In order to feel at home here and to understand what this Tea House is all about, please see my very first post at http://teatimereflections.blogspot.com/2009/09/heya-tea-mates.html

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

the "trick or treat" of the gulf arabic states

TEA TIME!!!

Just sipping some boring Lipton tea lol, what **tea** would you like to be served now? It better be something more exciting! :-P

Although Halloween has just passed, I have just bumped into a blog post written by one of our fellow **Tea Mates**, sparklydatepalm, where she wrote about trick-or-treat in Halloween and its similar counterpart, minus the "scary" costumes, in Gulf Arabic countries. This celebration is known by many names and in where I come from, which is the Emirates, it is known as "Hag el Leilah" (which is literally translated into: "for the night" or "the right of the night"). Her post really reminded me of home and made me think about why it didn't even occur to me to write about it here when Halloween was just yesterday?

In the Islamic calender, Hag el Leilah tends to be celebrated in the month of Sha'ban right before the holy month in which we Muslims fast called Ramadan. Honestly, as a person who was born in a city (in Dubai), I must admit that there isn't much that I know about this tradition aside from the idea that children wear their traditional clothes and collect sweets from door to door (kinda like trick-or-treat lol) and as they do so, chant a prayer which is more accurately described in the link to the article about Hag el Leilah which just shared above.

Also because I was born in a city and lived most of my life in apartments where our neighbors were primarily expatriates, I didn't quite experience this tradition. If I really could say that I've "experienced" this tradition in any way, it was more in the form of fellow classmates or teachers in our school distributing candy in pouches or creatively designed bags which we'd snack from in our bus trip home.

At the end of this post, I've posted a video of an ad about this celebration which I guess would give you an idea about the kind of ambiance in the traditional manner of celebrating it.  

WARNING: before playing this video, please please pause the background music by scrolling down to find the Ipod gadget on the right hand side of the blog and clicking on the pause button so that you can experience this video to the fullest!! :-P





From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"the stranger" unveiled...

TEA TIME!!!

Tea I'm sipping now: jasmine green tea, 'cause I seriously need to chill after a long week! What **tea** would you like to be served this time?

For those of you who've read my short story, When "The Stranger" Barged In... , may recall that I had kept The Stranger's identity open to interpretation. So, as you can guess by now, this post will reveal his identity as I had intended him to be. I will also share what my friends who've read this thought of his identity.


So.....in other words....if you still haven't read the story and/or what had gotten me to write it....click on the link now!!! And then come back continue reading this post....



Image from: United Mask & Party Manufacturing, Inc.


The people who've read this story and who've shared their thoughts with me about it have so far guessed that "The Stranger" is either conscience, a lost opportunity, a demon, a ghost, the angel of death, or death itself. Although I had, as most people may have already guessed, intended that "the stranger" be death itself, I still find the idea of seeing him as either "conscience" or "an opportunity lost" very interesting.

The friend who had identified him as "conscience" justified her point of view by saying that conscience can haunt and kill and we, just like the woman in the story, try in vain to avoid facing our awareness of it's existence until it eventually kills us. As for the friend who had thought of him as "an opportunity lost", he explained his position by saying that the woman, in trying to ignore "stranger", get him out of her house, and finally pointing a gun at him, is trying to deny the reality of his existence and is ignorant of what lies behind the mask. We tend to fear the "unknown" when the "unknown" may contain the keys to bliss or to our enlightenment. When "the stranger" unmasks himself, that is when the woman finally experiences what she had been trying to avoid all along, but by then, it is already too late...

Would now love to hear your input on this ;-)

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

empathy vs. compassion

From: Art by Wicks
 
 TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the post: pomegranate green tea from a cafe in the Little Italy of Boston :-P What **tea** would you like to be served?

The following article/video about how Compassion Meditation can be helpful for caregivers to combat "empathy fatigue" was shared by a Facebook friend of mine today. It also discusses the difference between empathy and compassion. I think the ideas discussed are not only important for those who serve suffering people (such as doctors, nurses, social workers etc.) but also for the rest of us who are immersed in this ocean of the negativity found in our world. This negativity I speak of is our witnessing (whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually) of other's suffering, feeling it and thus suffering with them, and yet feeling helpless as observers with little power to make a profound difference for them. Such "empathy fatigue" may even lead to apathy--better to not deal with such suffering and live my life...right?

I think that such a mentality however only adds to the problems, especially as apathy involves ignoring the issues at hand, and thus not even addressing them, and can potentially lead one to do the cruelest things or at least to say or do things without considering other's pain (consider "rape jokes" for example, which are so pervasive in many societies unfortunately. But then again, one can alternatively argue that rape jokes in themselves can cause apathy, even if the "joker" may not actually perpetuate the criminal act itself). 
 
Such a mentality can even harm us ourselves in subtle ways especially by denying a great part of ourselves as social animals and only makes us feel more nihilistic. We deny ourselves the capacity to expand our consciousness beyond our ego (as one of my professors once joked with us: "So you better get your head outta your ass, 'cause there's a WHOLE WORLD out there beyond yourself!!" LOL) and to expand our potentials...(you'll see what I mean towards the end of this post lol; I'm just blabbering right now :-P).

