VOTING is necessary

Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world.
Roald Dahl

Voting is the right given to every citizen. It is infact the power which lies in their hands to make choice and select suitable and right person/leader, who can lead the country. As a citizen we have the right to vote. It is crucial that we can express ourselves in a meaningful way and participate in a democratic exercise.
Election Commission of India was formed on January 25, 1950 and since 2011, this day has been celebrated as National Voters Day.The significance of this day is to encourage all youngsters who are 18 years old or older to actively vote in the elections and thus participate in the electoral process. We, the people, can bring a change and create a new climate of innovative ideas in the country.
Our strong opinions and concerns are very important and needed for the development and artification of a string and vibrant India.
Why am I urging everyone to vote?
Let me give some reasons which I think are very valid:-
1. First, a historical one. The struggle of Indians against Britishers and a democratic India was born with all new thoughts and visions of a new era. Many soldiers fought for it, to make it and to give us freedom so we owe it to all of them to vote, chose the right candidate as the ruling party and use our democratic participation towards our country.
2. Voting is an opportunity to express our voices about pertinent political issues. Through this we shape our future. We chose correct leaders who are committed to their good values and can contribute towards society. Poor electoral decisions made now, can cause harm for many decades to come. Voting is empowering.
3. Thirdly, voting makes you an active person, and not a mere spectator. It enables you to create a change, participate in this rambunctious and messy democracy.
4. Fourth, your opinion matters. Your vote is a declaration mark about how leaders should treat us. As we select them, they should treat the country fairly. Leaders shouldn’t take our vote for granted. Our vote is our weapon against political indifference and impunity.

5. We should vote as it is not a private right. It is a collective public resource. We contribute towards healthy democracy. It shows our dedication as a good citizen.

By voting we reserve the right to complain if things are undone. Our elected officials have to be active if they are elected for the specific posts.
With our vote, we can hold our future. Our Vote Matters!

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Sindoor

I was a six-year-old child. And like any girl child, I wanted to put on my mother’s cosmetics. My mother would not really encourage me but would neither she disapprove of it. Until one day while playing on her dressing table, I pickedup her sindoor (vermilion) and put it on my forehead. Later when I tried removing it, it just wouldn’t come off. Soon my mother saw the vermilion on my forehead and this time she was very angry. I was perplexed. Never had I made her so angry just by playing with her cosmetics. I cried a lot. Sometime later my mother consoled me and told me that the Sindoor was only for married women and not for children. I could not fathom the full implication of this until years later. I understood the religious and cultural significance and only then I realized why my mother was so angry! And today I am going to share with you what I have learnt about the humble sindoor.

Sindoor (Kumkum or vermilion), a red streak along the parting of a woman’s hair, is a symbol and strength of every Indian woman. It is applied for the first time by her husband during the wedding ceremony. It is symbol of belonging. It is a mark or symbol on the forehead, love and respect of a wife towards her life partner. It has many medicinal values and many symbolical reasons behind wearing it by a married woman.

So, let us know how can we make sindoor. Basically, it is prepared by mixing lime, turmeric and mercury. Churning all of these to get a bright red colour.

It helps in controlling blood pressure and regulates hormones, that is secreted from the pituitary gland. It activates sexual drive, that is why sindoor is prohibited for the unmarried and the widows. It relieves stress and increases concentration power. It is the power and energy that every Indian woman possesses and the red bindi signifies, love, devotion, power and a part of the Indian tradition to denote that the woman is married and committed towards the bond which she shares with her partner.

It signifies, sacredness, auspiciousness and happiness that a woman brings in the new life which she creates after her marriage. Bengalis celebrate, “Sindoor Khela” every year on the last day of Durga Pooja. During this ceremony, all the married women offer sindoor to the Goddess Durga and they apply sindoor on each other in the spirit of divine blessings.

The vermilion symbolizes the female’s energy of Parvati and Sati according to the Hindu mythology. Sati is regarded as the most ideal wife who gave her life for her husband’s dignity. So every Hindu wife is supposed to emulate her. Hindus believe that Goddess Parvati protects all the men whose wives apply sindoor.

