Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings

Letters to Cherish

“PS, I Love You” the first novel written by Cecelia Ahern, published in 2004 was adapted as a film three years later. The book is based on a married couple Gerry and Holly, deeply in love with occasional fights, yet both are inseparable. When Gerry suddenly dies of a brain tumor, Holly is set adrift in despair and grief, unable to deal with his death and withdrawing from friends and family. One day her mother calls her informing her of a package addressed to her. It held a series of letters Gerry had left for her before he died, containing messages from him, all ending with “P.S. I Love You”. Each new message fills her with encouragement every month and with Gerry’s words as her guide, Holly slowly embarks on a journey of rediscovery.

Both the book and the movie are heart touching, though I preferred the former. Yet the underlying message beyond the fact that time is never predictable is that we should treasure the good moments to always fall back on. Waiting for a warning bell to strike and remind us of how everything can end in a matter of minutes, it is better to string the good memories for our family and friends as we go on our daily lives.

For our friends, once in a while write about what we love about them, the sorrows which they helped us to overcome, the celebrations that they were there for as well as the occasional clashes and better times. When we journal these events, we realize that we have lots to thank them for. Carry this trend into family, for our husband, kids and parents. There is nothing more precious than the written words of care, love and affection that the digital age can’t equalize. Till this day, I hold the letter that my mother and sister wrote to me when I was in college and they bring back fresh memories every time I feel like reading them.

Once a year, write a letter to your child, regaling the funny stories about what had happened to them that year; about the difficulties, mishaps, joys and fun times. Write down your thoughts concerning their future, your memories and emotions as they went about their days, the important events of that year for family and for each one of them. Add on to the letter with photos, postcards, little stick-ons, tiny notes and other memorabilia which would otherwise disappear later. In the end of the letter, don’t forget to tell them that you love them.

After closing the letter, put it in a binder and forget about it. Keep on writing a letter this every year till they reach the age of majority. On the day they reach the official age of adulthood, give them the folder. It will be an invaluable repository of parental love and memory of their childhood. These letters would be with them through joyful as well as difficult moments and trying times. Above all, it will be a reminder that your love will be with them always.

 

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Posted in Life, poetry, Reflections, Stories Around the World

It Lies Within

“When your face is cold and boredom,
When you live in irritation and argument,
You do not even know what kind of anguish you are,
And you do not even know what sorrow you are.
When are you kinder than blue in the sky,
And in the heart and light, and love, and participation,
You do not even know what song you are,
And do not even know what happiness you are!”
Edward Asadov

In the world rich of languages, one language common and understood by all is the “language of emotions.” When in the constant pursuit to understand and live the “good emotions”, we hunt down for “happiness, joy, peace, love” to cite a few, in every nook and corner. Little do we realize that good emotions especially happiness and peace knocks on every door. To all people and at all occasions and moments; whether sad or cheerful, depressed or joyful, energetic or listless and devoid of imagination; the “good emotions” aspire to give us the hope for a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately the language of happiness is more often misunderstood. “Happiness”, “Kindness”or “Harmony” for instance doesn’t enter any one’s life with a thunderous roar, fireworks or celebration. True that there are events induced by these emotions that man celebrates; yet those occasions are few and far between. These “good emotions” are always around. They echo the word, “Look for me not around you, but within you”. Good emotions go hand in hand with silence. They are hidden and manifest themselves imperceptibly as the days goes by, in the simple details of life. The earlier we understand this, the more time we get to enjoy “good moments” and treasure the memories as long as we breathe.

“An old man lived in the village. The whole village was tired of him; he was always gloomy, he constantly complained and was always in a bad mood. The longer he lived, the viler he became and more poisonous were his words. People did their best to avoid him because his misfortune was contagious. He created the feeling of unhappiness in others. But one day, when he turned eighty, an incredible thing happened. Instantly everyone started hearing the rumor: ‘The old man is happy today, he doesn’t complain about anything, smiles, and even his face is freshened up.’ The whole village gathered around the man and asked him, “What happened to you?” The old man replied, ‘Nothing special. Eighty years I’ve been chasing happiness and it was useless. And then I decided to live without happiness and just enjoy life. That’s why I’m happy now.’”

