Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mouthpiece #43

Gratitude...
It is that time again when one’s mind invariably goes over the happenings and highlights of another year that has bid us farewell. As one surveys the whole year spent from a little distance which time naturally brings in, the moments get themselves housed into various categories that the mind keeps forming - good, bad, challenging and many others. As I was about to pen this newsletter down, a very strong emotion captured me - that of gratitude and this time it is for those two individuals who chose me to begin their worldly journey. It has been close to fifteen years since I was entrusted with the role of being a mother. I guess, in all these years I have ridden all possible waves of emotions through them and for them. The point here, however, is not this, in fact, what made me feel grateful about is how while being associated with them, somehow I kept finding my paths to move forward. While looking back it seems quite amusing right from the time when they were infants.

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Books that gave me company over 2016

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review : Subcontinental Drift

Title : Subcontinental Drift
Author : Murray Laurence
Publisher : Aleph
ISBN : 978-93-83064-25-0

A book on India by a foreigner. Actually so many books have been written by awestruck foreigners on India that it has almost become a genre of books in itself.
An Australian travel writer found his life changed post his first overseas trip to Indonesia where his tryst with Asia began.
He first travelled through the country in 1970s but the 'weird' land strangely and mysteriously hypnotised him into returning to India over and over again as his fascination for the strange land never left him.

The book 'Subcontinental Drift' is actually a collection of his travel stories which are almost like his adventures in a wonderland where nothing is unexpected. He has segregated his stories on the basic of timeline under three categories - a) Young and At Large in India (The 1970s) b) Drifting (The 1980s to the end of the 20th century) c) Condemned to India (The 21st Century). As he travelled extensively through India, he could fathom deep to appreciate the uniqueness and the basis of the age old beliefs which are reflected in his writings. The fluidity with which he narrates his experiences is a pleasurable experience in itself. His wonderful play with words keep the readers engaged till the last page.


Having read many such similar books, I just want to comment that what these authors present is still just what appears on the surface because as our religious scriptures describe the supreme power by - (Neti, neti) this is not it, this is not it!, so is true about India too. It is no exaggeration to say that  if there is any possible adjective for a place, it may very well be true for India.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mouthpiece #42

Parenting perils...
A father and daughter duo waiting for the school bus early in the morning, daughter sporting a smile on her face looking attentively at the small screen of the smartphone almost oblivious of the surroundings. Father is carrying the school bag (obviously of the daughter and a big cup in his hand, which I assumed to have his morning tea until the daughter asked for it, took a sip from the cup and shoved it back in the father’s direction).
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The Greatest Devotee
In one of the interviews Sudha Murthy mentioned about a book - Conversation between God of Death and Nachiketa. Since then I have been looking for that book but as she did not mention the author name, I was not sure which particular book was that. Still I ordered one and came across this anecdote which I found worth sharing here.
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Hurdles, are they real?
Title : Anywhere but Home
Author : Anu Vaidyanathan
A Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from US Canterbury and founder of PatNMarks - an intellectual property consulting firm, Anu Vaidyanathan is the first Asian woman to have completed the Ultraman Canada and Ironman Canada (for the uninitiated, Ultraman entails 10 km swim, 425.6 km Bike and 84.4 km Run and Ironman includes 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike 26.2 mile run).
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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mouthpiece #41

Walking without...
While the human world is clearly and visibly divided based on gender, possession of resources and similar such criteria, there is another factor which very subtly divides humans...
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Shabari's Devotion
It is said that the devotion of Shabari was absolute and complete. What is it that makes any devotion complete? 
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What's new in the kitchen? Gud Seviyan
Wheat flour seviyan (available in Khaadi ashrams) : 1 cup
In case it is hard to find these seviyan, use roasted bambino : 1 cup
Jaggery/gud : 1 cup
Cloves : 3
Cinnamon : 2 cm long
Black cardamom : 1 (crushed)
Ghee : 1 tbsp
Water : 2 cups (if using seviyan) or 1-½ cups (for roasted bambino)
Almonds/Cashews : ½ cup (crushed)
recipe here...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mouthpiece #40

The ultimate quest...
Recently I happened to be a part of the conversation, rather I should say, I was listening to the exchange of ideas that was going on at home. The topic was on the quest for what is next from here. Are we doing enough, if we consider progress of soul as the aim of our birth? Do we have sufficient time to work towards that goal? How do we know if what we think we should do is actually what should be done? Don't the mundane things sap our time and energy leaving not enough to think about what is required for the subsequent journey? While the discussion swayed from mere guesses, observations, experiences to complete obscurity (not in that order though), it came up that perhaps there is nothing beyond this life.
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Homo Deus
Recently started reading a book, every word of which is like fresh air gushing in through mind's windows and the credit goes to Yuval Noah Harari's second book Homo Deus - A Brief History of Tomorrow. While his first book Homo Sapiens was a brief History of Human beings, this one is projecting the future of human race.
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What's cooking? Some winter delight...
I have always preferred closed cozy interiors during winters than fiery summers. After having spent fourteen years away from the extreme climate of North, it took me a while to get readjusted to this variation once we came back to Chandigarh. But I can say that a chilly day still attracts all my votes over heat blazing days of summer. It somehow gives a feeling that I am hibernating in the cosy confines of the home.
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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mouthpiece #39


On your 75th Birthday, with love...

