Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mouthpiece #38

Festivities in the air...
It is that time of the year again. If any other period comes close to my most favoured monsoon, then it has to be this transitioning time when short piercing rays of the sun lose their edge and morph into slanting beams, when tree tops bask in that faint golden radiance a little longer, when slight nip in the early morning air makes one fall in love with that hot cup of tea over again, when a whiff of roasted peanuts fills one with nostalgia of carefree bygone times, when streaming light through thin fog appears like divine guiding illumination and when everything in nature turns to wear a mysterious misty cloak. Palpable festivities and religious fervour adorn the days and nights further. Faint chants of Ramayana verses, street enactments of Ramlila, recitals of Durga Stuti, dhak (dhol beats) emanating from Puja pandaals and the temple bells add to the charm of the revelry.
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mouthpiece #37

In the world of written words...
I have mentioned earlier that the world to general reading or reading for fun opened its gates for me quite unhurriedly when I was already in my late teens. Until then, for me, books meant - course books, supplementary books, reference books and similar such which primarily taught and tested (and not subtly at all). Written words could work as relaxing pursuit or a strong medium to unwind was completely unknown to me. I am happy that the journey in the literary world began from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one after another, I read all her works in quick succession. Once I had my fill (not exactly) of Austen, I moved on to Thomas Hardy picking Tess of the d'urbervilles first and the pattern that I followed for Austen continued with Hardy too. I literally devoured his complete works. Reading quickly escalated from being a hobby to a passion and I was reading almost with vengeance as if to make up for all the time I lost during early years.
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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mouthpiece #36

Skill of doing nothing...
Recently I was advised to do nothing for sometime to give complete rest to my elbows which quite surprisingly got inflicted with tennis elbow, in spite of not having played this sport ever in my life. As I tried desperately to do nothing, I seriously wondered how hard it is to practice, more so, when it comes as an instruction. While I forced myself into this complete rest regimen for a few days, I appreciated the idea behind training oneself to doing nothing from time to time.
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अनोखा समन्वय
कल-कल बहता पानी आज का संगीत गुनगुनाए
सन-सन बहती हवा चाल मद्धम कर जाए
डाल से टूटी पाती नवजीवन का संकेत बन जाए
चुरमुराते सूखे पत्ते शांत भाव जगाएँ
शीतल बूँदें मन में गर्माहट भर जाएँ 
अटल खड़े परबत क्षणभुंगरता को दर्शाएँ
सागर की गहराइयाँ ऊंचाई का बोध कराए

यह है विरोधाभास या एक समन्वय
एक के रहते दूसरा दूर कहाँ रह पाए ?
Kitchen tales ... in anticipation of winters
I have always preferred closed cozy interiors during winters than fiery summers. After having spent fourteen years away from the extreme climate of North, it took me a while to get readjusted to this variation once we came back to Chandigarh. But I can say that a chilly day still attracts all my votes over heat blazing days of summer. It somehow gives a feeling that I am hibernating in the cosy confines of the home. 
I used to look forward to winters for many things. One of Gulzar’s songs just keeps coming to my mind when I picture a perfect winter day - जाड़ों की सर्द धुप और आँगन में लेट कर… (jaadon ki sard dhoop aur aangan mein late kar…)
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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mouthpiece #35

मैं और बादलों की दुनिया...

बादलों में बसती है एक अनोखी दुनिया दूर आसमान में,
खुलता है एक झरोखा कभी, कहीं, किसी एक बादल में! 

कभी कहीं पहुँचने की जल्दी में गतिमान लगते हैं,
मालूम होता है कहते हों- अभी लौट कर मिलते हैं|
और कभी समय की गति को जैसे भुला ही देते हैं,
इत्मिनान कैसा होता है जैसे अभिनय कर के बताते हैं|
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It is quite an interesting observation that when we wake up in the morning, we feel like sitting quietly for some time and if possible in an open place, closer to nature. While I read it somewhere, it made me introspect, why does it happen? Perhaps, this is what our natural instinct is - to remain calm and to be at peace. But as the day’s activities take us in their fold, the noise around us keeps increasing, so does the din inside us and they work mysteriously together to drown our innate peaceful self which doesn’t get to make its presence felt any time soon after that. 
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What's baking in the kitchen? 
Banana Bread
All purpose flour (maida) : 1 ½ cups
Cinnamon powder : 1 tsp
Baking Soda : ½ tsp
Salt : ½ tsp
Nutmeg : ½ tsp
Baking powder : ¼ tsp
Powdered sugar : 1 cup
Ripe Banana : 1 cup (mashed with a fork)
Egg : 1
Oil : ¼ cup
Walnuts : 1/ cup (chopped)

recipe here...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mouthpiece #34

Possessions beget possessiveness. We tend to get possessive about the things that we believe we possess or have control over or the things that we feel are ours. From inanimate things to our near and dear ones, nothing escapes the tightening grip of our possessiveness.
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What's Brewing?
Chocolate-Chips Cake

All purpose flour (maida) : 1 cup
Sugar (ground) : 1-¼ cups
Cocoa powder : ½ cup
Choco chips : ½ cup
Baking soda : ½ tsp
Butter : 5 tbsp
Oil : 3 tbsp
Eggs : 2 
Vanilla essence : ¼ tsp
Salt : a pinch
Water : ½ cup
recipe here...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mouthpiece #33

Non-working professional?

My professional life has not seen much of daylight, it has been in fits and starts and the stints have been so short that no effort is required to miss them when compared to the non-working periods. Going back in time, just a couple of years short of two decades, I was a regular computer graduate with twinkling stars in her eyes ready to begin my corporate journey, so much so, that when I wasn’t shortlisted for the first campus placement, I was devastated. 
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What's new in the kitchen?
Mushroom do-pyaaza
Mushroom - 2 packets
Capsicum - 2 (cut in big pieces)
Onions (medium)- 2 (chopped)
Bulb onions - 4
Tomatoes(big) - 2 (chopped)
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 2
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Red chilli powder - ¼ tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tsp
Garam masala - 1/3 tsp
Coriander leaves - ¼ cup (finely chopped)
Oil : 2 tbsp
Salt : to taste

recipe here...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mouthpiece #32

Food and I

Food and I - the relationship that we share, has undergone tremendous change over my life of four decades. 
Food during childhood was quite an insignificant and inconsequential part of the routine. I don’t remember having registered much during that time. A big reason for that was my lack of interest in eating. I would not call myself a picky eater because that was absolutely not allowed at home, but we all (siblings) never picked any sweet to put in our mouths. None of us had even an iota of what is normally called a sweet tooth, even to the extent that we hardly had any biscuits either. Sweets did enter our home but that was more as a ritual and we kids almost had to endure partaking a bite which could be as tiny as a pea. Overall snacking was almost absent in our home.
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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

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