Wordless Wednesday – 148


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Monday Memories 15 – The Phoenix Rising


This is a different memory post. It is about rising from ashes. Letting go, reclaiming your rebel self, not settling for anything  that hindered my evolution as a woman. This is about defining my worth ,taking control and saying – FUCK.THAT. SHIT. I am the author of my life and I decide which path to take or not take. A discussion with some friends prompted me to write this. All lives are not full of exciting adventures.

There are lives which resemble a lonely boat tied to the post conversing with its shadow and looking out into the vast blue ocean , yearning to escape.  Mine was such a life.  Until I decided to leave the comfort zone that meant being ted to the silken chains and trust me it is hard to take total control. Many people prefer to drift through the BS that surrounds them just for the sheer comfort of not having any responsibilities. Be a puppet , dance the dance and shrug your shoulders, curl up. Do nothing. Conjure up some very solid reasons for doing so, one of them being not looking into one’s own eyes.  Don’t rebel  because rebelling means pain, agony, loneliness and hard work. Rebelling means confronting oneself before anyone else. Reclaiming oneself. Do what you always did. It is easy. Say what you always said. Never go beyond the known. So many of us do it.

I lived that life so I know. Don’t ask for the reasons for I do not wish to go there but I put my dreams and desires in a pretty little jar, closed the lid and kept it in a vault.

Sometimes when the shadows stretched long and thin and a slight breeze nudged me I would set free my mind and think what it would be to throw open that lid and let those dreams breathe. How would they smell when brought out into sparkling sunlight. It took me many years to realize my mistake of handing over the pen to others to write my story and that day I decided to break free.  It is not easy. We are not birds and do not have wings , we are women living in a society that tells us to bow down and stay tied to the post.

I am writing this to share how I began to write. It was my first step to claim myself. I had never opened myself to the world and it made me nervous to step out and expose. It is like being nude. If you are not comfortable in your own nakedness then you can’t be comfortable at all. Simple as that.

I was born against the wishes of death. Life had snatched me from it and put me on my feet not to sit around in a little box of velvety thorns but to get out and do my own thing.

Writing helped me expand my horizons , to get connected to people with similar passion for life. It helped me bleed out the pain, hurt, It helped me release old scripts, reject old plots, say goodbye to those characters in my life story who had done nothing but scarred  it, to erase, edit, chop out those bits that did not fit. It began to fill my lungs with the oxygenated air of freedom and self-worth.  After all this there came the time to write the ending. There is nothing more impossibly difficult than ending for it means snapping off with one clean cut all that is not you. It is a heartache and many times the voice from the little velvet box will pull you to come into its folds but that’s where courage lies. It is a phoenix rising. Death and birth, fuck up and bliss, heartache and joy all at once. We have to go through the annihilation to emerge again – victorious. Once you have cleared everything that did not serve you can bring in all that is yours, all that has been already yours just not claimed till now. It is a home coming of  the self.

To begin anew, afresh on a clean slate. It is a drudgery, a painful uphill ride, Alone.  I was lucky to find  friends who constantly stood by me like a rock and along with the patient love and care kicked my butt when the need arose. They helped me polish my dark side. Helped me break my mental barriers. They had my permission to do so and frankly they would have done it without my permission too. It is actually I permission one gives to oneself. To be totally in the hands of the sensei.  That is the way for the student. There is no other way.

You have to be uncomfortably grounded to start again. It starts from the bottom, from the scratch always. You have to release the past to move ahead. The lesser the baggage the easier the journey.

It’s been four years since I began to do serious writing. exposed myself completely, shed all inhibitions and surrendered myself to vulnerability of life. It has been worth every courageous risk. The changes were evident and they shook the world around me. The rope that tied me to the post began to loosen and break  with the strain and strength of my desire. It gave away finally two years back.

It was the night of storm and suddenly I found myself being tossed into the open waters but by this time I was prepared. The right thing to do on a stormy night is to lie still till it passes and the day breaks. These are the testing hours and if you survive those the ocean is yours for ever. These  times are life altering.  It takes courage to start clean to let the slate remain empty for sometime and not rush into filling it with the familiar. It takes immense strength to step into the unknown, to push yourself over the edge, to leave things behind that may have at one time been the only source of your reason to be. It is like the cutting of the umbilical  cord.

To detach completely so that you can carve new potentials. I am proud of my evolution. I am proud of my mentors, guides, friends who gave me rock solid support just enough to get going.  Always around in the shadows somewhere watching me chart my path.

