Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World

Angles to the Plane

Already a week into the new year, the way things are going across the world; it does sound like a rerun of the year past. But again, that is to one’s own perspective.

Each of us have come across plenty of illusions in our life. Often they are masked in the manner of dreams and hopes, other times they may be buried under the category of “futile thoughts”. What one doesn’t realize is that some of those “illusions” are on our own perception, but the rest on what has been fed to us by those around us or by what we seen through their eyes.

“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.” Margaret Atwood

The question then arises, the illusions that of theirs, why do they stay on in us. That’s when one needs to morph them into the varied angles through their own familiar planes; for it is our own perspective that matters in the end. For the urbanite, the city is the haven; whereas for the sylvan heart and soul the haven of the former becomes a nightmare. Those illusion made by the wayward thoughts need to be given their due depth and space depending on how one really wants it.

Placing all these illusions of colours onto the frame, raising them through their own angles gives a renewed perspective on how to see things. For this to happen, one has to place these choices in their own hands. Each of us have own canvas to colour, let’s do them as to the perspective that we hold. If not as in the year before, may this year echo such thoughts, dreams and hopes.

Different perspectives
The Minister travelled for days by train and car and boat to one of the furthest islands in the nation. As he surveyed the bleak but inspiring landscape, he turned to a local villager and said: “You’re very remote here, aren’t you?” She responded: “Remote from what?”
Source: The Internet

Posted in Christian, Life, Musique, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Wonder across the Sky

“Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the “Christmas Star” is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of Dec. 21.” (Source:nasa.gov)

“The celestial conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn planets will take place on Monday, December 21, 2020. … During this conjunction, the two large planets come so close that they appear to make a bright double planet.” (Source: timesofindia.com)

After the chaos of settling down the house for the evening, it was a quick sneak up the terrace for a view of the “celestial conjunction” or as popularly put as the “Christmas Star” for this year. An eagle-eyed search lead the seeker to believe that the eyes have made out this “end-of-the-year treat”. On locating what was believed to be “the treat”, the eyes went a couple of planes ahead and above. Oh behold, the magnificence of the sky.

To witness the gift of His creation, one doesn’t need to visit the exotic places or the most eagerly anticipated trips to the seven natural wonders of the world. The wonders lie in our own backyards, terrace and skies above our abode and oh yes, even in us as well. Though sometimes to find it, we need to be still and know ourselves.

Truth is we all have that something special in each one of us. In our haste to explore the world, we lose ourselves in the chaos and fail to reconnect and embrace life as a whole. As the gifts of the sky and His Grace always show; sometimes one needs to just stand still and believe in order to appreciate the beauty in this world around us.

Life is such that, happiness isn’t always enclosed in gaily wrapped packages. Sometimes it’s there in the air, but we don’t see it. Instead we crave for the next one or the forbidden, missing out on what was there in grasp. As Christmas always says, His Glory and His Grace is always there; when one finds it, the happiness, joy and above all, the peace that one always longs for will be in our reach.

“Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!”….
(Lyrics from Silent Night lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave; Source: LyricFind, Songwriters: Traditional)

There are innumerable glories as well as countless gifts and blessings that we come across. Some we know, many we don’t. Yet the more we know and learn to appreciate, these would be put to better use. As the year comes to a close, let this season teach us not only to share the love and joy, but also learn to be still, find ourselves and on the whole, be a part of His miracle.

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Flavour to the Season

“Cocoa, chocolate, candy sticks, raisins, nuts, sprinkles, glaces cherries….(something’s missing though..oh yes) and “marshmallows (three extra large packs)”….”

The above dialogues were a part of the conversation on the drive to the larger town for the purchase of this season’s must haves. With free hours, this sudden impromptu plan needed an emergency list, for visits to the nearest metro city was almost like going for a short tour to the nearest hill station, thanks to the present global scenario.

Essentially a confectionery made of sugar, a whipping agent (aerator) and water mixed with air; marshmallows have a history that goes as early as two millennial before the anno Domini ear. As the records go, the Egyptians were believed to be the first to make them. Surprisingly the first marshmallows were prepared from the roots of Althaea officinalis, a mallow plant species wherein the pieces of root pulp was boiled with honey till a thickened mixture was formed. This mixture was then strained and cooled before being added to the various preparations; both as a medicine to soothe coughs and sore throats or to the recipes of those days.

Towards the mid 19th century, the simple marshmallow reached the French confectioners to be remodeled into a fluffy candy mould, the “Pâte de Guimauve” which was made from whipping dried marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg whites into a white spongy desert. Later these mallow roots were replaced with gelatin to create more stability to the marshmallow. The present ropy or cylindrical marshmallow, a must-have for the winters and holiday seasons, was the brainchild of the Greek American confectioner Alex Doumak. In fact, no two brands (homemade or commercial) or varieties of marshmallows give the same flavour. Whether it be the difference in the concentrations of egg whites or gelatin (some include agar) or the ratios of sucrose, corn syrup or invert sugar, combined with the special flavours like vanilla or lemon juice; the marshmallow often lends a unique twist to the regular, especially the season favourite of hot chocolate.

