Sunday, February 26, 2012

Young and Old!!!

I cant believe this myself, but I must be honest to tell you all this wonderful realization that finally dawned on me this evening about talking, expressing, and speaking at large.

Someone I have known since my childhood has been asking me to come over to her house. My mother and I went to meet her this evening. Old age had set in and she looked older than the last time I met her.

After some initial enquiries about my side of the world, she went on to talk about many of her family issues most of which seemed very unlike of her nature... and very non-cohesive...and very shocking...

Issues are there everywhere, but all those issues that people try keeping to themselves until old age comes out when people feel lonely at old age. Old people need someone to talk to and something to keep themselves occupied. This is the truth that I learnt.

Else, talking causes a lot of problems for them, around them. It is easy to get branded as 'Oldies' and stranded in isolated world where no one would talk to them because what they talk seems to cause a lot of problems for the younger generation.

What younger generation should realize is that the old people need to get a feeling of being included and being given some responsibility that they can handle as long as they can...Idle Mind is a devil's workshop and more so at old age... When old age sets in, all the past gets processed in the workshop making the present idle times difficult to deal with and hence get expressed in a lot of loose talk and damage. The young shouldn't mind the old people's baseless conversations that is uncharacteristic of them. It is best to recall their younger days when the present oldies were more reasonable and nice.

What the older generation should realize is that younger generation need their space and they have their view points and enjoy being left to handle responsibilities themselves... When the young people need old people's wisdom and advice, they will approach. If they don't, then it is up to them to experience what they must and whenever support is needed the older generation should render it to their best. The old shouldn't mind the young people's newest trends and baseless confusions. Its best to enjoy their young age for what it is and what it means to their happiness.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vengaya Vathal Kuzhambu

This has been a long pending recipe post on my blog. Many of my friends who have tasted this super good South Indian dish, have been asking me for my version of it. This post is part of Simple and Quick Cooking.
So here it goes. It takes about twenty minutes including the cutting of onion which is the main ingredient of the dish.

Here's what you need:

  • Onions - 2 medium sized, finely chopped. Should take you five minutes,
  • Curry leaves - If you happen to have them in your fridge or backyard or the shopping bag. Not a mandatory item.
  • Tamarind paste - Soak tamarind - about the volume of a medium sized lemon - in say 250 ml of water for a while. Squeeze the tamarind in water as much as you can and you'll finally get a watery or slightly thick tamarind paste. Takes two minutes to three minutes.
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tea spoonful.Said to be good for health.. If you don't like mustard much, you can minimize the quantity.
  • Fenugreek seeds - half a tea spoonful at least.
  • Gram Dal - Half a tea spoonful.
  • Cooking oil  - Three to four medium spoonfuls if diet conscious ; A little over one medium table spoon if you don't mind being less diet-conscious just this once!!!
  • Salt to taste and Turmeric for flavor and to fight the harmful bacteria in the leaves and chopped onion, if at all there is any.
Sambhar Masala - Buy it from any Indian store. If you are particular about making it yourself at home just for the Vatha Kozhambu, then here's how you make it:
In about half a tea spoon of oil, fry one spoon of coriander seeds, two peppercorns for a minute and keep aside. In the same pan, fry about four to six red chillies ( depends on how spicy you want your dish to taste) until the red becomes pronounced but not black. In half a spoon of oil, fry a spoon of gram Dal until brownish shade begins to appear and add in half a spoon of thoor Dal as well. Fry the mix until brown. Switch off the flame and dry fry a quarter tea spoonful of cumin seeds. Grind all the fried items - your sambhar masala is ready. The quantity given here is approximate. Add two or three spoons of this powder when you make the Vethal kozhambu. If excess you can use it for the usual sambhar later on.

So, now that you have everything ready, the first thing you must do is switch on the exhaust fan or open the windows in your kitchen.

