Kinship of Words


Separated by seas, connected by literature

I had promised to write about James and our long distance impromptu poetry collaboration for Duets.  Today’s post is an introduction to a genius who has always kept a low profile.  It is also a prelude to the post on Duets and how we collaborated on it. I will post it in a few weeks. Waiting for my print copies to arrive.

I don’t know how to begin telling you about James. I thought it would be easy for me to just talk about mentors, writing experiences, friendships, publishing of my books, our friendship across time and space etc etc but when I am actually here I am unable to find words. What do you say, how do you explain an elusive person who is too modest and shy to talk about himself and his achievements ( which he calls”little things I did”? How do you explain a bond that goes beyond the boundaries of all distances, physical or mental?

I was rather annoyed that he did not write much about himself on the back cover of our collaborative book of poems ‘Duets’. I knew he won’t share his photograph in any case even after my relentless nagging. After a lot of discussion I decided to write about him here. People needed to know who’s the other poet behind the beautiful work we have created and how it came about. They need to know his literary background, “the things he did”. Nag nag nag .. and finally I got him to send me a list of his published works etc. I am pretty sure there is much more but I will draw a line and respect his privacy at this point. I am glad he opened up a bit. If you know James Goddard this is a huge achievement on my part.. hahaha..

I met James on Facebook via some mutual friend in 2012. He was not sharing much of his writings on his timeline but his monochrome photographs were so utterly gorgeous they could draw anyone to explore more. His visits to India and the magnificent photos were the connecting dots and with time our friendship grew stronger. We did have our fights, disagreements, arguments but in the end what emerged was a stronger bond. There is an immense love and respect I have for him not just for being my guide and publisher but also for being such a selfless, caring confidante and friend. He has listened to me and lifted me out of some of the darkest periods of my struggle. Listening is a dying art and not once he made me feel uncomfortable. He has a big role to play in my personal growth too.

James’s gracious presence, life experience and unbiased attitude continues to fill me with the energy I need as I battle my personal issues. Over the period of time he introduced me to other genres, writers, helped me polish my writing. Not just poetry but fiction too. I was also fascinated by his extensive travels in India, Middle East and Europe that he undertook in pursuit of photographs of ordinary people and interesting places. Here was a guy so talented and creative with great sense of humor and passion for life ready to help me with all he had. I felt blessed. As he began to share short stories, ditties, poems  or “little pieces” as he called them I realized what a brilliant writer he was. each of us were hooked to every word he wrote and waited with baited breath for the next one to be posted on his timeline on FB. A little birdie told me his interest in Science Fiction began at the age of twelve. Writing good stuff comes so effortlessly to him.

As day went by I felt encouraged to write more, write better, to explore new ideas, to send my work for online publication and then began another phase of my journey as a published author. A step forward from where Kris has brought me with his care and support of four years. He’s still around if I need him.

If you love my writing then you should know that it is the product of hours and hours of patient guidance and hard work irrespective of time and distance. I was as eager to learn as he was to teach though he may not call it teaching. A nudge in the right direction perhaps, “just suggestions”. Always there without being intrusive. Never culling my true voice. I think this is what laid the foundation for Duets.

I couldn’t have dreamed of getting my poems and short fiction published in print if James had not edited and published them. I owe them to him. You can see my LBP Author Page here

I am linking his profile here so that you can read his work that’s been posted on his TL and notes. Check his albums for some stunning photographs. His love of monochrome photography started with his first camera and he still firmly believes that only black and white images can bring out the beauty of the mundane. His photographs have been featured in the arts and literature annual, The Zaporogue , edited by Seb Doubinsky; Invierno: A Cantata of Spain in Winter(John Lewis) and on several book covers. James was born in Bournemouth, a university town and resort on the south coast of England, lived in London for a short time and now lives with his 10,000 plus books and three cameras in Driffield, a small East Yorkshire town.

I could go on telling you about our association if I had enough space here but I want you to discover his genius through his writings and photography. I request his friends, associates and co writers/editors to pitch in and provide more information in the comments.

