Tag Archives: soul

Shining Your Light

This blog post was supposed to be “Challenges in Chennai” thanks to my friend S. Another friend H who looked back at her blog posts from several years ago urged me to do the same. I looked at all the pieces I wrote after arriving in Chennai – one miserable piece after the next. Where was the hope? Where was the inspiration? It was there buried somewhere but you really had to look for it.

So much for being the “enlightened” one, who dabbles in yoga, reiki and all the new age mumbo jumbo and then proceeds to shove it down everyone’s throat. But I discovered that it is so hard to shine your light when everything around you falls apart and there is no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The last four months have seen me move across the globe, sell almost all of our worldly possessions, unemployed, with kids trying hard to adapt to a culture alien to them. Added to that the water problem, maid problem and traffic problem. Every day you wake up in the morning not knowing what problem you will have to confront on that given day.

Before I knew it, I was sucked into a quagmire of problems. The more I struggled, the deeper I sank. It wasn’t before I was neck deep in it that I realized my folly. The problems were getting bigger because I kept focusing on them and complaining about them. I had to find my tiny bit of hope and I had to find it fast. It was my only foothold to stay above the water. I had to tell myself that it was coming and was on its way, even though I had no idea what was coming. That small expectation kept me going, even when there was no change on the outside.

That tiny bit of hope came trickling into my life a few weeks ago. It wasn’t much, just an assurance that some work may come my way after a hiatus of nearly five months. I heartily lapped it up and it grew in me and glowed within. Then things began to change on the outside. We had heavy rains in Chennai. The parched earth quenched her thirst and was replenished. The maid, gone for weeks, now returned. A big burden was lifted off my chest. Things are going to get better. As this transformation happened, an old school song from my school days came to my mind.

Jyothi De Bhagwan (Give me light O Lord).

Mere Dil Mein Jyothi De,

Jag Ko Apni Jyothi De,

Teri Jyothi Se Mein Chaloon,

Jag Ko Apni Jyothi Doon.

 

Give light to my heart,

Give light to the world,

Let me burn in your light,

Let me give your light to the world.

And that is exactly what each of us has to do. Find that little bit of light in our life and spread it. It is not easy, as I have experienced in my life. If you are unemployed, a single parent, chronically ill or in a unhappy relationship, you are consumed by it and it is harder to find the light – forget being the light. Some of us simply drift, barely keeping our head above the water. But survival is not our sole (soul) purpose. Some of us are swallowed by this tidal wave of sorrow and despair. There is no hope. No lighthouse to guide you through the storm. You probably know at least a handful of people who are worse off than you. But one person shining their light can lift hundreds out of their misery. And that person could be you.

Don’t wait for your life to be in order before you start sharing your light and uplifting others. Start now and start right where you are. Open your heart, empathize, help someone today. Your purpose is more than doing a 9 to 5 job, chores, managing kids or a business, social gatherings, college and discos. The world may be full of problems, but you can be the solution. Be the light. Be the love. Be the change we have all been waiting for.

Imagine

 

Imagine a sea of humans in a vast expanse of darkness,

A lone candle burns in the hands of one,

Observing his neighbors unlit candles,

He proceeds to share the light of his candle with them.

The light grows in intensity and more shadows jump out of the darkness,

Almost threatening to snuff out the candles,

But the bearers of the light know that the shadows are visible because of the light.

Sharing the light becomes an all important task,

As more and more shadows jump out in desperate need of light,

And yet one candle will suffice to rid us of the darkness.

Every face aglow in the warm light,

Laughter and tears mingling with the soft strains of music,

Every heart bursting with love,

A love that is limitless and engulfs the entire cosmos.

Imagine a sea of dancing flames that illuminates the entire earth

Perceived as a luminous globe by creatures from afar

Love pervading every nook and cranny of space

Every black hole turned inside out to reveal brilliant light.

Our heavy bodies burdened with life

Magically turn light and we float blissfully

The very embodiment of the Divine.

