Thursday, 10 November 2016

Chocolate Chips Muffins (Whole wheat based)


Chocolate indulgence is one of the best stress busters for many. Those of you who live off chocolates really don't need any further explanation. This one is specifically dedicated to the chocolate addicts.

This recipe is borrowed from this site but modified by me for matching my family's dietary restrictions and taste buds.

Makes - 6 nos.

All you need -

  • 1 egg
  • 60 ml buttermilk
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 30 ml room temperature coco (made from 30 ml water and 1/2 tea spoon of coco powder)
  • 1/2 tea spoon vanilla extract
  • 113 gms wheat flour
  • 12.5 gms unsweetened coco powder
  • 102.5 gms light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tea spoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tea spoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 100 gms chocolate chips
How to make -
  • Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C (or 375 degrees F). Place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, room temperature coco and vanilla extract.
  • In another large bowl whisk together the flour, coco powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  • With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or the muffins will be tough. 
  • Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. It takes around 18-23 minutes depending upon the oven size. 
  • Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan. Can be stored at room temperature for a few days or they can be frozen.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Apple Streusel Cake and Apple Crumble Pie


Followed her recipes till the last detail!

Do try out Apple Streusel Cake and Apple Crumble Pie if you love the flavor of Apples. If you don't, I am sure you will start loving it with just one of these recipes! :-)

And Joy of Baking is an awesome website!

p.s: Thank you Joy of Baking for giving me the real joy of baking! :-)


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Beginning in the End


Preparation time is something we all know as a term. We see it around us in every form. Even a school going kid is well versed with it. To give that one hour examination, a student spends at least a few weeks studying for the subjects every day. Dancers spend hours on rehearsals for that one show. Athletes spend a year long training sessions for that one competition. And the list of how much preparation influences the final performance is endless.

But do we really use this in our daily lives? The chances of a negative response is higher because many of us may not have even thought about it. Don't worry, when it comes to our daily lives, we do preps without even knowing that we are doing it. That is good and bad at the same time. Good because we are preparing, yet bad, because there may not be any structure to it making us lose time. The idea behind having a structure is exactly what we learnt while preparing for school exams. If you want to pass or achieve good grades, you have to study (read prepare for the exams). I guess the problem lies in the exams, because the moment we are done with school, we want rid of everything related to the bad experiences, and most of the times they are exams! And with that, the importance of preparation goes down the drain. What a pity! But I digress!

So coming back to the preparation, I wish to share my rule of thumb which saves a lot of time! To be precise, it is cut short to half of what it usually takes. And welcome "Beginning in the End"! What it simply means is to prepare for the next day while ending today. For eg. while emptying today's school bag, fill it up for the next day! While changing into pajamas at night, hook up your clothes for the next day! While winding up at work, update your tomorrow's to dos or schedules. So on and so forth.

Why it works? While ending, you are already doing more than half of the beginning activities. So it is an advantage to do the beginning at that time, as half of the things are already in place! Also you go to bed feeling accomplished and start the next day on a good note as you are already prepared! The over whelming feeling during those rush hours where little things take up insufferable time is bad. And it is the best recipe to ruin a perfectly beautiful day ahead. The feeling of peaceful mind where everything works well is by all means addictive! And it can't be achieved without these preps!

So to all those who feel the pressure in the mornings, try this and you will have saved a lot of pain already! And for those who have the peace of mind, do you follow the same rule? If not, do share with me yours to try! :-)

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Self-sufficiency


Self-sufficiency is defined as "needing no outside help in satisfying one's basic needs". Basic needs, as in very basic needs of humans - food, water, shelter and clothing. Now with the modern context it is also extended to sanitation, education and healthcare. And yet, we find more and more educated people not understanding this term!

Understanding or rather misunderstanding is seen because, the implied meaning of self-sufficiency changes with the gender. It is considered inferior when it is a boy and an ambition when it is a girl! Surprisingly, both are ridiculed for entirely different reasons when they are just self sufficient!

A lot would change if self-sufficiency is taught as a basic hygiene factor for a balanced life without gender bias! A self-sufficient person is more sorted than someone who lives off or shows off someone else's earned money! You learn to appreciate self-sustained lives instead of judging, because you know what it takes to get what you have. 

