Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mouthpiece #31


एक श्रद्धांजलि (a tribute…)

बैठी हूँ चिंतन में एक और समय के पड़ाव पर,
देख रही हूँ उम्र के एक और सावन को बीतते हुए |
अब की बार तपते मन को शीतल नहीं कर पाया है ये
सूने मन को अपनेपन से सराबोर नहीं कर पाया है ये |

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mouthpiece #30

Being an Indian
There is an online magazine to which I have contributed my book reviews some 2-3 times. I keep getting their mail inviting contributions on the next month’s theme and sharing the link of the published issue. In the recent mail, they are inviting writings on the theme ‘My India’. Though I did not send them my entry but it made me think what does India mean to me actually? 
What does being an Indian mean to me? What is Indian-ness? Never gave a thought to it. Is it hard to describe because it is an abstract noun or is it an emotion which is actually unknown to me? I cannot really answer this myself. Sometimes when we are in a certain place all our lives and that is the only sample space that we have seen, it is hard to think of anything beyond that. Moreover, we do not spare much thought to what is already ours, perhaps this is what permanence does to our mind. Our being and identity get ingrained and integrated with the thing, here, it is the country.
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Nothing new in Kitchen but still very special...
To celebrate the 30th mouthpiece, here is a special recipe that, I can say, got refined with every single iteration(preparation)of it. Rajmah is supposed to be a part of Sunday ritual in many of the Punjabi homes, but I think it comes out a little different in every kitchen. There is not much difference in the style of cooking in my parental and my marital home yet some changes are inevitable and as I started cooking independently, how my recipe of rajmah evolved, it feels as if it is an assimilation of the taste of those two kitchens.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Book Review : The World Outside My Window

Title : The World Outside My Window
Author : Ruskin Bond
Publisher : Rupa
ISBN : 978-81-291-4179-8

No one does it better than Ruskin Bond - yes, here I am talking about the way he discusses and writes about nature. His knowledge about insects, birds, trees and flowers is not acquired through any biology book rather this is what he has garnered over the years by being an inseparable component of nature. 'The World Outside My Window' is yet another of his creations which actually opens a small window for the readers into the world that he enjoys to be a part of.

Through different sections on small insects, winged creatures and flora, he delightfully explains their unique characteristics and his personal interaction with some of them. One can find some lifecycles, adaptations, singing notes, viciousness, tenderness and much more in this book. A great book for students as a convenient guide for easily noticeable living creatures. A wonderful gift to those who love to understand the language that nature converses in.
The essence of his writing is beautifully conveyed through the concluding verse 'All is Life'.

Whether by accident or design,
We are here,
Let's make the most of it, my friend.
Make happiness our pursuit,
Spread a little sunshine here and there.
Enjoy the flowers, the breeze,
Rivers, sea and sky,
Mountains and tall waving trees.
Greet the children passing by,
Talk to the old folk. Be kind, my friend.
Hold on, in times of pain and strife:
Until death comes, all is life.

After reading his books on nature, many things cross one's mind - how most of us lead our lives unaware of so many of the living creatures that co-exist with us in the same domain; how the author is blessed with an eye, a heart and a pen to notice-acknowledge-appreciate-chronicle his connection with flora and fauna; and how his writings work wonderfully in alluring the readers towards natural environs.

Personally I enjoy reading Ruskin Bond is an understatement because his description of nature strums those chords deep inside me which rejoice with the rhythm that the divine musician creates.

Available on Amazon


Monday, July 4, 2016

Mouthpiece #28

24 Gurus of Dattatreya 
(continued from the previous issue)
Snake 
Snake teaches one the great lesson of detachment - one, how a snake easily discards its cloak and gets into another and second, through the way it stays away from gatherings and crowds. Dattatreya observed that familiarity not only creates tangles of attachment but clouds one’s reasoning and awareness. The attachment is not only on the physical plane but on the mental surface too. One needs to learn the art to shake away the clutter and crowd from the mind - of unnecessary and harmful thoughts so that there is space to prepare for the state of consciousness. 
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What's brewing? 
With temperature soaring high, it becomes a challenge to work in the kitchen. Here is a simple, easy to prepare salad for those muggy evenings. 
Lettuce : 4 (leaves) 
American corn : 1 cup (boiled)
Moog dal sprouts : ½ cup
Cucumber : 1 
Tomato : 1 (medium)
Onion : 1 (medium)
Celery leaves : 5-6 (optional)
Salt : to taste
Black pepper : 1/3 tsp
Olive oil : 1 tsp
Vinegar : ¼ tsp
Mayonnaise : 2 tsp
recipe here...
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Mouthpiece #27

