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

Passbook Worth Fighting For

A WEDDING GIFT

She married him today. At the end of the wedding party, her mother gave her a newly opened bank savings passbook, with $1000 deposited in it. She told her, “My dear daughter, take this passbook. Keep it as a record of your married life. Whenever something happy and memorable happens in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it’s about next to the amount. The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I’ve done the first one for you today. Do the others with your husband. When you look back after many years, you will know how much happiness you’ve both shared.’

She shared this with him after getting home. Both of them thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to make the next deposit. This is what the passbook looked like after a while: 7 Feb: $100, his first birthday celebration after marriage
1 Mar: $300, she gets a salary raise
20 Mar: $200, vacation
15 Apr: $2000, She’s pregnant!
1 Jun: $1000, He gets the big promotion and so on…However, as the years went by, they began fighting and arguing over trivial things. They didn’t talk much. They regretted that they had married the most nasty person in the world. There was no more love. One day she talked to her Mother. ‘Mom, we can’t stand it anymore. We have decided to divorce. I can’t imagine how I decided to marry this guy!’
Her mother replied, ‘Sure, that’s no big deal. Just do whatever you want, if you really can’t stand it. But before that, do one thing remember the savings passbook I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn’t keep any record of such a poor marriage.’ She agreed with her mother. So she went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account.

While she was waiting, she took a look at the passbook record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to her. Her eyes were filled with tears. She left and went home. When she got home, she handed the passbook to her hubby and asked him to spend the money before getting divorced. So the next day, he went to the bank, and was waiting in the queue to cancel the account. While he was waiting, he took a look at the passbook record. He looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joyful moments came back to him. His eyes were filled with tears. He left and went home. He gave the passbook back to her. She found a new deposit of $5000. And a line next to the record: ‘This is the day I realized how much I’ve loved you throughout all these years. How much happiness you’ve brought me.’ They hugged and cried, putting the passbook back into the safe.

Marriage is never a game, as there are no winners or losers. It is neither easy nor does it follow a strict code of unbending rules. Yet it is beautiful for the fact that two people live for each other with gentle understanding and kind love. As no two people will come from the same background or follow the exact same path from same homes, neither will one person think as a clone of the other, fights and arguments are inevitable. Even though we have our set of beliefs, opinion and requirements, it doesn’t give us the right to impose on the other under the pretext of being married. Both have to express their own ideas and air out opinions with both compromising to reach a mutually acceptable solution. For along with the shared interests, morals and love; it is the mutual respect and acceptance that binds us together and carry forward during the tough times as well as misunderstandings. Before we throw in the towel, give up and declare it over, think back to the good times and to what brought us together in the first place. If the knowledge and times are worth living again, the fight to save. If not and the distress outweighs the reasons and the love shared in the initial days, then finally close the chapters with mutual respect and start anew.

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Posted in Daily, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Reality of the Gingerbread Man

Ever since my toddler had got his own storybook about “The Gingerbread Man”, he has been fascinated by the large cookie that can run. Little wonder then that he chose to read this book more than thrice a day at different sittings.

The story centers around an old woman who baked a gingerbread man which leapt from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but are unable to catch him. The Gingerbread Man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them, only to fall prey to the fox. The tale ends with the latter catching and devouring the gingerbread man.

Although he is too young to understand the hidden concepts, sometimes I do wonder if this tale is an underhand way to get at adults for our possessive streak, trust issues as well as the habitual lying we either weave ourselves or get caught in.

Just as every person or animal runs after the gingerbread claiming it,the question arises if the person has a right to claim it. We often reinforce it to children that just because we want it, doesn’t mean that it is ours or that we can have it. Isn’t true for adults too where our whims and tendencies trigger the possessive streak many a time. Second is the trust issue. Like the spider and the fly, we often fall prey to trickery as we see want we want to see or hear what we want to interpret. Though for the innocent children it is more important to know who to trust an when to call for help; this lesson doesn’t change as we become adults. The world is an ocean, filled with delights and sharks. To experience the former, one has to steer clear of the latter. The third is about the lies. Black or grey or white, lies are lies and fibs are fibs. While sometimes we engage them with good intentions, the dangers of being caught makes one uneasy at any point of time. For a man without credibility and honesty is like an unreliable car or gadget.

Setting aside the story, there is something special about gingerbread, either shaped as a doll, cookies or even the houses. One chunk at a time, they not only add colour to the flavours but also add to fun times in the kitchen with delicious batter to sample.

Posted in Daily, Food, Quotes

Art on modified Focaccia

The solution to some weekday nights when the day is too busy followed by a high tea on crashing after the working hours, is pizza especially when the ready-made base is available and all you need are the toppings. For the record, although the flat bread pizza is credited to Naples of Italy around the 16th century, flavoured topping added to bread have been there since the development of farming of the primitive man.