Nature teaches us about our fragility and our strengths. There is no better teacher than the universe.

I learned that it is not about just staying in the light or seeking it ,, it is also about owning our dark, befriending it, polishing it, making it shine. You got to love your shadow that is the only way to be complete. Unless we learn to accept and be at ease with our grief, pain and destruction there can never be a movement.  I am grateful to the universe for the storms in my life big and small. They brought me to the shore or else I would have been drifting aimlessly in the ocean or crashed into pieces on some forlorn island and the purpose would have been lost for good. Meeting the darkness, facing the shit storms, taming and getting better of fears, insecurities, illusions, limitations (many of them self-created)  is all it takes to forge the path ahead. Never deny, suppress your dark side. Get into conversation with it.  You can never step into the light if you have not walked through the dark.

Shit happens . Move on. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve.

You lose some you win some. That is life. Write . Write your own story and keep the pen in your hand. Always.

I know this is not a usual memory  post but the time has come to grow new leaves, to flower and claim my place under the sun. I shed the old leaves, I bared myself to the harsh winter just for this spring. It is mine and am gonna make the best of it.

Memories will always be there , Good and bad. Imagined and real.  The trick is to never lose sight of he ” tip of the cold mountain” as my friend and teacher Kris says.

Onward we go.  Each ending is a new beginning. Each rejection a step closer to acceptance. We attract what we give. That is the law of attraction and the universe recognizes it. It worked for me , it will work for you.  Launch forth your heart. Create, co – create, stay vulnerable.

You are a woman. Sexy , beautiful, intelligent and totally awesome. Recognize it and take control before you get swallowed by others perception of you. Fuck everything Be yourself.  The strength of your desire will bring you what is yours and much more. Be pen and receptive and let me tell you this is not a discourse in some ‘New Age Teaching’ it is first hand experience.  Go get your shit. It is out there waiting for you.

I want to thank my readers, my mentors, my friends and each one you who contributed and continues to contribute to my life in one way or the other. Look for those who need you and be there for them. We all need each other. Never still your voice , never give up the student heart. Never limit yourself.  At least try not to. I am trying too. Join me.

Monday Memories – 14 – You and I – Absence


rambling thoughts

rolling

like a pebbles

directionless

homeless

gathering dust

gathering memories

now stuck between

a rock

and hard place

it is raining incessantly

It had to pour

Something has shifted

since the time silence

fell upon us like a sword

so cold, so sharp one could cut oneself on it

A silence

that has rendered

me invisible

and

in this chaos of sadness

memories have turned green

under the

the empty aching blue

of your absence

and my heart

from this great distance

watches helplessly

nostalgia was supposed to be about

moments shared

memories created

laughter, kisses

endless conversations

songs hummed together

in different continents

pictures, poems, stories

waking up in each others arms

being silly

arguments. lovers quarrels

even silences

and

make up sex ( in whatever way it was possible)

Never Ever in my wildest moment

I believed

It would be

YOU

personified

I existed at two places

here

and

where you are

with miles and miles

of ocean between us

I drew you into my world –

 real  and imagined

painted pictures in words

but didn’t know where to draw a line

there are times even now

when I can’t decide

which one of us is missing

I don’t know which pain is

more excruciating,

the shock of what happened

or the ache of what never will be

I know it is over

as simply as it began (and I am trying to convince myself even now that THIS is a mirage not THAT )

THAT which is real

in my heart

throbbing

pulsating

a wound

which is

as much yours

as

mine

(Ah! the joy of pain we so willingly endure)

there are many words

you left unsaid

many questions

 you never asked

(maybe they were things you were afraid to know)

and many went unanswered

in your hesitation

I found all my answers (so I believed)

each of us

for all our lives

live

so bitterly

misunderstood

I listened to the friction within you

of wanting and not wanting

missing and yet not connecting

I heard it all

but my heart

it deliberately chose

selective hearing

and imagined a glimmer of hope

in the slithers of sun

that warmed like  love

and tickled me in glimpses

 between the veiled Autumnal shadows

that loomed large

closing in from all sides

nothing haunts us like the things

we never say

(sometimes also those which we so carelessly say)