This is why I believe the topic is important for each one of us to reflect upon, whether you deal with or have witnessed people who've undergone trauma, or have undergone trauma yourself, or simply see/hear of others undergoing suffering.

So, below are my thoughts regarding this article and the video that accopmanies it. Would like to note that a lot of my thoughts are partly based on my experiences as a volunteer in a rape crisis center hotline, some of which have touched me at a deep level or have left me with so much negativity that I couldn't sleep a night or two. Thinking about these thoughts and writing them down in a journal (and again writing them down here in this post) make a great difference for me and ground me in my purpose for volunteering in the first place. (Would recommend reading and watching the video before reading the next paragraphs below):


I guess it could be fair to say that mere empathy is just plain "mirroring" and inaction whereas compassion is mirroring but also seeing beyond the reflection itself--that is, seeing the person/animal as beyond the label of "victim" or "survivor" but as what they are which is "person/animal" with past, present, & future all at once and with thoughts, emotions, spirits, etc. all at once--as in seeing them as Whole beings, because this label of "victim" or "survivor' is only a Part, and the Whole is greater than the sum of its Parts. A table, for example, isn't defined by its legs, surface, wood, etc. but as a table; a Whole. In the same way, human being is more than just his body, possessions, past, present, future, thoughts, emotions, labels, etc. he is "human"; a Whole. I try my best to remind myself of this when I start having negative thoughts or feelings as I speak to the clients in the hotline. I try to listen to them as Whole individuals rather than with the labels of "victim" or "survivor", but I can't say I'm always successful in that and this article and video indeed add more for me to reflect upon.

I personally think that another important thing to be aware of to prevent empathy fatigue is to keep the ego in check; are my objectives to be THE "super-hero" and to get my points across to the client or is it to actually help them? Why do I let my ego determine that the client's future will always be suffering--what do I know especially in a world filled with possibilities and potential, and when each human is filled with potential that they can transcend from being plain reactionary, and thus submitting, to their environments, genes, negativity, etc.? Another thing that was helpful for me was to remind myself that I'm not alone in the work and I'm only a Part of a Whole Team.


We are so deeply connected, our very existence and our very wholeness cannot be defined in isolation from one another, whether it be with fellow human beings or even our very environment--though we are whole individuals, we are only part of a greater whole. By genuinely helping others or at least connecting with them can humble us--thus, we are NOT the ones helping them, rather THEY are helping us, to think otherwise, in my view, is to think that they are indebted to you whether consciously or unconsciously. 

Genuinely helping others helps us to see the people we "help" in their whole humanity beyond the labels of "victim" or "survivor" or a "nameless, faceless statistic", and thus we break our delusion that we are somehow on a higher plane for having "privileges" when in reality we have NOTHING. Our privileges are only borrowed and, unfortunately, we treat them as idols we attach to and as masks we define ourselves with until death takes them away from us whether we like it or not. To me, death itself is a silent testimony that there is far more meaning to our lives than mere accumulation of wealth and privileges. Let us therefore "fly" for the sake of "flying" rather than "flying" for the sake of mere "survival".

(here's the link again in case you missed it twice above...http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthieu-ricard/could-compassion-meditati_b_751566.html)

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

plant a tree with your blog/website


 TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the day: warm green tea from a Korean/Japanese restaurant by my workplace. What **tea** would you like to have today?

As the title of the post points out to (and speaking of "green" tea LOL), there is a program out there called "Make it Green" that claims to plant a tree for your blog. The idea started in Germany and it aims to "neutralize" the carbon footprint produced by each blog by planting a tree for that blog. Click here for more information about how it works.

It is indeed a small contribution but if we each do it, it could hopefully turn to something bigger; we won't get anywhere with that sort of logic which is unfortunately quite prevalent these days.

To make your blog "green", you need to write a short blog post about the initiative (please see the link I had just shared above), choose a button for your blog (that looks like the image posted here except that there are other buttons and colors as well), and email the link to your post to: CO2-neutral@kaufda.de, and a tree will be planted for you!

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-) 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

short story: when "the stranger" barged in...



 TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the day Lipton Orange Jaipur. Not too bad; I still like Trader Joe's mango black tea better! What **tea** would you like to be served?

Among the many promises I made in my previous post, I present to you below a short story I've written when I was either fifteen or sixteen. Although I always loved writing short stories (or at least fantasizing about them! XD) since I was either seven or nine, this is the only one which I've actually completed without discarding it and that I'm actually proud of!! :-D Anyhow, the idea for the story was a response to a writing exercise in Jerry Cleaver's Immediate Fiction (which I never actually finished reading...otherwise, I would've been writing much more often by now!!) which involved making  a short story in thirty minutes related to the following most random words: strawberries, albino, and pistol.

Haha, but you know, I, being the slacker that you all know me as, didn't write this in thirty minutes...I didn't actually finish the story until the next year!!! But I think that that period of time was worthwhile and I kinda regret completing it...I mean...the very process of even typing up any story is SO exciting! (Don't make fun of me now...I'm already hearing some chuckles...grrr...)

Before I stop my blabbering and actually have you read the story, I'd like you to first consider the following question once you're done reading: who do you think "The Stranger" is? Be creative. ;-) I will reveal who "The Stranger" was to me in a future entry as well.

I'm also open to any critiques...after all, I am still an amateur lol.

