Mallika-e-Ghazal

Hamri Atarya Pe Aao Sanwarya
Deikha Deikhi Balam Hoey Jaye”

An all-time favourite, this wonderful ghazal, in the still and chill winter nights of the early 80s, permeated the air with an amazing intensity !!

Merely a child then, I never paid any heed to the lyrics or theme. Nevertheless, it was a composition to be thoroughly felt in love with the poignant music, profound tone and style of the eternal Begum Akhtar.

Truly, ‘Mallika-e-Ghazal’ !!!

A Home-made Recipe of Cereals and Nuts

Since ages, we know that many cereals-and-nuts based food items are prepared in Indian villages and towns, and some are carried in containers for months together by native pilgrims.

Here’s one such recipe slightly modified (I would rather say upgraded) by my diligent mother-in-law, especially with the aim to control sugar-levels and check obesity. During her stays in the village, it also grants her good space and time from preparing a routine breakfast when she has to rather hurry for a special occasion of Pooja during the morning hours. 🙂

This recipe is designed to be easily stored and carried even during long-distance journeys. Having learnt the art from her, I now definitely prepare this food-pack for my husband on his tours abroad because it makes life easy for a hard-core vegetarian like him ! And of course, sometimes I manage to find a bearer to send these packs for both our families who prefer to reside at our respective native places, near the realm of Nature.

Here now, I bring to you this blissful recipe…

Ingredients:

For sake of convenience, I have referred the measure of cups. You can scale up the required quantity in the same proportion of these ingredients or adjust as you like it.

1.  Oats (replacing rice grains or puffed-rice or flattened-rice) – 2 cups
2.  Broken Wheat – 1 cup
3.  Soya Granules – 1 cup
4.  Cornflakes (normal variety) – as preferred
5.  Almonds – as preferred
6.  Raisins – as preferred
7.  Aniseed – as preferred
8.  Cardamom – as preferred
9.  Cloves – as preferred
10. Black Pepper – as preferred
11. Salt – a pinch

Method:

1. Take a deep non-stick pan; it should allow you enough room to stir properly. Dry-roast the Oats, Broken Wheat, Soya Granules and Almonds separately in the pan over low-heat. It must be adequately roasted (brownish) and emit the ‘dry-roasting’ flavour. Stir each ingredient continuously during this step so that all the grains or Almonds get a uniform heat and are not charred.

2. Allow the three dry-roasted cereals and Almonds to cool.

3. This step is attached only with the Wheat. Take small amounts of the roasted quantity and grind it to a slightly powdery texture such that it blends well when it is served with hot Milk or Water. This part of processing will require some further efforts –  each time you will need to extract the desired form from the grinder by using a hand-sieve, put back the coarse part in the grinder, add some more fresh Broken Wheat and then repeat the process. You need to do this till you obtain a consistent texture for all of this dry-roasted Wheat. At the end, you shall get the 1-2 tbsp coarse Wheat grains left; you may store it for making Wheat Porridge later on.

4. Mix this hand-sieved slightly powdery Wheat part with all the remaining ingredients. Aniseed (slightly fried or raw), Cardamom, Cloves and Black Pepper may be mixed as is or coarsely crushed. Add a pinch of salt to the mixture.

Its done.

Store it in an air-tight container. You can roughly estimate the expiry date of the whole mixture as the expiry date of its constituent ingredient that expires the earliest ! (So you should choose the ingredients such that they all have nearly the same expiry date.) Once you get it, do label the date on the container.

Serving:

Whenever you desire to eat, take hot Water or Milk in a bowl and mix the required amount of the mixture in it. Depending on your health conditions, you may have it simply that way or further season it with Fruits, dried-Dates, Sugar, Honey, Syrup, Jaggery, Sugar-free tablets, Ragi or Oats sugar-free biscuits, etc.

My father likes it as a snack with typical Indian Tea; so he sprinkles some crunchy salt items (like Haldiram‘s) in the mixture. 🙂

Aamjunta, do try this healthy recipe and let us know your feedback.

