FREE LOVE

Our customary vegetable vendor pulls up right in front of our house…

My mother, already awaiting him, names out the vegetables and their desired measure to be popped into the basket one after the other…

As Mumma picks up a vegetable, scrutinises it heavily, upbraids the vendor if it is found unhealthy, rotten, undernourished or whatever, proceeds on until her basket brims with shiny, well-shaped, well-grown vegetables,

my frivolous mind wanders over the lush green herbs, corriander and mint, ( and a few more) laid down in neatly tied-up bundles, each costing 5 rupees.

The lustre and density of their leaves gave me a sense of richness and abundance of our natural vegetation and, in my mind, I reiterate the immortal lines by Kavi Sumitranandan Pant-

ओह, समय पर उनमें कितनी फलियाँ फूटी!
कितनी सारी फलियाँ, कितनी प्यारी फलियाँ,-

यह धरती कितना देती है! धरती माता
कितना देती है अपने प्यारे पुत्रों को!

हम जैसा बोयेंगे वैसा ही पायेंगे।

And while I stand there, contemplating that no matter how much we ‘pay’ for these vegetables, it would never be able to equal the love our Mother Earth showers upon us, my mother, done with her successful negotiations with the vendor, hands him the money, takes the change back and concludes-

“Thodi dhaniya aise hi daal do…”

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This is the very corriander I am talking about…

The vendor obliges.

For, why not?!

From one Mother to my mother- Free Love.

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RAJA, RASOI AUR EK KAHAANI

Disclaimer – The following post is written in collaboration with my friend Aayush Jha. Follow his lovely blog TheCommonBoy .

In India, its food is the celebration of its diversity, culture and rich history. It is a thread that connects the multi-cultured people of India; and though the food and eating habits change region by region, the love, joy and spirit of sharing behind cooking throughout the country remains constant.

When we talk about Nawabi cuisine, the first thing that strikes my mind is meat, “Waise bhi Yaar non-veg hi toh asli khana hai baki sab toh ghaas phoos hai”. Talking about Nawabi Cuisine, Lucknow, the Capital of ‘Awadh’, cannot be missed.

Lucknow, one of most beautiful and historically rich towns of North India, famous for its grandiose architecture and eclectic sumptuous delicacies, like Moti Pulao, Tunday Kebab, Lucknowi Dum Pukht Biryani, Arvi ka salan etc. is a direct trip to paradise for all the connoisseurs of food.

One delicacy that beats all the others both, in taste and popularity, is Kebab. They have their own importance, throughout Lucknow, and the saying “Lucknow ke Nawab aur wahan ke Kebab”, which symbolizes the importance of Nawabs and evolution of Kebabs during their reign, proves this.

It is worth-noting that the Nawabs of Lucknow were not as much famed for conquests and expansions as they were for being patrons of art, architecture and food. The Nawabs had a great sense for food and greatly relished eating meaty delicacies.

There is one kebab that is widely known for uniqueness, The Galouti Kebab; it’s the first of its kind of Kebabs. Until 16th century AD, the Kebabs used to be quite chewy and hard in texture. This trend changed with the arrival of Asa-ud-Daula, the successor of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. He significantly contributed in culinary and architecture of Lucknow. He brought about a ‘Renaissance’ in the cuisines of that era. It’s during this time that the Galouti Kebab came into existence.

According to historians, Nawab Asa-ud-Daula, had lost all his teeth due to his lavish lifestyle; but this did not deter his craving for Kebabs. He asked his ‘Khansamas’, the royal chefs, to prepare such a kebab which was soft and could be easily dissolved in mouth, unlike the earlier Kebabs that required a great deal of functioning of teeth.

The name ‘Galouti’ itself self suggests “soft”. It is said that Mohammed Fakr-e-Alam was the first one who made Galouti Kebabs, he his said have also invented the Moti Pulao.

