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While at home..what to do?

So many lives have been lost and disrupted by the deadly corona virus all over the world. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones. As the situation continues to escalate, we must try to stay safe and not expose ourselves and others to risk of catching the virus. So stay at home please!
I have been reflecting on the “side effects” of the social distancing being practiced across the world: people are working from home with nowhere to go, no pubs, no bars, no restaurants, no cinema , no theatre and no socializing. WOW ! That is big!
To add to this, fewer flights , fewer cars on the road , less industrial pollution – perhaps Mother Earth is healing.
I wanted to write this post to offer some suggestions to people who are not used to being at home all the time and are in a dilemma about how to stay productive. If you are not used to it, it can be challenging to stay disciplined enough to be productive. However, this situation also could present a great opportunity to do those things that we never otherwise get the time for.
As for us, it is good to see Manoj at home now, though he is working most of the time with his conference calls and desktop big screen installed on the dining table. But it’s good to see him around all day and I try to make the most of the time that we get together at doing things for which Manoj never had the time or gave any attention to, like looking at family videos and pictures.
This is coming from my experience of being at home for the past few years. After you are through with Netflix and other binge watching, you might need something else to do.
Here is what you can try:
1. Dig out old home videos and watch them with the family – they could even be running in the background while you work or take a break from work at home.
2. Cast pictures on your phone on the TV screen. Trust me, you will enjoy it. Your family and any companion at home may have never seen these pictures ever.
3. Find out where all the board games are hiding in the house. I can assure you, this will be the quality time with the family that you have not had in last many months.
4. Think of what you always want to do if you were not working full time or having to go for work each day. Do it now.
5. Try your hands at things you have never done, maybe cooking , some Arts and crafts, abstract painting, gardening at home, growing plants in water or jars or make some lamps out of used wine bottles. Pinterest actually has lots of great ideas. I am sure you will find something very interesting for you to do and you will be proud of yourself when you make something out of nothing.
6. Read the books you never got time to read.
Remember this opportunity of being at home with the family with nowhere to go may not ever come back again (not that it should come back, at least not in this kind of medical scare situation), so make the most of it.
Bonding does need some time and undivided attention for all.
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Photo Culture..3

Continuing from my earlier posts on photo culture, I have to say that recently I have been taken aback by the undying love for perfect pictures at family events and celebrations. You would think that the most important purpose of these events would be to ensure everyone savours the moments, ceremonies and rituals. I have been both amused and annoyed at times when it seems that the primary privilege of doing so has been bestowed on several teams of professional photographers who get the best access and view. Not only this, they often have to push back the invited guests to ensure pictures are perfect.
I wonder what happens with these professional photos taken at private events. And to what end? I have witnessed first-hand that by the time the pictures are printed and ready to be shared, the intended audience is lost. I think the majority of those pictures/recordings are only seen a few times later likely by close family members who are privy to that professionally created memory. At some events like this, it seems like invited distinguished guests and family members are secondary guests and the photographers are the most important and primary ones.

Considering that it is important to create memories of the event in pictures and save them for future.. I feel instead of paying big money to these photographers with big bodies and big equipment blocking our view, there could be a couple of tech savvy family members taking pictures or a drone camera that does the job without making guests feel secondary, even though at the cost of not having some perfect pictures.

What do you think? Have your experienced something like this?

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The Sindhi Karhi

GLUTEN FREE
I usually make this karhi when I have varied veggies in small quantities in my fridge that I want to finish off: and also when I have lots of guests to entertain and I need to make something easy and delicious but in large quantities. A variety of vegetables in this recipe adds to the quantity and also makes it more flavourful.
IMG_6522

SERVES: 6-8

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

In an effort to continue to promote use of energy and time saving tools and gadgets, using pressure cooker for this recipe will take about 5 minutes to make the vegetables tender whereas it will take 20-30 minutes in a regular pan. The conventional recipe requires vegetables to be fried to make them tender and then put in the karhi. This alternative will have high trans fat content, 

You save: 70% to 80% of fuel energy and 15 to 20 minutes of your precious time that is about 10 to 15% of the total time you spend in the kitchen on an average(assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen).

