Friday, March 29, 2013

When Facebook Goes Pink with Breast Cancer Campaign…

Image : Google Images

This morning I woke up and logged into Facebook and there was a message sitting pretty neatly in my inbox waiting for me with hope in its eyes, that I won’t shun it this time like I did it twice last evening, when it appeared in my inbox.

The message read:
"Without replying to this message, put a heart on your wall, no comment, just a heart. Next, post a heart on the wall of the person who sent you this message. Then send the message to your women friends, only women. If anyone asks you why you have so many hearts on your wall, don't tell them. This is only for women, because this is breast cancer research week. One small act of solidarity between women. To type a heart, first type < and then 3. It will turn into a heart as soon as you post it.
p.s. don't forget to post a heart on my wall" 

Last year, a similar message was circulated among ladies in the same manner, in February, stating it was Breast Cancer Awareness month and we couldn't tell the boys about it; "keep them guessing", it said.
I have had such messages in the past too, "share your bra color, share the place you would throw your handbag".

Here, I don’t intend to ruin anybody’s fun nor I imply that this is a criminal act. In fact, to join a campaign for a good cause, I am always in. 

However, if I have to spread awareness I would rather do it openly and not in a hush manner or play a game with rules that bans more than half of the population from knowing it. I don’t see how we can raise awareness in this fashion.
The knowledge, the understanding, the act of solidarity is extended through talking about the issue, through sharing data, by discussing it at every level.

The campaign to begin with, does not educate us with the causes, the symptoms or the treatments of breast cancer. 
It does not encourage any of us to go or send our loved ones, for a mammogram.
The most disturbing part of it, however, is that it excludes men without realizing that, they (the Men) too are victims of Breast cancer and by barring them we are putting their lives at risk.

Whether it's research week or awareness month let’s make constructive efforts towards the cause, spread awareness to all and most importantly not bar men from it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Food for thought ...

The stinky waves of air wafted through the window in the living room. My nostrils angrily protested to breathe and my stomach threatened to throw up.
What the hell is that deadly reek? Just when I was about to conclude that something terribly ugly from hell had died below our window, the stink showed signs of familiarity; Hey Bhagwan! One of my culinary nightmares was here, a neighbor was making - ghee. *Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin*
I can’t stand that smell, the smell of concoction of ghee. It paralyses my smelling sensors for hours and the only way to protect them is to run miles away.

Now my Sunday morning was all about watching cricket match with closed windows with no fresh air to enjoy. *Grumpy face*
My prayers were heard soon and the windows were opened after making sure that there was no pong but only crisp breeze of March. 

Now having resurrected my respiratory system, it had me thinking how one person’s yummy food can be another person’s yucky fare.
I have seen non-bongs gag on our fishy affairs when a fish head is served with * lots of love..of course*, on the plate with the fish eye staring at you, creepily declaring, “I see you” or when roe (no not the caviar) pakodas make their way on the dinning table as starters.

The weird food doesn’t stop at the thresholds of bong homes though, its everywhere. It’s just that, the cuisines and the people to lose their lunch vary. Sample this, The vegetarians give a disgusted look at the non-vegetarian’s plate. Goras disgorge when they see Indians relishing on the bone marrow from the bone cooked in a delicious curry. Of course the fish head too makes them choke. And most of the desis can’t stand the site of a steak. 

The snakes, the scorpions, the cockroaches and maggots are a much known puke-ish diet munched with lots of frolic by many people around the world.
Some of the strangest and lesser known are the Italian rotten cheese-Casu Marzu, to which larvae are deliberately added to make it a mouthwatering delicacy (how cheesy!), there are countries where willies of animals are devoured merrily and then there are some cultures who feast upon blood.
So, the million dollar question is, should we gag over other people's weird food or respect the food even if its sight or/and smell gives a fair idea of how the hell looks like?
I prefer to choke when not around the host of an unpleasant cuisine and to respect and be polite about their food, in front of them-A Hypocrisy, I will be forgiven for.

P.S. Apology if I made you throw up… but my posts don’t come with any warning. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Re-rechristened my blog

Image : Google

I was toying with the idea of changing the name of my blog, for quite sometime now.
"A girl and her Incredible life" was too mainstream. I changed it to "Randomly penned" but still my mind wasn't satisfied.

Then I remembered a story I read on Facebook about how one should be coffee beans as it teaches us to turn adverse situations in favor of us.
Truly inspiring and as for the name.. I fell for "Coffee beans"; inspiring, aromatic, dynamic and delicious- perfect for my blog. *winks*

Below is the story that gave me the cue:
"A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.
If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another lever?
How do you handle Adversity? Are you a Carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? "

Friday, March 22, 2013

Death of the Mustard Sauce !

