northern lights

northern lights

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A rat is a rat is a rat,

I had written this Blog some months  ago. Following is  an upgraded version.of the same  article.

Who has not seen a rat? Right from Nursery/KG  days children are taught  the spelling of the word "rat".It has got a place of prestige with high profile K  for "king" and Q for"queen." A rat is a creature found universally.  Its tragedy is that it arouses fear and hatred among  majority of the  people specially women.Perhaps its slimy skin, piercing gaze and unbeatable speed disconcerts  them. I have personally seen the reaction of some people,when confronted with a rat.My mother,once removed her sari in panic,when a small rat unwittingly  happened  to touch her sari.  Her shrieking had an instant reaction on the poor rat.Perhaps he too was frightened  or shocked by the sudden reaction of my Mom. It ran  with amazing speed for cover. We have all grown up  listening to the fable of  Pied Piper of Hamelin. Everyone tries to drive them away.
   Perhaps the  rat is the  only  creature  which is  universally found. It may vary in size or colour but  it exists all over the universe.  Rats have a tendency to adapt to all sorts of environments. A rat  can survive without water for a long  period of time.  It can jump from great heights. A rat has the capacity to swim in water. The rats love to groom themselves. They communicate with  each other in loud tones, which is not audible to humans. Rats have an excellent memory. If once they  have crossed a path, they will always remember it. I  have experienced that after being caught in a trap, a rat was thrown  away in a distant park but it found its way back .They have a long tail which regulates  their body temperature.
 Rats are generally  brown and  black. White rats  are generally found in  cool climates. In some parts of India and some other countries rat meat is eaten as a delicacy. They enter  godowns, offices, shops and houses(big or small) without any difficulty. They manage to shrink their body and can enter even through a small hole. Several thousand  tons  of grain are destroyed  every year by rats. They have very sharp  teeth.  Apart from  food, the rats  can bite anything . Clothes, paper,electric wires or  wood nothing  can escape their notice. Their favourite hiding place in a house is  a kitchen  or the bathroom. Specially at night ,when sleepily you enter the kitchen or the washroom, the moment you switch on the light, a rat will  catch you unaware and you tend to shriek out of your wits.
The  rats are mammals.  The working  of internal organs are somewhat similar to human  organs.  Even after the rat dies, its heart continues to palpitate for a few hours. Due to this semblance, rats were used in laboratories  for dissection for teaching purpose.
 Many people keep rats as pets.They find them very adorable and   fondle. Domesticated rats  very friendly . They love human company.  If there are children around the rats love to be in their  midst.They enjoy riding on the shoulders of  their owners.They are affectionate and  like to lick their human  friends. If trained properly the rats never bite. They are as friendly as small puppies. If you have seen 'Ratatouille', an animation  film, you will realise  the extent of affection a person can have with  rat as a pet.                                   
A pet rat
 In India , a rat has its own worshippers. Karni  Mata  temple in Rajasthan is famous for rat worship. There rats, in large numbers, are found roaming about freely. 
Karni Mata rats
Mata Karni Temple

Rat is also the vehicle of Hindu God Ganesha. The rat, therefore stands  on a high pedestal in Hindu Mythology.
 In China ,according to the Zodiac calendar, the first month of the new year is  a symbol of a rat. There, a person born in this month is believed to possess qualities   such as generosity,creativity,quick temper, honesty and wastefulness associated with rats.
In some South Asian countries  it is treated as staple food.Some people ,even keep rats as pets. The fact ,however remains that it is hated by a  vast population. When a rat dies . there is no one to shed tears. It departs from the world unsung, unwept  and unnoticed in a heap of  garbage, even though it leads a luxurious life in cosy corners in high mansions.

