Stepping Into The Unexplained – Dream Diary


I have not updated the dream diary since almost one year. Last year had been very disturbing at many levels and I am still coming to terms with various aspects. Though there was always a certain kind of fluidity in my dreams all through the year and the nights were always live with  dreams that were more real than reality there wasn’t anything that struck me very strongly. Mostly the family members feel I sleep soundly but the brain is active or maybe I should say wandering. It is usually not connected with the daily living. The people are unknown, so are the places but there is a feeling a feeling of Déjà vu.  The accompanying male figure in many of my dreams is my elder son. Maybe because he too is very receptive to the unknown or maybe because he is an emphatic match.

This constant fleeting between dreams and wakefulness has actually disrupted the usual sleep routine but now this seems normal. Some may find such dreams crazy or even macabre but that is what makes them so profound. I feel I am always at the threshold of consciousness. I thought my long term insomnia has become a gross feeder for such events but then I do seem fast sleep to others which is intriguing. I’ve had dreams that have left very vivid impressions on my memory. More vivid than the physical reality we experience. I believe that the depth of the experience and the alternative reality is limited to select few but most of us are never able to validate it as we would an event in physical reality. We are never able to bridge the gap.

I have a strong feeling that science, society, religion has boxed us in by limiting our thinking. There is a lot that is unexplained and unexplored with regards to human brain and what we term as “real”.  It is evident that the brain does have some functions beyond what science has already examined. Society builds our box for us, we sometimes feel confined to it because we don’t want to look odd, feel silly or out of place. Personally, I love exploring and seeing what’s out there, beyond the confines of my box which is truly not defined. It may seem odd to others but to me that is  the essence of life. I don’t know how to articulate it properly but in my thinking there is a connect between the universal energies and us. That is why some people are psychic.

Every living thing has consciousness has a connection to everything else in the universe. We are all sort of wired together and sometimes we go beyond the realms of physical world. There may be many reasons for the sensed presence, intuitions, out of body experience or such other things. I read about quantum mechanics of brain and it is fascinating. “When people have a near-death experience, all that quantum information leaves the brain, yet continues to exist, which is why some people report out-of-body experiences and lights at the end of tunnels. I think it says a lot about other such experiences too. One needs to explore. Having said that, it may be the confirmation of our perceptions too.”

We all carry a certain energy within and around us and many of us can sense that. It is an intuitive quality which is inborn but many of us lose it because of the conditioning of our minds by the environment. We are programmed to think and feel in a certain manner and anything that does not subscribe to it is frowned upon. Just as the women healers, psychic, clairvoyant were termed as witches and killed since ancient times.

Some places / people drain you out or make you happy, you feel comfortable in some homes or rooms and not in others  that is because you can feel the energy they emit, it is the same with things that we are unaware of or which are beyond the realms of our understanding. The law of attraction.

There is a fascinating world out there and within us and we know so little.

I remember someone telling me that I may be turning schizophrenic or may have a neurological dysfunction that I am not aware of. I don’t think so. Some people are psychic, intuitive, they have transcendental out of body experiences.

I have felt presence around me many times but they aren’t what the stories tell us. Not shadow beings, transparent apparitions with cold air around them, mostly there is a warmth. Some may say it is dues to the lack of it in the real world for me but I have felt the reverse too. It isn’t scary but it is definitely something I haven’t experienced before and yet there is always something which can relate to my physical life.

Some life energies take more than usual time to crossover and cling to this plane. They even feed off you at times. They prefer to stay earthbound. The reasons could be many. Sometimes they choose to stay  and at others they just hover because of some unfinished business. Energy can not be destroyed, it just changes forms and it is these forms we experience at times. We are like cosmic magnets and our viberational energies attract other energies from spaces around us. I think it is based on our thoughts and emotions and our receptiveness in finding our  matching energy. Our bodies are aligned with nature and the universe in the larger sense.  I am no expert so these are my personal beliefs. I think I never fitted in the norm and was always a little bit of an outsider. Maybe wit ha little bit of sixth sense.