I would not have left you

on that September afternoon

had I known it would be our last

 the regret pains my heart

now among other things

I dream of lost vocabularies

that may express what we no longer can

but even tough the words have turned stranger

it is alright

for I know

what we are

and what

we could not be

there wasn’t a  closure

No goodbyes

and I hope (there is still a hope)

that one day

when you  make an inventory of lost things

you will find me and remember

what I meant to you

till then

I will do what I do best

move in the rhythm

with your ebb and flow

All of  You and Me   

I collect your whispers and arranged them in tight sentences (lest they flee) try to make sense of it. In your absence sadness of things speaks for you. Your abject indifference has seeped in and taken shape of everything around me. Words have long since turned strangers. The cell phone has turned into a paper weight. No, if you think I am saying all this because I miss you you are wrong. One doesn’t miss oneself but gutters too have limits when the sky pours it’s rain .

Monday Memories 13 – The Kodak SIX – 20 Brownie (Model -E)


My mother had just completed her intermediate when my grandfather gifted her the Kodak SIX- 20 Brownie Camera Model – E.

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She remembers it costed forty rupees at that time and it was a huge amount to spend for her father on such a luxury but my granddad always appreciated hard work and never stopped anyone from pursuing their interests. My mom was the eldest of  six children and even though the earning were not so high she was gifted this beauty which has come to us as a legacy.

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This box camera was manufactured till 1957  and then it topped being made.  So it is one of the collectibles. It came with meniscus f/11, 100mm with portrait lens, a single blade shutter, two brilliant view finders, 2 pin flash contacts, tripod sockets and cable release socket, metal winding knob and release button and shutter safety catch.  Mom says she used 120 and 620 films which gave 12 images.  It was manufactured by Kodak England  in the early 1950s and had two built-in filters. One is a yellow filter and the other one is close-up filter and they both pull in/out using a lever on the side.  It was a relatively  low-priced, point-and-shoot, hand-held camera that even children could operate.

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The camera traveled everywhere with my mother and she captured some of the most memorable moments with it.  She fondly remembers a picture she took of a caravan of camels crossing the chambal river in the ravines as the sun slowly made its descend behind the hills.  Most of the family pictures in Banaras where she lived were clicked by this little wonder. The whole family life of her friends, siblings, parents and relatives captured in images that are now neatly placed in bundles marked by year, date and time.  Later the smiles & tears and the memorable “first” moments of her children ( me and my elder brother) were also captured by this camera. Slicing of a moment and freezing it forever in all its vulnerability. I think it was her sketchbook of intuition and spontaneity.

I was very small when the camera developed some light problem and even the films became unavailable.  When mom used to open the black trunk in which she kept her valuables I as a little girl would sit with her exploring the treasures, the heirlooms, the albums surrounded by the scent of old cotton sarees of my grandmother mixed with a mild fragrance of cloves tied in small bundles to keep the bugs away. Those times were full of stories and myths that each photograph told. For hours we would sit with old yellowing pictures and this box camera in my lap remembering days from a distant time, distant era. Events that could not be reproduced but for those B&W images. The process sometimes became self revelatory.  one begins to find a part of oneself in each person who is photographed. A bit  like alchemy. As a little girl I would click imaginary photographs with it, people, places, and spin stories around them. Most of the pictures were hand drawn sketches but were appreciated as perfect photographs. Such are the joys of childhood when you aren’t judged for anything.

The camera still has its original brown leather with a metal clasp though it is opening up from the seams now.

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Some days back I found a large bundle of old letters and photographs and along with them this camera which lay forgotten among the past relics. I did  some research on the Brownie cameras by Kodak and came up with this interesting article The history of the twentieth century cameras   . It is amazing how the technology has advanced. The model -E is rare and not many sites feature it.

Today as mom and I sat looking through the pictures again I wondered how this little device gave us memories some unforgettable events in our lives.  Nostalgia gripped her as we talked about the advancement in photography.  Not many young women had the luxury of owning a camera of their own when mom got it. The printing and film cost were not very high but pursuing a hobby still added to the expense.

Its been a long journey full of kodak moments. The camera is not in use now and has become part of the memories it created.  A collectible that is part of  history as well as our personal lives.

Here are some photographs taken from the camera. Most of the photos are of mom’s family and many of them are tucked away in cartons.

These were with me so uploading. One picture is taken in 1953 at Kanyakumari in which mom and her two sisters are at the sea-shore.

The first close up with a baby is mom and my brother, the second is me and mom . The lake scene she can’t remember but it could be Nainital.

