Thoughts on a Monday or any day

It has been a while. I see I have around 9 drafts, all of which I had started with passion and a lot of ideas. And then somewhere in the humdrum of daily life, the ideas fizzled and I ran out of enough energy to revitalize those. A whole lot of nothingness and moments of significance, moments that put the whole act of living in perspective, filled up the space and time in between.

The pandemic has turned everything upside down and in all impossible directions and people probably have had enough of it. I for one, am tired. But when a few months ago, my home country of India got ravaged not only because of the virus but also because of an inept and corrupt administration, for the first time in the last 18 months I felt helpless. This is, however, neither the time nor the place to explain that feeling, but to see loss like I had never seen before, was surely overwhelming. A classmate from high school, who was pregnant with twins, succumbed to the virus leaving behind two extremely premature babies who will have to grow up without their mother. Their mother went to the land of no return without fulfilling her long cherished dream of becoming a mother. A friend lost her parents within a span of 4 days and a cousin bid adieu to her mother over the phone from across the seas. My very best friend is still recovering from the after effects after 4 months and a long hospital stay. These are just a handful of incidents that are by no means isolated or unique. Life is such, I must have read somewhere and perhaps have known, but had never experienced such hopelessness before and that took a toll on me. While there was so much to be thankful for and there still is, it did become a bit difficult this time to hold on to that good. As I read today in an article on EMS personnel in New York, ‘you cannot dip your paintbrush in the wonderful and cover up the tragic’.

But as life goes on, so must we. It is such a storyteller, won’t you agree? And to find the extraordinary in the ordinary rhythms of life is what we strive for, perhaps.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. Stay kind.

Friendly Friday Challenge: PURPLE

I tried searching when was the last time I participated in my favorite challenge and I stopped because I had to scroll down a lot 😦 Sandy, thank you for this unique color challenge, a color that I really love. Though I am not a proponent of ‘blues for boys and pinks for girls’, but my little girl somehow likes pinks and purples a lot more than other colors. It has made me wonder if these likes and dislikes or gravitating towards particular colors has any biological basis. I remember reading an article or two, a while back, that had mentioned that it may be so that girls are ‘hard wired’ to like pinks and purples but later research has disproved that (Phew!!!). Though we are not yet drowning in the shades of bubble gum, I wonder if that may be the case soon!! My boy likes all colors and that includes purple and so when he wanted to dress up as a wizard for Halloween a couple of years ago, I was only too happy to get this for him.

We have recently moved to a new place and I am yet to explore the neighborhood. But while it has lots of trees and trails and park like areas, I am yet to come across flowers. Let me explain a bit. Our previous place, where we lived for 8 years, was part of a sort of a development that was thoughtfully planned and had flowers everywhere. All kinds of flowers…on trees and in beds along the sidewalks, in big pots and carved vases, on people’s balconies and porches. It was a happy and beautiful sight. And this one was right at the end of the sidewalk that my kids learned to bike on.

We are trying to settle in here at this new place to the best of our abilities and while it sometimes seems that we may have to live out of boxes forever (there are way too many to unpack), I know we will unpack the last box one day soon and have more free time to explore our new neighborhood and meet more neighbors!

I wish I had more purple photos to post but I don’t. What I do have is this song on my mind that takes me back to people and places I have met and loved and who will, forever, be my guiding angels, threading the past to present and beyond.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. Stay kind.

Pavlova!

When the wonderful Amanda invites you for a bake off challenge, you jump up and down! May be not you, but I certainly did. Also may be not literally;) Not just because she is lovely, but also because I LOVE desserts and the opportunity to try something entirely new is always way too exciting to pass on. And though my pavlova did not turn out as pretty as hers but it really tasted good…thank you Amanda!

(I will explain where my pavlova went wrong in a bit).

Cakes and brownies are usually the go to desserts in our family but even for someone who has a sweet tooth, that is way too sweet probably, these desserts can feel heavy. Occasionally we add flan too. And so when Amanda wrote about this, it gave me an excuse to make a special dessert when there was really nothing special to celebrate! But then I remembered…for the first time ever, we have a female Vice President- a reason BIG enough to rejoice, won’t you agree? ! The recipe was pretty simple and it did not take a lot of time too. You can find it here.

