The Way To Stillness.

... being so open to the present moment, that numerous possibilities that weren't there before flow through you.

Since there hasn’t been any drama in a while, I keep spouting internal formulas on what may really be going on in my life. Something big is sure to be brewing under the currents of everyday banality and free-flowingness.

The jaded, perhaps more accurately, faithless side of me that’s been doing the rounds for a while was definitely heading towards a dead-ended wall of impenetrable inevitability. It’s answer to the this perpetual question of what’s next” that my life had become, was growing more angst-ridden. I was starting to feel like the walls were caving in, the more i burned through each day.

I’ve often tried to explain to a close friend about why I’m not a practicing muslim. I’ve told him that I know there is some greatness here, some truth in this book. Every time I try to gain some of that knowledge, that enlightenment, however, I felt like the words were a puzzle I couldn’t unlock. As an insult, whenever I would feel this way I would get stuck in the loop of a line that is often mentioned in the Quran. I daren’t even try to convey it accurately, but in the translation that I read, the general idea expressed is that :

Allah chooses to enlighten who he will, and will deny to enlighten some as well.

So I would tell my friend that I feel that I need some other means, some guidance, maybe another text to help me access this source of truth.

Last night, I thought of this recurring conversation, and for the first time, felt relief.

In his earlier book, he describes a moment where he awoke one morning to experience the world simply, as is.

I don’t know much about Eckhart Tolle, but his book “A New Earth” has Oprah’s Book Club stamped conspicuously on it. Every time I’ve quoted something that’s from, inspired by, or similar to its contents, I do a self-deprecating cheating disclaimer, apologizing verbosely about how “oprahish” this is going to sound. It’s a habit I really need to stop. I suspect it may be really liberating, to let people think I’m just another consumerist schmuck who buys into Oprah and the empire of feel-good self-help.

Now this [is really going to sound Oprahish], but I believe things have been unfolding for me in terms of a guidance since I watched The Secret a few years ago at a very low-point. As it says in “A New Earth,” acute suffering or loss, in particular, sometimes jolts people out of their unconscious state. Now it’s not an uncommon tenet: the cliched wisdom that suffering somehow brings inner healing and depth to a person. In this book, however, Eckhart Tolle is referring to something very particular with the word “unconscious.” He starts his earlier book, “The Power of Now,” with the description of a moment in which his suffering got a to a point where it simply dislodged the shackles of his soul. He awoke one morning to experience the world simply, as is.

After reading this volume, the beauty of the world and its “as isness,” is something I’ve come to value. It’s almost like I can remember how it feels when I was younger.

It’s about grounding yourself in the present moment. One effective way in which he tries to illustrate this state, is by pointing out that most people are always waiting to get happy in the future, that the present moment is always just a means to get somewhere, irrelevant and imperfect in itself. OK. That again is a hackneyed rhetorical observation. But Tolle somehow comes towards this same truth, and many others, through an entirely different vantage point.

He introduces us to a life-altering notion: that we are separate from our mind, and the prison of thoughts that may seem rooted in the present, is actually stopping us from living it. .

What he tries to make us see, is that in the moment that we become aware of our thoughts as separate from ourselves (because we are then, after all, looking at this thoughts from afar), we can then start to answer the real question:

If this thinking machine is not who I am, then who, or what am I ?

From this tiny glimpse of a space just behind this junkyard of spiraling thought-patterns, Tolle fuels an entirely new interpretation of consciousness.

Nonresistance:

Breathing. Absorbing. Accepting the moment, the situation, the reaction as is. Giving yourself that space to not react.

It’s the difference between a happy life and a miserable one. Really.

Surrender:

Perhaps an off-shoot of non-resistance.

It’s such a powerful state, or notion, that he is describing here. The state of being so open to the present moment, so non-defensive towards what might happen or is happening, that numerous possibilites that weren’t there before can flow into your life.

This is when I realized that I may be finding a way through to other forms of truth, like the Quran.

Surrender to the will of God.

Words that previously shut me out like iron bars clamping down with their dogma, suddenly had see-through miles of fabric in between.

Leave a comment

Filed under |These Are Not Book Reviews|

On the Chopping Board: a Random Study.

It’s nice to see vegetables, as opposed to miles of digital footage, on my chopping board.

That too complete with foreboding, suggestive shapes, glossy red balls, and a whole load of innuendo.




the end.

the high-key tomato story.

Leave a comment

Filed under |The Way Things Look|

29 days London, 1 day… Bath.

I used to turn my nose down on packaged tours of any kind.

Then I rode a bus with Julie Andrew’s singing embrace plastered all over it.

I was holding my mouth shut tight lest I bust out along with the Sound of Music soundtrack as we meandered over some very alive hills, the trees where she scraped her knee, the abbey that is where she belongs, her home, her family, her life.

Yes, I took the Sound of Music bus tour in Salzburg.

And it gave me the cheapest of cheap thrills.

