Posted in Food, Photography Art, Quotes, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World

Green, Leap and Fun

“Please send something green for snack time during the first break tomorrow.”
(School diary, as read on February 28,2020)

On seeing the note above, the eyebrows went up and a quick glance at the clock ensured a quick browse through the recipes. As night was approaching, a solution had to be reached before the shops were shut for the day. The quick trip downtown resulted in meeting a couple of parents rushing in. With the queue being long, a quick round of talk and news exchange, left me feeling grateful that my task was just in the food arena. To mark the leap year, the kinder-gardeners and primary schoolers were tasked with bringing something green for snack hour and “the world around us” hour; while the middle schoolers had to present projects, fun facts and presentations to mark the history, science and special for the Leap Day.

Leap Day, technically was first observed by those who followed the Gregorian calendar marking the extra-revolutionary hours of six, cumulatively every four years by making it a special day, marked at the end of February. While popular folk traditions first used to mark this day as Bachelor’s Day, various traditions and customs were added on over the years. The concept of “leap day” has been associated with frogs (re-read as leaping frogs) or as to do something “green”. More popular towards the early 21st century, the latter “green” was meant as an initiative by multinational companies so that employees could use the extra day to improve the environment. Those added twenty four hours were meant for change to energy efficient measures, create compost heaps, going green, a “no” to plastic as well as practicing the concept of “reuse, reduce and recycle”.

Moving over to the kitchen preparations for leap day, it was thin brown mint sandwiches, couple of cucumbers and a green apple that made my morning light, quick and green.

For others out there on the same boat of experimentation with something “green and edible”, there are numerous options ranging from green coloured cupcakes to crepes with a heavy dose of crushed mint, coriander or even basil in the batter, the green smoothies, the green cookies, pistachio flavoured ice-cream or even the good old pickles and peas for lunch.

Either way leap day is meant to that extra-something not done previously. As for “the non-edible going-green” process, sticking to it for this year and on, would be wonderful step to enjoy more future leap years on this land that we live on.

“Today is an ephemeral ghost… A strange amazing day that comes only once every four years. For the rest of the time it does not “exist.” In mundane terms, it marks a “leap” in time, when the calendar is adjusted to make up for extra seconds accumulated over the preceding three years due to the rotation of the earth. A day of temporal tune up! But this day holds another secret—it contains one of those truly rare moments of delightful transience and light uncertainty that only exist on the razor edge of things, along a buzzing plane of quantum probability…
A day of unlocked potential.
Will you or won’t you? Should you or shouldn’t you?
Use this day to do something daring, extraordinary and unlike yourself. Take a chance and shape a different pattern in your personal cloud of probability!”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

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Posted in Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections

Balance in the Wind

“ You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” Cayla Mills

Juggling through home and professional life is never easy, especially with family, kids and pets. In most situations, if the two adults and kids do their bit of the share, things fall into line. Yet what happens when the children are too small or physically challenged or here are not two, but only one pair of adult hands. Initially one may be able to tackle the situation, but later, one may feel quite defeated. This was experienced by a close friend of mine, with her husband transferred to another project for two weeks, a toddler with a cast (courtesy of a misjudged jump), one child sick with chickenpox and a deadline project on her work front. Like these, many similar situation may be experienced by us at certain points in our lifetime.

During those initial parts of the difficult days, it may be mentally and physically possible to cover all aspects alone. But when the going gets more tough, taking a step back and moving ahead may help things work out in the long run. While circumstances may get more trying, cribbing would never help. Instead deal with what ever is possible, as for the rest get help or prioritize the more important aspects at that point or course of time. Remember that the trees survive through the cold of winter as well, the hot rays of summer and the cold winds laced with thunderstorms of autumn. Though they may lose their leaves, flowers and branches; they still stand tall with their roots going deep. As the start of spring rejuvenates them, thy grow back. Likewise we too need to go deep into the roots of support system of friends, family and neighbourhood (we all have them for no one is an island), the tough times will gradually fade and life gets back to the normal (if not the same) footing.

“ Life is, at times, tough. And all we need to do is to prove that we are tougher than it.” Sanhita Baruah

The Oak Tree

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew

– Johnny Ray Ryder Jr

Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

Treasure the Mishaps

“You don’t need a reason to sing.” Marty Rubin

During the early days of family life, things were a bit tight on the home front. Juggling the work schedule with additional classes, domestic chores and running a house required help with all hands on deck. Yet each coming home from work tended a surprise from my toddler in varied ways. Some days it used be ketchup on the sofa, other days it used to be feeding the dog his cereal and so on. Each homecoming has a special style. Over time, other priorities took over with school life and sports coming t the forefront, those days still bring tears of laughter to the mind. Looking back on all the carpet and upholstery stains, the ruined clothes and memories of the “i want to help” mess, those days were priceless.

