As a blogger thus far……

We all write in some form or the other – emails, school essays, reports, work-books.  In teens and even now  some of us are habituated to diary writing. Though not all writings  are worth sharing !

I have passed through various writing phases – prose and poetry. For me writing  particularly began with a school essay “Autobiography of a cotton”. It was a joint venture  with my dad; creating story line , forming paragraphs, improving upon english vocabulary, grammar, punctuation marks – (as an example Amazed – represented by an exclamation!). I was so engrossed in the process that by the time I completed the essay I had forgotten that I am writing it as school homework.

I continued to keep a log of  daily happenings in form of a diary, and a scrap book of pictures- beautifully captioned and with quotations but they were mere musings of a 15 year old which eventually stopped.

A decade later I read the book , Anne Frank’s diary and was reminded that I used to have one too !!

Writing in a diary is a really strange experience. for someone like me not because I’ve never written anything before but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musing of a thirteen year old  school girl – Anne Frank

My inspiration for writing has always been my dad. He was prolific in both languages English and Gujarati ( our native language). He has been my teacher. He emphasized enormously on proper structuring, forming a story – from start to build-up and ending it appropriately. As I write more, I have developed my own style but the core still continues to be his teachings.

After many years in 2010 diary took shape of a blog. I wrote a two page technical blog and shared with my dad. By profession I am an embedded engineer and I think my blog convinced my dad that I truly am. Thereafter, I continued writing, not publicly, but  a few personal articles. Formally, I started blogging again in 2013.

It’s not always easy to get followers for your blogs, which can sometimes be disheartening. There are a lot of books, and online guidance material available to train you further into how to cater your writings for the targeted audience. I would say with imagination and creativity one can enhance their expression in writing and with the right technique can extend their reach to a larger crowd.

Writing means sharing. It’s part of human condition to want to share things-thoughts, ideas, opinions. – Paulo Coelho

Public Recognition

Having started in 2010, my first public recognition as a blogger / writer came through e- magazine Brahmabodhi when I got invited to write  an article for Brahmabodhi 2018 edition. It is not very often that one gets such opportunity. I would say to all bloggers, please keep writing and someday you will land into such incredible chance to outshine.

 

As much elated I am while sharing the article, its publication close to fathers day has made it even more special

My article , a tribute to my dad, is about my learnings from a Bharatnatyam Dance “Ganpati Vandana”. Be sure to read.

I hope to keep writing and hope you’ll keep reading!!

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Summer Special!

 

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In this blog post I share two recipes, out of which one of them is fairly unconventional. If you are drained by summer heat, not having a large appetite but want to fix yourself a quick meal, these alternatives might come in handy – okra sandwich and a summer special salad. In Indian kitchens grilled/toasted potato sandwich are very common, made many a times from leftover potato sabji (vegetable). When you don’t have enough leftovers  you can give a try to such experiments. I feel more than a chef’s talent; such cooking requires a creative bend of mind.

Okra sandwich is a quick fix, hardly 10 minutes of preparation time. Sandwich I made for myself had following ingredients,

  1. Slice of cheese
  2. Cooked leftover okra vegetable
  3. Greens – (tomato, onion, cucumber, bell pepper)
  4. Sauces – mint mayonnaise, tamarind, ketch-up and of course salt and pepper.

A glass of juice/wine to go as an accompaniment with the sandwich. Okra sounds out of place but I find it filling in just the right amount of space that is usually left by “greens” sandwich for vegetarians.

Summer special salads are my favorites to have.  It has greens and fruits. Summer tends to leave most of us dehydrated. Fruits that are naturally rich in water content like water melon, kiwi, grapes, mangoes, sweet melon or cantaloupe and oranges are excellent to work with for preparation of salads. I added kiwi and apple to this particular salad.

