Quote of the day
A clear rejection is better than a fake promise.
Out of all the pleasures in the universe, there is a pleasure that stirs up my senses, refreshes my insides and satiates the hunger bubbling in me literally. The pleasure that is derived from the joy of cooking and primarily the love for food found its way into my heart a very long time ago when I was just stepping into the shoes of my teenage self. That I was a big-time foodie was known to me much longer than ever but I became a food addict when I discovered that the path to food heaven lay in learning the tricks of the trade of cooking. Initially I was of this thought that I would cook only to fill my belly but gradually I just couldn’t figure how this guilty pleasure became a passion. I would call this definitely a hidden talent as not many people are aware of it except a few of those who have got a taste of my handiwork.
Years ago my first cooking stint began in my kitchen where I was preparing for my final Home Science practical examinations, the final accomplishment of which I am still proud of. I passed with flying colours and praises alike thus giving me a boost to explore the possibilities in the world of food if at least at home. I started with collecting recipes for all kinds of cuisines and dishes and there were times when my dear mother brought out my talent in front of people visiting our house by entrusting me with responsibility of the kitchen along with my sister. There were innumerable things that I didn’t know about and which were impossible to learn just by looking up recipes. I learnt a great deal from my sister including the cooking time, standing time, and which ingredient goes with what, and the art of making the perfect round chapatis and a lot more. The basic knowledge is always an igniting factor which stays inherent even if you experiment with your cooking.
The art of cooking is not easy to master. One needs to be aware of the texture, the palate and the technique of cooking to be a forerunner. Lately I have shifted my focus towards baking which is again a higher form of art. I feel mesmerized by the smell of baked goods and therefore the venturing into this field. Again it involves science, perfect measurement of ingredients and time. Well, there can never be a perfect baking or cooking if there is no love involved. To me, cooking is an expression of love. The cook brings soul to the recipe and that is how it transforms into a piece of art. Learning about different styles of cooking, different cuisines and ingredients has really helped to create praiseworthy dishes. I get high just by seeing the food in my pan change its colour and exhibiting the fascinating aroma. The joy that I see in people when they bite into the dish that has been made gives me a delight that has no bounds.
However I have not been able to channelize my energy in this direction because of professional pursuits and there is a dire urge in me to go forward with what I love more than what is ideal. I nourish this dream to serve happiness, love and peace in bowls and platters but I still need to prepare and learn a lot to make that happen.
I believe in this statement that no one is born a great cook but is made by doing. You may burn yourself, cut yourself … yes that has happened to me several times but it is by failing miserably that you learn to rise up. Cooking to me is more than ingredients, recipes and cooking it is more about harnessing imagination, empowerment and above all creativity. Well I would like to thank my forefathers for discovering fire which is indeed one of the best things ever discovered. It has made my life worth enjoying! But besides playing with fire I am learning the freezing technique as well. A time arrives when all you want to do is what you are mostly interested in. Finding out what you are passionate about and tremendously staying interested in it is what makes you a go-getter. You truly need some TLC for yourself if you need to contribute the same amount to the masses. Let not your talents stay put in your closets and as far as budding chefs and cooks like me are concerned I would leave you with this dialogue from the movie RATATOUILLE, “Anybody can cook, but only the fearless can be great”. Bring it on!
SLENDER LORIS – TINY YOGIS OF THE RAINFORESTS
Inhabiting the tropical monsoon forests of Sri Lanka and the inter-monsoon forests of the Western Ghats and Tamil Nadu are the demure creatures, the Slender Loris. As prim and proper as they may be, they are well known for their bizarre habits and at the same time are known to be one the most threatened beings of the animal kingdom. Having a height of about 7 to 10 inches and weighing just about 350 grams this creature beguiles the spectator (read animal lover) with its out-of-the-world flexible manners and social behaviour skills. One cannot but wonder how these beautifully designed creatures thrive so close to yet are on the verge of extinction.
They are primarily arboreal using branches of trees to journey through the forest as they seldom leap or jump which are made possible with the kind of toes they are born with, helping them to grip on branches easily. Being nocturnal creatures they hunt during the night, alone in search of insects or birds’ eggs, and are known to consume every part of their prey for that added boost of protein that make them so dexterous. However, their only social activity includes sleeping during the daylight in groups on branch tangles, at times curled up in a ball with their head between their legs. It wouldn’t be harmful to christen them as “tiny yogis of the rainforests”. The more you come to know these forest babies as they are nicknamed by the natives, the more intriguing they become. Their clan has dominating females and promiscuous males who engage in mutual grooming and wrestling for sport, while both the sexes tend to the infants of the clan. The females do not interact much with the other females except for the ones within the family thus giving them an exclusive status quo.