Beer bar, Liquor Shop and Aamjunta

Are yaar, chalo… yahan so jate hain,
Haan, achhi jagah hai… kyon hostel jayenge? yahan hi so jaate hain..

This was the post job treat conversation between two students. They fell from their cycle on their way to hostel from the main gate, after taking a heavy dinner and nice cock-tail in a reputed beer bar. Interestingly, we were also in the same job treat and were on our way walking to hostel too. When we saw them lying flat on the road, we could not believe our eyes. But, what to do? We put them into an auto-rickshaw and brought them to hostel. Before bringing them back, we picked and kept their cycle (badly damaged) near a tree.

This is just one among many incidents, which can be observed in our every-day life. Some times, the drunk-policeman on the road, or some time the drunk workers or rickshaw-wallah on the road, or some time the drunk officer in the office. It is observed everywhere, irrespective of place and culture.

A friend of mine went for a high profile international research workshop. He is a non-drinker and a vegetarian. Some of his course-mates who were members of faculty in different universities, teased him that he is not an “intellectual” because he doesn’t share a drink. The friend replied them in return that he doesn’t mind people drinking in front of him, even though he doesn’t drink himself. He added what had “intellectualism” to do with drinking or not drinking. The other group replied that an intellectual breaks stereotypes and societal norms by drinking. In fact, we get cool ideas and inspiration after a drink. Moreover, you may not gain entry into high profile circles if you do not share a drink — you would not be called an intellectual.

My friend was listening carefully and smiled a bit, listening to their statement. After a pause, he replied, “so an intellectual is a radical who deviates from societal norms and establishes himself as a revolutionary?” Everyone nodded. He then continued, “by drinking an intellectual gets entry into certain exclusive circles? also breaks norms“? People looked at him intently.

He continued, “precisely that is the reason why I don’t drink. Not for religious or political causes. I don’t drink because I want to break this new norm that has been established by intellectual community. By breaking tradition through drinking you are also creating new tradition of drinking. I refuse to be a part of any. My intellectualism (if that is what it means) is not to follow any tradition, and I refuse to follow ‘the intellectual tradition’. If getting drunk defines intellectualism, then I refuse to be called an intellectual.”

In an another incident, I could not believe my eyes, when I saw people making fun of a drunk bank officer in a reputed nationalized bank. Some of the customers were getting irritated and some were enjoying the free entertainment, where his colleagues were standing helpless. Finally, the branch manager had to intervene, and the officer was cordoned-off to some room in the bank. What an embarrassing scene!

If you follow newspapers or TV channels regularly, you can definitely mark/find regular news on drunken-driving, drunken-beating (wife/parents or both), feeding month’s salary (currency notes) in drunk state to Bulls/Cow or rapes/killing under the influence of heavy drinking. These kind of incidents are of course not new to us. It happens in our society, mostly in cities (villages are not far-off though). Drinking or serving drinks in parties/treats (irrespective of high/low profile parties) is not new. In fact, it is considered to be a status symbol in our society.

Beer-bars/dance bars (including ladies bars) are mushrooming, both in metros and in other cities. If the bars are just serving liquor or dance, then the harm to the society is not much. However, that does not happen in real life. Beer-bars/dance bars are becoming the hubs of all anti-social activities, starting from terrorist activities to eve-teasing, hooliganism to drug peddling, under-world activities to supari killing activities and also to violent moral policing. Does that serve the society in a healthy manner? I doubt!

Writing incidents about cities is nether sufficient nor complete to discuss these issues. Now a days, one can find many liquor shops in small cities and even in Panchayat Headquarters. You can find all brands (including deshi and videshi) of liquors there. Not only liquors, one can find other brands of Ganja/Charas there. Some of these shops are licensed while some are not. As long as they are paying haftas to the local leaders/gundas and Police, no one can stop them from doing their business. They prosper, even if they spend a lot on bribing various organizations/individuals.