Sindoor has been worn by women and played an important part in the Hindu culture for more than five thousand years. Its usage has been found even in the Harappan Civilisation. Use of sindoor has been mentioned in the Puranas, Lalita Sahasranam and Soundarya Laharis.

According to Hindu astrology, the Mesha zodiac (or Aries) is on the forehead. The lord of Mesha is the planet Mars and the colour of the planet Mars is red. It is auspicious that is why red sindoor is applied on the forehead. Both are signs of Soubhagya, so ladies are often blessed as Soubhagyavati Bhava.

Sindoor enhances the grace and beauty of a woman. Red is a colour for love and it is applied by Indian women to win their husband’s hearts. A woman looks beautiful by applying sindoor, sparks a fire when needed for her protection. A bright red sindoor reflects the piousness of a lady and the women’s strength and dignity.

मेला चलें।

एक हाथ में चकरी दूसरे में गुब्बारे लिये बचपन के वह अनोखे दिन, एक अनोखा एहसास दिलाता। अजीब सी तृप्ति की अनुभूति होती। पिपिफरी हो या आइस क्रीम मुहमांगी मुराद जब पूरी होती – वह आनन्द ही कुछ और था।
आज के शॉपिंग मॉल में डिस्काउंट का सामान ले कर भी शायद दिल को वह सुकून नहीं मिलता जो बचपन मे मेले में झूला झूलते वक़्त आता था।
इंसान कि भूख को कोई नहीं मिटा सकता। और भौतिक चीजों की चाहत होना आम बात है। फाइव स्टार होटल में रहना हो, खाना हो, या बाहर घूमना विदेश भ्रमण – जीवन की रंगीनियों से कोई नहीं जो अपना मुंह मोड़ सकता है। इंसानों को क्या चाहिए जिसको पाकर वह तृप्त हो जाए? यह वो आज भी नहीं जान पाया है।

गिरीश अपने ऑफिस में बैठे – बैठे अपनी पुरानी यादों में खो गया, अपने पास आज सब कुछ है मगर एक सूनापन जो अंदर से गिरीश को खाये जा रहा था. “साहेब!” रामलाल आ गया! राकेश ने दरवाज़े पर खटखटाते हुए कहा ।
ओह! तो क्या छह बज गए।गिरीश ने दीवार पर टंगे घडी की और देखा और गाडी की ओर चल पड़ा. राकेश गिरीश का ब्रीफ़केस उठाकर पीछे – पीछे आया। गिरीश आज समय पर काफी दिनों बाद घर जा रहा था। मन ही मन सोच रहा था की इतने संघर्ष करके इस स्थान पर बैठा आज पुरे ज़िले में उसके गुण गाते हैं लोग। मगर इस चका चौंध वाली दुनिया से दूर हटकर कुछ दिन आराम मिले तो कितना अच्छा होता। हर वक़्त लोगों से घिरा रहकर उनके लिए काम करना ही कलेक्टर गिरीश का मकसद बन गया था।
आज गिरीश घर जल्दी आया। उसको देख स्नेहा खुश हो गयी। स्नेहा और गिरीश चार साल से विवाह संबंधन में बंधे थे।दोनों जैसे एक दूसरे के लिए ही बने हों। स्नेहा चाय का कप पकड़ाते हुए बोली, “गिरीश! कविता कह रही थी यहाँ पास में मेला लगा है। क्या हम जा सकते हैं?” गिरीश सुनकर सोच में पड़ गया, फिर बोला, “रामलीला ग्राउंड”. स्नेह मुस्कुराकर बोली, ” आप भी चलिए, तभी घूमने में मज़ा आएगा!”. मेले का नाम सुनकर गिरीश अपने बचपन के क्षणों में खो गया, चाबीवाले, जादूगर, खिलोने, हा हा हा। .. बाबा के कन्धों पर बैठकर कितने ही मेले तो देखे हैं! “चलो फिर घूम लेंगे!” गिरीश की आँखों में चमक आ गयी!

