Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Reflections

Step to Start

One of the biggest drawbacks of the present day is the mass confusion and uncertainty attached to it. Nearing the end of the year, as the leaves of the calendar come off and the thickness goes down, the gnawing thoughts inside awakens again, “Oh what a mess of the year”. Reflecting on this one aspect is true that this year was totally off all expectations and hassled man; yet on the another hand this year helped one to refocus and find themselves.

“Most times, the way isn’t clear, but you want to start anyway. It is in starting with the first step that other steps become clearer.” Israelmore Ayivor

Finding ourselves doesn’t start off with a loud clap and bang. It starts off in the quiet moments where one shuts off the noise around them, and seek answers to within or just lie still. One of the gifts of the humane nature, is that the mind has unbelievable strength of its’ own. Each person has many facets of their character. Using them or donning them on, comes when the time is right or the when the mind ascertains it. Those who learn to do so, eventually survive the downpour and learn to appreciate the tiny blessings that come along with it. Each person has their own treasure trove of surprises; using them to better the day is what makes the whole difference in the world.

Another part to finding ourselves is to learn to switch off the irrelevant chatter around the self. Plain listening to the numerous conversations around oneself or pointless chatter, doesn’t serve any real purpose, unless one learns to tune in and out at the right points. Knowing which points are right or not; that happens only by experience, through own eyes or of those around us.

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

No one can move ahead by staying on that spots. Even a baby starts off on all fours, in tiny shuffles or large leaps, but they go ahead and explore. Caution is needed, but also hope, faith and the belief that there is always something better to do, especially using our own talents. More than talk, go ahead and start off. True that when the going gets tough, take a pause but wilt not. For the days are still there, for the year to end. And as always said “better now than never”. For the world needs those tiny steps of today, to make the difference in the tomorrows that come.

The Room of Ancient Keys
by Elena Mikhalkova

Grandma once gave me a tip:

During difficult times,
you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future,
not even what might happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Take off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?

You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow
bigger and bigger.
And time will come
when you can think about the future
without crying.
Good morning.

Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

A Fine Regard

It was one of those evenings, wherein the dusk settles and the household has the chance to hear the proverbial pin drop. This happens not because all are busy on their media devices and accounts, neither the young nor the old; for each device has their own “fashionable noise”. This was one of those evenings, as all were gathered in the den, from a busy crochet pattern to reading the daily grind with the young ones engrossed in their creativity (surprisingly noiseless for a change). Evenings like these bring to mind, the days of my own childhood; devoid of all the “social fanfare, entertainment and modern knowledge of today”; though surprisingly rich in it’s own share of happy moments.

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” Nicholas Sparks ( from The Notebook)

Many a time, the quietness around us is what gives the balm to the restless soul or aching heart. The sooner we learn to stop and live in the moment; taking comfort in just being there and around, the more we get to add to the treasure trove of “good moments”.

Life is not always about being on the move or turning all the pages of the book at once. The gifts or even opportunities lie, in learning to savour the moments and just stop for a couple of seconds. As always known emptiness makes a lot of noise. Instead enrich it with the quiet moments scattered throughout the day. or scenes like “these quiet evenings” is what makes the soul through the passage of time.

Keeping Quiet
Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Spring, after the Torrent

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington

Many a time, as the sun sets, we drag our feet over the threshold, wondering when will they ever be a day, when there would be a spring in our step. Then again, on other days, there’s a spring to our step. Or the warmth enters the soul and fresh hope surges after a fresh cup of joe or a warm pot of tea, light chatter with family or friends and a couple of memories or moments. Little do we realize that, through all this, it is the “way we go about things” that makes all the difference in the world, especially as one encounters the unexpected hassles in the curse of the day.

“Crow asked the pot : How come you are able to give sweet and cold water when you yourself is made out of mud which had to go through very high temperature and burnt to be transformed into clay pot?
Pot’s reply : My character is to remain cool as a clay in all circumstances
even though I had to face high temperature to become a pot .”

Each of us have our own test of fire. Some we were able to temper down, some we got off with a few minor or even major scalds to burns. Yet at the end of the day, we survive because of the fire that beats within us. Our essentiality is what defines who we are, what we do and how we do it. Circumstances come and go, they change according to a design of their own and swing to the direction of the wind. Despite all this, a large role of the outcome is played in how we go about things, based on our own disposition, mentality and will.