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Of Green, Blue and Irish

“May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside!”- Irish Proverb

Although the Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”, or more commonly known as St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish cultural and religious celebration was observed worldwide on 17 March, (the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461)), celebrations are still afoot at most restaurants. One of the official Christian feast day, the day commemorates Saint Patrick, the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. While going “green” coloured marks St. Patrick’s Day (although the Order of St. Patrick, an Anglo-Irish chivalric order (1783) adopted blue as its colour), indulging in Irish cuisine would be an added bonus, besides savouring the difference in flavours and style.

“Only Irish Coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, sugar, caffeine and fat.” Alex Levine

As a part of the celebrations, representative traditional Irish dishes like Irish stew, bacon and cabbage (with potatoes), boxty (potato pancake), coddle (sausage, bacon, and potato), colcannon, drisheen (a type of black pudding) or goody (A dessert dish made by boiling bread in milk with sugar and spices.) and gur cake have been on the menu in select restaurants and cafes. Yet the best of all, Irish Coffee, Irish Whiskey and Irish beer have been one of the favourite for many. For a weekend or weekday break from the routine cuisine, “going Irish” would be a welcome change.

“Bless us with good food, the gift of gab and hearty laughter. May the love and joy we share, be with us ever after!” Irish Kitchen Prayer

The Irish has evolved over the ancient times, largely based on the cereals and dairy products with meat cooked fresh, stewed (at times flavoured with honey) or used “purple berries” to colour the meal. Largely the cuisine has been modified by the English conquest in early 17th century followed by the migration of the Irish to the Americas. With the development of technology and media, Irish recipes gained its’ own level of global popularity. For the cuisine experimenter, trying out the barmbrack (leavened bread with sultanas and raisins) with colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage) or the traditional Irish stew (of lamb or mutton with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and seasoning) with gur cake (a confectionery made of a dark brown paste, containing a mixture of cake or bread crumbs, dried fruits (sultana raisins etc.) with a sweetener, put as a thick filling between two layers of thin pastry. Not to forget, the Irish Coffee or beer as a go along.

However basic and simple the Irish cuisine may sound, they never fail to please the taste buds with the different flavours. As the Irish often say, “Bíonn blas ar an mbeagán” (Bee-on bloss err on myah-gon) translated as “Though a small amount, it’s tasty.”

Sláinte (Pronounced Slawn-che, Health! (Cheers)) !!!

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Kindness Beyond the Haste

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” Henri Frederic Amiel

Among the many conveniences of the modern world, one of the qualities that is too often lost in the melee of achieving something in our lives, is true humaneness. Very often acts and events related to sharing in society happen, where it involves giving one when having two or giving away the “extras” or “what we no longer use”. Yet when we share while sacrificing a bit of the materialistic pleasures for ourselves and not bragging about it; that merits a true sense of humaneness not restricted simply to what we can share if we have, but lending a hand whenever and how ever we can.

“Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them.” Stacy London

We all have our own set of people who we don’t really like or approve of. It may be true that they may done us harm at some point in our lives; yet we also have worn their shoes for time. As in there may have been many instances when we may have unknowingly caused hurt to others. No one can please everybody and one can never be always in everybody’s good books. We all have our days. Yet when ever we can, we should burn down all the grudges and learn to help. For man is a collective being, we learn from , through and with others. No matter who or what anybody has done to us at some time, be the reason to do them treat them unkindly when we can.

“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even – or rather, especially – when we’d prefer not to be.” Josh Radnor

“In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. ‘How much is an ice cream sundae?’, the boy asked. “50 cents,” replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it.
‘How much is a dish of plain ice cream?’ he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. “35 cents,” she said brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. ‘I’ll have the plain ice cream,’ he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.”

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

Plans, Eternity and Time

Time and Eternity

A man was taking it easy, lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds. He was identifying shapes when he decided to talk to God. “God”, he said, “how long is a million years?”
God answered, “In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.”
The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars?”
God answered, “To Me, it’s a penny.”
The man then asked, “God, can I have a penny?”
God said, “In a minute.”

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

The other day, as the family had gathered post Saturday weekend luncheon, among the various topics being discussed were the renovation of the family homestead, plans for the college admissions and the like. What surfaced to my mind, was the fragility of human plans.

“Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.” Ramona C. Carroll

Many a time, man has planned numerous events, for the present, the immediate and the distant future. Little do we realize that most of our planning is based on chance. We base the future on a sequence of events believed to happen in a particular manner. When one block is pulled out of the regular, things may still go as per plan. But pull out a couple of them, then most plans come crashing down.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)

On the other hand, plans are needed to sort out our purpose and drive in life. Yet the whole procedure can be done, putting our Faith and dreams in God’s hand and above all, plan and know one’s limits.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Man needs to plan to grow and progress with time, else idleness and monotony would set in. Yet the lines have to be drawn at when, how, what and which plans to dream of and which not to. We need to dream big; but also realistic, kind, honest and true.

