Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Smiley Face : The Power of Suggestion

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
                                                                                      ---Dr. Seuss 
K1 rarely smiles...if you look at his pictures - they look more like a grimace than a smile (sorry dude!). Me on the other hand I can be the definition of a smiley face...honestly most days now all I feel like doing is scowling or moping BUT I still chin up and smile.Smiles as Marianne La-France in her book Why Smile - says are Social acts of Consequence.Social psychologists Craig Smith and Heather Scott cleverly put it," the face has the only skeletal muscles of the body that are used, not to move ourselves, but to move others."

Don't you ever wonder why there are few more pervasive symbols than the "Smiley Face"...I always put a smiley face on the notes I write for K2, it's in my signature, I add smiley faces to my emails (sometimes..its not such a bad thing - READ THIS...still don't believe me, too bad don't join the club). It is such a perfect icon : positive, simple, self-evident...some may say vacuous but to me it is suggestive...a reminder to self to seek happiness, be happy and spread that happiness around if possible.

Moreover, in my  humble opinion  - smiles are not merely consequential; they are indispensable to physical health, psychological well-being and social viability.When I smile at you... and you smile back at me - it does make the world seem a bit more of a happier place, the sun shines a little brighter and it  drives the doldrums of the quotes in the book by sociologist Erving Goffman suggested - that the refusal to put on a happy face is not a sign of authenticity but an overactive ego (ahem! K1...highlighting this quote for you :-) ) quit asking me to smile less and start smiling more...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let's eat first!

“Cooking is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires love,  instinct and taste rather than exact recipes & measurements.”
 Bapa loved food...and he instilled in us a fervor for good food...Ma is an excellent cook yet every Sunday when we were kids, Bapa donned the figurative apron and cooked a "goat curry" which was FABULOUS but a labor of love & time, a long list of instructions and lots of chaos in the kitchen (imagine a control freak like Ma having to give up the reins of her kitchen to disorganized Bapa and then having to run around and do his bidding ..cut the red onions such, grate the green papaya...etc. etc.). As we grew up those sojourns of Bapa to the kitchen grew very infrequent...yet some of our my favorite foods were vegetarian...I craved Beetroot Cutlets, Baigona Bhaja and Aloo Jahni Posto (Ridgegourd and Potatoes cooked in poppy seed paste). I know the last dish was an absolute favorite with my Bapa and his youngest (and favorite!) brother. They tortured my tomboy aunt who would rather be wielding a mike (she is a wonderful singer) or a badminton racquet than cook this dish for them...I don't claim to make this dish even half as well as Ma or Gita/Gui Nani but if you are looking for an off-the-road vegetable dish, which I will bet isn't readily available in any cook book and tastes gotta have to try this...dedicated to Bapa (today is 2 weeks since we lost him and I go about my day with the feeling that there is a huge hole in my heart ...who can I bug ask two times a day on what he ate for breakfast/lunch/dinner, who would patiently answer with great details...give me good advice only when requested...motivate me to think, stretch beyond where I would normally go...who loved me unconditionally with all my strengths and flaws.

Aloo Jahni Posto 

You Need : 
2 Medium Sized Ridgegourds (peeled & diced)
2 Large Potatoes (peeled & diced)
Panch Phutono (this is to Oriya cooking what 5 spice is to chinese cooking)
1-2 Dried Chillis
Turmeric, Chili Powder
Green Chillies - 1-4 depending on your spice tolerance
1.5 tbsp Poppyseed (grind with a few cumin seeds, 2tbsp of milk and the green chillies above to a smooth paste)

Heat the mustard oil, when it is tempered...add the panch phutono & dried red chillis...when it sizzles & crackles and smells divine...add the potatoes and ridge gourd along with salt to taste, chilli and turmeric powder....when the mixture is half way cooked through add the posto paste  and cook till it looks like the picture...have patience and don't pull off the flame till it is fully done...or you will be missing out on the magic...enjoy with hot rice and dal (or if you are feeling adventurous Dalma) 

 Daddy...I hope there will come a time when I will remember you every time I eat  Aloo Posto...but right now it feels like I miss you every minute of every day...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homeward Bound...dealing with Grief

“For certain is death for the born And certain is birth for the dead; Therefore over the Thou shouldst not grieve.”

