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/

Sojourn in the land of Mayans


History whispers among the ruins and the remains: Sojourn in the land of Mayans

Imagine walking on the very land where thousands of years ago there was bloodshed, ball games, sacrifices, rituals performed by tribals. I was preparing myself in my mind and very excited on the plane ride to Mexico from Miami. I have always been fascinated by the subject: History. It is very important we learn about the past, evolution of the most complicated of all creatures – human beings, their varied cultures, practices, beliefs, behaviors, languages, traditions, invasions, civilizations etc. Each time I learn about a certain group of people in a certain region at a certain time in the history, I imagine how they led their lives, what made them strongly believe in certain rituals, how they molded their behavioral patterns, what was their journey like, how certain truths and facts embedded in a certain culture came in to existence or evolved over a period of time from the inception. During my travels, I have also been able to link the similarities in following certain protocols and culturally significant norms that were prevalent at the same time but in two different corners of the world. Makes me wonder and inspires me to turn the pages of history and learn more, travel more and reveal more about the vivacious nature of human life.
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My first leg of the journey welcomed me to the modern Mexico – the tourism, exotic locales, attractions, luxurious resorts, cultural extravaganza with mayan themes, spiced up display of traditional artifacts and modernized versions of shows. In the lap of luxury, enjoying a slice of ancient civilization, shopping for souvenirs, taking tequila shots and sipping margaritas were the many tourists and the busy guides. I say to myself – “There is certainly more to Mayan Mexico than this…..” Offcourse there is…..lets see – The mysticism of Maya culture and natural beauty

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Trendiest spot on all of the Yucatán Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is located along the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo.It is also one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world, due to vibrant sea life and dazzling underwater caverns. Made me wonder how the modernization has impacted and transformed a small fishing village in to a tourist destination. After unpacking in Occidental Xcaret resort that reflected a sofisticated seaside grace and housed a Mexican-themed eco-archaeological park, I set out to explore in my own unsophisticated, unconventional way.

The “heart of the Mayan Coast”, Mahahual is very inviting and full of charm with the blue of the Caribbean for the eyes, sea breeze for the skin and sounds of the rainforest that captivate the ears. This scuba diving paradise has sea turtles, sponges, sea horses, manatees and whimsical coral formations. The Mayan civilization covered a vast territory and reached its zenith between 250-900 AD. Their legacy includes some of the finest jewels in today’s world of archeology: palaces, observatories, temple-pyramids and ceremonial sites. Many of these sites are still, over a thousand years later, in excellent condition. Surprisingly skillful architecture……

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Chichen Itza is a magical place, with the massive Pyramid of Kukulcan as an elegant centerpiece. Chichen Itza means “mouth of the well” and covers about 3 miles in area, built in the late Classic Period (800-1000 AD). It has the temple of the 1000 Warriors columns, Great Ball Court, The Sacred Cenote, Platform of Eagle & Jaguar, Temple of the Jaguar, The Observatory, Venus Temple, The Market, Casa del Venado and The Ossuary. Holding an umbrella in one hand, clutching a notepad and pen in the other, walking in the hot sun, pausing in between to view the site and make notes, asking numerous questions to the local guy (who I later came to know was a school teacher), learning more about Mayans, archeo-astro capabilities was a very memorable experience. Learning about the glory and splendor of Mayans and then looking at the ruins. Philosophically, there are things that come to an end and then there is a new beginning. There are marvels gleaming in the richness of culture, illumination of knowledge(scientific, mathematical, spiritual) and also the tragedies of snatching away lives in the name of sacred sacrifices, doomed in the darkness. Contrast!! Or is it just me overreacting to these historical facts and events because, I walk the path of non-violence and compassion.

Coba – means water stirred by wind. This city is nestled in the Yucatán’s thick jungle and surrounded by exquisite lakes. The city flourished between 600-900 AD and by the end of the Classic period, it had become a major Maya city-state with a population of about 60,000 inhabitants. Its control over the Yucatán trade routes gave the city a commercial sphere of influence aiding it to thrive. During the Post-Classic (1000-1200 AD), Coba lost its dominance to cities like Tulum as its political and commercial influence crumbled. The city is formed by a group of 5 clusters of buildings or complexes with a web of roads and causeways that interconnected them and facilitated exchange of goods and services with the rest of the Yucatán Peninsula. The most important clusters are: The Coba cluster, including the Church Pyramid and the recently restored Nohoch Mul cluster, which means ”big mound.” There are thought to be over 6,000 structures buried in the dense jungle in and around Coba.

