Getting Ready – EARLY!!

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success. – Henry Ford

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. – John F Kennedy

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

…and so on..

Lots of people and it seems , very successful people have given their slant on being prepared.

Well, here is mine:

Being prepared days before an event –  IT FEELS GREAT!!!

I  could add bells and ribbons and balloons. It feels so good.

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The event that found me prepared days before was the Annual Mission Sale at Ooty. A small local event , attended by locals only ..since they don’t advertise. We had a lot of books from our library to sell .

I had sorted out the books over a week, Left to my basic ‘things-will-happen’ instincts, I would have packed them the night before. But, my maid was going on leave. And then, who would lug the boxes up the stairs?

So, I was driven to pack the boxes a week before the date! This for a person who packs the night before travel.

Preparation really feels great. And may the feeling last long enough to to get the worm to turn and turn and keep moving !

P.S: Yes, we sold a lot of books!

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Stepping out

I was looking forward to May as a time of rest and being at home and pottering around but all that is getting a bit too restful . My friends are busy with visiting children or visiting their kids. The town is too crowded to drive and park and do anything much. I’ve been doing a bit too much work in the  garden with not so good consequences for my back although the garden is looking rather colorful .  So Im finding it rather painful to walk on slopes. And I’m not sure that stoicism in this case is a good thing. So haven’t been walking much either. All that is my sad story. 
Then today there was a friend setting off to the hills in the Northeast. 
And after getting over the wave of envy and resentment that washes over one when someone else seems to be doing something adventurous which we wish we had the gumption to organise ;  I thought -I am living in the damn hills after all!  So why dont I use this time to explore .
I  took the car out to the Lovedale road, parked and walked along for an hour. I got my walk on level ground on a nice well tarred road which contrasts with our pot hole ridden one ; a new place to explore, velvety green tea fields on one side, tall trees on another, vistas of train track and tunnels.
Most of all there was the joy of stepping out of my usual ruts . It takes a little leap to do something new, to go somewhere new… and to do it alone. And the happiness in overcoming inner resistance to actually do something a little difficult is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
 Somewhere new I promised myself every day of this week.
In the rush of leaving I had left my phone behind, so there was no stopping to take photographs. Another time!

Passport

As we are so quick to complain, I thought I must appreciate the  new Passport Seva Kendras which have taken over from the government.

They are organised, quick, helpful and efficient. As my father put it, ‘They want to process the passport as opposed to the old government officials who wanted to find reasons to stop you getting one.’

I remember going through the process thrice for Darshini just a couple of years ago. Each time , there was a tiny flaw in the spelling or a dot in the wrong place and her application was rejected.

This time, although the name of the street in my father’s address had been changed thrice over the years, the girl at the counter  was helpful and we managed to find two identity cards with the same address and she passed it.

Getting my 88 year old father ready with his documents was my major battle. He couldn’t decide in which photograph he looked best. Finally, they took the photograph at the Kendra and fingerprints too. Although I landed up in Coimbatore to get his documents processed 24 hours ahead, he would hand them over to me only two hours before ! :-0

My ordinary, non Tatkal passport reached me on the third day after the interview!

Smooth precision

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Walking  by the side of the river  , we  revel in the calmness of the  quiet green landscape.

IMG_2569And what is that? It is  a little yellow  ground hugging vehicle which should be measuring something on the moon or Mars. It moves back and forth on the slope of the bank of the river Torrent .

The little machine is cutting  the grass,  all by itself!

Okay, not by itself. After a few minutes, a man moves leisurely into the picture. He looks at it like one would look at the antics of a beloved dog. And yes , he has an instrument in his hand to control it. A remote controlled lawn mover seems the ultimate.  Even to the touring American who comes to stand beside me to take a picture for the folks back home.

This seems to top the remotely controlled  railway gates  and empty railway station where bells ring  on their own  which have  amazed me with their  precision and confidence that things will go smoothly.

Just Do It! – Yourself!

Revisiting the Pykara waterfalls near Ooty with a young niece and her new husband , I remembered clearly a moment of epiphany I had experienced there a few  years ago when I was there with another bunch of the family.

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We sat on the banks of the wide river and watched it flow by fast and swift over a hundred rocks.  The rocks were flat and scattered all over the river. The sun glittered on the water. The rocks looked bare and  inviting, just the right space apart to cross the river.  Not too easy but fordable. We could get to the other side it looked like. The water didn’t look too deep in case we slipped.

The right adventurous sort of thing for a young man we thought. Teenage hulk Sajit, my nephew, was just sitting with us . Promptly,  I began urging him to cross the river. My sister joined in. He wouldn’t budge. I began feeling frustrated. What a wonderful thing to do and why wasn’t he doing it?

And then it struck me, if it was so wonderful why wasn’t  I doing it but telling someone else to do it? I  took off my shoes and said I was going to cross. My sister joined me. Sometime later my nephew followed us.

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And then a whole lot of other people.

 

This time, there was a board saying that people shouldn’t cross the river; it was too dangerous.  I’m  glad we did it when we could, in sheer blissful ignorance and happiness.

