August – my tarot reading

I used the Universal Waite tarot deck for my monthly reading for August.

The monthly spread I do has two rows. The top row contains one card (the overview of the month); the second row has four cards, one for each week of the month. Here are the cards I dealt for July. 

Overview – Temperance – being temperate, reaching a compromise; maintaining balance, experiencing harmony; experiencing health, enjoying wellbeing; combining forces, finding the right mix


Week 1 – The Magician – taking action, realising your potential; acting consciously, understanding your intentions; concentrating, being totally committed; experiencing power, creating miracles


Week 2 – 4 of Swords – resting, taking a break; contemplating, taking time alone to think; quietly preparing, getting ready for the future


Week 3 – The Empress – mothering, nurturing and caring for others; welcoming abundance, having more than enough; experiencing the senses, appreciating beauty; responding to nature, embracing the natural


Week 4 – 5 of Swords – acting in your own self-interest, knowing you must concentrate on yourself; experiencing discord, being in a hostile environment; witnessing open dishonour, losing your moral compass






Pure Beauty: a great Dermalogica website

I love Dermalogica. I don’t know why, I just do. And their range is getting bigger and bigger which means my bathroom is being taken over by more and more products…

I started using Dermalogica a few years ago – and I just had the basics: cleanser, toner, moisturiser. Now I’ve added the precleanse, exfoliator, hydrating masque and a couple of other things to the long list of products I own!


Before I went to Barcelona earlier this month, I was looking for a sunscreen online and came across Dermalogica’s Solar Defence Wipes – SPF 15 towelettes which you can take anywhere with you, similar to Wet Ones. They’re not cheap – a pack of 15 usually costs £22.50. After some browsing online, I came across Pure Beauty – a website that sells Dermalogica products at reduced prices. I’d bought Dermalogica products from a couple of other websites before, but this site was even cheaper than those. The Wipes were £16.95 on this site so I bought them. 

One of the great things about this site is that when you buy a product, you get to choose up to 5 samples you want. I thought about what I’d need for the weekend away and ordered samples of those products (shower gel, moisturiser, after sun, face wash, and an eye make-up remover which I was disappointed with). No bulky bottles to take, and nothing to bring back!


I placed my order online on a Sunday afternoon and I got the package by first class post (free delivery) on Tuesday. I was so impressed with the service. And the wipes were a good idea – easier to carry around than a bottle of sunscreen, no fiddling around with lotion while on the move, and I didn’t burn.

I placed an order for moisturiser at 1am on Wednesday morning and by noon on Wednesday I’d received an email telling me that my order had been despatched. And again I was able to choose the 5 samples I wanted – I’ve gone for new stuff this time: the Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque (sounds complicated), tinted moisturiser, Dynamic Skin Recovery (for ageing skin – depressing) and a couple of other things I wanted to try! And the parcel arrived this morning – 36 hours after placing my order. That’s amazing. Even Amazon doesn’t deliver that fast for free.

If you’re a fan of Dermalogica, I’d highly recommend this website – it’s quick, well worth the money, and you won’t end up with random samples that nobody wants!


Applying for my Indian visa

I recently wrote about my experiences when applying for a Nigerian visa, but I should also mention that applying for an Indian visa is no easier! Every year it gets more and more difficult to get an Indian visa – and this includes multiple-entry visas for people of Indian origin.

After the arrest of David Headley (the American/Pakistani man arrested for conspiring to bomb targets in Bombay) in 2009, getting visas for India has become tiresome. As I found out last year when I needed a visa.

I was heading to Bali for my brother’s wedding, and didn’t want to go via India at all. If I’d had my way, I’d have gone straight to Bali and spent an extra four days by the beach. However, all my clothes were in Bombay and I needed to try them on and have any last-minute alterations made. I booked a return flight to Bombay and used a separate ticket for my flight from Bombay to Bali. I filled in the application form, took my passports (old and new) and headed to the visa application centre in Victoria.

I would have been happy with a tourist visa, but changes had been made so that once you leave India on a tourist visa you can’t return for 2 months. As I had to return in 2 weeks to get my flight back to London, I thought I’d apply for a multiple-entry 5-year visa. I had one in my previous passport so I didn’t think it would be a problem getting another one. How wrong could I have been?