Photos courtesy Google

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Strawberry Pudding

The recipe which I am sharing with friends today was prepared by Ramita, my little grand daughter for a  family get together. How fast the children grow ! Till some days back she was a baby and now she is a grown up girl that she is able to prepare a pudding independently It was very yummy and is very easy to prepare. It does not require any cooking  and thus not at all time consuming.
                   Strawberry Pudding
1.Strawberries       250 grams
2.Cream                250 grams
3.Marie Biscuits  about 20
4.Sugar                   1/4 cup
5.Milk                    1/4 cup
     Method of preparation  
It can prepared in a plate or a bowl
Cut the strawberries into small pieces.
Whip the cream.
Add sugar
Add the strawberries.
Dip the biscuits one at a time  in the milk.
Arrange half of the biscuits in a serving bowl/ plate.(1st layer)
Arrange 1/3rd  of  the cream and strawberries  (2nd layer) 
Arrange the biscuits  (3rd layer) 
Arrange the cream and strawberries.(4th layer)
 Crush two or three biscuits into small bits and spread them on top (last layer)
Keep  it in the frig . Just before serving  decorate with a few strawberries  on the top.
A delicious and refreshing pudding is ready


Monday, 25 March 2013

A carnival of flowers

A carnival of flowers,

Scintillating bowers !!

Colourful and bright, aah

 What an amazing sight !!

Where is the artist hiding,

Filling the colours so exciting !!

Red, blue, purple and white,

Dancing, smiling with all their might !!


                Rows and rows of orange bright,admiring their image in  the mirror  night-light.

                             Birds, animals  and the bowers,merry making after the showers.

                                               An   artist's play with nature  divine.

                                                 A treat  for  the eye,oh, you pretty butterfly.

                                     Drooping lanterns captivating the human mind

                                                    Carpetting  over wilderness.
                                                           Purple Lacing  of  Delight

Pictures  Courtesy Google

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Colours we adorn

 This is a guest post by Mr. Menon. Here he has  analysed Human behaviour. He  keenly observes the peoplwho come in contact with him,whether at home or outside. Whenever he goes out, he carefully  watches people  interacting and arrives at  a conclusion about their nature.I find that  in 99% cases his  observations are correct. Read on........

