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A mouthful of Poha and Eternal Friendship

Sitting under the dim lights in the railway station, we would devour the ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ comics, without missing a word, until our train screeched to a stop in front of us.Hurriedly we would climb the steps, find our seat  and once agin dive nose deep into our comics….precious memories, packed in picture books, how much of our lives they shaped and continue to influence ,to this day.So if anyone asks you not to read so many books, ask them to go fly a kite, they have no idea what they missed!

One such favorite book of mine among the Amar Chitra Katha’s, was the story of Sudama and Krishna.Do you remember the cover picture  on that book ?….still sealed in my memory like I read it yesterday, Krishna washing the feet of his dear friend, Sudama, who he is seeing after ages, since being in school together. If you look at the picture carefully, you would spot a little bundle of ‘something ‘ in a cloth bag of sorts hidden at the edge of Sudama’s shawl. Hats off the editors of these Amar Chitra Katha’s, the pictures looked so real,  the emotions of the characters spoke through these pictures……in this picture, you can read Sudama’s embarrassment to share his humble gift, to a Prince who has everything, yet the tug of love he felt for a dear friend he knew so well, overtook the emotion of the shame of “not having enough”. The big hearted nature of Krishna, the Lord himself who knew all that  had happened to his dear friend, yet never ever  made him feel any lesser of a human being ,than the one he had known since school days…….

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…….now that to me, is nobility ! They went to school together as kids,their backgrounds different, yet their friendship deep, never based on materialistic values…how rare it is these days ! It is important to share these stories that have stood the test of time, because of the meaning they hold, the values, the depth.

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We learnt from them, we grew because of them, the deep morals they inculcated in the ever fertile mind of a young child…..stories that every child needs to be exposed to , to grow into a mature and well balanced adult, who is wise enough to know the difference.

For those of you, who are new to the story of the friendship between Sudama and Krishna, here it goes……Having gone to school together, as children….

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….the time had come for them to go their separate ways, after attaining all the education they needed to in the ashram, they parted  with a heavy heart promising to stay in touch….

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……and just like you and me, life took over, each had their own responsibilities, families to take care of , duties to perform ….. the days became weeks, weeks to months, months to years…. a lot of time had gone past, yet when they spoke about their childhood memories to their life partners, they spoke with great fondness, so each was aware of the other’s existence ,having never really met in person. Sudama fell through difficult times, in spite of his hard work and was faced with the financial challenge of providing for his family. On one such occasion, his wife gently prodded him to seek the help of his childhood friend, Krishna, whom he spoke so fondly about all the time. They came from different back grounds.

Krishna, was the Prince of Mathura and was well placed materialistically while Sudama, was less fortunate . Sudama felt reluctant to seek his friend for help, since he valued his friendship more than any materialistic gain, and had his pride too. Yet these were trying times, no doubt.

So one day, after much reluctance Sudama, heads to Mathura to seek out his friend for help.He takes a humble gift of ‘beaten rice/Poha/ Bajeel” tied in  a cloth at the edge of his shawl & covers it , as he enters the palace grounds.Krishna runs up to the gates to meet him, receives him at the palace by washing his feet ( “Atithi Devo Bhava”/treat your guest like God , a tradition followed in  the Hindu culture ) and is so excited to meet him, they share pleasantries after having met after so many years , it is then that Sudama is overwhelmed with embarrassment about his humble gift and hides it even further into his shawl….. Krishna , being the mischievous one forever, spots the little cloth bag, pulls it out, opens it to find his favorite food “Poha” and starts eating it immediately, thanking Sudama profusely for remembering his favorite snack….seeing him relish it with childlike innocence relieves Sudama of his embarrassment, and they go back to being the same old friends they had been at school, quickly making Sudama forget the reason why he came to visit Krishna for. A few days later, Sudama takes leave of Krishna, after letting his  dear friend know how much he enjoyed seeing him after so long, and continues on his long journey home. On the way he  remembers that he had completely forgotten to ask Krishna for help, now what would he tell his wife and starving children, he thinks as he walks along the path towards home. When he nears home, where once stood his humble hut, stood a palatial building, confused if he missed the way, he starts heading out when his wife & children dressed in lovely clothes run towards him from the mansion to greet him. It was then that Sudama understands the love of his friend, Krishna…..all he did was take him a mouthful of Poha, yet how much the Lord had blessed  him with.

Moral of the story : The Almighty knows what you need and will deliver at the right time, meanwhile have  faith that he will never let you down.

This evenings “Poha” or “Aval Pidi Kolakattai ” is a tribute to this beautiful friendship, celebrating the love of friends and the Lord’s magnanimous nature.