स्नेहा साधारण सी सूती साड़ी एवं माथे पर एक बड़ी सी बिंदी लगाकर तैयार हुई। गिरीश को स्नेहा की यह सादगी बेहद पसंद थी। रामलाल मेले के नाम से चौंक गया की आज क्या हो गया साहेब को मॉल में घूमने वाले आज हमारे साधारण मेले देखने कैसे बोल रहे हैं? मगर जोश में बोला, “साहब! आज आपको मेला हम घुमाएंगे।चलिए आज हम आपको ढाबे का चाय – समोसा भी खिलाएंगे। आगे चल के “काके डा ढाबा” देखकर रामलाल ने गाडी रास्ते के किनारे कर दी. कुल्हड की चाय और गरमा गर्म पकोड़े देख के स्नेहा के मुंह में पानी आ गया। गिरीश को अपना बचपन याद आया जो लगता था की इस व्यस्त्तता भरे जीवन में कहीं खो गया है। बाबा के साथ उनका हाथ पकडे मेला ग्राउंड में घूमना और बॉम्बे का लड्डू और हाथ में गुब्बारे .. एक पल में सब याद आ गया।
“साहब, काके के ढाबे की चाय और समोसे खाने लोग दूर दूर से आते हैं. आज आप हमारे मेहमान हैं। अहो भाग्य !मेरे जो मुझे यह अवसर प्राप्त हुआ।”
कुल्हड़ में चाय की सोंधी सोंधी खुशबु स्नेहा और गिरीश को तरोताज़ा कर दिया। रामलाल के इस व्यवहार से उनको ऐसा लगा जैसे कोई अपना – सा हो, यही तो इस छोटे शहर की खासियत है- “अपनापन”.
रामलाल ने दस मिनट में गाडी मेला ग्राउंड के तरफ आगे बढाई। रास्ते में छोटे – छोटे नन्हे बच्चों को अपने मम्मी – पापा के हाथ पकड़े सिटी बजाते गुब्बारे उड़ाते देखे। गिरीश समझ गया की अब हम मेला ग्राउंड के नज़दीक आ गए हैं। रामलाल ने भीड़ देखकर दूर गाड़ी लगाई। गाड़ी से उतर कर गिरीश ने स्नेहा का हाथ थामा। स्नेहा सहम सी गयी की लोग यहाँ देखकर क्या सोचेंगे। पर गिरीश बेपरवाह अपनी ज़िन्दगी आज जीना चाहता था।दोनों आज बचपन के दिन इस पल में जीना चाहते थे।

“आओ इस बड़े झूले पर बैठते हैं ” स्नेहा मेले की तरफ गिरश को ले गयी। दोनों हँसते खेलते मेले में घुमे आज जैसे एक अजीब सी तृप्ति की अनुभूति कर रहे थे। इतने खुश की जैसे उनकी कोई मुहँमांगी मुराद पूरी हो गयी हो.
“अरे मेमसाहब आप यहाँ?!” दशरथ ने पीछे से आवाज़ दी। दशरथ घर का माली अपने पत्नी के साथ मेला घुमा रहा था। “अरे दशरथ! तू तो बीमार था और यहाँ ? दशरथ ने शर्माते हुए बच्चों की तरफ देखते हुए बोलै “मैडम! बच्चों ने ज़िद की। तब मैं काम पर आ नहीं पाया। सॉरी मैडम! . स्नेहा ने हँसते हुए १०० रूपये आगे दे दिये “बधाई लो! कोई बात नहीं लेकिन सच बोलना चाहिए। मैं तुझे मना थोड़े करुँगी। अपने बच्चों के लिए खिलोने ले दे हमारी ओर से और मेला घुमा। स्नेहा ने मेहंदी लगवाई, चूड़ियां खरीदी. ढेर सारा सामान खरीद डाला। १०० रूपये में न जाने कितने सामान खरीद लिए। जब की किसी मॉल में जाते तो एक अच्छी साड़ी तक नहीं मिलती।
एक जगह तोता भविष्य बोलता तो दूसरी जगह पर बन्दर नाच दिखाता। दूर एक कोने पर एक जादूगर अपना जादू दिखा रहा था। अपनी हाथ की सफाई से लोगों का मन हर्षा रहा था। अचानक “मौत का कुआँ” नज़र आया।