Tulum – means ”wall, trench or fence” in the Maya language. The conquerors were amazed by the beauty, size and strength of this ancient fortress built on a cliff, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean below. At the time it was built, the Maya sculpting in stone art had degraded to a large extent. What was lost in intricate decoration and grandiose architecture, however, is made up for by the beauty of the location. By the time the Toltecs had annexed the Maya lands to their vast territories, Tulum was a thriving merchant port and remained so until the Spanish arrived in 1518. The city reached its splendor in around 1200 AD and was a characteristic example of the Maya late Post-Classic era. I climbed down to the cenote and swam in the water taking in the splendid view.
The cenotes store in its crystal clear waters stories and legends of the Mayan culture, who still consider them sacred and believe they are inhabited by gods. Ancient Maya citizens thought the cenotes were windows to the other world and a connection to the afterlife; hence their rituals to the underworld gods were organized around these cenotes.

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The accuracy in the astrological calculations, based on the knowledge of cosmos – The reflection of that knowledge in the architecture – The methodical way of representing the seasons, symbolically and being aligned to the changes in the nature. They had created their own calendar thousands of years ago. My observations and careful interpretations of all this. Oh!!! Splendid. It made me wonder how highly evolved they were. At the same time, there is an indefinable depth of sadness as to the causes of their doom, decline of power and destruction. Seeped in ruins, shrouded in mystery are the ways of Mayans. The more you try to know the more there is to know. It is a never ending journey of unraveling. It is time to head back in to the confines of a cozy home. After all the travel, wandering in the sun, thinking about Mayans and their intricately complex world of accomplishments and unkind practices (my perception that absolutely differs from that of Mayans), I revel in the solace looking at the blue Caribbean waters and the vast sky, wondering how many Mayans would have had a similar experience and silent moments in the midst of nature thousands of years ago. Humans die, their legacy remains, magnificent monuments turn in to excavations, power – supremacy declines but the beauty of nature prevails and I chronicle my experiences reliving the moments that I spent in those destinations. Wait to read about the next one……….Adventurous and fun one – a Scintillating experience indeed!!

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Warli paintings : ethnic – simple


I started learning Warli paintings because of the sheer simplicity and the curiosity to find out more about the culture and tradition embedded within this wonderful form of art. Art is not just about creativity, it is also about re-inventing the history, it is also about depicting a certain way of life, it is also about culture and simplicity. I got fascinated by the wall paintings. I was more attracted to this form of painting because of the simplicity in it.

Warli paintings are the tribal wall paintings of the warli tribes of Maharashtra. Warlis are the largest tribes of Maharashtra live in northern outskirts of Mumbai. Womenfolks mainly do the paintings on the mud walls of the houses.Warli paintings generally depict the normal life like images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life. They also depict hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting scenes. White is the only colour used in creating these paintings, with occasional dots in red and yellow. This colour is prepared by grounding rice into white powder.

Warli is the name of a tribe, which resides in Thane district of Maharashtra on the northern outskirts of Mumbai and extends up to the Gujarat border. They are spread out in the villages named Dahanu, Vada, Talasari, Palghar, Mokhada and several other parts of the district as well. The origin of the warlis is yet unknown and no records of this art are found, but many scholars and folklorists believe that it can be traced to as early as tenth century A.D when man learnt to build walls of the house. The Warli Art (Warli Painting) was eventually discovered in the early seventies, and became popular for its unique simplicity and fervor for life.