Happy Janmashtami, to each one of you. May the Almighty’s grace always shower on us.

Aval Pidi Kolakattai :

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Ingredients :

  •  Aval /Poha or  Beaten Rice flakes – 2 cups
  •  Water – 3 cups    
  • Dessicated Coconut- 4 tbsp
  •  Green chillies – 6-8( sliced fine)
  •  Ginger – 1′ (sliced fine)
  •  Curry Leaves- a few
  •  Coconut Oil- 2-3 tbsp
  •  Mustard seeds- 1tbsp
  •  Uradh dhal- 1tbsp
  • Asafoetida- a pinch
  • Salt to taste                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Method:

Method:

1.Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel, to this add the mustard, uradh dhal when oil gets warm, a pinch of asofoetida & curry leaves.

2.Now pour the water in and allow it to boil, by covering it with a lid.

3. Meanwhile use a blender to powder the Aval/Poha/Beaten rice  coarsely.Set aside.

4. Once the water begins to boil, add the coarsely powdered Aval into the water& keep stirring till the water evaporates and the paste gets thicker.Once, the water is completely evaporated , move the  Aval mix away from the stove and allow it to cool slightly.

5. Now make elongated balls ‘Pidi” with your fingers, while the mix is still warm & place it in a steamer for 5 minutes. Take it out, serve hot with any chutney.

Yummy quick  evening snack to offer the deity, as ‘neivedyam’ /offerings and relish with all at home, as well.

Another way to prepare Aval /Poha or Bajeel  is in my previous post , you can find here:https://stirringmyspicysoul.com/2013/01/21/kanda-poha-beaten-rice-with-potato-onion/

Notes: Krishna’s favorite food is anything done with Aval/ Poha/ Bajeel/Beaten rice. This morning it was raining  here, so our Krishna gets to have some spicy Kozhukattai’s, for Janmashtami🙂

Summer Sunsets

This evening parked in front of the store, I saw the golden fingers of the sun rays lighting up the space , casting golden orbs all around.Spell bound, I gazed at the beauty of it all, each day the Almighty colors the Universe for us, never once the same …..

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Heading back home, I passed by the lake, the sunlight played on the gentle waters, the giant orb still visible around the setting sun….

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Reluctant to drive past, I pulled over and stopped  by the lake, it was then that she  glowed  majestically…… a little fish, perhaps as curious as me peeked from the surface of the lake, sending ripples all along and she colored each one of them for us…..Amazing Grace, is all that came to my mind as I stood there silently taking in all that beauty, letting it soak my being.Sweet summer, stay a little longer, won’t you ?

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Postcards from the Sidewalk – Series 1

“The sidewalk is filled with postcards from the Almighty, if you only take the time to stop and admire” wrote the author, and I have decided to use that as the title for the series of pictures, I will post all through the Summer season when we can still go for long walks and enjoy the sunshine. These pictures are of simple everyday things that tug at my heart on my morning walks each week. Join me as I walk along……

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The stars spilled over from the sky and fell on earth  blooming into the brightest happiest colors, sharing their joy with the walkers by…..

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Summer is here no doubt, as I walked along the path leading to the park, spotted this hammock in someone’s backyard, resisting the urge to just try it once in the picturesque setting, I remembered to keep walking🙂 So grateful for little windows of joy !

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Tell me who wouldn’t check their snail mail often, if these summer joys greeted them each time they walked up to their mailbox,remember the postal kind still exists!

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Swings, who doesn’t like them ? Especially the more adventurous old tire ones! Summer screams from tree branches,Oh to spread your wings and fly high!

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Then there is the relaxed kind, the gently rocking kind where you sit on your porch facing the wide soccer field or park and enjoy the cheering and laughter of your grandkids at a distance.In Feng Shui they consider this open wide space in front of a home auspicious,think they call it the Bright Hall effect to bring in all good energy home.

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A simple garden path that curves around a house made enchanting with the purple clematis on a  white painted Pergola….life’s simple joys to be savored completely in summer!

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On one of my morning walks, I saw this bird’s nest fallen from a tree branch high above,on the green grass below…..it had rained heavily the previous night, the storm too wild, yet the love that went into making the nest kept those turquoise eggs safe, one had rolled on to the earth, the other safe still in the nest, both survived the mighty crash, now to wait for Mama bird to find her eggs !

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A good soul ought to live here ,I thought as I passed by what looked like a larger mail box with a glass window.On closer look, it read, “Little Free Library”.My heart skipped a beat! Ah! for the love of books….”Take a book, Return a book “it said, Fair enough !! Keep that love of reading going…..

