Its NaBloPoMo month, and I have committed to make a post every day of this month. Its rather late in the day and time is running short. Yet I feel calm and composed. Its a good day and tomorrow promises to be even better. I open my diary of penned thoughts, feeling happy. A loose sheet falls to the ground. Its my Being Happy poem penned years ago! Very Wordsworth inspired. But I love it and its relevant for me even today. Thanks for the inspiration William Wordsworth.
When I am happy,
Its like my spirit let loose.
Over terraced hills and shaded plains,
Free and boundless,
When I feel happy,
Its like bubbles sprouting,
Over the brink of a glass of soda.
Free again, and boundless,
Dancing in merry excitement.
When I am happy,
I feel the world is beautiful,
Full of so many treasures,
which had hitherto
My son had first tasted Churros at a Christmas market in Paris last year . When he was back from his trip, he just couldn’t stop going gaga over the doughy and chewy, yet succulent taste of the churros with hot chocolate sauce and insisted that we attempt to try making them at home. I looked up a few recipes from the internet and some from the cook books I had, and finally came up with my own version of an easy recipe for homemade churros with hot dipping chocolate sauce which is just perfect for the changing weather. My son gave a helping hand. My family and my son’s friends loved the churros! His friends said that our homemade churros were way better than those available in one of the best local bakeries here in Chandigarh. No not boasting , that’s exactly what they said. Now, as it has again started to become a bit cool, one yearns for a hot snack accompanied by a glass of hot wine which incidentally I also first heard about from my son. So here we go, lets get ready to make some piping hot churros!
For the churros
1and ½ cup flour
1 and ½ cup boiling water
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 and ½ tbsp sugar
½ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
½ litre to 1 litre oil for frying
For the sauce
½ cup chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chopped well)
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp Nutella (optional)
Add the 1 and 1/2 tbsp of sugar to the water and boil. In another bowl place the flour, salt and baking powder, making a well inside. Pour the 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil into this well along with the boiling water. Mix using a wooden spatula till well combined and there are no lumps. The mixture will look like a sticky gooey mass. Fill the dough into a cloth or plastic icing bag. Attach a star nozzle to the piping bag, in order to get the distinctive lined texture on the churros. The hole in the icing bag should be of at least 1 inch diameter. Let the dough rest in the piping bag for a few minutes. Heat the oil for frying in a wok. Meanwhile prepare the sauce.
Heat the cream in a saucepan, but do not boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let rest for half a minute. Add the Nutella and whisk till the chocolate melts and all ingredients are well combined and the sauce looks smooth and glossy.
Now hold the piping bag vertically above the hot oil and squeeze till the dough comes out like a thick rope. Cut with scissors to 4 inch pieces and deep fry to light golden brown. Drain and place the churros on a kitchen paper. Next drench them with the icing sugar (to which some powdered cinnamon has been mixed in).Serve the piping hot churros with hot chocolate dipping sauce!
If you are drawn towards Gothic ( English) revival architecture, head straight towards Bath in England (UK). Most of the medieval buildings here are built using honey coloured bath stone and carved and chiseled to perfection. The city of Bath is renowned for the Roman baths, Fashion museum and Jane Austin house among other attractions. No wonder its a UNESCO world heritage site and a major travel and tourist destination.
The perpendicular Gothic architecture of the Bath Abbey leaves one truly spellbound in wonder as one stares at the ornate and complex carvings painstakingly done on the walls of the church. The picture below shows the lively atmosphere outside the Bath Abbey. Interestingly, the chaos of the tourists adds value to the symmetrical lines of the beautiful monument. The joie de vivre of the people is palpable. As a matter of sheer coincidence, there is order again in the chaos with many of the tourists in the frame wearing turquoise blue and various other shades of blue. The bright pink flowers and the bicycle boards in the foreground give the necessary pop of colour to the picture, so that I fell in love with my own creation, err.. click almost instantly!
