Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: Simple Joys

How often do you get the feeling that you are running against time and that you will never win! I have been getting that feeling a bit of late and this is not meant as a complaint..it comes from a place of gratitude as there is so much to be done…possibilities are endless! It is Thursday evening and I am so close to missing the deadline for posting but Sandy gives such a great topic that I did not want to miss it.

I was scrolling through some old photos and these surely brought a very big smile on my face…thinking of the simple times and the simple joys that came with that. Thank you Sandy, for such a heart warming topic:)

 

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Taken way back in 1992, this is me and my brother in the sea side town of Digha, West Bengal. A simple slide brought a lot of joy for sure:)

 

 

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Taken in 1994 in the beautiful hill station of Ranikhet in Uttarakhand, India. I remember that as a kid, Baba would take us on trips every summer, some near and some far and while we grumbled at times and got upset when things did not go our way, looking back I now know how valueable those family trips were!

 

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A boy and his tub of cream;)

 

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Is there any thing more simple and innocent than the joy when you take the first lick!

 

 

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Or when you are able to get hold of the remote;)

 

Thanks for stopping by! Simple moments bring in simple joy that is often unmatched. Friendly Friday Photo Challenge is back and that is a matter of wonderful joy as well!

 

A Photo A Day: Last 30 days or so

Time for the monthly a photo a day update! As I was scrolling through the phone for photos taken, I realized I wasn’t going out as much and also it being winter, the scene is a bit dismal. We also did not have a lot of snow this year (and I am not complaining even a tiny bit!) and so there isn’t a lot of pretty white stuff to capture as well. White and black, gloomy and bright, transient yet imperishable these were my moments during the last thirty days or so!

 

These were people moments and the best ones, obviously! The little guy turned five, did not cry at the dentist’s office, has been feeding his little sister and being all other kinds of awesome…being a superhero is just a small part of that:) And the little sister has been active a lot as well, coming up with ingenious ways of mischief¬† and running after her is easily making my Fitbit congratulate me for my 10,000 + steps! Brother-sister duo have been making their own memories as well as they play with each other for longer than before and ‘read’ books together:)

 

Celebrations and food have been a big part of the month gone by. On top of that, I had the rare opportunity to sit at the table, read a couple of pages of a very favorite book and have lunch….a surreal feeling almost ūüėČ Cook, Eat, Repeat started last month and I look forward to sharing more with you in the months to come!

 

Happiness on finding flower petals from a special occasion inside the pages of a book¬† and the ‘are-you-kidding-me’ feeling that comes when ‘unpaired’ socks come out of the the dryer, co- existed in harmony and I am grateful for that.

Just one foot in front of the other is okay. Along the way, our moments keep us company- moments that are silly; moments that make us question our faith in the bigger scheme of things; moments that hurt; moments that make us pause and soak it all in; moments that lift up the spirits and make us push a bit harder; moments where inspiring stories from around the world and this platform that I have come to love so dearly, make us look at things from a whole different perspective; moments where kindness and a friendly ‘hello’ make us smile; moments that don’t make sense and moments that are just perfect.

What have your moments been this past month? Would love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by:)

 

Cook, Eat, Repeat: “Aam Panna”

Here I am with my third and final post for this month – the ‘Aam Panna‘ (Aam- Mango in Hindi language¬† and Panna – a concoction of sorts).

As Google will tell you, it is drink made from raw mangoes that helps one cool down during the intense heat of the summer months in India and supposedly has heat-resistant properties. While I can’t comment with a 100% guarantee on the latter, I can certainly say that it is something that is just perfect for the hot and sultry days of the summer in my home country. And if you gave it a try, I am sure you too would love this wonderful¬† concoction of raw mangoes, mint, a bit of sugar, a pinch of black salt and a pinch of roasted cumin!

Living in a land that is far away from the sights and smells I grew up with has been an adjustment and even after all these years, it still is. I wonder if it is the same for others  who are away from their motherland as well. I have heard some people say, who have been here much longer, that they still feel that something is missing, something no amount of opulence and comfort can make up for. A pull that does not let go, a love so deep and poignant that it is hard to put into words.