All said and written, there’s something about the marshmallow that gives that little extra zing to the simple preparations or exotic ones like crazy snack pie, mini fluffernutter brownie cups, panini or even the s’mores latte. So into the cart, goes three extra large packets of them, for this season’s holiday cooking.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Spring, after the Torrent

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington

Many a time, as the sun sets, we drag our feet over the threshold, wondering when will they ever be a day, when there would be a spring in our step. Then again, on other days, there’s a spring to our step. Or the warmth enters the soul and fresh hope surges after a fresh cup of joe or a warm pot of tea, light chatter with family or friends and a couple of memories or moments. Little do we realize that, through all this, it is the “way we go about things” that makes all the difference in the world, especially as one encounters the unexpected hassles in the curse of the day.

“Crow asked the pot : How come you are able to give sweet and cold water when you yourself is made out of mud which had to go through very high temperature and burnt to be transformed into clay pot?
Pot’s reply : My character is to remain cool as a clay in all circumstances
even though I had to face high temperature to become a pot .”

Each of us have our own test of fire. Some we were able to temper down, some we got off with a few minor or even major scalds to burns. Yet at the end of the day, we survive because of the fire that beats within us. Our essentiality is what defines who we are, what we do and how we do it. Circumstances come and go, they change according to a design of their own and swing to the direction of the wind. Despite all this, a large role of the outcome is played in how we go about things, based on our own disposition, mentality and will.

Know who we are. Then reconnect with ourselves, the Faith that guides us as well as draw our strength from those who wish us well. As always said, “it is the test of fire that makes us strong”, but the fire can be conquered depending on how one fans out the flames. As the fire strengthens us, keeping our own composure with an inner strength and humaneness is what brings a spring to the step, hope within, warm happy thoughts within as well as to see through the situation by the time tomorrow comes by.

“17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
and set your heart on the right path..” (Proverbs 23:17-19)

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Pull of the “P”

One of the new trends in the home kitchen as a sequelae of the incessant intermittent snacking, is the preference to single dish setting for the three main meals. While breakfast may be limited by steamed foods; it’s the lunch and dinner that has seen a drastic shift from elaborate meals to the glow of the “single pie” almost every now and then. As long as this trend lasts, the hours off the kitchen have increased.

“The idea of enclosing meat inside a sort of pastry made from flour and oil originated in ancient Rome, but it was the northern European use of lard and butter to make a pastry shell that could be rolled out and moulded that led to the advent of true pie.” An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 254)

As often said, the entire outcome of when filling and pastry meet up in different grades and variations, make up for one of the simple and well-loved dish, the pie. Though essentially had as desserts, at home now the trend is to the savoury variants. While the shepherd’s pie, pot pies and related variants often grace the table; there have been a lot more experimentation from the varied recipes found online.

One of the newer pie versions learnt was the “homity pie”, a traditional British open vegetable pie. Covered with a filling of potatoes, onion and leek mixture (though, the choice of vegetables can be changed) covered with cheese on an open pastry base; this pie is one for those who want a little bit of vegetarianism in their diet. Extrapolating the recipe, a lot of leftovers can be used, especially if they are less curryish in nature. For the rich gravy ones, there’s always the curry pie to look forward to. Giving into the urge to top up the pastry base with onions and potato, voila one has a version of the “butter pie” (aka the “Air Pie”).

Alternatively, trying to opt for a more pie preparation for an early dinner, one of the recent add-ons was the “alooe pie”. Popular in cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago, this pie is made by frying dumplings of soft pastry (flour and water), splitting and filling them with boiled, spiced and mashed potatoes, green peas or chana dal. Essentially similar to a calazone and larger than the samosa. Coming to the samosa (or singara, sambusac), this is one of the “mini pies”, a go-to for short meetings and quick filling snacks. More than the regular pie, these samosas (or pies) are indigenous to the local Indian cuisine.

Each pie version has it’s own special story behind it. From potato pies, “keema pie” to “Chicken balti pie”, the variety is endless and the best part, is one can use the simple curry to make up the pie stuffing. Such a lot of history and potential in this dish. Savoury or sweet, this dish can swing both ways. But above all, it can be elaborate and rich or just a simple and wholesome fare. Sometimes that’s what one needs after a dry washed out day, a simple and wholesome piece of savoury pie.

Posted in Personal Musings, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World, Work

Stance on the Slant

Many of us or may a few, may have experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by an unexpected turn of events. More than the “happy” feelings, there may have been the “feelings of doubt and uncertainty” that reigned high. It’s only in the aftermath, that one realizes that, it was those unexpected turns that brought out the best in us. Or it was the unexpected, that became our saving grace.

