Friday, 8 February 2019

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour


Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, painted by Averil Fernandes

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour/Help is a famous painting of Mother Mary which dates back to before the year 1499. I was inspired to do an imitation of the same, on being touched by the devotees of all faith who flock to St. Michael's Church, Mahim, to show their great devotion to a picture of our Lady of Perpetual Succour. It was gifted to the church on December 31st, 2014, by the Vatican, after recognition that the novenas prayed there are the largest devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Succour. The painting being hand-painted (just like mine), touched to the original which is in Rome, comes with a certificate of authenticity & is a first of a kind in India. Like most Catholics, I too share the faith of prayers being heard by Mother Mary & I've wanted to write about this for a long time. I'm finally doing it on completing my painting on the same.
But I have to say, that the experience one has on going there, amidst all the devotees, is just heart melting, literally. To see so many people come there with so much trust & devotion just warms the faith in my heart & some of whom are not even Catholics! The enthusiasm they exhibit gets to me every time; the way they sing the hymns there all in one chorus, & really pray from their heart, like how a child would cry out to a mother...it's just an experience to be had first hand. And I'm sure the Blessed Virgin loves to listen to the prayers of her children, because Jesus himself said, she was/is to be our mother from the time just before he died on the cross.
Now with those sentiments expressed, let me tell you a little bit more about the actual origins & history of the painting in Rome, the painter of which remains unknown to this day, but the description mentioned about the painting itself is very intriguing. There's a lot of thought put into it & I'm sure it is a truly Holy Spirit inspired work of art. Hopefully one day I can make art of the same standard too!

The original wooden icon, suspended on the altar, enshrined in the Church of St. Alphonsus, measures 17" × 21" inches and is written on hard nut wood with a gold leaf background. 

The image depicts the following symbols: 

  • The Blessed Virgin Mary — wearing a dress of dark red, representing the Passion of Jesus, with a blue mantle, representing her perpetual virginity, and cloaked veil, which represents her pure modesty. 
  • The subject shows Mary looking straight ahead towards the faithful, while pointing at her son, Jesus Christ who is frightened by the instruments of crucifixion and is depicted with a fallen sandal. 
  • The left side is Saint Michael Archangel — carrying the lance and sponge of the crucifixion of Jesus. 
  • On the right side is Saint Gabriel Archangel carrying a 3-bar cross used by Popes at the time and nails. 
  • The Virgin Mary has a star on her forehead signifying her role as Star of the Sea while the cross on the side has been claimed as referring to the Greek monastery which produced the icon. 
  • Byzantine depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in art have three stars, one star each on the shoulder and one on the forehead. This type of icon is called Hodegetria, where Mary is pointing to her Son, known as a Theotokos of the Passion.
  • Mary has long slender nose, thin lips, and smoothly arched eyebrows, evidence of being made by a Greek artist. The veil and her face itself are rounded, indicating holiness. The size of the mother is also out of proportion to her son, a deliberate intent by the artist Mary as larger than life.

The Greek inscriptions read...

MP-ΘΥ (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ, Mother of God),
ΟΑΜ (Ὁ Ἀρχάγγελος Μιχαήλ, Michael the Archangel),
ΟΑΓ (Ὁ Ἀρχάγγελος Γαβριήλ, Gabriel the Archangel) and
IC-XC (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Jesus Christ), respectively.
  • The icon has a gold background on a walnut panel, believed to be from Crete. The Cretan School was the source of the many icons imported into Europe from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance. The gold background represents the Kingdom of God.
  • The round halo surrounding the Virgin Mary's head is styled called Estofado, which is an artistic effect created by making dented holes into the icon to reflect light from the gold background. The icon was cleaned and restored once in 1866 and again in the year 1940.
I prayed to Mother Mary & Jesus to help me do justice to this imitation of this famous painting, as I was working on it & as you can see for yourself, they didn't fail me! Ooh & I've used acrylic paints for this painting done on a regular A4 Size water-colour paper. I started by doing an initial sketch of it using a pencil & later painted over it with paint, all while keeping a copy of the original painting in front of me. It took me around 5 hours in total to complete this entire piece of art (not continuous labour obviously). I keep staring at this wondering how the heck I was able to do this. This came out way better than I expected all thanks to my supernatural help. It has inspired me to do a whole series on the different famous Paintings of The Blessed Virgin. So stay tuned for more. My next will most probably be on the scene where Mother Mary appears to a little girl named Bernadette in a grotto in Lourdes, which has now become an iconic place of prayer in every church or place where Catholics reside. This idea is inspired by a very interesting book I am currently reading on her life, titled 'Bernadette of Lourdes' by René Laurentin. See you soon!