Oh and one more thing--and I'll shut up after this, I swear!--expect me to post more about my terms and conditions regarding whether any of you **Tea Mates** are willing to share any written or visual art to decorate the **Tea House**...I just still haven't thought up of those "terms and conditions" yet!

Ok...now here's the story...

Enjoy!
From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)


 When "The Stranger" Barged In...

She was out collecting strawberries as part of her daily routine when before her stood a mysterious young man wearing a mask. From his pale hands and snow-white hair, she could tell that he was an albino.

She ignored his presence and tried to concentrate on her work, but the man still stood there gazing at her. Finally making some movement, the albino shamelessly walked into her house.

Furiously, she ran into her home, but he wasn’t there. She searched each room yet found no one.
   
“First you disregard my existence,” a strange voice said, “now you do not welcome me into your humble home?”
     
She turned to the direction of where the voice seemed to have originated and found the albino sitting on the only couch in her small living room with his legs stretched. “Humans—even the humblest among them—were and still are rude to me.” He continued.
     
“Rude?” she sarcastically questioned with an angry tone, “I don’t think barging in people’s homes without their permission is polite, especially when they’re strangers!”
     
“I believe we know each other very well…” he answered calmly, “You knew my name ever since you first learned how to speak. Although you’ve never met me, you knew people who had done so...” He stood and walked toward her saying, “I know both your parents.”     
     
“My parents died ages ago!” she retorted, “Now get out of here or else!” she brought her deceased father’s pistol from a drawer and pointed it at him. The albino didn’t seem to display any fear of her threat. He simply looked at the pistol with eyes expressing disgust.
     
“I held you before you were born,” he said as he grabbed her arm.
     
“Don’t touch me!!” She interrupted and pulled the trigger—BANG!!—but…the man still held her arm and continued speaking as if nothing happened!
     
“Now I’ll hold you again…in the long run, nothing can stop me…” He said and then took off his mask.
     
She let out a scream and everything—her home, her farm, her fears, her hopes, her joys, her sorrows, and her breath—vanished, as if it were all but a dream…

Written by **The Hostess** herself.

Monday, July 12, 2010

no worries, **the hostess** is still alive!+introducing the new **tea mates**




TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the day: mango black tea from Trader Joe's Speciality Teas--very very refreshing and I just LOVE the scent! Besides the black tea leaves and the natural mango flavor which contributes to most of the scent, each tea bag also contains blackberry leaves and hibiscus and calendula petals...**deeply sniffs her tea and sips it and says: "....ahhh...!!"** What **tea** would you like to be served this time??

My God...once again, it has been a while since I've last posted. Honestly, my schedule wasn't as busy as last time, but I wasn't feeling too emotionally well during the summer and thus had a complete block of ideas and inspiration for posts and tea time with you, my lovely **tea mates** and **tea guests**...hopefully your **tea times** with me have been missed lol.

*Sighs* but no worries my brothers and sisters...I'm now slowly feeling better and hopefully you'll see me post more often (especially since I just started my 6 month internship and hence no more distractions from homework, quizzes, papers, or exams...except that I may feel too exhausted after I return to my apartment each day during the weekdays!).

It seems that I've gained more readers during my absence and only recently seemed to have lost one. Aside from the latter (and I don't blame her for leaving the **tea house**...she must've felt too lonely without me sipping **tea** with her! As mentioned...I am quite a slacker as a **hostess** lol...hopefully, as I become into a better blogger, that will change), I think that is a great sign! That is why, among the many rituals of the **Tea House**, they must be welcomed and introduced, in fact, this is actually the main reason why I decided to post this particular entry! Thus, I'd like to introduce you to the following new **Tea Mates** (only those who have blogs or websites of their own or Blogger profiles have links to them. Also, I haven't sent a personal message to those of you who are following me through the NetworkedBlogs app on Facebook as I didn't want to seem too intrusive):

Now before I leave, I'd like to give you a heads-up about what the upcoming posts may look like. Expect me to share a short story and a bit of poetry written by me (and I'd love you to share your own writing or any piece of art or photography as well, please let me know if you'd like to do so! And no...it doesn't really have to have anything to do with **tea**!! Will post more on terms & conditions of that soon...), an update on my knitting, and a compensation for the missed "inspiration of the month" posts with some additional ones as well lol! (In case you don't have the slightest idea of what those "inspirations" may be, please do take a look at here, here, here, and here. In general though, each inspiration consists of one of my favorite quotations and my thoughts on it). 

P.S. to Carnations: expect me to reply to all your wonderful comments on my blog entries soon lol!
P.S. to Hassan Ismail: expect me to reply to your awesome message!

From your **Tea Mate**,
Reema B. :-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

knitting updates!



TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the post:  blend of Samurai Chai Mate and White Ayurvedic Chai from Teavana. Didn't drink that in quite a while lol. What tea would you like to be served today?? Before I start with the main topic of this post, allow me to officially welcome and introduce you to two new **Tea Mates**: Sreelatha and My Getaway. Thank you again for stopping by the **Tea House**! I hope you have both received my welcome email :-) Will be checking out your blogs soon!