Oddly therapeutic, actually. Like you’re finally giving into the ease and comfort of commercial ventures. Sitting back and enjoying the show. Listening to the tour guide. Being tickled by random trivia: [like the fact that half of the scenes on the Vontrap Villa patio were actually shot at the lake where we were standing, and the other half at a studio in the good old u.s.a.].

I guess that’s why I was a much easier tourist two years later in Bath, and I even gave into the Jane Austen center. Although I have to admit it was the gimmickiest of them all, starting off simply with a British woman talking to us in a room full of chairs. Again, that vacuous, jaded, post-27 existence of mine, seeking peace and pacification in any form, lapped up all the trivia she offered about her family tree, her brother in the navy, the illness that she died of, and that she just made it into the “comfortable” realm of things since they did manage to keep servants in her house.

the prestigious residential circle

referred to in Austen-speak

as "The Circus."

I have to admit, it re-sparked the nascent embryo of edwardian-era curiosity. After being inspired to download as many Austen film adaptations for maximum consumption without all the literary discipline, I was actually reading articles to investigate the vague depiction of social norms. For instance, I was surprised when in the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bindley actually walks into the bedroom where Jane Bennett is sick in bed.

Fascinating stuff.

That particular article also led me to pin down the whole question of toilets. Only the rich had them. I would think Mr. Darcy definitely flushed inside Pemberley. Not so sure about poor Lizzie and her sisters.

Apart from Jane Austen and the post-holiday period film reverie she inspired, Bath was a heaven-sent day to beat holiday-end blues.

Bathed (!) in edifices of fading ochre, columned Roman antiquity is mirrored with lofty rows of uniform chimneys. An imposing symmetry is found in what the Austen lady referred to as “The Circus.” As we entered the city through bus, exquisite upscale gold-hued cottages were echoed with church steeples throughout the hills. Cathedrals and churches almost never leave your vista, be it in close proximity or in the surrounding countryside.

Avon River Coffee Lookout. Immense Content.


Being lucky enough to take this one-day dip into the past with a companion who loves food as much as I do, one of my favourite moments was our first stop: post-breakfast coffee. This fresh, airy, prettily white-washed patisserie was on the corner of a bridge on the river Avon.


cathedral spire in every vista

The flowers didn’t exactly put a dent in all the quaintness, but being a world heritage sight, there was still a bit of austerity, a bit of inaccessibility about the place. I feel like I meandered through the depressive low-keyness of a small town the evening we arrived, to pristine, solitary quaintness the next morning, to full-on tourist life by the afternoon. At that point of course some of the novelty and specialness wore off. The high-street could’ve (sort of maybe) been a very quaint London find.


What definitely could not be found in London was the Alice-in-Wonderland-esque patch of garden right in the heart of the town. Wrought-iron stair-cases wove down the sides of long wall extending from the bridge over the Avon River, descending into the most sculpted, surreally antiquated english gardens ever. Make-believe period-film set magic.

Who could blame crowds of tourists (such as ourselves) for happily thronging even the high-street of such city, especially when they were very near to …

The Roman Baths.

Another touristy venture that aerated some of my bigotry towards controlling the experience of an ancient monument / building / work.

the entire structure was covered when actually in use. so no yucky green algae effect back then.

Yes, in this case, I have to admit any reservations towards the audio tour of the Roman Baths, as well as the labyrinthine, brilliantly concealed museum penetrating the surviving structure, can be nothing but bigotry.

How else would I have known that the water we see today bubbling up from the hot springs of old, is actually what was once rain from 10,000 years ago?

10,000 year old rain-drops.

I ask you.




The double-context of an ancient Roman presence seen through a 19th century Edwardian one seems to throw the stone of history further down the well of the mind’s eye. The Baths, functioning on this site as early as 60 A.D., were only discovered in the 19th century. At this time, the decidedly Christian society added this extra balcony layer above the site, as a tribute to the Roman generals who were connected with Bath, incidentally, known then, as Aqua Solis.


All in all, a veritable sponge of moments to soak up, a hearty broth of a day, ’twas Bath.

1 Comment

Filed under |Introspection & Experiences|

Art near the Kitchen Sink.

or so i think it is.

When I was on holiday this time in July, my Nikon D40x never left the suitcase. Except when I went to Bath for a night and even then it’s battery turned out have one photo worth of charge. I let it go, that pressure of capturing something, feeling like a maniacally clicking factory of beauty, therefore capturing the mediocre. It’s a struggle I’ve started to experience in the kitchen of all places.

I’m sure the visuals are an important part for many people who like to produce food. I also like the flat, even lighting I get on our kitchen counters from the  flood of fluorescent lights under the cabinets. It enhances the details in the surface and produces these mild, looming hovers of shadow.

Leave a comment

Filed under |The Way Things Look|

Post-holiday Holistic

i’ve totally forgotten how to write in html.

that’s how long it’s been since i last blogged.

millennium musing.

