Thursday, April 16, 2009

Of Bananas and Caramels

“Heyyyyyy I have invented something really yummy! Make it now and tell me what you think!! That was *MD’s opening line from the other end of the telephone at well past 11:00 pm, one evening.

“Mummmmmm, yummmmmmmmmm, very, very, nice”, she continued with all the special effects.

“Ok, what is it?” I asked impatiently.

MD continued with what it seemed from the “beginning” (as we say, shuru say). “You see, I had a sudden craving for something sweet and there were no sweets in my larder! All I could find were some bananas which is exactly not what would have satiated my craving. But then you see, a little imagination and a lot can be done with a banana fruit! I cut them up gole-gole, lit a slow fire, put the tava on the flame, smeared the tava with ghee, and then laid out the banana pieces on the ghee. When the side down had turned golden, I sprinkled the non-golden side with sugar and turned them over. Soon when the sugar caramelized, I turned them up and switched off the flame. I left them on the tava to cool a bit and become crispy and nowwwwwwwwwww I am having them. Mummmmmm, yummmmmmmmmm, very, very, nice…………………………”

As if this was not enough, “Make it right now”, she implored.

“First, I am not having a craving for sweets, second there is no banana at home,” I replied.

But perhaps MD did not know then that I had heard her recipe with rapt attention and registered it in my mind for future recall. And, out of curiosity more than any thing else, I tried her recipe the following day. “Hmm, not bad”, I thought to myself. I got a little bold and served it to a couple of friends too. “Where did you learn to make this?” was the first question I was asked as I watched my friends nibble on the caramelized bananas with great relish! Here’s a picture I took of the bites still on the tava being cooked – in fact, I served in the tava itself – with one fork each for everyone – that lent the serve an exotic air!!

Well, I have never made a post on food on my blog before, so glad to broaden the scope, thanks to MD!

*MD: For any of you who may wonder who I am talking about, MD is my sister.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tagged and Passed

I was recently tagged by Twisted Faktory to complete a meme. I have been “tagged” once before. So I knew what being tagged means. It means answering some questions and passing on the questions to friendly bloggers who’d be interested in answering the same questions and passing them on.... But I didn’t know what “meme” meant before I was tagged this time. Now I do, and here is one of the most comprehensive explanations I found on the internet.

Now, coming to the rules of this tag, they are:
1. Respond and rework.
2. Answer questions on your own blog.
3. Replace one question. Add one question.
4. Tag eight bloggers.

The following are my responses to the questions:

What are your current obsessions?

Watching movies, watching television, and reading newspaper

Which item from your closet are you wearing most often?
The lightest kurta with the shortest sleeve

What's for dinner?
Pav-bhaji with mango juice

Say something to the person who tagged you:
May you fulfill all the things you have planned to do in life. My best wishes.

Your favorite vacation spots:
The mountain areas of Uttaranchal and the Nilgiri mountains in South India

Your worst nightmare:
To be left alone on earth

Reading right now?
Yes, a book on guiding dreams.

What is the last movie you saw and enjoyed? Rate it out of 5 stars.
The Reader. Five stars.

Guilty pleasure?
Shopping for clothes

First spring thing?
Taking off from office work

Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Aaam panna by Haldiram’s

Care to share some wisdom?
Respect every creation of Nature, however small. Respect begets respect.

Boon you would ask for if God came before you?
To grant me Aladdin's magic lamp in full working condition

What would happen if you are not a woman/man (which ever is applicable to you?)
Me, as a biological man

Are you voting this time?
No. I was told I am not eligible - I need to be occupying my current residence for at least six months.

I tag:
KD and her thoughts clamoring for attention

Mesdi’s and her simple cooking

Little Budi and his side of the story
M and her words and life
A curved line and her musings
Sigma and her thoughts
A computer guy who loves to travel

Thursday, April 09, 2009

What goes, comes around: Making ethical choices

Friends, Canada’s annual slaughter of baby seals has begun – of babies less than 4 weeks old and according to sources “who haven’t had their first swim yet”. The baby seals are being clobbered to death every hour of the day for their FUR. Last year, more than 2,05,000 seals were killed for FUR on the Canadian soil.

I have been thinking.... on the one hand the whole world is reeling under threats of terrorism, violence of every kind imaginable, communalism, fascism, racism, wars, death, destruction, and the list goes on.... and on the other hand as a human race we are continuing to inflict pain and suffering on the millions of members of our animal kingdom, every second of each and every day. What do we expect after this – that our lives will be a cloudless saga and the little spaces we occupy on earth violence-free? But that is not possible, because what goes comes around too. This is the Universal Law, which we quote when convenient and ignore when we need to make choices that will upset the habits we have formed. In the words of Leo Tolstoy, "As long as there are slaughter houses, there will be battle fields." I cannot agree more. Today, I may aspire to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle which is a choice I make in my individual life, but there are millions of my own kind who abet the harming and killing of animals.

