northern lights

northern lights

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The spirit of Onam


   Onam is here again!!A festival of Kerala,it is celebrated by all communities, with a spirit of comradeship , togetherness and unity.Such festive spirit is rarely visible   in other festivals.. A Malayali, where ever he may be ,will  be enthusiastic about Onam.  There is a saying in Malayalam  that even if you have to sell your belongings,you must  celebrate Onam.  The festival  enthuses  every one,young or old,  rich or poor. Actually the festivities continue for the whole month.  Onam is a festival of flowers , rejoicing and hilarity

Floral decoration
 In olden days the festivities were generally restricted within the family. With the passage of time  the celebrations have reached  the pinnacle. From the precincts of the households the festival is now all pervasive. The  shops, business establishments and  offices all celebrate the festival  with  great fervour and enthusiasm.  They arrange special feasts for the employees. Decorations are  exemplary .All this is enough  to mesmerise  everyone.
  This   time is ideal to visit Kerala.  The Festive spirit  is visible  even  in Nature. Every thing is in plenty.The coconut and palm trees spread a nostalgic breeze and a  flavour  which is  no where available. The famous Boat races  are also  held during this time of the year.This attracts lots of tourists from all over the world.
 Shopping is an integral part of this festival. All shops store  plenty of  articles connected with this festival. Special schemes and discounts are offered to the  buyers. The highlight of the festival is the feast, sadya,  All  delectable Kerala  special  recipes are prepared.They include Avial, Erissary. Olan ,Kalan and many other delicacies.The centre of  attraction is the Payasam.

Tempting Sadya
    Every malayali takes pride to be a part of all the celebrations to welcome their dear king,Mahabali  who is supposed to be in the Netherland(pataal  Lok) and visits  his subjects every  year.Happy Onam to everybody.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Time is precious

We have all come across a saying that  'Time and tide wait for none’. The tentacles   of time have embraced in its grip every living being . Why living beings alone? Even nature is bound by time. The sun rises at its allotted time. It sets and the moon takes over. Wow! What a disciplined rotation!  So too is the control of time on human beings. Have you ever wondered how ‘tide’ is  associated with  time? There is a   famous  story of a King who prided himself  in being invincible.He  boasted  to his courtiers that  even elements are under his control  and he rules over even the waves. To prove his claim he led his courtiers to the sea side  and commanded the waves to  stop.But he failed to to keep in check the tides.Thus time and tide  have become ever lasting partners!!
 The time has no limit .It is eternal. It was there in the past, it is currently in the present and will continue to be in the future. Thus the past, present and future are governed  by time. The time is timeless. Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future has  not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.  said  Charles Caleb . Every thing happens according to time. You must have seen parents worrying  about their son not getting a job  or not getting   a suitable bride .Every thing will happen  at the destined and appropriate time. The Omar Khayamm’s famous words
“The moving finger  writes and having writ
moves on,: not  all your piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back  to cancel  half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Right from childhood the children must be  made to understand  the  value  of time. It must be ingrained in their minds that they must  not waste time.  They must respect  time. Time once gone will never be back It will go forward .It is for us to utilise it. If you do not respect  time it will flee from  you. You must realise that you must not waste time.  Once wasted the the time will fly away from you.Only the irresponsible and  foolish people do not respect the time. The intelligent among us understand the value of time.You must have seen many people who are all the time complaining that they  have no time. If properly planned, we can catch the time and use it fruitfully.
  Time is a great healer.The days of sorrow and grief do not last   forever. Time  enables you to come out of your   failings and  frustrations  with a healing touch. We  must respect  time and acquire positive feelings You must follow the examples of your fore fathers  who were great achievers.  Remember the famous poem ‘The psalms of life” written by Longfellow.
   Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
   And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Lazing versus relaxation

Today I am in a reminiscent frame of mind. The famous  lines of the poet  W.H. Davies , 'what is this life,if full  of care,there is no time to  stand and stare' keep haunting me.  It  appears as if every one is running,  to attain his goal.  You just stand at the crossing of any road of your city and observe. Multitudes of men  and  women,
young or old, are  rushing. They don't even look sideways. Like the waves of an ocean  the teeming  millions are  jostling and crowding.You wonder what is their  hurry and why they all look dazed and stricken. If you observe  their  faces  intently  you will be amused. The contour of  each face depicts the same story. They are  tense and convoluted. In reality people have forgotten how to be at peace with themselves.The same sequence of events  follow in the evening.. They reach home highly strung  probably  upbraided by the boss.There is no time to  relax  as they have domestic chores to attend to.
   All of us have read the  lines 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'.This is a universal truth. Every one requires  a free space  to relax   not only ones' body but also ones' mind and soul.Just try to  laze  around for a while   doing nothing  and you will  feel relaxed and  refreshed.. Withdraw your self  into nothingness. .At the end of this  you are bound to experience  a positive energy flowing through your  being! Many big establishments compulsorily send their employees on paid leave precisely to refresh and  reinvigorate  them. It must be understood that relaxation is not laziness.In fact a lazy person is one who has no will of his  own and  no provocation to enjoy the pleasures of  relaxation. It calms down the stress and strain and removes  all negativity. 
   One should  know how to make the best out of oneself.  Enjoy good music and good books.Learn to love the beauty of nature.I read somewhere  "If you are losing your relaxation you are losing your soul". Look at the various colours of  nature. Hear the sounds of nature. They will  make you ecstatic.William Wordsworth's poem The Daffodils  is perhaps written in the same mood.I am quoting some lines from the poem below:-
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Corrigendum to my post 'from my kitchen diary ix'