Galouti Kebab is prepared by finely mincing the lamb meat and then marinating it in an extraordinary variety of spices, precisely 150 different spices, that enhances its taste, it is deep fried in ‘Shuddh Desi Ghee’. These patty shaped Kebabs take your taste buds on a heavenly journey. Galouti Kebabs have placed Lucknow on the culinary world map. If you ever happen to be in lucknow, then now you know what you should do…..

“Lucknow aye aur kebab na khaya, to kiya kya? Aaiye jaanab, kebab ka lutf uthaien…” Aadab…

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Hello? Hello!

“Hellllllooooo!!!” I say.

“Hello?” my very dear school friend answers.

Why that question mark, I wonder.

Not more than a couple of days ago did we have a long hearty talk, just like our other usual talks, wherein we detail out our respective lives, elaborating vividly what all happened with us, around us in the days we did not talk; wherein we feel as if we are talking vis-à-vis with liveliness so unparalleled that even the dust around us assumes life, unmindful of the people around, instead of over our dead mobile phone; wherein we know the very expressions and gestures the other person is making use of.

” Hello, who’s it?” The voice from the other end of the phone continues.

I still stand pondering.

People change‘, so I had heard; but ‘this quickly‘, I had never known.

Even the closest pal would someday desert you‘, so the elders had warned me; but ‘out of the blue, with no apparent reason in sight‘, I had never even remotely imagined.

Yes, we are in different colleges, pursuing different streams, but that does not justify the change of “Hello!” into “Hello?” within no time, does it?

“Hello? Hello?” The voice now sounds exasperated.

“Hey, hello, it is me…” I painstainkingly utter.

“Hellllllooooo!!! Whose phone are you using?”

And even before she asks further, the foolish me realises that I have called her using a new number. Thanks to the network providers offering unlimited free calls!

I clarify. She laughs. We laugh.

The long hearty talk follows.

Huh! After suffering the puny heartache on hearing “Hello?” I can only wish that may you always be greated by the same old familiar ‘Hello’ or rather
‘Hellllllooooo!!!’, come what may.

WHEN THE CORRECT ISN’T TOTALLY CORRECT

” Ma’am, I clearly deserve full marks here! I’ve written the correct definition.”

” No, that’s not the exact definition. ”

” But ma’am, this is exactly the definition of ‘Ecosystem’ given in our E.V.S. book.”

” Do I teach you E.V.S.? I teach Geography! Is this the definition given in your Geography textbook?”

” No ma’am, but Ecosystem means the same everywhere. Is it given wrong in the E.V.S. book then?”

” Stop arguing! Listen to what I say! Write this definition in your E.V.S. exam not Geography! Go to your seat now.”

That day, one fine day in class 3rd, I understood what rote learning actually is by the virtue of a teacher who, maybe, herself had been it’s(rote learning’s) victim.

Though I understood it, I quite didn’t imbibe it, which cost me a lot of marks in all my subjects in the later classes as well.

I lost marks when on differentiating between ‘animal cell’ and ‘plant cell’ I did not write the ‘important’ points my  teacher made the students mark in their textbooks; for apparently the rest of the differences were not really differences but just some arbitrary information!

I lost marks when instead of giving a long(5 marks long!) explanation of the temperature zones of the earth, I gave a short explanation with a suitable, and self-explanatory, diagram.

I lost marks when I arriculated the ‘Causes of the Revolt of 1857’ in three-fourths of a page when the teacher expected a one full page long answer. I wish I had written the same in a bigger hand-writing!

I lost marks even on correctly evaluating the area enclosed by the given curve because I missed a step in ‘showing’ that it was really me who solved the question!

Sadly Gladly, I was never the class topper. Gladly, I was never a parrot. Gladly, what others roted in two hours, I understood in one. Gladly, I always scored less.

But I sincerely look forward to the day in near future when someone would ask me- ” What do you understand by Ecosystem?”

And I would say-

“Ahem, precisely, it’s the inter-dependent  relation between organisms and their environment, but don’t believe me! My class 3rd E.V.S. textbook said ‘this’ and my Geography textbook said ‘that’…”

Or

” You prefer E.V.S. or Geography?”