रामलाल ने कहा, ” साहब! आज चलो कार का घूमना और तेज़ रफ़्तार से अपने जीवन को दांव पर रखकर कैसे लोग सबका मन लुभाते हैं देखते हैं। बहुत दिन हो गए देखे हुए। पेट के लिए लोग कैसे भयावना काम करते हैं। टिकट ले कर तीनों ऊपर चढ़े और स्नेहा ने पूरी रफतार भरी कार गिरीश का हाथ पकडे डरते हुए देखा। एक पल दोनी को लगा की मनो लोग कितने गरीब हैं की ये परिवार पालने के लिए इतना खतरनाक काम करते हैं। गिरीश और स्नेह को कई घंटे हो गए मेले घुमते हुए। अब वह वापिस अपनी गाड़ी को आये। गाडी में बैठे।
“रामलाल ! देखो ज़िन्दगी इन लोगों की कितनी सरल है! खुलकर जीते हैं। भले पैसे काम हों। ज़िन्दगी में दिखावा नहीं है। ममेहनत से दो वक़्त की रोटी कमाते हैं। हमें छोटी छोटी चीज़ों में ही खुश होना चाहिए। न की ब्रांडेड सामान, कार, आलिशान बंगला, जिसके लिए आज इंसान भागता रहता है। खाने – पीने का ठिकाना नहीं! रूपये कमाने के चक्कर में घर से दूर एक जूनून में की आगे बढ़ना है पर ये आगे कहाँ तक सीमित है?”गिरीश ने कहा।
दोनों आज बेहद खुश थे। एक तृप्ति एक नयी अनुभूति इतने सालों बाद। यह देखकर रामलाल खुश हुआ। चलो साहब मैं आपको कुछ दे पाया। एक पल की खुशी ही सही। राम लाल भैय्या आपके लिए ये तोफा। स्नेहा ने एक बड़ा सा बॉक्स बढ़ाते हए कहा। जिससे उसने रामलाल के परिवार के लिए सामान खरीदा था। रामलाल की आँखों में आज खुशी के आंसू थे आज “मैडम ने हमारे लिए इतना कुछ ,हम तो आपको खुशी देना चाहते थे मगर ” … बात को काट कर गिरीश ने कहा, राम लाल तुम भी तो हमारे अपने हो। ले लो और अपने घर में देना यह उपहार हमारे तरफ से।
गिरीश और स्नेहा आज इतने थके थे की बिस्तर पर बात करते -करते नींद आ गयी। यह सुकून भरी नींद कई दिनों बाद आयी थी।दोनों के मन में एक तृप्ति थी।
अगली सुबह गिरीश बरामदे में आया तो स्नेहा को देखकर कर हैरान हो गया। वह कल खरीदे हुए सामान को बाहर खेलते बच्चों में और राह चले मज़दूरों को इकठ्ठा करके बाँट रही थी उनकी आँखों में चमक थी खुशी थी और लोग उसको आशीर्वाद दे रहे थे। गिरीश यह देख कर खुश हुआ एवं गर्व हुआ अपनी पत्नी पर। बाहरी मेले से हम खुश ज़रूर हुए लेकिन ज़िन्दगी के असली मेले को जगा लिए। घूमना फिरना महंगे सामान ख़रीदना, बस अपने लिए जीना तो सब करते हैं। पर इस दिखावे से परे खुशी छोटी- छोटी खुशियों को बांटने से मिलती है वह अनमोल ख़ुशी आज हमको मिली।

Yes I’m POSSIBLE!!

What a grand moment it was! Totally unexpected and overwhelming. This Crown is a precious gift from God which I will cherish for my entire life! It was an amazing night. For the first time ever, India had won the crown at the Miss and Mister Deaf World pageant. I’m ecstatic that I had won this crown for India.” – Nishtha Dudeja

Nishtha Dudeja recently won the Miss Deaf Asia 2018 title at the Miss and Mister Deaf World – Europe – Asia Beauty Pageant 2018 held at Prague. Hailing from Panipat, Haryana, a state which has the lowest boy:girl ratio, made the country proud when she became the first Indian to win this pageant.

“Nishtha”- her name aptly encompasses her dedication. She has proved herself and enlightened the path for several others.

