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Wake Up

Wake up you oblivious

Get over your sleep

You were in your sweetest dream

And look where the world has had its leap

The birds singing for you

Are no longer yours

They found a new perch and bid you adieu

Your garden once abundant with flowers

Is on the verge of senescence

You didn’t watered them and they lost their vigor and power

Wake up you oblivious

The time is slipping by

Storms and tornadoes have passed

And you remained aloof hearing lullaby

Your boulevard stands empty today

Awaiting your dawn

Get Awake O beloved and keep your loneliness at bay

Your birds shall return

Your garden will bloom

You will get what all you have had yearn

Just get out of this oblivion

And

Wake up

Wake up to turn the tides and fight

Wake up to reclaim what was once yours

O beloved, this should be your awakening, get up with all your might.

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She… The Woman

She arrives in this world

Bringing happiness to many

And forces some to start collecting penny

For many she is their crown

For some she is their reason to frown

She arrives in this world

For promises to keep

Sadly but she’s often made to weep

She hollows out herself to color your existence

But rarely gets credit for her persistence

She arrives in this world

To reflect love and trust

But with time she often gets covered with dust

She generates a new soul to life

And happily she goes under the knife

She arrives in this world

To be the Rock of Gibraltar

With situations so, she sometimes falter

Yet she know how to sew her torn aspirations

To fulfill her unfulfilled imaginations.

And she arrives in this world

To be an ivy flower

To not to perish but blossom and prosper with power.

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HOT CROSS BUN

“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns”

 Who wouldn’t have grown up singing this rhyme.. We all have ๐Ÿ˜€

Hot cross buns have rich history and traditionally eaten on Good Friday but now available round the year in parts of Europe, USA, Africa, India, Australia, Canada and more. They have a sweet, bit spicy and tangy flavor.

So, here is my attempt in making them (the recipe may differ a bit from the traditional one) after searching tonnes of recipes.

So, join me and sing “hot cross buns” while we make it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cooking Time:   2.5 hours approximately

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour: 2 cups

Yeast:  2 tea spoon

Castor sugar: 1 table spoon

Dry milk powder: 1/4 cup

Cinnamon powder: 1/2 tea spoon

Egg: 1

Butter/ Refined oil: 1/2 cup

Salt: 1/2 tea spoon

Dried cranberries: 1/2 cup

For the cross:

Lemon juice: 1 tea spoon

Flour: 2 – 3 table spoon

Castor sugar: 1 tea spoon

METHOD:

1. Take half a cup of water and add yeast, sugar and mix properly. Keep it for about 2 minutes.

2. In a bowl, add all-purpose flour, salt, dry milk powder, cinnamon powder and mix them together with a whisk. Then add the yeast mixture, butter/oil, beaten egg and assemble everything together.

3. On a clean platform either use dry flour or oil or knead the dough properly. I used oil.

4. Just few drops of oil on the surface and knead the dough back and forth with your palm until it becomes smooth and stops sticking to the surface.

5. Now add the cranberries (instead you can use any dried fruit of your choice, you can add raisins as well) and fold the dough.

6. Now grease the bowl and keep the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or more.

Best is to keep inside your oven or microwave (switched off, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰)

7. Punch down the risen dough and make small balls out of it. Size you can make as you wish, I made 8 small buns out of the given quantity. Place them on the baking tray dusted with flour.

8. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep them for another 20 – 25 minutes to rise more.

FOR THE CROSS:

1. Add Castor sugar, flour, lemon juice and mix. Add little water to even the consistency. It should neither be too thin nor thick.

2. Take a piping bag or if you do not have one, like me ๐Ÿ˜›, take one zip lock bag. Put one corner of it inside a glass and add the mixture. Press down the mixture and then cut off the tip of the bag.

3. Now make cross on all the buns and keep them to bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 – 25 minutes or until done.

Do remember to keep a check after every 5 minutes. Baking time may vary.

HOW TO SERVE:

1. Take a bowl and add jam of your choice (I used mixed fruit). Into it, add hot water about 2 to 3 tablespoons and mix well.

2. Brush the jam onto the buns.

3. You can avoid jam and use the flour mixture again to make a cross.

And now, they are ready to serve.

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If I Could…..

If I could, I would be a nightingale

Sitting on the boughs and singing my tales

And everyone loving my voice

Even though the fables being of my choice

I would freely soar high without any end

And thus setting up my own new trend.

If I could, I would time travel

Rectifying my past mistakes beyond my level

Reliving twice the most happy moments

Not caring much then, I now lament

Doing what I didn’t at that time

And setting up subtly my new paradigm.