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Now we have moved to much advanced  DSLRs, digital cameras and mobile phone cameras but these bittersweet moments are all we have of times gone by. The time before digital photography. The heyday of Kodak with the famous slogan ” you push the button we do the rest.”

Kodak pioneered in home photography and now after a hundred and thirty years of making memories the company has stopped making cameras.

I am looking for some experts In New Delhi, India who can correct the fault with the camera and provide the 620 film roll if possible. I want to bring this memorable device to life. Suggestions are welcome.

Recipe – Perfect Plum Jelly (No added Pectin)


The season for plum is almost over but I was still craving for those juicy delicious fruits. This time the plum crop that came from Kullu & Manali was rather highly priced all through the season. On Sunday I bought a last batch of mixed plums to make Jelly.  It is always good to mix some unripe fruit along with ripe juicy one to get the right amount of pectin. I never use added pectin for my jams and jellies.

Plums are very rich in Vitamin C, K and A and have lots of dietary fiber. They also contain unique phytonutrients and other good stuff.  They help in absorption of iron in body and hence help to increase blood production.  They help in prevention of breast cancer and stop their growth in the body. They also prevent osteoporosis and muscle cramps and fatigue. Most of all they are super delicious tangy sweet fruits and my favorites.

The fruit contains natural pectin in pits and skin and adding lemon juice helps to make perfect jelly.

Here is my perfected recipe for plum jelly

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Ingredients :  1/2 kg plums ( they should not be damaged and a mix of ripe  dark maroon ones and unripe lighter shades are perfect)

Sugar – I Cup / Cup of plum juice

Fresh lemon juice – 1 table-spoon

Tip- you can add 2 cloves or a small piece of cinnamon stick  while boiling the pulp to spice it up.

Water – as needed

 

Method :

Wash the fruit properly and make cuts in it. Take a pan and press the fruit a bit so that it gets squashed and the skin separates revealing the pulpy pit.

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Add enough water to the pulp to cover it completely  and put on a high flame to boil. Once the mixture comes to a high boil turn the flame to medium and stir a few times. (This is the time to add spices if you wish)

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Once the peels are separated and the fruit is soft  and mushy turn the gas off.

Take a double layer cheese cloth and spread it over a pot with sides hanging out. Pour the fruit mixture into the cheese cloth and tie it properly. Let it stand for at least 3-4 hours or till the juice drip out completely into the bowl. You can use jelly strainer or bags too. squeezing will make the jelly cloudy so refrain from doing so.  If I don’t get any of these I use muslin cloth or small then dish towel also.

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Measure the juice with a measuring cup.

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Now put a heavy bottom stock pot or any other pan on gas stove.  Pour the juice and let it come to a boil on high flame. Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Once the juice comes to full boil start adding sugar gradually and stirring till all the sugar is dissolved properly. The proportion is One cup of sugar for one cup of juice but if the fruit is sour you can increase the amount of sugar a bit. Add the lemon juice at this point.

Once all the sugar is dissolve bring the jelly to a full rolling boil.  The boiling of fruit to get the right texture of jelly depends on the natural pectin in fruit and the consistency of the juice. Keep removing the scum which may come at the surface of the boiling mixture.

Once the texture of the juice thickens a bit don’t stir at this point. It is the jellying time. Test it by dipping a spoon  in boiling mixture. Take it off the steam and let the juice slide from the side. If it drops like water you need to boil more but if it falls in two drops joining together you are ready to take the mixture off the gas.

Bottling – Prepare the bottles beforehand ( warm them by placing in hot water ) so you can ladle the jelly in the warm bottles leaving 1/4″ of head space. Make sure there are no air bubbles.

Always keep the bottles on a towel so they don’t break.

Close the lids properly.

Waterbath Canning –  I usually heat water in a large container and place the bottle in hot water for 10 min before taking it out on a towel. Waterbath Canning usually helps in preservation.  I make small amounts which don’t last more than a fortnight so rarely do this procedure but for larger amounts it is a must.

Now your delicious crimson plum jelly is ready to be devoured with waffles, toasts, biscuits or as spread on roties. I simply eat a spoonful when I like.

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As you can see most of it vanished before I could take a proper picture.  I suck at food photography anyway so WTH :p

Who ate the jelly :p ? Your guess is as good as mine 😀

Enjoy homemade spreads with all the goodness of natural fruits and flavors and of course NO preservatives.