 

 

 

My Gastronomic Adventure – Part 2

Now the U.S. is a culinary jungle all by itself and living here for more than a decade has greatly influenced my cooking. As a young bride I focused on making everyday Indian food which was easy, given that I used to help my mom a lot in the kitchen and knew most of the basic recipes. I love Chinese food and we used to eat out at Chinese restaurants quite frequently. The Chinese food you get in India is usually spiced up and modified to suit the Indian palate. When I came to the U.S. I quickly discovered that most Chinese restaurants were Americanized. I was disappointed and craved Ind0-Chinese food so much that I started making it myself – just the fried rice, noodles and cauliflower Manchurian.

Another type of food that I missed was chaat (Indian snack food or street food). To try and explain what chaat is to someone who has never tasted it is next to impossible. Maybe the closest I can get to describing it is by borrowing a word from Japanese – Umami, which is a 5th taste, a savory taste. Chaat is an explosion of salty, sweet, tangy, spicy and crunchy that takes you to food heaven. So again I had to perfect my paav bhaji, pani puri and bhel puri for whenever the chaat cravings hit me hard.

I love to bake and out here baking is big. So I spent many years trying out different cake and pie recipes and now I have a few perfect ones under my belt. Like banana nut bread, apple pie (thanks to Aunty D’souza – who bakes the most amazing desserts), key lime pie (thanks to Florida) blueberry muffin, almond cake, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

When you are vegetarian, eating out is such a tedious task. Our go-to places are Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants. My kids simply love Italian food and given a chance they would eat pasta every day. So chef DC did it again and perfected her pasta sauces, ravioli, lasagna, frittata and even home made pizza. The fun part of making pizza is getting the kids involved. They love getting in there and getting messy and I love cooking with them. It reminds me of the time I spent cooking with my mom and also G.

I used to spend many hours watching food network and my favorite show was 30 minute meals with Rachel Ray. She was my idol and I used to race against the clock and try and make Indian food (that typically takes hours to make) in just 30 minutes. The rice cooker and pressure cooker were my best friends and I quickly mastered the art of speedy chopping. So in under an hour I would make one veggie dish, one gravy and rice. I can make a one pot sambar (many traditional cooks frown upon this method) which to me tastes just as good.

Other friends I have made out here have also shared wonderful recipes with me. Most of my neighbors in Boston were from Andhra Pradesh, India and their dishes are very tasty and very different from ours. I learnt how to make mango dal and eggplant curry from them. My good friend and neighbor shared her mushroom biriyani recipe which has been passed on to many friends and is still a favorite at my house. She is a very good cook and we used to make and share vada and payasam during festivals and also try out different recipes and share them. She inspired me to make sweets for Diwali (although the seeds were sown by G’s family and Ganga). So I’ve made Ladoos, Jalebis, Halwas and Kheer. My neighbor S started making murrukkus with me when she was between jobs and I soon found myself in the possession of a murukku press (thanks to my husband), making murukkus from scratch.

My husband likes to cook on occasion and he has whipped up some very good recipes. One of the earliest ones was a veggie sub with grilled green pepper, mushroom, onions and tomatoes and melted cheese. He makes the best rava dosas and dry coconut chutney. These days he is into making plantain chips from scratch – we just finished frying up a batch after slicing them up in our spiffy new mandoline.

So that brings me to last month’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Firstly we don’t eat turkey – me because I’m vegetarian and the rest of my family simply doesn’t like it. So we replaced the turkey with chicken wings – buffalo style. My daughter wanted mashed potatoes and my son wanted lasagna! I replaced the lasagna with mushroom ravioli because it’s a lot easier to make and for dessert we had eggless cake. I’m glad I chose a simple menu because on the day before Thanksgiving I fell sick and I secretly thanked myself for not choosing to make Indian food! I consider myself a die-hard curry eater but no other cuisine involves so much soaking, grinding, marinating, frying, sautéing, mincing and spicing like Indian cuisine. Later that evening the guilt set in and I ended up making eggplant curry.