COOKING TIME- 20-25 minutes
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tablespoon besan (chickpea flour)
1 Litre water
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
2 Teaspoons fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
2 Teaspoons cumin seeds (Jeera)
4 Whole dried red chillies (i like using rounds more than the long ones)
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder (Haldi)
1/2 Tablespoon red chilli powder
50 gms of tamarind pulp (without seeds) after soaking in water
1 Kilo assorted vegetables cut into 2 inch dices (I use all veggies that are available in my fridge like Okra (bhindi), egg plant, zucchini, beans, any kind of guard, cauliflower, lotus stem, potatoes, broccoli, carrots).
Salt to taste ( approximately 4 teaspoons)
STEPS
1. Heat oil in the pressure cooker, add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and whole red chillies, once flavour is released, add chickpea flour and sauté it for 2-3 minutes
2. Add water, cut vegetables, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and let it get one whistle or 5 minutes until pressure is built in the cooker. (just enough to get the vegetables tender, this is to save time)
3. Open the lid after the pressure is released, add tamarind pulp and let the karhi boil for 10-12 minutes .. And it is ready…
HANDY TIPS:
1. Keep the karhi on low heat even when it is being served.. The more it boils, more flavours are released of different vegetables, it continues to get more delicious.
2. Sindhi Karhi typically is served first as a stew or soup, and in the main meal with rice and sweet boondi (chickpea flour droplets fried and then dipped in sugar syrup, see picture above)
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No hassle-No sugar-Easiest Gajar Halwa

GLUTEN FREE- SUGAR FREE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Easy to make, gluten free and sugar free classic indian dessert made in less than half the time of usual conventional recipe. Saving time and energy thereby reducing the carbon footprint on our precious planet. 

 

gajar halwa 1
SERVES- 6
COOKING TIME- 30-45 minutes
 
INGREDIENTS:
1 kilogram carrots grated
1 litre fresh Milk (full cream optional)
½ tablespoon Ghee
2 green cardamoms
10-15 pitted dates(about 100 grams) cut in small pieces
15-20 almonds cut in slices (about 25 grams) (optional)
15-20 cashews halves (about 25 grans) (optional)
20-25 raisins (about 25 grams) (optional)
10 strands of saffron beaten on a cutting board or pastel (optional)
 
STEPS
1. Put ghee in the pan and add cardamoms after cracking them open so that the flavour is released.
2. After a minute or so add grated carrots and sauté them for 3-5 minutes until the colour changes to little dark (excess moisture will evaporate during this process).
3. Add milk and place the heat on low after the milk starts to boil. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Keep stirring at intervals of 3-4 minutes. You will notice carrots cooking, absorbing milk, becoming more tender and getting cooked in milk.
4. Add cut dates , saffron and nuts and let it cook for another 10-12 minutes until all milk is absorbed and the milk dries out.. surface f the pan will greasy now without traces of water/milk…and it is ready to serve..
 
HANDY TIPS:
1. If you leave the heat on low all through the process you don’t need to stir as often.
2. I usually use low fat milk, you could use full cream milk to make it more creamy and rich.
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Photo Culture..2

As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are many changes happening in the world that I am just not able to fully grasp. Continuing on the trend of talking about photos, I wanted to share some thoughts and see whether my friends can share their experiences to help me learn more on this topic.

In today’s maddening photo culture, life seems to revolve around the camera. If you wear something nice, eat something good, go to a beautiful place, meet friends, celebrate an occasion or simply go to work, the first instinct is often to take a picture.

It commonly seems that if you go somewhere or do something without taking a picture, you have not been there or have not done it.

This and the innumerable selfies that people take worries me that this is a sign that society is moving towards more self-centredness.

I wonder — what are the unintended consequences of this phenomenon?

We have taken many technologies for granted without fully understanding their broader social impacts. In this case too, I fear that the easy access to taking countless photos, and the way this is promoted in the media and popular culture, is leading to society falling prey to the natural human tendency of narcissism, in some cases perhaps even bordering on a diagnosis of NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder).

What do you think?

Do you think our photo culture enables/promotes narcissism?