Social media has its assets too. Its not always intrusive and addictive in a negative manner. For me Facebook was like a virtual home where we were all connected yet there was were spaces between us. That important space which we all need to evolve. It played a part in my learning, my friendships, my mental and emotional health and perhaps to a large extent finding myself. It is true and we’ll talk about it sometime. The writer friends tribe that I am part of now is all via FB. Each one a gem. I have written about many of them in my earlier posts.

I am posting a list of James’s work that I could gather by stalking various pages, sites and pushing him to reveal some facts. Do look up these links or books on Google as I do not have all the links to lead you to them.

JAMES GODDARD 

  • Published the first attempt at a bibliography of the fiction of J. G. Ballard. It was called  J. G. Ballard: a Bibliography 
  • Edited and published the SF fanzine Cypher (early 1970s) attracting contributions from many well-known writers including Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, J. G. Ballard and James Blish. Cypher was the first fanzine to receive an element of Arts Council funding, via Southern Arts. 
  • A short interview with Ballard is published on the Ballard page of British Library Website
  • Published some poems—in an obscure publication, titles forgotten
  • Published a short story in the magazine of the Leeds University Science Fiction Society—title forgotten
  • Short Fiction A Dish of Devils in  Science Fantasy July – August 1964
  • Contributed three of the major themed articles to The Visual Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction  edited by Brian Ash (Pan Books, 1977 in paperback, Triune Books, 1978 in hardcover) . The articles were titled – Cities & Cultures, Sex & Taboos, Cataclysms & Dooms.
  • Co-edited with Interzone editor David Pringle, the J. G. Ballard festschrift  G. Ballard: the First Twenty Years (Bran’s Head Books)
  • Contributed articles and author interviews to the magazine Science Fiction Monthly and was also instrumental in acquiring several works of fiction for that magazine. Here is one link 
  • Read and advised on science fiction for Fontana Paperbacks
  • With others set up Kerosina Publications, published limited edition books by prominent science fiction writers including Brian Aldiss, John Brunner, Philip K. Dick, Gene Wolfe and Lucius Shepard
  • Acted as British secretary to the UK chapter of World SF for several years during the same period and also edited the World SF Newsletter.
  • Worked as a bookseller specializing in science fiction for some years
  • Worked as a freelance book editor for a number of publishers
  • Set up and managed the website of author Brian Aldiss
  • Wrote a ‘remembrance’ of author Keith Roberts which was published in the UK, USA, Japan and several other countries
  • Set up and managed the website of author Ian R. MacLeod
  • Established the small publisher Leaky Boot Press and, with Seb Doubinsky, Weirdo Magnet which publishes what Seb calls “New Edge” literature, that could be defined as provocative, mind-bending and outside genre.
  • Photographs of Spain included in the book Invierno – A Cantata of Spain in Winter photographs by John Lewis, Patricia Lewis & James Goddard
  • Subject of an ‘appreciation’ (for photography) by Marcia Marquez Rambourg in the French language online journal La Revue des Resources
  • Published stories and photographs in Le Zaparogue edited by Seb Doubinsky
  • Published poems and photographs in online journal The Arabesques Review
  • Set up online photography portfolio
  • Published a story in Silence is White (Weirdo Magnet), an anthology edited by Chris Kelso
  • Compiled a book of his own short stories, Dolls, as yet unpublished
  • Published a book of collaborative poems, Duets (Leaky Boot Press), with New Delhi based poet Tikuli
  • Collaborated with Canadian singer/lyricist John Lyle in this beautiful song. You can see some of James’s photographs’s here.
  • You can find James Goddard’s contribution of actual Ballard documents from his extensive collection, a total of 56 pages of Ballard’s handwritten text, interview corrections, lists and more from JGB’s intense and experimental late 1960s and 1970s in Rick McGrath’s The J.G.Ballard Book.
  • Cover Art – The Roads (2005) ,The Dead Orchards (2006)
  • There are some more of his essays and reviews that were published but I am unable to track the links.