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Orange ~ Anime Review

This anime, like many other, is based on the lives of high school students & who's story in particular revolves around a group of friends who've known each other since they were little. But it has a rather unexpected beginning to it. The anime starts off not with the usual 'beginning of a new year of high school', but rather with a catapult into the past, from some place in the future, much later than high school. This group of friends receive letters from their past selves from a time capsule they had buried for themselves 10 years ago. (The 10 year challenge that's so trending right now) And now, leaving their own separate lives, are once again reunited & venture forward together to pay their respects to a member of their high school group, who had passed away.
They write letters to themselves & somehow their past selves receive these letters, each from a future version of themselves, all from a time capsule, & they are flabbergasted at receiving the letters. And guess what, it's the beginning of 2nd term, after winter break! (This anime is based in Japan)
A girl named Naho, receives the letter & is really freaked out by it as whatever the letter says is exactly what happens that day, at school. There's a new boy who joins the class, with the exact same name as mentioned in the letter, with the exact same qualities, who then happens to join her group of friends & of course she kind of takes a liking to him. But she being shy & kind of soft spoken keeps her feelings to herself. This guy too secretly likes her but has other more pressing things on his mind, being new in the place & school & other things of which he speaks not of. He seems to be bearing his own problems on his own.
As the anime progresses, we get to see how this new guy Kakeru, spends time with this group of friends, including Naho, & has a nice time. They bond & it seems like he was their friend since the beginning, but yet there is a restraint from his part & he seems to be hiding something, as the others observe but don't say anything about it to him.
Finally the group urges the two love birds to get on with confessing & date already & so that's what they do, very sheepishly. Although, there's another guy, Suwa, in the group who is also in love with Naho, but she only sees him as a friend & never takes any of his ques or hints of how he feels about her. But that guy lets Kakeru date Naho 'cause that's what would make Naho happy. The usual love triangle with the sacrifice made for the girl for her happiness! Anime can be really dramatic, just as much as hindi serials! Noo! I take that back! Not that dramatic! Just the right amount of drama, suspense & they even have good lessons taught! Keep reading...
Before the union of Naho & Kakeru, he had started dating this really annoying, self-obsessed, bully girl, a senior, I don't even know why, when clearly he had feelings for Naho right from the beginning! Anyway, they break up obviously 'cause that girl was a real pain in the butt; but who is now also extremely jealous of Naho, being her rival, & also tries to injure her a couple of times & bully her, but is saved by Naho's 2nd secret lover & protector Suwa. I really love this guy somehow 'cause he really seems to care for  Naho & has known her since the beginning & is ready to sacrifice his happiness for hers. That's what true love is anyway; sacrifice, putting the other person's needs & interests before you, not just going by what is applauded by society or the latest norm, & definitely not based on selfish interests, but really building trust. Although Kakeru may be cuter as compared to trusty old Suwa, looks don't matter that much as compared to trust & qualities.
Anyway, Kakeru starts acting up & treats Naho badly & acts like a jerk. And once again, trusty & sweet Suwa comes to the rescue & is Naho's shoulder to cry on. The real reason for Kakeru's behaviour is his problems, the fact that his mother died only recently, just after he joined this new school. But he doesn't share this with his new friends who really care for him, & neither does he share it with Naho. And because Naho is worried about him, she asks him what's bothering him, to which he reacts harshly.
In the days to come, Kakeru has an opportunity to meet up with his old friends from where he previously used to live & when he shares his thoughts & problems with them they just laugh it off & think he's joking about ending his life due to his stress. He thinks he was responsible for his mother's death as he went out with his new friends at the new school, after school, instead of taking her to the hospital. He cannot forgive himself for this & misses her tremendously.
When he finally gives in to Suwa's questioning on why he's been seeming so low lately, the next day at school, Suwa tells him these iconic words that go something like this, "If we don't share our joys & sorrows with each other, then what kind of friends are we? We aren't just friends to enjoy & chill with, but also to share sorrows & pains with. You can tells me anything! I would love to share your pain. I cannot enjoy when I know my friend is in some kind of trouble." Lovely!
To cut things short, in the end, all of Kakeru's friends admit to receiving letters from their past selves & yes found it freaky at first, but realized they were to be followed as they were for their good. And so they realize that all their letters somehow point at saving Kakeru's life as they say he commits suicide during that same school year. So the friends plan a meet up on that day, the day of the suicide as per the letters, which also happens to be Kakeru's birthday, but Kakeru is delayed from meeting at the decided time. So everyone starts looking for him drastically, fearing the worst. Finally they find him just in time & save him from being hit by a vehicle at the corner of the street. And there they all yell at him for trying to commit suicide. But to that he says, he was thinking about it, but decided not to because he didn't want to leave his friends behind like this.
This is how the story ends & I Love it! I almost cried at so many places 'cause it was so touching & some what relatable. And it taught me that we have to value people in our lives 'cause we never know what they may be going through & what they must be thinking about. And value them while they're still with us & not regret about loosing them later 'cause then nothing can be done about it! Also, we need to choose our friends wisely, & really be a good friend to others & not just be there during the good times, but also during the bad, 'cause that's what friends are for. This anime also taught me to be there for my parents & not neglect them for my own personal interests. Once again, balance is key!