Silence.

That is what you hear when you read the word DEAF.

Absolute silence. Deafening Silence.

But if you stop and listen with your heart, you’ll hear the sounds of love emanate through every inch of their hearts. Their powerful silence speaks, that one may hear only with their hearts.

I can see a bright and dazzling India ahead. What a proud moment it is for all of us. She is more than equal to any other human being – so please stop calling her “disabled”. If a person has insurmountable determination and willpower, they can do wonders.

So, where does the label “disabled” fit into such an amazing person? I firmly believe that such people are gifted in other fields, that there is no room for the word “DISABLED”. They are more talented and work tremendously hard to achieve their goals.

They have got superpowers to fight this world. While we can hear, we often allow unwanted energies and gossip as sounds enterd our lives, which ends up consuming our precious time and energy. We then realize how much positivity has been soaked away from our life.

Today we know that a focussed life can help you experience wonderful opportunities. If you are positive and hardworking, your environment shapes your success.

Nishtha’s parents were a great and consistent support for her. They helped her chase her dreams, and were always there.

She now wants to help the underprivileged, without caring for her own comfort. She believes that people like her don’t need pity but only deserve equal opportunities.

Her parents were initially upset to discover her deafness, but they didn’t lose hope and supported her to achieve what she is today.

Nishtha is a graduate from Venkateshwara College in Delhi University, and is presently pursuing MA in Economics from the prestigious Mithibai College, University of Mumbai. Apart from excelling in studies, she is also a brilliant tennis player and has participated in Deaflympics 2013 (held in Sofia, Bulgaria), World Deaf Tennis Championship 2015 (held in Nottingham, UK) and Deaflympics 2017 (held in Samsun, Turkey).

To prepare for this pageant, she stopped all other things and concentrated on only winning this. And she did prove that she is the best in whatever she tries to achieve. This victory at the international level has given her a vision of an equal world. This is a story of a woman who dared to dream.

Nishtha has taught us all that you should not wait and watch for success to come to you – but if you work hard with determination, nothing is impossible..

It’s always I’m Possible!

Merry Christmas!!

“I don’t believe in Santa, no Christmas party,” Ms.Edward said stubbornly, looking at her daughters. Her voice got heavy and she turned away blinking back her tears.”But Mom, Dad used to love Christmas party, for him we have to celebrate.” Sandra looked haughtily.

Emma countered a little forlornly. “What about the gifts that we get every year in our stockings? I mean you put it there Mom?”..

“Oh! come on sweetheart mommy don’t feel disheartened we all love you and Dad is with us!”

Both of them put their arms around her and kissed Ms.Edward.

It had been almost a year since Ms.Edward had lost her husband due to a sudden heart attack though she tried to adjust new life but she couldn’t help missing him constantly.

And the special occasion made it worse. Christmas being his favourite, all celebrations, parties gifts … how she could forget all these even now? She felt as if some miracle happens and she could get back Mr.Edward again..

She watched indulgently as Sandra and Emma bustled about preparing for party to give Santa a thumping welcome.

They had bought a HUGE Christmas tree and decorated it with all stars and glitters. They loved doing up the tree.When all fairy lights glittered in the evening , this tree looked simply gorgeous and glorious.

Ms.Edward thanked God for giving true Angels as her daughters.

Unknown to everyone she made a small card for her husband and wrote “Merry Christmas”.

She put it in an envelope and placed it under the tree where no one would see it. She prayed if Santa could help her to reach to her husband. If he really exists, then he will.

Christmas Eve, everyone looked dashing in their best costumes. Nobody could forget that this was their first Christmas without Dad. Everything reminded them of him-his innovative ideas, his arrangements, his handmade cakes and jellys mouth watering puddings and crepes, his chiding them to hurry. The gully used to light up with 100 twinkling stars and what a lavish christmas party it used to be! Full of frolick and fun.

Ms.Edward peeped into the place where she hid her wishes for her husband hoping Santa to take care of. Still a child lived in her heart with a hope. All came and they enjoyed the evening though remembering Mr.Edward.

She heard a sound and a swish of air passed by as if someone is their with her that night, as people say, “He is there with you whenever you need him”.