He is an avid collector of science fiction first editions by a select group of authors. He is also a master of truism 😀 ( that is something no one else knows I am sure.. hahaha) I am tempted to disclose more but perhaps I can leave it for some other time. He is such a fun person to be with. If you live in those part you may sometimes find him hanging around The Butcher’s Dog Pub enjoying his beer.

I write this with deep affection and respect. I am not reading it again to edit or improve. Ours is friendship I cherish and hope it flourishes in the coming years. I also hope we see some of his recent individual work published and read.

I always tell him that the World of British Science Fiction needs to recognize and honour him for all the brilliant contribution. I hope that day comes soon.

We are already thinking of Duets 2 and many other things. Meanwhile do read him and you can thank me later.  Support his independent publishing project Leaky Boot Press. Buy the excellent books they have published. The link to the website is provided above and you can also find them all on amazon.

You can order Duet, Collection of Chaos and Wayfaring from any online book vendor.

For those in Australia Book Depository is a better option. They have free delivery too.

 

 

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Two New Poems


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1. SOLITUDE

I linger unperceived
in the labyrinth of solitude,
not knowing the onward path
or the path of my return
I see a flight of stairs
a portal to a past forgotten
the contours of shadows
create a landscape of dreams
something forgotten stirs,
a lost memory returns
from between somewhere and nowhere
seeking something nebulous
that is always out of reach

 

Copyright Tikuli

2. INSOMNIA 

two a.m. on Delhi’s post-rain Sunday
I try to wash away the sleepiness
from my insomnia laden eyes
pick a fresh sheet of paper
spread clean water till it sheens
like fresh snow on a sunny day
clean and load the brushes with colours
drop and watch in wonderment
as the colours bleed and waltz
into the white stillness
the ripe colours of autumn,
a drop of sea, the harvest fields,
the washes of sunsets layer after layer
and a moon laid on lake waters
a tender breath of green
a river filled with apparitions,
here now—then gone
wet roads winding around echoing hills
the crisp autumn breeze
floating across the valley
steam rising from a coffee left at the deck
my eyes closed I feel the calm glow
of lights at the water edge
the silent shadows
the peace of the submerged river banks
I dip my brush again as the pigeons rise
followed by the squirrel
and the upstairs neighbour
pounding fresh ginger for morning chai
the trees rise, the day rises
night slowly walks towards summer morning

2 Ingredient Banana and Dates Ice cream


A lot of my friends asked me about these one/two or three ingredient ice creams made without the ice cream maker. I have some recipes already on my blog which you can find through the search bar. Here is the link to the basic one ingredient banana ice cream. You can make many variations of this by adding chocolate, Nutella, mango, dates, vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, almond butter.. Think more and be creative. There is no dairy in these but you can make with sweetened condense milk and cinnamon too.

Bananas, especially overripe ones are terrific for these ice-creams.  Frozen fresh bananas make for such a fantastic  rich and creamy custard like ice cream which you can eat as soft serve or freeze it more to make solid ice cream.

The sweetness of bananas and dates means no added sugar but adding a little honey ensures that there won’t be any ice crystals when you freeze the ice cream.

These fruity ice creams are dairy free, vegan, egg free, gluten free and very delicious. Don’t worry if you do not have those gorgeous food props or ice cream scooper and other such kitchen gadgets. You can still make this and relish.

For the dates banana ice cream you will need

Ingredients : (serves one) 

Ripe Bananas – 2 ( look for those brown spots on the skin)

Dates ( Medjool) – 5-6

Honey / Sticky date syrup – for topping ( optional)

Steps – 

Slice and line the banana pieces on a plate covered with parchment paper. Make sure the pieces do not touch each other. Freeze for 4-5 hours or overnight. I often put them in zip lock bags and freeze in advance.

Soak the dates in two tbsp of water after removing the seed. Once soft you may discard the flake dry top skin if any. Put it in freezer too.

To make the ice cream take a good food processor or a good blender. Put the frozen pieces of banana and the dates in the jar and give it some good churns. Scrape the sides of the jar to ensure smooth blending. This may require some patience so go ahead and blend till you get a soft serve custard like consistency. If you want to make a firm scoop ice cream then add a teaspoon of honey at this stage otherwise there is no need. I used it for topping.