Their skilful hunting and consuming of the prey concludes with a quirky habit of using their own urine to wash off their face and hands that reek of the sting of the insects. They also use the scent of their urine to communicate and advertise their reproductive status to others. This animal is a gifted defender and is gutsy enough to stare at its attacker with its large glowing-in-the-dark eyes, emitting an obnoxious odour from its armpits thus confirming the existence devilish charm that hovers around it.
Overwhelmed are you? I was too. Mind-boggled was I when I comprehended the reason of their extinction. Devastatingly a hundred of them are left in the wild. And why is that so? It is solely because of Man’s barbaric nature. Man’s submission to the chains of slavery to the ever-compressing system of civilization. The continuing cycle of hate and vengeance has cost many a lives of the Slender Loris by sacrificing them in black magic rituals. During the rites it is believed that whatever is inflicted upon the creatures, will in turn happen to the enemy. Ironically, the animal is crushed brutally and all of its body parts are eaten and used to make traditional Asian medicine and tonics (to the natives of course) to cure leprosy, gain strength after childbirth. Its tears, used in love potions and teeth removed to avoid toxic bites to quench the thirst for illegal pet trade (for the so-called civilized masses).
Rousseau’s words echoes through my ears, “man is born free and everywhere he is in chains”. It sets me to thinking if civilization has brought out Barbarism in us or if we were more civilized when we were barbaric. I guess we were created on the same plane wrapped up in innocence, living in harmony with the animal kingdom till we rose to our Fall from righteousness and freely indulged selfish exploits. How can we let innocence die for our immoral lifestyles? If this is what civilization is would it be right to say that we were better off living uncivilized? There are no compunctions for what we continue to do as we just do them just to stay slaves to our system. We deplete our ecosystem, making the lovely creatures existing in it bear the brunt of our iniquities. Our earth is a family. We are the caretakers of the lesser mortals constituting the animal kingdom. It is peak time we behave the same.
QUIETENING POWER OF MY QUIET TIME
Man has evolved throughout the ages. We have been governed by our emotion and instincts. While emotion can be defined as a complex set of feelings resulting in physical and psychological changes that influence our thoughts and action, instincts are results of an environmental trigger occurring in order to satisfy internal drives. It was instinct which caused man to discover fire and it was emotion that made him create and protect a family. True that his needs were what he was aiming to satisfy. Though we have learnt and unlearnt ways to combat our instincts and deal with our emotions there is a fine line where we tend to confuse between the two. We use our emotions to react to situations as though they are our instincts and continue doing so for a prolonged period till they become a way of life. This is how we acquire an identity for ourselves and get to be known by it.
I was very infamous amongst my family and friends regarding my vicious anger. Most people haven’t seen me in this manner but my close ones have already borne the brunt of it. Such was my all-consuming anger that it was unable for a person to be around me when I was in that frame of mine. I would become spiteful and would end up hurting people with the most savage words. I had frequent fights with family and friends and after which I had a tendency to build up a wall around me, cutting people off and refusing to communicate. If you have known me as a person you would feel how different it is from the person who I am. Yes these bouts of anger happened almost twice a year but throughout I used to react offensively to situations. I reacted and overreacted, overthought about how I reacted and felt terrible, down and disgusting. It was these people who loved me to the core and would never think of abandoning me and I hurt them.
While I was in this frame of mind I thought whatever I was doing this was the only way of asserting me. There was no way I could make people understand my point of view. I was breaking under stressful conditions in the professional arena and hell broke loose in my personal sphere of friends as well. It was only because of the fact that I had begun to idolize myself. Therefore how other behaved in front of me used to be of first priority. I sought to be impressed by others around me. I thought if this particular person offended me it has to be the end of him/her in my life. I wasn’t responding, just reacting.