Finally, here is the update about my knitting (see my previous knitting post here) and my thoughts about my first knitting products and services from Darn Good Yarn online. Although the products took a while to ship, the balls of yarn I bought were AWESOME, I got a free size 11 bamboo circular, a free crochet needle, the yarn prices were reasonable, and the person who runs this online store is SUPER friendly; she even sent me a handwritten personalized card and had stopped by the **Tea House**! Thank you again Nicole! And please do sip some more **tea** here! :-) In other words, I am overall very satisfied with my purchase.

The yarn sold in this store are recycled, hand-spun, and fairly traded. There is a variety of colors and choices and the store keeps adding more products that keep getting better and better. I plan to buy more of my knitting items from there. For those of you who are into knitting or are even just starting like me, please do check it out for yourselves!

When I first received the stuff I had ordered, I was experimenting with one of the balls of yarn as I watching video tutorials about knitting (check out KnitPicks for free video tutorials combined with pictures and written step-by-step guides great for beginners like me. They also seem to sell good products and I may consider buying from them and testing them out). I then finally decided that I'd like to knit a scarf; its seemed quite easy and I thought it was a great opportunity for plenty of practice.

However, I came to realize that the amount of yarn I was having was not even close enough to knit even half a scarf!! LOL am I a "smart" or what??!! Thus, for this reason, combined with my busy schedule, I stopped for quite a while and decided that I'd like to order some more of that yarn online when I'm free. Now that my Spring semester has ended and my vacation has finally started, I looked at the Darn Good Yarn store today and saw that the particular ball of yarn I wanted was sold out! :-( Looks like I need to wait a bit longer...*sobs*...




From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

my experience with reiki

TEA TIME!!!!


Tea for the day: Two Leaves & A Bud Tea Company's Whole Leaf Organic Darjeeling Tea Sachets. I had apparently over steeped it but I was in need of it regardless; I've been having a soar throat these past few days; probably due to the changing weather in Boston. What tea would you like to be served today?


This may seem random, but I thought that I'd like to share this post I had written in my Facebook notes about my Reiki I Training which I completed on Saturday. Enjoy :-) :


------------------------
I had recently completed a Reiki I training and attunement in the Sacred Space of my campus. The price was cheaper than typical Reiki I trainings and was definitely worthwhile. I must admit, I did have my doubts but my trainer gave me a great way to think about it: "Do you meditate?" she asked me, "Yup" I responded, "Then take Reiki as a meditation, that's what it is. And be a scientist; experiment with it."

I was also told that although Reiki is secular, I may use my own religious and spiritual background to aid me in grounding myself before and as I'm doing it for myself or someone else as long as I do not neglect the Chakra system--if I'm not comfortable, the person I do it for will also not feel comfortable.

Therefore, Reiki doesn't interfere with anyone's belief system or anyone's "non-belief". The Chakra system, although being based on Ayurvedic Hinduism, doesn't in itself conflict with any belief system; it is just a tool and a framework diagraming energy centers (some forms of Sufism, Kaballah, and some Native American spiritualities also have similar concepts although the "energy centers" are diagramed differently and called different things). In fact, traditional Reiki as it is practiced today originally started off when the founder was asked about how exactly could Jesus (pbuh) have healed others with touch? Therefore, traditional Reiki doesn't really have a "religious" label attached to it. My trainer also emphasized the importance of joints as energy centers to be focused on since most movement produces a lot of energy. Among the goals of Reiki is to unblock these energy centers mainly via Chakras or joints.

Basic Reiki is done through touch or merely having the hands glide over the person without actually touching him. Advanced Reiki (i.e. Reiki II) focuses on the non-touch aspects of Reiki and on healing or reducing emotional and mental suffering through energy. Reiki III is the master level and is typically taken when one wants to teach it to others.

Energy is sensed in different ways for different people. I personally sensed it in the forms of vibrations, heat (sometimes internally; not just the natural way it is generated with any touch), magnetic field, or as a warm air going to areas of pain and energy blockage. Since I take Reiki as a meditation, I think that even the natural physical expressions of heat and touch itself helps me focus on that area that is currently being touched or at least visualize energy flowing with the same results as actually directly sensing the energy. Sometimes, Reiki can intensify a pain or reveal a pain you did not sense before hand and then slowly alleviate it. According to my trainer, pain always has something to tell us and we need to listen to it especially when it arises in the process of doing the Reiki.

Reiki practitioners do not claim to be the source of healing. In fact, it is considered to be more of a stress reduction technique which could potentially result in the body naturally and gradually healing itself with its innate wisdom or at least as a preventative measure when it is done frequently. It does not actually guarantee healing for everyone or in just one sitting. To me at least, the meditative aspect of Reiki is done by both the practitioner and the client, and to me also, unless both of them are in a meditative state then it won't fully work. The source of such healing or energy is believed to come from the Universal Life Energy (which some have identified as God or His "barakah" as some Sufis may label it or simply mere energy in the none divine sense of the word). The Reiki practitioner is merely a channel of energy.

I remember that before ever hearing about Reiki, I used to perform particular kind of supplication for pain I learned in a book of "azkar". It involved touching the area of pain and saying three times (translation); "In the name of Allah the Gracious, the Merciful" and then 7 times: "I seek refuge with Allah and His Words from the evil of whatever I find and undergo." I noticed that whenever I did this with total concentration, it always worked with either alleviating the pain or simply reducing its severity. There are more examples of such practices in Islam that involve invocation of God and I've even heard of a story of the Prophet (pbuh) healing a man's ankle by touching it and supplicating. To me, I'd think that such things are a sort of "reiki". Thus, if we are define such practices as forms of reiki, although not "traditional" or structured, then we could argue that Reiki is indeed as old as time itself and is more universal than a lot of people think.