Once you get he thick creamy rich texture you can scoop it out into a bowl and eat it as it is or spoon it in a freezer proof container and freeze for an hour.  Take it out and mix it with a spoon then put it back for freezing.

Once it is uniformly frozen scoop it out in a bowl and drizzle with sticky date syrup/honey or any of your favorite topping. It tastes delicious without any topping too.

This summer give these ice creams a try and let me know how you found them.

Single Serve 2 Minute Microwave Fruity Bread Puddings


Bread pudding variations are my go to comfort food. I have a few recipes already on the blog and you can check them here – Pudding in a mug , caramelized bread pudding , citrus bread pudding  etc.

Many of my friends asked for the instant Cherry upside down and the banana upside down bread puddings I made in the microwave. These are perfect when you crave for something wholesome and sweet at an unearthly hour. It takes 2-3 minutes to prepare these and trust me they’re addictive.

There is no rocket science in making these puddings and you can do variations as per your liking. You can use fruit of your choice, add seeds, nuts, dates, chocolate or Nutella, whiskey or rum or just have the pudding warm and plain.

Preferably use a thick one day old bread. Challah, French loaf, Brioche are the recommended breads for French toasts and bread puddings but for these the usual white bread too works well. I have made these Puddings with Bishop Nut bread too. I love the chewy texture of baguette too but it needs extra soaking to soften it. Use what’s available. I do not trim the edges. They add to the texture of the pudding.

Use the sign of the pudding crawl out up to  at least 1/2 inch  outside the mug to know the dish is done perfectly.

Never be afraid to fill the mug till top and things settle down a lot once the bread soaks the liquid. I fill the usual coffee mug a little above 3/4.

Do adjust the cooking time according to your microwave type and bread type. Usually for me it takes about 2 -3 minutes.

Use wide mugs if possible bu taller ones also work fine.

You can keep the sugar to the minimum and utilize the sweetness of fruit. Also, one can use organic honey. I try to minimize the sugar usage.

This was a rushed coking spree so please excuse the photograph. Will replace with a good one when I make it next.

Here’s how I made them :

Upside down Warm Cherry Bread Pudding 

Ingredients :

Pitted fresh cherries – 8-10

One day old bread – 2 thick slices

Milk ( preferably full fat with top cream) – 1/4 cup

Bourbon or any Whiskey – 2 tablespoon

Raisins – 8-10

Sugar ( white/brown) – 2 tbsp

Salted Butter – 1 tbsp

Pinch of cinnamon powder

Pinch of nutmeg powder

Pure vanilla extract or vanilla essence –   2-3 drops

Steps – 

Soak the cherries and the raisins in Whiskey and keep aside

Nicely toast two slices of bread . It compensates for the browning you get if oven baked)

Apply butter on one side and then break it into bite size pieces or cut into squares.

In the bowl you will use for making the pudding, arrange the cherries and then place the bread pieces. Add the raisins in between.

In another bowl mix sugar, spices, vanilla and the remaining whiskey and then pour this mixture over the bread pieces.

Press it gently and let it rest for 5 minutes for the bread to soak up the milk.

Place the bowl on the center of microwave plate and let it cook for 2 minutes on high power. Check by pressing the spoon gently. If there is still a lot of liquid then give it another minute or take it out on the counter.

Place a plate on top of the bowl and turn upside down to release the pudding.

Have warm of cold as per your liking.

You can mix everything and make this pudding in a mug too. I made this one in bowl with no added sugar as the black cherries from FarmerUncle were super delicious and sweet as honey. These are chemical residue free cherries. I added Amul Venezuela Ebony Twist chocolate pieces too for added indulgence.