Insightful
I was reading something when I came across the story of Dattatreya, the son of Maharishi Atri and Anasyuya. While there are many stories related to his birth, what fascinated me the most is his conversation with King Yadu in which he says that he is a student of as many as twenty-four gurus and goes on the explain these gurus who happen to be a part of this grand creation. The list includes Earth, Air, Water, Sky, Fire, Moon, Sun, Ocean, Pigeon, Python, Firefly, Bee, Elephant, Honey-gatherer, Fish, Deer, Pingala, Sparrow, Child, Girl, Archer, Snake, Spider and Wasp. I would like to start from some of the most surprising ones here.
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What's new in the kitchen? 
Although monsoons have not made their ceremonious entry, yet the expectation is in the air. The traditional punjabi dish to celebrate rains happens to be kheer-puda(crepe). 
Kheer
Milk - 1.5 l
Rice - ¼ cup
Condensed milk - ½ tin (milkmaid)
Desiccated coconut - 2 tbsp
Almonds - 20 (soaked, peeled and sliced into thin slivers)
Cardamom powder : 1/4tsp
recipe here...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mouthpiece #26

Reflections
When I look back, I feel, the childhood days were much simpler. I guess every individual says that about the years gone by. They often appear to me as either black&white or sepia tinted images surfacing from the past. School days followed a set rhythm which continued for twelve years from the same institute at a stretch without any surprises. Long stretch of summer holidays were usually spent studying too. Since both sets of grandparents had already left for the next world, our holidays were sans any expected visit to meet grandparents. 
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What's sizzling? Tawa Mushrooms
Mushroom : 1 packet (cleaned and cut in halves)
Onions : 2 medium sized (thickly sliced)
Tomatoes : 2 (chopped in big chunks)
Garlic : 2-4 pods (pound)
Red chilli powder : ¼ tsp
Kitchen King Masala : ½ tsp
Salt : to taste
Oil : 2 tsp
Coriander leaves : 2 tbsp (finely chopped)
recipe here...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Reviews : Rupa Books

Title : Ganesh
Author : Subhadra Sen Gupta
Illustrated by : Tapas Guha

Publisher : Red Turtle (Rupa)
ISBN : 978-81-291-4029-6

Thanks for beautifully illustrated children's books and movies on Ganesh, the Lord has become the most endearing and much loved friendly God for children. The stories behind his unique physical characteristics like pot-belly, elephant's head and a broken tusk - keep the children engaged to no end. While we all know the most popular stories associated with Ganesh, they are being retold by Subhadra Sen Gupta with a slight twist.

Though acclaimed as the most learned and witty divine being, yet the antics of Ganesh bridge the gap that a devotee feels with the divine. He is the adorable and friendly God for all, and the one who can be made happy by pure innocent love.

The book Ganesh has four stories - How Ganesh Lost his Head, Ganesh Loses a Trunk, Ganesh versus Kartik and Ganesh Curses the Moon. Each of the stories are beautifully accentuated by colourful illustrations by Tapas Guha.  A perfect gift to children of age group 5 to 8 years.

Available on flipkart


Title : The Story of Hanuman
Author : Mala Dayal
Illustrated by : Taposhi Choshal
Publisher : Red Turtle (Rupa)
ISBN : 978-81-291-3717-3

And who is the other God that incites the same feelings as Ganesh, none other than the monkey God Hanuman. Known for his unflinching devoutness towards his deity Sri Ram, the stories associated with Hanuman are equally amusing and awe-inspiring. When he was a child, he thought the shining Sun is some big juicy fruit in the sky and so leapt into the sky to pluck it. This led to a lot of chaos and many Gods had to intervene which made Hanuman's father the Vayu God very angry. The other Gods had to appease the Vayu God by bestowing special blessings and powers to Hanuman. When the time came to seek knowledge, Hanuman approached Surya to be his guru and in return Surya asked Hanuman to look after his son, the monkey prince Sugreev. Hanuman facilitated the bond of friendship between Sri Ram and Sugreev. He was entrusted with the task of searching for Sita in the south direction where Lanka is situated. He crossed the great ocean, met mother Sita, set Lanka on fire, brought the news of Sita to Ram. Soon after, the great battle began between Sri Ram and Ravan. Hanuman remained by the side of his Lord all through.