  1. Heat oil in a vessel like pan or kadai as we call it in India. If your frying pan can be alternated for a vessel, then it is the best option.
  2. Add Mustard seeds and wait for a few seconds so all of them splitter completely. When the last of the spluttering sound is fading off, add curry leaves. Stir once with a flat steel or wodden laddle.
  3. Add gram Dal and fenugreek seeds. Fry until the gram Dal seems roasted.
  4. Add the chopped onions and fry until the familiar pinkish tint that is seen when onions are close to completely cooked. You can also deep fry it, if you have the patience, but health wise, its good to have the onions just cooked well. Of course for the best and sinfully delicious taste results, fry onions until golden brown.
  5. Add three spoonfuls of sambhar masala and fry for less than a minute, until the masala gets coated on every chopped piece of onion. If you had not switched on the exhaust fan, you will surely remember to do it the next time!!!
  6. Add the tamarind water. If you have made a paste then add a little water to it, to enable the masala coated onions to mix well in the pan.
  7. Allow the mix to boil for five minutes.
  8. Add a little turmeric and salt to the boiling mixture.
Your Vengaya Vatha Kozhambhu is ready to eat with rice and dosas. Always Vatha Kozhambu is taken with Ghee or Gingelly oil, so excess of this doesn't affect your stomach. A good accompaniment for curd rice, this dish when mixed with plain rice is best with any green vegetable fry and the traditional Urad Appalam or Vadaams made in South India. If you cant get these where you live, just try this along with potato chips.

South Indian Chef Secret:

For best of the best results add a little jaggery to the mixture before you switch off the flame. Jagerry has the property of taking out the excess tartness in the Vatha Kozhambu if at all you mess up with the quantity of tamarind you added or if the tamarind you bought was old, with excess tartness.

Minnalai Naan

மத்தாப்பு சிரிப்பு;
சிணுங்கும் சைக்கிள் மணி ஓசை;

திரும்பி பார்த்தேன் ஒரு முறை;
மின்னல் வேகத்தில் என்னை தாண்டியது...

பளிச்சென்ற பல் வரிசை;
துரு துரு கண்கள்;
ரெட்டை பின்னலின் ரிப்பன்;
மடித்து இட்ட துப்பட்டா;

மீண்டும் திரும்பி பார்த்தேன்;
இம்முறை எனது ரெட்டை பின்னல் காலங்களை....

அழகிய மின்னலாய்  என் மனதில்;
அன்றைய நான் தோன்றி மறைந்தேன்!

Ageing: Quiet moments teach many things....

This is something I never would have said or believed early last year...

I do agree that silence teaches things, but also like to say that silence is never completely possible in this seemingly complicated and problematic world...

This evening when I was on my regular walk on the pavement of my house, the house where I have spent all my childhood and girlhood days, I simply looked up for no reason when I thought about the ageing factor in me and my parents and the familiar neighbours whose young faces ( phases) I once knew.. True, the old phase, sadly, I never knew or realized until today's introspective evening.

The house had been repainted last year and the blue exterior didnt fade in all the rain and storm that my town went through over the last whole year. But then, there were many memories that helped me spot alll that was missing in the once beautiful backyard. Could be due to the Tsunami, the Thane, or the many cyclones and monsoons over the years, when we lost most of our garden and gardening interest. But the house still stood amidst all threats, although somewhere deep down I had a feeling that my house has aged a little... When I looked at my friend's house, where they no longer reside, I realized that the other house has aged too...

A neighbour came to chat with me for a while, so I could see her wrinkles and gray hair and generally the wisdom of old age very very clearly. I always had respect for her, but also knew the times when I had to word my message carefully when talking to her in the past.. This time, however, when she started talking, all I could see was that wisdom and a little helplessness that I knew was because of the old age setting in. Somehow my views changed about her and I spoke without any reservation for the first time with her.

