Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gong Hay Fat Choy! (feat. Kesh's birthday)

I am standing out watching the fireworks, the view. In the distance a thick mist envelopes the lights and the mountains. 

We've got our kuih kapit, jam tarts, mandarin oranges stock on the table. YES, like mum actually got them ordered just cos it is CNY - we are cool that way. 

It's raining out, and it somehow makes everything so much more lovely. The air smells of smoke but I'm smiling. The family is all together - coordinated holidays, mum has food all planned and we are chilling and we meet friends and we are just noisy and we discuss television (or lack of) - the brother exclaiming when he sees a P. Ramlee film about to come on, and we stay up late talking, we plan outings and we entertain each other and laugh. 

This. This is why I love being around, this is what I miss whilst being away - the joys that come with each holiday, the atmosphere, being together. At this time, it is the fireworks and the lion dances and the angpows and the oranges. 
And right now, I am just soaking it all in. 

Today was reunion dinner night. Slight deviation from our family time to meet the extended family. 

A friend's birthday surprise. And what a smashing time - so much laughter, conversation, memories! 
We sit in the hottest, coziest corner with the pizza, kuih lapis, seri muka, curry puffs, cola, meehoon, and laugh until our sides ache, before actually adjourning to the more "ventilated" area. Everyone shares a memory, everyone tells a story, and everyone makes a memory, right then. We arrive in a convoy - we enter in a rail gaddi formation - and she is properly surprised ! 

And right this instant, I get a random phone call from family in Penang - ting! A reminder of sorts to spend some quality time there as well, perhaps. 

And I am reminded that we should always, always make time. And laugh and tell stories and tell each other how much we love and appreciate and cherish. 

Have a very Happy Chinese New Year, all of you. 

Lots of love. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


It all started off, a few years ago during our crime scene exercises.

Our team, assigned an arson case, had just a regular cardboard box 'man', with no head, whereas my dear friend's team, handling a more complex case, got a mannequin. With head, but missing an arm.


It was actually pretty funny, and one day we were just comparing these things, when she said,

"You can't always get everything in life, you know." - referring to the mannequins - one with no head, carboard body, and one with most regular bodily parts except an arm.

But we looked at each other, burst into laughter, and realized how profound that was. You obviously can't get everything, but you learn to make it work, I suppose.

Random life lessons while possibly having lunch or donut-cupcake-something sweet from Greggs, much.

Which brings me to the next point. You get some things, but that does not mean you are stuck with it.

You are never stuck.

YOU choose how it works. It is whether you work to get out of it, you work to make it work, you choose to pray for a solution, or choose to be miserable.

Only you can help yourself. And He only helps those who help themselves, as they say.

So let's make this our year. Let's choose to make it work, and let's choose to be unstuck.

As always, love and much inspiration.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The year that started off "interesting"

All of you would have heard by now about the incident that took place a few days ago. It was all over the social media, the community news, and from what I gather, has spread all over the world.

It is a sad, and grieving, and unfortunate thing, and it has left all of us with a less-than-pristine feeling. But today I feel I must write about it.

I am going to write about what I see as not-so-terrible from the episode.

  1. The panth came together, and stood together to solve the issue. It was so heartening to see that immediate action was taken, and the sanggat was informed of it, and that in a calm and professional manner, it was analysed, a decision was made, and it was announced. 
  2. This could have happened anywhere in the world. But for one of the most progressive panth to see it happening - and this is so apt - to point out "Wrong number hai yeh" and then for action to be taken, that is a step. And for people from the entire world to see that this should never, ever happen again, well it is a positive step. 
  3. The entire sangat, and gurdwara committees now learn that clear, detailed guidelines need exist. There need be detailed information provided to all parties when it involves an outside of gurdwara event. 
  4. Everyone involved learnt a hard, but probably necessary lesson. 
I urge us all to have but some compassion and forgiveness though. As the panj pyare pointed out, we should not shun them away. Instead, offer them your love and understanding and kindness, it is only the beginning of the year, we should have some left - everyone makes mistakes. Plus, they are ashamed enough, and they have faced the Panj Pyare. 