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Curiously I opened the doors to find…..

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When you step out in the morning, you never know how the day is going to unfold, have faith in the Almighty that he will put you on the right path…watch out for his postcards along the sidewalk, messages abound!

Do you ever dream in pictures ?

There are places in Nature that your soul recognizes instantly and feels at home with, have you ever felt that way ? A kind of peace descends on you when you walk through some spaces, I believe that is where angels reside unseen. Having recently moved into a new neighborhood ,was curious to explore the surroundings  to get a “feel” for the place.

This weekend, decided to take a stroll along the neighborhood. The stroll path stretched across a little curved wooden bridge, the water in the pond made a gentle rhythm of it’s own from the splashing waters of the fountain nearby, ducks glided past and underneath the bridge, someone had placed tea lights in paper envelopes on either side of the bridge,making it even more romantic….the gentle evening breeze swayed the leaves on the trees as I walked the path along the wooden bridge. Lines from the book “Memoirs of a Geisha” came to mind, when Sayuri walks on the  little wooden bridge across the Koi pond with cherry blossom trees  lining the bridge on either side, some pink blossoms scattered on the bridge, I almost imagined a bridge like this when I read the book a long time ago, in a Japanese garden setting…perhaps why the familiarity with the place I thought as I walked along.

Words have magical powers in teleporting you to places you have never been, and when you actually see the words turn into real, you are awestruck by the magic of it all!

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The stroll pathway along the bridge continued towards the Community pool, forking in between to lead to a Gazebo.This particular evening, there were little lights put up on all the sides of the Gazebo,making the evening more enchanting. A young girl played her violin for no one in particular.How beautiful I thought that she set herself in such beautiful surrounding and played to her hearts content. It’s so important to remember to cherish your own music !

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We stopped by her as we walked along the path, she was so kind to play for us, a soothing tune escaped the chords of her violin to calm our souls.These little acts of kindness always tug at my heart.

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Slowly stepping into the Gazebo by the lake, filled with little twinkling lights, I couldn’t help but think of the song from ,”The Sound of Music”,”You are sixteen, going on seventeen…..”

The Gazebo with its twinkling lights….

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Truly some places hold magic, glad this one is within walking range ! Dreaming in pictures !

 

 

 

Why playing “Dress Up”is absolute fun !

A friend and I had planned to meet up for lunch at an Indian restaurant. It is almost summer here , the  weather is absolutely gorgeous. Have you ever wondered what it is about summer that makes you want to go bold and bright ? Cheerful happy energy all around, right from the beautiful  sun rays , the chirpy birds, the laughter of children,the fresh veggies, the green grass…..everything ! “There are times when you absolutely need to take time for yourself , enjoy the simple joys life has to offer ,before life  passes you by and reach out to that little girl inside you” said the voice in my head, it got louder by the minute as I skimmed through my wardrobe wondering what to wear.

If you have  played dress up as little girls do, then you would absolutely get what I am trying to say here ……

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Colors and pretty clothes brighten up one’s mood any day, though I love bright colors, it isn’t often you would spot me in bright colors, yet ,”this afternoon it seemed absolutely necessary to discard the boring ‘work’ colors of black , white and gray and go for the kill instead” me thought and pulled out the brightest of them all.How often we  completely forget the little princess within and don different roles the society demands of us ? Nurture her,coz she will nurture YOU !

Driving towards the restaurant, the traffic lights paled in comparison, not the one to be deterred easily, I drove on,foot to the pedal……

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Pharrell Williams’s, HAPPY  played on the radio,matching  the mood perfectly,  the heavy construction work on the road did not dull the spirit either……. I tell you, anytime you need a ‘pick me up’ or a mood elevator, choose happy colors !

Had a lovely long lunch at the Indian restaurant, nothing like woman friends to bond   with  over good food and laughter.The meal was sumptuous, the weather perfect,life is good when you learn to cherish each moment, dare to surprise yourself remembering things that make you happy and  work on it…after all, you have but one life !

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The little girl within, giggled and asked me ,”When shall we play dress up again ?”, as I headed towards the car park, “I told you, it’s going to be absolute fun !!”

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I nodded smiling gently, as I headed to the parking lot, sure enough what should appear in front of me, but a license plate with a message from the Universe……

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I toldya, you can never go wrong , playing dress up !! So tell me, who wants to play dress up today ? What colors would you choose to brighten your day ??

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Note: The pictures that do not have my blog name on them, are courtesy of the Web.

Stolen moments are the sweetest !