Caramelized Banana Upside down Bread Pudding 

Ingredients : 

Ripe yet firm banana – 1 large

Full fat milk with top cream – 1/3 cup

Dark Rum ( Old Monk) – 2 tbsp

Raisins – 10-15

Sugar ( brown/white) – 2 tbsp

water – 2 tbsp

Bread Slices – 2

Vanilla extract or essence ( optional) – 1-2 drops

Cinnamon _ nutmeg powder – a pinch ( optional)

 Steps- 

In a bowl soak the raisins in rum and keep aside.

In a non stick skillet or sauce pan add sugar, let it simmer over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until amber.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in a tsp of butter.

Cut the banana into small rounds and place them neatly in the caramel. Put it back on low heat and let them turn golden from both sides. Take the pan off the heat.

Carefully arrange the banana slices in the bowl in which you will make the pudding.

Toast and butter the bread and then make small pieces of it. layer the raisins and bread pieces over the banana slices.

In a bowl whisk milk, vanilla and spices. Pour the mixture over the bread pieces. adding the leftover caramel and rum in between.

Let it soak for 10 minutes. Gently press with spoon so that the upper layer also gets soaked properly.

Keep the bowl in microwave and cook for 2 minutes as per the make of your microwave. If there is still some milk left you can give a 1 minute run again.

Let it rest for a minute then place a place on top of the bowl to turn the pudding upside down.

These puddings are a little soft and not too dry. Keep that in mind. You can make them with egg too like normal basic bread pudding but I find adding one egg a bit too much for a bowl or mug so avoid.

Serve warm of cold. I prefer to have it warm. The salted butter gives it the taste of salted caramel which is divine.

Here is one in a mug that has layers of banana, raisins, walnuts and bread. I topped it with sticky date syrup so no white sugar in this one.

I hope you will try one of these and let me know if you liked them.


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Meethe Makhane | Jaggery Coated Fox Nuts & A Parfait


Phool makhana are one of my favorites. They are also known as lotus seeds or fox nuts. A versatile  sweet treat that is gluten free, low calorie, vegan and full of healthy nutrients. I have the savory version HERE  and a Kheer HERE.  These are very addictive but you can eat them free from all guilt. Add to vegetable curries, make desserts or munch on the savory snacks and if you have a sweet tooth like I do then make these gur ke makhane or jaggery coated makhana. These popped seeds are good to eat in fasting days too and provide instant energy. You can even give it to toddlers.

Popped Makhana is chewy but once nicely roasted it becomes crisp and nice.

 

One of the quickest snacks you can assemble. I won’t go into details of the benefits the two ingredients provide. Do Google it.

Here is how even a kid can make it in a jiffy.

Ingredients :

Fox Nuts | Makhana – 1 Cup

Organic or Chemical free Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery  – 1/4 Cup

Pure Ghee – 1 tbsp

Water – 1 tbsp

Cardamom | Til | Desiccated coconut – As per your choice ( I have not added anything here)

Steps – 

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add the popped Fox Nuts seeds. Roast them on low flame till they become crisp. Make sure to keep the flame low and do a finger test by breaking the makhana between two fingers. If done it will crumble nicely. If it doesn’t then roast a little more. Once roasted, take them out in a plate.

Toast the Til or desiccated coconut in the same pan if using and remove in a plate.

Add the jaggery powder with a tablespoon of water to the same pan and let it melt on low flame. Once the jaggery fully melts turn off the flame and add the roasted makhanas and the other ingredients if using. Stir to mix everything and let it cool in a large plate. Once the coated makhanas are cool enough to touch ( 5 minutes) separate them gently.

Store them in an airtight glass container and munch on these power snacks anytime.

You can caramelize the fox nuts with brown sugar or white sugar too but I prefer jaggery. Here I have used Organic jaggery from Monsoon Harvest Farms that was bought from Farmer Uncle . I mostly buy all my fruits and many of the other staples from them. Do take a look at their website.

The Parfait Story 

Now, I had never used caramelized makhana in a parfait.  Usually I just munch on them but this idea of substituting roasted beaten rice or Poha with fox nuts is by Sangeeta Khanna. I treasure her recipes and often look up for interesting combinations or tricks to make things better.

