Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oprah Winfrey - My Role Model

Oprah Winfrey is in India! Awesome. I’ve always loved Oprah Winfrey’s talk shows as she manages to touch a chord in you at all times! How often I have thought of sending her a mail expressing my admiration for her and for the encouragement and confidence she instills in me through her shows! But then, I’ve felt intimidated and never got the courage to sending her that missive. Courage? How ironic that I did not have the very courage she advocates for women all over the world! I even harbored an impossible distant dream of being in the audience during her talk show. Well, I know, that Oprah does not believe in the word impossible. Maybe I should change the timid me!

Now, Oprah is here in India, closer to home! It’s wonderful to see her in our settings since she feels so real and lifelike to us rather than at a distant studio in Chicago. She wowed the audiences and the shutterbugs with her characteristic simplicity. Her magnetism is so very powerful that she had the masses mesmerized!

Seeing Oprah against our conditions and the manner in which she spoke about our way of life, made us to admire her many times over! She is so eloquently precise in her observations and non judgmental. She hit the nail on the head when she said, ‘India is paradox. People live here in chaos and calm both.” She was enamored by people having alters(Pooja rooms)in their homes, ‘People don't talk here religion but they live it". She could never understand the Indian joint family tradition, but seeing it in person, she was full of admiration, ‘But having spent some time, and having a dinner at a home with a family with 4 generations in one house, I now get it. I really get a sense of how really glorious it is, that this is a country that has no respect for nursing homes, because you take care of your family and you don't put your family in nursing homes. I think that's a, I'm most amazed by that.’ But sadly, this tradition is changing, with more children going overseas to work and parents are left in senior citizen homes.

It’s obvious that she adores interacting, talking and listening to people. She loves people. Hence, it is no wonder that though she admired the Taj Mahal , she was more fascinated about  the people- King Shah Jahan and  Mumtaz Mahal.  She said, ‘The Taj Mahal is beautiful, very nice, he really loved her, I would like to say, he really, really, really loved her, to build that monument, but it means nothing, as you know, without the people.’ When asked if she was going to ask for a Taj Mahal to be built for her, she replied, ‘I think it would be completely unnecessary. I think my life has been the Taj Mahal, I think.’ Indeed yes! Awesome.

There must be a million reasons why she is a media moghal, the Talk show’s queen and so on and so forth. But, as I sat glued to the TV, soaking in her interviews, her brushing shoulders with the Royalty and partying with the glitterati, she came across as a person enjoying and infusing the adulation and above all being enriched by a unique experience. She is powerful and influential yet totally humble and realistic.

What touched me the most was her visit to the slums or rather what she said about the slums. Unlike the regular media people who love to sensationalize news even at the cost of humiliating and mortifying the victims, here is a sensitive and discerning woman who says, “It was important for me to go to slums but not show the worst of the worst, but show that people can live in poverty and still have hope and meaning in their lives,” She sees the heart of the people! ‘I'm a connector with stories. I use stories to connect people and show our humanity, not our lack of humanity.’ That’s Oprah- full of empathy, sensitivity and a very humane heart. She is indeed an exceptional and lovable journalist!

That is the very essence of Oprah, my role model and idol!


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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Essence of Not Forgetting Your Roots

    On Dec 31st 2011, I was in Bangalore at a shopping mall to pick up some fresh and lush salad leaves and fruits (not available in our town) before driving back home. I decided to visit a school friend who resides a little further away. Since my husband was not familiar with the roads and the location to my friends place, he suggested that I take an auto rickshaw. I hailed a passing auto rickshaw, gave him the address and asked him whether he could wait for 15 minutes and bring me back to the mall. He agreed very politely.

  On the way, after some pleasantries, like where I was from etc, he told me about himself which amazed me. It seems, a few years earlier he had come to Bangalore and started his career as an auto rickshaw driver .Gradually, he branched out to other side businesses like Real estate, Rail ticketing and Car Rentals. He now owns cars and has 3 running businesses .But on  Dec 31st every year, he takes out his auto rickshaw himself and plies passengers around the city. He wants to devote one day of the year to the profession that made him what he is today! Here is a person who did not want to ‘forget his roots’. I was full of admiration!

  How often we see people throwing their weight around when they gain power, position or money. They would love to forget their humble beginnings! Their inflated egos, makes them think that they are invincible and infallible. Success and fame can come to anyone, but the one who never forgets his roots will be able to sustain his success and fame. Pride and arrogance are the result of forgetting one’s roots and has been the cause of many a great men’s downfall!
There’s a saying…

‘Do not forget your roots,
 And know,
Without roots there are no fruits’

  The very essence of not forgetting your roots is that you know who you really are and what made you into whatever you are now! Your head is indeed firmly placed on your shoulders! 

 Above all, never forget to remember the people who raised you, reared you and gave you the sense of self! They gave you roots so that you can take wings!

