Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

Screen “Timed”

The other day, my colleague and I were sitting at a cafe during our break hours. While enjoying our coffee, it was interesting to note that couples or groups at various tables were mostly on their phones. In the case of singlets, I would be able to understand but for couples to be mostly on phones felt strange. Late that day, during my drive back to home, the similar situations were seen among the students waiting for or on the bus, passengers on the bus, at the grocers’ – everyone were on their “screen time mode” be it phones, iPads or tablets. The question that popped in my mind was “how much of screen time do we attend to each day ?”

The sad fact is we all live in our screens. Trips are taken to showcase photos as proof of fun, not vice versa. If one disagrees, then why do we cram up so much sights in one day to see when we go on a break instead of enjoying each hour that we spend.

Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us. Regina Brett

Screen time has cost us our ability to talk. We lack communication primarily, because we are too busy staring at the screens, or tired from staring at the screen all day or we are too caught up on thinking about what is happening on the screen. Each one of us have our own coat of interests, acquaintances offline and online, yet when they interfere with our social bonding, family ties, relationships and health; its’ time to re-evaluate.

The drawback of modern communication is that we “message, chat or pictorize” but we don’t communicate or really know how one is feeling or understand and listen to each other. Consequently we lose out on real love, kinship and bonds; instead we get swamped by bouts or periods of loneliness, inattention, superficiality and emptiness. There are many instances in families, communities or campuses, where individuals live under the same roof but know squat about each other. Privacy should be respected, but knowing basics of whether you like tea or coffee, vegan or not, healthy or unwell, address or one’s dislikes and likes is essential to forge and maintain bonds.

“It’s not just about limiting screen time; it’s about teaching kids to develop good habits in real life As well as managing their screen time.” Cynthia Crossley

The worst hit from excessive screen time are families. They live together but sit in their gadgets, completely oblivious to each other speaking “different languages”. Parents and children forget to talk to each other. There are exchange of words but no connection, intimacy, enjoyment or relaxation to just be together. “The key is to teach them how to be safe with technology, because ultimately, we want our children to be in charge of technology, rather than feeling technology is in charge of them,” as said by Elaine Halligan, London director of The Parent Practice

Knowing to delegate screen time is necessary, as each year in life happens only once. Adults can’t relive their childhood years like their children. Each one will grow up quickly and time will fly. Kids will grow up quickly, and we will not be able to sit with them, read books or just have some fun. We adults might find it late to spend time with someone dear, because life in general is lived quickly. We need to distribute our time to one another. When “screen time” becomes “screen life”, its’ time to change before we too get swiped by a tap.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Work

Caught and Crabbed

The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket. Steven Pressfield

On any visit to the fish market, the bucket of crabs is always a given availability in the mornings. An interesting phenomenon is noticed when all crabs are put together in a bucket. When one of them tries to get out of the bucket, others pull him back. Sometimes crabs show their anger especially when they drag their kinsman at the last moment, when he has almost reached the edge of the bucket. This pattern of behaviour noted in crabs results in the efforts of any one crab’s escape being undermined by the others, ensuring the group’s collective demise.

“You cannot strengthen one by weakening another; and you cannot add to the stature of a dwarf by cutting off the leg of a giant.” Benjamin Franklin Fairless

We may have come across this phenomenon among our fellow beings, known as “Crab mentality” or “crabs in a bucket (also barrel, basket or pot)” is typical of selfish, myopic thinking which is best described by the phrase “if I can not, then you can not”. The analogy in human behaviour or the way of thinking is when members of a group will attempt to reduce the self-confidence of any member to halt their progress especially those who accomplish anything beyond the others. The root trigger of this behaviour stems out of envy, resentment, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings.

“Like those crabs which dress themselves with seaweed, we wear belief and custom.” Cyril Connolly

We rarely realize how many situations we have come across with peers behaving like crabs or we being one at times. There are many simple examples to highlight how easy is to be one with a crab mentality in our daily life. When a person tries to turn over a new leaf like quit smoking or control the alcohol intake limit; then friends say “it will not work anyway,” signals crab mentality. When you get a second degree and colleagues loudly wonder, exclaim and question why you need it because you already have a job highlights crab mentality again. While starting something new like an art, learning a new skill we often hear rash words of being stupid, wrong timing, nothing good will come of it; at times they all echo the pulling down behavior of the crabs.

This is human nature, and nothing can be done about it, except for one thing – to be stronger than a bucket and crawl forward, even when a hundred people are pulling you back.