Friday, 4 January 2019

Christmas Story Collection



This year, once again, I started with my annual year-end target of greeting card making, which I began last year. I was inspired to do this by my creative cousin jupiterskye aka Roanna. Making cards has always been my thing since I was little. Last year, my Christmas cards were inspired by some of the famous Christmas Carol lyrics coupled with my love for decorative lettering. I called it "Christmas Carols Lyric Collection". For this year's theme I had no clue what I was going to do. I needed some inspiration & fast. So I went back to The Book which contains answers to everything : The Bible. Lately I have been drawing a lot of inspired ideas from there for most of my art. It's just so full of knowledge & so descriptive that it was not long before I got what I was looking for. And so that's how I my theme for this year's card collection came about : Christmas Story Collection. I took ideas revolving around the Christmas story of how Jesus was born, the people involved like his parents, angels, shepherds & wise men being his first visitors, the surroundings & what went on in their minds & my own when I read this well known but often sidelined story when it comes to cards & all things Christmas. Everything has been explained in the paragraphs to follow. Hope it enlightens, inspires & builds a sense of oneness among us.

My Christmas Story Collection comprises of Eight Cards standing for Eight different scenes or parts of the Christmas Story, that I picked up from the Bible :

  1. Mary : The first card in this collection is depicted by a picture of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, a low-key virgin, & telling her of God's plan for Jesus to be born through her, as Saviour of the world, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to which her reply was "Your will be done." There's a painting of an angel, Mother Mary & the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. This scene reminds us of Mary's trust in God & her willingness to say Yes to God's plan for her life in spite of not knowing exactly how things will turn out. It teaches us that through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, anything is possible. Also, that God has an amazing plan for our life & we don't have to be some great personality to get His attention. He sometimes chooses people we least expect to do great things for Him.  Quite often we look down on ourselves & think we're not good enough & think we have to try hard to be awesome. The fact is we already are! God thinks so coz He's created us & His creations are always good! Hopefully we can see ourselves through His eyes from now on & love ourselves & then be able to love others better.
  2. Joseph: The second depicts the scene where an angel appears to Joseph in a dream, while he is asleep, to assure him that Mary is with child through the power of the Holy Spirit of God & that he should take her as his wife & not be afraid. The angel also tells Joseph what he should name the child, ie. Emmanuel which means 'God with Us' in Hebrew. Through this part of the story I think we can learn to just rest & be sure that when we are at peace, God is able to work things out for us & give us a solution to our problems. & He will never back down on us & will be with us throughout. People, even now, who have practiced this will tell how it has helped them excel with such a calm & carefree manner it almost seems like they took no efforts. But it really sets an example for us to follow this tactic of Joseph to excel & see our problems become lighter & then wonder what the fuss was all about, coz we worried for no reason.
  3. Field : The third card depicts shepherds having an encounter with yet another bunch of angels, this time, telling them of the coming Messiah, while walking through fields. After which, more angels appear on the scene & together sing praises to God in the form of the Gloria. The shepherds knowing that they know so little, are over-joyed to be favoured by God to be the first to be told about this Good News, that has been awaited for centuries : Finally, a Saviour has been born, & at once they head towards the child to worship Him. Sometimes God speaks to us or comes to us more clearer while amidst nature like the shepherds. For the people who love nature & trekking, probably like the shepherds in the field who were taking a midnight stroll coz they loved nature too, peace, solace & adventure is found translating to finding the creator Himself.
  4. Angels : This forth card depicts the choir of angels that sing praises to God after giving the shepherds the Good News of the coming of the Saviour, our new born king on earth. Sometime or the other we've all experienced angels sent to help us through some trying times, by God. & this card symbolizes just that. All the people who have encouraged me to be the best me I can & helped me & been angels to me..I Love you! & Thank You! You inspire me to do the same to others & spread this positive encouragement so we all can be our best at whatever we do!
  5. Shepherds : The fifth card depicts the shepherds having seen for themselves with their own eyes, the Saviour of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself & having worshiped Him, went away happily singing God's praises & spreading this Good News to all they could. That everyone may see that God chose lowly shepherds as messengers of such great news as this, about Himself, the Good Shepherd. Shepherds are like guides. They don't take credit for what they do, but take great joy in what they do & are always there to guide their sheep to safety. This card is for those who have been like shepherds to me & have guided me through difficult times. It also shows that God chooses simple people for His plans!
  6. Three Wise Men : This sixth card depicts the three wise men from the east, making their way towards this bright & shining star with great joy, after having found it in the sky, knowing that they were chosen to be one of the first few visitors of our Lord; knowing that although they were considered to be wise, did not know everything, & hence made their way to the all knowing God, born as a baby in a manger, in order to gain some new wisdom. I like this card because the three wise men were humble enough to admit they didn't know everything & needed to go to the source of all wisdom & knowledge ie. Jesus himself. We can too! Whenever we feel like we don't know enough or lack. He is ever-ready to help us & share with us!
  7. Star : This seventh card depicts an intricate design of a star, supposed to be the guiding star of Bethlehem, that led the three wise men to the place where Jesus was born. (This design was inspired during my study time.) This card is for those creative geniuses who are like shining stars in my life, who inspire me & will one day achieve greatness, if they haven't already achieved it. Their light just shines forth & everyone knows it & loves them for it because they are beautiful & hey lead people to where they have to be. They are like beacons in the darkness or candles in the night. 
  8. Jesus : This eight, last & final card in the collection depicts Jesus in the manger in a stable smiling or laughing that He is finally here to save us, to bridge the gap that sin made between God & man. Him being in the manger signifies that he is our food, as He will be the bread of eternal life. This card is a reminder that He is always there as a friend to talk to & we're never alone, as He came to set us captives free. So be it any form of bondage, physical or mental, He is willing & able to free us from it!
This is the end of my Christmas Story Collection. It was a wonderful collection, might I just add & my friends & family loved receiving these from me & I enjoyed creating them as always. Each of these eight cards had a little bit about me hidden in them as well..& I don't think I'm alone. I think we all require those words of encouragement & most importantly the Good News! So it was a reminder to us all of what Christmas is really about & also of what each part of the story stood for. So each card being a part of The Christmas Story had a story of it's own behind it. It is also nearing the end of the Christmas season. I honestly don't know how it flew by so fast & we're in the new year now. Anyway, I wish you a Happy New Year & Blessings on you Always!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Practicing his Preaching

