Yellow flower

I will be a yellow flowerwood-nature-sunny-forest-large
falling joyfully, adding colour in your path
My sweet smell will fill your senses,
while your tired feet crush me underneath.

I will be a river, let yourself free in me
let me dance as you desire,
take you wherever you want to be.

I will be your forest,
come to me in loneliness,
come, sit among my vast pines,
set all your sorrows free, don’t be shy,
let your dark grey and blue insides, great roots of the night,
come out, and blanket me.

When you awaken feeling better,
I will softly play with you,
with flickering light, passing through my branches,
moist soil, transparent mist, earthy smell, half opened leaves.

I only want to caress you, see you resplendent,
I shall embalm you, I want to see you living.

Light up

XC1AVIKMJJFrom where I stand,
pink between the castle-work of buildings,
the sky is melting.
Heavenly coloured syrup drizzled over clouds,
pensive, waiting for the sun to go down.
Here, time runs faster than all,
despite the daily racing, lives seem stalled, forever.
Long marriages always the same.
Lives with only emergencies, births, routine,
that is all what is left in the game.

A thousand poets have stood in this very spot,
staring at this catastrophically heavenly sky,
many might have missed everything,
I hope at least one grandly lit up in his eye.

Book review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I had heard many rave reviews on Hosseini’s first novel The Kite Runner and came across his second, A Thousand Splendid Suns, with one goal in my mind: I wanted to have a real cry. One of those books that truly move you, pulling on your heartstrings until you bawl like a child.0b6bfb0619f7ca90400c005e12d087d7

The main plot seemed to fill my criteria. Set in Afghanistan from the 1960s to the 1990s, spanning from Soviet occupation to the Taliban control, following the lives of two women in their marriages and in their war-torn country. Expecting domestic abuse, graphic war descriptions and a main theme of oppression in Afghan women, I was satisfied- yes, I will weep.

And so shall you but not for the reasons you would expect. A Thousand Splendid Suns covers much more than the aforementioned.

The novel is split in a dual narrative, the first being Mariam when she is nine, living on the outskirts of Herat with her bitter mother, anxiously in wait for the once-a-week visits from her wealthy father. Branded a harami, an illegitimate child, Mariam faces many prejudices and blame not only from the family of her father, but also from her own mother. Hosseini introduces a naïve child whom you immediately pity, and also feel a foreboding clutch the pages. Not soon into the story, Mariam discovers the emptiness in her father’s love and after her mother’s suicide, is forced to marry a man more than 20 years her senior, her being only 15.

You blink several times. You squirm. You cry out in outrage. But Hosseini isn’t finished.

Rasheed is a kind man, albeit rather archaic in his manner and grumpy, but all things considered Mariam’s life does not seem so terrible anymore. Until the miscarriage. And then the continual miscarriages.

Domestic abuse? Yup, I knew there must be some somewhere.

However, Hosseini does something new. You pity the husband, for his past is one with sorrow much like Mariam’s- it does not justify his actions- but you feel sympathy for his situation.

Then comes the second narrative- Laila. An innocent young child with a best friend who is a boy, a family torn by the war that steals her brothers away from her and in turn her mother’s affection. Orphaned, torn from her love, Laila agrees to marry Rasheed. The stories of these two wives will make you gaze in awe at the sheer strength of love in desperate times.

All the way through the novel Hosseini weaves in information about Afghanistan’s situation nevertheless it is only here that it takes a role in the story. Yet he makes sure that it is never a driving force in the novel- that is for the voices of these two women. Both trying to make do, muddling through life trying to find joy through the gloom, one innocent yet hiding a terrible secret and another bitter with age and resenting her life. Both still with a glimmer of hope in their eyes as they embark on a great journey.

Hosseini’s writing is simple, and that is all it needs to be, a welcoming contrast to Mariam and Laila’s complex situations.

By the end you are not only left with a tear, but with a fire lit within. It is above all a story of hope and of life, the heroism that comes with love and the inevitable strife that comes with living. Inspirational, outstanding, every man and women must read this tale.

Book review: Dhammapada

3400820810_034b3bb0_ST-DHAMMAPADA_BIGThe Dhammapada is an ancient source of wisdom and one of the great works of spiritual literature. It is the perfect introduction to Buddhist thought, being an inspirational compendium of all the major themes in the sacred canon of Theravada Buddhism.

The title comes from the Sanskrit word dharma (the Pali word is dhamma), meaning the way of the universe, its law of being, while pada in both languages is a foot or a step. The holy book is a guide to the universal way of love and truth that can lead to nirvana or personal liberation.

What The Dhammapada says

You can open The Dhammapada at any page and find an inspirational thought that may have been spoken by Buddha. It covers subjects such as pleasure, happiness and evil, through almost poetic sayings.

famous-buddha-quotes-conquer-self-500x

Unlike some writings in Buddhism, the style is unscholarly and to the point. As each era and culture has interpreted it afresh, the book does not date. The following are some of its subjects:

* Happiness. It is our duty to free ourselves from hate, disease and restlessness. This is not to be done by rejecting the world but by cultivating love, health and calmness within it.

* Non-attachment. Sorrow arises from what is dear, as does fear. By witnessing the transitory nature of the world and accepting whatever comes to us, we can reduce attachment and therefore fear and misery.