 Colours We Adorn
I have always been fascinated by human behaviour. While it may require a scientific study to ascertain why a person behaves the way he does, there is nothing to prevent us from undertaking a study  at the grass root and mundane level. I will not abide by  the  conventional categorisation of people.That I will leave to psychologists and psychoanalysts.  I will go out of that format  and try to analyse people as I have observed  them.Let me warn that this approach  has limitations and may be controversial. Not that I am anxious to get into any such unenviable situations. I admit that there can be hazards but life will not be  exciting  unless there are challenges. Now I will attempt to enumerate some broad headings which cannot be exhaustive but may be exhausting!! These are as follows;-
1.Smooth talker  
 Smooth talkers occupy a predominant position  in the lives of men and nations. To name a few, ambassadors and diplomats come under this category. It is not, however,confined  to them.They do not hold any monopoly over it.
I will go back to my college  days.  It was the year 1951 when I was in the senior Intermediate class.As is the wont  with teenagers I also had my own share of prejudices and predilections.  I was diffident and vacillating. I had a vacuous expression. It was at this juncture that I was  introduced to Dale Carnegie's  book  'How to stop worrying and start living'. One thing led to another. I chanced upon another Dale Carnegie  classic 'How  to win friends and influence people'.This book acted as a catalyst in my life. From a shy  timid teenager, I overnight  blossomed into  a self confident and persuasive adult.I shed all misgivings and inhibitions.I wanted to practise some of the formulas  explained by the author. I started spreading my charm all around.The next logical step was to concreting  my strategy. Then I struck! My first victim was a hotel keeper. Except for an  occasional travelling talkies, there was no scope for entertainment in my hamlet. Only the district town     situated  about  thirty kilometres away  had a few cinema halls. Once my friends and I decided to go there for watching a late night movie.Those were the days when bus service was in a rudimentary stage.Nerve-racking and bone-breaking ramshackle buses used to ply on decrepit roads. The preferred mode of transport was therefore generally walking. My friends and I walked to the nearest railway station located five kilometres away  from my village. After viewing the movie ,  when we came out of the hall, it was the unearthly hour of 2.00 am. No trains, no buses. Walking at midnight through dense tree laden and flooded fields was no option. Beside, it would have been a risky venture.It was then that we decided to spend the night in a cheap hotel.Money was hard to come by those days and together we could not afford more than one room. We were four and only two occupants were allowed in each of these small  dingy  bug and mosquito ridden apology of rooms.It was then that I directed my charm on the hapless hotel keeper.I took him aside and harangued him. I do not recall what transpired between us. However the miracle happened. All the four of us were allowed  to spend the remaining part of the night in one room on condition that at the crack of dawn we should make ourselves scarce.This episode brought me laurels . Overnight I became a hero among my friends. They could not decipher how I cracked the nut of an  obstinate hotel boss . They believed in my invincibility and ability to influence men and events. I indulged in some more experiments in the heady days  of my youth. However to put the record straight  I am no crook and I have not duped anybody.. In my work place and else where I have encountered past masters of this art who could simply gobble me up. Here I would like to salute my wife.In reverse gear, she practised this art on me when I was totally bewitched by her. 
 On the positive side, if viewed properly, this is a noble pastime with all the trappings of divinity. This has helped me to understand myself and others better. This knowledge has benefitted  afflicted and stricken people to alleviate and sometimes even overcome their maladies. I am still a practitioner of this art but instead of targetting fellowmen  I have now directed it towards the God Almighty  whose grace I require in abundance  in the evening of my life. 
2. Self adulators 
 Self adulation is a trait  which we observe in people who lack confidence. I am slightly twisting a common saying to mean that a worker is known by  his work. If he is an intelligent and efficient worker, no form of tom- toming or advertisement is required to bring him into the lime light. Only people, who are deficient in qualities  of head and heart and which fact is reflected in their performance, resort to outpourings of self praise.They will appropriate, rather misappropriate, achievements of others  and project them  as their own. As the saying goes one cannot fool all the people all the time. The day of reckoning will come  and the hollowness of their claim will be exposed.
3.People with wicked disposition
 They act overtly or covertly. People who adopt stealth and deceit in their dealings  come under this category.  Those who act overtly or under public gaze  may be less dangerous than those who operate covertly. It will require a discerning eye to size them up. We come to know about their intentions only when we suffer at their  hands. Such persons , irrespective of their gender ,have demonic or satanic  propensity. We should be wary of such people and avoid befriending them. Such persons can appropriately be compared to poisonous cobra whose mere hiss will be blood curdling what to speak of their fatal sting.Once we are trapped in their stranglehold, it will be difficult to extricate ourselves from their vicious grip without any harm or damage.They display iniquitous tendencies and are seldom amenable to correction. 
 While writing this piece, I felt that evil was creeping on me.In utter fright, therefore, I stop further delineation  on the subject. 
  Boasters hardly require any elaboration. We come across such people  in daily life. These pompous species  are not of  any use to the society or their fellow beings. You may conclude that they are inveterate liars  and can safely be written off as not of any consequence.
5. Bores
  Such people are a great nuisance. The general tendency is to avoid such persons.They think that it is their fundamental right to impose themselves upon  others and inflict on their  unsuspecting victims with meaningless rattle and prattle.Those who are regular train travellers might have come across such  people. They will warm up and catch  your attention at an unguarded moment. You can escape them only  when you reach your destination . Make sure that they are not following you.
6. Hypocrites
      Classic example of this category are some members  of the political class.They mesmerise people  by the sheer weight of their logic and rhetoric.They are high on promise and low on practise.All this they perform with such a finesse that the incredulous  keep gaping in disbelief .
7. Pretenders
  Pretenders can be equated with impostors. Even impersonators may come under this category.
8. Pedigree hunters
  After the abolition of royalty and privy purses, such people can now be seen  tagged on to industrialists and politicians.  They may not all be perverse but can adopt ingenious methods  to achieve their goal.
9. Gentle, kind etc.
    People  coming under this definition can broadly be classified as 'gentle,kind,considerate,loving and affectionate'. In one word, can we  call them gentlemen in the true sense of the word?In brief they are the good Samaritans of  society, the torch bearers of our civilisation and representing all that is great and noble. How do we explain such people? Are they endowed with all these qualities since birth or acquired  them in the course of their life's journey?  Some might have got transformed or reformed due to some cataclysmic episode in the torrid waters  of their life.
 Even though it is said that all men are born equal, I cannot buy this thesis. I will say that  it is fallacious and does not satisfy the touchstone of reality. There is a popular belief  that circumstances and environment alone make the man. It may be partially true but cannot be the whole truth. Men and women born  of the same parents, brought up in the same environment and attended  same or comparable   educational institutions exhibit  different personality traits.How can this phenomenon be explained? In  several people goodness is an inborn and inherent quality  which gets nurtured  and cemented in the course of time. Irrespective of the circumstances , they continue to represent all that is good and noble.Some may not have been born with these gifts. But it is not a hopeless situation. There is something that is called 'Purusharth' in Sanskrit.Our scriptures say that we can change our destiny.Sincere, dedicated and unflinching effort is the hallmark of such persons. It should not be half hearted . There is no halfway  house to attain glory. One has to go the whole hog to attain it.History is replete with instances where the ordinary folk  have changed their destiny and come to assume  the  mantle of glory and greatness.
 In the end ,I may stress that it may not  be  possible or justified  to compartmentalise people. The embodied beings  possess  some or  all of the these qualities in some measure.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Recipies for Holi