If I could, I would be a phoenix

Even if I fall after a jinx

I would again rise and arise

Much stronger than my previous size

Not just I will sit back and regret

And falsely assume that I can never move ahead playing my already run out cassette

If I could, I would become invisible

And thus becoming highly invincible

I would go business class around the world for free

How much will I love not to pay and be on a shopping spree

I would help the poor and needy with loads of gifts

And watch their elated faces without getting sniffed.

If I could, I should be my own

Not being a nightingale, a phoenix or time travel or be invisible but hone

But the qualities and capabilities they symbolize, we should retain

And reflect it to others and entertain

Don’t go the easy way pretending someone you are not, so be a little wise

Thus carving in this world your own niche, your own little happy paradise.

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FEAR OF THE KNOWN UNKNOWN

Short Story (Fiction)

The narrator is Mrs. Suruchi Narang.

“… My heart missed a beat and my blood ran cold”

It’s been a year since we shifted to New Delhi from Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. My husband is Divisional Forest Officer and we came here on deputation after spending few years in remote places for field work.

So, talking about Pithoragarh, we (my husband and two children) lived there for about 8 months and let me tell you it is a beautiful place and those 8 months were really the most beautiful days of my life.

The forest guesthouse was under renovation and the place they were providing us was not good enough to live in, so we decided to live on rent as we found one astounding pristine house located not too far off from my husband’s place of work. We also got a small primary school not far off from this place, so we were sorted. Though on little outskirts, it was a serene place with vivid and delightful woodlands. We lived on the ground floor as we wanted one and on the first floor there lived one family of four. My kids were 5years and 3 years and with time they got mingled with the kids upstairs (7and 3.5 years old) quite much. In the evening, these four children used to play in our garden and I used to sit there watching them with a cup of tea and waiting for my husband to come. Their mother, Bhawna was a little bit reserved but very elegant and composed. Quite often I asked her to join me for a cup of tea in the evening and we talked while the kids played. Her husband was a wildlife photographer and rarely did we get to see him. Sometimes, both of us ladies also went for an evening walk around our premises and I was the one mostly talking while she smiled and listened. Our 8 months stay there went by very fast but beautifully.

Two days back, I came to know that our Pithoragarh’s house landlord welcomed a baby boy. Our landlord belonged to quite an affluent family and lived in New Jersey, US.

So, I called her to congratulate. It was really kind of her to receive my call though a welcome party was going on in her house. She talked to me very nicely and I told her how pleasant time we spent at her place in Pithoragarh. I asked her about our upstairs neighbors there as how were they or were they still there or moved somewhere else. She answered me, Neighbors, who neighbors? I told her the ones who used to live in her house upstairs, she answered again, you were the only ones living there, and nobody lived upstairs. My heart missed a beat and my blood ran cold. My lips went blue as I sat on my sofa speechless, hello she said. Are you hearing me? I could hear her voice and the voices of the guests in her house but I just froze and words didn’t came out of my mouth and thinking a network problem she disconnected the call. If nobody was there all that while, who were actually those 4 people. I trembled like a leaf. Bhawna’s voice, her face, her children started to engulf my whole mind and sent chills over my spine as I relived every instance I met them in those 8 months.

I called my landlords wife again, she did not received. I called her again after few hours, she picked the call and after enquiring a bit she told me that the last time somebody had lived upstairs was 5 years back. But unfortunately, the whole family died in a car crash. And since then the house was vacant until we moved in. At once I recalled Bhawna once telling me that they had a very bad accident once. I had asked her you must have been really injured, to which she had just smiled. Her infectious smile scares the daylights out of me. It’s been two days now and I haven’t slept and I don’t know when will I be able to. I am just waiting for my husband to come. He is off to Almora for some official trip for a week and am here with my kids and house maid.

Bhawna and her mystery will always haunt me. I still remember our last day there, she hugged me to say goodbye. I can still feel her cold touch. I also asked her to stay in touch and she told me she had to change her phone number and as she has my contact she will call. She never did. And am highly thankful for that and I pray she never will. Her last view was waving her hand along with her kids and then fading off. But will she really fade my memories? She never will. Neither will I get the answers nor do I truly want them to be answered. Some things are better if not unraveled. I have to live with this fear of the unknown which is really the fear of the known my whole life.

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RASGULLA (COTTAGE CHEESE DUMPLINGS)

As promised at the onset of my blog that you will also witness some of the easy-to-follow culinary options, here’s the first to start with.

Let me clarify that I am not a professional cook nor do I hold any such professional qualifications, and not a beginner (5 years back though) as well but still have lots to learn.

So why would you follow my recipes??

