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The Songkran Festival is a traditional Thai New Year's celebration that takes place annually from April 13th to 15th. It is known for its water-throwing festivities, where people pour water on each other as a symbol of purification and the washing away of sins and bad luck.

The name Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, which means "astrological passage," and marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season in Thailand.

During the festival, people also visit temples, offer food to Buddhist monks, and participate in cultural activities such as parades and traditional dances. The holiday is an important time for families to come together and pay respect to their elders, as well as for friends to reunite and celebrate the start of a new year.

In recent years, the water-throwing aspect of Songkran has become more of a party atmosphere, with many young people taking to the streets to splash water on each other and engage in friendly water fights. Despite this shift in tone, the festival remains an important cultural tradition in Thailand, and is recognized as a public holiday across the country.

In addition to the water-throwing festivities, Songkran also involves other traditional customs and practices. One of the most important is the pouring of scented water on Buddha images, which symbolizes the washing away of bad luck and the accumulation of merit. This practice is known as "Rod Nam Dum Hua" and is considered a way to pay respect to one's ancestors and elders.

Another important aspect of Songkran is the creation of sand pagodas. Thai people often visit the beach during the holiday to build intricate sand structures that are believed to bring good luck and blessings. These pagodas are adorned with flowers, incense, and candles, and are seen as a way to honor Buddha and the teachings of Buddhism.

Songkran is also a time for delicious food and traditional sweets, such as "kanom tom," a sweet dessert made of sticky rice and coconut milk, and "khanom krok," a small cake made from rice flour and coconut milk. Additionally, many Thai people wear traditional clothing during the festival, such as "chut thai," which consists of a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wrap-around skirt for women.

Overall, the Songkran Festival is a time for joy, happiness, and togetherness. It is an opportunity for Thai people to reconnect with their cultural roots, pay respect to their elders, and celebrate the start of a new year with family and friends.

Love songs are everywhere. But does anyone have a definition of love, which — people claim — makes the world go around? Sure, it’s easy to tell when you’re in love with someone. [The heart pounds and you act like an idiot.] But it’s much harder to say if you actually love someone.

Enter the mind of Harry Jenkins, as he is about to make love to Natasha,

And then he laughed at himself as he sank beneath the covers. No sane man would question such free and voluptuous pleasure, as if it could only be valued through thought. Only an idiot or a fool would try to analyze love and passion

Nonetheless, like the fool, I seek a definition. Perhaps it is the lawyer in me. On the subject of love, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, is a sobering read. All of us, supposedly, carry within us, an animus [if you’re female] and an anima [if you’re male], which is the idealized image of the person you love. And so, when you are in love you are projecting this idealized image on a real, live person who might be naturally quite entitled to be different.

After the honeymoon, those annoying little cracks in the image appear, which could certainly explain the high divorce rate. When you find the real person doesn’t exactly match your superimposed ideal, what do you do?

All of these thoughts led me to explore people’s ideas of all kinds of love, not just the romantic variety, in Final Paradox, the second in The Osgoode Trilogy.

Harry Jenkins is the lawyer protagonist throughout the trilogy, which contain storylines of murder and fraud. He is in the thrall of the beautiful Natasha. His aging father, who abandoned him as a child, has just asked his forgiveness. Harry can’t seem to find that in his heart. Natasha asks him—

What do you think love is?
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s about wanting someone as part of your life. Wanting them always with you.” He looked into her eyes. “Why? What do you think?”

“I think it’s about getting outside yourself and seeing another person’s life from their point of view. At least that’s a start,” Natasha replied.

Harry heard his father’s words. It’s all about you, is it? Would he always be the kid, he wondered?

Another character musing about love is Norma Dinnick — an elderly client of Harry’s who trips back and forth between lucidity and madness. She recollects her stew of feelings for various men.

Going back to her hotel, Norma tried to understand. She knew about affection and caring for Arthur, her husband, who kept her safe from the emptiness. But she did not understand this business of love, which David talked about. She did know that such emotions gave her a sense of power. The sheer lust she experienced in the presence of George made her feel weak and vulnerable.

Norma simply doesn’t understand about love and neither does Bronwyn — another character. An embittered soul, she has married a gay man and on her honeymoon – She wandered the narrow beach of sand and stone where the boats ferried back and forth to the grottos. No Peter. But then she saw him at a distance on the beach walking slowly with a younger man she did not know. Where had they come from? Right from the start, she had known. Of course, the bargain was unspoken but well understood. For money and security, Bronwyn had sacrificed any chance for love.

But in the end, Harry does begin to get it. In bed with the lovely Natasha, he was

…transported outside his own body, he was overcome with the desire to know the dreams, fantasies, and mysteries she held within. He would enter her world with love and understanding and never leave. The awe he felt in her closeness made his breathing slow and deepen in rhythm with hers. He watched his hand reach out of the shadows to smooth the sheet. She was at last in his bed and, fearing a mirage, he dared not wake her. In the past two weeks, his world had been shaken. His mind had become a jumble of colliding, conflicting events and consequences. Now he felt her power to draw his life together. A still peace gently settled over him like a silken web of meaning.

Simple Habits For A Healthier Lifestyle Starting Today

Published on 03/01/2023
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You don’t have to make drastic changes to be healthier. Here are some simple habits worth making a daily routine.

Simple Habits For A Healthier Lifestyle Starting Today

Maintain Friendships

Why It’s Worth It: Research has shown that strong social bonds through friendship, family and community contribute significantly to our physical and mental well-being – while loneliness and social isolation are known risk factors for health problems. Studies have found that feeling lonely can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, depression and dementia.

Pay Attention To Your Sleep Quality

Why It’s Worth It: The importance of our sleep can’t be underestimated. Between 6 and 9 hours of sleep per night is recommended. This allows our body and brain to regenerate and recover. Not only does restful sleep boost the immune system, but it also helps maintain a healthy weight, increases fertility, and promotes mental well-being. Poor sleep on a regular basis, on the other hand, increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and depression.

Bring Movement Into Your Everyday Life

Why it’s worth it: There’s strong evidence that at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Physical activity has countless positive effects on our health – from maintaining a healthy body weight to better mental health to longer life expectancy. The challenge is to incorporate regular exercise into our daily routine. Start with 30 minutes: Just half an hour of moderate exercise a day can have a positive effect on your health. You should also avoid sitting too much. So try walking more, standing up for work, or just dancing to your favorite music.

Eat More Colorful Things

Why it’s worth it: In general, the more colorful the selection of food, the more nutritious the diet. So-called phytonutrients, which have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, ensure the variety of colors. It has long been known that the colorful Mediterranean cuisine, which is characterized by a high proportion of fruit and vegetables, nuts, whole grain products, fish and healthy fats (olive oil), is healthy. A study now proves that the “Mediterranean diet” ensures a longer life expectancy for over 65-year-olds. In countries with a Mediterranean diet, there are fewer cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and obesity.

Stay Curious

Why It’s Worth It: This habit isn’t easy to form, but it’s important. It’s about doing more of the things that make you feel valuable, that you belong, that you’re part of something. This not only makes you happier and more joie de vivre, but can also help reduce your risk of health problems such as stroke and depression. Make a list of all the activities that make you feel good or that you enjoy spending your time on. Mark the things that you want to prioritize more in your life.