* Self-mastery. Discipline is all-important, as the following verse shows: ‘By energy, vigilance, self-control and self-mastery, the wise one may make an island that a flood cannot sweep away.’

* Enlightenment. The Dhammapada says that taking solitary refuge is a sign of egocentrism or fear. We are better off dealing gracefully with the challenges of work and family life; through them we can become enlightened.

* Retribution and its avoidance. The following two statements are possibly the most profound in The Dhammapada: ‘For hate is not conquered by hate: hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal.’ ‘Overcome anger by non-anger, overcome evil by good. Overcome the miser by giving, overcome the liar by truth.’

* Accept criticism as a fact of life. ‘They disparage one who remains silent, they disparage one who talks a lot, and they even disparage one who talks in moderation. There is no-one in the world who is not disparaged.’ Concentrate on your own work and integrity and be independent of the good opinion of others.

The four statements

The famous ‘four statements’ are central to Buddhism because they are the recipe for ending suffering:

1. Misery or sorrow is a conditioned state.

2. It has a cause.

3. It has an end.

4. The way to end it is through practice of the eightfold path to nirvana, which involves:

1. Accurate perception.
2. Accurate thinking.
3. Accurate speech.
4. Appropriate action.
5. Appropriate way of making a living.
6. Precise effort.
7. Mindfulness.
8. Meditation.
Final comments

It is amazing to think that a person may pick up a 2,500-year-old book and be refreshed by its insights. Not only are Buddha’s teachings still relevant, they are fashionable. The lack of dogma and ritual make Buddhism the perfect religion for contemporary life.

Omelette with bell pepper recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

Directions

  1. Melt one tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Place onion and bell pepper inside of the skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally until vegetables are just tender.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking beat the eggs with the milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.aa5f7c6cf16738cc6e4cab9ff673be70
  3. Shred the cheese into a small bowl and set it aside.
  4. Remove the vegetables from heat, transfer them to another bowl and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt over them.
  5. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter (in the skillet just used to cook the vegetables) over medium heat. Coat the skillet with the butter. When the butter is bubbly add the egg mixture and cook the egg for 2 minutes or until the eggs begin to set on the bottom of the pan. Gently lift the edges of the omelet with a spatula to let the uncooked part of the eggs flow toward the edges and cook. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until the center of the omelet starts to look dry.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese over the omelet and spoon the vegetable mixture into the center of the omelet. Using a spatula gently fold one edge of the omelet over the vegetables. Let the omelet cook for another two minutes or until the cheese melts to your desired consistency. Slide the omelet out of the skillet and onto a plate. Cut in half and serve.

Mango and Drumstick Curry Recipe

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Coking time: 15 minutesDrumsticks and Raw Mangoes in a Coconut Based Gravy 1 - Copy
Cuisine: Kerala
Serves: 4-5

INGREDIENTS:
Raw Mango, cut into bite size pieces-1
Drumstick, cut into 2-3 inch pieces-2
Onion-1 (or) Pearl onion- 10 nos
Turmeric powder- 1/4 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder- 1 ½ teaspoon
Coriander powder- 1½ teaspoon
Coconut, grated- 1 cup

To Temper:
Mustard seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds/ methi- 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin/ Jeera- 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves- 1 strand

PROCEDURE:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds starts splutter and the fenugreek seeds turns dark golden brown colour, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves in that hot oil.
  • Add chopped onion and fry in that oil for a minute till transparent. Now add the drumstick and cook in that oil for a minute.
  • Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder and cook for just fifteen seconds. If you cook longer the masalas get burnt.
  • Add two cups of water and mango pieces and salt. Close with a lid and cook till the drumstick cooks well.
  • Take coconut extract from the coconut twice thick and a thin extract.(In a blender jar add the coconut add slightly powder the coconut. Then add a cup of water and blend well. Take the extract with hand or passing through a sieve.
  • This is ‘Thick extract’. Add the extracted coconut inside the blender and add a cup more water blend for some time and take the extract this is ‘Thin extract’)
  • First pour the thin extract and cook for minute or just the curry starts to boil. Check for salt and add if needed.
    Add the thick extract and switch off the gas when the curry starts to bubble.
  • Do not over cook after adding thick coconut extract.

Note: You can use finely ground coconut paste instead of coconut milk.
Or you can take coconut milk only once together and make this curry.

Pineapple Raita or Pineapple Pachdi Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
Pineapple, chopped fresh/ tinned- 1/2 (1 cup)
Salt- to taste

To grind:Capture
Coconut- 1/4 cup
Green chillies-2
Mustard seeds- 1/4 teaspoon
Curd- 1 cup

To temper:
Oil- 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds- 1/4 teaspoons
Dried red chilli-2
Curry leaves- 1 strand

PROCEDURE:

  • Take pineapple in a pan; cover it and cook with a cup of water and salt.
  • Grind coconut, green chillies and mustard seeds in a blender and blend as a fine paste as possible with out adding any water.
  • Add the ground paste with cooked pineapple and mix well and cook for thirty seconds and turn off the gas. Do not cook long. Because the ground mustard seeds changes the taste of the pachadi.
  • Add the beaten curd and mix well with the pachadi.
  • Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds.
  • Add the dried red chilli and curry leaves and pour over the tempering on top of the pineapple Pachadi.