Ingredients of the salad are

  1. Pasta
  2. Greens (Beet, Bell pepper, Tomato (I used vine tomatoes but can go with small -cherry tomatoes), Onions) Greens were sautéed in olive oil.
  3. Fruits – kiwi and apple
  4. Salad dressing – Caesar – you can use salad dressing of your choice
  5. Nuts – walnut, cashew & raisins
  6. Grated cheese
  7. Salt and Pepper – little bit of crushed red pepper (if you prefer spicier you can use green chilies)

Salads are the easiest to make, mix the greens, pasta and fruits, add the spices, pour the salad dressing and garnish it using cheese and nuts & raisins.

Enjoy the summer, beat the heat and try out some fun summer foods !!

Kulfreeze

Kuch Thanda Ho Jaye?!

Summer sure is here! Temperature reaching up to 40C and excessive humidity,  definitely calls for something cold. Visiting an Ice-cream parlor or a juice center increases more than ever! Moreover, diet takes a toll. Along with summer clothes, summer special diet paves it’s way into the everyday menu. Like most I run into need of a summery menu, especially during the evening hours when exhausted from a hot summer day.

Throughout this summer, in the “beat the heat” series I intend to recommend some of the places and recipes through my blog posts that have helped me stay cool and beat the summer heat!

I begin the series by one of my most frequented places,  Kulfreeze. If you are in Surat, Kulfreeze should be on your stop-by list. It carries fruit kulfi’s that gives the feel of gelato and regular milk kulfis tooThere are lot of options to select from and at a very reasonable price. The rustic decor of the shop is as inviting as the kulfi’s themselves or as the menu says “frozen fruit bombs”.

Menu Slate of Kulfreeze

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Menu card

It’s difficult to suggest a must try since I like them all!! Though my favorite is aam pasad. It’s a mango, milk based kulfi. I love mangoes and needless to say anything that has mango in it! Few others that I have tried and enjoyed are kiwi shiwi, badaam, strawberry, kashmiri kesar, chikoo.

There is always room for a little more once you have finished eating one of these kulfi’s, be sure to take a friend to share that additional bite ….

Kulfreeze is conveniently located near Parle Point in the Sargam Shopping Centre

To make your visit  memorable, you can always ask for a post-it and share your favorite kulfi with a personalized message.

Stay Cool !

A slice of Cheddar?

This is a slightly varied blog post than my current postings and so is the title. “A slice of cheddar“, it is very natural to associate it with food.  Strangely, the blog post does not deal with food or restaurants! So, then what is cheddar?

Few days ago, while I was going through Linked In news feed, I came across an advertisement. A pop-up tent made of fiber glass, it was cool looking and easy to install. Immediate thoughts were how much does it cost? where can I buy? I defocused a little, and saw cheddar peeping from a corner in the video and the post read (via cheddar)  Cheddar Inc on Linked In.

Is cheddar a manufacturer or a distributor? It turns out that Cheddar is neither, I visited the website and it said, “the leading post cable network“. I had never heard of it before, it surely made me feel like a rookie technologist! I liked the concept and thought to dig a little further, resulting into this post.

Good,bad or indifferent if you are not investing in new technology you are going to be left behind.   Philip Green

I was familiar with Netflix, Roku Tv, Yupp Tv – cheddar belongs to the same category. Category of live streaming , over the top OTT!  All you would need is email address and internet connection. You then have the flexibility of watching on your choice of device – anytime, anywhere. You pay the subscription and you are good to go. Undoubtedly, we are in the “at the rate” era.

 

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OTT-Tv

Over the top (OTT) is a media distribution practice that allows a streaming content provider to sell audio, video, and other media services directly to the consumer as a streaming product via internet. It essentially bypasses telecommunications,  cable or broadcast television service providers. The major difference in broadcasting through OTT and traditional channels is that OTT simply transports the IP packets, it may be aware but is not responsible , nor able to control viewing abilities, copyrights or other redistribution of content. OTT can be accessed through most internet connected devices like smart TVs, smart phones, set-top boxes like Apple TV, Roku

Cheddar Inc.