I wish I could say I don’t urge my children any more to do different things. I do on occasion. But I urge myself more often to try things which seem so desirable for other people. And very often, they do turn out well.

Deepavali good times

This was obviously last week. But still gives happiness so Im in recall.

In a burst of energy, I made gulab jamuns, badam halwa, murruku and thengai burphy ( in decreasing order of success). The murukku was a first time trial and I was very surprised at how easy it can be.

Since I was sharing my limited stock with only half a dozen people, I took some trouble over the packing.  I went shopping for plastic jars and ended up with those green glass ones which looked much better. Serendipity was  being inspired to buy small candle holders , filling them with badam halwa and covering the glasses with cling wrap. Im still a bit overwhelmed with my brilliance.

And actually delivering the goods took a whole day, having been rather out of circulation for a while.

So I had my fun tripled – cooking, shopping and visiting.

I must say, all the effort was greatly appreciated. In store bought, driver delivered deepavali-times, home made stuff is hot stuff.

 

 

 

The Internet and the Pear

How to make Toffee

1. Decide to make pear preserve after a friend sends over a  bag of pears from her garden. Wash out your prettiest jars in anticipation of filling them with luscious pear jelly.

2. Read half a dozen recipes for pear preserve  on the internet and come to the conclusion that the time you slow cook the pears and sugar doesn’t matter because the recipes vary widely.

3. Put the pears and sugar on the stove, sit down to watch TV with Advaith and find that you can’t stir because he has fallen asleep on your lap.

4. More than an hour later, find a caramelized sticky black mass on the stove with little hard bits of pear buried inside.

5. Strain out the pear bits, covert the caramel into kamarkat and toffee.

An easier method to make kamarkat can be found here.

Lesson learnt from this exercise:

Jelly, jam and preserves are all made from fruit mixed with sugar and pectin.  The difference between them comes in the form that the fruit takes.

Specifically, the fruit in jelly comes in the form of fruit juice. Jam, on the other hand, uses fruit pulp or crushed fruit, which explains why it’s “less stiff” than jelly. Finally, in fancy-pants preserves, the fruit comes in syrup-laden chunks.  Marmalade typically is a citrus-based preserve, sometimes containing the rind, but other fruits can be used.

Pears have lots of websites devoted to them and I should study them before assuming that the longer you boil fruit, the softer it gets.

So, that information can be got so easily from Ask yahoo! is the good part

And that one can get so confused by an over load of information is the bad part.

But,  Im here talking to you is the very good part.

Ah those carbs!

Papaya and Mango in Yogurt and ….

Ingredients:

  • Yogurt
  • Papaya scoops
  • Mango scoops
  • Finely chopped mint
  • Honey

Use a little scooper to make tiny scoops of both mango and papaya. Place yogurt in a bowl. Add scoops of fruits. Sprinkle freshly chopped mint and drizzle some honey.

Serve immediately as breakfast or dessert!

This is a recipe from Chinmayee on a new food blog,  LoveFood Eat . The photographs are as good as the recipes are simple.

Since we did have  mango and papaya at home, I thought I must try it out. But, ah so much resistance to eating only fruit for breakfast! No, that was not from the rest of the family but from me.  Sometime ago, I  had made a switch from our traditional idli/ dosai  to oats for breakfast. And now that was a comfort I was loath to give up.  Hot filling porridge seemed very attractive. But finally the mind won and I did have the fruit breakfast with some chaat powder for seasoning and it was very good! And I’m feeling much lighter.

Of gifts and gift horses

Im learning about gift horses these days. How much tact and diplomacy  should be summoned to  deflect being landed with the horse or if one does get the horse, to talk of saddles and bridles with grace.  But one cannot easily summon what is not there ; so I end up having crazy conversations with my crazy family.

My sister:

‘I want to buy some artificial jewellery for Sindhu for the engagement. What colour is her saree?’

” I don’t think she needs any artificial jewellery .  Why don’t you buy her a salwar instead?”

” This is why I shouldn’t ask you. I’m going to buy any colour I like”.

My coz brother:

I’m thinking of buying a small diamond pendant for Sindhu which she can wear to the office.  Do you think its a good idea?”

” Why don’t you buy something in gold instead? I don’t know if she will wear diamonds to the office “.

( This is because the pendant that someone gifted Dachu is sitting in the locker )

” This is about what Sindhu wants, not you. Im going to buy what I like”.

There is my father, who would always like to gift something large in brass for any wedding though I tell him no one has the space or time these days  and a gift cheque is so preferable. But how will they remember me then, he says.

In total, most people have strong ideas abut what they would like to give if they think about it at all.

And that includes me. I’ve cut out the thengai, manjal kumkum and vethalai from the thengai pai which is handed out at the close of every wedding as things that get discarded . And that leaves me  an empty bag I have to think very hard to fill 🙂 Bags which I’ve been block printing myself the past few days instead of being busy organizing things.

More than the gift, the way we give , ‘cheerfully quickly and without hesitation’, to quote Seneca – can mean so much and the way we receive too , should be joyous enough to make the giver happy.

Some people have the gift of receiving even the smallest thing so happily, the giver is made doubly happy. The rest of us can learn.