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie take  an auto rickshaw ride during their stay in India for the filming of 'A Mighty Heart'
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Strawberry Preserve

I could not believe my eyes! An organic store down the road in this small ‘don’t get good stuff’ town I’m living! Anyway, I was all agog and made a visit straight away to the store. I was so very excited to see organic strawberries, passion fruit and fresh figs. I happily bought the fruits that caught my fancy. Did I stop to ponder what I would be making with all those stuff? No! At least not till I came back home ,washed the fruits and was done  admiring all the farm fresh fruits! And then it hit me. What do I do with all this stuff? I had no choice but to preserve them .Surely I can put the preserves to good use  as icecream and desert toppings when my kids come home!(That is, if they  last till then.)You see, I just love toppings especially on ice creams.

Of course, you all know that the difference between a jam and a preserve! With jam the fruits are mashed up into a spreadable consistency, whereas with a preserve the fruits are cooked whole and set in their own jelly. 
Here's the recipe for my homemade Strawberry preserve.

Strawberry Preserve
1 kg (1000gms) -Strawberries
3/4Kg (750 gms) -Sugar
1/2 - lemon

  • Wash and hull the strawberries. Wipe the strawberries dry with a kitchen towel. Don’t use bruised or overripe strawberries.
  • Put the strawberries into a wide based vessel.
    Add sugar to strawberries
  • Add sugar to the strawberries.
  • Leave the strawberries to soak in the sugar overnight. The strawberries become hard when soaked in sugar and hence, will not disintegrate when it is boiled .
  • In the morning, when the crystals of sugar are completely dissolved, bring the fruit and sugar to boil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Squeeze in the lemon juice.
  • While boiling, remove scum with a spoon if there are any.

  • Cook on a medium heat for about 10-15 mins. 
  • Test for the setting consistency to check if the preserve is done.

To test the setting consistence -Chill a plate in the freezer for 5 mins. Pour a tsp of the preserve in the chilled plate. After 30 seconds, tilt the plate. If it moves but does not run, it is done. If it runs, continue cooking for some more time.I prefer it a little runny , as it thickens in the refrigerator and it is much easier to use as toppings for ice creams and desserts.

Strawberry Preserve topping on Ice Cream
 That's it!!Try it!More wholesome than the store bought preserves!
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Cheers to 2012

 The very word ‘New Year’ sends everyone in a tizzy, as it is that time of the year to make the regular annual New Year Resolutions! Yes, it is time to make life- altering goals! We get another chance to reflect on the changes we want or to rectify. Moreover, making New Year resolutions is honestly soul satisfying and it has a feel good effect on you! You feel like a brand new you!!

 As a kid I used to write resolutions since everyone around me was writing them and did I feel so very good about it? Yes, but then, I don’t remember those resolutions lasting long- hardly a month or even less! When you slip up on your resolutions, the guilt feeling and the embarrassment of a failed attempt is indeed heavy. So I made a resolution never to bother with New Year resolutions I can never keep! And, let me hasten to add that I have stuck to this resolution. Neat, isn’t it?

 I read somewhere that ‘A person who breaks a resolution is weak’. I’m totally crest-fallen! However, the next sentence lifts my spirit, ‘And the person who makes a resolution in the first place is a fool’. I’m elated! I’m not alone !

Well, usually taming the bulge and a strict fitness regime tops the list of  New Year Resolutions. Though it is prudent to change your lifestyle for your wellbeing, I have personally experienced that  some exciting event like a family wedding ,an interesting get-together  or something like that is a huge motivation to trim down that unsightly fat and it is  easier to maintain the new lifestyle atleast for a while. So use any appropriate time of the year to start your motivated lifestyle change, so that there is no chance of casting your reformation to the winds!
Warm friendly smile

Even though I do not write down New Year Resolutions, I do have a few simple mental list of attitudes, actions, and beliefs that I   follow diligently all through the year.  It’s actually quite easy and effortless. Try it and you will feel really good!!

Here it is..
  • Have a warm friendly smile for everyone-at the malls, on the road, wherever. A smile knows no geographical or religious barriers .It is a universal language. You’ll be surprised at the number of smiles returned back to you!

  • Have a kind word to the elderly and the workers toiling away.Stop and spare a few caring words to them. It will make their day. Be extra nice to the elderly. Never forget that we will be there soon!(Maybe, I am already there?)

  • Have a thankful heart always. Be thankful for  your blessings, at all times.

    • Have a cheerful heart constantly. Never regret your past mistakes and weaknesses. Grow from it.

    • Have faith that God will answer your prayers according to His will in His time.

    • Always be yourself. Never put on an act or pretend to be someone you are not.
    Surely this commitment is easy, isn't it? Give it a go!

    I also love Benjamin Franklin’s quote...
    “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man/woman."

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