Enjoy – relish – Savor the food


 

Notes from an eternal Food enthusiast

Ditch the calorie counter, stop looking at the meal plan apps. Dear People – Stop worrying, fussing, messing!!! I mean it. Sit back, relax and enjoy the food. We live in the age where borders are blurring, everything is global and cuisines from different parts of the world are available after a short drive. Give your taste buds the pleasure of tasting varieties of delicacies, rich tastes and flavors, appreciate the amazing intriguing process of cooking & creating culinary art. Your taste buds will thank you for the enriching experience and not just that food is an excellent mood enhancer. Haven’t you experienced that amazing feeling after having a sumptuous meal, finger licking good dish topped with a cool dessert? Oh! The very fact that I am writing about it, is triggering my salivary glands. Unbelievable, the power of food. Let me go grab some food, before I go on and pen down my thoughts.

Relish the food slowly. Don’t rush through the meal. Savor each morsel/bite of your meal, be grateful for you could create recipes, cool and share food with others. Be happy that you are blessed with a great appetite. Don’t starve yourself because some chart indicated so, some app dictated or a dashboard popped up and restricted you from enjoying a plate full of food. Instead, you decided to trash it. Imagine the plight of all those impoverished people in some remote corner of the world who struggle daily to have two nutritious meals a day. Are you going to let all these modern gadgets and apps fueled by technology, backed by industries, govern your way of having food? Have your meals the way they were meant to be had – the natural way. You eat when you are hungry, when you feel that your body is indicating that it needs fuel to satiate the hunger. Drink when you feel thirsty internally not when you get a beep from the timer indicating your quota of H2O to drink.

Who knows yourself best? Your doctor? Your personal trainer? An app on your so called smart phone, a bunch of algorithms or a spreadsheet? Your body knows what is best for you at any given time of the day and night. Isn’t it? Please do not mess with your inner voice. Listen, Live, Love food, eat, drink, Enjoy. Live spontaneously, you have an appetite – you feel hungry – you eat food…..delicious, yummy, healthy meals. Be conscious of your food intake, be aware of the distinction of what is healthy or unhealthy, which is beneficial, nutritious, natural or harmful, filled with preservatives and unnatural. No need to stress yourself out calculating calories, not eating but craving etc. When you are eating food natural way, enabling cells to repair and rejuvenate, providing nutrition and nourishment to your body and mind there is no need to worry about whether to count the calories are not, whether to follow a certain method or app, diet or detox etc. Live well, eat well, Life is good, enjoy food.

From the pages of Funny Foodie© by Vim

Reliving moments from the times spent climbing trees, plucking fruits and biting them without the thought of washing them, peeling oranges and relishing them, carrying around bunches of grapes and loving putting each grape into my mouth, cutting open the jack fruit, in spite of the sticky mess, picking berries in little baskets, making melon balls and eating whole mango until the juice dripped off on the dress. The best one is the fond memory of my loving dad scraping apple in a spoon and feeding it to me when I was a little baby and my teeth were too tiny.

From the street food of Bengaluru and Mumbai to freshly prepared meal on houseboat in Alappuzha in Kerala I have loved it all. From the crepes in front of Eiffel tower to golgappas in New Delhi I have relished them all. From the spicy greasy snacks to raw vegetables & greens salad I have savored them with equal zeal and enthusiasm. From home cooked sumptuous festive feast of 6-10 dishes served on a banana leaf to a creatively arranged exquisite dinner at an expensive restaurant I have satisfied the palette of my taste buds umpteen times.

There is more to it. Much more. I will never grow tired of food. There is more to learn, more to experience and more to create new recipes, cook, serve and enjoy.

Shakespeare in the park


Excited to watch a play in a park for the first time, my joy knew no bounds. One of the greatest play writer, his name is synonymous with ‘elegant writing style’ and his plays filled with range of human emotions and filled with incessant shower of phrases and verses that have mesmerized the readers and audiences around the world for centuries. I have great appreciation for his work. One fine day, I accidentally navigated to Wooden O website, found that the first play of the season “Hamlet” will be performed in a park close to my apartment. The next day was uneventful and I was just looking forward to sitting on the grass in the park and watching the play.