I am truly grateful to the ICAI for having these MCS Courses conducted for us CA students. Coz we really require all the motivation possible to do what we do & reach our end goal of becoming a Chartered Accountant & then continuing on our journeys of life.
Lessons of life are seldom taught to us in text books. To be able to learn life lessons & gain advice from a person who's been through a tough patch, but who is now succeeding, & constantly improving & practicing what he's preaching, is a real blessing.
One such person is Professor S. I'm going to call him "S" for now, but my CA buddies reading this will know exactly whom I'm referring to. But what's important is knowing what he taught us. He is truly an inspirational being & I've taken back soo much from his classes which is what I would like to share with you all today.
Inspite of sharing these ideas with you all, execution is key & is also sometimes very difficult. But with God's help & the right mind set, discipline, dedication & repetition, I'm sure we will achieve what he has achieved, knowing that it is possible!

His motto for success is HARD WORK!

I've been taught the same in my house by my parents. But outside sources have told me otherwise.. I've heard people say you need to also do "Smart Work" if you really want to climb the corporate ladder & reach your life goals. But according to Prof. S. well, that's not true. If you've worked hard for something, given your best shot, the universe will see to it & reward you for your hard work.

No one can stop you from succeeding, but it's up to you to do your best & give your 200% to life & it will surely give you that much back!

Prof. S always starts his sessions by allowing us to ask him at least 2 questions each. The topic for the same could literally be anything, & we'd receive our answers to the same, in seconds. His answers are always to the point & hits the nail right in the head.
He says he's always learning, always improving & has mentors literally tell him he's a loser daily to keep him grounded & keep him constantly improving. I admire his dedication to his work & his constant energy to do his best no matter the task. He also always keeps his ego under his pillow.
He's always one to take notes & has people tell/ask him why he works so hard. To that his answer is simple. He says that he is nothing & wants to improve & get better.
His humility & fire to learn & improve is really contagious & I can guarantee, not a single person will leave his class not feeling pumped to do anything.

He always says that no one can stop you from improving. It's a decision you have to take for yourself & then work extremely hard & constantly to get there & keep aiming for higher things once that goal is reached.

He also had a turn-around in his own life after the 12th standard; till that time, he was considered to be a loser. After that, he just realized this is his life. If he doesn't do something to change things now, no one else will. He was let down by his friends & even his family had no hopes for him, but he didn't give up. He had to make up for all the years he lost & hence worked super hard & today he is literally the most energetic, enthusiastic & successful person I have met! His energy is so vibrant & inspiring!! My Gosh!

I will now quote to you some of the major points I learnt at his session :

LUCK is only Labour Under Correct Knowledge,
FAIL is only First Attempt In Learning.
Everything is about PRIORITIES.
We have to get our priorities right. Everyone in this world has an equal amount of time everyday; but, how do some people achieve soo much more than we can ever even think or imagine to do? It's coz they have their priorities set & always in check!
What's the secret to success, according to him?
I^2HW = Intense & Insane Hardwork
Five "A"s that are important to achieve anything : 
  1. Attitude
  2. Acceptance
  3. Analysis
  4. Action
  5. Assessment
"Too much Analysis leads to Paralysis". Balance is crucial!
"Excellence is just one level below Perfection!"
Basic Formula : Read-Study-Execute.
We have to learn a lesson from whatever we go through & apply it to our next situation.

He also showed us some inspirational videos of others who have inspired him & the world; some of which are :

"Who you are, can't be separated from where you came from"
"Three Lessons - LIFE:
  1. Be a lifelong student. Be curious. 
  2. Throw your head, heart & hands into whatever you do.
  3. Help others rise."

"Greatness comes from building a future"
~Indra Nooyi, Pepsico CEO

"Talent=/Attitude"
Excellence does not depend upon your talent/ability.
Attitude matters in the long run.
People who have failed are usually selected as they have the potential to fail & then bounce back.
Your USP is what you do with your talent.
Talent alone, only brews ego.
~Harsha Bhogle, IIM Ahemdabad

"Don't let people tell you you're not fit for things."
"Get comfortable with making mistakes."
"Follow your path."
"Accept your core people (family ie. parents/siblings, close friends). Only listen to them & no one else."
~Anjali Sud, CEO Vimeo

Health is wealth; Take care of your health.
Outdoor activity, sport, fitness routines increase & lengthen concentration levels & enables one to focus harder.
When you are defeated, you stand up to face another challenge.
Dream big dreams! Chase them hard! They come true!
Have patience, coz life will keep you waiting, but if you wait till the end, it will give you something better, always!
~Sachin Tendulkar

You don't need high funda language.
Keep it short & simple.
Use english with the right amount of humor.
Intentions matter.
Build micro habits, & before you know it, the macro gets better!
Never assume, always Ask!