“God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.” Marcus Garvey

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World, Work

Stepping Above the Complaints

Going for a walk in the farm can be a tedious if one isn’t fond of trekking or nature hikes. For along the paths, there are numerous small stones strewn alongside. While they were initially put in place to mark boundaries for the sown fields and as paths, with the frequent winds and foot traffic they often get displaced and serve more as a hindrance than as a boundary. As i was walking, stepping over the stones; it brought memories of the footpaths near the sites where construction was going on. One has to watch the way, not just for stones but also for manholes, cement, gravel and the like.

“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.” William Arthur Ward

All this reminds me of life, as we go on our route. We come across numerous “stones” en-route. Some we kick about, some we step over and few get into our footwear. Along the way, we keep on complaining and rambling about how inconvenient things are. But alas, it doesn’t change anything.

“When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.” Eckhart Tolle

Life throws her challenges to us, shaping us and hoping that we would learn from it. By complaining and ranting we just go off track and lose purpose. Instead, finding a way around it, makes the day more interesting, delightful and meaningful; worth the time, energy and peace well-spent.

“People visit a wise man complaining about the same problems over and over again. One day, he decided to tell them a joke and they all roared with laughter. After a few minutes, he told them the same joke and only a few of them smiled. Then he told the same joke for a third time, but no one laughed or smiled anymore.
The wise man smiled and said: ‘You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over. So why are you always crying about the same problem?’”

“It doesn’t matter what cards you’re dealt. It’s what you do with those cards. Never complain. Just keep pushing forward. Find a positive in anything and just fight for it.” Baker Mayfield

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Of Chips and Crisps

“No One Can Eat Just One”

Ask any school kid, most would know the famous tag line, “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One” of Lay’s® Potato Chip Slogan from the early 1960’s. Over the years, although the slogans have under gone a little modification with endorsers changing, the flavours still holds us captive.

Early recipes similar to the potato crisps of today, was in William Kitchiner’s cookbook “The Cook’s Oracle” (1817) with “Potatoes fried in Slices or Shavings”. The methodology reads to “peel large potatoes, slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping”.

Yet legend attributes the first potato “chips” to George Crum, an American chef of African American and Native American heritage at Saratoga Springs, New York in 1853. Trying to appease an unhappy customer on August 24th, 1853 who had kept sending his French-fried potatoes back, complaining that they were too thick, too “soggy,” and/or not salted well enough. Frustrated, Crum personally sliced several potatoes extremely thin, fried them to a crisp, and seasoned them with extra salt. To Crum’s surprise, the customer loved them and soon came to be called “Saratoga Chips”. Food history truly appreciates Crum’s customer Cornelius Vanderbilt for triggering the innovation.

Since then packaging and production took over the regular potato chips to a mass commercial enterprise. In United Kingdom and Ireland, “Potato Chips” are referred to as “crisps” when eaten at room temperature, while when served hot and fried are “chips”. But in many places, largely these terminologies are interchangeable and not very specific.

“Did you know that when potatoes go to the barbers, they can either have a straight cut, a crinkle cut or a slice?” Anthony T. Hincks

The mass popularity of “potato chips” is evidenced by the regional varieties as well as local flavours and seasonings like dill pickle, ketchup. red paprika and so on. Additional variants like potato sticks, also known as shoestring potatoes; baked potato chips have been marketed. The “chips” craze has also been spread to corn, rice, arrowroot or cassava as well as root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and rutabagas. Though not known as chips, but crisps in some places, the snacking options are varied and plentiful.

“Every potato is just a chip waiting to get out.” Anthony T. Hincks

One can be quite innovative with potato crisps, besides having them direct from the packet, they can be tossed into salads or crushed to make spicy mixes for “party snacks”, as “chaats”, sandwich fillers “sweet, sour or spicy and hot” and the like.  Though not advisable on a regular basis, “potato chips” are here to stay. Better late than never, what better to celebrate “National Potato Chip Day” (March 14th) by indulging in a couple of them. As they say, all good things come in small packages; keeping “potato chips” in moderation would help us in indulging these cravings for snacking once in a while, for a longer time.