Everything was fine – I got there at the allocated time, I picked a ticket from the machine and was seen by a man at the counter about 5 minutes later. He was about to approve my 5-year visa when the supervisor strolled past and decided to have a look at my papers. I took one look at her and knew then that it was all over. I had no proof of Indian origin, even though there was a 5-year visa in my old passport. She said I couldn’t have one. I told her I needed a multiple-entry visa because of my flight bookings. She said ‘We do advise you not to book anything before applying for your visa’. Such a typical unsatisfactory response. I asked her if there was anything she could do? She said ‘I can try, but I can’t promise.’ So, that’s a ‘no’ then? ‘If you give me your itinerary…’ she started, at which point I asked how I could give her my itinerary if I wasn’t supposed to have booked anything. Did I have an old Indian passport? No, I’ve never been ‘Indian’. Do I have my parents’ old Indian passports? No, does anyone??

Fine, I didn’t have all the documents I needed, but what annoyed me *most* of all was that while we were talking, she was flicking through my old and new passports – and suddenly she had STAPLED THEM TOGTHER. FFS. Did I ask her to do that?? No. Did she even align them so that the edges were even? NO. I asked her to unstaple them and she said that she didn’t think it was a good idea because officials might ask questions if they saw holes in my passport! I wanted to reach over the counter and punch her in the face. I was about to lose it so I gathered my stapled passports and other papers and I left.


(Very. Very. Annoyed.)


I called my parents. My dad has no documents indicating he’s of Indian origin. I don’t think he even knows where his birth certificate is. My mum was in Bombay at the time and miraculously managed to find an old Indian passport of hers! She sent it through someone the next day and I collected it.

Now I needed my birth certificate to prove that she really was my mum. I looked through the safe and found my birth certificate. Well, just half of it really. It was the smaller sheet that basically tells you when and where you were born and I already knew that. It didn’t have my parents’ names on it or anything. I could see my brother’s and my sister’s, but not mine. Dammit! I emailed Hammersmith and Fulham Council and asked if they could send me a copy of my birth certificate – I received it about a week later.

Finally I had everything I thought I needed. I went back to Victoria, hoping to see the same supervisor. Luckily for her, she wasn’t there. I did see her when I went to collect my passport a couple of days later though. She tried to smile at me, but oh, if looks could kill…

Now my parents think I should apply for an OCI and just get it over and done with. My mum tried to do hers this morning – she left home at 8am, got to the High Commission before 9 and said that there were already 500+ people in the queue before her (by the way, read 500+ as 125). I’m really not sure I can be bothered with all this… 


Applying for my Nigerian visa

Now that I’m all booked for Lagos, I have to sort out a Nigerian visa. I want to weep.

When I was growing up and going back to Nigeria regularly I didn’t have to think about visas and other practicalities – every time I’d go back my dad would sort things out for us. As I don’t go back as frequently (the last time was 3 years ago) and my parents don’t live there now, I have to sort these things out myself.

I went back to Lagos in 2006 after a 9-year break. That time, a friend of mine hooked me up with someone at the High Commission and I got my visa in about half an hour. I didn’t even have to go to the main visa application area; he let me wait in the main reception area of the High Commission.

I went back a year later and the same friend sorted me out – I was ever so grateful.

In 2008, I thought it would be really cheeky of me to ask again so I decided to apply on my own…

I used to think that applying for a Nigerian visa was a pain in the ass (until I applied for an Indian visa last summer). You only (!) need the following documents:

  • Passport – yes, you really do need your passport
  • Two passport photos
  • Completed application form
  • A letter from your health insurance company stating coverage – I think this is new because I didn’t have to provide this 3 years ago
  • Proof of an airline booking
  • Current bank statement
  • A letter of invitation from your friends/family

When I applied for my visa in 2008, I got to the High Commission before 10am, took a ticket from the machine and sat down. I looked around – the counters were clearly labelled: visa applications, passport applications, cashier. So far so good.

As soon as the counters opened at 10am, chaos broke out. People were crowding around each counter, regardless of whether it was a visa or passport application – and nobody gave a shit what number they had in their hands. Crap, I thought. This is going to be a nightmare.

And then a young(ish) Nigerian man climbed onto his chair and started shouting: ‘What are you people doing? You’re behaving like animals! No wonder people treat Nigerians like dirt!’ I was shocked. He was shouting at his fellow countrymen – and I think they were shocked too because they all calmed down and looked around sheepishly. They found seats and waited for their numbers to be called out. Did that happen every morning? What would have happened if that man hadn’t been there?