It was just about time when the neighbouring tutorial center closed for the day and children started rushing out in bicycles. I noticed a group of girls, laughing away to glory, with the brightest of faces and child-like faces riding past us as we spoke.. I saw that it was the time of life for the children when most of the worry was about the History teacher or Geography maps or Maths problems or English Grammar. They are not spared either, but they could laugh often without thinking too much... It was the age that was responsible for the child-like nature in them.

When I finally was left alone to walk on the familiar pavement, I noticed that my parents had taken efforts to redo the pavement as well, although I have memories of playing in this pavement almost always until such time when Physics formulae, Chemisty equations, Botanical names, Zoological diagrams and Maths problems ate my play time!!! which I guess I will still not forgive or be able to understand why!!!!! To me, the pavement has aged and seen many rough times too along with the house...

Its the age, I realized finally; that made all the difference and is the cause for all problems in this world.
1. With age comes acceptance to many things and people in this world.
2. With age difference comes lack of understanding which is the qualifier of the term Generation Gap.
3. Trends constantly change over the years and as we age, we fail to realize that trends can never be constant as much as our views. We have problems with people younger to us and people older to us, because we feel that they must accept or understand our views and we cant follow their trends and beliefs that attach themselves to the trends.. Its the age battle that is on and not a battle between real people.
4. What was correct yesterday may seem incorrect today, because of the trend change, but often we fail to realize this because as we age, we want the world to age with us and grow old with us, which is just not JUST!!!!

So the next time there is an issue, lets try to check if it is to do with the age and hence the difference of opinion.. If yes, lets try not to mess with the words as we talk, this I guess will solve half of our personal issues with people.....

How simple it is to finally tally the moral of last evening.. Age gracefully; Accept Ageing; Respect Old Age and its beliefs; Give ageing its merit and accept its demerits as may be applicable in any given scene. Finally, SMILE.. After all, we all hope to live to see old age;

Friday, February 17, 2012

This is the best time!!!!

I have heard this many times in my life so far, at various stages... yesterday when I was talking to a friend, she told me at the end of the conversation, " This is the best time of your life.. Enjoy every moment!!!".

This statement made me recollect a few of the many times I have heard the same thing at various stages of my life...
  • When I was in school, someone studying in college had once made this remark..
  • When I was super bored with the four month gap between my school final exams and college first day, someone in college told me that this gap would be the best time of my life!!
  • When I was in first year of college, a senior made the remark..
  • When I finished college and stayed home for a few months waiting for the results and a probable job, then some working professional gave the same comment..
  • When I just joined work and didnt have much to do except observe what is happening on my senior's computer, he told me " This is the best time you can get at work "...
  •  Later, when I switched companies and had a week break between Company A and Company B, someone who had also just swtiched jobs told me that was the best time I could get ever...
  •  and then when my parents were looking out for a match for me, all the married friends of mine told me " This is the best time of your life, Enjoy "...
  • Then came the big news of my engagement.. I had just announced to some of my friends that I would be getting engaged to marry in the next few days. One of them told me that the time between saying the Big Yes and waiting for the engagement ( which in my case was four days ) is the best time of my life!!!
  • Then, when I sent the engagement photos and was receiving wishes on my engagement, many friends remarked that the time between the engagement and marriage is the best time one can probably get in life...
  • The day I got married, among the wishes and well - wishers' messages, all I recall is the line : This is the best time of your life, Enjoy!!!
  • When I told someone over the phone that I wont be in town for the next few days since I would be off on my first trip with my husband, the first line I recall is : This is the best time, Enjoy!!!!
  • Later, when we were talking married life and parenting with friends, someone remarked, " This is the best time of your life!! Enjoy while it lasts and before you get to be compelled into more responsibilities ".
  • Now, when we are expecting our little one in the next few months and I am dealing with many pleasant and not exactly comfortable situations, my friends tell me over the phone : This is the best time, Enjoy!!!