The warlis were originally hunters but today they are farmers and work according to the monsoon. Thus their paintings are also influenced by the seasonal cycle as their life around them is directly reflected in the paintings.To understand and enjoy the paintings of Warlis, one should know their religion, their rituals and see life from their perspective. As the life of warlis link closely with nature, they worship the nature in different forms – Sun and moon, god of thunder, lightning, wind, rain, and several others. Gods are worshiped according to the seasons. In the coming of the first rice they worship the god of rain and it’s called the festival of Naranadeva. This is then followed by the worship of household gods, in the festival of Hirva, Warli paintings have various subjects or themes, which depict a story from their daily activities. Each painting has numerous elements giving a panoramic view. The subjects found in these paintings are various animals, trees, women, children, men, group of men dancing around a person playing the music, wedding scenes, descriptive harvest scene, birds, dancing peacocks, etc.

The paintings are also based on celebrations of Gods – Himai, Jhoting,Naranadeva,Tiger God, festival of Kansari- the goddess of grain and the deity of fertility, Palghata, is worshipped (during marriage ceremony). For the Warlis, life is cyclic repeating it eternally. Circles best represent the art of warli, which has neither an end nor a beginning. At all occasions – birth, marriage, and death they draw circles, symbol of Mother goddess. Death is not the end for them; rather it is a new beginning.

A few of the paintings that I have made in Warli style:

Painting W_01, symbolizes the celebration of day and night. The dancers are performing dance and celebrating the day to day life of bliss and prosperity. Day_night_Dance

Painting W_02, is about the celebration of music.

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Painting W_03, Dancers in a circle.

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Look forward to many more……….

When I lost my way…..


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One late afternoon while I was driving to my favorite Village Inn to have some coffee and snacks, I missed a turn and kept going straight, couldn’t make a U turn so I turned left and kept driving. I reach Bay Shore, view the panorama of colors brightly lit in the sky, pristine waters gleaming in the last rays of the setting sun.
I could have pulled over and stopped somewhere and took out the GPS, fixed it and could’ve just let it navigate me. But, something in me didn’t want me to stop. For once, I let go off the inhibitions, innumerable worries, plans in my brain and was very calm, living in the moment, enjoying the drive, though feeling lost…..deep within I was finding my way. The ‘best in me ‘is yet to be discovered. The best of my paintings are yet to be painted; the best of my writings are yet to be written. I am yet to find love. I am yet to design and build my home. I am yet to travel and explore many places in the world. I am yet to unravel the beautiful universe within me. I stopped living the life of stereotypes a long time ago. Since then, I felt lost.

Now, when I have actually lost my way in the literal sense of the word I am finding my way. Letting go off people, perceptions, and worries and making peace with my unique path carved out by myself I bow to the beacon of knowledge, courage and sometimes rage to challenge that has brought me to where I am today. In the midst of chaos, ever changing world, my love for life, inexhaustible interest to learn and zeal has kept me alive and keeps me going. I know I’ll find my way. Being lost for a while is like a pause in the journey, to revisit the blueprint of life, to question oneself, to be brave, to be calm, to relax, rejuvenate and smile no matter what.

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After driving aimlessly for a while, getting on to the highway and taking the exit I arrived at Village Inn. Over cups of coffee, a plate of country potato wedges and hash browns I am writing this note which will go in to my journal. As John Muir has said – “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” On my drive I lost my way and found myself amidst nature, took on the splendid view of the horizon, became a spectator to the nature’s drama of the light rays playing on the waves, cloud formations with the resplendent silver linings and spectacular hues of sunset splashed on the canvas of the sky. Mother Nature’s gift of visual treat and ever changing moments of extravaganza fills my soul with pure joy and delight beyond words.

The last time I had French crepes


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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

Fall from the sky…………….


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The ultimate moment: Beyond words….tremendous amount of fear grips me tightly…I have to jump off the perfectly fine airplane. What am I doing? It is all good. I have to look forward to the thrill, adrenaline rush…..air gushing in to my face, the speed with which I fall off towards the earth…1..2…3…Go…I go for it. Awesome experience.

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The gliding moments… Slow paced, it is a little journey in itself. As if in a fantasy, dream, gliding in the sky, looking at random things below, laughing at the teeny weeny houses and cars, amazed at the vast expanse of land, manicured sprawling lawns and lines and lines of roads.

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The landing…again fear takes over for a short time. I overcome it, and bravely land gripping the suit and skidding on to the ground safely like a pro.Great Day. Sky dive – Done. Check on one item in my bucket list.