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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Budapest


This one's for you, Rukmini ....

video


Source : TED

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The four-leaf fritter


I must confess that in the past when I have come across a blog that shared recipes I have felt slightly let-down. I mean, a blog is about serious writing, not recipes. Even though I do trawl the net looking for new and interesting ways to cook, recipes are meant to be on food sites, not blogs. So now, when I’m about to share a story and a recipe, I smile a bit sheepishly and self-indulgently :) But then, I tell myself, when a recipe forms itself out of inspiration and available ingredients in your kitchen and turns out to be a success, it begs to be shared.

I’ve been growing fenugreek in my kitchen garden these past few weeks and today I pulled out the last of the crop. Instead of making the usual rotis or sabzi with it, I thought, let me, for a change, make fritters with it. Then, just for variety I decided to add mint leaves and the leaves of the Coleus aromaticus (panikoorka in Malayalam) from the kitchen garden. When I dug into the refrigerator to retrieve the coriander leaves, I saw some corn ears taking up a lot of space in the veggie tray and took one out, de-kerneled it and added the kernels to the chopped up leaves. Then some besan went in, together with cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Generous squeezes of a lemon went in next, all combined together with water. The mixture turned out to not have a pouring consistency and feeling reluctant to add more besan, I decided to stick to ‘healthy’ and add wholewheat flour instead. When that had gone in, I remembered sesame seeds. I love sesame seeds so much that given the chance, I’d give in to the temptation of adding it to EVERYTHING. Which is not such a bad thing compared to hubby’s penchant for adding fenugreek seeds to everything. So, in went a bold dash of sesame seeds. I then spotted a half-peeled potato sitting on the bench-top and chopped that up and put that in too. The batter was now a thick yellow-green mass with the greens kind of lumping together in solidarity.

Now, in keeping with my ‘eat healthy’ philosophy I had planned to pan-fry the fritters with as little oil as possible, but looking at the thick mass bursting with leaves, I realised that pan-frying is only going to cook the underside and the leaves and insides might remain uncooked, so I poured some more oil into the flat bottomed pan so as to have an oil depth of a few millimetres. I then poured tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and flattened each fritter out so that about half of it was submerged in the oil. Fried them on both sides to a light brown crispiness and drained them on kitchen paper, which to my dismay got quite drenched with oil. However, the end result was quite crunchy and tasty.

Well, after I had eaten a couple of these oil-laden delicacies my conscience literally started to jump up and down in anger telling me off and telling me to go work off all the fat I had ingested. So, off I went on a walk and as usual when I go walking in the quiet dusk in the balmy weather, I tend to muse and ponder over things. I got to thinking how like life it was, the fritters that I had made. A lot of times we don’t have a say in the hand we get dealt in life. We have to make do with what we’ve got and fashion a life out of it. We might have to take large amounts of wholesome flour and somehow stir in the bitterness of fenugreek, the hot anger of chilli, the coolness of mint and the fragrant virtue of coriander. Add great dashes of lemon for zest and sesame for the nutty flavour, salt for steadfastness, all to be combined and fried in the trials and tribulations of life. But just to the right degree, not overdone to result in burn-out or frustration, or underdone with a soft belly and laziness.

All great recipes are born this way, I like to think. In times of famine or plenty, people have taken what was available and combined and cooked them in ways that would result in food that was not only tasty but was nourishing to the body and soul as well. I guess that’s what our lives are about too. To take the things that are available and at hand and fashion a life that is a thing of beauty and nourishment and wholesomeness.


Learning from a barefoot movement


This TED talk by Bunker Roy is so awe-inspiring !

video

Please share if possible ....


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shukriya Zindagi

Yes, there is so much to be grateful for in life ....


Shafqat Amanat Ali's voice does strum the heartstrings!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

A very unusual love letter


Opening the doors of compassion...



Source : Internet


Friday, March 23, 2012

Poetry of gratefulness

A wonderfully inspirational video on the meaning of gratitude.

Lynne Twist on gratitude


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Union

(my attempts at Haiku)

When we gaze
at each other,
God smiles.

In the silence
lies the secret,
of union.

Beyond body,
beyond mind,
we are one.

In the end,
there is no you nor I,
only God.

Through our union,
It experiences itself,
as Itself.

In the bliss
of nothingness,
is everything.