Because I have somehow tried to lessen the amount of work you would actually do by searching ample of recipes to select the very best and consider cooking as simple as it can be.

So writing this post, I was wondering from where to start with.

But as they say โ€œBeginnings should always be sweet” so get ready, open your mouth and savour your taste buds with  the indispensable Indian sweet ” Rasgulla” or ” cottage cheese dumplings”

RECIPE:

Cooking Time: Approximately 25 to 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

Milk: 1.5 liters (makes around 10-12 Rasgullas)

Vinegar: 2 to 3 tablespoons

Corn flour /all-purpose flour: 1 teaspoon

Sugar: 1 cup (or more as per preference)

Water: 4 cups

Rose water:  1/2 to 1 teaspoon

Step 1. PREPARATION OF COTTAGE CHEESE

A. Place the milk to boil and as the first boil comes, add little by little vinegar into it. Do not stir and if you fear that the milk will come out of your vessel, just place it half on your gas. The moment you see cheese and water separates properly, it’s done.

B. Place a Muslin cloth on a sieve, drain out the water and wash the cheese properly under tap water to remove the sourness of the vinegar.

C. Squeeze the water out properly from the cheese by holding the ends of the cloth together or you may even hang it for a while. Remember, to let a little moisture be in there otherwise your dumplings will dry.

Step 2. MAKING OF DUMPLING BALLS

A. Now it’s time to knead your cheese as smoothly as you can. Better you do it on your clean working station. With the help of your palms knead it for about 4 to 5 minutes. Then, add corn flour /all-purpose flour (not more than a teaspoon) and knead again until all your cheese sticks together firmly and form a dough.

B. Now make balls, size depends on your choice but shouldn’t be too big as the balls will be double their sizes afterwards.

** If the ball is not rolling up properly, then knead it again for a while.

** If you feel cheese is dried up, just add few drops of water and knead.

Step 3. SUGAR SYRUP

A. Add sugar and water and let it boil for about 5 to 6 minutes.

B. In the boiling syrup, add the balls 2 to 3 at a time. Don’t add them at once. Gap should be few seconds not minutes ๐Ÿ˜‰

C. Let them boil at high flame uncovered first for 2 – 3 minutes and then cover it with a lid for about 5 to 8 minutes. The lid should have an opening to let the steam pass or else just keep the vessel a bit uncovered.  Until now, do not stir.

C. Open the lid, turn the balls slowly with a spoon and again cover it and cook on low to medium flame for 4 to 5 minutes.

D. By now, they should be done. How to check?? Take a glass of water and put one ball, if it sinks, clap for yourself ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘and if it floats, cook it for a while again.

**Remember to take wide-mouthed and a deep vessel.

Step 4. HOW TO SERVE

A. Let the balls sit there in the syrup until it cools down. Once the temperature drops, add rose water. You can add dry fruits also.

B. Garnish with saffron sticks and place in the refrigerator to cool it down.

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THESE LITTLE FINGERS

These little fingers

Oh you my tiny happiness bringer

You give me joys and liveliness untold

Each day thus becoming memoirs to hold

The day you were born

I didn’t knew later on you will wear a horn

All day you run and hop like a bunny

Can you please really stop being so funny

I can’t even just sit relax and have my cup of tea

Oh why you are always hovering around me like a bee

You leave no stone unturned to create a mess

And now you have started to choose your own dress

Whole day you are just crazy for cars

There is not a single one now without a scar

Your plush husky is the most dearest to you

And washing it makes you go blue

Making you eat is one of the greatest dare

The agony and anguish of which I can’t even share

Whole day you are my storm in a teacup

Your infectious smile, even if I am tired, makes me go up

Since the day you were born, you are my alarm

I long for that sound sleep, my little charm

Your movement I tell you, is so swift

You don’t know but it’s your father’s gift

You were six months old when you started crawling

And mind you, since then when you sleep

I am sprawling

You have now started to babble

But let me tell you, you are no less than a rabble

When you run with those long locks

With features so, you will look a girl if you wear a frock

Day by day, we all are getting older

One day you will be taller than my shoulder

That day I will see my whole house, everything will be in place

Then I will realize, it was better in the previous phase

Today you follow me like my own shadow

Then, I will long for this very beautiful meadow

And these little fingers which are to be held upon today

Will hold ours when our hairs will turn grey

This is the life’s cycle and I am sure you will love me and agree

After all, an apple doesn’t fall far from a tree.

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“The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence”

The story involves two school friends, Ajay and Raghav. Story is narrated by Ajay.

“……and then I learned something from him that made me stopped dead on my tracks.”