I make parfaits of all sorts with chilled home cultured curd. Adding, fruits, nuts, ramdana or popped amaranth seeds, roasted Poha or beaten rice flakes but this is by far the most delicious thing. The makhanas are a chewy swollen dumplings inside the smooth chilled home cultured curd. You can check the other Parfaits from the search bar but here is One of the recipes.

This is the first mango of the season. A little sour so it has given a unique flavor  the whole composition. The sweeter the fruit is the better. Eliminates the use of white sugar or any other sweetener. Just perfect for a quick breakfast.

Here’s how I made the Caramelized Fox Nuts and Mango Parfait.

Cube the best ripe mangoes (1-2) and chill. Whip and chill a cup full of homemade curd with a little honey or mango puree. I sometimes use hung curd too.

If you have the caramelized makhanas then you are ready to assemble but if you don’t then quickly caramelize them fist.

Now, take a glass and layer the curd, mango cubes and makhana till you reach the top.

Serve immediately.

I can’t tell you how delightful this tastes. Do try and let us know how it worked for you. You can caramelize a few makhanas in five minutes for this parfait so go for it.

Bengali Kachcha Aamer Mishti Chutney


The one is the down right corner is without sweet for my mother. If you use sugar instead of jaggery the color will be golden yellow.

It is amazing how certain dishes are prepared and relished all across India with slight variations in the spices. This version of launji is slightly different from the one I make North Indian style.  Here is the recipe for Meethi Khathai as called it since childhood.

In this version of kachcha Aamer mishti chutney I have used panch phoron. I keep the mango stones ( guthli) in the dish as I love to suck on the spicy tangy sweet guthli. I also keep a lot of liquid in this. A mandatory side dish in summer when the markets are flooded with raw and ripe mangoes.

You can have a bowlful on its own or pair it with steamed rice, paratha, roti etc. Some people peel the mangoes in this dish but I keep the peel.

One more thing that I do is marinate the raw mango slices with red chili and salt for 10 minutes so that the fruit releases water and softens a little.

It quickens the cooking process too.

Here’s a simple way to make this wonder dish.

Ingredients –

Raw mangoes – 1/2 kg (4 medium size)

Organic Jaggery (grated/powder) – 1/2 cup / as desired ( I prefer the chutney a little sour) Fresh grated ginger – 1/2 tbsp

Water -3-4 cups 9 depends on how much liquid you need)

Whole dry red chilies – 2-3

Black mustard seeds – 2-3 tsp

Panch Phoran – 1 tsp (roasted and pounded cumin, fenugreek, mustard, nigella and fennel seeds)

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mustard oil – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

Wash and cut mangoes with skin lengthwise. Keep the stone.

In a wide plate keep the mango slices and stones, sprinkle salt and red chilli powder and rub it in till every piece is coated. Let it rest.

After 10 minutes heat mustard oil in a thick bottom pan.

Add the mustard seeds and dry red chilli as a tempering. Once the seeds crackle, add the marinated mango pieces and the mango stones. Give a good stir.

Saute it for 5-10 minutes n low medium heat and then stir in grated ginger and turmeric.

Add water to your liking, increase heat and bring it to boil. This preparation is a bit thin so I keep one and half cup extra jhol over the amount needed to cover the mango pieces.

Once the liquid starts boiling lower the heat and let the mango cook till soft yet firm. Don’t let it disintegrate.

At this point add the jaggery. You can use Sugar too. Mix well. Test for sweetness, salt and spice threshold. Add if required more. If you add the jaggery/sugar before the mangoes won’t soften so make sure the mango pieces have softened to your satisfaction.

Sprinkle the panch phoran and stir. Turn off the gas and let it cool to room temperature.

Spoon the aam er chutney in a glass bowl or Jar. Always use glass containers for sour dishes.

You can keep this in an airtight container for 5-7 days in the fridge.

Use dry, clean spoons to take out the chutney.

Relish this side dish as a post meal dessert or with steamed rice or luchi.

Note – If you do not have panch phoran you can use bhaja masala or roasted cumin and roasted fennel powder too.