What is life now
or death, I have
glimpsed eternity.

~~~


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Invitation


by Oriah Mountain Dreamer


It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to
be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can
disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

~~~

Monday, March 19, 2012

Who killed Baby Falak?

How many children will have to die before we finally do something?

Who killed Baby Falak?

:/

The Cord


For those mothers who have lost a child, and those who have lost their mother;


The Cord

We are connected,
My child and I, by
An invisible cord
Not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord

That connects us 'til birth
This cord can't been seen
By any on Earth.

This cord does it's work

Right from the start.
It binds us together
Attached to my heart.

I know that it's there

Though no one can see
The invisible cord
From my child to me.

The strength of this cord

Is hard to describe.
It can't be destroyed
It can't be denied.

It's stronger than any cord

Man could create
It withstands the test
Can hold any weight.

And though you are gone,

Though you're not here with me,
The cord is still there
But no one can see.

It pulls at my heart

I am bruised...I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline
As never before.

I am thankful that God

Connects us this way
A mother and child
Death can't take it away!


~ Author Unknown

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wonder


Friday, March 16, 2012

Immaculate Misconception


A blog post I wish I had written, so close it is to my thoughts and feelings ...

Immaculate Misconception

It's outrageous but true and what are the solutions?


Growth


We are God seeds planted in a human vehicle and our job is to grow and blossom into God selves.

~ Jean Houston

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Four Agreements


Toltec Wisdom by Don Miguel Ruiz M.D.


And the Fifth Agreement, added recently:

"Be Skeptical But Learn To Listen."
'Don't believe me, don't believe anyone else, don't believe yourself...'
~ Don Miguel Ruiz

Eliminating belief systems are one of the core teachings of the Toltec Path. Whenever you have a belief, you no longer perceive what is. You see only what Toltecs call, the smoky mirror. You see the world through colored glasses.

In order to see the truth, to see reality clearly and unbiased, one must be free of belief systems. In order to grow and evolve, one must change the way they see themselves and the world.

Source : Internet (Friend's FB update)


The Beloved


My Beloved, a patient lover, waits for me,
while I, like a busy housewife,
scurry about to finish my chores,
to settle the affairs of the world,
to put aside the calculations of the mind.
When I still my hands of their constant activity
and my mind of its constant fluttering,
there, I behold Him in the silent cavern of my soul.
His smile is the gentle unfolding of a dreamy full moon,
His gaze makes me forget myself,
cast aside my identity, my selfhood,
and dissolve into His all encompassing embrace.
In that sacred space, I know myself as Him,
I always was and will be. We are one.
He laughs at my forgetfulness
and rejoices at my remembrance.
My Beloved is always all there is
if only I would open my vision and see.
I look around and see Him everywhere,
in the dazzling sunlight, in the bumbling bee.
From faces distorted in pain and anger,
He smiles gently up at me.
Waiting patiently for the remembrance
of a Beloved they somehow fail to see.
But I must remember and I must see
that the Beloved, He dwells in me.
My Beloved has the luminescence of a million suns,
my Beloved is me.
~~~


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spectacles of nature


I stepped outside today evening to try and spot the unfolding of a heavenly spectacle in the skies, the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. It took me several minutes of scanning the tree-obscured horizon to  finally spot the two planets in a gap between the trees, sparkling bright in the azure sky. The brighter of the two might have been Venus and Jupiter even though bigger in size looked like a younger sibling hanging around the brighter one. They are orbiting on vastly different trajectories, but once in a while their travels align them in such a way that when looked at from the earth, they appear to be in conjunction.

Later on, when the night had deepened, I stepped outside once again to gaze up at the night sky. The sky was almost clear, with only a few clouds obscuring the view, and stars lit up the heavens. The Milky Way was a diaphanous swathe across the sky and looking at this starry display, once again I was moved by awe, thinking of our tiny little planet amidst the heavens and the universe spreading out into infinity. And a tiny little me, sitting on a tiny little planet watching it. Its sheer grandeur is so monumental and yet to think that the force that shaped the stars and the galaxies also shaped me and throbs within me. This puts us straightaway into the league of stars, and we can feel the pulse of creation, of awesomeness throbbing within us.

Earlier on, I had gone for a walk and sat down by the river. The sun had gone down and the sunset was lighting up the sky in golden hues. Down there where I sat there was no sign of human habitation. It was as though I had escaped into a different world. The river flowed with music on her lips and jauntiness in her step. Sea gulls feed on the pebbled banks and once in a while took off in flight, spread their wings and alighted again. The bank opposite was thick with bush of various kinds and hues, and shadows gathered among the leaves, and slithered on the branches, whispering secrets. As the day retreated, the night approached, like a soft-footed lover, all velvet smoothness and dark mystery.

Sitting there, cradled in nature and caressed by the velvet night, my mind grew calm and still. I began to feel a blurring of my separateness as the walls that I normally put up while negotiating the eddying currents of human transactions began to dissolve and fall away. The sense of a separate 'me' began to disappear and the sense of a far greater vastness began to reveal itself. There was only an observer and the feeling that all was in oneness and all was in bliss.

When the mind falls silent, truth and beauty reveal themselves. What does the mind do other than record events, store and retrieve data, and based on past recorded data, form opinions, concepts, beliefs etc. But the moment is newborn and fresh and its beauty and aliveness cannot be sensed by a mere cataloguer of a database, it must be sensed by something beyond the mind, something that dwells and moves within us and whose ethereal voice is normally drowned out by the cacophony of the mind. In moments like these, when we are in the midst of nature, when we get the chance to drop the mind and move into stillness, the soft, loving voice reveals to us, not in words, but in a deeply felt sense, the truth about ourselves. Then, we can be said to have come home.