The ability to earn your own life is utterly priceless! It is that thin line between living your life your way and earning your life your way! The first one is a privilege, the second one, a reward.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

either... or...


"You either have results or reasons, it can never be both!"What followed after I heard this could be summarized like, 'my mind wandered at a different place and only this sentence kept repeating in front of my eyes'. It was as if one of my favorite songs was being played in a loop for hours together, yet I wanted to hear it just one more time! I got influenced with this logic so much so that I saw almost everything in either-or form, since that day! It was very assuring and gave a different perspective to my out look! To name a few examples - you are either pregnant or not, your cake is either baked or not, you are either fit or not, you either know the truth or not! Are you getting what I am trying to say? There can't be a little pregnant or a half baked or a semi-fit or a partial truth you can go on with! It doesn't do any good to anybody, because it doesn't exist! Do we consider a work in progress as a finished good and use it? Hell no! It doesn't exist in exactly that way!

But as humans we are gifted with making things complicated! We get comfortable with the "maybe" instead of identifying the "either-or", and then wonder why our mind feels burdened later. We will ignore what is clearly seen because what we hear does not correspond to it. It is easier to negotiate with oneself, even get convinced of the maybe. But to confront the truth, we have all the reasons to not do it, while all we really need is that one result, that is, to set us free!

But in the struggle of choice between comfort and freedom, looks like the former often wins the game! As this logic goes, your can either have comfort or freedom, it can really never be both! Alas, truth is not to comfort you, but to set you free! 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Destiny


Destiny of the word "Destiny" is very unfortunate. It is always destiny's fault when things go wrong. It was already written and hence life went out of control. If something has to happen, it will happen no matter what. Poor Destiny, always becomes the scapegoat.

In Destiny's defense, I'd like to specify that we can only fool others by blaming it on destiny. You can even try to run away from the consequences of your wrong choices. But the truth is, one often meets his or her destiny on the path taken to avoid it. For we shape our destiny during the time we make our decisions. The consequences of our choices are the elements of our own destiny. If something goes wrong, it's not the destiny but the moment when the unworthy choice was made. If it was already written, it was written at the same time you made that wrong decision.

There's a saying in Hindi "नसीब गांडू तो क्या करेगा पांडू? (Naseeb gandu to kya karega Pandu?)" Roughly translated in English it means "You are doomed, if your destiny is screwed up." I'd really like to alter it to "अगर पांडू है गांडू तो क्या करेगा नसीब? (Agar Pandu hai gandu to kya karega Naseeb?)" which means, "If you screw up your life, your destiny is doomed!" (Lost in translation! Both the statements are intended to be extremely humorous!)

Personally, I'd like to live a life of "I am responsible" than "you (destiny) are responsible!"

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Life Partner


Dating getting evolved into marriage is incredibly scary now a days! I cannot even begin to explain the fear associated with married life I see around me. You see more and more couples delaying the big question in spite of having dated for years together. You also see a majority choosing short term hook ups because they are not willing to commit. Or the best of all, friends with benefits which is nothing but a hoax in my honest opinion! Simply because you are abusing both the relationships in this context - that of a lover and that of a friend. You can never cherry pick things, and may be that is why they land up alone in spite of having multiple relationships or feel inexplicably insecure in spite of prolonged dating. But there has to be more to it! If I ponder a bit on this I feel it lies in the lack of efforts to make things happen for you.

When you choose a life partner, you're choosing a lot more and very important things. This decision will define your life for the next 30-40 years at least. That person is going to share your bed, bathroom, kitchen and home. His or her habits are going to influence your sleep, hygiene, nutrition and leisure time. This person will significantly impact your relationships with your family and friends along with being a major part of your support system and a co-parent to your children. When you will have ups and downs in your career, this person will be your anchor who sticks through all thick and thin with you. When you want to take that break, he or she will be your companion who will make that break worth while! And when you will have wrinkles and slow down, this is the same person who will look up to you and feel that growing old together was a fulfilling experience! And if either of the above is something you are not okay with, can you imagine the rut you will render yourself into? This reality is much more intense than they can imagine!