 

On the day, as I started to drive to the park, it started to rain. Nothing could dampen my spirits. Rain or Sun I am going to experience watching the play in the park. I was so filled with enthusiasm – how is it going to be? The actors and actresses? How will the stage be set up? It is one thing to go to a play in a theater in a big city like going to a Broadway show in New York, it is totally different kind of experience to enact a play in the park. I drove to the venue in the rain and saw people gathered, some sitting on beach chairs, some had set up tents, some were sitting on mats and umbrellas were hosted up all around the little makeshift white stage. Behind the stage were three white tents where the actors and actresses were resting, some taking power naps, some drinking sodas and one in particular fixing a hat. I walked up to the gentleman who was holding out programs to the audience. I told him how unprepared I was for the weather and that it is my first time in a situation like that. He said he would give me a couple of programs to place on the wet grass and sit on them. I didn’t feel like doing that so, I politely thanked him and walked over to the booth where the site manager was organizing things. I spoke to him about my predicament and asked if I could borrow a chair. He said that they were selling caps and umbrellas but they didn’t have any chairs. He did find a small fold able stool with three legs and handed it to me. I thanked him and walked with an umbrella, eager to set it up and be seated.

 

I returned to the front of the stage, found an empty spot on the grass, set up the stool, sat on it and opened my umbrella and held it between my neck and shoulder. I was raining incessantly and there was no hint of it stopping in a next couple of hours. The play started at 7 pm with an introduction by the site manager. As I looked around, I saw couples sitting on their chairs, holding umbrellas and with blankets wrapped around them, lying on mats on the grass wearing caps and holding on to plastic sheets in a desperate attempt to protect their dresses from getting wet, having sandwiches, cherries and drinking coffee. How I wish I had someone sitting next to me holding my hand and watching the play? Well, instead of following that wish filled train of thought, I concentrated on the play, actors’ performances and the familiar phrases, script of the play, wide range of emotions on display. I had gone to watch several plays before….to name a few – ‘My Fair Lady’ in Theater Royale in York, UK, ‘Mary Poppins’ @ Straz performance arts center in Florida, ‘China doll’ in Broadway, NY, ‘Kuch bhi ho saktha hai’ in Bengaluru, India and a number of plays in ‘Ranga Shankara’.

 

This enriching experience of watching a play in the park in the rain was beyond words. My love of English language, Shakespeare, rain – all coming together. Some of my favorite quotes from the play –

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

“If we are true to ourselves, we can not be false to anyone.”

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

“To die, to sleep –
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?”

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Listen to many, speak to a few.”

 

I liked the performances of Hamlet, Horatio and Polonius. It was quite a spectacle actors and actresses walking around with iPad, iPhone and in modern day clothes, enacting a 16th century play that had been carefully adapted to the 21st century, and not far away from the park I could see the silhouette of the mountains. Getting drenched in the rain, feeling cold, having snap sweet peas and enjoying the play I realized how I am spending a wonderful evening alone and totally happy without a care in the world. “Blissful”. How sweet to be able to enjoy an evening of leisure after all the struggles of my life. I am so glad for everything and everyone in my life for everything happens for good. When the play was over and all the actors bowed I jumped up in joy and clapped acknowledging their awesome performances and applauding their talents. I put a few dollar bills in the hat and said bye. A beautiful evening comes to an end.

Wooden O

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK

http://www.seattleshakespeare.org/

The last time I had French crepes


FrenchCrepes

The year 2008, cold February evening, marveling at the architectural wonder, Eiffel tower…holding on to the jacket tightly, enjoying the pattering rain…pulling the right hand out of the warm glove I had the sizzling hot…just off the pan French crepe…savoring the bite of crepe, licking the chocolate off my lips….

A naïve Indian girl on her first trip outside her homeland, wondering at everything, learning every moment, mesmerized…exploring new things, dream filled eyes. ..struggling with the French language and the accent.