This post may seem like a rambling and it is that. It is a portal for discussion for you. The dreams, the sightings, the intuitiveness,  precognition in a very limited or discreet way are some of the aspect of this being different.

We were having an interesting discussion about the two simultaneous photographs I took last year in the dinning area of my house and I just felt like sharing it here.

Here is the pic and it is open for interpretation. Play or light and shadow or something beyond that ?

 

These two pix were taken on a lovely sunny April afternoon around five o’clock. I was flirting with the mobile phone camera around the house and taking shots of light and shadows. When I focused on the wall in our dinning area I was rather surprised at what I saw. The chair was empty and yet there was a shadow image on the wall. No one was in the room except me. I opened the phone gallery to examine the pic again and could make out an old/middle aged man’s figure so I looked again at the wall. Nothing was visible to the naked eye. I positioned the camera and took a pic again. This time there was no figure. It could be a play of light but I was intrigued. A dream I had day before and a discussion about keeping the ashes of dead family members brought me back to this picture. So I leave you to ponder over this and one more question, is it proper to keep the ashes in the house? Is it proper to flow half of it in the river and keep the other half at home? Is it okay to divide cremation ashes? Are these beliefs tradition/ religion based? I know about keepsake urns etc.  

I must say again that I am not superstitious, just curious…

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Spring In Delhi, A Poem, A Story And Some Thoughts


The more a voice gets stifled, the louder it gets. So much has happened in past few days. There is too much anger and anguish inside me and I am just not getting into the rhythm of regular writing. Pages are still lying blank. Pen poised over them like a finger on the jugular.How can one remain composed when  voices of dissent are silenced. When Rohith Vermula is pushed to commit suicide. When peaceful dissenters (students) are painted as “anti nationals” charged for  sedition without any proof, for just having a different political ideology and guess which one got targeted as a terrorist and why? When news channels incite the public with doctored videos/audios. When evidence is manufactured. When goons are given protection and encouraged in their hooliganism. When students, teachers, journalists are beaten up for speaking up for what is just. When Perversity rules. When acid is thrown on the face of a  woman tribal right activist to muzzle yet another voice of dissent. When the country burns in the fire of communal hatred. When you are hounded and trolled for your stance on what is happening right now in the country When a twelve year old child is hit and her father killed for asking a second helping of meal. When the tragic suicides of the farmers is termed as “fashion”. When there is a complete breakdown of law & order. When anger kills the power of reason. When you are targeted because of your gender, caste, name, political stance or simply because you use your mind and speak out against the unjust.

It makes me uneasy. Makes me pause and reflect.

I fear for my life every single time I open my mouth in this country where I was born and raised. Who will stand up for me or any ordinary citizen? Who will listen to our pleas? I am not as articulate as many of my writer friends but I am a thinking and concerned citizen. A woman trying to stand for her rights and her dignity. A mother watching two young adult sons growing up in an environment that is getting vicious day by day. I taught my children dissent, I taught them to participate actively as citizens. I taught them to be discerning without being judgmental. That is what my parents taught me. I do the same. Does that make us Anti Nationals? Tell me how? Be very careful when you label anyone. Know its power. Labels box you in. I have been boxed in and I know how it feels. It dramatically changes your life in a matter of seconds. Most of the times scars you for life. Listen to that little voice of conscience and dissent that is knocking from within you to wake up. Listen and act.

In the midst of this unrest the spring came quietly to the capital bringing myriad hues of flowers. Every roundabout, every garden, every park is a riot of colours. The barbets, the flaming golden woodpeckers and the parakeets and many other birds are here. The roadsides and roundabouts are full of nasturtiums, yellow poppies, purple asters, yellow violas, red pitunias, Cinnenarias, dog flowers, marigolds, sweet peas, sweet williams, chrysanthemums, dahlias and bougainvilleas in varied hues have painted the city in every colour. Some of the Mango trees are blossoming too and then there is this distinct fragrance of the Saptparni tree across the city. The coral trees and the Silk Cotton trees are beginning to bloom too.