This drink is humble and accommodating and reminds me of growing up in India. It reminds me of quiet afternoons and the fiery Gul Mohor (flame of the forest); of the exhilarating champa (plumeria) and bushes of hibiscus; of that sole peddler whose voice could be heard over the whirring of the fan blades, trying to make the last sale of the day; the occasional tired barks of stray dogs lying in the shade of the trees, coiled and too tired, from the heat, to move; of my Ma’s beautiful voice humming a tune while going about the daily chores; of that heavily fragrant smell of ‘Keo Karpin hair oil that Baba could not, and still cannot, do without; of the repetitive thud of a ‘cambis‘ ball hitting the wall as my brother tried to get the ‘spin’ perfect; of that small black and white ‘Oscar’ television that stood in the corner of the room, hidden by an embroidered TV ‘cover’; of special summer programs that we watched on that same TV with cousins who often visited when school was closed; of secret crushes and stolen innocent glances; of undiluted love from warm embraces of my Rangadadu (my mom’s uncle..my favorite grandpa among all). It’s a drink that reminds me of the matters of the heart.

 

HOW TO MAKE!

There are many ways by which you can dress up or dress down this simple drink, all of which you will find online, in plenty. Here’s how I like mine!

Serves :  Happy souls! Time : about 20 minutes (that includes 15 minutes of boiling mangoes)

Ingredients : Raw mangoes (either 2-3 fresh whole ones or about 2 cups of frozen pieces)// Water- about 2 cups for boiling and more(about 1 cup per person) for making the actual drink// Sugar- 3-4 Tbsp// Mint Leaves- a handful// Black salt- 2 tbsp// Roasted and ground cumin powder- 2 Tbsp// Ice Cubes

Method : If using fresh raw mangoes, cut the mango in small pieces and boil in water for about 15 minutes. If using the frozen ones (which are already usually cut into pieces) you may have to increase the boiling time by 5-7 more minutes. Once done, strain.

[Note: Sometimes the frozen mango is cut in slices and not chunks- in that case the boiling time will be about 7-8 mins total only. ]

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In a blender, add ice cubes, the mangoes, and the other ingredients mentioned above and puree . (Note that you will not be needing the entire batch of this purée  for a glass of aam panna. You can store the rest in the fridge for 3-4 days easily).

 

In a glass, add a couple of ice cubes  and fill about a little more than 1/4 of the glass with the mango purée . If you want a slightly fuller taste, and this is better tasting for sure, fill 1/2 of the glass with the purée. Then  fill up the glass with water. Add a couple of mint leaves and give the concoction a good stir! I sometimes also add just a pinch of the roasted cumin at the end, on the top.

 

 

[  You could grab cumin powder from your spice shelf or if you happen to have whole cumin, spend a couple of extra minutes and roast about 2-3 tbsp on a pan in low heat till their color turns darker and you get that wonderful smell. Grind it using a mortar and pestle and store in an air tight container. Using this will enhance the flavor much more].

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Aam Panna is indeed a very refreshing drink and you can easily adjust the sweetness by adding more or less sugar!  Go ahead and make one yourself one and be sure to pour out another for your loved one!

Thanks for stopping by. And I will see you next month, which is just next week, with something totally different! Till then, cook- eat- repeat!

 

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Dreaming of Summer

There are days that seem to drag on and on and then there are more such days. And the cold weather along  with the gloom and the rain does not do much to uplift the spirits! What do you do on such days? Fall back on memories of the warm weather and the beauty of all that is possible on gorgeous days that make you happy deep down in your elements! I checked for some of my favorite summer memories from the past few years and it kicked up that yearning for summer a notch! Here are some of those for you.

 

 

The bright sun and the scorching heat that makes one squint and reach out for those dark shades, shorts and sandals.