This year Holi the festival of colours, will be celebrated on  27thMarch. This  festival is celebrated  in many parts of  India. The festival is  popular with youngsters as they sprinkle coloured water  and powder on each other boisterously  and have great fun. Small children  start  throwing balloons with coloured water on passers by from the roof tops of their houses  and become hilarious on seeing the reaction of the affected victims.  Sometimes people  become  aggressive and instead of playing  decently,start smearing each other with shoe polish, eggs, cow dung,and many other coloured  objects which spoils the spirit of the festival.On the other hand ,some people  play a very decent Holi. They use colourful flowers and petals  instead of ordinary coloured powder which lends a very decent  touch to the celebrations.
         There is a legend  associated with the festival.There was a king,named  Hiranayakashipu, who considered himself to be God. He directed his subjects to worship him instead of Lord Vishnu.His son,Prahlad, was  very pious and religious, which angered his Father.He tried several methods to kill his son, but  could not succeed.The King's sister Holika  had a boon that  fire  would have no effect on her. The wicked King, in connivance with his sister, made Prahlad sit in her lap and lit a fire.Due to God's mercy prahlad came out of the fire unscathed and Holika was burnt to death.  A night before Holi people light a bonfire  known as Holika Dahan.The festival also signifies the arrival of Spring. The holi of Mathura, Brindaban and  Barsana is famous because of Krisna , Radha and Gopis  playing Holi.
                                        Some special dishes are prepared  for this festival. Gujiya is a very popular sweet associated with Holi.  Kachauri and Aloo are prepared as an offering to God.
Make Khasta Kachori             Recipe  for    Kachori
1.Maida 1 cup
2.Urad dal  1 cup
3. Coriander seeds  1 teaspoon
4. Jeera                       1 teaspoon
5,.Asefodita                1 pinch
6.Garam masala        1 teaspoon
7. Oil                 for frying
8.Amchur powder   i teaspoon

 Method  of preparation
 1. Soak the Urad dal in water for 30 minutes. and grind it coarsely.
 2.Add 2 teaspoons oil,  and salt to the Maida and make a dough  and keep aside or 15 to 20  mts.
 3. In a wok roast the  ground dal,asefodita, coriander seeds, jeera.Add salt and garam masala
 4. Divide the Maida into  rolls (lemon size) Now roll out the rolls like poories.
 5. Keep the oil on the fire, till hot. 
 6. Fry the Kachori  on medium fire.
 7. Remove when golden brown .
  8. Serve with any chutney of your choice.                           Recipe for Gujiya
1.Maida      1 cup
2.Suji          1 cup
3.Almonds   soaked in water and skin removed
4.Raisins     2 teaspoons
5. Sugar 
 6.  Oil for frying

Method of preparation
1. Add 2 spoons oil to the  maida  and prepare dough .Keep aside. 
2. In a wok  add about  3 spoons of oil, add the suji,and roast on slow fire. Add chopped almonds and raisins.
3.Divide  equal size balls from the dough. Roll them thinly of the size of a poorie.
4. Fold the poorie  from the centre and place a little roasted suji on one side of the roll and cover it with the other side. 
5. Wet your index finger and thumb with little water and press  both open sides with finger and thumb
6. Fry these gujiyas on slow fire
7. Add  1/4 cup of water to the sugar and keep it on the fire  to make a sugar solution.
8. When the solution cools down, add gujiyas  dip gujiyas in it .Remove  after 15 to 20 minutes.
 Note:Instead of suji we can add khoya.