On a different note. Last week, I was in Puri Swargadvara (literally Heaven’s Gate) to attend a funeral there. There is a liquor shop adjacent to the cremation ground “Swarga Dwar“. The proximity of the liquor shop to the funeral grounds was so close that one could smell the fumes of human cremation while one drank. Every one coming to the cremation ground asked one question, what is the “Foreign Liquor Shop” doing here? I too could not understand how come the shop keeper got the license there? Mostly I was thinking, “who is buying here”? at this locality? near the cremation ground!” Suddenly, two college girls (hardly in their early 20s) got down from a cycle rickshaw, went to the shop and bought 4 bottles of different brand. In no time they just vanished. After some time, couple of people came there, bought some bottles of wines and started making lewd comments on the ladies attending the funeral. I am still wondering, whether allowing to open the shop at that place is appropriate or not. It is definitely a subject for larger debate

If we (many of us, including the Govt.) understand the bad-effects of these kind of shops/bars or activities, then why do we allow these shops/bars to mushroom? This is a major problem in the south Indian cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Trivendrum, etc., where one can find liquor shops in every 20/30 meters… and that too most of the times open 24/7. Why? Is it because, the Govt. gets huge tax or revenue? or is it because these shop keepers or bar owners are influential or do we really need them? Many of us drink, some are occasional and some are regular. Some can afford, whereas many cannot; resulting in regular disturbances, fights, suicides, killings, rapes, eve teasing and stealing, etc. For some of us it is a status symbol, for some of us it is a fight between life and death, for some of us it might be a medicine…

And for the aamjunta …. let aamjunta decides what is good and what is bad; we all are independent in thinking, life style and expressing our views 🙂

Note: The incidents described are inspired from real-life stories. Neither I support drinking, nor I object. But, I am strongly against the ill-effects of drinking.

Right People at Wrong Places?

It was quarter to midnight. We had our dinner in Pizza Hut, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.

I felt both yummy and greedy when Ketan floated the idea about trying some new flavours at Naturals Ice Cream Parlour. And so, both of us decided to go for it, even though we had quite a lot of work in the lab.

The parlour was just a 10 minutes walk. We had just crossed the Galeria building, when suddenly, a lady’s voice called Ketan’s name from somewhere behind:

Ketu… hai… Ketu….

When we turned our heads towards the direction of the sound, we could see a group of young guys and gals discussing with each other, and one of them, a short, lanky, girl with a big nose pin, dressed in a pair of shorts and tees came out…

Shy as he is by nature, Ketan could not understand how to react…. Moreover, my presence made him slightly uncomfortable. Before he could say anything, she had already started talking and had extended her hand for a warm handshake. I could guess, that Ketan wanted to avoid, and make that meeting a quick affair, but could not. Instead, gave his mobile number, and promised her a treat some other day 🙂 It took some 15 minutes for him to convince her that he was busy today and finally to say “good night” to her. We had to rush, as it was past midnight. Unfortunately, could not get ice cream as the shop was closed by that time.

By the time, I could observe that and Ketan was still in that mid-night (shock) meeting. I casually inquired…

What happens boss? What is the matter… ?

“Nothing, it is just paining”

“What? What is paining?”

“My palm is paining… Mala scratched my palm with her long nails… could not say any thing to her..” 😦 🙂

Oh! that is interesting” — I just made this comment with a smile…

I could see that Ketan was feeling bit restless, but I could not figure out whether his restlessness was because of his meeting this girl at a wrong time and wrong place? or because of the scratching and the pain 🙂

It did not take much time to figure out … “it was his meeting her at a wrong place, at a wrong time and in my presence”, which was the cause of his restlessness. Afterwards, he made several stories, and has been clarifying since … that “she is just a school mate of mine, had never spoken to her before, just a friend… blah blah…”; trying to convince me and lab mates… 🙂

This is not only the story of Ketan… In my last 7 years of campus life, I have witnessed at least some hundred different incidents.

Interestingly, most of them were at night, between 12.30 am to 4.30 am. I could remember meeting Boni with his “friend” at about 4.20 am on a rainy night (morning?) while going to the station to get the early morning local train to Khopoli. Both of them were standing, under a tree in the main road, completely drenched in the rain… I was in a hurry, just said “Hi” and went on my way. Poor Boni called me at least some 4 times on that day… with different reasons… just to know, what was my reaction…!!

