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.

Posted in Daily, Random Thoughts, Work

Need to Disconnect

While on the commute back home, after a necessary day of work from office, the traffic lights that go “red” are a welcome break. For that short break is the time for a quick look at the small screen and then switch the focus back on the road. Among the first few steps on stepping across the front door, is to ditch the phone along with the office folders on top of the shelf. This recent habit has paid dividends as far as getting the youngsters over their incessant and constant hungering for their time on the handheld screens of the present “mobile phones”.

Ironically the invention of the mobile phones was primarily to place a call when in motion, or simply put, the ease of access to a voice when on the move. Over the years, the technical point has developed to the ease of access to any information when on the move and not just as pones but as notepads and laptops as well. Though sometimes too much of activity and information can fry the grey cells. More of less, screen devices especially phones have become the “go=to” especially when bored.

“In his phone, Chase had found a place easier to exist in than inside his own skin. That was tragic, because inside the itchiness of our own skin is where we discover who we are. When we are bored, we ask ourselves: What do I want to do with myself?” Glennon Doyle, Untamed

No where in the books of development (at least not that I have read of), is it deemed necessary to keep children or anyone of us mentally occupied twenty-four seven. Sometimes it would be simply good to lie down and smell the grass in the garden. Or to close our eyes and drift to the quiet sounds of nature. Being still is what lets our imaginations grow and inner peace come out from within to the surface. Phones aren’t meant to keep us being busy, but to be connected to the others as and when needed. Regulating the time as per as requirement, is needed, especially as it sets the pattern for the young ones.

With the amount of online schooling, these screen-free moments are needed to bond with each other and to just find ourselves as well as to reconnect with those around us. Having being a part of both the eras, the generation with and without these “walking screens”, both are needed in optimal doses. Technology is ideal to be used in proportion. It was never meant to be antidote for the itchiness within. On the other hand, it is the “itchiness” that helps one to delve within and find their own path of self-discovery and creativity. The temporary respite for the itchiness, as offered by technology, is just that, temporary. Learning to address the restlessness with creativity is what makes us tick in the long run. So once in a while, it feels really good to switch off for a couple of hours each day. Oh the rest and respite of just being with ourselves, is worth it all.

Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections

Strength in the “R”

Joining the toddler and the preschooler in their allotted screen time (“Paw Patrol: the Mighty Pups”) this time was the only option when the adult mind wanted a bit of “large wall screen time” too. Though for me, the entertainment was mostly in the commercial breaks, which happened every twenty minutes or so. What caught the attention of yours truly was one of the ads, which features the entire family calling out the mother. Surprisingly, the elder of the two children addresses the mother by her name. Putting this in context of the Indian culture, it is kind of surprising. The thought persisting in the mind then, was why didn’t the script include the elder child calling the mother as “Ma”. Be it a joint family or nuclear family, the need of respect is drilled into the mind from a very young age. Maternal or paternal side, aunts and uncles and even grandparents are addressed by the local language as “mausi, thai, bua or dada, dadi, nana, nani and the like.” Whichever way it may be, each addressal is done with a lot of respect.

“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” Carl Jung

As always, the learning starts from the base at home, ie, the family or the home we were born into. When circumstances are beyond own control or when social factors play a big role, growing up is difficult. Those times, the base thoughts include those of providing sustenance or living each day with the hope in tomorrow. Yet, even those days teaches the growing minds a lot of things. These young eyes watch the elders as they deal with difficulties, life and the issues that crop up more often as well as dealing with crisis. When respect goes out of the window, it goes out for the future too.

Ironically to stay happy within oneself, the human nature revels in being acknowledged by their fellow being. For that, respect for the fellow being and society plays a huge role. Each one of us hopes to earn respect form the other, but for doing so, one needs to know how to give it first too. On the other hand, “being respectful” doesn’t mean being a door mat. Respect (not same as own gain) includes for the self, others and for the world around us. Which is which ? It comes to the self with practice, humaneness, a kind nature and being true to the heart, mind and soul.

Even when things go way out of sync; pray, count to twenty (or even a hundred), breath, hold the tongue, smile, be polite with respect and things will fall into place. The order, priority and sequence depends on the self; albeit this is learnt slowly over the years, starting from the crib. As adults, we need to live by example and not words alone. Hence, let the importance of the letter “r” be taught in the manner such as to bring a smile on the faces around the young growing minds of the future.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
By Evangeline

Respect is rarely given to those who demand
It’s a thing best described as something well earned
By the way you treat others; lend an ear or a hand
Or by living your life through lessons hard-earned

Lift up your brother, your friend and your foe
Stand by their side; don’t hover above
Respect, freely given, is a seed that will grow
Returned with a smile, with honor and love