After the party, she switched off the lights leaving only the fairy lights blinking under the tree. Sandra and Emma had a great time. Being tired they went up to their rooms and slept off. After cleaning the mess Ms.Edward looked for her envelope still lying with a hope. She then went into her bedroom still thinking “Does Santa really exists?”

Her love for Mr.Edward made her to think like a child with lots of quirky wishes to come true.

A bright morning with a beam of sunlight falling on her face made her to getup fast. As if a toddler, she went to see her envelope, and to her surprise she found a heap of brightly shining gifts lying under the tree. She grabbed the card kept in between those gifts and with trembling fingers she pulled out the paper inside, she just closed her eyes and opened with a flash

‘Iam there honey! With you all the time, love, David!” said the card and under it faintly written words “and so am I,Love Santa”.

All of a sudden, the clock stopped. Ms.Edward stared at the card, was it her dream or reality? She looked up into the sky and drops of tears rolled from her eyes, she felt him, his warmth. These were tears of joy and with renewed faith streamimg from her eyes, she kissed the paper and wrap it around her heart…. She never noticed two loving hearts, bright with unshed tears, watching her through the upstairs windows.

Aromatic Flavours Of Indian Kitchen!!

A glance at Indian Kitchen! It is so appealing to see an array of sparkling utensils and aromatic flavours emanating from the typical traditional Indian Kitchen! Whether it is a simple roll of films (chapatti) or a sumptuous biryani, our kitchens are always full of flavours and spices, with elaborate cuisines and uncontrollable mouth-watering fragrances. The limelight in any of the Kitchens in India is the evolution of Indian utensils. Each utensil whether big or small has its importance in cooking a particular dish. Be it a simple tawa, kadhai or even the venerable kiln, bhatti. All have a unique way of cooking an item and making the dish yummier. The clitter-clatter or rattling sound of kadchi on the kadhai is common acoustics in our Indian kitchens. I was ten years old when I struggled to make a cup of tea for my dad. I wanted to impress him. But I was never fascinated by culinary skills and it was a jigsaw puzzle till I got married.

In my house, our kitchen used to dazzle with all brass and iron kadhais and brass patilas placed height wise on the shelves, with glasses kept in apple – pie order. They used to gleam and beam, on being meticulously washed and polished.

I would see my mom, and even sometimes Dad, cook wonderful dishes. My mother liked experimenting new recipes and she would invariably get complimented by all. My mom’s food was always talked about. No wonder it still is. She cooks wonderfully as everyone agrees that life’s favourite cuisine is “Ma ke haath ka khaana”. She still believes that real taste comes from kadhai made of iron or brass, sil -batta, hamam dasta (mortar-pestle), chulha and ancient ways of cooking…We had a beautiful heavy thick based iron kadhai. Whenever my mom put it on the stove, I would run to sit beside the kitchen slab to peek into the kadhai. I used to cherish the aromatic flavours of spices and was always thrilled to see vegetables being tossed. Once accidentally, the kadhai, full of hot gravy turned upside down and some of it splashed on me. My tender skin was burnt and for the next few days, I was the apple pie of all my family members. It taught me a lesson – not to play with fire!

Soon enough, all our iron kadhais were replaced by stainless steel utensils and non-stick ones, as they were the latest fad. They were bought after watching those convincing and flattering ads who gave fabulous deals to attract customers. The ladies of the house often exchanged old utensils for a set of new four kadhais and Voila!!! A non-stick dosa tawa free! Wow! What an amazing offer! (Or so it seemed at that time!).

We used to sit together at the dining table on Sundays for lunch and dinner and wait impatiently for all the special dishes made by my Dad. Of course, it was accompanied by my mom’s tricks and tips. When the sizzling hot pot would appear, on opening the lid the steam would wheeze out. Our room used to fill with a mouth-watering aroma. It would tempt us to fill our hunger – tingled stomach savouring each bite and munch it as if we were having a lifetime meal in one day!