One of my friends here has shared a beautiful and heartwarming blog post about reiki (or at least a form of it), I highly recommend you to read it, it's called Healing through Compassion: http://darvish.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/healing-through-compassion/ he also told me that there is an actual clinical offshoot of Reiki called Polarity Therapy. I don't know anything about it but I'd love to research it.

I had an intense experience during the attunement process in Reiki I and I am currently brainstorming a poem about that, so stay tuned!



From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

befriend me and your fellow **tea mates** on facebook!

TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the post, Numi Monkey King Jasmine Green Tea. Besides this tea, I have so far tried their powdered Moroccan mint tea and chamomile/lemon tea and I must say that I like the latter best. At first, I used to like the mint tea but there are times when it makes me feel like I am drinking minty toothpaste. What **tea** would you like me to serve you today?

I have been so bad with blogging since November till now lol. However, I am glad that I have gained another **Tea Mate** again, therefore let me officially introduce you all to her. I'd like you all to welcome Neva Flores. I'm currently following her blog where she writes beautiful poetry, I'd highly recommend you to check it out.

I finally uploaded my knitting pictures but I decided that I'd type up this particular post for another purpose and (once again) procrastinate updating you about my knitting. But no worries **Tea Mates** and **Tea Guests**, I will share that pretty soon. My Spring semester is ending in two weeks and its also getting busier with final papers, presentations and interviews with potential employers for my very first internship.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd like to let you know that I have created a Facebook account  (yes, I already have my own but I have some private information in that one and I'd rather reserve that for my family and the friends I've met in person) so that I can actually get to know you **Tea Mates** better and also to connect with my other online friends (however, those whom I've known for a longer time, I may add them in original Facebook account). I think it'll also be nice for you to get to know one another as well if you're interested.

Anyhow, on the right margin of my blog, I have placed a widget that connects to my Facebook account if you're interested in connecting. Alternatively, you could search for my username which is: Tea Hostess Reema, but if you still can't find me, then you could search for me via my email: rpen90@gmail.com

See ya there!

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

the wonderful world of podcasts!!




macbook-pro


TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the day: warm green tea with milk and tapioca. Yes, I've finally tried it but in a restaurant setting. I bet you they add way too much milk and sugar to actually make it taste so good lol. What tea would you like to be served today? *Sigh* I understand that I haven't been a very good host in the end of 09 and in this year as well....at times I find myself either busy or just feeling lazy and uninspired otherwise I'm sure that I CAN post daily lol. Haha and it looks like I am quite behind with the monthly dosage of my "Inspiration of the Month" posts!!

Before I jump into the topic of my post, I'd like you all to welcome CY who's a new **Tea Mate** (lol, I know CY I should've done this WAY earlier!! Please do forgive me, I am now looking at your blog and I'll be one of your followers ;-) ).

Anyhow, how have you **Tea Mates** been during my absence? I recently got a 13inch MacBook Pro; my very first Mac ever!! I was always a PC person but I had a friend convert me through screen sharing on Skype...I'm sure that any of you who has also experienced this conversion knows exactly how it feels!

Now since I was playing around with my Mac, I was looking at I-Tunes and was amazed about a world I have never explored; free podcasts. There's like a podcast for anything, even the most unexpected of things. I feel like I've been missing out on a lot especially during those long moments of struggling to wake up from bed and long walks and rides. Yes, music is nice but (yes, I know this is going to sound very geeky and nerdy now lol) I would rather invest those times in learning new things and exploring souls and worlds through short stories (whether fictional or not), poetry, people's contemplations, their travels, and their cooking. So far, I've only been subscribing to the podcasts and didn't really start listening to them. I also don't even have an Ipod or an Itouch so that I could listen to them in my long walks and rides.

Personally instead of listening to music while walking or on the metro I always like to dig into my own thoughts, meditate, or listen to the "music" already around me; the music composed of birds singing and flying, people walking and talking, my own foot steps, and cars passing by; each passerby having stories of their own. There's also visual music of streets, plants, people, birds, and cars passing by. There's also music of sensation of heat and cold, changing weathers and seasons. This is indeed worth contemplating about wouldn't you say? (As I'm typing this, I'm suddenly remembering watching August Rush; I really loved it!).

In conclusion, I'd love to tell you that if you still haven't experienced the wonderful world of podcasts, then you better start now! In the meantime, I think it'd be cool if you **Tea Mates** or **Tea Guests** can share recommendations if you're already immersed into that world.

Before I leave now, I'd like to assure you that I will be updating you about my knitting. I still haven't uploaded the photos, so stay tuned to that and come back for more **tea**!

From you Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Monday, February 22, 2010

fundraising for the boston area rape crisis center



Fundraising Page Image

TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the post: Mighty Leaf Organic Hojicha Green Tea. What tea would you like me to serve you today?