IN LOVE

You walk with me to the farthest of lands.

I’ll be with you for each step, holding hands.

 

In this expanse, you be and let me be.

Though two yet one, we’ll ride infinity.

 

I’ll rule the earth, and soar like a dove above,

And while people fall, I will fly in love…

 

A/N: So, I was trying something new! Poetry is not exactly my forte, but when i want to write it, I want to write it well. 

So I experimented with ‘Iambic Pentameter’ , a beautiful form of poetry. Do tell me how you found it…

 

CAN YOU EVEN TAKE A JOKE ON YOURSELF?

When was the last time you got offended?
A month ago?
A week ago?
Yesterday?
Today ?
While reading the title?(Who knows, for, apparently, getting offended is the new cool!)

What’s happening? Have we lost the ability to laugh at ourselves? Seems so.
Has it really become so intolerable that a jibe or joke is aimed at us and we can’t let it off without being offended?

I write this through experience.

Barely months ago, while talking to a friend and her friend, I, unmindfully jibed at her(my friend’s friend) . Little did I know that my seemingly unhurtful remark would so offend her that I would receive a message of the length of short newspaper column(yes!) that coming evening(of course about telling me about my ‘misdemeanour’ and how I had put her off in the presence of other students!!! )

This is only one instance of numerous such episodes.
And this is just my example. Assuredly, many of my fellow readers would have been a part of such a predicament.

So, it has come to this that people who cannot help but pull a joke every now and then, like me, cannot be their usual self without giving out a verbal disclaimer- “Sorry to say but”, “Don’t take it the wrong way but”, “I do not mean to offend you but”…- before fighting their conscience(Should I say this or should I not?) to pull that joke!

No wonder it’s an era of growing stress and cynicism! Dejection, anxiety, apprehension seems to pervade every other indivisual. This further creates a vague sense of social insecurity.

The problem is so grave that I fear people wont to their wit and frenzy would stop cracking jokes at all.
Imagine, a world without self- depreciating and slapstick comedy! Certainly not a world Charlie Chaplin would have dreamt of.

I believe, joke ‘crackers’ should undauntingly crack jokes as and when they feel to and the joke ‘crackee’ should take it in good humour, come what may.

After all, aren’t there enough problems already that people should create more of them through a medium that is supposedly meant to ease those problems- humour?

Here is a thoughtful thought by Joss Wedon to be kept in mind-

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”

So, joke. Spread smiles, laughter, grins, smirks.
Make yourself and people around you happier.

Need another reason for being humourous?
Psychologists from Medical University, Vienna, have concluded that people who crack dark jokes and also people who can understand those jokes hone their intelligence and cognitive skills.

Enough said.

Readers, please, joke and let joke.

A RUPEE FOR MY THOUGHT!

Question-

What are some joys that come really cheap?

Answer-

A joy that cost me just a rupee!

I went to a stationery shop to purchase a pen. A boy, around 6, came and asked the shopkeeper for a yellow chart-paper. The shopkeeper handed him one and said,”4 rupees.”

The boy opened his palm and counted the coins. There were 3 one-rupee coins. Dejected, he asked the shopkeeper to take 3 rupees now and a rupee later. He so wanted the chart-paper. Nonetheless, the shopkeeper refused.

The boy turned around to leave.

I checked my purse and slipped a rupee coin on the counter and asked the shopkeeper to give the boy the chart-paper. The shopkeeper gave a smile and said, “Hey boy! Come and take the chart-paper for 3 rupees.”

The gleam on the child’s face was the brightest I had ever seen.

A rupee had never valued so much!
What are some joys that are cheap, you ask? Well, bringing a smile on people’s face is really cheap and invaluable.

LIFE LESSONS FROM THE COURT

To my elder sister and my dear friend; two lovely people who advised me to write what follows-

Whenever I start giving myself a lot of airs because of some handful of my achievements, something certainly happens invariably which makes me return to my actual abode-earthly dust. I call these somethings ‘ego- rippers’.

This time, an ego-ripper came to me disguised in the form of a Badminton Tournament.