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Giggling children filling up the neighborhood and parks, the twinkling of little bicycle bells, kids waiting, almost patiently, for their turn on the swing are sounds and sights that breathe life into this void of glee that the dreaded winter creates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gurgling brook or the endless ocean, the squishy sand between the toes, lazy evenings in the park or hikes along forgotten trails all are part of that tapestry that is etched in memories galore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about sipping on that drink that you look forward to at the end of a tiring day or enjoying a good book under the shade of a tree in the park in the evening as the sun plans to rest for the day. The sweet smell of summer flowers add colors of the rainbow all around and that occasional rain tantalizes the senses as you breathe in that heady earthen smell.

 

 

 

 

Revisiting one of your most cherished places through the pathways created in your mind and heart, feeling that sparkle of joy and bliss, reminiscing that magical trip can bring solace to an aching heart. For me, it was the trip we took visiting a dear friend in Florida back in 2013. The sun kissed beaches, the magical sunsets, the palm trees swaying and heart to heart chats with old friends can be hard to compete with.

 

 

Till that day comes when it no longer gets dark at 4.45pm and the chirping of birds break the eerie silence that surrounds us at all times, I will be thinking about these and look through some more! I may be all wrapped up in a blanket and sip on coffee while I do that, but I still will:)

Thanks for stopping by and my last post for the month on ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’ will be up in two days!

 

Cook, Eat, Repeat Challenge: A Drink to Cherish – Mango Lassi

Hello!

I am a bit behind my intended schedule but here I am with the second and soon to follow third drinks of the month. Today’s post is about the famous Mango Lassi which will be followed by the less famous (only in the Western World though!) distant cousin of its- Aam Panna. (aam-Mango in Hindi language while “panna” could be called a concoction.)

But before I proceed to the ridiculously easy recipe (not sure if we can use the word recipe even!), I wanted to give you a slice of what’s been happening at this end, though I must warn you it is nothing exciting! Rather something so mundane that all of you have probably experienced it or are going through this in some form or the other:)

Our son turned five this weekend and boy was he excited for his big day! And so was his biggest cheerleader- yours truly;) We were going with a Superhero ‘theme’ this year and big bright balloons and banner and other celebratory decorative items had been slowly piling in the guest room that looks more like a storeroom, if I were to be honest. Everything was going according to plans till 9pm the night before. Our baby girl started crying and soon we figured out that it was not a normal cry but more of a severe distress that had totally thrown her off.¬† She would cry for 2-3hours at a stretch with intervals of 10-15 minutes, fall asleep for a bit and the cycle would repeat itself.¬† We figured that the grand day was going to have major setbacks. We contemplated of taking the baby girl to the ER around 2am but the awful weather outside and us finally figuring out what was really bothering her (premolars were on their way through those delicate gums) let us deal with the issue indoors for that night.

A good part of the birthday morning was spent at the doctor’s office and then on our way back, snow squall hit us and it snowed like crazy afterwards. Family, who was supposed to come over for birthday lunch, got delayed naturally and the little guy who was doing a great job of keeping it all together till then, broke down a little bit and asked if no one was going to celebrate his big day. It was heartbreaking to say the least and I looked around to see that a little birthday banner and two balloons brought from the store was all that was there. I hugged him as tightly as possible. Baby girl was still going through that cycle and we as parents were clearly not been able to step up to the game as fatigue was slowly catching up. We remembered at that point that a few months back when our baby girl had turned 1, the big brother was down with asthma and a fever of 103F.¬† A pattern of sorts?

Anyways, the good man cooked good food as I cradled a very distraught baby and a little upset birthday boy. Family arrived and there was a good amount of jumping up and down from all possible surfaces for the kid and his cousin, lots of car races and other things that a five year old’s heart desires. Which brings me to part two of the eventful day! By the time it came down to cake cutting, the birthday boy was so exhausted that he decided he did not want to cut the cake and started crying. After what seemed like forever, he stopped and we cut the cake and took pictures. And right after, he started complaining of ear ache (which apparently had been bothering him since afternoon but he did not want to stop having the fun he was having!). After another round of crying in which the baby girl joined in as well, family left and just like that, the day was over.

So much for a grand birthday!

The kids suffering so much took all the fun out of everything and made me actually forget that it was also our anniversary! But the red roses on the table jolted my memory back to that and while nothing went according to the plans, I was still grateful that we had each other to fall back on and as long as the four of us are together, nothing else mattered.The next morning was spent visiting the doctor’s office again, this time for the boy, picking up medicine from the pharmacy and getting stuff from the store that would help with the general crankiness of little humans.