Delhi also hosts flower shows during Feb-March. I went to he 29th Delhi Garden Tourism Festival Yesterday to get soaked in the colours of basant (Spring)

And when we talk of flowers and blossoming how can we forget poetry. A poem got published in prestigious Open Road Review Magazine recently. You can read it HERE.

A Short Fiction also found a platform in Read Fingers, a portal for those who enjoy reading and writing. This story is very close to my heart. Do read it HERE.

Heartfelt gratitude to the editors who appreciated my work and included it in their magazines.

Talking of magazines, if you have not submitted your piece for Cafe Dissensus March issue (23) then please do it fast as the last date is not very far. Here is the submission link. I am guest editing the issue this time. 

I will leave you with this brilliant piece by my friend Nabina Das. – ‘After Every War’: Reading poetry in the dark times 

And One more by Saif Mehmood – Repression and Resistance, Delhi 2016: Through The Prism Of Urdu Poetry  

 

 

 

 

Two Travel Poems


These poems are very special to me. First published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday, they talk of a time I lost somewhere in this journey called life.

Today it is exactly a month to their publication and a photograph by my son reminded me that I hadn’t shared them with you. This is the first time I have written any travel poems so please bear with me.

 

Life, some smoke, some clouds… ज़िन्दगी, कुछ धुआँ, कुछ बादल

Pic credit Shubhang Dogra from another time, another place

 

“On this summer night,
the cinnamon scented air,
laced with Old Monk,
lured me to the same German Bakery
where I once wrote poems long forgotten.”

Read both the poems here  Two Travel Poems 

 

Puff Pastry Experiments-Baked Apple Roses, Strawberry Filled Mini Puffs And More


 

Food hall at the DLF place, Saket is addictive. This Saturday after a hearty meal I and my son decided to do our usual round of the Food hall and soon we were filling our basket with more than what we needed. The food monster wanted to create something from ready made frozen puff pastry sheets and I too was game for it. The dish on my mind was the gorgeous Apple Roses I had been viewing all over the internet.

Now, I used to make apple pie crust at home but the store bought frozen puff pastry sheets were something new to me too.  The images of delicious pinwheels, tarts, quiche, pie, croissants, churros, torte, cheese sticks etc began to float in front of my eyes. I had to rein my imagination as I was going to get only a sheet or two. The food monster had made this clear. Finally I decided on the amazing Apple Roses, Fresh strawberry and fruit spread filled mini puff pastries and some churros.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon the food monster took over the kitchen and created some sumptuous dishes like Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart, Chili Salsa and Cheese Tart , Marshmallow, chocolate and coffee pockets topped with dark caramel and chocolate ganache  .  You can follow the Food Monster Delhi on twitter too.

The yummy treats were devoured instantly.  On reminding about my share of the pastry sheets and he very graciously left some. I realized that the churros would have to go as the sheets were just enough of the Apple Roses and Strawberry mini puffs.

Though there are many versions of Apple roses on internet and all amazingly gorgeous but I liked the ones made by Sherri of To Simply Inspire  I followed her directions though I tweaked them a bit. You can check out her perfect roses by clicking on the link of her blog. Thanks Sherri for inspiring.

Here is how I made those Apple Rose Puffed Pastries 

Ingredients : (For 6 apple roses )

2 Delicious Red Apples (I used organic)

1 frozen Puff Pasty Sheet (Thawed)

2 Tablespoon of fruit preserve (I used mixed fruit but you can use plum, peach, apricot…whatever you desire)

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling ( 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder + 1 teaspoon fine sugar)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Flour to sprinkle on the counter

Powdered sugar for sprinkling as decoration

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius ( Sherri did it at 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degree F)

Remove the frozen puff pastry sheets and let them thaw on the counter. They should still be cool when you use them. I removed them from freezer and kept them in the fridge overnight to use them in the morning. (See instructions on the packet)

Prepare cinnamon sugar by mixing the two ingredients together. Keep aside. (You can use apple pie spice mix too)

Half fill a bowl with water and add lemon juice to it. Now cut the apples in half from top to bottom. Remove the core ends and scoop out the center core.