Slander your neighbor with whispered campaign
Cast the first stone with a glint in your eye
Boast of your triumphs, possessions and gain
The respect that you covet will soon pass you by

Be quietly humble of blessings received
You throw them away when thrown in someone’s face
Be honored of all that you’ve worked to achieve
Reap what you’ve sown but with pride in its place

Take pleasure and joy in the life that you’ve earned
Let ego stay dormant on discarded shelf
See all with your heart; opened eyes that discern
Respect can be gained by respecting yourself


Posted in Christian, poetry, Random Thoughts, Reflections

For an Answer

“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.” Madeleine L’Engle

Reaching home after work, is as always, a mad rush. After the new routine of “outdoor clean-up”, the usual tune is to run the maze between the study table, the kitchen and the laundry. Add to it, is the continuous movements of hands, each doing their own, to just settle the state of the house. Amidst all this, would be the occasional tug from below, “Mom did you see my new drawing?”, “Can I have cake for dinner?”, “Online session was so ‘bo-rrr-ing’ today!!” and the like. The automated response revolves around “how nice”, that’s wonderful to really !” Not to get me wrong, I do listen, but the initial hour or two, is solely to settle the house. Though these thoughts come with regret, sometimes one does wish that the first routine would be just to put our feet, and listen to listen to those young voices around us, and those that are within us.

“It takes a great man to be a good listener.” Calvin Coolidge

As always said and known, listening is a skill that is soon coming to be a rarity or a gift. The notion that no one has enough time has become a common chant, till it becomes ingrained in our minds as a reality. Truth we all have just enough time to do, what should be rightly done, not to do solely as per the dictates of society or profession. Among those “to-do” things is to learn to listen to those around us. Sometimes the big things in life come in very minute and quiet moments.

“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;…” (Proverbs 2:2)

Noise and thoughtless clutter drives one away from own self. Each of us have our own prayers for help. But to feel them answered, one needs to listen and notice. Not everything in life comes with a “clang”. There are those gifts of life, that come best in the quiet moments. Amidst all the clatter around us, as we promise ourselves to listen to the gifts and blessings; life becomes a beautiful voyage wit each day being better than the previous. And this self-discovery is what gives buoyancy to the heart, mind and soul.

And A Meadowlark Sang
Ravindra Kumar Karnani

“The child whispered, ‘God, speak to me’
And a meadow lark sang.
The child did not hear.

So the child yelled, ‘God, speak to me!’
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.

The child looked around and said,
‘God let me see you’ and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice.

And the child shouted,
‘God show me a miracle!’
And a life was born but the child did not know.

So the child cried out in despair,
‘Touch me God, and let me know you are here!’
Whereupon God reached down
And touched the child.

But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly.”
© 1999, Ravindra Kumar Karnani

Posted in Personal Musings, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World, Work

Stance on the Slant

Many of us or may a few, may have experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by an unexpected turn of events. More than the “happy” feelings, there may have been the “feelings of doubt and uncertainty” that reigned high. It’s only in the aftermath, that one realizes that, it was those unexpected turns that brought out the best in us. Or it was the unexpected, that became our saving grace.

“You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side-bets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game or you don’t play at all. and if you don’t play you can’t win.” Judith McNaught

In retrospect, it all comes down to the attitude that we hold within us. The choice lies in either embracing the new, but a strong sense of grit, hope and faith, along with the willingness to take each day as it comes. As we do, one does get the blessing and a chance, to experience some of the best aspects and colours of life.

The point is to embrace these uncertain, unplanned turns and make them into some of the best outcomes. For all this and more, one needs to come out of the sidelines and wade in deep with all the senses in tune and intact. Then the journey will provide new insight into the perceived notions of the old. If so, then the surprise and brightness of the whole new vista awaits each of us.

“A group of prestigious university graduates came to visit their old professor. During the visit the conversation turned to work: graduates were complaining about countless difficulties and problems of life. After offering coffee to his guests, the professor went to the kitchen and came back with a coffee pot and a tray, filled with many different cups: porcelain, glass, plastic and crystalline. Some cups were simple, other ones – expensive.

When the graduates picked out the cups, the professor said:”Notice, how all the beautiful cups were picked out, and the simple and cheap ones were left. And although it seems normal for you – wanting only the best things for yourself, but that is the source of your problems and stress. You need to understand, that the cup doesn’t make the coffee better. Most of the time it’s only more expensive, but sometimes it is hiding what we are drinking. Actually, all that you wanted was only coffee, not the cup. But you consciously picked the best cups, and later watched what kind of cups others got.

And now think: life – is coffee, and job, money, position, society – are the cups. They are only instruments for maintenance and upkeep of life. The type of cup we have, doesn’t determine the quality of our life. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cups, we forget to enjoy the taste of coffee. The happiest people are not those who have the best things, but those who enjoy life and get the most of it with what they have.”