Raghav and I were quite close to each other since our school days. While I was always an introvert, he used to be an ambivert.  We lived in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh and were together till class 12th after which he got selected in a reputed Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi while I stayed back for another year there as I was unable to crack any competitive exams and then took admission in BSc chemistry . After his B. Tech., he got quite a handsome package in one of the leading construction companies and he shifted to Bangalore. I did my graduation, Post-graduation and Ph.D. and was now a Teacher in a college in New Delhi. Initially, we had a lot of phone calls between us but gradually with time as we got busy in our lives, our calls got restricted on special occasions only and now it’s rare that we talk. I remember last time talking to him was when he bought a new flat in Bangalore and got his family shifted with him. He had everything now what is needed to be called a successful person in life while I was still struggling to join my blocks and build life. I always thought that he got everything in life very easily, cracking IIT, job, huge salary, marrying the person he loved and as such a wonderful life with less efforts while here I was, though being more laborious and intelligent than him, a teacher in a not so good college, married the person of my mother’s choice and still struggling to buy a flat. Sometimes, I envy him for this. What is this life, why such an unbalanced distribution. It should be according to who deserves what and not be like one getting to travel in business class and the other thinking hundred times to even air travel.

So, it’s been 4 years since we talked the last time.

Today, I am in Shimla. I came here to attend my Fatherโ€™s two years death anniversary a week ago and decided to stay back for a while. Two days back, I gave up my ego and inhibitions and thought to go and visit Raghav’s parents.

The house was locked from outside and looking at the outgrown hedges, it seemed no one had lived there since quite sometime now. Then I saw, “House on sale” board. I decided to enquire about it with one of his neighbors. I was shocked to learn that his mother passed away and his father being alone suffered mental health issues so he took him along with him to Bangalore. Coming back home, I picked up my phone, took a deep sigh, scrolled his name, Raghav and pressed the call button. The phone rang and after few rings I heard his voice. We started on a very formal note and then returned to being just Raghav and me. We talked so much, laughed and then I learned something from him that made me stopped dead on my tracks. In the past 4 years, my friend had lost his mother and his wife to an accident and is living with his father being challenged mentally. These past 4 years, I had no clue he would be going through all of this. I didn’t call him just so as I thought, “WHY ALWAYS Me?? While he must also be having this complain from God “WHY Me?? โ€œ

I regret leaving him at a time when he needed me the most. Now if I see, I have everything what a good life needs to be, a mother, a lovely wife, 2 beautiful children. Sad, I realized this after knowing my friend is longing for the wonders I have in my life.

“The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence”

But in reality itโ€™s greener where YOU water it.

Remember, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

And Today, I am elated as I am leaving for Bangalore to meet my very dear friend, Raghav.

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Adieu: My Nest Of Many Firsts

(Everyone of us has a special bond with their first home after marriage. This is written after leaving it and shifting to a new one)

How not I’ll miss you

When my new life’s journey commenced with you

You welcomed me with utmost grace

While I was melancholic leaving my base

You are the only witness to my tears

You only know how much I was anxious and had fears

You share our laughter and joys

And now you were full of my little ones toys

You were there when we welcomed our heart

And gladly you lay bared for my nipper’s cart

You had been our moppet’s nest

And mind you, you were really the very best

Four years, seventeen days I owe so much to you dear

Leaving you sure I’ll be in tears

New faces will come and you’ll again enlighten

It’s just a while that you’ll frighten

Surely, you’ll wrap your new inhabitants around your cozy arms

And slowly you‘ll conform to their very charm

With time they’ll conquer your heart

And am sure you‘ll care no less to do your part

Happily my dear, bid us adieu

Pray for us that we don’t get blue

You go your own way, we‘ll go on our own

Sad we even can’t connect on any phone

May be sometime we‘ll come and stop by

Just to watch you from a distance and then fly

Years will roll down and your competitors will grow

But trust me my dear, your memoirs will always cleave and glow.

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Us, Kaleidoscopes

We humans are kaleidoscopes

Some of us very arduous to cope

Light goes in and we show different patterns

But that surely depends on who’s with the lantern

The one with the most strong glitters

Seizes high appraise from the transmitter

And the one with few embellishments

Feels why am I getting this punishment

Then there is the one with no sequins or pearl

Who Secures almost darkness from the kaleidoscopic world

Emittance of pattern directly proportionates  to brightness of the donor

Not even realizing pastel may be a loner

In front of the world, we empathize

In reality, we don’t even sympathize

When the person is alive nobody cares

Then after, we barge in as if we were always there

Our lives today revolves only on interim tangible gains

Oh! You beloved, please reckon and ponder a bit to explore other’s pains.