It seemed a shame not to capture one month of soul-searching, eating, drinking, looking at bright colours, and walking, walking, walking… on london’s bridges, through alleys, round quaint corners.


but tied down by laptop i wasn’t going to be.

along with my usual pillage of art-officiale

[tickets,

maps,

brochures….

more tickets]


…a fistful,

(ok, more like an overnighter-full)

of H&M shopping…


…one of the more easily relatable forms of baggage i brought back with me was a sampling of some alternative food.

one was just cold-pressed sunflower oil; (while i’ve read up on a bit on the advantages of cold-pressed vs. regular, it’s not something that’s going to make as big a difference in my head as….)

quinoa.

also got organic butter beans and multi-grain flaxseed, spelt, [thingamajig] crackers.




back to quinoa.

quinoa fluffs and expands effusively when done, becoming a warm, fuzzy vat of healthy carb.

the thing that makes a big difference in my diet picture, and makes me so happy every time i cook with it, i want to don a fifties-style kitchen glamour suit complete with sky-blue apron and matching patent later heels and kick one up behind me in delight.

i’d heard of bulgar wheat, but that was my only (imaginary) foray into serious alternatives to the all-encompassing problem of wheat. brown rice is fine, but it still felt like i was just compartmentalizing my eating life between portions of desi-home-made-dish no.1/2/3/4 + roti/brown rice.

So what makes quinoa so special? It was more just the way i rethought my relationship with food, got inspired to make it my own, while i was away in london. i once again saw the simplicity of grilling assorted vegetables, baking fish within ten minutes, and perhaps most importantly, got an inner whiff of the simple herb, spice and vinegar combinations that sort of liberate your palette.

i got a whiff, and i’ve been intoxicated every since, to buy, plan, re-use ingredients: to make the most of the the eatables i love.

Today was the third time i used quinoa.

A simple online concoction using zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes & red onion as a grilled warm salad along with chopped-basil-infused quinoa.

Before the two are united in a hearty, healthy union, the cooked quinoa is doused with the a dressing of all-essential balsamic vinegar, whisked with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. The same dressing marinates the chopped prepped vegetables before they’re grilled.

Veggies glistening in their pre-marriage bath


One of the things that appealed to me about this recipe is it celebrates the way balsamic vinegar can make the simplest ingredients robust and full of tangy, zesty lightness. As the author said, “repeat after me: balsamic makes everything better.” The famous balsamic vinegar / honey reduce will always make a lot of salads taste divine. If it’s an emergency and I just want some taste in a psuedo-gourmet snack, i’ve even whisked balsamic vinegar with maple syrup and its served me just fine.



1 Comment

Filed under |Introspection & Experiences|, |The Way Things Look|

falling head over heals

watching a bbc lifestyle show about a restaunteer looking for the perfect location to open a restaurant in Italy. Vito, the restaunteer, was excited by the commercial possibilities of a sight in Modena. But he fell head over heels, the narrator tell us, with the isolated property on the hill with a spectacular view, and the magic touch of florence gold melding it into sublimity.

its kind of how it is with men, isn’t it? you can get excited about the compatibility, comfortability and confidence you get from a certain relationship, but you ultimately, perhaps, fall in love with something that just mesmerizes you.

or not?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Some potassium with your muffin, dear?

Some say it’s a key source of potassium, a good carb before a workout; according to my grandfather, a sheer necessity of life, the proverbial apple to keep the doctor away. From an entirely too well-stocked pile of stomach-upset-experiences, I know its apt to make hell freeze over, under that stubborn stomach hide.

In my kitchen, the banana  has become a bankable prelude to muffins.

Overdue comfort, a whiff of flour, a peek at those cuddly, fisher-price-esque plastic measuring spoons, and a few overripe banana’s on the dining table.

Surefire signs that a batch of banana chocolate walnut muffins are in the offing.

Because it’d never be just banana muffins.

Not to take back my testament to their gooey wonderfulness. But it serves as such a perfect encasement for the comfort-oozing amalgam of melted, pliable chocolate and walnut. Not to mention, it’s simply incomparable in its function as an enhancer of batter.

Talk about the consistency of heaven. Instead of milk, or excessive oil, or any of those other liquid elements that moisten dry ingredients, the mush of mashed bananas simply makes everything stick with a stodginess that would leave even the most nervous, scatter-brained baker feeling completely secure.

Thus, in a day dedicated to the fluff-realm of lets-pretend-we’re-hip-amateur-cooks-who-know-something-about-food, S and I embarked on the non-stop banana-chocolate-walnut procedure.


It started with S getting frisky with bananas, nuts, and his knife.
Innuendo was inescapable.



2

1

Chocolate chopped. eggs. mixed with oil.

poured into pristine white.

glisteningly separate.



4

3


This (Fig. 4) is another one of those sights that reminds me of childhood. The sound of the plastic spatula scraping against the bowl, and the simplicity with which the yolk and oil mixture remains distinct from the flour. I almost hate forcing them to mix, and tend to just circle around the side of bowl so that the liquid merges slowly.

With the florid, reassuring elasticity of banana mush, everything turns warmer. The expectant piles of deep chocolate shards and smokey walnut browns are set off against the summery mixture.




So there you have it. The warmest, tenderest, cuddliest, most reassuring muffins to experience.




Leave a comment

Filed under |Introspection & Experiences|, |The Way Things Look|