This post's gonna be pretty short as I'm quite busy this week. Since I had already mentioned that I am currently volunteering in a rape crisis hotline, I thought I'd let you **Tea Mates** and **Tea Guests** know about an event organized by this rape crisis center which is a 5k walk. In registering to walk in this event, I've also created a fundraising page. I would highly appreciate it if you could sponsor me and donate for my fundraising page to help support the Center especially as I've heard that federal funding for such cirsis intervention centers have decreased.

To access my fundraising page and support me, please see the first right hand side widgets that's lime green and is titled as: Help Me Support BARCC!!! (the one that says firstgiving). Or you could directly go to my fundraising page by clicking here: http://www.firstgiving.com/reemab The fundraising page will be disabled (and its widget here will be removed) on July 11, 2010.

Would highly appreciate your support and let me assure you that, as a volunteer there, your money will not be excessively wasted on administrative costs like many charities. Below is a description about how your donations help and actually bring results:

  • $25 helps BARCC answer two hotline calls.
  • $75 pays for medical accompaniment to a hospital emergency room by a trained volunteer.
  • $200 supports the first three sessions of free counseling for survivors and their families.
  • $1,000 allows a new volunteer or intern to attend BARCC’s comprehensive training program
Here's the main website of BARCC itself: http://barcc.org/ and here's the link to the walk itself: http://www.firstgiving.com/barcc


From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

knitting



TEA TIME!!!!

Tea for the post: bubble green tea with milk. I personally never imagined having green tea with milk, but I really liked it! However, since this was the second time I had something like this, I think I preferred the one I had the first time at Infusions Tea Spa in Allston, MA. Also, I think the next time I drink this, I'll try it warm, without sugar, and maybe with less milk or with the Rainbow evaporated milk with cardamom flavor rather than fresh milk (I typically use this brand of evaporated milk whenever I drink Lipton tea; I feel like it gives a nice scent and flavor to the tea. Unfortunately, I can't find it here in the US...but I did hear that it could be found in Indian grocery stores in the country and I personally haven't really checked).

Speaking of trying out new stuff, since I started going to my hotline trainings, I found it funny how most of the girls and young women there (most of whom were between 19 to 25 year olds) would have their knitting projects ready to work on as they're out and about! This is really not a sight to be seen back in my home in the UAE, especially in Dubai; so yes, it was quite an extraordinary sight for me! Watching them work on their projects during our break times really inspired me to want to learn knitting (as you may have noticed in the "fun" list I was talking about in my previous post).

In my search of free knitting video tutorials, I stumbled upon Knitting Help.com. The first video I watched seemed to be simple and easy to follow, hopefully, once I get the knitting tools I need and have the chance to experiment, I'll try to follow these tutorials and will some day post a review of the website here ;-)

Knitting Help.com also provides free patterns and project ideas and links to some knitting stores online. Among the knitting stores linked is a website called Darn Good Yarn that sells recycled and fair-trade yarn,  local Californian Alpaca wool yarn, banana fiber silk yarn, and silk Sari yarn. They have AMAZING colors (see the picture above) and offer a 5% discount with all first-time orders. Although the website only sells yarn and offers free patterns and ideas for projects, it did have a special offer only for February the 8th of getting a free pair of size 11 bamboo circulars if you order two or more balls of yarn on that day.

I didn't know about this offer until after I started emailing the owner of the site about weather I could get samples of the yarn to experiment before actually buying the yarn. She told me that they didn't but that they had that offer and that since I'm interested in learning, she'd also provide me with a free crochet needle in case I go in that direction! So, I ordered two balls of yarn and she added the free bamboo circulars and the free crochet needle. One of the balls of yarn cost $7.59 (originally $7.99) while the other was $6.64 (originally $6.99). The shipping cost $3.99, so I've paid a total of $18.22, plus I'm receiving the free needles; a good bargain for an expensive craft like knitting.

Although I placed my order on that very day and she had shipped it the next day, I still didn't get my package so I still can't comment on the quality of the products yet. So far, this long delay is my only criticism of this online knitting store. But then again, the package probably didn't reach me yet because of the bad weather in some cities and also due to this long weekend (it was President's Day today...I personally don't understand why do Americans have so many holidays; but I like that!!). I guess I should receive it by the next day or two because, according to the package tracking online, it is in transit and has just left the sorting facility in Boston. Will post a review of the products once I get my package and spend some time experimenting with them to see if this really was a good bargain overall ;-)

Would highly appreciate it if you **Tea Mates** and **Visitors** share links to good knitting stores online and free online video tutorials.

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the "fun list"


TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the day: fusion of green and white tea. What tea would you like me to serve you now?

During one of my hotline trainings, we were discussing "self-care". As the name implies, it means taking care of yourself to avoid or reduce the probability of getting secondary trauma or depression as a result of interacting with survivors of trauma (in the case of my hotline: survivors of rape and sexual assault). Speaking of which, I had my very first call in my very first shift overnight on the Monday that just passed! It went very well, although I was so nervous at first and felt like I forgot everything from the training until I picked up that phone!!

Anyways...among the suggestions for self-care is to create a "fun list"! I really like this, I mean, a lot of us create lists about errands we should get out of our way, however, although I think that is very good habit, when we finally have some free time, we have no idea what to do! We therefore end up spending those hours in facebooking, watching T.V., etc. when we could be doing something we love to do but always felt we didn't have the time or mood for it!