Is this a problem? If so, how can we solve it?

 

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Photo Culture..1

Continuing on with my musings, I wanted to share my thoughts on a subject that is very close to my heart: the changing trends in photo culture. I often think about photos because I enjoy taking lots of photos myself, especially of special moments with family.

I think one of the most dramatic changes to our society has happened because of the advances in technology that allow billions of photographers to use their smartphones to take trillions of photos every day.

Photos were once precious, and I still think they are. There used to be a time when we had to be very careful and conservative because of the cost of taking and developing pictures – they were reserved for those most special moments and printed to cherish the memories at a later time.

I still think that there are many benefits to everyone having a camera. This easy access has empowered many to showcase their artistic talents, capturing amazing images of new places or experiences and sharing them with useful information. This is so valuable for others that may not have a chance to travel or have those same firsthand experiences. Seeing such pictures is always a delight — it’s something I look forward to when using social media.

In my case, I love taking photos and capturing videos of my family. I think it is so important to keep these records of all the special events, family get togethers, travels and new milestones.

I also spend lots of time curating and archiving photos – many times getting frustrated with the Apple Photos app which I use to store and catalogue.

I like to revisit them to keep the best ones in my records and organize them in an accessible manner. I now have a reservoir of about 40,000 pictures capturing memories of 6 to 7 decades of the whole Mehra and Masand Families.

With many technological advancements over the years, I have found many ways to put these photos to use to create memories for family, friends and myself in the form of coffee table books, personalized daily use items, home décor items that carry pictures that we all love to see often. Memorializing pictures on these personalized items and coffee table books seems to be appreciated by almost everyone I know. Every time I have tried it, I have seen peoples face light up with that smile.

I am curious — how do others approach photos?

Do you take many photos? What do you do with them? Do you have any tips or tricks on curating or archiving the many photos we take? Any suggestions on how to best memorialize special photos or bulk photos?

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Missing you so much..

mummy oct 2019.jpg
आज दो साल हो गए आपको miss करते हुए..
मेरे सामने की मेज़ पर आपकी यह फ़ोटो हर समय रहती है
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
फ़ोन पर तो बात नहीं हो पाती पर अब तस्वीर से ही बातें कर लेती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
आपको पुरानी विडीओज़ में आपको जीवंत देख लेती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
ढेरों कॉफ़ी table बुक्स जो बनवाती रही हूँ, उनमें आपको देख लेती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
हर त्यौहार मौक़े पर आपकी बातें याद करती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
आपके अक्सर बोले जाने वाले मुहावरे दोहराती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
आपसे सीखा खाना-पकवान बनाती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
पर असलियत तो यह है ना – कि आप पास नहीं हो।
आपकी सुंदर साड़ियों में आपकी प्यारी छवि बहुत याद आती है, मेरी हर साल की April fool tricks और मेरी बहुत सी और अजीब बातों पर आपकी हैरानी बहुत याद आती है, फिर पड़ने वाली आपकी प्यार भरी डाँट बहुत याद आती है, आपकी जीने की ललक बहुत याद आती है, आपकी हर नयी चीज़ करने कि चाहत बहुत याद आती है।
यह बात बहुत ही खलती है कि मेरी बातों का अब कोई जवाब नहीं मिलता।
कहाँ चले गए आप और इतनी जल्दी क्यों?
पच्चीस साल की थी जब आपके पास आयी थी। इतने ही सालों से कुछ ज़्यादा उम्र आप के साथ बिताने का मौक़ा तो मिला पर यह काफ़ी नहीं था। क्या है यार मम्मा …अभी हमें इतना कुछ साथ में करना था।
Your not being around is simply not acceptable- Come Back!

What makes me cogitate?

