Mouthpiece #40

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November 19 - Issue #40

Vibha Sharma

Weekly digest of Vibha Sharma

The ultimate quest...
Recently I happened to be a part of the conversation, rather I should say, I was listening to the exchange of ideas that was going on at home. The topic was on the quest for what is next from here. Are we doing enough, if we consider progress of soul as the aim of our birth? Do we have sufficient time to work towards that goal? How do we know if what we think we should do is actually what should be done? Don’t the mundane things sap our time and energy leaving not enough to think about what is required for the subsequent journey? While the discussion swayed from mere guesses, observations, experiences to complete obscurity (not in that order though), it came up that perhaps there is nothing beyond this life.
May be we are nothing more than a mere outcome of chance/accidental combination of organic and inorganic matter. May be, life is just this, there is nothing further.
But being humans - the highly sophisticated species in the world, it is hard for us to accept that this is it. We are the thinking and imaginative creatures, how can there be no bigger meaning to life than just some random amalgamation of some matter somewhere? And hence our quest doesn’t leave us.
While the discussion was progressing thus, it came up that perhaps we are purposely sent to this world to have these myriad of experiences!! May be, the supreme entity does plan it this way that we should go through our lives facing different situations, getting impacted by some, conquering some, learning through some and getting bogged down by some. So if what we need to do for the subsequent journey is not that clear, we can be at peace with the feeling that what we are expected to do is to imbibe the maximum that our life has to offer through various vicissitudes. This thought appealed to me immensely that day and since then I have been thinking about it off and on and more so when I confront an overwhelming situation. Just by steering the mind towards this perspective does bring in the much needed succor during those times. Who said implementing it all the time is easy? It is not, but then what is it that cannot be learnt through preparation and practice?
Homo Deus ?
Homo Deus
Recently started reading a book, every word of which is like fresh air gushing in through mind’s windows and the credit goes to Yuval Noah Harari’s second book Homo Deus - A Brief History of Tomorrow. While his first book Homo Sapiens was a brief History of Human beings, this one is projecting the future of human race.
Homo sapiens have come far from the times when famines, wars and plagues threatened our existence. These factor still cause deaths and destruction but that is rather our own miscalculations than the doing of some unknown power. To feed the everlasting human growth with endless projects, it seems our objectives have transitioned to achieve immortality, happiness and divinity. “But how will we protect the fragile world from our own destructive powers?”
Evolution has always been based on natural selection - only the fittest survive, traits that favour survival and reproduction have been the ones with better chances of being carried forward and similarly the species which display superior instincts to outlive others and reproduce have higher probability of leaving their progeny in the world and no species other than humans have thus far meddled with this natural selection. With technological advancements in almost every field - the equations are constantly being modified beyond recognition.
We have an uncompromising humanist belief in the sanctity of human life, even at the cost of any other life whatsoever. How else can we justify the interference that we are responsible for? Domesticated animals spend almost whole of their lives confined to a restricted space, catering to the needs of humans by breeding more and then being butchered post their breeding lifespans. Through medicines we are trying to keep people alive almost till the time they reach a pitiful state. Medicines and cures which always begin by saving people from falling below the norm are being subsequently used to surpass the norm - for upgrading existing life or modifying the gene pool for our progeny. These are all tell tales of humans wanting to become immortal, divine and to attain everlasting happiness.
Yuval leaves us with a few thought provoking questions as he concludes the first chapter of the book - is it time to hit the breaks? Can someone actually hit the breaks? But does someone know where the breaks are?
I can’t wait to explore how he proceeds to look for the answers to these questions (if he does) through the rest of the book. If you are as intrigued as I am, please stay tuned for the follow up on this story. 
What's cooking? Some winter delight...
I have always preferred closed cozy interiors during winters than fiery summers. After having spent fourteen years away from the extreme climate of North, it took me a while to get readjusted to this variation once we came back to Chandigarh. But I can say that a chilly day still attracts all my votes over heat blazing days of summer. It somehow gives a feeling that I am hibernating in the cosy confines of the home.
I used to look forward to winters for many things. One of Gulzar’s songs just keeps coming to my mind when I picture a perfect winter day - जाड़ों की नर्म धुप और आँगन में लेट कर…(jaadon ki narm dhoop aur aangan mein late kar…)
Yes, nothing comes close to the comfort of experiencing pleasantly hot sun on the almost frozen body and enjoying the gentle massage of sun rays. Any good feeling remains incomplete without some mention of something to eat. For these perfect settings, there are many things that one can munch along - roasted peanuts and variety of gazaks are the stipulated ones. I vividly remember the days in my parental house before marriage. The aangan (backyard) used to get little sun and a little late in the morning but as soon as it did, our foldable cot was ready to be dragged to that side. We shared that small surface of the cot amongst ourselves and studied there as winters also meant serious study times. We kept changing the position of the cot to avail the maximum sun as it completed its designated trajectory across the sky. Often one of us curled on one’s own side of the cot for a power nap as winter sun makes one drowsy too.
Coming back to food. Sometimes mum brought out peeled radish along with salt to be had sitting outside in sun. She often mentioned many benefits of eating raw radish too. I can still feel the freshness, juiciness and the slight tanginess of those radishes.
Radishes are readily available in north during winters and how can there not be a radish parantha then? It is one of the most loved breakfasts in my home now and I make two versions of this parantha.
Radish : 2 big
Ginger : 1 inch
Salt : to taste
Carom seeds (Ajwain) : ½ tsp
Garam Masala : 1/3 tsp
Green chillies : 2 (finely chopped)
Coriander leaves : ½ cup (finely chopped)
Peel the radishes and grate them. Squeeze the water out of the peeled radishes and use this water to knead the flour. The grated flakes should be quite free of water now. Add peeled and grated ginger, ajwain, salt, garam masala, coriander leaves, green chillies. Mix all the ingredients well and the stuffing of the parantha is ready to be used. Take two small balls of wheat dough, roll them into small chapattis. Pick one and place 2 tsp stuffing mixture on it, spread it evenly. Now cover it with another chapatti and seal the ends well by pressing the edges of the two chapattis together. Sprinkle some dry wheat flour on both the sides and make the parantha thin by gently rolling the pin over it. Now place it on the hot tawa. Turn the side of the parantha after 1 min, turn it again and now spread some oil on the parantha. Fry the prantha well so that the exterior part of it is crispy.
Another version of the same parantha is a little exotic one and is obviously the preferred one too. The ingredients remain the same with addition of 1 tsp mustard oil. Take a wok and put mustard oil in it. Once the oil is heated, put grated radish(without squeezing the water out), grated ginger, ajwain, green chillies, salt and ¼ tsp turmeric powder and fry till all the excess water is absorbed. In fact, this method is adopted to use the nutritious water of the radish by letting it get dried in the mixture itself. Take the mixture out in a big bowl and allow it to cool down. Add garam masala and coriander leaves and mix well. The stuffing of the paranthas is ready and prepare the paranthas as mentioned above. 

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