Now….the year 2013…it is raining heavily…drove from a farm, made a sudden decision to stop by at the village inn…Over a cup of coffee…French crepes with strawberries and cream ….sitting by the window, watching the rain…having a bit of the crepe…….wondering at how much it has all changed…..Life, the world…ME….A transformed me…

The incredible journey…This is a like a pause….I reflect back on that moment when in front of the Eiffel tower having French crepes….assuming everything and everyone is good…I had a smile playing on my lips…. 🙂

Now I smile at all those events that transpired over the last few years that brought in change, huge waves of changes…a lot of them. The assumptions that were proved wrong, the perceived realities that turned in to illusions, new found definitions of words, new meanings of beliefs and notions, myths that busted, concepts that crumbled, thoughts and behavior that humbled…hopes and dreams that tumbled…

Negative people who came in to my little world and left,people who shattered my dreams, people who filled me with hope and courage, people who made me stronger, friends who were there for me through ups and downs, trials and tribulations…the glorious moments of joy and fun filled days, unstoppable tears filled with despair and gloomy days and nights of nightmares..
Another bite of French crepe…..brings me back to the present moment. The delicacy, aroma, softness, fluffiness, reveling at the elegance of the moment I smile. I close my eyes with gratitude ..to be able to remember the last time I had French crepes and smile. Yes, the smile has not changed….and never will. 🙂

🙂 Vimala Paran

When I lost someone I loved beyond words……


When I lost someone I loved beyond words……
who was an integral part of my childhood……
A kindred soul in who I saw compassion, love and affection….

A rainy evening, I am busy watching a hindi comedy movie “golmaal” on Television. Ajji, my dearest grandmother was leaving to go to my uncle’s house. I reluctantly left the living room and went to the gate, said bye to her and came back. After a few hours, it is around 10 PM in the night I heard someone knocking at the door. Mom rushes to the door and find my panic stricken uncle at the door blabbering in a hurry that granny is not well and is unable to speak anything. Dad and mom immediately leave in the scooter and I am left in the house to look after my younger brother and little sister. After an hour they return back with tear filled eyes and my grandmother lying in the back of my uncle’s jeep. No one had to reveal the news to me…I understood that she is gone, she is no more. I ran out in my night dress on my barefoot and went to the back to see inside the jeep. She looks so peaceful as if she is asleep and any moment she is going to open her eyes, get up and hug me. I could not believe just a few hours ago I spoke to her and now she is no more. That moment my life changed forever. I couldn’t get any tears in my eyes. My mind was flooded with memories of listening to her hundreds of stories, lying on her lap, watching the stars, falling asleep listening to the lullabies. She was an important piece of my childhood. With her death my beautiful childhood came to an end. The seriousness took charge of me, responsibilities seized me…..I realized how intensely sensitive being I am. How fragile life is…how easily I was robbed of my adorable granny who always made me happy. Then began the journey of questions….unanswered, terrifying, unbelievable. After that fateful night, Life is so different and I feel the void in my life which remains unfilled and will never be filled.

I remember vividly her uncanny ability to weave stories for me…my imagination took shapes and I would be transported in to fantasy lands, with her words…I could easily make movies in my mind…plenty of them. The sweets she prepared for me, the small balls of spicy yummy rice she would place in my palm and make me eat, the varieties of snacks she would fry for me, the butter she would get for me as I loved eating butter, the jasmine flowers she tied with a string and decorated my lengthy plaited hair, the beautiful colored bangles, ribbons and anklets she picked for me, games she taught me, sweets she taught me to cook, the swing in which she would make me sit and the rocking chair in which we both used to sit…….I think of all these and my eyes are filled with tears, but I dare not cry…she would never want to see my tears. She was very brave and had overcome a lot of misfortunes in her life with smile. Her captivating smile …..empathy, caring nature, unconditional, exceptional love for me will live forever as part of me in the depths of my heart. Though I lost someone I adore when I was in school,I live with her memories, I close my eyes and imagine her face, her smile, I feel her warmth and affection. I miss her hugs though. The moments spent on her lap are the incredible moments I miss even today.The long walks we went together, shopping for knick knacks, trinkets, flowers we picked carefully for worshipping God are all not mere memories but important bits in the tapestry of my little world.

