10 December 2013

In these intense valleys life thrives in small hamlets

The roads ahead are dangerous. Moist earth, loosened by incessant rains, can come toppling down and bury us any moment. We drive upstream on a bumpy road, mountains covered in green rise sharply on one side. An excited river gushes on the other eager to meet its lover that flows on the other side of the ranges. Soon they shall be one, but their passion will not subside, and the two culprits together shall wreak havoc; not realising that with their passion comes destruction.

As we climb uphill unto the heavens, clouds envelop us, dressing us in ethereal white. My window has blurred, we are passing through clouds that cling to mountains like bees attaching themselves to hives. Each orifice is filled with these balls of cotton, prepared to attack from the inside and out. Soil washed down from the mountains spread out as fans at the foot while fresh streams flow over the fine soil creating waves and zigzags.

In these intense valleys, life thrives in small hamlets. Homes rise out of the earth, made from it too! Stones taken from boulders that roll down hills, wood from trees that grow around river banks, hay from the dried alpha-alpha, and souls who have borne hardships of this stubborn terrain for generations.

I’m eager to meet Yeats, and tell him how beautiful apple blossoms are; tell Heaney how the locals toil in the cold to reap fruits and vegetables; tell Owen there are more like him who fight but cannot understand why.

We head further and further into the clouds. Pines give way to shunted shrubs and thorny bushes. Horses, wild and domesticated graze on the slopes. Fillies neigh on realising their foals have strayed out of sight, watched closely by shepherds as young as six who go about herding their lot each day. Large billy goats with their hilarious beards chug forward, goaded by wee boys, and followed by their mates and many cubs. The sheep, as confused as ever run hither thither trying to keep up with the rest while the lone sheep dog, smaller than most of the herd, barks out orders.

I close my eyes to soak in these images. These memories sit idly now, tightly woven with many other in my mind. They spring for attention whenever I beckon them, always eager to be the best of the lot.

26 August 2013

Laughter stops to look at me, and then passes by

Soliloquy & Open Verse

Words buzz in my head, hum in my ears and flow through my fingers;
I taste them in my mouth, feel them crawl under my skin.


Weeks, nay months have passed since I felt this rush, the urge to write
I search frantically for a scrap of paper, a pen, a pencil, a quill –
just anything at all to let out this incessant flood of words
Finding nothing, I make do with my phone muttering with annoyance


Laughter stops to look at me, and then passes by, disgruntled at being ignored;
Sounds of mirth buzz past me; I have missed some anecdote of great humour.

Urged out of my stupor, I look up at the voice next to me
with a blank expression on my face betrayed by gleaming, content eyes.
 

My friends urge me to join in - talk, participate, and enjoy,
but I get back to my writing, shunning man, beast and nature alike.
I dip my tentative toes and then lower myself into the tub of prose and poetry
for words buzz in my head, hum in my ears and flow through my fingers.


- Yashita

10 January 2013

Palak Paratha - Spinach Flatbread

Ingredients
Spinach                                        1 Bunch / 20 large leaves
Onion                                           1 Large
Green Chilly                                  2 Medium
Ginger                                          1 inch piece
Carom Seeds                                 1 Teaspoon
Salt                                              To taste
Clarified Butter                             2 Tablespoons
Wheat Flour                                  2 cups
Clarified Butter to roast
Wheat Flour to sprinkle

Preparation
Blanch spinach leaves
Wash and stem spinach leaves. In a pressure cooker, steam the leaves for about 10 minutes. Adding water is not required as fresh leaves ooze water on steaming. Uncover and set aside till leaves cool to room temperature.

Prepare the puree
In a mixer grinder, add the blanched leaves, onion, ginger and green chilies. Grind to a smooth paste and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add salt, carom seeds and clarified liquid butter (ghee). Mix well.

Knead the dough
In the puree, add the wheat flour knead into a dough. In case you find that the dough is sticky, add more flour. If the dough is too hard, add some milk or butter to soften it. Cover with a cloth and let the dough set for about half an hour.

For the flatbread
Knead the dough again gently and divide into equal portions. Use both palms to roll the portions into balls (size of a table-tennis ball). Roll out the balls into a thin circle using a rolling pin. On this, smear clarified butter and sprinkle wheat flour. Fold the circle into half and then into a quarter. Roll this out again into a circular (or triangle) shape.

Heat a flat griddle (tava) on medium flame. Roast the rolled out bread. You can use a wee bit of clarified butter to do it.

Serve with whisked curd, home churned white butter, pickles or anything that catches your fancy.

During winters, you can also store this and reheat in a microwave oven.

Plans for 2013

Among some of my new year resolutions is one to blog a fortnight while another is to try a new recipe every month. Since I've barely blogged in the last 6 months or so, needless to say, I will take baby steps in personal blogging. The first one of the year is on a recipe that I tried and then modified. Enjoy reading.

23 November 2012

Gloom

A blanket of fog envelopes the city
the days are bleary, the nights damp.
Corners in the house are clammy
the clothes on the lines do not dry.

Plants wilt and stoop their heads
waiting for the sun to smile upon them.
Dew settles on petals and flowers
adorning them with droplets of pearls.

Pigeons no longer perch on window sills
not knowing if they should fly about.
Nature confuses the wisest of them all
and they sit tucked in their nests.

I light candles and lanterns in the rooms
for the love of the flickering flames.
Jasmine incense burns in the censers
to ward off moths, cast away the gloom.


- Yashita