I urge you to forgive and forget. It is an important lesson, for all of us, but instead of spreading the negativity and unkindness - through harsh words, through mockery of those involved, spread kindness and words of the Guru, spread love. And as someone has said, let this be a lesson for all of us to reconsider our own actions. 

Yesterday my friend told me of her niece who after samelan, chose to sit next to a classmate who did well in math. When asked, she said "I am choosing the right sangat". 

Let this guide us towards a better year, and a better sangat. 

As always, love to all. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan - some of my memories

Some of us wait the entire year for this week - it is so worth it, too. Today I would like to share with you some memories, some lessons, and some experiences from samelans past.

I have this one memory of Sentul Jatha. Can't remember the year, which samelan it was, but I remember how the darbaar looked like vividly. Picture the morning IPS, which has just started. They start the shabad : 
Madho Hum Aise Too Aisa , 
O Lord, this is what we are, and this is what You are. 

And poof! The electricity is out - something must have shorted. The jatha is left with no mikes, and the sangat remains. What happens next, has become one of my favourite memories. The jatha continues singing this line, Madho Hum Aise Too Aisa, and the sangat - imagine main darbar, with all those participants and sewadars, sing along. I don't know how long this went on, I don't remember what else they sang, I don't remember what they spoke about. But I remember this, this harmonious singing, this chanting of the shabad in tune, happening. The technical veerjis are frantically moving around trying to fix the problem, but the rest of us, we are singing. I smile now. Goosebumps. That is the vibration you get in samelan, in the sangat. Eventually, the problem was solved, I think - but from that day onwards, Sentul Jatha held a special place in my heart. 

As I was speaking to a dear penji in samelan last year, she said these words to me, "26 years and counting, it's an addiction". That is my age, people, that is how many years she has been attending this, this, "camp" doesn't seem to describe it. 

I think last year, we got me a t shirt made : Top 10 Reasons I love Samelan. There are many - and my top 10 may differ from yours, but all will agree that it is something like no other. 

I remember a couple that had attended, some years back - from the UK, they were. They said they could not stop crying - for everything was so beautiful. It is not always, you get to see 1000 people gathered and everything falling into place, where there is so much singing and laughter and sewa and learning and fun and adventure and.. this will go on. 

I attended a kirtan program a few days ago. My friend, M (not the M that got married) was there, and as we sat (right in front, thankyouverymuch) together (plus her sister and mine - I must add, people sometimes confuse her sister as mine and my sister as hers) and sang loudly, I was taken back to the good old days. The days when we were participants, and we used to sit together and sing loudly, and enjoy the IPS. She is the girl with whom I (and two other friends of ours) had a slumber party with at samelan - of course, other people joined, and coincidentally that was the samelan at Bentong, 5 years ago. *Much feels* We very nicely asked the security penjis and auntyjis, and they said yes - and we shared our loot; chips and nuts and other junk - we talked, and at some point, we (well, M mostly) had to shoo away a cat. That doesn't leave you, that memory. I remember what I was wearing, I remember how we were spread on the mattress, and I remember it being so much fun - although I was falling asleep at the end of it. And two out of the three people that were there came to London with me two years ago - and we relived it, and we relived it good. It is not for fun that people say if you are a samelan kid, you can sleep and bathe almost everywhere. And I am so glad that along the way I found these mad, mad girls, and many other people. 

I remember someone saying "Samelan starts when you go home" and the speakers challenging us during the LM to learn more and prove it the next year. 

I remember vividly, getting up and heading to the darbar to hear the deep voice of Uncle Sukhindarpal leading the nitnem and the feeling when nitnem is ongoing, and I remember a penji saying - look at the meaning during Jaap Sahib. 