MAJOR LEARNING POINTS FROM PROF. S. :

  1. His Secret Formula for Success = Gratitude + Respect + Blessings
  2. You don't know who's watching you at work; Always work hard, regardless.
  3. Be Positive Always.
  4. Count your Blessings Always.
  5. Don't criticize.
  6. Love & Pamper your parents.
  7. Enlighten the paths of others.
  8. Work x5!
  9. Read x5!
  10. The phone + social media = stupid! 
  11. Go into hiding during bad times & work!!
  12. Separate your professional & personal lives.
  13. Your path & calling will come to you, as you work; the next 2 steps will illuminate & show/reveal themselves.
  14. Keep away from negativity & negative people.
  15. Life slaps you, but it also blesses you. (Sometimes we need that slap to get us back on track! ~my own addition)
  16. Friends may betray you, family may desert you, you may cry bitterly for years or even a decade, BUT, don't let that change you for the worst & let all that darkness get to you & make you mean. Change, Learn & Grow from that & become the best you, you can be!
  17. Maturity is when you can accept/take responsibility for all the wrongs/failures that have happened to you in your life; BUT, give credit to all those people who invested in you & believed in you, & not yourself, for all the good that happens in your life.
  18. It's not about the Big4 or any big name that matters, it's about your growth.
  19. Love your work. Work hard. Don't work somewhere from where you need an escape from during the weekend/vacation.


I hope this helps & inspires you, as much as it has for me & more!
God Bless!

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Mug Designing

Hello again! I've been doing alot of creative stuff lately. Trying to make up for my stagnant period earlier I guess.
So this time as you can see, I painted some cool colourful mugs with some glass paint.
I purchased the plain bright coloured mugs from a convenience store. It's important to note that you need to buy mugs that don't already have an design or print on them so that there's enough space for you to do your design on them obviously.
For the desiging, I used the outlining black glass paint tube of the fevicryl brand of glass paint material & then filled it in with various colours from the same brand.
I drew on a phrase from the bible on one mug & a coffee-lover's caption which I made up for the other. I wrote them in a simple font style.
Also, I drew some random floral-plant designs on one mug & on the other mug I drew a random face of a girl with my favourite anime eyes.
It was a lot of fun doing this & now I have some cool mugs to drink my coffee/tea or any kind of beverage from.
That's all for now. Will keep posting as I keep doing stuff like this. Hope it gives you some ideas for you to do it yourself! Bye for now! 😊

Thursday, 13 September 2018

An Experience of a Lifetime ~ Monsoon Hill Trek

Hello there! These monsoons I thought of doing something totally adventurous & different from my normal routine. It had been a long time since I went trekking & how I'd missed the great outdoors & fresh air! So when my friends made plans to go to the Bhivpuri waterfall, I leaped for joy at the opportunity.
Firstly let me tell you, I am a person who detests the wet weather. I am a dog person, but in this sense, I am more of a cat. (You know..coz cats hate water) But truly I tell you, I have not enjoyed this trip more than any other, rains & all. There's something truly magical about this place. Being amidst the green hills, flowing streams & rice paddies all dancing in synchronization to some muted music in the wind was altogether a magical sight! When I look back at the photographs from this trip, I cannot believe this place to be any more than a dream & for me to have gone there & walked & enjoyed those paths of pure bliss is simply mind blowing. You have to go here if you are alive & have two feet & can control your bladder! Haha. You won't even mind doing so, coz you'll be hypnotized by the breath-taking scenery around you!
So I started my journey at 5:50 a.m. to take the Karjat local train from Dadar station at 6:24 a.m. It was a short journey of one & a half hour from there to Bhivpuri Station. We reached Bhivpuri Road station at around 8:10 a.m. The scene at the station itself was so beautifully green & there was a tree growing on the platform! From there we went to the base of the hills, which was just outside the station. 
Now to get out of the station, we had to cross the tracks coz we could not locate the overhead bridge. (Actually we just wanted to get to our destination as quickly as possible, so yes what we did next was very reckless, but God protected us) We crossed one track quickly coz there was a train approaching, it was pretty scary, after which we had to dive beneath a parked cargo train whilst minding our heads. Our adventure had surely begun at the station itself! We got to the base of the hill & to the threshold of our trek experience.
As we started walking up the muddy trek path created by humans who were here before us, we caught a glimpse of the entire little village of Bhivpuri. It was a pretty site to see all the rooftops of the buildings & houses from above that all looked so tiny now. Moving ahead, we soon reached a large expanse of a lake which was the final destination of the all the many waterfalls & streams which would soon greet us. The view from this place was breath-taking! There was a banyan tree which could be spotted in the distance, right at the edge of the lake, on the right & there were some tall grassy plants growing on the outskirts of the lake near it's waterfront area. The scene was picture perfect. I was sure to preserve this scene in my camera for later viewing. We were also joined by a few other fellow trekkers, who like us decided to spend their sunday trekking on this beautiful hillside. It was here where we also met a very strange dog. I say strange coz she was acting a lot like a cat, rubbing herself against our legs to plead for food. She soon left us to plead with the other trekkers & was reunited with us again, as we followed the other trekkers, after which, we reached another wide open lake face surrounded with drapes of hills. I couldn't help but be in complete awe of God's creation! It was like Him putting fondant covering sheets on cakes, but with gathers. From there we also got our first glimpse of a couple of waterfalls in the distant hills facing us. Over-joyed to see our destination soon approaching, we continued on our path.