--Bhagvad Gita

Sitting yet again at the Munich Airport...the sense of hopelessness has dulled. The only realization is that life as I know it has changed...I carry with me my father's ring (it is older than I am), his favorite shawl (a gift from my sister-in-law A) and an unfinished Bhagvad Gita course ( 18 chapters). I would be lying if I say I am ok...I have a 12 hour journey ahead of me and have passed the past 12 hours reading the Bhagvad Gita (truth be told...something I haven't paid a lot of attention to in the past).

Dealing with grief I was aided in my journey by something I read in Chapter 3 - The Path to Self Knowledge

The negative influence of grief in the Bhagavad-Gita is expressed by Arjuna who, while facing a huge battle in  dialogues with Krishna.

Krishna’s reply to him, which sets the basis for the philosophical foundations of the Bhagavad-Gita, is the Gita’s form of renunciation. The Bhagavad-Gita completely sets aside the human act of grief. Krishna says, “Your words are wise, Arjuna, but your sorrow is for nothing. The truly wise mourn neither for the living nor for the dead. And “Death is certain for the born. Rebirth is certain for the dead. You should not grieve for what is unavoidable.” The Atman survives several births and deaths and that is the only reality.

According to the Bhagavad-Gita it doesn’t matter which path one takes to realize the Atman within; it may be the “yoga of right action” or contemplation. The important point is that the seeker understands the futility of grief...Profound thoughts yet not quite internalized....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You are loved...

I am sitting here in the Munich airport on borrowed wi-fi all cried flight which was a 20 hour flight from SFO to Frankfurt to Mumbai is now a 35 hours flight  SFO to Frankfurt (diverted due to weather) to Munich to London to Mumbai...praying that I make it home in time to see my father one last time ( he passed away on Monday)....but this is how I will remember him - this picture was taken on Feb 9th by my brother of K1 and Bapa...

Truth is I loved him ( the best-est if there is such a word)...I learnt so much from him and am learning to stay strong and positive just like him...on the flight from SFO to Munich I was reading a book " The Truth about Butterflies"....a memoir by Nancy Stephan about losing her only child...there is a saying in it which rang so true -

"There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, people we can't live without but have to let go."

My Bapa made me who I am today - he is loved and I hope that even up there he realizes that there is always love and the good memories. I love him and will miss him.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Reluctant Yogi : Bending... not giving in.

“When I was a little girl, everything in the world fell into either of these two categories: wrong or right. Black or white. Now that I am an adult, I have put childish things aside and now I know that some things fall into wrong and some things fall into right. Some things are categorized as black and some things are categorized as white. But most things in the world aren't either! Most things in the world aren't black, aren't white, aren't wrong, aren't right, but most of everything is just different. And now I know that there's nothing wrong with different, and that we can let things be different, we don't have to try and make them black or white, we can just let them be grey. And when I was a child, I thought that God was the God who only saw black and white. Now that I am no longer a child, I can see, that God is the God who can see the black and the white and the grey, too, and He dances on the grey! Grey is okay.” 
                                                                                                   ---- A Wise Person

Younger - I was  inflexible...set in my beliefs of right and wrong, black and white...with age I have learnt to be more accepting of differences. Practicing yoga the past dozen plus years has taught me a few important lessons that I apply in my daily life ...some days are easier than others.

  1. Be Kind to yourself (and others) 
  2. Set your Intention (is your intention to learn, be happy, content...)
  3. Find your Balance - at times it may mean revving the pace and at times it might mean slowing down
  4. Be true to your self - this one is the hardest...we try so hard to fit into stereotypes vs. do what we really think we should be doing always worrying about consequences.
  Before you've practiced, the theory is useless. After you've practiced, the theory is obvious....