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

The Light from Within

“The moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” Henry Drummond

Like the past years, the extended family had gathered together for the memorial of our grandfather. Although it has been more than five years, it just feels like yesterday when he used to sit with the newspaper on the patio with all of the children gathered around him as he used to narrate stories and spin the tales of legends. While the children miss him especially the fishing days, playing chess or simply going for long countryside walks; being adults it is the words of advice and quiet assurance that is being missed. Even though five years have gone, there would always be a void in the heart. At times, the gentle evening breeze or quiet afternoon rain brings the feel of his presence.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu

Coming from a large family, there was always an endless lists of tasks for him to be done. From managing the farm to being a teacher, there was something to occupy his mind. During my childhood years, he used to busy running the farm. Despite all the important details to attend to, there was always time for him to spend with a tomboy who wanted to drive the tractor, fish or climb over to the loft, ride the horse, milk cows than play with dolls. For a busy person, those tiny grubby hands were no trouble. More than the gifts bestowed; through his time, he had showered love and joy which were treasured and comforting for the later years of adolescence, adulthood and life in general.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyon

There is an aura about some people that although one mayn’t have spend a lot of time with them, still leave a comforting feel when those memories are refreshed. Just like the eyes speak of the soul, so does the character, kindness and love radiated by the ambiance around any person speak volumes. One sees a lot of this in the lives of people around them. Those apparently uneventful moments leave a distinct impression that brings fresh hope during the storms of life. As the story about what the eyes of a young man told, this powerful (maybe apocryphal) tale tells a lot about what the soul and mind of a person is, as reflected through his eyes and by the feel around him. No matter how much one of philanthropy one does, what is held within radiated itself outside. At the end of the day, the riches that life has to offer comes not just from the fruits of persistence and perseverance, but also from the love which is what nourishes the soul. Whether our lives reflects the richness of the soul or that of the worldly sheen, is up to one alone.

“Love, hope, fear, faith – these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character.” Robert Browning

Many years ago an old man stood on a Virginia riverbank. He was waiting to cross the river and, since it was bitterly cold and there were no bridges, he was hoping to get a ride across on horseback. After a lengthy wait he spotted a group of horsemen approaching. He let the first one pass, then the second, third, fourth and fifth. One rider remained. As he drew abreast, the old man looked him in the eye and said, ‘Sir, would you give me a ride across the river?’ The rider immediately replied, ‘Certainly.’ Once across the river, the old man slid to the ground. ‘Sir,’ the rider said before leaving. ‘I could not help but notice that you permitted all the other men to pass without asking for a ride. Then, when I drew abreast, you immediately asked me to carry you across. I am curious as to why you didn’t ask them and you did ask me.’ The old man quietly responded, ‘I looked into their eyes and could see no love and knew in my own heart it would be useless to ask for a ride. But when I looked into your eyes, I saw compassion, love and the willingness to help. I knew you would be glad to give me a ride across the river.’ The rider was touched. ‘I’m grateful for what you are saying,’ he said. ‘I appreciate it very much.’ With that, Thomas Jefferson turned and rode off to the White House.
By Steve Goodier

“Be a good human being, a warm hearted, affectionate person. That is my fundamental belief.” Dalai Lama

Posted in Daily, Life, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Change the Grounds

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” William Pollard

Talent is indeed a precious thing. Many of us have a wide range of talents, from science to mechanics, music, poetry, performing arts and even sporting events. Yet at times, these talents are hidden or tempered down by the circumstances of time; at each phase of one’s life. Over the course of years, the innate art will present itself in many forms. Like the homemaker who loves embroidery livens up their homes with quilt art or the hidden musician who sings for their children.

What will happen when one chooses to change their circumstances or the environment around them ?

“Eagle, thou art an eagle. Stretch forth thy wings and fly.”

Then one would discover the true potential within them. There have been instances of adults in their forties signing up for music classes and those in their fifties trying their hand at pottery. One is never too old, too young or too busy to do what they really want to. If the talent and will is within one, then it would manifest itself when the efforts are made in the right circumstances, true surroundings and when the will within burns bright. As soon as one believes in their real potential, then soaring high would be within oneself.

“We accept the verdict of the past until the need for change cries out loudly enough to force upon us a choice between the comforts of inertia and the irksomeness of action.” Billings Learned Hand

Fable of the Eagle and the Chicken
A fable is told about an eagle that thought he was a chicken. When the eagle was very small, he fell from the safety of his nest. A chicken farmer found the eagle, brought him to the farm, and raised him in a chicken coop among his many chickens. The eagle grew up doing what chickens do, living like a chicken, and believing he was a chicken.
A naturalist came to the chicken farm to see if what he had heard about an eagle acting like a chicken was really true. He knew that an eagle is king of the sky. He was surprised to see the eagle strutting around the chicken coop, pecking at the ground, and acting very much like a chicken. The farmer explained to the naturalist that this bird was no longer an eagle. He was now a chicken because he had been trained to be a chicken and he believed that he was a chicken.