I have my own doubts if such people can digest this intensity to begin with! They want a life partner who is all of the above but don't want to take efforts to become someone like it. I don't even think that they would ask these questions to themselves after a date, forget about while selecting a date! Then when it is too late, they will give into social pressures, get married and land up frustrated. If that doesn't happen, they will remain single and keep cursing the unreasonable expectations marriage brings in. The same people will have a list of things to say against marriage when it doesn't happen to them or breaks off pretty soon into it. Honestly, when you get into it for all the wrong reasons and when you look for all the irrelevant things in your partner, you can't really blame it on the marriage, you know!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

What you see is not what you have

Click to enlarge. Pictures are really interesting! (No selfies involved! :-D)

The twenties of today are facing a new challenge to walk on the path of self discovery. Just a generation senior, but it seems unbelievably different from us! We were taught to look within ourselves, value of introspection must have been imbibed in us when we were barely out of diapers, and most importantly, we were made responsible for our lives way before we became self sufficient! There was never any scope to indulge in the blame game when something went wrong! What is more, if we complained of something, a clear response was - you can never complain about something you permit! In a nut shell, answers lie within oneself.

With the compulsive display of one's life on public forum, the current twenties seem to be trapped in this virtual world! They will rather spend time in making their online profiles look outstanding than actually invest time in building their personalities. They will compare others updates, picture perfect photos and judge themselves based on how others lives are panning out. Little do they realize that public forums have no scope for honesty. No one will ever share a post on failed projects, photos of a broken relationship or for that matter how their lives are empty with only images to exhibit the supposed perfect life in selfies! In addition to that, it is used in a very effective way to vomit all the frustrations in a sympathy seeking manner and just a little later complain that there is no privacy. It is also very commonly seen that in order to portray a very fancy lifestyle some share a little too much and then blame others of being judgmental! Some even show the courage to have personal arguments and then claim that people interfere a lot.

Public display of affection - parents, lovers, friends and so on; such a sorry sight really! I wonder if they invest even half of the time to meet their parents or have a deep conversation with their lovers or spend meaningful moments with their friends! Just imagine how different their lives would be if they gave as much thought to their careers as they give to their updates and profile details. If they spent more time pondering on why their best friends keep changing with every picture, or why their parents appear more on their updates and less in their lives, or wonder why they broke off from a seemingly serious relationship or why they get frustrated with their jobs in a few months into it, they would see it clearly! Just with a little more thought there will be real answers to their real problems.

Most importantly, they will find answers within themselves! No more sympathy seeking, good bye to judgmental interfering people and welcome privacy! Parents and family will be reinstated as support systems. Fake friends will not like this change, true friends will be there forever, they always are! Their jobs (even if they are in the wrong one) will give them work satisfaction and let them find their passion to follow in the future. The possibility of finding a serious relationship will be more because they will have figured out the type of companionship they are looking for. And the best of all, they will be happy with themselves and not their online lives!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Really Good but Socially Bad Wife


Married working women are perpetual targets for a poor evaluation as wives! I have been told that it existed much more than ten years before I started working. Given the conditions around me, I am convinced it will remain the same for at least next ten years from the same time. Sad but true!

It always amazes me, what is the big deal about women cooking and taking the so called care of their husbands? If that man is big enough to get  married, can he not rustle up a meal and take care of himself? I mean, if the man is incapable of demonstrating these basic survival skills at the time of his marriage, how is it the woman yet to be married to him, responsible for it? And if that is okay for the groom, is the expectation to fulfill these skills from the bride fair?

When I hear someone ask working women the question if they can cook, I instinctively respond with the same question to the men in their lives. This response often beats the entire intention of ridiculing working women and tagging them. But what surprises me more is the strikingly increasing number of young generation women taking undue advantage of this argument. The answer to men not doing it, isn't following that trend. On the contrary, it lies in the upbringing of boys in our society before they become grown up men! I feel betrayed at the way our society chooses to make the same mistake with girls now. It is by all means a blunder, as it costs working women their character! We all know that people attack personally when they are left with no real argument against working women! The ones who have been at the receiving end of such attacks know how toxic people can become!