His devotion to Lord Ram is unparalleled. The whole story from the childhood of Hanuman to Ram-rajya has been retold by Mala Dayal in 'The Story of Hanuman'. While everyone is well versed with these mythological stories from the epic Ramayana, it is always interesting to read the same through the words of different authors. The added bonus that this book offers is extra trivia about names of different trees, and some activities like puzzles, mazes and games.

Available on flipkart


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mouthpiece #25

A pat on the back
I often used to wonder, if destiny is supposed to have the final say then what is my role in the whole scheme of things and what impact can I make in doing what I choose to do. Gradually I rationalized it by understanding that perhaps the ‘where’, 'how’ and 'when’ part of my situation is determined by the chain of events which are mostly not in my control, yet there is the 'what I do’ part that is surely where I can make the difference. While a big portion of 'what’ is being constituted by our external interface with the world, a bigger fraction of the same is what we are towards ourselves.

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What's brewing? Cheesecake
1 big packet Marie biscuit (around 20 biscuits)
100 g salted butter
1 tin sweet condensed milk (Amul Mithai Mate 400g)
Curd measured in the condensed milk tin
Topping - Blackcurrent, Strawberry 

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Mouthpiece #24

Snowball Effect
Though I am still a little far from the stage when I could officially be called senile, I do sense senility knocking at my door already. If not all the time, I am sure it is teasing me through my inconsistent memory these days. While reading a certain passage, sometimes I dare make some mental notes thinking - oh, this is so interesting, I must come back to it later, but how and when those notes disappear from the mental surface, just prove the fragile state of my memory cells. It just doesn’t end here, rather it leaves me frustrated and restless when I want to know what note had I made and my memory just refuses to divulge any cues whatsoever. Anyway, the ruing is perhaps to be left for some other time and for some other place, but why I mentioned the failing faculties here is simply because I read somewhere something about the power of thought and wanted to quote the passage to be shared here, but no reward for guessing why I can’t do it now.
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Book Review : Incarnations - India in 50 Lives
Title : Incarnations - India in 50 Lives
Author : Sunil Khilnani
The book was recommended by a well respected book aficionado. After having read the book, I am quite intrigued by the lives that the author has picked as representatives of Indian voices on diverse fronts. Some of the lives picked are absolutely pride of the nation who within their lifetimes, managed to gift the world a new or different philosophy while there are some which I felt are quite unworthy of this honour.
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What's Brewing? Chole (Kabuli chane) with kulche
Kabuli Chana (Chole) - 1 cup
Onion - ½ cup (finely chopped)
Tomatoes - ½ cup (finely chopped)
Ginger - 2 inch piece (grated)
Coriander leaves - 1/3 cup (finely chopped)
Green chillies - 2 (finely chopped)
Lemon juice - 3 tsp
Red chilli powder - ¼ tsp
Chana masala - ½ tsp
Tamarind chutney - 1 tsp 
Mint chutney - 1 tsp 
Salt - to taste

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mouthpiece #23

Vyadha-Gita Analysed (continued from previous issue)
After having read about Vyadha Gita, my mind kept hovering over the same anecdote and this is what impressed me the most:
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Magic of rains...
Rains, though is a natural phenomenon, yet always manage to do wonders to my spirits. This time when it rained, I wanted to write something but while sifting through my writings, I came across this piece which exactly conveyed my current state of mind, hence sharing it here. 
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Malai Paneer
Cottage cheese - 250 gm
Ginger : 1 inch (grated)
Tomatoes : 3 medium (pureed)
Red chilli powder : ½ tsp
Kasoori methi : 1 tsp (crushed with hands)
Garam masala : ¼ tsp
Fresh cream : 2 tbsp (I use Amul’s)
Coriander leaves : 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Salt : to taste
Oil : 2 tbsp

recipe here...
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