Posted in Daily, Food

Of Crescent and Croissants

“You are going to have to take the rest of these croissants to work with you, I cannot be trusted alone in the house with a half-dozen buttery, crispy pillows of deliciousness.” Stacey Ballis

These fluffy, light and inviting goodness has now and then replaced the regular doughnut or bagel sessions with coffee or tea, often earning themselves a very special spot on most cafe’ menus. The croissant, a buttery, flaky, viennoiserie pastry although most popularized through the French cuisine, is of Austrian origin, named for its historical crescent shape. Made of a layered yeast-leavened dough by a technique known as laminating almost similar to the making of a puff pastry.

Most culinary experts declare the ancestor of the croissant to be “the kipferl”, a traditional Austrian yeast based roll made as early as 13th century in varied shapes, plain or filled with nuts and the like. Although the true origin of “kipferl” is not known, it is believed to be based on the “feteer halali”, a flaky crescent-shaped Egyptian pastry that is a version of the “feteer meshaltet” pastry known since their ancient times. Essentially it all boils down to dough and yeast, one of the better versions of the good old bread.

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” James Beard

As with most popular food fads of today, croissants have their own culinary legends surrounding it. One legend was that they were invented to celebrate the defeat of the Umayyad forces by the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732 in Europe, with the shape representing the Islamic crescent. Whereas some say that it was invented in Buda; or, according to other sources, in Vienna in 1683 to celebrate the defeat of the Ottomans by Christian forces as they laid siege of the city. The shape of croissants was a tribute by the bakers as a reference to the crescents on the Ottoman flags, for these bakers staying up all night heard the tunneling operation and sounded the alarm.

“”Croissant”: However you choose to pronounce it at home, it is perhaps worth nothing that outside the United States, the closer you can come to saying “kwass-ohn,” the sooner you can expect to be presented with one.” Bill Bryson

Croissants has their own family of cousins with the Italian cornetto or brioche, Spanish cuerno, the Turkish ay çöregi to list a few. Handmade or readily available in the grocery, croissants have made their mark. As the years progressed, their fillings grew more interesting leading to the birth of “croissan’wich”. As time goes on, so will the art of croissants be more diverse and varied.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Life, Quotes, Reflections

Uncloaking the Loneliness

The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness. Norman Cousins

The feeling of being alone or utter helplessness have swamped us at some point in our lives. The degrees and hours by which we have succumbed to it may have varied, but many of us have seen what loneliness does when it strikes.

Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever. Brennan Manning

Where does this sudden engulfing feeling of being lonely arise from? Loneliness can be likened to a voice in our head which tunes into the underlying feeling of doubt, unworthiness or insecurities. When we understand the nature and root cause of loneliness, then we realize that those thoughts can be analyzed and weeded out. Loneliness is the sneaky voice of the darkness that tries to convince that we are not loved. For the very hairs of our head are numbered by Our Lord (as said in Luke 12:7) and accounted for. We are His Children, blessed with His Grace and His Love, of the most sincere and unimaginable kind. His Love casts out fear and breaks the deceitful voice of loneliness, which intrudes the harmony of acceptance, music of encouragement and the symphony of Love, Joy and Peace.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”John 14:18

Loneliness can be suppressed by good books, melodramas, alcohol or even people, for some time. Yet unless we give vent to the voice and put our complete faith and trust in Him, this feeling will keep striking again and again. Let the special residence of God and His Heavenly Grace flow over us, pouring into our mind, body and soul cutting off the voice of the darkness in our mind.

“…..And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mathew 28:20

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Reflections

Gentleness through Time

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” – Francis de Sales

From time to time we meet gentle people. One of the attributes that is lost in today’s world is gentleness laced with tenderness. This virtue is rather difficult to meet in a society that admires rudeness and strength. We are encouraged to achieve goals and as quickly as possible, even if we disregard the honest approach and use shortcuts, suffering in the process. Consequently for the value of success, achievement and performance; the price we pay is too high. For to excel in such an environment, there is no room for tenderness. The gentle one echoes the words of Mathew 12:20 which says “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.” Francis de Sales

A gentle person is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of other people, enjoys being together which is as important as accomplishing anything. A gentle person walks with ease, looks with affection, touches with reverence and knows that true growth requires care with quiet inner strength. In our rough and sometimes inflexible world, tenderness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God.