झुक गईं हैं थोड़ी और वे बूढ़ी अम्मा गली की
ज़िक्र तुम्हारा आते ही चमक उठती हैं आँखें उनकी
दिख जाता है तैरता पानी उनकी आँखों में कहीं
जैसे सैलाब छुपाये बैठी हैं मन में अपने कोई
साथ था तुम्हारा उन्हें जो खो गया है अब कहीं
अपने अतीत में झाँक कर टटोलती हैं जैसे यूँही |

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What's cooking?
Since I am celebrating my mother's 75th birthday here, the special occasion calls for some sweets. Last week on Diwali, I tried making peanut burfi at home and it came out really well. 
So here sharing its recipe:
Raw peanuts : 1 cup
Powdered sugar : 1 cup 2 tbsp (I used icing sugar for the fine powdery texture of the final product)
Cardamom powder : 1/4 tsp
Milk : 4 tbsp
Oil : to grease the tray
Melon seeds : 2 tbsp (for garnishing)  

recipe here...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mouthpiece #38

Festivities in the air...
It is that time of the year again. If any other period comes close to my most favoured monsoon, then it has to be this transitioning time when short piercing rays of the sun lose their edge and morph into slanting beams, when tree tops bask in that faint golden radiance a little longer, when slight nip in the early morning air makes one fall in love with that hot cup of tea over again, when a whiff of roasted peanuts fills one with nostalgia of carefree bygone times, when streaming light through thin fog appears like divine guiding illumination and when everything in nature turns to wear a mysterious misty cloak. Palpable festivities and religious fervour adorn the days and nights further. Faint chants of Ramayana verses, street enactments of Ramlila, recitals of Durga Stuti, dhak (dhol beats) emanating from Puja pandaals and the temple bells add to the charm of the revelry.
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mouthpiece #37

In the world of written words...
I have mentioned earlier that the world to general reading or reading for fun opened its gates for me quite unhurriedly when I was already in my late teens. Until then, for me, books meant - course books, supplementary books, reference books and similar such which primarily taught and tested (and not subtly at all). Written words could work as relaxing pursuit or a strong medium to unwind was completely unknown to me. I am happy that the journey in the literary world began from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one after another, I read all her works in quick succession. Once I had my fill (not exactly) of Austen, I moved on to Thomas Hardy picking Tess of the d'urbervilles first and the pattern that I followed for Austen continued with Hardy too. I literally devoured his complete works. Reading quickly escalated from being a hobby to a passion and I was reading almost with vengeance as if to make up for all the time I lost during early years.
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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mouthpiece #36

Skill of doing nothing...
Recently I was advised to do nothing for sometime to give complete rest to my elbows which quite surprisingly got inflicted with tennis elbow, in spite of not having played this sport ever in my life. As I tried desperately to do nothing, I seriously wondered how hard it is to practice, more so, when it comes as an instruction. While I forced myself into this complete rest regimen for a few days, I appreciated the idea behind training oneself to doing nothing from time to time.
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अनोखा समन्वय
कल-कल बहता पानी आज का संगीत गुनगुनाए
सन-सन बहती हवा चाल मद्धम कर जाए
डाल से टूटी पाती नवजीवन का संकेत बन जाए
चुरमुराते सूखे पत्ते शांत भाव जगाएँ
शीतल बूँदें मन में गर्माहट भर जाएँ 
अटल खड़े परबत क्षणभुंगरता को दर्शाएँ
सागर की गहराइयाँ ऊंचाई का बोध कराए

यह है विरोधाभास या एक समन्वय
एक के रहते दूसरा दूर कहाँ रह पाए ?
Kitchen tales ... in anticipation of winters
I have always preferred closed cozy interiors during winters than fiery summers. After having spent fourteen years away from the extreme climate of North, it took me a while to get readjusted to this variation once we came back to Chandigarh. But I can say that a chilly day still attracts all my votes over heat blazing days of summer. It somehow gives a feeling that I am hibernating in the cosy confines of the home. 
I used to look forward to winters for many things. One of Gulzar’s songs just keeps coming to my mind when I picture a perfect winter day - जाड़ों की सर्द धुप और आँगन में लेट कर… (jaadon ki sard dhoop aur aangan mein late kar…)
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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mouthpiece #35


मैं और बादलों की दुनिया...

बादलों में बसती है एक अनोखी दुनिया दूर आसमान में,
खुलता है एक झरोखा कभी, कहीं, किसी एक बादल में! 

कभी कहीं पहुँचने की जल्दी में गतिमान लगते हैं,
मालूम होता है कहते हों- अभी लौट कर मिलते हैं|
और कभी समय की गति को जैसे भुला ही देते हैं,
इत्मिनान कैसा होता है जैसे अभिनय कर के बताते हैं|
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Shhhhhhh....

It is quite an interesting observation that when we wake up in the morning, we feel like sitting quietly for some time and if possible in an open place, closer to nature. While I read it somewhere, it made me introspect, why does it happen? Perhaps, this is what our natural instinct is - to remain calm and to be at peace. But as the day’s activities take us in their fold, the noise around us keeps increasing, so does the din inside us and they work mysteriously together to drown our innate peaceful self which doesn’t get to make its presence felt any time soon after that. 
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What's baking in the kitchen? 
Banana Bread
All purpose flour (maida) : 1 ½ cups
Cinnamon powder : 1 tsp
Baking Soda : ½ tsp
Salt : ½ tsp
Nutmeg : ½ tsp
Baking powder : ¼ tsp
Powdered sugar : 1 cup
Ripe Banana : 1 cup (mashed with a fork)
Egg : 1
Oil : ¼ cup
Walnuts : 1/ cup (chopped)

recipe here...

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