Working women build their relationships on - both go to work, both pay bills and both do home chores! Don't be surprised to know that their partners don't have to be enrolled into this. I am sorry to break it to you, but they love it big time, as they are the biggest beneficiaries of this foundation. Working women have life outside of marriage. They experience work satisfaction and hence respect your work exactly in the way you want it to be respected. They know how much effort it takes to have your salary credited every month and are more likely to be low maintenance. They have to strike the balance between work and family life and will never complain about your time constraints.

Think twice before asking a working woman if she can cook and take care of her husband. She can cook and make proper arrangements to ensure she is fighting fit to endure a very demanding life! She can take care of her team at work, her team at home and her family emotionally as well as financially. Taking care of her husband sounds like a cake walk after this, doesn't it? 

Monday, 7 March 2016

Official goodbye to my twenties!


30th year is a sort of a cusp year between twenties and thirties! A year jam packed with too many moments of experiencing the grown up self, and others noticing it too! (Thank heavens for that!) Turning 31 years old, today, I am officially in my early thirties! I have heard, read and been told several times about the things one should accomplish or experience before they turn 30 years old. Even tough I feel that there is no point putting an age band for experiences in general, while I was going back in time, I had a changed mind. I do feel there are a few experiences one should have before turning 30! At least, it is better if you do, because your capacity to bounce back is stronger than later on, stakes are low, and most importantly, possibilities of a 'next chance' are higher.

If I have to list out 10 experiences in these ten years of my twenties, they would be as follows. I would totally recommend one should experience a few of these in their twenties.

  1. Dreams shattered! I experienced one of my dreams shatter down to bits when my post graduation program got called off at the last moment! Everything was set, I had literally seen myself living a life at the new campus. I am a total dreamer so much so that I start living a life even before it begins. It was shattered in a moment, that too right before I was set to leave. Why is this my first choice? Simply because, this incident gave me what I would have learnt no other way! I learnt that no incident can be the end of the world. You can always start afresh! Rock bottom means you have a clean slate already! I got to build everything right from scratch - my career, my relationships, the place I lived in, every other little thing. 
  2. Investment in health! I have always had an exercise regime as a part of my routine. Fitness means on both levels - body and mind! Without any doubt, it has given me more than just fitness. You have to, as in, really have to have a fitness regime in your daily life. And no, walking for an hour doesn't count. You are in your twenties not seventies for calling an hour walk as an exercise! I have dedicated a lot of posts on fitness on my blog. For details you can read them here
  3. Making friends who are elder than you. I have some friends who are my parents' age as well or a few even elder than them. Having friends from different age groups, especially elders, gives you a senior perspective well in advance. It helped me communicate across generations and understand inter-personal relationships on a very different level. The biggest advantage was, I could consciously observe what I should not do when I grow up to their ages, and also admire what I would want to be when I reach that age and later. 
  4. Being self sufficient! If we discount odd jobs done in college, I have been working since I finished my graduation. Working immediately after graduation gave me a direction to choose my post graduation program. And I would totally recommend fresh graduates to do so. This introduces us to the real professional world and sorts out our imagination about our own professional inclinations. Nothing, literally nothing can justify you not being self sufficient. Your lifestyle and standard of living is your responsibility. It isn't about just paying your extra bills but it is about not being a 'dependent' to someone. Love, respect and happiness perishes when there is dependency. This is something I learnt by knowing people elder than me and seeing this to be true with my own eyes! 
  5. In the fight between regret and guilt, always choose the latter! This is another thing I learned because of interacting with people much elder to me. Knowing people live with regrets has taught me that there is no way back if you regret a decision. Where as, if you are guilty of something, there are numerous ways to rectify it. No one can turn back time, but guilt allows you a second chance, regret is something you carry to your grave. 
  6. Cooking. Now this is one thing I am fond of since my childhood. But even if you do not like cooking, it is still an important survival skill without gender bias, and, a big part of being self sufficient. I wish to share this as an accomplishment here, because I see more and more youngsters not giving it the importance it deserves. What is a must-have is being able to cook basic meals for oneself - simple breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I have to be a bit more idealistic, I'd say, along with the basic meals, one should have at least a few signature dishes that finish in a few moments of serving. 
  7. Companionship. I fell in love with one of my friends. I am not at all suggesting one should only find a companion in a friend, but just sharing what happened with me. We have mutual understanding of "your life", "my life" and "our life". This exists and has been one of our winning formulas for staying together for more than ten years in spite of long distances. Our equation could be described close to "we don't need each other for anything, yet we want to be with each other!" The point I am trying to make here is that by 30 one should be able to go past superficial infatuations. Being in a meaningful relationship requires much more than what appears to be desirable. There's no point in trying to be happy with someone because it looks perfect, and forgetting about what matters in the long run.
  8. Parenthood. We entered the world of parenthood and reached a point where our lives stood at 'before and after' from that very moment! This is one thing I would totally recommend if you ever wanted to be a parent - do not delay this decision! You are never going to be prepared to have kids, or settled enough to take care of an off spring or for that matter free enough to allot time to kids. Your health, career and everything that matters, will fall in place faster and more effectively, if you become a parent before you hit 30! They say, the first 5 years of your kid is the time he needs you the most. You don't need a fortune teller telling you to have these years as early as possible. I had my kid before I turned 30, and can say this with my own experience. 
  9. Weekend routines. Working through the week and spending weekends outside is a common thing in twenties. I am not saying I never did that, but I had and still have a weekend routine that connects me with my home. Cleaning bathrooms, kitchen, changing bed sheets, etc. Untidy habitat is a clear manifestation of an untidy mind. It is as simple as that! 
  10. What brings you home? Answering this question and making it possible at your home is one of the best feelings. If you don't know what brings you home and that which cannot be found anywhere else, you are lost. Just a little clarification, it involves you, not what is provided at home like ready food, living convenience, and the likes. For me it is my home desk where I write, my window place where I read, the kitchen where I cook, the living room where I host family and friends, and so many other things. When I am home, I am truly happy!
These are my ten things from my twenties. My gut feeling tells me these experiences will have an excellent impact on my thirties. Hopefully I'd be able to find another bunch of experiences worth mentioning in my next ten years! 