So I finally decided to create this "fun list" (although in my case, I decided to call it the Free Time List (a boring and lame name, I know!) because I also added hobbies I wanna learn, like knitting, or relearn after a while of not doing it like Tae Kwon Do). In my current list though, I just added stuff I wanna do during my free time while I'm in Boston in the vicinity of my campus so that I don't feel too overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I wanna do (although my list is still looking somewhat overwhelming...).

What do you **Tea Mates** think about this? Any other suggestions about how to deal with "free time"?

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

oil-filled lenses bringing sight to those in need

TEA TIME!!!!!


Tea for the day: that same old blend of green and white tea (oh yes, and I still got more Lipton tea to get rid of....I don't know why I have too much of both of these teas!). What tea would you like to have?


I found this video after clicking on a link from one of my friend's links on Facebook about a Hello Kitty Chanisaw! Haha, well now this video doesn't have anything to do with chainsaws or Hello Kitty lol, but it talks about a simple yet innovative idea; a solution to providing eyeglasses to those who need it in developing countries.


I personally find the narrator's use of the label "Third World Countries" as very offensive...I'd personally rather use "Developing Countries", because no world to me is first, second, or third, in reality, we are all poor and it is this denial that breeds arrogance and increases the gap between the "rich" and the "poor".


I also don't get why is there a rabbit in the very beginning of the video...


Anyhow, enough of my blabbering, here's the video!  Oh yes, and before you start the video, don't forget to pause the background music via the Ipod gadget on the right hand side of the blog!! (Scroll down a bit and you should see a dark brown, floral Ipod)


Adspecs from Joel on Vimeo.


From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

inspiration of the month 4


TEA TIME!!!

Tea of this blog post: organic Moroccan herbal mint tea by Numi. Although I was at first skeptical about whether this was really mint until after I smelled it and drank it; this sort of tea is also part of my childhood and I always loved it. What tea would you like to be served today?

Yes I know, this ritual of "inspiration of the month" has been skipped twice I guess....that is why I'm not skipping anymore by posting now. For new **visitors** of this **Tea House** who don't know what this ritual of "inspiration of the month" is about, please see the first "inspiration of the month" blog post.

Before I share with you the "inspiration", I'd like to say something about the music I've finalized for this **Tea House**. The Ipod gadget (the Mixpod) gadget displayed in the right hand side of the blog now has a total of seven soundtracks. I made sure that they were as diverse as possible and yet matching the theme of the **Tea House**. I'm open to suggestions. By clicking on "menu" in the Ipod, you can choose what song you'd like played as you sip some **tea** at the **Tea House**. Below is the name, singer/composer, and language of each of the soundtracks:
  1. "Tea House Moon" by Enya (instrumental) 
  2. "Memories of Light and Wave" theme from the video game Final Fantasy X-2 (instrumental)
  3. "Now We Are Free" by Lisa Gerard; theme from the movie "Gladiator" (I'm not sure what language is this sung in, but I'm assuming it's Gaelic or an invented language?)
  4. "Chouwa-oto" by Kokia (Japanese)
  5. Naseer Shamma playing Jamil Bashir compositions (instrumental: oud)
  6. "Doosh doosh" by Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (Farsi)
  7. "Mina Sonati" by Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (Farsi)
I hope you enjoy them!

Now, here's your simple inspiration of the month! I found this simple yet beautiful quotation from a bookmark I found in Barnes and Noble bookstore nearby my campus:

"Wisdom begins in wonder." 
---Socrates

I really think that this quotation still stands true especially for our modern age where people seem to be much more cynical and critical of everything and justify such attitude as being realistic and as key to knowledge. However, although asking questions is indeed key to knowledge, it is the attitude and mindset from which it is asked that matters, for one can approach a problem, statement, argument, etc. with a mindset of either blind-faith, doubt, or wonder.

In blind-faith, one accepts anything without doubting; simply basing their values, etc. on mere faith. Doubt involves critical thinking and always questioning everything. With doubt, you're only making sure that you always argue against the claim, argument, etc. without attempting to understand it more fully or considering views that maybe a balance between your view and the other's view. Wonder also involves some amount of critical thinking, but it also involves creative thinking and leads to a more open mind compared to the previous two.Wonder is a balance between the extremes of blind-faith and doubt.
If we can learn to live our lives always in constant wonder and awe, like childish scientists or childish artists, then indeed there's so much more we can unlock and learn and we can thus live our lives fuller. It is with wonder that a lot of music, art, and inventions are made rather than abiding by either of the extremes of blind-faith and doubt. I'd love to learn how to master this art of wonder myself, I always feel I forget this wisdom myself or that there's much more to it that I still don't understand yet. However, having this bookmark with this quotation by Socrates helps remind me to keep that mindset as I mentally have a "debate" with the claims and statements of an interesting book. I hope he does the same for you.
From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

package of joy




TEA TIME!!!

Tea for the post: green tea (yup, I'm still struggling to finish those AND the Lipton tea off!!). What tea would you like to have? (You better choose your favorite, 'cause it's been quite a while since I've last posted...you must celebrate the reopening of the **Tea House**!)

Wow, I seriously didn't expect to get this busy for so long...yet I'm surprised how I have apparently gained two more **Tea Mates** rather than lost any **Tea Mates**! I now officially welcome our two newest **Tea Mates** Barry Hamdani and alonzoevans41 to the **Tea House**, I hope that you have both received my personal welcome email...