There is something about food that not only titillates your palate but also warms your heart and soul. When you break bread with someone, share your table or your cooking with someone, an invisible bond is formed – one that lasts for a long time and one that evokes a lot of fond memories of fun, food, family and friends. Here’s to your own culinary adventure…cheers!

 

Guest Blog : How to Meet, Date and Marry your Soulmate in One Year! (by Shomita Sarah)

If you’re anything like me, reading this title would make you wonder if I was a little high or losing my mind. I promise I’m neither – this is the plain, honest truth as I’ve experienced it. If the title piqued your curiosity, then good. This is not really a how-to article…but it is a true-to-life experience article and honestly, I never expected to be the one to write something like this from my own experience.

Let me begin at the very beginning. The blogger I’m writing this guest article for is quite honestly my oldest (and very cherished) friend in the world. She and I were born two days apart in the same hospital in South India and our lives have been intertwined ever since. I like to say that God brought us together and has kept us together ever since. She has been a constant source of encouragement on pretty much every step where I’ve found myself faltering and particularly in the one niggling matter of finding “the guy”. A few years ago, when I was at one of those low points in my life – when every possible doubt you have weighs you down and you wonder – ‘is love ever going to find me’ and maudlin thoughts outweigh the rational – she counseled me to focus on what I wanted in a guy and make a detailed list and put it out there in the universe and wait. Easier said than done! Anyway, being at the end of the proverbial rope I decided to make that list and surprisingly, it does make you feel a little better. There’s something tangible about the written word. As a sneak preview, I’ll mention a few things on that hallowed list – tall, Irish, blue eyes, similar faith in God.  I eventually, let that list rest and went about my life, not really stressing as much about finding the guy but not really finding the guy either!

2013 started off feeling like a different year altogether. I knew something was coming this year, but didn’t know what exactly. I’d also finally gotten to the point where I decided to let the pining for “the guy” go and let him just come to me. I realized that I had a lot of good things on my plate already and if it wasn’t time for him to be on the same plate – then I could at least enjoy the rest. A cousin contacted me out of the blue and encouraged me to give a popular dating website another try – saying there were good men out there and I had to give it one more shot. So, I said to myself – why not?! Among the men that contacted me was this one guy whom I initially responded to because I found that he had a similar interest in traveling to Ireland. After a few exchanges, I started to have some doubts (as sometimes happens with online communications) and almost ended the exchange.

It would’ve surely ended there, if he hadn’t had the ‘audacity’ to call me out on my own fears and in a very down-to-earth manner give me the choice to find out if there was a possibility of a continued exchange between us. He let me set my own pace and ladies  tell me you don’t like a man who lets the girl set the pace! We started as friends – no pressure – just emailing, talking and texting and getting to know each other. We progressed to our first date on a snowy evening – that pretty much decided it for me. He was the IT guy. If I can refer back to my list again – he was tall, of Irish origin, blue eyed and shared my faith in God! We stayed all night talking and holding hands and it was simply the best date I’ve had. I started to fall in love with a good man and a gentleman – he even dusted the snow off my car! Might be a silly thing to remember but it mattered a lot to me.

We decided to become FB official – because who can say they’re really dating without letting the social network know about it right?! Less than four months later, on my 35th birthday, he surprised me – by popping the question and without a doubt, I accepted. The four months involved a whirlwind getting to know both families, lots of driving and texting and phone calls. Did I mention we were in a long-distance relationship? And did I mention that we will be tying the knot in less than 60 days?

Yup…it’s less than a year and I’ve managed to meet, date, get engaged and will soon be getting married to the guy I’ve waited a long while to meet. Ladies, pull that jaw up from off the floor. As unbelievable as this may sound…believe it…it happens! It took a lot of prayer, a lot of patient (and sometimes not-so-patient) waiting and the tiniest bit of hope that he existed. If you’re looking – don’t give up hope. Pray hard and trust that the right guy is out there and looking for you too. And when it comes to you, don’t fight too hard, give in and let yourself experience the wonder that is the love of a good man. Here’s hoping that the experiences married life brings will help us grow together as a couple!