Cut them in paper thin slices with a sharp knife. (unfortunately mine weren’t that thin.. a reason to buy a good sharp knife)

Place the slices in the water bowl. This will prevent them from turning brown. (enough water to cover the slices)

I used organic apples as we are using the skin too.

Place the bowl in the microwave for a minute to soften the apple a little so they don’t break while folding. They should not become mushy.

Now drain the apples in a colander and gently pour some cool water over them. drain properly.

Now, sprinkle some flour over a clean counter and roll out the pastry sheet, stretch it a bit with a rolling pin. Move in one direction only.

Try to keep the rectangle shape and cut it into six equal strips of 2 in x 9 inches approx. The sheet should be 1/8 in thick. In my excitement I didn’t make it rectangle but then corrected the strips by cutting the rounded edges. One learns 🙂

In a bowl take the fruit preserve and add a teaspoon of water to it. Microwave for a min so that the preserve is of spreading consistency. Let it cool.

Spread a little preserve on each strip.

Line 6-9 apple slices overlapping each other a little with the peel side facing out along one side of the strip. Leave a little space on both ends when you line up the slices.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar or apple pie spice mix if you desire. I love it.

Fold the bottom part of the strip so that it covers the apples.

Now, starting on one end carefully start to roll the fruit lined strip into a rose shape. Don’t make it very tight roll. Once you reach the end, seal the edges by pressing with your finger and gently place in a well greased muffin tin or a silicon muffin tray. You can apply a egg wash. I used melted butter and brushed it on the pastry with a pastry brush.

Make six roses from the strips and place them all in the tray.

Bake in the middle rack for 30-45 minutes. The pastry should be nicely cooked.

I did not keep the water pan in the tray below as suggested in the original recipe but you can try that.

Take them out and let them set for a few minutes before removing from the tray.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. You can serve them warm or at room temperature as required.

You can double the amount to make 12 roses.

You can also use, butter, brown sugar and apple pie spice mixed together instead of fruit preserve.

You can bake these on a flat ray too but make sure the ends of the rose pastry are sealed well so that they do not open while baking.

Next time I will use different coloured apples, red , green, yellow and will also try peach and nectarine. You can try too. They will look amazing I think.

For the fresh Strawberry and Fruit Spread Filled Mini Puffs :

I had some leftovers from the Pastry sheet used by the food monster so I used that to make a few of these fruity delights. I rolled the dough into a flat sheet and cut out a few circles slightly larger then the muffin hole. you can make them into squares too or like an overlapping pocket well. I didn’t decorate the edges but you must mold the top edges into fluted design. It looks very pretty.

Then I prepared a sauce made with fresh strawberries, sugar and whole strawberry fruit preserve. Preserves are very versatile and the sauce came out delicious.

Just cut the fresh ripe strawberries and drizzle some sugar on them and let them macerate for approx 20 min. Now microwave some fruit preserve till it bubbles. Take it out and add the fresh strawberries.

Place the pastry circles in the muffin cups without flattening the puffy texture and poke some holes at the bottom of the shell with a fork so that it doesn’t rise while baking. Pour the fruit mixture in it. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack  at 180 degrees. The shell should become golden in colour.

You can pour this fruit mixture to make puff pastry pockets,  tiny tartlets. pinwheels, pies or even a little galatte . I will do that soon, so watch this pace.

You can even bake the tart shells separately and simply spoon this lovely berrilicious mix and top it with some whipped cream before serving.

Overall, we had a great day experimenting with the frozen puff pastry sheets. Next time there will be some more great things and better pictures. 🙂 Till then, keep experimenting and exploring.