The cover picture shows the famed Roman baths which are a great example of Victorian style architecture. Again the human element makes the place look chaotic, yet even more beautiful as it makes the place alive; as is rightly said by Constantin Brancusi- “Architecture is inhabited sculpture”. Do you agree?
Right from the beginning I was intrigued by Anita Moorjani’s book, Dying to be me, after I had seen an interview of the author on a Philippines news channel. In fact I was literally dying to read the book for two reasons. First it was the title of the book, Dying to be me which is I believe every person can relate to and is well justified in the book. As Anita Moorjani rightly points out, we are conditioned right from our childhood on account of our culture or religion to live in fear. Fear of what others may think of you. Fear of not being able to live the life you wish to live. Suppression of the self and being made guilty about not always yielding to others’ commands slowly stifle one’s persona and the fear manifests itself in the form of disease. So in a way the book strongly suggests that in order to live a disease free life one should learn to overcome fear of any sort and be the real person you are, with no expectations of pretense.
The second reason I wanted to read the book was obviously to know how she bravely overcame a near death experience and came out victorious after a fierce battle with stage four lymphoma. After suffering for nearly four years she went into a coma, with the doctors almost declaring that she would not survive. But then, something magical happened. She became aware of her own infinite self. Unconditional love of her family and her own understanding of her self brought her back to life healed and cancer free.
The book is quite interesting, written in simple language and is very easy to follow and does not bore you with details of complex medical procedures or jargon. The best thing about the book is that it brings a message of hope to millions of people suffering from cancer. In general it also inspires you to live your dreams, be bold and live a life without fear. Have No Fear!
P.S- Most of us fear God. Why not befriend God or the Spiritual being you believe in? Listen to your conscious and then do what you think is right. I can assure you life becomes a lot better. This is my personal conclusion. What do you think?
Down with the common flu today, I was feeling a bit under the weather and so missed my customary walk to the nearby park in my home town Chandigarh. It was then that the idea struck me to go back down memory lane and revisit The Minet Country Park in the London Borough of Hillingdon (virtually), which I frequented last summers and really loved!
As the name suggests its a country park, kept as close to its natural state as possible, albeit well maintained. There are wide open areas of grassland with rabbits sprinting in and out of the hedges and the area is alive with cheeky chipmunks’ chirp calls.
The meadow is scattered with an array of vibrant candy coloured wild flowers which are very inviting. As soon as my husband and I entered the garden we were greeted by a family of ducks swimming in the waterway. We followed the walking track and waved at some little kids enjoying themselves in the play area and smiled at the mommies who had brought their babies out for a stroll in the pram. From the distance we could also see a Gurudwara at the boundary of the park which we visited later.
Minet Country Park, London
The Minet Park is spread over 36 hectacre and was awarded the Green Flag for the first time in the year 2009. Our walks to this garden were truly refreshing and energizing and we hope to visit it again in the near future.
Minet Country Park, London
Minet Country Park, London
All these pictures were clicked with an iPhone and believe me they are so beautiful that no filter was needed to improve them. I hope you enjoyed reading this post:)
An ode to my friend,(my lovely mobile phone) in the form of a prose poem:
My phone is my notebook, my postbox, my gaming station, my book stand, my news reporter and my business supporter! My phone is also my camera and my pictures album folder. My phone is my banker,my meeting place with friends and a place to look up the latest trends. The device even doubles up as my vanity mirror and my music system. My phone is my dictionary and spelling corrector, it can teach me to strum the guitar and teach me mandarin if I want. Its also my magnifying glass you bet! Use your imagination and you’ll know how. It takes me to far off places and is a small doorway to the big bountiful world which I can hold in my fist or my pocket. The big bonus is that it can also be used to make calls! Yes you heard that right.I can also make calls. I need all these facilities in my life, so when my phone is my true friend indeed, when in need, why do people call it phone addiction? It’s not just a phony phone after- all; its much more!