While I was at samelan this year, I returned to the dorms to find a jatha doing their utility sewa - and I said "Washing toilets is aaaaaa...... ?" to be faced with non-comprende looks - they were too young to know it, methinks. 
The story here is Veerji Khushwant and Utility Sewa (cerita bukan dongeng). Back in the day, jatha competition used to be taken VERY, VERY seriously. And the most important part? Utility sewa. It was the biggest competition to see which jatha would win the coveted perfect 10 from veerji. And it was hard, man. He would grade based on .. well I am guessing enthusiasm, dedication, and probably how clean stuff actually was afterwards (LOL). But that was the time people would be singing at the top of their voices, and actually be enjoying just being together, getting wet, and without realising it doing their sewa. I have heard such amazing stories of people going down on all fours to clean, of extracting lodged items, and such. And yes, I clearly remember doing one night utility rotation (The BEST, night one), the utility team standing together, and us participants raring to go.
Veerji bellows, "Washing toilets is A" to which we reply "DREAM JOB!" And then he gestures to his sidekick, who hands him "our best friend" - the toilet cleaner liquid bottle (I forget the brand). And armed with brushes, detergent, toilet cleaner, and what have you - we march off. People who like me are not so young, are you grinning yet?

But I did hear last year that someone my age tried it with their jatha - keeping it going, yo.

And I remember that every samelan, the first and last day feeling remains the same. The first, an extreme, inexplicable happiness as the dewan becomes a darbaar, when the 5 Pyare lead Guru Granth Sahib in, and suddenly the entire mood, feel, atmosphere changes. And the last, a sombre, inexplicable sadness and melancholy as they now lead the way out, and with the Guru leaving, the dewan returns. I don't think that feeling is ever different.

And I don't think there can be a different feeling to the immense excitement every year, to meet old friends, and to make new ones.

I remember one year when I was elected by the jatha to present at the LM everyday. (I loved it, me nerd me)

I remember one year ending up in the same jatha as R and J - and we had SUCH a good time. We slept on two top bunks and every night some shenanigan or other was happening - and that was the year R and I became sisters. I remember J and I pulling her up by her cute, cute pajamas - and rolling on the bed laughing uncontrollably after.

There is one memory I have of samelans past when my mother's friends recognised me as I was growing - apparently due to the photocopy/xerox/ditto looks I have inherited from her. It is funny, this memory - because most of the time they have a look of much amusement and awe at the similarity.

And then there is the memory of that afternoon session when uncle Senjay made everyone feel something. Some of us remember it very well.

There is one IPS that comes to mind, in recent years, when Giani Mahinder Singh Khalsa (Khalsaji) attended - I remember him speaking in Malay, and telling a good story, and I remember the IPS being something lots of people were looking forward to. A few years later, he passed on. I don't think he had come for another samelan after that.

I have much more to write, but I will have to continue some other time. I had to write this today, the year has only yet begun and I want you to share these memories I have, and perhaps tell me of some of the memories you have.

As always, love and inspiration to you. 

Super Sewak

Dear all,
Have you heard of Super Sewaks?

They came into conception last year at the 50th Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan - and since then have made appearances at other mini samelans and Gurpurab events.

Plus, they have a Youtube channel!

What Super Sewaks believe is that every ordinary person can do extraordinary things - and thus be a superhero - just like our Sikh brothers and sisters, but also like any other human!

Here I present to you one of the first videos - the intro and one of the topics for the samelan last year - happy watching and please like, subscribe and share!

Also, if you would like to join the team, please contact me :)




I just watched PK yesterday. Thank you, Shal for telling me to. 
It is a brilliant film, that is for sure. Nothing mind bogglingly new, not something ground breakingly fresh - just some old issues, just lots of topics people have been debating and trying to put forth for a long, long time now. 

But the freshness lay in how it was presented. I really loved how simple the premise was. Nothing lofty, just so simply laid out and the climax too, it only required something SO simple and straightforward! 

And I really loved how funny it was. 

I am not going to put in any spoilers, don't worry, but this film has come into my life at a time when I know it is time to take a stand, loud and clear. And not just in the aspect of what the movie is potraying but generally in life as well. 

Beautiful message, as expected from AK and RJH - and I must say - it has churned my brain wheels in more ways than one. 

I loved the wrong number part - "Wrong number hai yeh!" and I see myself referencing it a lot! 

So if you haven't already, go and watch it - and if you have, tell me what you loved about it in the comments. 

Stay golden, and stay inspired.