Monday, September 27, 2010

Samir's Journey of life −6

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

In year 2000, I made a futile attempt to form a musical group, a band; had named it ZingSting Band.  We were three of us in the Band, one on Guitar, who was a pro, other was on key boards, who was not a pro but had a good sense of rhythm, while I was on percussions, the weak link.  A few months later the band was disbanded; reason was my suspicion that either I was rhythm-deaf or I was a genius and was looking for a new genre of music (but the later was not true).  After almost a decade, I am on my way to conquer this self proclaimed problem - I have signed up for percussion classes!   I have challenged myself, armed with the passion to learn percussions and shortly I will win over the belief that I have rhythm-beat-deafness (if at all).   I am all charged-up with the motivational blah - blah.  Just wait and watch – ZingSting Band will once again Jazz-up the town.  I can see my wife and both the kids laughing at me on this new ‘bout’.  I believe, instead if laughing, they must spend some time praying, as I will be practicing at home! I don’t know if they can approach human rights commission against my ‘out of sync’ practice sessions!!!

CD cover of our 1st (and only) album
The day started with getting up early to get ready for the first music class.  To my utter surprise there were 8 of us – ready to conquer the world of music.   Our music teacher seemed baffled.  There was a mixed expression on his face – in a way he was happy as he had 8 new students (means more fees) but the moment we laid our hands on the individual instruments and attempted to play (some thing), his face was pale.  He realized the uphill task he had undertaken of teaching music to not one but eight Aurangzhebs!  I am sure he will have nightmares from now on.

Music class in progress
The Sunday morning was jam packed with activities, after the music lessons, some of us had to rush to the APY-2.  We all started off by about 10.45 am.  Three groups were formed; I was in the group documenting Delli Darwaja and Dariyapur Darwaja.  We reached there only to find out that we were too early, there was hardly any sign of activity.  We decided to check out the other groups and took a route thru the old city.  This was 1st time in my life and probably the last time too that I would drive thru the old city.  I was not aware of the road and traffic conditions as we maneuvered the (giant) SUV thru the old city roads – the experience can be best compared with angioplasty procedure and the feeling the balloon would be going thru.  The road width was almost the size of the SUV, it was a two-way traffic and you can imagine the commotion, the traffic from the opposite direction had to retrieve or park on the footpath (if it existed) or get in the side lanes.   There was a huge jam behind us.   I got the choicest of the curses, though I had expected that some one would pull me out of the car and bash me up.  Ahmedavadi ki jai ho – not only we were out of the jam but myself (with 5 others) and the SUV were unscratched!

We did move around near Daripur Darwaja, which appeared to be okay from the front (main road) side but the rear was pathetic.  We checked the inside of the gate and we were shocked to see the state of the historic monument.  I find it difficult to imagine that Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is proposing Ahmedabad as a World Heritage Site.  What we saw was similar to the plight of Common Wealth Games preparations.  It’s a sorry state and a big let down, the less we talk about it better it would be.
Rear of Dariyapur Gate, grilled door lead to the room inside the gate structure
Inside of the room - full of filth, just like our politicians!
One of the few doors left in the gate is ruined by the pictures of god-goddesses; while there were 14 temples within 70 ft  from the gate.
At such times, I wonder, should the people responsible for CWG sham or similar (AMC heritage wing) be given capital punishment?  Should we shout or should we accept the way things are going on? 

The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference.  What is your take on this?

One more thing:  From this post onwards, I would be blogging every forth night.  See you on the 10th of October.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Walk in the Journey of Life - 5

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.  Victor Hugo

This year I turned 50 (in Feb 2010!).  Some how I had anticipated that the thought itself would hit me hard, some thing like what is shown in Eketa Kapoor’s serials – where the sequence is repeated three times and loud music in the back ground or India TV news channel: ‘Samir turn’s 50’ – repeated thrice with loud and heavy music - constantly reminding me.  In reality it happened very subtly.  The acceptance was much easier and I have become much quieter (hopefully for the better!).