The naturalist knew there was more to this great bird than his actions showed as he “pretended” to be a chicken. He was born an eagle and had the heart of an eagle, and nothing could change that. The man lifted the eagle onto the fence surrounding the chicken coop and said, “Eagle, thou art an eagle. Stretch forth thy wings and fly.” The eagle moved slightly, only to look at the man; then he glanced down at his home among the chickens in the chicken coop where he was comfortable. He jumped off the fence and
continued doing what chickens do. The farmer was satisfied. “I told you it was a chicken,” he said. The naturalist returned the next day and tried again to convince the farmer and the eagle that the eagle was born for something greater. He took the eagle to the top of the farmhouse and spoke to him: “Eagle, thou art an eagle. Thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth thy wings and fly.” The large bird looked at the man, then again down into the chicken coop. He jumped from the man’s arm onto the roof of the farmhouse. Knowing what eagles are really about, the naturalist asked the farmer to let him try one more time. He would return the next day and prove that this bird was an eagle. The farmer, convinced otherwise, said, “It is a chicken.”

The naturalist returned the next morning to the chicken farm and took the eagle and the farmer some distance away to the foot of a high mountain. They could not see the farm nor the chicken coop from this new setting. The man held the eagle on his arm and pointed high into the sky where the bright sun was beckoning above. He spoke: “Eagle, thou art an eagle! Thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth thy wings and fly.” This time the eagle stared skyward into the bright sun, straightened his large body, and stretched his massive wings. His wings moved, slowly at first, then
surely and powerfully. With the mighty screech of an eagle, he flew.
–(In Walk Tall, You’re A Daughter Of God, by Jamie Glenn)

Posted in Daily, Food, Uncategorized

Of the “Mocha”….

With the heavy downpour being tempered down, the cold winds still bring forth the occasional morning chill. Little wonder then, as the rainy blues slowly creep in, with piles of unfinished work piling about; the morning combination of coffee and choclate keeps the day and the evening going fine.

“Suave molecules of Mocha stir up your blood, without causing excess heat; the organ of thought receives from it a feeling of sympathy; work becomes easier and you will sit down without distress to your principal repast which will restore your body and afford you a calm, delicious night.” Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

Though the caffè mocha or mocaccino ( or mochaccino, mochachino) is in fact a chocolate-flavored variant of a caffè latte; it can also mean a simple mix of hot choclate and coffee. Essentially caffè mocha is based on espresso and hot milk but with added chocolate flavoring and sweetener, typically in the form of cocoa powder and sugar. Many varieties, at times signature style of certain cafes’, use chocolate syrup, may contain dark or milk chocolate, with distinctive milk froth on top or with whipped cream, cinnamon or cocoa powder. For the more artistic coffee connoisseurs, marshmallows plain or coloured, nutmeg powder, bits of sprinkles with cream and the like may be added on top.

Interestingly, the word “mocha” didn’t have anything to do with chocolate. Originating in the 1770s’, the word “mocha” referred to a variety of coffee beans, named after the the port of Mocha (Al Mokha) in Yemeni (or Yemen), where the beans were shipped from. As their popularity increased in Europe, these beans became a part of the coffee culture. Today, these beans are commonly referred as Arabica beans, with “mocha” being the mix of coffee and chocolate.

“Coffee and chocolate—the inventor of mocha should be sainted.” Cherise Sinclair

Over the years, mocha variants like white caffè mocha (made with white chocolate), as well as more exotic sounding names like black and white mocha, marble mocha, tan mocha, tuxedo mocha or zebra; all varying as per as the amount of choclate (dark or milk) and coffee mixed in. Variant as an espresso shot (double) with either a combination of steamed milk and cocoa powder or chocolate milk is known as mochaccino. Another variant on the caffè mocha is to use a coffee base instead of espresso with the combination be coffee, steamed milk and the added chocolate ( akin to sip of coffee with a shot of hot choclate).

No matter the way it is made, cafe mocha is essentially a drink that can be made in the kitchens of all coffee lovers. For keen experimenters, nothing would be better than the National Mocha Day (September 29th) to indulge in the crazy but delightful combinations and enjoy the flavours of the two C’s, chocolate and coffee.