Now, thinking back, I guess, the truth is all moments are special and good in their own way; sadly we never get to realize it when we are going through it.. Which is why many people who have crossed the stage say the same remark to those who have just begun the experience. I am sure everyone thinks that the present day is not exactly great, until they have come across a day in future that is more challenging than the NOW moment..

It would never be easy to say which of the best was better than the other, at any point in our lives... but we all would definitely realize at one point that after all, there have been many best times in our lives, which we failed to notice or realize.. since we were too busy trying to think that all the challenges those times offered were the biggest possible ones that one can face in life at the various stages...and we are the only ones going through what we are going through!!!. When the next stage comes, the previous seems less problematic, mostly because we have crossed the stage and sadly we can never get back to yesterday to enjoy/experience/better it all over again.. This feeling leads to the introspection that 'yesterday was a wonderful experience in many different ways'...

From the above chain of ' This is the best time, Enjoy!!' wishes, I am inclined to conclude that in truth, every moment is good; Enjoy today for what it is and always believe that the BEST is yet to COME!!!!! :)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Morals at Stake!!

After a very long long long time I flipped channels to stay glued to an English Movie. I want to name it, but deciding against it, as it wont make a difference to the subject I have in mind.

I have always stayed away from English movies, mostly because they are loud to me sometimes, the language seems really foreign to me and also because I never grew up watching movies and never had many chances to watch English.. There has been no other real reason.

The few select movies that I watched, have always made me wonder, how in the wide world can people think of such simple story outline and make a lovely movie... I am not a movie fanatic but I like to watch good movies.. Now, what is a good movie in my terms ?? Anything that really grips my attention to the screen for longer than thirty minutes.

So, it was this afternoon, when I turned on the TV. All the channels, almost all the channels had a movie going on. I kept changing channels and finally glued on to an English movie, because the set up was nice... the stars, whose names I didn't know seemed familiar and the scene was very very realistic - of a family morning routine where the kid is lazy and the mother is trying to teach the child to discipline himself to the clock's ticking and get ready to go to school.. and the father is busy trying to chalk out his work day, know about his son's school day ahead and also his wife's work day plans, amidst breakfast and rushing out to the door... It was a total commonplace scene and the titles started playing on.. which meant, I had switched on the channel at the right time..I have always preferred watching a movie from the beginning.. so this was my final pick for the afternoon.

I put the remote aside and started staring into the screen without much expectation. The story picked up speed and I knew the story in the next five minutes to ten minutes.. I was predicting an extra-marital affair and did sense that the story is not what I thought it would be and wanted to switch off the TV. But then, somewhere deep down, I wanted to believe that there could be a nice twist to the story and that my guess could turn out false.... so treading on hopes, I continued with the same movie.

I soon realized that I could not have predicted the story line better.... Put off totally with the various scenes and incidents that the story unfolded, I switched off the TV and wanted to express my mind here in the blog.

Wonder what the actresses think? Even if it is just a movie, a fiction, the moment they are acting is so true and real and there are certain situations that penetrate deep down into people's heads and hearts as they act. Can they sleep peacefully?? Do they care about their emotional strength or their family members?? Do the directors even think anymore that there are certain things that are labelled private in this world? Or am I being conservative in their view??

Honestly, I am clueless as to the purpose of any movie making apart from money making and stardom... The actress who has worked on this movie, has gone beyond the limits to do her best, at the stake of her personal values and morals, if you ask me.... and does the director even care??

I know I am simply yelling here, but then it is totally disastrous to this growing generation however well-intended the story line is, if they don't conceal certain aspects of real life and find a way to say the most sensitive things blanketed in a neat implicit scene.

The explicit ways of displaying, expressing, and explaining everything can cause devastating damage to today's younger generation.

Will the movie makers think??