On 27th July, 2016 I won a gold in the District Badminton Tournament and qualified for the Regional Badminton Tournament. As I contemptibly looked down upon the silver medalist and those who hadn’t got any medal, I felt no less than the ace Indian Shuttler-Saina Nehwal.

Little did I know that exactly one month after, that Regional Tournament, which was going to be held in another State, would SERVE as an unpleasant eye-opener as I would be SMASHED down to the ground with all my ego TOSSED away and my head CLEARed of any vague self-importance while my mind sets itself into a VOLLEY of some deep deliberations.

On 27th August, I was beaten by 4-21 in the 1st qualifier round itself!

I don’t know what went wrong. Just last month I had purchased comfortable and quite pricy Li-Ning Badminton shoes. Just a few days before the tournament, I purchased new pairs of playing outfits. I made sure that my racquets were kept safely in their covers; not a speck of dust to be settled on them. Then I took a tedious 13-hours’ train journey to go to the state where the tournament was to be held. And all this only to be beaten by 4-21 in the qualifiers!

When I lost, I had lost it. I slumped in the chair next to my Physical Education teacher. Both of us didn’t utter a single word. He consoled me a little while later and left.

Soon I, all by myself, after that shattering defeat, had tears in my eyes. And those tears were not of dejection but of amazement. How could I have lost! The Ego which was even higher than the seventh heaven came crashing down right in front of my eyes and fell into a deep, dark abyss.

Gradually, I picked myself up.

I tried to ruminate over what unexpected had just happened. And I soon found out the reason. (Maybe I knew the answer beforehand but didn’t want to accept it. But now, when that reason stared me straight in the eye, I had no other way out but to silently accept it.)

I lacked practice.

Apparently, it dawned on me that it’s not the tools(comfortable shoes, new sportswear, best racquet) but the ability(practice) to use those tools deftly that makes one stand out.

Analogically, you can have the paint brushes once used by Picasso and the colour-palette once used by Leonardo da Vinci and still end up making the worst painting ever.

Here, I learnt two lessons-
One, never feed your Ego. Remember the place you rose from- the ground; you might need it sooner or later.
Two, practice makes a man, woman, girl ,boy, everyone perfect.

That was about what I learnt from my performance.

Having partially overcome my defeat, I observed others’ games.

For an onlooker, Badminton or any other game for that matter, is just a game. But, tarry and behold, a lot goes within it. You encounter every emotion on the court- joy, gloom, surprise, disgust, pain, disbelief-you just name it. There is a story behind every player and her every game.

Here you see a player losing the first game but wondrously recovering and winning the next two.

There you see the most well-known player trailing back terribly.

Here you see a player losing by 20-22.

There you see an injured winning the game.

Here you see someone losing her game but not moaning a word about it.

There you see a player winning with an unmatchable lead but still maintaining an indifferent expression throughout.

Here you see the coach cursing the player at every point lost but, in the very next moment, cheering her at every point won.

There you see a coach sitting as motionless as a rock throughout the game.

Here you see a player having a tiff with the umpire or the linesman.

There you see a player as cool as a cucumber even when the umpire or the  linesman gives a wrong decision.

A lot, a lot goes on. There is something to learn from everyone’s story.

At the end of the day, there is just one victor.

But that in no way undermines the performances of the rest. Is it not more imperative to have struggled than to have won?

They say, ” Losing and winning is a part of a game.”
Darn no!
It is a part of Life.

These courts, these grounds and other playing areas are a symbolism of life.

The summary of life, so to say.

WHY I CLICK? WHERE I CLICK?

Clicking pictures has always fascinated me. I am always amazed by the simple fact that we can actually ‘freeze’ a moment, keep it with ourselves and cherish it all through are living years. How marvellous is that?

Freezing. Keeping. Cherishing.

I click everything around me. The animate and the inanimate alike.

I don’t use a DSLR(though I want to!). I am content with my 13MP phone camera. That has given me some very splendid pictures so far.