Everybody likes pizza! It’s a quick and easy clean-up meal. Buddy Valastro

While the Ancient Greeks had their plakous (flat bread flavoured with toppings of herbs, onions, cheese and garlic), the ancient Persians baked flat-breads with cheese and dates while the Aeneid (a Latin epic poem by Virgil) tells of meals of round cakes (like pita bread) topped with cooked vegetables. Among the various suggestions made to the origins of modern pizza, pizzarelle (Kosher for passover cookies eaten by Roman Jews) and other Italian paschal breads are in the list. Yet the most widely accepted precursor of pizza was the focaccia, a flat bread known to the Romans as panis focacius, to which toppings were added. Other varieties of flat-breads across the globe include the Chinese bing (a wheat flour-based food with a flattened shape), the Indian parantha, naan and roti (where toppings and mix varies) and Finnish rieska. Add on cheese, meat, vegetables and seasonings to make the French quiche or German zwiebelkuchen.

Pizza is a great segue into unfamiliar flavors – plus, you can pile on the veggies. Maneet Chauhan

In 16th-century Naples, the pizza was a galette flatbread sold in the streets and known as a dish for the poor people. Later it was replaced by oil, tomatoes and diverse toppings with cheese or mozzarella twining it. Modern pizza developed in Naples, when tomato was added to the focaccia in the late 18th century. Initially pizza was mainly eaten in Italy and by emigrants from there. After World War II, as the Allied troops stationed in Italy came to enjoy pizza along with other Italian foods, it was brought out to the rest of the world.

Kids want to saute, to cut the pizza, to see how the ingredients come together. If you let them do the fun stuff, they’ll develop skills and interests that will stay with them forever. Guy

Today with a surplus of options and wide diversity of toppings available, it is no wonder that a whole month (October) has been dedicated to pizza. As they say, one things running through all the toppings is cheese that sticks together.

Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around. Anna Quindlen

 

 

 

 

Posted in Daily, Quotes, Random Thoughts

Unmasked Surprise

Everything that a person does when they are taken by surprise is the best proof of what he really is. That which breaks away from the tongue, before it is time to suppress its impulse, betrays the true essence. If there are rats in the basement, then you are most likely to see them if you enter unexpectedly. But no surprise breeds rats; it only prevents them from hiding in time. Nor does the surprise of the excuse or the excuse make me quick-tempered; she only discovers my hot temper. 

– Clive Staples Lewis, “Just Christianity”

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Photography Art

Actions mirror Thoughts

“Mirror mirror on the wall”

This line had first made its appearance in the “Snow White”, a 19th-century German fairy tale first published by The Brothers Grimm published in the first edition of their collection of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. After being translated to English, it has found its’ way into various works of art, entertainment and literature.

While in the story we deal with a magic mirror who gives answers, in reality mirrors reflect what is there. There is no addition or subtraction involved unless if the mirrors are concave or convex where they become distorted or multiple mirrors which cause way too many images. Likewise our actions and feelings mirror our thoughts. It is like a two way street. If we think good, we feel good and do good. Then the question arises of how do we get rid of the bad or unwanted thoughts lurking in our mind. The cluster of bad or depressing feelings we encounter in our interactions with others can’t be easily suppressed by flipping a switch. By sweeping these emotions under the carpet, we gather them as dust which finally will accumulate to a point when it will cause a drastic slip when we least expect it. These are triggers of what will lead to even worse situations down the time frame.

The only way out is to address them. Just as our thoughts and feelings mirror our actions, eventually we will succumb to the former unless we resolve to tackle them. Sometimes to find a solution is difficult, then we reach an acceptance and search for alternatives for a way out so that those emotions are dealt with or faced. While some of us may take the physical form of de-stressing our thoughts, others will turn to creative art or faith to seek answers or simply express. Whatever may it be, find a way out before we get locked in the trap of mirroring our thoughts positive and negative into actions which may later lead to regret. Time and again, the old adage “what goes around, comes around” has been proved, so instead of refuting it with mirrors of our negative emotions, find something to vent the latter and turn the mood to optimism coated with realism.

Posted in Daily, Photography Art, Stories Around the World

Of Weddings, Cakes and Tradition

With the entire family gearing up for the wedding of the youngest, the days have turned into an organizational fiasco. Considering all the hectic preparations underway, the easier option would have been to elope and have a very quiet wedding. But then the entire family would miss out a chance to meet up, have loads of fun and enjoy great photographic moments or memories.

Although the event management team as well as the wedding planner were working on the arrangements, from gowns to venue settings to catering, last minute details were to be ironed out. As a part of my research into various ideas, I had chanced upon some fascinating historical facts and traditions that went along with wedding cakes in particular.

As early as the era of the Roman empire, a loaf of bread or biscuit made of meal (matzo cake), wheat or barley was crumbled over the bride’s head to provide good luck. After the newly married couple would eat a few crumbs together as one of their first unified acts, the leftover crumbs would be scooped by the wedding guests for good luck. With the Romans conquering Britain, the tradition was carried further by throwing the bread at the bride for good luck and fertility. Slowly the bread changed to more flatter cake like versions.

In England during the medieval era, instead of the plain wheat cakes; spiced buns, scones, and cookies were stacked as high as possible and the bride and groom would try to kiss over it. Legend said if they would have good fortune if they smooched successfully without knocking the whole thing down. From this the French tradition of Croquembouche was created. The myth tells of a Pastry chef while visiting Medieval England had witnessed such a wedding where sweet rolls were piled. Back in France, he had piled sweet rolls up into a tower to make the first Croquembouche. The modern croquembouche tower (usually built from profiteroles) is now placed on a bed of cake and make it a top tier, sometimes given a halo of spun sugar.