As human beings we have the power to exercise creativity in the different fields of work we choose in life but without a sense of ethics our creativity may be a hotbed of bad karmas. To take an example in the context of this post of mine, are the fashion designers and the rich class (often without ethics) who create a demand for fur. And to “fulfill” this demand, millions of animals such as baby seals, rabbits, dogs, etc. are led to suffer horrific deaths. I am ashamed at what we collectively do to the unsuspecting animals that are simply trapped and killed. I have been following the protests of animal activists from all over the world including the stand of the cruelty-free cosmetic brand LUSH against the slaughter of seals in Canada. The least I can do is endorse online petitions to the Government of Canada and hope it will put a stop to the brutal killing of baby seals and also hope that the “demand” created for fur will cease to exist. You can also lend your voice by signing up on the petition by clicking here. Besides, if you want detailed updates on the protests and see how the protesters are creating public awareness, you can click here.

There is enormous power in intent. If many people collectively hope for something to happen, it is bound to happen. For example take the case of the apparel brand Urban Outfitters who have recently issued a notice to the effect that all their stores are now fur-free. This declaration came after they received 4000 online petitions from individuals seeking for fur to be pulled out from their stores. Kudos.

But, Armani refuses to stop using fur for his fashion brand which means he refuses to stop killing little bunnies from whom he gets fur. We can keep trying and hope that one day he will give a chance to his conscience to be heard and make a compassionate choice. We can send out our intent to Armani by clicking here.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated," is a thought that Mahatma Gandhi has left us with. We expend a massive amount of intellectual capital on why violence happens and the strategies to counter it.... I end with a simple thought: non-violence begins at home.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

I am passing through a curious phase in life. I can’t seem to finish any book I start to read. I seem to only have enough attentiveness to finish a short article. I can’t seem to enjoy most programmes on television. I seem to watch only reality shows (hmmph and enjoy them too) and the **Aastha channel. I can’t seem to like eating regular food anymore, such as rice for lunch and chapattis for dinner. I seem to want anything but rice and chapattis for lunch!! I also seem to have developed a hunger for films over which I devour many packets of my favorite onion-flavored potato chips from Lays. I can’t seem to enjoy my weekends at home anymore. I seem to have a compelling need to go out and explore. As though time is running out. Now, what kind of life crisis is this?!

Hmmm, today’s post is to record and remind myself that there are exceptions too. For instance, I actually finished one book I had started, in three consecutive days flat, with nap-
gaps in between, of course. The book that kept me glued to it is the “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” written by Mark Haddon. No, it is not a doggy tale, it is a mystery tale, rather. There is a dog but it gets killed in the very first page of the book. I don’t like fiction and films where dogs get killed which is why I did not pick up “Marley And Me” during my last trip to the bookstore and left watching the film based on it, mid-way. But, in this book I did not mind too much that the dog gets killed because it happens in the first page before I have formed attachment with the dog.

I would recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time to anyone who adores mysteries and thrillers. The story is about Christopher, an autistic boy gifted with a brand of intelligence quite different from the ordinary understanding of what “intelligence” comprises of. Christopher, inspired by Sherlock Holmes, his idol, gets involved in solving a mystery in unique style and while at it, discovers secrets about his own family that jar him in a peculiar way. This is where the mystery lies which you can find out if you read the book. The story is told in first person and this brings Christopher very close in the imagination of the reader besides speaking volumes about the brilliance of casting and composition of the author, Mark Haddon.

I think I hung on to the book – one, because of the mystery in it, two, because of the fantastic insights of an autistic person – about his own behavior and his observations about the behavior of “normal” people. And three, because of the skilled integration of mystery with insights into the mind of an autistic adolescent by the writer. Sample some parts of the book by clicking the images below for a larger view.

I hope you can read the book sometime.
**Speaking of the Aastha channel, I enjoy hearing some discourses telecast through the channel such as those of Brahmakumari Shivani and Baba Ramdev. I heard Baba Ramdev say something very interesting the other day. He was expounding upon how the Indian way of life has been envisioned to be fee from violence and as an example he spoke of the mechanism of the broomstick. Brooms as we know have gaps between each of its sticks. According to Baba Ramdev, gaps have been deliberately conceived so that small insects - including ants caught in them can scamper to safety. Quite profound!