Cheddar was founded by Jon Steinberg, President and Chief Operating Officer of BuzzFeed from 2010 to 2014. Unique feature of Cheddar is that it covers news through the lens of companies and the executives. One of the recent stories, is the data breach of facebook, covered by Cheddar through Kim Hart, Managing Director Axios.

Since its launch in early 2016, Cheddar seems to have gained a lot of momentum and hoping that its popularity sees no bound. If you have questions as to where can you watch Cheddar – https://cheddar.com/watch

In Summary

Technology is moving at a rampant pace, internet speeds from its early days of Kbit/sec have gone all the way to Petabit/sec with the advent of fiber optics. In an absolute nerds language I would say that the front-end of the technological advancements have become so robust and affordable that without worrying about the underlying technology, one can reap the benefits at a mere push of button or downloading an App!

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. – Albert Einstein 

Sunday evening in Surat…

Sunday Is it the day of endings or new beginnings? Across the globe sunday is a holiday. Most people spend their day either relaxing, running  errands or in preparation of the upcoming week. Surat city is no different than any of them. People welcome sunday – the day off !

One thing that is particularly intriguing about Surat is that can be divided into different zones. By zones , I do not mean the geographic division of the municipality corporation . There are stretches in this city where it would be impossible to travel on a regular day. There are some areas where afternoons tend to be most crowded with street shopping or sections near schools that are chaotic during the morning and evening hours. Surat has seen enormous expansion in the last decade, but one thing that still holds true is how sunday is enjoyed by most people in Surat.

Surtis cross the river and are on other side on a sunday!

You will find that areas starting from athwagate all the way to the city limits are overwhelmed with two-wheelers and cars alike. Banks of river  Tapi.

I was born in Surat and have lived 24 years of my life here before I moved to the United States. Back then, city had no malls, couple of multiplexes and a few  3-4 star restaurants that were mostly near the railway station , close to outskirts of the town. During the 90’s other side of river tapi used to be a secluded area, inviting the young college crowd or  elderly seeking some quiet time. A big attraction or landmark used to be city’s leading engineering college SVNIT.  In those days too sunday, typically would  bring in visitors from across the town creating a jubilant atmosphere.

When you talk of surtis, not enough picnic spots cannot be a restricting factor. You can simply spread out a blanket on the footpath and enjoy  with your friends and family.

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Sunday Picnic

 

Even after many years , I am happy to see that sunday remains the day to be enjoyed out with friends and family in Surat. With lot many malls and multiplexes being constructed,  people get ample alternatives to relax .

I captured half a minute video of traffic in the evening around 7pm near Ichchanath Circle. Surtis  are trying to get themselves into mall , movie theatre , restaurant or just park by road side and spend the evening celebrating so that they have recharged themselves enough to start the upcoming week with vigor.

 

 

       Sunday clears away rust of the whole week- Joseph Addison

It would not be a perfect end to sunday if it were not for desert. When  travelers return from the sunday outing , dessert shops are awaiting their arrival for a quick Ice-cream or a cake stop ! Something sweet to begin the next week…………

 

 

A very happy Sunday !

After 4 years, journey to know the intricacies of dancing began…..

 

One of the shlokas in Nandikeshwar’s laghu granth ( epic) “Abhinaya Darpana” (The Mirror of Gesture) describes vividness in dancing as,

“Yato Hasta tato Drishti yato Drishti tato Mana
Yato Mana tato Bhaava Yato Bhaava tato Rasaha”

 

Philosophically,  where your hand goes, the eyes trace the path, your heart cruises along with the glances giving rise to  various emotions and those emotions embellish the dance- generating “Rasa”!

I completed my basic training in Indian classical dance Bharatnatyam in the year 1998 and obtained the degree or Nritya Visharad which is a bachelors in Bharatnatyam form of dance. Lot of literature is available about the dance form and how over the years it has attained the present shape from its lineage that trace to the ancient sanskrit text by Bharata Muni, Natya Shastra.