Now there were a few mini streams here & there, that we had to cross to get to our destination, that also provided us with coolness & refreshment to our feet. One of those streams was a little deep, but us being mumbaikars, had not much of a problem crossing it. It was like second nature, after all the wading through the monsoon flood water that we have to do in our city during the rains. But this time it was more of a pleasant experience, with the water being so fresh & the views being so amazing around us! The water current was quite strong & the rocks in the stream were slippery, so we had to be extra careful while making our way through. (Tip: Take support of surrounding plants if you have to to support yourself while walking through the slippery stream or any slippery area for that matter while on the trek. Just make sure though that the plants aren't poison ivy or anything scratchy or with thorns or something that could eat or bite you, like a snake! Make nature your best friend:) The water level reached our knees at a certain point, but was otherwise only till our ankles. There were small tadpoles in the water & I also spotted a tiny frog sunbathing whilst afloat on the water; on approaching it to get a better view, it scrambled away to the rocks beneath, on the stream floor & was completely camouflaged. There were also some really colourful dragonflies of blue & red which were unfortunately too fast for me to capture on camera. But I managed to snap one of them, while on it's stationery mode, which on first glance, seems to be of the usual colour, but on closer inspection, is of a very beautiful black & blue colour. I find something really awesome about dragonflies! I also am fascinated about butterflies. They're both so pretty! & they remind me of God's presence. Whenever I've been scrambling to work coz of being late or worried about something, on my way to somewhere, one of them shows up & reminds me that I'm not alone & God is with me! He's got this! My love for dragonflies dates back to my good old school days, where I remember enjoying playing & chasing them in our school'e grassy patch on the playground. They were truly some glory days that I miss very much, but am also very grateful to have!
Another cool sight I caught during my upstream trek was a white dove which flew above us. I don't know if any of my other friends saw it, but I sure did & it reminded me of the Holy Spirit! When I thought about this later, I was remembered the scene of Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan, when the Holy Spirit embraced Him. I was in a river too while this dove (which could well have been the Holy Spirit) decided to show up. How cool right!!

For lunch, we sat on rocks, mid-stream, under the shining sun & had our food ~ best ambiance ever! After lunch, we decided to ditch the upstream path & go on land to our upward destination where we had seen other trekkers reach & cheered for them from our lunch spot. It was a scary & adventurous task to go from stream to land as we were surrounded by rice paddy fields. I couldn't help notice the surrounding fields to be in some sort of design. It almost seemed like the farmers were trying to communicate with aliens somehow, leaving them a message in the designs. I'll leave the decoding of those messages for another trip, which will be another adventure altogether. Haha. We managed to walk right on the edges of the field, fearing our lives for snakes, as we spotted many huge holes in the ground. Praying & making our way back to the trek path, we somehow reached the path & began our ascent upwards on the winding hill side. Making our way up was much more tiring walking upward on land than in the stream water, as we didn't have the water's refreshing coolness reviving our feet. Although the land was a much more sturdier option, as compared to the slippery rocks in the water. We soon approached another huge banyan tree. It look so majestic all by itself amidst the surrounding green hills & grass. It became our shelter & quick resting spot before we continued our way onward, as it started to rain. The wind was blowing like crazy & hitting you with full force on this hill coz there's nothing much around to put off the force. I could almost feel myself swaying in the wind like a blade of grass!





 
After resuming our ascent up the hill, we came across a couple of locals descending the hill & were quite astonished to see them in chappals & saree & carrying loads on their back, while here we were, with sturdy trek shoes, raincoat & bagpacks! We admired their everyday life & even questioned it. Why would someone want to stay up here? But I know why. Who wouldn't want to stay amidst such breathtakingly beautiful scenery everyday! Being so self sufficient & breathing the fresh air; I wouldn't mind it one bit! Provided I also had all the luxuries & comforts of a well equipped home, with all the technologies & water sources available too. The water would not be a problem with the nearby streams. Anyway when we reached to the highest point we stopped again just to take in the beautiful scenery of hills surrounding us, the beautiful stream in the distance, the fresh air & breeze! Although we didn't make it to our original destination of the actual waterfall, this was nothing less than spectacular! It was maybe a good thing that we had taken a detour coz of online reviews I had read about the actual waterfall being very crowded, especially on weekends. So this was anytime better than a crowded waterfall. We had the hills all to ourselves almost. It was just wonderful. I couldn't yet once again be in awe of how creative & amazing God is to have made all of this. I guess this is why Jesus loved climbing mountains & hills to pray to God coz you really feel God's presence amidst His creation. This was one of the reasons I wanted to go on this trek, to experience God in His awesome creation. Something you don't really get to do much, living in a crowded city. It's lovely to go off into the hills, a quite place & just listen & be in awe of God's creation. I felt what Jesus might've felt, going up there. It was awesome!