I had never heard of Pavlova before and when I did, I thought it must be Russian... the dangers of assumption, you see. But Amanda’s post and Wikipedia soon corrected me. I finally managed to bake it yesterday evening, as opposed to the weekend when hopes of baking the pavlova were dashed by the piles of laundry that seemed to have overtaken our bedroom and the entire apartment had started looking like a mine field of Lego pieces and other tiny toys, that while remaining invisible, are capable of causing significant damage to one’s cracked winter heels. You see, the blessings and bane of having mischievous little ones! Now, moving on from an extra long sentence.

As I mentioned earlier, it is an easy and delicious dessert and if you have not tried, you must do so. The mistake I made and the reason it looks different is because it is more flat that it should be. When the recipe asked me to just put heavy scoops of the meringue on the sheet, out of habit I think, I sort of leveled it a bit and realized this misstep only after I had put the sheet in the oven. So the pavlova turned to be flatter than what it should be. And that is also the reason I decided not to do the chocolate dome, and I had really wanted to. But I will be making this soon again and it will most certainly have that delicious looking chocolate dome! For this, I put some shaved bittersweet chocolate on top and along with peaches and oranges and strawberry, the whole thing was so mouthwatering.

Here’s wishing you sweetness and thank you dear Amanda for introducing me to the Pavlova!

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. Stay kind.

Fall… till we meet again

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers“- Anne of Green Gables

With no vacations or even a small road trip this year, we enjoyed the crisp and bright days of autumn in our neighborhood and through occasional visits to some nearby parks. And I am grateful for that.

Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe. Stay kind.

A Way of Life

My hometown of Calcutta (now Kolkata) recently celebrated its biggest festival, the Durga Pujo (more on this here), one which transcends the religious aspect of it to embrace diversity and camaraderie that can probably only be found in this City of Joy. It is unique and unparalleled and I say this not because I am biased, but because it is a fact, a way of life as known, lived and shared by her people. But as strange and painful that this year has been, it has limited the scope of being with our loved ones and, the festivities have a different look this year. However, from what I hear from friends and family, the festive spirit has not been dampened. People found ways to be with each other during this time of the year, celebrate Durga and Her victories in unique ways over Zoom calls and live-stream sessions,which may have made great philosophers re think about the relationship between art and reality, considering how mixed up the ideal and virtual have been this year.

Way of life here in Jersey is a far cry from the festivities there. The enthusiastic and enterprising bunch that Bengalis are, we have brought our own version of those celebrations wherever we have moved to, and adapting to a new life has not meant that we have parted ways with tradition that is intricately woven into our personal and societal tapestries. Being the product of a global culture, man and his beliefs keep evolving and he pursues one that probably suits his needs the best. So, as opposed to a five day celebration, Durga Pujo here in North America is a weekend affair as school auditorium, the typical venue for the grand celebration, is available for rent only on weekend, obviously. This year, we adapted further…we had to. Google Meets and Zoom calls came to our rescue and we too, celebrated virtually. Many of us decked up and made traditional and scrumptious food fit for the kings, at home. And since Fall is in full bloom, we also were blessed with glimpses of an autumn mosaic.

Way of life as once known has greatly changed and we have all adapted to that, to the best of our abilities, some wittingly and some bearing a bit of a grudge. Online school, while far from being ideal, is the way of life for us as is distancing ourselves from friends and family, physically. It is stressful and tiring and stealing moments from the abstract realities of life, has become a norm.

Amidst a hundred memories and a thousand more to come, people all around are trying to make the best of what they have, may be soaking them in some extra love and wrapping them up with a big warm hug. Fatigue sets in but we refuse to be harnessed by the drudgery of routine…such is the beauty of human resilience. We are cautiously hopeful and our wrinkled hearts keep summoning courage, courage to face all that is unknown. That is the way of life now, has always been and perhaps will always be. As we all celebrate our culture, our milestones in ways that are set in stone or in ways that have evolved, I hope we don’t forget that we are all part of a bigger social and human construct, one that makes our beating hearts unique.Our little stories become part of the woven tapestry called life in which we all have a role to play in that. These help us carry on, these moments, these celebrations, these stories, especially in times like the one that we are living today. Times that are in desperate need of a resurgence of empathy and respect. Let us not forget that happiness is not proprietary, but shared. And that should always be the way of life.

” There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path”: The Buddha.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. Stay kind.