I submitted my application and went to pick up my passport a day later – no problems. 

But now I have to go back in the next few days – and I just don’t know what to expect!


(Just one of the many sights I’m looking forward to seeing…)

Up, up and… up

I could be talking about a number of things here (inflation, property prices, etc.) but what I’m referring to is my weight.

I happened to weigh myself a week ago after a very long time – I think it had been about six months since I last weighed myself and as soon as I did it, I wished I hadn’t. I was shocked. Basically: I’ve put on 5 kilos in the last year. And in the last 15 years, I’ve put on about 25 kilos. That’s a scary figure (pun intended). Yes, my clothes are a little snug, but 5 kilos? When? How? 

I guess it all adds up – lack of exercise, the biscuit tin on the filing cabinet at work, lunch at the staff canteen, evenings at the pub. Shall I go on? No, I didn’t think so.

I’ve tried (and failed) to lose the weight in the past. Or I’ve lost it but regained it (and more) after a while. A few years ago I found some old photos of some friends and I – taken in the mid 1990s to the early 2000s – and I was surprised at how thin I looked. And what annoyed me was that when those pictures were taken, I remember thinking *then* that I was HUGE.

A while ago I tried Bikram yoga but now I just can’t handle it. I recently started going to Zumba classes near my flat, but the regular teacher is away until September – and the different teacher isn’t as fun but I’ll carry on because it’s better than nothing. I had house guests for a month so even my weekly yoga class went out the window as my living room was taken over by shopping and suitcases. My Zaggora HotPants arrived last week but I haven’t tried them on yet. Forget about trying them on, I haven’t even opened the package. Talk about lack of motivation.

But now, I’m on a mission. I’m off to Lagos in 37 days for Vinay’s first birthday and I will lose some weight before I go (I don’t want to frighten the baby)!


(No, that’s not me – but at the rate I’m going…)

Any (sensible) tips and suggestions will be appreciated! What works for you?

Read my updates here.


Your week ahead (25-31 July)

I used the Universal Waite deck again for this week’s readings. Have a good week!



Ace of Pentacles – improve your health/body; become involved with nature; prospering; use common sense; believe in the good faith of others, proceed with trust




The Hanged Man – let go – accept what is; re-order your priorities – see things from a new angle; take time to simply be – live in the moment; sacrifice – put others first




2 of Swords – blocking emotions – maintain your cool; avoiding the truth – closing your eyes to what’s really going on; reaching an impasse – being afraid to act




4 of Swords – rest – take a break, give your body time to heal; contemplate – listen to your inner voice; prepare – get ready for the future, tie up loose ends




9 of Wands – defend yourself – take extra precautions; persevere – don’t take ‘no’ for an answer; show stamina – demonstrate physical strength, continue in spite of feeling tired




Ace of Wands – use creative force – stimulate your imagination, allow a talent to unfold; show enthusiasm – give 110%; have confidence – believe in yourself; know things will work out; proceed with courage – go beyond your limits, be true to your beliefs




Ace of Cups – use emotional force – get in touch with your feelings, let your heart lead the way; develop intuition – trust your inner voice; experience intimacy – fall in love, get closer to someone; proceed with love – express affection, get rid of negativity




10 of Swords – bottoming out – having nowhere to go but up; feeling like a victim – feeling powerless and/or self-pity; being a martyr – being self-deprecating and putting your own interests last




Page of Pentacles – have an effect – make your plans real, be practical – use common sense and stop daydreaming; be prosperous – enrich yourself, seek abundance; be trusting/trustworthy – have faith in others, keep your word 




6 of Swords – feeling the blues – feeling a little depressed, trying to keep your head above water; recovering – getting over a tough time, feeling hope again; travelling – taking a trip or experiencing a change of scene, entering a new frame of mind




The World – integrating – experiencing wholeness, working in unison; accomplishing – realising your goals, seeing your dreams come true; becoming involved – using a gift or talent, giving of yourself; feeling fulfilled – savoring the present, taking pleasure in life




The Emperor – fathering – setting direction and tone, bringing security and comfort; emphasising structure – creating order out of chaos, being organized; exercising authority – taking a leadership role, exerting control; regulating – applying rules or guidelines, setting standards of behaviour, following a regimen

Card of the week