We then met a few other trekkers coming from the path to where we were headed & asked them what was ahead & they told us that in another one or two hour trek, we'd reach Matheran. I had done my research & found out that the main Bhivpuri waterfall had it's beginnings from a river flowing in Matheran so I knew that what they said was accurate. Because we were already pretty exhausted, we decided not to go to Matheran, coz we required whatever little energy we had to get back down the hill. So before it could start pouring, we started our descent downward. I was pretty exhausted by now & all I wanted to do was soak my feet in the numbing cool water of the stream. So with that to motivate me, I carried myself downward. Thank God it didn't rain too much while we were descending coz it would make our journey very dangerous. Not that we hadn't done many dangerous things in one day already, with the train track crossing, snake hole jumping & taking the path less traveled. We finally reached the stream from where we had parted ways with the trek route & I ran to splash in the water. It was relieving. Some of our group members dived into the deep side of the stream for a soak. I was tempted to but didn't want to go home soaking wet so I though I'd just sit on the edge & soak my feet in the water. As I approached the edge, my feet slipped on the slippery rocks & I fell on my butt! I wasn't hurt but it all happened so fast, one minute I'm up & the next, I'm down, It was funny. It was like nature knew what I was intending to do next & pulled me towards itself. (Since I wanted to sit down anyway & soak my feet in the stream water)
After this we continued our journey back to the station. As much as I would miss the hills a lot, I was totally exhausted & wanted to go home & dive into bed. My feet were aching like crazy & they were still wet from the rain, soaking them in the stream & also all the walking in the muddy hillside. Surprisingly I didn't mind walking in complete muck even, coz it was clean mud, (& sometimes cow dung) but the clean freak in me was dead that day. & by the end of the trek, I was completely half dead. 
We made a quick stop at a local tea shop for some refreshments & a break from all that walking & managed to be just in time for our train at 3:36 p.m. because it was slightly delayed (Thank God) (coz the next train was at nearly 5:00 & we couldn't wait that long)
As I look back to that amazing day, all I have left now are awesome memories, photographs as proof of my going there & the hope & a new fire to go trekking again, to many new places near me! Sometimes you don't have to travel far away to have an adventure or to have a good time. There are so many beautiful places yet to be explored right in my home state. This is what I realized. So I'm going to try & explore as many as possible!
I will be sure to keep you updated on my adventures as I have done for this one. I know it's been a long post but I absolutely had to mention everything! It's all about the details! I hope my post gave you a very pictorial experience of my experience as you read through it & has brought a new zeal to go trekking in you as well. Nature really is an awesome place to explore. I love it. Until next time. Sayonara!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

An Art Challenge #1


Helloooo there! It's been a while! It's been a while!! So I've got a challenge for you & I mean you! All my art buddies/lovers out there in this beautiful world! That's right! I myself have taken up this challenge. It didn't exactly start as a challenge to me. You could call it a self challenge. Hey..That's what people call Goals! Haha.. Anyway, I'm just being my rambly self. Ok now seriously!!
So this challenge was inspired from a verse in Biblical Scripture that I was reading..it happened to be the first reading for the day & I found it to be very descriptive in a beautiful way. & while I was reading, there were all these images forming in my mind about what I was reading & then God inspired to do a painting of it, to actualize my imagination. So I started with first doing a pencil sketch of it, after which, I started the process of painting over it. Most of the pencil stuff has gone away, so that's good. It's coming out very well. I will definitely show it to you when it's complete.
I will love to challenge you to do your own actualization of this verse, just for fun & to see how each of us thinks & imagines differently & beautifully. Then later on we can all share our art & see how each one imagined & implemented their art work of the same basic outlined points, differently.
The scripture verse that I am referring to has been taken from the book of Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28 that describes The Glory of the Lord. For your reference, I am noting down some major outlined pointers of all the major objects or scenes that form part of the entire picture.

The major outlined pointers forming part of your big picture of The Glory of the Lord are :~

  1. River Bank
  2. Stormy Wind coming from the North
  3. Great cloud with Light all around it
  4. Fire & Flashes of Lightening darting from the cloud
  5. A Bronze Sheen in the Center & Heart of the Fire
  6. 4 Animals in the Center ~ a Lion, an Ox, a Man & an Eagle
  7. the 4 Animals were of a Human Form
  8. they had Wings that moved & folded
  9. above the Vault over the 4 animals' heads was a Sapphire Shaped Throne
  10. A Man Shining like Bronze sat on the throne
  11. Fire emitted from all around him
  12. A Light shone all around him like a Rainbow
Hope you all enjoy this challenge! 'Coz I sure did & still am, as I have still to complete it, 'coz it's one heck of an art project (as you can see). You don't need to follow each & every point of the outlined description, but try & follow as many pointers as you can, so as to get a fuller visual of the entire verse & also to aid better comparison.
Maybe I will write another post on the meaning behind this scripture verse, 'coz there's are a lot of revelations hidden behind each of the objects that appear in the verse. But that'll be in another post. Bye for now.... Happy Painting/Creating...!!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Everything will be Alright!