This blog post is specifically dedicated to those people who like me have been meaning to and either are struggling or just haven’t found the necessary motivation and push to dance again. After getting Visharad I did not continue dancing , the last I danced was in 2004 during a dance workshop. Like many, dance lost its place in my life, with earning livelihood gaining utmost priority.

Years later, to be precise 8 – I met dancing and the feeling was “Hey Stranger, where have you been?, I have missed you!!” During a yoga session, I did dancers pose and the instructor and I were both pleasantly surprised to see the ease with which I could not only get but retain the pose without loosing balance. It was though difficult remembering that dancing had been a very integral part of me for more than a decade!

I was in the United States then but I managed to find a dance teacher, I was skeptical, I was scared and more than that I didn’t want to be graded  and fail .

“You have to be able to accept failure to get better”- LeBron James.

I did taste failure on stage during a class performance in 2013 and almost quit. When you try to dance, irrespective of the dance form, after a decade it isn’t an easy comeback. Your physical strength is not the same and the body does not respond as quickly as it could previously. You are not only trying to bridge the gap of years lost without dancing but you are working against age, age that is acting as an opposing force.

Few things that held me together as I walked through the path

Yoga

 I practiced Yin -Yang yoga and Pilates. Even today every opportunity I get I find time for it. Yoga helps break the stiffness in the connective tissues. In yin-yang holding poses/asanas for longer durations – few minutes and suryanamaskars at a rapid pace helps you condition your body. Not many realize that though dancing is a very good form of exercise it generates lot of fatigue and weariness of different body parts that are extensively used. Like a sports person you have to be nurturing yourself through diet and other exercises to prolong your years in dancing.

Renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Late Balasaraswati has said,

” Bharatnatyam is a artistic yoga that is natya yoga for revealing the spiritual through the corporeals”.  (1)  

Gurus/Mentors

When you trying to make a comeback to dancing, it is essential that you find the right mentors and gurus or teachers to guide you through your journey. As strenuous as the path is without them , it is impossible to go beyond a few steps. I have been very lucky  to find such mentors and gurus for both yoga and dancing. Though Indian Classical dance has evolved over time one thing that is still a very innate element is the Guru-Shishya Parampara. Guru has a stature paralleled to the Omnipotent and at the same time Guru becomes your family.  To quote 15th Century saint and poet Kabir,

“Guru Govind dou khade, kake lagoon paay,
Balihari Guru aapno, Govind diyo batay”

which literally means, when both the God and Guru are standing together, whose feet should I touch first to get the blessings- I would have not know God without your teachings.

This also leads to the third and the most fundamental necessity to become a good dancer Meditation.

Meditation

As dreary and boring it may sound, dancing; and not just indian classical dancing, requires you to be one with your soul, which means you need to be aware of every single twist and turn of your body. To put in words of one of my dance mentor’s and a friend “Listen to your body”. You cannot do that until your mind has quiet down. There is so much noise in and around that we seldom feel our own breathing. The only way to filter  excessive noise is through meditation. Meditation does not mean you need to go through a rigorous practice, its always phenomenal if you are following one . Meditation for dancing is before each dance session if you can sit for 15 minutes either in simple padmasana (Lotus pose) or any other that is comfortable to you with your eyes closed and try to quiet down, feel your breath it’s proven to be beneficial.

Last but not the very least, attend workshops, training sessions, watch other dancers perform and try to understand the techniques and variations they are bringing to the form of dance . I have followed this tricks and tactics and it has helped me a lot. I would say after 4 years I started my regular dance practice without wearing out every other day. Recently, I attended a dance discussion held in my hometown Surat, India by renowned artist and kalaguru Shri Deepak Mazumdar and a 2 hour session by him, told me that there is a lot to learn, a good teacher is always the best student. I hope to share my learnings as I go deeper ………

 

All, my yoga sessions ended with the sound of om – to end this blog post  OM

Ref:

  1. Shri Bhaskar Menon & Smt. Radha Bhaskar , 2013, "Ananta Nrityam",Ahmedabad, India, Elite Printers