This poem was first published in Peacock Journal, an excellent journal edited by W.F.Lantry (award winning poet and writer) and his team.
I read, I read and I read
until there is nothing more to read
except the newspapers
then I take to the windows
begin to fill my empty hours
gazing into time
that seldom seems to move
on either side of the frame
on the wall my calendar changes
seasons change… people change
but the stillness remains
the silence within me remains
at night the walls become a
and then become walls again
as they merge into each other
to leave only an expanse of black
and then the light
that always hides at the edges
rises swiftly and crumbles my illusion
This poem was first published in Peacock Journal edited by W.F. Lantry and his team. Do browse the journal for some excellent work.
the shadow of the Oak trees
lies heavy on the grass below
no life stirs in the green expanse
that stretches until it meets the sky
with its cargo of clouds
along the distant ridge of hills
dust rises from a winding road
that looks lazily down upon
the slowly moving river
that crosses the land
along that road is our house
the house we loved and shared
until the day we drifted apart
now that lonely house waits
hoping again to become a home
Amaranth, the royal grain, is known as Raamdana/ Ramdana, Rajgira in India. Actually it is not a grain but seeds of the Amaranth plant. These tiny seeds pop up when roasted to become light and fluffy and provide more protein content than the much touted quinoa. A whooping 9 gm of complete protein in one cup. Amaranth contains all the essential amino acids which makes it much better than any seed/grain.
This tiny yet power packed seed is a store house of many essential nutrients. It has a significant amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin C. Another good thing is that it is gluten free so people who are celiac or gluten intolerant can easly incorporate it in their meals.
I have very fond memories of munching on raamdana ladoos as a child. Light and mildly sweetened with jaggery they are the best snacks to have at all ages as they are easy to digest too. We even used these popped seeds in porridge, both sweet and savory. Raamdana is very versatile and you just need to be innovative to include it daily in your diet one way or the other. You can use them in cutlets, frappes, ladoos, soups, muffins, breads, cakes, quiche, energy bars or use it as a breakfast cereal or baby food or sprinkle over salads etc. .
Here I made some quick sweets and a frappe using Organic popped amaranth seeds from I Say Organics.
Dates, Mix Dry Fruit and Popped Amarath Ladoos
This is a fantastic easy and quick recipes which can be made with or without cooking if you already have the amaranth seeds popped.
You can make bite size balls to eat as snacks. The size depends on your wish. I make them small so I can eat it often. There is no oil/ghee or added sugar so that makes these a wonderful snack.
To make these nutritious ladoos you will need :
Dates – 1 cup pitted (good quality)
Popped Amaranth / Rajgira Seeds – 1 Cup
Chopped or Powdered Mix dry fruits ( Almonds, raisins, cashews. walnuts etc. ) – 1/2 cup
Any seeds ( flax seeds sesame seeds) if you desire – 2 tablespoon
( If you have the wet dates then no cooking is required but if the dates are dry then they need to be heated a bit. )
Pit and chop the dates fine.
Dry roast the nuts and chop or powder them as per your taste. If using seeds then dry roast them too but take care not to over roast. Just light roasting is fine.
If you are using dry dates then heat a non stick pan and add chopped dates to it.
Keep the flame low and stir till the dates soften.
Add the nut mixture, seed mixture and popped ramdana, give it a nice sir and switch off the gas.
Remove the mixture in a plate and mix it thoroughly so that everything gets incorporated nicely.
Make small balls of the mixture and let them cool before putting them in an airtight container. Eat these nutritious power packed ladoos any time of the day. I am sure kids wuld love them too. Do give it a try.
If yo uare using the soft, wet dates then just chop them and put the dates and powder/chopped dry fruit mixture in a blender and mix till a gooey mix is obtained. Take it out in a bowl and make small bite size balls from it.
Ramdana/ Popped Amaranth Brittle/ Chikki
Our next recipe is for the brittle made of raamdana. I have used Organic jaggery and popped amaranth seeds from I Say Organics in this recipe to get the maximum benefits from the ingredients.
Popped Amaranth Seeds / Rajgira / Ramdana – 1/2 Cup
Organic Jaggery – 1/2 Cup ( you can use Palm Jaggery too. Crumble it or cut into slivers with a sharp knife.)
Ghee/ coconut oil – 1 tbsp ( coconut oil for vegans)
Pinch of salt
Grease a baking tray/ plate with oil and set it aside.
Put a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and add the oil or ghee to it.
Add the grated or crumbled Jaggery with a pinch of salt. I don’t use shakkar or granulated jaggery.
Stir it constantly till the jaggery melts and there are no lumps. Keep the heat low if required so the jaggery doesn’t burn. It will become more like a syrup.
Add ramdana / amaranth seeds and mix well.