It's so easy to get disheartened when things don't go your way. When there's darkness all around you. When you feel even God is far away. And you are left all alone to deal with all the elements that are against you. But take heart. Because God is there. Just like when you can't see the sun shining behind some dark clouds, but it's still there, just out of your view (comparison quoted from one of Pastor Joseph Prince's sermons). It's the same with God. He is working in ways we cannot see. If we just focus on Him & not the darkness that surrounds us we will overcome anything & everything. Because in the end our problems are just shadows created by the evil one to disturb our sense of Peace that God has given us. Don't let anything or anyone snatch that peace from you. I know its easier said that done. But I've experienced that when I ignore these shadows I'm much calmer & peaceful & can see the situation clearly..it isn't that bad. God gives you the grace & His peace to bear it & makes something good come out of it or makes us more patient.
We all know that ALL things work together for Good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28
Everything will be alright! Believe it. See it happen. 
God Bless You!

A Baker's Treat!



This is something I did for a friend of mine who loves to bake for her birthday. I did the little painted "Baking Queen, Cupcake & Whisk" icons with a bit of fabric paint. I am interested in baking & so is she, so this year for her birthday I thought we could bake together & she graciously agreed. It was a lot of fun & also a lot of work. In the end I was extremely tired but it was worth it. You really need a lot of stamina standing in the kitchen for hours patiently pushing yourself forward into the cook. I had a new respect for my mum & also had my very own MasterChef experience & I was also reassured that I had made the right career choice & not chosen to be a chef!
In the end, I didn't get to stay & taste the cake, but my friend thoughtfully sent me a huge piece for me to taste with another friend of ours. It turned out delicious! Who knew that cake could taste yummy without butter? Turns out butter doesn't always make things better! Haha. Anyway I learnt a lot of baking tips & tricks (some dangerous, which I probably won't try & don't advice her to continue with the methods of opening a can with a scary knife & Rock), but it was a lot of fun baking with a friend. :)
Oh yeah! I almost forgot to tell you all what cake we baked! So we baked a Black Forest cake. I usually don't fancy black forest 'coz they put a lot of cream, but my friend limited the cream input in the cake & it turned out really delicious! She's really talented! & I was her helpful minion for the bake too! Her sous chef!

Friday, 18 May 2018

Speaking & Interpretation of Tongues

At the YFC Camp, we were given a demonstration on how to speak in tongues & were informed about the importance of speaking in tongues.
So we started off by free praises. The next thing we were told to do was to select a vowel & keep saying it repeatedly till the Holy Spirit takes over our being & our tongue & it goes loose & continues speaking.
The main use of speaking in tongues is that we can directly speak to God & the evil one cannot understand what we are saying. This is what I learnt at camp.
But my dad told me another very important reason. It is that we can speak in tongues when we don't know how to pray; when we want to tell God something, but we are unable to find the words to do so. The Holy Spirit helps us speak it by this gift of speaking in tongues. As seen in Romans 8:26-27, "26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."
This is one of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Another gift of the Holy Spirit is 'Interpretation of Tongues'. It is where in how the first disciples were able to speak in various different languages after the Holy Spirit descended on them at Pentecost. A person gifted with this gift can translate a praise line or anything to that matter,  into another language, without knowing the language. The Holy Spirit enables them to speak a language. 
I was a witness to this great gift at the YFC Intake Camp this year, where one of the member volunteers from the YFC group received both these gifts. She can speak in tongues & can translate a person speaking in English to Hebrew. She felt like she could feel the entire Hebrew alphabet swirling round her head!
This was an amazing witness! I feel blessed to have witnessed such a great act of God in person. This is something that happened 2000 years ago to the first disciples! To see this happen to a girl around my age in this day & age was just so amazing!!!

Inner Healing

One of the best things about camp according to me was this "Inner Healing" Session that they had. During this session, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed along with a Cross. We were each given a sheet of paper & were told to write down all our past hurts over the years. To help us remember everything, one of the camp volunteers read out various common incidents that could've happened to us. The music ministry band also played appropriate hymns in the background while we were given time in between each incident that was read, to write down our hurts. We were also made to write down all the incidents where in we had hurt people in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly. We told Jesus we forgave all the people who caused us hurt & asked for forgiveness for causing hurt ourselves. After we were done, we had to each pin up our sheets of hurt to the cross. This whole symbolic act was spiritually cleansing & calming. So many of my pasts hurts that I had suppressed for years were finally released & nailed to the cross. I learnt that forgiveness was the only way to true inner peace & to be truly healed I had to forgive. God gave us His grace & forgave us all our sins. It's only our duty now to pass on this Grace to people around us who hurt us & who are in need of our forgiveness. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all hurt & cause hurt to others. But it is important to forgive not just for the well being of the other person but also for our own well being & peace of mind. As we say in the Our Father.."forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..". That is what we are saying to God every time we pray that prayer. We were forgiven first so it is now our duty to pass on the forgiveness.