“Let us seek the grace of a cheerful heart, an even temper, sweetness, gentleness, and brightness of mind, as walking in His light, and by His grace. Let us pray to Him to give us the spirit of ever-abundant, ever springing love, which overpowers and sweeps away the vexations of life by its own richness and strength, and which, above all things, unites us to Him who is the fountain and the centre of all mercy, loving-kindness, and joy.” – John Henry Newman

Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art, Quotes

Chocolate to Cake

“Part of life and part of the enjoyment of life is a croissant and a chocolate cake and eggs and milkshakes and oatmeal. There’s so many things, you have to learn to appreciate it all. When I don’t eat as much as I should, I’m not fun to be around; I’m fussy.” — Nina Dobrev

Almost like development of civilization, chocolate cake or chocolate gâteau made an entrance around late 1800s. Retrospectively that’s a long time considering that chocolate drink was there around the times of the Mayans and Aztecs. Chocolate cake lovers’ need to thank Coenraad van Houten (1828) for extraction of cacao butter and “rock cacao”. With Rodolphe Lindt (1879) developing “conching” for silky smooth chocolate; slowly the experimentation of chocolate began from fillings and glazes to the cake batter.

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.” Audrey Hepburn

Chocolate decadence took on full swing with molten chocolate cakes with liquid chocolate centers. Furthermore the cakes were infused chocolates with exotic flavors such as tea, red pepper, passion fruit and champagne were popular. Chocolate lounges and artisanal chocolate makers took on the show.

“I had a little epiphany when I was a writer at ‘Chicago’ magazine. I sat down to dinner at the Ritz-Carlton. Somebody poured a white dessert wine with chocolate cake. It was a wine I would never have expected to make sense. The idea of any wine tasting fabulous with chocolate cake was fascinating to me.”  Ted Allen

There are many varieties and variants of chocolate cake especially chocolate layer cake, fudge cake, Joffre cake and Devil’s food cake to list a few. When one feels like celebrating or enjoying the feel of “breaded chocolate”, it triggers the memories and anticipation of delving into that piece of cake of chocolaty goodness. Besides it would be quite remiss for a chocolate lover to crush the taste buds on “National Chocolate Cake Day”. So here’s to that little splurge of calories but irresistible goodness.

“I like quinoa. I like gingerbread. I feel they should be kept separate. I’m not in favor of this thing of making kind of raw, vegan chocolate cake and saying it’s as good as chocolate cake. I mean, just eat cake and be done with it. And then have a separate meal of quinoa.” Bee Wilson

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections

Converse to Communicate

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory. Emily Post

In our day-to-day life, we come across many people of different personality types, various behaviours or views, and going through their individual set of emotions at the various phases in their lives. Yet a common thread running through all the people we meet either at work, neighbourhood or market is conversation. The latter can range from being a casual nod to a simple greeting of “Hello, How do you do ?” or talk of the weather, politics (regional to global), work and the daily happenings.

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet. Truman Capote

Unfortunately not all of us can strike a conversation at the right time or a fruitful one which doesn’t end up in a war of words or ideas. This art has come to a point where social messaging and screen talk leaves one more comfortable than being engaged in a face-to-face conversations. The sad fact is real communication doesn’t grow from written words but meaningful exchange of words, ideas, thoughts, expressions and emotions.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw

Yet when conversing makes us uneasy, tactless, upset or bored to the point of losing people, breaking relationships and friendships; it is time to introspect and sift through the mind to find out what went wrong. There are a few tips that I often find helpful when discoursing with others.

1. When you know something, but not asked; it helps to keep quiet and listen.
2. When you are at the receiving end of a talk, learn to be silent to listen. Two can’t talk at once for no one would be able to hear then.
3. Do not interfere in other people’s conversations especially when standing in a sub groups of group.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Plato

4. Answer the questions, but do not elaborate to the point where others’ get a faraway look, start yawning or contemplating other activities’ in their mind.
5. When you want to tell something before you start doing, hold the tongue. For don’t tell others before time, until you have done it. Instead switch over the talk to interest, advice or opinion.
6. Do not tell people of their shortcomings, unless asked.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. Rollo May

7. When feelings are hurt or reproached, keeping quiet with a smile and walking away really helps.
8. When the talk seems unfair or unjustified to you; say the same with reasoning, quietly and calmly.
9. Speaking abruptly, out of context or with excitement doesn’t help in the exchange of ideas or flow of words. Instead simmer the glee, watch their eyes and body language and then explore the ideas running in the mind with context to the situation at hand.

Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood. William Shakespeare

Ideas, talk and words are like milk. Once spilt, can’t be completely retrieved. As Shannon L. Adler had said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a life long quest of the wise.”