The serving spoon showcased the tender meat and vegetables sitting in the pot still bubbling sauce with the aroma of spices

That was supreme satisfying…… I miss my good old days. My mother’s treat after I returned home from school and how she took care of all my tantrums and my fussy eating habits. I miss my mom a lot! All grilled pans, non-stick kadhais were our heroes in the kitchen. But somehow, I was not happy as the non-stick coating would wear off in a few months making it unhealthy to cook in. We bought these utensils repeatedly as soon as the coating started wearing thin, to be sure of good health. But somehow we miss our iron and brass utensils. Yes, some doctors and medical journals now recommend using our old traditional cookware as it fortifies the food with iron which is so essential to our body. This feels like we are all going back to our roots which are enriched by our values!

So, before I end, here I go for a ghost korma recipe, with an authentic touch if you want to impress all.

The extraordinary thing about a korma – which is thin gravy -is that it is cooked without turmeric.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients

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1.2 kg mutton

150 g ghee (optional)/Oil

10green cardamoms

5 cloves

2 sticks cinnamons

2 Bay leaves

160 g onions (1 cup)

50g ginger paste

50g garlic paste

10g coriander powder

5g Red chilli powder (1 tsp)

Salt to taste

220g yoghurt (1 cup)

5g garam masala(1 tsp)

3g mace and 1/2tsp cardamom powder

3g black pepper powder

1 tsp saffron

2tsp milk

20 roasted Almonds

Preparation

1. Clean and cut breast portion of meat into 1/2 inch chunks.

2. Peel wash and chop the onions.

3. Whisk curd in a bowl.

4. Dissolve Saffron in warm milk.

5. Pound the Almonds with a pestle.

COOKING

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Heat ghee in an iron kadhai (it will give you authentic taste) you can use your options as well add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves, sauté over medium heat until they begin to crackle. Add onions, sauté until light brown, add ginger garlic pastes and sauté until the moisture has evaporated. Then add coriander powder red chilli powder and salt stir add mutton, fry for 5 minutes, add yoghurt, bring to boil, add water approximately 800 ml that are 3 1/2cup cups, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mutton is almost cooked. Now add gram masala, mace and cardamom powder, and pepper powder, stir cover and simmer for 8 -10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Add saffron and stir.

To Serve

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Remove to a bowl, garnish with roasted almonds serve with phul ka or pulav.

I have one thing in mind every time the food which we cook for our family it turns out to be yummier with a pinch of extra love and care that we add into it. Happy Cooking.

60 And NOT OUT

I am at the golden age of 60. In fact I turned 60 the last week. And then, I was handed a letter of retirement, reminding me how tireless journey I have been through, in these years of yearned service. Only I know what efforts I have given to this school where I taught and what it took from my slice of life to be here today.

The temple bell chimed, the cuckoo was singing in the soft breeze of dawn. The sun was peeking in between the clouds as if a child is mischievously playing hide and seek. Her face had lost its shine. She had a wrinkled face, dimmed eyes and dry grey hair. She had grown into an old woman into the past few years. Sitting in the garden, she was remembering.

I was sitting on my Jhoola (Garden Swing) and staring at the open cloudless October skies of Jammu at the foothills of the Himalayas. Myriad thoughts were pouring into my mind that made my heart ache with bitter sweet memories. With every sip of the lemon ginger green tea, I recalled my farewell speech that I had delivered yesterday. The faces of those teary eyed students and staff were fresh in my memory and the image lingered before my eyes as I was staring at the sky. A distant loneliness and nostalgia engulfed me. It was the same time of the morning that I had been rushing around all these years to reach my school on time. But today it seemed that the time had stopped, and everything was frozen in their place. There was an uneasy sense of relaxation. My heart and body were cool and calm but my mind wandered from one thought to another reminiscing the past three decades.

I saw my garden and its colours. The colours seemed very different from ever before. I thought that as these beautiful flowers of my garden would end up one day with fall of petals one by one, my life too will also come to an inevitable end. Although the time seemed still, its imperceptible passing made me sad and nostalgic.

I picked up the water pipe and began to water my plants, mechanically. I felt a certain sense of contentment in the flowers of my garden. Now onwards, they would be more in touch with me, and this thought consoled me a bit. I pondered on the question of what to do after my retirement.