I remember the days when I turned 40.  It was tormenting. Middle age - middle of what? How does one know how much one is going to live and so how do we say 40 is middle age -  I just couldn’t accept it.  I had joined a gym and many times it would happen that some or the other guy (possibly in his late 30’s or younger) would approach me (while I would be walking on a treadmill) with a request “uncle, when you are done, please tell me, I want to jog”  (as if I was wasting his or my time by walking on treadmill)– this would hit me hard and I would increase the speed from 6 to 10 and jog.  And not only that – I would repeat the round – expecting the guy who called me ‘uncle’ to notice that I too can jog.  What was the out come?  I would not come to Gym for next whole week or more, as my calf (which I didn’t know it existed) and ankle would be profusely aching.  I distinctly remember the time when some young lady came in the weight training section and addressed to me “uncle when you are done with this set of dumbbells give them to me” and this uncle would be at it again, to impress the lady, that, I am not uncle yet, instead of 5 kg weights, I would lift 30 kgs (even though the trainer had clearly warned me not to touch any thing beyond 10 kgs) and the rest is history, I injured my back and damaged the ligaments of my elbow very badly, that even today I have issues with it.   And my gym regime has not restarted.  Now that I am 50, some how, I am at peace with myself.  I do not have any issues with any one calling me uncle.   May be because I have accepted that I am “uncle”, I have diverted to other activates such as this blog or APY or sketching or cooking.  I am enjoying every bit of it.

Today’s APY was a successful, though it was only on trail basis.  The real APY starts from next week.  We had 14 participants today and it is expected that by next week there would be between 20 to 25 participants.  We had formed three groups and each one had opted for 4 gates of Ahmedabad, all the three groups could only finish half of the assigned area.  The idea was to document life around these gates.  Each one of us has some or the other stories to talk about (both, thru pictures as well talk).  We will do so, once we organize a bit better.

I got a comment earlier to write about some of my culinary skills (if one may says so).  There is step by step photographic DIY for two dishes: Som Tum or Thai Raw Papaya Salad and Baked Eggs in Bread Bowl:
Thai Raw Papaya Salad:
Green Papaya or semi ripe, Dry Red Chiles, 
Garlic Cloves, Tomato, Carrot, Cucumber, 
Dark Soy Sauce, Lemon Juice, Coriander, Fresh Basil leaves (tulsi), Roasted Peanuts (unsalted), Brown Sugar or Jaggery , Tamarind, Black Pepper, Salt to taste.

Tools (L) and Spices (R)
Ingredients: Papaya and Vegetables (L), Coriander, Peanuts, Basil (R)
Method of preparation:
Peel and wash the green papaya.
 Use a julienne peeler to thinly shred the papaya, cucumber and carrot. 
 Chop the tomato.
 Cut the dry red chilies, garlic cloves and ginger in to small pieces. 
 Using a mortar and pestle, first crush the garlic, red chilies, tamarind, Jaggery, black pepper, together into paste by adding enough salt.
 Then stir in tomatoes and mash them a little.
 Stir in lemon juice, soy sauce, roasted peanuts, shredded papaya and salt.
 Lightly mash and mix all the ingredients together.
 Taste and adjust the seasonings if required.
 Serve green papaya salad immediately.

Shredded Veges seperate (L), Shredded Veges mixed (R)
Som Tum - Thai Raw Papaya Salad
Baked Eggs in Bread Basket:
Hard buns (if you don’t find them, just place them in oven on pre heat for 10 minutes), Eggs, Cheese, cream (fresh malai), Basil – fresh and dry, Oregano, Black pepper and Salt to taste.

Method of preparation:
Slice off top of each bun and gently remove some bread until there is a hole large enough to accommodate an egg. Arrange buns on a baking sheet. Reserve tops. Crack an egg into each bun (don’t mix or stir). Top each egg with some herbs and a bit of cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.  Bake in a 210-220 degree oven until eggs are set and bread is toasted (15 to 20 minutes). After eggs have cooked, place bread tops on baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Let sit 5 minutes.

Place tops on buns and serve warm.
Buns with top cut (L), Buns with inside removed (R)
Eggs cracked in Bun (below L), Cream, Cheese and Herbs added on top (below R)

Completed Dish- Thai Raw Papaya Salad and Baked Eggs in Bread Basket.
Hope you try these recipes at home and enjoy as mush I did!  I must warn you that Som Tum Salad as shown in Tarla Dalal’s website is incorrect.  I have improvised both the recipes to suit our taste buds.