I would go with her and watch her, nurture the crops, water the plants, feed the animals. Just being with her, clinging on to her filled me with immense joy which I can not express in words.
She treasured me as if I was the most precious thing ever….and no one ever made me feel that way after she went away to another world. She is the one who showed me goodness, pleasantness, what it means to give unconditional love and genuinely care, how to treat with kindness etc. In my mind she remains synonymous to “goodness in the world”. There is no better way of describing her in a few words.

Whatever the mood I am in, however bad the day was, whichever state I was in, I would run to my granny and hug her and I would feel safe, relieved of all the stress, I would feel so free and light as if everything in the world is good. The love that poured out of her eyes, kind face,her sweet smile, caring touch and the bond between me and her is something that I feel even now, after decades. I still feel her presence and her absence in many ways. It is untrue when I hear phrases like – with time memories fade away, we move on in life and distract ourselves from the loss of loved ones. The feeling remains deep within, it is accessible any moment throughout our life time and the missing part is irreplaceable, invincible and will remain so. We just have to live with the loss and accept it gracefully for there are somethings we do not understand in life neither through science nor otherwise.

Gifts O’ mine


                                                                        

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those   transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” -John Milton.

In the different walks of life, I have treasured some of the gifts and there were also times when at those moments I didn’t realize they were gifts. There are some gifts which turned in to gifts because of the humane touch, people who made those moments special. There are some which are truly gifts in disguise until many years later I understood their priceless value.

The gifts I have, which have been bestowed on me…..

1. Infinite love and affection of my parents and siblings

2. Writing

3. Singing

4. Graceful dance moves

5. Vibrant jubilant life moments

6. Opportunities to travel

7. Great friendships

8. Creativity

9. Drawing, sketching and painting skills

10. Agility
 
11. Adaptability

12. Good health

13. Multi cuisine cooking skill

14. Encouraging and inspiring people around

15. Challenging assignments

16. Inspiring teachers

17. Reading and reciting skills

18. Strong will

19. Sense of freedom

20. Zeal and enthusiasm to try new things

21. Adventurous nature

22. Beautiful moments on top of Eiffel tower

23. Postcards from different parts of the world

24. Thousands of fan letters and emails.

25. Poetry

26. Difficult, testing times which made me strong

27. Rivals who envied me and enabled me to reach new heights

28. Time spent playing with children

29. Workout regimen that keeps me fit

30. Cambridge university studies

31. German language teachers – Prof Hande & Iris Katzenstein

32. Evenings at “my Tea shop” with Chand

33. Brainstorming sessions over cups of coffee with a best friend

34. Business planning hours with Santro

35. Endless shopping hours in huge malls in big cities and equally interesting and exciting shopping experience in small shops buying trinkets.