Pour the mixture in the greased tin and
spread it evenly with a spatula.
Let it set for 20-30 min then remove it from the baking tray and either break into pieces or cut into squares.
Keep in an airtight container.
Note- Some people make a syrup or Paak of jaggery with water. I prefer it this way. To make it crisp you’ll need to melt the jaggery a little longer without burning. I just wait till it dissolves completely and add amaranth. This chikki/brittle is a bit softer than the market version.
Popped Amaranth seeds Parfait with Mixed Fruit And Nuts
I love yogurt Parfaits and this is one of my favorites. You can do so much with this basic recipe. Add any fruits, nuts, seeds to it with natural sweetness of fruits and perhaps some home made preserve or organic honey or organic jaggery slivers/ granules if you like it sweeter. Dates/ Prunes make this frappe very delicious and naturally sweet too.
Chopped Prunes or Dates
Popped Amaranth seeds
Chopped mix nuts (walnut, cashew, almonds etc and mixed raisins ( black, gloden)
Homemade preserve/ honey/ maple or date syrup/ molasses or jaggery
Just layer these ingredients one by one to make the parfait presentable or if in a rush just toss everything together and have it. Both ways you’re getting the goodness of this power packed recipe. Top the frappe with the Preserve or any of the other sweetening ingredient mentioned above. It is entirety up to you what to add/remove.
Make it as healthy and innovative as you desire.
Hope you liked these recipes. Do try and let me know in the comment section about your experience.
If sleep is ‘little death’ are dreams then an afterlife?
Painting credit copyright Aditya Dogra.
I have not logged about the early morning dreams or premonitions in some time. Actually I wait till some voice within me tells it is time to write. Things keep happening between the realms of wakefulness and sleep and in between too. Yes, i think there is a state in between and perhaps it has a name too but I am not aware. Even when we are asleep there is this inner wakefulness that guides the dreams as we know them. Sometimes I feel I conjure up some situation or thing to work upon while sleeping and that becomes the dreamscape but on most nights the events are unexplained and not really connected with the day’s events. There is always something deeper and more authentic than the waking reality.
I do not know what prompts me to write down my dreams and I do not know what they mean but it feels good to be intrigued by these riddling images of my mind. Here I will share three recent ones.
First the most recent and the shortest.
I am in a cave, exploring perhaps, when i find something glistening in one of the ledges cutting through the wall on my left. Something is breathing there. There is only natural light but enough to see what needs to be seen. As I focus my eyes I realize it is a creature , a mix of a serpent or a snake and a huge lizard ( iguana/ monitor lizard are first thoughts). It’s body is glistening blue green. The color of peacocks neck. The colors shimmer as they would in sunlight. It’s head too is a strange mix of both the creatures I mentioned but more like a snake’s. As i stand there in awe it slowly rises as if waking from a sleep. Our eyes meet. There is a gentleness in those eyes. I do not remember what color they were. All I can remember is the feeling of warmth they radiated. The creatures slides to the ground and as it does I notice its torso and legs. They are like human body. The lower part below waist is human like. It has the same flesh color. It stands there gazing as I gaze at it and in that moment we lose track of time and space and everything else.
I didn’t wake up immediately as I mostly do nor did the dream continue. It just ended there.
At another time the dream was more in conscious state of mind I believe as I was very much aware of the sounds around the house. I am anyway a very light sleeper though my children claim I sometimes sleep soundly when I say I had been awake the whole night. Strange that it may seem.
Talking about children, my boys are often part of my dreams directly or indirectly. Many time I get this sudden thought/ a flash of an image like a premonition and most of the time it comes rue in one form or the other with the person whose name/face flashes in my mind. It has happened too often in last few months though again it could be just a coincident. These thoughts don’t always come to me as dreams.
Usually it is connected to something uneventful, a mishap in most cases.
In a few cases the mishap occurred without me being aware and when I shared my dream/ thought I came to know what had happened. It has happened with friends/family in close circle.
Before I go on to the longish dream to end this post let me give an example.
Few days ago my elder son had come to spend the weekend with me. Early Sunday morning at about 3 AM I had a dream that my brother was waking me up telling me to come see how much blood was pooled up near my elder son’s hip area as he slept on his left side facing the wall. i rush and try to wake the boy asking him where is he bleeding from. The chap gets up and yells at us for spoiling his precious sleep as he isn’t bleeding at all. I stare at the blood pool wondering where it was coming from while the boy dozes off again.
I woke up with a start and went straight to the room where he was sleeping peacefully. I sat there for a few minutes and then went to brush my teeth and make tea etc. In an hour or so my phone rang and it was the younger son. Worried and weeping he asked for his brother. My heart sank thinking of some mishap that may have happened with him. I quickly work Kid 1 again and gave the phone. I could make out something was very wrong as he consoled his younger brother, jumped out of bed, changed, booked the cab to rush back home. While doing that he explained that their little kitten fell from the second floor and was attacked by dogs. She was in critical state and bleeding from mouth and rectum.