~~~

Why you will fail to have a great career

A talk that I needed to hear at this point of my life ....

Larry Smith's TED talk

Very compelling!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lifeguard


This was so heartening, I had to share this ...


Yaaaaaaaaay !!!

Photo : courtesy Internet.


Wise words

Those who speak much are not necessarily possessed of wisdom.
The wise can be seen to be at peace with life and free from all enmity and fear.

Dhammapada v.258


As rain cannot penetrate a well-made roof, so the passions cannot enter a well-trained heart.

Dhammapada v.14


If anything is to be done, do it well, with energy and devotion;
the renunciate life led heedlessly just stirs up the dust.

Dhammapada v 313


Truly it is ourselves that we depend upon; 
how could wer really depend upon another?
When we reach the state of self reliance we find a rare refuge.

Dhammapada v 160

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Singe The Body Electric

Another raw, bleeding post. The only consolation and maybe hope is that the women are writing about their anguish, proclaiming their pain. I hope that is bringing some measure of control, of catharsis into their lives ...

I singe the body electric



Friday, March 09, 2012

Silence isn't always golden

Another kind of raw, powerful and gut-wrenching post ....

Silence isn't always golden



Transformation and transcendence


This is such an awesome piece of writing. Raw and powerful, yet loving and eloquent ...

The power of female friendship


I hereby dis-empower you


A hard-hitting post which makes you think and wonder about men :/

I hereby dis-empower you

Is this the way we are raising our sons? To dis-empower?


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Day of the Feminine

Today is International Woman's Day and I wanted to share something that touched and moved me so deeply and is so apt for today's theme and for every day to follow ...

Women's Love

If possible, listen to the recording as well.



Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Empowerment


On this day of your life,  God wants you to know...
...that your job, your invitation from the Universe, is to give people back to themselves.

You can do this every day, in a hundred ways. Why not practice it with the first three people you encounter after reading this?

It is really a very easy thing to do -- yet it can affect a person mightily. All you have to do is look for the best in that person, and then show it to them, right then and there. Describe it. Admire it. Thank them for it.

Do this for three people every day and watch how your whole life can change. At last you will realize what you are doing here. All the rest will be just stuff and nonsense.

~ Neale Donald Walsh

The Power of Introverts


There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. ~ Susan Cain.


Susan Cain's TED Talk - The Power of Introverts

Ah! to float...



This picture that I put up with a status message on FB evoked a few comments, two of which were short ditties which I thought of sharing -

"Yea, that sky is really blue today
And I quite love those clouds.
I can hear a distant bird,
Crying out aloud.
It’s probably calling out to friends
To join her in her flight
Across the fields, across the lake
To a new shore, now out of sight.
I would’ve loved to fly with them
Hey but its pretty cool down here
The surrounding air smells so good
And the waters are so clear
I’m loving the gentle lift of ripples
As on this leaf I float
So I guess I’ll tarry for sometime more
On this special little boat."