NaBloPoMo? Not ever heard of this word? If not then perhaps you are new to the blogging world. NaBloPoMo is actually an acronym for National Blog Posting Month. November is the chosen month and one is supposed to make a blog post each day of this month, even on weekends! Sounds exciting isn’t it? It definitely is provided you are willing to take up the challenge. NaBloPoMo is a challenge because in order to write good, interesting and quality posts you need to keep the fire burning inside you for 30 continuous days. As for me I love accepting challenges. Mind you, it does wonders for your blog winning you new readers, creating a bond with the community as you share your experiences besides giving you that much needed jump in views on the stats page. My phone never stops buzzing on the WordPress app I have downloaded on my phone, whenever I publish a new post, signaling a new like or comment. It is a tremendous boost of confidence in your abilities as a writer.
‘A lot of people don’t sort of take blog writing all that seriously. A lot of blog writers don’t take it that seriously themselves because they are posting links to current events, or using it as a discussion forum rather than as a place to thoughtfully express using good interesting verbs or good descriptive writing of what’s going on in their life or in their brain. I thought let’s just focus on that part of it, see if you can sit down and write something everyday and throw it up there. What happens after you do that for a while and you are doing it publicly it’s not like you are writing it in your diary everyday, you are throwing it out there for between 10 and 100 or 1000 people to read depending on your traffic. Your barriers start to come down and you start that perfectionism thing and start to loosen up for better or worse sometimes worse. Sometimes you end up posting up stuff you never thought was worth writing about and it turns out “Hey I really liked writing that post and I want to explore that more.” or you get more feedback or whatever. It’s just a way of loosening up that nasty perfectionism thing if you have that.’
The biggest advantage of being a part of NaBloPoMo is to ingrain in you the writing habit. Write whatever you like on any topic that catches your fancy. You may even just publish some eye catching pictures of your travels or the blooming flowers in your garden with some small details. You can look for inspiration on ideas to write even on The Daily Post or BLOGHER. Once you have developed this habit your hands and brain will itch to write and slowly but surely NaBloPoMo becomes a prominent factor for your personal growth. So say good bye to procrastination forever and register for NaBloPoMo here, preferably before November 5. It will take you a giant step forward towards substantial blogging. Enjoy!!
When I picked up this book, The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri, it was with a mixture of awe, apprehension and determination. This was because I was about to read a book by a Pulitzer Prize winning author for the first time.(Correction there- because actually this was the second. The first being Gone with the wind, which I had read long long ago, without being conscious of it being a Pulitzer Prize winning book at that time). The Lowland was also long listed for the Man Booker Prize and these awards to my mind gave the book a superior air.But surprisingly right from page 1 to the last page (page no. 340), I remained hooked to the book and so I was compelled to write its book review as soon as possible. It is a tale that begins in Calcutta (or Kolkata) and unfolds across continents and covers 4 generations. Primarily a story of two boys who live in Calcutta during the time of the Naxalite movement. They live along with their parents in the swampy lowlands. The author beautifully describes their growing up years from school days to youth and dwells deep into their similarities and differences. The bonding between the two brothers as well as their complexes is brought to life. You remain hooked to the tale of the different paths in life on which they eventually walk; in a narration that’s fluid, gripping, and a command over language that is nonpareil. There being absolutely no clue at all as to whats coming ahead, you are curious to quickly find out and continue to flip page after page becoming a part of the whole scenario.
The characters are finely sketched to the minutest details. It is as if the lead characters, Subhash, Udayan and Gauri are living and breathing people whose lives are unfolding right before your eyes. They keep secrets from one another, but their individual thoughts, fantasies and feelings are laid thread before the reader in a brutally honest description. Revealing anything more of the story-line would in deed be a huge spoiler, so I wish to desist from that. Please read the book if my review inspires you enough.
Yes, there is some negativity in some of the characters etched. But towards the end of the book, we do see hope emerge and one character shines with his selfless and unconditional love. Needless to say , I’m now a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri ! And the next time I pick a Pulitzer Prize winning book, it will be not be with awe but a lot of excitement and expectation 🙂
P.S- My next pick is ‘To kill a mocking bird’ by Harper Lee, a 1961 Pulitzer prize winning book.