The words penned down on a piece of paper, my retirement notice, had taken away all my expressions and feelings and read out loud my aching heart.

“Mumma! Mumma….ji!!!”

I was broken from my reverie by my younger daughters voice.

“Where are you? You have a missed call!” Jagriti called out loudly. Amidst the ocean of my thoughts, suddenly I hit on the hard solid ground of reality.

“Whose call is it? I don’t know! Keep the phone away!”

After some time I kept on wondering who it might be. “Jaggi, let me call that number. It must be Akanksha calling.”

Akanksha is my sweet little elder daughter, who lives in Delhi and practices Ayurveda. She sometimes plays pranks over the phone. “Let me see what she is up to, now!”

I started dialing the unknown number.

“Hello!” a sweet unfamiliar voice came up on the other side. “Yes, who do you want to speak to?”

“Me?!! Not me, its you, Madam, who called up first! The call was from your side first. What’s up? From where are you calling? Madam, please tell me where are you speaking from. I found a missed call from your number, hence I called back!” I said. I was a bit upset since morning. I was fantasizing what about the new and creative things I would do during my retirement.

“Missed call?!”That chirpy sweet voice retorted in a surprised tone. Then, she said reassuringly, “Don’t worry, it must be a WRONG NUMBER! I am from Mandi. May I know from where are you calling?”

“Jammu!” I replied. The voice at the other end of the phone sounded happy and full of vigour. There was passion in it.

“Madam, don’t worry, it happens many a times. You live in a beautiful place. Nice to have a chat with you. I am Alka here. The sweet voice said.

“Hi Alka! I am Dilshad! I thought my daughter must be playing some pranks. It is nice to talk to you. I never thought that I will get such a decent reply from a wrong number. I am teacher. And yesterday I have retired from my school. They had given me a farewell yesterday. I was in a flashback and memories with a heavy heart since today morning. Suddenly I got distracted by the call on the cell phone. But after talking to you, I am feeling so relieved. Never thought that I would love to get a friend after dialing a wrong number! I was thinking of giving back to my community, doing something for the homeless elderly people. Also of course, I wanted to cherish my hobby of photography by traveling. Somewhere during this time, my late husband’s business suffered a series of losses as he was suffering from cancer. Oh! I am only talking about myself! Please tell me about Mandi, I have never heard of the place!” I asked gingerly.

“Oh! I have listening very intently. I found your talk very interesting! I am in Mandi. It is in Himachal Pradesh Ma’am! Its a beautiful place surrounded by mountains and the River Beas, its a small place which comes as you travel to the Kullu valley and the highway leads to Manali.”

Alka was beautifully crafted by god, with her twinkling blue eyes , lustrous lips and sharp features, she was a well sculptured “pahadan”. There was a jubilation in her voice and for her agile nature, she was the heartthrob of her small town.

Alka told all about her place and people. It was nice listening to her. My tensed mind relaxed with this chit – chat.

She continued, “So sorry Madam. Retirement is your time. In Mandi, we celebrate retirement like it be a wedding! There is a grand function and everyone rejoices. Your time – to be who you want to be actually! You can crave for something new. Enjoy this beautiful world with your grandchildren and family. In everyone’s life there is some or the other trouble or problems. But when you worry, you make it double. Don’t worry! Arrange to meet with friends for coffee each morning. Join a club. Whatever you do, make it a habit. Do it being NOT OUT!”

“Yes, Alka! This wrong number has given so much hope and now I rethink of living life, doing, feeling, seeing, adapting, changing, loving and adding another brick to the new foundations of my life’s journey. Retirement will have to wait for me!” I replied.

I will be your lifelong friend my wrong number!

You have given me hope and path towards happiness. We can be friends forever! You are my WRONG NUMBER!

Da … Dadi!

Small tender hands curled up my neck from my back. Holding and kissing me innocently. It was my granddaughter. It was entangling me towards life. She had collected a lot of night jasmine flowers, that had fallen on the ground overnight. The fragrance of the night jasmine was wafting all over the place. I suddenly remembered, that the night jasmine tree had been planted by my husband. While I was inhaling the aroma of the flowers, I felt his presence and realised he was egging me on to start a new innings of my life afresh.

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