36. Three hours on a house boat in Kerala backwaters

37. Kite flying experiences every year during childhood

38. The many amusement park rides and thrilling experiences

39. Time spent trekking small hills and huge mountains with jovial, adventurous groups

40. Career years – “Leading without titles”

41. A decade of interesting, challenging and intriguing career

42. Opportunities to compete – Essay contests, debates, singing, quiz, crossword puzzles, scrabble and Sudoku

43. Tears which inspired and appeared now and then

44. Moments spent reviewing a budding writer’s poems

45. Noons in Malleshwaram with Mamatha

46. Letters from friends

47. A bouquet of roses, picture book and gifts from NU colleagues

48. Evenings spent playing badminton with Juhi, Vicky and Mike at Norwich university sports   centre

49. The many adventures on Swiss Alps, Jung Frau, Trummelbach cave falls 

50. A rose crafted using blades of a leaf

51. Every evening spent listening to music and singing along

52. Hot air balloon ride

53. iPod classic

54. A beautiful carved wooden jewelry box that I bought with my first UK salary

56. Zeal to try adventurous tasks

57. Love of life

58. Vivacious

59. Learning ability

60. Hours I spent watching classic bollywood movies with dad

61. Retail therapy with Sis and friends

62. Spa days after which I felt relaxed and rejuvenated

63. Droid incredible 2

64. Collection of sports wear

65. Time spent grooming new hires and trainees

66. Train rides in London

67. Climb to the top of York tower

68. The many hurdles and stumbling stones I encountered in my journey and the lessons I learnt from each one of them

69. Evenings at plantation garden in Norwich

70. My huge collection of books (all genres)

71. Bird watching moments (the thrill of anticipation, beauty of nature and endless patience)

72. Moments spent watching the blanket of stars lying on the terrace

73. Trip to Cromer and Gt. Yarmouth with my brother

74. Sundays spent teaching bharatnatyam dance steps to children

75. Daily ritual of journal writing

76. Mentors

77. Samba dance session in London with Liz

78. Coffee and tea estate visits with family

79. Boat rides with friends

80. Chocolate factory visits

81. Walks in the rain

82. Cherished memories of childhood with granny

83. Salsa classes I took

84. Dreams that I dared to dream and pursued passionately and strenuously

85. Tonga ride in Mumbai

86. Numerous beach walks

87. Samsonite backpack which has travelled 18% of this planet with me.

88. Handcrafted book with pressed flowers presented by my sister

89. Motorbike rides with my brother with the breeze blowing on my face and the thrill

90. Countless views of sunrise and sunset

91. List of audacious goals that I have gifted myself

92. A gift box I get from Godiva chocolates every month with their latest chocolate creation

93. Collection of my favorite music (classical, western, country, instrumental, bollywood, Latin, folk, ghazals, rock and Sufi)

94. Bhagavad-Gita book

95. Louis vuitton handbag – a beautiful, classic L’Essential bag

96. Clef Note Pendant

97. Shell pearl necklace

98. Pashmina shawl

99. Card made by my youngest dance student (Aditi) for me

100. Carved Idol of Radha Krishna gifted by Manjula

101. Everyday magic that is happening as part of the celebration called Life

         I spring out of my bed at the crack of dawn with vigor and exhilaration each day. More than anything, I feel indescribably healthy – that is the best gift of all.

Every moment is a gift, precious and a priceless one….Enjoy every moment…Reflect on how best you lived in the moment – Vimala Paran

Letter to a baby


This is a beautiful letter which is composed in the heart of every mother when she looks at her new born baby. It is true that the baby cannot read or comprehend the words in the letter until many years later, but I guess just the way a mom holds her baby, looks at him/her, cradles the baby with her hands all these words in the letter are conveyed. Sometimes just a look, a smile, affectionate touch say a thousand words...Incredible, Isn't it?

 

Dear Baby,

Be yourself, no one can be you….When you grow up, speak for yourself no one
can speak for you…. Stand up for yourself, just be you..the real you…not to
please others but to be you…not for the sake of others but for your own, just
be you…the only you…the real you…the unique you.

 

Don’t shy away from yourself, don’t be afraid of the critics, don’t take it to
heart, what others have to say….just be you…the wonderful you, the real
you…

 

What it takes to be you….the smile, the attitude and persona.  What it means
to be you….your values, your looks, wonder in your eyes…..The liveliness,
cheer and zeal..that are real…just be you …truly you, beautiful you….

 

Don’t be embarrassed of what you do for a living… don’t regret from where you
come from…don’t be ashamed of telling out loud what you think,what you
mean…you are you …the only you…on this planet…remember that there is no
one else like you

 

Will you be like somebody? Some day? Fake your way and your smile…..lead a
life with masks all the time? OR will you value my words and be yourself all
day? All the time…Be the exquisite you, naturally you…….be true to
you…..always

 

You are the one…the only one just be proud of who you are…dont suffocate in
the past, live every moment of the present…..just be you every second ….just
be you for the record, just be you for who you are and what you do….

 

Appreciate the very nature of you, do not compare with what others do, dont you
think what others are like,you are to become what you want to be, not what
others say you to be….

Grow high but do not forget to be humble, lift up yourself when u fall and
tumble.  Be kind and also assertive, know what you want and dare to dream. Don’t
get lost in the crowd, focus and persevere to be the ultimate you. Just
you….always keep alive the child within you, pursue your dreams to make them
true ….for you and keep the light of hope turned on….forever.

Always know that for your mom YOU ARE the world.

Love
Mom