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Splash on cards

  • Life revolves around cards - Credit, Debit, Astro, or Tarot.
  • Credit cards give you the satisfaction of paying the fees for something a little late.. but the truth is you have to pay anyway.
  • Debit cards give you the benefit of not having to carry cash, but makes you spend more than you would have wished to, most times.
  • Debit cards make you forget the worth of cash. Credit cards remind you of the same when you write your check for payment.
  • When all else fails people tend to believe in Astro or Tarot cards. It is best to believe them for what they are worth, than arguing why they can't be true.
  • Credit Cards refute the statement: Never postpone what you can do today.
  • When we use credit cards, indirectly we believe in getting something for free at any given moment.
  • When we use debit cards, unconsciously we forget that money exists in this world.
  • Cards seem to make life easy... but remember, they dont seem to make financial management easy.
Inspired by the two HDFC cards lying on my table right now, as I type this email.

My thoughts on emails....

I have never believed that I can get lucky to enjoy a benefit without working for it. And still don't believe. May be would never believe.

I opened my mail box one day to check this compelling message which said, Congratulations, You have won!!! Knowing today's Internet trends of virus and hacking hobbies floating around the network, the once techie me, decided not to open the email.

The same email reached the mail box of my husband and he is fortunately a believer like me that 'Nothing comes for free'... I warned him not to open the mail, only because, where we live it is difficult to vaccinate the computer or format it over again.... We do have an anti virus software in place, still I didn't want to take a chance.

When I reached India, I saw the same email again in my mail box.I checked the Anti virus updates and decided to go ahead with the email.

The mail promised to send the lottery prize of xyz million dollars to my account if I sent across Rs.12000 to a specific account in x days time.

Now tell me this.... Who in the wide world would believe such an email, especially after so many email blunders have been floating all over the net since time unknown? Why do people do this? Even if this is an automated email, floating to many email accounts, and many such emails are in prevalence, wonder what is the thrill in having these emails sent?

Are people so jobless in this world? It irritates me to see useless forwards, some useless lucky draw invitations, lottery wins and unsolicited advices, tips and tricks to live life...

Makes me look at only personally addressed emails with some real talking or enquiries from friends.. I have literally stopped reading forwards, no matter how useful or useless they are.. I know there are many useful forwards floating around too, but then some spam emails make me totally indifferent towards even highly informative and useful email forwards.

If you are sending a forward to someone next time, make it a point to ensure that you only send useful stuff and mention it somewhere in the mail text. Else, there will come a time in the networking world when people would stop checking emails!!!!

Emails have been widely accepted practice for quite a few years now, and it is easy for people to start ignoring emails if useless emails float around. Next time you send an email, really take time to think!!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Vengaya Thogaiyal

Simple and Quick Vengaya Thogaiyal is a South Indian side dish that goes well with Rotis, Plain steamed rice, or Curd rice.

What you need:

Mixer / Mixie
Ten minutes kitchen time

  • Onions - 2, cut into pieces. You don't have to bother cutting them into small pieces.
  • Ural Dal - 1 spoonful
  • Mustard seeds - half tea spoon
  • Red Chilly - 2
  • Salt - to taste
  • Tamarind - to taste
  • Oil - 2 tea spoonful

How to make Vengaya Thogaiyal:
  1. Heat oil in a pan in medium flame.
  2. Add Mustard seeds.  After a few seconds add the Urad Dal as well.
  3. As the mustard seeds splitter, add the red chillies.
  4. Gently fry the Urad Dal until it turns golden brown.
  5. Add the onion pieces into the pan and fry gently until the color changes to pink or brownish pink.
  6. Beware of the charring of the Urad Dal or onion. If need be, switch off the flame and continue frying, so you save the Urad Dal from turning black.
  7. Transfer the contents of the pan onto a plate and wait for ten minutes. The contents need to cool off a bit so they are ready to be ground well into a paste.
  8. Grind them well in your mixer along with salt and tamarind. If you like, add curry leaves also along with the mix.


With new opportunities also comes to fear and self-doubt. How can we navigate these very strong forces in order to reach our fulfillment...