In some areas, especially mid 17th to 19th century, bride pies were made wherein a ring would. To symbolize the acceptance of the proposal, traditionally the bride would place a ring inside the couple’s portion of the cake. Alternatively a glass ring would be placed in the middle of the dessert and the maiden who found it would be the next to marry. Bride’s pie would evolve into the bride’s cake. As an oven was still a rarity, two pastry crusts would be baked on the hearth with currants between them like a sandwich and sugar sprinkled on top. At this point the dessert was sweeter than earlier versions. Over time, the ingredients progressed to include candied fruits, almonds, spices, raisins and even rum. In the Victorian era, white icing was also a symbol of money and social importance which has since then been carried on.

Interestingly, in the 17th century, two cakes were made, one for the bride and one for the groom as the bride cakes were too feminine for men. The groom’s cake was typically the darker colored, rich fruit cake and generally much smaller than the bride’s cake. Initially the bride’s cake was usually a simple pound cake with white icing with white as a symbol of purity. This is still carried over today at some weddings, although sometimes the groom’s cake is served at the rehearsal dinner.

Towards the late 18th century, tiered cakes had got their start when the apprentice of a London baker fell in love with his boss’s daughter. Inspired by by the tiered spire of St. Bride’s Church, legend has it the apprentice baker recreated the look in pastry form to impress her. Later on the traditional wedding cakes in England and early America were fruit cakes, often topped with marzipan and icing with tiers.

Symbolism and Superstitions. From bread to pies then cakes, the latter was originally intended to be distributed among the guests by only the bride for consuming the cake would ensure fertility. As weddings grew with increase in number of guests and tiered cakes with icing became popular, cutting the cake was a joint venture with the groom assisting the bride. As this tradition began the bride and groom would share a piece of cake before distributing it not only as a symbol of their union but also as their promise to take care of each other forever.

In the traditional American wedding, ribbons would be attached to the bottom layer of the wedding cake of which one would contain a charm or ring. Maidens would be invited to pull ribbons and whoever gets the charm will be the next person to marry. Some places, the wedding cake is broken over the bride’s head to ensure fertility and good fortune. Also bridesmaids would take a piece of cake home and place it under the pillow, or put it in their left stocking and sleep for dreams on their future husband and good luck as well.

Besides being celebratory, initially wedding cakes were a sign of social status. Over the centuries with the advent of wedding cake toppers, fondant, flower-paste, royal icing, glaceing, filling flavours ranging from chocolate, carrot, pistachio to Italian cream, lemon-thyme, passion fruit-lime, Mexican-hot chocolate to name a few; the options are endless as the wedding business grew to new and big proportions. Of recent the single or multiple tiered cake is for family and close friends at the wedding while little cupcakes and pastries have made their way into the reception. It’s little wonder that in all the wedding planning details, the cake takes its fair share faced by a great deal of choices, minor specifics, tastings, trepidation and artwork laced with innumerable amount of rethinking and decisions to be made.

Posted in Daily, poetry, Reflections

Raking the Thoughts

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honey-sweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” Rainer Maria Rilke

With the leaves of autumn and its winds brushing by, it brings to mind of the years that have passed by. While looking down the memory lane, one often recalls the dreams and hopes of childhood and what we had dreamt of the big world out there. Many of us had our own visions and dreams of what we would want to be as we grow up. Yet life has its’ own funny twists and turns. Some of us have stuck to the plans of high school, others have modified it while few have shoved them under the carpet of what they then believed was something better. While some of us have carved our own niche in the today’s world, the rest of us are still journeying enjoying life’s moments as they come. The final crux of living is to be happy.

Yet among all this, there are few of us who have had cherished desires and hopes of doing what we love. Some of us have taken those aspirations as hobby or hobbies, while the rest haven’t yet found the time to do so. Even worse, there are other who are stuck in the rut or chaos, too hassled to find time of their own. Amidst all this, what we have to realize that no one is going to give us a push or shove all the time. Sometimes we have to buck up ourselves and secure our dreams by moving in their direction, not by standing still. For time will go on its’ merry way and there is only one life. If we don’t try to find our dream, no one will ever do it for us. Instead of storing up the regrets, spend that time doing a little of your own everyday no matter how small it may be. For no matter how busy the harbour is, there is always activity in the waters but we never find it by rooting ourselves at the shore.

Follow Your Dreams

If while pursuing distant dreams
Your brightest hopes turn to gray.
Don’t wait for reassuring words
Or hands to lead the way.

For seldom will you find a soul
With dreams the same as yours.
Not often will another help you
Pass through untried doors.

If inner forces urge you
To take a course unknown,
Be ready to go all the way,
Yes, all the way alone.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t
Draw lessons from the best;
Just don’t depend on lauding words
To spur you on your quest.

Find confidence within your heart
And let it be your guide.
Strive ever harder toward your dreams
And they won’t be denied.

-Bruce B. Wilmer