Know who we are. Then reconnect with ourselves, the Faith that guides us as well as draw our strength from those who wish us well. As always said, “it is the test of fire that makes us strong”, but the fire can be conquered depending on how one fans out the flames. As the fire strengthens us, keeping our own composure with an inner strength and humaneness is what brings a spring to the step, hope within, warm happy thoughts within as well as to see through the situation by the time tomorrow comes by.

“17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
and set your heart on the right path..” (Proverbs 23:17-19)

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, poetry

Beyond the “Why”

“At times, more important that the “whys and hows” of the situation, is the “what” which can be done only when one buckles down and get the “doing” part switched over to the active mode.” June Ann

One of the highlights of this year, compared to the previous, is the immense amount of challenges it has thrown in front of each one of us. Some were doable, other not so much and quite a few put us through the wringer. Picking oneself and sorting through the tide, often lead to the question of self doubt and whether one would survive the onslaught. Surprisingly when one reaches the other side, in retrospect, all these challenges seem doable once we buckle up and break them down bit by bit. To get to that finale, all it takes is the courage to responsible for self and then deal with it.

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” Adrienne Rich

Many a time we may know not why did it happen so, now or the ever famous line of “why me?”. Reality shows that the answers to all these doubts that assail us don’t really make a difference, except to cause more internal mayhem. Each of us add a tiny part to the complete whole. The joy of that contribution happens only when one learns to count their blessings and use own talents or even acquired ones, irrespective of the adversaries that one comes across. Like the view from the highest peaks is enjoyed after an arduous trek; the pleasure,joy with the feeling of peace and happiness is what makes it all worthwhile. In light of all this, going beyond the “why” maybe what is needed to bring back the light into our hearts and soul. As long as we are here in this world, we need to “get set and go”. If the way gets too distorted or broken; redirect own self and journey on, for to find own self we may need to do so.

I Am
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I know not whence I came,
I know not whither I go
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and murk,
Another truth shines plain.
It is in my power each day and hour
To add to its joy or its pain.

I know that the earth exists,
It is none of my business why.
I cannot find out what it’s all about,
I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
I am here for a little space.
And while I stay I would like, if I may,
To brighten and better the place.

The trouble, I think, with us all
Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot
To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
How easily right all wrong.
If nobody shirked, and each one worked
To help his fellows along.

Cease wondering why you came–
Stop looking for faults and flaws.
Rise up to day in your pride and say,
“I am part of the First Great Cause!
However full the world
There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me or I would not be,
I am here to strengthen the plan.”

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Pull of the “P”

One of the new trends in the home kitchen as a sequelae of the incessant intermittent snacking, is the preference to single dish setting for the three main meals. While breakfast may be limited by steamed foods; it’s the lunch and dinner that has seen a drastic shift from elaborate meals to the glow of the “single pie” almost every now and then. As long as this trend lasts, the hours off the kitchen have increased.

“The idea of enclosing meat inside a sort of pastry made from flour and oil originated in ancient Rome, but it was the northern European use of lard and butter to make a pastry shell that could be rolled out and moulded that led to the advent of true pie.” An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 254)

As often said, the entire outcome of when filling and pastry meet up in different grades and variations, make up for one of the simple and well-loved dish, the pie. Though essentially had as desserts, at home now the trend is to the savoury variants. While the shepherd’s pie, pot pies and related variants often grace the table; there have been a lot more experimentation from the varied recipes found online.

One of the newer pie versions learnt was the “homity pie”, a traditional British open vegetable pie. Covered with a filling of potatoes, onion and leek mixture (though, the choice of vegetables can be changed) covered with cheese on an open pastry base; this pie is one for those who want a little bit of vegetarianism in their diet. Extrapolating the recipe, a lot of leftovers can be used, especially if they are less curryish in nature. For the rich gravy ones, there’s always the curry pie to look forward to. Giving into the urge to top up the pastry base with onions and potato, voila one has a version of the “butter pie” (aka the “Air Pie”).