As mentioned a while ago, I click everything around me. I don’t go to a special different place(say a picturesque landmark or a historical monument) to click pictures. I click what I see, randomly.

That having been said, I am biased towards a place in my very own house for clicking pictures. That’s my favourite spot. It’s a balcony.

I can see the world from there; my little grand spectacular world. The spot has given me some variety of pictures- from the pictures of the various hues of the sky to that of children playing in front of my house- but the picture which beats every other picture hands down is this-

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What you see is raindrops falling on the brick sill of the balcony as streetlight falls on those drops from the back.

I call them WATERY FIRE.

I didn’t use any special technique to click these. All I did was to set the mode to Night mode, keep my eyes open, wait for the perfect time and click! Simple! Nothing fancy! Nothing complicated!

Isn’t photography all about simplicity?

I recently came to know about Light, a new camera tethnology company.
They have developed this amazing Compact Camera (visit the link to know more)

They have also come up with a project by the name #VantagePoint wherein they ask bloggers to share their best shot from their favourite spot.

That’s what I have done in this post.

SHE IS TITANIUM!

“My mother and your mother are the strongest ladies I know,” my father once proudly told me. I simply nodded my head, not understanding what he really implied.

I still don’t know why his mother is one of the strong ladies he knows; but why my mother is, I now know. Surely his reason to call my mother strong is different. Here is my reason-

12th August, 2016-

My father’s birthday.

Morning-

We all are happy. We wish Papa a Happy Birthday and return to our works. I get ready for school and my father for office. Mummy prepares delicious breakfast. She sends us off. Everyone is happy.

2:20 P.M.

I return from school. My mother opens the door as she always does. No expression of indifference on her face.
“Are you going somewhere,” I ask her seeing her all ready to go somewhere.

“Yes. And you are coming with us. Papa is coming too. We are going to Nani’s( maternal grandmother’s) house. Nana(maternal grandfather) is no more.

My heart skipped a million beats at the same time. I froze. Whattt!

I knew that he had been ill, tormented by paralysis for the past eight months, barely able to move; but didn’t know that today could have been ‘the day’.

It was now that I saw tears in my mother’s eyes. I put a comforting hand around her and waited for papa to come home.

He came soon after. He too comforted my mother. She wept like a child. Tears rolled down my father’s eyes too. We three sat together on the edge of a bed, clenching each other’s hand, staring at the wall right in front of us. No one spoke.

Due to some reason, we couldn’t go to Nani’s house that day. So we decided to go there next morning.

Barely a word passed between us for a next couple of hours. Everyone was visibly hurt, agonised and shook to the core.

How does that make my mother strong? Read on…

Come evening, and we saw a bizarre resilience in my mother.

She silently went to her and Papa’s room, blew up some balloons that she had bought the previous day, and spread it all across the room.

When we saw this, we were taken aback.
Papa told her that it wasn’t required. But she wouldn’t listen. “It’s your birthday”, she said as if the day was ‘only’ about his birthday.

Not only this. Later in the evening she asked me if I wanted to have a cake! I refused respectfully. Nonetheless, she insisted that I could have it if I wanted to. I refused.

At dinner, we were served the best food in the best crockery set. She had also bought some ice-cream for dessert.

All this happened while a smile was hung around her lips. But her eyes spoke moaning words. They, her eyes, were melancholic, deeply dejected and dispirited

No one could sleep that night.

13th August, 2016-

We went to Nani’s house. The ambience was marked by total sorrow and grief. Everyone, who had ever known my Nana, had gathered there.

Here, my mother, clinging to her mother, wept and wept and wept…

The onlookers could not hold back their tears either.

14th August, 2016-

We are back at our home. The grief has not been overcome yet. Everyone is trying to veil it by their own suitable ways.

My mother.

My head bows down to her in reverence and admiration. She chose to celebrate birth over condoning death. My father and her father mean equally dear to her and she showed equal respect to both of them in her own way.

She is an epitome of stability of mind and commendable resilience.

My mother- the strongest person  I have ever known and, probably, will ever know.