012

Fighting the Love Blues

Image©: Oleksii Telnov
Love is a beautiful emotion that brings a sense of happiness and excitement to your life. But sometimes, the magic fades to leave behind pain and anger. You find yourself struggling with memories and sense of emptiness that simply will not leave. It is never easy to deal with the emotional feelings that flow once a relationship has ended. However, here are some ways to cope with it.
z Heartbreak is an emotional turmoil and sometimes just crying out all the pain in your   heart can be healing. Tears have a way to wash away the feelings of anguish and disappointment to create a sense of relief. It allows you to come to terms with the reality of a relationship that has ended. Therefore, do not feel embarrassed to shed a few tears and release your emotions. But at the same time it is important to realize that the end of a relationship does not mean the end of love.

z Talking about your feeling with someone who understands can be comforting. It could be a family member or a friend who can lift your spirits with encouragement and patience as you nurse your broken heart.

z Sometimes we struggle to find the words and put our emotions together. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a notebook can be calming. It is a way to express all the upheaval you are feeling inside and just letting it out.

z When you are in an unhappy place it is easy to fall deeper into the depth of gloom by finding faults within and blaming yourself. But it is important to snap out of it and accept that sometimes things do not work out and one has to let go and move forward. Surround yourself with positive energy with people and things that make you happy.

z Watching a movie or doing a dinner with family and friends can help you take your mind off the break up. Healing is a process and so while you are bound to be contemplative of the relationship there is also a need to look ahead. 

z Attending a yoga class or a gym can be a great way to release all the pent up stress and keep your body and mind healthy.

z Take a trip to the salon or spa as it can be rejuvenating and energize your mood and self-esteem,

The well-known 17th century French poet Jean de La Fontaine is credited to have famously written “Sadness flies away on the wings of time.” Give yourself the space to let the pain fade away and the chance to seek love again for a broken heart does not last forever.
Article written for WomenWish

Monday, 17 September 2012

When Women Horse Around

Image ©: Aurora Marie Jarett-Goldstein

The grayish stone tablet placed on the corner of a Polo ground along the fabled silk route in Gilgit, Pakistan has long epitomized the fascinating game of Polo with a simple inscription: “Let others play at other things. The King of Games is still the Game of Kings.” Patronized by legendary warriors and embraced by kings and nobles for centuries, the fate of Polo has been tied to the cyclic rise and fall of empires. Though the true origins of the game remain a mystery, it is believed to have emerged almost 2500 years ago from modest beginnings in the harsh encampments of nomadic warriors of Central Asia. The sport ever since has stood steadfast through changing time to remain one of the oldest & fastest team sports in the world today. It is also one of the rare sports where both men and women can play on the same team.

Image ©: Aurora Marie Jarett-Goldstein
Over the decades the royal courtyards and grandeur has given way to more humble and ordinary fields for modern polo. While the sport has been mainly dominated by men, the last few years has seen a rise in women taking a keener interest in the sport and making their presence felt. The new era of women’s polo is nowhere more clearly mirrored than in the Polo Girls Society founded in 2009 by a talented group of American women committed to promoting the Game of Kings. The society is taking the game beyond the polo fields to bring people together for events that showcase their passion for the sport as well as benefit society through community polo projects.

The life line of Polo Girls Society is its founder TV Producer and Philanthropist Libby Scripps, whose passion for the game has made her a much-admired international polo player and an inspiration for women in polo. Beautiful and self-assured, there is air of enthusiasm as she discusses Polo Girls Society. Reminiscing the time as a young girl, Libby vividly remembers watching with fascination a Maharaja from India playing polo in Palm Beach, Florida. Spellbound by the sheer energy of clashing mallets, the cantor of hooves and exuding aura of grandeur and royalty, she felt it was a game only for kings. That was until Libby was invited to play in a kid’s tournament at the young age of seven. From then on, Polo was not only her game but an integral part of her life.

However, the hardest part of dreaming is to give it wings and turn it into a reality. Libby and the rest of the women at Polo Girls Society embody the idea that dreams are not mere ambitions alone; but also define a person's aspirations to make a difference. The society’s involvement with a number of charities and organizations to promote the sport and giving back to the community has been commendable. Libby recalls an interesting episode when a 12 year old girl won a lesson with the Polo Girls. She came to the barn with little riding experience, got on the pony and started hitting the ball. Just to see the natural talent this little girl had was amazing for the team. But the feeling to know that she would have never had an opportunity to learn polo had it not been for something like the Polo Girls Society only    strengthened their commitment of having such initiatives in place to promote polo.

Though setting up Polo Girls Society was challenging and far from glamorous for Libby personally, she has found it all worthwhile. It has enabled her to inspire and encourage new players and bring in more spectators to the sport. There have also been obstacles and the biggest Libby amusing points out was Ralph Lauren. After all he trademarked the word polo back in the 70’s and everyone thought polo is simply a brand of clothing, not a sport. But it is not the only one, as Libby points out that there remains a big misconception that Polo is only for elites and you need to know how to ride for years. All of which is not true and adds with her infectious wit that white jeans do not make you look fat and when playing polo you do burn the most calories than any other exercise. Although, the game itself has not seen the masses that she was counting on, but at least people now realize polo is a sport and not just a brand. Therefore, the joy for her lies in the recognition the Polo Girls Society has brought to the sport in competitive zones like the US.

Image ©: Aurora Boyington

Polo is charming game that moves at a swift pace delicately blending artistry and remarkable horsemanship, testing the bond and endurance of both horse and rider to the ultimate. The rules are fairly simple and it is an exciting sport to watch. Libby advice to young inspiring women polo players is to make safety paramount for themselves, their teammates, and opponents. While excellent sportsmanship and horsemanship is essential to excel, Libby cautions to steer clear from the air of snobbery, instead appreciate and enjoy the game without trying to continuously dominate the ball and never to cross the line. She then adds with a smile that it does not hurt to look great in Mallet Hill threads designed by the Polo Girls.  It is all about passion and respect for  the game that is steeped in rich history.

Presently, Polo Girls Society has a growing membership of 55 members and more than 10, 000 fans.  It is not a total women’s affair though, as men too are welcomed and encouraged to join to show their support for women polo players. Libby hopes that more women will be encouraged to take up the sport by joining the Polo Girls Society and in turn they would be able to generate more sponsors to host more women's tournaments worldwide.

Image ©: Aurora Marie Jarett-Goldstein
Margaret Mead once famously wrote "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Libby Scripps and her team of Polo Girls are not looking to make grand gestures of heroism, simply choosing to make a difference through their passion for Polo. But along the way they have begun to inspire a whole new generation of women polo players making sure to be treated as equals. Enthralling with as much skill, speed and power as men, women are playing hard and are in it to win.  Thus, the legacy of polo lies not in the ancient manuscripts and legends alone but in the devotion of those touched by its mesmerizing aura just like the US based Polo Girls Society.