But the end of my foul behaviour had to come. I had the ugliest of fights at home at the end of 2016 on a petty issue where I thought I have been disappointed in my own family. Terrible thought, isn’t it? I too lost a couple of friends. It dawned that I had been going on offending people, depressing them, hurting them. I was crest-fallen. A throbbing pain shot through as I realized my position. I cried nights in repentance. I had a sort of epiphany back then where I realized the real source of the troubles. It was the absence of quiet-time in my life. I was so engaged with other things even spending my leisure time watching television and surfing the net that I had completely lost the time of meditating and introspection. I wasn’t reflecting on who I am becoming and thus the change of course.
This quiet-time that I am talking about is an evangelical term which we use in our community to introspect about the kind of person I am and how do I strive to be better with people around us. This is an individual session where we meditate, reflect and pray about our shortcomings and positives. The quiet-time proved to be really beneficial to me as it was informative. It made me learn about the various ways in which I can view myself and others around me. It encouraged me when I was crestfallen and strengthened me to face difficult situations with vigour and zeal. I learnt to attach less importance to my being and tried to consider others equal to me. There are still moments of misgivings but you know, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
My quiet-time really helped me a lot and gradually I am learning not to react in situations rather being resilient is what I would like to focus on. There are a lot of dynamics involved though as understanding and accepting the perspectives of people while maintaining your own without asserting yourself is not a cakewalk. Therefore in moments like these I remind myself of the quote I once read: “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future”.
ASPIRE TO INSPIRE
What happens when you lose a friend whom you trusted and he/she trusted you back? What if you had a friend with whom you could share your ups and downs and vice versa and a series of misunderstandings created a rift between you both and thus made you keep a grudge against your friend? It feels terrible right? In a world where true friendship is a myth, losing a good and just friend comes at a heavy price. Often we experience similar scenarios with our family members as well. As a result of these mishaps, you get emotionally drained out and start losing yourself. Your confidence goes away and you find yourself getting stone-cold to people.
When the word inspiration popped up in my mind, I was redirected to thinking how well an inspiration had I been to people around me? What were my choices that led others to find a better version of them? It is a fact that you are being watched. You will never fathom how a single statement or an action of yours can degrade or inspire a person. We admire celebrities, don’t we? We love the fact when they do something good for the society and talk about when they fail miserably, isn’t it? You will say they are celebrities. As they have put their life on an exhibition, they are bound to pay for the criticisms and appraisals we make about them. They are not ordinary like us. They enjoy the criticisms as they publicize them. But, my friend the truth is quite the opposite. No one enjoys criticisms. It makes you squirm and you feel a knot in your belly. It becomes horrendous when you are the one criticising yourself, realising that you have fallen notches below the person you are.
We all are little celebs in our own small worlds, constantly being appraised and criticised for our gestures, words, choices and actions. We accept it or not but these do impact us in certain ways.
I had put myself in a similar situation where I prioritized myself in such a manner that I had stopped responding to others’ feelings. Yes, I had become someone who I was not. My friends, family and cousins were unable to recognize who I had become. Gradually I had started to lose interest in my work and my passions. The facts that attracted people towards me began to wear away and I was left with my miseries and my ill treatment of people. It was breaking me to the core but I had the remotest idea of it.
It was then that Someone’s voice in my heart made me realize that I was busy acquiring material and temporary resources and instead I should be cultivating the spiritual fruits. This voice was none other than the voice of The Wonderful Counsellor, the one above us and above all. It happened that while studying for teaching a lesson in class I heard the voice clearly “Aspire before you Inspire”. The story that I was studying explained the life of an old, poor but generous couple who helped their neighbours even though they could hardly make their ends meet. In the end they were rewarded abundantly by god-sent messengers who blessed them saying that they would never run about their resources. The story taught me that even though we have limited material resources we use them unlimitedly because of the grace of the Almighty. But the spiritual gifts that are abundant are kept locked inside and not put to use. The spiritual gifts of LOVE, JOY, PEACE, KINDNESS, PATIENCE, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL is what He wanted me to cultivate. Since then I have been on a battle with my inner self. The process is tough and prolonged but not impossible.
At this juncture, my dear friends I would only inspire you to hoard the spiritual gifts as much as possible and use it to the fullest. The rewards are long-lasting. I haven’t arrived at my destiny of becoming the better person as yet but I know there is a beautiful future where I will arrive to as The Wonderful Counsellor has promised. Some things would still hurt and the pain will be felt but that is what will make you strong. Therefore today if you find yourself in my place, pledge to never give up on yourself.