I haven’t been subjected to too much of superstitions or any unnecessary traditional practices/rituals; may be its one of those perks of nuclear families, where parents think and act with more logic sans the pressures of  members who assume every tradition needs to be followed, which makes no sense. And let me fill in something here, there aren't many such members in my entire family. *Happy face*

Yesterday, dear destiny had a surprise stored for me. A few days ago, I came across a recipe of a Bengali mustard sauce, used in cooking delicacies, called Käsundi/Käshundi. My grand confession; I never liked the pungent sauce ever and with not having any other fan at home, the poor sauce never gained an entry into our household. (This confession must have shocked many bongs)

But the seducing pictures of the ingredients and the jar filled with the mustard hued sauce along with the dish cooked with it, stirred my taste buds to the point that I made up my mind to not only make the sauce all by myself but also cook chicken with it.
I with all the zing and enthusiasm of a kid in the candy store told mom of my culinary mission. A surprised pair of eyes stared at me for a few seconds and then I heard a little "Okay". As I said, there were no Käsundi fans in my house, but of course Moms are always supportive.

She then told me how Käsundi is not just another sauce prepared in the kitchen.
It’s a ritual. There is a domestic ceremony connected to the preparation of the sauce. I suddenly had a faint recollection of hearing about it years ago, and now both my heart and my brain welled up with questions. The hows… the whys surfaced.
What came next was fascinating; the sauce was prepared, on a particular day of a particular month, by one or two of the married ladies (who were not in their periods) of the house. After taking bath, the lady/ladies began the ceremony, the mustard seeds along with other ingredients except salt and turmeric were placed in a cloth, then washed under running water, while conch shells were blown by other ladies of the house. After the washing the mixture were sunned properly before pounding into a pulp till the sauce was ready.

I got the "How" part, but, the "Why" was still not answered. Why such a ceremony for making a sauce? What was so special about it?
But mom said, "You don’t have to do so much, no one follows it nowadays".
"Of course", I told myself, "Käsundi is found over the counter at any shop across West Bengal and the companies who make it definitely don’t go through so much of trouble." *Big Grin*

Later that day, I told my dad about my mission and how I was very keen to do it. With a very serious look he told me, "Your mom told me about it a while ago and I wanted to discuss it with you." (I knew, whatever that I was about to hear, is not what I wanted to hear). He said, "Your thaakuma (paternal grandmother), for some reason banned the making of Käsundi, in the household, and to this day no one in our family makes the sauce, hence, you can’t make it". I couldn't believe my ears, my dad, who always encouraged me for everything I wanted to do, was saying this to me. 
My rebellion side took over and I asked, "WHY?" to which, as I knew, there was no answer, he didn't know the reason; he just knew thaakuma had banned it. 
Dad held me and told me he would get the best of the Käsundi from the market and then I can cook with it, I… refused the offer.

I was disappointed... but I wasn't angry or hurt…. I had a new mission, to know my WHYs.
Why the ceremony? Why the ban?
I don’t know whether I will ever get my answers but I am determined to look for them.
Some day, maybe, I will make the sauce and who knows maybe in the traditional way following all the rituals.
*fingers crossed*

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Sophomoric Writer.

"Anybody can be a writer", stated an advertisement, on a wall of a building that claimed to teach "creative writing".
I am not sure to what extent I agree with the bill.

Yes, with proper guidance I can hone my skills of writing, but would that make me a good writer even if I lack imagination?...Answer is, NO
One can not teach creativity ... one can not teach how to imagine and then put it down on paper.
I got acquainted with some of the best works of literature, at an early age. And my brain cells, for reading, molded themselves for best literary books only.
I could never and I still can not digest the mediocre writings; some of those make me wonder what did I do to deserve to read such "talents".
Those books are anything but literature. 
Am I a purist? No.. I am not just a purist.. I am a "nauseatingly purist", when it comes to my certain interests or passions.

Anyhow, so, when elite authors paved their way in my life with their tomes, their work, their imagination, their beautiful use of words triggered the urge of writing, within me.
Since then, I have been scrawling, scribbling, drafting, composing...essentially, doing everything that is synonymous to "writing"; now of course it’s tapping my fingers on the keyboard. 

I haven't made my way to the Shakespearean guild; I am still a sophomoric writer.
Someday, whatever I write about; food, movies, culture, places or simply about an experience I lived or heard of, I might just become a gilt-edged writer. 

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