“Children see magic because they look for it.” Christopher Moore

Juggling between the domestic and professional front, requires immense patience and fortitude especially to control the sudden change of plans, the tight schedule, conflicting times, meeting deadlines as well as reasoning out with children be it a toddler or an adolescent. Raising a child often results in beautiful moments when the adult eyes are enlightened. For the glitter around the day turns to dross later, but the spontaneity, innocence, laughter, joy and love of the present are what brings warmth to the dreary and cold days of the future, if and when they come by.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The Handwriting On The Wall

A weary mother returned from the store,
Lugging groceries through the kitchen door.
Awaiting her arrival was her 8 year old son,
Anxious to relate what his younger brother had done.

“While I was out playing and Dad was on a call,
T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall!
It’s on the new paper you just hung in the den.
I told him you’d be mad at having to do it again.”

She let out a moan and furrowed her brow,
“Where is your little brother right now?”
She emptied her arms and with a purposeful stride,
She marched to his closet where he had gone to hide.

She called his full name as she entered his room.
He trembled with fear–he knew that meant doom!
For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved
About the expensive wallpaper and how she had saved.

Lamenting all the work it would take to repair,
She condemned his actions and total lack of care.
The more she scolded, the madder she got,
Then stomped from his room, totally distraught!

She headed for the den to confirm her fears.
When she saw the wall, her eyes flooded with tears.
The message she read pierced her soul with a dart.
It said, “I love Mommy”, surrounded by a heart.

Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she found it,
With an empty picture frame hung to surround it.
A reminder to her, and indeed to all,
Take time to read the handwriting on the wall.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Reflections

Change of Play

With the sun slowly shining through the cold winds and drizzling rain, the ground slowly breaks forth as new shoots spring to life. As the daylight hours slowly lengthen, the little feet scamper around in the courtyard and the garden. Leaving aside the numerous indoor toys, the bicycle and even the bright coloured remote controlled terrain toys vehicles, these little feet and hands found the fun and happiness in playing with twigs and building a tower with sticks and pebbles. As the household chores got done on an early evening, the yard play brought back memories of the simple days of the yesteryear.

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” Alan Cohen

As one catches up with the fast paced modernism of today, with the methodology of work as well as projects get more complex, so does the hours of relaxation. From the busy office or work schedule of around eight to twelve hours (more or less in certain scenarios), the unwinding takes a complex route at times, like indulging in the favourite video-games, Netflix shows, movie reruns or even catching up on the social networks. Minus the gadgets or a power outage, the “leisure hours” go “ka-boom”. What has happened to the simple joys of spending “quality time” with family and friends, or just a little quiet time with the self to rejuvenate, recuperate and recharge.

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” Alan Watts

One can’ escape the modernism of the world as the years mature from childhood to adult years. As the list of responsibilities, dreams, ambitions and goals grow, get prioritized or re-prioritized, the purpose would be to infuse a little of “gentle play” in the work as well as to recharge after the strenuous hours. We all have only one life to lead, that one is inherently aware of. Too much of focus of any one arena will result in the loss of another. The “play of life” has to be done in a gentle manner with the amount of “work”, “fun”, “relationships”, “relaxation” and the like to be done in healthy balanced or proportionate doses. One doesn’t need to get too fanciful, just the simple things in life in the right amounts would help in experiencing the gifts and blessings of life.

Playthings

Child, how happy you are sitting in the dust, playing with a broken twig all the morning.
I smile at your play with that little bit of a broken twig.
I am busy with my accounts, adding up figures by the hour.
Perhaps you glance at me and think, “What a stupid game to spoil your morning with!”
Child, I have forgotten the art of being absorbed in sticks and mud-pies.
I seek out costly playthings, and gather lumps of gold and silver.
With whatever you find you create your glad games, I spend both my time and my strength over things I never can obtain.
In my frail canoe I struggle to cross the sea of desire, and forget that I too am playing a game.

– Rabindranath Tagore

Posted in Food

Crêpe, Sweet, Savoury or Thalipeeth

Pancakes have always been an essential part of the weekly menu plans. There are lots of sides to a pancake, from the thick ones to stuffed or light paper-thin ones and the sweet or savoury ones. The ease of making delicious pancakes, as a quick morning breakfast, is what makes it a favourite for both the chef and the hungry mouths. One of the family favourites, is the crêpe or crepe.

These light thin pancakes were originally a part of the ancient Greek cuisine, which was one of the earliest creations made on the frying pan like vessels. Though etymologically speaking, the French “crêpe” can be traced to the Latin crispa, the latter means with “creases”. Made both sweet (crêpes sucrées) and savoury (crêpes salées), they can have a variety of fillings, as simple as sugar to the caramelized buttery crêpes Suzette or in flambé style.