Black Carrot Kanji  recipe
 This is a drink. In multani families it is very popular. Take 1/2 kg black carrots. Wash and cut them lenght wise(about one inch). Take a jar. Fill it with filtered water. Add the carrots, salt, one teaspoon ground mustard  and red chilli powder.(optional).Stir it. Keep it in the sun for  5 to 6 days. It makes a very delicious and  cool dish .
 Happy Holi


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Travails of a working woman

The travails of a working woman
 If  you happen to talk  to a working woman  seeking her opinion about  a working woman v/s  housewife, you will  realise  that  most of the  WW (working women)  prefer to be a house wife and that they are working  to supplement the family income. They will state  that  they  work at the cost of their children as well  as their house. Some may not openly proclaim   about  their  problems  but  they know in their heart of hearts that they are   working more out of  compulsion than choice.  On the other hand the same question  if directed towards   housewives (HW) will elicit  an answer which will  leave you flabbergasted.  They feel that they are inferior to WW. This is an eternal question,which will forever persist.
            If we take an objective view, there are good points and not so good points  as far as WW and HW are concerned. Let us try to analyse  both  issues. There is a saying that  a house is a home only  if the lady of the house gives her full time attention to the persons living inside it. Can the WW  devote as much time to  the house?  A very big advantage  for the  HW  is  that she  has all the time in the world  to spend  with her children. And  the  most important factor which  contributes to   the  mental, physical and psychological development of the children  is the presence of the mother in the house. Generally we find that HW  don’t take pride in being a HW.They have a sort of complex that they are inferior to WW. This sort of thinking  affects the health of the family.
     The  WW contributes to the family  budget. This contribution is   no doubt a very moot point in their favour. The WW today stands  confidently even in spheres which were considered as mens’  domain previously. Women work as Pilots,  Engineers, Police officers, and in   many other high profile  situations.  In our country  we have had a lady Prime Minister, President, Chief ministers and in  other high positions.  Even in rural areas women are stepping out of their homes to work as Village Pradhans,  We find women taking important  roles in diplomatic parties.  They smoke and even  drink  without any compunction.  BUT, it is a very big BUT whatever the position  the women may hold , they are essentially Housewives  or  Home Makers.  They too have  families , have responsibilities and   domestic  commitments.
 If we look at the lives of women working in  not  very high positions are  to be pitied upon. They work in offices but thoroughly burdened by household  problems .Most of them are  physically present in the work place but their  mind is  elsewhere. The condition of many such women becomes more pitiable  because they  do not enjoy the fruits of their  hard labour. The full salary that they take home is taken away by  their husbands/ parents/ in-laws. They  cannot do justice  neither to home  nor to  the work place.  I knew a very sincere and hardworking lady burdened by  her unfavourable  domestic  life   confessing her  hardships to me. When she got a promotion  she begged that her  husband should not get  an inkling of the raise in salary(which she wanted to save)
Most of the working women are burdened  by the unavailability of domestic servants. Even though they are willing to spend beyond their means , it is very difficult to get good servants.  Part time maids , if one is fortunate to get , have their own conditions. They demand a weekly day off  and if they absent themselves without any prior information , they think  that  it is their birthright and cannot be questioned. We had a maid who used to tie a rope  to the tricycle  of my grand daughter, and go off to sleep and the poor child , also tied to  her tricycle  was per force made a prisoner. She used to eat the child’s food and proclaim that the baby is very co operative. The secret was out only  when the child ,in her lisping  words told all this to  her grand father.
The plight of working women thus becomes  pitiable. I conclude with a quotation  from the "Image" by Pauline Reage, " the divine object violated, endlessly sacrificed yet always reborn, whose only joy is achieved through a subtle  interplay of images..."