Alternatively, trying to opt for a more pie preparation for an early dinner, one of the recent add-ons was the “alooe pie”. Popular in cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago, this pie is made by frying dumplings of soft pastry (flour and water), splitting and filling them with boiled, spiced and mashed potatoes, green peas or chana dal. Essentially similar to a calazone and larger than the samosa. Coming to the samosa (or singara, sambusac), this is one of the “mini pies”, a go-to for short meetings and quick filling snacks. More than the regular pie, these samosas (or pies) are indigenous to the local Indian cuisine.

Each pie version has it’s own special story behind it. From potato pies, “keema pie” to “Chicken balti pie”, the variety is endless and the best part, is one can use the simple curry to make up the pie stuffing. Such a lot of history and potential in this dish. Savoury or sweet, this dish can swing both ways. But above all, it can be elaborate and rich or just a simple and wholesome fare. Sometimes that’s what one needs after a dry washed out day, a simple and wholesome piece of savoury pie.

Posted in Personal Musings, Photo Captions, Photography Art, Reflections

Take your Pick

“To do or not…right choice or wrong one…”

This refrain often comes to the subconscious mind, often at the oddest of moments. At times it may be on-the -spur of the moment, other times it may be in course of experiences the sequelae of events which have been set in motion by the action of the years previous or beyond, by self or even by those around us. In short, there is always an inner nagging feel of “what if’s” especially when the tide goes against one.

What do we with the choices we have ? To choose or not ? Was it the right or wrong one ? Which one is more or less hard ? Is it possible to live a life without crossing certain lines (not those of self or intentional harm though)? Is it possible to experience life without any risk ? Is life always hard for me ? Is anyone else in the same boat, with me ? Is it just me ?

As these thoughts run rampant in the mind; the hope that the true choices will eventually work out, is what keeps the mind and heart sane. As they always say, life isn’t a bed of roses. Where there are roses, there are thorns. To smell the rose, one needs to learn how to settle the thorns (which is an activity worth it’s weight more than gold). How to choose to settle the thorns, makes us experience the beauty of the bloom. So what are we waiting for ?

Choose but be wise about it. Though this hindsight comes over time, one needs to start away. Like Newton’s third law of action and reaction, there are always pros and cons. Yet above all that, follow your instinct, heart and soul. As they align, the mind falls into place and things pan out. Balance mayn’t always be there but trust yourself and bloom. The beauty of the rose always withstands the thorns of life.

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ” Goldie Hawn

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, poetry, Reflections

Shades of Red

Gazing out at the fiery evening sky brings to mind the words of Francis Bacon, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Reality wise, it mayn’t be so. Even as the sun rises or sets, we carry over the fury to the next hour, knowing or not. Only when the dust settles quite late, does one realize the futility of holding onto that strong emotion of “anger”. Truth is then, at the moment of restless and fury, that anger was what felt right.

Certain scenarios in life justify expression of “anger”. Own credit transferred to the senior or colleague, inability of the other person to listen, the same error going on complete loop are just a couple of many scenarios that eventually trigger the anger wire. Sometimes it is this anger and injustice that keeps the inner flame burning, allowing one to move on. Yet this “anger” can cause one to combust and burn own self to embers. Such is the power of anger. Contrary to what most say, as per the writing as by experts in this field, often express the opinion that anger should never be stored away or stewed away. It needs to addressed and expressed in the right manner. And finally it needs to settle down, so that one regains the normal balance of own.

“26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Like the two edged sword that it is, anger needs to be used in the right manner and also let gone back into the folds of time. Dragging these shades of red, over and over again, makes one lose out on the brilliance and vibrancy of the other colours around us. True that being humane, things happen and one feels the anger. One needs to acknowledge, address it, reason it, use it to better own self but never to feed it, so this beast consumes us from within. If and when this anger festers, give vent to it in private, journal it and pray for strength and patience for the soul to calm down. For taunts and rebukes never help but self-destructs. Hold fast and hold true to the soul, for this phase of “anger” shall too pass. As the anger fades into the night, the next morning shines clear and bright, for a better tomorrow.

How Clear, How Lovely Bright
A.E.Houseman

How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day.

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.

Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
Falls the remorseful day.