Bye bye my twenties! :-)

Sunday, 14 February 2016

ये नज़दीकियाँ



ये नज़दीकियाँ
जमीन पर पाँव रहे ने नहीं देतें ,
शिकायत कैसे करें जब समय ही ये गुजारिश करें?
किन लफ़ज़ों मे कहें अपनी दिल की बातें ?
इस कश्मकश में ना गुजर जाएं सारी रातें।

ये नज़दीकियाँ
जो आखों से ना दिखें पर मन में नजर आएं,
जिसे कहकर नहीं, छूकर बताया जाएं।
नजदीक ना होकर भी करीब आजायें,
 जता ने से  नहीं जस्बातों से बंधा जाएं। 

ये नज़दीकियाँ
हर एक पल में जिंदगी भर दें,
खोए हुए को रास्ता दिखा दें,
सरे दुःखों को ख़ुशी में बदल दें,
दो दिलों को हमेशा के लिए मिला दें। 

ये नज़दीकियाँ, ये नज़दीकियाँ, ये नज़दीकियाँ।

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Q&A


The trap is that, we are always in a rush to answer all the questions. Just imagine what happens if we question our answers instead?

Focus on answering means we are putting an end to go deeper. It means, we'd rather bask in the glory of having the last word than learn something we've never known before. Sometimes, it even means negotiating with oneself for avoiding confrontation! And worst, become the pseudo listeners who just wait for the questions to get over before they can begin their answers. It only puts us in false comfort zones!

Questions help us in looking at the same things differently every time! It encourages introspection and makes us better than our yesterday. Questioning your answers is the manifestation of your courage to confront head on! You listen thoroughly only when you ask questions! There is a possibility to cause change.

In my opinion, people seem to be more afraid of the answers and hence are averse to asking questions. Times like these should also be considered as a reminder to "We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."

मेरे अपने

आज आसमान मुझे देख रहा है,  सितारें कुछ ज्यादा चमक रहे हैं,  मेरे अपने जो उनमें बसे  हैं! शायद वहां रहकर खुश है! पीछे रहना बड़...