More recipes, pictures and sketches next time.  Have a great week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Walk in the Journey of Life - 4

“Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privileges of simply being human” ~Tim Hansel

I couldn’t agree more, it’s so apt as this is all what I am trying to look for these days.   Though I have got comments that “philosophy and spiritualism sounds a little offbeat - from you...nevertheless its a good change …” Keeping this in mind I will continue as I feel like.   ‘Change’ is the synonym of ‘life’, one must change – even lifeless rocks do change over a period to time, therefore we all must (good or bad is a matter of perception).  I am changing and will continue to until the day I stop breathing and at that moment I will metamorph’ in to some thing very different but my soul will still hang around…

Last week was as if entire city is transformed in to a very serious euphoric bout of religion.  All the jains (including me) had a sense of urgency to get rid of all the sins committed in past one year so that one could start all over again!  The socializing had stopped (most funny part is that client’s used this as an excuse for not making payment of our fees – including those who were not jains!!!).  I too followed some aspects of my religion by only eating absolute jain food (this I did with the sole objective of making my parents happy as I do not need to do such things to make my god happy – he already is happy).  As socializing -recreation and eating out is concerned – I need to forget it for a week or two as every food joint in town would be over croweded by Jains, as paryushan is over and Muslims, as ramzan is also over and Hindus, as shravan is also over.  The best part is that this year 3 major religious events – Samvatsari (for Jains) – Id (for Muslims) and Ganesh Charturthi (for Hindus) was on the same day.  This couldn’t just be a coincidence – there is a very strong message that – no matter what your beliefs/faiths are – GOD is one.  Every one is familiar with the differences of two faiths – hindus and muslims.   I fail to understand how could there be a difference within jains – some had their Samvatsari yesterday and some are having it today and you know what – it seems there have been fights over this issue.  I am sure GOD must be very upset and annoyed that he created humans.

As a feed back I got calls and emails from quite a few, informing me that they would like to join in the Ahmedabad Photography Yatra (APY).  I am making a route of this APY and it will be spread over 3 Sundays.  I am not sure how will we manage if 15 of us go to a place with camera’s and the reaction of people (anxiety and panic).  We will be a group of 3 and form (as of now) about 4 to 5 groups (depends on the final number to join).  We assemble at some designated place and after completing the first route we meet for lunch.  I will post the details by email to individuals in this week but tentatively we keep it for Sunday the 19th.

I am posting some of my pictures I have taken in different parts of the world.  I am going to upload all of them in flicker shortly but here are just a few.
Composition - Cat on a window sill.
Composition in Red
 The Kumbalgadh sketch is missing at the moment - I will locate it and post it in near future.  What I am attaching here are two simple sketches of plants from my farm (the message here is that one need not only go to historical places or great distance to sketch - it can be one right at home).
Plant −1
We may go for sketching excursions in future but for now - remember next Sunday, we have our first Photography Yatra.  Be there.  I promise, you will have a great time rediscovering yourself as you walk along with me sharing my journey of life.

See you next Sunday.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Walk in the Journey of Life - 3

This is the 3rd post.  Three weeks have gone past since I started writing.  Lets see what happened during this week. 
The cloud cover on Ahmedabad is still very much the same (not great for photography excursions).  Watched the short motivational film ‘The Secret’ with friends.  The idea to see in a group was to have a discussion that should have followed – and it did not happen.  The reasons could be that we started the film a bit too late and mentally all of us were too tired and second most important reason was that the 1 hr 40 min film very much talks about only one line in different ways: ‘you get what you attract’; it kind of gets too monotonous after about first 30 minutes.  One feels like shouting: ‘yeah yeah…got the message …now move forward…’ and it doesn’t, as there is nothing else they have to say.
Next day morning went to a walk for environmental awareness organized by some school students.  Pets were allowed (therefore Smokey took us with him for a walk!)The walk was fun but one should have seen Smokey – he was completely exhausted!
Smokey with his 'pets'
In an interesting development, I happen to chance upon a set of 8 set DVDs of conversation by Shivani (Bhrama Kumari Sect).  The topic is ‘Happiness Index’; only saw two episodes of 1st dvd.   It was good and not heavy/monotonous like ‘The Secret’.  This was more tangible and we would be able to relate to what she is talking about as she peeks in to our daily life.   But the caution here would be to go very slow (if one really wants to digest what she is talking).   The culmination of spirituality was a lecture in AMA, on ‘Kirshna – the management Guru’ by Guru Narayanan.   Not good at all.  One of the reasons could be that I have lost the ability to sit thru lectures.   I think I had a bit too much quota of the spiritual stuff.   It doesn’t seem to be my domain – at least not for the time being.

Did find time to complete and go thru some of my previous sketches.  They are again pen and ink.  I guess that’s the medium I am comfortable with.  I am too scared of colours.  Though, the previous one of Jaisalmer Fort and Manoribel as attached here, are probably the only few I have done in colour 
Chehal Palace, Himachal Pradesh.

Tea House, Chehal Palace, Himachal Pradesh


There are a lot of people who have visited the blog and I would like to thank them.  I am still learning to reply to their comments directly form the blog etc.  Hope you all enjoy as much as I do.  See you next Sunday.