I had left Dubai for Boston on Janurary 7. My Spring semester of my Sophomore year just started on January 11. As I had mentioned in my previous two posts, it was so great to be home and to have delicious Gulf Arabic food after a whole year! (For those of you who are new to this **Tea House**, I had posted a recipe of a dessert from this region, please see both Milky Rice Pudding Disaster and Solution to the Milky Rice Pudding Disaster for more info and a link to learn about other food from the region).

I had also attended the opening of Burj Khaleefa (previously known as Burj Dubai; the tallest building/man-made structure in the world) and got VIP seating through my uncle who works in Emaar; the Burj Khaleefa itself and the Burj Khaleefa Downtown were among the company's projects. Click here to see the opening of the tower via the Facebook fan page of the governor of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Although I am only taking three classes (one of them only being a one credit course), I am more busy with extracurricular activities. So far, I am volunteering at

  1. Big Sister Association. Mentoring 1 hour a week
  2. Institute of Urban Health Research where I am currently just doing data entry for one of its projects (they may have me do something else later...dunno lol) that evaluates services for women with substance abuse in Boston. Currently doing it 5 hours a week  
  3. Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, where I will be volunteering as a hotline counselor (I am currently undergoing training three times a week until Feb4 when my shift starts. Hotline shifts are only once a week. Each shift is 5 hours)
  4. International Carnevalle Committee member...although all I've been doing was just offering ideas for an annual 2-month long festival my campus organizes to celebrate cultural diversity, haven't been too seriously involved but still attend its meetings one hour a week.
I'm hoping that once I'm done with my hotline trainings that I'll have more free time to go to the gym and/or blog to sip more **tea** with you!! I like my schedule better than the Fall semester where I felt it was more about academics. Also for some reason, I was barely even seeing my friends as much! I was especially feeling so stressed for finals during the Fall semester...that was when I got the surprising PACKAGE OF JOY!!!! (See picture above)

I was one day checking my online student account and noticed that I had a package waiting for me. I was wondering: "hmm...I don't remember ordering anything online to receive a package at this time...also, mom didn't mention anything about sending me a package of any sort...".

When I went to the package pick-up center on my campus, I was even more confused...I had a hard time learning who it was even from!! I opened the box to see if there was a message or something inside...but instead I only found LOADS of snacks. I dug up the snacks to see if there was anything but with no avail...

After quite a while though, I finally noticed that the yellow label stuck to the box was actually an envelope! I open this envelope to find this card with a heart warming message...I'll let its picture below speak for itself:




Although this was a very simple message along with a box of snacks (mostly junk food), it made all the difference for me. It reminded me that indeed back home, I'm having a family cheering me on regardless of how much I may put myself down or how much naysayers may get to me. It made me feel happier that I was going home after these finals and will be enjoying the beautiful weather (in fact, I had left Boston right before the snow storms!), the amazing food, and the company of my family, cousins (who are technically my childhood friends), and friends (although I didn't get to see a lot of them once I got to Dubai since most of them had finals and I had lost all their numbers due to my sim card issue I talked about in my last post). Now that I'm thinking about how uplifting was this package for me, it actually reminds me of the following Arabic proverb:

"Sisters' eyes may dry, your wife may find solace in another's arms, but your mother will weep for you till she dies."

Of course, I think that this would also apply to fathers. In the end, friends will come and go. But it is the family (and your closest of friends) who will always be with you throughout life. Therefore, it is critical to have a good relationship with your family. Personally, I feel quite sad when I hear of people who don't even know about their first cousins and don't even care while I consider my first cousins and second cousins to be my childhood friends whom I still stay in touch with. What I find even sadder is when one has bad relationships with their parents.

During my visit to Dubai in winter break, I had gone to Bahrain for a weekend along with my parents. We went there because one of my cousins had married a Bahraini man (whose family we know through other cross-marriages) and his family wanted to see us. I had so much fun there as I saw how different their culture was compared to the Emirati culture. I felt like they were more open, independent, humble, social, and lively. I think this is because they have not received the same attention or had undergone the same developmental insanity as the Emirates or rather as Dubai in particular. I have also noticed that unlike in the Emirates, there weren't so many immigrant workers in the airports, bazaars, etc; they were more self-reliant.

I felt quite attached to the family in Bahrain and wished that I could've stayed longer; I felt as though I've known them for two years rather than just two days; in fact, I felt like they were my family. I also thought that I'd love to marry a Bahraini man myself so that I can be connected to such a culture and to such a family who treat strangers as their own.

Phew....I hope this long post makes up for all this time I haven't been posting!! For those of you who are having good relationships with your parents, family, and close friends, I hope that this post will prompt you to give them a call or something to tell them (whether directly or subtly): "Thank you for being you."

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

PS: I have finally updated the play list for the **Tea House** and have thus added two more songs besides the one that automatically plays (which is by Enya). The second song is Japanese sung by Kokia while the third is by one of the most famous oud masters in the Arab world called Naseer Shamma. Click on the "menu" in the Ipod gadget on the sidebar of this blog to access them. Please do offer suggestions as well for more songs that can suite this blog. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Jan 29: After adding even more songs, the order of the music has changed....so please do ignore the description of each particular song above....