Per the norm, sweet crêpes are made with wheat flour (farine de froment) with fillings of chocolate or fruit spread, preserves, sugar, maple or golden syrup, whipped cream, sliced soft fruits or confiture; usually had as a breakfast or dessert special. While savory crêpes though made usually with wheat flour, can be made with non-wheat flours such as buckwheat, rice flour, powdered oats flour, chickpea flour or even sago grains, especially for those who require gluten-free meals. Fillings for the savoury crêpes include cheese, mushrooms, egg products and various meat products.

With simple ingredients, batter can be made and voila crêpes are ready for meals time. Experimenting with diverse recipes, one of the special recipes used when my cousin comes down for a visit is the “thalipeeth”, A savoury multi-grain pancake prepared from roasted grains (rice, wheat, bajra, jowar), legumes (chickpea, black gram) and spices like cumin, crushed star anise or coriander. For the batter ingredients like finely diced onions, fresh coriander or finely chopped vegetables, depending on the mood of the hour. Other flour types include that of tapioca or amaranth seeds; though they all go by local names depending on the regional variations and local flavours. Often served with milk, yoghurt or ghee, it is popular as a breakfast dish or an early evening snack meal.

Made any way, crêpes make for a pleasant morning start or that light touch of sweetness after the lunch. Most of all, they are easy for busy dads and even children, especially when mothers are on the night shift or on out of the town work projects. Getting started with a family crêpes tradition, would be a good project to keep the small hands busy and for light delicious moments of laughter and fun.

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

Unwind the Hours

Approaching the driveway after a long day of work, the feeling of coming back home brought to rest the chaotic thoughts of work from the mind. Nursing my evening cup of Joe, the dusk hours were for reflecting back on the scenes of the day. The morning rush, traffic commute, pending assignments and projects, minor altercations in the office and then household chores lined up like a set of cardboard boxes, sealed and waiting to be opened; one does wonder if these schedules are worth their hustle and bustle. Some days one feels like a ragged doll, desperately needing a quiet place to rest or even get a wash and unwind. Yet the complete rest never happens, for the clock keeps on ticking by. The million dollar question is would I give anything to change this all. While on some occasions, it may be a bit, on others it may be nothing. For all the inner wish to rant and rave, I wouldn’t like a major change in the current situation. Despite all the “minor downs”, there is an underlying feeling of contentment running through. The latter is what keeps the sanity intact.

“No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories.” Haruki Murakami

For all the “downs” that time takes us through, overcoming them and getting out of the trench is what makes up the glow of memories. That glow gives one the drive to fight through the current scenario of depressed thoughts. Being human, one will never be eternally in the ‘happy go-lucky go” mode. There are bound to be flashes of sudden self-doubt, morbid thoughts and fear of the unknown.

“No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it.” Carroll Bryant

Yet through all this, it is the memories of finding oneself out of the intermittent wrong turns and choices of life, that gives the courage to go through the present mess, whether it may be made daily or an occasional mishap. As time moves on, there are somethings in life like the comfort of family, the work camaraderie, the circle of close friends and family; that we hope would never be lost.

Some decisions or choices may be the wrong ones, but moving on through the mess and learning from them, is what makes the treasured moments. As the hours unwind and the day comes to a close, what one needs is to find that spark of happiness and let the feeling of contentment and peace grow within.

As the Day Goes
by Jennifer Johnson

Choices and wrong turns are made,
as the day goes and the sun fades.
People are loved and hearts are broken,
as the day goes and words are spoken.
Smiles and frowns are shown on faces,
as the day goes and children play in open spaces.
Happiness and sadness are felt by all,
as the day goes and night falls.
Tears of joy and tears of pain are shed,
as the day goes and all are in bed.

Posted in Christian, Life, poetry, Random Thoughts

Through the Darkness

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

During one of the inter-state Church fellowship meets, the joy of meeting up with childhood acquaintances was beautiful. Catching up on the news, both in the personal and professional front was done during the lunch hours. On the journey back home, it was natural to reflect back on the conversations. While many of us had plans during our growing years, of becoming teachers, pilots, actors,designers and so on, the lives led today mayn’t have been even thought of or imagined in the mind. There may have been plenty of “downs” and “ups”, deviations or detours as well as turning points. Yet the final outcome will always rest as per His Plans.

“Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)

As the conversations ran through, the discovery that things may haven’t gone as per what the inner mind had held, the final outcome had blessings and gifts of it’s own. The Lord’s Plan can never be calculated or fathomed on the surface. The true purpose may reveal itself only over the years. Yet what is true, is that, what ever one may do, if it is in true Faith and Belief, then things will always go as per the right tune in the long run. For His Ways are many and mysterious, but He will never Forsake or leave us alone, as long as the Faith stays strong and His Word remains true in the heart. For those very things give plenty of courage and light through the darkness.

” The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:11)

Light Shining out of Darkness

1
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

2
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sov’reign will.

3
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

4
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

5
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

6
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

– William Cowper