~ Nadira


Surely girls, ‘tis good to float,
as on joys that life has brought,
lying back, you happily gloat,
simply divine, is it not?
Do not swim, I would say,
go with life’s loving flow,
‘tis best to float any day,
take it easy, nice and slow.
Smell those flowers, catch,
the rain on your tongue,
setting suns, you must watch,
never leave your song unsung.
Of what gain is winning
the race, amassing gold,
nary a time for living,
if, en route, your soul has died.

~ myself


photo - courtesy Facebook

Monday, March 05, 2012

Imagination

“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.”

~ Duane Michals

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Creativity


Creativity is MORE IMPORTANT than intelligence. - Einstein.



Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking
 
By Michael Michalko on December 2, 2011 - 6:15am

1. You are creative. The artist is not a special person, each one of us is a special kind of artist. Every one of us is born a creative, spontaneous thinker. The only difference between people who are creative and people who are not is a simple belief. Creative people believe they are creative. People who believe they are not creative, are not. Once you have a particular identity and set of beliefs about yourself, you become interested in seeking out the skills needed to express your identity and beliefs. This is why people who believe they are creative become creative. If you believe you are not creative, then there is no need to learn how to become creative and you don't. The reality is that believing you are not creative excuses you from trying or attempting anything new. When someone tells you that they are not creative, you are talking to someone who has no interest and will make no effort to be a creative thinker.

2. Creative thinking is work. You must have passion and the determination to immerse yourself in the process of creating new and different ideas. Then you must have patience to persevere against all adversity. All creative geniuses work passionately hard and produce incredible numbers of ideas, most of which are bad. In fact, more bad poems were written by the major poets than by minor poets. Thomas Edison created 3000 different ideas for lighting systems before he evaluated them for practicality and profitability. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced more than six hundred pieces of music, including forty-one symphonies and some forty-odd operas and masses, during his short creative life. Rembrandt produced around 650 paintings and 2,000 drawings and Picasso executed more than 20,000 works. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Some were masterpieces, while others were no better than his contemporaries could have written, and some were simply bad.

3. You must go through the motions of being creative. When you are producing ideas, you are replenishing neurotransmitters linked to genes that are being turned on and off in response to what your brain is doing, which in turn is responding to challenges. When you go through the motions of trying to come up with new ideas, you are energizing your brain by increasing the number of contacts between neurons. The more times you try to get ideas, the more active your brain becomes and the more creative you become. If you want to become an artist and all you did was paint a picture every day, you will become an artist. You may not become another Vincent Van Gogh, but you will become more of an artist than someone who has never tried.

4. Your brain is not a computer. Your brain is a dynamic system that evolves its patterns of activity rather than computes them like a computer. It thrives on the creative energy of feedback from experiences real or fictional. You can synthesize experience; literally create it in your own imagination. The human brain cannot tell the difference between an "actual" experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail. This discovery is what enabled Albert Einstein to create his thought experiments with imaginary scenarios that led to his revolutionary ideas about space and time. One day, for example, he imagined falling in love. Then he imagined meeting the woman he fell in love with two weeks after he fell in love. This led to his theory of acausality. The same process of synthesizing experience allowed Walt Disney to bring his fantasies to life.

5. There is no one right answer. Reality is ambiguous. Aristotle said it is either A or not-A. It cannot be both. The sky is either blue or not blue. This is black and white thinking as the sky is a billion different shades of blue. A beam of light is either a wave or not a wave (A or not-A). Physicists discovered that light can be either a wave or particle depending on the viewpoint of the observer. The only certainty in life is uncertainty. When trying to get ideas, do not censor or evaluate them as they occur. Nothing kills creativity faster than self-censorship of ideas while generating them. Think of all your ideas as possibilities and generate as many as you can before you decide which ones to select. The world is not black or white. It is grey.