Posted in Daily, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Using the “Whys”

“True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller

With the summer season coming to a close, the weekend shopping involves hunting for the best discount sale. Once there, it is a rampage. Scores of people are hunting for the best product based on the requirement, utility, purpose, limits of the budget or just impulse; although the degree of each may vary while taking the final decision. The latter feel i.e. “impulsiveness” is what is the most dangerous. While the tricks of the sale are in full swing, it is the “why” which helps a lot while making the final decision. In fact these “five whys” helps a lot in figuring out a solution to the most contrary or doubtful scenarios.

“It is mental slavery to cling to things that have stopped serving it’s purpose in your life.” Chinonye J. Chidolue

The founder of Toyota, Sakiti Toyoda, constantly used the “five why” rule. In all incomprehensible situations, he used this method, and he always helped him. Here is the rule. For example, you want a fur coat.
You ask yourself: why do I want a fur coat? This is the first “why.” Answer: because I want to surprise everyone. Okay, the second “why”: Why do you want to surprise everyone? Answer: Because I want to pay attention to me. Third “why”: Why do you need to be noticed? Answer: Because I feel insecure. Fourth “why”: Why do you feel insecure? Answer: Because I can’t be realized, because I’m sitting in one place. Fifth “why”: Why can’t you realize yourself? Answer: Because I do what I do not like. And say now, what’s the fur coat? Sakiti Toyoda taught that in response to the fifth “why” lies the root cause, which, at first glance, is not visible. The fifth “because” brings to light that which is hidden. If you will, the fifth “because” is the real you. This is a very effective way to check what you are actually hiding, what you are afraid to admit even to yourself, what you really want and what, in fact, is just tinsel.
(Source: vk.com)

“Occupy your thoughts with purpose and you will be so busy pursuing a meaningful future there will be no time for doubt, chaos and disappointment.” Carlos Wallace

Although the “five whys” have been primarily used in the industry as well as management field, a lot of it applies in the daily rules and habits of life, that one lives by. Each one of us have our own brand of “unnecessary regrets, urges and habits”, from being perpetually late to work or not attending social gatherings or similarly; whether it be in the work field, spending or budgeting, social network and the like. Finding the root cause behind the trait is what results in a change being made. Time has always and will always be short, especially when one wants to make something out of their own time. Eliminating the unnecessary regrets or habits would be the first, made easier as long as we remember to question by the whys. Doing so, one can get to the heart of the problem or situation and root it out.

“The greatest challenge in life is to be our own person and accept that being different is a blessing and not a curse. A person who knows who they are lives a simple life by eliminating from their orbit anything that does not align with his or her overriding purpose and values. A person must be selective with their time and energy because both elements of life are limited.” Kilroy J. Oldster

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

Stay On through the Storm

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”  Janet Fitch

During the recent economy crisis few years ago, many employees were laid off, forced to look into new or different income options. Organizations and companies were forced to overhaul and find alternative measures to stay afloat with a basic profit as well as meet the expenditure and salaried pay roll. On the whole it was a messy time. Some lost, some gained, many survived. Few years from then on, a chance meeting with few of the friends of those days, saw some settled in a much better environment now as compared to then; while others have just survived. The enlightening thought was that they had tried but never gave up.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Michael Jordan

All of us have had our own ups and downs in life. While it’s easier to pack up bags and leave the responsibility of life in the hands of the other or the state, especially when children and family are concerned; it mayn’t be the right solution or wise decision to make. Staying on and trying again makes all the difference.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” J. K. Rowling

Every successful person has their own set of failures. On the surface, it may seem that one has it all, but the reality may be something totally different. Life is all about handling the twists and turns. Straight roads are nevr fun while going for long drives. Instead curvy roads have always something to look out for around the bend, which may be the beginning of a brand new start. Chase the dreams, strive to be the best at what one engages in whether by choice or necessity and stay grounded in reality with the vision ahead. As the mind contemplates, it may be easier to step back, but no ship ever explores new lands by always staying docked.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.” Abraham Maslow

Stick To It
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a fellow turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Author Unknown

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

To Explore the Sky

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Confucius

During the annual regional inter school cultural festival, one of the eagerly awaited events was the “prose recital” contest. One of the new entries in the middle school level was none other than my niece who made her first debut this year. Although she loves poetry and was selected through the school competition, this entry was an impromptu choice. Given her innate manner of being on the quiet side, her entry was in response to the challenge of being labelled as a mouse by her classmates. When the call was made for the participants at school level, she had enrolled her name. Whether it was for avoiding the labeling or improving her confidence onstage, this opportunity had opened the door to her hidden talent at declamation.