I did not share my dream with anyone except one person. It isn’t the first time this has happened and it scares me. In recent months there have been many short dreams/ flashing related to blood / death/ mishaps and invariably a news has followed. In an already skewed up world in which I exist this isn’t a good sign IMO. A thing that last maybe 30 seconds while also never ending in my mind.
How the consciousness speaks in these ambiguous forms of oneiric tales freak me out at times. Dreams can be bizarre. A surreal continuum of lostness like this next one.
it is dark and me and the boys are travelling on a bullock cart ( I think they are bullocks) through some slush. The ground is rough and uneven. It is also cold, at least for me, as I have a hooded cape wrapped around me. The boys are bare chested.
I do not know where we are and where we are headed. The horizon isn’t visible. It is just a journey into deeper dark. There a big iron truck with us though I keep thinking of it as suitcase and call it a suitcase.
“How long will it take?” I ask.
“No idea but we need to keep going. It may rain too. The entire area is flooded.” Says the elder son.
” Keep the suitcase covered.” says the younger one. ” we can’t take risks. I’m fed up of this unending journey.”
“Stay quiet.” I whisper.
I can see the tree line of some forested area far at the horizon. it begins to drizzle.
“Who thought of taking this fabulous vehicle for such an important ride?” Kid2 tries to make the animals move faster. They groan.
“Be prepared for anything and look out for some repair shop. We need to get the suitcase repaired. We can also sell it and buy a stronger lighter one if possible.” Kid 1 says.
“I can see a lantern. Be ready.” I say gripping a baton while the boys grip on some weapon of defense they have.
Slowly, like a shadow we move closer to the lone yellow flickering light. It looks like one of those puncture repair shops one sees along the highways. There is an old shack too. I spot boxes there. We do not spot anyone. Cautiously we step down and look for the owner.
“What do you want?” A voice startles us. A man had appeared from behind the ragged curtains acting like curtains at the door. He looks a million years old.
“We need to exchange our old suitcase with a lighter box. You can keep ours. No money.” I say, eyeing the boys to remain alert.
“Select the one you want. Be quick. The rapids will rise any minute.”
The boys rush to the cart as the animals begin to whimper.sensing an impending danger.
In a minute I join them and we set off. After a while I look back to find the place drentched in dark.
“We were lucky to get away.” I mumble.
” Is everything safe.” Kid 2 asks.
I gasp realizing that the box is missing. The boys pull the reins and glare at me. ” You left the box there only. You idiot.” Kid 1 is fuming with anger.
“I just don’t know how that could have happened. I transferred the contents, locked and picked up the …” I stare at an empty worn out old suitcase thrown in a corner of the cart.
” You picked up the old one.. How could you? You lost all we had. Our everything. Our lives. ” We were rooted to the ground in the middle of a large dark flooded plain. My elder one’s angry figure looming large over me.
I hear my younger one mumbling in fear. ” We are done. We won’t survive. I told you it was a bad idea to cross over like this. What will we do… mumble..mumble.. “
The water ahead of us is gleaming in some invisible light and the animals pull the cart as quickly as they can through the slush pulling them in.
The forest line is clearly visible but still far. There are stumps of burnt trees around us. The cart suddenly stops and we freeze. Something isn’t right. My elder son gets up and picks up a spear.
“I have to leave. You need to travel on your own from here.Go north then west. Goodbye for now.” With that he soundlessly jumps out of the cart and in a flash vanishes into the dark. We just see a flash of the spear tip gleaming and then vanishing.
We look at each other and then ahead. We have fallen through time. The tree line has disappeared. and instead far away the horizon is visible like a red thread encircling the landscape. We turn north. First the bullocks dissolve then the first half of the cart with Kid2 and then me. ll that remains is the darkness.
I slowly opened my eyes and glanced around the room which seemed darker than usual. Usually one can hear the low snoring sounds of my brother in next room but that night was quieter than ever.
For a long time all I could think of was my elder boy. I did narrate the dream to him some time in the next few days and maybe there was some part that I may have forgotten to write here. A conversation perhaps when he leaves but I do not want to invent anything now. It’s been a few months.
2016 brought a lot of upheaval but then the chaos is necessary to give birth to something. When it comes to my life I do not know which plane I am on as I plunge into one to emerge on another, day in and day out.
Something is about to change in the coming months. I do not know if that is a good sign or bad but I am going with my gut feeling and going with it.
Something needs to be written about. Urgently and Soon.
Something needs to be brought to a closure.
Universe is showing some signs. Hope it guides me in the right direction.
PEACE – BE.