6. Never stop with your first good idea. Always strive to find a better one and continue until you have one that is still better. In 1862, Phillip Reis demonstrated his invention which could transmit music over the wires. He was days away from improving it into a telephone that could transmit speech. Every communication expert in Germany dissuaded him from making improvements, as they said the telegraph is good enough. No one would buy or use a telephone. Ten years later, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Spencer Silver developed a new adhesive for 3M that stuck to objects but could easily be lifted off. It was first marketed as a bulletin board adhesive so the boards could be moved easily from place to place. There was no market for it. Silver didn't discard it. One day Arthur Fry, another 3M employee, was singing in the church's choir when his page marker fell out of his hymnal. Fry coated his page markers with Silver's adhesive and discovered the markers stayed in place, yet lifted off without damaging the page. Hence the Post-it Notes were born. Thomas Edison was always trying to spring board from one idea to another in his work. He spring boarded his work from the telephone (sounds transmitted) to the phonograph (sounds recorded) and, finally, to motion pictures (images recorded).

7. Expect the experts to be negative. The more expert and specialized a person becomes, the more their mindset becomes narrowed and the more fixated they become on confirming what they believe to be absolute. Consequently, when confronted with new and different ideas, their focus will be on conformity. Does it conform with what I know is right? If not, experts will spend all their time showing and explaining why it can't be done and why it can't work. They will not look for ways to make it work or get it done because this might demonstrate that what they regarded as absolute is not absolute at all. This is why when Fred Smith created Federal Express, every delivery expert in the U.S. predicted its certain doom. After all, they said, if this delivery concept was doable, the Post Office or UPS would have done it long ago.

8. Trust your instincts. Don't allow yourself to get discouraged. Albert Einstein was expelled from school because his attitude had a negative effect on serious students; he failed his university entrance exam and had to attend a trade school for one year before finally being admitted; and was the only one in his graduating class who did not get a teaching position because no professor would recommend him. One professor said Einstein was "the laziest dog" the university ever had. Beethoven's parents were told he was too stupid to be a music composer. Charles Darwin's colleagues called him a fool and what he was doing "fool's experiments" when he worked on his theory of biological evolution. Walt Disney was fired from his first job on a newspaper because "he lacked imagination." Thomas Edison had only two years of formal schooling, was totally deaf in one ear and was hard of hearing in the other, was fired from his first job as a newsboy and later fired from his job as a telegrapher; and still he became the most famous inventor in the history of the U.S.

9. There is no such thing as failure. Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail. You have learned something that does not work. Always ask "What have I learned about what doesn't work?", "Can this explain something that I didn't set out to explain?", and "What have I discovered that I didn't set out to discover?" Whenever someone tells you that they have never made a mistake, you are talking to someone who has never tried anything new.

~~~

Experience


A king asked a sage to explain the Truth.

In response the sage asked the king how he would convey the taste of a mango to someone who had never eaten anything sweet. No matter how hard the king tried, he could not adequately describe the flavor of the fruit, and, in frustration,he demanded of the sage "Tell me then, how would you describe it?"

The sage picked up a mango and handed it to the king saying "This is very sweet. Try eating it!"

~ Hindu Teaching


Thursday, March 01, 2012

LMBO

(a letter I sent to two of my friends)

Dears Chitra and Neetha,

Chitra’s ‘the quantum of wobbling is directly proportional to the quantum of gobbling‘ has really set me thinking. Recently, while having a belly laugh I realised that when I laughed even though my Santa Claus tummy wobbled, it was actually getting a good workout from within. So to burn more calories, I started to watch comedy serials on TV (something unthinkable for me so far). Now I laugh during these serials at the slightest hint of a joke and sometimes even when nothing is said or done.

All these mirthful eruptions on my part are causing hubby to look at me suspiciously, maybe he’s considering divorce on the grounds of insanity. But so what, I am doing this in the service of science. And fitness. And beauty. And hope to lose about 10 inches around the waistline in a month or so. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo, but shall take an ‘after’ photo after said inches have been laughed away and my waist resembles that of a pre-pregnancy Aishwarya Rai.

So, my dears, laugh away, even watching our Indian politicians is good to bring on the belly laughs and you can LOL and even ROFL and instead of LMAO you can now (LMBO) Laugh My Belly Off). Neetha, just imagine how much gym-going money you’ll save if you stay at home instead and laugh yourself into fitness, haina?

The other good thing about LMBO is that it is also releases endorphins or happiness-inducing chemicals into the system. So while tummy is getting scrunched and de-calorified, the brain is also doing a little dance and sending messages about what a wonderful person you are and what a wonderful place this world is. Now, who can have enough of that, you tell me...

So, ladies, let’s get set and get even (with fat) and laugh it all away while also having loads of fun doing it :)

~~~