“We’ll never know our full potential unless we push ourselves to find it.” Travis Rice

Reflecting back on the entire episode, one finds themselves in similar situations across the various stages of life. Whether it is the professional, academics, family or personal life; we are limited by the lines we set internally in our minds. For the introvert who may have a hidden talent at playing music or the extrovert who is the life of a party may be an excellent writer. While the former has to acquire the confidence to face the crowd; the latter fears the label of “nerd”. Living in their insecurities, their hidden gifts may be wasted over time. These are just two of the many scenarios that one may be able to recollect, feel or relate to.

“Find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.” Deepak Chopra

Choosing to break the set mould and soar high is no simple feat. Barriers are there at each and every level. Be it lack of time, innate fears, insecurities, the diatribe of words around oneself, criticism, comments or snide remarks; they all come as we move on and ahead. Yet as long as one believes themselves and knows their true talent, keeping the inner flame alive and strong; the rest all are just flies to be swatted, avoided or ignored. No one can stop the person who really wants to explore their talent. Confidence and courage will come along the way, when the innate self-belief and assurance stays strong. If not for the latter, the eagle would never learnt to soar high. Be oneself, find oneself and test their own limits to know own potential. Don’t fit yourself in the label made by others. Find your own niche and grow the hidden potential. Take courage and fly.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he thrashed his wings and flew a few feet in the air. Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong, golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. ‘Who’s that?’ he asked. ‘That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,’ said his neighbour. ‘He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.’ So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that is what he thought he was.
(Author unknown) (African American folktale)

What would have happened if the running eaglet decided to fly to sit on the coop rafters? What would have happened if the eagle was taken out of it’s surroundings and given a chance to fly ? What would have happened if the eagle tried to mid flap in it’s adult life and found the courage to try and see the effect, instead of listening to the remarks around it ?

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.” Richard Bach

 

 

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Of Chocolate

“Can I offer you a slice of this amazing caramelized white chocolate apricot brioche made by my favorite granddaughter?” “You may indeed.”
When you slice the rich, buttery bread topped with crunchy bits of pearl sugar, you get a swirl of white chocolate, which now also has hints of caramel flavor from having been roasted, and chunks of apricot. ” ? Stacey Ballis ( Author of Wedding Girl)

One of the drawbacks of reading books revolving or having a bit of the food factor, is the sudden trigger for that particular dish or meal. Using this as a justifiable excuse to dig into my toddler’s stash of white chocolate, would satisfy the sudden craving for the chocolate, creamy and white.

Interestingly white chocolate isn’t exactly chocolate. Made from cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, lecithin and flavorings (most commonly, vanilla); it doesn’t include chocolate liquor. The latter beside s giving the bitter flavour and dark colour to chocolate, by the FDA Guidelines state that chocolate liquor has to be present in a product to be known as “chocolate”. Though today as per the US Guidelines (2004), white chocolate (by weight) should have at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% total milk solids, 3.5% milk fat with maximum of 55% sugar or other sweeteners. On a plus point, white choclate has very minimum caffeine as compared to the regular chocolate.

 

On tracing to the exact origin of chocolate being white, no definite person or country can be given credit. While the Swiss company Nestlé takes almost sole claim to being the initial source of marketable white chocolate (1930s, Milkybar) in Europe; rumours exist of a New Hampshire man producing white chocolate shortly after World War I. Other records state of Kuno Baedeker, who had developed white chocolate (1945) and is widely considered the first creator of the same in North America. Though as records mostly show that Nestlé was the heart of creation and development of the modern white chocolate.

All said and done, one can melt it, chip it in, drink it or just have it like that. Like the regular choclate, white choclate has become a very prominent add on in the cookie dough, cake mix, quick desserts, melted with hot choclate and a regular combination with ice cream. Which is why, a bar of white chocolate has it’s own role of cheering up the depressing bits of life, no matter how old one grows.

“I like caramel flavors; some people prefer a lighter taste, like rose, at least to start with. The chocolate-flavored ones are lovely, of course…” I am rambling; it is like choosing a favorite child, practically impossible. “What’s in this one then?” She points at my newest creation, a pale, creamy white with soft flecks of yellow, like glints of gold in white marble.
“Reve d’un Ange. It means ‘dream of an angel.'” She tilts her head, interested, and I shrug. “Hopelessly romantic name, I know. Couldn’t help myself.” “What’s in it?” she asked, lowering her voice.
“It’s my white chocolate macaron. Ganache, that’s a kind of chocolate cream, sandwiched in the middle. I’ve added a little lemon rind and cinnamon.”
-Hannah Tunnicliffe ( author of The Color of Tea)