Another such incident happened, while I was returning to my room from lab at about 2.30 am. I saw Nutan going towards lake side at that time of the night with her new friend. I was in half sleep, was about to rummage my cycle into them. I thought it was my mistake and was about to say sorry, but they just vanished in no time.

Next day, Nutan called a friend of mine and invited her for a dinner treat at Laxmi. Though my friend could not understand the reason of her sudden invitation, she could smell some thing fussy during the dinner. Nutan inquired many things about me from my friend, and finally asked, “did aamjunta say anything to you?” It was just a bouncer for my friend. Realizing that my friend does not know any thing about the last night’s incident, Nutan changed the topic in no time.

On a different note, I could remember when Suryapratap narrated the story of Nidhi and Mohan. Both of them were in their initial days of love, used to go for dinners, movies, malls; but when some of our friends saw them or spotted them, they used to behave as if they are just strangers…

Once during my graduation days, I was on a vacation with my family to Koraput (Odisha). While getting down from the bus at a hill station near Koraput, I saw Radha and Sid waiting there for a Bus. Before I could go closer and say a “hi” to them, they just vanished from the place, reason… they had bunked classes and had come to this place without any one’s knowledge. Embarrassing for me, because they did not acknowledge, and my parents were asking…“is there any thing wrong between you and Sid?” Why did he leave without saying a Hi to you? Embarrassing for Sid as well… for obvious reasons.. I had no other way out but to convince my parents, that he was not Sid, but some one else….

That happens 🙂

People behave interestingly when they meet some one at a wrong time and wrong place. Moreover, our cultural and societal restraints make us slightly conscious when we are in the initial days of “dating” — though I still do not understand the full-implications of the term. 🙂

Being discreet about relationships is common — me, you, the politicians, celebrities, and the aamjunta. The answering patterns are common… “we are just friends”, “it was a courtesy visit”, “we are family friends”, etc., etc. Celebrities use these tactics very coolly for the camera and paparazzi and so does the aamjunta. But, paparazzi exists in all societies and these statements are sometimes forgiveable because after all there is something called : “privacy” ! 🙂

Aamjunta, have you experienced any thing of this kind?

Disclaimer: All names used in this post are fictionalized. However, the incidents described are inspired from real-life stories.

“Married and my Husband has no other wife living”: Bigamy in India!

While browsing through the Placement Blog, I came across Coal India Limited’s Management Trainee Joining Form. It is a 26-page document with so many blanks to fill in declarations, personal details and professional details, etc. But, what surprised me is the declaration that the new employee has to sign at the time of joining:

  • That I am married and have only one wife living.
  • That I am married and my husband has no other wife living.
CIL MT Joining Declaration

CIL MT Joining Declaration

I was wondering, how come the wife will declare that her husband has no more wives? Does that imply, that a female trainee can have more than one living husband? 🙂 Moreover, does she know every thing about her husband’s life and personal relationships? Why does the employer need to ask such kind of questions?, which has more to do with the personal life than the professional one. How does disclosure of marriage help in seeking better employees?

If this is the law of the land, that your husband should have only one living wife, then how come Chief Minister(s), Central and State Minister(s) have multiple living wives? Not only that, there are enough sitting MPs and MLAs, who have multiple living wives. Changing religion to have multiple wives is also seen these day. Even Celebrities and Film Stars too have multiple simultaneous relationships – legally and illegally. Is it a fashion meant only for people who can afford it?  Is it a necessity for power game? I am not going to write the huge list of people who have multiple (living) marriages here. This is because, I do not want to encroach some one’s private life and make that public. It is not a personal vendetta, rather an ideological battle.

There are couple of questions which came into my mind.

  1. If it is considered as a part of law under IPC under Hindu Marriage Law to have only one living wife, then what prevents the state machinery to block them from power? Is it not a double standard?
  2. How can people (netas/leaders) with multiple wives decide whether their followers will have one or more wives? I mean to say, that most of these people in power wield these laws meant for aamjunta, when they themselves break these laws.

Aamjunta, what do you think?

Note: I do not advocate the thought of Bigamy or polyandry.

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