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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Blind Faith in Mathura

Temple made of Italian Marble imported from Italy

In Mathura there are more than 600 temples and more are built each year, some of these temples are really beautiful and if you are looking for a good architecture, you can feast your eyes on them.

Unfortunately some people believe that God resides there.

As far as I know, God does not exist in stone structures, neither in temples nor in idols. He is there with us, 24x7, inside us in the form of light and He can be reached anytime when we wish to see Him. We can feel Him, hear Him, know His presence and the miracles that happen in our life are the proof that he exists within us.

Yes, there is need for a guide to recognize God, We all need Master to show us the path to go inside and find Him through a proper channel but the real Master will not weigh you with money to show you the path, he will guide you so that you are able to understand the right method through meditation, the right discipline and then leave you alone to follow the path.

Yet, there is a blind faith of some spiritual people who think that God resides in these concrete structures and can be reached through a medium, either through some spiritual person, or through a pundit. There are many pundits in Mathura who cash on this stupidity of people. Thanks to the blind faith of spiritual people, the pundits own 5-bedroom-villas on the outskirts of Mathura.

Surprised? Well I am not lying because I actually visited one!

The car-rental people have understanding with the pundits and they too have their share for bringing ‘client’ to them. I had warned my family about this but they did not believe me till they got tricked.

The car-rental driver suggested ‘Gokul’ when my family expressed their desire to see temples of Mathura and the family went to ‘Gokul’. They got mobbed by pundits who promised to pray for peace of their loved one who were no more. They came back stunned; each one with empty pockets all had shelled out thousands of rupees without realizing that they were being tricked.

As long as people have a blind faith, the pundits will have a field day. Some will give willingly and some out of fear.

How does one help humanity in a practical way, if the middle person always cheats, dissolving our trust?

Monday, 21 February 2011

Thread Ceremony

“After the thread ceremony, you will be transformed into a Hindu man” I told my sixteen-year-old nephew.

He did not understand.

He sat through the prayers dressed in saffron robes, imitating pundits at every ritual, reciting the shlok after them and chanting the prayers.

After one hour of ceremony, people congratulated him, showered him with garlands and gifts and wished him luck

He smiled

Nothing had changed

Not for that moment.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Kalaghoda workshop 'Eat, Write, love'

“Eat, write, love” conducted by Rushina Ghildiya during Kalaghoda festival was interesting and promising workshop that I wouldn’t want to miss. Having a wedding in the family had kind of tied me up with shopping and visit to tailors, but somehow I excused myself from other important things, (postponing it to some other day) and I managed to attend two-day workshop on food-writing during the morning hours from 11am to 4pm.

And I was glad that I did.

During the two day workshop I learnt about the different literature/cookbooks that are available in the market and how I could make my contribution to new frontiers of food writing.

Food writing is basically an art of writing in such a way that it creates enough desire in the person to go out and taste the food. It could be by reporting, writing memoirs, history or review, but all food articles place importance on preparation, consumption, nutritional values and recipes.

Rushina spoke about her experience as a published food writer, giving us great tips on the type of articles that find their way into print, giving us pointers which could be expressed through food news, travel stories, trends, essays, product review, restaurant review or interviews. She suggested that we maintain a diary of taste which could list the flavor of particular food with defining words that could make our writings interesting.

What was fascinating about this workshop was that we actually got to eat some of the food stuff and the painful part of this workshop was the assignment after tasting the food. After a delicious meal, instead of stirring myself with food writing, I would rather sleep, er...well.... at least for some time... till all the juices have melted completely through my gullet into my tummy. no?

On the day one, she brought food stuff like kafir leaves, Kafier lime, heart of palm and yellow and pink dragon fruits.

I picked up the dark green, round fruit, probably a close cousin to our Indian lime but with rough body and distinct nipple at the stem end. As I dug my nails into the Kafier lime, there was high concentration of aromatic oil, whose fragrance seeped through my nostril reeling me to heady nostalgia about my Bangkok trip where almost all the traditional food have this flavor, in soups, in fish recipes and in red/green curry. Unlike our Indian lime, this kafier lime was dry and had no juice at all, but its rind could be used in most of the recipes.

There was another plate of ‘heart of palm’ an ivory round slab which she had cut into small pieces for us to taste. It was delicate in flavor, had a kind of sweet and nutty taste. The plate was kept close to where I was sitting and I picked up quite a few pieces, savoring it during next one hour of the session.

Dragon fruit which I would never buy from any market since I would never know what I would find inside was a pleasant surprise. It turned out to be a relative of our Kiwi fruit that I have enjoyed so many times, but while Kiwi is sourer, this one was sweeter and tastier. There was pink and yellow dragon fruit but I liked the pink one which was much sweeter than the yellow bland one.

Rushina made a salad from all these three ingredients adding salt, red chilly powder and lime juice. Our assignment was to write a small paragraph on these ingredients.

Some of those present did complete the assignment, writing about the food stuff and whatever it inspired them to write and they read it for every one’s benefit. Great talent there!

At the end of the session we got to try some pastries and macaroon which we had to write again, but like I said earlier, I digest everything……hahaha!

The day two of this workshop was on serious writing. Rushina gave us more information of different cuisine books available online and the kind of style and content on food writing that one could use and how one could benefit from this literature to augment our-day-to-day writing.

The interesting part again.. what else?? ..yeah eating

Godrej Nature Basket, my favorite super store where I normally do my weekly food shopping, has generously shared a variety of chilly (my favorite ingredient that I cannot do without) products from around the world for us to try.

And thus began our tasting session…

Nori Japanese seaweeds coated with chilly flavor were wafer thin dark greenish strips with a fishy smell. It had a crisp texture and a sweet, slightly salty and pungent taste, I have tasted these seaweed strips wounded over Shushi but having them as a snack was good too.

Next was the mayonnaise with Mexican jalapenos ‘La Costena Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce’. This made the beautiful combination with mayonnaise with crunchy smoked, red peppers and the sour taste of vinegar and tomato sauce.

Harissa (Morrocan chili sauce)The sweet chilli paste with aniseeds and ginger tasted like the Indian version of sweet chutney which reminded me of the sauce that mom would make during my growing up years. It had Indian spices and could be enjoyed best with Indian rotis or puri. We could also use it for stir fries for rich flavors. (pssss! on my next visit, I might buy one)

Lemnos Sweet Chili Cream Cheese had a crunchy taste of capsicum and I was mentally making a notes of must-do-shopping-of-this-product-for-quick-food-snack-days

Lindt dark chocolate had a chilly flavor for a change. It has unique and sophisticated taste. At first it was just sweet but the chilly flavor creeps in as soon as the chocolate has melted in your mouth giving it warm and chilled finish to your palette.

It was a fiery afternoon with so many varieties of chillies from all over the world, most of them I had tried during my travels but had never heard of chilly chocolate…have you?

Sniff! Sniff!

I needed a tissue.

And then it was time to write an assignment…tough part but some of the writers in the group surprised us with their most descriptive memoirs that they were inspired to write after eating so many chillies.

Me, I collected lots of ideas by just listening to their ranting…thinking of becoming a food writer…maybe I should try……some day.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

At the restaurant - 55-er.

He was unsure whether they could split the food bill. Slowly, undecided, he fumbled, digging deep into his pockets. The waiter groaned, she grabbed the bill, quickly paid him the cash and watched him walk away.

"You should have let me pay" he said, "you know I can afford it"

"I can too" she snapped

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