I strongly feel that our generation is living through some of the most dramatic changes to occur in a span of three or four decades. From technological advancements and infrastructural marvels to fashion and new social norms – change has defined our lifetime. My sense is that most of us have actually adapted to these changes quite gracefully, so kudos to our generation! Some of these changes, such as those in technology and innovation, have been easier to tackle. However, changes related to our traditions or cultural values, and things considered socially taboo have naturally been far more difficult to adapt to.
I feel privileged that I have been able to have some honest and frank discussions with the younger generation. They have helped me understand their point of view and accept that we need to change our thinking on many of these topics to be more rational and progressive. This has made me think that we don’t have to just take everything that we have been told by our elders as absolute values that must be followed. In the same vein, neither should we worry about doing things just to please the people around us.
I have always thought that I have been somewhat of a rebel, especially in my childhood and youth. At the time, I questioned and challenged many of the norms and systems that I didn’t agree with. Because of this, I think it has been easier for me to adapt to some of the more radical changes. The rational reasoning from today’s young rebels has also helped immensely. While I would like to think that I have made my best effort to understand and accept the rapidly changing world around me, there are a few things that have been widely accepted in society, that I still find bizarre.
To me, it seems that in some cases, people are following new trends not because they improve upon a past practice, but just because they’re hip. People seem to have such a desire to fit in and be chic that they forego their own comfort, happiness, or personal preferences. In these cases, I don’t think they are being honest with themselves, rather just following the crowd. This applies across the board, including in many cases to both my own generation and the next. I actually expect much more from younger generations as I find them to be more confident and considerably smarter than us. So, at times I am disappointed when I see them picking up trends that just don’t make sense to me.
I want to continue my own journey in learning more about and perhaps even adapting to those changes that I still can’t seem to wrap my head around. To do this, I am planning to use social media to share some thoughts, and I’m hoping to hear what my friends have to say. At the very least, I hope to use this simply as an outlet to write and share my thoughts. It would be even better if, by putting forward my point of view, I could get a sense whether others agree with me or if I am completely off-side. So, I also hope to use these posts to get input and advice from my friends, and perhaps even change my mind! I would especially love to hear not only from friends from my own generation who can perhaps relate to me better, but from my younger friends who are leading many of the changes happening in our world.
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Torn Clothing

Following up on my last post, here are some of my thoughts on a trend that has baffled me since I first started seeing it many years ago. Would love to hear from you on whether you agree or if you can enlighten me on what I’m missing.
Why would you pay top dollars for torn jeans?
This seems pretty straight forward – we mend or throw away most of our clothes that have tears in them. Why doesn’t this apply to jeans and certain other kinds of clothes? With most of our other clothes we seem to concur that a tear, rip, stain or other damage isn’t acceptable — not just because it looks shabby — but also because in many cases the comfort and durability of the clothes are compromised.
I have noticed this trend rise and fall for many years and have been perplexed by how people blindly follow this “fashion” while ignoring their own comfort or rationality. Is it because some celebrity wore torn jeans in a certain way someday and that led to a cascading sequence where others followed, and now their friends followed as well, so now it’s our turn to follow the crowd to look cool?
Perhaps some say that they actually like torn clothing for its artistic value. This may well be the case for a few, but the vast majority of people I know that may say so, don’t seem interested in any other form of art.
Early in the onset of this trend, seeing ripped clothes would genuinely have prompted me to sympathize with the person wearing it. I might even have offered to help them out or share a good used pair of jeans with them. In fact, I still get this strong urge to sympathize with people wearing ripped clothes for fashion, even though I know they are financially able to buy a good pair of sturdy jeans or any other designer clothes for that matter. They are in fact sometimes paying hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars for the ripped ones when they could get a perfectly untorn pair for far less. This is especially ironic because this trend originated from a rejection of corporate society and the status quo.
This contradiction is even more clear if you think about how those less fortunate may feel when they see privileged people intentionally damaging their clothes — at best it may be blissful ignorance, at worst a cruel form of mockery.
Young kids blindly following a fashion trend could be forgiven to an extent, but what amazes me is when people who have seen the world for decades get into this follow-the-crowd syndrome and wear torn clothes while paying through their nose. Where has the sense of value for money vanished? Jean or denim fabric is iconically known as being sturdy — it is supposed to last long and provide durable protection from the elements.
To cap it all off, to me, torn and ripped clothes just do not look good on anybody!
So please let me know — what you think? Do you wear ripped jeans? And why? Help me decipher this bizarre trend! Looking forward to your thoughts.