“You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side-bets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game or you don’t play at all. and if you don’t play you can’t win.” Judith McNaught

In retrospect, it all comes down to the attitude that we hold within us. The choice lies in either embracing the new, but a strong sense of grit, hope and faith, along with the willingness to take each day as it comes. As we do, one does get the blessing and a chance, to experience some of the best aspects and colours of life.

The point is to embrace these uncertain, unplanned turns and make them into some of the best outcomes. For all this and more, one needs to come out of the sidelines and wade in deep with all the senses in tune and intact. Then the journey will provide new insight into the perceived notions of the old. If so, then the surprise and brightness of the whole new vista awaits each of us.

“A group of prestigious university graduates came to visit their old professor. During the visit the conversation turned to work: graduates were complaining about countless difficulties and problems of life. After offering coffee to his guests, the professor went to the kitchen and came back with a coffee pot and a tray, filled with many different cups: porcelain, glass, plastic and crystalline. Some cups were simple, other ones – expensive.

When the graduates picked out the cups, the professor said:”Notice, how all the beautiful cups were picked out, and the simple and cheap ones were left. And although it seems normal for you – wanting only the best things for yourself, but that is the source of your problems and stress. You need to understand, that the cup doesn’t make the coffee better. Most of the time it’s only more expensive, but sometimes it is hiding what we are drinking. Actually, all that you wanted was only coffee, not the cup. But you consciously picked the best cups, and later watched what kind of cups others got.

And now think: life – is coffee, and job, money, position, society – are the cups. They are only instruments for maintenance and upkeep of life. The type of cup we have, doesn’t determine the quality of our life. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cups, we forget to enjoy the taste of coffee. The happiest people are not those who have the best things, but those who enjoy life and get the most of it with what they have.”

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

Threads to Hold

Ever had the experience of a sudden recollection of a chance acquaintance or an old friend, popping out of the blue into the mind and lingering on for some time; or maybe, those of our near and dear ones. Perhaps this rhetorical question doesn’t really need a reply.

Memories or moments. They confound us or make us smile, or just dig up those old restless feelings buried knowingly deep in the past. Come what may, they do stay on, and sometimes they may be all that is left behind.

“People leave strange little memories of themselves behind when they die.” Haruki Murakami

In own respective fabric of life, one may hold multiple threads of a prominent colour for another, or vice-versa. Whichever way it may be, it is these memories that sustain us and help us face with the absence of their real voice. It is these memories that share and support the self in the challenges of the days of now. To feel the unwavering support of their souls, it just takes a wee little of time to embrace the present or the previous memories and thread them into the happy fabric of moments. Many a time, is these little things that we need that keep us going.

The Making of a Memory
One can’t predict when or where they will come from; those memories that stay with us a lifetime, and never fail to bring us warm fuzzy feelings. My husband had just finished loading his car; made one lap back through the house and then into the kitchen. ‘I guess filling my thermos is all I have left to do, and then I’m off.’
Down the drain went the hot water that had been warming his thermos. With a very nostalgic look on his face he softly said, ‘When I filled this with water earlier, I thought of your mum. In fact, anytime I fill my thermos I think her.’ ‘Oh honey, that’s so sweet. I know she’s watching and listening right now with a big smile on her face,’ I responded as tears began to brim my eyelids. ‘You know, I never fill my thermos that I don’t think of her, and I always smile too.’ The tone in his voice was so tender as he spoke of my mother who is no longer with us.

Years ago we had been visiting my parents, and the morning we were leaving my mother watched as Jerry began to fill his thermos. Being the ‘coffee drinker’ in the family, he’s always placed himself in charge of thermos duties. Mum then casually offered up a tidbit of advice. ‘Jerry, if you would fill your thermos with hot water and let it sit a while, your coffee would stay hot longer on your drive.’ The look on his face was priceless as her simple suggestion sunk in. Well of course it would! It only makes all the sense in the world! Who wouldn’t know that? He dumped the small amount of coffee already in the thermos, and ran the tap until it was at its hottest; then refilled with piping hot water. After pouring himself a fresh cup of coffee, he sat down to enjoy a few more minutes with mum, and to discuss this unique new idea.

Words of wisdom from a loving mother-in-law made an impact that will never be forgotten. When spoken that morning, Jerry didn’t realize he would always hear those words ringing in his ears, or that they would bring a smile to his face time and time again. And Mother would never have dreamed her words would be a treasured, and everlasting memory in the heart of her son-in-law.
The ‘fondest, lasting memories’ don’t necessarily come from ‘major moments’ in life, the making of a memory simply happens.
(Written by Kathleene S. Baker (Source: Internet))