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

Writing on the Stone

“Instead of focusing on that circumstances that you cannot change – focus strongly and powerfully on the circumstances that you can.” Joy Page

Bad days, we all have had our fair share of them. While we may envy others’ and wonder why do our days go wrong, what we have to think about instead is, why it went wrong. Sometimes the answer doesn’t lie with us, but in the circumstances that surround us. Either ways, when to know to let go is as important as when to learn to appreciate the good things that we are blessed with.

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” Jim Rohn

Setbacks are no stranger to each one of us. Every person has their own share of struggles, stress and worries. At some point in our lives, we all have been deceived, struck down and lost relationships. Learning to survive and cope solely depends on how much we let go and how much we keep within ourselves. Being at the receiving end of the “wrongs” hurts a lot, but remembering the “good things done for us” makes those setbacks seem less painful. Carve the good done for us in solid rock to withstand the troubled waters and gales when they strike again. As for the “bad moments”, learn from them and write them on the sand so that over time, the winds will ease the sorrows and pain, rendering the forgiveness that each one of us are due to receive.

“You can live your life angry, bitter, mad at somebody or even guilty, not letting go of your own mistakes, but you won’t receive the good things God has in store.” Joel Osteen

“Two friends were walking through the desert. At one stage in their journey, they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything he wrote in the sand, ‘Today my best friend slapped me in the face.’
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to have a wash. The one who had been slapped got stuck in a mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he had recovered from his shock, he wrote on a stone, ‘Today my best friend saved my life.’
The friend who slapped and saved his best friend asked him, ‘After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write in stone, why?’ The other friend replied, ‘When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.’”

“The more you talk about it, rehash it, rethink it, cross analyze it, debate it, respond to it, get paranoid about it, compete with it, complain about it, immortalize it, cry over it, kick it, defame it, stalk it, gossip about it, pray over it, put it down or dissect its motives it continues to rot in your brain. It is dead. It is over. It is gone. It is done. It is time to bury it because it is smelling up your life and no one wants to be near your rotted corpse of memories and decaying attitude. Be the funeral director of your life and bury that thing!” Shannon L. Alder

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Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes

From Bare to New

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” Lewis Carroll

As the white blanket starts receding and colours come to vibrancy, the landscape starts changing giving us new perspectives. While most of us welcome the spring and the break from the thaw, the stark beauty of winter will be missed for a while. As John Steinbeck once said, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

The spring air speaks of new beginnings, projects and life experiences. As we venture into new territories, the lives that we lead often reminding me of the trees, bare and broken in winter but green shoots springing to life in spring. The resilience of human nature is amazing. We all have had our own shares of downfalls and setbacks; yet like the skeleton-bare eerie and snapping branches give to new life of crispy, silk-soft branches with the smell of baked apples growing stronger; our lives echo the same when we decide to move forward and ahead.

“Then spring came. The white blanket melted away, the evergreens and spruces scented the air with their new growth; the little streams rushed hither and thither as if they were joyfully carolling, birds sang and built everywhere. Children were out for wild flowers, and raced around like deers.” Amanda Minnie Douglas (From “A Little Girl in Old St. Louis”)

As Mr. Frost runs away for the youth of Spring to take over, the young buds protected from the winter come to life. In a way, nature teaches a few basic life lessons to man; the ability to stay strong and not quit as well as to survive the drought, keeping in mind that better days will come when we seek and yearn for it.

“Each solstice is a domain of experience unto itself. At the Summer Solstice, all is green and growing, potential coming into being, the miracle of manifestation painted large on the canvas of awareness. At the Winter Solstice, the wind is cold, trees are bare and all lies in stillness beneath blankets of snow.” Gary Zukav

Posted in Daily, Food

Frozen to Last

One of the most common areas in the food mart where there is a constant flow of shoppers and at times, we do have to shove to get a leg space in between is near the frozen section. And if they are special offers then, its’ a constant rush of buyers checking the expiration dates with the discount offers.

Frozen foods have been in the system for quite some time. From the very early days of using simple techniques like crushed snow and ice for storage and the development of refrigerants, mechanical freezers to modern cryogenic or flash freezing techniques. Weighing the advantages and the demerits, certain foods are best frozen and especially to get the exotic vegetables, fruits, meat and desserts; freezing them is the option. Health wise, frozen foods aren’t dangerous once when we debunk the myths and get the facts and science straightened out.

” I’m obsessed with frozen yogurt because you don’t feel totally guilty eating it. It’s not as bad as ice cream, and during the hot summer months, it’s a great way to just refresh.” Caroline Sunshine

On buying frozen foods, fruits or vegetables; check the expiration dates. Technically these dates are given so as to recycle their use as well as to maintain their quality. Safety wise, unless the thawing process is wrong; generally frozen foods don’t get contaminated as long as the temperature requirements and settings are maintained.

Nutritionally speaking, fresh local produce is always better. Yet for recipes calling for the exotic ingredients, desserts or meat imported; frozen foods don’t lack the nutritional quality as long as the cold chain is maintained.

Thawed food once handled can be safe to refreeze as long as its’ been thawed in the fridge and not on the counter. Thawing frozen foods should never be done on the counter as it becomes a microbial plate then. Instead thaw it in the fridge compartment (from the freezer) or put it in cold water and change the water every half hour (USDA Recommendation). The shortcut technique of running hot water over frozen food could cause uneven cooking of the ingredients, in addition to safety issues.

After buying frozen foods, putting them directly in the freezer isn’t advisable as the air holes in the containers can deteriorate their taste and quality. Instead re-wrap the meat or fruits and vegetables (best to blanch the vegetables first) into air tight units pushing the maximum air out first. Quality wise, frozen foods have to be checked for added sodium; while frozen foods have to be nutritionally balanced with add on’s or side dishes for a balanced diet.

Frozen foods, on the whole isn’t a bad option to indulge in when required, as long as one maintains the temperature or cold chain and hygiene while handling them. For strawberries in winter, would give a pleasant surprise for the meal; besides enhancing the taste buds and flavouring the meal.

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

W for “Water”

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.”  Lao Tzu

“Leave No One Behind”

On the occasion of the World Water Day, an annual UN observance day (March 22nd) marking the importance of freshwater, one is faced with the grave fact of the “rising scarcity” of the freshwater resources. Initially commemorated in 1993 by the United Nations, the theme changes every year, with the theme for 2019 being “Leave No One Behind”. The water crisis to be tackled this year, addresses why marginalized groups like women, children, refugees, disabled and indigenous people are often overlooked in their accessibility to save drinking water.

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” Leonardo da Vinci

Being a part of the global network and progressive species on earth, preserving the natural resources as well as attaining universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are in line with the target of the development goals across the world as outlined by the UN. While today, a variety of events ranging from educational, theatrical, musical, funding campaigns or lobbying are done to generate awareness and advocate sustainable management of freshwater resources; the realistic truth is that everyday is “water conservation day”. As they often say, habits made young are hard to break, advocating proper and conservative use of water should be initiated at family, school and community level. For conservation and preservation never happens overnight, but is always an ongoing process.

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

The alarming misuse and wastage of natural resources is still at its’ peak. The sooner we reform, reuse, reduce and recycle; the longer we will be able to still avail benefits from what nature has provided us. Freshwater (2.5–2.75%) is needed for survival, more than saline water (around 97%). Thus conservation is mandatory by the hour. Else despite the presence of water, there would be not a drop to drink easy.

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” Loren Eiseley

“Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”
From “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834) “
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Part II)

“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” Laura Gilpin

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.

 

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)) !!!