 

You probably should not have to read this when you are looking for Mango Lassi. But I guess what I am trying to say is that things always don’t work according to plans and we all know that. It can be disappointing, saddening and many other unhappy emotions.¬† But we can in many cases, still steal moments from days that unfold in a less grand and ideal manner.

In this case, while we may not remember the day for all the grand celebrations that should have taken place, we will certainly remember it for the little ones’ discomfort and my big boy’s wise words. He was having a conversation with his father while having his lunch all by himself…sitting quietly. His dad mentioned that he was sorry for not being able to have a big celebration and that things did not go as planned,¬† and without thinking for a second, the little guy had said : “It’s okay Baba (dad)…bonu (his name for his sister) is so small and she needs Ma now and you have to make food as we have people coming over. We are all busy. That’s okay. Also, I was sick on Bonu’s birthday…do you remember?!” There is so much that we can learn from kids. As he is¬† “singing” at the moment…has picked up these lines from his dad –“Take it Easy….We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again”.

After the absolute madness dwindled down a bit, I was trying to think of my birthdays when I was growing up and could not really remember my 5th birthday. I guess my son will be okay too! But it was very nice to remember something that is uncannily related to the drink of this week…as my birthday falls in the hot summer month of May, mangoes (my favorite fruit in the whole wide world) were always a part of the day…be it as aam panna, or lassi or custard or just slices of that golden/yellow lip smacking fruit! There’s something¬† wonderfully satisfying about this drink specially in the sweltering heat of the summer and that tantalizing smell of fresh cut mangoes (typically Himsagar or the Alphonso variety) is a matter of million memories.

And so, here goes Mango Lassi…an absolute easy drink to make and cherish.

Serving size: 2, Time- 5-10 minutes

Ingredients-

Mango (Fresh, cut into pieces) 1 large or canned/frozen mango pulp : 2 cups—-Yogurt: 1 cup—-Milk: 1/4 cup—-Ice cubes: as needed—–Sugar: 1/2 tbsp (you may need less or more depending on the sweetness of the mangoes and your own preference)—-Ground Cardamom Seeds: 1/2 tsp

How to make

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and puree! Check for sweetness. You may add a little cold water or a couple of ice cubes to adjust the consistency and make it to your liking.

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Do you have a drink that reminds you of your childhood days?Or is there something that you associate with specific celebration/s in your culture? Whatever it is, I would love to hear from you! You can join in with a recipe or a story or even just a photo:)

Here’s how to participate!

  • Create your own post with your recipe, story, photos- anything that you might wish to share that represents the theme of the month.
  • Create a pingback (link to this post) or leave a link in the comment section.
  • Join whenever you can!
  • Visit some other posts shared.

 

Cheers and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Winter Trees

There’s a lot on my mind and plate at the moment and so I find myself a bit less engaged in taking photos or writing something down here. But I will be back soon with my next post for the Cook, Eat, Repeat Challenge and am excited for that!

Meanwhile, I was going through my older photos, looking for a specific one when I came across these ‘winter trees’, as I have decided to call them and I fell in love once again with their beauty. They never cease to capture my eyes and are on top of my “when- I will be- capable -of- capturing- better -photos” list. Till then, these will have to do!

 

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Thanks for stopping by and wish you all a restful weekend!

A Photo A Week Challenge: At Play

As I have mentioned before, behavioral patterns of my kids are in stark contrast with each others. The older one is still the quieter one, the one that would sit still for longer and play with his toys for hours when he was an infant and a toddler. Which also gave me ample opportunities to take his pictures! My younger one has been a bundle of energy from the very beginning and it has been challenging to photograph her…be still or at play! But my efforts continue! In spite of their differences, however, they are good at playing with each other and that makes for many a wonderful afternoons:) I wish I had some good photos to post but I don’t and at the same time, I did not want to miss out on the challenge this week! So, here I go with this week’s post for¬†Nancy Merrill’s Photography Challenge.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.