Refer to my blog 'from my kitchen diary ix'

In the ingredients  of Plum Chutney  read garlic 2 flakes instead of  garlic 2 pods.

From my Kitchen Diary ix

From my  Kitchen Diary ix

Hi friends, nothing has come out of my Kitchen Diary for quite some time. Some friends want recipes of Chutneys. So today I present some recipes of chutneys. Chutney is prepared with a variety of vegetables, fruitsgreen leaves and some nuts.It can be taken fresh and can also  be preserved.It depends on the  housewife to  use her imaginative skill and prepare chutneys from a variety of  items. Chutneys add flavour   to  food. In olden days Chutney was ground in stone mortars but now it is easier to grind it in a mixi or  a  blender..The most popular and common chutney is  made  with mint leaves. It is also known as Hari chutney.So I start with it.
1 Mint Chutney
Ingredients :- 
  Mint leaves  100 gms
  Coriander leaves  1  handful
  Green chillies    3 or 4
   Raw mango    1
   Salt   according to taste.
Wash  the leaves very well. Remove skin of the mango and cut  into small pieces.Slit the green chillies. Put all the ingredients in a mixie and grind into a fine  paste.
Variations  :-   a.  We can add about 2 spoons of curd in the chutney. 
  b.     Instead of  raw mango we can use tamarind,            anardana  or even vinegar.
   c.  This chutney is a good appetiser. We may add 2 or 3 spoons of this chutney in  a glass of  water.  It  will turn out to be a very refreshing drink.  
2. Dates  Chutney
 Dates (destoned) 1  cup
Ginger   Sliced into thin strips  2 tsp
Vinegar   1/4 cup
 Salt  to taste
 Red chili powder 1 tsp
 Sugar 2 tsp
 Method:-   Keep the dates, chili powder, ginger and salt  on the fire for boiling. Keep stirring till the dates are tender.When the dates become tender add vinegar and sugar and let it simmer on slow heat till  the chutney thickens.
 The same procedure can be followed for making dry apricot chutney.
  3.Coconut Chutney 
  Coconut Grated  i cup
  Ginger  A small piece
  Green Chillies   4
  Salt  according to taste.
 Mustard  seeds  1/4 tsp
 Curry leaves   1 stem  
 Oil 2 tsps
In a mixi grind coconut,ginger and  green chillies into a fine paste. Now add salt.In a small pan heat oil and add mustard seeds and curry leaves.and pour it into the chutney and mix well.
a,A  spoonful of curd can be added to this chutney
b.Instead of green chillies  red chili  powder can be used
c.Roasted chana dal can  be mixed with coconut before  grinding.
 d. Coconut can be dry roasted  instead of raw coconut.
e.We can add an onion and a tomato while grinding

4 Plum Chutney
 Plums   500 gms
Vinegar  1/4 cup
ginger  a small piece  chopped 
garlic   2 pods  coarsely 
salt  to taste
red chili powder
sugar   1 spoon
Soak the plums in warm water for a few minutes. Remove them, peel the skin and  remove the 
seeds. Keep it for boiling along with  ginger, garlic, salt and chili   powder.When the plums are  soft add vinegar and  sugar.Keep stirring till the chutney  becomes glossy. 
The same  method can be used to prepare chutney from  Litchi,Banana and Guava
5 .Peanut Chutney
Peanuts shelled  1/2 cup  
Coriander leaves  1 bunch
Cumin seed powder  1 spoon
Green chillies  4
Lime juice or vinegar 3 spoons
 Grind all the ingredients in  the mixi. 

6 Tomato Chutney
Tomatoes 250 gm
Onion   1 Medium size
Green chillies 3 to4
 Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp 
Curry leaves. two stems
Urad dal 1/4 tsp
Oil 1 Tbsp
Sugar (optional) 1tbsp
Wash the tomatoes, green chillies  and onions, cut them and keep on the fire  with  very little water.Add salt.   Boil for a few minutes.After it cools down  grind coarsely in a mixi. Heat oil, add mustard seeds  urad dal and curry leaves  and mix well in the chutney. If required add sugar.
 And now some tips. Chutneys can be taken with snacks,  with fritters, idli, dosa, vadas and can can be spread on bread slices. We can serve chutneys  with lunch and dinner to add to the taste of  the meals.
Comments  good or otherwise are welcome.





Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A Woman sees a Woman ii (a sequel)

In continuation of my article posted yesterday I wish to state that the situation is slowly changing. Educated women are well aware of their rights.Their husbands have realised that  women must be given a place of prestige and honour in the family In our circle of relatives and friends  equality is the  secret. Similarly many others  who have come to face reality have eradicated thoughts of gender discrimination, female  literacy and domestic  violence from their lives.
    It is heartening to know that in  certain backward areas too, this enlightenment is slowly but surely dawning upon the populace..Opening of factories on a large scale have provided employment opportunities for  women.This has enabled women to  become financially independent to a great extent. The tyranny of biological distinctions  are  also on the wane. In many villages the Pradhans are females.They are selflessly  making efforts to wipe out the evils from the  society and bring a streak of hope and   brightness. Thus the impact of patriarchs is  diminishing to   some extent, the signs  of which are visible to all., 
  In some states of India  Matriarchal system is already in existence since time immemorial. Here Woman are  treated with great respect.They are the undisputed  heads  of families holding all rights  to property and  consequently of   the  off springs. Based on the success of this practice    the Courts have  passed judgements that the females of a family have equal rights  in the property in their parental  homes.

The women have to prove their talent against the world who see them as merely vassals of producing children. The Indian woman has to make her way through all the social prejudices against her.They have started climbing the ladder of success and thus  we see a strong  and bright light in the horizon.

Monday, 13 August 2012

A woman sees another woman

In the past few months  I have been watching  serials on TV depicting various issues pertaining to women.The issues highlighted range from unwanted girl child, dowry, child marriage, domestic violence and many other related  subjects.These are all serious  matters.I just pondered  whither women?
  Actually  women are frail and delicate as compared to  men who are of a stronger build and are aggressive by nature.Women are  more receptive, patient and calm than  men. The women are  as intelligent as men.Why is it that the women do not hold the place of prestige  in the society.Since times immemorial  women have been looked upon as meek, obedient and under the control of men whereas  they  are more amenable to suggestion and  stronger in their  convictions.
      Women are generally  looked down upon   all over the world. In India  too the position of women is no better.  .Even educated  ladies  have to face the male dominating attitude. I have seen working women who are in mortal fear of their husbands. Just sample a daily routine of an average working  lady . Before she leaves for her work place ,she has to prepare breakfast  for the family, prepare and pack  tiffin for  her husband and the children and  other  miscellaneous  jobs  like keeping clothes for the family etc. There is no count of the household jobs. By the time  she reaches the work place , she is already exhausted. Once there, she has no relief. Completing the targets,and going through new  cases, she has assignments to be completed and dead lines to  achieve.. On reaching home .she cannot rest. Washing clothes, preparing dinner, helping the kids  in their school home work and multifarious other works waiting to be looked into, need her attention. All this while the Lord and Master of the house is taking a nap after a 'hectic'day in office. What an irony!.He proclaims that  his madam is the master of ceremonies in their household. Even if the lady is not a working woman  the whole day  she has to slog. Hubby and the kids maintain some discipline when the lady goes out for work. But when she is around  they are all relaxed.
       In many houses the working lady has no right on her own earnings.She has to hand  over  her salary to her husband.She is given an amount which is a pittance.In such circumstances the mutual trust and understanding between the couple is completely missing. The madam  keeps away some amount  stealthily .  As a drawing and disbursing officer in my office  some  ladies had requested me not to divulge their salary  to their husbands. They are frequently  beaten by the 'Superior Ones' for not obeying them. All this  is part of domestic violence. The Government has declared this sort of harassment as  illegal  but hardly any one reports to the police out of  fear.
  Another factor which is belittling the women is the taunts and hostility for producing a baby  girl, not only by the husband but his entire family. Many a  time  the innocent  baby girl is  neglected by her kith and kin. A great issue is made by the  husband and his family for bringing  very little or no dowry by the girl.Such garish behaviour  in  cities  is very common. It is a matter of shame  that even educated women are  subjected to such atrocities.  A great factor which is responsible for the  degradation of women is illiteracy. If this is  the state of  affairs  in cities right under the nose of the Govt. what will  be the fate of  illiterate  women and those living in slums and villages.
 Gender discrimination is  also contributing  to all violence and atrocities  against women. The girls step out of their secure homes unaware of the evils of rape, sexual harassment and trafficking in the world outside the sphere of security of their homes.Such issues are like a cancer which is corroding and destroying the very fabric of the society.
 Government is doing a lot  for the  betterment of women and giving them the respect and honour which they deserve. Our country has produced  several women who have made India proud but much more has to be done. Many  Women's organisations are also working in this direction. A country  which has produced Women as President ,Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and achievers  in all fields  deserves to make women  respectful  and honoured in the society. In the words of the great  Saint ,Teacher and  Philosopher, Swami Vivekananda,"It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”