It had rained a lot the past two days, the kind of rain, you like to soak in and pretend like you forgot the umbrella, the kind of rain that makes you want to dance outdoors in the open, when the earth feels fresh, everything is green around you,every blade of grass holds on to a rain drop in the morn and the cool breeze that blows seduces your skin…….Yes, it feels like the tropical rain this weekend, so loving summer, amidst all that still needs to be taken care of at home, you take your soul out for a walk whenever you find time  in the day &  for me, I love the mornings and one come back home feeling ALIVE.

Sharing a few of the morning magic moments  with you all here today, joy is in the sharing…..

The sun seemed to play hide and seek with me as I walked along the path, the  little robin sat in my elongated shadow and stared at me taking a picture….. while I waited for the dark clouds to pass, focussing on the sky, two little shih tzu’s were sniffing my shoe while the dog walker was watching me watch the sky and wondering what I was trying to picture…..you never know where humor will find you, sometimes even in your early morning walks and I turned to him & politely said, “Now, would you mind, holding the leash a little tighter please ? ” Embarrassed as he was for staring, he quickly continued on his walk !

For the one with a trained eye, you might be able to catch the sweet robin , who sat in my shadow & curiously gazed at me, while I clicked the winding path and the beautiful clear blue sky above🙂IMG_1181

This is me, catching the sun, behind the passing clouds, while the two Shih Tzu’s sniff my shoes….glad they were not bull dogs !IMG_1192

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That story about Alice falling into the rabbit hole is true perhaps, I thought, as I stopped to click this snap, where the bunny was busy digging a hole on the patch of earth that is otherwise surrounded by fresh green grass. His look, “Now, if you will leave me alone and continue your walk, please, I could get back to doing what I was doing ! “IMG_1184

Why some morning walks are so worth it……like the stars spilled over on the earth from the vast blue sky!IMG_1187

Summer rains, have given birth to wild mushrooms along the way.Mysterious and throbbing with life as they were in that mulch around the tree trunk, they seemed to say, “Walk with me , on the wild side will you ?”IMG_1194

The rains had washed down the crowning glories, yet the peonies, stood pretty in pink, how beautiful they looked even as they rested on earth !IMG_1188

 

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell  you
Don’t go back to sleep! “

                                      ~ Rumi

 

Watermelon Feta Mint Salad

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Few things scream as loudly as Watermelon does about the arrival of Summer. The heat is on, the local markets are filled with watermelons of all sizes and shapes. Making my way through the crowds, I found myself standing next to the watermelon cart, beside me stood a Mexican guy tapping the watermelon on all sides, I have heard that they are experts in picking the right watermelon from the lot, coz’ they know the good ones when they take it home. I followed suit, tapped a few watermelons too, apart from the different sounds it produced, I couldn’t really tell, which was the sweeter one of the lot, so decided to ask him for some help.After a little pause, I said, “Hello there, could you please help me select a good watermelon from this lot” He gladly obliged and picking one huge one, said, “Take this home, you will like it, it’s just right !” with so much assurance that I instantly picked it up and drove home with it.

The weather was really getting warm, I lay the watermelon on the kitchen table carefully cutting it into half, I had plans to try a new recipe which I have heard about recently  made from the watermelon. Curious as to how it will turn out, I went on to scoop the watermelon into lollipop sized pieces, the juice that escaped I religiously collected in a jug to use it for later.Once I was done with scooping half of the watermelon , I tried this recipe using Feta cheese and Mint and made this yummy salad.The salty creamy Feta cheese, the sweet watermelon, the citrusy lime juice, the fresh mint and the Extra Virgin Olive oil, creates a lovely Summer salad.Enjoy it with friends and family all throughout Summer during cookouts and barbecue season, your guest will be happy you served this fresh delicious salad  and will remember it for days to come.

Ingredients :

1/2 Watermelon – scooped or sliced into desired shape

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 cup

Lime juice – 2-3 lime squeezed fresh

Salt – to taste

Black Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp

Mint leaves –  a handful, minced fine

Feta cheese- 2-3 tbsp ( crumbled)

Method:

1.Mix the Olive Oil, Lime juice, Pepper powder and Salt together.

2.Pour this over the watermelon pieces and gently twirl the salad bowl so the ingredients, coat the watermelon pieces well.

3.Now gently add the feta cheese & mint leaves and gently shake the bowl once more.

4. Keep it in the refrigerator & serve after 20 minutes.

5. Another option is to cool the watermelon pieces and then add the rest of the ingredients, before serving, so they remain fresh and crispy.

A win- win either way. Enjoy your healthy Summer Salad.